Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chapter Six-The Party - by SA Meade


Henry and Jack had thought nothing could ever drive them apart. They were wrong. Three months have passed since Jack walked out of the home they shared, and Henry had been too stupid to take back the hurtful things he'd said.

Both assured by their respective parents the other would not be present at Henry's mother's annual Christmas gathering, they attend. Finding they have been duped into seeing each other, Henry realizes that this may be his only chance to try and make things right. But will he be able to convince Jack to come home?

Chapter One can be found here  Chapter Two is here Chapter Three is here  Chapter Four is here and Chapter Five is here

So here, without further adieu, is the final Chapter. Thanks to everyone for coming along for the ride and reading our story. :)

Chapter Six - S A Meade

Henry paused on the doorstep, his hand suspended just above the doorbell. “Do we really have to be here?” He looked at Jack, hoping he’d say that he’d prefer to pop down to the Bell and Whistle for pie and a pint.

“Sorry, my love. Tradition is tradition. You know neither of us would hear the end of it if we turned around and headed home again.”

“But it’s snowing and home is warm and cosy.” Henry brushed an errant snowflake from Jack’s hair. “And our bed is even warmer and cosier.”

“We have all of Christmas to take advantage of that bed.” Jack paused. “I hope. You’re not on call are you?”

“Nope. Since I’ve agreed to be one of the groomsmen at Georgina’s wedding, I’m in her father’s good books. I told you, I’m off until New Year’s Day and I intend to stay at home with you.”

“Then we can deal with this. It’s only for an hour or two, right?”

Henry took a deep breath, braced himself for the onslaught of his mother’s party-madness, and depressed the doorbell.  He reached for Jack with his other hand, twining his fingers through his. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

The door opened to a blast of warm air and perfume. “Oh darling, I’m so glad you’re both here.”

Henry humoured his mother, letting himself be caught up in her embrace. “It’s great to be here, Mum.”

Emily turned to Jack and hugged him. “Hello darling. It’s so lovely to see you. Come on you two, the party’s in full swing, there’s plenty of food and drink.”

She hustled them into the hall and took their coats. Henry stared at the tree, as impeccably and precisely decorated as usual, at the knots of chattering guests in the lounge, clutching plates and glasses.  Georgina held court in the corner by the drinks cabinet, grasping her fiancé’s arm with the ferocity of a pit bull tugging at a bone. The poor man had the hunted look of someone who had a lifetime of social events mapped out ahead of him. He wouldn’t be escaping to the pub any time soon.

“Go on.” Emily shooed them towards the food. “Go and help yourselves. I don’t want to spend the next week or two eating leftovers and watching those prawns go off in the fridge because your father won’t  touch them after…you know.”

“Yes, mother dear.” Henry winked at Jack and dragged him towards the table which, as usual, resembled a food porn centrefold from a culinary magazine. He picked up a plate, then wondered, should he wait until after they’d eaten? Before the toast? Could he eat anything? His stomach curdled with nerves.

Don’t be stupid. He loves you, you love him. Of course he’ll say ‘yes’.

He slid his hand into his pocket and curled his fingers around the small velvet box, seeking comfort from the warmth and softness of the fabric, knowing that the simple, gold symbol  that represented their future rested inside. Nope, best to go with the routine, food first, pick a moment afterwards.

“Prawn?” Jack grinned and held one of the offending crustaceans towards him.

“Sod off.” He waved it away.

“Well, I’ll have it, then.” Jack swept the prawn through the little cut glass bowl of American style cocktail sauce.

Henry shuddered. He hated horseradish, he hated tomato sauce. Putting the two together was an abomination. “I don’t know how you can. I hope you’re not going to kiss me with that mouth.”

Jack laughed, then lowered his voice to a heated whisper. “I have every intention of doing a lot more than kissing you with this mouth when we get home.”

Oh God. Henry adjusted his trousers to accommodate his sudden erection.  The way Jack then caressed that asparagus spear with his tongue… Jesus.

“Aren’t you going to eat anything?” Jack’s voice was all innocence. His eyes—full of heat and promise—told an entirely different story.

