Johnnie here. Stop four is Mrs. Henley’s bakery. This is where I’ve been purchasing baked goodies for the last six years. Said goodies may or may not be used in the bribing of my fellow Hawthorne Manor residents. If Chance is reading this, they’re most certainly not used to bribe, but purchased and distributed to my family out of the goodness of my heart. Anyone who says otherwise is a rotten scoundrel. Next to Mrs. Whitmore–who makes the best homemade donuts, Mrs. Henley keeps our confectionery cravings well satisfied. Henry and I often end up there for tea and cake. That’s right, I drink tea. Don’t go getting your knickers in a twist about it.
Henry introduced me to tea back in Africa when we’d first met. I don’t know whether it was the tea or having him standing there smiling at me, but I felt more relaxed than I had in a long while. I was still jumpier than a jackrabbit, but less likely to blow my wig. After that, drinking tea always made me think of Henry. Okay, so it’s not often I’m not thinking of Henry, but… what was I yammering on about? Right, baked goods. The reason Mrs. Henley’s baked goods make such good bribing material–aside from being exceptionally tasty, is the fact that we’ve all got a sweet tooth. Us fellas who run the manor are just as bad as the Brats when it comes to dessert. We all have favorites of course, so if there’s only one of something, that’s when the brawls start.
Strawberry shortcake is Oliver’s favorite. It’s also Chance’s favorite. Let’s get one thing out in the open: Chance has no shame. He will steal your dessert. Depending on his mood, he might charm you into giving it over freely. The cake not… geez lousie, get your heads out of the gutter. As I was saying, he will charm you, and if he can’t charm you, he’ll swipe it when you’re not looking. Don’t underestimate him. He’s a sneaky bastard. He recently pulled one over on Oliver and, oh boy, was that a sight. Oliver doesn’t take kindly to having his dessert swiped, and for a scrawny fifteen year old, he packs a wallop.
Edmund and Aubrey both love the egg custard tarts, but unlike most of the other Brats, these two will share. Yep, they’re frustratingly sweet. But then again, I can’t imagine anyone taking one look at Aubrey and not getting the urge to just hand everything over. Aubrey can’t talk, but all it takes is one smile from the kid and even a hardboiled mug like Chance turns into a pushover. I’m willing to bet if Aubrey wanted the strawberry shortcake, Chance wouldn’t think twice. Which is saying something, considering even Jacky–the love of Chance’s life, has been refused said shortcake on several occasions. Not that it stops Jacky. The man has been swiping Chance’s sweets and confectionery goods since they met in Africa. Mealtime is always interesting around the manor.
Ah, scones with clotted cream and jam. This is my favorite. Granted, the first time I attempted to eat one that Henry put together for me, it got messy. I sat there for a good while wondering how I was going to dig in. The thing was roughly the size of my fist. Was I supposed to pick it up? Use a knife and fork? Stab it, bite it, what kind of dessert takes strategic planning to eat?! Henry suggested a fork, so after a few careful prods, I managed to break a chunk off. Despite its appearance, it was delicious. I never have to fight anyone for it as I tend to indulge in one when I’m out having tea with Henry, or when Mrs. Whitmore makes them for dessert, in which case everyone gets one.
Fairy cakes. Henry loves fairy cakes, especially the chocolate frosted kind. You should see him eating one. He sits there all prim and proper, and carefully peels the paper away before eating small forkful after forkful. I admit I find it amusing, but mostly, I just like watching him eat. He does everything with such grace, it’s hard not to get distracted by him, his mouth, his tongue, the way he slips his fork from his lips… All right, tour’s over for today, and no, it has nothing to do with Henry. Or dessert. Or Henry eating dessert. Tomorrow’s the pub.
Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.
Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….
Excerpts are in the form of a serial.
Read Part 3 at Kim Fielding’s blog here.
