When Toby meets his sexy neighbor Sean, he embarks on a new romance, but there’s also a haunting and a murder mystery to deal with.
There’s romance waiting for Toby at Darkwater House. Set on the edge of London’s beautiful Hampstead Heath, what better place for love to blossom with a stunningly handsome stranger?
But as Toby explores a passionate relationship with his dream man, dark forces are stirring within the walls of Darkwater House. There’s an angry spirit haunting the corridors and Albert the creepy landlord might be a killer.
As passion grows between Toby and his new neighbor Sean, they also work at unearthing the secrets of Darkwater House, looking for the evidence that will convict Albert, finally lay the angry ghost to rest and allow their love story to deepen.
Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of suicide, murder and a character who is a sexual predator. There are also scenes of public sex.
General Release Date: 29th September 2020
When Toby first opened his eyes, he couldn’t remember where he was. That wasn’t unusual. It was Saturday morning, which meant the previous night had been the start of the weekend. For Toby, that generally involved downing as much alcohol as possible in the Black Swan pub—an old-school gay bar, where most of the clientele were thirty years older than Toby, but where he still met the odd cute guy. He lay staring at a blank cream-colored wall. It wasn’t his bedroom wall. His bedroom wall was blue. So, he was in someone else’s bed. Again, that wasn’t unusual.
Being careful not to move and disturb whoever was lying next to him until he had remembered who they were, Toby began to piece together the evening as best he could. He’d drunk at least a bottle of wine in his flat before heading out on his own. He didn’t have any close friends in London anymore, no one to make plans with on a Friday night. He’d upset them all at one point or another over the past two years. Toby was the first to admit that he’d become a bit of a dick since breaking up with Joe. Joe had been his last steady relationship. When Joe dumped him, Toby had felt like his life had been obliterated. He’d started drinking heavily, and when he drank heavily in company, he often got loud and insulting. One by one, his friends had begun to avoid him, until they weren’t his friends anymore.
Along with the drinking had come the casual sex and the waking up in strange beds, with little or no memory of how he had got there.
After finishing the bottle of wine at home—a poky one-bedroom flat in Islington—he’d headed to the Black Swan, a ten-minute walk away. He’d ordered another bottle of wine and sat at a table in a corner at the back of the bar. It had been relatively quiet when he’d arrived, he recalled, because it was only around five-thirty in the evening. He’d started early.
The person lying next to Toby stirred and moaned. Toby had his back to him so was still in the dark as to his identity.
He had a brief flashback of a handsome guy in his thirties asking if the seat next to him was taken. A name popped into his head…Doug. Is it Doug’s bed I’m in? A hairy, muscular arm wrapped itself around Toby’s chest and Doug—or whoever it was—began to nuzzle the back of his neck. Now a hard cock was pressing against his arse.
I really hope this is Doug. Doug was hot.
He couldn’t put it off any longer. He was going to have to turn around and face the stranger. He’d pretend to remember everything about their meeting, maybe have morning sex with them, if they were attractive. If it was Doug, morning sex would be a definite, unless his memory of Doug was a fake one. Maybe he was seeing Doug through a hangover haze. Perhaps Doug wasn’t as hot as he thought.
One, two, three…
Toby rolled over to face his lover of the previous night.
His ex-boyfriend of two years ago grinned at him. He had gained a little weight and his hair was longer, but there was no doubt that the man lying next to him was Joe—the man who had destroyed his life.
“Who were you expecting?” asked Joe, kissing Toby on the mouth.
Toby floundered for an answer. How could he have forgotten pulling his ex? When had Joe arrived at the Black Swan?
Joe squinted at him. He had the most beautiful pale-blue eyes.
“You actually don’t remember, do you?” he asked.
“Of course I do,” said Toby, racking his brain for a fragment of memory that would help him bluff his way through the next few seconds.
“You came into the Black Swan and…”
“Wrong,” said Joe, sitting up. The bedcovers fell, revealing his broad, hairy chest and a slight beer belly. Joe was tall and stocky enough to carry it off, though. A tantalizing tuft of pubic hair poked above the edge of the quilt.
“Shit,” said Toby. “Where then?”
“I found you outside my flat,” said Joe. “I didn’t realize you even knew where I lived now.”
Toby knew where Joe lived all right. He’d met one of his friends a few months before and managed to get the information without making it obvious he was grilling them. But how had he ended up here? Joe’s new place was a half-hour drive from Islington, in Wimbledon, South London.
I must have taken a taxi.
“So, you found me outside and brought me in for a fuck?” asked Toby.
“Well, yeah,” said Joe, running a hand through his blond hair. “I was drunk and horny too, and you were obviously here for sex.”
“Wow,” said Toby, “you always did make me feel special.”
Joe laughed and threw back the quilt, revealing his now-semi-hard cock. Toby remembered that cock well—the solid feel of it in his hand, the taste of it. Had he sucked it last night? How can I not remember?
“It’s been two years, Toby. I thought it would be okay to just have a bit of fun. I didn’t realize you were so pissed that you wouldn’t remember a thing. You didn’t seem that drunk. You weren’t even being obnoxious.”
“Oh, fuck off,” snapped Toby, climbing from the bed and searching the room for his clothes.
“They’re in the hallway,” said Joe, also standing, tugging on his balls and walking groggily to the adjoining bathroom.
Toby smelled of sex and stale alcohol. He wished he could shower before he left, but he also wanted to get away from this situation as soon as possible. If he didn’t leave now, if he stayed for breakfast, he’d start to convince himself that something could happen between them again.
Joe poked his head around the bathroom door.
“I hate to be rude,” he said, “but Mike, my boyfriend, is due home in about three hours and I want to get the bed changed and get rid of any other evidence. We have an open relationship, but I don’t want to rub his nose in it.”
If he’d needed any other excuse to make a quick escape, that was it.
Toby pulled open the bedroom door and stumbled into the narrow hallway, picking up items of clothing as he went. He found a second bathroom, had a brief wash and dressed. He stared at himself in the small mirror above the sink. He was barely recognizable. His once-chiseled face was puffy and blotchy, his eyes bloodshot, and his lips and teeth were stained with red wine. It was hard to see why Joe had been tempted. He could only imagine what he must have looked like in his drunken state the night before. Joe had obviously been equally inebriated to have even considered sleeping with Toby again after two years of avoiding him. Maybe things with the new boyfriend weren’t as rosy as Joe wanted him to think.
Toby scrubbed at his stained lips with a flannel and did his best to clean his teeth with a finger and a dollop of toothpaste. He still looked a wreck, but it would have to do. He slipped out of the front door without saying goodbye.
There was a middle-aged woman standing on the doorstep of the house next door, smoking a cigarette. She was wearing a pink fleece dressing gown and was visibly shivering. As Toby stepped onto the front path, she cast a look in his direction. She gave an exaggerated puff on her cigarette as she looked him up and down. She acted as if she knew exactly what the situation was—maybe she even knew Joe’s boyfriend. Toby focused on the road ahead, too fragile to deal with this stranger’s disapproval.
It was cold and the street was deserted. He glanced at his watch. It was six thirty-five a.m. He stood, trying to decide which way might lead to a tube station. He considered asking Joe’s neighbor, but when he glanced back, she was slipping into her house, throwing the cigarette butt onto the path behind her. After brief consideration, based on no knowledge of the area, he opted to turn left.
My life has got to change.