Authors: Tere Michaels
Readers love the Faith, Love, and Devotion
Faith & Fidelity
“I cried… before the prologue was even finished. I mean the story hadn’t even started and I was a mess! I just do not seem to have the words to say how much I enjoyed this emotional roller coaster.”
—Prism Book Alliance
“A lovely, poignant story with heart. I recommend this to any m/m reader, especially if you’re just venturing into the genre.”
—Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
Love & Loyalty
“Be prepared to laugh a bunch, shed a few tears, and jump for joy when these two find their happy ever after.”
“This was an amazing addition to Tere Michaels’ Faith, Love, and Devotion series. I look forward to reading many more books by this author. Highly recommended.”
—The Novel Approach
Duty & Devotion
“Those familiar with this author are aware of her talents and her strengths for writing multi-dimensional characters, intelligent dialogue and believable story lines… she has quickly become a favourite author among many readers within the sub-genre.”
—The Indie Reviewer
One Holiday Ever After (Multiple Author Anthology)
One Night Ever After (Multiple Author Anthology)
Who Knows the Storm
Faith & Fidelity
Love & Loyalty
Duty & Devotion
Cherish & Blessed
Truth & Tenderness
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.
Truth & Tenderness
© 2015 Tere Michaels.
© 2015 Aaron Anderson.
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: 978-1-63216-711-8
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014921686
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).
This has been a long journey—seven years since their story started and twice that from the time that Matt and Evan (and Jim and Griffin) first appeared in my thoughts, and I couldn’t have come this far without the tireless support of friends and family.
Thank you to my husband and son, who’ve always been so proud and supportive: thank you.
Thank you to my family and friends, who read a gay romance for the first time just because my name was on it: thank you.
Thank you to my fellow writers, who’ve celebrated my success, urged me through the dark days, and recommended my work like it was their job: thank you.
Thank you to my editors and publishers and cover artists and publicity folks: thank you for your amazing work.
Thank you to my fans—what can I say? Your fierce love (and irritation) for these characters has been a revelation and a dream come true. To invoke passion, to stimulate the creation of actual feelings for fictional characters—it’s what every writer dreams of doing when they sit down with that blank sheet of paper. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.
This one’s for you.
his tie in the mirror, smoothing imaginary wrinkles from the dark material as he tucked it into his jacket. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of his hat sitting on the bed, the last piece of his dress blues to put on.
Today it began.
His captaincy with the New York City Police Department.
The swearing-in ceremony at 1 Police Plaza was scheduled to begin in two hours. Downstairs, his family waited—and fidgeted—in their good going-out clothes, with cameras and cell phones ready for his descent. Their raucous laughter and conversation drifted through the door. They were loud and obnoxious, and he had no doubt they were practicing wolf whistles for when he was announced.
He loved them so much.
But yeah. Evan Cerelli, captain of Midtown South.
A box of things collected and forgotten sat on the emptied desk of his new command; a selection of pictures—updated and carefully chosen—waited downstairs in his workbag. Tomorrow at eight in the morning, he would conduct a meeting of senior officers to discuss the current temperature and immediate necessities of the quiet precinct.
Evan swallowed, smoothed back imaginary unruly hairs of his salt-and-pepper military haircut.
From rookie on a beat to captain, a twenty-plus-year career shaping into a life he couldn’t even have imagined. He remembered his first swearing-in ceremony when he graduated from the Academy. Sherri and the little girls by his side, their shining and happy faces as he became a member of the NYPD. Sitting across from them at lunch, sharing a tender look with his beautiful wife. Grateful for a job with good pay and great benefits so he could take care of the three people he loved most in the world.
Evan couldn’t have predicted today. Any of it.
He blinked at his reflection, a blip in time of a different day, a different room, a different solemn outfit. That was an ending, a painful life-changing agony that he wasn’t sure he could survive, and this—this was his next new beginning.
Touched by nostalgia, Evan bypassed the hat and went for the small wooden box tucked behind the ceramic lamp on top of his tall dresser. It held three rings: a large gold band, and the smaller matching one with the delicate engagement ring returned to him by the coroner. He brought the box out of the shadows and into the light from the lamp. Easy to remember putting those rings on Sherri’s finger, the cool slide of the metal as she put on his.
And then the slide off, the decision that while he’d always love his wife, their marriage was in the past and being with Matt was the present.
Evan’s throat tightened. He’d long made peace with the minefield of loving two people so absolutely. The life he lived now didn’t feel like a substitute or settling—Evan had taken the hand dealt to him by circumstances, done his best, learned from his mistakes.
Learned as best he could.
Nothing was perfect, but it felt good.
He brushed his fingertips over the rings, tracing each before shutting the box, and then returned it to its rightful place. Hat in hand, he took one more look in the full-length mirror, from shiny shoes to the faint gray mixed among the darkness of his buzz cut. The mantle of captaincy—the family waiting for him, waiting to celebrate this day.