An Alisa Release Day Review: Larry Boots, Exterminator by John Inman

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Kenny Long is living a new life. Blinded in an accident, he has taken control of his unexpected reality the best way he can, and it’s working out better than he hoped.

Of course Larry Boots doesn’t know any of that. All he sees is a beautiful man sitting on a park bench.

Larry has a few problems of his own: his mother. His job. The lack of romance in his life.

His job. In the course of that job, Larry strikes up a friendship with Kenny. The next thing he knows, he’s so head-over-heels in love, even his mother doesn’t seem so bad. Of course his career is still a problem, but he’s working on that. Hopefully he’ll have the problem resolved before the man he’s being paid to murder succeeds in murdering him first.

And before the man he loves finds out he’s a cold-blooded killer.

This was an entertaining story.  I believe the last book I read by this author was more serious but this one has a playful tone throughout the whole thing, even when Larry is on the job which I appreciated and I think worked perfect for this book.

These two meet by chance but don’t let that stand in their way, especially Larry.  I loved their connection from the beginning and even when Kenny finds out the truth about Larry it doesn’t really deter him.

We saw this story through Larry’s eyes which is where the playful tone comes from but he is observant which allows us to read the other characters a bit better.  I hated how hesitant Kenny was and how sure that no one would want him long term but I felt Larry did an amazing job of showing him and standing by him even when Kenny tried to push him away.

The cover art by Kanaxa is great, I love the visual of where Larry and Kenny met.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 191 pages

Published: June 4, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-224-2

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Prescription for Love (Road to Blissville #7) by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Aimee Nicole Walker always creates interesting, gorgeous, sweet men who spend a lot of time between the sheets. Warning: personal fans are required. Proceed with caution. LOL

When Trent Love comes back from a stint with Doctors Without Borders, the sexy pediatrician is ready to take up where he left off flirting with the big, handsome fireman, Tucker Garrison. Not knowing where the good doctor went after their initial dinner date left Tucker feeling down and lost. He hadn’t cared for the doctor’s choice of restaurant. It was too upper class and pretentious and led Tucker to believe the doc was invested only in material wealth and not in good old middle-class values.

But he was wrong, and when Trent comes back, he sets out to prove it. That turns out to be easy as the two actually get along quite well. In fact, it’s pretty evident to all who know them, including Tucker’s outrageous Grammie, who raised him, that these two belong together. And they seem well on their way to forever when Trent’s obnoxious, petty parents stick their noses where they don’t belong and inadvertently discover something that turns Tucker’s world upside down.

One of the only lifelines he allows himself once the shock wears off is his connection to his hearthis doc, always there with a helping hand. The story is sweet with the requisite amount of angst and opposition, but overall, it’s fun and humorous and a lighthearted MM romance. A few earlier Blissville characters weave in and out of the story, but this can certainly be read as a standalone (as I have done) without any confusion.

The cover by Jay Aheer features a gorgeous man in medical scrubs, his shirt held in one hand to show off ripped abs. Very attention-getting.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 223 pages
Published May 18th 2019 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
ASINB07RV5CGY1
Series Road to Blissville #7

Road to Blissville Series

Unscripted Love

Someone to Call My Own

Nobody’s Prince Charming

Smoke in the Mirror

Inside Out

Prescription for Love

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Keeping Cade (Crave Club #1) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Related to the Men Of Honor and Phoenix Inc. series, you can read this without reading the other seven books, as there is plenty of recapping, (over two dozen characters are mentioned in the first few chapters alone), but be prepared for the plot to be connected. I picked this because I remember reading said series a long time ago. This first paragraph is usually where I try and give a little synopsis of the plot, so here goes: Cade, a professional fighter working for the Russian mob, dates the wrong man, a spook named Courier. Courier then blackmails him into doing sexual things or else he will kill one of his best friends, a Delta Force active duty serviceman now in Africa. Of course, the BDSM club named Crave, which he is forced to go to, is run by ex-military men who run a mercenary group named Gray Ops. Is he an unwitting honeypot to get to the owners Tegan and Vic, or is something else happening? I am going to give you a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read anymore. It’s also a major trigger, so I’m not even going to feel bad about it. Be prepared for multigenerational child abuse happening here.

