Is this the end of the road, or the start of a whole new journey?
Aled’s had enough. His family is hundreds of miles away from him, his job is pointless and the feeling that he’s missing out on his own life has grown too big. But how can he call time on Yorkshire when it’s the place that Gabriel calls home?
Chris doesn’t know what to do. Inheriting property in the childhood village where he felt such a freak growing up wasn’t what he wanted, and he didn’t expect to miss Aled and Gabriel as much as he has since returning to Somerset. He’s out of place yet again, but doesn’t know where to call home.
When Aled is offered a job in Cornwall, Gabriel senses an opportunity to fix Aled’s misery, shed Chris’ unhappy history and bring their entire relationship under one roof. It will be the biggest gamble Gabriel’s ever taken on them…but this time, it doesn’t feel like taking a risk.
They’re starting over at the beginning, and there’s nothing left to fear.
Reader advisory: This book contains expressions of homophobia and transphobia from multiple characters. There are scenes of rough sex, BDSM and RACK.
General Release Date: 3rd November 2020
His car was the only one left.
Aled sighed as he collapsed into the driver’s seat. The rest of the car park was devoid of life, with not even the rats feeling sociable now. A lonely light flickered above the exit. When he turned the key in the ignition, the dull echo bounced off the concrete walls and punched him in the ears.
Rather than head home, Aled sat back and finally took his personal phone out of his pocket. More than twelve hours after he’d arrived at the office, he finally had a moment to scroll through his messages. A reminder about his dentist appointment next week. One advert from Sky. A voicemail from a withheld number that could definitely wait. And a flurry from his partner, waiting at home, and his best friend, waiting in St Ives.
Gabriel: Cannelloni for dinner, y/n?
Suze: GUESS WHAT!
Tom: Big news pal!!!
Gabriel: Suze just called. I’ll start packing for you too ;) See you later
Gabriel: Cannelloni is a no btw, the meat’s gone off :(
Suze: Call me! Call me call me call me call me!
Suze: Fine, be busy.
Suze: Euan’s getting a baby sister!
Suze: You’re going to be an uncle again!
Aled closed his eyes as a jolt of pain burst through his chest. He should be thrilled. Should call her at once. Call her bloody mad for getting pregnant again so quickly after having Euan.
But the only thing that occurred to him was that he’d missed it all.
He’d spent almost thirteen hours at work today. Eleven of them had been wasted in pointless meetings at which nothing was decided. His lunch break had been sacrificed to firefighting about a major campaign that was in danger of going belly-up. And the final hour had been spent interviewing the last candidate for the senior account manager’s vacancy. Absolutely none of it had been work. Or even worthwhile.
Meanwhile, his best friend had baby news and his partner had been making dinner and packing their cases for their weekend trip to Cornwall. Life had been moving without him. While he’d been talking campaign management, they’d been living.
Aled dropped the phone on the passenger seat and put the car in gear. He felt—low. Flat. The weekend holiday was overdue already, but he had the glum feeling that he wouldn’t feel any better when he came back on Tuesday.
What the hell was he doing it all for?
Aled had never pretended to have a job that performed some greater good. He was a marketing executive. He’d worked for the same firm since he’d left university, almost seventeen years ago. He had a fat salary and a nice company car, and he did it so he could afford a nice house in a decent area and not have to worry about money. And given that Gabriel barely made more than minimum wage and had only been working part-time since his accident last year, the household finances rested mainly on Aled.
He couldn’t afford to walk away, yet as he cruised the dark streets, weaving around taxis and early evening revellers, Aled wondered if he could really afford to stay much longer.
Once upon a time, he’d enjoyed working for the firm. When he’d been a drone with a cubicle, and his best friend Suze had worked in accounting on the next floor down. When he’d been able to go to Christmas parties and leaving dos without being eyed warily from the sidelines and dealing with suck-ups at the bar. He’d gone to work with his best friend and pseudo-sister, and his days had consisted of slagging off incompetence and making bets on when the estates manager would finally snap. They’d bitched over Skype at work, met up for a bitch in person at lunch, then again at the end of the day.
Then he’d been promoted a few times and Suze had left to get married and start a family down south, and—
Aled squeezed the steering wheel.
And he’d started to feel flat.
He reached out for the stereo system and brought up the speed dial, hitting Gabriel’s number. It was second, preceded only by Suze’s. Gabriel had mockingly told him off for it once, and Aled had retorted that it was usually dangerous to talk to Gabriel and drive at the same time. But sexy games weren’t on his mind. Gabriel was only half an hour away, yet Aled had a fierce need to hear him sooner than that.
“Hey. It’s me. I got out of work at last.”
“Finally!” Something clanged in the background. “Sorry. I’m packing snacks for the car. Did you get Suze’s news?”
“She was suggesting we go down tonight so you have all of Saturday to help them celebrate, and I’ve packed for that but you’ve had a long day, so—”
It would be sensible to wait until the morning, but Aled selfishly wanted as much time as possible. He could check into the hotel at any time. And Gabriel was spending the weekend with one of his other boyfriends near Bristol, who wouldn’t much care when they swung by.
“You can keep me awake until Bristol,” he said. “If I’m knackered by then, I’ll crash on Chris’ sofa.”
“Okay,” Gabriel said. “Are you all right? You sound—”
“—kind of flat. Are you sure everything’s okay?”
“Yeah. Just work. Long day.”
“Need something to take your mind off it?”
Aled laughed. “I’ll definitely be too tired to drive if you start that.”
“I meant a cuddle, you sex-obsessed swine,” Gabriel said loftily.
It was all bullshit and they both knew it. Gabriel fully admitted to being obsessed with sex. If not for the fact that he could abstain if he really had to, Aled would have thought it was an addiction. Nine times out of ten, when they fucked, it was Gabriel who started it.
But the haughty tone brought a smile to Aled’s face, metaphorical sun starting to glimmer through the moody clouds in his head. Gabriel’s faux-bitch attitude was funny given his usually placid nature, and it lifted Aled’s spirits. Gabriel in general lifted his spirits. Somehow, he always knew the right thing to say and the right way to be.
“Are you driving?”
“Could you stop at the petrol station and get a tin of those fruit sweet things for the drive down?”
“Sure.” Practicalities helped a little, too. “Need to fill up anyway. I’ll be home in about half an hour.”
“Okay. You want a special greeting?”
“Nah. A hug will do fine. See you soon.”
Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender British author juggling books, an office job and a love of travel with the human need for sleep once in a while. He writes both adult and young adult books focusing on LGBT+ characters and their relationships, particularly those from the less salubrious areas in which he was dragged up over the years.
On the very rare occasions that Matt isn't writing, he can usually be found at the gym, halfway up a mountain or collecting new tattoos. (And yes, he does have book ink...)
You can follow Matthew on Facebook and Twitter and also check out his website.