I've been an m/m reader for a long time and when I began this writing journey, I really wanted to write an m/m novel, but was REALLY, REALLY intimidated. So, I dipped my toes in the water with The Christmas Top (a quickie Christmas novella).
It was awesome writing that novella and really wanted to tackle a full-length m/m novel.
Then inspiration struck.
It always starts with a single thought.
What if there was a guy deeply, DEEPLY in the closet who lost his memory?
Without being able to remember WHY he was in the closet, he would be free to follow his heart.
That's where Snowcroft Lost came from.
It's about Trevor...a supposedly straight man who can't remember anything from his past. But he definitely knows he's feeling non-platonic things for his gay best friend, Jamie...who secretly has been in love with Trevor for years.
I love this book. I adore Jamie and Trevor and their angst-filled, quirky little story.
Oh, and did I mention it's a romantic suspense, too?
Yep, with all this amnesia craziness going on, there are also a TON of things happening on the side and under the surface that I hope you never see coming!
“I think it’s time for me to move away from Snowcroft.” There he’d said it aloud, even if it was over a long-distance cell phone call. That made it real. He’d made the decision.
“Jamie?” Hudson Richmond’s deep, sexy voice sounded ragged with sleep. “Is that you?”
Jamie Vaughn closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the steering wheel of his truck, his rapid pulse echoing in his ears. “Yeah, Hudson, it’s me. I’m sorry. I woke you up, didn’t I? I didn’t consider how early it is for you.”
He glanced outside again. The golden glow of daybreak barely touched the tips of the tall pines surrounding the two-story, gray sided cabin. The cabin he’d built with his heart and now it stood there mocking him with its quiet and empty façade. Somehow the irony fit his life.
“No, no problem.” Hudson cleared his throat and Jamie heard him shifting in his bed trying to get awake.
The mental visual of Hudson naked in his bed served as a good distraction from the bleak view out the windshield of his truck, the view of the life he knew ending. Jamie needed a new start.
“Did you say leave Snowcroft?”
“Yeah, but Hud, we can talk about this later. Call me after you’ve slept a couple more hours and had some coffee.” Noon would be too early for Hudson. He ran and owned his own restaurant in Austin which kept him up late most nights.
“No, this is important. I can hear it in your voice. We can talk now. It’s fine. I don’t need sleep anyway.”
Jamie gave a hollow chuckle. “Really? So how long have you been in bed?”
Hudson shifted and the sheets rustled. “Fuck, it is early, isn’t it? We had a late meeting at the restaurant after closing last night. So I’ve only been home a couple of hours, but it’s fine. What’s going on? Why would you want to leave Snowcroft? You’ve lived there your whole life. What about your business?”
“Leigh and I have talked before about opening branches of Vaughn Construction in Texas. The main stumbling block is neither my sister nor I wanted to leave the mountains to move into the Texas heat. One of us has to move there to be in charge of it.”
“I can’t blame you there. Snowcroft is beautiful. Most of us are trying how to figure out how to move into those cool mountains permanently. So, why now? What’s changed?”
“I have. I need a change, a new challenge. Opening a branch of Vaughn Construction in Austin would offer that. I can’t do the same thing I’m doing here anymore.” If I stay here, I won’t survive it. It hurts too much. Jamie glanced toward the empty house in front of him again. He had to do this. “So, I wondered, can I crash at your place this weekend while I try to find a place to live?”
“Of course, you know you don’t even have to ask. I’ll even share my bed.” Hudson’s voice lowered with sensual promise.
“You’re a regular saint, aren’t you?” They had shared a friends-with-benefits arrangement for a couple of years, although Jamie rarely made it to Austin. Hudson had a vacation home in Snowcroft that he used when he needed to escape his high pressure responsibilities of owning a successful restaurant and needed to blow off some sexual steam. It worked for both of them.
Snowcroft existed as a tiny, conservative, mountaintop resort town and Jamie rarely had a chance to meet other gay men. He was about the only gay man here, which made his social life non-existent. Hudson had kept him sane for a couple of years with his sporadic visits.
