Dec 3 2016 12:00pm
Amy Jo Cousins Excerpt: Glass Tidings
Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.
He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.
Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.
Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.
But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.
Get a sneak peek at Amy Jo Cousins's Glass Tidings (available December 5, 2016) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
Gray’s brain flung him out of sleep and into the predawn dark with one burning thought.
After turning down Gray’s offer last night, Eddie had guarded his duffel like Smaug on his pile of gold, huddled over it in the bathroom. Jerking it out of Gray’s hands and hiding it in the guest room as if afraid to leave it out in the open where someone else might be inclined to examine it.
Falling asleep had been weird. Gray’s awareness of the man down the hall had kept him up for ages, his ears perking and his skin twitching at every random creak and sigh of the old house settling in the night.
He was pretty sure Eddie was deeply unconscious. Between the trauma, the hot shower, and the full belly, Gray’s guest had barely been able to keep his eyes open by the time he swallowed the dregs of his tea.
Until you dropped your why-don’t-you-stay bombshell on him. Asleep? He’s probably huddled in a corner with a baseball bat across his knees, convinced you’re going to sneak in in the middle of the night and crawl into bed with him.
Being awake for half the night gave his brain plenty of time to come up with some messed-up backstories for the lanky man down the hall, unfortunately. By the time dawn rolled around, Gray had imagined everything from a traveling serial killer—hey, Gray wasn’t the only one who could have been Dexter in this situation—to a drug lord on the run.
The drug lord thing seemed a stretch, but drug dealer or drug mule sounded pretty reasonable, actually.
Which was why he was sneaking down the hall to his guest room, turning the doorknob slowly enough to minimize its squeak, and creeping into the darkened room on stocking feet.
He’d brought Eddie’s clean clothes—slightly wrinkled from having sat in the dryer overnight—with him as an excuse for his total lack of class. And manners. And legal behavior, because going through someone else’s stuff had to be illegal, right?
The overwhelming feeling of being a total asshole was a sign he probably ought to turn back, but Gray spotted the duffel bag pressed against the wall under the window and then it was too late. He dropped the clothes on the empty dresser top and crouched down next to the bag, flinching at the zzzzz noise as he eased the zipper open.
He stuck his hand in the bag.
The hoarse voice rumbling from under the covers rocked Gray back on his heels.
He yanked his hand out of the bag as if he’d accidentally thrust it into a fire.
Like that was a useful thing to say when you’d been busted snooping.
The low mumble got more articulate, teasing almost. “Most of the time, if someone comes in without knocking, they just come right into the bed.”
Gray’s face heated. “I was . . .” He didn’t know how to finish.
Eddie’s face popped up over the edge of the duvet. His hair was a tangled mess, flat on one side of his head and knotted on the other. “Wondering if you’d offered a room in your home to a serial killer?” he rasped, rubbing his throat like it ached.
“Of course not,” Gray scoffed.
“Or a thief? Or drug dealer?” Eddie’s eyes stayed locked on his.
Gray knew his flinch at the words drug dealer gave him away. Plus, he couldn’t hold Eddie’s gaze, and the twist to Eddie’s mouth said he knew why.
The shadow that crept into Eddie’s eyes made Gray’s heart hurt.
Eddie shrugged. “No worries. I get it. I don’t exactly look like a sterling citizen. Rummage away, but be careful, please. There’s some fragile stuff in there I can’t afford to replace.”
And with that, Eddie leaned back against his pillow, giving a permissive wave at his bag and leaving Gray awkward and nonplussed.
He’d braced himself for an argument. For push back. Eddie’s easy submission to Gray’s nosy demands unbalanced their dynamic, putting Gray in the position of feeling the need to apologize, when he was operating under the assumption that Eddie was the possible wrongdoer. It felt weird to mutter, “Sorry,” as he knelt by Eddie’s duffel to check for . . . bad stuff.
Gray wasn’t even sure he’d recognize “bad stuff” if he saw it. He’d never seen any drug other than marijuana in person. And having nightmares years later about some of the scenes from Requiem for a Dream didn’t mean he’d recognize coke or heroin or whatever if he saw it. Besides, how in depth was he prepared to go with this search? Was he going to turn all of Eddie’s socks inside out? Go through all the pockets of his pants? Paw through his wallet?
For some reason, that last thought really threw him. It seemed an egregious invasion of privacy to go through another man’s wallet. Like reading his journal or email.
But before his internal tizzy of a debate could set him spinning further, the problem resolved itself.
A cursory search of the mess of tools and something that looked like a blowtorch was all his sense of decency would allow him, even with permission, but the first thing his hands bumped into was a glasses case that made a sound it absolutely should not make.
“Umm, I think something is . . . rattling. That shouldn’t be.”
Eddie was out of the bed and crouched next to him on the floor faster than Gray could blink.
Naked Eddie with dark hair on his ropey forearms as he ripped the box from Gray’s fingers.
Copyright © 2016 by Amy Jo Cousins.
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Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes contemporary romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn't necessarily have anything to do with winning.