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KNOWING CALEB
Loose Id
Male/Male
September 2008

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Caleb Hawkins has watched his brothers fall in love, all the while knowing that for him, it can never be. Caleb has terrible secrets locked in his soul, events in his past for which he can never atone or be forgiven. Someone discovering that he is a demon is the least of what leaves Caleb trembling with nightmares.

Jake Chase lost his wife six years ago and has never recovered. He doesn't want to fall in love again and has shunned even a simple date, let alone something more with a woman.

Caleb needs a foreman, and Jake needs a job that will get him off the rodeo circuit. Caleb hires Jake. Problem solved. Only, Caleb starts noticing little things about Jake he never has in a man before...things like hard lips and a honed, muscular body. For Jake, six years of celibacy have pushed him to a place of sexual need and he finds his gaze straying Caleb's way…and watching, hungrily.

Can Jake let go of his wife enough to find love with a man? If he can, will Caleb let down his walls and trust Jake with his past, risking his very soul for a chance at forever?

   
 

“I was thrilled when Knowing Caleb became available…Cameron Dane takes us back to the Hawkins's Ranch to watch as the love between Jake and Caleb unfolds. Both men were not open or ready to fall in love, especially not with each other. I really liked them together and enjoyed their romance from denial to surrender…Knowing Caleb still holds the same suspense and anticipation as Ms. Cameron's previous books in this series and the chemistry between Jake and Caleb definitely makes it worth reading.”
--Ley from Joyfully Reviewed.com

 

“…Cameron Dane writes action-packed, emotional stories with strong sexy characters. Caleb is an emotionally scarred man, who longs for something he believes he can never have. But not only does he have to deal with being attracted to another man, but in order to find love he will have to deal with the past that has paralyzed him, that has left him unable to love and unworthy to be loved. I loved this story from the first page as it was so well written. Ms. Dane brought Caleb and Jake to life with real emotions and desires, without making them seem feminine. This would not be for the faint of heart as it has some violent scenes and lots of scorching male/male passion. However, for someone who enjoys an action packed, emotionally stirring story, with two sexy men, this one is perfect. I would not only recommend this story, but this entire series. I can only hope there is more to come.”
-- Sandra from The Romance Studio, a 5 heart review

 

“…I guess the first thing I should say about this story is WOW! My previous favorite of Falling has now been replaced with this well-written tale of the unexpected love between two previously heterosexual men. I know the concept might be a little off-putting for some people, but Ms. Dane made it work with her excellent writing, intriguing plot and strong believable characters; each with a painful past. There is great depth of emotion in this contemporary gay romance, and I was pulled into the story from the very first page, and it kept me racing to the end…These two men need each other…The simmering passion between Caleb and Jake is only a small part of what makes this book a keeper. It’s filled with a fast-paced plot, vivid descriptions, a beautiful locale, and great characters…some new and some old, that make for a intriguing book in a wonderful series. I highly recommend this story for all lovers of the genre. You won’t be sorry you took a chance on this one.”
-- Mystical Nymph, a 5 Nymph Literary Nymphs Reviews Only review

 

“…Cameron Dane creates a wonderful story…Jake’s past seems to catch up with him, having to face his wife’s death at last. Caleb helps him get through, even though the road is rocky and Caleb has his own issues that come to the surface. Knowing Caleb is a story about two people who help each other overcome their past. Get out your hankies, readers, because this story will make you cry and laugh, and everything in between.”
-- April from Fallen Angels Reviews, A 5 Angel “Recommended Read”

 

“…KNOWING CALEB by Cameron Dane is a moving and absorbing read. Caleb and Jake are intriguing and complex characters. Their relationship builds slowly and the reader really gets a sense of where they are coming from. At the beginning of the novel, both of these men are filled with pain and remorse. I found myself sympathizing with them a great deal. I became very invested in their relationship as they worked through their issues and I cheered them on as they tried to find a way to overcome their pain and become who they are meant to be both individually and as a couple.”
-- Christina from Romance Junkies Reviews

 

“…Caleb Hawkins likes helping people that are in trouble. When he sees Jake Chase in a bar about to get in a fight w/ a bouncer, he intercedes…Caleb doesn't consciously realize he's attracted to Jake until after he convinces Jake to return to his ranch as the foreman. It's only when he realizes that he looks forward to seeing Jake every day, that he's actually attracted to another man. He has no idea how he can be attracted to a man, physically or otherwise…I thought the book was great…4 out of 5 rating.”
-- Casee from Book Binge Reviews

 
 

Knowing Caleb Excerpt: PG-13 for language

 

Excerpt: Prologue

 

Goddamnit, Caleb needed a good, hard fuck.

He didn't have a particular preference for what the woman should look like. Hell, he wasn't picky; he enjoyed them all. As long as they loved the act of fucking just as much as he did, he found them all beautiful, and he never had any difficulty getting his dick up for the task. Lately, though, he'd just been so damn busy he hadn't had the time. A man ought not go six months without sex; it just didn't seem natural. And if that man also happened to have demon blood coursing through his veins, well, that made the celibacy that much harder to tolerate. Testosterone fueled Caleb Hawkins's demon blood, beyond that of the most potent human male, demanding that he mate, vigorously and often.

