Charity Starts at Home

Charity Starts at Home by Zahra Owens

Book: Charity Starts at Home by Zahra Owens Read Free Book Online
Authors: Zahra Owens
Tags: M/M romance
Charity Begins at Home
    Quinn closed the heavy door behind him and turned the lock. His hands were encased in heavy mittens, but he couldn’t feel his fingers any more. Maybe he should have invested in a new coat this year? Camille had been telling him for years now that his threads were going to fall off his back soon, but he wouldn’t hear of it. The last few years, the winters had been mild—one of the perks of global warming, he always joked—but this year, winter came early and would probably stay around for longer than the years before. Quinn couldn’t wait for spring. Or at the very least, winter sales.
    Below-freezing temperatures also meant a guaranteed full house. Not that there were ever any free beds when it was summer either, but Quinn hated turning people away, especially since this year, for some reason, he saw a lot more single dads with young children. Although he’d grown up in homeless shelters and was now working in one, the worst part of the day was when he had to close the door at night and tell all the people still in line where the other shelters were, knowing they’d probably be too late there as well. He knew all too well what it was like to sleep on cold concrete when it was snowing.
    Luckily, the heater inside the small front office was roaring and Quinn slowly felt sensation return to his fingers as he held them over the furnace.
    “Quinn, darling, your skinny ass is going to crack one day. You’re still wearing the coat I gave you five years ago? I hope you’re not waiting for another father of mine to die?”
    Camille managed the shelter’s kitchen, among other things, and was deliciously irreverent of everything and everyone. You always knew where you stood with her, though.
    “You know me, Cammie. There are always other people who need it more.”
    Camille shook her head, motherly concern in her eyes. “As long as you don’t get sick, darling. Nobody takes care of these people as well as you.”
    They both looked up when the clanging chime of the front door bell echoed through the small office.
    “I’ll get it,” Camille said. “You warm up first.” A few moments later, she returned. “Damn, it’s cold out!”
    “What did they want?” Quinn asked absentmindedly, finally taking his mittens and coat off.
    “There’s a man at the door who wants to see you. Handsome,” she remarked teasingly. “Sort of a distinguished older gentleman.”
    Quinn’s eyebrows flew up toward his hairline. “Distinguished older gentleman? Don’t think I know any of those. Did he give a name?”
    Camille nodded. “Haden Wincott.”
    Quinn chuckled. “He’s not old. Don’t you remember him? He worked here for a week during the summer. Did community service for a DUI.”
    Camille shook her head. “Must have been during my summer vacation. I would have remembered him.” She flashed a knowing smile. “I better go get dinner ready. He’s waiting for you in the hallway.”
    As soon as Camille left, Quinn’s smile disappeared. Why was Haden here? He’d been one of many “volunteers” who had passed through the shelter in the last year. One of their benefactors was a judge who liked to send people convicted of drunk driving to work in the shelter as part of their sentence. He figured that working with the homeless and seeing what alcohol could do to a person was a good way of assuring they wouldn’t do it again. Most of the people were white collar, privileged professionals who came in for a week, did the absolute minimum necessary and disappeared again. Since most of them barely interacted with the shelter’s regulars, Quinn seriously doubted if that week was enough to bring them to their senses. Haden had been no different. He’d swept floors and poured coffee, but Quinn had never seen him sit down with any of the homeless. Like most people, he’d been reluctant to even make eye contact, let alone touch one of the homeless men. Not that most of their patrons wanted

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