Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll take a look at Alpha Barman, and Hissed As A Newt and Bells And Balls (from the With A Kick series), as well as a personal story Sue has chosen to share. All the way at the bottom is also another chance to win!
First up, Alpha Barman
Jake Tyler walked out of Covert Ops two years ago, a devastated, broken man after he discovered his sister brutally murdered by her husband, Riley. Since then he’s found a kind of peace running a rural bar. The last thing Jake Tyler expects is his former team to turn up with grim news. Jake’s ex-brother-in-law has escaped from prison and is heading Jake’s way. The team is here to protect Jake, whether he likes it or not – a decision reluctantly shared by their leader, Jake’s ex-lover Mitch Mitchelson.
Mitch is angry and hurting. The man he trusted – the man he adored more than anything – abandoned both his team and Mitch. Jake never gave Mitch a chance to help or come to terms with his desertion. Regardless of mission protocols, Mitch isn’t about to open his heart again to that kind of pain.
But the strong attraction between them can’t be denied. How are they ever going to work together when Mitch still resents Jake’s disappearance, and to Jake, the team represents everything that destroyed him in the first place? And meantime they wait for Riley to find them... and to settle the threat once and for all.
Jake ushered Mitch in and shut the door. As he turned to face him, only lightning reflexes stopped him getting more than a graze on the jaw as Mitch punched him. “What the fuck?” He stumbled back against the desk, the edge catching him painfully against his lower thighs.
“Are you okay?” Howie yelled.
“Fine! It’s okay!” Jake shouted to stop anyone running in. “What the hell did you do that for?” he spat, rubbing his jaw.
“You deserve that,” Mitch snarled. “And more for what you put me through. You walked out and left me without a word. Not one fucking word! Do you know what I went through? Did you even fucking care?”
Jake bit back the angry words brewing on his lips. He did deserve it. He’d been so lost in his own rage and grief after Sharon’s murder that he’d walked away from everything after his meeting with Lukas. He never even went to the home he and Mitch shared to collect his belongings. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re… sorry?” Mitch stared at him, his expression furious. “You’re sorry? Is that it? Is that all you’ve got to say for yourself?”
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Second in today's line-up, Hissed As A Newt
"All guys do emotional just in different ways. I eat ice-cream, you get drunk in the gutter…”
A drunk clown rolling around in the gutter is not what David Wright expects to find as he walks to With A Kick, his favourite ice-cream shop. David has had a lousy day. A literary agent has crushed his dreams and all he wants is the consolation of alcoholic ice-cream. He’s about to walk away when he realises the clown has been dumped by his boyfriend. On a whim, David takes the clown into With A Kick before he gets arrested. Underneath the smeared make-up, he meets Stan, who has just found his boyfriend and best friend getting more than friendly. Over ice-cream, David and Stan discuss their problems and discover maybe they can help each other.
As he turned the corner into Covent Garden he noticed a small crowd had gathered, obstructing his path to alcoholic heaven. He huffed as he negotiated kids, parents and tourists with their cameras snapping incessantly. A large crowd was assembled in one corner and he expected to see a street performer in their midst, juggling or miming—or whatever other crap they called art. David was curious enough to walk over and take a look. It was indeed a street performer, a clown in fact, but the bloke wasn’t juggling or miming, he rolled around in the road, arms flailing as he mumbled to himself. David’s lip curled as he realised the clown was drunk; absolutely paralytic in fact. Lucky bugger!
“It’s a strange show, Vera,” an old man standing next to David commented to his wife.
She sniffed in agreement. “Nothing like our day, Bert. They were true artistes.”
The couple moved away, the woman still complaining.
The man in the road rolled over onto his side and vomited. A groan of disgust rippled through the crowd and they moved away en masse.
David was about to do the same when he caught the man’s words.
“I loved you, you fucking bastard. I loved you and you cheated on me.”
Bastard, not bitch. Huh.
Cursing his impulsive nature, David knelt by the man, careful to avoid the puke. “Are you all right?”
The man mumbled incoherently. His makeup was smeared, and David realised he’d been crying. At the moment he looked more like an Allison Schulnik painting than a clown.
“You really need to get out of the road, man.”
“Leave me in the gutter.”
Oh Jesus, a drama queen. “Listen mate, you can stay here if you want but you’re liable to be nicked. Why don’t you get up and come with me? I want to drown my sorrows. We can cry on each other’s shoulders.”
