After working for over two years without a break, action movie actor Eric Pawlowski desperately needs a vacation. He hires a remote cottage by a lake, for a few weeks of relaxing, walking his dogs and ignoring the world.
Instead he nearly runs over Thomas, the most gorgeous man he's ever met, and gets involved in a chain of events that threaten Eric's life. The one thing he is sure of, this vacation is going to be anything but relaxing.
Mocking, Eric thought as he approached the roadside bar. The brightly lit arm of the neon red cowboy was definitely mocking. Eric cursed loudly, breaking the silence in the truck as he realized that, according to the directions, he'd not only missed the turn to the cottage but now also had to turn the vehicle around to find a small, almost non-existent road in total darkness.
Toby whined hopefully in his ear as the truck slowed down to pull into the parking lot of the bar. Eric sighed. He was as anxious to get out of the truck and stretch his legs as his dogs were.
"Not long now, boy, I promise." Or at least I hope not. He reached back to scratch Toby behind the ears, feeling the dog lean forward to try and lick his face.
Eric pushed the dog away as he flicked the indicators and pulled into the parking lot; he should've been doing this journey in the daylight but filming had over-run the previous day and he'd been too tired to get moving as early as planned.
In his haste and fatigue Eric swung the truck's wheel too sharply and almost ran over a man standing by a dark-colored SUV. The man only saved himself by leaping to one side and Eric watched as the man slammed into the passenger vehicle hard enough to make it shudder before sliding into an ungainly heap on the ground.
"Fuck!" Eric jumped out of the truck to see if the guy was hurt. "You okay, dude? I'm so sorry, I didn't see you standing there." He leaned over to offer him a hand.
The man scowled as he was pulled to his feet. "You make a habit of trying to kill people?" A few inches shorter than Eric, he still had to be just over six feet. Nice.
Eric ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "Only when I'm exhausted, lost, and shoulda stopped driving two hours ago," he admitted.
"Lost, huh?" The man was brushing off his ass. "Where are you supposed to be going?" Now that he wasn't so angry, the stranger's voice was a smooth, quiet drawl.
"Silver Lake. I missed the turn in the dark."
"Why do you want the lake?" The man's guarded reply set Eric back a bit.
Not sure of the reason for the sudden tension, Eric looked away. "I'm renting a cottage there. Small place; one bedroom and a fireplace was the description. I meant to get here in the light but I was late leaving LA, and then the dogs needed a run…" Eric trailed off, aware he was rambling.
"I know the place," the man admitted.
"My name's Eric. Eric Pawlowski." Eric stuck out his hand again and they shook hands, the other man wincing as Eric pressed against the scraped skin on his palm. "Sorry. Is your hand all right?"
"It's fine, just a little graze. My name's Thomas, Thomas Clay. If you want, I can direct you back to the cottage."
"That would be great. I'm beat." On cue, Eric yawned. In the dim light Eric could see Thomas frowning.
"Sure you're awake enough to drive?"
Trying to suppress another yawn, Eric said, "Not really, but me and the dogs have had a long day and we just want some food and a bed for the night."
Thomas looked into Eric's truck where Millie and Toby, his chocolate Labradors, were slumped over the back seat, looking disgruntled and bored as they continued to be confined.
"Nice dogs," he said admiringly. "Follow me. I'll show you where it is."
Eric went to ask, "Are you sure?" but it came out as a loud yawn instead.
Thomas laughed. It was a nice laugh, deep and throaty, and it would've provoked an answering response in Eric if only he could have stopped the damn yawning.
"Yeah, I'm sure. You'll be asleep standing up if we hang around any longer. Just give me a minute to say goodbye to my friends."
Eric nodded his agreement and slid into the driver's seat of his car murmuring, "Not long now, kids." Toby gave a derisive snort. Worried he was going to fall asleep completely, Eric waited impatiently for his rescuer to return, but Thomas was true to his word and returned within a couple of minutes, holding a box in front of him.
The SUV's hazard lights flashed and Thomas got in. Within a couple of minutes Eric was following the vehicle down the road, cranking the window wide open to let the cool evening breeze blow across his face; anything to stay awake long enough to get to his destination.
After a couple of miles the vehicle in front started slowing down. Eric followed it as his guide turned left onto what, in the dark, appeared to be little more than a dirt road. He was grateful for Thomas' assistance because he knew he'd have had little chance of finding it himself.
They stopped outside a building and Eric looked eagerly at his new home but the lack of light made it impossible to see much in the dark, despite the lights from the two vehicles. Thomas got out of his vehicle and walked towards Eric. Switching off the engine, Eric got out of the truck, trying and failing to suppress yet another yawn.
"We're here," Thomas said in his deep drawl. Any other time Eric might have found it sexy; now he just wanted to hit the hay. First though, the dogs needed to stretch their legs and they all needed some food.