(Twilight Falls, #4)
Publication date: November 6th, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Wyatt Batista has sworn off love. Can his new friend and business partner make him believe in happy-ever-after?
Having spent most of his adult life lusting after a man who could never be his, Wyatt Batista resolves to steer clear of love. That’s all fine and dandy, until he meets Nathan.
After an accident sends his carefully planned future off course, Nathan Hardy leaves Seattle in search of new horizons and adventures. When his path crosses that of Wyatt, he enters into a business partnership with a man he comes to admire and respect deeply.
But what starts out as friendship soon turns into something neither of them expected. For Wyatt finds himself falling hard for someone who he believes could never return his love once more, while Nathan becomes aware of feelings he never imagined he would harbor toward another man.
Can Nathan convince Wyatt that he is serious about giving their relationship a try? Or will Wyatt run again, fearful to trust and accept a man who wasn’t gay in the first place?
Join Wyatt and Nathan in this delightful fourth installment in Twilight Falls, the new series by the author of the bestselling, contemporary romance series Nights.
Two Years Ago.
“Are you sure?”
A faint smile curved Nathan Hardy’s lips as he studied the man across the desk from him. He could tell Cain Sawyer was worried about him despite the frown darkening his rugged face.
The lines furrowing Cain’s brow deepened. “If you need more time, I’ll talk to the other partners and—”
“You don’t have to do that, Cain. I’ve made up my mind.”
Cain opened his mouth, paused, and released a rueful sigh.
“You always were a stubborn bastard, even when we were in college,” he muttered.
Nathan grinned and climbed to his feet. “And you’ve been a great boss and friend.” A twinge shot down his left thigh. He masked a grimace at the cramp.
Cain rose and escorted him to the elevator. “I’ll call you when I’ve organized a farewell party.”
“You don’t need to do that,” Nathan protested. “I’m the one deserting you guys.”
Cain narrowed his eyes. “You’re having a party, end of story. I’m not letting the best designer in Seattle leave my firm without a proper goodbye.”
Nathan rubbed the back of his neck, conscious of the stares they were attracting. “Alright.”
“And don’t be a stranger when you’re back in town,” Cain said. Nathan startled when the other man pulled him in for a quick hug. “There’ll always be a job here for you if you change your mind.”
Nathan swallowed the sudden lump in his throat.
“Thanks, Cain. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve a friend like you.”
Cain’s eyes gleamed. “If you’re having regrets—”
“I’m not.” Nathan flashed him a remorseful smile. “Not about this.”
He rode the elevator to the first floor, exited the high rise, and paused on the sidewalk. Horns honked on the busy avenue in front of him. Nathan ignored the hustle and bustle of the traffic and the crowd milling around him, and turned to gaze at the building he’d just walked out of.
This is it. I’m officially out of a job.
That thought should have scared the living daylights out of him. Except it didn’t. Not much did these days.
Well, they do say nearly dying does that to people.
His leg throbbed again, reminding him of the reason why he’d just quit the dream job he’d worked so hard for over the years. Nathan clenched his teeth and massaged his stiff thigh muscles. He hadn’t fully stretched this morning after his run. He waited until the spasm passed, raised his face to the hazy blue sky, and took a deep breath.
Today was the start of the rest of his life.
He turned right and headed down the avenue. By the time he’d walked the two miles to his apartment building, his limp had become more evident.
Lisa would kill me if she saw me right now.
The thought of the bubbly and energetic physical therapist brought a smile to Nathan’s face as he crossed the lobby. Though he hadn’t been the most agreeable patient when they’d first met, Lisa had never given up on him. He knew the reason he could walk and run again was due to her perseverance over the past eight months. His smile faded when he recalled their last appointment the day before.
Who knew she’d cry so much?
A bolt of sadness stabbed through Nathan as he got off the elevator on the tenth floor. Saying goodbye to his old life was proving to be much harder than he’d thought it’d be.
He inserted his key in the door of his condo and paused.
It was already unlocked.
There were only two people beside him who had keys to his apartment. His former fiancée Melissa Klein and his brother Dean.
The smell of camellias greeted him when he entered the condo.
Nathan sighed and made a mental note to berate his brother. Dean had obviously told Melissa he was going into the office to hand in his letter of resignation. She would never have come over if she’d known he’d be there otherwise.
He found her on her knees in the bedroom, with her head buried in the closet. Nathan glanced at the half-stuffed overnight bag on the floor before clearing his throat.
