Earning His Trust by Alicia Nordwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Release Date: Sept. 6th
Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press | Universal Amazon Link | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Alicia Nordwell here today on her tour for Earning His Trust. She’s brought along a special excerpt for our readers to enjoy. Welcome, Alicia!
A Special Moment from Earning His Trust by Alicia Nordwell
I know, like so many other authors, that by the time my eBook hits the virtual shelves, I’ve read it over and over. Writing prior to submission means a rough draft, an edited draft, a publisher submission draft, then the editing process takes even longer. So, sometimes, by the time the book is available to readers, the last thing I want to do is read the story again. But there’s almost always at least one moment that I can’t help but like more than everything else, a scene I loved writing because it just spoke to me.
For Earning His Trust, that’s this one:
Micah was standing up in bed holding on to the crib railings when Evin opened the door. “Well, look at you!” he said. “Who’s on his feet like a big boy?” Micah cooed and bounced, but then his legs gave out and he fell right on his butt. His eyes got big, but he didn’t cry.
“Good thing you have lots of padding and that bed is soft, huh? I bet we’re in for a lot of bonks in the near future.” He deftly got Micah’s sweats and onesie off so he could change his soaked diaper. “What do you want to wear, little man?” He had the cutest little pair of jeans and a red-and-green-striped onesie outfit Gianna gave him, and then he pulled on a dark blue snowflake sweater on top. Micah’s head got stuck in the hole, and he started to fuss.
“Where’s Micah?” Evin fiddled with the tiny snaps on the shoulder. “There he is!” Micah giggled and clapped, making it hard to snap the sweater back up, but Evin finally managed. “Okay, I guess we’re ready.”
Once they were in the car, Evin plugged the address Ben gave him into the navigation system. It wasn’t far, but he had to contend with traffic on I-84, which was never good in the afternoon. A few turns off the highway, and he was there. Evin stared at Ben’s house. Two stories, brown siding, green grass a little overgrown with a few shrubs lining the porch… generic. It didn’t feel especially welcoming, but that might be more that he was nervous about hanging out at Ben’s for the first time. He felt out of his element.
Micah gurgled and babbled something very enthusiastic. Apparently Evin was the only one not sure about spending time at Ben’s house. He got out of the car and unbuckled Micah from his new seat. “Let’s get you inside first.” He slung the diaper bag over his shoulder.
The door opened even before Evin reached the porch.
“Hi guys,” Ben said. He was barefoot in a pair of loose jeans and a dark blue T-shirt that stretched nicely across his chest.
“Hey. Oh no, stay inside. It’s cold out here,” Evin protested when Ben stepped out. His son, the traitor, was reaching for Ben with grabby hands, squealing.
“Let me take him. You still need to get the playpen, right?”
“Yeah.” Evin handed over the diaper bag when Ben held out his other hand. “I brought some toys too.”
“Great. I’m going to get him inside. The door will be cracked.” Ben was chatting with Micah, holding him up and giving him a little shake until he giggled, drool coating his lips. “Uh-oh, is someone getting another tooth?”
“I hope not.” Evin trotted back over to the car and opened the truck, hefting the playpen. Gone were the days he could lay Micah down on a blanket and know he’d be safe for a quick dash to the bathroom or kitchen; nope, now his son was mobile.
It was scary. Nearly as scary as—
“Are you okay out there?” Ben called from the front door.
Evin jerked his head up. “No, I mean… yes, I’m fine. Be right there.”
Ben’s house had an open floor plan, so when Evin peeled off his shoes and stepped out of the entryway, he could see both the living room and the kitchen. Ben had Micah on his hip while he stirred something on the stove. Evin wheeled the playpen through the thick rug to a corner by the window to set it up. Micah loved looking outside.
There were a few decorations here and there, though Ben didn’t have a tree. Evin wanted to look at a series of framed black-and-white photos he could see marching down the hallway, but he didn’t want to seem nosy. “Something smells really good.”
“I’m just warming up the pesto salad.” Ben turned, a wooden spoon in his hand. “It’ll be done in a few minutes.”
“Don’t tell me it’s the one your mom used to make?”
Ben grinned. “The one and the same. I even called her to make sure I used the right ingredients.”
Evin raised an eyebrow. “And told her what?”