“That sounds good. Thanks, Hud. I’ll give you a call after my plans firm up a bit more so you know what time to expect me.”
“Okay, sounds good. Umm…” Hudson’s voice lingered. “Okay, this may be out of line, but I just have to ask. What about Trevor? I know you guys are close. Did something happen? Did y’all have a fight?”
“No, nothing so earth-shattering as that.” Jamie swallowed hard. Trevor—the man who’d been his best friend—had finally slammed the door on the last vestige of their friendship. It had been coming for months, as they fought and argued over every little thing, especially Trevor’s careless promiscuity. But when Trevor didn’t show this morning for their normal morning run, Jamie knew. The stress between them had finally gone too far. “I guess I’ve just grown up and we’ve drifted apart. The friendship is over.”
“Me, too.” So sorry. He should have left months or years ago before the tension between them pushed it this far. Tension he had caused. If he’d left then maybe they’d have some remnant of their friendship left, but instead he sat here in front of an empty house because Trevor couldn’t stand to even go running with him anymore. Jamie clicked off the cell phone. He turned on the truck and with a final glance at the house, put it in reverse and drove away.
Away from Trevor’s house.
Away from their fourteen year friendship.
Away from the man he would always love.
But Trevor could never know that was the real root of all their problems. Trevor was straight. And Jamie couldn’t let that break his heart any longer.
* * *
An hour later, heavy metal pounded through Jamie’s ear buds and sweat poured down his back despite the chilly morning air. It might be May, but at 9500 feet elevation, the nights still got damn cold and the sun hadn’t reached high enough in the sky to warm it up yet.
He’d maintained a punishing pace, enabling him to release some of his tension and stress. It had been a good decision to continue with the run without Trevor. His head felt clearer and he’d made peace with his decision. When he got into the office this morning, he would talk to Leigh about her taking over complete management of the Snowcroft branch of the company.
As he rounded a sharp corner, he slowed his pace. The last time he’d run this trail the rocks in this corner had been dangerously loose and he’d almost fallen on his ass. He sure as hell didn’t want to get hurt out on this remote trail.
Jamie skidded to a stop. The bottom of a black boot just barely showed out of the brush alongside the trail. The rocks on the trail had been dislodged recently and the twigs here were broken and mangled like something big had crashed through them. His heartbeat kicked up with the rush of adrenaline. That boot was attached to a body, lying face down at an angle on the steep slope under the brush.
He scrambled to part the bushes, the treacherous slope and loose rock hampering his progress as he slid down the hill to check the person’s head. He noticed the green of the Forestry Service uniform, but didn’t think about what it meant until he got to the short dark hair on the back of the guy’s head. Blood and scratches covered the side of his face. A huge gash at his temple had swollen and left a small stream of blood flowing around the rocks.
With trembling hands he felt for a pulse on Trevor’s throat, daring to hope he was still alive. His pulse fluttered weak and thready under Jamie’s fingertips. “Trevor, can you hear me?”
No answer. No movement. Nothing. Jamie checked him over, but on the surface couldn’t see any other injuries besides the obvious one to his head. But he knew enough not to move him. Yanking off his own sweatshirt, he covered Trevor with it. Trevor’s lips were almost blue. Had he been out here all night? Hypothermia was almost as dangerous as injury out here on the mountain. Trevor needed help now. Pulling the cell phone out of his pocket, he cursed. No service.
He leaned down to Trevor. “Hang in there while I get some help,” his voice quavered. “I have to run up to the ridge so I can call the guys at the Forestry Service. Hang on, Trevor. I’ll be right back. I promise. Don’t you fucking die on me.”
Jamie sprinted to the top of the mountain ridge, cursing himself the whole time. There were lots of tourists who visited Snowcroft and complained about the intermittent cell service on the mountain. He’d always been one of those guys who said there was no way they needed more connectivity up here. People should relax a little. With every step he took, he wished to God he hadn’t been so short-sighted. It would only take an extra twenty minutes to get back up to the ridge before he had cell service for the emergency call, but that twenty minutes just might cost Trevor his life.
Oh God, that couldn’t happen.
