Welcome to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked! Today I have to opportunity to spotlight multipublished author Jess Buffett. Her newest book, Always Been You released last week. Woot! :D Jess has generously offered an excerpt for you to enjoy and it sounds like a sweet story. Take a peek.
But first, the Blurb for Always Been You:
Seth Hall returns to his hometown for the first time in eleven years. Now a father of two, he vows not to let his past intervene when he sets up a happy, stable life for them. That is, until Jared, the boy who had broken his heart all those years ago, turns up wanting a chance with him.
Jared Stewart thought he had lost his only chance to be with Seth. When Seth finally comes home, Jared makes it his mission to catch Seth once and for all but unfortunately not everyone wants that to happen.
Will they be finally able to make a life for themselves together? Or will they be torn apart again, by people they thought they could trust?
"Is this our home now, daddy?"
Staring down at his five-year-old daughter, Seth Hall nodded. "Yeah, Ally. This is it."
This was it. Newport, New Hampshire. It was the home of maple sugar, apple orchards, and his oldest memories. He hadn't been back here since he'd left for college a little over eleven years ago. It was the beginning of summer break and both his children would be starting school at the end of it, which would give him just enough time to have the bakery up and running again.
Taking their hands, he walked Lucas and Ally up the pebble path to the front door of their new house. It was a conventional ranch-style home, with a second floor holding a fourth bedroom and another room large enough that he had turned it into a game's room—another place for him to hide in addition to the study. The first floor contained most everything else including the three bedrooms and the living area. The spacious kitchen gave Seth the creative space he needed for what Luc called his ‘baking explosions’. There was also a small nook area to sit at for meals. If Seth was honest with himself, he could hardly see them having a meal in the formal dining room unless they had others over; it wasn't their thing. Of all the thing he loved about their new house, the yard had to be near the top of the list. It was bigger than most of the yards on the street and he knew the kids were excited about it; they hadn't had one in New York.
His parents, Bart and Sally Hall, had been great helping him find a house and finalizing everything, including setting up the house so it was ready when they arrived; it probably helped it was on the same street as theirs, not that he was complaining. He was all for having a support network close by. Seth had seen the house already when he and the children had come for a short visit two weeks earlier. He figured staying at the new house on that visit would give the kids a chance to get used to the place before the move.
Stepping into the house, he crouched down, looking at Ally and Lucas. With a tired sigh he said, "You guys know where everything is, so why don't you start getting ready for bed."
"Aww, do we have to?" a chorus rang out.
"It's getting late and it's been a long trip. I'll tell you what. How about if you're good, instead of going into the bakery with me tomorrow, you can stay and play with Nan and Pop? " When all else fails... bribery.
Luc and Ally raced to their rooms on peals of laughter. Seth wasn't sure if he should take that personally. He shook his head at his children, thinking that they never ceased to amaze him. They showed bravery and resilience with everything—not that they didn't struggle at times, as well. The moments when Lucas would go silent were the worst. Sometimes, late at night, Lucas would come in needing to be held, and if Seth admitted it, he needed to held sometimes too.
Pulling his phone out, Seth called his mom as he paced the room.
"Hello," his mom answered.
"Hey, Mom. I just thought you'd like to know we got here in one piece."
"Oh, honey, I'm glad you made it safe and sound. How are the little ones?" she asked.
"They're good. Just getting ready for bed," Seth replied. "Listen, I was wondering if it was too much trouble for you to take the kids tomorrow? It seems they would rather hang out with you guys than with me at the bakery. Go figure."
"Of course, we'd love that. Actually, I'm glad you called. I know your bakery isn't fully set up yet, but I know someone who wanted some treats done. I thought since you would want to start making a name for yourself..." his mom trailed off, knowing he wouldn't say no.
"You're right," Seth chuckled.
"I usually am," she responded.
"So dad tells me." He laughed at his mother's antics, regardless of the truth behind them. "So, who is it and what's it for?"
"Well, do you remember Isabelle Stewart? She's getting married and is having an engagement party."
Seth stilled, a knot the size of a melon forming in his stomach. Oh yeah. He remembered Isabelle. What was more important, he remembered her brother, Jared. The thing about Jared was, he was the 'all-American boy' all small towns seemed to have. He had it all. Jared was tall and broad-shouldered with blond hair and jade-colored eyes. Even his skin appeared to have been permanently bronzed from the sun, due to his position on the football team. Go Tigers!
Jared had always been good to him, which sometimes made it worse. While others would bully him, whether it was his looks or he was gay, Jared was kind. He defended Seth even against his own teammates. They worshiped Jared too much to say anything against Seth, at least in front of him. The problem was, Jared wasn't always there.
"Yeah. I remember," Seth replied weakly. "Just tell her I'll be at the bakery tomorrow. She can come by then."
"Excellent. I will. See you tomorrow, sweetheart."
Hanging up the phone, Seth fell back on to the lounge, still not believing what had just happened. He'd not even been back home for an hour and Jared Stewart was already affecting him. He kept reminding himself that it was a meeting with Isabelle, not Jared. That didn't seem to help. Seth knew from his parents that Jared had moved back here after he graduated from college. He had apparently gone into Law, just like his father—and was reportedly as good, if not better, at it.
Seth knew that he would have to see him eventually; he'd only hoped to put it off for a little longer.
Jared had been everything to him. Against all odds, they had become close friends, sharing secrets, fears, hopes and dreams. He remembered the way Jared used to give him gentle touches. His friend had been a noticeably tactile person, very affectionate to all—with an arm over the shoulder, a hand stroke on the arm, all designed to remind Seth of what he couldn't have. At one time Seth thought Jared felt the same. God, how wrong he had been. Instead, his heart had been shattered and Seth lost the his only real friend. Sometimes, all these years later, he could still hear the taunts thrown at him as he ran from that party. God, I felt pathetic.
Being the only gay kid around had been difficult in a semi-small town and that's why it had just been so painful coming back. Seth was tall but skinny, with raven-black hair that clashed against his pale skin and plain brown eyes that were too big for his face. He was one of those kids who just screamed please, kick my ass. Life in New York was easier to handle. That is, it had been easier until recently. The last two years he'd raised Ally and her older brother, Lucas, by himself. While they were biologically his after he'd donated to help his friends conceive, Seth was never supposed to be the one to raise them. Their parents, Shawn and Jane, had died in a senseless shooting that almost took him as well. He brought up a hand to his chest, trying to ease the ache that seemed permanently settled there since the incident.
A tugging at his other hand dragged Seth out of his memories, and he realized Lucas and Ally stood in front of him, ready for bedtime. "Let's go, munchkins. Hit the sack. We have a big day tomorrow." Taking their hands, he put his children to bed. He had to focus on them now—not something from the past like Jared that didn't matter anymore. At least, that's what he told himself.If you'd like to read more of Always Been You, you can find it at:
For Jess Buffett:
Hmmm, what can I say about myself...I was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. I married my high school sweetheart and we live on the Central Coast with our two children. I am absolutely a hopeless romantic who loves stories about true love that sizzle with a happy ending (which is probably a good thing given what I write). I'm a huge fan of M/M and M/F romance—anything with hunky men in all their glory, whether they be Shifters, Vampires, Cowboys, or the boy next door. I'm a firm believer in soul mates, happily ever afters, and in love at first sight, but that sometimes people need a second or a third for the brain to catch up.
You can find her here: