Ann Grech has a new MM romance out: “In Safe Arms.”
When a damaged man stumbles on a second chance, it’s all too easy to turn and run. It takes a determined photographer to convince him risk is worth it all.
People deserve a second chance, right? How about a third or fourth?
But what if I can’t even admit to myself who I am? I was truthful once before. I came out to one other person, and he left me broken and scarred. He destroyed the boy I was. I don’t even use the same name anymore; I go by Trent now. But I survived the streets. I got lucky and I made something of myself. I’m happy, sort of.
It’s Angelo who lights up my life. He’s my world. My rock and my family. He’s always there for me. But I keep hurting him. I say stupid things, and I always keep him at a distance. Still, he knows me better than anyone.
And I want him. But I can’t let myself go there. Not again.
I’ve lived in denial for so long and it’s killing me. In my weakest moments, I reach for Angelo and when he slips into my arms, I can breathe. He’s my solace. Selflessly, he’s there and he never expects anything in return. No judgment, not even an explanation. Having him in my arms is everything, and it’s getting harder to push him away. I’m not sure I want to anymore.
He doesn’t date, but he deserves to be loved. Cherished. Then he drops a bombshell—he’s found The One. I wish he’d fallen for me. I need that second chance to tell him. I need to risk it all because in his arms, I’m safe. I’m me.
Warnings: violence, rape
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“The cat you’re minding?”
“Yep.” He nodded. I bit my lip trying not to laugh. It wasn’t funny. He was telling me about some shit that’d gone down that had upset him,but come on. How was I supposed to react? He’d used needing food for the cat he was sitting as an excuse to get out of a date. And the cat’s name was Dodge? You couldn’t make that shit up. I snorted, unsuccessfully trying to stifle my laugh, and wiped my eyes, tears welling from the effort. Trent paused and looked at me, confused, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I laughed and shook my head, holding my hand up to him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh at you, but seriously?” I sucked in a breath, my side hurting because I was laughing so hard. “Cat food? For Dodge?” Trent’s lips twitched, and I could see him fighting the smile. I looked at him again and laughed once more, nudging him with my shoulder. “You didn’t even realize how it sounded until now, did you?” When he shook his head and finally let that smile loose, I sucked in a breath, happy for a whole other reason. It was his story andhe’d told it, but he was smiling andI couldn’t help but take a little pride in that.
“Fuck me. She looked so damn horrified when I said that, but all I could think about was getting out of there.” He chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m such a dumb ass.”
“Nah, you just didn’t think.” I nudged his shoulder playfully, letting him know that it wasn’t all bad. “At least tell me you got the food.”
He nodded and sobered up. “I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but I didn’t want to go home either. Figured you would have been busy, so I stopped by the sports bar. Watched a footy match. Haven’t done that by myself in years, and I hated every minute of it. Suppose I had too many drinks.”
My heart clenched, and I wanted to reach out to him. InsteadI leaned closer, my side pressed against his, and asked, “You didn’t drive home, did you?” I wasn’t sure whether I was begging him or scolding him for being so damn stupid. If he’d been drinking and driving not only could it be the end of his career, but more importantly,he could have killed someone. And it was all because he didn’t call me.
“Nah, I walked it. The night air sobered me up pretty fast.”
Thank God. I let out the breath I was holding, relief winningmy emotional tug-of-war.
“So whathappened yesterday and today? You just kept drinking?” It was none of my business, I knew that, but I didn’t care. I needed to know.
“Something like that,” he muttered. This was him shutting down. A noncommittal answer followed by either a subject change or him going quiet, but I couldn’t do it. I needed him to be able to talk to me.
“Look, I’m not going to push you, but maybe it’ll help if you spoke about whatever is bothering you. I’m here. I’ll listen, and I’ll do my best to help, but I can’t unless you talk to me. If not me, then pick someone else. I’m worried about you.”
“Some bad shit happened when I was younger. This time of year always drags it back up, but I’ll get through it.” He paused and added, “This—walking and being outside, spending time with you—it’s helping. You’rehelping.”
By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she’s got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that’s got to be a hint. The other one was “the look” from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids’ initials “B” and “J” tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.
She’s never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book—whether it’s reading or writing one. But she’s found her tribe now and loves her M/M book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can’t figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh, and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we’re being honest, we’d probably have to add her library too given the state of her credit card every month. What can she say? She’s a bookworm at heart.
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