Love knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.
Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.
Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.
Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.
A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.
Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…
Warning: Contains two damaged but lovable heroes, secret-keeping friends with good intentions, and an abundance of inappropriate food innuendo.
I fell in love with Tristan when he was introduced in The Truth as He Knows It and it grew even deeper with every page. Of course, Gabe captured my heart too in book one when he worked with Shane so when they met it was off the charts anticipation. AM Arthur did not disappoint. Tristan and Gabe's chemistry on the verge of short circuiting my Kindle. My grandmother had some short term memory issues after her stroke and my mom has a few memory gaps from her health issues but neither compared to what Tristan lives with so even though I had an inkling of what was to come my heart still broke when he didn't remember Gabe or even Shane but the connection was still there. I don't think I can say much else without giving away anything so I'll just say that as much as I loved Noel and Shane's story in book one Gabe and Tristan far surpassed anything I expected.
He’d been twenty when his accident happened, so he’d never been to Big Dick’s before. Rumor was the bouncer was an expert at catching fake IDs, so he and Noel had never bothered trying. And he didn’t feel like flipping back through hundreds of pages of handwritten text to find his answer. “Have I been to Big Dick’s before?” he asked Noel.
“Once,” Noel replied. He squirmed, uncomfortable with the question.
That made Tristan nervous. “What happened?”
“About two months ago, you decided you wanted to go to Big Dick’s on your own, to prove to yourself that you could.”
Tristan dropped his forehead into his palm. He was impulsive on the best of days. His memory problems only exacerbated the stress those impulses put his friends through. “I freaked out, didn’t I?”
“A little bit. You lost your notebook, and you didn’t know anyone. The owner called me, and I drove out to pick you up. Nothing happened to you, Tris.”
I bet I wanted to get laid.
Tristan didn’t need to check his notes to know he hadn’t had sex since before the accident. Three years was a long damned dry spell. Not that he could remember the dry spell, exactly. He sensed the passage of time, of course. He could look at Noel and the ways he’d changed and know it was way past college, only it would take a while to remember exactly how long past.
Somehow he innately knew three years. Déjà vu sense at work?
So yeah, dry spell. Then again, who’d want to have sex with a guy who’d probably forget what they were doing halfway through and freak the hell out on him? No one.
At least I can dance for a while without forgetting. And Noel will be there. I’ll be safe.
Noel was his touchstone. No notebook needed to know that. Or to know his parents weren’t around. Noel had been his one constant through everything. Tristan wouldn’t be able to function without him.
“I must have felt terrible for dragging you all the way to Harrisburg in the middle of the night,” Tristan said. “You don’t live there anymore.”
Noel nodded, his cheeks pinking up like they did when he was remembering something he didn’t like. “You did feel terrible. But I didn’t mind.”
“Yeah, right. You shouldn’t have to babysit me. And I shouldn’t have gone out alone.” Tristan considered flipping back through his notebook to see if that night was in this one. To figure out his mindset. Except he knew what it was, because he felt like that most of the time.
Lonely. Horny. Scared.
Sick and tired of his broken brain. Desperate to be whole again.
All of the above. All the time.
“If I make a scene tonight, I am so sorry ahead of time.”
Noel squeezed his knee. “I called the owners last night. They remembered you and they know we’re coming. Their employees know.”
Humiliation flamed his face. “Shit, Noel, really?”
“I didn’t do it to embarrass you. I did it to keep you safe. It’s actually a good thing, other people knowing about your disability.”
Dark eyes flashed in his mind. They didn’t belong to anyone in particular. He saw them occasionally and for no good reason. Kind, dark eyes. A warm smile.
“Have I made any new friends lately?” Tristan asked.
“Friends? No.” Noel took an exit into another part of the city. “I mean, you’ve been meeting new people when we go out places. You’ve met some people in Stratton.”
Noel parked in a pay-by-the-hour garage instead of on the street. Tristan took another look at his notebook for additional clarification, then used a marker to write Noel, Shane, dancing on the backs of both hands. He’d look kind of silly but it would help.
The late hour didn’t diminish the sweltering August heat, and Tristan worked up a good sweat walking. Shane and Noel both looked crazy sexy in their club clothes, and even sexier walking side by side. He was happy for Noel. Happy his best friend was in love and enjoying himself.
He was also stupidly, insanely jealous.
He stuck close with his stupid, insane jealousy because the streets were teeming with people of all ages, heading into and out of the different restaurants and clubs. They turned down a quieter side street that was more like an alley. Halfway down the block a few guys hung out against a stone wall, most of them smoking cigarettes. An industrial door with no sign or markings was being guarded by a big, burly bear of a man in a black leather vest.
“Hey, Officer Carlson,” the bouncer said. He had a deep voice to match his broad body. “Nice to see you again.”
“Hi, Mr. Henson,” Noel said.
“Bear, son. Everyone calls me Bear.”
“Right. This is my friend Tristan Lavelle.”
“A right pleasure.”
Tristan shook Bear’s hand, surprised by the gentle grip. “Hi.” He glanced at Shane, who didn’t seem at all annoyed at being left out. “Um, that’s Shane. Noel’s boyfriend.”
