Today I am so pleased to welcome Roan Parrish to Joyfully Jay. Roan has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Best Laid Plans. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
When he arrived at the address the lawyer had given him in Garnet Run, Wyoming, Rye Janssen thought he’d been punked. Hoped he had been, because if this was what he’d just left Seattle for, Rye was utterly screwed.
The house stood in a wind-blasted field surrounded on two sides by woods, with nothing around but a horror movie scarecrow clinging to its post and a pack of chipmunks that the world. Were there tornadoes in Wyoming? Because it looked like one had hit the house.
Rye crept cautiously in the open front door, hoping the roof wasn’t about to cave in. Marmot sniffed delicately, sneezed, hissed at her own sneeze, then scampered off to explore.
The interior appeared to be held together by spiderwebs, dust, and a few rusty nails that looked like they’d originated in the Lincoln administration. The walls sagged, the ceiling sagged; the whole damn house looked like it was being pulled straight down to hell by some central sinkhole beneath it. To the right was a narrow staircase, presumably to the second floor, but Rye would be goddamned if he was setting one foot on that obvious death trap.
A doorway beyond that led into a small kitchen, and through that another door led outside, where a porch even saggier than the house drooped. From the back of the house, far away, Rye could see the peak of one solitary rooftop. Had he moved to some kind of ghost town?
He walked a little ways away (because, seriously, the house—god, his house—looked like it could collapse at any second) and sank into a crouch, hand clasped across his mouth to keep in the sound of his panicked breathing.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” He squeezed his eyes shut. “What did I do?”
He was a thousand miles from the only place he’d ever lived. No one knew where he was except the friends he’d been crashing with and some lawyer he’d never met. What little money he had wouldn’t last more than a week if he spent it on a hotel, and he didn’t even know where a grocery store was. The house would clearly make an excellent playground for Marmot, but Rye would rather sleep in a cozy open grave.
A hush came through the grass and Marmot jumped onto his shoulder and butted his head. Her orange tail flicked his back like a windshield wiper.
“Mrew?” Her tiny voice matched her small form but not her fierceness.
“It’ll be okay,” he assured her. “I’ll figure something out.”
Rye stood slowly so he wouldn’t displace Marmot and did what he’d learned to do over years of evictions, challenging roommates, getting fired, getting robbed, and getting dumped. He looked at the situation and chose to acknowledge all the dimensions of it.
Dimensions (as he thought of them) weren’t positive or negative. They were simply the truth of how he felt about things.
“It smells good here, hmm? Fresh air and trees and shit,” Rye said firmly, eyes searching the landscape.
Marmot purred against his neck.
“And we’ve got all this space to ourselves. I bet we could yell and no one would care.” The sinister implications of that hung in the air, and Rye acknowledged them too. “I could walk around naked whenever I want. Once it gets warmer, anyway. And, hey, we could barbecue outside. I’ll just, like, learn how to make a fire. And barbecue.”
Marmot perked up at that.
“Yeah, I’ll make you chicken. Or… I dunno…wild birds? Maybe you’ll catch a bird and…well, then you’d probably just eat it raw. Gross, dude. Still, we can make s’mores. And… and…”
Rye wracked his brain for more dimensions.
He couldn’t stay in a hotel. He wasn’t about to go back to Seattle, where nothing awaited him but no job and the search for another couch to crash on. This property and the crumbling ruin on it were all he had.
“Marmot,” Rye said. “We’re gonna figure out how to build a house.”
A man who’s been moving his whole life finally finds a reason to stay put.
Charlie Matheson has spent his life taking care of things. When his parents died two days before his eighteenth birthday, he took care of his younger brother, even though that meant putting his own dreams on hold. He took care of his father’s hardware store, building it into something known several towns over. He took care of the cat he found in the woods…so now he has a cat.
When a stranger with epic tattoos and a glare to match starts coming into Matheson’s Hardware, buying things seemingly at random and lugging them off in a car so beat-up Charlie feels bad for it, his instinct is to help. When the man comes in for the fifth time in a week, Charlie can’t resist intervening.
Rye Janssen has spent his life breaking things. Promises. His parents’ hearts. Leases. He isn’t used to people wanting to put things back together—not the crumbling house he just inherited, not his future and certainly not him. But the longer he stays in Garnet Run, the more he can see himself belonging there. And the more time he spends with Charlie, the more he can see himself falling asleep in Charlie’s arms…and waking up in them.
Is this what it feels like to have a home—and someone to share it with?
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
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