Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Tyack & Frayne Part 1 by Harper Fox


Once Upon a Haunted Moor #1
Summary:
Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

Tinsel Fish #2
Summary:
Christmas in a Cornish seaside town, bright lights and a hot new romance to ward off the winter storms... What could be finer? But Gideon and Lee’s first festive season together is shockingly interrupted when Lee tries to rid a client’s home of a malevolent presence. The ritual goes wrong, and in its aftermath Lee is strangely altered. As well as dealing with the changes in his lover, Gideon has a sinister thread to follow, linking the haunted house with disappearances among the homeless people of Falmouth.

Can love withstand what looks like a case of possession? As the darkest night of the year comes down, Gideon finds himself locked in a battle to restore his lover’s soul.

Don't Let Go #3
Summary:
What’s haunting Lee Tyack? He’s moved in with Gideon Frayne, and they’re both loving their new lives. But the shadow is still there – a voice from hell that torments clairvoyant Lee, and which even the pragmatic copper Gideon can hear.

Gideon’s determined to protect his lover. But after a serious injury on duty, Gideon finds out the hard way that he needs protection too. His job’s on the line and he’s scared. Worst of all, he thinks he knows who that voice belongs to – and he can’t stop Lee from heading off to confront this most terrifying ghost from his past.

When the full spring moon rises over Cornwall’s rugged coast, and the veil between the worlds grows thin, Tyack and Frayne must join forces to solve a decades-old mystery that still has the power to tear their world apart.

Kitto #4
Summary:
Now Lee is free from the malevolent ghost of Morris Hawke, his clairvoyant gifts are expanding fast. Too fast for comfort, and he and Gideon find themselves wrestling with his unsettling capacity to see the future. In some ways this new power is wonderful, and Lee finds himself a local hero after predicting a flood.

But there’s one aspect he can’t bear, and that’s the blind spot he sees when he thinks about the wedding plans he and Gideon have started to make. It’s as if this event, which he wants more than life, simply isn’t going to happen. He’s troubled and stressed out, and Gideon decides to intervene, whisking him off to an isolated creekside cabin in the mysterious Cornish ria country. All is peaceful there, and the clamour in Lee’s head subsides. It’s time for companionship, peace, good food and plenty of sex...

Then a young man wanders out of the woods and turns their blissed-out retreat into chaos. Kitto is harmless – a charming drifter, very handsome. To Gideon he’s just a kid, flesh and blood and a bit of a nuisance. But Lee reacts with horror. Since when can Gideon – Lee’s rock, his connection to the real world and sanity – see ghosts?

Mysterious midsummer is rising in the deep green Cornish countryside, and as the village gears up for the eerie Golowan festival, Lee and Gideon face their toughest case yet: a battle between the real and spirit worlds that threatens to tear their own apart.

Guardians of the Haunted Moor #5
Summary:
The wedding is just the beginning…

Gideon and Lee have spent a year in chaotic married bliss, with all the trimmings – a dog, tricky in-laws, and a baby girl they both adore. But even the best of lives can be fragile, and a shocking family loss hits their new world like a demolition ball.

Gideon has little energy left to investigate a murder that’s taken place in the fields outside Dark. He still has his duties to his community, though, and with Lee at his side, he begins to unfold the mysterious death of Farmer John Bowe. It’s harvest time, ancient West Country magic in the air, and rumours are flying through the village of an enemy Gideon thought he’d left behind long ago.

Can the beast of Bodmin possibly be real? Everything in Gideon’s stoical police-sergeant’s nature says no. But Lee has taught him to see the world differently, and now they must pool their resources to unmask a killer before more lives are lost – and somehow find a way to mend their shattered family, too.

