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Us Again

By Nell Iris

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2018 Nell Iris

ISBN 9781634867115

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.

WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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I could never do this without a great playlist, lots and lots of tea, and many late nights. Or without Addison’s invaluable advice, and Kris’s love for “her boys” and her constant encouragement. Without my great publisher.

But most of all, I could never do it without my family.

* * * *

Us Again

By Nell Iris

The shrill ringing of my phone wakes me. I pry open one eye and glare at the offender. I don’t recognize the number, and considering it’s in the middle of the goddamn night, there’s no way I’m answering.

“Who the fuck calls at two in the morning?” I growl as I silence the ring. Then I mute the sounds—but make sure the alarm will still go off when I need it—and toss the phone on the bedside table, making it skitter across the surface for a few inches. An annoyed huff escapes me. I pull the cover over my head and close my eyes.

“Sleep, Alex,” I mutter.

It takes only a few seconds before an intense buzzing noise, sounding more like a drill than a vibrating phone, penetrates my blanket cocoon. My face contorts into a grimace and I slap my wrist over my ear in the hopes of keeping out the goddamned racket. Eventually the vibrating stops.

Only to start right up again.

“What the actual fuck?” I throw off the blanket and swing my legs over the side of the bed before grabbing the phone and accepting the call.

“Yes?” I bark.

“Alexander Reed?”

“Speaking. Who the fuck are you?”

“My name is David Hayes.”

Hayes? Did he say Hayes?

“Samuel’s brother?”

“Samuel’s brother.”

We speak at the exact same time.

“Yes,” he confirms.

Well, shit. I shoot off the bed as if my ass is on fire and start pacing back and forth between the window and the attached bathroom, my naked feet silent on the thick carpet. Adrenaline floods my system, and I’m on high alert, making me feel like I want to crouch and look for approaching dangers.

He’s breathing on the other end, so I know he’s there, even though neither of us says anything. I don’t because I’m afraid to ask why he’s calling—it can’t be good news—but I have no idea why he doesn’t open his mouth and spill.

I stop by the window and stare into the pitch-black night. Not even the moon is out.

Is that a sign?

Where the hell did that come from? I don’t believe in signs.

I scratch my beard. Rub my neck. Inhale. “What do you want? Why are you calling? And do you know what fucking time it is?”

“I know. I’m sorry but I wouldn’t have called unless it was necessary.” He sounds nothing like his brother; his voice is full of confidence and authority, while Sammy…Sammy is soft-spoken and careful with his words. And he never ever raises his voice.

Except for that one time…

Get out. Go. Leave me the fuck alone, I don’t want to see you again.

I still don’t know what shocked me the most—his yelling, the cuss word, or what he was actually saying. I didn’t understand what he meant until much later when he refused to answer his phone or open his door. After sitting outside his apartment for an entire night, I finally got it.

Sammy had broken up with me. The realization hit me as a red-hot metal rod rammed through my heart and I’ve spent the following months since existing in a numb state, still having a tough time believing it. Probably because I never found out why. What I did wrong.

The memory makes it hard to breathe, and I rub my chest with my knuckles. Fuck.

“…can you do that? Please?”

David’s voice pulls me back to the present. “Huh? Sorry, got lost in thought. Can you repeat that?”

“I said Samuel is in the hospital. I need you to come. He needs you to come. Can you come, please?”

My world screeches to a halt and I swear my heart stops beating for several seconds.

My Sammy? In the hospital?

“What’s wrong with him?”

David sighs. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you about it when you get here.”

“Is he all right?”

“He will be.”

His assurance calms me. Somewhat. “He doesn’t want me there.” I have to force out the words and they taste bitter in my mouth. Poisonous.

“He does.” David sounds as sure as ever. Obviously, he has no idea what he’s talking about.

“You wouldn’t say that if you’d heard what he screamed at me.”

“He told me. But trust me, he wants you here.”

“Why should I trust you over his own words? We’ve never spoken before.” Sammy rarely talked about his family. Every time the topic of his mother came up, he grew stiff and closed off and his lower lip would tremble. There’s a story there, but I never got to know it. He was more open about his brother but reluctant to introduce us even after two years together. The fact that David traveled a lot on the job and was hardly ever around made it easy.

My legs itch and ache, and I have to move. I turn my back to my window and let my feet carry me to the kitchen, where I turn on the espresso maker. I have a feeling I won’t get any more sleep tonight.

David sighs in my ear. “I understand why you’re suspicious, I do. But…I just need you to take my word for it and get your ass over here.”

I make sure there’s water in the container, slip a pod into the machine, and press the button. Not taking my eyes off the tar-colored liquid pouring from the spout, I rub my knuckles over my chest again, hissing as I manage to snag a tuft of my fur between my fingers.

“You there?” he asks.

I grunt an affirmative answer, grab the coffee cup with fingers that are too thick for it, and down the espresso as though it is a shot of whiskey. Too bad it isn’t. “Where are you?”

“Memorial. I’ll meet you at the entrance.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”

* * * *

I would recognize the man waiting for me outside the hospital doors as Sammy’s brother even if I hadn’t known he’d be waiting for me. They look so much alike, yet nothing alike at all. It’s unnerving. David is much taller and broader than Sammy. Maybe twice as wide across the shoulders. They have the same high cheekbones, dark, manga-sized eyes, and wide mouth, but David lacks the softness that I love so much about Sammy.

Loved. Not love. Loved!


I offer him my hand. “I’m Alex.”

“I know. I’ve seen your pictures. This way.”

I follow him wordlessly through abandoned corridors. Am I even allowed to be here? My heart sinks deeper into my belly with every step I take, and my fingers tap a rapid tattoo on my thigh. A few minutes later, he stops outside a closed door, resting his hand on the knob as though he’s trying to keep me out.

An urge to shoulder my way past him overcomes me, to see for myself what he’s trying to hide, but I make myself stay put.

“You gonna tell me what the fuck is going on?” My voice is harsh and grates on my own ears, but I stare him down. I’m bigger. An inch or two taller. My chest and arms are larger, even though he clearly works out. His waist is slim to my rounded belly, but I could easily wrestle him to the floor and storm the metaphorical castle.

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