Read Nobody's son Online

Authors: Shae Connor

Nobody's son

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Nobody’s Son

By Shae Connor

 

Sequel toWayward Son

Sons: Book Three

 

Who wouldn’t want a nice cup of tall, dark, and gorgeous? Shaun Rogers does. He’s working at the front desk of a clothing-optional gay resort when Conrad “Con” Brooks walks in. The sweet, funny, and smart IT guy is there to install a new network and security system, and sparks fly between the two men from the start. Trouble is, Shaun’s hiding his sexuality from his grandmother, the only family he has left, and that makes him reluctant to take the leap with Con.

Then a man claiming to be Shaun’s absent father shows up out of nowhere, throwing Shaun completely off balance. His life spiraling toward chaos, Shaun soon discovers that his “father” is hiding secrets of his own. When things come to a head between them, it’s Con who comes to Shaun’s rescue—but the incident could force Shaun into a decision he’s not sure he’s ready to make.

For Elizabeth, who believed I could do it—no matter how hard I tried to prove her wrong.

Acknowledgments

Great big heaping thanks to everyone who’s supported this series from the beginning, including those who unwittingly contributed just by being awesome and/or funny people. Particular heartfelt appreciation to my beta readers, J.P. Barnaby, Matt, and Holley Trent, and my senior editor, Jane, for keeping everything corralled. You rock!

Chapter ONE

 

 

SHIT.

This thing would kill him eventually.

Daggers of frustration sent stabbing pains into his temples as he held down the damn button again.

1… 2… 3….

“Finally!”

The computer started to reboot, and Shaun growled under his breath as he leaned back to wait it out. Hard reboot number three for the morning, tying the whole previous day—and the entire week before that. If his boss hadn’t promised his computer guy friend would be arriving today, Shaun would’ve been sorely tempted to rip the whole thing loose and throw it out in the driveway.

“Having a bad morning?”

Shaun’s head popped up at the deep, unfamiliar voice, laced with amusement. A man filled the doorway in front of him, and when he said filled, he meantfilled. The guy had to be at least six foot six, with shoulders so broad they nearly brushed both sides of the doorframe, but Shaun would have bet money not an ounce of it was fat. The man smiled, teeth flashing against his deep ebony skin, several shades darker than Shaun’s own medium brown shade, and Shaun’s brain told him it definitely liked what it saw.

“Yes,” the man drawled, as he strolled toward the counter. “I really am this tall. Yes, I played basketball, until it got to be too much for my knees. And the weather up here is just fine, thanks.”

He stopped across the desk from Shaun, who couldn’t stop staring. The man took Shaun’s breath away in more ways than he could count. Shaun forced himself to smile genially, pulling a cloak of professionalism around him like a shield.

“Welcome to Oasis Resort,” he recited. “We’re delighted to have you. How may I help you?”

The man leaned on the desk and raised an eyebrow. “I think the real question is, how can I helpyou?” He paused for effect and then grinned again. “Con Brooks. Conrad, but please don’t call me that.” He straightened up and held out a hand, which Shaun took automatically.

The name sank in, and Shaun smiled for real, relief overtaking his discomfiture. “You’re here to replace this piece of cra—I mean….” He cleared his throat. “You’re going to install top-of-the-line computers and a security system for the resort?”

“Correct on both counts.” Con squeezed Shaun’s hand lightly. “You must be Shaun.”

Shaun tried to ignore the shiver that ran through him at Con’s touch. “Shaun Rogers,” he confirmed.

“Nice to meet you, Shaun.” Con drew his hand back, but slowly, taking the time to drag his long fingers across Shaun’s palm. “And yeah, I’ll be replacing the ‘piece of crap’ you’re fighting with something that will actually work, and with some add-ons to help keep this place safer.” He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and flicked an ID and a credit card onto the counter. “But first, I need to get checked in and eat something. Got back home after midnight and crawled out of bed barely an hour ago. Haven’t had anything but caffeine this morning. Jimmy promised me pancakes.”

Shaun picked up the ID just to double-check—CONRAD P. BROOKS, it read—and then pushed it and the credit card back across the counter. “Your stay is on us, Mr. Brooks. Mr. Black’s orders.”

Con laughed, a full, rich sound that resonated throughout the entry area. “Lord, don’t call me Mr. anything. Con will do just fine. And I gotta say, even knowing about Jimmy’s legal-eagle past, I’m betting he’d say the same thing.”

Shaun half smiled at the reference. Jimmy Black, who owned Oasis, had an impressiverésumé, including law school, massage training, and a few years in porn, which Shaun knew was where he and Con had met, about a decade earlier.

“Well, he’s the boss.” Shaun brought up the room information on the computer, which was behaving itself now, much as a car ran perfectly once it got to a mechanic. “And he’s got you in cabin four.” He named one of the four cabins on the “clothing recommended” side of the privacy screen that shielded the back side of the clothing-optional resort. “Do you know where it is?”

“I do,” Con replied, leaning farther over the corner, until Shaun could smell the sweet musk of his skin. “Though I wouldn’t say no to a personal escort.”

The layers of subtext ran deep in his words. Damn, the man radiated charisma. “Sorry. Gotta stay behind the desk.” Shaun hit a few more keys to finish signing Con in and then reached for the old-fashioned cabinet beside him that held the cabin keys. “I can give you a map or directions?”

He held out the key, and Con wrapped his whole hand, large and warm, around the key and Shaun’s fingers. “I’ll be fine,” Con murmured. “But I’ll be back for breakfast in a few, and maybe we can continue this conversation after I eat.”

Shaun swallowed and extracted his hand, equal parts relieved and disappointed that Con let him go. “I hope you enjoy your stay, Mr. Brooks.” He kept his tone formal. “I look forward to working with you.”

The sound of Con’s soft laughter lingered in Shaun’s ears long after the man had headed back toward his car.

 

 

SHAUN DIDN’Tsee Con again for over an hour. He’d gotten all his records updated, checked out the couple from cabin six, and fielded three phone calls, two of them yielding reservations. He was just about to grab his lunch out of the fridge in the back when the side door opened and Con walked through, holding what looked like a Frisbee in his hands. As he got closer, though, the smell of something fresh-baked and sweet drifted toward Shaun.

“Jimmy didn’t want you to be left out.” Con stopped at the edge of the counter and set the covered paper plate in front of Shaun. “Hang on a sec.” He reached into the pocket of his shorts, pulled out a knife and fork wrapped up in a napkin, and placed the bundle next to the plate.

“Better eat while they’re still warm,” he said with a wink. “Don’t want Jimmy’s hard work going to waste.”

Before Shaun could even get himself together enough to say thanks, Con had disappeared out the door, headed back across the short walkway between the office building and the bungalow where Jimmy lived. Shaun knew Jimmy’s boyfriends, Cory Lassiter and Mikey O’Malley, had been due in late the night before, and Jimmy must’ve decided to make a big breakfast for all of them.

Shaun reached out and pulled the plate closer, lifting the top layer to reveal three large, perfectly cooked pancakes covered in a thick layer of maple syrup. His stomach growled, and not for the turkey sandwich in the fridge.

He grabbed for the knife and fork and dug in. “Oh my God,” he moaned out around the first mouthful.Jimmy should’ve opened a restaurant instead of a resort, he thought. Shaun’s grandmother made amazing pancakes, but though he’d never dare tell her so, these were even better than hers. Fluffy and light, warm and sweet, they were some of the best things he’d ever put in his mouth.

An image of Con Brooks’s long body and the things Shaun might put in his mouth made Shaun choke on his pancakes. He managed to swallow without dying and washed down the mouthful with a swig from the bottle of water he kept behind the desk.

All right, already, he thought. Yeah, okay, so he’d started to figure out that he liked guys more than girls, even though he hadn’t yet done much about it. And yeah, he liked ’em big—not likethat, but tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and thick arms and thighs. Shaun wasn’t small by any means, at six foot one and with an athletic build helped along by treadmill and free-weights time. But the thought of the way someone Con’s size could manhandle him made his skin tingle and his dick fill.

