Wafflish

My Way 3

 

My Way

 

 

4 Joe

 

“Joe, I’m not here to fuck you over. If you’re straight up with me, I’ll keep them off your back as much as I can…but that works both ways. If you’re dead set on fucking me over, then there’s no point… ”

 

Well, that was a turn up for the books. Mac-the-knife was proving to be the most mind-boggling scoundrel who’d ever set foot through the front door. Joe didn’t know quite what to make of him. When Adam announced that they’d procured the meanest mo-fo on earth (or thereabouts) to dog Joe’s days ‘n’ nights, he thought he’d find himself landed with pug-faced pugilist, fond of folding his arms to show off his bulging biceps. Fluent only in grunts ‘n’ glowers. JustMac was so far from this caricature, Joe had been left scrambling to superimpose the strangely elegant, but deadly dangerous reality, atop it. 

Joe had expected to be stuck living with the enemy, not shacked up with a sadistic sex-god who’d promised to keep the bastards off Joe’s back…if he played ball. The list of things-not-to-think was fast assuming printer-spewing proportions. Ah well, with a bit o’luck, Joe’s brain would be kept too busy scuttling Mac-hiavellian machinations to cook up catastrophes with quite such dedication to the cause. 

Mac clearly kept his cards so close his chest they were secreted beneath sunkissed skin, so Joe decided that his best bet would be to ‘play ball’ until he’d had a bit of a forage. A sentence destined for the top of Joe’s list if e’er there was one. The craving was something chronic, gnawing his guts with steel-trap tenacity but Joe was strangely reluctant to cave in with the stakes so high. Clarity had never held quite such a potent hand…

 “’Kay. D’you want another drink?” Joe asked, because Just(partial-to-a-wee-dram-or-three)Mac had knocked back the first two as if it was closing time at the last-chance saloon.

Okay? That’s it?” The scoundrel looked a smidge staggered…even a bit disappointed. Had the bad-ass had been spoiling for a spot of sparring? Or, just partial to pressing buttons as foreplay to polishing off the resulting ruckus with his knuckle dusters? JustMac would have to hold his horses, at least till after the weighing-in. Meanwhile, Joe wanted to watch those glinty greens at work so…’twas time to don his tour guide hat. 

“Should I show you around, so you know where everything is? You can choose a room to put your stuff in and—” He stopped short when Mac speared him with an expression as incredulous as if Joe had switched to Klingon, mid-sentence. “What’s that face for?” 

“You seriously think I intend to leave you to your own devices overnight?”  

Yeeesss actually…I’d been counting on it.  

It was more than a mite obvious where Mac intended to kip, the presumptive scoundrel, but still, Joe pressed on. Curious to discover if he’d have the decency to ask—even as a pretence to treating Joe like a hooman—as opposed to a junkie who’d traded his right to privacy for a baggie of smack.  

Mac did not, just pointed out that Joe had answered the door so scantily clad he couldn’t claim to be Mr Prissypants, or something such. Mac-the-knife did have a point, but blimey...sleep in my room? If Joe thought for a second that there were nefarious designs on his person afoot, then he’d roll out the red carpet…but that was about as likely as Mac having a rubber duckie in his bath.

“’Tis customary to ask before you go inviting yourself into someone’s bed, Mr Cocky pants.” Joe attempted a lofty sniff. As it prob’ly only qualified in the literal sense, he’d never been as glad to be so bloody tall. Mac was…a shade under six foot? But built like…oops, the rest o’that is heading nowhere but the list any time soon… Shaw. Rather than Hobbs, that would do. The McBadass might not be a towering man-mountain of muscle but the reality felt somehow more lethal. Mac-the-knife was a lean, mean, fighting machine, as sharp and finely-honed as his moniker. Oh help.

“To Sleep.” Mac clarified. Emphatically. Bugger. Or not.

“Sadist.” Joe huffed. Instead of the pithy retort he’d been expecting, Mac just scorched his retinas with Kryptonite green before turning to…Strewwth. 

 Joe stood, staring—eyes pinned wide ’nuff to plop on the parquet—as Mac swished off to fetch his stuff. Oh, for a remote control button to rewind and re-view that. In slo-mo, cos Joe’s mo-fo had the baddest-ass on the planet. I have to watch that wiggle its way ’round the house for two whole days? This was taking cruel and unusual punishments to previously unscaled altitudes. Watch it wiggle? It was going to be snug as a bug in Joe’s bloomin’ bed. 

Someone was having a larf. At Joe’s expense. Well, not literally, because the record company was footing Mac’s mega-bill, but really… If they’d decided to exact revenge for past misdemeanors and mishaps, they couldn’t have rustled up a better plot if they’d had Kafka on board. 