At this point, I will say the erotic parts can survive without the plot, but the plot is pure angst and sex–bonding over past trauma and lust. At first, it’s difficult to emotionally engage, because the characters are like caricatures. The men teeter between heavy testosterone “f*ck or fight,” (the author’s words, not mine) hyper-masculinity, to swoony heroes in a bodice ripper. I’ve been reading m/m romance for almost a decade now and I think my expectations of this genre are much higher. Also, fairly or not, it’s difficult not to compare this to other works by this author that are much better, especially since most of her characters are very similar. The depth always seems to come from the characters having been tortured during their military service, or being abused in foster care, and suffering from PTSD. Then you get hit in the gut by all of the child abuse, both current with a character who is a minor, and past with several main characters. That’s not even talking about the paedophile ring and the human trafficking.

This starts out well, if you don’t mind sexy dub-con, but Tegan and Vic go into alpha protective dom mode immediately after one scene with Cade, a complete stranger, and start acting like they are life partners. This is done knowingly, with a nod and wink, as werewolf mates are referenced by an old friend. Cade, a former Ranger and Delta Force member, and professional street fighter, is treated like a helpless kitten. I also never like it when books use former sexual abuse as the reason people like BDSM–because they are damaged and then let people continue to abuse them, but it’s okay because they need it. It’s so busy recapping the past and writing in various new characters and topics that can be revisited in the future, that this plot suffers. This triad is compared to two other triads from the previous series as well, so I guess it’s an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The rest of the book is finding a way for this threesome to get closer, exploiting all of their past pain, to build up to a rescue that isn’t all that exciting. I had a difficult time rating this because it has so much going on that it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well or believably. I know there are fans who will love this book because they get to see some of their past favorites, but for me having a few walk on roles wasn’t enough.

The cover art design is by Croco Designs. I would guess this is Cade and the red cover is evocative of an emergency or danger, but this really doesn’t give you anything else about the story.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published May 24th 2019 by Stephanie Tyler LLC
ASINB07S7KDVLX
Edition Language English
Series Crave Club #1

An Ashlez Review: Cold Light – Criminal Delights: Assassins by Michelle Frost

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Rating : 4 stars out of 5

Being an assassin wasn’t something Lexington Campbell ever envisioned for himself, but after spending eight years doing just that, he’s prepared to take his place at the table of his father’s motorcycle club, The Iron Heretics.

Arden spends his nights dancing on stage at Spritz, one of St. Louis’s hottest night clubs, and waiting for Lex to pass back through town. After being orphaned young, he fears letting himself get too attached to the distant, bearded Lex, even after three years of inviting the man into his bed.

When Lex finds himself with a price on his head, he unknowingly pulls Arden into the darkness with him. When things aren’t what they seem, and enemies abound, will they find themselves still standing together in the cold light of day?

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Okay, I had one issue with this book – I LOVE MM reads and this one was steamy and really exciting and entertaining – but I HATE when in MM books literally every other character is gay, that doesn’t sit with me – one friend, maybe a GROUP of friends but legit almost everyone .. no it’s not believable… that being said…
Lex was all growly and sexy, his character developed amazingly and he was right on track by the end of the book, I love the protectiveness and the sweetness too and Arden was just adorable even though I kept reading his name as Adrien (especially during the yelling parts), he seems very femme and honestly I pictured like a long haired Fabio goddess yet not all buff.
Overall great story, fast paced, lots of action and a bit of MC in it, lots of will this happen, will that happen, wasn’t as dark as I was initially anticipating given some of the criminal delights book but it’s definitely a good read.
Cover – honestly love it – the ominous feeling you get when you look at it, and the delicious side profile
Sales Links: Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 148 pages
Published June 3rd 2019
ASINB07PJCHJPF
Edition Language English

Love Fantasy and Dragons? Check out the Tour for Eeli (Brotherhood of Ormarr #3) by Steph Marie and Bobbie Rayne (excerpt and giveaway)

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COVER - Eeli

Bobbie Rayne & Steph Marie have a new MM paranormal dragon rider book out, book three of the four-part Brotherhood of Ormarr series: Eeli.

