Austin Edmunds didn’t grow up easy, but he was proud of the man he’d become. He’d known heartache and lost love. He preferred to live his life alone, apart from others. It was easier that way, less painful. He was a noted photojournalist and didn’t need his friend’s help setting him up with dates, especially with her brother. He’d told her that over and over.
But, determined, she planned all the details for his newest assignment, one he was excited to be doing. However, when he found she had set him up, he just couldn’t be upset. Never had he been so instantly attracted to a man. And what a man!
Brack Edge was the biggest, sexiest, hunk of man Austin had ever seen. He was, absolutely, a gay man’s walking sex dream. And he was going to be living with him for the next six weeks…due to some rather strange circumstances.
There followed unbelievable beauty, sex, nasty fighting, cool dogs, sex, horses, gay bashers, rattlers (!), butterflies, sex, new friends, waterfalls, rescues, sex, architectural excellence, a sweet sprite of a child, an inspiring family, and sex. Oh my God, did I mention the sex? And finally, of course, love.
It was true, strong, fierce love. But, how was it going to work with Austin living and working in downtown Manhattan and Brack living and working on a mountaintop in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee?
Austin hoped this Brack person was easy to find. The man evidently had a workshop called Edge
Wood right on the outskirts of town. Austin figured that pretty much covered all his areas of
expertise. Brack Edge seemed to be all about wood.
The town of Espy was very small and picturesque. He played rubberneck as he drove down the
one main street. It almost looked like that TV set again. There were a few very rustic buildings,
but it was clean and looked welcoming. All in all, it was an inviting little town. He’d like to
spend some time walking around the wide sidewalks, looking in the old-time looking stores.
Again, there were trees everywhere. Austin loved that, coming from a world of concrete. There
were window boxes in front of the stores with flowers and trailing vines. It was almost too
perfect. He was so out of his element here.
Was that…? Yes, it was. There were three old men sitting in front of a store marked
“General,”and they were whittling. It was just like an old painting. He found himself looking to
see if there was a spittoon nearby. He’d have to see if he could get some shots of that. He’d bet
they were there often.
There! Right when he was about to run out of town, there was a sign stating “Edge Wood”on a
fat wooden pole in front of a very large wooden building. The sign showed beautiful
craftsmanship. The words were carved into the prettiest piece of wood Austin could remember
seeing. Not that he’d paid much attention, but since it seemed to be the subject of the moment, he
recognized it for the quality it was. If Brack Edge had worked the sign, he was talented indeed.
Austin pulled in and gratefully turned off the big truck’s engine and just sat a second, taking in
his surroundings. He could see furniture through the windows of the building, and he could tell it
was quality work, too. Wow. This guy was good, and that was just looking through the window.
As he started to get out of the truck, he quickly jumped back in and slammed the door as another
truck nearly creamed him. Gravel and dust flew, spitting against the side of his new Ford. Damn
It was an old, dusty green pickup with four young men, two inside, and two jumping out of the
back. They were all yelling, laughing, and pushing against each other. With all the space
available in front of the building, Austin couldn’t figure why they felt they had to park so close to
him. He started to ease out of the truck and heard what they were saying.
“Now, Buck, you know you’re gonna get in trouble again if you start something. I told ya to let it
go. Let him be.” This came from the smallest of the four men. He was also the cleanest.
The other three were dirty, sweaty, and seemed to look alike, Ugly. Brothers? Come to think of
it, the little one looked like them, just smaller, prettier, and…smarter Austin wondered what kind
of trouble they were heading into. None of his business.
As he exited his truck, one of the bigger men–Buck, he thought–said gruffly, “Who the hell’re
you? Wha’ do you want here?”
Now, that just sounded downright unfriendly. Austin wasn’t looking for trouble, but he wasn’t
taking any shit, either.
“Who wants to know?” He looked right at the speaker as he asked his question.