The piranha baggies were starting to look a lot like a jolly jape in comparison. I have to sleep in the same bed as that butt? As if that wasn’t painfully hard enough, said rear was residing on a glinty-eyed sex-god carved from Scottish granite and drizzled in runny honey. 

Skag? It would take a sledgehammer to knock Joe out under such duress. Behopes the McBadass had one in his boot—and some bromide—or it would be a veerry long night. This was torture so extreme it would make Joe’s stint in Thai Rehab feel like bloody Butlins.

P’raps he should sleep in his chair instead. Joe had done just that for a few months, before he got around to buying a bed. As he p’raps tended to forget stuff he didn’t want to remember, chances were he’d flinched from such a…commitment to the house. He’d been too spooked to admit he’d found somewhere he felt…a tentative sort of (inconcevable) calm. Shimmering in the air, settling around him. Soothing the clawing ache that  clutched at Joe’s chest. A glimmer of impossible peace, hovering on his horizon, if he could just… Joe had never been able to finish that thought. P’raps…one day, he might not need to. He would just know. Know he’d found it.

After three months kipping in his chair, Joe was half-crippled so he surrendered to the inevitable and ordered a bloody bed. By which point, he was so enamoured with his bolt-hole hideaway, they pretty much had to prise Joe out ‘n’ about with a crowbar. It was the best of both worlds, he had the idyll he’d always dreamed of but there was plenty o’room to invite a few folks ’round for a soirée. A far less risky prospect than venturing out to feed the press some lurid headlines. Again.

Sleep in my chair? Joe would have to be stark, staring mad to turn down the opportunity to snuggle up to his McBadass. As safe as safe can be. Whether he actually survived the experience sane? Was a whole other kettle of kippers…

“Blimey, are you stocking up for a siege…?” Joe gaped, when Mac returned a few minutes later toting two bulging black holdalls. “Or, is one for clothes and one for your torture kit?”

“Oh, I didn’t think I’d need clothes. We’re heading back to London on Monday, don’t forget.” Shrugged with deadpan élan to die for, while kicking the door shut behind him. 

“Hmph…a likely story.” Joe sniffed. “If I’d known you’d come to play Santa, I would have offered you a mince pie and glass of sherry.” 

“S’kay, I’d rather have scotch. Now, where d’you want me to put these? I’d hate to clutter up the place…” Mac smirked. Oooh.

“Are you casting aspersions on my housewifery?” Joe sniffed, shooting him a squinty side-eye.

“No. I’m saying it looks like a bloody bomb’s gone off.” 

“It’s homely,” he huffed. “Besides, I might’ve tidied up, if I’d invited anyone to come and stay.”

“You’re lying.” Mac fixed him with the flinty glint that felt like being X-rayed.

“Well, I would have intended to,” Joe amended. “’Tis the thought that counts. Bring them upstairs then, if you must be so par-tic-ular about it. I may as well show you ’round…” He was turning to lead the way when one word stopped him in his tracks. 

“Joe?” Whisky warm, Mac’s voice had lowered to lethal purr; as hot as hell and too persuasive to ignore. 

“Yeah?” Steeling himself, Joe swivelled on his heel, turning toward Mac. 

“I’m not here to torture you.” Mac ensnared Joe’s eyes with a green as insidious as absinthe. “I am not your enemy…you can trust me. All you need do, is be you…and leave the rest to me, ’kay?”

How Joe wished he could let himself believe Mac. Beset by paranoid suspicions he might be, but he’d have to be downright demented to allow himself that luxury. Joe knew all too well what was rocket fuelling such fears but they still had very real foundations. It seemed that everyone he’d trusted to take care of stuff that felt like falling face first into a nettle patch…were somehow those who’d become most hell-bent on shoving him into it. 

The only time Joe could secure any sense of comfiness was the early hours of morning, when those first slivers of dawn stole the darkness away. Pottering about as he pleased, weaving words and melodies, adrift in blissful solitude. Wishing he could stay forever suspended in that hazy half-light, lazy with promise of an impossible peace.

“ Well, I hope you’re better at your part of that bargain than me, or we’re done for…” Joe stretched his lips into a smile best described as creaky.

“It’s a bloody tragedy if you really believe that, but maybe you do…” Mac sighed, raking a hand through the fronds of fringe flopping over laser beam green. “The truth is, you’re too good at being you. Too good for your own good. That is the problem.

 

***

Wafflish

My Way 2

Hiya,

Without further ado, here are the next two…

 

My Way

2.  Joe

 

 

Joe was mooching about in the attic when he heard the rap on the door he’d been dreading. Perhaps he should be out. If Joe was out, then he couldn’t reasonably be expected to answer it, not even by unreasonable folk who dispatched bad-ass babysitters to jackboot him up the bum. Joe was way beyond bored of being read the riot act and told that he could not and should not. If he’d fancied a life like that, then he would’ve signed up for the forces and followed in his dad’s footsteps. Rather than make Major Fitzgerald RM wish it were possible to rescind his sperm donation, instead. 

