Taking Stock: sneak preview

Since it’s not yet available on the wizzy Amazon-viewer thing, I thought you might like a sneak preview of the first chapter of Taking Stock!

Chapter 1: Betrayal

September, 1971

“What?” Phil said. “You thought I wouldn’t mind?” He swallowed roughly. “We’ve been together for over a year, Richard. There’s some expectation of loyalty comes with that. I would have thought.” He looked at the younger man stood in the center of his cream living room carpet. “Or perhaps not.”

Richard didn’t even have the grace to look ashamed. “It wasn’t anything, Phil. You’re being stupid. I sucked him off, that was all.” He didn’t even blush. He looked irritated, if anything. “You’re being very unreasonable.”

“You’ve been living here for nearly twelve months. You didn’t think that the assumption would be of monogamy?”

Richard made a dismissive huffing noise and shrugged. “That’s not how it’s done, Phil my dear. Not these days. You’re delightfully old fashioned in some ways, but you’re being very stick in the mud about this.”

Phil shut his eyes for a moment. “It’s not the first time then?”

Richard waved his hand in a dramatic gesture, the tight sleeve of his orange and brown striped shirt flexing along with it. “Leave it, won’t you. It’s not important.”

“Not important to you? Or not important to me? Because I assure you I think it’s important. It’s very important. Richard.” He swallowed. “I… I’ve come to care for you.”

Richard raised an eyebrow. “My dear Phil. Is this a declaration? How thrilling! Do go on.”

Phil said nothing. Clearly he had been barking up the wrong tree. He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers and turned away to look out of the inverted arched window at the lake. There were some ducks shagging enthusiastically on the edge of his view. More than what’s going on in here, he thought, dismally. No more shagging for me.

Richard had joined the firm eighteen months ago as a junior in Phil’s department and had quickly made his interest in Phil clear. Oh, he was discreet at work…the rough and tumble of the trading floor wasn’t tolerant of anyone who didn’t follow the public-school rugger-bugger stereotype. He’d made it clear that he was interested in Phil though. Phil’s friend Peter had pointed it out to him first. Phil was usually a bit slow on the uptake.

“You want to watch that one,” he’d said one evening as they were sat, backs to the bar, watching the younger traders horse around at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s trouble. And he likes you.”

Phil looked at him. “He likes me? What do you mean?”

Peter glanced at him. “You know what I mean. He likes you. Didn’t you notice him flirting when he came up to get his round in? You could take him home tonight if you wanted to.” He took a swig of his beer. “Bet he sucks cock like a Hoover,” he said wistfully.

You take him home if you feel like that about him,” Phil said, slightly acerbically. He could never tell when someone was coming on to him.

“Nah mate, I’ve got enough on my hands already.” He nodded toward one of the other young men at the same table. “Hips like a snake. And he knows how to use ‘em.”

Phil blushed. Peter was a lot more open about his partners than he was and always had been, even before the change in the law. Phil was never going to out himself to anyone other than his closest friends.

The next time Richard came up to the bar, Phil returned his smile. “Let me buy you a drink?” he asked.

“Sure,” the younger man replied.

And that was that. A few weeks later he had moved into Phil’s spacious flat in the middle of the city and he’d been here ever since. Apparently using it as a base to bring blokes to suck off on his days off while Phil was at work.

Not good.

“I’d like you to leave,” Phil said, turning back toward him. “Pack a suitcase. You can come back for the rest of your things another day.”

“What?! Are you serious!” Richard’s voice rose in both pitch and volume. “Phil, darling, it really didn’t mean anything! It’s you I want to be with!”

“But I don’t want to be with you. You’ve been lying to me and you’ve been bringing people I don’t know here for sex behind my back. I can’t live like that.”

“I’ll stop! I promise!” Richard’s voice was tearful.

“Rich. Please. Don’t…make this any harder than it is.” Phil turned away again. The ducks were still shagging. It looked like the lady duck was drowning. “Please just go. And leave me your key. You can stay with Peter or someone tonight; you’ve got lots of friends. I just…can’t.” His heart hurt. Richard’s sobbing cut him to the quick.

“You bastard!” Richard spat out. “I didn’t have to move in here with you, you know! It was you who asked me!”

“And now I’m asking you to move out.” Phil folded his arms. He was having trouble holding on to his composure. “I’ll ring Peter now and ask him if you can stay there tonight. He’s got a spare room.”

He moved out to the hallway and picked up the telephone. “You can pack some clothes while I do it.”