Overall Series Review:
Gideon and Lee make a pretty instant connection despite Gideon's first impression of Lee's abilities being fake.  Once he realizes that Lee is on the level they discover how well they work together, not to mention play together.  The setting descriptions leave you feeling as if you are standing right there in Bodmin Moor, the characters are a recipe of good, bad, odd, funny, and everything in between.  Each story might have a standalone mystery that the couple faces but because the evolution of their relationship, this series really should be read in order.  Another great addition to my paranormal library.
RATING:  



Once Upon a Haunted Moor #1
It was dark by the time they reached the house, and Gideon was beginning to regret his impulse of hospitality. It wasn’t that Tyack had said or done anything to annoy him on the way back – fact he’d sat silently, eyes fixed on the road ahead – but what was Gideon meant to do with him all night? He could hardly run him into Bodmin to see a film or sit cosily with him in the village’s one excuse for a restaurant. The house, when he pulled open the stiff old door, didn’t help any – simply exhaled at him its air of chilly neglect. He supposed he was ashamed: his home wasn’t fit for a visitor, and nor was he...

“What the bloody hell did this?”

Gideon stopped in the hall. Tyack was motionless in the doorway, one finger pressed to the paintwork. It had still been dark when Gideon had left that morning. Either because of that or because he hadn’t wanted to, he hadn’t seen the mark. It was a deep scratch. It ran from the lintel to within two feet of the ground. It gave Gideon the coldest, most miserable sensation he’d ever experienced, as if some vile fairy story he’d been told as a child had turned out to be true. He couldn’t bear to think about it. “Kids. Twigs. I don’t know.” He stamped off into the living room. “I’m sorry the place is so perishing cold. The stove’s awkward, and if I’m not around to – ”

“My one at home is like this. I’ll have a go at it.”

“Er... right. I’ll fix us a drink if you like. I’ll stick a pizza in the oven.”

“Ta.”

Gideon left him crouched in front of the stove. Halfway to the kitchen he remembered that he’d never called the Truro HQ to check Tyack’s credentials, and he quietly let himself into the study and unhooked the landline phone.

When he emerged, his visitor was sitting on the granite hearth, and the room was full of dancing firelight. “Wow. What did you do?”

“Some damp moss was blocking the flue. I got it down.” Tyack looked up at him mildly. The dog had taken up position on the far side of the stove, and between them they looked like a pair of guardian deities in a Roman temple. “I’m not here to step on your toes, Gideon. The Truro police just honestly thought it might be worth a shot to send me here. I’ve had a bit of luck in cases like this before.”

There was no way Tyack could have heard his phone conversation from here, or even from outside the thick study door. Gideon wanted to snarl at him. You’ve had damn-all luck so far, haven’t you, unless you count wasting three hours of police time up a godforsaken hill... But that was a mote in his neighbour’s eye, and the beam in his own was killing him. He made his way blindly to a hearthside chair and sat down. “I’ve been screwing this up. I’m just a village copper, Mr Tyack – pub brawls and lost sheep.

“It’s Lee. And – they’ve sent CID men out here, haven’t they? Search-and-rescue specialists. They haven’t found her either.”

Gideon propped his elbows on his knees. He wanted the comfort of this thought, but he couldn’t allow it to himself. “I’ve been good at my job until now. But I’ve started buggering up ordinary things. Paperwork, letting Ross Jones get away with his marijuana crop. I’ve... panicked, I suppose. What if this never ends? What if they never find her?”

Tyack’s hand closed on his shoulder. “Sometimes they aren’t found.”
“Christ. I don’t think I could bear that.” Gideon kept his head down. For Tyack – Lee, his mind easily corrected him, just as he’d substituted Isolde for Kye – for Lee to be touching him like this, he must be kneeling close. Right at Gideon’s feet. “Why am I telling you all this?”

“People do tell me things. Shall I get those drinks?”

“Okay. They’re in the ...”

“Sideboard, second cupboard on the left. That’s not a psychic thing – you left the door open.”

“Oh, God.” Gideon tried to rub away the remembered feel of Lee’s grasp. “I hardly touch the stuff, except...”

“Except this last week or so. And that’s not a Gideon thing, is it?”

