Before I head off on my hols…

A little more of Marty for you. Pre-order buy links are here – release date 16th October. Take care, everyone, and I’ll see you when I get back!

http://bit.ly/MartyAmazonUK

http://bit.ly/MartyAmazonCom

Excerpt

“Oh, my God. A Whindale hellebore!”

Dev squinted across the hotel car park. “Nah. I’m pretty sure that’s a Chrysler.”

“No, you idiot. A plant, in the verge of the woodland there. Very pale green face, like a miniature daffodil.”

“Oh, yeah, I see it.” Devlin glanced at Marty’s shoes. “Those are suede. You’d better not get them wet. I’ll go grab it for you.”

Marty stopped him bodily. “Whoa! No, leave it alone. It’s protected, like a whole other bunch of wildflowers I’ll be happy to tell you about. In fact, don’t even mention to anyone that you’ve seen it. They’re very uncommon.”

He was still holding Dev’s shoulders. For all their tussles and collisions of the other night, this contact felt weirdly intimate, out in the open with the other guests coming and going around them. Dev scanned Marty’s face, an unreadable expression gathering on his own. “Something’s very uncommon,” he said, and leaned in.

The ride in the Merc had gone to Marty’s head a little. Dev drove with the windows down on a summer night, and his warm mouth tasted of lime pollen. A fragrance of leather from the Merc’s upholstery still clung to him. Caught up in this sensory overload, Marty closed his eyes. Shivers of pleasure ran down his spine. Others began to congregate below his belt, and he broke away reluctantly. “Better stop.”

“Yeah. We’re a bit early, though. Come with me into the woods.”

“Are you kidding? There are people I know here. Parents.”

“But it’s okay to kiss me in the car park?”

“That’s just an equality thing.” Marty smiled up at him. “They get to kiss their traditional dates in the open, I get to kiss you.”

“Great. I’d hate to think that snogging me was anything more than a political gesture.”

Marty drew him in again. Couldn’t let him think that such sweet kisses, heady with promise, were a gesture of any kind. “All right,” he said after a minute. “But it’ll have to be very deep in the woods, okay?”

“Deep as you like. I – ”

“Nosedive! Hoi!”

Devlin jumped. Marty was still holding him, and felt the jolt pass through him, harder and more painful than could be explained by the sudden appearance of Jared Clark. Jared was magnificent as ever, and – Marty wondered if he ever did anything on his own – flanked by two other Javelin flyboys. He’d clearly used up his natural quota of manners and good behaviour in the church, and hit the hotel bar like a truck in order to make up for it. Marty had pushed Devlin’s patience on the subject of high-flying warriors, though, and tried to give civility a shot. “Hello, Jared. Congratulations on your wedding. Devlin’s been kind enough to bring me as his guest tonight, and…”

He might as well have been one of the fenceposts for all the notice Jared took of him. His attention was burningly fixed on Dev. “You don’t let the grass grow under your feet, do you?”

Dev leaned a casual arm on Marty’s shoulder. “I beg your pardon?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I really don’t, you know. Care to give me a clue?”

“This is a nice way to find my best man, isn’t it – fondling the florist in the car park. Saw your name on the tag on the displays in the hotel, Marty. Very nice, dear. Very pretty.”

“Jared,” Dev said uncomfortably. “Do shut up.”

Marty shook his head. “It’s okay. Let him carry on. Last time I cared about anything guys like him said, I was – ”

“Stuck in your shagged-out car at the airfield. Did Dev get your engines running? He’s bloody good at that.”

Dev stepped between them. He put one fist gently into the knot of Jared’s tie, clamped the other around his chin. “You’re being a bitch, Jar-head,” he informed him quietly. “And this really isn’t the time.”

Jared shoved him back. It was only a flat-handed blow to the chest, but there was sincere power behind it, and Dev stumbled back. Marty caught and propped him. “I should go, Dev. I don’t want to cause any problems.”

“Bollocks. Why should you go?”

“Well, it’s his party, isn’t it? I’m not about to stick around here and…”

“Jared bloody Clark!”

Jared whipped around. So did Dev and the flyboys. Marty now recognised the one voice in the world that could make all these unruly lads snap to attention, although it was ludicrous that Flight Lieutenant Amy should have had to stride across a car park to knock heads together twice in the space of a week. Marty resisted the urge to hide his face. He was mortified, but Amy tonight wasn’t a sight he would have wanted to miss. She was resplendent in a full-on meringue frock, a frothy veil drifting out behind her. He wondered if she’d noticed that someone had perched her uniform cap on top. “Don’t you dare,” she began, voice cutting clear through the summer night. “Don’t you dare start off our married life by assaulting our wedding guests. Do you hear me?”

