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Grant pulled into the driveway of his house—for what might well be the very last time.
He parked in his usual spot under the cherry tree and stared up at the million pounds worth of farmhouse. He didn’t want to leave the place, but it had always been more Harriet’s project than his. She’d made a show of discussing her interior decorating plans with him, but had tactfully ignored all his suggestions and gone her own way, as always.
He should have asserted himself more, perhaps. Insisted on at least one of the downstairs rooms being done out to his taste, but he’d given way out of guilt. He’d known he’d never be the husband she deserved, so at least he could let her have part of the Country Living fantasy.
Grant sighed and got out of the car. He hoped he could keep his wheels, but he knew from other divorced friends just how cripplingly expensive the whole process could be. And maybe he’d need a more practical family car in the future, depending on how often Harriet let him see the girls. He’d have to take them out on dates like other absentee dads did. Win their love by treating them to the cinema and too much pizza and fizzy drinks. The kind of junk food Harriet abhorred.
But maybe he was getting ahead of himself. Maybe they’d be able to work something out where he could stay here. Keep up appearances. For the neighbours’ sake.
Grant shuddered. No, it was time to be honest at long last. Not just honest with his wife but with the world as a whole. Living this lie was eating him up from the inside. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d laughed. Not the laughs he faked at work, but a genuine belly-chuckle.
It had probably been with Mas.
Grant shut his briefcase into the car. No point taking it inside if he’d likely as not be turfed out once he’d said his piece. He mentally ran through his belongings back at the house.
Was there anything he couldn’t stand to lose? Betrayed spouses had a way of destroying their exes’ possessions, so he’d heard.
No, he already had everything of importance at the Bristol flat, and he wasn’t particularly sentimental about stuff. Clothing and so on could always be replaced, and Harriet was
welcome to the mementos of their sixteen years of married life.
Sixteen years! He’d tried to make a go of things. No one could accuse him of failing to stick it out and give the whole straight married life thing a good try. And although he’d been tempted many a time, he hadn’t cheated until a year ago, when he’d run into Mas in that fancy department store he used to work in. Well, Grant wasn’t one to argue with fate.
The electricity between him and Mas had been off the scale, making the desire he’d felt for Harriet seem like a pale imitation of the real thing.
It was just a shame fate hadn’t forced him to confront his own sexuality until he was already married. But he’d only been twenty back when he and Harriet tied the knot, and it was easy to dismiss any stray man-on-man fantasies as nothing serious. Even with Mas, he’d told himself it was just a phase. Yeah, a phase. Trouble was, he’d been fantasising about men for the last decade. No, longer than that. If he was brutally honest, those thoughts had begun disturbing him in his teens. He’d just pushed them down and out of the way. Being gay was most definitely not acceptable in the Matravers household, and he’d done his best to be a good son, following the path set out for him by his parents.
Well, fuck what they thought. Grant was definitely gay. Hadn’t been able to kid himself on that front for a while now. But he’d still tried to be a good husband. To provide for Harriet and his girls in the ways that he could manage. And he’d even kept his dick firmly in his pants for the last six months since things ended with Mas, but the ache wasn’t going away.
Just today, he’d very nearly propositioned a client. Not the kind of man he was usually attracted to, but after six months of celibacy, he was ready to shag just about anyone.
Anyone male, that was. Poor Harriet. Grant groaned and sank against the wall out of sight of any of the windows. Last night she’d tiptoed into their bedroom in some ridiculous new underwear—all bows and lace—and made a clumsy pass at him. He’d faked a headache.
Lousy excuse, and she’d been hurt, he could tell. Then he really had had a headache. Guilt and remorse crowding into his head until he wanted to scream out into the night.
He’d been putting off telling her for months now, always hoping he’d be able to somehow make things work. To find a way to be happy with his life. But it wasn’t working.
It was time to own up to the truth. He owed it to Harriet, and he owed it to himself.
Grant let himself in the front door and was immediately almost bowled over by an enthusiastic Mabel. He petted the Golden Retriever behind her ears, painfully aware it might be the last time he was greeted like this. Oh, what the hell. He got down on his knees and submitted to a proper face licking. “I’ll miss you, sweetheart,” he muttered, pulling her close. Eventually she’d had enough of him, though, and when she trotted off towards the kitchen, Grant followed. Harriet would be there, working on dinner while the girls were at their riding lesson. Thursdays were the same every week. Time for a cosy family dinner before he headed off for his stint at the Bristol office on Friday.
Harriet was leaning over their oak kitchen table, peering at an open recipe book before she began carefully slicing some apples. He watched her for a moment, trying to memorise everything since it might be the last time he was allowed to stand here like this.
“Oh, you’re home early.” Harriet wiped some blonde strands of hair off her forehead.
“I’m rather in the middle of things here. I don’t suppose you could fetch the puff pastry from the freezer, could you? Thought I’d try something different for dessert.”
Grant couldn’t unstick his feet or his lips. He stood there, helpless. How could he destroy everything he and Harriet had built up together? Their facsimile of a perfect happy family.
“Darling? Is something the matter?” She put down the knife she’d been holding. Good.
Best not risk sharp objects in her hands when he gave her the news. Grant almost laughed.
“What is it? That headache still bothering you?” She gave a wry smile. “I thought you were just making excuses, but you really do look ill today.”
“Harriet. I need to tell you something.” Grant leaned against the counter for support.
He couldn’t meet her eyes.
“What is it? Oh my God, it’s not your job, is it? Please tell me they haven’t laid you off.”
He clamped his lips fast and shook his head. Maybe they could play twenty questions and then he wouldn’t have to force the words out himself. Words that would gut her and rip the heart out of their family.
“Is it someone we know? Has someone been hurt? Killed? Oh God!” Harriet gripped the edge of the table, and all the colour drained from her face. “It’s not one of the girls, is it?”
“No, God, no. Of course not. Nothing like that.”
“Grant? You’re making me worried.”
She was standing right in front of him now, and she’d taken hold of his hand. He didn’t deserve her kind touch, but he squeezed her hand back, knowing it was the last time ever he’d be able to do so.
“It’s about me. Hats, there’s something you don’t know. Something I’ve kept from you.
I…” He swallowed deeply and squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m gay.”
When things come to a head, there’s nowhere to go but down…
The Bristol Collection, Book 3
On the surface, Derek “Call Me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple, doing up custom campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. When a handsome, smooth-talking developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet, Dare realizes it’s the same man he had to escort home from a party months ago for causing a drunken scene.
Grant Matravers lives a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, divorced gay man while staying closeted at work. The strain of keeping up the part-time pretense, missing his kids, and now a problematic attraction to the shave-headed, tattooed Dare, has worn his emotional barriers dangerously thin.
Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges toward a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a hornet’s nest of complications that could destroy any chance for happily ever after.
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Jo publishes regularly with Samhain, and her latest novel is the contemporary gay erotic romance, Scrap. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a new baby.
Website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Jo will be giving away a choice of two titles from her backlist to one commentator
on each blog tour stop. Just leave a comment and please include your email address so you can be
contacted should you be chosen.
10th March ~ Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance
12th March ~ Boy Meets Boy Reviews
14th March ~ Love Bytes Reviews
16th March ~ Boys in our Books
18th March ~ Rainbow Gold Reviews
20th March ~ Prism Book Alliance
In addition to the above Jo will be giving away a Camper Van USB Drive with all her
books on it to one lucky winner chosen at random from all tour stops. Just enter the Rafflecopter
draw below for your chance to win this great prize. Good Luck!