Today I am so pleased to welcome Garrett Leigh back to Joyfully Jay. Garrett has come to share an exclusive excerpt with us from her new release, Misfits. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Garrett a big welcome!
Jake took some persuading, but eventually Tom managed to coax him into a nearby café.
“You’re not buying me lunch, though. I can buy my own.” Jake stomped up to the counter and came back with tea and bacon sandwiches. “This posh enough for you?”
You sound like Cass. “Do I look too posh for a bacon sandwich?”
Tom resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He’d woken up in Berkhamsted to find Cass had hidden all his smart-casual business attire in protest at their Monday apart. Tom had retaliated by stealing Cass’s only clean jeans and his favourite leather jacket. “Okay, so if you think I’m such a dickhead, why are you buying me lunch?”
“I spat in it.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I wanted—wankers—I wanted to.”
Tom chanced a grin. “Well, I’m glad you didn’t.”
Jake picked up the pot of tea. His hand shook. He put it down again. “What the fuck is an open relationship?”
“You want me to define it?” Tom leaned forwards. “Or tell you what it means to me and Cass?”
“What’s the difference?”
“I don’t know, because we don’t care what anyone else thinks.”
Jake finally poured his tea, eyes down, his concentration clear. “Then why tell me? What makes you think I care?”
“I’m not forcing you to stay.”
With a low growl, Jake put his elbows on the table and glowered. “Go on, then. Enlighten me.”
Tom picked up his sandwich. The bread was plastic, soggy, and soaked in bacon grease. His mouth watered. “Cass is my partner. We live together, own a business together, and we’re totally committed to each other.” Jake snorted as he picked up his own sandwich, but Tom held up his hand. “Let me finish.”
“If you say so.” Tom bit back a grin. “Cass and I have been together a long time. I was twenty-one when I met him; he was nineteen. It was love at first sight, but we were too young to settle down. So we didn’t.”
“But you live together now?”
“Yes, but we still hook up with other blokes from time to time. Sometimes together, but that’s rare.”
“We don’t often find someone we both like.”
Jake’s frown deepened. Tom jumped into the awkward silence. “We’re very honest with each other. I would’ve told him everything about you even if he hadn’t come home when he did.”
“I thought he was going to deck me.”
Tom shook his head. Cass had a volatile temper, but it wasn’t triggered by jealousy. “Cass is cool. We approach things in different ways, but ultimately, we meet in the middle.”
Jake finished his sandwich. “Different? How?”
“Cass would never do this.” Tom gestured between them. “He fucks other people, but he likes his own space, mentally, at least.”
Jake raised an eyebrow. “He fucks other people . . . because you don’t bottom, right?”
“No. We fuck other people because we want to.” Tom held Jake’s gaze. “But in answer to your question, I don’t bottom. Cass is versatile. I’m not.”
“You shouldn’t have to cheat on each other because you don’t want to bottom.”
Tom suppressed a sigh. He really doesn’t get it. “It’s not cheating, Jake. We choose to live this way. It might not make sense to you, but it works for us.”
“Sounds fucked up.”
“So?” Tom felt the first flash of defensiveness. He wanted Jake to understand for reasons he wasn’t quite sure of yet, but he wasn’t prepared to let Jake—anyone—tear his relationship to shreds. “How do you feel when people judge you by how you sound?”
On cue, Jake ticked and growled something Tom didn’t catch. “Don’t play on my TS. It is what it is. It doesn’t define me.”
“I know that.”
Jake nodded slowly. “Your boyfriend—Cass—he’s . . .”
“Bloody gorgeous?” Jake rolled his eyes, and Tom smiled. “He wants to meet you.”
The faint trace of humour in Jake’s gaze faded like it had never been there at all. “No offence, but I don’t want to be part of some weird ménage trip. You’re a good shag, but you’re not that good.”
Tom said nothing. He’d enjoyed fucking Jake . . . enjoyed it a lot, and he knew Jake had too.
“Bastard, bastard, bastard. I wish you were a prick.” Jake groaned and put his head in his hands.
Tom rubbed Jake’s shoulder. “I’m not asking you for anything, Jake. You asked me a question. I answered it.” Silence. Tom squeezed Jake’s shoulder. “All right?”
Jake finally met Tom’s gaze. “If you didn’t do shit like that, I wouldn’t care if I never saw you again.”
Tom didn’t know what to say. He wanted to see Jake again, but the churning in his gut told him it wasn’t that simple. Jake didn’t get his relationship with Cass, he didn’t like it, and Tom couldn’t live with that. Cass was everything to him. Always.
“I should go.” Jake sat up and rubbed his face. “I need to go home.”
Tom withdrew his hand. Folded his arms. He knew this should be good-bye, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it. Instead he said, “Maybe I’ll stop by that cesspit you work sometime.”
“Good luck with that. I don’t work there anymore.”
Jake shrugged. “I got sacked this morning. Guess you were right, and I’m not much of a waiter.”
“Same as always.” Jake gulped the last of his tea. “They kept me until my probation was nearly up, then found some bullshit reason to get rid of me. It wasn’t too hard. My boss kept notes of my fuckups.”
“They can’t sack you for having Tourette’s. That’s illegal.”
“That’s life. I’m used to it.”
“Doesn’t make it right.” Tom absently stirred the dregs of his own tea. He could well imagine Jake’s TS made him a challenging team member, but victimising him wasn’t the answer. The laws against discrimination were there for a reason. “What are you going to do?”
“Something will come up. It always does. I haven’t worked on a building site for a while. Maybe I’ll try labouring.”
The thought of Jake shivering on one of the city’s many construction sites, ticking halfway up some perilous scaffolding, churned Tom’s stomach. “You don’t have to do that. I’m sure I can find you work.”
Jake kicked back his chair with an abrupt screech of wood on tile. He dumped a tenner on the table and stormed out of the café.
Tom wasn’t altogether surprised. He toyed with the idea of letting Jake choose his own good-bye. Then he shoved his own chair away and followed Jake out. He found him by the zebra crossing and caught his arm. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Jake squirmed and pushed Tom away. “I don’t need a fucking sugar daddy.”
The frustration in Tom’s veins boiled over. He grabbed Jake’s flailing arm and held it tight. “I’m thirty years old, dickhead, I’m no one’s bloody dad, got it?”
Jake said nothing. Tom took his chance and pressed his business card into his hand. “I don’t feel sorry for you, but I can help you. I want to help you. Call me. I’ll be there.”
Restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.
Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.
Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.
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