After shoving that thought to the back of his mind to fester like a brain tumour—as was its wont—Joe turned his attention back to the rat-a-tatting. Pottering about in his pants would no doubt be deemed most remiss, so Joe had headed for his hideyhole to get dressed before the arrival of a Mr Mac. Sent by the Powers That Be (pissed off-a-lot) to drive Joe demented. He’d no doubt hunt Joe down like a dog if he did a runner, so he might as well answer the door, seeing as he was indeed in, and even if he was out, he’d have to be in, eventually. Mr Mac wasn’t a quitter. Apparently. Unlike Joe’s previous bovver-booted bodyguards whose professional pride had been so susceptible to affront, merely by slipping his leash. Who knew? It was with a much-miffed huff that Joe shoved the attic window open and poked his head out to peer down at the latest installment as his serial killer of joys. 

Crikey.  He’d expected Mr Mac to be pacing about impatiently, unaware of being observed, but Joe found himself all-but tasered by twin glints of green. A green so gorgeous, its focus so absolute it was startling from two floors up. Those eyes could probably see round corners. If it was ‘just’ the laser intensity of that stare , then Joe might’ve had a hope in hell of cobbling a few brain cells together. But nope, its emerald gleam was set in a face gifted with such godly bone structure, Mac should by rights, be cast in bronze and positioned in pride of place beside the birdbath. 

Joe scrunched his eyes up tight. Then opened them again. Still there. P’raps he’d hallucinated his own Mr Mac in a stealth attack of toxicless-shock-syndrome? Adam had sat sentry all night and only left half-hour ago, after sand-blasting Joe with a tirade about bad-ass babysitters and last-chance saloons. Thus, Joe was feeling far too fit-as-a-fiddle for his own comfort. If this particular Mr Mac was real, then he would speak, would he not? 

Okay… If I greet him and he replies: you had me from hello… then ‘Mac’ is a miraculous mirage. If he says anything else whatsoever, then he’s a real, live hooman. Sorted.

“Hiya…”

“Joe?”

Dammit. Wrong answer. Was that a good or a bad thing? Was it preferable to have an imaginary bad-ass who lusted after Joe’s…or a living, breathing one come to whip it into shape?

“Yesss…to whom am I speaking?” he asked, adopting his best lord of the manor tones. 

“I’m Mac.”

Yup. It was Mr Mac-the-knife wielding Mafioso himself. He sure looked the part. That honeyed skin hailed from far closer to Scicily than Scotland, despite his moniker and Mac’s pronunciation of it. He wasn’t a jot like the Kray cronie Joe expected when told he was about to meet the inescapable agent of his doom. Adam actually said ‘nemesis’ but its definition was too devilish a delight to deny himself. Particularly when it coincided with being denied more than he could endure and stay sane. Or wish to. 

Mac was as far from a Mockney geezer straight from the set of a Guy Ritchie movie it was possible to imagine. He was far too…sleek. He was a panther not a pit-bull…about as far from Vinnie Jones as it was possible to rustle up. Mac oozed lethal elegance. He even stood with a still, watchful grace as deadly as it was…delicious.

Mac was, quite clearly, the ‘real deal’ Adam had promised. Secured at great expense by Joe’s record company, no less, in the wake of one too many ‘tired and emotional’ no-shows and less than loquacious appearances here ‘n’ there. Enter Mac-the-Knife, sent to shove his size…tens(?) up Joe’s butt and whip it into shape. There was so much wrong (but oh, so right) with that sentence Joe would be best advised not to think of shoe sizes (or their inferences), shoved anywhere (whatsoever) and go down (oh dear) to let Mr Mac in (ditto). 

Joe was so distracted by not-thinking such thoughts, he tripped over a runaway skateboard and damn near met (the harbinger of) his doom by barrelling head-first through the front door. Which meant that Joe also had to not think about barge-poles. At all.

Ugh...Joe hated being (comparatively) compos mentis, it felt akin to having a hive of hornets in his head. An incessant buzz of stinging truths and scything self assessment… no matter how hard Joe tried to drown—no—nothing worked that well: damp down the demons enough to believe. Believe in the very thing that had always been as natural to Joe as breathing. Before. It became a…commodity. Now? He could scarce string three words together or rustle up a riff that wasn’t as trite as it was turgid.

The problem was, Joe would happen on a miracle that did diminish the onslaught of self-doubt and carping criticism. Then find himself flying as high as a kite once more on rhythm and rhyme, feverishly writing reams of poetry as cascades of notes flitted through his thoughts. As free as his fingers across strings, caressing keys, coaxing melody from mayhem as words tumbled from his lips. ‘Til the fear came flooding back with a vengeance….which left Joe with little option but morein ever spiralling amountsor find a fresh source of blissful oblivion. Joe was fast running out. Of everything. Sources. Lives. Chances. Everyone’s patience. 

Enter Mac-the-Knife. A shark shrink-wrapped in a fitted shirt, snowy sleeves rolled back to reveal sinewy forearms and an incongruous slash of scarlet bound around his right wrist. He was a shock of sharp contrasts, all clean lines and crisp tailoring that clung to sunkissed skin as warm as his russet brown hair. Buzzed in an undercut with rogue tendrils that flopped over those flinty glints of green. All of which was so discombobulating, Joe found himself admitting that Mac was far from the man he’d dreaded. Out loud.

“What were you expecting?” Mac asked as he stepped into the hallway

 Joe might’ve mooted a bulldog chewing a wasp. Or Butch from Tom and Jerry. Same difference. In his own defence, neither Kray twin put in an appearance. Nor Jack the Hat McVitie…which was a bit of a McMiracle, all things considered.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” Mac muttered vaguely, laser gaze blazing everywhere, all at once. Quite possibly checking every nook and cranny for secret stashes with X-ray vision… now there was a thought. Oh dear...Joe was all out of rubber gloves…

“Disappoint?” Joe figured that he’d better appear to ponder this, rather than state outright how very un—whatever the antonym for disappointed was—he was. Chuffed to bits, that would do. As would Mac. Very nicely indeed, thank you muchly. “Nope. I find myself strangely amenable to the whole ‘whipping me into shape’ idea.”

P’raps the vicar’s wife had a spare crop she could lend him. 

It was roundabout then that the holy grail of revelations dropped on Joe’s head. His marbles were so scattered may have mixed his metaphors but no matter: 

If Mac’s presence was supposed to dissuade Joe from overindulging here ’n’ there, then the bright spark responsible for that cunning plan was patently in need of psychiatric assistance. If Joe set off on the long ‘n’ snakey road to sobriety then…he wouldn’t need a bad-ass to guard his body, would he? Duh.

“It’s just Mac.” Stated firmly (double ditto) with a flinty glint. Uh-oh. It seemed that JustMac was not partial to being suffixed.  It was too late now, Joe couldn’t unthink it, he wasn’t stoned enough. Hence his head wouldn’t shut up at all…and he found himself unleashing all sorts of nonsense and the vicar’s wife, before segueing straight into crockpots and paddling therein.

 Somewhere amidst all this superfluity, Joe discovered that the walking oxymoron that was JustMac wasn’t the green-algae aficionado he’d feared. Things were looking up. In more ways than one. A fact so obvious that Joe figured he’d better take himself off and slip into something far less comfy but a bit less…lurid. It was a bloomin’ good job the bad-ass had been too busy stash-scouting to peruse Joe’s person. At least his boxers were black—which was far more forgiving than his favourite red undercrackers—but blimey, it was very hard to conduct a chat under such circumstances.

 

***

 

 

3.  Mac

 

Mac tossed back his tumbler of whisky before tugging his cigarettes from the pocket of his leather and sinking into a comfortable armchair beside the fireplace. Despite being the embodiment of his billing, Joe Fitzgerald far from met Mac’s expectations. He couldnae quite put his finger on why, when it made no sense to suggest that Joe fit his description yet defied its very essence. 

Just as contradictory was the fact that all Joe Fitzgerald wasn’t made him so…utterly what he was. While he was every bit as charming as Mac had been promised, he’d presumed that would be mere showbiz artifice. A cultivated charisma about as shallow as a coke spoon. Fake, like so many of Joe’s ilk, with a glossy veneer about as genuine as their teeth. Far less forgivable was the fact they were as tedious as fuck, which was why  Mac had given Vince such a hard time. He’d rather wade through a cesspit than work the red carpet. The stench was more sincere.

Unless Joe was the best faker Mac had ever met, he was far too authentic for his own welfare. It was a miracle he’d survived himself, let alone a life in the music business. Safeguarding Joe’s future in it would make Mac worth every penny the record company paid up. Thwarting his determination to destroy Joe Fitzgerald—in one way or another—would be a far more brutal battle. One Mac fully intended to win, by means fair or foul. Breaking all the rules…even his own. 

