I received a lot of love over On My Mind and I decided that I loved this story so much that I would create the sequel that you all wanted. So welcome back to Shermin Heights, Kentucky and I hope you have a nice visit. Feel free to check out the playlist too because this one is download worthy. It really got my brain going. ♥ XOXO NIGHTTEMPEST
Made Up My Mind Playlist
Holocene - Bon Iver
Thunder and Lightning - We Were Promised Jetpacks
Down the Line - Jose Gonzalez
I Feel It All - Feist
Maybe Not - Cat Power
Brackett, WI - Bon Iver
New Hampshire - Matt Pond PA
Lump Sum - Bon Iver
Where Is My Mind - Maxence Cyrin
Worth Wondering - Bronze Radio Return
Rise - Eddie Vedder
Within Dreams - The Album Leaf
Sleeping Lessons -The Shins
Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye
Ride – Cary Brothers
Use Somebody – 2cellos
Yellow - Coldplay
Girl In The War – Josh Ritter
San Soloman (Reprise) – Balmorhea
No Light, No Light – Florence and The Machine
Lasso – Phoenix
Oh No, I Tried – Right Away, Great Captain!
Be Here Now – Ray LaMontagne
Penelope – Pinback
See You Soon – Coldplay
Wash – Bon Iver (Uhhhh SEXY)
Cold December – Matt Costa
Pants rolled to his knees, a ball cap pulled over his dark hair, and a fishing pole in his hands made Mason Pierson a happy camper. He could feel the minnows swirling around his toes as he fed another piece of bait onto his lure and cast his line out in the water. Lord it was hot though, Mason sweated and perched his pole in between his crossed legs to pull his shirt off. Wiping up his sweat with his shirt, he tossed it off to the side and kicked back on the end of the dock. Pulling off a few quirky dance moves while he was alone, Mason bobbed around to a guilty pleasure pop song.
A pebble hit him in the back of the head and Noah laughed at the jump Mason pulled—almost landing his ass in the water. “Why you gotta do shit like that? I wasn’t botherin nobody.” Mason spit to the side in a show of retaining his manly standard.
“Aww lil’ Mase got a bug up his ass today?” Noah stuck out his bottom lip and batted his eyes. “Get your ass up to the house. Matt’s gonna be here with his stuff in a few hours and we still ain’t done clearing out the lady things from the downstairs.”
“It ain’t like the stuff is gonna bite ya Noah. It’s just old and pink and okay it smells like the perfume from a stink bug but I can’t move it all myself!” Mason reeled his line in and sighed.
“Miss Merna is sending Buzz around in an hour to get gran and mama’s things, Mason,” Noah groaned. “C’mon now, help me out please?” Noah held up his hands and let them fall in defeat.
“Alright, alright but your lazy ass boy toy is gonna help me. Taking phone calls and playin on that computer ain’t no damn job. He needs to find out what real work is,” Mason said and nodded.
Noah laughed. “He does work hard for me Mason, whether you wanna believe it or not. But…I’ll have him help ya out. He’s been wanting to have a look around the house to start getting some ideas anyhow.”
“They ain’t been gone three weeks and he’s already redecorating? Oh hell no, our daddy’s house is gonna look like one of them fluffy magazine show shits. I won’t have it Noah!” Mason growled as he grabbed his tackle box and his shirt—marching past Noah in a huff. The eldest Pierson grabbed Mason’s arm and made him stop.
“That man is who I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with and that up there is our house. I love you like the summer loves sun Mason and I will do my best to make sure he don’t overdo it but…he needs to make it his place too.” Noah frowned when he caught the look on Mason’s face. Mason pulled his arm from Noah’s hand and kept on walking.
“Then since I ain’t got no place anymore, I’ll look elsewhere,” he yelled back and disappeared up the path to the house. He had no problem with Jamie Ford or his weird love for ordering things on the computer or the way he liked to eat pizza with a fork but this was too much. He had only been half joking about the redecorating business, in truth the house did need an update but the way Noah had replied was anything but funny. Mason was only twenty three and yeah that was time to move out but he didn’t have nowhere else to go and he wasn’t about to run to Merna’s place. His mama and gran had already moved over there because it had felt right to them. The girls had more lady time and the house was good with them in it. Plus they weren’t so far out of the way that gran couldn’t get around downtown.