Eeli~

I’ve been training my entire life for this; I need to be the best, the best fighter, the best dragon rider in the entire brotherhood. This is what I was born for. The only problem is that my bonded dragon, Bodhi, and I can’t seem to get it together. One minute I think we’re connecting properly, and the next she’s taking off, leading me to the one guy I don’t want to know: Slash. He’s basically the opposite of me in every way, and I don’t get why he’s suddenly everywhere I turn, but I can’t deny how he makes me feel when he looks at me.

Slash~

Three years ago my sister and I had to come to a new town and started new schools without our parents’ unconditional love and support. My uncle’s an uncaring drunk, so I’m doing the best I can to keep us both clothed and fed with only an after school job. If I didn’t have her to live for, the loneliness would be excruciating. Now, with only a few months until graduation, I’ve suddenly made a friend because of my sister, and another guy keeps stumbling into me who I think needs help: Eeli. I don’t understand why no one else sees how oddly he’s behaving, but I can’t deny my attraction for him is growing with every mishap.

Eeli is the third book in The Brotherhood of Ormarr series. While each book focuses on a different couple, the overall story arc continues in the next installment. For maximum enjoyment, we suggest reading in order. Eeli is a m/m NA romance, and is recommended for adults 18 years and older.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Goodreads

About the Series:

SERIES Brotherhood of Ormarr

Being a dragon rider for the Brotherhood of Ormarr is filled with adventure, but danger can lurk behind every corner with the Order of Amsel set out to destroy the riders. Azaran, Zale, Eeli, and Malachite have spent their whole lives training, but will it be enough?

The brothers lost their parents years ago to assassins, but they’ve never been able to figure out who was behind the attack. Follow the journey of these dragon riders, along with their faithful dragons, as they find their mates and discover clues that will lead to the final epic showdown.

The Brotherhood of Ormarr series consists of four books, each with its own HEA. While each book focuses on a different couple, the overall story arc continues into the next installment. For maximum enjoyment, we suggest reading in order. This is a m/m romance series, and is recommended for adults 18 years and older.

Other Books in the Series:Azaran (book one) | Zale (book two) | Malachite (book four – releases June 10th)


Giveaway

Bobbie & Steph are giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

MEME1 - Eeli

Before I could say anything else, Bodhi released herself from my skin and scampered down my arm, then took off like a shot down the hallway. There was no way I could’ve caught her.

“Bo!” What the heck was she doing? We were in a public building for crying out loud! “Bodhi, stop!”

She ran around a corner, and I heard a scream. Crap. She wasn’t even hiding herself from humans. Now I was going to have to erase some poor human’s memory of her. Bodhi, stay where you are.

Mine.

I rolled my eyes. Did she seriously take off like that for a candy wrapper? It’s trash, Bo, why are you so obsessed with trash?

Not trash; pretties!

Turning the corner, I took in the scene before me. Bodhi was in front of me looking ready to pounce and doing that little butt wiggle thing she did every time she saw a candy wrapper. And a guy had his back against the lockers with his hands in the air like he was being arrested or something. My eyes widened when I realized who it was. Slash.Because of course it was. He was the only other person here as far as I knew. Fantastic.

“Of course, it’d be you,” I muttered with an eye roll.

“Wh-what is that thing?” he asked without taking his eyes off the small dragon.

“That’s Bodhi, she’s my—” I was cut off when Bo suddenly launched herself at him and he screamed and covered his face with his arms. Unfortunately for him, she grabbed onto his forearm with her clawed feet, then flipped herself upside down, hanging off his arm and hugging Slash’s waist with her wings. Her overly playful nature wasn’t coming in handy right now. “—she’s my dragon,” I finished with a sigh.

Slash was screaming and waving his arms, trying to push her off with no luck.

“Slash, just give her your candy.”

He paused his crazy flailing. “Wh-what?”

“Your candy. She wants it. If you hand it over, she’ll leave you alone and you can forget all about this.” When I erase your memory, I added to myself. Maybe I could erase his memory of every crap thing he’d seen me do the past few weeks, too.

