Author Sloan Parker


I'm currently working on MORE #3 (told from Matthew's point of view), and I recently sat down with Luke to have a chat about where things stand with the guys. Here's how the discussion went.

I snagged us a booth in the back of the diner. There weren't many people in the place. The lunch crowd was long gone, and the dinner rush wouldn't hit for another hour. Despite the relative emptiness, I took the side of the booth that would allow Luke to keep his back to the wall and his eyes on the door. Some habits were hard to break. Even for a guy who hardly recognized his life anymore.
A minute later he arrived through the front door. He scanned the place, spotted me, and approached in a hesitant stride. Without a pause, he slid in the booth opposite me. I couldn't tell if he appreciated the gesture I'd made with the table. He didn't say anything or make eye contact with me at first.
I said, "Thanks for agreeing to meet with me."
He scoffed but then nodded. Always such a contradiction. Without me, he wouldn't have his men, and we both knew it.
"How's life treating you?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Not bad."
I just stared at him, keeping my expression even.
He stared back. Slowly he grinned and shook his head. "All right. All right. Things are pretty damn good, but you already knew that, didn't you?"
That had me smiling too. "Yeah. You getting everything you wanted out of your life?"
He laughed again as he leaned back in the seat, his entire body relaxing. Maybe he'd been afraid of me. Afraid of what I'd bring up. Afraid of what I'd make him talk about. "I've gotten a hell of a lot more than that."
He raised his brows in surprise. "I never expected much. Not until I met you."
"Until you met them."
The smile grew. Then he turned serious, contemplative. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table, coming in closer to me. It's an intimate move for him. "You know, I never said it."
"Yeah, I know. It's okay."
"But I should've."
I shrugged that time. "You don't have to." Although, deep down, I wanted him to. I wanted to hear the words from him as if they would confirm something for me, or give me another glimpse of that sweet, tender side of him I'd always adored.
He reached for a bundle of silverware still wrapped in a napkin. He flipped the packet over on the table. Once. Twice. He stopped and laid his hand flat over it is if he had to force himself to stop the fidgeting. His jaw tightened. This was really hard for him, but I could tell he needed to say it. That's how much it meant to him. He opened his mouth, then slammed it shut just as quickly. He tried again. "Thank you. I can't ever repay you for what you did for me. For bringing us together." His focus was on the table between us, but that didn't lessen his sincerity. Quite the opposite.
I couldn't stop myself from getting choked up. "You're welcome."
He waited a moment, then glanced up. "If you had to go back, would you do it the same again? Would it all turn out the same way?"
Here I thought I'd be the one asking the questions.
I offered him a smile. "I wouldn't change a thing."
For a moment that seemed to appease him. Then he glanced around the diner for a long beat before focusing on the tabletop again. This time he whispered his question as if he was embarrassed to say it aloud. "So I'm good enough?" Even softer he added, "For them?”
So very different from the Luke I'd first met. Back then he wouldn't let anyone see this level of vulnerability. Hell, any vulnerability.
I waited until he lifted his head.
"I couldn't have found anyone better." I leaned forward and rested my elbows on the table in a replica of his earlier gesture. "You do know they want and need you as much as you do them, right?"
He eyed me for another moment, then offered a subtle smile of appreciation. He straightened and rested an arm over the back of the empty seat beside him. An easy grin hit his lips, that familiar confidence sliding into place. "Yep. They'd be lost without me. I keep them grounded."
I laughed. "Yeah, you do."
He waved a hand through the air. "So, what else did you want to know?"
I pulled out a pen and a pad of paper. The three of them had been through a lot recently, and I wanted to be sure I had the story right.
It was time for me to delve into their lives again.
"I have several questions."
Luke nodded. "About Matthew."
"There's some shit he still needs to work through, isn't there?"
He lowered his eyelids. "Tell me we'll help him through it."
"Yeah, absolutely."
He let out a long breath. "Okay. Then let's get started."