That incorrigible charm might make Joe’s star shine all the brighter, but Mac had not expected to find him so…engaging. Warm. Real. While he undoubtedly wielded those eyes as the weapon they were, the monster was so shameless about it, it was damn near impossible to take umbrage. It didn’t help that those intent on tethering Joe to his talent, rather than proclivities, were undoubtedly complicit in using the latter as leverage. Doling them out like dog chocs to bring Joe to heel and rewarding him for ‘good’ behaviour, if he played ball. They knew damn well that they couldnae control him any other way—he was too talented, too clever and could clearly outfox them—which made this entire shitstorm horribly inevitable.

Mac’s remit was not to get Joe off drugs. It was to get him there (wherever that happened to be), in a fit state to fulfil his ‘obligations’. Able to function.

Joe Fitzgerald was very obviously functioning today. All of him. The evidence tugging Mac’s attention to this fact made following Joe’s bullet train of thought a feat in itself…let alone while suffering an acute case of cripple cock. This gig was doomed to disaster before it began. Mac should walk away without a backward glance and tell Vince to book some other bugger to guard Joe’s body. Bodyguard Joe. The miscreant had one hell of an advantage; his reputation was already shot to shit. Mac’s was on the line. The very line Mr Fitzgerald could never bloody walk.

Mac had just lit a second cigarette when the clink of a bottle against glass filtered through this fog of thoughts. Joe soon reappeared, clutching two tumblers, one of scotch and the other a shade that suggested rum. He was, thankfully, wearing clothes: black jeans with a red and black striped top, scarlet socks. Dennis the Menace on stilts, after switching the shampoo for a bottle of bleach…then forgetting that fact.

“Are you off in a minute?” Joe asked as he handed Mac the glass of whisky.

“Off?”

“You look as if you’ve made up your mind to leave and are planning an exit strategy.” His soft voice sounded uncertain, rather than hopeful, which was…unexpected. Quite why Mac had focused on this when Joe had just intuited all of that in three seconds flat was almost as perplexing. No one had been able to get a read on Mac for a long time, his life depended on it. So, he’d strived to eradicate every single tell as if it was an unsightly stain on a blank wall.

“Your safety could count on the latter. ” That wasn’t a lie, at least. “Just a reflex, if y’like. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me…” Mac shrugged.

“I don’t mind being stuck with you. If I’ve got to have someone, I’m glad it’s you. So, JustMac, what can’t I do?” Joe asked, folding his far too lavish self into the opposite chair. 

“It’s not about what you cannae do. It’s about what you will do.” Mac stated, as fact.

“…And what will I do?” His pincushion lips twerked; as incorrigible as the rest of him. 

“Everything in your diary.” 

“What if I’m…?” Joe paused, rolling his eyes top right while pondering the perfect get out clause. There wasnae one. “‘What if’ nothing. You could Section yourself, I guess, but that would somewhat defeat your objective,” Mac snorted. “Joe, I’m not your bloody gaoler and I’m sure as hell no babysitter. But you will do what’s in that diary, even if I have to knock you out and carry you to the car, or cuff you to make certain of it.”

Oooh…” Joe’s doe eyes widened still further. They were…exceptional. The deepest shade of brown before black, bewitching in themselves, otherwordly alongside milk-white skin and white-blond hair.

 “Not in a fun way.” Mac retorted.

“Party pooper.” Sticking Joe to the window with that pout might prove the answer to all manner of problems. “That’s just cruel.”

“A trait that was never in doubt…so your point is?” Mac arched an ironic brow.

“They didn’t tell me you were a sadist, t’boot.” Joe chuntered.

“How very remiss of them.” 

“It was. This is torture. First off, you come slinking in with your granite jaw and glinty-greens, then start waving your cuffs about. You’ll be wheeling in a tank of piranhas next, with baggies of smack floating in it.”

“Not till tomorrow when you’re chewing the carpet.” Mac smirked. Strewth, he’d only been here half-hour and was fast turning into a pantomime villain. All he needed was a moustache to twirl and he’d be sorted. Slinking?

“Humph. I’ll go insane. They’ll be carting me off in a straitjacket before Monday. I won’t be able to do my diary then, will I?” Joe huffed.

“That’s up to you, it’s your choice. Locked up on your lonesome in a rubber room. Or put the fuck up with me.” 

“Can I have a pick ‘n’ mix of those choices?” Joe wondered ‘airily’. 

“Do I look like a confectionary counter?” Mac spluttered.

“Literally? No. It’s more like window shopping at S&M-R-US. Will I get rewards for good behaviour?” Joe beamed, all eyes and teeth, glittering with mischief. 

“Yup.” Mac inhaled and blew a long stream of smoke ceilingward before adding; “Your career.”

“Ooh, that was evil.” Joe humphed.

“If the cap fits…” Another shrug. “But isn’t that what you want? Or, thought you wanted?” Mac asked, allowing the harsh Glaswegian accent he’d adopted to fall away and soften to his native Edinburgh burr for the first time. 