Finally, he got a single bar on his phone and started dialing the Forestry Service. Ironically enough, this call would connect into Trevor’s own office.
“Sacramento Mountains, Snowcroft Station. This is Ranger Lofton.”
“Sam, this is…” He gasped for air. “Jamie Vaughn. I’m out here on Rocky Top Trail, about eight miles in. I just found Trevor Mayne injured. It looks like he’s fallen. He has a definite head injury, is unconscious, and probably hypothermic. I think he’s been out here all night. Please tell me you have a SAR team on station this morning.”
Search and Rescue teams worked out of all the Forestry offices, but they weren’t always in the station when they were on call. They were the guys with training who could come in on foot on these rugged mountain trails with a stretcher and get the injured person out quickly and safely.
“Ian and his crew are here this morning and I’ll get them dispatched immediately.”
“Oh, thank God.” Trevor’s cousin, Ian, would make sure that they got here as fast as humanly possible. “I’m going back to him, but I don’t have cell service there. Tell them to be careful as they hit that corner. The rocks are loose on the trail and it’s hazardous.”
When Jamie got back to Trevor, he hadn’t moved. Dread filled the pit of Jamie’s stomach as he crouched down beside him. Please don’t be dead.
Trevor still had a heartbeat, but his pallor had worsened. His skin felt cold to the touch and it was a bad sign that he didn’t shiver with the cold. Helplessness coursed through Jamie and he didn’t know what to do besides lay down beside Trevor and try to share his body heat without shifting his spine.
The wait was interminable. Jamie didn’t know what to do besides talk to him and try to keep him grounded. Trevor was unconscious, but maybe he’d be able to hear him. “You can’t die. You’re my best friend and even though things have been bad lately, I can’t imagine this world without you. Damn, if you leave there will be a whole shitload of females on this mountain that you’ll leave devastated.”
He felt Trevor’s pulse again. Still there. “Besides I owe you. You totally kicked my ass the last time we played basketball. You know I can’t let that lie. I need you to come back, Trevor.” A choked sob escaped from Jamie’s throat before he could stop it. Their friendship couldn’t end this way.
A weight pressed on Jamie’s chest, making it hard to breathe. The thought that Trevor could be dying as he just laid beside him doing nothing made him want to rant. He hated this hopeless feeling. Normally a guy of action, he had no control here knowing that moving Trevor could injure him more. Wait and pray were his only options, but it sure as hell didn’t seem like enough.
Seemingly hours later, rocks skittered along the trail. Thank God. The SAR team was finally here. He scrambled up to get out of their way and to give them room to work around Trevor.
Ian, Trevor’s cousin, immediately squatted down beside him and began to take his vitals while Joseph, his SAR partner, examined him for injury.
Ian glanced up at Jamie. “Has he been conscious at all?”
“No, no movement, no consciousness.” Oh, God. There’d been no sign of life from Trevor at all in the entire time he’d been here. He locked his knees to keep from collapsing. This couldn’t be happening. Trevor couldn’t die.
Ian wrapped a silver survival blanket around Trevor’s body. The two men murmured details between them.
“Core temperature…86 degrees”
“No bleeding from ears.”
“Pupils…reactive to light.”
Their voices blurred as he watched them work on Trevor, wondering if his best friend would die before he got a chance to look into those crystalline blue eyes again.
No, please no.
* * *
By the time they had Trevor loaded up on the portable metal stretcher to haul him out, an invisible elephant sat on Jamie’s chest. Both men had pursed, tight lips and carefully didn’t look at him. Trevor still hadn’t even flinched. That couldn’t be good. While Joseph worked the final details of strapping Trevor in, Jamie grabbed Ian by the shoulder. “Is he going to be okay?”
Ian wouldn’t meet his eyes. “He has a head injury and is unconscious, so we have no way of knowing. The good news is he’s hypothermic. Honestly, that may have saved his life, but we won’t know more until they can do some scans at the hospital down in Terravista.” Ian inspected the quiet forest around them, a frown on his face. “Do you know why he was out here?”
Jamie shook his head. “No idea, but I’m guessing he fell sometime yesterday.”