She needed the fresh air and Mason liked that she was happy. But now more than ever he missed having them around. Even if gran couldn’t hear half the stuff he told her, Mason could always rely on her tiny hand to soothe his like she could rub the troubles away. Mason wiped the sweat off his forehead and headed straight up the hill to the house. An old open top jeep with a small trailer behind it was rolling up the dusty drive as Mason reached the front yard.
Matt Every climbed out of his dirty blue jeep and pitched a large canvas duffle into the yard. Tall, slender, but still strong, Matt proceeded to grab all his things out of the back and make a pile on the grass. Spotting Mason, he threw up a hand in greeting and smiled. Mason lifted his chin at Matt and walked over—putting his shirt half in his back pocket and dropping his gear on the front porch. “I thought you weren’t gonna be here for another three hours? Noah said I had til five.”
“Sorry, I left earlier because the traffic out of Louisville on the weekend is hell and well, I just wanted to come out and enjoy the sun. It’s different out here you know?” Matt glanced around and pulled his aviators onto his head, showing off his green eyes.
“Yeah it is. Fresh air is probably hard to come by too where you’re from I bet.” Mason snorted and picked up the largest canvas duffle. The strap settled onto his tanned shoulder and Mason had to glance away, bending to grab a smaller bag. “Noah’ll be over here in a minute,” Mason called. That body, Matt felt his stomach flutter, dear God above. Hearing Mason’s boots crunch away from Matt on the gravel, the glass blower straightened and watched the muscles of Mason’s ass and bare back move. They did not grow things like that in Louisville.
Jamie threw open the door and held it for Mason. The glare he received meant Noah had said something worth apologizing and that Jamie was about to take the blame for it. Whatever it was wasn’t good because he got a nudge in the stomach with the duffle before Mason entered the house. On cue, Noah walked up the lawn and stuck his hand out to Matt. “A lil early but we’re glad you’re here all the same.” They clasped hands with a good shake. “Give that here and get on in the house. We’ll worry about that other stuff tomorrow. Today we grill and chill as Jamie says.”
“Sounds good to me.” Matt smiled and took a good look around at his new home for the summer, and if he had his way? Longer than that, Matt sighed.
Five days later and Mason couldn’t stand being around his own house for longer than an hour. Matt had that fire blazing in the shed behind the barn and it was hotter than hell as the wind shifted towards the house. Jamie was on the phone with Noah and Matt’s vendors all damn day and you couldn’t get a minute’s peace. Then there was the ‘redecorating’, Mason shuddered in anger at the thousands of sticky notes and paint samples that covered every available surface in the house. Feeling like a complete stranger to his own people, Mason packed up some lunch and climbed into his truck. Maybe he would take Pop Olivette up on that offer and work with Sam and Perry at the lumber yard.
There wasn’t anything for him here and Noah hadn’t said anything more on the matter to reassure him, so Mason put his keys in the ignition. A hand slapped the open window frame and Mason startled. Standing there covered in sweat and with his long hair pulled back away from his face was Matt. Always with that damn smile and those girly green eyes. A man’s eyes shouldn’t sparkle, Mason grunted.
“Where you off to? Are you going into town perhaps?” Matt grinned and Mason looked around. Who the hell was he smiling at like that?
“Lumber yard is all. Just gonna see about doin some work,” Mason said and shifted in his seat. Man, the guy could sweat, Mason noted the heavy trails of moisture running down Matt’s flat chest. “Why?”
“I was hoping you could wait a minute and I could catch a ride if it’s not too much trouble. Maybe talk about why you wanna ditch your job assisting me and Noah for some wood?” Matt laughed quietly but flicked his eyes back up to Mason with uncertainty. Mase found the silence after that to be awkward in a way that he’d never felt before. What was it with this guy that made him so uncomfortable?
“Uh maybe next time, I should really get going,” Mason replied and watched as Matt took a few steps away from the truck. His eyes didn’t sparkle anymore and for once…he didn’t smile.
“Nah, don’t worry about next time. I don’t even know why I asked you, I got my own jeep. Sorry about that,” Matt mumbled and turned around. What was that kid’s problem and why did that simple rejection kind of hurt, Matt wiped his hands on his dirty jeans and flicked a glance over his shoulder.
