Spring appears to be rearing its very welcome head above the parapet of winter although I fear it may be a touch too early. Those daffodils that have appeared on a verge outside Romsey could well be in for a shock over the next few weeks. (As could the citizens of Hampshire, who get into a flummox over half an inch of the white stuff falling.)
The cover for the next Lindenshaw book, Old Sins, has been revealed at Love Bytes. You can hop over there and enter for a chance of winning the first Book in the Lindenshaw series, The Best Corpse for the Job. Nice cover, isn’t it?
Talking of Adam and Robin, I’m delighted to see that Two Feet Under, book 3 in the Lindenshaw series, was named one of the reviewer’s top choices of 2018 at The Novel Approach.
“There’s a dead body. Of course there is a dead body! But who is she? Aaaand, this is where Charlie Cochrane excels.”
Switching series, Lessons in Love and Lessons in Desire are still on offer on kindle.
The excerpt today is from Don’t Kiss the Vicar, simply because I’ve just been filling in some interview questions for a guest blog and this story got mentioned. This scene takes place after Dan the vicar and Steve, the parishioner he fancies, have had an argument over a dog bite, of all things.
Well, Dan was human. What a surprise. If they’d wanted a saint, they should have said so and he wouldn’t have taken the job. “Forgive us our sins”, right? Not forgive them. And they should be grateful. What was a bit of effing and blinding and losing your rag compared to touching up choirboys in the vestry? Maybe the PCC would have preferred a vicar like that, with a show wife and a holier-than-thou image, preaching hellfire and damnation from the pulpit while he scanned the Sunday school for his next victim.
He bustled into the vicarage, thought about writing the sermon, ignored it, thought about the gin bottle, ignored that, thought about ringing Jimmy, damn nearly succumbed to that temptation then remembered he’d already bothered the bloke today and was likely to put him off their lunch date. Instead, he closed his study curtains, sat down, put his head in his hands and sighed.
Dear God, it’s me, Dan. Up to my neck in it again. Sorry. Should do better. Can’t help it.
He sat in silence, listening to his own breath and the distant cries of children playing.
I know I should just grow a pair and get on with life. I know I should turn the other cheek and all the rest of it, but I don’t find it easy anymore.
It had been a lot easier when he’d had Jimmy as wingman. In that last parish, he’d got a lot closer to living the life as defined by Christ’s teachings than before or since.
I know I shouldn’t ask, but is there any chance of finding me somebody else to keep me on the straight and narrow? I seem to work better when I’m part of a pair. I know there are more important things to get to grips with, like children who’ll go to bed tonight hungry, but…
The sudden, insistent ringing of the phone broke his intercessions.
Normally Dan would have ignored it if he was at prayer. Using the 1471 service or responding to an answerphone message was always possible so nobody would go completely unanswered, especially if the need was urgent.
But this time, with a whispered, “Sorry, got to go”, he reached over and picked up the handset.
“Vicar.” Steve’s well-modulated, surprisingly calm tones came down the line. “Sorry to bother you.”
“That’s fine.” Dan waited, not inclined to make this easy in any way.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry. For being such a clown about my hand.”
“Oh. Right. Yes.” Tongue-getting-tied time again. He hadn’t expected quite such a gracious apology.
“You were right. The hand’s a bloody mess.”
“You should have it seen to. And tell them if your jabs aren’t up to date.” Tetanus. Dan had seen somebody die of it in his gap year.
“Will do, matron.”
“Less of your cheek.” Was he being flirted with? No, he couldn’t be that lucky. “Do you need somebody to run you down to casualty?”
“It’s not dropping off! I’ve rung the surgery, and they reckon I just need to see the nurse. I can drive down there myself. But thanks for the offer,” Steve added belatedly, although not, it appeared, begrudgingly. “Anyway, if I do die of blood loss en route, at least I’ve squared my conscience beforehand. I was a pillock, and I hope you’ll forgive me.”
“You were, and I do.” Dan toyed with offering to cook the bloke dinner, or at least get some fish and chips in, but decided that was a step too far. Steve was volatile and—so the doubting voices in Dan’s head kept hissing—was probably apologising for theological reasons rather than romantic ones. Life didn’t pan out like a gay romance e-book, not least because neither he nor Steve resembled the oiled, chiselled, six-pack bearing guys who always seemed to feature in them.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
“Sorry.” This habit of day dreaming was getting worse. “The line went a bit odd. I was trying to tell you to let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
And finally – memories of last spring!