Gideon wanted to argue. Nobody but James had had any right to know what his things were, and James had declined the pleasure. But the fact was that he’d started to combat the long nights of Lorna Kemp’s absence with a tumbler or three of scotch. He watched while Lee took out a pair of shot glasses instead, and poured them a measure each. The drink looked civilised like that somehow, companionable and sufficient. Lee handed him his glass his silence and began to look around the room, as if giving Gideon time to compose himself. He stopped in front of a photograph. “These are the Methodist parents?”
“Grandparents, actually. We come from a long line. That’s my mum and dad in the picture to the left, the one with Dark Old Chapel in the background.

“This house feels like theirs, not yours.”

The photos were the room’s sole decor. Pastor Frayne hadn’t been a harsh man – he just hadn’t seen the use of earthly comforts. “It is. I had a flat in the village, but... my father got Alzheimer’s, and they’re both living in care.” Gideon knocked his scotch back. “My ma says it’s God’s will.”

“And do you think so too?”

Gideon hesitated. He was bright enough, he knew, but his circumstances hadn’t favoured independent thought. It had taken him a long, hard time to work some things out for himself, and he wasn’t finished. When he considered this, though, he found that he was certain. “No. I think it’s a miserable, pointless disease that needs to be cured.”

“So... between these godfearing parents of yours, and being part of a police force that’s two decades behind the rest of the country in its attitudes – ”

“Don’t.” Gideon cut him off sharply. “Look – for what it’s worth, you seem like a decent guy. But...”

“But you’re getting tired of having your brains picked, and you reckon it’s only fair that I tell you some stuff in return.”

Gideon repressed a smile at the irony: Lee had fished that thought up so neatly that it might as well be flapping and wet on the hearthrug. “Something like that, maybe.”

“Fair enough. What do you want to know?”

Do you have a boyfriend? Gideon clamped his mouth shut. What the hell was the matter with him? Lee had returned to sit by the fire. He’d wrapped his arms around his knees and his skin was glowing amber in the uncertain light. Clearly he spent at least as much time on the boats as in parlours reading fortunes, and Gideon had had a lonely untouched year of it, but still... “Does it always hurt?” he asked suddenly. “When you have a – a vision, or whatever you call them?”

Tinsel Fish #2
The cobbled alley was slippery with salt spray. This was the oldest part of the town, and no amount of heritage grants would straighten out its winding lanes or level off their treacherous plunge from the main street to the docks. Falmouth’s dark old heart beat strongly here, and it seemed an appropriate place for Lee Tyack – TV psychic, medium, bartender and, since October, Gideon Frayne’s lover – to have made his home.

He had a flat above the big marine chandlery, accessible only by this lane. The Christmas lights had made it down here too, but reflecting off the wet cobbles and the varnished paintwork of the chandlery’s two huge ship’s figureheads – staring eyes and startling bosoms – a different atmosphere prevailed, a mermaid’s idea of Christmas perhaps, ethereal and strange.

Gideon stopped for a moment, resting one hand on a figurehead’s tumble of carved curls. Yes, the lights were on in Lee’s flat. Doubts assailed Gideon, a shoal of hungry fish. Lee’s first formal visit to Gideon’s home up in Bodmin – to visit his dog, ostensibly – had been a success. His second and his third had gone so well that Gideon had had to invest in a new bedframe. A fourth, and he’d been anticipating roof repairs, but before that could happen, Lee had been called away to a conference in Holland. From there he’d gone straight to London to take part in a TV series on paranormal investigation. He’d known he’d be back sometime early this week, and so Gideon had booked his leave. But Lee hadn’t texted him to say he was home. It had been almost six week. If Gideon hadn’t been a big hard-headed copper, he’d have been feeling shy.

An odd thump resounded in the lane. It shook the windows slightly in their frames, although it hadn’t been loud, more like a sudden change in pressure. Then a voice began. It was harsh and hectoring, rapidly rising to a shout.

It was coming from Lee’s flat. Gideon’s concerns about his welcome evaporated. He ran for the street door.

