Title: Weight of the World
Author: Riley Hart & Devon McCormack
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Page Count: 241
“The world’s an awfully big thing to carry by yourself.”
Zack lost his job, his apartment, and his hope, which is why he ends up on the roof of a high rise, certain that one final step will solve his problems. But a mysterious stranger named Rob happens to be on the roof that night too. He talks Zack down, convincing him there’s still hope left in the world. Zack thinks maybe he’s right, which is why he’s shocked when he turns on the news the next morning to find out Rob jumped himself. Disturbed and confused, he searches for answers, starting with Rob’s brother Tommy Rayburn.
It’s been Tommy’s job to take care of his brother since they were kids, taking the blows from their father so Rob wouldn’t have to. Tommy thought he could protect him, even if it meant carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Considering Rob threw himself off a building, he obviously couldn’t.
Then he meets Zack, a friend of Rob’s who’s suspiciously evasive about how they knew each other. But they’re both grieving and determined to find out why Rob jumped. Answers don’t come easily, and soon they’re soothing each other with sweat-slicked, passionate encounters. Hot as things get in the bedroom, it doesn’t take them long to realize there’s more between them than mind-blowing sex and their pain. But the heaviness is still there, threatening to pull them under, and if they can’t open up with each other to lighten the load, the weight just might be enough to crush them both.
Chapter One: ZACK
The white button on the doorbell offers me hope of finding answers to questions that have haunted me for the past week. I stand facing the door, staring at it, but as much as I try, I can’t make myself lift my arm.
Just press it.
But if I do, what am I supposed to tell this guy? I can’t tell him how I found him…why I found him. That’s not something he’ll want to hear, and it’s definitely not something I want to share.
I wait in the open walkway between the apartments on the second floor, a cool breeze rushing through and giving me goosebumps. Although I wonder if there is a breeze at all or if these goosebumps are really just me freaking out because of what I’m about to do.
Stupidest idea ever.
As I turn toward the stairs to head back to my car, the memory of Rob’s face—that serene expression as he soothed me, as he gave me hope—stops me in my tracks. I recall his eyes, like chestnuts shimmering with moonlight. Those eyes gave me hope that there might be a reason to keep on living.
I can’t walk away. I need answers, and this is my only chance of ever finding them.
I ring the doorbell and hear a chime within the apartment.
My muscles tense as I force myself to stand still and wait.
I wait and wait.
Maybe the guy’s not home. I ring again, but again no one comes.
I walk to the window between his door and the neighboring unit and peer inside through sheer white curtains.
A chandelier illuminates a dark-walnut-colored dining table placed beside the window. In a living area on the far side of the room, a couch and loveseat are set up adjacent to each other across from a wall-mounted TV. On the wall opposite the TV, there’s a bookshelf stuffed with books. It’s the messiest part of what I can see. Books are stacked all around, as though he just can’t find enough space for all his reading material.
Must be nice to be able to crack a book open whenever he wants.
No sign of anyone inside.
I consider ringing the doorbell again. In case the guy’s asleep in his room. But I just need to leave.
Someone grips my arm, and I’m yanked away from the window.
“You fucking asshole.” A deep voice comes from behind me.
“What the fuck?” I ask.
My body tenses up, and I’m ready to kick this guy’s ass. As I turn, I see those eyes. The same chestnut eyes as Rob’s. The image of those eyes and his adorable smirk returns to me. I remember seeing them on the morning news the following day when they flashed his picture on the screen.
This must be his brother, Thomas.
He fishes into his pocket with his free hand, retrieves a key, and unlocks the door to his apartment.
He’s taller than his brother, his charcoal-black hair several shades darker. His broad shoulders stretch his button-up, the short sleeves sculpting around his thick arms—bulky with well-defined biceps and triceps. Though he’s physically different than Rob in so many ways, there are similarities in his face, part of which is concealed behind his full, trimmed beard.
After he opens the door to his apartment, he drags me inside.
“So you’ve been doing this all by yourself, huh?” he asks.
What the fuck is he talking about?
When we reach the living area, he shoves me onto the couch and pulls out his cell.
He keeps his eyes on me, like he’s waiting for me to make a move, but I’m still just staring at him, shocked by the similarities between him and his brother. He starts to dial, but stops.
“This building is full of hardworking people,” he says. “The nice things we have, we have because we’ve worked our asses off to get them. Adeline Channing, the one who you stole the jewelry from, she didn’t keep them because they were worth a damn. She kept them because they were passed down to her. They meant more to her than some cash she could have gotten from a pawn shop for them. And Malcom Fisher—you took the video games and consoles from him—he doesn’t fucking play video games. He keeps those for his girl, who has Down syndrome. He only gets to see her a few times a month because he works his goddamn ass off at the post office so he can afford to live in a nice place with a spare bedroom she can stay in whenever she comes to visit.”
He thinks I’m some neighborhood thief? Considering I’m in a trucker’s cap and a faded, dirt-stained Braves T-shirt and I haven’t shaved for almost a week, I guess that’s not an unfair judgement.
“It’s too late to defend yourself, buddy,” Thomas says. “You’re going to jail for this, and you’re going to tell the cops who the fuck you sold this shit to so they can track it down and give it back to their rightful owners.”
He starts to dial again but assesses me. Looks me over, and I’m not sure what he’s doing, but once again, I’m captivated by those eyes that haunt me. Those eyes that remind me so much of Rob’s.
His stern expression softens, as though he isn’t looking at me as a thief anymore. The red in his cheeks diminishes.
“Fuck,” he mumbles. “How old are you? Mid-twenties?” He doesn’t wait for my response. “You have any idea what a record can do to you, kid? You know what this is going to lead to? You end up in jail and then whatever life you might have had a chance at isn’t even an option anymore.”
He stares at his phone. Then back at me. Sighing, he shakes his head. He raises his phone in front of him, and I hear a snap.
“There,” he says. “I have a picture of you, so if you keep this up, I’m gonna show it to the cops, and they’ll find you. You got that? Now just get out of here and don’t keep wasting your fucking life.”
As he gazes at me, he looks sad. Like he isn’t thinking of me, but his recent loss.
“I didn’t come here to steal anything,” I say. “I um…I knew…”
I can’t get his name out. Rob. I knew Rob. Why did I think this was a good idea?
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how much you’d look like him.”
His expression softens even more. He doesn’t look embarrassed by the mistake he made. Just sad, as though he’s doing everything he can to keep from totally losing his shit right now.
His gaze wanders and settles as a long, awkward silence stretches between us. He puts his hand over his mouth. Like he’s trying to keep himself from saying anything. Like he’s trying to keep himself from showing how he feels. He takes a deep breath, and as he removes his hand, says, “Wanna drink?”
Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.
She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine, while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.Website GoodReads More Reviews Facebook Twitter
Website GoodReads More Reviews Facebook Twitter
A good ole Southern boy, Devon McCormack grew up in the Georgia suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting worlds and characters that allow him to live out whatever fantasy he chooses. Devon is an out and proud gay man living with his partner in Atlanta, Georgia.