Saturday, 25 March 2017

Love In Three Moves, and an Excerpt

Many moons ago - 2009 and 2011 respectively - I wrote two short-short stories for the late Torquere's Sip range, and the rights have long since returned to me. Recently I re-discovered them on my hard drive, and decided to do something with them. But what?

The answer was to write another short story featuring my two men that would detail the beginnings of their friends-to-lovers affair. Then I extensively rewrote the 2009 one, comprehensively tweaked the 2011 story, and combined them under the title, Love In Three Moves.

The first two stories are set in Canary Wharf, London, so I wanted to have the cover reflect that. I found the perfect photo on Pixabay - Canary Wharf at night.

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Love in Three Moves - Three short stories chart a passionate love affair: yet true love so rarely runs smoothly.

It Takes Two
David Grainger and Ben Tremayne are perfect partners in business and friendship – and finally they give in to the temptation of taking that further. Their passionate love has been brewing for a long time, and everything about their new affair is wonderful - until it isn't.

Breaking Point
Ben hasn’t seen his ex-lover David, for a year. He lives alone with his remorse for breaking up their affair, overwhelmed by his fear of commitment rather than his love for David. When, out of the blue, David asks him for a favour, Ben grudgingly agrees. The simple errand takes a complicated turn.

Clue Game
Once instrumental in reuniting Ben and David, their friend Barbara Curtis now needs the couple’s help with her own love-life. Despite being in Paris on their pre-honeymoon, Ben and David are caught up in the ensuing puzzle, involving a Paris art gallery, the works of Shakespeare, a devious crossword, a pair of precious earrings – and satisfaction for Barbara’s heart.


1st Move - It Takes Two

"It's me," David Grainger called as he opened the front door and walked into the large studio apartment. "Are you back? Babs has been nagging me again. Did you get the Stravinsky commis - ?" He stopped in his tracks. Yes, Ben was back from Geneva. The room looked like Selfridges at the end of a sale day. Cushions, bedcovers, pillows and odd items of clothing lay scattered over floor and furniture, and the warm air was heavy with an exotic, expensive perfume. But over all hung the scent of sex.

Who was it this time? David wondered, irritated. Roger, Melanie, or both? Not that he gave a damn who Ben took to his bed. No, he was peeved because he'd heard nothing from the man for several days. Phone calls and texts had all been ignored, and Barbara wasn't the only one pissed off about it. Important matters hung on the success of Ben's trip to Switzerland. Sometimes the man was an irresponsible pain in David's arse.

Fastidious as a cat, he picked his way across the room, nose wrinkling as the assorted aromas assaulted his nostrils, and David thanked whichever gods looked after dissolute idiots that the used condoms had ended up in the waste bin and not on the floor.

Ben, the other half of Grainger & Tremayne Antiques, enjoyed a varied love life. Ten years of friendship, five of which included a highly successful working partnership, meant they'd shared keys long ago and had free range of each other's homes in the same Canary Wharf up-market apartment block. It wouldn't be the first time David had strolled in at the wrong moment. He was bisexual himself, but his own exploits in the relationship arena were a lot less adventurous. Or numerous.

"Ben? Are you still alive?"

"No…" The voice came from the other side of the half open bathroom door. David grinned, despite his exasperation. As usual, he found it difficult to stay angry at his mercurial but charming friend.

"Don't tell me they've worn you out after, what, only two days?"

"And nights." The muted, sleepy grumble made it easy to imagine Ben's smirk. "And it's she, not they."

Snickering, David strolled to the bathroom and lounged against the doorframe. Pools slopped all over the tiled floor and Ben leant forward on the side of the bath, half-kneeling in the foaming water. He'd obviously been lunging for the towel on the heated rail when David had announced his arrival. Now he rested his head on his hands and slanted a sultry blue gaze over his shoulder. Despite his action-packed weekend, Ben still had the energy to flirt. It was a reflex action, David knew. Ben could no more stop doing it than he could stop breathing. So, as usual, David paid no attention, even though the warmth of desire throbbed in his groin. Once again the urge to take Ben up on his flirtatious invitations heated his blood. But it was only a meaningless physical response to Ben's overt sensuality. It didn't mean a thing.

~ * ~

Love In Three Moves - 1st edition 2017 Chris Quinton
It Takes Two - 1st edition 2017 Chris Quinton
Breaking Point - 1st edition 2009: 2nd edition 2017 Chris Quinton
Clue Game - 1st edition 2011: 2nd edition 2017 Chris Quinton

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Monday, 13 February 2017

In The Doghouse - Excerpt

In The Doghouse

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Jerry Thorne is on the run with a greyhound, and nowhere left to turn for safety but an old one-time friend, Mike Brown. Which could be a huge mistake. Not only did Jerry have a crush on the man back in the day, Mike happens to be a cop and has no wish to take in the two strays…

Chapter One

I'm a coward. A fully paid up, card-carrying and devoutly fervent coward and I've never made any secret of it. And I like my kneecaps just the way they are. Which is why I was heading out of London as fast as the car could take me on a particularly fogged-in January night. Not only fog, but frost and black ice as well, I discovered, as we skated round a curve in the Fosse Way. Not all Roman roads are plumb line straight, and the Fosse can kink with the best of them. Don't ask me what I was doing on the Fosse Way—I haven't a clue. I'd initially intended to head north. I have friends in Leeds, and I knew we'd be safe up there. But with Joe Mullins on my tail, I'd stayed away from the main roads.

