Wes Jensen just lost the sister who raised him, and gained custody of his niece. The last thing he needs to add to his full plate is dealing with Braden Roth, the one-night-stand who continues to try to push his way into Wes’ life. He has a kid to raise now, and Wes isn’t great at getting close anyway.
Braden has never had a woman or a man sneak out on him the morning after. From the start, Wes intrigues him, and Braden isn’t one to deny himself something he wants. And he wants Wes. The more time he spends with Wes and the little girl who constantly keeps them on their toes, the more Braden realizes this isn’t just about getting the guy who walked away.
As their lives intertwine more and more, Wes discovers Braden isn’t as shallow as he thought. But after everything Wes lost in his life, he isn’t sure he can risk his heart, and truly want Braden to stay—and if he did, would Wes’ quiet life be enough for Braden?
Stay tells the story of Wes and Braden, two men readers met in book 1 Collide; yes this is a male male romance. Stay is easily able to be read alone as Cooper and Noah from book 1 are minor secondary characters in Stay.
Stay opens where book 1 left off with Wes dealing with the loss of his sister and being left to care for his niece Jessie.
I wanted to pause and say I loved Jessie; this little girl offered such a range of emotions for the readers; there is a Christmas Eve scene that broken my heart and reminded me how deeply loss affects people even when they have a smile on their face.
Wes is tasked with caring for his niece and with building a new life in a new city despite having a one night stand with Braden, Wes is very clear he wants no part of a relationship as he does not feel he can handle one given his new responsibilities. The battle Wes has in his own head often made me feel bad for him.
Braden was funny, witty and very determined; he was such an enjoyable character to read. Braden proves to Wes and the reader that he knows what it means to be friend.
As I watched the chemistry between these two men develop, I found myself loving the underlying friendship Wes and Braden developed. Moving comfortably in each others spaces, supporting each other and in the end relying on each other spoke volumes to what a future could look like for them.
I should also say I loved the scenes with Braden’s family; his parents were a trip and the scenes with his siblings and their families made for some wonderful character interactions and allowed the reader a deeper understanding of Braden.
Ok I would remise if I did not say that the sex between these two was hot.. as Braden slowly breaks the walls Wes’ puts around himself the heat builds and then develops into something more, something the reader feels.
The question becomes as these men grow together without putting labels on things; what happens when opportunity calls.. No, I am not telling you.. you will need to read the book to find out.
I am so very pleased that we are able to bring you the bonus scene on this page as Stay left me wanting a bit more so I hope you enjoy a little more Wes, Braden and Jessie AFTER you read Stay!
*do not continue if you have not already read Stay!!!
“Uncle Braden!” Jessie called. Braden would never get tired of hearing the little girl call him that. He turned her way, and as soon as he did, she tossed an m&m at him. Braden’s mouth automatically opened and he caught it. Like she always did, Jessie started to cheer.
“What’s with the two of you and throwing food?” Wes shook his head but neither of them took him seriously. The smile on his face stretched too big for that to be the case.
“It’s fun,” both Braden and Jessie said in unison and then the little girl started laughing again, followed by Wes, and then Braden himself. Damn, he loved being here with them. He fit with them, and had fun with them. He belonged with Wes and Jessie.
“You’re a terrible influence.” Wes took the last bite of his ice cream as the three of them continued to sit around the dining room table like they had every night since he and Wes got back together a month before. Their routine had become more concrete now. Braden still picked her up on Wednesdays. The days he worked and Wes grabbed her from preschool, but Braden still came over when he got off. They spent all their evenings together, yet at the end of the night, he went home, if he could still even call the place that. It didn’t feel it. Home was Wes and Jessie but even though she knew Braden and Wes were together, they hadn’t wanted to push too much too fast. As much as everything inside him ached to stay here every night, he left. They needed to make sure they did this right for Jess.
“No reply?” Wes asked him and he realized he’d ignored his lover’s comment.
“It’s a good thing you like me that way.” Braden winked at him but the wrinkle in Wes’s forehead told Braden that the man knew something was on his mind.