“Well…yes. Sort of.” Joe sighed, lifting his feet off the floor to plant them on the seat and rest his chin on top of his bent knees. “I just wanted to write songs and play them to people. I did want to be famous…cos that’s how it works, isn’t it? I couldn’t do this if no-one cared whether I did or not, or came to gigs…but I didn’t expect it to be…like this. I thought I’d be able to potter along, writing, playing…but I can’t. That’s all anyone ever says, too: ‘You can’t‘. It’s like being devoured by a massive shredding machine that wants to spit out stuff.  I want to write and play, sing songs that mean something to peoplethat matternot be a product on a production line spewing out pretty melodies. I know that sounds stupid and ungrateful

“It doesn’t…” Mac interrupted. Not from those lips, at least. It was pure, impossible, idealism, tumbling forth in sing-song tones as alluring as a lullaby. The cadence of Joe’s voice seemed to smooth Mac’s sharp edges, much like the accent he’d affected. He’d begun to feel as if he’d stepped through some sort of portal when he’d crossed the threshold. A world where Joe dreamed impossible dreams and made them seem plausible by dint of believing them into being. Or Mac had lost the sodding plot. Either way, it was now blatantly apparent why the wheels of the tour bus had come off in such spectacular style. 

“It sounds…naive,” Mac continued. “The music business is just that…and the truth is, you are the product. People buy into all you are, not just your songs. Whoever booked me knows that damn well and I suspect it’s more true with you than most of their artists. Some musicians sell songs…some gift their fans a sense of self…of belonging. Maybe you wouldnae write the way you do, if you didn’t want to touch people that way. I don’t intend to fuck you over, Joe.” That was one word away from a lie, but it was a helluva lot truer than: I don’t intend to shaft you. Moving swiftly on.  “If you’re straight up with me, I’ll keep them off your back as much as I can…but that works both ways. If you’re dead set on fucking me over, then there’s no point. I might as well walk out the door, it’s no skin off my arse. I don’t need this jobbut you need meor I wouldnae be here. So…s’up to you.”

“’Kay.” Joe spoke so softly his nod was almost louder. Then abruptly sprang from his armchair before bending to scoop up Mac’s empty tumbler. “D’you want another drink?” 

What the fuck? Mac had expected Joe to unleash the erudite charm offensive that must surely have been simmering since he’d been informed that he was being saddled with a ‘bad-ass’ squatter for the foreseeable. What’s he up to…? 

‘Kay? That’s it?” Mac shot him a suspicious side-eye but Joe just shrugged.

“Yup. I want you to stay, so okay. D’you have stuff to bring in from the car?”

“Aye, I’ve got a couple of bags in the boot, I’ll go and fetch them in a minute.” 

“Okay. Should I show you around, so you know where everything is? You can choose a room to put your stuff in andwhat’s that face for?” Joe interrupted himself, brows knitting in puzzlement.

“You seriously think I intend to leave you to your own devices overnight?” Mac snorted.

“I…well, what are you going to do then?” 

“Sleep in your room.” Mac stated, with the most nonchalant shrug he could muster up.

My room?!” Joe squeaked in a voice about three octaves higher than usual. If those eyes got any wider they’d swallow his head.

“Joe, you answered the door in your pants, what’s the problem? I think it’s safe to presume you’re not prudish.” Mac did his damndest to maintain a poker face, somewhat akin to attempting this feat while clutching a royal flush. Joe’s expression was priceless; an anime depiction of ‘agog’.

“’Tis customary to ask before you go inviting yourself into someone’s bed, Mr Cocky Pants,” Joe sniffed.

“To sleep.” Mac clarified, with a clipped precision that belied the chronic cripple cock.

“Sadist,” Joe grumbled, obsidian eyes agleam with stardust. After spearing him with a withering stare, Mac stomped off to fetch his bags from the car. 

What the hell am I thinking? Yes, that decision had been a no-brainer on the drive down. Adam had just sat sentry all night, for chrissakes. Tactical thinking that did not account for the fact Mr Fitzerald In The Flesh was lethal. Ah well…so be it. Mac sure as hell had no intention of failing Joe because he feared an inability to keep it in his own pants…

 

***

 

Wafflish

WIP: My Way

Hi,

Heaven knows how much I’ve written of this storyp’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

 

Pastel Themed Natural Plants Mood Board (1)

Prologue

Mac

 

“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.

 

***

 

Chapter 1  

Mac

 

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.

“Hiya… ” 

“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.

“I’m Mac.”

“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. JustMacf’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.

