Story Excerpt
Harley's Heart

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"I think this is it."

Harland 'Harley' Thomas fingered the long scar running down his cheek as he looked over to where his driver and friend, Manny, was pointing. His heart pounded a little faster as he glanced at the driveway. He couldn't help but chuckle when he read the ranch sign hanging over the driveway.

Crazy Acres

That sounded just about right.

He couldn't see anything of the place beyond the sign as trees lined both sides of the driveway for as far as the eye could see. Harley nodded to Manny and the SUV slowly turned onto the driveway.

"Damn!" Manny said as they drove past the tree line and the view opened to show a majestic sight. He gave a low whistle as his eyes darted over the land. "This is pretty nice, man."

Harley couldn't agree more. It was just as he had imagined, maybe even better. Fencing lined both sides of the driveway all of the way up to the house. The field on the passenger side of the vehicle was empty but the field on the driver's side had several horses grazing in it, looking as if they didn’t have a care in the world.

Beyond the house and fenced in pastures, the entire place was surrounded by tree covered hills, like the little valley the ranch sat in was created just for it. The driveway came to an end in a round circle right in front of a large log cabin. Situated right inside of the circular drive was a large oak tree with grass growing around it.

Manny brought the SUV to a stop right in front of the house. "Do you want me to go in with you?" he asked as he cut the engine and turned to look at Harley.

Harley grinned as he looked at Manny, and then into the backseat where Bill and his lover Angelo were seated. He shook his head. "No, I have this."

Harley opened the door and swung his legs down to the ground. His feet hit the paved driveway and he grimaced when he had to reach back in for his cane. He would have preferred doing this without a cane but if he wanted to walk, he had to carry the damn thing with him.

As he headed toward the house, Harley’s eyes gazed over the place, taking in the vision he had dreamt about. It looked exactly like it had in his dreams, right down to the wraparound porch and the large front windows. He hoped the inside looked just as he had seen it in his head as well.

Using his cane, Harley slowly made his way up the steps to the front door. He took a moment to look around, seeing the hard work that had gone into building the place. Besides the fenced pastures and the house, there was a barn set just beyond the driveway. It was all so picturesque.

And perfect.

Before lifting his hand and knocking on the door, Harley drew in a fortifying breath and then slowly blew it out. This was it. The next few seconds could make or break him and he knew it. He had been through a nightmarish hell, and lived for only one single reason. With any luck, that reason was about to be his reward for staying alive.

Harley's heart felt like it was climbing into his throat and squeezing the very breath from him when he heard a soft musical voice from inside the house and then the door slowly opened. His breath froze in his lungs and he found it hard to breathe when his saw a long cascade of black hair and the soul deep caramel-brown eyes that blinked up at him through the screen door.

Harley had to literally make himself start breathing again. The vision was so breathtaking that all he wanted to do was just stand there and admire the man.

"Hello, Mitsuaki," he whispered in a voice that sounded echoed and seemed to come from far away.

"Harley-chan?" There was a slight tinge of wonder in Miko's voice, the magical lilt pulling Harley in deeper. "You alive, Harley-chan?"

Harley felt tears clog his throat but he managed a tremulous smile despite them. "I'm alive, Miko." Barely, but now wasn't the time to think about that. Harley would rather think about the beauty standing before him. He had pretty much been thinking of nothing else for months.

Miko had haunted Harley's dreams, awake or asleep like a vision that wrapped itself around him and brought him comfort in a time when he needed it most. He was pretty sure the gorgeous man was the only reason he was alive and standing on the front porch of a house he had only fantasized about instead of dead in some drug lord’s crazy clutches in Central America.

The screen door slowly pushed open and Miko stumbled out, staring up at Harley like he was seeing a ghost—like he wasn’t real or tangible. Miko's hand trembled as he reached up and pressed the lightest of touches against the side of Harley's face, his fingers as smooth as silk and as warm as the summer sun.

"You alive, Harley-chan!"