Without looking at me, he was trying to peel her off his waist. “I don’t have any candy.”

“Do you have a wrapper?”

“What? No!”

“Are you sure?”

He yelled, “I don’t have any candy!”

“Okay, okay, sheesh.” My brow furrowed. “Bodhi?”

She twisted her neck to look at me, then flipped around to wrap her wings around Slash as she said, Mine.

What’s yours? He doesn’t have any candy.

She looked at me again, then nudged a terrified Slash’s cheek and said, Ours.

It took me a second, but my eyes widened as her meaning finally hit me, and I looked at Slash as he begged, “Please get it off me.”

“Slash?” I whispered to Bodhi. “No. Nope. No. No way. No.”

Ours.

“Eeli! Please help me! Call the police or animal control or something!”

I opened my mouth to say something, but no words came out as Slash finally looked at me. As soon as our eyes connected, I felt it. That strange pull I’d felt every time I’d been around him lately and chalked it off as some kind of weird fascination with a mix of lust. But that wasn’t all it was. I should’ve known it was more than that, but… but it was Slash.

Swallowing thickly, I exchanged a look with Bo, then whispered to Slash, “She’s not going to hurt you.”

He looked like he was so terrified, he might cry. “How do you know that?”

“She’s my bonded dragon. She’s… just happy to see you.”

“Dr-dragon?” He glanced down at her as she snuggled into his neck, then he whispered, “Dragons aren’t real.”

“Clearly,” I said sarcastically as I finally peeled Bodhi off him.

Slash stayed against the lockers, but moved away a few steps without taking his eyes off her. It was a struggle to keep Bodhi from going after him again.

“Um… so… I’m going to need you to come with us.”

Slash finally looked at me again, and I instantly felt the pull even though he looked angry and ready to murder me with his eyes alone. “Are you kidding me? No way in hell am I going anywhere with you or thatthing in your arms.”

Bo sunk into me, and I knew he’d hurt her feelings, so I hugged her to my chest. “Don’t say stuff like that about her. Say whatever you want about me, Slash, but don’t you dare bully Bodhi.”

His eyebrows went up, but all he muttered was, “Whatever. I’m just going to go.” He went to scoop up his backpack from the ground where it’d fallen, but I quickly stepped on the strap so he couldn’t take it.

“I can’t let you do that.”

“Oh yeah, Eeli? What’re you gonna do about it?”

Bo jumped from my arms and began pecking at his feet, making him move closer to me as he jumped around and tried to get away. When she had him up against the lockers in front of me again, I pulled out my cell to call Zale.

“Hey.”

“Hey, uh… we have a problem.”

“What’s going on? Where are you?”

“I’m still at school, but uh… can you meet me here? I need your help.” Before he could reply I added, “And bring some rope.”

“Eeli, what’s going on? Are you hurt?” Zale asked at the same time that Slash’s eyes widened as he said, “Rope?”

I didn’t take my eyes off him as I asked my brother, “Is your mate with you?”

“Of course.”

“Bring him, too.”

“Why do you need Davis?”

My blue eyes connected with Slash’s hazel ones, and I said, “Because he has experience with kidnapping people.”


Author Bios

Bobbie Rayne grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and still lives there today. She’s married to her very patient husband, and they have two amazing sons together, as well as two crazy dogs. She spends her time writing, driving her kids all over town, and helping run the PTA.

Her children are one of the reasons she loves YA so much, and one reason why she thinks it’s important to bring LGBTQ+ main characters into fiction. Writing YA has always been a dream of hers, and she truly believes that writing it is good for her soul. Her family means the world to her, but coffee might be high up on that list, too, so if you bring her some, you just might end up with a new best friend.

Author Website: https://notarobooks.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/bobbie.rayne.9

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/bobbierayne.author/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bobbierayne/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18522828.Bobbie_Rayne

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/bobbierayne

Steph Marie is a proud mom of two teenage daughters and her pup. She’s always had a love for words and what they can do, their ability to create and transform life. She’s shared her words and stories with people in her immediate life, but never considered writing and publishing Young Adult until her oldest daughter said she wished all teens had the ability to sit around her kitchen table and talk. That night a series was born, and characters haven’t stopped popping up in her head wanting their story told yet. Her favorite things in life outside of her family are a huge cup of coffee, a blanket to snuggle under, and a delicious piece of cake–if you’re nice, she’ll even share.

