Title: Nobody’s Home
Author: Dev Bentham
Release Date: November 15th 2016
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
Second chances can appear where you least expect them.
An artist: You can’t go home again—that was Nick’s motto for the past twenty years. He was a teenager when he left his abusive, mentally ill father back in Lacland, a small town in the northwoods of Wisconsin.
Nick’s made a successful life for himself in New York. Then comes the call—his estranged father has killed himself. Nick flies home to a house crumbling from years of neglect, and one very fat bulldog.
And a veterinarian: Jonas doesn’t love his job enforcing university research protocol. His passion is working with dogs, especially volunteering for his boyfriend’s behavioral studies projects. But when he discovers his so-called "life partner" is messing around, he leaps at a job offer in a small town miles away.
In spite of the grief swirling around Nick and Jonas, their first meeting is electric. But Nick will be in town for only a short time and Jonas is still stinging from the betrayal. The men try to keep their distance, but that’s easier said than done, especially in a small town where misery and hope share the same address.
This poignant story about two mature gay men will warm the hearts of readers who believe happy endings are within anyone's grasp.
**This is an author’s version of the original story first printed in 2013 by Amber Allure.**
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“Nicholas Alsteen?” A man. He couldn’t place the voice. A buyer? Nick hoped so. Selling one of his few remaining finished pieces might take the edge off that damned financial drip.
“Yes.” The familiar stairwell mix of mold and stale cooking enveloped Nick as he waited for the man to go on.
There was a pause and then, “I’m calling about your father.”
“My father?” Nick stopped, one foot halfway to the next step. “There must be some mistake.”
“You’re Nicholas Alsteen, the artist, correct? Your father was Robert Alsteen, he went by—”
“Buddy.” Nick finished. “But whatever you want, I can’t help you. I haven’t seen him in years.”
“He’s dead, son.” Despite the harshness of the words, the voice sounded kind. Nick sank onto the step. “My name’s Dan Osborne of the Lacland Sheriff’s Department,” the voice continued. “I’m sorry to spring it on you like this but I’m afraid you’re going to have to come out here. You’re his closest relative. He didn’t leave a will so you’ll need to figure out what to do with his stuff. It isn’t much, the house, a truck. And there’s the…you’ll need to make arrangements for his remains.”
“I think there’s more family somewhere, but he cut himself off.” Nick stared at the dirty stairwell wall, picturing his father’s angry face.
“Doesn’t matter. You’re his legal next of kin.” When Nick didn’t say anything, the sheriff continued, “If you want I can put you in touch with folks who could do it all for you but given everything, it would probably cost more than the estate is worth. And besides, it’s the right thing to do, son. I know Buddy wasn’t easy, but he was your father.”
Some father. But Nick wasn’t exactly in a position to hire out his dirty work. “Okay.”
“When can you come?” Osborne sounded relieved.
Nick looked at his watch, as if that would tell him anything. His calendar was as simple as it could be—big scary opening in nine months, nothing until then. He mumbled something about soon and hung up. A woman was yelling a few floors down. Horns honked outside. A cold blast of air filled the stairwell as the front door opened. Nick stood and climbed back up the stairs, feeling a hundred years older than when he’d started down.
Life stops for death. Nick booked an expensive flight—whatever happened to bereavement rates? He texted Connie at the gallery so she’d know he hadn’t bolted town. He glanced through his phone contact list and decided there wasn’t anyone else who’d really care. He’d always told himself he had to stay detached to have time for his art. But maybe he was more like his father than he wanted to admit. Nick tried to wrap his brain around the thought that the old man was dead. Violent? Yes. Unpredictable? Yes. Crazy? Absolutely. Dead? That was hard to imagine.
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I write contemporary gay romance. My characters are flawed and damaged adult men who may not even know they’re looking for true love, but when they meet their bershert, their true love, their lives are transformed. My stories are set in the real world where gay men have gay friends, families who do or don’t accept them, personal histories they’re not necessarily proud of and a myriad of experiences that have made them who they are. I live in Northern Wisconsin with my Boston Terrier and Chicago spouse. I’ve published short stories, poetry, newspaper articles and academic papers and have worked in nearly every profession from restaurants to retail to open-water diving and now write m/m romance out of my fascination with love, courage and gender.
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