Mason sat in the truck and watched Matt get up to the porch before he honked the horn. “Get in.”
“What?” Matt turned around.
“I said put your shirt on and get it in,” Matt repeated thinking a shirt was better than looking at the guy’s bare chest all day.
“So now I’m alright?” Matt took a step down and Mase rolled his eyes.
“You got ten seconds before I roll out of here without you Every.
A smile slowly split over Matt’s lips and he threw on his shirt from his back pocket—a habit that he was beginning to pick up from the boys. No matter, he liked the hard work and the little quirks that came with the simple living. Fifteen minutes later, Mason and Matt were parked in front of the Shermin Shack after an entire ride of almost complete silence. “So…uh you wanna get out or what?” Matt looked over at a flustered Mason.
Trying to muster the courage to ask what he wanted to, Mason turned to Matt and clicked his teeth out of nervous habit. “Are you gay?”
“Damn it. I knew it, I knew that’s what your problem was. I saw the way you’ve treating your brother and Jamie and I should’ve expected it,” Matt surmised and began to open his door to get away. Why would he bring me here then, Matt wondered but suddenly didn’t care. He had figured Mason for the sweet boy next door that just happened to be drool worthy but a homophobe? Matt hadn’t counted on that.
“Now just hold up there a damn minute,” Mason snapped and grabbed Matt’s thigh. “What are you talking about?”
“Yes Mason, I’m gay. Freaked out now?” Matt looked down at the tight fingers digging into his knee and didn’t know whether to start screaming or writhing at the contact.
“Why would I be freaked out because you’re gay? You think…you think…ah no Matt, you got me all wrong,” Mason stammered. “I ain’t no gay basher Every. I love my brother and fuck…I love Jamie too but they just get on my last nerve.” Exhaling through his teeth, Mason pulled his hand away and flipped back into his seat with shame.
“So then what has that got to do with me? You’ve barely said two words to me since I got here and it’s like I did something to you. I thought we were friends this past year or was that just my imagination? I never told you I was gay because I thought you knew,” Matt groaned and sank into his own seat. A few townies walked past the truck but paid them no mind.
“I don’t care about you being gay Matt and yeah, we’re friends. It’s just that they want you there, not me and I kind of get a little bitter is all. I’m sorry if I was a jerk to ya.”
“Why wouldn’t Noah and Jamie want you there? They talk about you like you’re the glue that holds them together so I don’t understand why you would feel that way,” Matt said, turning to look at Mase. “Mason?”
A tear rolled down Mason’s cheek and he rubbed it away. “I don’t know where to go from here Matt. It’s like everyone’s got something going or a place to be and I got left behind. Shermin don’t feel like my place anymore but I can’t leave because even if it don’t love me, I still love it. Noah and Jamie are so happy they make me want to spit, gran and mama are over the moon at Merna’s, and you…”
“I what?” Matt leaned in. He’d never heard someone confess something so personal to him before and with every word from Mason’s mouth, Matt felt closer to him. Call him crazy but Matt couldn’t get enough of Mason’s voice.
“You just fit right in like you were a part of this place all along. Is it because you’re gay that they want you around? Is that it? Because I don’t know what to…shit. I’m gonna stop talkin because now I feel like an idiot.” Mason rubbed his face with both hands.
“Do you think your brother and your brother in law hate you and like me because I’m gay?” Matt asked and then laughed and laughed some more.
“It sounds stupid when you say it like that and I already feel stupid.”
“Well it was kind of stupid Mason,” Matt murmured and scooted over. “But about the other stuff? It’s not stupid at all Mason. Everyone feels that way at one point or another in their life. Why am I here? Where do I go? What do I do next? Am I wanted? Those are common worries and they aren’t stupid at all.”
“Yeah?” Mason felt Matt’s arm around his shoulders and he leaned forward a little. What the hell was he doing? With a startled breath, Mase leaned back and nodded. “I mean that’s good. So I don’t have to move or get on no medication right?”
Matt felt the emotions shift between them and moved back into his own seat with disappointment. But truthfully where had he expected that to go? It was his own fault he’d been crushing on Noah’s little brother who was perfectly straight. Did Matt really think Mason would’ve kissed him? No but God he’d hoped for it. “I don’t think it’s that bad Mason.”
