I've spent so much time chatting up THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT, I almost forgot about the deliciousness that is Tag's book. GETTING IT RIGHT (Restoration #1) spins off from the Belonging series, with a new set of characters and some familiar locations.
GIR very fittingly opens on the very same night as MAYBE THIS TIME, with the infamous encounter between Ezra and James "Tag" McTaggert at Pot O Gold. We get to see James's side of the story, as well as watch him eventually find his own HEA.
This excerpt is from chapter two. Nate is James's best friend since college (and maybe his future love interest....).
The toast popped. Nate munched on one piece dry while he set the coffee pot with water and ground beans. The toast stuck in his throat, so he helped himself to a swing of orange juice from the jar.
A loud groan from the living room reminded him that his guest was still there, probably waking up with his hangover. Nate grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and padded into the living room. James was sprawled on his back in the middle of the sofa bed, one arm across his eyes, the other flung off to the side. The sheet was rucked up around his armpits with his bare feet sticking out the bottom.
"Don't you have to be at work?" Nate asked, mostly to be an ass.
And it worked. James sat up straight, hands flailing, mouth open. "Shit, I'm late, aren't I? Do I have patients? Fuck, my stomach." He flopped back down, hands flying to his middle. "Jesus Christ."
"Sorry, Jay." Nate pressed the cold bottle against James's cheek, earning a sharp yelp.
"Fuck you." James snatched the bottle but didn't drink. He blinked up at the ceiling. "I think I took the morning off. Rescheduled an appointment to this afternoon. Pretty sure."
"That sounds like you." As emotional as he could get, James was also one of the most organized people he'd ever met. After he got the news about Price, James had probably planned on getting wasted and adjusted his work schedule accordingly.
"What about you? What time is it?"
"I already called in and took the morning off."
"You did?" James frowned. "Why?"
Nate arched an eyebrow at him. "You're sleeping one off on my couch. I needed to be here in case you started barfing on my furniture."
"I really like this furniture."
"Like every other guy who catalogue shops from Lay-Z-Boy."
"Oh fuck you." Nate snorted, no ire in his voice or heart. James was forever ribbing him about his lack of decorating skills. "I'm not a shrink who makes enough money to buy furniture from Restoration Hardware."
James eyes sparkled with amusement and some of the old him. The old him who'd been completely hidden last night, trampled down by alcohol and rage. "I always knew you were jealous of my craftsman table."
"Whatever, man. You want toast or something?"
"No, just coffee."
Nate pivoted, intent on the kitchen and the sputtering coffee machine.
He glanced over his shoulder. "Yeah?"
"Is my car here?"
Nate allowed the rest of his body to turn around. "Last night a little fuzzy?"
"A lot fuzzy." James rubbed his palms over his eyelids. "I remember leaving the Pot and being pissed at how I acted inside. I remember having some smokes. I called you, right?"
"Yeah, you asked me to pick you up."
"Okay." The question in his eyes said he didn't remember anything else. At least not clearly.
Nate didn't know if he should cheer or be angry. "I picked you up, brought you back here. You told me what was happening over a few shots of whiskey, got it out of your system, and then we went to bed."
James puzzled over the words, probably testing them, making sure he didn't recall anything differently. Finally he shrugged. "Okay. Thanks."
"Not a problem. The department's been at me to use my earned sick time, so you did me a favor by tying one on."
James flipped him off. Nate laughed, then went to fetch the coffee. He poured two mugs with shaking hands, angry with himself for being disappointed that James had blacked out the kiss. Things were better this way. James had a life he liked where he fucked whoever he wanted, when he wanted, then moved on. Nate was finally in a good place professionally, he loved his job, and he didn't know if admitting his feelings would wreck his life.
He didn't understand his feelings, so how could he explain them to anyone else? He had never been attracted to another man in his life, but he wanted James to take him to bed. He didn't check out other guys, but he caught himself staring at James's ass, legs, face, any part of him because all of him was amazing. What was he supposed to do with that?
Nothing, that was what. Life would go on like usual, while he helped James deal with the new reality of Stephen Price on the streets.
Nate drizzled some half-and-half into his coffee, then carried the pair of mugs into the living room. James had managed to sit up, the sheet bunched around his waist, leaving his chest bare. Nate pointedly ignored the expanse of tanned, hairless skin, and handed James his coffee, black.
James sipped at the steaming liquid. Grimaced. "I am such a douche."
Nate almost snarfed his coffee. "How come this time?"
"Hardy-har, funny guy. Last night. With Ezra? I told you about that, right?"
"Yeah, you did. And yes, it was kind of douchey, but you were drunk and in a bad place, and you stopped. No more beating yourself up over it."
"I should apologize."
"So apologize and then move on." And because he couldn't help ragging on his best friend, Nate stroked his chin with his free hand. "Although, if Ezra pursued this, I would have to arrest you for assault."
James eyes went comically wide. "Are you serious?"
"Well, I guess not me personally."
He looked genuinely stricken, and Nate felt like an asshole. Maybe today wasn't the day for their usual banter. "Don't worry, Jay, it won't happen. Sounds like this Ezra was as drunk as you were if he was barfing into the toilet."
"Drink your coffee, then go take a shower. I have to be in by noon."
(c) A.M. Arthur
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