Blurb: Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire. Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms. But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.
Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him. And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.
Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price. If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.
Excerpt: Tom tapped his agitated foot against the painted metal railings that separated the premises of Greens Club from the pavement of Soho’s Dean Street, and looked restlessly to his left, down the long length of the street.
Greens operated from an intentionally unobtrusive Georgian townhouse, in an extended Georgian terrace that stretched along Tom’s side of the road. There was no obvious sign, and the only clue to the club’s identity was the dark green color of the render that fronted the ground floor, below red and brown brick.
It was easy to walk past it, as Tom had done himself repeatedly on his first visit there as Nick’s guest, when they’d started seeing each other. That day felt like years ago now, he thought with a flash of surprised insight, not months, as if Nick had been part of his life for a long time.
He leaned back, one knee bent, the sole of his boot flat against the railing, trying to ignore the nauseating smell of burned oil and fried food emanating from the brasserie along the road. He’d insisted he should be the one to wait outside for Will, though he didn’t really know why. He supposed…to avoid an audience while he got the worst over with.
It was fucking ridiculous to feel this grinding nervousness though, close to fear.
It had been more than two years, and it wasn’t as if they’d been married. It was ancient history, thank God. And yet the tight knot in Tom’s stomach seemed to be growing. Squirming.
The one-way street was relatively narrow and tall buildings flanked it on both sides, so even though Tom could see blue, blue sky up above, everything on the ground all along the road sat in shade.
Dean Street was a media hub, buzzing, usually, with activity—a combination of restaurants, clubs and media offices, for advertising, film and video. But even though it was a Monday morning, unusually, there weren’t many people about, so Tom immediately spotted two men—one blond, one dark—emerging from a car parked about a hundred yards away.
They stood closely together for a minute or two, talking, then the blond—handsome, public-school-polished, slightly shorter—leaned up to kiss the other man on the mouth. It was a lover’s kiss, clear even from that distance. The blond pulled back, grinning, and walked off, leaving the other man to turn and set off along the pavement toward Greens.
Tom looked sharply away. He found he had to force himself to stay still, in his languid pose, by focusing on his boot. Brown suede, Saint Laurent, new season, straps and buckles.
Hair hiding his down-turned face; heart hammering in a chest as tight as if it were gripped in a vice. Waiting, until he finally felt a solid presence beside him.
It took him a second to look up. He inhaled sharply.
He’d so easily made Will Foster a weak memory of a terrible mistake, escaped. A guilt he’d much rather dodge away from, than wallow in. So he’d managed to forget the full power of Will’s attractiveness, and his own old resentment of it. But Will hadn’t really changed.
He wore a narrow-cut, no-nonsense, light gray suit, a white shirt and a black tie—to Tom’s fashion-immersed eye, all obviously off-the-peg and inexpensive. Just like his no-nonsense haircut.
But the snowy fabric of the shirt set off Will’s pale olive skin and big, light-hazel eyes, made still more beautiful by extravagant black lashes and thick, dark, winged brows. The cut of the cheap suit emphasized his broad shoulders and narrow waist. And that basic side-street haircut—short around the sides and back, lengthier than it had been on top—showed off his long, strong neck and impeccable bone structure; his wide lush mouth, his strong angular jaw.
He even smelled the same—the Tom Ford aftershave which Tom could no longer tolerate.
Will’s expressionless gaze assessed Tom in turn, and Tom couldn’t help a sharp jab of insecurity about the subtle changes Will might see, though Will used to find him beautiful too.
Tom had buffed up his slim frame quite a bit in the past couple of years, though Will was still naturally broader than him. And he was aware he probably looked even…glossier. Waxed and highlighted and tanned and plucked. But he’d chosen his outfit carefully, for non-provocative effect. Worn blue Levis, a loose band T-shirt. Not too scruffy—not quite, I don’t give a fuck what you think anymore. Not too sexy—no look what you lost.
But maybe there had been no need to worry. Will had another lover now. Maybe he was as relieved as Tom to be free of their old mutual obsession.
Maybe, this could work.
“Hi,” Tom said at last. “Will.” He straightened up. They were exactly the same height.
There was an awkward pause as their gazes locked and held, as if the contact had startled them both. Tom had forgotten that Will’s eyes in daylight became some pale shade between green and gold and amber. He’d never seen it on anyone else.
Will raised a cool eyebrow. Well? His expression said. What are you waiting for?
Bio: Dal Maclean comes from Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time
Her first book, “Bitter Legacy”, was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for best Gay Mystery and was chosen by the American Libraries Association for their 2018 Over The Rainbow Recommended Books List.
Author Twitter: @MacleanDal – Dal Maclean
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Dal-Maclean/100010371585020
Author Insta: dalmaclean
Publisher One Block Empire (an imprint of Blind Eye Books) www.blindeyebooks.com
Publisher Twitter: @blindeyebooks
Publisher Insta: @blindeyebooks