Love can be built on a broken past…but not on broken trust.
Cost of Repairs, Book 4
Rey King has settled into his new life with Samuel Briggs, and his catering business has taken off to the point he’s brought a business partner on board. Yet something is missing. He’s still haunted by the pain of losing his daughter, Faith, in a custody battle six years ago.
Then, one month before Christmas, Faith’s grandmother passes away, and Rey gets a shocking offer he never saw coming.
Samuel knew loving Rey wouldn’t be easy, but then again he’s no walk in the park either. Still, for eighteen months they’ve thrived as a couple…until a shy seven-year-old girl shakes his belief that he and Rey can overcome anything.
Settling Faith into their chaotic lives would be a welcome challenge, if things weren’t complicated by Rey’s too-cute, overly attentive new business partner. As misunderstandings, miscommunications, and unresolved tensions escalate, Rey begins to wonder if the best Christmas gift of his life could cost him the man he loves.
Warning: Product contains one overprotective (and slightly jealous) police officer, an angsty chef whose heart is in the right place (even when his actions backfire), and an adorable little girl who turns their lives upside down. Added bonus—hot man-on-man action and the inappropriate use of a washing machine.
I really enjoyed getting back to Samuel and Rey in Acts of Faith. The addition of Rey's daughter, Faith was absolutely spectacular. We get a bit of Schylur and Barrett as well as a cameo of Gavin and Jace too from books 2 & 3. I had read the first 3 books in this series over a year ago but I got sidetracked and just recently came back to it. It was like walking into a store and running into an old friend, time may have passed but it feels like only yesterday when you start talking. That's exactly how this book made me feel. Rey is in his element as he's trying to start up his business and in his relationship with Samuel and yet, he's thrown for a loop when he is given a chance at the one thing that has eluded him for the past 6 years. But, with help from the man he loves and the friends that have become his family, Faith just may become the missing piece that puts this puzzle together.
The grinning stranger in his kitchen, standing comfortably close to Rey on the other side of the island, curbed Samuel’s ability to tease. Something unusual turned around in his stomach—not jealously, certainly, but far darker than simple curiosity about the handsome man he didn’t know.
“Hey, babe,” Rey said. His smile looked adorably guilty as his dark brown eyes flickered from Samuel to the tray of blackened things in front of him. “Sorry about the smell.”
Samuel hadn’t even noticed until Rey pointed it out. The room carried the lingering odor of burned toast. “Did it set off the fire alarm?” Samuel asked.
“No harm done then.” He purposefully ignored the stranger until he’d locked his gun away. When he turned around, he assessed the man he’d only glanced at earlier. Taller than Rey, but shorter than him. Slim, toned build. A head of thick, blond hair that was shaggy and bordered on unkempt. Green eyes. Handsome. Their age.
Rey slipped around the island to wrap an arm around his waist, and Samuel leaned into the easy embrace. He enjoyed coming home to Rey after a long night walking his third-shift beat around Stratton. “This is David Weller,” Rey said. “David, my partner Samuel Briggs.”
The name clicked for Samuel. “The guy you were talking to about the expansion opportunity. I thought that was tomorrow.”
“David had a last minute thing come up tomorrow, so I suggested tonight. I didn’t figure you’d mind getting our Saturday back.”
Samuel pressed a kiss to Rey’s temple. He didn’t mind at all. Samuel was a police officer, and he worked Monday through Friday nights, three to eleven p.m., and he’d been irked when Rey said they were having a guest on what was typically their date night. He hadn’t argued the point because he knew how important this potential expansion was for Rey. Even though Samuel would have preferred being there to judge Rey’s prospective future business partner for himself, he trusted Rey’s opinion.
And he trusted Rey.
“I don’t mind at all,” Samuel said. “Nice to meet you, David.”
“You too,” David said, speaking for the first time. “I feel like we’ve already met, for all Rey talks about you.”
Rey chuckled. “I’m not that bad.”
“He’s that bad.”
Pride and possessiveness swelled in Samuel’s chest. “So what did you burn?” Samuel asked Rey.
“We were playing with a recipe I wanted to try for Keith and Becky’s party next weekend,” Rey replied. “I forgot to set the timer.”
“Turnovers are better when they aren’t black,” David said.
Rey rolled his eyes. The familiar teasing boded well for working together. But the affectionate look in David’s eyes only intensified the funny feeling in Samuel’s gut. He needed to distract himself from it, and food was always an excellent method.
Samuel raided the fridge for sandwich fixings, unsurprised when Rey gravitated to his side and began helping him assemble it. “So what did you two talk about?” Samuel asked.
“Little bit of everything,” Rey replied. “I talked about my catering and my numbers for the last six months. David told me about the last few parties he planned and his numbers for those. We both seem to have similar ideas on how to proceed.”
“That’s great.” Samuel layered a few slices of deli turkey over Swiss cheese. To David, he asked, “So what does your significant other think of going into business with a near-stranger?”
The nosy question probably should have earned Samuel a glare, or even a poke in the ribs. But the question was genuine, asked with the best of intentions. As a police officer, Samuel was trained to gather information, to observe and then to make judgments. He needed more pieces to clearly see this puzzle picture. Rey must have understood that, because he didn’t object to the question.
David flashed him an amused smile. “No significant other at the moment, Officer, but unless they put a ring on my finger, they wouldn’t get a vote in who I go into business with. Not that I don’t respect the fact that you two operate differently.”
