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Cody Garret is only just finding his way after an abusive relationship ended with his ex in prison. Coming to England to restore Mill Cottage is his way of running so he has time to heal. His goal is simple—hire a company to help make the mill cottage saleable then go back to the States.
What he doesn’t count on is meeting Sebastian Toulson-Brown, the brother of his contractor and the man who may be able to show him he can stop running.
But first Cody and Sebastian must deal with the ghosts of lost loves and the destinies that are woven into the story of the mill and the sycamore trees that stand on its land, one of which might be the gallows tree.
They reached central Milton Keynes in very little time at all. The change from village in the middle of nowhere to huge modern city was kind of eerie, almost as creepy as hearing non-existent horses and murmured words that made no sense. Sitting in Pizza Hut and ordering food was a welcome shot of normality, and grabbing the seat diagonal to Seb meant he could concentrate on his food rather than worry about staring at the poor guy. They talked about the film they were going to see, about American football versus rugby, and about the cute waitress that hovered every so often and stared at Tristan.
"So you didn't want to bring your girlfriend over from the States with you?" Justin asked coyly.
Cody stiffened at the personal question. "No."
"What's her name?" Justin added another question with a teasing glint in his eye. "Is she pretty? What does she do?"
"I don't have a girlfriend."
"At the moment?" Tristan interrupted.
"Guys—" Seb said through gritted teeth.
"No. No girlfriend at the moment." Cody sipped on his Coke and concentrated hard on the poster proclaiming two for one on Thursdays. He could handle teasing; it's what his sister did best.
"No girlfriend at the moment or no girlfriend at all?" Justin asked in a far too innocent tone of voice. Cody
looked at him suspiciously even as Seb snapped at him.
"Bloody hell, Justin."
"Cody, are you gay?" Tristan was clearly the one who had drawn the short straw. Cody put his drink down
and took a deep breath.
"Why? Is it a problem if I am?" Cody asked.
"Hell no…" Seb started, and then buried his head in his hands as Tristan handed a twenty pound note over to Justin with a resigned sigh.
"Wait. You bet on whether or not I was gay?" Cody asked carefully. He wasn't entirely sure whether to laugh or shout, stay or walk.
"They bet on anything. They bet on when I would come out to our parents. Tris won that one," Seb said with
more than a little sarcasm in his voice, which was muffled by his jacket. Cody felt amusement bubble inside, and he couldn't have held in his humor if he tried. Within seconds, he was laughing. He hadn't laughed like this in so long, and he couldn't stop. Seb lifted his head in bemusement, and Cody snorted at the expression.
"Your brothers just won me ten dollars," Cody said, finally managing to get the words out. "I had this bet with my sister about how long it would take you all to ask."
Tristan and Justin stared like he was mad, and then as they put two and two together, they joined in with the laughing.
Seb simply buried his face again with a muttered "I'm surrounded by idiots".
"Hey, Cody," Tristan said suddenly, and Seb raised his head with a look of pure horror. "You like Seb?" Cody smiled; he knew where this was going.
"Don't start this, Tris; I can get my own bloody dates."
"Just saying, little brother. You don't get to meet many guys in Lower Ferrers—"
"Yeah," Cody interrupted, "I like Seb. What's not to like?" Wow. That was kind of a brave thing he had said
there, putting an actual opinion out there. Seb cast him a grateful look and mouthed "I'm sorry", but Cody dismissed it with a shake of his head. This was normal. This was sibling rivalry, teasing, and it was easy to lose himself in it.