Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention?

Message or email me and we’ll set something up.


I have to admit that this backlist book is not one with which I’m familiar so I asked the author about it and this is what Ally has to say:

I love Hell On Earth for its grimy, gritty, dystopian future and the non-stop action, but mostly I love my characters, Sandman and Vijay. Both are damaged, neither trusts the other to start with, but they forge an incredibly strong bond through everything they survive together in this book. Characters are the heart of any story for me, and these are some of my best.

Sounds good eh? And look at that cover!!





Two prisoners. One forgotten planet. A secret that twists justice beyond all recognition.

Hellscape, Book 2

All Sandman wants is to get away from his violent past on Hell’s End, but trouble follows him, leaving him with more blood on his hands and a one-way ticket aboard a crewless prison transport on a pre-set course for Deimos.

By the time he realizes the transport’s actual destination is a mystery, there’s only one other prisoner he can trust. He doesn’t like it, or the things Vijay makes him feel. Caring makes you weak. Makes you easy to hurt. And Sandman’s never been easy, or weak.

Vijay is focused on what he’s always done best. Survival. But Sandman is an enigma, fearless in battle yet terrified of tight spaces. Vijay finds himself longing to break through the fierce young warrior’s shell.

After crash landing on an uncharted planet, they stumble on the justice system’s dirty little secret—the Farm, where prisoners go in but never come out. When the Farm’s threat gets personal, Sandman and Vijay each test the limits of endurance to protect the man at his back—and in his heart.

Warning: This book contains spaceships, soldiers, good guys, bad guys, solar system politics, and a one-eyed Gutter with an attitude.


Ally Blue is acknowledged by the world at large (or at least by her heroes, who tend to suffer a lot) as the Popess of Gay Angst. She has a great big suggestively-shaped hat and rides in a bullet-proof Plexiglas bubble in Christmas parades. Her harem of manwhores does double duty as bodyguards and inspirational entertainment. Her favorite band is Radiohead, her favorite color is lime green and her favorite way to waste a perfectly good Saturday is to watch all three extended version LOTR movies in a row. Her ultimate dream is to one day ditch the evil day job and support the family on manlove alone. She is not a hippie or a brain surgeon, no matter what her kids’ friends say.

Social media links:

Website: http://www.allyblue.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PopessAllyBlue

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ally-Blue/98548113963

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/34997.Ally_Blue

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/popessallyblue/

Newsletter sign-uo: http://allyblue.us5.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=410b7bd1757538d77e388f4bf&id=b7ae2cfc0d


Pierce is homeless.
Young and strong-willed Pierce has been living in the streets of New York City for six months, since his parents kicked him out of their perfect, Christian, suburban house. Pierce is gay. And he is suffering the consequences for being true to himself.

Rafe is homeless.
He is also sick. Impressionable, but far from innocent, Rafe ran away from home almost a year ago. His sickness is slowly killing him. But Rafe is not a hopeless case. He has learned to get by. Nights of paid passion turn to sheltering warmth from the imminent New York winter.

And then there’s a suitcase. Pierce’s suitcase, which holds secrets from everyone including its owner.

When their worlds collide, their lives intertwine and when the world seems bent on bringing the two souls to their knees, fate has other plans for them.

Caution: Contains adult language, New York City streets, tough life choices, sexual tension, stubborn brutes and swoon-worthy romance.


Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance Ebooks | B&N | Kobo | Itunes | Print

About The Author
Chris Ethan is a book whore. He enjoys selling his feelings for money and other pleasures and is blatantly unashamed to do so for as long as he breathes. Chris Ethan is also a persona for Rhys Christopher Ethan, author of fantasy and sci-fi. He uses Chris Ethan to share stories of adult queer romance with those who need it. Before you delve into his books however, be warned. He likes putting his characters through shitstorms and hates anything conventional. But then there’s that darned happy-ever-after. Also, he likes swearing. Deal with it!


So the year rolls around and here we are observing another blog hop to remind ourselves to be mindful, careful and to call out Homophobia and Transphobia whenever we see it. So far, so good. It’s nice to get a concrete reminder of this but we’d do well to remember that the problems we hop about once a year are things faced every day, all year round, for many of the people to whom we count ourselves allies.

