Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


Two Christmases by Anne Brooke (excerpt)

This is an excerpt from Two Christmases, a short story in the latest anthology from Dreamspinner Press, Mistletoe Madness:

I slipped the letter into my jeans pocket the moment I saw it, feeling the faint crackle of paper between my fingers. Didn’t need to ask who it was from, the bastard. Bloody Marty. He’d thought I wouldn’t be able to stop Jake from reading it, but I’d left early, laughing off my boyfriend’s surprise, and catching the first tube up into town. Beating the weekday Christmas shoppers. Now I was here at Jake’s office, rifling through his mail tray, trying to stop my world from blowing apart.
It had been a stupid thing to do. I knew it. Mental note to self: never agree to see an old boyfriend and, if you have to, don’t whatever you do go drinking with him. Especially not in the Heaven nightclub. God knows what had possessed me anyway. Even though Jake was a good ten years older than Marty, he was far better in bed – by miles. Even though you weren’t supposed to admit that kind of stuff these days, were you? But it was true. Jake always took his time. I liked that. Even the thought of him now doing the kind of stuff he did with me made my cock push against my flies. I shook my head and tried to ignore it – couldn’t afford to be slowed down by anything.
Because I liked Jake. I mean really liked. Since I’d met him – early spring at his work do of all places – my life had improved beyond all belief. I was off the drugs, almost, I’d gone easy on the drinking and even the boss was smiling at me more. Now and then. Not only that but, what was rare for me, I hadn’t messed around with anyone apart from Jake since we’d been together.
Not since last week that is. Bloody bloody Marty. How could I have been so stupid? And what the hell was Jake going to do when he found out? I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him, couldn’t begin to imagine it. Whatever the cost, I had to stop him finding out.
I made a quick search of the rest of the mail on my boyfriend’s desk, found nothing else with Marty’s handwriting, so sat down on Jake’s executive chair and took out the letter. When I glanced at the clock it showed 7.30am. I knew Jake usually got here at 7.45am and his secretary arrived at eight. Unless there was something urgent on. Today I hoped there wasn’t. I fingered the letter. I should just shred it, cut the bastard out of our lives, try to find some way of stopping him doing this again, God knows how.
I shouldn’t read it.
But I had ten minutes before I needed to leg it and the next thing I knew I was tearing open the envelope, hands trembling, and unfolding the paper inside.

Dear Jake, the letter said,
You don’t know me but my name’s Marty Smithson and I used to know Danny. I gather you’re a straight-up kind of a bloke, so I won’t mess with you. You think Dannay’s clean from the drugs now, but I think you should know he isn’t – at least not by the amount of skunk he smoked outside Heaven when I met up with him last week. Thursday night, if you’re interested. Don’t know what you were doing then but I sure as hell know you weren’t doing Danny. That’s because I was – I like revisiting old pastures once in a while. For your information, we did it twice – once in the Gents’ and once outside, by the bins. He was up for it both times. Maybe he’s told you all this, though, in the new, civilised, totally honest life he apparently has with you? I certainly hope so.
With every good wish
Marty Smithson

As I read, I felt my face colour up and my hands started shaking. God, the bastard. I could just see his smug smile while he wrote it too. If he was here now, I’d wipe that smile off his face. Big time.
As soon as I’d finished the letter, I tore it into as many pieces as I could and put my head into my hands. A small groan escaped me. The trouble was Marty was right; I’d been out of my head that night and I’d have been up for it with the first bloke who came along. I should never have let myself get into that state, and I should never have been out with Marty anyway. And from the sound of what he’d written, it didn’t seem like he’d be giving up on this one so easily either.
My own fault. Again. If I hadn’t dumped him like I had just after I met Jake, then maybe he wouldn’t be doing this now. Because I hadn’t been nice. I’d been a class one bastard about it, so I was probably getting what I deserved. I’d been drugged up at the time then too – that was the only thing that could explain it. I didn’t usually make a habit of being cruel to my exes. Now, though, all that crap was coming back to haunt me.
I should go though. No time for moping.
Scraping back the chair, I sprang to my feet and gathered up the scraps of paper, stuffing them into my jeans pocket again to get rid of them later. It felt like they were burning a hole through the denim. At the same time, Jake’s office door swung open and his PA, Miranda, marched in, all high-heeled shoes and executive calm.
Her eyes widened when she saw me and she stood stock still, holding her PDA a little closer to her chest as if I might be about to leap over the desk and mug her for it.
Mind you, I couldn’t blame her reaction. Next to her, I must have looked like a tramp. Second-best jeans, jumper, unbrushed hair and the beginnings of stubble I hadn’t got round to shaving yet.
‘Hi,’ I stumbled sideways, banging my knee on the table edge as I did so and trying not to swear. ‘Didn’t expect you yet. Sorry to startle you. Just thought I’d give Jake a surprise, leave him a message, you know? But then I … I decided against it …’
Even I realised how pathetic that sounded. How very unlikely.
Miranda glanced round the room, presumably to check I’d not taken anything I shouldn’t. She then pursed her lips and tried to smile. Almost as if she’d decided to be generous to the no-hoper street life that had just crawled out of her boss’s office. Snooty bitch. She’d never liked me.
Still, I couldn’t blame her for that now. I didn’t like me much either.

More information on Two Christmases, together with purchase details can be found here. Happy Christmas!

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