Nobody ever said love was easy. He's finally found his soul mate, but if they're to have their happy ever after they'll need to survive family disapproval, tragedy and blackmail.
Damian is staring down the barrel of thirty-five with three ex-wives and countless lovers behind him, an uncertain future ahead and a feeling that something is missing.
A visit from his best friend Alex is just what he needs. But Alex, just returned from a stint in Africa with an aid agency, is traumatised by his experience, suffering flashbacks and nightmares. When he finds out what happened to Alex, something he doesn't quite understand shifts in Damian. It takes the intervention of his first ex-wife to make Damian realise that not only does he have deeper feelings for Alex, but Alex hasn't been completely honest with him about his own feelings.
Damian's father is less than pleased with the new, improved relationship, and threatens to disown Damian unless he ends it. But Damian has finally found his path and will not be bullied by a father who has been trying to control him his whole life. He and Alex leave together for London and a new life.
However, a family tragedy soon brings Damian home and he is faced with another sea change. Alex is right there at his side to offer support and love, as always, but Damian's father's continued interference threatens the life they are trying to build together. He must find a way to deal with his father once and for all.
General Release Date: 23rd April 2012
In the space of half a heartbeat, Alex Jennings went from sound asleep to wide awake, eyes darting around the room, hands clutching at the bed as a sound like the loudest thunder he had ever heard rumbled through the house. The glass light fixture over the bed rattled and the pile of coins he’d stacked on the bedside table the night before tipped over, spilling over the table and onto the hardwood floor.
When the shock of his rude awakening started to subside, and his heart rate had returned to something resembling normal, a scowl pulled Alex’s eyebrows together. Pushing the covers aside, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, got to his feet and moved quickly over the cool floor out into the hallway and down the stairs, cursing darkly under his breath.
The rumbling—banging—got louder as he approached his father’s office at the back of the house, and just as Alex shoved the door open there was an ear-splitting crash. Dear God, he felt like he had been on a three-day bender. He had to get a place of his own soon. It was fast becoming clear to him that living with one’s parents when one was over thirty was nothing less than a shortcut to the mad house.
"Dad?" When there was no response, Alex cursed again and reluctantly moved further into the room. "Dad!"
Seated behind the drum kit, Robert Jennings was grinning like a loon, sweat dampening his thinning, sandy blond hair, arms flailing like he was having some kind of seizure. Robert’s body jolted every time one of the sticks in his hands made contact with the drums, and when the cymbals made another discordant, screaming crash, a small grunt of pleasure that was—to Alex at least—quite disturbing, escaped his dad.
Alex moved to stand right in front of the drums, grimacing at the way the floor trembled under his feet and the noise reverberated through him. He could practically feel it bouncing off his bones and liquidising his organs.
"Dad!" Even at the top of his voice, Alex could barely hear himself over the cacophony, but his dad finally opened his eyes and, after taking a moment to focus, his grin became even wider.
"Alex! What do you think? Sounding good, right?" Robert made no move to stop, but actually seemed to pick up the tempo.
Fearing for his long-term hearing, Alex made a slicing motion with his hand across his throat. Robert stopped drumming so suddenly that the silence nearly knocked Alex on to his backside.
"Something I can do for you, son?" Robert’s hands were still moving, tapping the drumsticks together almost absently, as if he’d forgotten how to remain still.
"Dad, it’s barely eight o’clock in the morning. Do you have to do that right now?" Alex’s ears were throbbing like he’d spent a night clubbing.
"I’ve got to practise." Robert Jennings, sixty-two-year-old former dentist, sounded like a sullen teenager.
Dragging a hand through his hair, Alex stared incredulously at the man who had once been so...sane. "For what, Dad? Are The Who holding auditions?"
"Dude, you’re harshing my buzz." Robert spun one of the drumsticks between his fingers in a way that, if Alex hadn’t been so dumbfounded, he would probably have found pretty impressive.
As it was, his jaw dropped and he sputtered, sounding like he was being strangled. "Harshing...what? Dude? What the fu..." He managed to cut off the curse before it fully formed, because, even though the man across from him was acting like someone Alex would cross the street to avoid, he was still his dad.
"Don’t the neighbours ever complain?" When he was a child growing up on this street, all it had taken for the residents to work up a head of steam was a boisterous game of hide and seek. Alex found it incredible that they weren’t threatening his dad with legal action at least for the seismic racket that must be emanating from the house.
Robert shook his head, and, grin returning, executed a drum roll that Alex felt in his teeth.
"These old houses are pretty solid, and, even if they weren’t, everyone around here will be on their way to work by now." He was practically glowing with the smug satisfaction of the recently retired.
Alex shook his head and turned towards the door. "Can you just...try not to bring the house down?" He pulled the door closed behind him and got two steps down the hall before the floor started to rumble under his feet again. Knowing that there wasn’t a chance in hell that he was going to get any more sleep, Alex headed to the kitchen to make himself some coffee.
As the percolator dripped and gurgled, he went to stand in front of the window and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Out in the back garden his mother was scattering some kind of grain for the chickens pecking at her feet. Chickens. Alex shook his head again. Was it even legal to keep livestock in residential London? The neighbours must think his parents had both gone stark raving bonkers.
Turning away to take a mug from the cupboard, Alex picked up the phone when it rang and tucked it between his ear and shoulder as he poured his coffee.
"Jennings, you bastard. I know where you are."
Laughter bubbled up in Alex and a wide smile curled his mouth. "Damian! How the hell are you?" He added sugar to his coffee and took the mug over to sit at the table.
"I’m pissed off with you, is how I am. You’ve been back nearly a month and I had to find out from that arsehole Andy Rowan!" Damian Stanhope didn’t sound pissed off—Alex could hear the smile in his best friend’s voice.
"Sorry, man, I was going to call you when I got my head on straight. The only reason Andy Rowan knows I’m back is because my mum’s friends with his mum." Alex sipped on his coffee, slouching back with a soft sigh when his dad took a break from the drumming. He didn’t add that he just hadn’t been fit for company, and had been virtually a hermit since stepping over his parents’ threshold.
"So, how was Africa?" Damian’s voice sounded a little rough, like he’d only recently woken up himself.
Alex caught a glimpse of his mum outside, laughing as she dodged the chickens, and thought about his dad’s manic expression as he beat out his dissonant rhythm.
"Sane," he replied, taking another sip of his coffee. Mostly, an inner voice supplied, but Alex slammed the door on it.
"Sane? Okay. I expected life-altering, enlightening, or even just hot, but I suppose sane is good." Alex couldn’t help laughing at the confusion in his friend’s voice.
He hooked his foot around the leg of another chair and dragged it out so that he could prop his feet up on it. "It’s a long story. Suffice it to say, I’m staying with my folks and they’re a little...changed since I went away."
"Changed? You mean physically, like surgically? Or changed like the pod people in that film? Because, you know, I’ve suspected for a few years now that my father might be a pod person." In his mind, Alex could picture the amusement lighting Damian’s blue eyes, and for a second he really wanted to see his friend.
Alex laughed and warmth bloomed in him. "Actually, I wouldn’t rule out the pod people theory. You know they both took early retirement? Well, Dad has taken up the drums—he looks like a demented octopus and sounds like he’s rolling an oil drum full of bricks down a hill."