He intended to satisfy that desire tonight.

It was nearing midnight when Caleb pushed through the doors of The Roundup, a rowdy bar that filled to capacity on the weekends when a rodeo stopped in Bozeman. This weekend, one had. Satisfaction slid through Caleb's insides as he thought about the rodeo, a place where he had finally earned a spot as a stock contractor on the minor league PBR tour. After three long years of networking and making his face known to ownership, five months ago they finally gave his bulls a chance to compete. Between that, and his portion of the family ranch back home, Caleb hadn't looked up or taken a breath since.

Tonight, that would change.

Excitement hummed through Caleb's body as the blast of live country music hit his ears. He stepped inside the dimly lit bar and the smell of smoke, beer, and perspiring bodies assaulted his nose. Another lovely gift of his demon heritage, his senses heightened to acute sensitivity after making a blood kill to sustain his life. Having no choice in the matter, Caleb had hunted and killed a coyote just a short while ago. Because of that, the blood coursing through his veins felt particularly alive, making him horny as hell. He knew, when he sank into a woman tonight, it would feel even more like heaven than normal. All of his sharpened senses would be in full play, and the pleasure in his orgasm would surely knock him out for at least a week.

Christ, his cock already twitched in his jeans. Caleb couldn't wait.

Just as he moved toward the crowded dance floor, and honed his focus in on a shapely brunette shaking her sweet ass all by herself, Caleb's hearing tingled with awareness. A strangely familiar sandpaper-rough voice reached his ears. Caleb turned, listening for the distressed tone that cut right through the layered din of laughing and raucous crowd noise. He searched for someone who needed assistance, even though everyone around him continued to dance and laugh as if everything were okay.

Doing his level best to ignore the other sounds in the building, Caleb moved down the length of the long bar. He picked up speed as the gravelly voice rose in volume, enough that Caleb didn't need his sensitized hearing to find the owner of the familiar voice in the crowd.

Caleb took in the scene before him: a beefy guy hauling a cowboy bodily out of the bar, with the cowboy cursing up a storm and fighting all the way. Caleb could not believe his eyes. Quiet, solitary Jake Chase, getting thrown out of a bar. Caleb could not stand by idly. His sister-in-law Risa would kill him.

Cursing to himself under his breath that he had no business involving himself, Caleb threw himself into the fray. "Hey, hey. What are you doing to him?" He grabbed the bouncer's arm. "Let him go."

The big man shook off Caleb's hold, pushing him back a few feet with a rough shove. "Back off, asshole. You wanna try throwing a swing at someone? I'll throw you out too."

Caleb's gaze slid to the cowboy again. Although, he guessed cowboy didn't exactly fit. Jake Chase must be at least forty, if not a few years older. Belligerent green eyes met Caleb's, more fire burning in them than Caleb had ever seen in this man. "Jake." Caleb walked backward to keep up with the bouncer hauling Jake toward the exit. "You all right, man?"

"I'm fine." Jake's rough voice snarled the words, his mouth twisting as he said them. "I can take care of my own damn self." Jake pulled at the hold the bouncer had on his arm, and when that didn't work, his other arm swung up from the side.

Caleb threw himself in and grabbed that fist before it made contact with the giant man's jaw. "Hold on there a minute, buddy," he said to Jake. "You don't want to do something that's gonna land you in jail."

Caleb slipped his hold from Jake's strong fist up to his equally hard forearm, and tightly wrapped his fingers around the straining muscle. As he manacled himself to a fuming Jake, Caleb turned and looked up, up, to the bouncer. "Listen, I know this guy a little bit, and I can tell you that he's not a troublemaker." Caleb did his damnedest to play peacemaker, although he didn't know why. Jake was a big boy, who likely wouldn't welcome it. At the same time, Risa, a part-time bull rider on the tour, had taken the solitary man under her wing over the last few years while on the circuit. She would strangle Caleb if he walked away.

Caleb put every ounce of charm he possessed into his voice, took every shining glint of arrogance out of his gaze, and tried talking to the bouncer again, all with Jake struggling against both holds -- and not helping his cause one bit. "I can see that my friend is drunk, and I don't want him to get hurt any more than you want to hurt him. Why don't you let me take him out of here and sober him up? I promise I won't let him back in this place for the entire weekend that the rodeo is here." Jake worked for another stock contractor on the rodeo circuit, so he wouldn't have any reason to stay in Bozeman after that. "Will you let me do that? Please?"

The big man assessed Jake, but came back to Caleb, and spent an even longer beat drilling a stare right through Caleb's forehead. Finally, he let go of Jake's arm and said, "Get him out of here and sober him up, for his own good." The man glanced at a still growling, stubborn Jake. "I'm following you to the door. I'll be watching until I see you leave this property."

"No problem."

