Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.
Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.
Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.
The policewoman slid a cup of grey tea across the interview table. “Tell me again, sir. How many times have you seen this man at your place of work?”
Lenny Mitchell sighed and dragged a hand through his electric-blue hair. “I told you. I don’t know exactly. He’s just there sometimes.”
“Standing across the road? At the bus stop?”
“I see.” The policewoman made a note. “Have you considered the possibility that the man you’ve described is simply catching the bus?”
Lenny levelled the woman with an acid glare. Seriously? “Catching the bus to where? My flat? So he can loiter there too? Or the club where I used to work so he can tell everyone he’s my boyfriend like he did before?”
“Which club is that?”
“Shades, in Brent Cross.”
“The strip club?”
“No, the gay club.”
The policewoman jotted another note. “Okay, so you say this man has been present outside your home and your place of work, and that he’s written you letters, and contacted you on social media. Do you have evidence of this? Copies of the letters? Screen shots?”
I’m such a fucking idiot. Lenny shook his head. “I deleted my Facebook and Twitter when he started harassing me, and the letters were taken from my flat.”
“Did you report it?”
“And you haven’t received any since?”
The policewoman’s left eyebrow twitched. “So you have no evidence to corroborate your story?”
“‘My story’? I’m not making it up.”
“I’m not saying you are, Mr. Mitchell, but without evidence there’s little we can do if we find this man and he denies your allegations. Have you reported him to your landlord or your employer?”
“I don’t know who my landlord is. I rent through an agency, and my tenancy is nearly up, anyway. And my previous employers at the club thought I was the fucking lunatic.”
“What about your current employer? At the restaurant?”
Lenny shrugged. “My bosses are really busy. I don’t want to bother them.”
The policewoman went back to her notes. “Okay, well . . . like I said before, without evidence and an ID for this man, there’s not much we can do except give you some advice on staying safe.”
Unbidden, the dull eyes that seemed to follow Lenny everywhere flashed into his mind, prickling his skin like tiny feather-drops of battery acid. “His name’s Gareth. He told the bouncers at Shades when he was pretending to be my boyfriend. I wrote it down for you.”
“Oh, yes, so you did.” The policewoman cast another disinterested glance at the notebook Lenny had handed over, pages filled with the incidents and sightings, and plain freaky shit that had driven him from Croydon to Camden in the first place. “Well, this is all very helpful, Mr. Mitchell, but as I said—”
“Yeah, yeah. Take a leaflet and fuck off. I heard you.”
To celebrate the release of Strays, one lucky winner will receive $25 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.