COMING 15th APRIL
Left at the Crossroads series
#1 Un-Expected by Lisa Worrall
Little Mowbury is a sleepy English village deep in the Cotswolds. The kind of village where you’re only a local if your lineage can be traced back to the dinosaurs. Where you can find everything in the single village shop from morning newspapers to dry-cleaning, and getting your shoes mended. And, of course, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. It’s easy to find… you can’t miss it… just ask anyone and they’ll tell you… “It’s left at the crossroads.”
Eighteen months ago Jason Havers lost the love of his life and it's time to move on. Applying for the position of chef in a sleepy country pub, a million miles away from his previous life, may well be the fresh start he needs. His new employers immediately take him under their wing and before long he finds himself with a passel of new friends and a job he loves. What he doesn’t expect is Tom, a gorgeous midwife, who stirs up feelings he’s not ready to deal with.
But when someone from his previous life turns up in Little Mowbury, will Jason be able to keep them from revealing the secret he’s been keeping from those he’s come to love?
The alcohol combined with the afternoon sun had the effect Tom had predicted. Despite Jason’s best efforts, his eyes closed somewhere around the tenth over after tea and he dozed the rest of the afternoon. Occasionally he was aware of the hum of people talking and, once or twice, he thought he heard his name mentioned, but was too relaxed to open one eye and see what they wanted. It wasn’t until he felt someone shaking his ankle that he finally made an effort to open his eyes.
“Wake up, sleepy. Unless you want us to leave you here all night.”
Jason blinked and opened his eyes to see Tom grinning down at him. He really did have lovely blue eyes, a sort of shades of cornflower blue. Jason groaned inwardly. He really didn’t need to be staring into a bloke’s eyes. “Is it over?” he mumbled.
“Yep. You missed the dramatic conclusion.”
“Did we win?”
Tom laughed. “Not that dramatic. Doris Abernathy’s mutt ran off with the ball. You missed the dog running away with a trail of middle-aged cricketers chasing after him.”
Jason sat up. He felt muzzy-headed. “Jesus, what’s in that beer?”
“I did warn you,” Tom pointed out. “How bad’s your headache?”
“On a scale of one to ten, probably a five.”
“Not too bad then. I’ve had worse on that brew. Everyone else has gone. Selena was feeling the heat and Maggie was fretting about Colin. They left you the blanket as you were sleeping so nicely. I’ll give it to Micah tomorrow.”
Jason looked around. The green was almost empty; the over-flowing bins an indication of the afternoon’s entertainment. The tents were still up and a few people hung around with glasses in hand.
“How long was I asleep?”
Tom smirked at him. “Long enough for me to discover you snore.”
“I do not!”
“How do you know? You were asleep.”
Jason opened his mouth to protest and yawned instead. “Fair enough.”
Tom stood and held out his hand. Jason obediently allowed himself to be hauled up. He knew he was drunk but he was pretty sure Tom didn’t let go of his hand immediately. Then Tom picked up the blanket and shook it before folding it roughly and tucking it under his arm.
“Do you want a tour of the village before you go back to the pub? It’ll give you a chance to walk off the beer before Maggie catches sight of you.”
Jason frowned. “Has she got a problem with people drinking? Isn’t that a bit odd considering she runs a pub?”
“If she sees you drunk she’ll give you the Maggie Mason patented remedy for hangovers.”
“Is it bad?” Jason had tried a few of those in his time.
Tom shuddered and for a moment Jason could swear he turned green. “If you feel bad now, one dose of her ‘cure’ and you’ll feel like living death. Wiser people than me—by that I mean Colin—never admit to drinking within earshot of her. Ready for that walk?”
“Thanks for the warning.”
The late afternoon was still very warm as Tom led the way. Prickles danced across Jason’s forehead indicating he’d probably caught the sun.
“How sunburnt am I?” he asked.
Tom looked at him and Jason felt himself flushing under his scrutiny. Tom’s lips twitched. “Not too bad. You probably need some aftersun when you get back.”
“I’ll have to buy some. Damn, the local shop will be closed.”
“Come back to my place,” Tom said. “I’ve got a bottle in the bathroom. I burn really easily.”
Jason looked at Tom. His ears were a little pink but aside from that he looked fine. “You didn’t today.”
“Sunblock. I slapped it on regularly.”
“You missed your ears,” Jason said.
Tom immediately poked his ears. “Dammit, did I?”
“Just the tops. You look good.” The words were out before Jason could hold them back and the expression in Tom’s eyes changed—became less amused and way more heated. Jason licked his lips, a nervous gesture of old and Tom’s gaze followed the movement. Any minute now Jason was going to be begging Tom to throw down the rug and screw him senseless, passersby be damned.
Jason drew in a shaky breath. He needed to take a step back. He was only reacting like this because it was the first time he’d been near a halfway decent guy in months. Jason ignored the voice in his head that pointed out Tom was more than halfway decent and that his dick had seriously been short on action for a long time.
“So… uh… the tour then?” he said nervously.
“Ye-yeah.” Tom seemed as shaken as Jason was. He looked at Jason one more time, his brow furrowed, then led the way off the green in a direction away from the pub.
Relieved and unaccountably disappointed at the same time, Jason followed him. Something was happening between them. It was the wrong damn time but it was there, and Jason could ignore it or embrace it. He sighed. Life was never simple. Why now?
He stumbled over a raised kerb and immediately Tom’s hand was under his elbow.
“Careful. You don’t want to break anything before you’ve even started the job. Maggie’ll kill you.”
Jason blushed as he gave a rueful grin. “I should have listened to you when you warned me off the beer.”
“Lightweight,” Tom teased.
“I haven’t drunk much for a while.” Jason’s amusement faded as he thought about why that was. “Let’s walk.”
Tom raised an eyebrow as he took in Jason’s change of mood but he merely said, “Be careful then. Mowbury’s full of potholes.”
Some of them not in the road, Jason thought. But he nodded and they walked on, Tom still holding Jason close.