Title: The Pathfinders
Author: Geoffrey Knight
Release Date: March 12, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Erotic Romance
Length: 163 Pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; Angst; Bisexual; Coming Out; First Time; Forbidden Love; Friends to Lovers; Self-Discovery; CW: Taboo
Hell, I knew the divorce from Sophie would break my heart, but I had no idea how lost and lonely I would feel once she was gone. Everything ended amicably, almost too peacefully, but now I’m facing a whole new chapter of my life. The only problem is, I don’t know what that chapters holds, or if anyone will ever be there to catch me if I fall again.
My only savior right now is my cousin and best friend Hux. We’ve known each other just about our whole lives, and his invitation up to the woods to help him rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake could be the one thing I need to figure out what plans the universe has in store for me… and the path I need to find.
Hell, I knew Jack’s divorce from Sophie would break his heart, but I had no idea it would bring to the surface all the yearning and pain and hopelessness I’ve felt over the years. The fact is, Jack’s the one and only person I ever want to spend the rest of my life with. But how do you tell your best friend—your cousin—how you truly feel?
I know I need to help him through the dark days following his divorce, but will I be able to keep myself from betraying all his trust by letting my true feelings show? Will inviting him up to the woods to help me rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake be the end of our relationship? Or will we finally find our very own path in this world together?
MY heart damn near stopped.
Hell, like it wasn’t enough to embarrass the fuck out of myself in the boat with that damn hard-on of mine and the boat near capsizing… like it wasn’t enough to see him standing there naked in the shower, so relaxed and uninhibited as he was on every occasion I’d managed to catch a glimpse of that chest, those thighs, that dick… now he was just standing there in nothing but a towel, watching me try to keep the fire alive, and all I could do was pretend not to see him out of the corner of my eye.
Finally, he pushed himself off the porch post and headed back into the cabin. Through the open door of the cabin I saw him cross the tiny living room where he casually slid the towel from his waist. Mesmerized, I watched as his perfect, rounded ass cheeks were unveiled in the lamplight.
I chugged on a puff of smoke in my throat, trying not to cough too loudly in case he heard.
He didn’t turn back.
He just kept walking into the bedroom—my bedroom—to get changed, his muscled ass cheeks shifting left and right in his faultless stride.
Did he know I was watching?
Did he know what a fucking tease he was?
Or was he completely oblivious to what he was doing to my heart, my nerves, my cock right now?
As he disappeared beyond the open door to the bedroom, I stepped away from the fire to get some air, stumbling toward the edge of the lake.
Dusk had turned the sky violet and the reflection of the evening’s first stars rippled on the dark water. Somewhere out there a fish jumped in search of dinner, trying its luck at the last of the fireflies before they disappeared for the night.
I took deep breaths and counted them in an attempt to calm myself down, but the fact was with every passing minute I was finding it harder and harder to keep my feelings from exploding.
“You know what explosions do, Hux,” I warned myself. “They fuck things up. Majorly.”
“Who are you talking to?”
I turned to see Jack standing a few feet behind me, already dressed in khaki shorts and a blue shirt. He’d only done the buttons halfway up, the breeze gently blowing to reveal his smooth, bare chest. The rolled-up sleeves exposed his muscled forearms. I must have paused too long, trying to blink him away. He reached out and took my shoulder in one hand, casually massaging it.
“Hux? You okay? That smoke seriously got to you, huh?”
I nodded quickly. “Yeah, I guess so. I’m fine. You wanna beer?”
We made our way back to the campfire. I cracked open a couple of beers and handed one to Jack, then we each pulled up one of the camping chairs I’d set by the fire, looking out toward the lake.
Dusk had melted into night, and the stars shimmered bright on the lake’s surface now.
We drank beer and talked about simple things. Things that didn’t matter at all. That’s what men do, right? We talk about the upcoming football season, or the intention to buy a new truck someday on account of a rattle in the suspension that can’t be fixed, or the forecast of rain and how the weather people don’t know shit compared to the local experts. Yep, that’s what men do. We scout around anything that might tap into any real emotion.
At least until the beers really kick in.
That’s when you find yourself all alone with your best friend in the world… the only person you’ve ever really trusted. The only person you can really talk to.
“I keep thinking I should call her,” Jack said softly, his eyes fixed on the dark, quiet lake.
We had cooked the fish and eaten till we were full, and now we sat in our fold-out chairs with the fire crackling behind us and the crickets gently singing their night song to one another in the pitch-black woods.
I swigged my beer. I had lost count how many bottles we’d had. Dangerous I know, but they had helped settle my nerves. I was calm and relaxed, and hoped to stay that way. “When was the last time you spoke to her?”
“I dunno. Two weeks ago, I guess.” He paused, then admitted. “I do know. It was eleven days ago. She dropped by to collect her mail. She assured me she’d change her delivery address at the post office, and I wouldn’t have to collect her letters anymore. I told her she didn’t have to do that… I didn’t mind at all. But she insisted on changing her address. She said it had to be done.” He sighed. “It sounds so stupid, I know she’s right, but fuck it hurt to hear. Like it was another one of those moments that said, ‘We’re through. This is over now. We’re done here. Time to move on.’” He looked at me, his eyes a little glassy and a lot lost. “Thing is, I don’t know how to move on. I’ve got no fucking idea, Hux.”
“Yes you do,” I said, sitting forward and leaning toward him. “You’re already doing it. You’re here with me. We’re gonna fix up Uncle Leroy’s cabin and we’re gonna make a home for ourselves. We start by putting a roof over our heads—preferably one without raccoons—and we take things one day at a time. That’s how you move on.”
“Is it? Is that moving on… or running away?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Are we crazy to think we can make this place our home? Am I crazy to think I should sell the store and just abandon everything I’ve ever known? My dad built that business from the ground up. Who am I to just sell it and run away?”
“Jack, you’re not running away from anything. You’re taking the next step. You’re starting a whole new chapter. You have to. Life has sent the winds of change blowing down your street, and if you don’t let it carry you someplace new, it’ll blow right by you and leave you behind. Every day of your life will be the same. You’ll wake up in the morning, open the hardware store, go home and do it all again the next day and the next day and the day after that, until before you know it you’re an old man and your days are done. Just like your father. The hardware store was his life… not yours. This is your chance to start living the way you want to.”
I leaned closer still and found courage in my own words. I rested my hand on my cousin’s knee. I gripped him tighter than I intended to, as though I didn’t want to let him go, as though I couldn’t afford to lose him… not now, not ever.
He placed his hand on top of mine and for a second my lungs forgot how to breathe again.
Gently he rubbed the top of my hand, then tapped it twice with his long, slender fingers. “What would I do without you, Hux?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geoffrey Knight is the author of more than 25 gay fiction novels, novellas and short stories, ranging in genre from gay adventure, gay romance, gay suspense and gay comedies. He is the recipient of two Rainbow Awards including Best Mystery Winner and Best Overall Gay Fiction Runner-up. His work has been featured in several anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2013, and he appeared as Guest of Honor at the inaugural Rainbow Con in Florida, 2014.
Geoffrey has worked in advertising, politics and journalism, but nothing is as fun as telling stories. He lives with his partner, their young daughter and their small furry family in a rambling old house in North Queensland, Australia, where the paint is fraying and life is good.