Heaven knows how much I’ve written of this story…p’raps 70%? I’ve edited a fair chunk of it so here’s the prologue and the first chapter if you wish to read along.
It’s an MM Bodyguard/Rockstar contemporary romance called ‘My Way’. While its no doubt daft, it does dabble in darker topics. Joe Fitzgerald is the toppermost male solo artist in the country. He is also a heroin addict. Enter Mac. The baddest of all bodyguards procurred at great expense by Joe’s record company to protect him. From himself…
“About bloody time, too…” Vince snarked, leaning back in his bespoke leather chair.
“Fuck off. I was…unavoidably detained,” Mac retorted, flicking the office door shut with his foot.
”How long does it take you to cram it back in your pants, for chrissakes?” smirked his Agent.
“I refuse to dignify that remark with a witty retort. What, or who, is responsible for that covetous glint of teeth masquerading as a smile?”
“Joe Fitzgerald.” Vince’s air of smug satisfaction was palpable.
“Who the fuck is Joe Fitzgerald?” Mac sighed, still none the wiser, despite suspecting he was supposed to be impressed by said moniker.
“Mac, you might only listen to dead rock stars on principle, but—”
“Actually.” Mac interrupted. “If we were having this conversation not so long ago…Bowie was still very much with us.”
“But we’re not.” Vince pointed out.
“My point still stands. I wouldnae have listened to him ‘on principle’ for the last twenty years, if your supposition was correct.” Mac rolled his eyes with a long suffering sigh. “Do you ever intend t’get to the point?”
“F’fucksakes…beats me why I put up with this crap.” Vince glowered from beneath brows as black and fierce as his scowl.
“You know very well why…and you still haven’t responded to my most reasonable enquiry. Who the fuck is Joe Fitzgerald?”
“You’d be out the door on the end of my foot if you weren’t shit-hot, you tosser. Joe Fitzgerald is the biggest male solo artist in the bloody country.”
“Oh Christ. No. Get someone else, Vince. You dinnae need me for fending off a few screaming teenage girls.” Mac groaned, very glad he hadn’t bothered to sit down.
“True. I wouldn’t, but we ain’t talking fending off a few screamers.” The smug grin was back. “This gig will make Winehouse look like a piece of cake in comparison…and we know how well that turned out. Not. Fucking pillocks. You’re a cussed git, but I reckon Amy might still be delighting us with her dulcet tones if…well…your ego’s big enough. So, you up for it, or what?” Vince leaned forward, resting his elbows on the huge mahogany desk and flexing his fingers with the air of a man about to flash his trump card.
“Okay. I admit, I‘m intrigued. Are you saving that scotch for Christmas, or is it just for show?” Mac enquired, spearing the crystal decanter and two tumblers with a pointed stare.
Mac had ignored the invitation to take a seat, largely because it never hurt to highlight the fact he might be on his merry way if a worthwhile offer didn’t ensue. His Agent’s preposterous chair was significantly higher than the one Mac had been invited to park his arse in, and he wasnae inclined to sit there—on principle—unless there was an alluring offer on the table. Aside from the whisky.
Vincent was patently hell-bent on securing Mac’s services if the tight-wad was serving up the good stuff. A packet of peanuts and a bottle of Irn Bru would suffice, if the challenge tickled Mac’s fancy but he’d never seen fit to mention this. Very few people knew fuck all about Mac McCafferty—nor would they—any time for the foreseeable.
“So. Fitzgerald. What’s the score?”
“He does. Far too frequently,” Vince smirked.
“Drugs or groupies?” Mac allowed his lips a twitch of amusement.
“Shall we just say: I don’t think Mr Fitzgerald has any concept of the word ‘or’.”
“Vincent, if you expect me to babysit a spoiled brat with the brain of a haggis then—”
“Hooold your hosses.” Vince raised his palms, shaking his head from side to side. S-l-o-w-l-y. “If that were the case, then I’d send Dave to strong-arm him, I’m sure they’d have a ball watching Timmy Time together. Nope. He chews up bodyguards and spits ‘em out like cherry pips.”