And that was that. Just over a year of unwedded bliss destroyed by another man’s underpants left in the bathroom.

release: Inheritance of Shadows

I’m pleased to announce that Inheritance of Shadows is available today!

This is the story that I wrote monthly for my newsletter subscribers. It was an extremely stressful experience that I won’t be repeating in the same manner- it was like having an essay deadline every month and ripped my nerves to shreds!

However… I really like the finished story. It’s a 35.5k novella and the first part incorporates The Gate, which was the first thing I ever wrote in the Lost in Time universe and is floating around the internet for free. I wanted to find out what happened to Matty and Rob after the end of the story and this is the result. Scroll down for an excerpt!

It’s 1919. Matty returns home to the family farm from the trenches only to find his brother Arthur dying of an unknown illness. The local doctor thinks cancer, but Matty becomes convinced it’s connected to the mysterious books his brother left strewn around the house.

Rob knows something other than just Arthur’s death is bothering Matty. He’s know him for years and been in love with him just as long. And when he finds something that looks like a gate, a glowing, terrifying doorway to the unknown, it all starts to fall in to place.

Matty’s looking sicker and sicker in the same way Arthur did. What is Rob prepared to sacrifice to save him?

The answer is in the esoteric books…and with the mysterious Lin of the Frem, who lives beyond the gate to nowhere. It’s taken Matty and Rob more than a decade to admit they have feelings for each other and they are determined that neither social expectations or magical illness will part them now.

A stand-alone 35k novella set in the Lost in Time Universe.

Buy now!

Inheritance of Shadows (Lost in Time #0.6)

Inheritance of Shadows

Excerpt: A recuperating kind of peace

The Treaty of Versailles had been registered with the League of Nations late in October. Matty had felt an enormous sense of relief that the peace was formal now, signed and sealed by the high-ups. Fritz having to pay for all the damage he had caused everyone by sucking them into four years of war seemed only fair. That had been one of the topics of conversation when they had gone down to the County Cinema in Taunton with Mrs Beelock and her daughter a week before to watch the Pathé newsreel of the two minutes silence at the new Cenotaph in London.

However, it was a stunned, waiting, recuperating kind of peace for them both, Matty thought. He was reeling still, from coming home and from Arthur’s death. Rob was gathering himself together almost visibly, losing that overlay of Sergeant Curland and returning full-time to Rob who the neighbours knew was a good man to ask for a hand with their hedges.

He could feel them growing again, on the cusp of moving forward. Rob spent his nights in Matty’s bed in the house instead of in the barn. Annie Beelock only came in mid-morning now, her health needing her to rest, and it was a luxurious thing, this waking in the arms of someone he loved. They had fallen into it with ease and familiarity, eating whatever Mrs Beelock cooked for dinner for all the farm men like they usually did, having bread and cheese and cake for tea once she’d gone, and washing up companionably together; and then settling in front of the fire with the books. They had fallen into a pattern that Matty imagined would be like being married. If men could marry the people they loved.

The war had shifted something inside them both. Coming so close to so much death meant that neither of them were inclined to waste more time. They saw what would make them happy and had grabbed it with both hands. That didn’t solve the problem of the books.

Although, it wasn’t really the books that were the issue. It was more that Matty was failing. Not as quickly as Arthur had, for whatever reason. He could feel it in his bones. It could have been no more than the normal slowing down of his body for the winter. But it wasn’t. A glorious, dry, clear, and cold October had morphed into a bitterly cold November. It made him think back to the last autumn of the war, with the angels’ wings of blue and gold arching with a kind of glorious, terrible disinterest over the ants of humanity crawling around in the mud.

He had the same feeling now. The bitter frosts, the clear blue skies of the onset of winter, made him feel like the world was waiting for something to happen. Watching him with a lack of interest that bordered on not noticing him at all. He was failing. He knew it and Rob knew it.

“What’s to be done, then?” Rob had asked one Sunday morning in early October as they were moving the churns of milk out to the block by the lane where the carter would pick them up to take to the station. “I don’t like the look of you, lad. And I don’t want you to go west like Arthur.” He obviously felt awkward bringing it up and had steeled himself to flank Matty with the question as they were working. Matty was getting tired more easily and he supposed that there was no hiding from Rob his diminished appetite and weight loss.

He launched the last of the churns up on to the platform and stepped back, taking his cap off, and wiping his brow with his sleeve. “I’m glad that’s done. I like giving Jimmy the Sunday off, but it all takes longer.”

