Morning Report by Sue Brown

My daughter’s endless complaint is that I never write anything she can read. This is true. She isn’t getting anywhere near one of my books for a few years yet. Much as I’d love to write her a PG rated book my mind keeps venturing into the bedroom of my heroes. She seems to have accepted that there are always going to be two men on the cover. This she finds odd. Why can’t I write about wizards, dragons or fluffy puppies? I’d probably make more money if they were. However I love my cowboys far too much to write about a dragon flying wizard with a fluffy puppy for a pet. The boys in my head are most definitely men *g* and they like playing dick rather than with puppies.

This is my Facebook page and I’m on Twitter.

Buy link


Blurb: A decade on from their first kiss, Luke Murray is more in love with Simon every day. Running the Lost Cow ranch for Luke’s parents, they keep their heads down and get along with the locals, even if Luke is known for being a hothead. Then one day they discover the local store owners refuse to serve them.


They’re bewildered until Luke’s mom tells them the new pastor has targeted the couple in his sermons. Suddenly Luke and Simon find themselves alienated from people they called friends, and their ranch comes under a series of attacks. As the town’s hatred and homophobia turns on them, Luke and Simon will face a critical choice: give in to the town’s demands and disappear, or stand and fight for themselves and their love.

Excerpt

HE yawn caught him by surprise. Luke stretched his arms and rolled his shoulders, trying to relax back muscles that had tensed up after three hours at the computer. If he was yawning at nine o’clock in the morning, it was time to stop. He squinted at the screen. The spreadsheets were done and the accounts almost up to date. Another half an hour and it would be done. 
He looked longingly out the window. It was still early enough in the year that long sleeves were needed first thing in the morning. Somewhere out there his ranch foreman was riding back to the house to make his morning report, enjoying the early morning sunshine before the heat sucked the enjoyment out of the day.

Luke pouted at the computer, despite the fact there was no one to see it. He wanted to be out there on Lulu sucking in lungfuls of the morning air, smelling the sweet grass instead of stuck in front of a computer. He was a cowboy, dammit, not a goddamned paper pusher.

“If you’re not careful, your face will freeze like that forever.”

“I’ll be chained to this chair forever,” he commented sourly, turning around to look at his ranch foreman grinning at him through the open window. As ever, his floppy, dark hair was covering his eyes, and Luke resisted the temptation to go to the window and push the hair back so he could see the large ocean-blue eyes with their mischievous glint.

“Not finished yet?” Simon sounded sympathetic, knowing just how much Luke hated to be stuck inside with the books.

Luke scrubbed the back of his neck. “’Nother half-hour, I think. Just got the accounts left.” He grimaced. “Was the fence still up?”

Simon nodded. “Not for long, though. How ’bout we have our morning meeting, and then I’ll fix breakfast while you finish up. We need to get to town to sort out the feed before Lil arrives with the new stock.”

“Sounds like a plan. Meet you in the office?”

“Five minutes for me to hand over to Chuck, and I’ll be there,” his foreman promised.

Checking the window to see Simon wasn’t still watching, Luke poked his tongue out at the computer. His mood vastly improved, Luke grinned at he made his way up to the “office.” Now it was time for his reward.

HE’D known Simon for ten years, and for over half that time they’d been running the ranch. Technically it was still his daddy who owned it, but they both knew it was only a matter of time before he sold it to them. Luke’s older brother had no interest in ranching, and his sister was at college. Neither of them had an objection to Luke taking over. Luke’s parents lived on the outskirts of the ranch, closer to the town.

Simon had been Luke’s roommate at college. It had taken about five minutes for both of them to realize they’d met a friend for life. It took a little longer for Luke to come clean about his sexuality. It was one thing to be instant buddies with a guy, but he was from deep Bible country, and he wasn’t stupid… except when he was drunk.