He took the steps of the concrete stairwell three at a time. The voice stopped as soon as his fist hit the door, and a few seconds later Lee opened up. “Gideon!” he said, with a kind of explosive relief, as if he’d been expecting something much worse. “I’m so glad to see you. Come in.”

Gideon followed him into the living room. The flat was plain and modern, open plan, and as far as he could see, it was empty. “Are you okay? I thought I heard someone shouting.”

“You... You heard that?” Lee gave himself a shake and smiled, closing the door behind them. “Er, yeah. I had the radio on.” He looked Gideon over. “So, if there had been someone in here shouting, you’d have come blazing in ready to thump them?”

Gideon hoped he would have spoken to them first, reminded them about noise nuisance and domestic affray, but he wasn’t sure. Lee looked pale and tired. “If necessary, yes.”

“You’re so bloody perfect. Do you know that?”

Gideon strode to meet him. Lee was an inch or so shorter than he was: strongly built but on a lighter scale, and it was no trouble to Gideon to lift him till his spine crackled, hoist him off his feet and swing him gently round in a half circle. “I’ve missed you,” he said, voice muffled in Lee’s hair. “I was in Falmouth seeing my parents, and I saw your lights, but I wasn’t sure – ”

“Didn’t I tell you to come here any time? I’m home sooner than I thought I’d be, or I’d have called you.” He gave Gideon a breathtaking squeeze in return, pulled back far enough to kiss him. “How are they – your mum and dad?”

“Oh, he won’t change much now, unless it’s to get worse.”

Gideon blinked away memories of his father’s care-home bedroom and breathed in Lee’s warm scent to drive away the smell. “My ma, though – we’re talking more than we have done in years. She’s almost getting used to my casual chat about my boyfriend.” He hesitated over the word. It didn’t seem quite apt, for the very adult man in his arms, but he was short on terms. My gentleman companion might have worked a century ago, but even Falmouth wasn’t that far behind the times. And partner – no, not yet, not after two intense Halloween days and three visits by a man to see his dog.

Lee didn’t seem to mind the label. He was watching Gideon – not for the first time – as if he were a source of intense satisfaction to him. “Not too casual, I hope.”

Oh, no. Gideon had to clench his fists and steady his voice every time he pronounced Lee’s name. “Far from it,” he said hoarsely. “How was London?”

“Good. Sympathetic production crew. We did a few private homes and a historical site or two. I had to come back early to do a stage show tonight – Old Petroc Hall rearranged me.”

“Oh. Tonight? I’ll get out of your hair and –”

“Don’t you dare bloody move.” Lee backed up the command with a firm grasp of Gideon’s jumper. “It isn’t until seven. We can grab a couple of drinks, have some dinner, or...” Their eyes met. Lee’s pupils had expanded in the lamplight until their unsettling jade green had almost disappeared. “Oh, Gid. It’s been a long six weeks.”

Don't Let Go #3
Gideon had promised Lee a beautiful spring. A spring that would roll a carpet of green moss and turf right up to the door, if Lee would come with him and survive a Bodmin winter in his flat on the edge of the moor. This first day of February had risen in a tender blaze of gold, the cutthroat Atlantic wind easing at last, swinging round to bring scents of warming earth from the south. Gideon could keep his promise sooner than he’d thought. Bodmin had rolled out her carpet, and the doors – the beautiful French ones that led from their bedroom onto the old stone terrace – were open wide.

“Birds,” Lee said unexpectedly. He was comfortably settled on the window seat, thighs wrapped round Gideon’s, arms around his neck. He was stark naked, and should have been chilly in the breeze – the morning wasn’t that warm – but a diagnostic touch to his spine told Gideon he was fine, radiating heat like the wood-burning stove they’d just had installed in the front room. “What birds am I seeing?”

Too early for the curlews. Gideon had driven under a dappling flight of lapwing on his way back home. Lee’s back was to the window, though, his eyes closed against Gideon’s cheek. And Gideon had learned not to take his questions at face value. “The feathered kind? Or the sort that flap around that cavernous skull of yours?”