Melissa startled and whirled around. “God!” She pressed a hand to her chest. “You scared the crap out of me!”
The guilt he’d been living with these last few weeks stormed through him all over again when he saw the shadows under her eyes and her pinched lips.
They stared at each other in silence, unspoken words swirling in the air between them. It was two months to the day since Nathan had broken off their engagement.
Melissa’s expression grew guarded. “I didn’t know you’d be back so soon. I’ll be out of your hair as fast as I can.”
She turned and started rooting around the closet again.
Nathan hesitated. “Do you want a coffee?”
Melissa stiffened. “No.”
Nathan leaned a shoulder against the doorframe. He felt tired all of a sudden. “You’re not even going to look at me?”
Melissa whipped around, her blonde hair flying around her face and her blue eyes bright with barely suppressed anger.
“What do you want me to look at, Nathan?! You dumped me three weeks before our goddamn wedding!”
Nathan clenched his jaw and ran a hand through his hair.
“It was the right thing to do, Mel. I know you don’t believe me right now, but I would have made you miserable.”
A muscle jumped in Melissa’s cheek. “Why? Because you don’t think I would have coped with the reality that you might be crippled?” Her knuckles whitened on the sweatshirt she was holding. “I’m not that shallow, Nathan!”
He walked inside the room and sat on the edge of his bed. Their bed.
“I know you aren’t, Mel. And that’s why I needed to let you go. Because—” He faltered.
Melissa’s throat worked convulsively. “Because what, Nathan?”
Nathan took a shallow breath.
“Because I think I was in love with the idea of being in love with you. As were you.”
Melissa recoiled as if he’d physically slapped her, the color draining from her face. Nathan fisted his hands in his lap.
God, forgive me for being such an asshole.
There were many things he had come to regret since he’d woken up in hospital ten months ago, days after the horrific accident that had taken place on Christmas Eve. He’d been heading home to see his family in Bellevue after completing one of the biggest projects of his career when a truck had slipped on an icy patch of road on the opposite side of the highway and careened across the median and into oncoming traffic.
Nathan was one of a handful of people who had survived the multi-vehicle collision that had claimed six lives that day and three more later in hospital. He was put into a medically induced coma and had three rounds of surgery to fix his ruptured spleen and smashed leg before they woke him up.
It was only when he saw pictures of the accident and the remains of his car that Nathan realized how close to death he’d been. According to his doctors, it was a miracle he wasn’t paralyzed from the waist down after his body was almost crushed in half by the dashboard of his Prius.
The months Nathan had spent in hospital and rehab had made him face some hard truths.
There was more to life than working all the hours God made, however passionate he was about his job.
He wasn’t in love with Melissa.
And he desperately needed a change of pace and scenery.
Dean was the first person he’d admitted these new and terrifying feelings to. Although his younger brother had looked like he was ready to punch his lights out for deciding to dump Melissa weeks before their wedding, he’d been by Nathan’s side when the latter had finally spoken to their parents about his future plans.
Nathan had known that breaking things off with Mel would hit them hard, since she was the daughter of their closest friends. And he’d ready for their angry words and recriminations. But he’d misjudged how traumatic nearly losing their firstborn son had been on Ben and Helen Hardy. Though they’d expressed their disappointment, they’d not shunned him.
Melissa, on the other hand, had not been as forgiving.
Nathan knew ending their engagement was the right thing to do. He didn’t love her, not the way he should love the person he intended to spend the rest of his life with. He’d realized this when he’d seen her for the first time after the accident. It was as if a veil had been lifted from his eyes and he could see everything clearly for the first time in his life.
“Do you really mean that?”
Melissa’s hoarse words brought him back to the present.
Nathan gazed at the woman he had hurt and cursed his old self once more.
“I like you, Mel. A lot. As a friend.” His lips stretched in a thin smile. “As a lover. But I don’t love you the way a husband should love his wife. I know I sound like a callous bastard right now, but trust me when I say that I’m the wrong man for you. You deserve better, Mel. You deserve true love and a happy ever after. You deserve a man who will cherish you for the beautiful person that you are.”
Tears bloomed in Melissa’s eyes. A sob escaped her throat.
Nathan rose and went to her then. As he knelt on the floor of his bedroom and closed his arms around the woman he had wounded so badly with his words and actions, he made a promise to himself.
He had been given a second chance at a life. He doubted the Heavens would give him a stab at true love too. But if they did, if the person he was truly meant to be with ever crossed his path, he would cling on to them and never let them go. And he would treasure them for the rest of his life.
Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.
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