Author Charlie Richards

Giving love and imagination free reign


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Break-Away Strength

Carry Me: Book Five

While enjoying a relaxing retreat, life can offer unexpected blessings.

Reginald Reggie Herrera has been feeling out of sorts for a while. Helping an old friend build a barn for a gay couple causes him to wonder what if, creating a resurgence of needs he'd thought buried decades ago. Filled with guilt, as if he is somehow betraying the memory of his late wife, Reggie heads to his fishing cabin for a few weeks alone, hoping to clear his head. While Reggie is out fly-fishing, he sees a man in a float tube flip in the river and hit his head. Reggie pulls the unconscious guy from the water, but when the young man wakes, he has amnesia. As Reggie helps the stranger regain his strength and piece together his past, his feelings turn from fatherly concern to something more. Just as Reggie begins to give into his desires, he learns that his young lover is Miguel Swanson, and he's wanted in connection with the death of his female roommate. Can Reggie believe Miguel, who doesn't truly remember, that he didn't actually murder his best friend? Not to mention, if Miguel didn't do it...who did?

Excerpt - Break-Away Strength

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    Reggie felt a sense of pride as he walked slowly backward toward the shore, making sure of each step. When the trout was close enough, he grabbed the net attached to his belt and used it to scoop up the fish. After setting his pole on the bank, with quick, confident movements that he’d done many times before, Reggie unhooked the fish and attached it to the stringer he’d left on the bank.

Picking up the metal spike he’d left beside the stringer, he sank it deep into the soft dirt. Finally, he placed the fish in the stream. That way, it would stay alive and caught, tethered to the bank, until Reggie was finished fishing and ready to gut it.

“You’ll be good eating,” Reggie stated, pleasure filling him. “Grilled fish is on my menu tonight.”

While Reggie brought a number of staples to the cabin—a bag of rice, some bread, as well as a jar of peanut butter plus a number of cans of beans, new potatoes, and corn—he ate what he caught in the stream. Most of his meals while out here were fish. Only once did he have such a string of bad luck that the he drove the forty minutes into town to get a meal from the diner.

“Not this time.”

Reggie picked up his pole and began making his way back to his place in the river. Once knee-deep in water, he checked that his fly was still in place and casted again. He appreciated the thick tread on his hip-high waders.

“Gonna have to remember to thank Susan for these new waders,” he mumbled to himself. “These don’t slip at all.”

His last pair had somehow managed to get a couple of small tares in them. Reggie suspected Susan’s daughter—four year old as of three months ago. While he’d never tell his eldest daughter, but he had found the little girl playing dress up in the garage. Somehow, in the matter of what was probably only the ten minutes she’d been unsupervised, she’d managed to pull out his fishing stuff. She’d placed his hat on her head and the waders half on, scuffing half the pants behind her as she shuffled around the garage in them.

His granddaughter had looked so damn cute, he couldn’t get her in trouble for it. Instead, he’d told his kids that he’d caught a couple hooks on them while fishing. At least something good came out of dealing with birthdays at his age...he received better stuff than what was ruined.

Reggie had only been working his line for around fifteen or so when he felt another strike. Chortling excitedly, he began reeling the fish in. Just as he swooped his net under the rainbow trout, he spotted movement from the corner of his eyes.

Looking toward the left, Reggie spotted a man on a tube round the stream’s bend. He straightened as his brows shot up. It wasn’t often that someone used this tributary to float into the Rogue River. Mostly only the locals floated on it, but Reggie didn’t recognize the young man in the blue tube…which, now that he thought about it, appeared to be a rental tube. Maybe he was new to the area.

He sure is a pretty boy.

Grimacing at his wayward thought, Reggie shook his head at himself. This was why he was up here alone at the cabin. To get his head on straight.

While his thoughts on himself might be muddy, Reggie still politely nodded at the guy. Then, he moved toward shore and added his recent rainbow trout acquisition to his stringer. He noted that the man lifted a hand and waved back. Just as he dropped the pair of fish into the water, Reggie heard a splash.

