Outback Boys, 2
Standoffish Aiden is content keeping people at a distance and ensuring his boundaries are impenetrable. There’s safety in not opening up, but there’s also a loneliness he doesn’t realise exists until he meets Riley, a new member of the LGBTQI+ adventure group Outback Boys.
Fascinated by the new guy, Aiden is quick to discover his flirtation skills are rusty and his sweet-talking is cringeworthy. But sweet and clumsy Riley doesn’t seem to mind so much.
Even though Riley doesn’t quite know how to handle Aiden’s intensity, he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and see how their tentative friendship unravels.
Between a surf lesson that resembles a kangaroo on acid and paddle boarding that is trickier than walking a tightrope, Aiden and Riley discover love may be a possibility after all.
Happiness relies on honesty and openness, though. And with both men holding on tightly to past struggles, their future together is at risk. Can the two Aussies bounce back and heal themselves and each other, or are some wounds too raw to recover from?
Outback Boys is a sweet and sexy M/M romance series complete with bruised butts, rope burn, and overworked muscles… all in the pursuit of adventure, of course!
Trigger Warning: Contains themes (discussions) of mental health and suicide.
“Excellent.” He thrust his hand out. “Aiden.” On autopilot, I took it, aware once again that my skin was heating. His strong hand gripped mine, his palm large like my own. His skin was rough, so much more so than mine. Being a computer programmer didn’t leave much time for hard yakka.
“Riley.” I smiled, hoping it came out naturally and I didn’t come off looking shifty, something my big sister, in her once-teasing way, had told me many years back. Once that seed had been planted, I’d done nothing but water the bloody thing. “Good to meet you.” I finally released his hand and swallowed, trying to get a grip on my nerves.
Talking to a good-looking guy was a struggle at the best of times. Aiden, though, was so spectacular that it sent my pulse skyrocketing. I played with the leather band on my left wrist, trying to keep my cool.
“Hey, Aiden,” Pete said, much to my relief. “This is the Riley from work I was telling you about.”
I blanched at that and turned my gaze to Pete, who did nothing but grin at me.
“Oh yeah, right. I remember you mentioning him.” Aiden returned his attention to me. “I’m pleased you finally joined us.” He angled his head, indicating we should start walking. I could do that. One step in front of the other without tripping and looking like a jerk. “How’d you handle the first ten kilometres?”
“Really, is that what we’ve done?” Surprise flickered to life. Holy shit. I grinned, completely proud of myself.
“It sure is.” Aiden offered me a friendly smile. “Did it feel like more or less?” I looked ahead as we walked side by side, the trail wider in this section. Mark and Trey were a few metres ahead, Pete a few steps behind them.
“Less, I think. Even though I’m already exhausted,” I admitted with a shrug. “I can’t remember the last walk I went on.” Embarrassment had me flushing. I didn’t want him to think I was lazy, though admittedly, outside of work, I holed up at home doing very little.
“Well, that’s brilliant that you’re taking it in your stride. Ten kilometres is no easy feat.” I cast a glance at him as he continued. “Starting off is always hard, and there’s always reasons not to do it, right?”
I nodded. “Yeah, but I think I finally realised they were excuses, you know?” My honest words just continued to tumble forth. “I’m thirty-six and creeping closer to the big four-oh.” I snorted. “It was about time I got healthy, and this seemed like a good start.”
“It really is. And the last few kilometres will seem so easy compared to this morning.”
“You’re trying to make me feel better, huh?” I gave a small laugh.
His smile widened. “Maybe.” He shrugged. “I only got back into fitness outside my regular day and all this adventure stuff a few years back. I remember the blisters and how much it sucked.”
“Hey, I didn’t sign up for blisters. Is there an Uber service around here or something?” I joked, enjoying how easy Aiden was to talk to. Perhaps it was the whole unattainable thing that had me loosening up, maybe that I understood the devastation of loss, but whatever it was, my steps came easier with him walking beside me, and our flowing conversation seemed natural.
“I think we’re just out of range for a rescue.”
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Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
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