Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two hundred year old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.
Morgan turned the letter in his hands. Pointless bloody exercise, really; whichever way up it was, the thing would read the same.
“It isn’t you, Morgan, it’s me.”
Trust James to have ended things with a cliché. Maybe he’d typed Dear John letters into Google, cut and pasted what he’d found, changed the name John for the name Morgan and copied out the resulting text longhand.
“It’s been great, all of it, but people change. We’ve grown, and not in the same direction.”
The James he’d spent so long with wouldn’t have been able to create such eloquent prose, not without his secretary taking his rough notes to make them into something impressive, as she’d done for him in the past. Please God she hadn’t been allowed anywhere near this.
A simple, I’m bored with you so I’m buggering off, would have been more in James’s line. Or, You’re no longer the spring chicken who caught my eye. I couldn’t be seen going out with a bloke about to hit thirty. Not good for the image.
Morgan had always suspected James kept half an eye on whether there was anything better about. Like a pet cat, seemingly devoted to its owner, but ready to push off and relocate if he found a better household. Morgan’s family had once had a moggy like that; he hadn’t thought he’d end up with a boyfriend who’d show the same proclivities.
“I won’t insult you by asking if we can remain friends, although I hope someday we can be civil enough to share a pint. For old times’ sake.”
So that he could tell Morgan about his latest bloke? Like he used to talk about Jonny and say he’d only been a practice run for the real thing? Morgan slapped the letter on the table. He wasn’t ready to be civil. Especially after three years of James hinting that the real thing might be him. That had been a load of crap, hadn’t it? Like all the other crap James had been spouting these last few months. Why had it taken Morgan so long to realise he’d been strung along?
It wasn’t like he hadn’t been expecting the letter, or something like it, but those cold, hard words still hurt like a kick in the guts. All right, it was better than being dumped by text message—or over Facebook, that treacherous change in status from in a relationship to single—but only just. Why couldn’t the bastard have had the guts to drive down to Cornwall and tell him face-to-face?
Because, truth be told, James was a coward, a man who’d do anything to avoid a scene or put off a confrontation. Getting somebody else to travel down and deliver the bad news would have suited his style, if he could have got away with it.
Morgan screwed the letter up, flung it into the dustbin, and resolved never to think of James Price again. Or at least not for the next ten minutes.
That was all the time it took to make a decent, mud-strong mug of tea and take it out to the garden. If he could survive the next ten minutes without thinking of James the bastard, then he could survive another ten and then another. Like giving up smoking, one cigarette at a time. What he needed was distraction, either general or particular. At least his garden still brought him the happiness that had been sorely absent from his life the last year. He sat on his favourite wooden bench, took a deep breath and half closed his eyes.
Late April was turning out lovely, an early burst of summer in full swing, and the garden of Cadoc, his house, formed the sort of sun trap which became almost unbearable on a hot August day but which proved perfect when spring or autumn turned kind. Morgan listened to the bees, watched the trees and the flowers, and tried not to think of all the times in the past he’d sat here with James.
Count your blessings right now before you go mad.
To celebrate the release of Broke Deep, one lucky winner will receive a goodie bag containing postcards, a notebook, a tea towel, candy and more, all from Charlie Cochrane! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 10, 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:
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.