Xavier & Devin

an excerpt



Chapter One

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the hotel lobby, Xavier Markovic made the phone call he'd been dreading all morning. This wasn't something he wanted to do, but with Daniel Chevalier in the hospital, connected to all kinds of lines, it was up to him to meet the so-called grandson coming out of the woodwork. Or at least, this grandson left Colorado on a spontaneous decision to be with Daniel. Going from Colorado to Alaska, Xavier snorted, unable to believe what was happening. Yeah, there was a dramatic change. He heard ringing in his Bluetooth as he looked out the wall of windows overlooking Anchorage.

"Hello?" The grandson's voice was tentative, but rich as honey and dangerous as a good shot of bourbon. The top-shelf kind of stuff, aged in centuries charred oak barrels.

Something he wasn't comfortable with tugged and rolled deep in his lower body. His cock was letting him know the tone was interesting and attractive. Xavier tried to ignore his body's wayward response to only a voice. He adjusted his position in the chair. Clearing his throat, he asked, "Is this Daniel's grandson?"

"Yes, I'm Devin Chevalier. Who is this?"

Obviously the kid didn't do all of his research. Xavier had been part of Daniel's life since he turned sixteen and accepted a part-time job at Midnight Sun Adventures & Outfitters. "I'm his second-in-charge at the Lodge. Something his grandson would have known." He couldn't resist the extra dig of information.

"Look, there's bad blood between my father and grandfather. I know it's decades old, before I was even born," Devin said, pausing to take a breath or consider his words. "I'm sure you have to know this."

"Hell, yeah, I've seen what it did and is still doing to Daniel. Why did you wait until now to meet him?"

"I didn't know until a few days ago about what happened to him. My dad got a message from someone at the hospital. He refused to go anywhere near Alaska. I decided to take his place and come to Alaska."

Unable to remain sitting, Xavier rose and strolled over to the wall of glass. "You decided out of nowhere? You don't have an iota of the knowledge about the hurt and rift in your own family."

"I'm trying here. I'm making the first step. Give me a chance before judging me."

Placing a hand on the cool glass, Xavier lowered his head. He knew Daniel would kick his ass if he didn't give the kid an inch. "We'll see. Where are you?"

"My plane landed in Anchorage and we're waiting for a gate assignment. Do I need to make a connecting flight to Fairbanks?"

"No, I flew him to the hospital in Anchorage on recommendation from the Fairbanks hospital."

"How is my grandfather? My dad said it was something with his heart, but no details."

"I'm not sure yet, but he's holding his own and complaining about being stuck in the hospital. They're running tests to decide whether to go in for surgery or something else. I don't want to leave him alone, but he insists that I pick you up."

"What about my other things?"

"What other things are we talking about?"

"I meant what I said about moving to Alaska to be with my grandfather. I didn't intend on sticking around for a short vacation. There's nothing keeping me tied to Colorado, so I sent them by cargo to here. They're some larger personal items and my three bikes."

"Bikes? What kind? Motorcycles or something?"

"No, no, they're regular bicycles. There are two custom mountain bikes and a road bike."

Xavier didn't expect all of this extra cargo. He figured they would deal with the kid for two weeks, make nice-nice, and send him back to wherever he came from. Moving here? Flying his personal shit by cargo? Yeah, this wasn't what he expected. He couldn't leave the cargo sitting somewhere at the Anchorage Airport. "What's the airline and reservation number?"

"Hold on a moment," Devin said and there was some silence and shuffling sounds. When he returned, he read off the name of the airline and number.

Xavier knew the airline. "Not a problem, I'll take care of getting it transferred to my personal hangar. We'll fly it to the Lodge, if your grandfather intends to let you stay."

"Wait--" Devin swallowed loudly enough to be caught on the phone. "Why wouldn't he let me stay? I came all this way to help out."

"You arrived with all your shit without an invitation from him. You don't know him. He doesn't know you. Why would he let a virtual stranger enter his personal life when he's not at his best and even have a chance to go near the business he built for most of his life?" Xavier snorted. "Yeah, not the smartest thinking on your part."

"But. But..." Devin paused as if to collect his thoughts. "I'm his grandson."

"In name only, but forget about that minute issue. I don't have time to get into this shit now and I'm damn sure not in the right place to discuss everything. Find your way down to the baggage level and I'll meet you there--"

"Wait. What's your name?"

Letting out another sigh, Xavier rubbed the side of his thumb against the scar slicing through his right eyebrow. Though his tone grew a little surlier, he snapped out, "Xavier. I'll call when I arrive." He hung up before Devin could reply.

Within a few minutes, Xavier drove his cousin's truck to the airport. Since he flew Daniel here in his Piper Cub, he borrowed the truck--he didn't keep a truck at the hangar. It wasn't worth the expense, not since his cousin lived in Anchorage and had a spare vehicle for family to use.

While he drove, he tried to wrap his mind around all the information and shocks received over the last week. Ever since he read the e-mails and texts sent to Daniel Chevalier, his friend, boss, and second-father figure, Xavier didn't think things would end up like this. This so-called grandson popped out of nowhere from the lower forty-eight states with an interest in Daniel, his health, and his business. He learned Devin was the youngest child of Daniel's son, Daniel Junior, who insisted everyone call him Brian. All he knew about this rift was how Daniel's former wife, Irina, packed her things and left with their two children. She never looked back on Alaska or Daniel. The last thing Daniel heard from her was when a clerk delivered a package of divorce papers into his hands. Daniel barely spoke about this long ago rift. It continued to hurt him after all this time. Xavier knew the damage started when Daniel made a difficult choice of the heart and his entire family split apart.