The three of them went into the kitchen to clean up their dessert mess, which meant Wes and Braden cleaned and Jock and Jessie ran around. The dog loved her as much as Braden did. Jock acted like this place was home the same as Braden did.
“Uncle Braden, can you paint my nails?” Jessie asked but they all knew it wasn’t really a question. He and Wes both had a hard time saying no to her.
“Why me, Squirt? Uncle Wes told me he loves painting your nails. It’s his favorite thing to do. You should ask him.”
Excitement danced in her eyes as they stretched wide. Wes gave Braden a death glare, but Braden leaned over and pressed a kiss to his lips before he could counter what Braden had said.
“Okay!” Jessie cheered. Just as Braden was about to laugh at Wes, she added, “And you can do my toes.”
It was Wes who got the last laugh but Braden didn’t care. He’d never get tired of seeing the man he loved happy. As Jessie ran to the hall bathroom to pick her colors, Braden backed Wes up against the counter, boxing him in with his arms. “Your ass is mine for that one.” He nipped as Wes’s lip, as the man’s hands came to rest on Braden’s waist.
“Do we need an excuse for that one now? I didn’t know you needed a reason to fuck me.”
Braden lowered his voice, and grabbed Wes’s chin between his finger and thumb. “No. I definitely don’t need a reason for that. I want you all the time.” Though when he’d made the first comment, he hadn’t been talking about sex and they both knew it. He also didn’t have a problem with Wes taking it there. This time he let the kiss linger a little, let his tongue slip past Wes’s lips. He tasted sweet like ice cream and smelled like nothing but man.
As soon as he heard Jessie running back toward them, he pulled back. “I hope I’m getting a tip,” Braden teased Jess but she wrinkled her nose in reply.
He ruffled her hair. “Nothing.”
She sat down in one of the dining room chairs. Braden sat across from her, lifting her feet onto his lap. Wes took another chair, and held one of her hands as they both started painting. A year ago if someone would have told him that this would be how he wanted, how he needed to spend his nights, he would have thought them crazy but the truth was, there was nowhere he’d rather be than with Jessie and Wes.
They painted her nails and then it was time for her to get ready for bed. Braden worked early the next morning so he went to the hall closet for his shoes while Wes got her into her pajamas. He searched the floor but they weren’t there. Before he could look anywhere else, Wes called him into Jessie’s room to tell her goodnight. They made sure it was something they did together every night.
Wes leaned in, pushing her hair away from her forehead and kissed her there. “Night, kiddo. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Night, Uncle Wes. I love you.”
He told her he loved her too and then stepped back for Braden to take his place. His gut cramped up for some reason. This was their routine. He was used to it but damn he hated the fact that this was always followed by goodbye, even if it was only until the next day.
“Night, Squirt. See you tomorrow.” He kissed her cheek.
“Night, Uncle Braden. Love you.”
“Love you too, kid.”
Wes hit the lights and then the two of them stepped out of her room, closing the door behind them. He sighed before saying, “I have to work early, I should head out.” Prolonging it wouldn’t make goodbye easier. All you’re doing is going home to go to sleep, you’ll be back tomorrow, he told himself but it didn’t make it any easier.
Before he could step away, Wes grabbed Braden’s wrist and pulled Braden toward him. “I love you.”
Damn, he was a big, ball of sap nowadays because those words slammed right into his chest. Hearing them was another thing he’d never get tired of. “Most people do,” he teased but then added, “I love you too. Why don’t you work on my painting tonight?”
Wes has promised him another painting but he wouldn’t let Braden see it until he finished.
“I work on it every night.”
That’s what he liked to hear. Braden went back to the closet to look for his shoes again and they weren’t there. Huh. Strange. He always put them there. Next, he walked over to the coffee table thinking maybe they were under it only to notice that his truck keys, which he always put in the bowl there were gone too. What the hell?
“My shoes aren’t in the closet and my keys aren’t in the bowl. Do you know what happened?” he asked Wes who frowned and shook his head.
“They have to be around here somewhere,” Wes started looking and so did he. The more he searched he realized his phone cell was gone too and his jacket wasn’t on the hook by the door.
