Heroes: Book Two
Young mechanic Andrew Campbell’s life couldn’t be better. He is about to restore a Ford Mustang with his dad before heading off on the ultimate cross-country road trip with his best friend, Tanner McKenzie.
But tragedy strikes, and Andrew’s life is shattered. Worried his family will be torn apart if he doesn’t step in, Andrew makes a tough choice between following his heart and doing what he needs to do to protect his little brother.
When Andrew pushes Tanner away, Tanner heads off on the planned trip alone. Once Tanner leaves town, his life takes a different path, and it’s ten years before he returns. Now a firefighter, he’s never forgotten his first love, and no one has ever taken Andrew’s place in his heart. He’s determined to see if Andrew feels the same way. He just hopes Andrew’s excited to see him, hopes that he’s available—and finally out—after all this time.
They might not have been ready to deal with emerging feelings years ago, but now might be the time for their second chance at love.
Ten years ago
THE FRONT door slammed shut with such force that the framed prints lining the hallway rattled with the vibration. “Sorry!” Josh’s voice carried into the small kitchen, followed by the usual thud of his backpack hitting the floorboards. Andrew exchanged a knowing grin with his dad across the island counter before placing the last of the apple he’d been slicing onto a plate. He pushed the plate loaded with chunks of cheddar and the cut fruit to his dad, who picked up the snack and turned to the doorway as Josh burst through.
“Hey. I’m home. What’s for dinner?” Josh grabbed the plate from his dad’s waiting hands and shoved a piece of apple into his mouth. This didn’t slow his conversation. “I got an A on the English quiz,” he mumbled through the fruit. “And you haven’t forgotten the game on Thursday night, have you?”
“Slow down and take a breath,” Richard Campbell said, an instruction he regularly gave his son.
Josh pulled a stool out and sat at the counter, where he proceeded to demolish the snack in record time.
Richard smiled and shook his head. “I have no idea where you put all that food. Must be hollow legs.” He looked at his other son. “I’m sure you never ate that much when you were fifteen.”
Josh looked Andrew up and down then snorted. “Yeah, right. Making up for it now, though, aren’t you?”
Andrew glanced up from the salad he was putting together. “Hey, I’ll have you know that this body is fueled with the perfect amount of food for a lean, mean, fighting machine.” At six foot two, Andrew was broad shouldered and well muscled thanks to the physical nature of his job as a mechanic. He was strong and proud of his fitness, although not obsessed.
Josh snorted again. “If you say so. Anyway, what’s for dinner?”
Andrew rolled his eyes at how oblivious his little brother could be. The garlic and tomato scenting the air, the chopped vegetables on the cutting board, and the pot of boiling water on the stove should have been a dead giveaway.
“We’re having pasta and salad. So why don’t you go and wash up while Andrew and I finish things here. Be back in ten so you can set the table, and then I want to hear about that quiz,” Richard said.
“Sure thing.” Josh slid off the stool and strode out the doorway.
“Don’t forget to pick up your stuff and take it to your room,” his dad called after him. “And bring your dirty laundry back with you.”
In the sudden peace of the kitchen, the two men finished preparing the evening meal. It was simple fare, but tasty and filling, and a chore they were used to doing side by side. Occasionally it was a time for quiet reflection; at others, Andrew and his dad discussed the important and not so important things of life. Either way, Andrew looked forward to spending these hours with his dad.
“How was the job today, son? Did you get to work on the Mustang?”
“Huh. I wish. 1985 Toyota Camry.” Andrew’s lip curled in disgust, but he smiled at his father’s understanding nod.
“Your time will come, Andrew. I know it seems you get a raw deal at the moment—”
“I do get a raw deal: all the shitty jobs.”
His dad pulled him against his shoulder in a quick sideways hug. “It won’t always be like that. You’ve paid your dues and you know your stuff. Things are bound to change. Just be patient.”
“I know. But I’m sick of being patient,” he said with a resigned sigh. “It’s not like I’m even the new guy anymore, but that doesn’t stop Harris from treating me like an idiot and giving me the basic jobs—oil changes and tires.” After his dad stepped away, Andrew raised the chopping board and used the knife to slide the sliced tomatoes and cucumber into the bowl of shredded lettuce. He dropped the board and knife into the sink using a bit more force than he intended. Andrew took a deep breath, and tried not to let his frustration show. “I’ll talk to him. Let him know that I need more of a challenge—I’m perfectly capable of doing anything the garage can throw at me. When Pete’s in charge, he allocates the tough stuff to me, so maybe he can put in a good word.”
His dad’s smile broadened at Andrew’s words. “That’s my boy. That’s the attitude.” His big hand closed over Andrew’s shoulder with a reassuring squeeze, and Andrew finally relaxed. He took another deep breath and exhaled through his mouth. There was no point getting worked up about it anyway. There were bigger problems in the world. It took only a couple more minutes to dress the salad, drain the spaghetti, and stir through the tomato sauce.