Henry gulped and reached blindly for a sausage roll. “I suppose I’d better.”

Jack laughed, leaned close and touched his lips with a kiss. “You’ll need to keep your strength up for later.”

“You have got to stop tormenting me or I’ll drag you down to the wine cellar.”

“Feel free.”

“Nope, I want you in bed, our bed.” He spooned some potato salad onto his plate. “So no more teasing.”

“Spoilsport.” Jack helped himself to a handful of olives. “I’ll try to behave myself.”

Jack wished the whole evening was over. He sat beside Henry, who perched precariously on the edge of the settee, and wanted them both to be home. Sometimes, tradition was a pain in the arse. He plucked at an olive, relishing the saltiness. He needed to remember to ask Mrs Lewis where she bought them. He’d have died happy to sit down with a jar and a fork and work his way through the lot without stopping. He stole a glance at Henry. His lover’s gaze was distant, as if he was staring into a tangle of wool that he couldn’t quite figure out how to unravel. He’d been a bit like that lately, given to long silences, while he gnawed at his bottom lip. There had been times in the past few weeks where he’d wanted to ask what was wrong but he knew Henry well enough to know that he’d tell Jack in his own sweet time.

“You all right?”

“What?” Henry turned towards him, holding a sausage roll in mid-air. “Yes, I’m fine. I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”

“Yeah, it has been.” Jack swept his hand down Henry’s back, welcoming the solid warmth of it, the comfort of Henry just being. Knowing that he was his—hopefully forever. “Let’s just sneak out. We wouldn’t be lying to your mother if we told her you’ve been crazy busy. You deserve your rest.”

Henry set down his plate and offered him a weary smile. “I do, don’t I? So do you. We’ve both been busy. All right. There’s just one thing I need to do first. Give me a minute.” He stood up.

Jack watched him walk towards the middle of the room and grab an empty glass from a side table. He pinged it with his forefinger, until it sang out. The chatter faded to silence. Henry set the glass down and shoved his hands into his pocket.

What the fuck? 

Jack recognised all the signs of nerves—the bobbing Adam’s apple, the way Henry shifted his weight from one foot to the other, the tight set of his jaw. Something inside swooped and dove. Whatever Henry was about to do was going to be big and unforgettable.

“Thank you. Now that I have your attention.” Henry cleared his throat. “I have something I need to say.” He stared at Jack, a fire in his eyes. “As you all know, apart from a brief hiccup, Jack and I have been together for quite a while.  I’d really like us to stay that way…forever.” He strode towards Jack, then dropped elegantly onto one knee. “So I want to make it official.”

Jack lost every word and every thought. He saw the future shining in Henry’s eyes and glinting off the ring his lover held before him.

“Marry me,” Henry whispered. “Make me yours.”

There was a muffled sob from somewhere. Jack wasn’t sure if it was Georgina finally getting her reality check, Mrs Lewis or his own mother. He scanned the room for his parents. Not that he needed their approval or anything, but their tearful smiles were blessing enough. He took a deep breath and covered Henry’s hand with his. “Yes please.”

The room filled with applause when he leant forward to kiss Henry. For a moment, they were all there was, all there would be. No one else mattered, the past was done with, the future was set in the band of gold Henry held before him. That was all he would ever need.

The End.

The entire story will be available as a free download from All Romance EBooks and LoveLane Books after the 23 December. Merry Christmas!

I have a few books out there. You can find a list here at Total-E-Bound. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Planning the Christmas Meal

Today's seasonal offering is from 'Biscuits and Bunting', a story about some saucy happenings in a village during the run up to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Here, a Christmas meal is being discussed, with ... undertones.

