Saturday, 24 May 2014

Where the hell is Stormin' Norman?

You may have noticed the dates for the publication of Norman were a bit of a moving target; March, April, when was Sue going to pull her finger out and finally write Jesse and Dan's story?

I started to wonder that too. The answers were as follows:

  • I was editing for three straight months
  • Real life has been full-on
  • what I wrote was absolutely crap
No, seriously, it was bollocks. Luckily I have a lovely editor who threw it back and told me to try again (thanks, Sue L). I did have a hissy - just a minor one - and sent it to someone else. She told me the editor was right. Sigh. I tried again.

So... that was reason for the delay. Now it is finished with my editor's approval, but it's still not out. Why not?
  • Isle of Waves came out last week and it's also the end of a series.
  • My daughter is doing work experience in June. She is going to work for me, and I'm going to show her how to publish books on Amazon/ARe etc. 
So that is the reason the publication date is June 9th.

Blame it on my editor and my daughter. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


Dan had been Jesse’s partner for many years, and always there for Jesse on his return from difficult assignments. However, after breaking his promise not to leave again, Jesse learns to his cost that Dan can be pushed too far. When he returns home, broken in body and spirit, Jesse finds his house empty and Dan in the arms of someone else.
To fill his life, Jesse decides to get a dog. His friends and neighbours take him to choose a puppy. What he doesn’t expect is for Norman to choose him. As Jesse takes on a new job, with Norman’s assistance, he realises that Dan isn’t far away, and he still loves him. Dan has moved on with his life. Can Jesse do the same?