Shaking his head, Shaun forced his attention back to his plate of pancakes, sending up a silent prayer that the office would stay empty and the phones quiet at least until he finished eating. Letting these slices of perfection get cold would be a travesty.

He’d just finished the last bite when the door to the breezeway swung open again, and Jimmy entered, followed a step behind by Con. “I swear, I was about to lose my cool over this thing,” Jimmy was saying. He gave Shaun his signature giant grin and a wink. “I mean, Mr. Cool Customer here was making animal noises at the screen the other day, so you can just imagine the words that were coming out of my mouth.”

“Yeah, I’m getting the picture, and it ain’t pretty.” Con nodded to Shaun. “I’ve got the new computer and all the networking equipment in the back of my car, but I’ll get started with this system so we can head off any immediate computer-induced aneurysms. And then I’ll get the network and security stuff set up.”

“Bless you, my child.” Jimmy laid his head on Con’s shoulder—well, closer to Con’s elbow than his shoulder, considering their height difference. Jimmy was a solid foot shorter than Con. Jimmy straightened up a second later. “Shoot me a text if you need me. I’ll be spending some time with the boys the rest of the day.” He gave a naughty smile and waggled his fingers. “Catch you later!”

He headed back out the side door, and Con sent a fond smile after him before turning back toward Shaun. “I’ve known him for almost a decade, and I’ve never seen him this happy.”

Shaun had to agree. Even in just the few short months since he’d started working at the resort, he’d seen how Jimmy had changed. He’d always had a big, bright personality, and he and Cory, his longtime boyfriend, had clearly been in love. But bringing the much younger Mikey into their relationship over the past few months had kicked things up several more notches, softening Jimmy’s sharper edges and adding a layer of contentment over everything. Shaun couldn’t help being envious, even though he couldn’t imagine being part of a threesome like that.

Just one would do, he thought as Con gave him a wink and headed outside.I don’t ask for much….

Shaun snorted and, after tossing the plates and fork from his brunch into the wastebasket, turned back to the paperwork he’d been reorganizing.

 

 

IT TOOKmost of the afternoon and into early evening for Con to get the new computer up and running, including installing the specialized software needed for the reservations and payments. But before Shaun’s shift ended, he had a bright, shiny new workstation on the desk that actually responded when he clicked the mouse.

“It’s like a miracle.” He started inputting a fake reservation for himself, partly as a test and partly just to watch how fast things worked. “It’s amazing! Letters actually come up as I type them, not ten seconds later.”

Con tapped his fingertips on the desktop. “Wait ’til I get the full network upgrade done. It’ll be blazing fast then.” He checked his watch. “That’ll have to wait for tomorrow, though. Jimmy’s insisting on a cookout on the deck tonight.” He lifted an eyebrow at Shaun. “You’re more than welcome to join us, you know.”

Busy typing and watching the computer actually react immediately, Shaun took a moment to process the invitation. He blinked up at Con. “Um, thanks, but I’ve got to head home.”

He didn’t mention that the drive would take a solid hour and a half, assuming no traffic tie-ups, and that he’d have to roll out of bed by 6:00 a.m. to make it here for his shift at 8:00. He was just glad to have mostly daytime hours now, after years during college of working in a bar until the wee hours.

Con studied him for a moment, as if trying to figure out if he was telling the truth, then nodded. “Next time, maybe,” he said. “I’ll be around here for a few more days, and since I’m moving back to Atlanta, I’ll be out here again later too.”

“From Nashville?” Shaun remembered Jimmy saying something about that.

“Yeah.” Con grabbed one of the leftover power cords from the old system and started wrapping it around one big hand. “Too small-town, too country music. Decided to move to the big city and try my luck there.” He grinned. “New dating pool doesn’t hurt either.”

Shaun tried to ignore the flash of heat that ran through him at that. “I’m one of the rarities.” He turned most of his attention back to the screen in front of him. “Born and raised in Atlanta. Well, East Point, technically, but ITP, at least.” He used the common abbreviation for “inside the perimeter,” the part of the Atlanta metro area that fell within the I-285 interstate bypass that encircled the city.

