Where There's Smoke by KC Kendricks

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE
Book #10 of the Men of Marionville collection
Contemporary gay romance

The Men of Marionville collection are stand-alone stories, not sequels or prequels. The stories are set in the fictitious town of Marionville. 

Leon McNamee successfully worked his life plan to a good job, his own home, and the one thing he always wanted as a boy - a dog. He hasn’t had much luck in the relationship department, but in Smoke, he has all the company he usually needs.

Jeremy Cooke’s new plan is to stay clear of entanglements and not get hurt again. He moves to Marionville to start over and decides to rescue a damaged dog. After all, he’s well acquainted with abuse.

Leon and Jere get acquainted over their shared love of dogs, but Jeremy holds close his secrets. When an argument escalates, disaster strikes. Leon has to fight to save Jere’s dog - and the man’s trust. At the end of the day, his best ally is a black Labrador Retriever named Smoke.


EXCERPT


“Yeah, it’s like twice the size and population. I think people here are nicer, though.” He paused and took a deep breath. “I…had a bad relationship. Like, really bad. My bad judgment. I knew someone here, a relative of sorts, so I came here to… I guess start over.”

The flat tone of his voice spoke volumes. It was a hopeless defeat, a tiredness I’d never personally experienced. What tore at my heart was the total absence of any defiance.
I’d been bitter when Allan decided he didn’t like my dog enough to stay with me. Good riddance, I’d said. I’d been determined to put him behind me and move on - and I had. I sensed Jeremy had floundered on his way to ending the relationship. Maybe he still did.

Today wasn’t the day to pry further. Today was for building a friendship and finding possibilities.

I put my hand on his knee. “Are you sorry it ended?”

He stared at my hand but didn’t move away. “I’m sorry it began.”

I patted his knee. “Well, it’s Saturday. What should we do now? Take in a flick?”

“You’re nothing if not predictable, Leon. I knew you were going to suggest a movie some time before I let you drive me home.”

“Okay. No movie. You like boats?”

He leaned away and looked down his nose at me. “Seriously? You really can’t help yourself, can you? What’s wrong with sitting here and chilling out?”

“My dog is on a leash. My dog ate and will no doubt want to poop in public grass where kids play, and I won’t allow him to do his outside activities here. My dog needs to go home to his backyard, and then his crate for a nap.”

Jeremy straightened. “Good points. I guess you should take me and Mo home so you can get on with your day.”

I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him for fear I’d never see him again. My instinct said he’d never call me, and if I called him, he might hesitate to answer. I showed my desperation.

“Do you like baseball?”

“Yeah, I do! It’s really cool Marionville is getting a double A team.” He narrowed his eyes. “What?”

I hung my head. “I don’t know a fucking thing about baseball.”

“So why the hell did you ask me if I liked it?”

“Would you like to hang out at my place and watch the game? You can teach me about it.”

He stared at me, lips slightly parted, an enigmatic expression in his eyes. “Do you like anything other besides dogs?”

“I like to ski.”

He glanced at the sky, and then looked at me. “Water or snow?”

I grinned at him. “Both.”

“Thank God. I’ve never been water skiing, but I’m pretty good on the slopes.”

“I didn’t know they had mountains in Peoria,” I quipped, still smiling.

He smirked at me. God, he was adorable when he wrinkled his nose and rolled his eyes.

“When I was a mere lad, we spent every, and I mean every fucking Christmas at my grandfather’s place in Pennsylvania. I learned to ski. And you’re a smartass, Leon McNamee.”

“And you’re just too cute Jeremy Cooke.”

I didn’t actually think about it. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have done it.

I slipped my arm around his shoulders, leaned in, and kissed him.

He started and sucked in a quick breath. I’d never had anyone go so still in my arms. But he didn’t pull away. His lips trembled under mine, and yet he didn’t push us apart. I moved my lips over his in a soft caress and ended the kiss.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE
Book #10 of the Men of Marionville collection

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Want to read more about the guys living and working in Marionville? Click here for another excerpt.


KC Kendricks
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