Of all the bars in all the towns in all the world, the stranger walks into Brody Tyler’s. With no memory and a name he chose from a newspaper, Nash is a gamble—one Brody is willing to take. It isn’t long before Brody and Nash fall in love, but then a tragic accident shatters their cozy world, resetting Nash’s memory once again.
The “new” Nash Walker is a businessman with a bottom line, and he doesn’t care what or who gets stomped on. Waking up in a hospital bed after a hit-and-run with no idea where he’s been for the past six months is bad enough, but someone trying to kill him is even worse. Enter Brody Tyler, accidental bodyguard.
Brody’s determined to help Nash remember and bring back the man he loves. Nash thinks Brody’s a drop-dead gorgeous pain in the ass. If only he could remember….
BRODY turned the glass over in his hand and held it up to the light, checking for smudges before rubbing them away with the clean bar towel. He smiled as he glanced around the empty bar—his bar. Brody had practically grown up on the stool behind the bar. Tyler’s had been his grandfather’s place and his great-grandfather’s before that, and where he’d spent most of his summers. When he was a little boy, his pappy had let him put the peanuts into the little dishes for the tables. Then, as the years passed, he was given a cloth and allowed to clean the tables, then the bar and, finally, he graduated to a summer job mixing cocktails and opening beer bottles. “Money ain’t worth nothing if you ain’t worked for it, Brody. You remember that,” Pappy said time and time again in his harsh, Texan bark. “Just because you come from money, son, doesn’t mean you don’t have to earn your own.”
Brody knew he was fortunate to have grown up in one of the wealthiest families in San Antonio, but Pappy’s words had struck a chord with him, and he’d never coasted through life on his parents’ shirttails. He’d decided against taking the easy route and stepping into a tailor-made role at the successful Tyler home-improvement chain, instead working his way through college and grad school to pursue his love of architecture.
He’d only been out of grad school for three weeks, the ink on his degree barely dry, when his grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer. Spending hours by Pappy’s bedside, they’d shared memories, Brody had read To Kill a Mockingbird to him, and more often than not, they just sat in silence, each garnering the comfort they needed from the other’s presence. During one of those long days, Pappy had told Brody he was leaving the bar to him, but that he wanted him to sell the place and use the money to set up his own firm.
Ten days later he held Pappy’s hand as he took his final breath, and after they’d buried him beside Grams, Brody had left the wake at his parents’ house. He’d had no idea where he was going—maybe his subconscious had been guiding him, maybe it was Pappy himself, he didn’t know—but he found himself standing outside Tyler’s, the key in his numb fingers.
Inside, gazing around the empty room, inhaling the familiar smells and assaulted by a myriad of memories, Brody knew he could never part with it. He’d taken off his black suit jacket, picked up a bar towel and a glass… and he was still doing the same thing six years later. Not many twenty-seven-year-olds had their own successful business, and he knew how lucky he was. He’d already had a large clientele of regulars, and after some modernization, word of mouth had made it one of the most popular bars in town. It might not have been the life he’d envisaged, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Stacking glasses on the shelf behind him, he glanced up at the mirror when he heard the bell indicating the arrival of a customer. Unable to contain the breath that escaped his lips or the sudden speeding up of his heartbeat, his gaze tracked the man’s path to the bar.
The stranger looked to be about the same age as him, and probably around six feet tall. But it wasn’t his height and age that had Brody’s cock twitching in his pants. The guy was basically the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, man or woman. Putting the last glass on the shelf, Brody picked up the towel and began to rub down the sleek wood of the bar top. He failed dismally in his effort not to stare as the man settled himself on a stool, and cursed inwardly at the press of his wayward dick against the denim of his jeans when the man ran a shaking hand through short, light-brown hair, causing his tight T-shirt to cling to the muscles of his lean chest.
For God’s sake, snap out of it, Brody! He threw the towel over his shoulder and pushed his chocolate-colored bangs out of his eyes. Could you be any more obvious? Stop drooling over the poor guy and go serve him. Brody squared his shoulders, grabbed a beer mat, and walked toward the end of the bar, hoping desperately that the butterflies flapping up a storm in his stomach weren’t about to fly out of his mouth.
“Hey,” he said brightly, slapping the beer mat down on the bar in front of Tall and Gorgeous. “What can I get you?”
Brody’s stomach hit his shoes when the stranger lifted his gaze and he looked into the prettiest green eyes. No, not green, too ordinary. They were the deep sea-green of a stormy ocean, splattered with gold flecks and rimmed with long dark lashes, and he would have been more than happy to spend the rest of his life gazing into them. Yeah, thank you, Oprah—just get him a drink!
Green-eyes scanned the array of alcohol on the shelves behind Brody and shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
Brody’s brow furrowed at the weight of those words, as if it had taken an incredible effort to voice them. When the man glanced at the rows of beer and then back at him, Brody was sure his heart actually skipped a beat at the innate sadness in his eyes. “Hey.” He reached out without thinking and placed his hand over Green-eyes’ hand where it lay on the bar. “Are you okay?” His breath caught in his throat at the well of tears in the gaze that flitted to his and then away.
“I don’t know,” he mumbled.
Brody glanced at the clock on the wall and made an executive decision. You’re the boss, dumbass, every decision you make is executive. Ignoring his inner voice, he tossed the bar towel into the basket beneath the bar, grabbed two bottles of beer from the shelf, put one down in front of the stranger, and smiled reassuringly.
“Here you go,” he said softly. “You look like you need someone to talk to. And who better than your friendly bartender? I’m a good listener, honest. You have to be or they won’t let you into bartending school.” He felt something warm unfurl in his gut when the man’s lips twitched. “Listen, I’ve got a couple of hours before this place starts filling up, so what do you say I turn over the closed sign and we chew the fat for a while?” He held up his right hand as if to swear an oath. “I promise I’m not an axe murderer, and they assure me the insanity has skipped a generation.”
Brody waited as Green-eyes seemed to weigh up the suggestion for a few moments and then nodded. Brody’s smile grew wider and he strode across the room to turn the sign on the door, flick up the lock, and pull down the blind. He noted the way Green-eyes nervously studied the label on the bottle of beer, and frowned in concern when the man started as Brody sat on the stool next to him.
Picking up the second beer, he took a long draw before turning on the stool to face the other man. “Hi, I’m Brody, Brody Tyler, the owner.” He held out his hand and his gaze snapped up when long fingers folded around his and he felt a sharp shock of static pass between them. Judging by the man’s intake of breath, he’d felt it too. Clearing his throat, Brody tried not to drop the hand he held as though it were a hot potato and raised an eyebrow in question. “And you are?”
“I don’t remember.”
“I said I don’t remember,” Green-eyes replied in a tired voice. “I have no idea who I am.”
~ * ~