Turned out Simon had his secret too. It took a month, too much cheap beer, a homophobic prick, and Luke being stupid to discover what Simon was hiding. Simon had to drag Luke physically out of the bar before he got them both arrested for assault and Simon for underage drinking. Luke was a hothead when he was filled with liquor and so riled up he’d have gone back in there to complete what he’d started. Even then Luke was wiry and strong, a legacy from growing up on the ranch. Simon was like a blade of sweet grass compared to now, but he had the height advantage, and he used it, crowding Luke against the wall and pinning his wrists against the rough brick until he calmed down. Still struggling against him, Luke spat abuse at Simon for not letting him finish beating the crap out of the man who’d called them faggots as they had a quiet drink in the corner.

Simon had stopped the bitter words before Luke said something they’d both regret. He did it the only way he could, pushing Luke even closer into the brickwork and licking, licking, Luke’s lips.

“Shut the hell up,” he’d sighed as he bent down and kissed him.

Luke could still remember the taste of soda and wings as Simon captured his mouth in the sweetest kiss he’d ever experienced. Luke was four years older than Simon. He’d delayed going to college because his daddy had been sick, and by the time he finally got there he felt like an old man compared to the young kids fresh out of school. Simon was different; he seemed older, tempered by life despite the fact he was only eighteen. Luke was no stranger to kissing but nothing had prepared him for the realization that by the end of this kiss he knew this boy was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. The shock silenced him more effectively than the actual kiss.

By the end of the evening, he found out Simon felt the same way, and when Luke went back to the Lost Cow ranch at the end of his college course, it was inevitable Simon would follow him. His momma and daddy dealt with Simon’s arrival the way they dealt with Luke’s announcement that he was gay: they were kissed, hugged, and told to keep their heads down. And for the most part, they did. The hands knew, of course. They knew everything. Those that had a problem quickly left and those that stayed kept their mouths shut.

Ten years on, and Luke still couldn’t believe his luck in finding someone he wanted to spend every waking and sleeping moment sharing his life. Simon had worked his way up to ranch foreman, and they shared the responsibilities for running the ranch.

They quickly worked out Luke was a lot less cranky when he got the paperwork out of the way early in the morning, leaving the rest of the day free to be a cowboy, out with the hands. Which was why they did the morning meeting after the paperwork as a reward for being a good boy. No paperwork, no report, and damn, wasn’t Luke an asshole for the rest of the day if that happened.

Luke went into the office and got the shower running. He shucked off his clothes and stepped into the hot water with a sigh of relief. He let the water run over his face and down his body as he relaxed, a low moan of bliss escaping him.

“Hmmm, looks like you’ve been getting ahead of me, bossman.”

Luke smiled. “I’m not getting anything at the moment. Thinking it’s about time my foreman gave me his morning report.”

A warm, solid body slid in behind him, pressing up close against him. “Reporting for duty, sir.” 

Nothing Ever Happens by Sue Brown

I love all the excerpts posted this weekend. My credit card is itching so hard, I’m having to sit on it. I’ve had a little nap now and slept off a couple of glasses of wine with my lunchtime BBQ. I’m sitting here with a cup of Earl Grey tea (black) and a Rolo cookie, one eye on The Sarah Jane Adventures (children’s spin-off of Dr Who). and the other on which books I’m going to buy next.

Time for another excerpt. Nothing Ever Happens has a lot of my life rolled into it. I don’t really believe in the writing what you know philosophy but at the time it was a cathartic experience to write out something of turmoil in my head. 


BLURB

Andrew’s life is a cliché: he’s a gay man trapped in a loveless marriage, thanks to his religious, overbearing mother. Then a new couple moves in down the street, and Andrew finds himself falling for Nathan in a big way. Nathan is straight, married, and just about to be a father, but after one fateful night out together at a club, Nathan has to face the fact that his feelings for Andrew go way beyond that of a friend and neighbor.
 When Andrew’s wife asks for a divorce, both men’s lives are thrown into disarray. Arguments about their responsibilities to their wives and children, doubting themselves and each other, and some harrowing lies pull them apart… but they never leave each other’s thoughts.

