There’s nothing Truman Gritt won’t do to protect his family–Including spending years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. When he’s finally released, the life he knew is turned upside down by his mother’s overdose, and Truman steps in to raise the children
she’s left behind. Truman’s hard, he’s secretive, and he’s trying to save a brother who’s even more broken than he is. He’s never needed help in his life, and when beautiful Gemma Wright tries to step in, he’s less than accepting. But Gemma has a way of slithering into people’s lives and eventually she pierces through his ironclad heart. When Truman’s dark past collides with his future, his loyalties will be tested, and he’ll be faced with his toughest decision yet.
TRUMAN GRITT LOCKED the door to Whiskey Automotive and stepped into the stormy September night. Sheets of rain blurred his vision, instantly drenching his jeans and T-shirt. A slow smile crept across his face as he tipped his chin up, soaking in the shower of freedom. He made his way around the dark building and climbed the wooden stairs to the deck outside his apartment. He could have used the interior door, but after being behind bars for six long years, Truman took advantage of the small pleasures he’d missed out on, like determining his own schedule, deciding when to eat and drink, and standing in the fucking rain if he wanted to. He leaned on the rough wooden railing, ignoring the splinters of wood piercing his tattooed forearms, squinted against the wetness, and scanned the cars in the junkyard they used for parts—and he used to rid himself of frustrations. He rested his leather boot on the metal box where he kept his painting supplies. Truman didn’t have much—his old extended-cab truck, which his friend Bear Whiskey had held on to for him while he was in prison, this apartment, and a solid job, both of which were compliments of the Whiskey family. The only family he had anymore.
Emotions he didn’t want to deal with burned in his gut, causing his chest to constrict. He turned to go inside, hoping to outrun thoughts of his own fucked-up family, whom he’d tried—and failed—to save. His cell phone rang with his brother’s ringtone, “A Beautiful Lie” by 30 Seconds to Mars.
“Fuck,” he muttered, debating letting the call go to voicemail, but six months of silence from his brother was a long time. Rain pelleted his back as he pressed his palm to the door to steady himself. The ringing stopped, and he blew out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d trapped inside. The phone rang again, and he froze.
He’d just freed himself from the dredges of hell that he’d been thrown into in an effort to save his brother. He didn’t need to get wrapped up in whatever mess the drug-addicted fool had gotten himself into. The call went to voicemail, and Truman eyed the metal box containing his painting supplies. Breathing like he’d been in a fight, he wished he could paint the frustration out of his head. When the phone rang for the third time in as many minutes, the third time since he was released from prison six months ago, he reluctantly answered.
“Quincy.” He hated the way his brother’s name came out sounding like the enemy. Quincy had been just a kid when Truman went to prison. Heavy breathing filled the airwaves. The hairs on Truman’s forearms and neck stood on end. He knew fear when he heard it. He could practically taste it as he ground his teeth together.
“I need you,” his brother’s tortured voice implored.
Need me? Truman had hunted down his brother after he was released from prison, and when he’d finally found him, Quincy was so high on crack he was nearly incoherent—but it didn’t take much for fuck off to come through loud and clear. What Quincy needed was rehab, but Truman knew from his tone that wasn’t the point of the call.
Before he could respond, his brother croaked out, “It’s Mom. She’s really bad.”
Fuck. He hadn’t had a mother since she turned her back on him more than six years ago, and he wasn’t about to throw away the stability he’d finally found for the woman who’d sent him to prison and never looked back.
He scrubbed a hand down his rain-soaked face. “Take her to the hospital.”
“No cops. No hospitals. Please, man.”
A painful, high-pitched wail sounded through the phone.
“What have you done?” Truman growled, the pit of his stomach plummeting as memories of another dark night years earlier came rushing in. He paced the deck as thunder rumbled overhead like a warning. “Where are you?”
Quincy rattled off the address of a seedy area about thirty minutes outside of Peaceful Harbor, and then the line went dead.
Truman’s thumb hovered over the cell phone screen. Three little numbers—9-1-1— would extricate him from whatever mess Quincy and their mother had gotten into. Images of his mother spewing lies that would send him away and of Quincy, a frightened boy of thirteen, looking devastated and childlike despite his near six-foot stature, assailed him.
Push the buttons.
Push the fucking buttons.
He remembered Quincy’s wide blue eyes screaming silent apologies as Truman’s sentence was revealed. It was those pleading eyes he saw now, fucked up or not, that had him trudging through the rain to his truck and driving over the bridge, leaving Peaceful Harbor and his safe, stable world behind.
last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.