“So he’s an utter tosser too?” Mac surmised, accepting the tumbler extended his way before folding himself into the Disney chair.
“Nope. He pulls all that off with a twinkle in his eye. I ain’t saying he’s a tricksy bugger….but you might find it advisable to take your strongest pair of cuffs and some tranquiliser darts.” Vince’s gruff voice was now tinged with anticipatory triumph.
“Straight up? Someone must be waving some stupid money about if you’re hell bent on luring me in with Heroin Houdini…” Mac knocked back the scotch and thunked the tumbler down the huge oak desk, shooting the decanter a pointed stare.
“Straight up. Though he ain’t.” Vince grinned as he topped up their glasses. “Like I said…he ain’t got no concept of the word ‘or’.”
“So what’s in it for me? If I accept.” Mac enquired, leaning back with an air of languid indifference while extracting his cigarettes from the pocket of his leather.
Mac stood on the gravel drive of the Georgian pile he’d been assured that Joe Fitzgerald was, indeed, residing in. Or had been, half an hour ago, when Vince phoned to confirm said fact.
Joe’s not-so humble abode might have been a five-bedroom listed building, but it had a quaint, ramshackle air that was strangely charming. One that suggested it was the country pile of a dotty old squire who strode around the grounds waving a rifle about, wearing plus-fours and a deerstalker hat.
In the intervening hours since leaving Vince’s office, Mac had endeavored to discover who the fuck Joe Fitzgerald was. A swift scroll through the results of googling his name was all it took to ascertain that Vince hadnae exaggerated in order to reel Mac in. Mr Fitzgerald had the face of an angel and the disposition of de Sade. It was also blatantly obvious that Joe was gifted with way too much charisma for his own good…and far too much everything for Mac’s.
Having been promised that Joe was home—alone—for the weekend, someone’s stash of Macallan Triple Cask Matured had better start praying that proved true. Mac really wasnae in the mood to wade through the emaciated limbs of a dozen drugged-up groupies dossing in the hallway. Adam, Joe’s manager, had stayed over last night before heading back to London less than an hour ago, so the miscreant should, at least be in a fit state to answer the bloody door. Unless he’d had the pizza delivery boy in the meantime. Mac just hoped to fuck that was all that had been delivered in the interim.
Mac rapped smartly on the heavy wrought iron knocker and stepped back to wait, wondering how long he would be expected to stand there, twiddling his thumbs. Not long at all, it soon transpired. Mac heard the creak of a rusted hinge from above his head and glanced up just in time to see a shock of platinum hair poke through a little attic window…largely filled by eyes. And a grin.
“Joe?” Stupid question. Who the hell else could it be, unless he had a doppelgänger decoy? Or a twin brother.
“Yesss…to whom am I speaking?” Joe Fitzgerald intoned grandly. Then grinned. Again.
“Are you the bass-ass sent to whip mine into shape? Actually, that’s starting to sound a lot more fun than I suspected…”
“I—” Mac began, but was (thankfully) cut off before having to muster some sort of response.
“Hang on a mo…” His dandelion-fluff head bobbed back inside and Mac soon heard the skitter of footsteps, a thud and a muttered ‘Ow..fuck’ before the heavy front door was finally tugged open. The apparition standing in the doorway was…very tall…very pale…and very nearly naked.
Mac blinked. Fuck.
“Hello…sorry, come in. You’re not what I expected at all.” Joe declared, waving Mac inside with a gallant flourish rather more in keeping with his house, than the current century.
“What were you expecting?” Mac wondered aloud while stepping across the threshold. He found himself standing in a large parquet-tiled hall, littered with an unholy collection of clutter. An antique globe (cracked open to reveal a dozen half-empty bottles), a teetering hatstand, battered brown guitar case, two skateboards, one ancient bike and dozens of shoes (‘pairs’ being somewhat optimistic), scattered like lego brick landmines underfoot.