 

***

Snippets · Wafflish

An Easter Snippet…

Hiya, I hope you’ve had a splendid scoffalot… I have finally started work on the last edits of Hangover #3: Hangover the Rainbow.

As I’ve inundated you with Beastly Business since Halloween, Easter—season of renewal—seemed the perfect time to start afresh with a new snippet of an old favourite…

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(Please excuse errors…my own edits.)

Hangover The Rainbow

 

 

Chapter One

Callum

 

 

 

“Welcome home, I left in a hurry, so it might be a bit of a mess…” Callum admitted, unlocking the front door.

“A mess? Blimey…” Daniel gaped in mock shock; wide-eyed, lips parted in a soft ‘o’. “Are you trying to finish me off today, dear hubby?”

“Less hassle than a divorce…and I get to keep the house.” Cal shrugged.

“Skint-flint. You’re bloody loaded. I’d be left squatting in the shed.” 

“Starving artist, you are not. No matter how rosy-tinted your specs are.”

“Am too. Famished, in fact.” Dan sniffed, wriggling out of his coat. His hat had…seen better days but survived. Just about. If only that remained true for the foolhardy scraps of Cal’s sanity.

“When did you last eat?” Callum couldn’t help but smirk, the answer being a dead cert.

“I dunno…but you know that’s got doodly-squat to do with it.”

“You were full-up an hour ago,” Callum pointed out. Pointlessly.

“Hmm…so I was. But I have a fast metabolism…” Everlasting arms wound around Cal’s waist, for all the world as if to proffer proof of that fact. From behind.

“D’you suppose I hadn’t noticed before you parked that there? Wouldn’t you rather have your wedding present first?”

“Really! You’ve written it!?”

“Put me down, you pillock!” Cal shrieked when he found himself whisked off his feet and whirled in sick-bucket circles. “I’ve got a few lyrics worked out, that’s all!” A sudden halt later, his hand was snatched up as Dan all but sprinted for the spiral stairs.

“Yay! C’mon…”

“Let me get my jacket and boots off, y’nutter,” Callum chuntered, yanking his fingers free after staggering into the studio. “Go and pour some drinks.”

“Okey dokey. Hurry up, though.” Dan called over his shoulder as he scurried off to fetch a couple of glasses.

After shrugging off said accoutrements, Cal collected his guitar from its customary corner. Excellent. Now he had to sing the bloody thing without even road-testing it first. He clearly hadn’t thought this through…again; a fact he’d found himself thinking far too often of late. Of late…? Five years just about covered it. Odd that.  Even then, Cal sure as shit hadn’t expected to eclipse his former efforts quite so spectacularly. F’fucksakes…

*

‘I’ve dumped too much crap on you over the last few days to work out what finally put the tin hat on it…’

‘You haven’t, you daftie. You married me. There was nothing I wanted more in all the world…’

 *

A desire Cal had somehow remained oblivious to. Daniel had never even hinted around the subject but then, he’d never asked Callum to ‘come out’ either. There had been  specific incidents that made Dan throw a fit—or shutter himself off—when they couldn’t  attend functions as a ‘couple’…but he’d never issued an ultimatum. Nor pleaded for the public recognition he deserved.

The only convention Cal had ever known Dan to abide by was sticking his paintbrushes in a pot of white spirits to soak. He paid no mind whatsoever to his effect on others, if he even noticed. Callum could only affect nonchalance—Dan’s oft cited ‘cool as fuck’ was but a façade Cal slipped on with some shades and his leather to face the world. Or indoors, for Daniel—worn with sod all else—on occasion. ‘Callum Carter’ was poles apart from the man Cal knew himself to be.

Not a single thing had led him to expect that Daniel Flynn, enfant terrible, might yearn for something as conformist and confining as marriage. The workings of that brilliant, baffling brain would forever perplex lesser mortals—that much was a given—but married? Dan? Cal had never imagined those two words might ever share the same page, let alone sentence. Particularly as a declaration of status.

Discovering that Dan was in fact a Martian would’ve been less staggering than the dreams he’d never once let slip from the loosest lips on the planet. Lips that had been dead set on driving Cal demented from the day they met. In every way Dan elected to wield them. Nevertheless, Callum sure as hell hadn’t expected them to excel themselves by…keeping schtum. In truth, Cal had thought them as incapable of restraint as the rest of his deadly beloved. Would Daniel ever cease to astound him? That seemed about as probable as Callum Flynn-Carter reclaiming his single surname status.

Weary of mental machinations (which rarely went anywhere worth visiting) on the drive home, Cal had determined on rustling up some lyrics for Dan’s ‘wedding present’. Efforts that didn’t prove as unproductive as he’d feared. Upon arrival in Hampstead, Cal had managed to cobble a few verses together: enough to play for Daniel…as a welcome home surprise of sorts. Strewth, their only day off for the foreseeable, and matters had spiralled horribly out of hand. Oddly ’nuff… 

“Okay, I’m ready,” Dan announced, plonking himself on the sofa, all eyes. Ears.