As the weeks pass by and the roll call of people young and old who have fallen victim to these phobias mounts, it’s important to remember that they aren’t just names on a screen but people with hopes and dreams, with loved ones, with ambitions for the future. For some of them, tragically, that future has been cut short, for others they have faced acts that are so subtle as to be almost unnoticeable to folk who aren’t in their position but act like the slow drip of acid, eating away at their well being. This is less newsworthy than a murder, than an assault, than the awfulness of suicide, but it’s an everywhere, everyday tarnish on the gloss of civilisation. Victimisation, large and obvious or small and insidious, must stop.

We must see it for what it is, we must be aware of its effects and we must support the push for equality.



This year’s theme for the IDAHOT organisation is Mental Health and Well-Being. Please support it if you can.

Click here to be taken to the list of participants in the blog hop or use the links below.

Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality.

1.  B. A. Brock (BI TR GAY LES)   23.  Amelia Bishop (MULTI)   45.  Remmy Duchene (MM)  
2.  Jamie Fessenden   24.  Moonbeams over Atlanta – Eloreen Moon (MM, REV, MULTI)   46.  Sharita Lira writing as BLMorticia M/M  
3.  Rory Ni Coileain   25.  Helena Stone (M/M )   47.  Barbara Winkes (LES)  
4.  Erica Pike (M/M)   26.  AM Leibowitz (M/M, F/F, BI, TR, NB, REV)   48.  Bronwyn Heeley (m/m)  
5.  Andrew Jericho (GAY)   27.  L.D. Blakeley (M/M, BI)   49.  L. J. LaBarthe  
6.  Tempeste O\’Riley (M/M (Bi) (NB)   28.  Lila Leigh Hunter [M/M, BI]   50.  VJ Summers (m/m, m/m/f)  
7.  The Macaronis [various]   29.  Sharon Bidwell   51.  Nikka Michaels (M/M)  
8.  Elin Gregory [mm]   30.  Nicole Dennis (M/M, ACE, M/M/F)   52.  Caraway Carter (LGBT)  
9.  Alexa MIlne   31.  Lexi Ander   53.  L M Somerton (M/M)  
10.  Nic Starr (M/M)   32.  Barbara G.Tarn (M/M, ACE)   54.  Taylor Law (GAY)  
11.  Evelise Archer (MM)   33.  Kaje Harper M/M, TR, BI   55.  Anastasia Vitsky (F/F, TR, BI)  
12.  Sue Brown   34.  JMS Books LLC   56.  Draven St. James (M/M)  
13.  Elizabeth Varlet (M/M, BI, NB)   35.  JM Snyder   57.  A.V. Sanders (GAY, ACE, NB)  
14.  Raven J. Spencer   36.  Dean Pace-Frech   58.  Lynley Wayne  
15.  Sharing Links and Wisdom (REV)   37.  Kimber Vale   59.  DP Denman (GAY)  
16.  Lisa Horan (REV/Multi)   38.  Jacintha Topaz (BI, F/F, M/M, TR)   60.  M.A. Church M/M  
17.  Archer Kay Leah (M/M, F/F, TR, NB, BI, ACE)   39.  Prism Book Alliance® (MULTI)   61.  Andrew J. Peters GAY  
18.  Alexis Duran (M/M)   40.  Eva Lefoy (M/M, F/F, F/M/F, BI, MULTI)   62.  Dianne Hartsock MM  
19.  Jules Dixon   41.  Lou Sylvre (M/M)   63.  M. LeAnne Phoenix M/M F/F  
20.  R.M. Olivia   42.  Anne Barwell   64.  Cherie Noel (M/M)  
21.  Heloise West (M/M)   43.  Viki Lyn (M/M)   65.  Chris McHart (M/M, Trans*)  
22.  Angel Martinez (M/M GAY BI TR)   44.  Sean Michael  

(Linkup closed)

As usual there must be a prize so I’ll make my usual donation to the Albert Kennedy Trust on behalf of the Hop and one commentor, chosen at random, may pick a book from my backlist. Good luck.

Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention? Message or email me and we’ll set something up.


My guest this week is Alexa Milne and the book is Sporting Chance, which has the utterly winning combination of love, Wales and rugby. I have no idea how I missed this one when it came out!!



Sometimes keeping hold of love is just as hard as finding it.
Dan and Iestyn are looking for romance. A school trip, a love of history, a wedding, a tango, the game of chess, and their friends and family all help the two men to realise that they’ve finally found true love with each other.
Iestyn thinks that he’s completely ordinary and that Dan is the only out and currently gay rugby player anywhere. Being gay can be difficult enough. Being famous also has its problems. But being gay, famous and a sportsman can make finding love complicated. So when Dan Morgan meets Iestyn Jones and gives him his phone number, their road ahead has more than a few bumps to overcome.
Will Iestyn and Dan overcome the obstacles thrown in their paths? Or will fame destroy their lives as well as their love?