Braden moved toward the hallway again and as he did, he noticed Jessie’s door as open just a sliver. As soon as he saw it, it closed quickly. In that second, he had no doubt where his things had gone. “I think we have a jokester in the house. I’m pretty sure a little girl with curly hair took my stuff. She must get that from you.”
Wes nudged him and laughed, because they both knew Wes wasn’t the jokester out of the two of them.
The men headed back toward Jessie’s room. She was back in her bed, with her eyes closed. If she hadn’t forgotten to turn the light back off, he might have believed it.
“Hey, kiddo, you wouldn’t happen to know where Braden’s things are, would you?” Wes asked her.
She opened one of her eyes. “No. I’m sleepin’.”
God damned he loved that little girl. “You’re good at talking in your sleep,” Braden told her. “Do you think sleepy-Jessie can tell me where my things are? I need to head out.”
With that she opened her eyes. He waited for her to tell him but instead she let out a wail and started crying. Oh shit. What had he done? “Hey. I’m not mad, Squirt. It was funny joke.” Both he and Wes raced over to her bed.
Wes sat beside her, “You’re not in trouble.”
She shook her head, big, fat tears rolling down her face. “I don’t want Braden to go,” she wailed again. His heart both sunk and felt buoyant at the same time. He hated letting her down…and he didn’t want to go either.
“Hey. It’s cool. I’ll be back tomorrow. You know I come back every day.” He sat on the other side of the bed as Wes, so they were each on a side of her.
She screamed as she spoke as though that would make the words more understandable through her tears. “I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay here with us all the time. Can he stay, Uncle Wes? Do you want him to stay?”
Jessie sat up and wrapped her skinny arms around Wes’s neck. He rubbed her back, shushing her as he rocked with her, his eyes on Braden the whole time.
I want to stay too. I belong here with you and Wes… The words were a loud thunder in his head.
Wes didn’t answer her at first, just kept rocking her back and forth until her cries started to die down. He pulled Jessie far enough away that he could look her in her eyes. “Braden loves you very much. We both do. He’s not going anywhere, kiddo. Even if he leaves at night, he’ll always come back, okay?”
Jessie nodded her head. Braden reached out, and touched her back the way Wes did. “He’s right, Jess. I will always come back. Nothing could keep me away. You know I love you and your uncle too much to stay away.” He would spend every night of his life with them if he could, and he knew that would happen soon. Knew they would always be a family but he also trusted Wes’s judgment on when the time was right.
Wes’s eyes met Braden’s and something changed in them. It was as though he was asking permission for something but Braden didn’t know the question. Or as though he wanted Braden to see something in him, but again, he wasn’t sure what it was.
Wes turned back to Jessie. “We’re pretty lucky to have Braden, aren’t we?”
“Uh huh,” Jessie replied.
Braden’s chest expanded so much, he wasn’t sure he could take it.
When Wes brought his eyes back to Braden, Jessie did too. He held his breath, wanting, needing to know what Wes was going to say.
It took Wes a minute to find his words but finally he settled on, “I don’t want Braden to go either. He belongs here with us, every day. All day. Always, don’t you think, kiddo?” he asked Jessie. Braden’s pulse pounded. He loved this man, had for a while now but in this moment, he loved him more than he ever had.
“Yes!” Jessie bounced.
“What do you say, Braden? Do you want to stay with us for good? Would you move in with me and Jessie?”
Like there was any fucking possibility he’d say no. He wanted that. Wanted it so damn much he could hardly stand it. “Bout time you asked me that, Wesley. There’s nothing I want more than to live here with you and the Squirt.”
“Yay!” Jessie screamed. She flew out of Wes’s arms and into Braden’s. He caught her easily and then felt another set of arms go around the two of them. Wes. The man he loved, and their little girl. He couldn’t wait to spend every day with the two of them.
Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic. A lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together. If she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.
Riley lives in California with her awesome family, who she is thankful for everyday.
Series Reading Order
Book 1 – Collide
Book 2 – Stay