Hearts & Health Volume 2 | DJ Jamison
Length: 220,000 words approx.
Room For Recovery – Book #4
When Beau James is cornered by two bullies, he’s rescued by none other than the broody Wade Ritter, who he’s crushed on from afar. Despite their family connection, Wade has resisted all of Beau’s attempts at friendship — until now.
His protective streak gives Beau an opportunity to get past Wade’s prickly exterior. But Wade is carrying a heavy burden that makes it tough to open up. With Beau’s help, he realizes there’s room for recovery. If he can face hard truths about his sexuality and love himself, he might be able to love Beau too.
Surprise Delivery – Book #5
Dr. Casper Rollins knows how to have fun. The love of his life, Kage Myers, lived every moment to the fullest before he died. Now, Casper goes on adrenaline-soaked adventures when he wants to feel closer to his lost love. Dr. Eric Holtz is married to his work, so much so his last partner left him.
When his niece arrives, pregnant and in need of an ally, he has family again. Then her obstetrician suggests breaking Eric of his workaholic tendencies, and a fun and sexy fling ensues. But it’s not long before feelings are in the mix. If these two want a future, they’ll have to embrace the lesson Kage taught Casper long ago: You only live once.
Orderly Affair – Book #6
When Ian Connolly installs a hookup app to explore his long-suppressed attraction to men, he doesn’t expect to connect with anyone he knows, especially not lab tech Callum Price. But from their first scorching encounter, he’s hooked.
Callum hasn’t had the best luck with love, and he’s suffocating under a pile of responsibilities. But when he sees an opportunity to blow off steam with Ian, he takes it. If Ian can be honest with his family about loving a man, maybe Callum can admit his own truth: He wants a man he can count on, a man just like Ian.
Room For Recovery
Beau James was trashed. Eyes glazed, words slurred, inhibitions gone, full-on trashed.
He balanced on the orange-and-brown plaid couch in Barry Gleason’s basement, a cup of beer sloshing in one hand as he tried to dance to rap blaring through Barry’s speakers. Tried to dance, as in, couldn’t dance to save his life. It was painful to watch — Beau thrust his slender hips completely off-beat — but it was also hard to look away.
It was hot in the small room with so many bodies crowding in, and Beau’s curly hair was frizzing into a halo around his flushed face. A halo for the angel, Wade thought sarcastically. A sheen of sweat made Beau look as if he were glowing. Or maybe that was the huge smile on his face, beaming his care-free, drunken joy to everyone in the room.
Even Wade wasn’t immune.
That smile did squirrely things to Wade’s insides. It always had, which was why he worked so hard to make that smile disappear when they were together.
He’d known Beau was gay from the moment they met three years before. With puppy dog eyes full of adoration, Beau’s crush on Wade hadn’t been subtle. Wade tried to keep his distance — because annoying or not, Beau was cute — but that was easier said than done when their families were intertwined. Wade saw Beau for Sunday dinners with the James family, for Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays in between.
And now, as the drunken star of Barry Gleason’s party.
Barry’s parents let kids drink, so long as none of them drove, so his house was the go-to party spot. Wade didn’t often come to these parties, but Anna had dragged him out and promptly disappeared to gossip with her friends on the cheerleading squad. He tried not to feel too relieved about that. He wasn’t in the mood to have an armful of girlfriend.
Glancing around, he noticed a couple of guys holding up phones, taking pictures or videos. Beau was going to be embarrassed come Monday morning.
“Take it off,” someone called.
Beau laughed and fluttered his eyelashes. “I don’t get naked with a guy before the second date!”
“Knew he was gay,” Jeremy Krantz said. “Fucking gross.”
Wade was afraid things might get ugly if Beau didn’t get home soon. He had perfected the art of avoiding Beau, so he searched the room for someone who might know him. Beau mostly hung with the same two friends. Wade scanned the room and spotted Beau’s friend, Nathan something, near the television, where a video game was underway.
Nathan was tall, with dark, messy hair and skinny as a skeleton. Wade mostly remembered because of his height-to-weight ratio. Taller even than Wade, he towered over Beau when they stood side-by-side. Usually a cute, freckled blond girl stood between them, but he didn’t see her.
Nathan held a game controller, and Wade realized he was one of the players. Two others were seated in gamer chairs low to the ground.
“Dude!” a familiar voice said. “I didn’t know you could do that!”
Wade wasn’t surprised to see Shane tucked away in the gamer’s corner. His best friend was addicted to video games. He was more surprised to see Anna in the other chair, fumbling with a remote.
“How do you fire? I forgot which button to hit.”
Shane leaned over and nudged her index finger onto the A button. His hand lingered on hers a fraction longer than necessary, and Wade narrowed his eyes. Was his best friend trying to make a move on his girlfriend?
He wasn’t jealous, exactly. He’d been relieved not to have Anna all over him tonight. It was more the principle of the matter. He shelved his irritation for the moment and turned to Beau’s friend.
“Hey, man, uh … you hang with Beau, right? You’re Nathan?”
The guy was focused on the game, and it took him a minute to respond.
“I go by Nate.” He spared a look at Wade, then did a double-take. “Why?”
There was a hint of suspicion to his voice that made Wade wonder what Beau had said about him.
“Uh, well, Beau’s pretty smashed.”
Nathan hit the pause button, and Anna protested loudly, before she noticed Wade standing there. She smiled brightly and jumped up.
“Hey, you. I thought I’d lost you to a love affair with the wall.”
Wade rolled his eyes. She thought she was funny. She was, which was part of her appeal. If only the rest of her appealed to him. Try as he might, he couldn’t get excited about the thought of the make-out session they’d have before he dropped her off at home later.