Buy links
Publisher – https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/sporting-chance
Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sporting-Chance-Alexa-Milne-ebook/dp/B00PC750DS
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Sporting-Chance-Alexa-Milne-ebook/dp/B00PC750DS
All Romance – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sportingchance-1667146-149.html
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/sporting-chance-1
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/alexa+milne?_requestid=352600


Chapter 1

Oh hell!

His arse hit the ice.

This was going to be so embarrassing.

He really should have looked where he was going and taken more care. It wasn’t that he meant to show off in front of the kids when they’d goaded him into demonstrating how he could skate backward. But that was how he found himself crashing into another body, a rather large male body, then scrabbling, unsuccessfully, to try to get himself up as he apologised. Iestyn heard the kids laughing. How the hell was he going to get up and retain some sort of dignity? Whose bloody idea had it been to come on this skating trip from school, and why had he volunteered to go? He heard a voice—a rather gorgeous lyrical voice—say something, but he wasn’t sure what. He found himself looking up into the face of the most handsome man he’d ever seen.

“Would you like some help getting up?” the vision said, holding out a hand.

Iestyn took the help offered and let the good-looking stranger pull him to his feet. He was shocked to find, when he’d stood up, that the man appeared to be significantly taller than his own nearly six feet.

“Thanks,” he said, brushing the ice from his trousers. He glanced over to find the kids staring at him. “What? You’ve seen a man fall over before, haven’t you? Even a teacher.”

But they just kept on staring at the man who had helped him up.

I asked Alexa for a recommendation and this is what she said:

The book I’m going to pick is The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox. This is one of the first mm books I read and I was lucky enough to win a signed copy in a competition. I enjoyed the story because it wasn’t a straight forward romance and it was set in Britain. Some might  think the relationship between the two main characters moved too quickly, but for me they worked. The story involved solving a mystery as well as archaeology. The sex was well written – there, but not intrusive to the story. Overall, it was a great read.

Goodreads page – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9848848-the-salisbury-key?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

Author Name:  Renee Cronin

Book Name: Fistful of Love

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Pages or Words: 46,323

Categories: Lesbian Fiction, Domestic Violence

Publisher: Renee Cronin

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow


At the age of 23, social worker, Jeya Wellington was pretty much on her own. The devastating loss of her parents left her bereft and alone. Her best friend, Roman and his family have been like surrogates, but they could never replace what she lost. She needed a different connection. Shortly after losing her parents, she finds love and comfort in the arms of Rayne Watson, a correctional officer.

Rayne was exactly what she needed at the time, but now, two years later, Jeya wants out. She never expected love to come with bruises. She didn’t anticipate losing friends and living in fear. This was not her idea of true love. With the support of Roman, Jeya finds a way to leave. But Rayne isn’t letting go that easily. They made a commitment to each, and she has the tattoo to prove it – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

Torn between the love she has for Rayne and the instinct to protect herself, is Jeya’s will stronger than her vow?


It’s over.

Two simple words, intended to signify the end, were instead just the beginning. Jeya took a deep breath, and the pain that pierced her side served as the reminder she needed. She hit the send button. Unexpected relief instantly washed over her. “I did it. Step one. Now for step two.” Jeya placed her phone on the bed and stood up to double-check her suitcase. Going over the checklist in her mind, she felt confident that she had the essentials. A week away from home required more than she’d anticipated, but she had no intention of returning until the rainstorm had passed. Jeya took a second to acknowledge the double entendre of the word. Her girlfriend, Rayne, was definitely a hurricane. Her temper was unpredictable and left damage in its wake similar to that which Hurricane Gloria had. She knew she’d be safer at Roman’s house for the next several days.

The lyrics to “Dangerously in Love” cursed the air. The perfect ringtone to describe her relationship. She braced herself as she walked to the bed and picked up the phone. Jeya anticipated nothing less than an explosive response from her short-tempered girlfriend.

Buy the book:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2512nUS

Meet the author:

Renee Cronin is a self-professed devour of knowledge, and a voracious reader. She began writing in earnest in 2005, when the characters in her head became so loud she was forced to tell their stories, or risk getting swept away into the abyss of her imagination. Renee has since used writing as a personal outlet to express her feelings, ideas, views, thoughts, and opinions about the world and the issues that impact her on a deep personal and societal level. (And of course writing also quiets the voices in her head of the many characters that are yearning to have their stories told.) Renee’s inspiration to publish is in large part due to the overwhelming display of encouragement, and support from family and friends, who believe she has a gift with words that need to be shared with world. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she works in the social work field avidly advocating and supporting the varied needs of the people in her community. Renee is a bibliophile with a transcendent love for words. Her soul yearns for the acoustic stylings from a plethora of musical genres. As she continues on this journey of published author she hopes to keep her readers captivated and pining for more.

We asked Renee for a picture that really meant something to her:

Holding hands with rings and rainbow wristbands

This is a picture of my fiancé and I at a WNBA game on Pride Night. It was a little over a month after we became engaged. We are huge WNBA fans and it awesome that they have Pride Night.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/reneecronin78

Twitter: @reneecronin78

Website: www.renee-cronin.com


Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29505751-fistful-of-love

Publisher: Renee Cronin

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Tour Dates & Stops:

4-Apr: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Full Moon Dreaming

11-Apr: Molly Lolly, Charley Descoteaux

18-Apr: Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie

25-Apr: Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

2-May: TTC Books and More, BFD Book Blog

9-May: Prism Book Alliance, Love Bytes

15-May: Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook

23-May: A.M. Leibowitz, Oh My Shelves, Rednecks and Romance, Dawn’s Reading Nook


Visit any of the sites above for a chance to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $15 gift card to Amazon and an  e-copy of book 


Sometimes it’s really worth checking out backlists. There are some marvellous books out there but with hundreds of new titles every week it can be very hard to find them.
Authors – have you got a title a year or more old that could do with a little love?
Readers – have you got a favourite book that you think deserves some attention?

Message or email me and we’ll set something up.


This week I’m hosting an old friend, both book and author:) When I started reading m/m I stuck very carefully to historicals only with just the occasional dip into other genres. Branded, then the two Gold Warrior books,  was one of my first excursions out of my rather narrow little comfort zone:) I really enjoyed the adventure and physicallity of it, and it was surprisingly sexy too [you have to bear in mind that I’m a bit tone deaf to erotica and things that have other people fanning themselves and demanding cold showers leave me  scrolling on to find where the plot picks up again]. So this book is both fun and a great adventure and has recently been reissued as a one volume edition.



Maen is a Gold Warrior, an elite defender of Aza City, respected by his fellow soldiers and favored by his imperious Mistress for services both in and out of the bedchamber. His loyalty and commitment are unwavering until he recruits Dax, a captivating and challenging Bronzeman who, despite his youth and inexperience, seduces Maen with his fierce hero worship. When they’re captured by enemies of the City, Maen risks everything to save Dax: his position, his faith, and even his life. But he loses his lover to the rebels and upon his return to the City is stripped of his rank.

In Aza, where a soldier’s only lawful devotion is to the City and his Mistress’s pleasure, the disgraced Maen is placed under the watchful guard of the arrogant Gold Warrior Zander and relegated to preparing a Royal History for the new Queen. But his discoveries cast a new and shocking light on the past and threaten to stir revolution in both citizens and rebels. With the help of the lively and inquisitive scribe Kiel, Maen initiates a chain of events that will change their world forever—and offer him the chance to regain both his honor and his heart’s desire.


Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy.

Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.






I asked Clare for a recommendation of another backlist novel and this is what she said:

I’d like to give a heads up to Amor en Retrogrado by AM Riley, currently available at Loose Id.
I read this story many years ago, but it lingers in my mind as a breath of fresh, vibrant air. It’s a sophisticated blend of murder mystery, the study of amnesia, and the broken relationship between two passionate men. There are no concessions to a romantic trope in sight, and the men are emotionally apart for much of the book. It’s ambitious in that it covers many years of their lives, both together and apart, through flashback and current events. It doesn’t shy away from depicting characters with a realistic, pragmatic and sympathetic range of flaws. They love, they care, they’re rash, they make mistakes both mild and major, they’re in pain for a lot of the book. Good grief, I can feel my throat closing in empathetic tension, just thinking about re-reading it!
That said, please stick with it! Through the anguish comes reward, for the characters and the readers. It’s the perfect mix for me: the struggle that makes the story a real life tale, but with the hope and eventual restitution that can be created in fiction. And blended with a well-drawn cop mystery? I was in heaven!
The prose is rich and rewarding, the dialogue excellently and plausibly drawn for all and every character, primary or secondary. I literally was hanging onto each word to find out what came next. And I was rooting for everyone’s peace and reconciliation, whatever their stumbling along the way.
I was even inspired to review on Goodreads, a rare event for me, Ms Lazy😀.
“A depth and richness that I haven’t found in a book for a long while. Anguished relationship, quirky and poignant use of the memory loss, sexy characters, lovely descriptions of and compassion for the characters’ development and redemption. Good pace, evocative settings.”
Thanks for the opportunity to revisit this title. I even discovered there’s another book in the same setting, but it doesn’t seem to be freely available at the moment. I’m off on the quest right now! 

