Tucker Gray is a Baltimore, MD waiter, hailing from the deep south, whose mental health issues and past relationships have made it hard to trust more than the cut. After he hits what he thought was rock bottom Tucker decides to keep close to the ones who stood by him and keep his head down, until he finds something to prove it can get better.
Jesse Bauer is unsure what his future holds after an injury forces him to retire from the marines. With all of the decisions he has to make in his civilian life with all of its freedoms and possibilities, he feels staying closeted and keeping the people in his life happy will keep down the chaos.
Until the night he met Tucker Gray at a party he thought that’d be possible, but both of them are instantly and strongly in lust. As their relationship grows Jesse has to prove himself and Tucker has to learn to trust more than the cut.
I truly enjoyed this book!! Tucker Gray and Jesse Bauer’s story is one that will stick with me for some time to come.
Tucker is a man with mental illness and a fair amount of hurt in his part. He keeps a close circle of friends but others do not know he suffers. Tucker is an openly gay man but one who choses to be alone as he feels it suits his mental state best.
So when Tucker runs into Jesse at a party and can not stop thinking about this man who appears to be straight the fun starts. I very much enjoyed watching Tucker battle his attraction to a man so in the closet, who everyone around him thinks he is straight and I equally felt for Jesse and his struggle to accept who he is.
Jesse is a former Marine forced to “retire” (shh our bonus scene will clearly explain why) who is struggling with is identity on so many level, not sure an attraction to Tucker he is trying to process but who is he if he is not a Marine.
These two men will take you on an emotional journey, one that had the reader experiencing bigotry, stigma, love, hate and the powerful of a deep connection.
When these two men finally connect the desire is so tangible the reader can feel it!
These scenes were so well done, they portrayed sexual desire but also emotion.
I though Jesse’s backstory was so well done, it explained many of his actions and helped the reader understand why he finally pushes forward.
I love loved how this author portrayed Tucker and his disease; Mr. Boehme made it clear Mental illness is something you live with not something you get over. He so honored that in Tucker’s story
The end of this story has me gripping my kindle with both hands, and in the end I respected that the author did not sugar coat things; the end was realistic and a true testament to these men’s past and desire to all of each other, not just the pretty or the convenient but the whole person and in the end is that what we all crave to be loved for who we are!
If you enjoy an emotional and real feel M/M read I highly recommend this one.
This was my first book by Mr. Boehme and I was impressed!
I look forward to more wonderful stories.
Tucker rolled over in bed, placing his palm on the small of Jesse’s back. He caressed the skin gently and lay his cheek on Jesse’s damaged shoulder. Four years they’d been together. He couldn’t believe it. And they were months from their wedding. He’d freaked out a few times, the stress high between his first year of teaching and getting ready to marry this wonderful, fearless lion of a man. But the man, Jesse, Tucker’s sunshine,knew to just be quiet sometimes and let Tucker think. Jesse would just be there to be touched, to anchor Tucker to the world. The grey was never as bleak as it once had been, and all because of still moments like this.
Tucker kissed Jesse’s shoulder blade and studied the scar on Jesse’s shoulder. “Jess?”
“Hmm,” came Jesse’s sleepy rumble.
“You know, I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, and you never having brought it up may be a sign you don’t ever want to talk about it, but …” Tucker wasn’t sure whether he should go on. Jesse’s muscles seemed to tense and that made Tucker second guess his question.
“Tuck?” Jesse’s voice was wary. “Just ask your damn questions, man.” Tucker snorted. He seemed to remember using that line with his best friend Alison quite a lot during some pretty-high stress situations.
“Your shoulder. I always wondered what really happened there. I understand if it’s not—” Tucker was silenced when Jesse rolled abruptly and took Tucker’s face in his hands, planting a gentle, smiling kiss on Tucker’s lips.
“Of course I don’t mind telling you. Wow. The way you lead up to that, I was worried.” And Tucker could see the edge of worry slipping from Jesse’s eyes. Tucker felt horrible because he knew he’d put that worry there. He’d hurt himself and Jesse so many time in the years they’d been together, but they’d made such progress thanks to individual and couples counseling. He had such hope for him and Jesse. Together. He finally felt strong enough to deserve this man.
“You still there?” Jesse’s voice held a tease. Tucker hadn’t even realized he’d zoned out. He focused his attention on Jesse’s face. That wonderful, beautiful face that once had been stoic, impassive and hard to read with its cold grey gaze, firm jawline and buzzed military-style haircut was now softer and younger. Happiness really agreed with Jesse Bauer and pride filled Tucker’s chest that he had, even in some measure, managed to be part of that happiness despite his fuck-ups and weaknesses.
