#BookTour - 🍨 Double Scoop 🍨 (With a Kick) #8 by Clare London feat. exclusive excerpt
TITLE: Double Scoop
SERIES: With a Kick #8
AUTHOR: Clare London
PUBLISHER: Jocular Press
COVER ARTIST: Lou Harper
LENGTH: 45,000 words
RELEASE DATE: April 07, 2016
A sudden disaster strikes everyone’s favourite ice cream shop, With A Kick. Not only does it threaten the livelihood of its owner, Patrick, but also his loyal assistant Lee. The last thing in the world Patrick would ever want to do is hurt Lee, either physically or emotionally. Why would he? He’s been falling in love with Lee since the day Lee invited himself into the shop’s business and Patrick’s life. But familiar and deeply-held insecurities hold Patrick back – he’s too gruff for Lee, too old, and his labour-of-love business is never going to make him rich.
Lee is weary of trying to make Patrick see how much he admires and cares for him. To Lee, it’s a very straightforward situation. Patrick is sexy, Patrick is smart, Patrick needs Lee’s help – and Lee needs Patrick in his life as more than a boss. All the characteristics Patrick finds inhibiting, Lee finds attractive. However, if Patrick’s apparently never going to make a move on Lee, how long should Lee wait to make his own move? Maybe Patrick thinks Lee is too clingy, too immature. Maybe Lee should give up his romantic hopes completely. If, that is, he can bear to do it.
The disaster at the shop brings them a whole new opportunity to work – and love – together to make a go of things. They’ve both got to look at each other in a whole new way. With the help of all their With A Kick friends, this could be make or break for the reluctant couple!
🍨 Exclusive Excerpt 🍨
“I’m Lee’s accountant too, remember?” Bryan said quickly to Patrick. “And if he wants to ask me anything, it’s covered by client confidentiality.”
“Of course.” Patrick kept his voice calm, but the sight of Lee—the painful reminder of losing Lee’s company—stuck in his throat like a half chewed piece of dry toast. “Do you want me to make myself scarce?”
“No, it’s fine.” Lee lifted his gaze to Patrick at last. Lee looked handsome as always, but somehow smaller inside that thick coat, and really, really tired.
Patrick couldn’t take his eyes off him. “There is something wrong,” he blurted out.
“No there’s not,” Lee snapped back.
Bryan cleared his throat. “I’ve left my notebook in my office. I’ll just… um… go and find it, shall I? It’ll take me a while.”
The minute he’d left the room, Patrick leaned forward. “I’m sorry.”
Everything. “Growling at you like that. It’s just that you look exhausted.”
Lee sighed. “Just a busy couple of days, that’s all. I’ve been at my parents’ and I don’t sleep very well there any more.”
“No nightmares?” Patrick said softly, trying so hard not to sound like a fussy hen. The foot between them felt like a mile. Patrick’s heart was beating as fast as if he’d won the lottery.
Lee smiled. “No. Luckily that wore off quickly. It’s just my old bed has a crap mattress, not like yours—”
They both sucked in a breath. Lee’s eyes went wide with shock.
Patrick didn’t think he could stomach any small talk about the weather in Romford and how were Lee’s parents? Instead, he blurted out, “Are you moving?”
“I’m only considering changing flats, Patrick, not emigrating.” But the joke sounded strained.
“But you’re actively looking into it?”
Lee bit his lip. “I told you. I’m looking into options. That’s all.”
Patrick leaned back. The rich upholstery didn’t feel as luxuriously comfortable now. “I’m doing it again. Badgering you. I’m sorry, it’s your life. I just don’t want you to move away from London.”
Lee nodded, his expression wary. “Because of my job at the shop?”
“Because of you,” Patrick said firmly. “Because of us.”
“Yes,” Patrick said, as emphatically as he could.
Lee sighed. “Oh, Patrick. It’s been a funny old week, hasn’t it?”
What did Lee’s sigh mean? Was it good or bad? “I’m sorry I never told anyone about us, Lee. I wanted to. I’m just getting used to it.”
Was Lee being deliberately provocative? “To us. To our relationship.”
Lee nodded, slowly. “Well, maybe I’m getting used to it too.”