Jared spread his hands. He said, in an exact echo from that previous encounter, “Amy, for godsakes…”

“That’s Mrs Amy Clark to you, and don’t you ever forget it.” She sailed past Marty and planted herself firmly between Jared and Dev. “What the hell is the matter with you?”

“Nothing. I just… Dev’s turned up with this guy, and…”

“And what? There’s enough cake and fizz to sink an aircraft carrier through there. Dev could’ve turned up with a football team, and still not…” She paused for breath, focussing on Marty. “Oh, it’s our friend from the air show. Martin Bell, isn’t it – year-three teacher at Otterbeck primary?” She flashed him a shameless grin. “I had you looked into, I’m afraid. Just in case you decided to sue us after all.”

Marty couldn’t help but return her smile. “Not that time.”

“Not this time either, I hope. You’re very welcome here, despite whatever my drunk new husband’s been saying.” She fixed her formidable attention on Jared. “What have you been saying? Look how miserable and embarrassed everybody looks!”

Marty took a step back. Dev too was still watching his comrade. If Marty was off everyone’s radar for a minute, maybe he should quietly bow out. He’d have a long walk home, but he could catch the nine o’clock bus into the village and spend the night with his mum and dad. The cramped, familiar living room looked good to him just now, as well as the thought of an uncomplicated welcome. Dev’s attractions only went so far in the face of abuse from his mates, and anyway Marty was beginning to feel he’d got something terribly wrong…

Dev seized his arm before he could turn away. “Marty. Please don’t.”

“Sorry. I’m not sure this was a good idea.”

“Look, Clarkie’s had a few. And he’s always a knobhead. Don’t bail on me, Marty – I really don’t want to be alone in this mob tonight.”

Marty couldn’t resist that look. Straight into his eyes, hazel lights shining. “All right.” He gave him a little push. “Go on and shake his hand, then. Amy’s waiting.”

“Amy’s probably holding his sodding hand out for him under her veil. But okay.” He stepped up to Jared, who was now glaring fiercely at the ground, and accepted his clasp. “I’ll give you a pass this time, sunbeam. Keep a civil tongue in it from now on.”

Amy watched over this reconciliation, smiling serenely. “That’s better. Go on, the pair of you – get the band to stop playing that lugubrious electro-pop and get something going we can dance to. Marty, you can escort me.”

She looked less in need of escort than one of her own fighter jets, but he offered her his arm. “Do you know what you’ve done to me?” she asked as they set off towards the brightly lit gardens, giving him a friendly squeeze. “I saw your name on those fantastic floral displays in the hotel. Now I’m gonna have to get married all over again, just so you can do my flowers.”

“It’ll be my pleasure.” He glanced up, but Jared and Dev were out of earshot, tussling like puppies on the path ahead. “Amy, I feel as if I’m missing something here. Dev told me he and Jared weren’t involved, but…”

“But Jared’s melting down like a heartbroken teenager because Dev’s got a new date?”

“Something like that, yes. I understand the whole brotherhood-of-the-skies thing, but this looks like more.” Marty stopped himself, frowning. “Sorry. I should be talking to Dev about this, not you. Obviously whatever it was is over.”

“Because Jared’s married to me?” She gave a shrug, tugged her breeze-blown veil out of Marty’s face. “In a way it’ll never be over. Listen. As well as being a beautiful pain in the arse, Dev is something called Jav One. That means he’s in charge of all the display flights. He choreographs ’em, times them out, flies his plane at the head of one half of the team.”

“I thought you were flight leader.”

She made a face that didn’t match the little silken roses round her brow. “That’s my military rank. When we leave our toy planes in the hangar and deploy in the Typhoons, that’s when I take over. I’m happy to be a good little missus for the displays. I fly at Jared’s wing, and he’s Jav Two.”

“He leads the other half of the team.”

“You got it. And the trouble is, for years now he and Dev have been so damn good, it’s been almost impossible to pick out which of them should have the top spot. So they’re rivals, and that leads to a lot of pissing matches and leg-humping. You know, like chimps screwing each other to establish the pecking order.”

