There’s a Brit in the Lobby!
by Clare London
So here I am – the short, plump little Brit lady, fresh in from the loooong Transatlantic flight, unnoticed and alone in the big, plush American hotel lobby, shyly picking at the hem of my “Don’t Bite Me” T-shirt, wondering whether I brought enough wacky clothes in my already overstuffed suitcase, and how on earth I’ll ever be heard over the excited and happy US voices at the bar when I want – no, NEED – a frozen Margarita?!
Wait. Let’s re-shoot that scene. That is so NOT how I first experienced GRL LOL.
I went to the first GRL without really knowing many people. I mean, I knew many of the attendee list from online, and I’d met some of them at Yaoi Con and the NY Book Fair, but this was my first real MM fiction event. I even dragged my son along with me as moral support (he loved New Orleans! though he was disappointed in my party stamina, which was much less than his :).) I also arrived late because of flight times. Things were not looking good for me, the newbie.
Then I was invited to grab dinner with the lovely Elisa Rolle and her friend, I bravely introduced myself to Ethan Day so I could find my souvenir T-shirt and bag … and I started to relax.
To be honest, the one thing I learned was that, short of locking yourself away in your hotel room and avoiding every single scheduled and social event – it’s impossible not to mix and make friends. The first big step of any event like this is GOING there. After that, the mere fact of you being around means that people say hello, that you recognise people from online names – and maybe they recognise you too! though I’ve never forgiven Marie Sexton for calling me a “grand dame” (joke!) – that you soak in the enthusiasm and fun, that you’re seated beside people you don’t know at the start of an author reading, but know much better at the end. There’s an overwhelming sense of relaxation, belonging and community that can’t be beaten.
That’s NOT to say that you’re dragged off into huge groups, forced to take part in drinking games, and have to dance on tables! You are still in charge of how much you do or don’t. I’m an introvert, which means I like socialising, but need to recharge by taking time out on my own in the quiet. I told you how my son was disappointed in my lack of party stamina, remember? LOL
Some of my favourite events at GRL are the author readings. If you’re there this year, come and listen to me and my “cute” Brit accent! Though as I often say, it’s not *me* who has the accent ….. LOL.
And ENJOY YOURSELF!
About No Angel
Felix’s life is full, juggling a supportive homelife for his disabled brother, a job as a care home assistant, a brand new boyfriend – and now he’s had his arse pinched by a lewd gay ghost on the late night bus!
If only that were the end of it. But Bryn the ghost follows him home and wheedles himself into Felix’s life. That includes sharing his shameless opinions on the patronising way Felix treats his brother, on how Felix should eat more food and put some flesh on his bones, and – worst of all – exactly how Felix should be getting down to it with his seriously sexy new boyfriend Mickey! And in between all that, Bryn finds time to leer at Felix himself and make outrageous suggestions on what they’d be doing if Bryn wasn’t … well … ghostly.
Felix considers he’s a tolerant guy. But the last thing he needs now is to get wrapped up in the mystery of a missing teenage girl, the inhabitants of a local squat, and conversations with a fire-and-brimstone old preacher. However, with a nudge or six from Bryn, the help of his brother Patrick, and some cosy loving from Mickey – Felix starts to wonder how he ever thought his life was busy before!
An Excerpt from No Angel
It wasn’t that Felix had never been touched up, because he had. He was attractive enough, right? But first, it had been a long time since anyone had bothered. Second, it happened in the small hours of a Friday morning, and lastly—and perhaps most importantly—it was on an all-night London bus where he appeared to be the only conscious passenger.
It was a bloody fierce pinch of his arse, too, gripping a good sized part of his buttock and making an impression right through his jeans. Felix gave a shout of surprise and jerked upright in his seat, peering around for the culprit. The only other person in the back of the bus with him was a very old man with his eyes shut, snoring fitfully on the other side of the aisle. His cheek was squashed up against the window and he clutched a half-filled cup of muddy-looking liquid to his chest. A ragged dog slept equally as soundly at his feet, its front paws stretched out from under the seat.