“Good. That’s…good.” Mason glanced at Matt and then put his hand on the latch before getting out. “We should get some grub and then get your stuff from the store. Noah’ll wonder what I did with his prized blower…I mean glass guy? Oh fuck.” He slammed the door as Matt rounded the front of the truck.
Matt burst in laughter. “Prized blower? Oh Lord! I have to get me a t-shirt with that on it.”
“Matt,” Mason hissed and slapped his arm. “C’mon I didn’t mean it like it sounded. Cut it out.”
Taking a huge risk, Matt turned to Mason with a slow grin. “It’s okay if you did. I’ve never had any complaints.”
Bright red had to be the shade Mason was wearing because his cheeks felt on fire with those words. The image that went with the comment was downright devil’s handiwork in his head and Mason swallowed picturing Matt on his knees—those bright green eyes flicking up to him as Matt swallowed his…
“Okay!” Mason practically shouted and fanned his face before flinging open the door to the Shermin Shack and waiting for Matt to walk through. He held open the door for a man? What was going on with him, Mason feared something churning in his throat but he had to hope for the best. He had no other choice.
“You okay?” Matt frowned once inside. Mason looked flushed and his forehead was shiny with sweat. “You look a little hot.”
“Oh my God,” Mason muttered. There he went again, calling him hot. Shit. “I’m…I’m alright. Just need a drink I think.”
“Sure, okay.” Matt gave him a funny look.
“Well hey there Matt!” Suzanna Beauchamp strode over with her long tan legs and bouncy blonde hair. Mason swallowed and sighed—Suzanna sure was a looker and she also had a thing just for him. Ah man this was gonna get weird, Mason thought and glanced back to Suzanna. “I didn’t think we’d see you again around these parts. How’s that fancy city company treatin ya?” She smiled and her pearly whites lit up the room.
“Hey Suze, it’s good to see you,” Matt greeted her like they were old friends and gave her hug. Mason frowned and looked at Suzanna. “Guess you hadn’t heard that I’m staying down here for the summer while I look for a place. I left Shumacher’s and I’m going out on my own.”
“You mean you’re stayin in Shermin? Well Matt Every that is wonderful news! Oh my stars, let’s get you a table and you can have a piece of pie on the house.” She winked and guided him to a table. Suzanna didn’t even so much as cast Mason a flirty smile or even say hello. He was left standing there with yet another flicker of depression resonating in his heart—another reason he didn’t fit in anymore.
“You gonna stand there all day Pierson or were you still hungry?” Suzanna put a hand on her hip and laughed but it wasn’t the same kind of laugh that she usually gave him. Nope, her usual smile was wasted on Matt Every.
Mason walked over and slid into the old sticky booth and immediately picked up a menu to hide his face. “You don’t need that. I already know what you want.” Suzanna snorted and tried to grab the menu. Mason snatched it out of reach and shook his head.
“I want something different today. Thank you very much.” He knew his voice was cold but Mason couldn’t help it. The one sure thing he had left was gone now too. It was like the good Lord was pulling the tablecloth out from under his fancy dinner and spillin his life over the edge.
“Mason? You okay honey?” Suzanna tried to brush the hair out of his face as he took his cap off but he shrugged her off.
“I’m fine. I’d like an iced tea with lemon please.”
“Uhhh yeah, I’ll have the same but make mine sweet please?” Matt shrugged at Suzanna who stood back. She’d never seen Mason Pierson frown like that…or not want her. Something must be going on at home because Suzanna was sure as the sun would come out tomorrow that Mason Pierson had never been rude to her in his life.
“I’ll be back,” she murmured before taking off. Over the small partition, she watched Mason put his head in his hands and take a few deep breaths.
“You gotta talk to me Mase. What’s really going on?” Matt got out of the booth and went to sit on Mason’s side. His arm went around Mason’s shoulders and his fingers stroked that hard earned muscle without a thought.
“What are you doin?” Mason’s head shot off the table and he looked at Matt.
“What do you mean?” Confused and already tired, Matt sat back and let his hand graze over Mason’s shoulder.
Leaning forward, Mason checked around before whispering. “Why are you touching me like that? Like…I dunno…”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it,” Matt explained and let his hand fall. “You’re my friend and you looked upset Mase. I didn’t…”
“You didn’t think is what you didn’t do. I’m not like you alright? If that’s what you’re after…I’m not gay.” Mason sat back—shock sifting through Matt’s eyes.
