Today we shine the spotlight on Charlie Cochrane and
Don't Kiss The Vicar
Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?
Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.
Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?
“Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.
“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”
“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”
Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?
“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.
“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.
“You should keep that thing under control,” he said, as the woman came up and made a lunge for the Great Dane. “What if it had gone for a child?”
“He’s just nervous,” she said, flustered. “Here, Rex. Here, boy.” The dog stood off. “He’s a rescue dog. Doesn’t like men.”
“Then take him somewhere he won’t have to see them. Are you all right?” Dan tried to focus his anger into something useful, rummaging in his pocket for a clean hankie. “You need something on that hand.”
“I’m fine,” Steve said, trying to hide the bleeding while keeping a nervous eye on the dog. “Can somebody not take that bloody thing away?”
“There’s no need for that sort of language,” the woman said, at last managing to get a lead onto the dog’s collar.
“I think there’s every need for it. And worse,” Dan said. “You’d better take him off if you don’t want the air turning blue.”
“Well, really! Come on, boy.” She hauled the dog away at last.
“Right. Show me that hand.”
“I’m fine.” Steve got to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers and managing to get blood on them.
“That hand’s a mess.” Dan grabbed it, none too gently, which made Steve wince, but it served him right for faffing. “This cut’s full of crap. You need to have it cleaned out and a steri-strip put on. Might even need a stitch or two.”
“I’ve had worse,” Steve said, trying to free his paw.
Yes, you have. There’s that intriguing scar on the back of your hand and the one above your left eyebrow. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I don’t imagine tasting them.
Dan became aware of the strange look he was getting and ploughed on. “So have I. Come on, the vicarage is closer than your house. We can dress this there.”
“Oh, for fu...goodness sake. I can sort it out myself. I’m not a child.” Steve tugged his hand away, clearly avoiding Dan’s gaze.
“Will you not let somebody help you? Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”
Get the book:
Interview with the vicar
Tell us about Steve and what first attracted you to him.
He’s drop dead gorgeous and seems to vacillate between being the best bloke in the world and a pain in the proverbial. Both of these things – and the fact he seemed so unattainable for so long – added to his attraction.
What would be your perfect romantic date?
Somebody who didn’t get embarrassed by the fact that I’m a vicar. It seems to be a bit of a romance killer, although I guess the church itself has got a lot to answer for on that count. Sorry, I’ll get down off my high horse.
Is there anything in the bedroom department that you will not, under any circumstances, do?
What a personal question! I’ll just say that I wouldn’t do anything that hurt somebody else, or put them somewhere they weren’t happy.
What's the worst thing you've done to someone you loved?
Blanked my first boyfriend in public. I was still in the closet, so scared that I’d give myself away that I couldn’t make any sort of conversation with him in public. He didn’t deserve it. And before you say anything, yes, I did nearly do the same sort of thing with Steve.
Have you ever been in a physical fight?
More than once, and at least one of them since I was ordained. In my defence, every time I was trying to protect somebody else. I know we’re supposed to turn the other cheek, but it isn’t always easy.
What trait do you find most admirable, and how often do you find it?
That whole honesty, integrity, general ‘decentness’ package. You see it in the sort of person who owns up in a restaurant when they’ve been underpaid. It’s a quantity that’s as rare as hen’s teeth. Steve has it though, which is another reason I fancy the pants off him.
Is it okay for you to cry?
Of course it is. Jesus himself wept, didn’t He? If the guv’nor can do it, so can I. I’ve not wept in front of my congregation, though; I’m not sure they’re ready for that yet.
What do you do when you are bored?
Beat the living daylights out of the weeds in the vicarage garden. I rarely get enough down time to get bored, though. I’d probably appreciate the opportunity!
Do you have any bad habits? If so, what are they, and do you plan to get rid of them?
How long have we got? I have loads of them, not least vacillating. I have no idea how I’ll get rid of them, and maybe I won’t even try. Perhaps I’m better off working round them.
About the author:
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.
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