“D’you fancy a cuppa? Oh sorry. I forgot to answer, didn’t I? Someone built like a bulldog, with a hatchet face and meat-hook fists, a bit like Butch from Tom and Jerry.” Joe grinned before swivelling on his heel to weave his way down the hallway. If ever instructed to ‘walk the line’ Joe would be buggered. He didnae even walk—he meandered—quite possibly in time to some melody audible only in his head.
“Sorry to disappoint you.” Mac muttered, making a mental inventory of five doors and a curving staircase leading off the hallway.
“Disappoint?” Joe whirled round—limbs like windmill sails—before cocking his head to regard Mac with a dark, liquid gaze so luminous he couldnae help but wish he’d left his shades on. “Nope. I find myself surprisingly amenable to the whole ‘whipping me into shape’ idea,” Joe decided with an impish glint of teeth.
If Mac averted his eyes, he would find himself blinded by an extravagance of alabaster skin bisected by a pair of snugly fitting boxers. This didnae leave many options, other than fixing his gaze on Joe’s mouth; so plush, it verged on obscene in repose. Even his shock of hair was strangely endearing, when it would have assumed a peroxide sneer on most men. Endearing? That was a bloody weird word to rustle up. Joe Fitzgerald was a fully-grown, fully-fledged liability, not a gangly puppy.
It had become blatantly transparent why Vince had been so determined to lure Mac into accepting this job. When he should’ve sent Nurse Bloody Ratched instead…or an eminent psychologist, such as Dr Lecter. Someone who had a hope in hell of making it through the day without being devoured by those eyes. Or the grin.
“Sooo…Mac-the-Knife. Is that your first name or surname and would you like a cuppa or something stronger?” Joe rattled off, without pause for breath or punctuation.
“Just Mac will do.” This had to be kept professional, or Mac was buggered before he began. A very unfortunate turn of phrase, if ever there was one.
“Tragic that. I could scarce imagine a more perfect moniker,” Joe beamed, unabashed.
“For a character in a Threepenny Opera, maybe.” Mac snorted.
“Or a bad-ass bodyguard. It’s better than Kev, that’s f’sure.” Joe flitted from subject to subject so swiftly, Mac still hadn’t got round to answering whether he would prefer tea or something stronger. That was a no-brainer, he was wound so tight something might snap if he didnae have a bloody drink.
“The character was ‘Frank’ I believe. Whisky, please.” Mac’s lips twitched in a treacherous effort to smile despite himself…and the deadpan demeanour he’d adopted.
“Phew, I was worried you’d be all teetotal and only drink green gloop. Or raw egg. You’d have to catch a chicken first though, cos I p’raps forgot to go shopping. Right, whisky it is, help yourself, JustMac. I’d better go and mooch up some clothes, I seem to be a smidge unseemly. It’s a good job you weren’t the vicar’s wife.”
“Does she pop round often?” Mac inexplicably asked, while pouring himself a generous dram of scotch. JustMac…f’fucksakes. The rascal was as incorrigible as he was unrepentant about that fact.
“A fair bit. She keeps bringing me cakes, cos she thinks I need ‘feeding up’. There was a crock-pot on the doorstep the other day when I woke up. Good job it had a hat on, or I might have had an impromptu paddle.”
The vicar’s wife was correct. Joe was as skinny as he was tall; so much so, he might well blow away on an errant wisp of wind. He was a good three or four inches taller than Mac’s five-eleven, but far too close to half his weight for comfort.
“Have yourself a sit-down in there, I won’t be long…” Joe added, pointing to a doorway beside the hatstand, through which could be glimpsed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a marble fireplace before spinning on his heel to slalom toward the open staircase.
If the miscreant did have anyone stashed away up there, chances were Joe might be some time. Not least when Mac had damn near drilled a hole in Joe’s head with his eyeballs…rather than relish the downward drift they were dead-set on.