There was a thump from the office at the back of the flat, as if Bryan had knocked over a pile of papers, and another muttered curse.
“I understand you needed to get away,” Patrick said. “I just wish it hadn’t been so sudden.”
“I had things to sort out,” Lee said. He lifted his chin belligerently.
“Well… yes, among others.”
Patrick cleared his throat. “Did you sort these… things… out?”
Lee slumped back in the armchair and laughed. “You are such an arse sometimes, Patrick.”
Despite the sentiment, Patrick didn’t think he’d ever heard such a heartening sound as Lee’s easy amusement. “Hey, easy on. Have you been talking to Bryan?”
“I mean, it’s much easier if you speak honestly. Rather than avoiding things, or keeping your feelings bottled up—you need to say what you’re thinking. What you want.”
“Like you do?”
“Yes, actually.” Lee’s firm tone was surprising. He looked warmer and more alert now. “You see, I’ve decided I don’t have any appetite for being coy any more. Not since I nearly got my head cracked open, or my limbs blown off.”
Lee laughed again. “Oh I know, thoroughly melodramatic. But the explosion made me re-examine a lot of things.”
Patrick stared at him. His fingers itched to touch, but he was even more fascinated by the fierce sparkle in Lee’s eyes. Hadn’t he ever noticed that gleam of determination before? “Honestly? I just want you to sort everything out so you’re happy.”
“And what about you?”
“Me? I don’t matter.”
Lee’s sparkle grew even fiercer. “You see? You are a stupid arse. Of course you matter. But thank you. For all you’ve done, for all you’ve been to me.”
God. That sounded so final. And, by the way, what did Lee want to ask Bryan? Something about mortgages? Rental deposits? In other words, asking help to afford a new place, away from London? Patrick’s fear returned: it was a struggle now to keep his voice steady. “So you’ve been looking at new properties?”
Lee nodded slowly. “For a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Dad and I looked at a new housing estate, then I got thoroughly disheartened and I made him take me for coffee and cake instead.”
Patrick couldn’t help the leap of hope in his chest. Why was Lee disheartened? Because he didn’t see anything he liked? Because he didn’t really want to move? Because not even Lee’s dad would know what Lee’s favourite cake was, not like Patrick did, or that he liked extra strawberries and a pile of that disgusting spray cream on the top?
They could hear Bryan on his way back up the corridor. When Lee stood, Patrick leaped to his feet as well. “What do I have to do to make this right?” he asked urgently.
Lee’s look softened. “You’re on the way. You’re doing what you can.”
Fuck that! Patrick didn’t want to be on the way. He wanted to be right there, at the destination, where he and Lee understood this new relationship they had, where they were comfortable and secure with it. Instead of this horrible limbo where Patrick was scared he’d fucked things up, desperate not to have done, yet sure every single hour of the day that he’d do it again. “I can’t help wanting to protect you, and maybe I don’t want to apologise for feeling that way. But I know I was treating you carelessly, and not respecting your input and skills. Until now, I hadn’t realised how much I appreciated your independent spirit. Enjoyed it, in fact! Please give me the chance to make it up to you.”
Lee stared at him, his mouth slightly open, his lips moist.
“Everything okay?” Bryan said, his voice too loud in the sudden, awkward silence.
“F-fine,” Lee said. He cleared his throat. “Um. Bryan? Thanks, but I’ve decided I’ll call you tomorrow if that’s okay? There’s nothing urgent.”
“If you’re sure.”
“Yes, I am.” He turned back to Patrick. “Patrick? It’ll be okay. Trust me.”
“I do.” I do!
Lee’s cheeks pinked with pleasure. “Good.” He was leaving the room when Bryan handed him a small card in a yellow envelope.
“Open it when you get home, okay?” Bryan said. He looked quickly—guiltily?—at Patrick, then away.
Patrick hovered around in the hallway, and at the front door he took Lee’s hand. “If I’m still talking honestly? It was so good to see you.”
Lee grinned and—wonder of wonders!—stretched up to kiss Patrick on the lips.
Take it slowly, Patrick told himself, his skin creeping with happy goosebumps. “Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Yes, tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
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.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!
Winner’s Prize: 5 e-copies of Double Scoop
April 13: Rainbow Book Reviews
April 18: Joyfully Jay