Jesse knew he was being scoped out from the minute he entered the bar. It was his job to be vigilant, to be aware of any potential danger to himself or others. The man with his gaze fixed on Jesse had the potential to be dangerous, but it had nothing to do with harm and a whole lot to do with a sexual package wrapped up in lean muscle and topped with dark eyes and tousled hair.
He had come to the gay bar knowing it would be quiet this time of day. He just wanted a beer and a chance to unwind without being hit on by hopeful women. In this bar, he could head off any potential interest easily enough and relax. The guy watching him was destined to be disappointed, even as cute as he was. Jesse wasn’t interested.
The barman stopped polishing the glasses and grinned at Jesse. “You’re back again. It’s been a while.”
Jesse inclined his head. It had been ten months, three weeks and five days. He was anal enough to keep records of his whereabouts in case his handler needed to know.
“I’ve been working. It’s good to be back.” He scanned the pumps, searching for the real ale. “Hobgoblin, please, Sean.”
The barman gossiped about the recent gas explosion in the pub down the road Jesse listened with half his attention, keeping an eye on the dark-haired bloke in the corner. 
The man didn’t disappoint. As soon as Jesse had his beer, he came over and sat on the bar stool next to Jesse. To give him credit, he didn’t piss about.
“Hi, I’m Dan.”
Jesse assessed him carefully. He was older than he’d appeared in the shadows—early forties maybe, the start of lines around his eyes and a sprinkle of grey at his temples. Not Jesse’s type. Jesse was in his mid-thirties. He usually went for men younger than him, searching for uncomplicated hook-ups and nothing more.
“Hi.” Jesse didn’t say any more, hoping his off-hand tone would tell the guy he was wasting his time.
Dan ordered another beer and turned back to him. “I haven’t seen you in here before.”
“I’ve been away.”
“Do you want a beer, a chat, and then see what happens?”
His approach caught Jesse’s attention. Normally blokes started off with “Do you wanna fuck me?” Nine times out of ten Jesse said no.
“I’m not the marrying kind,” Jesse said.
Dan blinked. “I asked you for a beer, not a ring.”
Jesse shrugged. “You’re older than me. I thought I’d get that off the table.”
“Thanks,” Dan said drily. “So all older men are desperate for a ring and kids. I’ll remember that next time I ask for a hook-up. I’ll only go for the younger twinks.” He got up and smiled sadly at Jesse. “Sometimes a beer is just a beer.”
Dan walked back to where he’d been sitting.
“He’s a nice guy,” the barman said.
Jesse frowned. “What?”
“Dan. He’s decent and he’s not looking for anything from you.”
“You overheard that?”
Sean nodded as he wiped the bar down. “He’s a great bloke. A little shy. He comes in here most days for lunch. It would have taken a lot of courage for him to talk to you. You could have just said no.”
Jesse was tempted to tell Sean to fuck off. He’d only come in for a pint and a chance to think. It wasn’t up to him to be nice to the punters. But, and it cost Jesse to admit it, he had been a dick to Dan. He’d been used to dealing with a different type of person over the last few months. Men who had lost their souls. Perhaps Jesse had too. He’d forgotten how to have a simple conversation. He glanced over at Dan who was now reading a newspaper. “Yeah, I didn’t mean to be such an arsehole.” He swallowed the rest of his beer. “Another Hobgoblin and whatever he has.”
“Dan. His name is Dan.” Sean grabbed a couple of glasses.
“You’re very protective of him. Sure you don’t want him for yourself?”
Sean rolled his eyes. “Quite sure, thanks. Mischa would have my balls strung up if I played with any of the clientele.”
“You’re still with that old bear?” He received a smack to the head and turned around to see Mischa scowling at him.
“Not so much of the old, dickhead.”
Jesse saluted him. He’d known the bar owner for years. This was one of the few places he returned to time and again. “Yes, sir.”
Mischa squinted at him. The man was obviously still refusing to wear his glasses. “What have you done this time?”
“Behaved like a dick to one of your clients.” Jesse nodded towards Dan, who was oblivious to the conversation.
“Then you’d better deal with it, boy.”
Despite the fact that Jesse was far from a boy, definitely not Mischa’s boy, and that he took orders from one person only, Jesse got off his stool and took the beers over to Dan. He sat down in front of him. Dan continued to read the newspaper and ignored Jesse, even though his body language screamed he knew Jesse was there.
“Hi, I’m Jesse.” He waited patiently for Dan to acknowledge him. When Dan eventually glanced over the top of his newspaper he said, “I’m not going away.”
“Aren’t I too old for you to condescend to talk to?”
“I’m sorry. I was…” Jesse searched for the right way to put this. “I came in for a beer, not company. I guess I’m not used to a beer being just a beer.”
Dan hesitated, then he nodded. “So what changed your mind?” His tone was still cold and flat.
“They…” Jesse tilted his head to indicate the men at the bar who were pretending not to watch, “pointed out I was being a dick.”
Expecting more than that, Jesse waited and when nothing was forthcoming he pushed the beer towards Dan. “Here.”
“No thanks. I should go back to work.”
“What do you do?” Jesse always asked that. He got people to talk about what they did, then he brushed away his own job as unimportant.
“I’m a financial advisor. I work for myself.”
“So, if you wanted to take the afternoon off, you could?”
“If I wanted to,” Dan acknowledged.
Jesse understood he was going to have to work for forgiveness. He could, of course, just walk away. He’d apologised and bought Dan a beer. That was more than enough.
Then Dan smiled at him and all thoughts of exiting stage left vanished in the wake of that smile. Dan’s whole face changed. The crinkles around his eyes became true laughter lines, and Jesse caught a glimpse of someone he wanted to know a little better, and not just over a few words in a dim bar.
“All right. One beer and then I have to go back to work.”
Jesse grinned back. “Cool. Tell me about your job. Is it interesting?”
Dan raised an eyebrow. “Do you really want to know or are you just trying to find something to say?”
“What would you like to talk about then? Politics, religion, the weather?”
“No to politics and religion, unless you tell me you are a left-wing, atheist type.”
Jesse shook his head. “Er, no. More centre and agnostic.”
“Just promise me you’re not a right-wing, every Sunday at church and we’ll be golden.”
Jesse shuddered at the thought. “I can promise you, I am definitely neither of those things. God, even the thought.”
“My parents are church-goers. You have no idea what it’s like to go to Sunday lunch with them.”
“Is it painful?”
“Let’s just say I’ve found a way to escape from them as soon as we finish eating. They keep trying to force the remains of the carcass on me.”
“You don’t like roast?”
“I’m a vegetarian.”
“Ah.” Not a mark in Dan’s favour. Jesse liked meat. Both kinds. And he’d never met a sane vegetarian. “I don’t envy you the Holy Roller issue. My parents are dead. I don’t have that problem.”
Well now, how had that tidbit slipped out? Jesse normally didn’t give away personal information.
Dan leant forward. “I’m sorry, Jesse.”
“It was a long time ago.”
“Do you have brothers and sisters?”
“Yes, one sister, but I don’t see her very often. She’s in Australia.”
Dan tilted his head. “You must be lonely.”
“Sometimes. But I work away a lot and when I’m not I’m chilling out. I often go on cruises.”
“Cruises? Like couples wearing ballroom dresses and penguin suits?”
Jesse wondered if Dan was taking the piss. “Gay cruises.”
“They have cruises for gay guys?”
“Well, yeah. Have you not heard about them before?”
Dan’s blush was obvious even in the dim lighting of the bar. “I had no idea. I guess that makes me sound stupid. Do they really have cruises just for gay guys?”
Jesse scrolled through the photos on his iPhone and handed it over. “Here. This was the last cruise around the Med.”
Dan scanned through the photos, his eyes opening wide at some of the more explicit images. “You look like you… enjoyed yourself.”
“It was okay.” Jesse shrugged. “I don’t know if I’d go again.”
“I’ve been so busy setting up my business I haven’t had time for a holiday in years.”
“Fair enough. Another beer?”
Dan stood. “My turn. Same again?”
Jesse relaxed back in his seat, turning so he could watch Dan get the drinks. His attention was caught by a young guy in the corner, much more his type—early twenties with blond hair and a pouty mouth. Just the sort of bloke Jesse preferred to hook-up with. Then his gaze was drawn back to Dan. The man had a nice arse when he leaned on the bar. Lithe and shapely like the rest of him. Dan glanced over his shoulder and smiled at him. Jesse returned his grin. This was more than an okay way to spend the afternoon.

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