Title: Past His Defenses
Author: Andrew Grey
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Jan 11, 2022
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
When a case reopens old wounds from the kidnapping of his younger sister, police officer Robert Fenner is told in no uncertain terms that he needs a break. And maybe his superiors are right. He books a flight to visit an old friend, who happens to be the one who got away, and hopes for the best.
Electronic security consultant Dixie Halewood works from his home in Paris, where he lives with his adopted son, Henri. Dixie doesn’t expect a message from an old flame asking for a place to stay, but he agrees. Their past is just that—the past.
Things between them aren’t as settled as they thought—Henri, Paris, and proximity work their magic. The two men are drawn closer and old flames burst back to life, but Dixie’s work brings a new threat to their safety and the budding family they missed out on the first time around. Gerome never meant to open the door to trouble. His life and Tucker’s depend on keeping his past a mystery. But as his desire to protect develops into something deeper, he and Tucker will have to evaluate what family means—and hope that their growing feelings pass unimaginable tests.
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Wow. Dixie hadn’t known what to expect once Robert arrived, but it hadn’t been Henri telling Robert about his one other relationship, or the way his son had opened up to Robert right away. Henri was outgoing, there was no doubt about that, but he could be circumspect when it came to his feelings. And yet he’d told Robert about one of the most hurtful things ever said to him. At least, as far as Dixie was aware.
Robert looked pretty much the same as he had the last time Dixie had seen him. But that had been a while ago now. Still, Dixie could already sense that Robert was the same man he’d fallen for in the corps. But he also knew that life could send someone on a lot of detours—he and Robert had experienced that firsthand. “What have you been doing since you mustered out?”
“I went to the academy and joined the police force in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a good fit, and my Marine training has come in handy. I really like it.”
“Until last week?” Dixie asked, and Robert nodded. “It was that bad?”
“It really wasn’t. I think I just wasn’t prepared for it. You remember Westerhouse?”
Dixie definitely did. The guy was a rock. Nothing seemed to faze him. Roadside bombs, random gunfire, whatever—nothing got to him. He was calm and cool, almost a machine… until he wasn’t. Then it had seemed as if he was broken and the pieces couldn’t be put together again. “That bad?”
“I don’t know. I think the whole situation brought everything—my little sister Holly’s kidnapping and death—back.” Robert leaned closer. “I actually called the girl Holly. She was about the same age Holly was. And once again, I felt helpless. Up until that moment, I thought I had everything under control, and then with a single word—my sister’s name—it was gone.” Robert seemed to pull in on himself. “At the scene, it was as if I was back there—once again consumed with worry, knowing that Holly had been taken. And then there was the nail-biting, waiting for some word, only to fall to pieces when we were told that she had been killed.” He stood a little straighter, but it was an act, and Dixie knew it.
“Don’t beat yourself up. There’s nothing wrong with showing your feelings. Henri taught me that. Every time I bottle things up and get grumpy, he calls me on it. I think in part, it’s because some piece of him worries that if I get mad enough, I’ll take him back. I would never, ever do that, no matter what, and I’ve told him that, but I know the notion is still in his head. He watches everything, and you can almost see him processing everything anyone does. So I have to be open and honest about how I feel and explain things. It’s incredibly liberating.”
Robert cleared his throat. “But it was drilled into us to not show any emotion. Bury it down deep and do your job. That’s the Marine way.”
Robert was right; that was what they’d been taught. When you’re shot at, run toward the shooter and take him out. “But this isn’t the corps. And Henri isn’t a fellow soldier. He’s my son and I love him, and I only want him to be happy. I don’t need to hide what I’m feeling. I get to show him. And it’s okay for you too. I already know you’re a big, strong guy. I also know that inside, deep down, there’s an ooey-gooey center that you keep buried.” He leaned forward, holding Robert’s gaze. “Henri knows it too. Kids have amazing instincts.”
“And here I thought I had this reputation as a real tough guy.” Robert smiled back. “Dang, it’s good to be here.”
“Nice segue,” Dixie chuckled. Robert had always had a way of avoiding talking about his feelings if he could. Not that they weren’t communicated, but as Dixie remembered, you had to look for them a little more closely.
“Papa, it stopped working,” Henri said as he brought a tablet to Dixie. “Make it work again… please.” He flashed his big eyes and pooched out his lower lip. Damn, the cuteness almost worked. Almost.
“I’m sorry. You had an hour of games today, and that’s plenty. You get another hour tomorrow.” Dixie had to be firm, even though he wanted to give in. Henri thrived on structure, and Dixie didn’t want him disappearing into Minecraft for hours on end.
“Papa…,” Henri whined. Seeing he wasn’t going to get anywhere, he climbed onto the sofa near Robert and handed him the tablet. “Can you fix it?”
About the Author
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and
leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when
writing) He considers himself blessed
with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive
and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle,
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For Other Works by Andrew Grey
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