Today’s Throwback Thursday post looks a little more closely at House Hunt, the third book in Jack & Gareth’s story. Except for the presence of Nico and Daniel, House Hunt ended up very much as I’d envisaged it when I planned the series. I don’t outline in a detailed way. I tend to start with an idea, work out the emotional arc for the story, and then let the muse off the leash to work out the plot and make mayhem.
For me, House Hunt was always the book where a day out goes disastrously wrong, and work ensures that both Gareth and Jack have to spend their birthday alone. And because their first anniversary would be not long after Jack’s birthday…. I could see just how much anniversaries mean to the two of them.
To most new couples (and newbie writers 😉 ), anniversaries are important. They’re a time to look back and an opportunity to look forward – and I just couldn’t leave that out. The scene I’m sharing as part of this Throwback Thursday post was one of the first I wrote. Long before Job Hunt was finished. I was sure that, after having been away for three months, Jack’s doubts would be back full force and he wouldn’t quite trust what he and Gareth had had was still his for the taking. Only to find that Gareth felt just the same….
From House Hunt
Jack took the last few steps and raised his hand to the doorbell as if it might bite if he made a hasty move. He heard the chime and his breath got stuck somewhere between his breastbone and his throat. It took forever until Jack heard footsteps. Keys rattled in the lock and finally the door swung wide and Gareth stood on the threshold.
“Jack? Did you lose your keys?”
Jack remembered emptying his pockets on the morning he left, his keys hitting the kitchen table in a jangle of metal alongside his wallet, phone, and other items he couldn’t take with him. So no, he hadn’t lost his keys.
Not that he could say that. His vocal cords weren’t cooperating. Standing on Gareth’s doorstep, he found that he couldn’t look up. Or breathe. His heart beat so fast there was no room for breath in his chest and Concorde practiced takeoff and landing routines in his guts.
By comparison Gareth’s hand, holding the door open, didn’t even shake a little bit. He seemed so completely unaffected that Jack had the sudden urge to hit something. Or to apostrophize himself as the greatest idiot who ever lived, turn on his heels, and leave.
“I didn’t want to presume,” he finally found an answer, hating the fact that he sounded so hesitant. “It’s been three months, Gareth. All manner of stuff could have happened.”
Gareth held out his other hand. “Could have, but didn’t,” he said softly, guiding Jack inside and closing the door. And all of a sudden Jack felt home and safe in a way he hadn’t experienced in weeks. Twelve weeks, to be precise.
The house looked and smelled as it had three months earlier: warm and inviting and delicious. Jack unlaced his boots, pulled them off, and set them on the wooden rack beside Gareth’s motorcycle boots. He hung his leather jacket on its accustomed peg next to Gareth’s, wondering all the while why some part of him had expected change.
The door to the living room stood open and Gareth waited for him inside. He was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and a fleece top and had lit a fire, even though it wasn’t that cold outside yet. What little skin Jack could see glowed in the golden light from the fire in a way Jack had only been able to dream about for three months. Jack’s favorite Touhou jazz played on the sound system and Jack struggled to breathe around the lump in his throat. He offered a careful smile, part hopeful, part apologetic, and felt his insides melt when the corners of Gareth’s eyes crinkled into spiderwebs as he returned it wholeheartedly.
“I was sitting here celebrating,” the deep voice rumbled even as Gareth slung an arm out and indicated the squashed cushions and rumpled blankets on the sofa a little sheepishly. “It’s silly, but… your interview was a year ago and… I even got your favorite single malt.”
“Islay? Mind if I have one?”
Gareth poured without another word and offered the glass in silence. Jack raised it to his lips and resisted the momentary urge to drain it in one. He felt as awkward and unsure as he had the night Gareth escorted him home after the nightclub incident. But when he set the glass down, Gareth was right there, waiting for him. Their mouths met, slow and soft and almost chaste: a brush of lips, barely a touch, the aroma of peat and malt between them. And warmth, so comforting that Jack’s tight shoulders relaxed the tiniest bit.
“Are you hungry?”
“Starving,” Jack said simply. It wasn’t a lie. Raf had fed him a huge lunch and Lisa had supplied more coffee and doughnuts than even he could handle in a day. But none of that mattered because Jack… was starving.
Before Gareth could leave Jack’s side, move off the couch and toward the kitchen, remove the warmth and closeness with the aim of providing other, less transient, kinds of comfort, Jack pushed him back into the sofa and straddled his lap.
“Definitely. You should.” He twined their fingers together and brought their joined hands to his face. Soft lips brushed knuckles. A tiny edge of teeth dragged. And Gareth’s eyes went from golden amber to dark honey.
“You’d better be careful there, brat.”
Jack smirked. Not… likely. He leaned down and claimed Gareth’s mouth in a kiss. Deep and messy as if he were trying to devour the man, and Gareth was all sweet and hot and… gods yes, he remembered this. The softness under his lips tempered by the rough prickles under his fingertips, the spike of heat running up his spine, the bone-deep shiver when Gareth’s teeth caught his lower lip for just a moment. Oh yes, he remembered this. Only his memory was clearly for shit, because this was so much better than his mind’s attempts at playback. Breath became an unimportant consideration until Gareth took command of the hungry kiss and unwound it into something slower, more sensual.
“Yes, I can see you’re starving,” he said huskily when they broke for air.
You can get your copy of House Hunt here: