Wow. THAT long? Oops....
I'd never intended to leave it that long, but other things got in the way. After I'd finished writing Learning to Love: Josh & Chris, I wrote An Unlocked Heart, the first in the Collars & Cuffs series - which grew legs and took off, so to speak. That series now has three books, with another coming out early summer, and another six in the pipeline...
But my boys were never far from my mind. I knew what the final book would contain back in April 2012. It was just a matter of sitting down to write it.
Well, we are finally there. Learning to Love: Final Exam is up and running.
I think I've received more emails on this subject than any other topic. It seems everyone is worried about Sean. I even had a message from a lovely fan who made me promise that Sean really is going to be okay... Yeah, Lynn, I know, I know....
So, for all those people who want more from my boys - Michael & Sean, Evan & Daniel, and Josh & Chris - here's an excerpt from Chapter One. Enjoy...
“Where’s Evan?” Josh asked, hands full of polystyrene cups of coffee with cardboard holders around them. Chris carried a selection of muffins.
Daniel laughed. “He’s only gone to check the arrivals board again.” He scanned the crowd of people thronging the Arrivals hall of Manchester airport, trying to spot his husband. His face lit up. “There he is.” He shook his head as Evan got close enough to see him. “Now, has anything changed since the last time you looked? Is their plane still on time?” His lips twitched as he tried not to laugh at Evan.
Evan flushed. “Okay, make fun all you want. I was just checking to see that they hadn’t been delayed.” He dropped onto one of the chairs and held out his hand for a coffee. Josh handed him a cup with a grin.
Chris chuckled. “I hope not. They’re due to land in about fifteen minutes.” He held out the muffins. “Choose one. It’s just a bite to keep us going until lunch.”
Daniel laughed as Evan and Josh fought it out for the chocolate muffin. “Remind me again: you two are how old? Six?”
Josh stared at him with wide, incredulous eyes and then tut-tutted to Evan. “You have my sympathies. Being married to a man who doesn’t understand the importance of chocolate.”
Evan sighed dramatically. “I know. The things I have to put up with.”
Chris snickered. “Oh, my sympathies lie entirely with Daniel. You’re a handful.” Everyone except Evan got a laugh out of that.
Daniel leaned closer to Evan and dropped his voice. “It’s okay, baby. I know you’ve missed them. But not long now and we’ll have our Sean and Michael back with us.” He mouthed silently I love you and took hold of Evan’s hand, squeezing it tightly before releasing it. Evan gave him a grateful smile and sipped his coffee. Daniel wasn’t about to share their concerns with the others. It was enough that he and Evan were worrying about Sean—Josh and Chris didn’t need something else to worry about.
He took a closer look at Josh. The medical student appeared tired. Daniel knew he was working night shifts as an agency nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary. In fact, he’d barely gotten in the house from finishing his shift that morning before they were ready to come pick up Sean and Michael. Evan had tried to argue that it didn’t need all four of them, and two cars, but Josh had gotten this stubborn look over his face. Daniel could understand how he felt. It had been five long months since the boys had left for Spain, and all four of them couldn’t wait to have them back home.
Daniel drank his coffee and stared at the door where he knew they’d appear eventually.
Those two are our hub, he thought pensively. Although Evan had known them the longest, Daniel had grown to love the couple when he’d moved in at the end of their first year. Then Josh had reappeared in their lives, along with Chris, both men with a strong connection to Michael.
Daniel smiled to himself as he thought about the couple. Michael was definitely the quieter of the two, and a more generous, good-natured man Daniel had yet to meet. He was plainly Sean’s rock. And right now that rock was sinking under the weight of worry about his husband’s health. Both he and Evan had been talking a lot in recent weeks via Skype with Michael, and it was clear Michael wasn’t happy with the doctor’s diagnosis of migraines.
If Sean has migraines, then why isn’t the medication helping?
The doctor had been adamant, however. He’d told Michael to give it time.
Easy to say that, but Michael is the one dealing with a husband in pain.
Evan nudged him with his shoulder. “Stop. You won’t solve anything by worrying.”
Daniel gave him a half-smile. “You really do know me, don’t you?”
Evan arched his eyebrows. “And this surprises you?” His eyes met Daniel’s. “Of course I know you.” His expression said what his lips did not. Daniel could see the love in those eyes, and it filled him with warmth.
Thank God I have you, he thought. There wasn’t a day went by without that thought crossing his mind.
“Hey, they’re early!”
Chris’s words broke through his internal meanderings. Daniel looked up to see Chris pointing to a monitor. Sure enough, it announced the arrival of their flight from Madrid.
Daniel got to his feet and grinned at his house-mates. “Let’s go welcome our boys home.”