Andrew walked to the kitchen doorway and called down the hall. “Come on, Josh, get a move on. Everything’s nearly ready.”
It took only a minute for Josh to appear with an armful of sports gear that he tossed through the laundry door adjoining the kitchen. Josh preempted their father’s response. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll take care of it right after dinner. Okay?” Andrew chuckled at his little brother’s words.
Josh jostled for space in the overcrowded kitchen, gathering a handful of cutlery from the top drawer and three plates from the cupboard. He took them to the table while Andrew and his dad carried over the food. The kitchen wasn’t large but had just enough room to fit a round table and four chairs in the corner. A sliding glass door opened onto a paved outdoor entertaining area. The food preparation area itself consisted of U-shaped counters in a dull, olive green laminate, darker green cabinets, an electric stove and oven, plus the fridge. The sink overlooked the small but neat backyard.
They worked well as a team, ducking and weaving around each other in the cramped space until they were all seated in their regular places and the meal began in its usual fashion, with silence. Josh was permanently starving—a typical teenager with an active lifestyle—and food became his focus until the initial hunger was satisfied. It always amused Andrew to see his brother almost inhale his food. Andrew worked from early mornings until around three, followed by either a workout at the gym or a run, so he was usually famished too, despite a protein shake as he left work. Their dad didn’t get home until well after six most nights, and with Josh’s after-school activities, they often didn’t eat until late. But eating together as a family was one thing they’d always done and something their dad insisted on.
Like his brother and father, Andrew made his way through most of his pasta before opening the conversation. He placed his fork down on the side of the plate. “You know, I might not get to work on the ’Stang at all.”
His father looked up in surprise, but it was Josh who spoke. “But you’ve been talking about it for months. Why not? Isn’t Harris going to let you?”
“Don’t tell me they’ve decided to take it across town. Moffatt’s is the best,” his dad said.
“No, nothing like that, Dad. And Josh, I’m not sure about Harris, but I think it comes down to money. The car needs a hell of a lot of work and the owner can’t afford it, not when he has to pay for parts and labor. It’s a shame, though, because that car would do up great. She’s a beauty.”
“Maybe you could get a car and do it up yourself.” Josh looked at him with wide eyes. Andrew hated to burst his bubble.
“Yeah, maybe one day. But a car like that’s a bit out of my league.”
“But wouldn’t it be great for your trip? Imagine driving across the country in a car like that!” Josh’s excitement was contagious.
“You’re right, kiddo, it would be amazing. But the trip’s one of the reasons I can’t afford a new car. I need to save every penny for the time on the road.”
“That reminds me, Andrew, I grabbed a couple of new brochures for you from the travel agent—Florida and some information on the Grand Canyon, I think.” His dad managed a hardware store in town located on a strip with a number of other businesses, including Halls Ridge’s one and only travel agent. It had become a tradition for him to check out the latest brochures and bring them home to help Andrew with planning his route. He also found interesting magazine articles and liked to quiz everyone he knew about their vacations around the country. All the tips and pointers were relayed to Andrew. Sometimes Andrew wondered if his dad was more excited about the trip than he was, but either way, he loved being able to talk about it with his father.
“Thanks, Dad,” he said, nodding.
“Can I help you add it to the folder and the map?” Josh asked as he bounced in his seat. “Please?” Andrew laughed. Even at fifteen, Josh displayed a childlike enthusiasm that always brought a smile to Andrew’s face.
Andrew had gathered quite a collection of travel information. He and Josh highlighted places he wanted to visit and had created an evolving road map. Josh liked to be involved with the planning and spoke of taking a trip of his own one day.
“Sure, but we won’t do it until I’ve had a chat with Tanner and we’ve agreed on destinations.” Josh’s face fell. “Hey, Tanner’s coming on this trip with me, too, so he needs a say every step of the way. Plus I have a feeling you’ve got homework to do tonight.” Andrew raised an eyebrow at his younger brother and the eye roll he received in response told him he was right.
“And speaking of schoolwork,” his dad said, “tell me more about the English quiz.”
“I’ll get this cleared up while you guys talk.” Andrew excused himself from the table and took the dishes to the sink, which he filled with hot, soapy water. As he immersed his hands in the suds and washed up, he listened with half an ear to Josh’s excited babble about his good results, at the same time thinking of the trip he had planned. It might seem like a pipe dream at the moment, but it was soon to be very real.
In just six months’ time, he and his best friend Tanner would be leaving their jobs, loading the truck, and heading across the country on their trip of a lifetime.