On Being British

I am ridiculously British. To the point where even in my writing, it is glaringly apparent that I have spent the vast majority of my life on this damp cluster of rocks in the middle of a not especially welcoming sea. I even have, when I’m being all posh and shit, a BBC accent.


No prizes for guessing my writing’s like that too.

I am also bred from northern slum stock: my father remembers being moved out of the tenements after his four-year-old sister jumped out of bed and landed in the flat downstairs. Having more than two types of vegetable in a meal is ‘fancy’ and any meal without meat is a disappointing snack. And the only acceptable foreign food is curry.

The majority of me, including my author voice, stems from this upbringing. I don’t write the millionaire-meets-the-hooker trope, because a romance between the local drug dealer and a copper’s son is infinitely more interesting to me, especially the characters that would have to be involved. I love every minute of Red Dwarf, because the hero is a Scouser space bum who spends his existence playing the guitar (badly), riding around the ship on a dirty space bike (badly), and point-blank refusing to admit that his crewmates are his friends (badly). Because, you know, blokes. Not good at this emotional stuff.

Being British, I would never say ‘I love you.’ The nearest might be, ‘Yeah, well, you’re alright, I suppose.’ I would also never say ‘I hate you’ – that is measured on the scale from ‘he’s a bit of a knob’ to ‘he’s an absolute fucking cunt.’ The sentiment is there, but the words aren’t.

And that makes writing in a British voice both very difficult, and very fun. You’re massively open to misinterpretation of what you and your characters mean. What is affectionate between two British lads can often be viewed as rude, aggressive, hostile or even violent by outsiders. Show and not tell becomes not just a writing tip, but a writing necessity if you want your readers to follow the story, like the right characters, or even recognise subplots for what they are. It’s bloody hard, old bean.

But if you are like those lads, it can be very funny to watch the outsider struggling with what in the hell to do when they can’t read the situation. I’ve seen plenty of people on my Facebook struggling when I and another Brit – or even I and some of the most awesome non-Brits who really get this shit – start sounding off at each other. One of my oldest friends is a lad from Iowa with an intensely British sense of humour, and I’ve lost count of the number of times people have been thrown by our rude, aggressive, and very friendly and entertaining slanging matches. It’s hilarious, in a vicious little way, and something I do enjoy triggering on boring Sunday evenings.

It might not look like it but everyone’s having so much fun!

With Spy Stuff, I had an opportunity you might not expect out of a transgender character: I got to channel that entertainment.

Sure, Anton is firm in his identity as a boy. He knows what he is. But he’s also very new to other people identifying him as a boy. Because social transition isn’t just a transition in how a person presents themselves but, as a natural consequence, how others treat them. And as we all remember from being kids ourselves, boys and girls often act very differently in the presence of the other. So Anton’s a bit lost when it comes to the other boys for a while – is this friendly? Is this okay to join in with? Is he going to react in a way a girl might, and be teased or even found out for it?

And as the writer, I have to say, I enjoyed the shit out of those scenes: Anton watching warily from the sidelines while a personality smorgasbord of madcap British kids went for each other for…well, no real reason. From the habitual book-throwing at each other in morning registration to the technique of expressing happiness at the football results by jumping on each other, Anton is initially hesitant to join in for fear of reading the situation wrong, and being caught out.

In doing so, I found I’d managed to show one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my own experience in transitioning: sometimes, acceptance won’t be found in the crowd with rainbow flags on their profile pictures and who can recite the entire alphabet soup…but rather in the daft, insulting, aggressive, volatile clusters of idiots who don’t damn well care what you are, as long as you don’t support Manchester United.

About the Book

Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.

The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.

Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.

And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.


Buy Links: ebook and print


About the Author

 Matthew is an asexual, transgender author dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles. He currently lives and works in West Yorkshire, and has a special fondness for writing the rough-edged British working class society in which he grew up — warts and all.

