Hi, I’m Jackie Keswick. Thank you for hosting a stop on the House Hunt blog tour – I’m very happy to be here!
House Hunt is the third book in the Power of Zero series, which follows Jack Horwood, Gareth Flynn and the two teens they rescue from a pimp. After their unexpected reunion in Job Hunt and their decision, in Ghosts, to make their own family, Jack and Gareth now need to settle into their relationship and learn to work as a team. Not easily done when Jack has to go undercover and nobody can predict how long he’ll be away.
But teamwork is a topic for another day. Today, I’d actually like to talk about birthdays. How do you celebrate yours? Are you the sort of person happiest to spend your birthday by yourself? Would you rather ignore the day completely? Or do you love a big party and the company of friends and family? Whichever it is, most of us will prefer to choose for ourselves what we do on that special day.
Jack has never bothered about his own birthday, but he might have liked the chance to celebrate Gareth’s. While he’s undercover, though, he doesn’t have that choice. Neither do Gareth, Nico and Daniel, who would otherwise try to convince Jack that his birthday is worth a celebration too.
The events in House Hunt straddle both Gareth’s and Jack’s birthdays, and Jack “celebrating” Gareth’s birthday while he’s on his undercover assignment is one of the first scenes I wrote. I took it out before I submitted the story, and put it back in at the suggestion of my editors… So while House Hunt now tells us how Jack spends both Gareth’s birthday and his own, we don’t get to see how Gareth feels or what he does. It simply didn’t fit into the story the way I was telling it. Which doesn’t mean I can’t tell you here, right? So why don’t you follow me into the heart of Gareth’s home… the kitchen:
A Power of Zero Ficlet
“Why are you cooking?” Daniel stood in the kitchen door and stared in consternation. Gareth had six pots on the go at once and the oven on to boot. It was August, the middle of the school holidays, and yet… Gareth’s kitchen smelled like Christmas. Daniel remembered the scents of cinnamon and spice with a hint of sour fruit. Gareth was making venison pies. “Why are you cooking?” he asked again.
Gareth smiled a little. “Because I want today to be perfect.” He reached for the glass of red wine sitting on the counter and took a sip. “Today is special.”
“You got a new boyfriend?” Daniel asked, suspicious.
“Yes, I heard. But what I heard made no sense. Where did that come from?”
“Daniel. Be serious.”
“Then tell me what this is about?”
Anger rocked through Daniel. He wanted to yell, but he held back. Get your facts first, he heard Jack’s voice, reminding him. There’s always time for yelling afterward.
He took a deep breath and wished that Nico wasn’t upstairs practicing with the lock Raf had given them. He didn’t like to be disturbed when he did that, just like Daniel hated interruptions when he was experimenting in the kitchen. Daniel understood that, but it meant that he had to do this alone. He had to find words to explain why it hurt to see Gareth in the kitchen, busy and content, making… making…
“That’s Jack’s dish you’re cooking,” he began, feeling his way. “The pie with the gravy and the cherries in. You cook that for Jack and Jack isn’t here. You’ve not said that he’s coming back today, either.” Deep breath. “So… who are you cooking for?”
Gareth’s frown dissolved into a wide smile. A real one that curved his lips and lit his eyes. Then Gareth said the magic words. “I’m cooking for the three of us. I’m making all Jack’s favorites, because today is Jack’s birthday. I know he can’t be here, I know we can’t call him and tell him we’re thinking of him, but we should celebrate anyway.”
The lump in Daniel’s throat was so large, it left no room to speak. It barely left room to breathe. And as if he could tell, Gareth held out his arms and wrapped Daniel in a hug.
“I miss him too,” he said, his hands warm and soothing on Daniel’s back. “I don’t talk much about it, but what Jack does out there is dangerous. I’d rather he was careful and took his time than rush and get hurt. He’ll be back when he’s done.”
Daniel nodded, face buried against Gareth’s chest. He breathed the smells of cooking food and the scent of Gareth’s spicy cologne. He breathed, slow and deep, until he had himself under control and then he looked up.
“Can we have candles like we did for my birthday? And blow them out and make a wish?”
“Of course. What would you wish for?”
Daniel thought that that was obvious. “That he comes home.”
About the Book
Series: The Power of Zero, Book 3
Length: Novel / 96k
Release Date: 30th March 2016
Blurb: Jack Horwood hates owing favors. But when a simple day out to treat Gareth to the best oysters in England leads to a discovery of drugs and counterfeit money—things that neither Jack nor Gareth have the jurisdiction to handle—he has to call in help. Help that doesn’t come cheap, and that forces him to do something he promised himself he’d never do again—walk away from Gareth and the family he’s starting to make for himself.
Three months undercover is a long time. After missing Gareth’s birthday, Jack is determined not to miss their first anniversary. But coming home and being home are two very different things. So when he is asked to assist with a corporate espionage investigation, Jack can’t say no, despite knowing it will impact his already straining relationship.
Except, of course, he’s walking into a trap…
About the Author: Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig. She’s spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with a husband, a cat and a tandem.
Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
Jackie’s current obsession is a green-eyed hacker-turned-vigilante by the name of Jack Horwood. The first two parts of his story, Job Hunt and Ghosts, are available from Dreamspinner Press and anywhere books are sold.