Trying to dismiss the bouncer from his mind -- not to mention the growing crowd of onlookers -- Caleb looked at Jake, just slightly taller and thicker than Caleb's own six-foot frame, and wondered how hard it would be to subdue the guy physically, if Jake continued to put up a struggle. Christ, he didn't want it coming to that. He hadn't put himself into the middle of a fight in years.

Suddenly knowing what would work on him, Caleb leaned into Jake's ear and said softly, "Risa would hate to see you like this." He mentioned his sister-in-law by name, knowing Jake had a soft spot for her. "If you hurt yourself doing something stupid, it would break her heart."

Jake yanked his head back, his changeling green gaze finding Caleb's. Recognition of Risa's name shone through, and so did the first signs of something that looked like deep pain and hurt. Unexpectedly, it tugged at Caleb's heart, and suddenly he wanted to help the guy for himself, no longer because Risa would want him to do it.

"Let me get you out of here," he said gently, and started to tug Jake in the direction of the exit. This time, Jake didn't fight; he just let Caleb lead him outside to the parking lot.

Caleb walked Jake to his truck and put him in the passenger seat, all under the watchful eye of the bouncer. He leaned over Jake and secured his seat belt, momentarily shocked by the body heat the man radiated, even half passed out drunk. He almost moved closer for a second feel, but quickly stopped himself and drew back, meeting that sad, sad gaze again. "Can you tell me where you're staying?" he asked, hearing an unnatural huskiness in his normally smooth voice. "Do you have a key I can see, so I know where to take you?"

Without words exchanged, Jake fished a key card out of his wallet and handed it over to Caleb. Caleb drove them to the motel, and managed to get Jake inside his room. As Caleb flipped on a light that barely cut the shadows in the musty room, Jake lifted his hand to his mouth, uttered, "Oh God," and raced across the small space. In the darkness, Caleb heard the first violent retching, the quick consequences of the choice Jake had made in filling himself with booze this night.

"Damn it." Caleb shook his head. He assured himself that he'd done enough and could go, but found himself moving across the floor to the bathroom anyway. When he reached the bathroom, he turned on the light, flooding the small space with unforgiving fluorescent light. Jake's head hovered over the toilet bowl, spitting and breathing heavily, exhaustion evident in every line of his hunched body. Silently, Caleb grabbed one of the plastic cups sitting on the sink and filled it with water from the faucet. Squatting down next to the suffering man, Caleb touched Jake's shoulder, bringing his attention up from the floor. His mouth in a hard grimace, Jake took the water and swirled it around his mouth, spitting it out into the toilet. He repeated the process twice more before setting the empty cup on the cold linoleum floor.

"She would be so disappointed in me," Jake said softly, the words barely more than a rasp of sound. "I've let her down."

"Nah." Caleb slid his arm around Jake's waist and slowly drew the unsteady man to his feet. "Risa doesn't think that way. And she won't ever hear about this moment from me."

They got to the bed, and Jake tentatively sat down. "Not Risa." He turned luminescent eyes brimming with wetness up to Caleb, and Caleb almost lost his footing. "My wife," he said. "I've let down my wife."

Of course. Caleb could not believe he'd forgotten that Jake was a widower. Empathy that Caleb normally reserved for his small circle of family and friends welled up in him, and he gently lowered the guy onto the bed. Jake went without a fight, blinking his bright eyes up at the dingy ceiling. Caleb drew the man's boots off and set them on the floor, then unbuckled his belt and pulled it out of the loops of his jeans, and set it on the floor too. Figuring he would leave the man to sleep off the aftereffects of his drinking, Caleb moved to the door to let himself out. Jake's next words stopped Caleb dead, with his hand wrapped around the doorknob.

"I hate my life, and I don't want to live without Krista anymore." An awful, strangled noise reached Caleb's ears, making him shut his own eyes on the wave of pain that hit him from all the way across the room. Then it got worse. "Six damn years. Six, goddamned, fucking years since she went away and left me alone. God, I hate her for dying. I hate her more for not taking me with her."

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Caleb did not need to hear this, and he for damn sure wasn't the guy with the right words to help. He found himself moving back to the head of the double bed anyway, and sitting down on the half that Jake didn't already occupy.

Putting a flat pillow behind his back, Caleb leaned his weight into the wooden headboard. "I think I'll hang around for a bit," he said, not looking down at the body in bed next to him. "Maybe watch some TV." He grabbed the clicker off the nightstand and turned on the television.

Jake didn't answer, but Caleb knew he couldn't leave. If the guy did something stupid and irreversible, Caleb wouldn't ever be able to look Risa in the eyes again. She really did have a great affection for the guy. Caleb had no other motivation for staying.

He thought about that brunette in the bar again, and then took a quick glance down at the very different brunet next to him in bed. A little bit of gray edging his hair, and a whole lot more muscular than Caleb's usual bedmates. A whole lot more desolate and lost too.

So much for getting laid tonight.

Shit. ...

 

Copyright Protected Work
Cameron Dane, Author. Loose Id, Publisher

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