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/steph.marie.3760430

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephmarieyaau6

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stephmarie.author/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17730330.Steph_Marie

Author Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/stephmarie

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BLOG TOUR Prescription for Love (Road to Blissville #7) by Aimee Nicole Walker (excerpt and giveaway)

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Prescription for Love Tour Banner

Prescription for Love

Road to Blissville Series, Book 7

Aimee Nicole Walker

M/M Romance

Release Date: 05.18.19

Prescription for love complete

Cover Design: Jay Aheer/https://www.facebook.com/Simply-Defined-Art-1622658254619778/

Photographer: Wander Aguiar/http://wanderaguiar.com/

Prescription for love 3Dlarge

BLURB

What should’ve been an ordinary emergency call turned out to be something extraordinary.

Wanting to distance himself from his toxic parents, Trent Love moved to the quaint town of Blissville to begin a new life. What he finds is blazing chemistry with a hunky fireman who breathes new life into him.

Fearing they’re too different, Tucker attempts to extinguish the spark between them before it can ignite. How could a simple man like him compete with Trent’s life of wealth and privilege? Knowing you shouldn’t want something doesn’t make it go away, and Tucker’s desire for Trent continues to smolder.

Unwilling to accept their relationship is dead on arrival, Trent puts his resuscitation skills to good use. All he wants is a chance to prove he values Tucker’s wealth of character over meaningless material things. What do you get when you mix fire and oxygen: a five-alarm fire or a prescription for love?

Trent’s commitment to freeing himself from poisonous ties kindles a chain of events that have devastating consequences for both men. Is a relationship forged in fire strong enough to overcome these obstacles or is their love doomed to be just another bitter pill to swallow?

Prescription for love is a small-town, opposites-attract romance. It is the seventh book in the Road to Blissville series but reads like a standalone book. It contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and older.

http://mybook.to/PrescriptionForLove

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EXCERPT

“There’s no way I can watch you squat in those shorts and not get a hard-on.” Trent had been nothing but honest with me, so I gave it right back to him. “We’ll work on our upper body today.”

Even with Trent looking deliciously sweaty, I was able to find my zone and work my shoulders, arms, back, and core abdominal muscles. Lifting weights was my version of yoga. I found my Zen and the endorphins pumping through my body would improve my mood and motivate me to keep moving throughout the day. Only when we returned to the locker room did I realize those mood-lifting hormones also amped up my libido.

“Did you want to shower here before we go to breakfast or wait until I drop you off at home?”

Trent looked over his shoulder at the shower room, which had both an open shower area and private stalls for those preferring privacy. We could so easily fit inside one of those stalls and—

“We better wait,” he said, wiping his body down to remove the sweat glistening on his skin. Damn, I wanted to lick him. A little bit of sweat didn’t turn me off at all, but he might think it was gross.

“Yeah, I want to lick you all over too,” Trent said, correctly reading the expression on my face. “And I will…someday.”

“Tease,” I groused.

Aimee Nicole Walker Logo

Ever since she was a little girl, Aimee Nicole Walker entertained herself with stories that popped into her head. Now she gets paid to tell those stories to other people. She wears many titles—wife, mom, and animal lover are just a few of them. Her absolute favorite title is champion of the happily ever after. Love inspires everything she does, music keeps her sane, and coffee is the magic elixir that fuels her day. I’d love to hear from you.

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Release Blitz – – Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock #1) by C.F. White (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Pride Publishing – To be released wide July 16
 
Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill
 
Length: 79,679 words
 
Publisher: Pride Publishing
 
Blurb



Fate can be written in a tea bag too.


Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.


He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.


The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.


Tea has never tasted so good.

 
Excerpt
 

The slurp was loud and rather obnoxious, especially when the man was sipping from one of Mark’s grandmother’s dainty china tea cups that Mark saved for special occasions. Since Mark hadn’t had any need for the guest china in quite some time, he’d let Grammy’s cardinal rule slide for the strapping workman clambering up in his loft.