As Felix glared suspiciously at the pair of them, the old man slumped down even farther and snored even more loudly. His cup tipped forward and a trail of cold tea dribbled onto the floor. Felix wrinkled his nose. The old guy smelt dreadful—a mixture of stale urine and the fuel-and-filth smell of living on the streets. What’s more, he didn’t look like he’d be conscious any time soon, let alone try groping anyone.
“Oi!” Felix said aloud, then felt idiotic talking into the silence.
If the driver heard him, he’d be turned off the bus as a drunk. Opposite him, the old man snorted into the worn seat cover and the dregs of his tea plopped onto the floor of the bus. There was no other sound apart from the hissing squeal of the bus’s brakes as it pulled away again from the stop.
Felix tried another low “Hello?”, then glanced around quickly. Nothing moved. No sheepish kid stuck out his tongue, no passing party-goer waved hands at him that had been way too free on his arse already. “Well…just watch out,” he said gruffly, self-consciously, hardly believing he was talking to himself on the bus like one of the nutters who sat next to him so often.
::You felt it! Didn’t you?::
Felix opened his mouth to reply then closed it again, not sure whether he’d really heard something. What or who was he replying to? He couldn’t see where any voice had come from. A shiver ran down his back.
::You heard me, see? Say something, boy. Tell me you heard me. Come on! Hell’s bells, man, do you know how important this is?::
Felix grimaced and glanced back over at the old man. He was still doing a better impression of a corpse than a ventriloquist. The driver had his back to Felix and was right at the other end of the bus. And there was no one else in sight.
But he could still hear The Voice. A bold cadence to the words, a Welsh lilt of an accent. In his head.
::No you’re not going mad. And I’m not that derelict idiot with tea stains down his trousers. I’m me, and I’m trying to have a fucking conversation with you, yet you’re sitting there silent, with your tongue hanging out like some imbecile—::
“Cut it out!” Felix snapped, then dropped his voice. “What makes you think I want a conversation with someone who calls me an imbecile?”
::Bollocks. No, I mean I’m sorry. You’re not an imbecile. Well, you don’t look like you are. And to tell you the truth, even if you were raving and frothing at the mouth and calling yourself the great-grandson of Beelzebub himself, I’d still want a decent conversation with someone other than myself.::
Felix watched another bus stop pass by the smeared window. There were only a few hundred yards to home now. He had, of course, been working very hard recently, taking all the extra shifts. Those long hours were bound to take their toll on his nerves one way or another.
::Look, I said sorry, see? and I’ll say it again if you want. If I knew which way you swung, I’d offer to kiss your arse, whatever you like. Not sure what you young guys do nowadays. Just…say something to me. Something else.::
Felix pulled his jacket tightly around him. “Where are you? I can’t see you.”
::So start with the metaphysical stuff, why don’t you? I have no fucking idea. I’m just…here. Around. I’ve been riding the bus all night, but no one else has felt or heard me, so I guess I’m not occupying any real space at the moment. I’m not here, not like you are. But I am here. In some other sense.::
“That’s not much of an answer, is it?”
::It’s bollocks. But that’s what you asked.::
“You’ve been riding the bus?” Felix lowered his voice even more so it could hardly be heard over the sound of the bus’s engine. “Touching people up? What kind of pervert are you?”
The Voice chuckled—there was really no other description for the soft, surprisingly warm sound that echoed inside Felix’s head. ::You tell me, boy. When you spend your days nudging into people who don’t notice whether you pass around, through or over them, wouldn’t YOU be tempted to shake someone up a bit? To make some impression on them—get some response?::
About Clare London
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
Find details of her publications and plenty of free fiction at her website, including an invitation to her mailing list. Visit her today and say hello!
Clare has kindly offered up the chance to win an eBook copy of her newest release, No Angel, as the prize for this giveaway! To enter, just click the link below! Giveaway ends Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm.
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.