Ryder Daniels and Jason Mallory seem to have it all but even the most loving marriage takes work. Ryder’s past leads him to remain silent yet resentful in the face of conflict while Jason strives to prove he can take care of his family without Ryder’s wealth, even if it costs him precious time with his husband and daughter.When a devastating illness leaves them shaken and helpless, Ryder is forced to face the one person he never thought to see again with a life or death request that even he isn’t sure will be granted, but his decisions have far-reaching consequences. Believing he and Ryder have no secrets, Jason is distraught to discover otherwise, revealing yet another crack in their once-perfect relationship.
Adrift and uncertain, both struggle to hold onto a love previously thought unshakable. A forbidden past is exposed, shocking Ryder to the core, but it means little without Jason by his side. Marriage is a true partnership and both men must learn that only by working through their pain and heartbreak together can they achieve a lifetime of love.
“Daddy!”Four-year-old Gemma’s plaintive cry split the night. Ryder squinted at the glowing numbers on the digital clock next to his bed. Three a.m. Shit. Nothing good ever happened at this hour of the night, or morning, if he wanted to get technical. Maybe it was a bad dream, even though Gemma rarely woke up at night anymore.
He settled down beneath the warmth of the comforter, preparing to fall back asleep. Jason moved closer to him, and Ryder slid his foot down Jason’s calf, relishing the scrape of his hairy leg. As long as he was up, it shouldn’t be a total loss. Ryder kissed Jason’s naked shoulder and licked up his strong neck, the steady pulse of life quickening beneath his lips. Jason’s sighs spurred him on, and Ryder smiled to himself, unsure whether his husband was fully awake, but that didn’t stop him from palming Jason’s ass and giving it a hard squeeze.
“Daddy, please. Come.”
Damn. No use. Fully awake now, Ryder slid out of bed, immediately missing Jason’s solid heat. Longingly he gazed back down at him splayed out in the center of the bed and shook his head with dismay. The man worked too damn hard. Jason had collapsed after they put Gemma to sleep the night before, barely able to stifle his yawns long enough to eat dinner. Mallory Brothers Construction had taken off in the past few years, and though Jason and Liam had hired several other architects and construction engineers to help alleviate the load of work they took on, Jason still tried to be as hands-on as possible. He and Ryder had numerous discussions about his long hours and how they kept him from being home with Gemma, but Jason insisted his presence was necessary, and Ryder backed off, unwilling to argue about it.
The past few weeks, Ryder tried to push dinner later and later, but Gemma had fallen asleep at the dinner table too many times for that to remain feasible. He loved the quiet times at night when they’d sit together and he’d read her a bedtime story, but Ryder missed having Jason beside him, sharing those special moments. The last thing Ryder wanted was for Jason to work so hard he missed Gemma’s childhood; his own father had missed his and Landon’s childhoods by burying himself in his work. Ryder wouldn’t allow Jason to do that, but he had to find a way to tell Jason without him getting upset.
“What’s wrong?” Jason mumbled, his face buried in the pillow. “I had a dream someone was copping a feel.” He turned his cheek on the pillow and mustered a tired smile. “Thought I was gonna get lucky.”
“You were about to, but Gemma woke up before I could make your dreams come true. Go back to sleep, babe.” Ryder leaned down to kiss Jason’s stubble-rough cheek. “She probably had a bad dream.”
“Mmm. Well, hurry back. I was dreaming of the beach, and you were my hot cabana boy.” He wiggled his ass. “I’m ready for my massage.”
Ryder snorted and rolled his eyes. “You’re insane.” But he couldn’t help kissing Jason’s smooth shoulder again. “Be right back,” he whispered against Jason’s skin, but all he received was an answering sleepy sigh.