“Yeah, I’m still here. Sorry.” Tucker ran his fingers through Jesse’s much longer blond locks, which flipped up lightly. The softness of the man’s hair was another new, surprising thing. After so long only having rough stubbly hair the fact that every part of the man was gentler and … softer made Tucker swoon every time he saw Jesse. He couldn’t imagine ever falling out of love with the man.
“Well, it’s really a pretty boring story. We were on a routine op, got overtaken and three of us were injured. Mine was the worst, thankfully. No casualties for our side, but my shoulder got blown out. All that inside—“ Jesse knocked on his shoulder “That’s fake. New joint, pins and screws. Ugly business.”
“And that’s enough to get you medically discharged?”
Jesse rolled his much larger body and pinned Tucker underneath. Their naked bodies touched, head to toe, but it wasn’t sexual—yet. Just comforting and warm and Tucker’s body molded into Jesse’s as he wrapped his arms around Jesse’s waist.
Jesse was laughing. “You think a fake shoulder isn’t enough to get me taken out of the game?”
Tucker rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I mean. It just seems like, maybe that’s a small thing compared to some of the amputations and stuff you see.” Tucker felt like maybe he was fucking this up, the way Jesse’s eyebrow quirked as he gave Tucker a caustic look. “I don’t mean—I just…” Tucker was stammering. Dammit. “I was just thinking you seemed to rehab well and it hasn’t affected your weight training or anything. It just would seem like maybe you would have been a bigger asset.”
Jesse silenced Tucker with a kiss then pulled back and studied Tucker’s face. He seemed like maybe he’d made some decision in his mind as he made an affirmative nod. “The injury freaked me out. I could see my shoulder was blown to shit and I was losing a lot of blood and losing it fast.” Jesse rolled off Tucker and lay back with his eyes closed. Tucker felt bad for bringing it up now. Jesse’s face had clouded and damn. Way to fail, Gray.
“Jesse, it’s okay, really. I didn’t mean—“
Jesse reached out a hand and placed it on Tucker’s belly, eyes still closed, just rubbing up and down for support. Tucker like that Jesse drew strength from him and was comforted by his presence as much as Tucker was comforted by Jesse’s. “No, it’s okay. I’ve just not talked about this. Ever.” Jesse was silent for a beat then continued, quietly. “I started losing consciousness from the blood loss. My commander and my best buddy Ricky were both trying to patch me up while we waited on medic to fly in. I guess in the moment I was pretty hysterical. I just knew I was gonna die.”
“Oh, Jess.” Tucker could feel the distress rolling off Jesse in waves. He rarely, if ever, saw Jesse like this., so lost in a memory that he was reliving it. Tucker gripped Jesse’s hand and Jesse held tight.
“It was pretty horrible. I’ll never forget that feeling. Wondering if I fall asleep will it be that time that I never wake up again. I remember trying to fucking hold on to life, to breathe. But I also remember praying and trying to square things up with the big guy.”
“I can’t imagine.” Tucker actually could, he’d been there. He knew what it felt like to really realize that this might be the last image you saw, the last breath you felt yourself take. The intensity of a moment like that hurt. But he’d always been in a place where he didn’t fight it. He didn’t cry out for the savior or think he had shit to live for. He usually calmly accepted this may be his last moment.
Jesse turned and looked Tucker in the eye. Oh how sad those eyes looked. Tucker’s breath caught in his chest. He couldn’t handle to see the light in those grey depth so dim. “I’m pretty fucking sure you know what that feels like, Tuck.” Oh Jess.Tucker kissed Jesse and whispered, “No, it’s different. You wanted to live.”
Jesse closed his eyes, furrowing his brow. “Fuck, Jess. Sorry. But, it’s true.”
“I know, Tucker. I do. It’s just hard to think of you like that.”
“Then don’t.” Tucker squeezed Jesse’s hand. “I’m good right now, have been for a long time. We’re good.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.” Jesse opened his eyes again and the light was a little brighter in them before he turned his attention back to the ceiling. “Well, when I was fighting not to let that fucking desert by my end when everyone else was going to walk out with just a few bullet grazes, I may have… Outed myself.”
Tucker leaned up on his elbow, looking at Jesse, stunned. “Shutup.”
Jesse laughed. “You’re a little old to still be saying that.”
“Call me old again and you won’t get laid for a month,Marmaduke.”
“Yeah right.” Jesse cupped Tucker’s balls in his hand, Tucker’s body responding immediately. “I don’t see you holding out very long, baby.”
Tucker shuddered, canting his hip up into the warmth of Jesse’s large hand. “Fuck, Jess.”