“None o’ yer damn business, mister. You here to see Brackie boy? I don’t doubt it. I bet you’re as
queer as he is. Ya look prissy enough. Maybe yer here for a date with the big fella. What do you
think, boys? Should we escort Bracket’s date in for him?” He sneered at Austin and started for
him. The others laughed and started to follow toward Austin.
Very quietly, Austin said, “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”
“Oh, ho. Listen to the little banty rooster. A tough guy, huh? Why, I’m plumb shakin’ in my
boots. How ’bout you boys?” Buck laughed.
Unnoticed by the group at the front of the building, a very, very large man had come out, and
now said from behind them, “Why, Buck, what has you shakin’ in your boots? I didn’t think you
scared so easy.”
The voice was deep and smooth. Austin whipped his head around and nearly gaped when he saw
the size and beauty of the big man. Was this Brack Edge? Wow. And good Lord, would you look
at those dimples? Huge. Austin had never seen such perfect creases around such a perfect mouth.
Ah, here was a gay man’s wet dream.
Austin got a quick sense of big muscles and big hands and very strange brown hair with blond
streaks in it. He even noticed emerald green eyes in that split second. He sure hoped this was his
guide. He found himself wanting to get to know this man. He had never…ever…been instantly
attracted to anyone before.
“Brack, honey, looks like your date’s here. We was just goin’ to escort him in to see you.” Buck
gestured to Austin and went on in his mocking voice, “Don’t know his name, but he sure is
pretty, ain’t he? Y’all make a right sweet couple.” He looked Austin up and down and sneered.
“He don’t look hardly big enough for you to plow…” Buck got no farther as Brack came off the
porch of the building and took a swing at him to shut him up. Oh hell. That started it.
Four against one just wasn’t fair, even if the one was the size of two. God, how long since he’d
been in a fight? It just wasn’t part of his life anymore. Austin hadn’t forgotten anything, though.
He took a second to gauge the situation. He needed to make sure this was a real fight, not just
friends having fun. Nope. The blood that blossomed on Brack’s lip and the knife he saw one of
the others flip out answered his question right away. Austin felt the adrenaline perking him right
up and he waded in, taking out the guy wielding the knife with a quick kick to the knee. Austin
grabbed the knife as the guy went down and threw it far away. Turning just in time to grab the
fist that aimed for his jaw, he turned, flipping the big man over. Austin followed him down and
punched him, hard, knocking him out cold. Two down. Damn! The adrenaline rushed through his
body. He hadn’t done any fighting in years. It looked like some things never left you.
Austin looked over to see that Brack had taken Buck out and was holding the small one with his
arm behind his back. Austin saw Brack lean down and whisper something to the young man,
which got a nod. Brack turned the man around and punched him, lightly, on the jaw and the guy
went down like a sack of potatoes. It was not a hard enough punch to warrant that. It looked fake,
and when he saw the man look up at Brack gratefully before closing his eyes, Austin knew the
truth. Brack hadn’t wanted to hurt the young one. Interesting. He looked at the smaller one, lying
there, and felt his heart thud for a moment. There was something about him…
“Austin Edmunds? I’m Brack Edge. Nice to meet you. I’m thinking this isn’t going to be as
boring as I first thought. Uh, sorry. I mean…”
“It’s all right. No problem. Yes, I’m Austin, and this was an interesting introduction.” He reached
out his hand to shake Brack’s outstretched one. His whole hand was swallowed. Austin had never
considered himself small, but damn. Next to Brack, he was a shrimp. It was an odd feeling.
Fleetingly, he thought he knew how Howie had felt, but he let that thought go before he could
dwell on it.
“You are something else, man. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as big as you. I mean…uh…”
Austin stopped as Brack laughed, and said, “My turn. It’s all right. No problem. I am a large man.
But let me tell you, for a little guy, you can fight. Where’d you learn that?”
“New York? I thought you worked for a magazine. A writer and a photographer, right?”
“Right. But I grew up on what they call the mean streets. Long story. I can hold my own.”