“Got you beat there,” Con said, picking up another cord. “Born at Grady, right downtown. Didn’t move away until after college.” He sighed. “Take my advice. Never relocate for a man.”

It was still new for Shaun to have people assume he was gay. Not that they were entirely wrong, and hell, he worked at a gay resort, and how many straight guys would do that? But after years of first assuming he was straight and then not being so sure himself, he hadn’t gotten used to being somewhere that defaulted to the other side of the equation.

The alarm on his cell phone sounded, and Shaun reached into his pocket and pulled it out to silence it. “Gotta hit the road in a few,” he said. “Jimmy’s supposed to cover until Phillip gets here.”

Phillip Hawking worked the weekend late-night shifts, but he was a student at the University of Georgia, forty-five miles away, and had a work-study job there too. He couldn’t always make it to the resort by the time Shaun’s shifts ended, so Jimmy usually filled the gaps.

“Jimmy’s on his way.” Shaun glanced over to see Mikey standing just inside the side door. He smiled at Shaun. “He asked me to let you know. You should join us for dinner!”

Shaun smiled back but shook his head. “Sorry, can’t.” He logged out of the new computer, giving a smile as it actually responded. “You guys have extra fun for me.”

He realized after the words were out of his mouth how that sounded, considering he’d said them to one-third of a three-way couple.

But Mikey just grinned. “Next time,” he said. “I’ll tell Jimmy to put it on your schedule if I have to.”

Shaun chuckled as he bent to grab his backpack from under the desk and slung it over one shoulder. “See you guys in the morning.”

He headed outside and crossed the gravel road toward the parking lot where his car sat tucked in a shaded corner. Even with that, he knew it would be an oven inside. The late-afternoon August sun beat down on the back of his neck, though at least the humidity was lower than it had been the past week or so.Small mercies, he thought as he unlocked and pulled open the door and climbed inside. Thank everything that his air-conditioning worked well.

The drive back to Atlanta took the full hour and a half he expected, the worst of it on the Downtown Connector, the stretch of highway where Interstates 75 and 85 converged into one mammoth road that snaked through the middle of the city. Shaun half smiled as he passed by Grady, the huge public hospital for which one of the curves in the road was named, since the interstate had been built around the structure. Like Con, and thousands of other babies each year, Shaun had been born there too.

Twenty minutes later, Shaun exited the interstate near the airport and navigated the surface streets toward home. Shaun’s gran had lived in a little East Point bungalow all his life, and all his mother’s life before he came along. The neighborhood was on the upswing again, houses selling and renting to young professional couples who fixed up the run-down structures, but the area was still mostly populated by black families like Shaun’s, many of whom had lived there for generations.

Most of the houses and businesses also still had iron bars over the doors and windows, remnants of the years when poverty, crime, and depressed property values had taken their toll. The Rogers’s house had not only bars but also a security system, something Shaun’s mom had insisted on as soon as she’d been making enough to cover the monthly fee.

Not that securing their home had done anything to protect her.

Shaun parked in his usual space at the side of the house and slipped in through the kitchen door, trying not to wake Gran.

“Is that you, baby?”

Shaun smiled and shook his head as he crossed to the living room door. “And who else was it gonna be, Gran?” He crossed over to where she sat in her well-loved recliner and bent to kiss the cheek she tilted toward him. “You up watching the late shows again? It’s past your bedtime, you know,” he teased, though it wasn’t even nine yet.

Sherry Rogers drew herself up in her seat and gave him a look over the rims of her glasses. “I do believe I am old enough to make my own bedtime, young man.”

How a sixty-five-year-old gray-haired woman wearing a flowered housecoat could still make him feel five years old, Shaun would never understand.

Shaun straightened and hiked his backpack back onto his shoulder. “I gotta hit the hay early tonight. Early shift tomorrow.” His shifts usually started later in the morning, but Sundays meant most weekend guests would be checking out, so he went in earlier to take care of all the paperwork. At least things should run a little easier with the new computer.