So, since I was taking which ever turnings panic and instinct suggested, while clutching the steering wheel with the grip of a drowning man on a lifebelt and my foot as heavy on the accelerator as I dared in the weather conditions, I'd gone a bit astray. You don't believe me? Listen, I only discovered I was on the Fosse heading southwest when the road sign loomed out of the murk and informed me that Cirencester was ten miles away. On the plus side, as far as I could tell, no one was following us.

The reason why I was haring around the country like a panicked greyhound was—a greyhound. Spot, aka Edie's Lightning, all ridiculously long legs, ditto tongue, and soulful eyes, patrolled my Renault's back seat, shedding brindle and white hair on my upholstery as he went from one window to the next.

Normally I worked at the Customer Information Desk in my local branch of Lloyds Bank. In my spare time I was a member of Brayswood Harriers, an amateur cycling club. Not exactly Tour de France material, any of us, but we did okay at the inter-county level. I'd taken a week off from the Evil Day Job and my training schedule to stand in for Uncle George in his hardware shop while he and Aunt Edie prepared Spot for his upcoming race. They both were greyhound fanatics, and had two or three around the house for as long as I could remember. Usually it was a couple of older dogs kept as beloved pets when their racing days were over, and a young dog in training. Uncle always named their dogs for Aunt Edie; Edie's Charm, Edie's Surprise, Edie's Gift, Edie's—well, you get the idea. Each dog was as much a family member as a racer, and were great characters in that laidback greyhound kind of way. The current three were Gift, Surprise, and Lightning.

Anyhow, all was well, until things started to go pear-shaped. First, Uncle George's old van failed its MOT and the garage had to order in a part, so I was making deliveries in my Renault. Then he dropped an oilcan, slipped in the resulting mess and buggered up his left wrist. These things come in threes, so I wasn't entirely surprised when he'd come to the shop late this afternoon. His worried expression had been warning enough that things weren't about to improve.

"Do me a favour, Jer, my lad," he'd said. "Take Spot to the vet for me and get her to do a blood test on the quiet. He's as jumpy as a cat on a griddle today, and that's not right. I think he's been nobbled."

I'd scoffed, of course. I mean, the race was tomorrow night, and so far Spot was the odds on favourite. Uncle George loved the skinny streak of greased lightning as much as he did his own kids, and it would no more occur to him to give Spot performance enhancing anything than to shove steroids down the rugby-playing twins' throats. Besides, the local track had drug-testing down to a fine art. He wouldn't get away with it.

But if the dog had been dosed with something and it showed up in the post-race tests, both he and Uncle would be blacklisted, banned, fined, and generally be neck-deep in the manure. Zero tolerance was the watchword for the Brayswood Greyhound Racetrack.

I took a quick glance in the rear-view mirror. The road behind us was clear. In the foreground was Spot, tongue lolling, still going back and forth like a canine metronome. Which was odd. He was normally a pretty laidback kind of character, and even I knew this was excessive. He probably should have been travelling in his crate in the Renault's boot, rather than the back seat, but I hadn't paused to fiddle around with catches and locks. I'd bunged him in the back and taken off like Vettel in pole position at Monaco, and moments later the black BMW was hot on our tail.

~ * ~

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Release Day for Manifold Press

February 1st, and Manifold Press has three titles out of the starting gate today. Once again, this small Press punches so far above its weight, Manifold should be in a Marvel movie, scripted by Josh Whedon. In no particular order they are:
Harbinger Island by Dorian Dawes

Every community has a dark side, a sordid past that’s kept to hushed whispers and out of the ears of prying tourists – and Harbinger Island has the darkest shades of them all. Professor Bartleby Prouse is obsessed with the secrets and occult conspiracies surrounding the island’s myriad of unsolved murders and mysteries. He’ll have to use every bit of magic and cunning at his disposal if he is to protect his students after they unwittingly draw the attention of one of the island’s most insidious cults.

Harbinger Island is a collection of character-driven stories which combine dark fantasy and horror elements within a modern setting. The diverse cast of LGBT+ individuals come from various backgrounds, and the stories examine the prejudices they experience in their day-to-day lives along with the supernatural horrors they face.

84,500 words / 322pages


Ardent by Heloise West

In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

75,600 words / 292 pages

Last, but by no means least, is a new Espresso Shot from Rainbow Award winner Jay Lewis Taylor (The Espresso Shots imprint is designed for shorter works, with a more informal publishing schedule than for Manifold's ‘regular’ works.). This story follows on from his successful recent novel Across Your Dreams:

Break of Another Day by Jay Lewis Taylor

The Great War is over. Jack Townsend, no longer a hospital orderly, is back at work in his photographer’s shop in Lewisham. But there is no peace yet; his blackmailer is still in business, and Celia Vavasour seems determined to manage his life. All his life; even his love-life …

Meanwhile in Sussex, David Lewry, former army officer, is still holding off from a closer relationship with Alan Kershaw, once in the Navy and now the village’s GP. Lew knows how much Alan wants him, but this last step is one he cannot take – not yet, unless something changes …

16,200 words / 66 pages