Marty gave an involuntary snort of laughter. She was an unlikely bride, and the last person in the world he ought to get on with, but if asked, he could safely offer the cliché that Jared was a lucky man. A deserving one, he hoped. “And the screwing – is it literal, or…”

“No, no. Sure, you can be gay in the RAF, but you might wanna come back in another twenty years’ time or so if you want to walk the walk, if you see what I mean.”

“You mean it’s okay in theory.”

“Exactly. So they’ve got all that going on. And there’s a ridiculous amount of kudos attached to that Jav One spot. Dev wouldn’t step down unless he was shot down, and Jared won’t ever stop gunning for him. Meanwhile, they’re like a couple of bulls charging at one another across the sky. That’s how their roles pan out, essentially – each one flies his half of the team at the other, pretty much head-on. That’s how our display routines work.”

“It sounds insane.”

“But it makes a hell of a spectacle. And as well as all their bullshit, you’ve got to imagine how much trust it takes. That can look an awful lot like love.”

Marty and the Pilot

See, I told you I had some news. 😀

I’m excited to announce that my next FoxTales book, Marty and the Pilot, will release on 16th October. (Blurb and excerpt below – a sexy pilot and schoolteacher/part-time florist – what could possibly go wrong?!) Marty and Devlin’s tumultuous story will be available to pre-order tomorrow, and I’ll post the link as soon as I have it. (Amazon only for the pre-order this time, although the book be available on All Romance and Smashwords in due course.)

I hope you enjoy the sneaky peek. **WARNING** – adult content in the excerpt, although I doubt if that’ll bother any of you lot. ;-D

Blurb

Marty Bell knows what it’s like to be bullied. He was the shy, overweight kid at school, and those memories have helped turn him into an excellent teacher – though he’s never spread his wings beyond the remote northern village where he grew up.

The last thing he needs in his life is the reappearance of Devlin Surtees, leader of the gang who made his schooldays so tough. Dev is the glamorous village hero now, flying acrobatics planes and fighter jets for the RAF. He’s just as spellbinding, handsome and infuriating as Marty recalls.

But the years have transformed both of them, and their old enmity blazes up into a powerful attraction. The sex is great, and Marty’s beginning to wonder if the schoolteacher and the stunt pilot might have some kind of future – until a terrible secret of Devlin’s comes to light, and threatens to drag both of them down into a vortex of the past.

Excerpt

A visit to the wing commander’s house had been a very big deal when Marty was young. He’d only been there twice, both occasions severely formal, when the Otterbeck headmistress of the day had put together delegations of the cleaner, more presentable kids to go and say thank you to Devlin’s father for his regular donations to the school. Marty hadn’t been pretty, but he had a nice voice and could be relied upon to struggle through old man Surtees’ favourite Northumbrian folk songs without too much embarrassment.

When he realised that Devlin’s directions were taking him up out of town and onto the flank of the hill where the big house lay, he had to fight laughter. His pint and a half was fizzing in his veins, the object of their journey preposterous, even if the hard-on he’d had to conceal with his jacket on his way out of the pub was still live and dangerous. Devlin had a bloody nerve, to make fun of people who still lived at home. “Tell me,” he said, squinting through the rose-gold sunset rays making their way through the ash trees along their route. “Is your dad more open-minded these days? Because I don’t fancy rattling the glass in his cocktail cabinet while he sits in the next room reading the Times.

“My dad?” Devlin seemed to shake himself out of a mild trance. “Oh, don’t worry. The house is empty. I’m just crashing here for a few days while Clarkie gets his knot tied. It’s just up this lane here.”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Er… Right. I’ll get the gate.”

Marty stood in the driveway, listening to the engine’s cooling tick. He’d been so overawed by the place last time that Bill Allen had had to poke him in the ribs before he could return the wing commander’s greeting. A flight of marble steps up to the brass-bound front door, a portico bigger than the kitchen where Ma Bell baked her cakes. Staring red brickwork three storeys high, windows curtained in purplish brocade, and all this manorial splendour encased in a florid monoculture of rhododendrons. He’d still have found it all pretty jaw-dropping now, except that he’d seen – had been tenderly shown – something better. He waited until Devlin had unlocked the door and was standing between the heavy pillars, a little uncertainly, as if he didn’t belong here anymore. Then he went to join him, and followed him into the house.

