Welcome to the Exclusive Cover Reveal of Kelly Jensen’s Chasing Forever, book three in her This Time Forever series, coming December 10th from Riptide Publishing!
About the Book
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
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“What Are We Drinking?”
The door opened with a rush of cold air, and Brian reentered the bar, pausing only to stamp a little snow from his shoes, before eyeing the assembled patronage, all tuned back in to his channel, and giving them a short salute. Everyone went back to their business as he collected his jacket, his bill, his empty glass, and approached the bar.
Mal straightened in his seat, not wanting to appear too slumped over his beer. He thought about pushing his fingers through his hair, then remembered he didn’t have hair anymore. Well, he did, but it was a lot shorter than it used to be. Grayer, too. He nudged his crutches deeper into the shadowy nook he’d tucked them into and then tried putting one elbow on the bar, wincing when it slipped through the beer puddle, nearly landing him face-first on the varnished wood. The scent of hops and old French fries wafted up to meet him before a warm hand caught his shoulder.
The pressure on his shoulder was enough to wake some of the old athletic reflex—whatever hadn’t abandoned him on the side of Lake Road last August—and jerk Mal back to an upright position in front of an extremely well-made face.
“Thanks,” Mal muttered and wondered if his cheeks were as warm as they felt.
Brian squeezed his shoulder. “See, it’s not all bad.”
“Right when you think your life is about to do a body slide along the length of the bar, someone comes along and stops everything.”
Mal blinked questioningly at the man in front of him, the man who did have blue eyes, he now saw. Four shades bluer than Mal’s own washed-out denim color. And the sort of handsomeness that wasn’t a mask. Attractiveness was ingrained in every line of Brian’s face. From the easy laugh lines cornering his mouth and eyes, to the way his brows refused to curl against nature, but still managed to look rugged. His nose was long and straight, but pointed a little sideways, as if it’d been broken at some point. Of course, that only made him more interesting. His hair wasn’t all blond, just mostly, the paler strands at his temples only serving to highlight the fact that Brian had been designed by nature to age well.
Brian’s mouth tilted upward, slightly. A smile or possibly an amused smirk.
Mal cleared his throat. Reached for his glass. Then decided to go for it. He stuck out his hand. “Mal Montgomery and I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
For a moment, it seemed as though Brian might take offense. Then he tipped his head back and laughed—quietly and not for long enough to embarrass himself or Mal. He gripped Mal’s hand in a solid shake. “Brian Kenway.”
“I know.” Whoops.
Brian’s eyebrows did not jump up. Instead, he widened his smile. “My reputation precedes me.”
“Something like that.”
“Leo been gossiping about me again?”
“We were wondering what happened to your friend,” Leo said.
Brian flipped one hand carelessly in the direction of the door. “I was an asshole. She’ll forgive me tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that.”
Okay, then. “So . . .” Mal moved his mouth a couple more times, but no words came out. What the heck? He had a doctorate in medieval and premodern European history, an area that did, on occasion, dip into language studies. “Want a beer?” he finally managed.
Grinning, Brian draped his jacket over one stool and sat on the other. Right next to Mal. “Sure. What are we drinking?”
“Snowdrift Vanilla Porter.” That had been a serious question, right? One he was supposed to answer.
Brian nodded toward Leo, who got busy fitting another glass under the tap. Brian waited until he had his glass before lifting it for a toast. “What should we drink to?”
Mal picked up his glass. “Health.”
They clinked and sipped. Brian appeared to savor the beer before swallowing, humming, and then licking his lips with a long, slow swipe of his tongue. “Tasty.”
It wasn’t that original a line, but it shot straight to Mal’s cock, along with the imaginary press of that tongue, to stir the slumbering beast. Not so much he had to shift on the stool, but enough to feel a little like Rip Van Winkle waking to a new world.
“So, what have you heard about me?” Brian asked.
“What nonsense has Leo been filling your ears with?”
“Oh, um . . .” Mal had never been a good flirt—he didn’t have the gene for it. Or the knack. Or enough opportunity to practice. Generally, he was much wittier online, especially when he knew what he was talking about. “Ah . . .” Had he tried that sound yet? “Thursday nights. We talked about Thursday nights.”
“How come I’ve never seen you in here on a Thursday?”
Because I’m a high school teacher didn’t seem like the right answer. Neither did an explanation about his legs. “I’ve been busy.”
Brian smiled again, a boyish grin that suited his face. Made him look mischievous and even sorta cute, if you could get away with calling a good-looking guy cute. “What do you do?”
Okay, Mal knew how to handle this one. Short answer, not long. And make it sexy. “Right now, I split my time between . . .” So much easier online. “I play video games.”
“For a living?”
“No. I’m on leave from what I do for a living.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere. Is this an administrative kind of leave? Did you do something naughty, Malcolm?”
“No one calls me Malcolm”—except his father and only when they were going to have a talk—“and no, I did not. What about you?” Mal let his gaze slide left to the fading pink mark on Brian’s cheek.
Brian returned one of his rascal grins. “Recently, offending my best friend and business partner. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.”
Leo appeared in the middle of them, or as middle as he could get with a foot of bar in the way. “Ready to settle your tab, Professor?”
Brian’s eyebrows danced again. “Professor?”
“It’s a joke and . . .” Mal couldn’t do a sideways glance when facing someone, and he didn’t know how to do coy, either. Another guy would know where to go from here. A less awkward man might simply ask if Brian was interested in taking this elsewhere. Not Mal. Not his thing, the fact his cock still tingled notwithstanding. Brian was a fantasy, not reality.
Besides, what did he have to offer a man like Brian Kenway? Now, in particular. He couldn’t get to his knees. Heck, he could barely walk. Sex was probably completely out of the question, even if Brian wasn’t put off by the first two facts.
“You seem to be doing a lot of thinking over there, Professor,” Brian said, his tone quiet. “Can I offer a suggestion?”
Mal shook his head and the sharp movement failed to throw off his descending gloom. He felt in his pocket for his wallet. “No. I’m good. Leo, I think I’ll settle up.”
Brian seemed to wrestle with his mindset again, and fascinated, Mal watched, now employing a sideways look as he counted the bills in his wallet. By the time he’d laid his cash on the bar, Brian Kenway had obviously decided how to react.
He smiled. Offered a gracious dip of his chin. “I’ll wish you a happy holidays, then.” Brian turned to Leo, gave him the same smile, same little nod. Then he laid a hundred-dollar bill on the bar. “On me.”
He swept his jacket off the other stool and swung it over his shoulders in a gesture that, if Mal tried to emulate it, would result in him collecting every glass along the length of the bar and sweeping them to the floor. And then Brian was gone, the Colonial falling silent once more as though someone had clicked the remote, pausing the show in the middle of the final scene.
About the Series
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
The Series Includes: Building Forever — Available Now!
Renewing Forever — releasing November 12, available for preorder!
Chasing Forever — releasing December 10, available soon!
About the Author
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.