“Looks that way.” Ian pressed his lips together as he watched Joseph finish adjusting the IV. “We’ll worry about all that later. But right now, we gotta get him off this mountain. Are you going to follow us to the hospital?”
Jamie nodded and reached down to touch Trevor’s shoulder to reassure one of them, he wasn’t sure which, that he was still there. “I’ll be right behind you.”
Joseph peered up at the two of them. “Done. Let’s move.”
The two men hefted the stretcher and began the trek off the mountain, moving as quickly as possible with their load.
* * *
When Jamie got down to the hospital, it became a waiting game while the medical team examined Trevor. After an hour, Ian came out and joined him in the waiting room. He’d been with Trevor helping monitor his care.
“Do you know anything?” Jamie asked. “Is he going to make it?”
Ian studied the floor, his lack of eye-contact telling Jamie more than he wanted to accept. “I don’t know. They told me to get out. Family members aren’t allowed to be involved, no matter who they are. I was lucky to get to stay back there as long as I did, but I still don’t know.” His voice sounded bleak. “He was out there a long time and his body took a hell of a shock, but damn, Trevor is stubborn. If anyone can make it, he can.”
“Should I call his sister, Tabby, or wait until we know something more?” Jamie asked him.
Ian shook his head. “No, she’s having some difficulty with the pregnancy. I don’t think we should stress her out until we know something more. Let’s see what the doctor says first.”
Tabitha lived in Amarillo, Texas, with her youth minister husband who worked at the same church where Trevor’s father had just retired as pastor. His parents were on a month-long dream European tour as their retirement gift from the church.
That left Ian as the only family available locally to come and do this hospital vigil. Ian’s dad, William, also lived in Snowcroft. But he and Trevor had never gotten along very well, so it was an unspoken agreement that he wouldn’t be called. At least not yet.
Several more men from the Forestry Service office wandered into the waiting room over the next few hours and still they had no word.
Finally, when the coffee had begun to eat a hole through Jamie’s stomach, a doctor walked in. There was no doubt who waited for word on Trevor as they all stood when the doctor entered, but he spoke to Jamie and Ian. “Unfortunately, Trevor’s body has taken quite the beating and he’s slipped into a coma. The main concern is the blow to his head. He has a concussion and came in extremely hypothermic. The hypothermia is a good thing in the grand scheme of things though because we think it kept the swelling in his brain down. His CAT scan showed clear. Right now, he’s not showing any sign of a brain bleed and we don’t think that will change since it’s been so long since he hit his head, but we’ll continue to monitor him as his core temperature comes back to normal parameters. He has a sprained ankle and several badly bruised ribs and shoulder. When he wakes up, he’s going to be stiff and sore.”
“But he will wake up, though, right?” Jamie asked, with his stomach in his throat.
“There are no guarantees, but I think so,” the doctor answered. “His core temperature is rising and he’s reacting well to treatment. He’s young and in good shape so there’s no reason to think he won’t recover unless something changes drastically with his condition. Our main concern right now is his concussion and that’s the likely source of the coma. Once he comes out of that, we’ll be able to better ascertain what, if any, damage has been done to his brain.”
“Brain damage?” Jamie’s voice wobbled and that coffee threatened to come back up.
“It’s a possibility, but there’s just no way to know until he wakes up. The sooner that happens, the better his prognosis. He can have visitors, no more than two at a time. They say that people in comas can hear, so my advice is talk to him.”
* * *
Two days later, Jamie had talked until his voice became hoarse and the coma still lingered. He hadn’t been home, afraid that if he left, Trevor would slip away. He had to be there in case Trevor needed him. So he stayed, taking catnaps sitting in the chair beside Trevor’s bed, and drinking way too much really bad coffee.
His eyes were gritty, his stomach upset, and he just wanted to crawl into that bed and hold his best friend to convince him that he needed to come back. Now. Jamie had begun to lose hope. The thought that Trevor might never wake up after the way their relationship had gone the last few months made the stone in the pit of his stomach bottom out.
