Story Excerpt
Home In His Eyes

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Adam Bozeman sighed as he pulled up in front of his brother's place. He turned off the engine and just sat there and stared up at the big white farmhouse he had spent so much time in growing up. He had expected to feel the same comfort he always got when he came home for a visit, but it wasn't there, not this time.

Home had a different meaning to him now, and it was one of the reasons he had come back to Cade Creek. The home he had found in the city had been ripped away from him, painfully, horribly. He had come home to regroup and try to move on with his life.

Adam's eyes watered as he realized it wasn't going to work. Adam wondered if coming home had been such a good idea. He didn't think he would find the answers he had been looking for here. He was starting to doubt he ever would. There seemed to be no place on earth that would tell him why good people got taken and bad ones got to stay.

Adam pressed his hand to the twin rings hanging from a gold chain around his neck. He drew in a shaky breath and then blew it out. The number of coping mechanisms he had learned over the last few months were astronomical. That not a damn one of them actually worked was even more amazing to him.

He knew that was why he had come home. Nothing was working back in the city. He was slowly fracturing. It was becoming harder and harder to pull himself out of bed each morning. Adam was terrified if something didn't give, he would.

Coming back to Cade Creek had seemed like his only option. His family was here. His friends were here. The town he had grown up in was here. Maybe, if he was really lucky, he could find himself here as well.

Adam smiled when he saw the porch light come on right before the front door opened and Russ stepped out, a hot cup of coffee in his hands. Adam could see the steam coming off of it. Russ was the only person Adam knew who liked his coffee lava hot.

Adam opened the door of his truck and climbed out. He pushed his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans as he walked around the front of the vehicle and made his way across the driveway to the porch.


"Adam." Russ nodded to him as he held up his cup. "Coffee?"

"Yeah, that'd be great."

Russ turned without another word and walked back inside the farmhouse. Adam climbed the steps and followed his brother into the house, making sure he closed the door firmly behind him. There was a nip in the air and Adam knew there were small children in the house. Keeping them happy and healthy was important.

As early as it was—the sun hadn't even come up yet—Adam was a little surprised to see Jonny in the kitchen making breakfast. He figured the man would still be in bed sleeping.

"Hey, Adam." Jonny smiled at him before flipping the eggs he was cooking. "Hungry?"

"Naw, man, but thanks. I'm just going to do some coffee."

"Well, you know where it's at."

He did. Adam walked over to the red coffee pot plugged into the wall. While the color and brand had changed over the years, the placement had not. There had been a coffee pot in the corner of the countertop for as long as Adam could remember.

He poured himself a cup, keeping it black. He really didn't need the sugar right now, no matter how much he liked his coffee sweet. He probably didn't need the caffeine either, but he had to do something with his hands. Holding a coffee cup was as good as anything.

Adam swallowed tightly when the room went silent. He glanced up. Jonny was cooking, but Russ was sitting at the small kitchen table, staring at him between sips of coffee. He was waiting, and Adam knew it.

"I need to come home for a little while, and staying with Mom and Dad won't work. I love them, but I just can't deal with the questions right now."

"All right."

That was Russ, a man of few words.

"Can I stay here?" Adam asked. "It won't be for long, a few days, maybe a week. I just...I need someplace to get my head screwed back on straight."

"You in trouble?"

"No." Adam wished it was that easy. "Some things happened back in the city, things I'm not ready to talk about yet. I need to get away for a little while."

Like forever.

"What about that veterinarian internship you were getting set to take?"

Adam dropped his eyes to stare down into his coffee. He drew in a shaky breath and then released it slowly. He wasn't sure he was ever going to take it now, but that was another thing he wasn't ready to discuss. Not yet. He knew he wouldn't be able to put Russ off forever, not to mention their parents. But for now, they would just have to accept that he needed time.

"It's been postponed for awhile."

He could give Russ that much.

"All right."

Adam smiled as he glanced up. "So, can I stay?"

Russ's eyebrows shot up. "You have to ask?"

Adam shrugged. "It's the polite thing to do. You bought this farm with Mitch. I'd think you'd need to discuss it with him as well before saying yes."

"Has the city fried your brain?"

Adam chuckled as he brought his cup op to his lips. Leave it to his brother to put things into prospective.  "No, but I didn't want to presume."

Russ's eyes rolled. "Presume, jackass."

"The second bedroom at the top of the stairs is free," Jonny said as he set a plate down in front of Russ. "Why don't you go get your stuff and put it away? I'll make a fresh pot of coffee for you."

Adam nodded as he took another sip of his coffee and then set the cup down on the counter. He knew Russ had to get to work pretty soon, which meant Jonny was going to want a few minutes alone with him. Adam was good with that. He just didn't want to see it.

It hurt too much.

"If you need anything, Adam," Jonny called out as Adam headed for the door, "we're here."

Adam gave a sharp nod of his head without turning around. Maybe coming home hadn't been a good idea. He was still having trouble coming to terms with the new direction his life had taken. It wasn't that he didn't want to share that, but that he didn't know how to put it into words. How did he explain that one moment in time had destroyed his entire world?