The slow click of the indicator heralded the turn-off to the farm. Hamlyn eased the car over the sodden gravel and pulled up in front of the unit. “I have a Christmas dinner planned at my house, a business thing. It’s one of those necessary evils, but it has to be done. I know it’s a busy time of year for you but if you could fit me in, I’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll check the diary while you’re here.”
Alice, my secretary, was shamelessly peering through the misted window.
We climbed out of the car. Hamlyn followed me through the door. The warmth was a relief after the piercing, damp cold outside.
“Do you a fancy a coffee while you’re here? I’ve been testing out some new biscuit recipes. You could be a guinea pig.” I asked, more in hope than anything else.
“Sounds good to me. I’m not in a hurry to be anywhere.”
I didn’t want to consider the reasons why this was good news to me. I took my diary from Alice’s desk and asked her to fetch coffee and a selection of biscuits before taking Hamlyn to my office.
“Sorry about the mess.” I cleared some space on the desk to try and make it look tidier and sat down.
Hamlyn took a seat and slipped out of his coat. The spice of his cologne drifted across the morass of papers and invoices. I slid my chair under my desk because my dick was having thoughts of its own about Hamlyn’s presence.
Not good.
“What date did you have in mind?” I opened my diary and pretended to be professional, in an attempt to snap myself out of it.
“I know it’s short notice, but is there any chance you can do the last Friday in November? I wanted to get the business over and done with before anyone gets too jaded from a surfeit of celebratory dinners.”
I shuffled through the pages. “That should be fine. I have a lunch but nothing in the evening. Have you any thoughts about what you want to serve?” I picked up a pen.
“It’ll be a sit-down dinner and there’ll be half a dozen guests. Three couples and me.”
How pathetic was it that I perked up at that intelligence? “Any idea what you’d like? French? Hungarian? Italian? British? A Christmas themed meal?”
“Italian would make a change.”
I rummaged through the pile of menus. “Here are the Italian choices. Have a look and give me a call when you’ve decided what you’d like. I can get it all ready and then just drop it by the house. All you’ll have to do is heat it up and serve.”
Hamlyn set the menu down. “I was wondering…if…” He glanced at the menu again. “I’d prefer it if someone could be there to serve it. I don’t want to be in and out of the kitchen all night when I’m entertaining.”
“Fair point.” I considered my list of part-time servers. “I can get one of the girls to serve.”
“I don’t suppose I could persuade you, could I? I’d rather you were there.”
“I don’t usually do that.”
“If you don’t want to, I’d understand.”
I can’t resist pleading blue eyes. I just bloody can’t. This had nothing to do with business and everything to do with wanting him.
Alice clattered in with two mugs of coffee and a plate of fresh biscuits. The Christmas line was a cut above the normal, plenty of chocolate, nuts and fruit. Hamlyn helped himself to a biscuit and smiled at Alice. She dimpled, blushed and scuttled away.
“If you’re the type that goes out on Friday nights, that’s all right. It’s okay to have a social life.”
“What is this ‘social life’ you speak of?” I waved the biscuits away. I’d spent most of the morning baking the bloody things.
“Ah, it’s like that, is it?” His eyes had a glint in them. “Just like me. No life.”
“I’ll do it. I haven’t anything else to do.”
Hamlyn’s smile was worth sacrificing an empty Friday night for. “Excellent. Thank you.”
“Just don’t expect me to dress in a maid’s outfit and hand the canapés around.” I scribbled the details into the diary. “What time will you want dinner for?”

If you want to read how things went the night of the dinner, why not pick up a copy of 'Biscuits and Bunting'?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some Christmas hooch from Orion Rising

Today's Christmas snippet is from 'Orion Rising'. Even when the world has been overwhelmed by perpetual winter, there's still time for a Christmas party.

