In the Gray Read Online Christina Lee

Categories Genre: M-M Romance Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 75
Estimated words: 71303 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 357(@200wpm)___ 285(@250wpm)___ 238(@300wpm)

I moved to a new city for a librarian job at the university, and though I’m enjoying the change, it does little to dispel the dull grayness of my world. When my dog, Oscar, forms an instant bond with a man living in a yellow tent, my surroundings begin to feel more vibrant and full of possibility. I’m first drawn to Lachlan’s soulful eyes, and then to his kind nature and resilient spirit. I want to know more about him, and Oscar seeking him out on our daily walks provides me with that opportunity.

One split-second decision leads to losing everything and living on the streets. Still, I’d choose my current conditions over being harmed by someone I loved. The only bright spot in my struggle to survive is the handsome stranger and his dog. Despite how compassionate Foster seems, I don’t want any handouts. I need to stay safe and stand on my own two feet after what I’ve been through. But when I find myself in a bind, I allow Foster to rescue me, if only for a night.

Our circumstances couldn’t be more different, and yet I’m drawn to Foster in ways I hadn’t expected. When our attraction skyrockets, Foster assures me that finding comfort in each other doesn’t hurt anyone. But when it becomes something deeper—meaningful conversations and mind-blowing intimacy—it occurs to me that I might’ve met the right man at the wrong time. Story of my life.

*CW: Discussions and depictions of domestic violence, mental health struggles, and experiencing homelessness.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************



Spring had finally arrived, which made being in the elements more bearable, at least until the heat scorched the concrete beneath me. I’d been houseless for the better part of a year, couch surfing at first and then living on the streets in downtown Cleveland when those options ran out. I had no family, no friends, and no place to call my own. Not anymore. All I had was my tent and the clothes on my back, plus a few extra amenities.

It was still a bit nippy this morning, so I pulled my blanket tighter, hoping to sleep for an additional hour before more businesses opened their doors. I’d tossed and turned until well after midnight because of how noisy the surrounding restaurants and bars got on weekend nights, and soon enough I’d need to pack it up and get out of the path of foot traffic.

When I heard a noise outside my tent, I stayed still. Sometimes drunk guys tried to mess with me, but that was normally after closing hours. Surely, they were all tucked into their comfortable beds in the suburbs by now.

The brushing sound against the nylon wall happened again, so I carefully unzipped the tent flap to peek out, and was relieved when all I saw was black fur. I hoped the mutt didn’t decide to take a piss on my makeshift house because it would be hard to get the smell out. It was difficult enough keeping my belongings safe and clean.

I breathed out when the dog and his owner passed by me, the woman giving me the side-eye. I was used to the pity or annoyance in strangers’ expressions, so I kept to myself—mostly. I didn’t panhandle like others did and not because it was beneath me. Everyone had different reasons for living like this—or should I say, surviving. I’d trained my body to eat only the one meal a day provided by a nearby shelter and rationed their donations well enough to keep me chugging along.

When a dog on a leash rounded the corner, I couldn’t help noticing his owner, a handsome stranger with a gloomy expression, like just the effort of walking weighed him down. Or maybe he had a lot on his mind. I knew the feeling well.

They didn’t look familiar, so maybe they were new to the area or the man had changed their route. When the dog began tugging toward my tent, I stiffened.

Christ, not another one.

“Oscar,” the owner warned as the dog made a beeline toward me. What the hell?

I considered zipping up and hiding, but his tongue was wagging along with his tail, which told me he was friendly. I couldn’t help being curious about what would happen next. Dogs normally inspected my tent, but this one seemed intent on inspecting me.

He tugged so hard that his owner struggled to hang on, and I heard him swear under his breath. On instinct, I stretched my arm out so the dog could sniff my knuckles.

“Sorry about this. He seemed determined to get up close and personal with you.”

It was hard not to notice his crisp khakis and button-up white shirt, even as his expression had turned to exasperation.

“I don’t mind.” I smiled as the dog licked my palm. “He’s a good-looking boy. Golden retriever?”

“Irish setter.”

“Aha.” I brushed my hand down his back, smoothed the red fur that was a close match in color to my late mother’s hair. I’d inherited my father’s light eyes and dark hair, though Mom always said she could see a hint of auburn in mine in direct sunlight. Likely to make me feel better. “Makes sense.”

“Thanks for being cool about it,” he said, releasing a steadying breath.

“You don’t see many of his kind around.” I scratched behind his ears as he tickled my cheek with a flick of his tongue. “You must’ve been bred. Bet you’d do well at the AKC dog show—top of the class.”

The owner’s eyebrows ticked upward, maybe because he hadn’t expected a man like me to hold any sort of relevant conversation. But I’d seen it too many times to count. I twisted the braided-leather bracelets on my wrist, something I did when I was nervous or irritated.

When the man seemed to surreptitiously take in my ragged beard and grown-out hair, I couldn’t help wondering what he saw when he looked at me. He had the advantage of a clean shave and a shower, so it was a bit unfair.

But what did I care what a random stranger thought of me? My injuries had healed. I glanced down at my banged-up fingers—well, mostly healed. I probably wouldn’t be able to hold shears steady again. But despite some bleak days living on the street, I’d gotten my life back. I couldn’t give that up, not after what I’d been through. No doubt the solitude affected me at times, but it was worth it for the freedom.