Lee chuckled, the sound and the brush of his breath raising fine hairs on Gideon’s nape. “The skull sort. Seagulls, actually. But little silver ones, like a kid would draw.”

Gideon got it straight away. This was an easy one. Over the last month he’d helped Lee with two cases, staying in the background, listening to him, helping him lift off the masks from his monsters and beasts. This was less urgent. Let Lee figure it out for himself. “No idea what you mean,” he said innocently, hoisting him against his body. “Hey, you put up more wallpaper. Top marks for effort, but you do know the pattern’s upside down, right?”

“Only took me four strips to work it out. Wallpaper’s your job, mate – I just hold the ladder. Now, these birds...”

They were staring him right in the face. Gideon shook with repressed laughter. He’d just walked into the house five minutes before, found Lee in the bedroom, pulling off his paste-daubed T-shirt and jeans, and he’d seized his opportunity. “Sorry to have jumped on you without even taking my clothes off. Still, it’s more than a bit sexy, isn’t it – you bollock naked, and me still in all my kit?”

“Mm. I love your kit – even your scratchy dress jacket.”

“What about this jumper? How do you feel about that?”

“Lovely. Prefer what’s under it, though... What are you laughing about?”

“You. Missing the obvious.”

Lee pushed back just far enough to look him over. “Something about the jumper,” he said, closing his hands on Gideon’s shoulders. “Oh, hang about. Is this a new one? Didn’t you just have your collar number on your epaulettes here?” He took a handful of the wool, examining it. “What’s with these little silver V shapes?”

“Birds, maybe. Or my sergeant’s stripes.”

“What?” Lee shoved him to arm’s length. “Gideon bloody Frayne... Did you get promoted?”

“Yes. But it’s not a big deal, so close that gorgeous mouth before you catch a fly. I took the exams last year – one batch in March, and I did the OSPRE in September, just before I met you.”

“You did an osprey? Christ, no wonder they gave you these birds.”

“Objective Structured Performance Related Examination.” Gideon wiped an imaginary bead of sweat off his brow at having got that out straight for once. “They’re phasing it out, but lucky me – I still got to do it. Five roleplays with an actor. My Truro boss is a right bastard, too – he gave me a streaker.”

“Oh, my God. What did you do?”

“Why, I concealed his manhood with my headgear in the traditional fashion, led him off and told him where to seek counselling.”

Lee exploded into laughter. “And was that the right answer?”

“One of ’em, I suppose. Anyway, I passed.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Gid?”

“Well, like I say, all this happened before you came along. And it doesn’t work like you might suppose – you’re not technically promoted even once you’ve passed. You have to wait for vacancies, for a sergeant to be made an inspector. There’s no ceremony or anything. No secret policemen’s ball.”

“I should damn well think not. I’d have wanted to lead you out for the first dance.” Lee gave the silver birds a last admiring pat, took hold of the hem of the sweater and lifted it over Gideon’s head. “So what happens now?”

“You take my shirt off too, I hope.”

“No, you moron.” Lee began unbuttoning anyway, careful with his new-made sergeant’s crisp cotton. “With your promotion. Do you have to abandon the village?”

“No, I’ll still be putting in shifts here. A bit more admin, a bit more time behind a desk in Truro, and I’ll have a couple of officers under me for training. Honest, there won’t be much difference. I wouldn’t have gone for the exams at all, only the top brass don’t like you just sitting festering at constable’s rank forever.”

“Well, congratulations.” The shirt was neatly undone. Lee pushed it back, gave an appreciative onceover to the powerful chest and shoulders he’d exposed. “And as someone who’s been... under you on several occasions now, I can guarantee you’ll be great. I’m so bloody proud of you.”

Gideon shivered in pleasure. He really hadn’t cared about the examination process while he’d been going through it – hadn’t cared about much on his own account at all. But that had been before fate had swept Lee Tyack into his life. Now a promotion might be worth something. “Thank you. There’s a pay bump that goes with it, too. So I was thinking, if you didn’t want to go through with your latest TV gig, you don’t have to.”