“No, no, no. You wanted to hear this story. You can just wait.”
“Later,” Jesse deadpanned. “So, I told my commander and my buddy that I couldn’t die without having ever fallen in love. I don’t know why I said something so sentimental.”
“Yeah, I can’t picture hard-ass Bauer that I first met saying something like that.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t. They were just as surprised as I was that the words came out of my mouth. Ricky said something about Miranda. And damn if it didn’t just come out. I said I wasn’t in love with her. She was a beard and I needed a man. I didn’t want to die without ever having found even five minutes of happiness with myself and a man that I cared for.”
Jesse huffed what may have been another laugh. At least he seemed to be in better spirits. “Safe to say they were both really surprised. Thankfully, they kept quiet, though.”
Tucker carded his fingers through Jesse’s hair again. “I may be dense, but I still don’t get what this has to do with anything.”
Jesse smirked. “Tucker, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell wasn’t repealed in congress for another two months. So while I was fresh from surgery, learning limitations and getting ready to be transferred to Germany, the commander came to tell me they’d worked out a medical discharge. He hated losing me, yadda yadda, but at least this way I didn’t have a dishonorable discharge. So I took him up on it. My buddy Ricky was being an asshole and no doubt if I stayed behind it would have come out again, one way or the other. I just figured I may as well go with it.”
“But, it was repealed while you were in the hospital, right?”
“Well, you have to remember there was that whole waiting period and by the time that came through my discharge had been pushed through. And you can’t really unring the medical bell, babe.”
“Would you go back if you could?”
Jesse’s eyes locked on Tucker’s and there was a steely certainty in them when he said “Not a chance.”
“I’m sorry, Jess.”
“I’m not.” Jesse rolled to face Tucker, insinuating his leg between Tucker’s. “I got you out of the deal and I got out of that damn closet.”
“You got to be free. Like the eagle tattoo on your back.”
Jesse winked at Tucker. “You figured that out, huh?”
“Well, I always wondered, but it seemed patriotic.”
“That’s why I did that one. It just felt like the unattainable but it’s what I was fighting for. The freedom of our country, but mostly for guys like you and me to be able to love each other. I wanted to be free myself for so long, so I got the tattoo to remind myself that maybe one day I would be. It was the goal.”
“And are you free?” Tucker asked, quietly.
Tucker felt his eyes widen as he looked at Jesse who smiled and kissed Tucker’s lips, chastely. “Oh, I’m free in all the ways it counts. But I’m not free. I’m completely ensnared by this sexy, incredible…”
“Oh, Lord.” Tucker flopped on his back and groaned, grinning. “You’re so fuckin’ corny, Bauer. Really?”
Jesse rolled back on top of Tucker and kissed him deeply, hard and full of passion. “You love me anyway.”
Tucker just smiled, because he definitely did. With all his heart.
Tucker frowned thoughtfully. “For what?”
“You know you gave me what I always wanted. All this, every bit of it. The fake shoulder, leaving the Corps, all the insanity of the last few years… I got so much more than I wanted. I guess the universe listened to that part of the prayer and not the part about getting right before I die.”
Tucker shook his head and lifted his head to kiss Jesse again. “I’m glad.”
“Me too.” Jesse looked longingly at Tucker. Tucker’s heart was full to bursting. Yeah, his golden man, his fierce protector and best friend was just as needy as him deep down, but needy for Tucker. That tether between them was more than people could ever imagine. They both came from a place where they’d had to fight for that better day and damn if they hadn’t found that better day, that hope, in each other. That was fucking real.
Tucker hugged Jesse tight then gave the man and indulgent smile. Finally he asked, “Jess?”
“Can we fuck now?”
Jesse rolled out Tucker guffawing. And Tucker couldn’t think of a better sound. Well, maybe he could. He rolled over to Jesse and, kissing him, took Jesse in hand and took them oblivion. Together.
About the Author
Kade Boehme is a southern boy without the charm, but all the sass. Currently residing in Seattle, he lives off of ramen noodles and too much booze.
He is “the epitomy of dorkdom”, only watching TV when Rachel Maddow or one of his sports teams is on. (That’d be Orioles, Seahwaks, Ravens, or Gators.) Most of his free time is spent dancing, arguing politics or with his nose in a book. He is also a hardcore Britney Spears fangirl and has an addiction to glitter.
It was after writing a short story about boys who loved each other for a less than reputable adult website that he found his true calling, and hopefully a bit more class.
He hopes to write about all the romance that he personally finds himself allergic to but that others can fall in love with. He maintains that life is real and the stories should be, as well.
Sometimes it’s just about the fight for love.
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