“That a friend was coming over for dinner, and I was tired of takeout.” Ben held Evin’s stare, not looking away. “We’re friends, right?”
He looked away when Evin nodded slowly. “Good,” he said quietly enough Evin had to strain to hear him.
The pasta was every bit as amazing as Evin remembered. Ben had made tea with dinner, and they talked and laughed without more awkward pauses. Micah had a brief tantrum when he was relegated to his playpen, but Evin had fed him quickly while Ben finished the pasta dish, and Evin wanted to appreciate the hard work Ben put into the meal.
Micah was tired, so Evin took the armchair Ben indicated to rock him to sleep. It didn’t take long before he was sleeping like an angel, his nearly white eyelashes swept down over his pink cheeks.
Evin lost the only two men he ever loved. But he might get a second chance with one of them—if he’s willing to take the risk.
Following the death of his husband, Evin is living in Portland and raising the infant son they had through a surrogate. Six-month-old Micah is his life, and if it means no time for activities or friendships beyond his minuscule support network, that’s a sacrifice Evin is willing to make. When he suffers a burn baking teething biscuits, the last person Evin expects to encounter in the ER is Ben, his lover from college—and the man who left him without a word of explanation.
Ben knows it won’t be easy to earn Evin’s trust and prove he’s not the same man Evin once knew, but he can’t bear to watch Evin struggle to care for Micah, hurting and alone. He wants back in Evin’s life, as a friend and hopefully more, but Evin’s heart is fragile, and the years have changed him too.
The curtain slid on the overhead rails, and Evin held in his urge to snap about how long it took to get to him when the nurse said the ER was slow, but he froze with his mouth open.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Perez. I see you burn—” The doctor snapped his jaw shut and stopped before he reached the head of the bed. Micah was oblivious, sitting between his legs and playing with his fake keys, chewing away on the rubber tips and drooling. He clutched the soggy remains of a biscuit in his other hand.
Evin had to swallow hard himself. Of all the hospitals, in all the cities, his old boyfriend had to be in this one.
He looked… good. Older, some wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. It had been… how long since he’d seen him? Not since Ben was graduating medical school the same year Evin was graduating with a business degree. Evin certainly never expected to see him here, and by the shocked look on Ben’s face, he hadn’t known Evin lived in Portland either. Evin waited for Ben to say something else, but he just kept staring. Evin took a deep breath. He could be an adult. He was a dad now.
“Burned my hand,” he finished the sentence Ben never did. “I did it about an hour ago, and it really hurts.” Maybe he could move this along. Plus, Micah was on his third biscuit and getting fussy again. He probably needed to be changed, have some lunch, and then would fall asleep for the afternoon, just so he could keep Evin up all night again.
Ben dropped his gaze to Micah and then looked up to stare at Evin again. “What happened to you?”
Did he mean how Evin probably looked like he’d aged at least ten years since Ben bailed right before graduation, the last night they’d spoken? Well, spoken wasn’t a very good description for the fight they’d had after weeks of Ben ducking Evin’s questions about what he was planning. Maybe their relationship had run its course; maybe it was better for them not to be together.
But he’d never expected Ben to just up and leave. It’d been hard, but Evin had a job offer in Portland and he’d taken it. Fortunately, his best friend, Gianna, came with him, and they got an apartment together in a not-so-great area of Happy Valley. It’d been nice to have a friend he knew would stick by him, but then she met Carl, and they fell in love. Not long after that he met someone, but that had gone wrong too.
Gone was the bright, glittery guy who lit up the room in a flash, and this version of himself was all Evin knew how to be anymore. It was probably a disappointment. His hair was cut short instead of hanging down to his shoulders, and he was in a blue T-shirt and a pair of gray sweats instead of skintight everything. Nothing at all like how Ben would remember him.
Was he wondering how in the hell Evin had a kid, since he’d never even kissed a girl—at least before when Ben knew him? Probably.
Or had he brushed off their history, leaving Evin as the only one thinking about how the years had changed them—Ben definitely for the better. Most likely, he meant how Evin got the burn. He was a professional after all, and Evin was probably just another patient to him.
In the end, it didn’t really matter. His appearance, how he got hurt, it all came down to just one thing.
About the Author
The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.
Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.
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