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Hollywood is full of dirty secrets, but Carter refuses to be Levi’s.
Retired action star Levi Pritchard has made a quiet life for himself in the sleepy logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But then Hollywood comes to film the wildly popular television series Wolf’s Landing, and Bluewater Bay isn’t so sleepy anymore. His retirement doesn’t stick, either, because he’s offered a part on the show—exactly the kind of complex role he’d always wanted, one that would prove him more than a glorified stuntman. The only catch? He has to stay in the closet—no matter how attractive he finds his co-star.
Carter Samuels is the critically-acclaimed male lead on Wolf’s Landing. And now, the man who inspired him to take up acting—and made him realize he’s gay—is joining the cast, and sparks fly between them instantly. But Carter is out and proud and determined to stay true to himself.
Remaining just friends is the only thing to do, as both the studio and Levi’s disapproving, dysfunctional family keep reminding them. Except their friendship deepens by the day, tempting them with what they can’t have but both desperately need.
Levi followed Carter to his rental house just outside of town. Carter left his Porsche in the garage, and then climbed into the passenger seat of Levi’s Jeep. They drove back the other direction, taking the highway across town to the expanse of thick forest and not much else between this town and the next one. Then Levi turned off one of the barely visible side roads, and they continued deeper into the hills.
All along the road, huge old-growth cedars shot up from a carpet of ferns, their broad trunks covered on one side with thick moss. Carter wasn’t sure if this was the northern edge of the rain forest, or if it was separate, but it certainly reminded him of the trails he’d hiked out in Olympic National Park.
The pavement ended, and Carter gripped the edge of his seat as Levi expertly navigated the deep potholes—well, the ones he could avoid. They were almost thirty minutes from town now, an exit and three or four turns from the main highway, and there was less and less civilization out here.
As the dusty old Jeep bounced and bumped down the dirt road, Carter wasn’t sure what to expect. Where Levi lived, what kind of house it was. There’d been rumors flying around for the last year or two that Levi had bankrupted himself and was just getting by out here in Bluewater Bay. Some people said he’d sold off two of his three Corvettes to make ends meet—his movie wealth wouldn’t last forever. Others said he and a bottle of tequila had wrapped the third Vette around a tree. Everyone had seen pictures of the wreck, but the booze part had never been confirmed. All Carter knew for sure was this wasn’t the passenger seat of any Corvette. The Jeep was in good repair, but definitely an older model.
Levi might’ve lived in one of the mobile homes they kept passing, the ones clustered between run-down gas stations and cheap motels, or in a mossy trailer tucked behind the trees, next to cars on blocks. It was just as possible he had a sprawling farm, or a luxury house overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Carter had no idea. Every time they passed another home, farm, trailer park, or gated driveway out here in the sticks, Levi intrigued him a little more.
The trailer parks and gated driveways faded behind them, and for a good five miles, there was nothing but trees and the odd service road for the Department of Forestry. At a lone mailbox beneath a pair of towering cedars, Levi turned down a gravel driveway, which wound through the woods for almost a mile before the house came into view.
And . . . wow.
The rumors of Levi hiding in a trailer were obviously unfounded. The house was large, though modest by Hollywood standards, and built from reddish-amber cedar with a dark-green trim. Gleaming solar panels made up most of the roof, and Carter guessed those huge south-facing windows on the top two floors must have a spectacular view of Mount Olympus.
Levi pressed a button on the visor, and the left bay door of a three-car garage slowly opened. As the Jeep rolled into the garage, Carter glanced to the side, and a gorgeous black Corvette Stingray caught his eye.
“Wow, nice. I wondered if you still had your Vettes.” He gulped. “I mean, since you were driving the Jeep, I . . .” Fuck. Way to make things awkward.
Levi glanced at him, then past him at his car. “Well, I have that one.”
Carter wanted to ask what happened to the other two, but he bit his lip, not sure if he should press. Especially considering some of the relentless rumors.
Gaze fixed on the Vette, Levi killed the Jeep’s engine. “I sold the silver one. The red one . . .” His eyes lost focus for a moment. “I wrecked it.” He took the keys out of the ignition and finally looked at Carter again. “And no, I was not drunk.”
“C’mon. Props are inside.” Levi got out of the Jeep. Carter glanced back at the car, and then followed Levi into the house.
The interior was gorgeous. Bright and open, with enough lighting to compensate for the Northwest’s notorious gray days.
Levi dropped his keys on the granite countertop in the kitchen. “Can I get you anything? Beer? Coke?” His expression was taut, his voice flat as if he was keeping something close to his vest.
“No, I’m good. Thanks.” Carter smiled, hoping Levi would do the same. He did, but halfheartedly. Guilt gnawed at Carter. He just had to mention the cars, didn’t he?
Levi cleared his throat. “This way.”
Carter followed him down a hallway lined with nature prints and a framed poster of a sleek Vette. There was also a photo of maybe a dozen guys—he recognized several as cast members from Tin Horse and Broken Day—smiling and posing, and there were signatures all over the mat around the photo.
He didn’t stop to look closer, though, and followed Levi to a set of French doors. As they stopped in front of the room, the dark clouds over Levi’s mood seemed to evaporate. With a grin, he put his hands on the brass handles. “I still have to find a place to put some things, but the good stuff is in here.”
About the Author: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.