The clown opened one eye. It would have been a pretty, blue eye if it hadn’t been so bloodshot. “A drink?”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“Probably.” With David’s help the clown sat up then clutched his stomach. “Definitely. I’m going to puke again.”
“Come on.” David hauled him up when he’d finished retching. He cut a miserable figure. “What’s your name?”
“Stan the Clown. Stanislaw Sojka. Polish dad, Bethnal Green mum.” Stan’s knees buckled and he would have fallen if David hadn’t been holding him.
“Well, Stan the Clown, I’m David Wright. London dad and Surrey mum. Let’s get you away from the puke and cleaned up.”
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Also available from the series by Sue Brown, Bells And Balls
Rob Barker had plans for his weekend and they didn’t involve struggling through the pre-Christmas crowds with the five-year-old niece he barely knows. Left with no choice, he grudgingly takes Pearl to see the sights of London but, instead of following the list his sister-in-law gives him, Rob takes her to With A Kick, an ice-cream shop with a difference.
His plan is foiled when he discovers With A Kick is closed for a private children's party, but the owners kindly let Pearl join in. Rob’s mood improves considerably as he watches Father Christmas hand out presents. Not only is Santa a hot red-head under the beard, he is also one of his rugby team-mates, Mick, a man Rob has always lusted after. After Mick confesses a mutual interest, he agrees to meet Rob at With A Kick’s evening party—where there are definitely no kids - or girls - allowed.
Rob waited his turn until the end then, when everyone else was done, he approached Santa Mick.
“Please, Santa, can I sit on your knee?” Rob was thrilled to see the sudden heat in Mick’s eyes.
“He’ll break you, Santa. Don’t let him!”
Rob scowled at the young guy who made the comment. The kid didn’t look old enough to shave let alone be out in adult company.
Mick ignored him and patted his knee. Rob seated himself cautiously – because he really didn’t want to break Santa before he’d even kissed him - but Mick pulled him against his body, to the accompaniment of cat calls. He smelled of citrus and spice and Rob found himself wanting to do unspeakable things to Santa. Mick went through the ritual of asking him if he’d been naughty or nice, and did he deserve a present or a spank.
“I’ve been naughty, Santa. Very, very naughty.” Rob’s voice was two octaves lower than usual.
He watched Mick swallow and waited.
“A really naughty boy?” Mick asked.
Rob nodded. For a moment Rob thought Mick was going to spank him in front of everyone.
Then Mick handed him a present and kissed him, and it wasn’t remotely like the pecks he’d given the other men. Mick took possession of Rob’s mouth, one hand in Rob’s hair and the other arm an iron brand across his back. If this was Santa’s punishment Rob was going to be naughty every day of the year. Ignoring all the shrieks and whistles of approval, Rob lost himself in Mick’s kiss.
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Sue's personal story:
This month I’ll be going to London Pride again. There are many reasons to go to Pride but I want to tell you why it’s important to me. The first time I went with my ex-girlfriend, her sister and a good friend of mine, it was a milestone in my life. We met through fanfiction, and I discovered after forty years, I wasn’t as straight as I thought I was. Some people know all their lives they are part of the LGBT community. I didn’t. I found women attractive, but I didn’t really understand anything about bisexuality until I was face to face with this beautiful girl.
Going to Pride was a huge deal for me. It wasn’t easy to say, “Hey, this is me, not straight, and this is my girlfriend.” It took me years to work from ‘not straight’ to stand up and say, “I am bisexual.” So there I am, standing in the parade with my knees knocking. We wore bunny ears and cowboy hats, and we marched along with everyone else. I held my girlfriend’s hand in public for the first time without fear of anyone saying anything. It was a feeling I can’t describe. Relief, happiness, a bubble of OMG what am I doing? You know the unicorn farting rainbows? Well, he farted one for me that day.
There were funny moments too. We sat down, beer in hand and listening to jazz. A tired bear in a kilt walked past and noticed us watching him. We smiled, he smiled, straightened his shoulders, and strutted along like we’d made his day.
It took me years to go to Pride again, but I’m glad I did. No girlfriend this time, but good friends and a sense of belonging. I live in straight world and I have good friends, but Pride gives me a chance to be with others like me.
More about Sue Brown:
Cranky middle-aged author with an addiction for coffee, and a passion for romancing two guys.
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Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Sue Brown's books, our Q&A with the author, and one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!