It’s WiP Wednesday on the blog, and today it should be easy, right? Yes, it’s the day for hearts and flowers and chocolate, for celebrating love in all its guises. But I’m buried in work and edits, and I’m determined to not slack off on either.
Ghosts, the second book in Jack & Gareth’s journey, ends on Valentine’s Day after Jack’s decided to follow Gareth’s advice and make a family for himself. Swings & Roundabouts is set almost exactly one year later and Jack and his new family are coming to realise that being a family has challenges of its own.
One of those challenges is how to deal with the aftermath of a big argument. Nico and Daniel came up with a great idea to remind Jack and Gareth what’s important, but in the end I cut that scene from the story as it distracted from what else was going on. It’s up on the blog, though, and if you like to know what happened, you can read it here. (or wait just a few more weeks until Swings is done and then slot it into its rightful place.)
I’m clean out of Valentine’s Day stories for the moment, but Jack and Gareth are very much on my mind. So have a little bit of fluffy Jack and Gareth for today’s WiP Wednesday post, even if I have no idea where this bit might fit….
Dating Games #1: Roses for Jack
When the migraine finally let up – after three days of some annoying sod hammering nails into his head while punching him in the gut – Jack felt like the doormat at a busy convention centre. He would have dragged himself to work regardless, just as he’d worked through the early part of the headaches and nausea, but Gareth had put his foot down. He’d hunted out the pills Jack should have taken two days earlier and had even threatened to tie him to the bed if he didn’t take care of himself.
Content that he’d been able to help Clive Baxter, Jack hadn’t argued with Gareth. He’d taken the pills his lover handed him, climbed back into bed where he’d fashioned himself a cosy little nest, and got ready to ignore the world for the rest of the day.
He woke late in the afternoon, feeling a little more human, but strangely lonely in the quiet house. He wondered what Gareth was up to and then – in that disconnected state that followed him taking the migraine pills – he remembered the previous weekend, when Daniel’s girlfriend had them all playing some bizarre dating game. A game that Jack just couldn’t get his head around.
“I’ve never been on a date,” he pointed out when he and Gareth were alone late at night. “So why would I ever find such a game entertaining?”
The sudden intent look on Gareth’s face sent heat racing up Jack’s neck. “You’ve never been on a date.”
The heat spread further, up the sides of Jack’s face, all the way to his hairline. “You know this already. Anyway, dating’s all about getting laid, right? We ended up in bed the night Ricky died. There was no need–“
“Jack. No. Just… no.”
Gareth was serious, with that half horrified edge to his gaze that made Jack feel like a total moron. Jack hated that look. After Sweden, he’d thought he’d seen the last of it. “It’s hardly an issue.”
“It is,” Gareth disagreed. “And we will be going on a proper date.”
He looked so adorably determined, Jack melted. If Gareth wanted to teach him dating, he’d go along with it. Not without razzing the man a bit first, of course. He reached for his best put upon look and crossed his arms. “Didn’t you say earlier that going on a date was a choice?”
Gareth had ended the discussion in the best possible way and – to Jack’s relief – he’d not mentioned the whole dating issue again. Curled up in soft sheets, and now awake enough to think, Jack wondered what Gareth would say if he organised a date for them. If he asked Gareth out…
The idea got him out of bed and into the shower. He was ready to grab the laptop and research the matter when Gareth parked the Range Rover outside the house. A glance at the clock confirmed that Gareth was home early. Jack abandoned his research plans for the moment and went downstairs to gather intel.
And ended up with an armful of flowers.
“Roses?” Jack fingered the delicate blooms with their ragged-edged petals, noting that the thorns had been carefully removed from the lower third of the long stems. Why would Gareth—? “Did I forget a date or something?”
Gareth’s fingers – icicle-cold against his lips – silenced the questions. “They reminded me of you.”
“Reminded me of you,” Gareth repeated. “I was walking down the street and saw them outside a florist shop and they reminded me of you.”
“Because?” Jack couldn’t even guess at that point. He was hardly a delicate flower. “Come on, Flynn. Spill it.”
Gareth bent to unlace his shoes but Jack saw a hint of colour tint his cheeks. “You’re not usually so dense. Roses. In the middle of winter… against all the odds, out in the cold. Flowering anyway and not caring one iota what anyone says. And they look stunning.”
“You’re a sap.” Jack rolled his eyes, but he held the flowers carefully and went to find a vase. Roses. Well, there was a first time for everything.