Brannon has come to Itáyu Lake to find his mate after having his prophetic dream. While there, he stops to visit his aunts Bridget and Erin and catch up on what has happened at the lake.
Kyle Glass-Symphony heard of Spirit Valley from a friend and has risked his life to return to the states to photographic the natural beauty of the area. He’s not disappointed and soon finds himself engrossed in his task, which lands him in a tight spot hanging off a cliff.
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“Yes!” He smiled as he sat up and looked at the scroll. Man, his friend had certainly been right. This place was amazing!
After standing, he brushed off the dirt and dried plants clinging to him and whistled. An energetic bark filtered to him before a black-and-white dog came bounding up out of the brush. “Hey, girl.” Kyle scratched behind her ears and set off for another location. He’d spotted a set of high rocks just a bit behind him and knew he could get some great shots from up there.
Heading for the trails, he tossed a stick ahead of him for Amber to chase. The pit mix had never left his side since he’d found her on the streets in Toronto, and he didn’t think his life would be the same without her. Together they’d gone everywhere. India, Egypt, the Congo, China, Japan, Brazil, and Tanzania. Recently he’d just gotten back to the States from another trip to India. He loved that country and the natural beauty found there.
Upon reaching the rocks, he set his bag down and pulled out some rope. A trick he’d learned from a wildlife photographer—sometimes you had to risk your life to get the best shots. Kyle tied one end of the rope to a secure, live tree, and then wrapped the other end around his waist. He made sure the rope would hold and shuffled to the end of the rock so his arms and half of his chest were dangling over the ledge.
Just as he’d thought, this vantage point gave him the best visual lines, unobstructed by the rest of the natural land.
Amber sat behind him, her attention set on keeping him safe. He doubted there was anything for her to protect him from out here. Then again, who was he to tell her not to do her job? She didn’t argue with him when he moved them all over the globe, so he could humor her desire to constantly keep him safe.
Taking two deep breaths, Kyle tuned out of the world and focused only on what he could see through his lens. The mastery. The beauty. The details only found in nature. All of it came alive through his lens. Ducks coming to land in the lake. Deer peeking out to get a drink. Fish jumping, disturbing the tranquil surface. And all of it encased by the mountains reflected perfectly on the dark water.
He was so lost in his pictures that he didn’t notice Amber growling until he heard someone ask, “What are you doing?”
Amber barked, meaning his visitor was getting a little too close for her comfort.
With effort, Kyle maneuvered back onto the rock and turned onto his back. Quickly, he snapped a photo of the man who’d snuck up on him.
“Taking pictures.” Kyle smirked as he sat up. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
“Rock climbing. Poorly,” the man gibed, his charming, boyish looks tugging at Kyle’s desires. Yeah, fine, it may have been a minute or two since he’d last gotten any. The countries he frequented weren’t exactly known for their open-minded views on same-sex relations.
The man took a step toward him, and Amber barked in warning. “Easy, girl.” Kyle ran his hands down her smooth, short coat. “He doesn’t mean us any harm, do you?”
Okay, a presumptuous thing to assume considering the amount of people in Kyle’s life who did mean him harm. There was just something about this stranger, though. Kyle couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he knew on instinct that he wasn’t there to hurt them.
“No, I don’t mean you harm.” The man took a step back as if to show Amber he was friendly.
Kyle got to his feet and dusted himself off again. He did that a lot in his profession. As he fretted about his own appearance, he appraised the one before him. Thick, even luscious, golden-blond hair shone in the evening sunlight. Eyes the color of the greenest emeralds captured his attention and held him in thrall. The rest of the stranger was equally easy on the eyes, but not overly gorgeous. There was a definite male quality to him that drew Kyle in.
“I’m Brannon,” the stranger said easily, that boy-next-door charm seeping through.
Brannon took a step forward, and Kyle instinctively mirrored the action. It was Amber that got between them and growled again, warning Brannon away. As Kyle took a step back, his foot slipped on a few loose rocks, and he lost his balance.
Cursing, he fell backward over the rock face.
“Kyle!” Brannon shouted while Amber barked worriedly.
“I’m okay.” Kyle let out a gasp, the rope around his middle digging in painfully. Maybe he should invest in a harness?
“I’m going to pull you up.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
He heard a couple of grunts and growls, and Kyle grinned at the effort put in. When he got back to the top, he saw Amber tugging on the rope with Brannon. As soon as struggled onto the ledge, she rushed him, licking his face before grabbing his shirt and tugging directly on him.
“My hero,” Kyle said with a laugh, petting his dog once he got clear of the danger.
“Are you okay?” Brannon demanded, worry in his gorgeous eyes as he came to kneel in front of Kyle.
“I am now. Thank you. How about I repay you for the rescue with dinner?”
“It’s a date.” Brannon beamed.
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About A.M. Halford:
A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Her and her partner often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoys. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she likes to curl up with a sketch book and draw whatever comes to mind.
A.M. Halford got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she fully enjoys. she often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She like to writes believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.
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