“Yup, I see the problem,” the workman yelled down the open hatch in Mark’s landing ceiling that led to the over-cluttered store of stuff that Mark hadn’t set foot in for…well, quite some time.


Mark wished he hadn’t offered the man a brew. He really hadn’t had the time to wait for the kettle to boil, for a start. But he’d been brought up well, and one must offer one’s tradesmen a cuppa in the hope they’ll knock a few quid off the call-out charge. He suspected he would have to delve deep into his already ravine-like pockets, so anything that could be considered mates-rates would really help at this point in his life. Mark wished he did have mates. Ones that were handy, anyway.


“Oh, yes?” Mark called back, his voice echoing through the square hole in his ceiling. He closed his eyes, for some reason, as if that would soften the blow of what was going to come out of the man’s mouth next.


“Gonna need coupla new roof tiles, mate. A lotta this stuff is gonna get ruined.”


“Bugger,” Mark muttered into his own mug of piping-hot tea. Well, it was rude not to join the man in a beverage.


“What was that?” The man’s round, if somewhat flushed, face appeared at the hole.


“Nothing, nothing.” Mark shook his head. He didn’t much fancy repeating himself. The man might take it seriously and give him a whack. Or, which would be much worse, not take the job of fixing Mark’s leaking roof. “Thank you.” He smiled.


Mark had been told, on occasion, that he had quite a nice smile. One that relaxed people. Mark, however, believed it to be far more useful to allow people to walk all over him. Or pass by him. Through him…


With a grunt, the workman set his steel-toe-capped boots on two metal rungs of the ladder, revealing the tip of his rounded behind popping out of the elastic waistband that appeared to be failing in its one basic function. Normally, on an average Saturday night, Mark wouldn’t have minded the view, as his internet history would evidence. But today was a Monday and the man didn’t look like he would appreciate Mark’s ogling. Not that Mark was ogling. He just had nowhere else to look. Honest.


On reaching the landing, the workman crashed back into Mark. Stumbling, Mark gripped his cup with both hands to prevent the utter travesty of spillage onto the carpet. Not only did he not have time to clear up any stains—not that any would show on the swirling patterns of the seventies-design stitch work—but he also hated to waste a cup of the good stuff.


The workman hefted up his jogging bottoms, his hands empty of the china tea cup he had been avidly slurping from up in the loft. And that meant Mark would now either have to venture up into the space he avoided like the seaside lido on a May bank holiday afternoon, or leave it up there to breed new life. He knew which he would rather.


“Right.” The man scratched his stubbled chin. “See, you’re gonna need a coupla new tiles. Tha’s what the leak is. The rain we been ’avin is comin’ in frou ta ’ole in ya roof. Travelling daan the walls and dripping aaat ya ceiling.”


“Good-oh.” Mark nodded, not letting on for a single second that he had no idea what the man had just said. “Uh, can you fix it?” He mentally crossed his fingers in the hope that he hadn’t just said that he could. Or couldn’t.


“Yeah, no sweat. I can do two tiles at a ton.”


“A what now?”


“A ton.”


“A ton of what? Tiles?


“No. A hundred smackers.”


Mark blanked, shaking his head.


“Paand?”


“Oh, I see. Well, that’s not too bad then.” Mark smiled. And phewed. Mentally.


“But that won’t fix ya problem.”


“Oh dear.” Mark furrowed his brow, which he didn’t like to do all that often as the lines weren’t smoothing out after so much anymore.


“Dunno which bleedin’ cowboy did ya roof last, but they didn’t felt it.” The man tucked a tiny pencil behind his ear. Where he’d got the pencil from was Mark’s first question. Quickly followed by, do I really want to know?


“That cowboy would be my grandfather.” Mark attempted to add a hint of pride to his voice, but the vacant expression of the workman before him just made him slink into a guilty, wincing admission. “He built the house.”


“Ah. Right. ’Nover ’and-me-down was it?”