“It’s really rough, don’t expect much,” Cal warned.

“Oh shurrup, I only care that you’ve written it, I’m not fussed if you bloomin’ gargle it,” Dan promised, picking up his gin…in order to demonstrate. With forty percent proof mouthwash.

Callum sat down and hefted his guitar into his lap, downing a healthy gulp of whisky to wet his whistle before strumming the opening bars. The subject of the song was lit up like Christmas, even before Cal started to sing…

***

 

Release Blitz · Update · Wafflish

Wafflish

Tadah

Hiya,

Just a little note hoping that you’re well and an update on my upcoming releases.

The Beast of Bodmin Moor will be released on the 8th and available free for 5 days on Amazon from the 9th. 

I’ve booked a Release Blitz with the wonderful Gay Book Promotions starting on the 9th. I’m chuffed to find that I’ll be here, there ‘n’ everywhere for a few days, so I owe huge thank yous to all the lovely folk who’ve signed up for my tour.

April 9

Gay Book Promotions 

Bayou Book Junkie

Books, Tattoos and Tea

Double A Author Services

Ilovebooksandstuffblog

LGB Blogger 

Matt Doyle Media

Never Hollowed By The Stare

Stories That Make You Smile

April 10

Eric Huffbind  

LGBT Book Promotions

Lily G Blunt 

Love Unchained Book Reviews

April 11

Drops of Ink

Gay Book Promotions Blog

Sharonica Logic

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

Sur l’étagère, derrière la sirène en plastique

April 13

Maggie Blackbird

***

I’ve also – finally – started work on my last round of edits for Hangover The Rainbow, book #3 of the Hangover Series. I’m hoping it will be ready to send off to my publishers, MLR Press in a month or so.

I hope you stay well…thank you, as always, for all your support 🥰

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Wafflish

Paperback Writer

Hiya,

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend & all is well in your world.

I finally pressed publish for the paperback version of Duke & Dandy, which now – finally – feels as if it exists as more than a daft notion I had once upon a time.  It costs a flippin fortune though. 

This, despite re-formatting it to tally less than 500 pages and selecting the lowest price I was offered. I couldn’t chose a royalty rate either. Pft. Scoundrels.

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Thus, I don’t expect to sell a single copy of a book I gave away in the first place, but that matters not a jot. ‘Tis now a tangible thing. C’est tout.

I must now get to work editing Hangover 3 & DarknessDawns 2….but before I get lost in the mire of my own mishaps…there are two new stories sitting on my Kindle.  The first o’which was released yesterday, and the second will be out on June 1st.

1.  His Steady Heart  by Nell Iris. Tis currently on sale at JMS books – 45% off – a snip.

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2. The second is the sequel to the wonderful Contingency Plan by Addison Albright

Both are also on sale at JMS:

Contingency Plan

Best-Laid Plans

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I have read Best-Laid Plans and tis bloomin brilliant. I will post a proper review on release day but it was fabulous. How Addison has managed to fandangle such a splendid plot I know not…I cannot plan so much as one paragraph ahead without matters going a mite awry along the way.  A fact that ensures tis always an utter treat to read one of her books, quite aside from their wonderful characters and being beautifully written t’boot.

Speaking o’which…I read Angel and Firebird by Nell Iris after finishing up D&D. I could have rewarded myself no finer way. Twas exquisite…the ending sublime.

 

Wafflish

Proof: I wrote a thing…

Hiya,  I hope you’re having a great weekend.

I spent last week attempting to format a pdf file for the paperback version of Duke & Dandy. It took me about six months to work out what Rainbow snippets entailed, so this was…um an experience. One preferable to my trip to Bristol; reached via Reading on the way, and Torquay on the way home. For US readers, this was akin to travelling from Tallahassee to Jacksonville via Orlando…with a teeny trip to Tampa on the way back. 

Anyhoo… after about seventy-twelve attempts…

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This is my proof copy…tis humongous. I chose the size they suggested, so I knew how big it was. In theory. Tis bigger than a bloomin’ bible. 😳 I can scarce believe it ‘exists’…in the tangible sense.

I have yet to press publish…mostly because it costs so much to buy. I did another round of edits to remove the double spacing in the dialogue, in a bid to bring the page count below 500. The proof was only $6, but I can’t lower the royalty, which damn near doubles the price. Pft.

Ah well, no matter, twas fun to do… and bestest of all? My mum now has a copy to flash to her technosaur friends who want to know when they’ll get to see the ‘proper book’.😋