 EXCERPTDescription: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/images/pixel_trans.gif
Andrew watched the new couple with a cynical eye. Mr. and Mrs. Newlyweds, matching rings glinting in the sunlight, his arm around her shoulders, keeping her close. He could only see their backs as they were introduced to the neighborhood vultures, but Jesus, he was tall. Built like a brick shit house. His wife was tiny compared to Mr. Newlywed, barely coming up to his shoulders, yet from Andrew’s perspective she had him on a tight leash, her fingers hooked firmly though his belt loops. She wasn’t letting him go anytime soon. Andrew couldn’t hear them, but he could see the guy laughing at some wisecrack Allison had made.
He knew how this would pan out. An introduction at the cookout, polite smiles exchanged, then they would vanish behind the front door, only emerging for work and grocery shopping. No one was really friends here, not unless they had kids, and then it was play dates, carpools, and sneaky gins at two in the afternoon. Still, they had to pretend for the newbies—Allison’s orders.
If there was one thought in Andrew’s head at any of these neighborhood parties, it was how soon he could escape. No matter how much he drank, or how much he tried to fit in, every party was long and tedious, even with the agreement with Stephanie that, after showing willingness, he could retreat to his dark room. He was so tired of pretending to be something he wasn’t. Andrew Matthews, model husband, father, and town photographer. Andrew looked at his watch. Half an hour, then he could leave the neighbors to their amusements and disappear back to the darkroom. Twenty-nine minutes and thirty seconds. He took a swig of his beer. Idly, he wondered how long they had been married. A month? Six weeks tops. He predicted that in nine months time there would be a little Newlywed in a stroller, or… hello! Maybe next week, judging by the size of that stomach! Andrew found himself transfixed by Mrs. Newlywed’s belly as she turned around. Either they had been practicing before the wedding or Andrew’s intuition was way off. 
Hidden in the corner, Andrew was able to stare freely at the woman, noting her slightly swollen ankles in their strappy high-heeled sandals. He was surprised she could get them on. Despite her advanced pregnancy, she was a slender woman with delicate bone-structure. Andrew could see how attractive she was. Then for the first time he got a proper look at the man. Shit, he was young. Too young to be married and expecting a kid. He looked like a college jock on his first date, all shaggy hair and rippling muscles, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. 
“Don’t they look cute? All hearts and flowers. Sooooo in lurve.”
Andrew looked down at his wife. Stephanie was staring at them with something approaching dislike, her long fingers wrapped so tightly round a wineglass they showed white round the knuckles. He sighed quietly. They had never been like that. He watched the man, so young and in love, a big grin on his face as he hugged his wife close to his side. Andrew felt an emotion he hadn’t experienced for a very long time. He was jealous, envious of the love they were showing each other, and the smiles, the goddamned fucking affection. He and Stephanie had never looked at each other like that—ever. 
Taking another pull on the beer, he said, “Wait ’til the sleepless nights kick in. The hearts and flowers won’t count for a lot then.” Andrew looked at Stephanie’s glass. It was empty, as usual. He wondered how many glasses she had consumed. “Want another one?” He waggled his bottle at her. 
She nodded. “Yeah, why not. The booze is the only thing that makes this day bearable. I’m going to find out where Colin is. Be back in a moment.”
Andrew took her glass, then wandered off towards the kitchen. Allison and Jim’s house was the same as his, all gleaming white appliances in exactly the same place. He opened the large fridge to find it stocked top to bottom with wine. Allison was well known for taking these cookouts very seriously. Taking an open bottle of white wine, he topped up Stephanie’s glass right to the brim—otherwise she’d only complain—and closed the fridge door to look for the beer bucket. 
“Is there one in there for me?” Andrew looked up as he reached into the icy water to get a bottle. Mr. Newlywed was grinning at him, a hopeful expression in his eyes.
“Sure.” Andrew passed over the one he had been rooting for, then acquired a second one for himself. 
“Thanks.” The guy cracked it open and took a long pull, his moan of pleasure as the cool liquid hit the back of his throat almost obscene. Andrew tried hard not to stare. “God, I needed that.” He suddenly seemed to remember his manners, and wiping his hand on his jeans, he held it out. “Nathan Peterson. Just moved into number twenty-four.” 