Out of nowhere, this grandson heard about Daniel's medical issues and wanted to come to Alaska. He wished to meet Daniel, mend the rift, and see if he could help. This guy went so far as to pack up his life and shipped all his shit.

What the hell changed the kid's mind? No one spontaneously decided to drop everything and move to Alaska. Hell freaking no. This glorious land would knock a newcomer flat with the first big storm. Xavier snorted as he thought about this. There had to be something behind this kid's sudden interest in Daniel, the Lodge, and coming to Alaska. To help out? What was he thinking?

Xavier knew damn well Daniel wasn't made of money. The Lodge and Midnight Sun Adventures & Outfitters did all right amongst the surplus of companies. They had their crazy seasons, like now when the sun was out up to twenty hours a day, but they had their dull, quiet seasons, stuck in the middle of a whiteout and no way to get supplies in or out and darkness for twenty hours a day. It was the craziness of living up here in a land, which men couldn't tame or control. Hell no, Alaska bit back and kicked you the moment you faltered and forgot she wasn't some tamed piece of property.

Yanking off his ball cap, Xavier dragged his fingers through the longish layers of dark chestnut hair. With all the unknown medical problems Daniel faced concerning his heart, Xavier didn't want some goofy idiotic newcomer waltzing in and screwing things further. He didn't have time to babysit some wannabe. He wouldn't let some greedy kid hang all over Daniel while he tried to concentrate on healing.

Hearing his phone ring, Xavier pressed a button on his Bluetooth earpiece to answer. "Markovic."

"Are you still fuming about Devin's arrival?" Daniel asked in his husky-rich voice, softer than normal since his heart started to go wonky and not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood through his body.

"Fuming? Me--" Xavier said, trying to blow it off.

"Don't start, I know you too damn well," Daniel said.

"Yes. Fine. I'm fuming."

"I knew it. Did you at least call him and find out where he is? No matter your feelings, I don't want him stranded."

"I'm worried about his ulterior motive," Xavier grumbled under his breath. "Yes, I spoke with him and he landed at the airport. I'm going to pick him up."

"Devin isn't some greedy idiot kid. Good to know he arrived safe."

"Yeah, him and a shit load of cargo."

"Cargo?"

Rubbing his finger against the childhood scar, Xavier dropped and rhythmically tapped his fingers on the wheel. "He flew some of his personal shit by cargo as if he could move in without a word of approval from you."

"He's really going all in to patch things with me."

"Seems like it, but what is he thinking about coming up here? After what? Twenty-something years? He finally wants to reverse all problems and meet his grandfather?" Xavier snorted. "Come on, Daniel. There's something behind this visit."

"Is it bad I want to meet one of my grandchildren?"

"It is if he's gonna turn around and bust your heart even further. Look, I know things are rough since Charlie--"

Daniel interrupted, his tone sharpened to a fine point. "Don't go there, kid. Not now."

"We need to talk--"

"Don't go there. Drop it."

Xavier sighed, wanting to bang his head on the wheel. "Why aren't you the least bit curious behind his motives?"

"He's family and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

"Which means I can't. One of us needs to step back and be pessimistic about everything."

"And you're damn good at doing it."

"Thanks, Daniel. Really."

"Calm down, let out a long breath, and relax. This will work out."

"For your sake, I hope so."

"Be nice. Please. Don't scare him back to Colorado."

"Come on. Not even one little growl?"

"Not one."

Xavier snorted and hung up on his friend. When he reached the airport, he redialed the long-distance number.

"Hello."

It was the same tone from the earlier conversation. Something about the voice again tugged a response low in his body. It made him a little uncomfortable. He never reacted to a voice.

"I'm pulling around to the baggage claim. Are you ready to hop in the truck?"

"Yes, I'm standing outside."

"Good. What terminal are you in?"

"South terminal. I'm sitting on a bench outside the Alaska Airlines baggage claim as you instructed. I have a stack of three gray suitcases next to me."

Damn this kid with a shitload of baggage. What was he? Some kind of model or clothes hog? "Three?"

"I told you I planned on staying as long as I'm needed. You can't scare me away from this chance to meet my grandfather."

"The final decision is up to Daniel. If he says you're out, I'm kicking your ass to the curb. Got it?"

"Understood. What am I looking for to find you?"

"Look for a blue double cab Chevy Silverado." Before Devin could say anything, Xavier hung up. He wound his way, following the traffic, and pulled to the curb at the sight of a single man with a tower of luggage. He almost forgot to put the car in park. He stared out the window as his cock filled his jeans, making him uncomfortable. "What the..."

He couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight.

It was a vision of Daniel in his prime. This was the young strong Daniel, who fell in love with his best friend and tore apart his entire life to follow his heart. The soft golden layers of hair lifted with a light breeze. The dark blue eyes gazed upon the truck. He checked out the short slender build revealed by the faded jeans, cowboy boots, and hip length leather jacket, which opened to show off a silk-screened T-shirt. Damn, the whole package wrapped in a bow for my tastes.

There's no one else this man could be other than one of Daniel's blood, his clone. How could this...

Oh shit, the sight of his boss, reversed in age and time, aroused the ever-living shit out of him.