Matt couldn’t believe his ears or the way his heart was pounding. Talk about being denied but it was more than that. He hadn’t been prowling on Mason, he’d been trying to be a friend because the pain that Pierson was in had been obvious, but to lash out like this? God did it hurt and he couldn’t stand the sight of the guy he’d fallen for one second longer. “I’ll see you around Mase.” That’s all he could manage as he got up out of the booth. Mason stuttered for words as he’d realized what he’d just done and got up from the booth, but all he could do was stand there and watch Matt go. What could he possibly say to make that right?
“Where you going Matt?” Suzanna called but he kept walking.
“To a place where I’m more than some gay stalker.” Matt waved a hand and walked out the door, turning heads in the restaurant. He sort of remembered how to get back but it didn’t really matter. He saw the front strip of Henrie’s place packed with dirty trucks and he jogged across the road to the local watering hole. The Olivette brothers were getting out of their truck as he breached the front porch and they hollered at him.
“Hey Matt. Yo Every how you been?” They called out and he smiled. A few pats on the back and a couple dirty jokes and Matt was hangin with the boys on their lunch break.
Mason watched from the parking lot of the Shermin Shack as his best friends took Matt in no questions asked. He punched the side of his truck in anger at himself and hissed as pain bloomed over his knuckles—no damage to anything but his own hand. Looking over at Henrie’s place, Mason felt his own heart sink. He’d done wrong by Matt but it wasn’t because he was scared of Matt being gay…it was because he was scared of the way Matt’s touch made him feel. He wasn’t like that….
“There’s my baby!” A loud squeal from an all too familiar source made Mason want to cry. Turning around, he watched his half blind gran clicking her walker up the sidewalk with his mama in tow. Someone up there knew exactly what he needed and Mason went to his gran with open arms.
“I’ve missed you so much,” he whispered in her ear, feeling her tiny hand rub his back.
And for the first time in a long time she heard every word. “I ain’t gone nowhere boy.”
“Let me try that one,” Ella Mae said with a smack of her lips. Merna turned the Lazy Susan on her table and stopped the key lime pie in front of gran. The tiny woman dug her spoon deep into the pie and came back with a heaping bite of dessert. “Oh that’s wonderful Merna.”
Twelve pies sat in a circle on the table and Mason was in heaven. “Ya’ll do this every night?”
Merna and Dee laughed. “No only when the quilting circle is done. Those women bring so much pie we don’t know what to do with it.”
“Why not serve it to the guests? You got a full house this week,” Mason groaned and rubbed his full stomach—placing his spoon on the table and calling it quits.
“This is what was left after they already had their fill.” Merna giggled and pointed to the counter where a dozen empty pie plates were stacked.
“Sounds like a tough life you ladies got here,” Mason commented and leaned back in thought.
“What’s troubling you baby?” Gran squinted and leaned over. “You look like you lost your pageant crown or something. Them boys hassling you? You just let me know and I’ll whoop their little asses with my cane.”
“Haha, no gran. It ain’t that. I’m the one who done something wrong, not them for once. I don’t know how to apologize to him though because it’s more than I’m sorry. I just…I can’t explain it,” Mason admitted. “Mama I don’t know what to do.”
Dee Pierson stared at her youngest and recognized that very look in his eyes. Those unshed tears, the frustration making his fingers twitch, the beat of his heart reflected in every small move he made—that boy was in love but did her Mason say he? She snorted, well hot damn she thought, got me two of em. But just as Noah had once told her, it was best that Dee had let him figure it out for himself. No one likes to be told who they are. “Who did you go an piss off blue eyes?”
“Mama…” Mason rolled his eyes.
“That’s my name,” she retorted and grabbed his hand. “Now tell us. Ain’t nobody here to be shy for sugar.”
“Ah hell, it’s Every. I done said he was trying to seduce me and he got his feelings hurt.”
“Well, was he?” Merna put her chin in her hand and leaned forward.
“Yeah, was he trying to put the moves on you?” Gran’s eyes went wide and she too leaned forward comically.
