Friday, 21 December 2012



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 1 HERE, Chapter 2 HERE and Chapter 3 HERE 

Chapter 4 

Jack forced himself not to watch Henry leave and kept his gaze firmly trained on the contents of the drink Tim had shoved into his hand. The unseen thread that had always seemed to join him to Henry had been tugged longingly by the sweet smile the other man had given him from across the room. Aren't you forgetting what he said? How he made you feel? Thankfully, Jack wasn't able to give much rein to the mumblings of his inner voice as he suddenly found himself face to face with Emily Lewis.

"Timothy, darling you don't mind if I steal Jack from you for a moment," Emily trilled, pulling Jack away before the man could respond with a look that brooked no argument. Emily guided Jack towards the fireplace and patted his arm. "Jack, sweetheart," Emily leaned in and Jack pressed his lips to her cool cheek in a perfunctory kiss. "How are you? Those delightful students of yours not running you ragged, I hope?"

"They try," Jack replied, hoping he sounded a lot more casual than he felt. "But I've threatened to bring back the blackboard so I can throw the duster at them if they step out of line. You're looking as beautiful as ever, Emily."

"You always were a charmer, Jack Hughes," Emily teased as she simpered at the compliment, and then gripped his hand between both of hers. Jack swallowed in anticipation of what she was about to say, desperately hoping it didn't involve anything to do with him and Henry. "Speaking of which," she said. "Henry's disappeared for a sulk and his father is in his shed with Father Clarkson to look at the seed catalogue, apparently. I don't know why they just don't confess they're testing the elderberry wine, but we must let them think they have their little secrets."

Jack's gaze widened as the woman he'd known practically all his life didn't even pause for breath as she rambled on. He had always been fascinated by her ability to take him on a magical mystery tour around the houses, and describing the ins and outs of a duck's arse before she ever got to the bloody point. Of course, unknown to Emily he had long ago managed to tune her out until she got to the vital information he needed—just as he was doing now.

"So will you?"

Jack blinked owlishly, she'd obviously finished. "Will I what?" In the three months since he'd seen her last, his technique had obviously got a little flabby as he'd missed the vital information.

"Fetch me some more wine, silly boy," Emily crooned. "Careful, Jack. You'll have me thinking you don't listen to a word I say."

Oh shit, she knows. Jack shook his head and smiled to cover his embarrassment. "You cut me to the quick, Emily. As if that would ever be possible." He knocked back the remaining scotch in his glass and put it on the mantelpiece beside him, ignoring the raised eyebrow he received at the placement. "How many bottles do you want?"


Henry stared at the rows of bottles before him in the wine cellar’s wall to ceiling racks, without seeing a single one of them. With the taste of Jack still on his lips, he couldn't concentrate on anything but his own idiocy. What the hell were they doing? Fighting off the likes of Cruella de Ville and Porks Elliott, when they should be gazing into each other's eyes as his mother made her annual toast about love, life and all that bollocks, as they had last year.

Have you forgotten what you said? Or the look on his face when you said it?

He sighed heavily. No, of course he hadn't. He'd remember the hurt in Jack's eyes and the cold determination as he'd packed his bag for the rest of his life. How the hell was he supposed to make things right? He couldn't take back what he'd said. Couldn't repair the damage his throwaway comment had caused. Hell, he couldn't even get Jack to stay in the same room with him for more than five minutes before chaos descended. After what happened… why would Jack even want him back?

"Score one to Emily."

Henry span on his heel and his gaze widened at the sight of   Jack standing at the bottom of the cellar steps, his arms folded across his chest. "What are you doing down here?"

"Your mother sent me down for some more wine," Jack sneered. "Another ruse to get us alone in the same place. She and my mother are probably up there congratulating each other over the vol au vents." He ran a hand through his hair and a wry smile lifted his lips.  "I can't believe I fell for it."

When Jack turned to leave, Henry knew this was his only chance. Their mothers could turn meddling into an Olympic event and any other time he'd have been pissed... but maybe they weren't so far off  the mark. "Don't go." The words came out on a rush of breath and the wings of hope fluttered in his gut  as Jack stilled. Staring at the stiff line of Jack's shoulders and taking in the clenched fists by his side, Henry finally said what he should have said three months ago. "I'm sorry."

"For what?" Jack said, his tone defeated. "For climbing so far up Donald Parry's bigoted arse that you turned into him? For leaving me at home—alone—night after night while you wined and dined your way around town with Georgina Parry on your arm instead of me? For saying your job affects lives and how I couldn't possibly understand because I'm only a ten-a-penny teacher? Or for being so blinded by your own ambition you made me feel like a second rate citizen in my own life?"  Jack still didn't turn around. "So… which one is it that you're sorry for, Henry?"

Henry's heart ached at the pain in Jack's voice. He'd thought he couldn't possibly feel any worse… until now. What was he sorry for?  "All of them. I'm sorry for all of them." Henry's breath caught in his throat and his voice broke as he whispered, "Please come home."

Jack turned around.

Chapter 5 can be found HERE at Sue Brown's place on 22 December.

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

And don't forget you can get your copy of The Perfect Gift, book 2 in the Mr Popsalos series, from Silver Publishing from the 29 December.


Jamie knows what he wants to give Luke for their first anniversary. The wedding rings have been burning a hole in the suitcase in the attic for months. 

But before he can ask that life-changing question, an accident throws their lives into disarray.

1 comment:

  1. Love the story so far and I really like the excerpt. =)