Color Me In (Last Chance #2)(2)

By: Riley Hart

He still lived on the same property he’d grown up on, in his own house, but with a second driveway, from what he’d been told. Caleb didn’t know why that made him smile—the thought of Shane finding his own independence while still taking care of his mom, the person he loved most in the world.

She’d suffered from severe mental illness most of Shane’s life. He’d been her caretaker; he would have done anything for her. Not many people were as good as Shane.

When he pulled up, there was both a truck and a car in front of the small house. It was exactly the kind of place he could see Shane living in—rustic and simple. Homey, with dark wood and a small porch. Nerves gnawed at his bones as he sat in his Charger, letting it idle. His hand shook slightly, but Caleb ignored it, turned off his vehicle, and got out.

He pulled his aviators off as he bounded the stairs leading to Shane’s front door. There would likely be anger, and Caleb figured he had that coming. Or hell, maybe Shane didn’t give a shit. Maybe Caleb was overreacting and Shane had forgotten him years ago, but he knew one thing—he’d never forgotten his old friend.

Caleb rapped on the door. It was only a moment later that he heard a man call out, “Just a minute,” in a voice that didn’t sound like Shane’s. But then, he hadn’t heard Shane’s voice since he was a teenager, so what the fuck did he know?

The door opened. Caleb’s brows pulled together, and a knot twisted his gut. “Maxwell?” What the fuck was Maxwell Sullivan doing at Shane’s place?

He thought back to all the times he’d heard Maxwell and his friends give Shane shit when they were kids. All the times he’d tried to get them to leave Shane alone, without Shane knowing of course, because he would have hated Caleb sticking up for him. He was independent that way. And Maxwell had been a dickhead. One of Shane’s biggest bullies, yet now he was answering the door at his house?

“Holy shit,” Maxwell replied. “You’re who I think you are, right?”

Either his memory of their past was fucked, or a whole lot more had changed in Last Chance than he could have imagined…though he wasn’t sure why. People changed. Most of them weren’t who you thought they were. He knew he’d changed.

“I think so,” Caleb replied even though it was a stupid answer. “I’m sort of feeling like I might not know much right now.”

“Who is it, babe?” A sleepy voice came from behind Maxwell. The second he heard it, he knew it was Shane…and babe? He’d called Maxwell babe?

Maxwell pushed the door open farther, then turned to look behind him. Caleb somehow knew he had a supportive look on his face for Shane, and Jesus, what in the fuck had happened since he left? Maybe he wasn’t the only one who would have a story to share—though it looked like Shane’s was happier.

Caleb’s eyes caught Shane’s just as his old friend’s feet rooted to the floor. There was a brief moment of shock—of denial—and then, “Caleb? Holy shit, man. I can’t believe you’re here.” And then Shane was moving toward him. He pulled Caleb into a hug, wrapping his strong arms—that were a whole hell of a lot bigger than they had been the last time Caleb had seen Shane—around him.

He should have known that in some ways it would be this easy. When you shared a part of yourself with someone that no one else knew, that bond was hard to sever. But in other ways? Yeah, this would be fucking brutal. They had a lot to talk about; Caleb had a lot to apologize for, but the way Shane squeezed him, he hoped it would be okay.

“It’s so good to see you,” Caleb said into Shane’s neck. They parted, and he realized Shane had the same kind eyes he always had. There was a part of him that felt no time at all had passed. In the years since he’d left, he’d never had a friend who meant as much to him as Shane had.

“It’s good to see you too,” Shane replied.

“I’ll give you guys a few minutes,” Maxwell said, reminding Caleb he was there. He felt like rubbing his eyes to make sure he was seeing things correctly.

“Hey, no. It’s okay. You don’t need to go anywhere.” Shane put a hand on Maxwell’s back.