(This Time Forever #2)
by Kelly Jensen
Date Released: November 13, 2018
About Renewing Forever
A neglected resort, a lost chance at love, and one last chance to renew forever.
Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.
Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.
But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.
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An Excerpt from Renewing Forever
Frank’s palms had started to sweat a little. He wasn’t necessarily a shy man. One couldn’t be, in his line of work. But he didn’t care for large crowds of people he was supposed to know—and didn’t. Charlie, being the man he was, immediately put his hands on Frank, dragging him away from the door, pulling him into a complicated hug arrangement, and guiding him down the hallway. All at once.
“Great to see you. Simon’s out back cleaning the grill. Apparently we’re not allowed to put meat on it until every part is shiny and disinfected.” Charlie shrugged. “I’ve tried explaining we’re only going to mess it up again, but you know Simon.”
Frank chuckled. Oh, yes. As he progressed through the house, he could see traces of his best friend elsewhere too. It was subtle, but noticeable to someone who knew of Simon’s need for order. Windows had been cleaned, curtains pinned back, walls repainted. Furniture rearranged and replaced.
“The house looks . . .”
“Clean,” Charlie finished for him.
“I was going to say very nice.”
“Did you know he can’t go to bed without doing the dishes?”
“I did know that, yes.”
Charlie rolled his eyes in a good imitation of his daughter. Or perhaps she’d learned the skill from him. Frank and Charlie had made it through to the kitchen at this point, the back half of which was missing, the gaping hole covered with gently flapping plastic sheeting. Through the plastic, Frank could see Simon out on the patio, bent over the aforementioned grill. He wore an apron, gloves that covered him to the elbow . . . and a face mask.
“Right?” Charlie grinned. “He’s one of a kind.”
And Charlie obviously adored him for that reason. In fact, Charlie fairly exuded the sort of emotions that usually had Frank cringing: love, contentment, happiness.
They stepped outside, Charlie calling out. “Simon!”
Simon glanced up and quickly pulled his face mask aside. “Frank.” He gestured at his gloved and aproned self. “I’d say hello properly, but I’m a little grimy.”
“Detailing the grill, apparently.”
“It hadn’t been cleaned properly in three years.”
“Perish the thought.”
Charlie was examining the grill plates stacked against the leg of the patio table. “Wow. These came out of there?”
“Mm-hmm.” And there it was, the same sappy expression painted all over Simon’s face: love, contentment, and happiness.
Frank’s stomach curled tight. Vital organs in his chest wanted to do the same. A deep sense of unwelcome rolled through him, pushing him back a step. He didn’t belong here. He wasn’t a part of this family.
He wasn’t a part of—
Simon cut short Frank’s roll into the pity pool by clanking something against the grill. “Just need to finish this last piece and I’ll come in.” Simon glanced at the bag and wine Frank still held. “You want to drop those off in the kitchen?”
“I’ll take them,” Charlie said. “Let you two catch up!” He smiled his brilliant smile at Frank, and though he still felt uncomfortable, Charlie’s pleasure in having him here was clearly evident.
Frank returned a smaller smile. “Thank you.” He passed off his goods and waited until Charlie had ducked inside the house before turning back to Simon. And couldn’t think of anything to say, which was absurd. This was his closest, dearest friend. Dressed in an apron and wearing a surgical mask.
“You look ridiculous.”
Simon chuckled softly, the mask puffing out a little. “I know. Makes Charlie happy, though.”
“Surely you don’t—”
“It’s not like that. I’d have worn one of those suits the CDC takes into disaster areas if I thought I could get away with it. This grill is a biological hazard. But knowing how much enjoyment he gets out of my odd quirks only makes them seem . . .” He shrugged. “I find I don’t care as much as I used to. Either that, or he simply makes me feel better about being me.”
“I’ve been here five minutes and already I want to throw up.”
“So that’s why you’re studying me like I’m something you found washed up on the beach.”
“I’ll have you know, I’ve discovered treasure on the sand at Cape May.” Everyone had a jar of milky glass and pretty shells tucked away somewhere, didn’t they?
Frank appraised him in all his Simon-ness and smiled. “I can’t fit you in my souvenir jar, but I’ll keep you nonetheless.”
Simon started laughing.
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
Learn more about the This Time Forever series on Riptide Publishing.
A Note from Kelly Jensen
Renewing Forever is the second of a series of standalone novels focused on older characters who think love has passed them by. Frank and Tom's story is a true second chance romance, reuniting childhood friends and first loves separated by an argument and thirty years of misunderstanding. I hope you enjoy reading about their renewed friendship and their plans for forever.
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly Jensen will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly
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To celebrate the release of Renewing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 17, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!