THE SWEET pungency of garlic wafting through the air combined with the aroma of hot and spicy pepperoni with mushrooms—heaven. Andrew tried to watch his diet, conscious of his carbs and fat intake, but a weekly pizza was his one weakness. Meeting Tanner at the Pizza Place gave him an excuse to indulge while catching up with his best friend.
“Are you going to eat that?” Tanner indicated the remaining slice on the plate in the middle of the table. “Because if you don’t take it in the next ten seconds, it’s mine.”
“Hey, hands off,” Andrew said as he snatched the piece of pizza and placed it on the empty plate in front of him.
Tanner held his hands up, palms facing Andrew, in mock surrender. “All right. It’s all yours. I wouldn’t want to come between you and your pizza.” Andrew warmed at the familiarity of the words. They’d been coming here on Thursday nights for years and the routine never changed. Tanner always gave Andrew more than his fair share of the pizza, and Andrew took it, but not without a bit of lighthearted banter.
“You know, you could do with a bit of fattening up,” Andrew said, taking in his friend’s lean frame.
Tanner just raised his eyebrows and kept on eating. It was another routine with them—Andrew’s friendly teasing about Tanner’s looks—but in reality, Tanner’s frame had started to fill out over the last year, something Andrew had begun to notice. He’d also noticed other people looking and assumed Tanner wouldn’t have any trouble attracting a guy, if that’s what he was looking for. Although Andrew knew Tanner’s preferences, he was relieved Tanner didn’t share any other details.
Andrew gave Tanner a once-over as he filled his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. At six feet, Tanner had the body of a swimmer, tall and lean with sleek muscles. Andrew thought he moved like a swimmer too. He was smooth and graceful, and purposeful in his movements. Even now, as he brought the pizza to his mouth, he did so with slender hands and delicate fingers—fingers Andrew found himself staring at while Tanner sucked the grease from them. Tanner pulled the last digit from his mouth with a soft popping sound and smacked his lips. “Yum.” He looked at Andrew. “What?”
Andrew tore his gaze away from Tanner’s shining lips, cleared his throat, and turned the conversation to the trip they’d been discussing before the meal arrived.
“Dad brought home some more brochures last night. I think he’s more excited about the trip than we are.”
“Nah. Not possible.” Tanner grinned. “I can hardly wait. Beginning of summer and we’re outta here, man. Six months. I’m counting the days. Six months till freedom. Bring it on.”
Tanner’s enthusiasm was as infectious as always, and Andrew couldn’t help but smile at him. The background music in the restaurant switched over from a slow track to some Italian mambo track, the upbeat tempo matching his mood. Andrew stacked the plates on the table and moved them to the side, making room for the folder he placed in front of Tanner. He then took the map tucked into the back cover, unfolded it, and spread it across the red-and-white tablecloth.
“Dad got another brochure on the Grand Canyon, but we’ve already covered that.” He used his finger to point to Arizona. It was going to be the destination for an overnight hike that would test their skills. They were used to hiking around Halls Ridge but not to the extremes of temperature and lack of water in the canyon. “We haven’t really spoken about Florida yet.” As he spoke, Andrew took a glossy foldout from his pocket and flattened it to the table. “See here—”
“Hold up, Drew.” Tanner reached across and stilled Andrew’s hand as it hovered over the map. “I have a wild idea. Radical, yes? But how ’bout we don’t plan everything to the nth degree and just play it by ear.”
Tanner’s hand was surprisingly soft where he held Andrew’s hand. Andrew expected roughened skin from Tanner’s work as a mechanic. He blushed as he became aware of Tanner waiting for him. “Huh?”
“You know. Just arrive and go with the flow. Stop when something’s interesting, and move on when it’s not.”
Andrew dragged his thoughts back to the conversation as Tanner released his hand. “But how will we know how long we should plan for? Or what we need to take? What if we’d be best to book something in advance or we miss it? I’d hate to get all the way home and realize we should have stopped somewhere.”
“Don’t you ever want to take a chance? Throw caution to the wind?” Tanner tilted his head and looked at him, but Andrew knew he’d never feel relaxed or comfortable without some sort of road map and plan.
Tanner laughed. “It’s okay, Drew, we can have a plan. I’m lucky I’ve got you to do all the preparation and make sure this trip is everything we want it to be. But maybe, just maybe, I’m not saying you have to, but just think about relaxing a bit? We don’t have a deadline and can take as long as we like to see the country.”
“We can. Take as long as we like, that is. But the money’s going to run out sometime. I know we’ve both put away a bit, but it’ll only go so far.”
“And then we’ll be on even more of an adventure.” Tanner’s eyes gleamed as he winked at Andrew. “Just imagine, we can camp by the roadside and get laboring jobs. We can pick fruit, sow grain, shovel horseshit.” He threw his head back in laughter, his full belly laugh giving Andrew no option but to join in.
