Home > Firefly Lane (Briar County #1)

Firefly Lane (Briar County #1)
Author: Riley Hart

 


CHAPTER ONE

 


Monroe


“We need to figure out a schedule for movies with goats. The season starts in a few weeks,” Dad said as they sat down for a Covington family Sunday dinner.

Like always, the whole crew was there: his parents, his three siblings—two with their spouses and children—and, of course, Roe’s best friend, Lindsey, and their son, Wyatt.

They all lived in the same town and saw each other all the time. Hell, whether it was full-time, part-time, or simply helping out whenever they could, most of the family worked at Covington Acres Farms. Still, they made their way to Mom and Dad’s house often to share a meal. To break that rule was to break Mama’s heart, and no one wanted that.

“We can talk about it after dinner,” Mama scolded.

“I have some movie ideas,” his sister, Jackie, replied.

The others jumped in with their thoughts on the goat activities—movies, yoga, and things like that—which was what the farm was known for.

Roe’s head spun just trying to keep up with everyone. It was always like that. They were quite the bunch and he loved it.

“Movies with goats is my favorite,” Lindsey replied from beside him. They’d been inseparable since they were kids. Everyone thought they’d grow up and get married, but once high school rolled around, Roe realized he was into the same kind of guys she was. Lindsey was the first person he’d told he was gay. He came out to his family his senior year, but she’d already known for two. Still, it didn’t matter that he was forty-five years old and had been openly gay since he was eighteen—most people still thought he and Lindsey would end up together.

Sometimes he thought his family believed it as well.

One might argue that was partly his and Lindsey’s fault since they’d had a child together, who was now thirteen. Really, though, they were just the closest of friends, who’d wanted to be parents and decided to make that happen together.

“Wyatt can help with whatever y’all need over the summer,” Roe said. When his son opened his mouth to respond, Roe cocked a brow. Wyatt grumbled but closed it again.

Roe gave his attention to Colby, his youngest sibling, as he rambled about the goats. He was the baby while Roe was the oldest. They were the two Covington kids who weren’t married, though Colby’d had a girlfriend for about a year and Roe figured they’d tie the knot soon.

That was just what you did in Harmony.

“Your mama can work on a schedule—ouch, woman.” Dad added the second part when Mama popped him on the hand with a spoon.

“I said after dinner. This is family time.”

“And this is a family farm,” Dad insisted, but he knew better, so he ended the conversation after that.

Once the food was on the table, they closed their eyes to say grace. It wasn’t something Roe did at home, only partaking during their family meal. Dad said the prayer, and then there was a chorus of amens around the table before they dug in—roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and all the fixins.

Dinner was loud. There was no way it couldn’t have been with fourteen of them. While some days it felt a little over-the-top, he’d missed it when he’d lived in DC.

Roe had left Harmony, North Carolina, right after high school, wanting to prove he wasn’t a small-town boy—well, and wanting the experiences of being a gay man in the city, but it had gotten old after a while. He’d made a good career for himself in finance, and he’d experimented with lots of men, some for a night, some long term. He’d even fallen in love, but he’d never forgotten his roots, the ones burrowed deep in Harmony, luring him back home. It was the decision to come back that lost him the man he’d thought he was going to spend the rest of his life with.

They finished dinner, then had the kids clean up—they knew not to fuss too much about doing chores—while the adults moved into the family room and finally got down to farm business.

Covington Acres had grown a lot from what his granddaddy had passed down to his dad. They had small crops, mostly sweet potatoes and other vegetables, and apple orchards behind the property. His brother Colby took care of most of that. The other men ran the livestock, while the women were responsible for all the family-oriented goat activities.

People purchased tickets to come out and watch older flicks they set up on the eastern pasture. It was like a drive-in, only visitors brought chairs and watched movies on the projector while feeding and playing with the animals. They ate that shit up, even came down from some of the bigger cities to watch a movie with a damn goat. Roe didn’t get it.

It was almost nine before they started to head out. They said their goodbyes, and he walked Lindsey and Wyatt to her car. Wyatt went back and forth between their places. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than it had been when he’d lived in DC and had only gone to Harmony a couple of weekends a month.

“Dad, you should come home with us and hang out a bit,” Wyatt said.

“You know you’re always welcome,” Lindsey added.

Roe thought about it for a moment, but he was dead on his feet. “I know, but I’m beat. Gotta be up early in the morning. Another night.”

“Ah, come on,” Wyatt pleaded.

His insistence surprised Roe. It wasn’t that he and Wyatt weren’t close and didn’t spend a lot of time together, because they did. He just didn’t typically beg Roe to go home with him and his mama. Maybe he needed to talk to his dad about something. “You wanna come with me?” They were pretty lax in how they did things. Wyatt knew both Roe’s place and Lindsey’s were his homes and he could stay wherever he wanted. “You’ll have to come into town with me in the morning or hang out at the house until your mama can pick you up.” Lindsey lived close to downtown Harmony, and Roe’s place was farther out. At hers, it was easier for Wyatt to head out and meet up with friends.

“Nah, it’s okay. I’m supposed to hang out with Alec tomorrow.”

“All right, buddy. See you later, then.” Roe hugged him and kissed the top of his head before doing the same to Lindsey. He waited until they climbed into her Honda and pulled away before heading over to his truck.

He could make the drive home with his eyes closed. He could drive anywhere in Harmony that way. He knew every inch of the place, every fishing hole and swimming spot. Every park, farm, and anything else in town and most of Briar County. He didn’t know how he’d ever thought he could leave this for good. It was burrowed too deep inside him, part of what made Roe…Roe.

Fuck, he was being oddly emotional tonight. Maybe it was time to make a drive into Asheville. He loved the town, and they had gay bars there. On the other hand, it wasn’t his favorite place to fuck. He often drove into Charlotte for that—more options. But the fifty-minute drive to Asheville was a whole lot easier to manage than the longer trip to Charlotte.

He pulled onto the gravel driveway leading to his house. He had ten acres, with a barn, stables, chicken coops, and his goat pens. The property backed up to woods with some trails, where he and Wyatt often went to ride dirt bikes or four-wheelers.

To the right of the house, past the barn, was a small two-bedroom cabin. It was supposed to be a mother-in-law suite or some shit. Roe didn’t have one of those, but he liked having the house there in case he ever needed it. Maybe one day Linds and Wyatt would move there. He liked the idea of them close, but another part of him wanted more for Lindsey. It surprised him she hadn’t gotten hitched. It was different for him. When he left DC, there weren’t a whole lot of options in Harmony—in most of Briar County, for that matter. He had a buddy in Chelsea, and there was a man he thought swung his way in Everett, but they were slim pickings.

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