Bear grinned. “Yeah, I know that one all right.”
“You do?” He reached for a notebook he didn’t have, then looked at Noel for answers.
“Shane dances here once a week,” Noel said. “He got the job through Bear’s son Gabe.”
“Oh.” He didn’t bother asking if he’d already been told that. Probably. Every single piece of information that was mildly important to his life had been repeated to him at least, oh, eighteen times. Minimum.
“Enjoy yourselves, boys,” Bear said. “First drinks are on the house.”
“Thank you,” Tristan replied.
Noel pulled the door, and what had been a distant bass became an impressive thumpa-thumpa in Tristan’s chest. The interior of the club was wide and deep, with a high ceiling decorated in strands of red and blue lights. Strobes and other lighting flashed around the dance floor, which seemed to make up most of the floor space. A small U-shaped bar stood to the right. In the rear were what looked like raised platforms. Two hot guys in red short-shorts were gyrating together on one of them.
This is the kind of dancing Shane does? Shit.
He was probably twenty kinds of hot up there.
Someone jostled past them, reminding Tristan to keep moving forward. Noel was hustling them straight for the bar. Tristan couldn’t drink alcohol because of his antidepressants and anxiety medications, and Noel was driving so the only person able to drink much was Shane.
Not that Tristan was going to mourn his dry night. Men. Everywhere around him, a sea of hot men. All kinds of eye candy. Every age, height, weight, shape and body hair amount. He observed and mentally drooled over the flesh on display. The air smelled of liquor and sweat and sex, and good Lord he was starting to get lightheaded from it all.
Noel nudged them closer to the bar. A middle-aged man with gray hair and a pink sequined vest gave them all a big, toothy smile. “Noel and friends,” he said. “Richard Brightman, pleased to officially meet you, Tristan.”
“Hello,” Tristan said. Officially meet you implied they’d interacted before, but the man’s name meant nothing to him.
“I’m Bear’s husband. We own the place.”
“Oh. It’s a great place. I’m pretty sure this is my first time. I like it.”
Okay that was wrong. When was I here before?
“So what are we drinking tonight?” Richard asked. “First round on the house. Samuel Adams for you, Shane?”
“Yeah, thanks,” Shane replied.
Richard knows because Shane works here.
“I’ll have a vodka tonic,” Noel said. “Tris?”
“Virgin margarita,” Tristan said. He loved margaritas, and while a virgin wasn’t as good as one with Patrón, he couldn’t mix with his meds.
“Coming up,” Richard said.
The music changed to a faster, sharper beat. Tristan’s hips rolled in tiny motions, instinct bringing out his love of club dancing. Of getting into it with another dude, all writhing bodies and gyrating hips. Arms and legs. Sweat and heavy breathing.
Wonderful arousal stirred in his gut, heating his blood already. He might not be getting laid tonight, but damn it, he was going to have some fun.
“Hey, you guys made it,” said a sexy, sultry voice.
Tristan glanced over his shoulder to see who the voice had spoken to, only to find himself staring into a pair of kind, dark eyes. Kind, dark eyes belonging to a stunningly handsome face. Black hair. Tan skin. Tall and well-built. A walking wet dream who was smiling like they were old friends.
Holy hell, he’s gorgeous.
“Hey, Gabe,” Shane said.
Those kind, dark eyes never broke from his, and Tristan couldn’t look away. Gabe was a stranger, and yet somehow familiar.
His eyes. The eyes I see. We’ve met.
“We’ve met,” Tristan said before he could think twice.
Gabe’s eyebrows twitched. “Yes, we have. Do you remember that?”
“I remember your eyes.”
“You remember my eyes?” He didn’t sound surprised or weirded out by that. More like pleased that a detail had actually stuck.
It pleased Tristan all over the place. “That’s weird, right? I remember your eyes, but I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner tonight.”
“I guess I made an impression.”
“It’s easy to see how you might.” Hell yes, Tristan was flirting. Hot guy. Dry spell. He was out to have a good time. “I’m guessing we met here?”
“Yeah, we did.” Gabe glanced at Noel, who apparently knew this story, because he nodded at Gabe. “About two months ago, you came to the club alone.”
Dread crept over him. “How badly did I embarrass myself?”
“Not badly. Once my dad called Noel and he explained everything, it was okay. I’m glad I was here to help.”
He was leaving out a lot of details that Tristan wouldn’t remember in half an hour, and he wasn’t entirely sure he needed to hear them. Possibly for the second, third or tenth time. Instead of pressing the issue, he took a long sip of his margarita, savoring the pop of lime and salt on his tongue. Then he looked Gabe in the eye and asked, “You wanna dance?”
Gabe’s grin was immediate and blinding. “Definitely.”
Tristan chugged the rest of his drink, then plunked the glass down on the bar. He grabbed Gabe’s hand and led the way into the sea of moving bodies. Arms and hips bumped and brushed. Music poured through him, setting the beat as he turned to face Gabe, who was already moving. A white tee clung to what was probably a perfect six-pack. Black jeans hugged his ass and outlined a nice package.
And his for now, so Tristan let go of Gabe’s hand, closed his eyes and danced.
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.
The World as He Sees It #2
The Truth as He Knows It #1