Andrew refrained from his desire to laugh at him, merely shaking his hand and saying, “Andrew Matthews. My wife Stephanie and I live at number twelve.” Andrew stood over six feet, but this man dwarfed him both in height and physique; his handshake was firm but not bone crushing. Idly he wondered what he would look like in black and white, shirt off and wet. Maybe washing the car. Andrew preferred to take his photos where people were actually doing something. He realized he was holding onto his hand for too long when he caught Nathan’s amused expression. 
Laughing nervously, Andrew tried to make small talk. “So, have you met everyone yet? Remembered all their names?” 
“Not a single one. You’re Justin, right?” He grinned at Andrew’s appreciative snort. “To tell you the truth, it’s kinda overwhelming. We’ve only been here forty-eight hours.” 
“I’ll bet. Still, you’ll soon get to know us all, and you’ll be dragged to these events often enough. Allison and Jim love their ‘aren’t we all such good neighbors’ shindigs.” 
Nathan frowned, trying to remember who they were. “Small skinny blonde and older grizzled dude?” 
Andrew nodded. “Yeah. They run the neighborhood watch program. The rest of us just fall in line.” 
“Huh. Okay, I get the picture.” Nathan looked at his bottle. It was empty. He waved it hopefully at Andrew. “Any chance of another one?” 
Andrew waved his hand at the bucket. “Just help yourself. You never go home sober from one of these gigs. Not if you wanna stay sane.” He watched as Nathan dug around eagerly in the bucket for another bottle. “So, expecting your first child soon?” 
“You noticed?” Nathan seemed to be almost bouncing in excitement at the prospect. “Gummi bear?” He pulled out a half-empty bag of candy from his pocket. Bemused, Andrew nodded and dug into the bag. Pulling out a red one, he tipped his head back and tossed it into his mouth. 
Nathan continued, “Alex looks like she’s going explode any moment. I hope she doesn’t. Explode, I mean,” he added hastily at Andrew’s bemused look. 
“I guess this is your first then?” Andrew laughed outright. The dude was like a small kid himself.
Nathan laughed with him, not taking the slightest offense. “Certainly is. He’s due in four weeks’ time.” He proffered the gummi bears again. 
Picking a green one, Andrew bit the limbs off it before decapitating it and swallowing the body. 
“Jesus, what did that bear ever do to you?” Nathan had been watching the whole process in fascination. 
“Didn’t get the chance. I got him first,” Andrew said smugly, taking a drink although the bitter taste of the beer didn’t really mix well with the candy.
“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” Nathan drawled. 
They grinned at each other, then Andrew asked, “A Texas boy?” 
Nathan tipped an imaginary Stetson and said, “Yes boss. San Antone born and bred.” 
Andrew pretended to groan. “Oh no. A Spurs fan? I think I may never speak to you again.” He spoke in a slow deep drawl, allowing the accent he normally suppressed to become more noticeable. 
“Wait a moment!” Nathan’s hazel eyes positively sparkled. “Do I hear me another escapee? Only, one from the wrong side of the tracks?” 
“Born in Dallas, moved to Santa Fe when I was ten,” Andrew confirmed. 
“Ah, a Mavs then?” At Andrew’s nod, the younger man hummed. “Not sure we should be talkin’, but as we’re both momma’s boys, shall we put aside our differences, at least until I whup your ass at Madden?” 
Andrew winced at the reference to his mother—Momma’s black sheep perhaps—but kept his smile glued to his face. For once, he liked this new addition to the area. He hoped Nathan wasn’t a hiding behind the front door type. “In your dreams, boy,” he drawled. 
Nathan whooped. “You are so on.” A challenging light entered his eyes. “How ’bout we escape from here and you pretend you can try and beat me?” He lunged forward to engulf a startled Andrew in a bear hug. Arms flailing, Andrew found himself smushed up against a cotton shirt. He inhaled the scent of laundry detergent, and beneath it sweat, and something he couldn’t define. His hands, trying to get a purchase on something solid, landed on Nathan’s back. Fuck, this guy was packing muscle. He made Andrew look like a stick insect. 
“Don’t you dare run away, Nathan Peterson.” A light, warm, female voice, trying to sound amused but with a clear thread of irritation, interrupted them. 
Andrew tried to disentangle himself and retain some dignity. He felt rather than heard Nathan chuckling, his chest vibrating under his cheek; then an arm slipped across his shoulders and he was turned to meet Alex. Strangely enough Nathan didn’t let him go, just tucking him under one arm as he said, “Hey darlin’, meet our new neighbor, Andrew. He’s a Mav, but don’t let that put you off.” 