“Wow, Sergeant Rockefeller.” Lee brushed a smiling kiss over Gideon’s mouth and set about unfastening his belt. “You mean you can afford to keep me and replace all the wallpaper I’ve destroyed?”

“Yeah, I reckon. Seriously. Your last job was rough for you – why don’t you have a break, or go work down at the marina for a while?”

“This project’s different. I got back too late last night to tell you about it, but Anna has it all worked out. Allegedly haunted sites in West Cornwall – not houses but standing stones, ancient circles, things like that. And not the well-known ones. Real off-piste stuff that nobody’s studied before.”

“Sounds good. Better than bodies tumbling out of a wall at you, anyway.”

“Yeah. That Island thing was rough on Jack and Anna too. I really ditched out on them, and then they missed all the exciting bits. I can make it up to them now – got a brilliant place for them to start at, out near Drift. A fogou.”

“A what?”

“Fogou.”

“I thought you were enjoying yourself.” Gideon waited until Lee had stopped laughing. “Is that how it’s pronounced? It’s terrible for a Cornishman not to know, but Pastor Frayne wasn’t keen on all your hippie pagan nonsense. I don’t think I ever heard it said.”

“Well, like that. Drop the first O, more or less, and throw the stress on the last syllable. F’gou.”

“Oh, okay. And what does it do, this f’gou?”

“Nobody knows, not really. They’re tunnels in the earth. A lot of old Cornish farmsteads have them, and...” He paused, and lifted a flushed face to Gideon. “And do you mind if I tell you about them at some other time?”

“Got something else on your mind, have you?”

“We have to get a cushion for this window seat. My arse is going numb.”

“And what do you want me to do about that?” Gideon waited, listening to Lee’s quickened breath. He loved to hear him state his desires, to use the words Pastor Frayne had forbidden or denied, creating a kind of cold storage in his son’s mind where they remained frozen, potent, ready to melt. “Tell me, sweetheart. Please.”

Kitto #4
“Do you think there’s any chance your ma would sit next to Jago for breakfast?”

Gideon wiped his hands on a teatowel and came to have a look at Lee’s strategy board. Apricot light was filling the living room. The day’s storms had rolled off over the Channel, leaving behind them a serene June evening, the sun still high and gold above Minions Hill. Lee seemed to have let his afternoon’s trial’s go south with the clouds. He’d eaten a good dinner and returned his attention to his foolproof seating plan, the one that would keep all their wedding guests happy and socially integrated.

His latest inspiration had been to set out chess pieces on the coffee table to represent the guests. Taking a seat beside him on the sofa, Gideon surveyed the battle lines. Old Mrs Frayne was regally represented by the white marble queen. Beside her was Jago, a barely tamed knight errant. “Not so sure about that,” Gideon mused. “Two wrongs might not make a right.” He picked up a stately bishop. “Is this one meant to be Ezekiel?”

“Yes. Have I got him in the wrong place?”

“No, but don’t you think...” He reached into the box. The chess set was an imaginative interpretation by a local sculptor, and he’d taken the concept of the rooks quite literally. Gideon lowered one hunch-shouldered carrion bird into the place of the bishop. “There. Much better.”

Lee snorted. “Don’t you be mean about Zeke. He ran about shouting bomb like a good ’un this afternoon, once he’d got the idea.”

“So I gather. I had to persuade Inspector Cole to drop charges against the two of you for falsely reporting an explosive device.”

“Shit. Really?”

“Yeah. He cooled off when he realised why you’d done it.” Gideon sat opposite Lee at the table. “How many lives you’d saved.”

Lee looked down. He began to shuffle their sample set of invitations like a pack of cards. “Makes a change from having him assume I was responsible. There isn’t really an alibi big enough for that, is there? No, officer – I was off the planet when the irreversible climate change occurred, honest.”

“Well, it might’ve been you up there loosening the topsoil. I tell you what – I’m sure I’ve got a set of toy soldiers packed up in the spare room somewhere. Would you rather have those?”

