Knowing who you are and accepting who you are come at different prices.
Jase Kinrick grew up in your typical, all-American household. But after the death of his sister, his parents shut down, forcing him to deal with everything life throws his way alone. Terrified of the person he’s discovering himself to be, Jase has his way with every willing girl to try and rid himself of what he fears he is—gay.
Escaping California and moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, Jase frees himself to the reality that he likes men. Never staying with any guy long enough to get to know them, he doesn’t realize that he’s still hiding from who he is until he meets Mark. Scared of having real feelings for another guy stirs up the questions and fears he’s fought hard to bury.
To strip away the barriers to the heart of what is real, and to be okay with what lies underneath, will be Jase’s moment of truth. But he’ll need Mark to lead him there.
**This is a companion novel to the USA Today Bestseller, FADING.**
My head is completely aloof from my sleeping pill. I know I shouldn’t be driving right now, but I just can’t be alone. Lying in my room in the darkness, all I can see is him. All I can hear is his voice. It’s too much, and I need the comfort of my friend right now. I need to be in his hold. To feel safe in his bed.
When the elevator stops on Jase’s floor, I step out and head to his apartment. Quietly unlocking his door, I walk through the darkness to his room. I stop when I see he’s not alone. Suddenly, I feel like an intrusion—selfish.
Going back into the living room, leaving Mark and Jase be, I sit on the couch. I’m still shaking from the fear that was able to overtake me back at my house. Alone. I feel it now. I’m desperately needy, and I’m all alone. It’s selfish of me to think that I can keep coming over here for Jase. Taking from him to comfort myself.
I tuck my knees under my chin as the tears start to flood and spill over. As quietly as I can manage, I cry. I release the loneliness and sadness that begins to consume me. Resting my forehead on my knees, I weep softly. I couldn’t hold it in even if I tried. I can’t be by myself, but I feel like I can’t be here either.
The cushion dips down and when I look up, Mark is next to me. His expression hurts, I hate it. Pity. He would never admit to it, but I see it so clearly. I don’t want him to feel sorry for me, but I don’t have the strength to pull myself together right now. I need support, so I don’t even speak when I lean into him as he folds me up in his arms.
In a weird way, a way I can’t explain, the pain swells and abates at the same time. My cries grow harder as Mark holds me and whispers in my ear that it’ll be okay. I don’t believe him. It can’t be. I wonder if it will ever be.
He allows me to let go in his arms, all the while, never loosening his tight hold on me.
I need it.
It’s my safety.
Time passes when he eventually speaks. “Wanna talk about it?”
Lifting my head from his chest, I see Jase sitting in the chair next to the couch Mark and I are on. He gives me a slight nod before I turn my attention back to Mark and whisper, “I’m sorry. I . . . I just didn’t want to be alone, but . . . I guess I just didn’t think you’d be here. I’m not used to Jase having a boyfriend.” Not knowing what to say to explain my sudden appearance here in the middle of the night, I close my eyes and simply admit, “I’m just so tired.”
“I know,” is all he says when he tucks me under his chin and holds me again.
Before I know it, I am being lifted into Jase’s arms. He hugs me before taking my hands and leading me to his bed. The three of us crawl in.
I finally feel it.
Settled in between the two of them, wrapped in my friends’ arms, I’m protected. If only for this moment—I can breathe.