“Trevor, please wake up. I need you to wake up. I don’t know what else to talk to you about, so you need to wake up now or else I’m just going to have to start repeating shit. You know me. I don’t like to talk this much.” He glanced out the window, taking deep breaths to get control of the tears welling up in his eyes. Exhaustion tugged at him and he slouched further down into the chair, resting his chin on his fist. He couldn’t watch his motionless friend anymore. It hurt too much.
“You could tell me your name.” The words were weak and scratchy.
Jamie swung around to stare at the man, blinked, and his mouth dropped open. Oh God, did Trevor speak? He froze, searching the still body in front of him for some sign that he’d awoken and the voice hadn’t been some hallucination brought on by exhaustion.
For a moment, he thought he truly had gone around the corner of crazy, but then Trevor’s eyes fluttered open.
Jamie leapt out of the chair and rushed to the head of Trevor’s bed.
Trevor squinted at him, opening his mouth a couple of times. “Who are you?” he asked, his voice hoarse. “Why do you keep talking?”
Jamie couldn’t believe he’d finally woken up. “Trevor?”
Trevor squinted up at Jamie, confusion and pain furrowing his brow. “Who’s Trevor?”
“Oh, man. Okay, hang on. Let me call someone and we’ll find out what’s going on.” Trevor had taken a knock to the head. It made sense that he’d be a little confused. That didn’t mean he had brain damage. It couldn’t. The doctor would come and examine him and say everything would be okay. The guy had basically been asleep for two days, three if you counted the night spent on the forest floor. It would take a bit to get the cobwebs cleared from his brain.
Jamie pressed the call button for the nurse and rested a hand on top of Trevor’s non-injured shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.” But the reassurance didn’t matter, because Trevor had already slipped back into sleep. At least Jamie really hoped he’d just fallen asleep.
A nurse bustled in. “Did you call? Do you need something?” She walked over to Trevor’s bed and read one of the machines monitoring him.
“He awoke. He just spoke to me, but now…” Jamie gestured to Trevor. “He didn’t go back into the coma, did he?”
“Let’s see here.” She threaded the long strip of paper through her fingers, examining the data there. She smiled, and Jamie felt a momentary flicker of relief. “I don’t think so. I think he’s just asleep, but let’s check a few things.” Gently shaking him, she said, “Trevor, Mr. Mayne, I need you to wake up for me now, okay?”
Trevor groaned low, but then his eyes slowly opened, before slamming shut again. “Hurts.”
“Okay.” The nurse nodded. “That’s to be expected and we’ll do something about your pain in a moment. In the meantime, I need you to open those pretty blue eyes of yours again and answer some questions for me.”
“M’kay. What happened? Where am I?” Trevor shifted his gaze between the two of them, still not a flicker of recognition for Jamie. Jamie’s stomach rolled over.
“You fell and hit your head a couple of days ago. You’ve been in a coma and are pretty banged up. Can you answer a few questions for me?”
Trevor’s brow furrowed. “Um, yeah, I think.”
“What’s your name?”
Slowly, Trevor gazed up to her, confusion beginning to cloud his features. “I…I don’t know.” He stopped for a moment, closed his eyes with a grimace. “How do I not know that?” He suddenly gazed up at Jamie, stricken. “You said Trevor before. Is that my name? Who are you? Why don’t I remember?” Trevor’s eyes widened and his face blanched as the depth of what he’d said sunk in.
The nurse placed a hand on his arm. “Relax, it’s okay. No need to get worked up about this yet. You just woke up and it can be a bit confusing.”
Trevor struggled in the bed.
She cast a glance toward Jamie. “Mr. Vaughn, I think it would be a good idea for you to step out while I examine the patient and call the doctor.”
He didn’t want to leave, but Trevor’s eyes darted around the room wildly. Maybe if he left, it would be a little less overwhelming for Trevor. He touched Trevor’s shoulder to soothe him when what he really wanted to do was embrace him and never let go. “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”
“Who are you?” Trevor whispered with heart-wrenching desperation.
Jamie glanced to the nurse. She shook her head at him, so he just walked out with a huge lump spreading from his throat to his chest. His heart raced and his palms turned sweaty. Oh God, what if Trevor did have brain damage?