Harder and Harder to Breathe by N.J. Nielsen (@NJNielsen1)
Sammy has loved Micah from the first moment they’d met, but Micah is straight. Years later when he’s threatened and he seeks and receives Micah’s help, Sammy begins to think maybe Micah isn’t so straight after all.
Disaster brings people together in the most unexpected ways. Sammy Ranmore has just become the Steins brothers’ next target in their ongoing scam. Being robbed then shot at, his life is falling apart. Who is after him and why? He needs a friend.
Micah Ives was over the unrequited love he’d felt for Sammy. Two years later his life is finally on track–or so he thinks. One phone call in the early hours of the morning has Micah running to save the day–and Sammy.
Sammy moved to Gatton to be closer to the one person he’d never get over. When his life gets thrown a curve ball of epic proportions, he calls Micah for help. With the help of family, Micah and Sammy must find out if they’re strong enough to face evil–and see where newfound love can take them.
“Honey, why are you calling me so late?” Micah cringed at both the endearment slipping free and the tenderness of his own voice as he heard his ex-flatmate speaking. Actually, he was kind of surprised he even recognised Sammy’s voice when he’d answered the phone. Two years was a long time after the bittersweet end to their time sharing a flat. Now, to suddenly be woken up at–he looked across to the clock on his nightstand–shit! It was three a.m. A sniffle on the other end of the line had all sense of tiredness fleeing from his body, and Micah suddenly found himself wide awake. Once again the strong need to slay all of Sammy’s dragons was flooding Micah’s system. He wondered if he offered his help again, would he get the same reaction as last time. Still, he couldn’t stop himself from asking. “Why are you crying? Is everything okay?”
“I didn’t know who else to call. Bradley left me. He took everything and left. I’m…I–” A broken sob filled the line as Sammy shattered on the other end of the phone. Micah needed Sammy to tell him what the hell was going on.
“Sammy, where are you? I’m coming to get you. I need to know where I can find you.” Tossing back the sheet, Micah stood, went to his closet, and grabbed the first things his hand fell on as he coaxed Sammy’s location from him.
Sammy rattled off his address and shock slammed into him when Micah realised his old friend had been living in the same township and he hadn’t even known it. Why hadn’t they ever run into each other? It wasn’t like Gatton was some huge city. Surely if Sammy had been here for any length of time they would have crossed paths before now. There were so many questions he’d have to ask.
“I’ll be there in a couple of minutes, hon. Tomorrow you can decide what else you need to do.” Again he cringed at the term of endearment and couldn’t believe what a goober he was sounding like.
Micah’s hands shook as he grabbed his keys from the top of his dresser and left his house. By the time he’d gotten into his car and set out, he realised he hadn’t even locked his front door. Pulling out his phone, he dialled a number he knew well. The music died in the stereo when his Bluetooth kicked in. He also knew Kayne would just be getting up to get ready for work. Being in demolition, sometimes jobs required travel and an early start on the road.
“Hey, Micah, do you know what time it is?” Kayne yawned over the line.
Micah chuckled. “Of course I do, and I know you’re up since I just passed your house.”
“What the hell are you doing out at this time of the morning?” Kayne asked. “I thought you were coming in late today. If you’re going to work, why didn’t you pick me up?”
“I’ll be in later. I really need you to do me a favour. On your way to work, can you to stop and lock up my place? I had to leave in a bit of a hurry. Make sure I turned the lights off as well.”
“What’s happened? Is it Jacen or your dad? Do you need me to come with you?”
The worry in his friend’s voice was comforting in a weird way. Micah had always known that no matter what else life threw at them, Kayne would have his back. They had been best friends since high school. Nowadays they didn’t get to spend as much time together other than when they spoke at work. Ever since Teagan had given birth to Macen, she had curbed who her husband could hang out with. Micah had the feeling she was doing everything she could to separate Kayne from all of his friends. Mind you, whenever possible Kayne and Macen came to visit. Micah just wasn’t sure Teags knew about their visits. If she did, they would fall by the wayside. He’d never really understood why she’d always had such an intense dislike for both Ives brothers. Though, probably he got off a little lighter than Jacen did. Teags absolutely hated Jacen.
He responded. “The family’s fine. I’m going to help a friend. Do you remember Sammy?”
“The guy you shared a flat with in uni? Why’s he getting in touch now? I thought he told you to fuck off and leave him the hell alone.”
Micah sighed deeply. “Yeah he did, but he needs my help and I’m going to go get him. Apparently he lives on the other side of town. I didn’t even know he’d moved to Gatton.”
“Are you sure this is a good thing, Micah? I don’t want to see you go through what you did a couple of years ago.”
The lie forming on his lips made him feel guilty, as Kayne was practically the only person outside of his family he was completely truthful with. Well…almost. “This time I won’t try to be the guy’s protector. I’ve learnt my lesson. He asked, so I’m just helping him out of his tough spot.”
“Hmmm, I’ll believe it when I see it. You’ve always treated the guy the same way you do Jacen and look how that ended up. Your brother moved two states to get away from you.” Even though Kayne sounded like he was joking, Micah knew his friend missed Jacen probably as much as much as Micah did.
Micah blurted out before he could stop himself. “He didn’t leave because of me. He left because of you. You hovered over him just as much as I did, buddy.” Cursing inwardly, he was glad his friend wasn’t in the car with him and couldn’t see the truth on his face. Micah had always sucked at lying. Jacen had once told him his face was like an open book. Every emotion he’d ever felt was clearly written for all to see. He didn’t truly believe Kayne had anything to do with Jace leaving, but he did suspect Teags had a hand in it.
Laughter trickled over the line. “God, you’re an idiot. You keep thinking what you want, but we all know Jace ran from you. Go be your knight in shining armour and I’ll shut your place up like the good friend I am. I’ll even drop by tonight for a beer to find out what happened with you and golden boy.”
As the call ended Micah pulled up in front of a set of units on Woodlands Road. He didn’t even have to hazard a guess at which unit Sammy lived in because it was the only one with all the lights on and it had police both entering and leaving.
Holy shit! What the hell is going on?
NJ needs to write like she needs to breathe. It’s an addiction she never intends to find a cure for. When you don’t find NJ arguing with Vlad, her muse, or writing about the wonderful men in her stories, you’ll find her reading work by other authors she greatly admires. NJ lives on five acres situated in the SE of Qld, Australia with her family who all encourage her writing career (even if she does occasionally call them by her character’s names), and her variety of pets. NJ thinks anyone who takes the time to read her stuff is totally awesome, and wants to thank you all.
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