Excerpt Part 4
I left the waiting room and walked through the closed double doors to my right, which led out to a much smaller anteroom. Through the double doors at the end was the manor’s grand foyer. I had hoped to make it to my room without running into any of the Brats. If only I was so lucky. The moment I stepped foot into the foyer, I ran into Bobby. As if the guilt Chance had laid on me for going to see Glen hadn’t been enough, Aubrey was in Bobby’s company. If it had been any of the other Brats, I probably wouldn’t have concerned myself. Gideon and Oliver would have simply called me something uncouth as I walked by, Connor would have smiled shyly if he didn’t have his nose stuck in a book, Edmund, Rori, and Elliot would have whizzed by me so fast they probably wouldn’t have noticed I was there, but Aubrey….
I stopped in my tracks, my hands in my trouser pockets as Aubrey pulled his latest dime novel from his back pocket and gently shoved it at me. Chance bought these things by the truckloads. The kids loved them, though no one loved them more than Rori and Aubrey. Big gray eyes looked up at me as Aubrey tapped the cover and nodded.
“Hey, the latest Nick Carter, how’d you like it?” I asked him, unable to help my goofy smile when he nodded, practically vibrating with excitement.
Aubrey had just turned eighteen, suffered from terrible anxiety attacks, could barely step outside the house without having a fit, and broke my heart every time I saw his face. Chance and Jacky had found him in the winter of ’29 on the Victoria Embankment under the
Hungerford Bridge during a trip to London. When they had first spotted him, they thought they’d found a corpse. Except for the snow he had been half buried in, Aubrey had been naked, covered in dry blood, and caked in mud. They soon discovered the kid was still alive—barely. After taking him to the nearest hospital, they’d been informed how someone had abused him repeatedly, beaten him, and left him for dead. Aubrey should never have survived what happened to him. Chance—one of the most hardboiled mugs I knew—had come home that night and fallen apart.
No one except Chance knew what had happened to Aubrey, and that information had been hard to come by, considering Aubrey couldn’t talk. Whatever had happened to him had shaken him to the point where he could no longer get himself to speak. Four years later, with the help of Chance—who Aubrey trusted like no one else—and Henry, Aubrey was happy as any kid in his position could be. He was a handsome young man, healthy, sweet, smart, and at times shy. He loved to cause mischief with Rori, his partner in crime; joined the others in their activities—providing they were indoors—and most of all, he loved sharing all the exciting new songs and stories he came across. Although his scars were far from healed, he was making progress. What’s more, the kid always searched me out, excited to share his dime novels with me. I don’t know what the hell it was about me that he found so fascinating, but I didn’t have the heart to dismiss his enthusiasm.
Part 5 continued on Nov 14th on Andrew Q. Gordon’s blog.
Available in ebook and print from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4362
Comment prompt: Do you like sweets? What’s your favorite?
About the Author:
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
Twitter: @charliecochet | http://www.twitter.com/charliecochet
1st Prize: $15 Amazon gift card + Impetuous Afflictions signed swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
2nd & 3rd Prize: Impetuous Afflictions swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. **If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing email@example.com.
Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Charlie’s blog at http://www.charliecochet.com/blog on Monday, December 2nd. Winners will then be notified via email.
Sunday, December 1st at midnight, Eastern Time.
11/9 – Welcome to Hawthorne Manor [Excerpt 1] – The Novel Approach
11/11 – Billiard Room Brouhaha [Excerpt 2] – Author Sue Brown
11/12 – A Trip to the Town of Aylesbury [Excerpt 3] – Author Kim Fielding
11/13 – Time for Tea [Excerpt 4] – Author Lex Chase
11/14 – Stopping for a Pint [Excerpt 5] – Author Andrew Q. Gordon
11/15 – Visiting the Furry Hat Man [Excerpt 6] – Author Eden Winters
11/18 – Meet Gideon Brooks [Excerpt 7] – Author Michael Rupured
11/19 – Meet Rori Curti [Excerpt 8]s – Author Shira Anthony
11/20 – Meet Aubrey Jepson [Excerpt 9] – Attention is Arbitrary
11/21 – Meet Oliver Darling [Excerpt 10] – Hearts on Fire
11/22 – Meet Elliot Young [Excerpt 11] – Author Elin Gregory
11/25 – Meet Connor & Edmund Grey [Excerpt 12]- Joyfully Jay
11/26 – The Devilish Duo [Finale] – Mrs. Condit & Friends