Just for a second Lee took him seriously. His eyes widened. “We’re not having that many guests, are we? I’ve still got loads of chesspieces left. I haven’t even started on the pawns.”

“I thought the soldiers might be more appropriate. Why is it becoming a warzone, love?”

Lee gave a reluctant laugh. “I’m making a fuss, aren’t I? I just want everything to be right.”

“It will be.” Gideon put out an arm. His heart lurched painfully as Lee pushed his chesspieces aside and curled up on the sofa beside him, hiding his face against his shoulder. This was where hostilities had broken out a few weeks ago, in front of the TV after a Horizon show on marriage equality. Newlywed same-sex couples stumbling out of registry offices and churches, sobbing with joy, tears and confetti flying everywhere... Absurd and divine, and Gideon couldn’t even remember which of them had spoken first. I’d like to marry you.

Well, I’d like to be married.

As simple as that. Gideon wasn’t sure why Lee had grabbed the idea and run with it so far, why the registry office had become the Falmouth town hall and then the Victorian gardens at Trebah. Gideon didn’t mind. He was charmed by all the plots and plans, the little things to go on tables, and he’d done as good a job as a big Cornish copper could of helping hatch and select them. He’d never have figured Lee for the Bridezilla type, but people were full of surprises, and no matter how the gig went down, at some point Gideon would get to sign his name in a registry book next to that of Locryn Tyack. “Why do I get the feeling,” he said, stroking Lee’s hair, “that there’s a huge amount of displacement activity going on here?”

“What?”

It was barely a grunt from his shoulder. Gideon smiled. “You know. Like when the dog scratches her ears because she’s got a tick on her arse.”

“Oh, charming.” Lee shifted, planted a distracting kiss under Gideon’s ear. “I don’t have a tick. Would you like to check?”

“In a minute. Once you’ve told me what happened this afternoon. Because you see a hell of a lot of things, sweetheart, but so far you haven’t seen the future.”

Lee lay very still. His breath stirred warmly against Gideon’s neck, the rhythm of it taut and too quick. “That’s what your brother said.”

“Zeke? What was his brilliant take on the situation?”

“He said, you predicted this. You saw the future.”

“Then he chucked holy water on you? Snapped out his handy portable stake?”

“No. He seemed... a bit thrown, actually.”

“And so are you.”

“Well, I...” Lee put out a hand and felt along the edge of the sofa. “Where is she, by the way? That dog I used to have?”

“With Laura again. Sarah says she and the kid are inseparable. Do you miss her?”

“Yeah, but a kid should have a dog. And once we’re married we can get another one. And a cat, and a goldfish, and a baby I haven’t had to steal out of a high chair in a cafĂ©.”

“Yes. All right, the whole menagerie. Now talk.”

Lee looked up. He gently cupped Gideon’s jaw in one hand, his expression peculiar. “You know, any normal guy would be running screaming for the hills right now.”

“I’ve got my taxi booked.”

Guardians of the Haunted Moor #5
“Sergeant Pendower,” Lee said fervently, as soon as the door was shut behind him, “is a pain in the arse.”

“I couldn’t help noticing that myself. It’s a shame you don’t like him, though – he thinks the sun shines out of yours.”

“That’s just where you’re wrong. He thinks I want the world to believe it does, but really I’ve got a torch rammed up there to fool them. He wants to get in there – dissect me, if necessary – and find the torch.”

Distracted by the imagery, it took Gideon a moment to catch on. “If you mean he thinks you’re a fake, he’s had his convictions seriously rattled.”

“Still. He wants me to be one.”

“I don’t think so. He’s your biggest fan.”

“Nope. He’s just impressed by how well I hide my torch, and my amazing remote-control system for switching it on and off. And the ironic thing is, I know all this because I am a genuine psychic and can read his tiny mind like a very short book.”

Gideon checked the lock. Their home was a much-besieged castle, and their guard dog was on secondment to the Kemp house. He was glad Lee was talking, but his colour didn’t match the vigour of his words, and Gideon wanted him off his feet and securely in bed. “All right, Mr Tiger. Go lie down, and I’ll bring you a cup of tea and a sandwich.”