“Hand-me-down?” More deep-set wrinkles formed on Mark’s brow. He must remember to use that skincare range for men he’d got as a Secret Santa present at work last year, the one that claimed to defy even the deepest-set wrinkles. He had a hunch who’d been bold enough to buy that for him. Bloody Yvonne.


The man waved, indicating Mark’s attire. “The clothes.”


Mark held out his arms, still clutching his mug of tea, and peered down at himself. Trusty grey corduroy trousers, wonderful and comfy, and rather warm considering the current climate, matched with a white button-down shirt. The vest underneath was simply due to the fact that his dark nipples tended to show through the thin material of cheap cotton. He’d discovered that tidbit of information back at secondary school when the popular boys used to poke his nipples through his school shirt, many twisting for added effect. And people say all-boy grammar schools are a safe haven from bullying.


Mark ran a hand through his thick dark hair, sliding it across his forehead in a floppy fringe, ignoring the jibe at his attire and moving on to the pressing transaction at hand. “So you were saying about the roof?”


“Yeah. Gonna need ta replace it.” The man sniffed, his chest rising with the inhale of breath, then shrugged. “Set ya back ’bout five grand.”


The fact that Mark had chosen the man’s pause to take a sip of tea probably summed up his entire existence. It had been, of course, the wrong decision. He spat the tea out, liquid escaping from his nose, and coughed, gasping to get air, rather than the delightful Twinings English Breakfast, into his lungs.


The workman slapped him on the back. Perhaps he thought that would help the situation. It didn’t. It only exacerbated it, knocking Mark off his feet and forcing him to grapple for the banister to prevent a rather tragic tumble down the stairs.


“Better out than in, I say.” The workman did say.


Mark blanked. If only the boys at his delightful modern secondary grammar had believed in that statement back when Mark had been in year ten and announcing to the world he was gay. Not that any of his peers had had any doubt before Mark had made his fabulous speech. But Mark presumed they would have preferred him to stay in on that day, considering many had received detention for the words of “encouragement” they had called out in a perfect display of teenage camaraderie.


“Well, I can do the tiles tomorra,” the man carried on, oblivious to Mark’s inner turmoil. “Fink about the rest of da roof, though. You don’t want it cavin’ in on ya.”


Mark nodded, although, right then the thought of paying out five thousand pounds that he didn’t have made him consider the alternative option.


“Righty-oh. Thank you very much for coming out on such short notice.” Mark ushered him down the stairs.


“No probs. Give me card your granddad, then.” The man handed over a bent business card, a mobile phone number scrawled on the back with black pen along with the words The Man With The Van Who Can. Mark pondered if there was anything that he couldn’t? Or wouldn’t?


“That would be rather futile. Grampy died quite some time ago.”


“Oh.” The man squinted, stepping out into the daylight and onto Mark’s porch. “So you chose this?”


“Chose what?” Mark desperately tried not to furrow his brow.


The man waved his hand, indicating, Mark presumed, the entire house’s internal decor.


“I like antiques.” Could seventies decor be considered antique? He supposed it could.


“You get antique wallpaper these days then?”


Bastard. “Oh, indeed.” Mark nodded. “Worth a fortune.”


Mark slammed the door shut and rested his back against the wall, glancing around at the house he’d lived in coming along ten years now. It was falling apart and no redecoration had been done since probably the last time he’d been up in the loft. He sighed, slammed his mug down on the windowsill and decided now was the time for a decent cup of the good stuff.


Grabbing his black Barbour jacket from the coat hooks, he slipped his feet into the black loafers by the door then ventured out into the morning sun. And what a glorious day it was, perfect to be beside the seaside. And Mark was. He lived directly opposite the pebble beach of Marsby in the south east, a quaint little seaside town that homed more retirees than tourists. Not that Mark was retired. He could only wish for that, although he was leaning nearer to the end of his career than the start. Mid-career, perhaps? Christ, maybe I should think about actually having a career rather than simply a job that barely pays the bills?


Trying to forget that he had left a gaping hole in his roof—and now his ceiling having forgotten to shut the loft hatch—Mark rammed his hands into his jacket pockets and thanked whomever above for the abnormal radiant sun. And that was when the inevitable dark clouds glided overhead and droplets landed with splats on his cheeks. Such was Mark’s luck. So he trotted that bit faster along the pathway beside the beach and into the main High Street, stopping at the welcoming sign of Macy’s Ye Olde Style Tea Shoppe on the corner.