“Jimmy’s wife’s got him painting the bedroom, he said. She took him out to buy the paint last weekend.” Rob allowed Matty to prevaricate, but as they turned back to walk up the drive, he had put his hand on Matty’s arm. “Matty. I’m serious.”

Matty shrugged his hand off gently. “I know you are. I don’t know. This was Arthur’s enterprise, not mine. I run a farm. He was the brains.”

Rob had looked at him long and hard. “Do you really think that?” he’d asked quietly. “Because you’re wrong. You might have chosen not to follow the same line as Arthur, but you and he have the same amount up here,” he tapped Matty’s head, “however you choose to use it. So, don’t give me any of that.” He had returned Matty’s solemn stare. “We’ll work it out. I promise you. I’ve waited more than a ten-year for you. I’m not losing you to this. Whatever it is.”

So, they kept on with the books.

Buy now!

works in progress: progressing, and that’s about all

I’ve done a load over the last month, but not much of it actual writing.

Because of the shenanigans with MailChimp pricing levels, I’ve ported my newsletter over to MailerLite, which I think will be a good thing long term, but was a pain in the neck to do at the time. And I’ve done the same for Mr AL, who has a much more complex set-up than I do, so it took ages. That done, I’ve also set myself up a proper Ko-fi page that will act as a sort of combination of things I blog here and exclusive content that first goes out to newsletter subscribers.

I’ve also committed to doing some posts for the Queeromance Ink Blog, about author-life in general rather than more bookish things. This involves me sitting down and actually writing them, but they’re coming together in my head.

Which brings me to actual writing! Inheritance of Shadows has another three thousand words, which went out yesterday – newsletter usually goes out on the first Tuesday of the month, barring disaster. If you’d like to get the monthly installments of Matty and Rob’s adventures, just hop on here. You will also be able to follow on Ko-fi as a supporter if you’d rather do it that way. I’m reading Secret Warriors: key scientists, code-breakers and propagandists of the great war by Taylor Downing as background, because Rob needs to know some stuff and I need to know the stuff before he can know the stuff. It’s fascinating.

Flowers of Time has had another few thousand words, but I’m still sidetracked by Katie Hickman’s She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen and feel like I need to get that under my belt before I write any more. I’m writing completely outside both my historical period and my geographical area and I don’t want to mess either up.

This month promises to be more of the same, hopefully with less opportunities for prevarication. Watch this space!

 

 

work in progress: The Flowers Of Time

Currently laboring under the title ‘The Flowers Of Time’, my work in progress is set the Himalayas in the 1780s and follows the adventures of Edith and Jones, respectively a lady botanical illustrator and a non-binary archaeologist, who take on more than they bargain for as they come up against The Border during their travels.

“Shall we go down?” Edie asked. It had been a two hour ride. She could do with a break before returning to camp. “Are we going to relocate the camp up here for a few days?”

“Perhaps. I want to see what he was exploring. In the notebook he writes about chambers in the hillside that he thought were used as dwellings. But after Mama… he didn’t write any more.”
Edie bit her lip. “Are there still bandits around here? Is it safe?”

Jones patted her hip. “I have my pistols, don’t worry. And Sonam reckoned that the new King in Leh is still vested in making the roads safer. It was getting better even before I left and when we were planning back in Srinagar, he said that trade is increasing along the Silk Route again because of the regular patrols. And we have Marcus.” She gestured at the dog.

Edie wished she had Jones’ easy confidence. She turned Donna’s head down the animal-track that Jones was following, watching Jones’ easy seat in the saddle, feet braced against the slope. Edie couldn’t quite bring herself to shed her skirts and ride astride. Jones didn’t even think of it. She sat straight in the saddle, loose and relaxed as her pony carefully picked his way down the faint track. Edie did her best to emulate her. It wasn’t that she was a bad rider, she just wasn’t as confident as she could be.

I’m roughly a third of the way through my estimated word-count at approximately twenty-two thousand words, so I’m getting there slowly!

 

Shadows On The Border

Sequel to Lost In Time

Shadows On The Border, #2 in the Lost In Time Universe, is now available from  JMS Books and all major booksellers. You can find the right format for your eReader on the Queeromance Ink page, including Kindle, ePub, B&N and Google Play.

Newspaper reporter Lew Tyler and his lover, Detective Alec Carter, are working out the parameters of their new relationship. Meanwhile, time traveler Lew is trying to decide whether he wants to stay in the 1920s or find a way to get back to 2016, and Alec doesn’t know if he can bear the vulnerability of being in love with someone who uses such dangerous magic.