Not just empty but vacated. The paintings Marty remembered were gone from the oak-panelled hall, the ancestral portraits that looked as though they’d been recently painted to order and the big sad head of a stag. Glancing through doorways, he saw that the remaining furniture was sheeted, eerie shapes in the dusk. Devlin led him through to a small back parlour he hadn’t seen before. There were signs of life here, a sofa and armchairs and a gas fire ticking over on a low setting. “Used to be the housekeeper’s room,” Devlin said by way of explanation. “She used to make herself pretty comfortable, so I’m camping out here. Can I get you a drink?”

Some items from the wing commander’s formidable cocktail cabinet had made their way through here, including a crystal decanter and some glasses. Marty had had enough for one night, at least if he wanted to be able to drive himself home. But Devlin was leaning by the sideboard, arms folded, looking at once bold and shy and good enough to eat. No-one had laid a hand on Marty in two months. He leapt into the new stream. “Please. A stiff one.”

Devlin twitched an eyebrow at him. “Nervous?”

“Course I am. The school loser, about to bed the flyboy hero… Better make it a double.”

Devlin snorted. “You don’t think you’re a loser any more than I think I’m a…” He trailed off before Marty could learn his opinion on the status accorded him by Otterbeck school and village. “Here. Do you want soda with that?”

“Just a splash. Don’t drown it.”

“Jesus. Last time I shared a table with you, you were trying to decide between Fanta and Tango to wash down your Mars Bar.”

“I grew up. Life changes you.”

“People change you too.” Devlin poured two scotches from the decanter, added Marty’s soda with an elaborately careful hand, and brought them over. “Here you go. You don’t seem the type to run two dogs in one race, but I’m finding it a bit hard to believe you haven’t been snapped up.”

“I don’t cheat, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Kind of. And I wouldn’t mind finding out who taught you to get picky over your scotch. Was it your – ”

“Hush,” Marty advised, smiling. “I think we should only be allowed a couple of questions each at a time, or I’m gonna feel interrogated. It’s my turn now, so…” He knocked back a good measure of his double. “Why is your house empty? What happened to your dad?”

“Didn’t you hear? He died a couple of years back.”

“Oh… God, Devlin. No, I didn’t know. And I’d never have asked that way, if I’d…”

“Chill out. It was ages ago, and we weren’t that close.”

“I was away at college. My parents never mentioned it.”

“I don’t suppose your socialist dad would have mourned the village capitalist pig.” Devlin swirled the contents of his glass. “Don’t worry – half the RAF turned out for his funeral.”

“I’m glad. That’s… That’s nice.”

“Yeah. It was quite an event. After the service, they took his coffin all the way up into the Cheviot hills. Then they… attached a set of booster rockets to it and launched him off the top of Yeavering Bell.”

Marty froze. He stared at Devlin, his glass at his mouth. Then he exploded into giggles, sending scotch and soda flying. “Sorry,” Devlin went on, without a trace of contrition. “You look bloody gorgeous when you laugh. Come here.”

Marty went into his arms. He didn’t fight when Devlin put a hand on the back of his neck. All kinds of half-forgotten fantasies sprang back to life at the touch of that mouth on his, sparks and heat and a wild sense of unreality. Never once in Marty’s dreams had Devlin’s kiss been tentative, and he didn’t want it that way now – took hold of the broad shoulders and pulled him in, running a tongue-tip over his lower lip. “Come on, handsome. Where’s that callous, overbearing bastard I remember?”

“Right here.” Devlin returned the tongue-push, kissed him with bruising force, then shoved him to arm’s length. “Turn round. Bed?”

“Romantic of you, but I’ll gladly take the sofa.”

“Oh, you hot little beast. Who knew you’d turn out like this?” Devlin marched him across the room, propelled him in the direction of the couch. “Stay there. Don’t move a muscle.”

“Not even to take off my pants?”

Devlin emitted a low whistle. “Are you always like this?”

“Not at all. In the classroom I’m a teddy bear. And the worlds never meet, mate, so fuck my brains out if you like, but don’t you dare open your mouth about it afterwards. Understood?”

“Understood.”

Marty listened to the retreating thud of footsteps on the stairs. He knelt on the sofa and imagined Devlin in his bathroom or bedroom, pulling out condoms, finding the lube. The images stiffened his cock, and he dismissed the lingering fear that his prank-plagued childhood had followed him here and Devlin had only gone upstairs to fetch a camera, or Jared Clark from some hiding place, and was about to spring back through the door to laugh at his naked arse. He undid his smart school trousers and pushed them down around his knees. Briefs too, a moan breaking from him. He took hold of the back of the sofa: glanced over his shoulder as Devlin returned. “At last. I nearly started without you.”