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Constructing The Soul (Souls of Chicago #5)
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Akio Forrest loved his life. He had an amazing job, great friends, supportive parents and was recently given the responsibility of heading up the Agape House project, the construction of a new facility for the Chicago-based center that helped LGBTQ teens. He knew it would be a huge undertaking, but being able to help more kids in need was something he and all his friends were willing to work hard for. Excited to begin the project, Akio was taken by surprise when he came face to face with strong, sexy and self-assured, Morgan Greene, the new contractor for the job.
Morgan Greene had always considered his life a good one. Born and raised in a small town in Tennessee by two loving parents, he owned a successful construction company. When circumstances in his personal life left him desperate for a change, he decided to leave his home and move to Chicago. The move would allow him to finally, live closer to his favorite cousins while also expanding his business. Never one to shy away from an adventure, Morgan was excited about starting the next chapter in his life. What he wasn’t expecting was meeting someone like Akio Forrest.
Working together to make the Agape House project a reality, Akio and Morgan soon realized that what was happening between them was much more than just a simple attraction. When outside forces bring past hurts and doubts to the forefront, the two men are left to wonder if the foundation they’d laid was strong enough, or if everything they’d worked so hard to build come crashing down around them?
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I parked my car outside of the building and looked up at what I was sure had been a productive manufacturing warehouse in its day, but had become nothing more than an empty shell as the years moved on. It wasn’t in the best part of Chicago either, which had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I pulled my phone from my pocket and double-checked the address that Landon had given me, just to be sure; I was definitely in the right place. Landon had mentioned that Carter and Ryan lived in one of the abandoned buildings and had fixed it up into a beautifully designed living space, but I was having trouble picturing anything beyond the broken windows and graffiti-covered walls.
I was half an hour early for my meeting, but there was no way I was going to wander around the creepy building by myself, so I stayed in my car and locked the doors. The fact that I was even there in the first place proved that there wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for Landon Greene. Not only was he my boss, but he was also my best friend. We’d met when I was working as a temp at the same agency as him. The two of us hit it off right away, quickly becoming friends and he’d confided in me that he was unhappy with his job as a talent scout. He’d wanted to not only discover up-and-coming musicians, he also wanted to take them under his wing and help them navigate their way through the music industry, so that they could reach their full potential.
Landon had finally made the decision to start his own agency that would allow him to do the things he wanted and when he asked me if I would be interested in joining him as his office manager, I’d jumped at the chance. It was exactly the kind of job I’d been looking for and Landon was more than generous with my starting salary and benefits package. The best part however, was that I would get to continue working with Landon; who was not only a wonderful boss, but an incredible friend.
Landon’s knack for recognizing raw talent had helped build his reputation and when he took over the management of Carter’s Creed, his business had skyrocketed. He quickly became one of the most sought-after music agents and had ended up having to hire more managers to help oversee the many bands that wanted to be signed on with his agency. Landon would never hand his brother’s band over to another manager though, so between preparing them for their second worldwide tour and wanting to spend more time with his fiancé, Micah, he had begun handing more of the responsibility over to me to help carry the load.
Part of that responsibility included a project that was near and dear to all our hearts, Agape House. Landon’s family had always been very involved with the center for LGBTQA youth and he’d gotten me involved as soon as we’d become friends. Rylie, known to the rest of the world as Rocko, was the drummer for Carter’s Creed and had started volunteering there as part of his recovery program from drug and alcohol addiction. Rylie then told Lachlan, his fiancé and owner of Golden Entertainment Studios, about the center and Lachlan decided that he needed to check it out for himself.
After meeting with the center’s owner, Matt, and seeing the amazing difference Agape House was making in the lives of local LGBTQA teens, Lachlan had agreed that it was a very special place indeed, but that it needed a lot of updating. Matt had explained to him that the center depended on fundraising and the kind donations of others to stay in operation and he’d admitted to Lachlan that it was often a struggle to keep their doors open from one month to the next, which unfortunately, left no funds for upkeep on the building.
Lachlan called a meeting with the band, along with several members of the Greene family and myself, to help come up with a plan to build a new facility for the center. Lachlan was going to pay for the new building, but he also wanted to set up a fund that would keep the center running for years to come without having to struggle to make ends meet. While they had enough money between all of them to fund everything themselves, they agreed that it would be better if the community were also involved in the effort, which would bring attention to the center and what it was they were doing for the youth of Chicago.
Ryan suggested that instead of building a brand-new facility, that they look into renovating one of the old warehouses near where he and Carter lived. He pointed out that space to build was limited in the thriving city. By using one of the old warehouses they would be able to expand the center and therefore help more kids in need. Everyone agreed with Ryan’s suggestion and then they began discussing fundraising ideas that would get the community involved.