What happens when the love of your life comes walking into a party?
Robyn Heath has made a pretty good life for himself away from Pickleville. He loves his job as a paramedic, has a best friend who he adores who also happens to be his partner at work, and he even gets laid every once in a while. Life couldn’t be better. Until the man who broke his heart comes back into town.
Caden Flynn has been gone for a long time. Five years fighting for his country has taken its toll and changed him in some fundamental ways. One thing he wants more than anything is to right the wrongs he’s caused Robyn. Robyn proves to have a very stubborn heart.
He sat on a lawn chair in the back yard next to Kyler, who was talking about this car he had worked on last week when Caden walked around the corner with Brad. He held his breath and felt the love for Caden all over again as if the last five years of his life never happened.
Robyn knew two things to be true the second he visibly saw Caden for the first time after so many years. One was that he had never got over Caden the way he thought he did. Five years of telling himself that he was stronger than he had been the day before, turned out to be a bunch of crap. Five years of telling himself he didn't have abandonment issues when Caden just left him, had been even more of a shit pile that he fed himself daily. The second was that he really wanted to punch Caden in his sexy fucking face. Robyn wasn’t the violent type.
Someone made a sound like sucking in breath and he realized it was Caden the second their eyes met. Robyn looked away, searching for Neil and Owen, people that represented his new sense of self. Robyn started to breathe again, letting it out in a whoosh of air the second he saw Owen with Neil sitting beside him on the grass. He smiled reassuringly at Neil, wanting to let him know that he was okay. Owen looked at Caden as if he wanted to stick a knife through his heart. Robyn had it on good authority that Owen always looked at Caden like that whenever the family got together for holidays or if Caden was home on leave. Of course Owen's interaction with Caden was just a bit of juicy gossip Robyn had ascertained from Kyler who heard it from Luis, who would know because he was Caden's brother. Robyn never actually asked Owen or Neil any questions about Caden, and hadn't for several years. He used to scoop up any little piece of morsel he learned about Caden, but gave it up after the first couple years, realizing it was counterproductive.
Just looking at Neil and Owen put everything into perspective in some fundamental way, as if they represented his confidence. Oddly enough, it was Alan who popped into his mind in that moment. The man drove him crazy with the way he pined over him every time they worked together. Robyn would not be another Alan. He would not wish for something, for someone, that didn't want to be with him.
Robyn stood and it was as if everyone held their breath. He smiled at Brad and Kendrick and walked across the yard. He was keenly aware of Caden watching his every move, but chose to ignore him, for now anyway.
When he got over to Kendrick he hugged him close for a few seconds and then released him. "Owen misses you, but he won't tell you that himself," he said to Kendrick, patting him on the shoulder.
"I'll just go over and say hi," Kendrick said and practically ran across the yard like his ass was on fire. Obviously, the big fat rainbow elephant in the yard was making poor Kendrick uncomfortable.
Robyn hugged Brad next and held on for a few extra seconds. He needed a little bit of Brad's strength and courage to seep into his bones. He really needed to not become an emotional basket case in front of Caden. Robyn knew Brad could feel him shake.
Brad let him go, but kept a hand on his arm, gently pulling him away from Caden. Brad held up a hand for Caden to stop when he started to follow. The few feet separating them from Caden was needed in ways Robyn would never admit out loud. Brad leaned down and looked into Robyn's eyes. "Are you okay?"
Robyn let out a snort of laughter. "No, but I will be."
"Can I do something to help you out?"
"No. We were bound to cross paths at some point."
"Actually, you did an excellent job where that's concerned. Considering Caden's been trying to find a way to talk to you for a while now."
Robyn grinned, not ready to even think about the possible meaning of Brad's words. "Should I take a bow for my fine work at avoidance? Maybe teach a class at the University."
Brad chuckled and ruffled his hair. Normally Robyn’s messed up hair bothered him. Call him a vain queen. Really, whatever. Right now his nerves were shot so he couldn't muster up his usually will to care. Brad let go of his arm and walked over to his brother.
Robyn sucked in a breath and let it out before following Brad over. He plastered a fake smile on his face and then got a good up close look at Caden for the first time in years. He hadn't changed that much except for this hard edge in his eyes. Robyn could tell he’d had a military hair cut at some point, but had grown it out just slightly. Caden was bigger, wider through the shoulders. He held his arm close to this body as if it had been injured and in a sling for so long that holding it like that was now a habit.
Robyn held out his hand. "It's nice seeing you again," he said and waited for Caden to take his hand.
When Caden did and held it just a little too long. “I missed you.” Robyn tried to pull it away, but Caden held on.
“Let me go, now.”
"All this time, and that's what you have to say."
"What did you expect?" Robyn really wanted to tell him off but restrained himself.