Cochrane Towers is distinctly empty at present, number one daughter having moved into her own flat and numbers two and three being at Uni. *cackles and hatches mad plots*
Havant Lit Fest this week. Deadly Dames on Wednesday, but lots of other good stuff going on. BTW, waiting for confirmation of booking for a gay romance panel at a litfest in 2015!
Have done a little interview about Home Fires Burning.
Talking of which, it’s a while since we had an excerpt from the darker of the two novellas in that collection. WWI era, of course!
Phillip finished his toilet and rolled down his sleeves. He turned, fixing the full piercing glare of his green eyes on his fellow officer. “You’re a good man in a tight corner. Reliable. Can I rely on you now?”
“Of course.” Nicholas awaited the revelation, the great secret he was to be entrusted with. Was Phillip laying siege to some other officer’s wife, sapping her resolve and providing comfort while her man was miles away? If so, it was little wonder he wanted to get home.
“It’s not a girl, at home. It’s a man. Yes, I know I’m a bloody idiot telling you, but I trust you with my life, Nicholas. Have done every day since I got posted here. You’re not going to shop me, are you?” Phillip ran his hands through his dark hair. “Not sure it wouldn’t be worse if you told my parents than if you told the Colonel. He’d probably be more sympathetic so long as I’m not buggering Miller.”
The unaccustomed coarseness made Nicholas wince, although he was sure its origin was nothing but Phillip’s nerves masquerading as bravado. “I had no idea.” Weak words, stupid sounding once they hit the air, yet it was all he could manage. If only he’d known, he might have said something. Sooner.
“I’m hardly likely to advertise it, am I? Fergal’s a good sort—he’s an engineer, working on ships’ engines for Vospers. Wants to get to sea himself, the idiot.” The deep affection apparent in Phillip’s voice cut into Nicholas’s heart. He’d never heard him speak this way, even about his family.
“Tell him to stay safe ashore.” Nicholas forced himself to grin. “Enjoy your time together, God knows you deserve it. I won’t tell anyone.”
“Good man.” Phillip thrust his hand forward to be shaken. “And you get yourself a bit of fun while you’re at home, you old stick in the mud. Find a girl—not too nice or there’ll be no fun at all to be had. Or a lad, if that’s what you fancy.” He cuffed Nicholas’s arm. “At the very least, go out and get sloshed and forget all about this place for a while. Anyway, you can’t fool me. You’re secretly delighted to have the chance to go home, however much you hide it. And this chap Haskell who runs your place for you will be pleased to see you. Won’t he be glad to bend your ear directly as opposed to long-distance?”
The flush running up Nicholas’s neck caught him by surprise, the wild rush of blood to his ears making them hum worse than when the shells went over. He tried to respond but there seemed to be no communication between brain and voice. Please God he wouldn’t have to end up telling the whole sorry tale.
“Oh God, Nicholas. I’m sorry.” Phillip’s hand briefly touched his fellow officer’s face then fell away. “You don’t need to say any more unless I’ve made a complete idiot of myself, in which case you can correct me with a few well chosen words or a right to the jaw.
For no other reason than it’s pretty!