Secrets of You (Sunshine and Happiness #4)

By: Skylar M. Cates

It’s never easy to find redemption.

Carrying scars and regrets, River Darcourt avoids too much intimate contact. Among his friends, he is known as a quiet loner. Forget about love. It’s not something he will consider… until sweet, young, and tempting Morgan Hayes becomes his housemate. River closed his heart long ago, but the attraction is impossible to deny.

Morgan Hayes needs a change. He is moving out of his critical father’s home and in with his friends, including his secret/not-so-secret crush, River. Having feelings for River is a terrible idea. But what is a guy to do when the annoyingly sexy mechanic is just across the hall?

While Morgan has overcome ugliness and is ready for love, he’s just not sure River ever will be. They have both experienced pain in their lives. So Morgan dares River to take a chance, and love will either break their fractured hearts in more pieces or, just possibly, make them whole again.







For Sue Adams.

Sue, I miss your expert eye and warm heart. Be well.



To the loyal readers of this series—you’re the miracle that makes me want to write. You’re the bright sunshine in my day. Thank you!





Acknowledgments





FROM THE second I created River, I knew he would have his own story. Readers wanted to know more about him too, and I was touched by the number of requests for River’s book I received. So I want to thank those readers from the bottom of my heart. You’re all terrific! Your e-mails motivated me to keep on going with this series. I hope you’ll love River and Morgan’s story and enjoy catching up with all the guys from Ocean Vista.

No story is written alone. I want to also thank Dreamspinner, especially the editors. On a special note, I want to say how much I missed the lovely Sue Adams’s participation.

Thank you to my friends and early readers: Jackie, Trisha, Cate, LJ, and Rebecca. A final thank-you to Kim for her insights into the legal system.





Chapter One





NEVER GO to the dentist on Friday the 13th. That was a given. Yet here Morgan was, and he had been stupid enough to arrive without popping a few Advil first.

The dental assistant began to lay out the instruments of pain and then adjusted the overhead light, which reminded Morgan of a spotlight, which made him think of old movies, and then horror movies, and then more torture. He stared at the assistant, willing his mind blank.

“Want to read a magazine while you wait?”

She tied a bib around his neck and left him alone with People magazine. Morgan wondered whether she’d read the forms he had filled out. He regretted saying he flossed “daily.” He should have been honest and answered “weekly,” and even that answer was stretching the truth. Would it be obvious when he opened his mouth? Morgan flinched as he heard the whirl of a drill in the next cubicle. Seriously, he hated the dentist. It was his least favorite place in the world. As he flipped through the magazine, not even Matthew Daddario or Jensen Ackles could cheer him.

Dr. Olin entered the treatment room, his mask hanging loose. He raised the chair a few notches. “Here we go, Morgan. Just relax. Are you comfortable? I want you to be. Are you?”

“Yes. Thanks.”

“Great. Open up and let’s assess this.”

Morgan opened his mouth, pretending it was to give a hot man a fabulous blowjob and not to be shot and drilled.

“Open wider, please.”

That’s what they all say. Only without the please.

Morgan had been dateless a while now, but he hoped that would change. He’d find out whether guys were any different soon enough. Morgan had just joined Mr. Romance, a gay dating site. He might be going solo to Cole and Ian’s upcoming wedding, but Morgan was determined not to keep feeling sorry for himself. So he was a little love challenged. So what? This was the modern era. A person could get online and take control.

And lie, catfish, and deceive. There was that concern from people out there. Hell, he’d be careful. He was more than careful these days.

The hygienist suctioned out some spit. When Morgan thought about it, opening his mouth like this was a fucking intimate act. He met the hygienist’s eyes behind her mask as she worked. Do I have a nice mouth? How does it compare to the others?

Did the hygienist ever think such things? Or Dr. Olin? Or were their minds on their errands or personal problems?

“Wider.”

Dentist or not, he felt exposed. Still, it could have been worse. His tooth could have rotted beyond repair. Dr. Olin didn’t say anything like that. Morgan needed to find the bright side. He wouldn’t have to resign himself to putting his false teeth in a glass. Not just yet.

“Hmm…. How long have you been feeling pain? A while? I’d say so by the state of the tooth. Next time, don’t wait until it hurts this much.”