Alex rolled her eyes. “Sorry for my husband, Andrew. He’s an overgrown puppy with the manners to match. Put him down, Nathan,” she commanded, much as she would talk to a young dog. 
“Drew doesn’t mind, do you?” And Andrew was squeezed for a second, before Nathan obediently dropped his arm and moved over to his wife, bending down to kiss her on the cheek. 
Andrew was torn between pointing out that if Nathan called him Drew again his balls would be in danger, and asking him to put his arm back. Then another arm went around his waist, sharp nails digging into his skin. 
“So, I was waiting for you to come back with my drink, and instead I find you groping the new neighbor. Quick work, Drew.” Stephanie had followed Alex into the kitchen and witnessed the whole display. 
Andrew was determined not to give his wife the satisfaction of seeing him blush. “You’re just jealous,” he answered, “because I got a hug and you didn’t.” 
Alex laughed, not noticing the undercurrents of tension between their new neighbors. “He mauls everybody.” She elbowed Nathan in the ribs. “Believe me. He doesn’t understand the concept of personal space.” 
Nathan held out his hands as if in surrender. “I’m just overly friendly. Anyway, Drew and I have a date for me to take him down.” 
Stephanie gave a thin laugh. “Much as I know he would love for you to manhandle him, Andrew’s promised to take his son to the park this afternoon.” 
A broad grin split Nathan’s face. Did this guy ever stop laughing? “You have a son as well?” 
“Yeah, Colin, he’s nine,” Andrew muttered. “Going into the fourth grade come September.” 
“Hey, Nathan is a fourth-grade teacher. He’s going to be teaching at Castleton Elementary.” Alex looked at her husband with such pride. 
To Andrew’s surprise, Nathan went bright red. “I’m newly qualified. This is my first job,” he admitted. 
“That’s Colin’s school. You’ll be teaching his class.” Stephanie surprised everyone by going to the kitchen door and yelling for her son. After a minute a thin, lanky boy came to the door. He was wearing shorts, no shirt, and was as usual, filthy dirty. Even his hated freckles, which he complained about at every opportunity, were virtually unnoticeable in the grime that covered his body. 
His mother steered him in the direction of Nathan. “Colin, meet your new teacher, Mr. Peterson.”
“Jesus, he’s enormous.” Colin’s jaw dropped as he looked at Nathan. 
Andrew was amused to notice both teacher and pupil looked highly embarrassed as everybody laughed. Stephanie nudged Colin. “What do you say?” 
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Peterson,” he said politely.
His new teacher came to his rescue. “Nate, ’til September at least.” Nathan held out his hand and Colin shook it as he had been taught. “We’ll go back to Mister P the first day of school, okay?” 
Colin nodded. “Can I go now, Mom, pleeeease?” he whined, desperate to get away from his parents and, even worse, his new teacher. It was still vacation. Way, way too early to be thinking about school. 
“Ten minutes, then Dad is taking you to the park to play soccer.” Stephanie was firm.
Andrew snuck a look at his watch, sighing inwardly. So no chance of the darkroom first. He had been so close to escaping.
Colin was out of the kitchen door the second he got permission, almost knocking down Jim and Allison, who had come in search of the new neighbors. They rocked back as he sped past, then entered the kitchen, pleased to see Andrew and Stephanie making an effort with Nathan and Alex.
“Hey there. How are you all doing? Has everyone got a drink? Jim, we need some more beer. Nathan is almost out.” As usual, Allison took charge as soon as she entered the kitchen. She was considerably younger than her husband, but there was no doubt who was the driving force in their relationship. Jim seemed content to let her steam ahead, and in return she gave him a well organized home and affectionate, if bossy, attention.
Nathan gave them all his widest smile. Andrew was nearly blinded by the way the kitchen suddenly lit up. “I’m fine, thank you, Allison. I won’t have another one. I gotta walk the dogs this afternoon, and Drew here has invited me to play soccer with him and his boy.” 
Andrew choked on the last of his beer. As he spluttered out his apologies, gasping for breath, an enormous hand patted him on the back. 
“All right there, Drew? Trying to wuss out of our game? Give me ten to get changed and pick up the dogs and we’ll be on our way.”
Andrew looked up to see Nathan giving him a barely perceptible wink. Beside him, Alex looked thunderous. Allison beamed at them all. This was just what she enjoyed most, all her neighbors getting on so well. 
He grinned back at Nathan. An afternoon in the darkroom hiding from the world, or an afternoon in the sunshine whupping the ass—extremely nice ass—of his new friend, at soccer? No contest. “Think you can beat me and my boy? Bring it on.”