“Idiot,” Andrew said as he tossed a sugar packet from the container on the table at Tanner.
Although he knew Tanner was only joking, the idea of being stranded in the unknown without any money gave Andrew the chills.
Tanner eventually stopped laughing and sat back upright in his seat before taking a long swallow of his Coke and pulling the Florida brochure toward him.
“Okay. Show me where you suggest we visit. I assume we need to decide so Josh can put it in the book?”
Andrew nodded. “Yeah. I said he could do it on the weekend, once we’d discussed it.”
“Cool. He’s a great kid. I love what he’s done with the book already.”
Andrew watched Tanner flip through a few pages that were a mix of neat handwritten notes and immaculate cutouts from the various brochures—places to visit, things to see, costs, durations for each destination, what to pack, and all manner of other information. Information Andrew had painstakingly researched and written into the book, but Tanner didn’t need to know that. He didn’t need to know the countless hours Andrew spent on that notebook, on their dream. Andrew had taken note of every place Tanner had mentioned when they discussed the trip and made sure he’d included activities he knew Tanner would enjoy. The notebook had become a labor of love.
And soon the already full itinerary expanded yet again as they discussed alligators, beaches, theme parks, and fishing.
Andrews Promise is the second book in the Heroes series by Nic Starr. While this is part of a series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel with ease.
Andrew Campbell is a young mechanic who loves his job. He is content with his life. He is about to restore a Ford Mustang with his Dad before heading off on a cross-country road trip. However, when tragedy strikes Andrew gives up his dream of a cross country trip to raise his younger brother. But in the process, he pushes his best friend away.
Tanner McKenzie heart was broken when Andrew pushed him away. He went on the cross country trip alone. He started a life for himself but now he is back after being gone for ten years. Tanner wants to start over with Andrew to at least be friends again or more.
The connection between Tanner and Andrew is intense. You could feel the love between the two of them. I am surprised that Tanner did not see that Andrew pushed him away all those years ago so he was not tied down like Andrew was going to be. You have to admire Andrew for stepping up like he did. There are not many people who would even if they were in the position to do it.
I found this book well written with a unique plot. I enjoyed how the author used the flashbacks to complete the story. It was done in a way that did not detract from the storyline, or frustrate the reader. The main characters and the secondary characters were enthralling. While the ending was a little predictable, I enjoyed the overall message this book tells. I had a hard time putting this book down. Overall, this was a very wonderful book and I hope to see these characters again in the future.
Review by Victoria
When I read and reviewed Charlie’s Hero one of the things that caught my attention was Andrew’s commitment to his brother Josh. Then knowing that the author Nic Starr was going to write his story I knew all bets were off, I wanted to read it right away.
I have to say, I am SO happy that Bec asked to review Andrew’s Promise.
Andrew and Tanner are friends and have been for a long time. When the circumstances of Andrew and Josh’s dad passing away, things change because feelings started to get involved and the inevitable happened.
The thing about their story is that we get the background of what transpired ten years back and the explanation behind the separation.
When Tanner comes back into Andrew’s life …. It is with the purpose of reclaiming the man he has always loved, this is no secret, but the way He approaches Andrew is a beautiful thing.
Andrew finally understands he needs to decide to be happy and let his feelings do for him what he couldn’t have done ten years back.
This is an excellent read … a story about knowing that some sacrifices are difficult but after all, one day … destiny will be on your side when you keep your promises.
Book 2 of Nic Starr’s Heroes series is equally as fantastic as book 1. Andrew’s Promise takes us 10 years in the past in a 2 part, past to present story. It’s an emotional, heart soaring tale. We follow Andrew, Josh’s brother, and his best friend Tanner as they discover themselves and each other. A love story a decade in the making. Part 1 is the past part 2 is the future. No time jumps people, so don’t worry! Tanner is a pure delight. He holds Andrew up, supports and loves him until tragedy tests their strength. I loved how this book showed that sometimes we are on the right path but there are detours we need to take to reach our destination. Home is still the same address, getting there isn’t always easy, but always worth it. I cried my eyes out both in sadness and in joy. This is a marvelous series. Each book has linked characters brilliantly and I cannot wait to read book 3!!
Undercover Boyfriend by Jacob Z. Flores eBook
Finding Family by Connie Bailey eBook
Fire and Snow by Andrew Grey eBook
Wolfsong by TJ Klune eBook
Bombs and Guacamole by BA Tortuga eBook
Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me by Anna Martin eBook
The Cattle Baron's Bogus Boyfriend by Nicki Bennett eBook
Absinthe of Malice by Rhys Ford eBook
Power Play by Avon Gale eBook
A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes eBook
Requires site membership
A King and a Pawn by Liv Olteano Paperback