“Beau’s wasted?” Nate said, sounding incredulous. He turned, taking in the room, and his eyes popped wide. “Holy crap!”
He rushed off, and Wade watched him intercept a guy trying to hand Beau yet another beer. There was laughter and boo’s as Nate coaxed Beau off the sofa and led him toward the door. Wade couldn’t hear their words, but he could tell Nate was pissed as he flipped off someone and pulled a stumbling Beau out the door.
“This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when you asked if I wanted to have fun,” Eric said, gasping for breath.
Casper laughed, one hand clutching his stomach and his other gripping Eric’s wrist and tugging. Eric was having just a bit more difficulty than Casper in climbing from the top of a trash bin to a tree to the roof of the downtown library.
Thankfully, dusk had fallen, and they were on the backside of the library, where they were less likely to be noticed. He’d never live it down if he was arrested for loitering on the roof of a public property. It was hardly the kind of publicity a medical director needed to generate.
Eric finally heaved himself onto the mostly flat, asphalt roof with Casper’s assistance. He dropped down on his back and stared at a sky painted with the pink and orange streaks of sunset. The sun, still a molten ball in the sky, dropped slowly behind puffy clouds that were beginning to look more like cotton candy, all pink and soft around the edges.
Casper settled beside him, crossing his arms under his head. “It’s worth it now, though, right?”
Unlike Eric, Casper had jumped from trash bin to tree to roof with the agility of a teenager. Lying as he was, with his arms folded behind his head, his triceps bulged. Eric found that a prettier sight than the sunset.
“You know, the hospital’s taller. I have a key to the roof. We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble and had a great view of the sunset.”
“You can just go up the stairwell and right onto the roof?”
“Yep,” Eric said, a bit smugly. “The helipad is up there, so there has to be access. It’s rare for us to receive a life flight, but it does happen.”
Casper made an obnoxious buzzing noise. “You’re venturing awfully close to shop talk, and besides, where’s the fun in walking up some stairs?”
Eric huffed a rueful laugh. “It’s more fun than a broken ankle.”
“No ankles were broken,” Casper chastised. “Now look at that gorgeous sky and enjoy yourself.”
Eric reached out and traced a blaze of orange inked on the pale skin of Casper’s bicep. “I’d rather look at this.”
Casper twitched, but he didn’t pull away. His head swivelled, light blue eyes fixing on Eric. “They always like the ink,” he murmured.
“Take off your shirt.”
Ian’s eyes went wide, and he glanced over Callum’s shoulder toward the bathroom at-large. Right, public place. Callum squeezed into the stall, latching the door behind him. It left about an inch between their bodies.
“You said you’d prove it was your pic,” he said.
Ian scoffed. “You know it was my pic. You know me.”
Callum blinked, making his eyes innocent. “How do I know that?”
Ian turned red, which was kind of adorable. Here was this older, buffer dude going shy. Then Ian’s eyes skimmed over Callum’s button-down shirt, fitted to his slender form, and he licked his lips.
Callum’s insides fluttered. Was Ian attracted to him?
People who knew Callum in his daily life thought he was smart but geeky. His work uniform of dress slacks, button-down shirt, and glasses didn’t do a lot to dispel that impression. Nor did his interests: science, space exploration, Star Wars and comic book movies. He wasn’t even one of those “cool” geeks who built apps or kicked ass while gaming.
Callum could pull off twink when he needed, though. His ex-boyfriend Doug was big on telling Callum he was lucky he had a tight ass. That shit was annoying, if true. When he went out, he didn’t have much trouble landing a guy as long as he dressed in skintight clothes and toned down his nerdy inclinations.
Not possible with Ian. The man knew he was a medical lab tech. Didn’t get much geekier than that.
“We’ve played basketball together,” Ian said. “I’ve taken off my shirt before.”
Callum tapped his lips, unable to concede the point.
“I must not have been paying attention,” he said. “So, I’m going to have to insist. It’s a pretty tight fit in here, though. How about I help you?”
Ian’s voice cut off with a strangled garble as Callum grabbed the hem of Ian’s scrub top. He’d shocked him. He only hoped it was a good shock, and he didn’t get knocked on his ass for being too forward.
“Lift your arms,” he said, projecting as much confidence as he could as he pushed Ian’s shirt over those delectable abs. The man was seriously cut. That picture was no lie.
Ian obeyed, and a moment later he was shirtless. Holy muscles, Batman!
Callum stared at Ian’s broad, hairy chest, heaving with nervous breaths. His nipples, a dusky rose, tipped impressive pecs. His body was strong and defined, his stomach not just flat but rippling with muscle. Callum wasn’t sure he’d ever seen a man this built in person.
He’d seen Ian without a shirt at the basketball court once or twice, but Callum had been preoccupied with trying to pass the ball without tripping over his own feet. Clearly, he’d missed an impressive sight.
“Well? Satisfied now?” Ian asked impatiently.
Callum was about to answer in the affirmative when his gaze dipped below Ian’s waistband and he saw the tent the man was pitching under his pants.
“Holy shit,” Callum said, and impulsively reached out to curl his fingers around Ian’s thick cock. “You’re hard.”
Ian groaned. “Cal …”
“Are you hard for me?” Callum whispered in wonder. Dragging his eyes up Ian’s body, he met a heated gaze. Ian’s dark hair, stubbled jaw, and sculpted lips were seriously sexy, a fact that Callum couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed before now. It wasn’t often you found both a good-looking face and a hot, built bod. He’d done enough online hookups to know. He’d hit the jackpot.
“Take off your shirt,” Ian said hoarsely.
DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen MM romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight.
DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction.
She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.
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