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Simple Things

By:Kade Boehme

Simple Things
Kade Boehme

       BLURB



Carter Darling's life has been a whirlwind since his mother was elected  to the senate when he was a teen. From private school to joining the  military, he tried to forge his own path while making as few ripples as  possible. But an injury forced him to figure out new goals for his life.  After his parents were involved in a sex scandal, he decided to go back  home to Tennessee to get some distance and get away from the madness.



He didn't bargain on Jeremy Beck returning at the same time.

Jeremy was finally past the rich boy angst that made for some dramatic  teenage years, but he hadn't earned back much respect from his parents  by playing in an indie band. Now that his band was on hiatus, Jeremy was  looking for space from his unhealthy non-relationship with a band mate,  so returning home to figure out his next step seemed like the way to  go.



Their initial reunion     turned awkward. Carter was still holding on to  hurts from their last meeting and Jeremy was trying to convince himself  that Carter was still just his sister's closeted little friend. But when  they open up to one another again and decide a staycation fling would  be a nice distraction, they may get more than they bargained for.



For two guys who've had so much drama in their lives, it might surprise  them to find that sometimes love is found in the simple things. Who  knew?





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS



A huge thanks to Heidi for making this shine. Also, to J.K. Hogan for  this phenomenal cover work. And to Wendy for the hours upon hours upon  hours of my major writer's block freak outs and outlining and general  neuroses over the last 6 months. Without you guys, this book wouldn't  be.





DEDICATION



To all who found out the hard way that being an adult didn't mean you'd  suddenly have all the answers and soldiered on anyway, without losing  your shine and your optimism. You're the brave ones. Nothing is braver  than knowing things suck and still finding the will to hope.





1





"You can't really be leaving," Ella stated. "Isn't there some big PR  rule about not going MIA during scandals or you give the rumors power?"

Carter Darling snorted inelegantly and continued folding his shirts,  placing them in his biggest suitcase. He didn't plan on returning to New  York City for quite a while.

"Besides, your parents are going to flip if you take a whole semester off."

Carter turned on his friend and roommate then. "They get absolutely zero  say in how I handle their problem. They made the problem, they can damn  well fix it. I'm not going to play smiling trophy child while they do  it."

Ella huffed. "Well, you can't leave me in a lurch with the rent. That's not fair."

"My trust is going to wire payments to the landlord, same as always."

Ella pulled out her phone and started texting furiously as Carter went  back to his packing. "Besides, it's my parents' names on the lease, so  if you want to move out, you're more than free to do so."

She huffed behind him, again. He turned on her, again. "What the fuck's  it to you, anyway? You were all team Fuck the Darlings, now you're  … " He  narrowed his eyes. "Shit. Did they ask you to keep me in town?"

She glared. "It's nothing that nefarious. But Paul did call to see if I  could talk you into backing down for a few days, see if you'd be there  for your mother's resignation speech."

Should have known. Fucking Paul Buchanan wasn't ready to give up his  gravy train with the Darlings, yet. And Carter's mother wasn't ready to  throw in the towel on her political career. The second coming of  Hillary, they called Carrie Darling, Carter's mother. Although, the  Clinton scandal had been all on Bill. Both Carrie and Carter's father,  Wayne, had shot their political careers in the proverbial foot this  time.

"How much are they paying you?"

Ella reared back. "That's low."

"Well, you had a price tag before when I decided to come out. What'd they get you this time?"

"Maybe," Ella snapped, "I don't want my friend to self-destruct. And  don't forget, you used my services as much as your parents did."

"Let's be clear. The only reason I let them do it was because my mom was  getting ready for bigger things and I wasn't ready to come out  publicly." Carter hated that he had to come out publicly. Most people  got to just tell their folks and their friends and the hard part was  over. But no. Not when your mother was the junior senator from  Tennessee, looking to run for Governor and pass her seat on to your  father.                       
       
           



       

They'd begged him to put off his official coming out for at least a year  when he'd returned home for good, then pushed it back another six  months after that. Only to have their own shit go public because they  couldn't be as "circumspect" as they'd insisted their shamefully gay son  be.

"I can't stay here. My whole life has been about them and their  aspirations. I wanted to be honest, to come out. That was too much for  them, though. They made me feel ashamed of myself. Now, I'm done feeling  like shit, like I should hide. I want to go home and see my friends I  haven't seen in almost a decade. I want to be normal for five fucking  minutes. I want to be out. I don't want people thinking my best friend  is my girlfriend."

"What about-"

"Enough!" She blinked in surprise at his outburst. He was known for his  level headedness. "Call Paul. You seem to be tight with him. And like I  said, you can always move."

"And you'll what …  come out and leave me to be the girl who got left for guys?"

Carter's face heated, fury bubbling up inside him. "You always knew how  this would turn out. It's also why we never blatantly said we were  dating. Plus, I'm small potatoes. I'm not some rock star's kid. This'll  be a blip for a week or two, then they'll focus on my parents."

"You're an idiot if you think that," she said, crossing her arms. Carter  felt the sadness settle deep in his bones. His body felt as if he'd  deflated, his shoulders drooping. He'd been going non-stop since  everything blew up in the Darling family's collective faces less than  twenty four hours ago. He hadn't had to really think about his next  move. He just called up an old friend from back home and she'd offered  him shelter from the storm, even if he hadn't kept in touch with her so  well since he had started college three years earlier.

He didn't want to fight with Ella, but he hadn't really considered the  fallout for her. He'd been so absolutely done from the moment the  headlines about his parents started rolling in, he'd made a plan without  much more than a text to his parents saying "so long" and "fuck this."

Ella's own posture lost its rigidity and she looked embarrassed. "Oh  god, Carter. I'm sorry." He held his arms out to her and she came into  his embrace willingly. "Oh, how I must have sounded."

He sighed, resting his chin on her shoulder. He wasn't much taller than  her, standing only five foot nine to her five foot seven. "No, I was a  dick. I didn't even think."

"No. Don't feel bad. It's been so crazy the last couple days, I got so  wrapped up in the clean-up frenzy and didn't even think about how much  this sucks for you."

He hummed and pulled out of the hug, returning to his packing. "I can't  smile for them, not after they've been so cold and morally superior,  making me feel like I was less-than because I dared to want to come  out." He turned to her. "I don't want to judge them for this, but it's  hard."

"I know," Ella said, still shamefaced. "It's weird, too. She's a part of  the liberal party. I still don't really get how you coming out would  have mattered." That was a lie, though. He'd met Ella in school, but  she'd interned with his mother-who said nepotism was dead?-so she had  probably gotten polls and bullet pointed memos as to why Carter should  keep his mouth shut. He'd sure gotten those things.

Carter frowned. "It matters. I did kind of get it. A little." He  scowled. "Fuck! See, I'm taking up for them already. I gotta …  I need  time away."

She studied him closely before giving a decisive nod. "Okay. But promise  me you'll only take spring semester off. That's eight months to get  your shit together and to let this stuff with your parents blow over. If  you stay out too long … "

"I can live off my trust fund." He winked to let her know he was  teasing. That was something he'd never do. He'd worked too hard to get  the respect of not only his teachers, but people he'd met in the boxing  world. They thought a rich kid wouldn't cut it, but he'd busted his ass  over the last several years to prove that he had the chops. He didn't  even want to think about how he'd be losing all that respect once his  coming out was official.

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