Up North | Once in May

onceinmayOnce in May is a story that’s very dear to me. It was first published in 2016 and has now found a new home with JMS Books.

It’s about John and Zach, two men with different past, but with one thing in common – they both want to live in the cabin Zach was once promised but John inherited.

John was abused by his ex and is hiding from everything and everyone. He believed he’d found peace in Nortown, until a mountain of a man comes knocking on his door.

Zach wants the cabin, but he doesn’t want John to move out. He’d much prefer it if he stayed. Winning John’s trust isn’t easy, but little by little Zach is getting closer to him.

Once in May does now include Honey Baked as well, a short Christmas story about John and Zach.


John hid in the pasta aisle. The fluorescent lamps above did nothing to make the huge man blocking the path to the checkout appear any smaller.

There was a reason John did his grocery shopping on Friday evenings, and that man was ruining it. The shop was supposed to be empty, and yet, there he was. A mountain of a man—one of the sort who could pin John down with no effort at all.

He hadn’t seen John. He simply stood there, reading on his phone with a bag of potatoes in his hand and a bottle of ketchup under a heavily muscled arm, as if there wasn’t a problem in the world. And John guessed, for him, there wasn’t.

How would he get out? He couldn’t walk past him; it was too risky. And even if he made it past him without trouble, the man would come up behind John by the checkout counter…or outside.

As quietly as he possibly could, he took a few steps away from the giant—

Wrong move. Intense blue eyes shot up from the screen and landed on him.

John swallowed, tried to move, but was frozen to the spot.

“Sorry, am I in your way?” Of course, his voice had to be a deep rumble. A shiver travelled down John’s spine. He didn’t want to think about what it would sound like when he got angry, or how those fists would bruise and shatter his face if they ever tore into him.

The man stepped a little closer to the shelf, gave a nod as if he expected John to walk past him and went back to reading on his phone.

John couldn’t move. It was so easy for a man that size to simply grab him. Standing where he was wouldn’t keep him safe, but at least he hadn’t walked up to the man voluntarily.

A few seconds ticked by, and the man looked at him again. His gaze swept over him from head to toe. Probably thinking about what he’ll do to me once we’re out of here. John’s ribcage tightened; he couldn’t move. He simply stood there, slowly suffocating while waiting for the man to make his move.

When nothing happened John almost screamed at him to get it over with. The waiting was worse than the pain, worse than the humiliation.

Then the man put away his phone and smiled. “Well, it was interesting meeting you.” He nodded, stroked his full beard, and…left.



In an attempt to run from his past, John Welsh has spent the last few years building walls around himself. He knows the best way to stay safe is to keep people at arm’s length and preferably out of sight. During weak moments, he might wish he had someone, but he’s not ready. After all, it takes seven years for the body to replace all its cells. He has four years to go before he’s new.  

Zachary Fane is always on the move, always on his way to somewhere. He’s going from job to job, from country to country. Contrary to what people might think, he wants nothing more than to find a place to call home, and he knows just where. This time, he is ready. This time, he will stay in Nortown. This time, things will be different. But when he arrives to buy the log cabin he believed would be his, he finds it inhabited. When he goes to talk to the new owner, he is met by the most beautiful green eyes followed by a door slammed in his face. 

John should’ve known the peace he’s found in Nortown wouldn’t last. One day everything is fine, the next a mountain of a man shows up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to the quiet man who has moved into his cabin. If following him around is the only way, then so be it. Sooner or later, John will get used to having him there…at least, if Zachary hangs around long enough. 

Note: This story now includes Honey Baked.