The Lord’s Tale by Sue Brown

Writing blogs regularly leaves me wondering. How do celebrities find something new to say every time they are interviewed? Of course they don’t. They recycle. I hope I haven’t got to that stage yet. However I need more caffeine to fuel the little grey cells. Be back in a moment.

So, coffee in hand… I like my men to be ‘ordinary’. Not camp, not ripped, not even alpha males; just ordinary blokes trying to deal with situations in their lives. Someone once described my stories as soap operas. I was offended for a brief moment until I realized that is how I see their lives. My men are like all of us; looking for love in a world that can seem very lonely at times.

This is where we find my hero, Phil in The Lord’s Tale. All around him his brother and sister are getting married, his friends are finding love and yet he is all alone. Of course, none of us likes it pointed out to us when we’re suffering from a touch of the green-eyed monster. And who is so quick to point out our failings? Our older siblings, of course. I’m the youngest of seven. Believe me, I could write a thesis on this very subject.

Author Name: Sue Brown
Book Title: The Lord’s Tale #3 in The Fitzwarren Inheritance
Genre: M/M contemporary
Publisher: Silver
Purchase URL:
https://spsilverpublishing.com/product_book_info/new-release-c-1/the-lord-s-tale-p-332
Format: e-book
Blurb: Surrounded by the tragedy of his family’s history, the last thing Phil expects is to be picked up by a gorgeous guy twenty feet up a climbing wall. What scares him even more is the way Lee fits into his life, the final piece to break the Fitzwarren curse.