“He said he was just being a friend when I was upset and I basically called him a stalker. Then he left and went to Henrie’s Place. And damn him, he done stole my best friends too!” Mason was suddenly reminded of that fact.
“Child all mighty, you hold your tongue. Them boys ain’t been stolen because they’re grown men and they can choose who to hang out with. Matt is a good man and Sam and Perry are just being friendly is all. Are you that childish that you can’t welcome him into your sacred little clique? I thought ya’ll was friends? You certainly acted like it this past year…or was that a rouse?” Dee cocked her head and watched her baby dance through his thoughts. Oh yeah, Matt Every done struck a chord in Mason’s heartstrings but would Mason play back or he would fight this to the death was the question.
“Mama!” Mason whined but a knock at the screen door cut him off. All four heads whipped around and Merna got up from the table.
“A little late for company,” she muttered but shuffled to the front door—wrapping her green sweater around her body to fend off the evening breeze. Eyeing the girl on the other side of the screen she smiled. “Jenna baby, what are you doing over here? Bar don’t close for another hour.”
“It was sort of important Miss Merna. I don’t spose Mason is here at all? I saw his truck out front and this one here has been cursin his name all night, so I figured two peas in a pod and all that,” Jenna explained and then hitched a thumb at a figure half lying on the porch. Merna leaned out the door with the squeak of the hinges and covered a laugh.
“Heavens above, ain’t that divine intervention? Yeah he’s here Jenna. You get yourself back on across the street before your daddy has a fit. Oh wait, wait, wait. You gotta take these to them boys over yonder!” Merna disappeared inside and grabbed a few pies. “Mason come outside please.”
“Why? Who’s there?” He eyed her skeptically.
“Don’t you sass me, get outside child.” Merna raised a brow and Dee slapped his arm.
“Alright, ow,” he complained but got to his feet.
Jenna smiled as she lifted two pies from Merna’s arms and snorted as Mason came out onto the porch hiking up his jeans and looking every bit his older brother. “Delivery for ya Mase,” she called out as she descended the porch steps with a nod at Miss Merna.
“What are you talkin…oh hell no,” Mason scoffed as his eyes landed on Matt half passed out on the porch. “You are not leavin him here like this. Jenna? Jenna!”
“Will you keep your voice down? We got people sleeping around here Mason Pierson,” Merna hissed. “Now you get that boy up and get him home. And you better be nice to him. You hear me?”
“Yes Ma’am,” he drawled bitterly and crouched in front of Matt as she let the door snap shut behind her. “What is it with you guys and not knowing how to hold your alcohol? First Jamie and now you…I swear.”
“Uhhh,” Matt replied and slouched against the pillar of the front porch.
“Oh yeah?” Mason clucked his tongue and reached for the other man. Under his shoulders, Mason pulled Matt up until his feet were semi-flat on the porch. “Can you walk?”
“Huh?” Matt’s head was fuzzy and so were his eyes. Everything looked blurry but the strong arms holding him up made everything better. That smell was familiar and Matt felt sleepy again. Leaning back, he nuzzled his head into the crook of the other man’s neck with a sigh.
“Oh, no you don’t, you damn drunk,” Mason whispered fiercely but he had to admit that Matt’s weight against the front of his body felt right. Matt’s hair tickled his neck and the soft noises the guy made had Mason losing his anger in no time. “Fine,” he murmured. “You win this time but don’t think you won the war Every. This is just round one.” Slowly and carefully, Mason bent at the knees and picked Matt up off the ground. Matt’s arms slid around Mason’s neck with ease and the glass blower snuggled close as Mason descended the steps and walked out to the truck. “What am I gonna do with you?” Mason leaned down and whispered in Matt’s ear.
After a few rough attempts, Mason got the door to his truck open and slid Matt onto the seat. Looking up at Miss Merna’s place, he saw the three women waving at him in the window. Waving back with a hidden sneer, Mason got into his ride and sat at the wheel for a minute. Matt snuggled closer and put his head on Mason’s thigh before stilling again. What was Mason supposed to do now? So many choices and things he could do with this moment. He could keep going the way he was—veering off that road of his life he’d known so well only to end up on the outside. Or…he could take choice B and experience something he’d never known before but…it could lead him right where he belonged. Mason looked down at Matt and started the engine—having made up his mind.
TO BE CONTINUED.....