Authors: Brynn Stein
“…a nice story. I will definitely be reading more by this author.”
—On Top Down Under Reviews
“I recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy an endearing love story with a paranormal touch combined with a good mystery. Thank you, Brynn, for a unique, touching story.”
—Rainbow Book Reviews
“…a quick, pleasant read with one or two deeply poignant moments, an interesting mystery and a happy ending”
“Wow! This was simply amazing, such a beautiful book…”
—Crystal’s Many Reviewers
“I enjoyed this book a great deal. The plot progressed smoothly, the characters were lovable, and the HEA was absolutely deserved.”
Through the Years
“Thank you, Brynn Stein, for giving me Gene, Edward and their epic love story… for making my eyes so wet I could barely see the words in front of me… for writing this beautiful and timeless tale of love.”
—MM Good Book Reviews
Through the Years
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Ray of Sunlight
5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886 USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
© 2015 Brynn Stein.
© 2015 Paul Richmond.
Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.
All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.
Digital ISBN: 978-1-63216-568-8
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015933424
First Edition May 2015
Printed in the United States of America
This paper meets the requirements of
ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).
MacKenzie Farrell were brothers, but Mac was more like a father figure. Because of the eight-year age difference, Mac had taken care of Branson the whole time they were growing up. Their dad worked the day shift and their mother worked nights—both working twelve-hour shifts—so usually whichever parent was home was sleeping. Therefore, it was up to Mac to pack Branson’s lunch, walk him to school, and take care of him in the afternoon. It was Mac’s job to tuck him in at night and read to him. It was to Mac that Branson ran when he had nightmares. Mac was the one who bandaged Branson’s wounds and sat by his bedside when he was sick. Branson idolized Mac. He always wanted to be where his older brother was, do what he was doing. He was sure he irritated the shit out of Mac sometimes, but he just couldn’t stay away. The sun rose and set on Mac as far as Branson was concerned. He did everything Mac said, tried to please him in any way possible. He wanted his brother’s approval more than anything in the world.
When their parents died in a car crash when Branson was thirteen, Mac fought long and hard to keep Branson with him. At twenty-one, Mac already had a job at a local pizza place and was making good enough money to support himself and his brother. Their parents had left the house to both boys, so they had a mortgage-free place to stay. Social Services didn’t particularly like leaving the young teen in the care of a young adult, but they couldn’t really find a good enough reason not to give the older brother custody, so Mac finally had legal “father” status as well as fulfilling that niche emotionally for Branson, as he always had.
Branson was beside himself with grief for his parents, but having Mac there made it easier. He couldn’t imagine life without Mac. He was so grateful that Mac was willing to fight for him, that he wanted to keep Branson with him, even though Mac was devastated by their parents’ deaths too. Branson strove to be the perfect teen. He continued to do everything Mac said, tried to keep Mac happy. He wished Mac would talk to him about everything. It was clear that he was struggling, but Mac took his role as father figure seriously and refused to open up to Branson, or anyone else, as far as Branson knew.
In addition Mac became a hard disciplinarian. Before, Mac had been opinionated—in that way all big brothers could be—and never failed to let Bran know when he had a differing view on something. But after becoming “the father,” he tended to try to
Branson see his side of it. Branson didn’t know what to do. Suddenly nothing he did seemed to be good enough. It was like Mac would accept nothing less than perfect, so Branson tried his best to puzzle out what “perfect” was for Mac, and be just that.
Mac rarely became physical with his discipline, but he made sure Bran knew, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to drink, not to smoke, and not to get a girl pregnant. He should be in by eleven and get up by himself on weekdays and get himself ready for school. He was never to miss the bus and never to cut school. He was to get groceries from the store down the street and have dinner ready when Mac got home. Branson didn’t understand all the changes at the time, but he wanted to keep Mac happy, so he complied with all of it. He became the perfect brother/son, housekeeper, and housemate. He was always quiet, kept to himself, and tried not to bother Mac. Gone were the days that Branson would spend all his time with Mac. Forever over were the times Branson would annoy the shit out of his big brother simply because he could. Mac seemed to work continuously, and Branson knew he was the reason, so he tried to pick up the slack as much as he could and keep his head down the rest of the time.
Mac also made it clear that being homosexual was sinful and despicable and would absolutely not be tolerated. That was brought up numerous times throughout Branson’s teen years because, as other boys his age began looking longingly at, and dreaming about, girls at school or scantily clad models on posters, Branson was more likely to drool over the football team practicing on the field or his friend Amy White’s bootleg
magazines. Bran smuggled the magazines into the house exactly once. Mac found them, of course, and went on a tirade the likes of which Bran had never seen before. Bran had finally had to crawl under the bed to escape the beating. He had a black eye and bruised ribs the next day, and it became clear to him that there
one issue over which Mac would become extremely physical.
Time after time, if Bran so much as smiled at a cute guy, Mac would at least yell at him. Sometimes he would become abusive. Branson eventually found it easier to bury that part of himself. He tried to become what his brother wanted. He tried to drool over cheerleaders and make crude jokes about women. He even had sex when he was eighteen with a girl down the street who had always thought he was cute. Mac was so proud of him then. He said that had made Branson a “real man.” Bran felt more like a “real heel” for using the poor girl. It had been the first time for both of them, and it was miserable.
But when Branson acted like Mr. Macho, Mac was happy and not abusive, so that was what Branson tried to do until his early twenties.
after the car crash that killed their parents, both boys still lived in the house they owned jointly. Branson had gone to college on a full scholarship and now had a job at a local advertising firm.
Mac still worked at the same pizza place but was now the owner, having bought out his former boss three years ago. It had been The Pizza Place when Mac bought it, but Mac was proud enough of owning his own business that he wanted his name attached to it. It became Mac’s Pizza Place, and at first the customers didn’t even seem to notice. They still called it The Pizza Place. Slowly they’d started using the new name, until now people just referred to it as Mac’s.
Their personal lives changed too as they matured, but not nearly as much as their professional lives. Mac wasn’t usually abusive anymore because the last time he’d tried, Branson gave as good as he got, but he was still excessively opinionated about some things—most things, really. Branson still had a tendency to try to please his older brother. It was easier to live with him that way. Being heterosexual would never feel natural to him, but he had become used to it.
Recently, though, Bran found it harder and harder to ignore his attraction to other guys. He caught himself looking more often than he’d like. He still vowed never to act on those feelings. He felt he owed Mac that much. It was the only important thing Mac ever asked of him—the only important thing to Branson anyway. He didn’t want to smoke or cuss or get girls pregnant. The way Bran saw it, Mac had given up his life for Branson, so he pledged to give up this one thing for Mac. The problem was that he couldn’t get his feelings to make the same pledge.