Today I am so pleased to welcome Garrett Leigh to Joyfully Jay. Garrett has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Unforgotten. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
There are super strong family bonds in this book. Gus is Billy’s brother’s best friend, and Billy’s relationship with Luke is complex. And because Gus is an absolute (French speaking) swoon-some sweetheart, he can’t help trying to make everything right.
Luke: don’t let him steal anything
Gus: have a little faith
Luke didn’t reply. I was hoping because he’d gone back to bed, but if I knew him at all, I’d have bet my house that he was on his way to the gym, which left me sat in his van, waiting for his brother to emerge from said house.
I checked the time—06:59—and pondered breakfast. It had still been dark when I’d skulked out of a hotel room ten miles away, leaving a semi-regular fuck buddy in a blissed-out coma. Lucky him. I’d barely slept a wink, and now I was so wired only the thought of a double bacon roll was keeping me in my seat.
The passenger door opened. Billy slid in beside me, clad in his jeans, boots, and a hoodie. It wasn’t exactly company uniform, but it’d do.
It’d do even better if he looked at me.
“Morning,” I tried. “Sleep okay?”
Billy dumped his feet on the dashboard. “Nope. You?”
He still wasn’t looking at me. I shifted in my seat, wishing I’d taken a longer shower. “Nah. Just restless. Hungry?”
“Well, I am, so I’m going to swing by the bakery. Let me know if you change your mind.”
He didn’t. I bought him a sandwich anyway, but he left it on the seat between us, leaving me torn between eating it myself and studying his profile every moment we were caught in traffic. He hadn’t shaved, and his shaggy hair was perfectly mussed. Even the smudges beneath his eyes suited him.
My gaze drifted to his hands. His knuckles were battered and scarred, and I already knew his palms were as rough and calloused as mine. Work hardened, which boded well for the week we had ahead. Despite his bravado the day before, roofing was a tough gig.
We pulled up at the flat-roofed house we were resurfacing. I turned to Billy and nudged him until he glanced up from his phone. “When did you last climb a ladder?”
“In general? Or to fix a house instead of burgle it?”
“All of it.”
“I don’t rob houses anymore unless someone annoys me enough to deserve it, and I last worked for my uncle six years ago until he sacked me and gave you my job.”
“I didn’t take your job, man. You’d been AWOL for months.”
Billy grunted. “My point is, I’m not as useless as you think. And whatever Luke tells you, I’m capable of doing as I’m told.”
“He never said—okay, maybe he did. But I never said you were useless. Don’t make things up for us to argue about.”
“Not me, mate.” I gave him a grin. Luke had once said that Mia would’ve been better off if she’d fallen for Billy all those years ago. That they had more in common. I’d argued against it, but he’d been right about their shared propensity for starting a fight over nothing. Luckily for me, I’d spent my whole life with Mia, which meant Billy’s animosity went over my head. He could bicker all day if he liked; he’d be doing it alone.
I got out of the van, half expecting him to stay where he was, but he followed and met me at the back door. “Did you finish stripping the old surface off yesterday?”
“Mostly.” I opened the van and started unloading tools. “There’s just some felt and timber fillets to come off. If you put the ladders up, I’ll help you take the tarps down.”
Another grunt. Billy slid the ladders from the top of the van and set them against the side of the house as if he did it every day. He danced up them and heaved himself onto the roof, and even after years of working with Luke, I’d never been so struck by how beautiful a man could be silhouetted by the early morning sun. Billy took my breath away, though without the proper gear on, he did look a little like he was casing the joint.
A snort escaped me. I was too far away for Billy to hear me, but he glared down from the rooftop all the same. “Are you helping me, or what?”
I joined him on the roof and we rolled back the protective covering Luke and I had left in place the previous night. The night before that, I’d worked alone knowing I’d be coming home to Billy. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
Billy Daley hasn’t been home in years, and he likes it that way. He’s just fine on his own—he has a cash-in-hand job at a scrapyard, a half-feral cat to keep him company, and many miles between him, his hometown and all the baggage that comes with it.
Until the job goes sideways. Suddenly he’s back in Rushmere, working for none other than his brother’s best friend—a man whose kiss Billy can’t seem to forget.
Gus Amour’s memories of Billy Daley are all spiky edges, lips crushed against lips and a reckless streak that always ended in trouble. But when Billy needs a place to stay, Gus steps in. He’d do anything for the Daley family, including living, and working, side by side with a man who makes his heart beat too fast and his blood run too hot—two things he’s been running from for years.
It doesn’t take long before their easy banter, lingering touches and heated glances become a temptation too hard to resist. But falling into bed and falling in love are two different things, and love has never come easy to either Billy or Gus. Only when fate threatens to steal away their opportunity for a second chance will they realize they don’t need easy.
They just need each other.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards. She was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart. In 2017 she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel Between Ghosts and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.
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