“I don’t need to lie down.” He shuddered. “Couldn’t manage the sarnie yet, either. What time is it?”

“Just after one.”

“Jesus. We haven’t even managed a whole full day without her.”

Gideon reeled him in. He pressed his mouth to the top of his skull. “Tell you what,” he said after a moment, almost managing to smooth the rasp of pain from his voice. “If I took my lunch break now, and hopped into bed with you and shared the sarnie, would you submit?”

Lee met his eyes. He dredged up a pallid smile. “That does put a different complexion on it, yes.”

They’d been planning to stop for groceries on their way home from Drift. That, together with so many other small daily intentions, had gone to hell. Gideon did the best he could with the end of a loaf, cheese and pickle. By the time he’d made tea and carried everything through on a tray, Lee had obediently got beneath the duvet. He’d showered the Carnysen barley-dust out of his hair, and borrowed the dressing-gown Gideon had left in the bathroom. He looked good enough to eat, but for once Gideon wasn’t hungry either, not in that way. He hoped his hadn’t made his bedroom lunch break sound too seductive. “It’s all right,” Lee said, holding out a hand to him. “I couldn’t manage the afternoon delight either, not now. Just come here.”

Gideon set the tray down, kicked his shoes off and crawled in under the quilt. As often when he’d thought Lee too worn out to offer comfort, he found a strong arm extended to pull him in. He subsided with a faint moan. To breathe his own scent mixed with Lee’s through the dressing gown’s fabric was a primal reassurance. He closed his eyes on Lee’s shoulder and listened to the thump of his heart. “How are you feeling?”

“Better now. Sorry for the performance.”

“We should make you a hospital appointment, get you caught up with your scans. That looked more like a seizure than...”

“Than my usual fit of the vapours? Yeah, it felt like one. But I don’t think it was anything to do with me, if you know what I mean. It came from whatever happened in that field.” He ruffled Gideon’s hair. “And I know I have to start trying to untangle whatever did happen from the wolves and the lambs in my brain, but...”

“It’s okay. Don’t rush it.”

“Did you really threaten me with Flyin’ Flynn Summers as a punishment for not waking up?”

“Not exactly a punishment. More an inducement.”

“I’ll say.”

Gideon slid a hand into the dressing gown, smiled as a warm nipple tightened against his palm. Just an autonomic response, but he and Lee had raised one another from the dead before. “You’re disgusting. And Summers is as married as you are, so forget him. Did you see the guy he brought with him to the services benefit night?”

“What, the ex-army doctor, all brooding good looks and haunted past? Can’t say as I noticed him, no.”

“Whatever.”

“Whatever. Stop distracting me. You know I’ve got to try and get something out of all this before it fades. Do you remember anything I said?”

“Pretty much all of it. You said, very clearly, that the lamb will devour the wolf, and he slew John Barleycorn.”

“The lamb will devour the wolf? Not that he’s already done it?”

“No. You said will.”

“That’s important. Be careful, Gid – the lamb’s not finished his work around here.”

“And it’s a he, this lamb? A person?”

“I want to say yes. But when I think about it, I’m getting a sense of division – two people, maybe, or one and... something else. Tell me, love – as sensible men, you a copper and me just a deckhand and a bartender when I’m not making creepy pronouncements in cornfields – do we believe in the Bodmin Beast?”

Gideon let the sunlight filter through his eyelashes. Beyond these self-made rainbows lay the moor at its sunniest best. Tourists came for hundreds of miles to walk its shining expanse. It was peaceful, benign, devoid of any creatures larger than the ponies that cropped the turf around the Hurlers. “As sensible men who lived through the Lorna Kemp case... I don’t know.”

Author Bio:
Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.


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Once Upon a Haunted Moor #1
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Tinsel Fish #2
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Don't Let Go #3
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Kitto #4
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Guardians of the Haunted Moor #5
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