Excerpt: From a book written in 1899
–The History of Steeple Westford by the Rev. Horace Simpkins–
So in the autumn of the year 1644, Jonathan Curtess cursed Belvedere Fitzwarren, saying, “I curse you and your children’s children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me.”
Chapter 1
Phil could hear the rain beating down on the church roof as he waited for the bride to arrive. Inside the small church, the atmosphere was slightly damp and clammy as guests found somewhere to store their sopping umbrellas and attempted to brush raindrops off their finery. It was typical of the Fitzwarren luck that after weeks of fine weather there was torrential rain on his sister’s wedding day.
He looked over at Will, the groom, standing alone in the front row. Psycho soldier hadn’t bothered to make an appearance as his best man then. Despite the way Phil’s friend Sean and Will stood up for the man, there was something about Daniel that Phil didn’t like. He was unpredictable, and the fact he was tied in with this curse just made him even more dangerous in Phil’s opinion, especially walking around with a knife tucked under his clothing. Why the hell Sean was bumping uglies with the man, Phil had no idea. The groom looked kind of down though. Daniel was Will’s best friend, and it was natural he would want Daniel beside him on his special day.
His thoughts turned to his young nephew, fighting for his life in hospital. Each day was a roller-coaster ride for the premature baby, but the young heir to the Fitzwarrens clung on tenaciously. His mum, still recovering from her head injury and the shock of the premature birth, sat by his incubator. Charlie and Carol had both insisted that the wedding go ahead as planned, and Charlie was there, doing his best to wear a smile for his sister’s wedding.
The doors to the church opened, and everyone turned to catch their first glimpse of the bride, only to discover Daniel limping down the aisle. Phil sighed as he saw the matching grins of Will and Sean. Who was he to argue with his best friend and his future brother-in-law? He’d be keeping an eye on that knife, though.
The doors opened again, and his sister was there, looking stunning in her wedding dress of ivory and crimson, the silk skirt pooling gracefully to the stone floor of the church. She paused in the doorway as her bridesmaids arranged themselves behind her. Somehow she had escaped looking like a drowned rat; her hair was swept up into chignon and the crimson roses in her hair matched the ones in her bouquet, the blooms from a corner of the castle grounds.
As Diana reached the altar, Will smiled down at her and took her hand. The love on their faces took Phil’s breath away, and he was swept with a wave of happiness and envy for his big sister. As the elderly vicar conducted the service, the noise of the rain thrumming down on the roof abated, and soon the wedding party emerged from the church to blink as the late afternoon sunshine bathed the church grounds.
* * * *
Phil held two pints up high as he negotiated the crowd in the bar of the Red Lion. He handed one over to his brother, Charlie, who took the full glass gratefully.
“God, I’m glad that’s over,” Charlie said, wiping his top lip.
“Hell yes,” Phil agreed, loosening his tie. “Do you think we can get out of this get-up now?” He waved vaguely at their suits.
“Probably not,” Charlie told him. “Is Di out of her meringue yet?”
Phil peered around the bar to where the bride and groom were sitting, Di’s feet in Will’s lap. “Not yet, but her shoes are off. Isn’t that enough?”
Charlie just gave him a look, and Phil sighed. There wasn’t a hope in hell Diana would agree to them losing the monkey suits. The couple hadn’t had enough money for a formal “do”, but she was going to make the men suffer as long as she could. He smiled as he thought of his tomboy sister, dressed like a lady for the whole day.
“Anyway, I promised Carol I’d come in the suit,” Charlie said, pulling a face. “She wanted to feel part of the proceedings even if she couldn’t be here.”
“You’d better stop knocking that back then,” Phil said, indicating the pint of beer that Charlie was already half-way through.
Charlie held up his glass, regarding the dark amber liquid mournfully. “Doesn’t seem right somehow. I can’t remember the last time I stayed sober at a wedding.” He paused for a minute. “I can’t remember the last time I went to a wedding.”
“Yours probably. Just be thankful you don’t have to make a speech, big brother.” Phil grinned at the shudder that ran though his painfully shy older brother at the thought of trying to speak in public, even in front of friends and family. There really wasn’t anyone here that he didn’t know. Di, like her brothers, tended to socialise in the village.
“I told Di that if she wanted speeches she could make you do it. She said if there was anything to say, she could say it herself.”
Phil laughed, the laughter tailing off as he caught sight of Daniel and Sean vanishing into the snug with that psychic and his boyfriend. There was something going on there. Those four were getting very cosy all of a sudden. Charlie followed his gaze.
“I wonder what that’s all about,” his brother mused.
“I have no idea. Don’t you think since Mark came on the scene our little curse has got a lot more crowded?” Phil asked, aware he sounded waspish.
Waving at the barman for another round, Charlie looked at him. “Another?” At Phil’s nod, he held up two fingers and then said, “What do you mean?”
Phil waited until they both had drinks before he carried on. “Well, one minute it’s just the Fitzwarrens’ curse, and the three of us knowing everything is going to go tits up, and the next some stranger waltzes in claiming to be a psychic and a descendent of Curtesses, saying he’s broken the first part of the curse. Then Psycho gets pally with Sean, and the next thing we know another bit of the story is slotting into place.”
There was such a long pause before Charlie answered that Phil looked up. “What bothers you most? Mark’s revelations or Sean and Daniel hooking up?”
“You think I’m jealous?” Phil asked incredulously.
“You’re not? Just a little? Sean has been your best friend for years, and now that he’s hooked up with Daniel, he hasn’t been around as much.”
Damn, his brother was too shrewd.