Brothers in Arms (The Broken Road Cafe #2)

By: T.A. Webb

Prologue





The chill of the early winter day had Dan O’Leary wondering if raking leaves and putting in a tree the man at the Home Depot swore was perfect for his front yard was the best way to spend his afternoon. It was an early fall Saturday, and the Georgia Bulldogs were probably playing some second tier no-name conference team for an easy win. Or maybe the Jackets were playing some ACC team and getting their asses handed to them. At least the offense would be fun to watch in either game. But he’d gotten the damn hole dug, and his neighbor, Chief of Police Nick Oliver, would give him six kinds of shit if he just left the crater there until the next day. Or maybe the next weekend.



At least being active and keeping his hands busy prevented him from checking his phone obsessively every five minutes for a message from Abe Goldenburg. Ever since his cryptic message—We need to talk—the week before, both he and Dan’s old nemesis, Greg Simkins, the managing partner at Hanks and Associates, appeared to have fallen off the face of the earth. Not that Dan really cared, after all the pain Abe had caused him the past months. Fucking Dan’s best friend Gary and his lover Kerry—what a class act. And he’d thought he loved the man.



Now, Dan had quit his job and forced the partners to buy him out, bought a café and moved to Blue Ridge, Georgia, been shot at by one of the firm’s old clients who was now dead after threatening Dan and Nick, and was the kinda-sorta lover/boyfriend/neighbor-with-benefits with said chief of police. And the firm was now under investigation by the DEA for trafficking in both drugs and humans.



When did my life become a fucking soap opera?



Leaning on the shovel, Dan stood there and looked at the house he’d bought next door to Nick, or, as his former secretary Charity Love had dubbed him, Chief Yummypants. They’d taken to sneaking in the back doors of each other’s houses each night and, more often than not, sleeping together. He’d promised himself when he came out in high school that he’d never go back in the closet, and up until now, he’d managed to keep that vow. Well, the one time he’d slept with a professor didn’t really count, since the man was a one-night stand and the moron was the only person on campus who thought he wasn’t out.



But Dan had promised Nick he’d give him time. Time to adjust to having a man as more than a one-off in the back room of a bar, or a quickie visit to his hotel room in Atlanta. Time to get used to being in a relationship.



So he’d give Nick time. See where this thing between them went. And in the meanwhile, he’d settle into Blue Ridge and decompress. His life there was good, and he loved the café. Loved the people he’d met.



Hell, maybe I’ll get a dog.



Snickering, Dan turned and started back to the garage to grab a rake and hoe to go with his shovel so he could plant the pear tree when he heard tires squealing and the sound of a motor racing. He turned and saw a gray Jeep Grand Cherokee weaving into the cul-de-sac, then up onto his front yard. Jumping back, Dan thought for a scary moment that the vehicle would crash into the house or, worse, into him, but the engine sputtered, then died.



Dan stood there for a long minute, wondering if he should go see who the hell was behind the wheel, call 9-1-1, or run next door and get Nick to check it out. He knew the man had a gun in a safe, then sacked up and remembered he had a few hairs left on his balls. Walking closer, he heard the unmistakable sound of children crying, and that, more than anything, made him hurry over and fling the driver’s door open.



Abe sat in the driver’s seat, but something was wrong. He looked…oh shit, there was blood. Two kids looked around him, crying, their faces drawn and scared. Abe reached out to Dan, his hand weak and smeared with blood…so much blood.



“Dan, help them.”



Dan froze then, seeing Abe’s hand drop and his head roll to the side. He knelt, looking for somewhere to pull Abe out of the car without hurting him. He could see at least three separate places—gunshots?—leaking blood, and he didn’t want to hurt Abe any more than he had to. But he needed to get Abe out of the car, and deal with the two kids, make sure they weren’t hurt anywhere. Bullets could…

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