I suppose this is the part where I introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Wolfe, but everyone calls me Johnnie. I suggest you do too. First of all, let me just say that Charlie is screwy in the head, seeing as how she chose me to do this little tour. Why she didn’t ask the Englishman to talk about English things is beyond me, but then I’ve never been very good at understanding the dames. Then again, I don’t do all that well with the fellas either. Let’s just say I’m not the world’s most amicable fellow and leave it at that.
This is the first of six stops on my personal guided tour. After that, you’ll hear from Charlie and the Brats. What’s that you ask? Don’t I have other things I should be getting on with? Say, you got plenty of swift there. Yes I do, but when the lady of the house prods you—in a most unladylike manner might I add–you’ll do as asked if you know what’s good for you. Let’s get on with it, shall we? We’ll start from home: Hawthorne Manor.
[Attribution: Mattlever [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons]
Hawthorne Manor is filled with impudent whelps that drive me nuts, and Chance who is a nut. I will admit it’s the only place I have ever felt at ease in. It’s also the only place I’ve ever called home. Hawthorne Manor was built by Jacky’s grandparents back in the late 1800s, but it includes all the modern comforts, such as running water, central heating, and electricity. It’s situated two miles from the town of Aylesbury and employs thirty indoor staff and fifteen outdoor staff plus eight laundry room staff. The west wing of the house is an attachment that was built a good twenty years after the rest of the house, and Jacky gifted it to Henry when we arrived from Africa. There you’ll find Henry’s infirmary, a waiting room, small ward, his office, and a linen area. Yeah, the place is real swanky, with twenty five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four studies, banquet hall, ballroom, billiard room, dining room, two libraries, two music rooms, breakfast room, morning room, and a bunch of other rooms I can’t quite recall. I know what you’re thinking, but when there are twelve fellas occupying the same space, believe me, the joint can’t be big enough.
[Attribution: YK Times at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], from Wikimedia Commons]
This is the flowerbed outside my bedroom window. It’s also the flowerbed I land in when Elliot locks me in my room. It happens more often than you think. Fenton the grounds-keeper dislikes me greatly. Elliot is one of the impudent whelps I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn more about him later on in the tour. Piece of advice: don’t let that cherub face fool you, he’s a clever little scoundrel. He’s also known to use his teddy bear and pout as a means of distraction. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll also get to know more about the Brats—that’s what we call’ em. Well, it’s what Chance used to call Bobby, Alexander, and me once upon a time when we were driving him crazy, and then it sort of became a term of endearment. Though the driving everyone nuts part is still very much a part of it.
Hawthorne Manor is more than just my home. It was Jacky’s dream to provide a safe haven for fellas like us, and over the last eight years, we’ve taken in seven Brats: Gideon, Rori, Aubrey, Oliver, Elliot, Connor, and Edmund. They range from six to twenty years old, each one with a heartbreaking story. The six of us who run the manor made a pact to protect these boys, provide them with a family, and help them regain their confidence. We help them find the strength they’ll need to face a world that had once been so cruel to them. Some days it’s crushing, but no matter what happens, we do our best to show them they can have a better life than the one they started off with, that there are folks who do care. It’s my job to help them get settled into their new life at the manor. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.
The manor is owned by Jacky, who’s a right guy. He’s the head of the household and as good as they come. Then there’s Chance—who we’ve established is nuts, who supports Jacky and keeps everyone in line. Bobby is a swell guy, and he teaches the Brats etiquette. Alexander is a pain in my backside. He’s also a qualified professor who educates the Brats. Henry looks after everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. He’s also… uh, well, he’s um… What’s with the face? I ain’t having a sappy moment, so dry up. Okay, so maybe I am having a sappy moment. Henry’s off limits, so you just keep your wandering eye from wandering in his direction. Go look at the posies or something. What’s left of’ em. All right, tour’s over for the day. Flowers gave me the sniffles, so I’m just gonna drop in on Henry. For the sneezin’, cause you know, he’s a doctor and all. Aw, lay off. Next stop on the tour is the billiard room, now breeze.
Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.
Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….
Excerpts are in the form of a serial.
Excerpt Part 1
UNFORTUNATELY, I only made it as far as the empty waiting room before he caught up with me.
“So, what was that about?”
“Now pull the other one.” Chance took a seat in one of the deep, wine-red armchairs against the far wall and made himself comfortable. Damn it. There was no escaping him now. With a heavy sigh, I took a seat in the armchair beside him. The waiting room was large, tastefully decorated in muted yellows, golds, and deep reds, and resembled a drawing room more than a medical waiting room. There were plenty of potted plants and flowers, as well as a large, black iron fireplace on the opposite wall to keep the joint warm in the winter. The large rug in the center of the room was Grecian-styled to match the gilded mirror hanging over the fireplace and the various other frames containing paintings of serene landscapes. It was all very elegant but simple so as not to intimidate its visitors. Henry had been very adamant about that. He wanted folks to feel at ease when they came to see him, no matter their status.
“Well?” Chance angled himself toward me and waited.
There were few people in this world I trusted with my life, and Chance was one of them—the other two being Jacky and Henry. I also knew there was no escape, because Chance always got his way. Always. It was annoying as hell. I opened my mouth when he held a finger up. “Wait.”
He threw his head back and laughed.
I sat and waited while he doubled over. It had been a while since I had seen him laugh this hard. “Glad to know my life is so amusing to you.”
Part 2 continued on Nov 11th over at Sue Brown’s blog.
Available in ebook and print from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4362
Comment prompt: What gives you the sniffles? Flowers, puppies, sappy movies?
About the Author:
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
Twitter: @charliecochet | http://www.twitter.com/charliecochet
1st Prize: $15 Amazon gift card + Impetuous Afflictions signed swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
2nd & 3rd Prize: Impetuous Afflictions swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. **If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Charlie’s blog at http://www.charliecochet.com/blog on Monday, December 2nd. Winners will then be notified via email.
Sunday, December 1st at midnight, Eastern Time.
11/9 – Welcome to Hawthorne Manor [Excerpt 1] – The Novel Approach
11/11 – Billiard Room Brouhaha [Excerpt 2] – Author Sue Brown
11/12 – A Trip to the Town of Aylesbury [Excerpt 3] – Author Kim Fielding
11/13 – Time for Tea [Excerpt 4] – Author Lex Chase
11/14 – Stopping for a Pint [Excerpt 5] – Author Andrew Q. Gordon
11/15 – Visiting the Furry Hat Man [Excerpt 6] – Author Eden Winters
11/18 – Meet Gideon Brooks [Excerpt 7] – Author Michael Rupured
11/19 – Meet Rori Curti [Excerpt 8]s – Author Shira Anthony
11/20 – Meet Aubrey Jepson [Excerpt 9] – Attention is Arbitrary
11/21 – Meet Oliver Darling [Excerpt 10] – Hearts on Fire
11/22 – Meet Elliot Young [Excerpt 11] – Author Elin Gregory
11/25 – Meet Connor & Edmund Grey [Excerpt 12]- Joyfully Jay
11/26 – The Devilish Duo [Finale] – Mrs. Condit & Friends