Samuel smoothed out his rising hackles. He glanced at David’s left hand—pale spot around the wedding band finger suggested he’d worn a ring there for a long time. He was still uncertain if David had received it from a man or woman. “Well, until the laws in Pennsylvania change with the times, any ring on our fingers would only be symbolic of a promise, not a sign of marriage.”
Next to him, Rey had gone still. Before Samuel could ponder the significance of that, or re-examine what he’d said, David spoke. “Who says I was married?”
“Your finger did.”
David looked at his hand as though he’d never seen it before. “Ah, well, maybe the ring I wore there was only symbolic as well.”
A rush of irritation made Samuel slap the top layer of rye bread onto his sandwich a little too hard. David was being deliberately obtuse and vague with his answers. “So you’re making this decision all on your own.”
“Well, no.” David winked. “Rey has some input too, wouldn’t you say?”
Samuel couldn’t figure out if David was flirting with him or just being a dick. He was too tired and hungry to care very much tonight, so he decided to make his exit before his temper got the best of him and ruined what could be a good thing for Rey.
“Hey, why don’t you two finish what you were doing?” he said to Rey. “I’m going to go watch TV and eat this.”
Rey blinked several times as he shook himself out of his own deep thoughts. “Okay, we’re about done anyway.”
Samuel cleaned up his mess then took a bottle of water and his sandwich into the den. He settled on the wide, micro-fiber sectional sofa and sank deeply into the cushions. He loved his sofa more than almost any piece of furniture in the house. It took up nearly two full walls and had a chaise lounge on the left end. The right end had an electric footrest that he used to prop up his feet and his sandwich.
The rumble of voices from the kitchen cut off when he turned on the TV. He flipped through a few channels until he found The Ref playing on cable. Edited for television was less fun, but his choices were limited this late and this was a Christmas movie he didn’t mind.
A tiny waver of guilt settled in while he ate. Even if David had been baiting him, Samuel should’ve been better than that. This was important to Rey, and he hoped that Rey wasn’t in there apologizing for the sideways interrogation from his boyfriend the cop. He’d never do anything to deliberately hurt Rey. He knew how hard Rey worked for everything he had.
When they’d first met eighteen months ago, Rey had been a handyman/short order cook who’d barely scraped by. He was attacked while helping out a friend and the resulting head injury had left him without full sensation in his left hand. After physical therapy and a hell of a lot of King stubbornness, Rey had nearly complete control of his hand back after less than a year. Even before then, Rey had been making extra money by helping out with parties, mostly through friends. He hadn’t thought to create an organized catering business until this past May.
The idea had taken off quickly. Rey was a damned fantastic chef, and he was soon booking multiple events a week. The only promise he’d made to Samuel was never on a Sunday. Sunday was their day, always, to spend together and not work. Samuel was the one who suggested Rey think about taking on a business partner. He’d brought it up at Halloween when he saw how stressed Rey was getting about a particular corporate party he was catering. Samuel and their friend Barrett McCall had both pitched in to get him through it, but Rey had agreed he needed help.
Finding someone that Samuel had been given a chance to meet was the first real step forward in that process. Rey had been making calls and posting on the Internet for weeks, trying to find someone nearby he thought he could work with. And apparently David Weller was someone he would work with, if their long evening and cooking accident was any indication.
Samuel wanted Rey to succeed and to be happy. Rey loved cooking, and he loved doing things for others—this job was the best of both worlds, and Samuel would do anything to help Rey achieve his dream. After all, Samuel was living his dream: renovated home, stable job as a police officer, sharing his life with a man he loved and who loved him.
By the time he’d demolished his sandwich, the front door had opened and shut. Old floorboards in the hallway creaked as Rey headed toward the den. Rey snatched the empty plate off Samuel’s lap, deposited it onto the coffee table, then took its place, snuggling up close and wrapping his arms around Samuel’s neck. His c*ck immediately took notice of his lover’s proximity.
“Sorry to surprise you like that,” Rey said. He pressed his nose into the short hair above Samuel’s temple, breath tickling his ear. “Time got away from us.”
“Sounds like you were having a good time.” He realized that sounded bad, as if he was jealous, so he amended, “Which is a good thing, especially if you want to work with him.”
“We definitely hit it off. He’s got some really good ideas on party themes and menus, ways we can expand our client list. Plus he has an Associate’s degree in accounting, so he’s better at the math side of things than I am.”
“Is he gay?”
Rey pulled back far enough to look him in the eyes. Deep in the eyes, as if he could see right through him. “Are you jealous?”
Samuel didn’t like lying to Rey, even about little things. And a hot, potential business partner was not a little thing. Still, he didn’t want to come off like a jealous teenager who wouldn’t let his boyfriend have other male friends. He was not that controlling, and he’d be a hypocrite, since two of their best male friends were, in their own unique ways, pretty hot. “Maybe a tiny bit,” he admitted.
“You have no reason to be jealous, Sam.” Rey’s left hand slid down his chest then lower to press against Samuel’s growing erection. “No reason whatsoever.”
A gentle growl rose up in Samuel’s throat as he went from interested to fully hard. “Oh? Something down there you like?”
Rey’s eyelids drooped and his voice went husky. “There’s something down there I like quite a lot. Love, actually, especially when it’s in my mouth.”
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Acts of Faith #4
Cost of Repairs #1
Color of Grace #2
Weight of Silence #3
Foundation of Trust #5