I was spared further questioning when someone put the music on. It wasn’t at all Christmassy. The room was loud with chairs and tables being pulled back to clear the floor for dancing. I retreated further into my corner and watched people take to the floor. Some were obviously already feeling the effects of the head gardener’s hooch, their movements jerky, enthusiastic, unsteady. Someone claimed Bernice for a dance and I took refuge in the shadows. I couldn’t dance, drunk or sober. Instead, I took another cautious sip of the hooch and wondered how soon I could leave without being noticed. The first song ended; couples broke apart and went in search of other partners.
“Come on, you anti-social git.” Bernice took my arm and led me out of my corner. “You owe me a dance.”
“How do you reckon that?”
“Because I do.” She grinned and I tried to dance, find the rhythm in the song.
“At least make an effort to look like you’re enjoying yourself.”
I gave Bernice a fixed grin. “Like this?”
“It’s a start. I think you need to unwind a bit, drink more hooch.”
“No thanks—I want to make it back to my room without help. I jigged about and tried not to feel like a gormless twit.
Bernice smiled. “You’re doing just fine.”
I felt like a puppet with wonky strings. When the music finished I turned back towards my corner.
“Dance?” A warm hand grabbed my wrist.
I spun around. Paul’s eyes were impossible to read in the dimly lit room, in the mêlée of the dance floor. His grip was firm.
All the hurt rose and faded when I saw the set of his jaw. I couldn’t deny him in the middle of a crowded room. “All right.”
He smiled and his hand fell away. We faced each other. If anyone was watching I didn’t notice. I was too busy trying not to look like a flat-footed eejit. It was impossible not to touch him, not when the space was small and crowded. We danced close. Each accidental touch was electricity revived. By the time the song had finished, I didn’t want to leave the floor.
“Drink?” he asked, in the brief silence before the next tune.
“No alcohol, please.”
“Don’t worry, there’s the non-alcoholic version of the infamous lemonade, too.” His smile was broader this time.
I followed him through the crowd, to the refuge of the service area, where one of the canteen ladies was acting as a barmaid. Paul asked for two drinks and leaned on the counter. “You can’t dance very well, can you?”
“No. Sorry about that.” I wasn’t.
He handed me a glass. The scent of lemons, free of alcohol, rose from a tumult of bubbles. “It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re having fun.”
I sipped the drink, “It’s all right. Parties really aren’t my thing.”
“I can tell.” Paul grinned. “They’re not mine, either, but I have to show my face.” He watched me over the rim of his glass.
“I suppose you do.”
He edged closer, his arm against mine while we leaned against the counter and watched the revellers. “I’m sorry.” His breath was warm against my cheek. All kinds of things threatened to spill over at that touch.
I didn’t want to give in so easily. I’d nursed my hurts for so long that they almost defined me. “For what?”
“This probably isn’t the best time or place for apologies.”
“I know.” He sighed and looked at his feet. “But I had to start somewhere.”

Michael and Paul fight to survive in a land frozen by endless winter. Will the ice between them thaw once and for all?

If you would like to know whether Michael accepts Paul's apology, you can always grab a copy of 'Orion Rising' here

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A little bit of Christmas from Mourning Jack

Don't you just love Christmas? When I wrote 'Mourning Jack', I knew I wanted to include a bit of Christmas in the story, so here is something seasonal from 'Mourning Jack'

Eric pushed his chair back and stood up a trifle unsteadily. "Are you easily embarrassed?" he whispered.
"That depends"
The table fell silent.
He fumbled in his pocket and produced a sprig of mistletoe. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have my own ideas on how to thank the chef." He held the mistletoe aloft. "Are you up for this?"
Exhaustion made me reckless. "Yes." Everyone in the pub knew anyway. Given that his staff had seen me at the yard, I gathered they all had more than an inkling."
There was wild applause when he kissed me. My cheeks burned more than the bloody pudding because the entire restaurant had joined in, staff included. It didn't matter that Eric was probably too pissed to raise an argument, that he probably wouldn't remember this moment. I wrapped my arms around his waist and savoured it all.

If you want to read more, you'll find it here

What better way to keep warm, than to read some romance on a frosty winter's day?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Baby it's cold outside

Good morning, campers!

I woke up this morning, looked out of the window and decided that it's too cold to venture outside. This is a good day to curl up in the warm, with a cat or two draped on my lap and a good book.

If you're feeling the same way, I have some steamy stories that will help beat the winter chill. They'll take you from the mountains of Pakistan, to the firelit bedroom of an ancient house. You'll visit India during the days of the Raj and a sleepy English village during the run-up to the Diamond Jubilee. If you're into food, you can spend time with a chef in his kitchen domain. There's stories for everyone. So check out my book list!

Book list. - All available from Total E-Bound.