TL Travis's title "Greyson Fox" came in at number 10 in the Best Indie Books Title of 2018
Greyson Fox, the man, the myth, the legend. The highly sought after, self-proclaimed permanent bachelor. Or so the rumor mill goes. Sure, I’ve heard it all – but the one that stung the most was being called a heartless bastard. Love ‘em and leave ‘em, that one in particular I found to be the most humorous since only one man had ever shared my bed more than once, and he’d long since passed away.
I wasn’t the heartless bastard they all proclaimed me to be, but life had a way of kicking me in the teeth…Repeatedly, so I shut my heart off.
For years I thrived, building my empire and living by my own rules. Until one day, the walls came crashing down around me.
Potential trigger warning:
This book contains brief descriptions of human sex trafficking, as well as two mentions of sexual abuse, including a brief description of oral abuse and an attempted sexual assault. There is some physical abuse by the syndicates hands and a drug overdose so if those are trigger points this may not be the book for you.
Saying I’d never explored my sexuality up until this point in my life would’ve been a solid gold truth. My mother had been gone nearly a year and the only plans I had for my twentieth birthday was to go to the cemetery before spending the remainder of the day at home, alone. Always alone. Every year she’d bake me my favorite cake, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Double layer with more chocolate frosting in the center. To many, that would come across as lame. To me, it was everything especially considering she’d allowed me to eat it for breakfast over the next couple days after. But this year, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the boxes of cake mix while walking down the baking aisle in the grocery store.
I fell in love once, only the feelings weren’t reciprocated. At least not to the extent that mine were, or so the demons led me to believe until I found out otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I knew he loved me, but the voices in my head always reminded me that his heart belonged to another. Even though his actions spoke otherwise. His name was Daniel Holloway. He was the original owner of the Seattle Into the Grey bar, but back then it was called The Nook and was a third of the size it was today. But I’d never forget the day we met.
I bet there weren’t many people out there who realized they were gay as they stalked a total stranger while lurking behind a tree at a cemetery of all places — and on their birthday nonetheless. But there I stood, shaking like a leaf watching this drop-dead gorgeous, Viking of a man place a bouquet of red roses in a metal vase that was cemented in the ground in front of a headstone. When he was satisfied with the placement of the arrangement, he took a seat on the concrete bench that sat off to the side of it.
“Happy anniversary, Marcus, my love,” he began. “I miss you so much it hurts.” He wiped at his eyes with a tissue he had in hand before bringing his fingers to his lips and kissing them. Gently, he rubbed them against the picture on the front of the stone. Leaning back on his haunches, he reached down, plucking a couple of weeds from the floral ground cover below.
I shifted my stance to get a better view of the headstone, trying desperately to read it, but stepped on a twig with a resounding crack. I looked up, and our eyes met. I found myself staring back into the most stunning shade of blue eyes I’d ever seen. With his long, scruffy blond beard and matching shoulder length hair, I felt as though I were staring into the eyes of a fabled Nordic God. The muscles beneath his clothes were barely contained. But unlike the snarl I’d expected at disturbing him during such a private moment, I instead received a smile that rendered me breathless.
“You need not be afraid, I won’t hurt you.” He stood, towering over me before sitting back down and patting the bench beside him. “Come, join me.”
Who was this stranger calling me to his side? My mother always said beware of stranger danger, but something in his eyes or maybe it was the soothing tone of his deep, sultry voice, but either way I found myself moving to sit beside him without further hesitation.
“My name is Daniel.” He held his hand out to me.
“Greyson.” Politely, I shook his in return.
Once again recalling one of my mother’s many teachings, a firm handshake speaks a thousand words. Why she chose now to speak to me was beyond anything I could grasp. So many times I’d been there without an inkling of her spirit being near.
I glanced over at the stone, noticing the picture of a younger Daniel and another man glazed to a porcelain backer. They were both in grey, pinstriped suits and together they were a sight to behold.
“Marcus was my life partner. He died two years ago. He was a victim of a hate crime.”
“Hate crime?” I was completely naive to such things.
“Yes. Marcus was a renowned architect. He worked on construction sites all over the country. One of his pet projects was building and renovating existing LGBT youth centers. He was coming out of the site he was surveying in Houston—” He paused, wiping the newly formed tears from his eyes before attempting to continue. “He was coming out of the center late one night when he was attacked from behind. He never saw the cowards’ faces.”
I sat there stunned, but watching this man who appeared to be so strong and immovable on the outside literally break down in front of me while recounting the story of his lost love. It nearly wrecked me. I felt as though I were reliving it right alongside him, through his heartfelt, pain filled words so filled with emotion.
“When the hospital called me, he’d already passed away from his injuries. I never got to say goodbye.” The last of his words trailed off as his sorrow consumed him.
I wasn’t sure what came over me, as I’d never approached another soul outside of my mother before. But my arms wrapped around him and he leaned into me, placing his head atop my shoulder. This hulky, Viking of a man tucked into my lanky frame, yet somehow, he found solace in my embrace. While he worked through his emotions, I took the time to read the inscription on the headstone.
Here lies Marcus Allen Troyer
Beloved partner and friend to all
May 26, 1958
July 12, 1996
He was only thirty-eight, in the prime of his life some would say. Far too young to have been taken away, especially at the hands of another.
“I’m so sorry,” Daniel said, sitting up. “You’re obviously not here for the social life, or lack thereof, that a visit to a cemetery warrants.” He tried his best to smile, but I was afraid to tell him it came across as more of a painful grimace, so I kept that thought to myself.
“Um, no.” I wrapped my hands together in my lap to keep from fidgeting. Too bad my bouncy leg didn’t get the same memo. “My parents are buried over there.” I gestured behind us, bobbing my head in the general direction.