Turning to look toward the sound, Reggie’s brows shot up when all he saw was a sideways blue tube and an arm. “Shit,” he hissed, tossing his rod to the bank and turning to face the guy. “You okay?” he called as he took a couple of steps toward the sound of splashes.

“Y-Yeah, oh shit!” The sound of gurgles reached him, then, “Help! Hel—”

When the sound cut off, Reggie cussed a blue streak and waded as swiftly as he could toward where he’d seen the tube flip. He searched the area swiftly, trying to follow the eddies in the river. They changed every year in accordance to how the currents had shifted the rocks.

Reggie spotted a flash of yellow and strode toward it as fast as he could. Seeing the life vest lodged under a tree branch, combined with white-churning water that could only be flailing limbs, he grabbed it and tugged. The slick plastic slid through his fingers twice before he managed to get a good grip on it.

Hauling backward, Reggie used his weight to flip the male’s prone body. He peered down at the now face-up male. The man appeared to be in his mid to late twenties, judging by the smooth lines on his lightly tanned face. His eyes were closed, but to Reggie’s relief, he coughed twice before moaning and lapsing into unconsciousness.

Reggie once again thanked his daughter’s gift and the boots’ great traction. Otherwise, dragging the dark blond man’s body through the water would have been an exceptionally dangerous task. He did his best to ignore the unconscious male’s well-muscled, naked torso and ripped, swimming-trunk clad waist, pulling him closer and closer to the bank. Finally, he heaved the wet male’s body up and onto the damp bank.

Glancing at the setting sun, Reggie grimaced. He knew he wouldn’t be able to determine much in the fading light. Hell, he wondered what the man was doing tubing this late anyway.

After Reggie climbed out of the river, he quickly shucked his fishing vest and waders. He left them beside his pole, then scooped up the stranger. Grunting, he held him close as he strode swiftly to his cabin.

Reggie twisted his body, so he could reach the doorknob without putting down the man. He used his shoulder to push the door wider and stepped into his cabin. Striding to the sofa, he settled the man onto it.

Straightening, Reggie’s back twanged, reminding him that he wasn’t as young as he used to be. He grimaced as he crossed to the bathroom, rubbing his lower back with one hand. Grabbing a clean towel, he returned to the stranger.

Reggie rubbed the dry fabric over the man’s skin, briskly drying him. When he rubbed over the man’s head, trying to draw some of the water from his thick blond hair, the man moaned and his eyelids fluttered. Reggie gentled his ministrations as he realized he felt a large knot at the side of the man’s head.

The man’s eyes opened as he gasped.

Peering into heavily dilated, pain-filled hazel-brown eyes, Reggie smiled. “Hey, buddy,” he murmured. “You took a hard knock on your head. How do you feel?”

The blond glanced from Reggie’s face, to the room around him, then back to Reggie. His body tensed and he moved his head…or tried to. Fear filled his expression, causing his brows to furrow.

“Wh-Who are you?” The stranger’s voice came out raspy, maybe from the water he’d coughed up. “Where am I?”

Reggie realized then that he continued to gently rub the man’s scalp with the towel. Ceasing his movement, he moved his hand to the arm of the sofa. “My name is Reginald Herrera,” he told him. “My friends call me Reggie. You’re in my cabin because you fell off your tube and hit your head.” Seeing the confused look on the man’s face, Reggie asked, “Can you tell me your name? Is there someone I should call to let them know you’re okay?”

“I—” The man’s brows furrowed. His gaze once again darted around the place. The fear turned to panic. “I-I don’t know. I—” he squeaked.

Reggie felt a surge of protectiveness, a need to soothe upon hearing the surprising sound coming from the stranger. He chalked it up to fatherly concern. Having no desire to think it could be anything else, he focused on the man’s words.

“You can’t remember your name?” Reggie confirmed. When the stranger met his gaze with wide eyes, he offered him a reassuring smile. “You just rest. Like I said, you have a big bump on your head. It’ll come back to you.”