Liam and Alex had been the best of friends since junior high. Like all the best buddy tales, Alex had been there for his friend. Even when Liam was caught blowing the football captain, and had suffered through an entire year of persecution by the football team and their hangers-on, Alex stood by his friend. The day Alex got the diagnosis of bowel cancer and the fact that it was too late to do anything about it, Liam moved into Alex’s apartment. In Liam’s mind there was no question. Alex had been there for him from the beginning. Now it was his turn.
When Alex died he had a final request for Liam, which is why Liam found himself travelling on a rickety old train on the Isle of Wight. He had a ticket to Ryde. Yeah, Alex was a huge Beatles fan and wanted some of his ashes thrown off the pier at Ryde. Liam had pointed out he could have gotten a train anywhere considering the word was ride, not Ryde. Alex was unwavering, and as always Liam honoured his wishes.
As he stood on the desolate pier, unable to lose the last piece of his friend, tears stream down Liam's face. Suddenly, he was led to a seat and a coffee thrust in his hand. Liam looked up to see a handsome man staring down at him, a concerned look on his face. Through a stumbling conversation, Liam explained about Alex's wish. Several cups of coffee later, Liam found he had explained his entire childhood friendship to Harry, who quietly listened and didn't interrupt. As Liam ran out of words and voice, Harry took Liam by the hand and led him to the pier. With Harry's support, Liam carried out Alex's wish.
With a few days to spare before his flight home, Liam explored the island with Harry at his side. Liam had never believed in love at first sight, but after three days Liam was totally in love with the quiet Englishman. But Liam was going home, and their lives were thousands of miles apart. This was just a holiday romance and all Liam had to go back to was an empty apartment.
The novelty of owning his own home soon wears away for Ade Dartnell, when he has to clear out an attic packed to the rafters with shabby furniture and moth-eaten toys. His partner, Viv Johnson, conveniently chooses the time to go on a business trip, leaving Ade to do the work. As he shifts the furniture, Ade finds a painting face down between the rafters.
Surrounded by the forgotten detritus of decades, Ade looks at the face of a handsome man, dressed in the clothes of the Regency period. As he gazes at the picture it occurs to him that the face is very familiar to him. It’s the man he wakes up to every morning. He is holding a painting of his lover, Viv, even down to the scar on his bottom lip.
When Ade calls Viv on his mobile to tell him about the picture, a stranger answers the phone, telling him that Viv has been in an accident, and he is in a coma. Ade rushes to Viv’s side, taking the painting with him, knowing that it is somehow linked to Viv’s condition. As he waits for Viv to wake up, Ade looks at the painting again, only to discover the portrait of the man has changed. The man is no longer in Regency clothing. He is in modern clothes. Viv’s clothes.
Ade realises to his horror that Viv is trapped in the painting and Ade has no idea how to free him, to get him to wake up from his coma.
The Arches Gym series
The Arches #1: Tumbling Blindly
Matt is dumped by his boyfriend, Milo, on a Tuesday. He knows this because the bin men are due, and he knows his neighbour will be annoyed that their dustbins are left in the street. Matt’s in bed, and the way he is feeling, he’ll never get out of bed again. He doesn’t count on his neighbour calling the police to see if there is a dead body in the flat. The policemen are very polite, if a little undiplomatic about the smell in the flat. Matt hadn’t managed to get as far as the shower.
He doesn’t count on meeting one of the policemen at his local gym, or that the officer takes an interest in him. Matt’s still too raw after his break-up with Milo to cope with another relationship, but Gabe’s gentle but firm friendship goes a long way to soothing Matt’s soul – particularly when Milo turns up on his doorstep again.
The Arches#2: Taken for Granted
Luca owns The Arches gym. According to Gabe, the acerbic copper, Luca is married to the gym, and he’s the wife. Luca thinks that’s a load of bull but his long working hours are putting a strain on his relationship with the young business student, Darius. Darius is at home all day, unemployed and bored.
At Matt’s suggestion, Luca offers Darius a job at the gym, on condition Darius doesn’t paint the locker room walls pink. Darius is gay, with a side helping of camp. To his surprise, his boyfriend agrees, and within weeks he is making suggestions on how to expand Luca’s business.
That’s where it all starts to go wrong, and the men struggle to keep their relationship together as Luca resents Darius’ interference.
The Arches #3: Milo’s Bad Move
Milo makes the mistake of returning to Matt’s life, hoping to rebuild their relationship. He’s got a job, a new car, and now he wants his boyfriend back. Only Matt’s got a whole new life with that irritating pig, Gabe, and he doesn’t seem to want Milo back in his life. Gabe certainly doesn’t and makes his feelings very plain.
Stung by Matt’s rejection, Milo tries once more, going to The Arches gym when he knows Gabe won’t be there. Matt still rejects him. As Milo leaves, a young homeless man begs for his help. Milo goes to blow him off, only to see a look in the young man’s blue eyes, a look that Milo had himself a year ago. He takes him for a coffee, and unwittingly falls in love with a man who has nothing – not even his own name.