Sherry patted his hand. “There’s a big bowl of chicken and dumplings in the fridge for you, honey.”

Shaun’s stomach rumbled, reminding him that it had been a long time since his lunchtime pancakes and also that he’d left his turkey sandwich in the fridge at work. He’d have that for the next day, then, assuming no more gorgeous men showed up bearing food.

“Thanks, Gran.” Shaun bent to kiss her cheek again. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

He stopped by to grab the bowl from the refrigerator in the kitchen on his way to his room in the basement. The main house had just two bedrooms and one bath, but they’d finished the basement when Shaun was a senior in high school so he’d have his own space during college. Shaun had lived there for three years, riding MARTA back and forth to the Georgia State University campus downtown—before spending his senior year in a dorm, mostly to save travel time because his schedule was so hectic.

After graduation he moved back home, bringing the small fridge and microwave back with him so he could have drinks and snacks and occasionally dinner in private. He loved his gran, but she was his grandmother, after all, and sometimes he wanted to eat his chicken and dumplings in his underwear on his bed. Like now.

He set the bowl in the microwave and turned it on before stripping out of his clothes and tossing them into the hamper in the corner. He’d fought off his gran’s insistence on doing his laundry. He’d let her do a load now and then when he had a tight schedule, but she was retired after forty-plus years of working as a school lunch lady, not to mention raising a daughter and helping raise him. She deserved to take it easy.

The microwave dinged, and Shaun pulled the bowl out, using a towel to insulate the hot ceramic, and grabbed a spoon. He flopped onto the bed, resting against the pillows and the wall behind them, and ate his dinner rapidly. It tasted amazing, like everything else his gran made, but he didn’t have time to linger, not if he wanted to get a decent night’s sleep.

When he finished he got up and crossed to the bathroom, where he rinsed out the empty bowl. He’d take it upstairs to the dishwasher on his way out in the morning. He washed his face and hands and brushed his teeth, flipped off the light, and headed for bed.

He paused on the way, as he always did. Hanging on the wall next to the bedroom was the shadow box that held his mom’s picture, her black-wrapped badge, and the flag that had lain over her casket. He touched the edge of the frame and remembered her smile for a moment before turning away.

He climbed into bed, but as he plugged in his phone to charge overnight, it chimed, alerting him to a new text message. He didn’t get many. He pulled up the screen and opened the message.

Hello, son.

A chill ran through Shaun. “What the fuck?” he muttered, as his phone chimed again.

I know this comes as a surprise. I only recently learned about our connection. I’d like to meet you.

Shaun managed to get his shaking fingers to work to type a reply:Who is this? How did you get this number?

A minute passed, then:My name is Willis Erwin. A friend of a friend told me recently that your mother had a child not long after she and I were together. I hired a private detective to find you.

Jesus. Shaun had no idea what to do. His mama had told him his father wasn’t somebody she wanted in their lives, and Shaun had never had any interest in finding out. He should tell this guy to shove off and leave him alone.

His fingers typed anyway:I have to think about it. I’ll text you what I decide. Don’t contact me again unless you hear from me.

He saved the contact, set the ringtone to silent, and set down his phone carefully before turning off the lamp.

He lay there, staring into the dark, waiting in vain for sleep to claim him.

Chapter TWO

 

 

“SHAUN?”

Shaun snapped his attention back to Con and Jimmy, who stood to his left behind the front desk. “Sh—oot. I’m sorry. I keep getting distracted.”

Jimmy gave him a long look. “I’d say it’s gotta be something pretty major to have youthisdistracted. Everything okay at home?”

Jimmy knew the basics about Shaun’s family situation. Shaun had opened up to him slowly, explaining over several conversations about how he’d lost his police officer mama when she’d been shot in the line of duty. Jimmy also knew that Shaun’s grandmother, who took over raising him, knew nothing about the type of resort where Shaun worked. Shaun didn’t relish the idea of discussing any of that in front of Con, who he might be attracted to but barely knew. He gave Jimmy a weak smile instead.

