Close to You

By: Skylar M. Cates

Sunshine and Happiness: Book Three



It’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.

How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.

For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.

When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.





This one is for Trisha. You have the biggest heart in the world. I’m glad to call you my friend.





Acknowledgments





I’m blessed to have such a good family and such good friends. I appreciate the support and encouragement.

Thank you to all the lovely readers asking for this story. It inspired me to write it, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Thank you to my early readers Mary C., Trisha, Cate, and LJ. This book would not be the same without your critical insight. Thank you to Melanie H. for the information on prisons, and a thank-you to Aisling for the information on social workers.

I am particularly grateful to my press. Thank you Dreamspinner and Elizabeth North for your continued support. To the brilliant Sue Adams—a fabulous editor who always has my back—a giant thank-you. I love working with you, Sue!





Chapter One





ALL HE wants is sleep.

Marc Lucas is sick and tired of being tired. He isn’t getting his ass out of bed until sunrise. No fucking way.

If he’s not working extra shifts in the Florida heat, trimming trees to earn money, he’s in his night classes. He’s physically and mentally spent. He tosses and turns for about an hour, but eventually sleep grants him mercy.

When his phone rings in a series of loud, insistent sounds, Marc attempts to ignore it. Why hasn’t he set it to silent mode? He smacks the cell with his palm to shut it the hell up and tries to doze off again, disregarding his scratchy throat and need to pee, hoping to return to his much-desired rest. He’s nearly there, on the edge of dreaming, when a second later it starts to ring again.

Fuck. This can’t be good. Marc peers bleary-eyed at the screen. Three thirty in the goddamn morning.

“’Lo?” Marc answers. Uneasiness shoots down his spine; his instincts go on alert.

“It’s me,” Tomas says. “I’m in trouble.”

Marc’s heart gives a strange jerk as his brain takes time to process Tomas’s actual words. Simply hearing his voice causes a hollow pit inside.

“Are you there?”

“Yeah.” Marc noisily clears his throat. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s my grandfather. Fernando’s gone missing. It’s only been a few hours, and maybe it’s nothing, but—”

“I’ll be there, just lemme get dressed.”

“Ah—no. I’m sorry I called. It’s stupid for you to rush here in the middle of the night. I can handle it. Forget I called and go back to sleep. I’ll take care of it.”

“Because you can handle everything yourself?” Marc sighs. “Tomas, stop. You called me already, right? So enough with the independent, macho act. I’m coming.” He climbs out of bed and hurries to dress.

Although Marc usually finds Tomas’s strong, masculine code attractive, he also knows Tomas is vulnerable as hell when it comes to his family. So no, he’s not going to hang up and go back to sleep like some jackass, not when Tomas needs him. “I can be near your place in under forty-five minutes.”

“Don’t speed, okay? I want you here, but drive normally.”

Tomas’s familiar sweetness makes Marc swallow hard. He doesn’t want to end the call, but he needs to finish changing, drink a Red Bull, and gas up his car. A fist-sized ache pounds in his chest. God, he misses Tomas, misses talking to him, misses everything.

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