Today I am so pleased to welcome Jay Hogan to Joyfully Jay. Jay has come to talk to us about her latest release, Flare. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
“Goddamn prehistoric, fucking piece-of-shit plumbing.” I struggled out from under the sink, threw the wrench in the bucket, and leaned over the countertop, temper blown all the hell. My feet paddled in rank water, a stench not unlike that from the dumpster by the university cafeteria wafted from my armpits, and a sheen of equally attractive sweat painted my face—a not insignificant feat considering the digital weather station hadn’t cruised past the blue-balling mark all day.
To top it off, I’d wasted three hours of uninterrupted marking time at home to the foolhardy idea of fixing my slow draining kitchen sink, and all because I didn’t want to cough up the money to pay for a plumber. How hard could it be, right? Probably not hard at all, if you knew what the fuck you were doing.
Ten years ago, it had seemed like a great investment. A character-filled century-old house close to the city and with a sliced view of the harbour—if you stood on your toes at the lounge window and leaned slightly to the left. Who wouldn’t want that? But factor in the ongoing and expensive renovation and repair scenarios, and my bank account was in constant need of life saving resuscitation.
Would I swap? Not on your life. Did I want to burn it to the ground on a semi-regular basis? You bet your double-glazed and underfloor-heated warm little toes I did.
I glanced at the clock on the wall and swore. Five fifty. Shit. There was no way I’d be making it to Flare in time for Jack. I should’ve perhaps been more upset about that than I was, but I’d managed to avoid anything more than a passing hello to Rhys the last three days, and I was more than happy about that. Maybe he’d been avoiding me as well. Probably the only thing we had in common.
My own fault. I’d read things wrong, again. Getting a handle on Rhys was like trying to snatch smoke from the air. I couldn’t tell if he liked me or if he was just being nice. But regardless, he had my dick under some kind of spell. Because whenever I was around him, I found myself doing shit I regretted later, like kiss his fucking hand, for Pete’s sake. I could still see the shock on his face. I mean, yes, I’d done it before, well maybe once, and not that successfully as it turned out, since that particular relationship fizzled pretty soon after. Note to self—romance is dead, or at the very least in need of sustained resuscitation.
But the way Rhys had talked me into a corner had my dick paying way too much attention. I was an English professor. In a battle of words, I ate most people for breakfast. It came with the territory. But not Rhys. He turned my stereotypes inside out and politely fed them back to me with a cheeky smile and a serving of indigestion, leaving me lost for words—a state that was mostly foreign to me, because . . . teacher. But around Rhys, all that confidence flew out the goddamn window.
I sent Jack a text to catch the bus, grabbed the wrench from the bucket, and flattened myself on the floor to have another go at getting the damn pipe unscrewed.
By the time Jack’s key turned in the front door and his feet hit the waxed rimu floors, I’d only managed to get one of the pipe connections undone. Go me. Who needed a functioning kitchen sink anyway? I glanced up at the clock and frowned. Six thirty. Way too soon for the bus.
“I’m in the kitchen,” I yelled. “Come and hold this for me. Sorry about the bus, but I thought—”
“No one read your beloved nineteenth-century poets anyway, so you thought you’d get a real job?”
“Dammit.” The wrench glanced off my forehead on its way from my hand to the floor and I peered up at him with one eye closed. “And fuck you too.”
Rhys crouched beside me, his cool fingertips tracing the path of the wrench on my brow, and I repressed a shiver. “Ouch. I bet that hurt. It didn’t break the skin, though. I think you’ll live.”
“Yeah, well, this sink might not,” I grumbled, noting the way his hair was styled up off his forehead and held in place by some no doubt pricey concrete gel shit. It exposed his eminently nibble-worthy ears, one of which sported a silver ear cuff thingy fitted around its rim that shouldn’t look as filthily erotic as it did.
“What are you doing, Uncle Beck?” Jack dragged my thoughts back from the gutter.
“Not so much, as it turns out. Pass me a tea towel, will you?” Seconds later, one magically appeared. I wrapped the leak, then wiped my face on my sleeve and blinked rapidly to clear the mucky water from my eyes.
“Rhys gave me a ride home. Dinner smells great.” Jack’s face appeared above mine, nose wrinkled in distaste. “What’s that stink?”
“Our blockage,” I fired back. “If only I could find the bloody thing. Can someone pass me that bendy coil thing?”
“You mean the flexi-pipe cleaner?” There was a smile in Rhys’s tone that I wanted to slap from the cheeky fucker’s face.
I peered up at him from inside the cupboard. “Exactly. I just wasn’t sure you’d understand the technical term.”
My own fashion label. The shiny new sign above the door means everything. My dream. My life. Worth every gruelling hour I’ve spent making it happen. Nothing can stop me now. Not the fear. Not the nightmares. Not my sad excuse for a love life. And certainly not Beckett Northcott, the sexy English professor who wouldn’t know a fitted shirt if it slapped him in the face and who has flannel down to an art form.
I don’t date for a very good reason, and yet Beck makes me want to break every damn one of my rules. But with my debut at Fashion Week looming, my business in trouble, and Beckett Northcott peeling open my terrified heart to a future I’ve never imagined, the threads of my carefully woven life are unravelling at the seams.
I could walk away. Or I could take a chance that Beck and I might just have what it takes to fashion a new life, together. A fresh design from a new cloth.
Past sexual assault and PTSD.
Amazon Universal: https://readerlinks.com/l/2360954
Heart, humour and keeping it real.
Jay is a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Romance and her book Off Balance was the 2021 New Zealand Romance Book of the Year.
She is a New Zealand author writing mm romance and romantic suspense, primarily set in New Zealand. She writes character driven romances with lots of humour, a good dose of reality and a splash of angst. She’s travelled extensively, lived in many countries, and in a past life she was a critical care nurse, nurse educator and counsellor. Jay is owned by a huge Maine Coon cat and a gorgeous Cocker Spaniel
Find Jay in all the places: https://jayhoganauthor.contactin.bio/