GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 22,187 words
Bill Hawkins owns a bed-and-breakfast in the small mountain town of Middleton. He loves his life, his family, and his friends. The only thing missing is someone to call his own. A man he can love who will love him in return.
Erik King takes off when he catches his boyfriend in bed with another man. He's looking for somewhere away from that city. Perhaps a small town where life is less hectic and the people are friendly. What he is not looking for is a new man in his life.
When a winter snowstorm lands Erik at Bill's B&B, he finds the younger man too interesting, and goes on the run, again. The question becomes, will he realize he can't run from his feelings and return in time to celebrate Thanksgiving—and admit to Bill that he cares for him -- giving them both a reason to be thankful?
When Erik woke Thursday morning, it took him a few seconds to figure out where he was. Then it all came back to him. If I never see the bastard again, it'll be too soon.
He dressed in a fresh pair of jeans and a heavy sweatshirt, once he'd checked the weather, which predicted the high would be in the mid-fifties, with possible rain. He wasn't all that surprised, considering the time of year. He topped everything off with his leather chaps and jacket, packed up, and headed down to check out. By then, it was just after ten.
He got back on Sixth, heading west, looking for a fast food place where he could get something to eat. He ended up at a subway shop. After ordering a chicken and bacon melt and coffee, he found a table away from a family with three noisy kids. As he ate, he contemplated what to do next.
Go back and find a new apartment? I've got a job, which is a plus. The minus is, the bastard knows where I work. If he shows up there, trying to apologize, I might knock his ass into next week. End of job, and probably an assault charge on top of that. Head back home? That idea held no appeal at all. He'd left years ago to get away from his smothering parents.
Keep on moving west. Who knows what's out there? Maybe I'll find a vacant mountain cabin and settle in to live off the land. Uh-huh. More like starve to death, if I didn't freeze to death first. Winter is a coming in.
Still, the idea of the mountains appealed to him at the moment. Something very different from what he was used to. Taking out his phone to check what there was in the way of small towns, the first thing he saw was that he had four voicemails -- all of them from his ex. He deleted them without listening to whatever the SOB had to say. Then, because he knew it was something he should do, he called work.
"Pat, it's Erik," he said when the day manager answered the phone. "I hate to do this on such short notice, but I got a call from my mother. My dad's real sick and I've got to go back home." He listened and a moment later said, "No, I don't know when I'll be back, or if I will." He nodded. "Yeah. Thanks. I hope so too."
After the call ended, he brought up a map of the mountains to the west of Golden and planned his route. He figured he could check out a couple of the towns along the way and make a decision once he'd seen them and what they had to offer.
Probably not much in the way of jobs, this time of year, unless they cater to skiers. Not sure I'm up for dealing with them, since himself spent half the winter on the slopes.
He finished eating, got a fresh coffee which he poured into his travel mug when he got back to his bike, and took off.
* * * *
"The weatherman loves us," Mrs. Greene said, as she and her husband checked into the White River B&B Thursday afternoon.
"Yep," Bill agreed. "Maybe we should keep you around all winter to make the snow stays away."
She laughed. "If only it was that easy."
Since they were a pair of his favorite guests, Bill personally escorted them to their room. He smiled when, as soon as they entered, Mrs. Greene gasped in surprise. A large vase of flowers sat on the dresser. Next to it was an ice bucket holding a bottle of champagne. A banner hanging over the dresser proclaimed, Happy Anniversary.
"Oh, Bill, you shouldn't have," Mrs. Greene said, hugging him.
"It wasn't me. It was the winter elves," he replied with a grin.
"Whoever it was, thank you," Mr. Greene said. "This added to the celebration."
"I presume you're having dinner at the Dusty Rose."
"Of course," Mr. Greene replied. "I called to make reservations a week ago. You're invited, if you want."
"Thank you, but this is your special day. Candlelit dinner, a romantic walk along the river afterward…"
"Freezing our asses off," Mr. Greene said. "Maybe there's no snow, but it's colder than sin out there."
Bill chuckled. "I noticed. Anyway, happy anniversary. If you need anything, anything at all, let me, Mattie, or Roger know."
"We will. Not that we ever do. It's one reason we like coming up here. You anticipate everything and there's never a problem."
With a slight bow, Bill thanked him and left, going back to the foyer.
* * * *
Bill sighed as he watched from the front window of his house while snow began to drift down, just after dinner. "Let's hope it stays light," he said to War. The dog didn't seem to agree. Instead, he pranced to the door, looking back at his owner. "Right. Now you want a walk. An hour ago, I had to drag you outside."