The bell above the door chimed as Mark hurried into his regular haunt. He’d been going there for quite a few years now, since his move back to his home town from the mean streets of London, and still hadn’t figured out why Macy added the extra p and e to the shop. He shook his hair out like a wet dog and nodded at the umbrellas Macy always offered to customers on such regular occurrences as torrential rain, a quick downpour, scattered showers and that really fine light rain that has one believing they aren’t getting wet until they get home and their clothes are sopping.


The shop was empty, which was rather odd. There was usually someone sipping on a decent cup of tea made from the loose leaves in a well-stewed pot. Macy made proper tea, using a strainer, and it tasted every bit of the aromatic leaves that it should. She was also a rather good baker and Mark was horrified that there were no buns, baps or any other derogatory term used for parts of the female anatomy displayed on the counter for Mark to scoff and instantly burn off the calories by breathing. He had a fast metabolism, which was both a dream and a curse.


As Mark slapped a hand down on the counter, he heard shuffling back in the kitchen area. Thank God Macy was there. He needed a chat. And a tea.


“Helloooo? Only me, love. Usual cuppa when you’re ready.”


Drumming his fingers on the counter, Mark swivelled a one-eighty. Vacant seats and no-one in the vicinity looking like they might want venture on in to grab a tea to go, which would be quite difficult as Macy only served tea in porcelain cups. And rightly so.


“So, Macy, love,” Mark called out over his shoulder, thinking it was best to fill her in now or he might not have time to divulge all the details of his eventful morning before he had to head into work. “I’ve decided I’m better off if I just kill myself now.”


He leaned forward over the counter, ensuring his voice would drift to the kitchen. “Turns out my roof might collapse on me anyway. And according to this rather annoyingly beefcaked member of the male species, the sight of whose perfectly rounded behind is now imprinted on me for many a future solo endeavour, and who graced me with a whole other English language making me feel every bit of my—cough—years, it’s going to cost me rather more than my arm and my leg. And I’m sadly going to have to admit it, Macy love, that I’m not sure the fellow would accept an offer of my penis as monetary value. Not that I have a wealth of offers for that part of my anatomy these days anyway. Much like the pound to the euro, I swear it’s shrinking in value.”


He chuckled at his own joke, as he so often did, then spun around to face the seating area. A couple of joggers zoomed past the window, obviously on their beachside run rather than the mad dash for cakes and biscuits that he did.


“You okay, Mace? Need a hand?”


No reply. So Mark leafed through the selection of pre-packed biscuits crammed in the bowl by the till. Macy had one of those old-fashioned registers. No electronic buttons to press. No new-fangled tablet hooked up to the mains. It was basically a calculator with a drawer.


Choosing a packet of chocolate-dipped Viennese shortbread fingers, Mark cocked his head to peer through the open kitchen door. “I mean, Macy, what is the point in filing paperwork for a living just to earn enough money to fix a roof when I have no man to enjoy the comforts of my damp-free living space along with me? And by the time I find a willing participant to snuggle with me on my antique sofa looking at my antique wallpaper in my antique house, I’ll be ready to pop my clogs anyway. So, death by sugar, please, Macy.”


He slapped the counter to finalise his self-depreciative monologue, and nearly threw up the entire contents of his breakfast when a male vacated the back kitchen. Said man was wiping his hands on a rather beautifully stitched gingham tea towel. But that wasn’t the only thing that was a delight for the eye. The man was shirtless—rippling muscles, a glowing sheen of glistening skin and white-wash jeans hanging low on his perfectly sculpted hips. Needless to say, that wasn’t Macy.


“Hello,” Mark said, because, it is the polite way to greet a man, regardless of the lack of shirt and the highly embarrassing fact that Mark had already told his life story, leaving out all, or indeed any, good bits.


“G’day,” the man replied.

 

About The Author

 

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.


Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.


She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.


Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, C F White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…


You can follow C F on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Website.

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