He roams mainly on Twitter and Facebook, has a free fiction page, runs a blog chronicling his own transition from female to male, and has a website. His young adult backlist can be found on his JMS Books author page. And as a last resort, he can also be contacted at mattmetzger@hotmail.co.uk.

An Excerpt from Spy Stuff

Anton slowly relaxed as Jude started to brighten up and just … talk. Jude chattering, Anton was starting to realise, was a sign that everything was alright. And Anton desperately wanted it to be, so he simply clung on to Jude’s hand — even though it was raining outside, and really too cold to not be wearing gloves — and let the noise wash over him all the way home.

Which meant, when he let them into the house and the smell of Aunt Kerry’s drunk spag bol invaded their clothes, Anton was … actually in kind of a good mood. Maybe he could do this. Maybe Jude would listen, even if in the end he still decided dating a trans guy wasn’t for him? There was a chance, right?

So when Lily appeared in the doorway, took one look at Jude, and screamed, Anton laughed.

“What the hell!” Jude yelped as she tore back into the kitchen.

“She’s –”

“Mummy, Anton’s friend’s on fire in the hall!”

“– kinda weird.”

“No shi — er, hell?”

“Just ignore her,” Anton advised, hanging up their coats. A nervous swoop made itself known when Jude grinned and kissed his ear, but he laughed it off and pushed him in the direction of the kitchen. “Go get us drinks or something.”

“It’s your house,” Jude said, but wandered off obediently. Anton took a moment to simply breathe before following him.

Lily had firmly decided — despite having seen Jude before and not having really clocked his hair — that Jude was on fire, and Anton had to wrestle a cup of water away from her before it ended up on Jude’s head.

“Nooo, give it back!” she wailed, stretching up to grab his belt as he put the cup in the sink and rummaged in the fridge for Cokes.

“Yeah, Anton, give it back. I might start melting the counter,” Jude said, sliding onto one of the stools at the island counters. Aunt Kerry, busy with dinner, simply chuckled at the both of them.

“You’re being mean!” Lily yelled, stamping her foot, then turned on Jude, skidding across the tiles to grab at his trousers. “You need a fireman!”

“It’s always that colour,” Jude said in a serious voice, but he was wearing an ear-splitting grin, and Anton’s heart clenched hard at the sheer beauty of him, despite the battered face.

“No, it’s on fire!”

“No it’s not,” Jude said. “It’s ginger.”

“That’s not ginger, ginger biscuits are ginger!”

“They’re brown.”

“If they’re brown,” Lily said seriously, “then why are they called ginger biscuits, huh?”

“Because they have ginger in them.”

“Which makes them ginger and that’s not ginger and you’re on fire!”

“Lily, leave Jude alone,” Aunt Kerry interjected.


Jude dropped his head onto the counter with a muffled cackle into both hands, and Anton couldn’t help but laugh at sight of him. “Oh God,” he said. “Come on, let’s go into the living room, and –”

“Noooo, you can’t, he’ll put the living room on fire!”

“Lily, seriously, stop it with the fire, he’s not on fire.”

“Jew!” she screeched, and Jude did a full body twitch like he was trying not to curl in on himself. “Jew!”

“Jude!” Anton corrected.

Jude,” she echoed scornfully, throwing Anton a fabulously dirty look for a kid who wasn’t even six yet. “Jude!”

“What?” Jude managed, coughing and rubbing at his eyes, still grinning.

“Tell Tasha to stop it!”

Anton froze. Like a bucket of ice water being dumped on his head, every muscle seized up, and the Coke in the cans started rattling in his shaking hands. “Lily! Stop it!” Aunt Kerry barked, but Jude — oh God, Jude, totally oblivious Jude —

“Okay,” he said. “Who’s Tasha?”

Lily blinked, then flung her arm out, and pointed right at Anton. “Anton’s Tasha,” she said, like it was so obvious.

“Lily, that’s eno –”

“Anton was Natasha only then she became Anton and Mummy says I have to say he but I forget sometimes,” Lily continued in a loud, inescapable voice. It bounced off the walls and tiles, and one of the cans slipped through Anton’s hands and burst open on the floor. Coke was flung everywhere in long, fizzy bursts, soaking his socks and trousers, and through Lily’s indignant shriek and Aunt Kerry’s yell, all he could see was — was —


The wide-eyed, confused stare that Jude was giving him. And the single word, that word, the word Anton hated.


Anton opened his mouth, found nothing coming up to save him, and did the only thing possible.

He bolted.


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