Fenn is a Hunter from the Outlands, come through the Border to search for the murderous Creature and its offspring at the behest of the Ternants, who maintain the balance between Fenn’s world and ours. Fenn strikes a bond with Sergeant Will Grant, Alec’s second in command, who is keen to learn more about his own magical abilities. As time goes on, Will grows keen to learn more about Fenn, as well.

Fenn has their own painful secret, and when they appear to have betrayed the team and goes missing in London, Will is devastated. He has to choose between following his heart or following his duty.

Moving through the contrasting rich and poor areas of post-First World War London from West End hotels to the London docklands, the men need to work together to capture the Creature … and choose who – and what — is important enough to hold on to and what they may need to give up to make that happen.


Read an excerpt:

That cloud of gold around Fenn and Mira … that was what Lew experienced all the time? It was both marvelous and terrifying. He knew, intellectually, that the only reason Mira was alive after being savaged by the Creature when it escaped in the winter was because she had been able, in some way, to Pull magic from the Border to heal herself enough to survive. It was completely another thing to actually watch it happening.

Her skin had changed under his eyes from an unhealthy grayish tinge to the radiant brown of a healthy woman. That was the thing that had been the most amazing and terrifying to watch. He was sure that other things had happened as well — it was supposed to be a healing for her damaged voice, after all — but that was the visual marker he had taken away.

Alec was terrified.

If Fenn could do that, if Lew and Grant could do that, what else could they do? Over the last few months, Alec’s main fear had become losing Lew. But over the last week, he had also had moments of being scared of him as well as for him. His emotions were all mixed up and it wasn’t a comfortable feeling.

It seemed to Alec as if all the Workers surrounding him were in the dark about the limits and boundaries of the magic they used so blithely. Alec felt like a man trapped in a darkened room with dangerous things moving around him that he was unable to see to protect himself from. And the people he cared about could see the danger. But they didn’t perceive it as the danger it was.

Alec couldn’t convince them there even was a danger. They saw it as a formula … so long as you didn’t Pull too much from The Border, you were safe. So long as you didn’t attract a Creature, you were safe. So long as you didn’t put a foot outside the complex and vague rules you had been taught by rote so long ago that you didn’t even remember what they were for, you were safe.

Alec was angry. He was angry with himself, for not being able to see what the others could see. Were their lives always lit up like the hospital room had been downstairs just now? Why wasn’t Alec’s world lit up like that all the time? How come none of them had told him how beautiful it could be? Why should Alec be missing out on that when the people he cared about could share it? Just with each other. Not with him.

And he was angry with Lew. Lew had all this power. All these abilities. Why should he want to stay with Alec? When he could use all that beautiful golden magic to travel back to his own time, to a place where he wouldn’t have to hide that he wanted to be with a man?

Alec was angry with Grant. Grant had been his friend since Alec had come home from France in ‘18. They’d had an immediate bond. But Grant had failed to tell him that this other, ephemeral world of magic existed. And now Grant seemed to be obsessed with Fenn … this fey, liminal creature who was able to act as a focus for all this power that flowed through the people Alec loved. And whose motives Alec didn’t understand and didn’t trust.

He allowed Max to steer him out of Miss Fonteyne’s room and to his office upstairs. It was a largish, comfortable room that doubled as a consulting room. Max guided him all the way with a hand in the small of his back, not allowing him to stop, opening the door with one hand whilst the other grasped Alec’s elbow and then steered him to one of the armchairs around a low table.

The room smelled of smoke — Max had a predilection for obnoxious cigars — and there was a brandy decanter and cut-crystal glasses on the table. As Alec sank in to the low chair, Max let go of him and reached for the brandy bottle. He didn’t bother to ask who wanted any, just filled five glasses with two fingers each and passed them out.

Alec watched as Fenn slumped into the armchair she had chosen. She tilted her head back and closed her eyes. Alec’s perception shifted. One minute there was the woman Alec usually saw Fenn as, sprawled in the chair, at rest. The next, a tall, elegant man with strong features and long lashes that fell against his cheek sat in the seat opposite. Alec blinked and the feminine Fenn he recognized was back again. He turned his gaze away and looked at Lew.

You can find the right format for your eReader on the Queeromance Ink page, including Kindle, ePub, B&N and Google Play.

For Lost In Time, #1 in the series, click here.