“Everything’s good.” He went for the truth, if not the complete story. “Just had trouble getting to sleep last night.” He blew out a breath and tried to refocus. “Okay, so when this is all up and running, the daily reports and files will automatically back up?”

“Yep.” Con nodded toward the hallway. “You’ll have a server in Jimmy’s office that’ll cover this computer and the ones back there. Usually I would’ve done the server and networking part first, but I know you needed the main computer up and running as fast as possible.” He gave Shaun a wink at that. “Once the server’s running,” he continued, “everything will back up to a cloud site online, so even if the building burned down or something major, your data will be safe.”

The door at the side of the office opened, and all three men turned their heads in that direction. Cory and Mikey walked in wearing nothing but flip-flops and tiny swim trunks, with beach towels wrapped around their necks. Shaun could almost hear all the blood in Jimmy’s body rush to his dick. Shaun didn’t react the same way to the other men—though he appreciated they were both good-looking—but he could understand what Jimmy was feeling. Especially with Con standing so close.

“Hi, guys!” Cory called as they sauntered closer, headed toward the door across the lobby that led to the pool enclosure. “Just going for a dip. Don’t mind us!”

Shaun caught Mikey’s gaze, and Mikey blushed and rolled his eyes. Clearly, he’d been dragged into Cory’s plan to get Jimmy out from behind the desk and into the pool with them—and probably back into their bed before much longer.

Shaun knew only basic information about how the three men had met, based on things Jimmy had said randomly during other conversations. He hadn’t talked to Mikey or Cory much, since they spent most of their time back in the city, where Cory had a house. But part of the reason for the new computer system was so that Cory and Mikey could work from the resort more often, and it struck Shaun that Mikey might be a good neutral person for him to talk to about what he was feeling—about his sexuality, and about the idea of coming out. Mikey was Shaun’s age, significantly younger than Jimmy or Cory, and while Shaun didn’t know details, he knew Mikey had come out just a few years earlier and had dealt with disapproving parents.

He shook his head mentally.Not today, he thought, turning his attention back to Con and the computer. By then, though, Jimmy was the distracted one, his gaze still following his men as they pushed through the door to outside. Con let out a long, put-upon sigh.

“All right, man. You areclearlynot going to grasp any of this with your mind and other body parts out in the pool.” He made a shooing motion at Jimmy. “Go on and be with your guys. I’ll work on the other networking stuff today and train you two on all of it at once when everything’s done.”

“Hey!” Shaun protested. “I’m paying attention now!”

“Yeah, but this one isn’t”—Con poked Jimmy’s shoulder—“and I don’t want to go over all of this twice if I don’t have to.” He poked Jimmy again. “Go on. Do your thing.”

Jimmy grinned. “My ‘thing’ and I will be right back!” He dashed around the edge of the counter and across the lobby toward his bungalow, and Con laughed as Jimmy shook his butt in their direction as he went.

“I know I said this already,” Con said as the door closed behind Jimmy, “but I’ve known him a long time, and I’ve never seen him this happy. He’s always been an optimistic guy, and he loves Cory a lot, but it’s like he’s kicked into another gear, you know?”

Shaun nodded. “Happier and… more settled? But not in a bad way,” he hastened to add.

“Yeah.” Con nodded. “Though there’s a lot to be said for settled.”

He fell silent for a long moment, still turned toward the direction where Jimmy had gone, his gaze unfocused. Then he shook himself out of it and gave Shaun a smile.

“Anyway. I’ll let you get back to work, and I’ll get busy on the networking stuff.” He nodded toward the hallway that ran alongside the front office. “I put the equipment back in Jimmy’s office last night, so I’ll start down there. Don’t worry about any weird bumps and noises you hear. That’ll just be me running cable and probably hitting my big ol’ noggin on the underside of desks.”

He punctuated his statement by rapping his bald head with his knuckles, and Shaun let out a soft snort of laughter.

“I can just imagine,” he said. “Try not to knock yourself out. I don’t know how long it takes to get the paramedics out here.”

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