Exclusive Excerpt from Room For Recovery
by DJ Jamison
Beau stared at the notification he’d just received about Wade Ritter: You are now connected on Messenger.
Wade must have added him on Facebook. Beau fully believed that would never happen. Even with their moms encouraging them to connect back when Wade didn’t know anyone in town, he’d ignored Beau’s friend request.
So, what did it mean that he accepted it now?
Wade remained distant at school. Beau had been embarrassed when he’d walked right by without even acknowledging him the week before. Ker had been so pissed she told Beau he should ask out Miles. He’d been chatting with Miles more in class, and he’d joined Beau and his friends for lunch a couple of times. Beau wasn’t confident he was reading him right, but Ker was all for Beau testing the waters.
She knew, just as well as Beau did, that his crush on Wade was unhealthy. He wasn’t sure asking out Miles would make it disappear. It had taken root, even when he didn’t know Wade, and now that they were talking to each other, it grew stronger every day.
When he first met Wade three years ago, he wasn’t immediately a jerk. He was withdrawn. If they were in a room full of people, Wade would be in the farthest corner from everyone else. He didn’t smile or laugh. He wore headphones and stared out the window mostly.
Beau’s little fifteen-year-old heart had been smitten immediately. It had yearned to break through the melancholy that hung over Wade. Maggie, too, had been taken with him. Wade was a cute kid, with shiny blond hair and blue eyes. Neither one of them stood a chance.
But while Beau hung back, watching and waiting after Wade had brushed off his first few attempts at friendship, Maggie charged ahead. She pestered Wade in that way little sisters seem to master at a young age. She asked him questions, and when he shrugged, she asked him more. She ignored his indifference, offering to show him the television, to play a board game, to take him out to the tire swing.
Finally, one day, Wade wasn’t quiet anymore.
“Leave me alone!” he’d exclaimed after she’d followed him onto the back porch, and Beau had watched from a distance. “I’m never going to like you; do you get that? You’re just a stupid little girl who doesn’t know crap about the world. So, let me make it simple for you: I don’t know you. I don’t want to know you. So, go play with your dolls or whatever it is you do.”
Maggie had burst into tears and never spoken to him again. Unlike Beau, she was not a glutton for punishment.
Even as Beau walked into that room and stood up to Wade for the first time, he’d been unable to let go of a small sliver of hope that they’d one day be friends.
“You don’t have to be mean,” he’d said.
“Obviously I do. You guys won’t leave me alone. I don’t want to be friends, you know? Not with her and not with you. Not with anybody.”
Beau squashed the disappointment, not wanting Wade to see how the rejection hurt. He’d shrugged. “Your loss.”
All these years later, staring at the friendship Wade had extended via social media, he wasn’t sure that statement had been true. He’d felt the loss keenly, though it was for something he never had. He felt the loss of what might have been. The friendship he could have formed with that beautiful but sad boy.
He clicked Wade’s name on messenger and tapped out a message.
I knew you liked me.
He watched with bated breath, regretting the tease once he’d hit send. What if Wade took it too seriously? What if he thought Beau meant like as in … like? Ugh. So stupid. He should just put his phone away and forget about it.
The phone chimed.
It only took me three years. You must be charming.
About Room For Recovery
Beau James isn’t out, but he’s not fooling anyone. When he’s cornered by two bullies, he’s rescued by none other than the broody Wade Ritter, who he’s crushed on from afar. Despite their family connection, Wade has resisted all of Beau’s attempts at friendship — until now. His protective streak gives Beau an opportunity to get past Wade’s prickly exterior.
Wade considers Beau to be a quasi-cousin. He’s been careful to keep Beau in that box because he is too tempting to a gay boy determined to remain in the closet after his coming out went all wrong. But when Wade sees bullies harassing Beau, he offers to help. Little does he know this small crack in the walls around his heart is the opening Beau needs to move in and change Wade’s life.
After years off the rails, Wade realizes there’s room for recovery. If he can face hard truths about his sexuality and love himself, he might be able to love Beau too.
Room for Recovery is part of the Hearts and Health series. It contains cameo appearances by other characters in the series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Available at: Amazon
About DJ Jamison
DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.
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