It’s release day!!! 🥳 Finding Home is now live. It’s a collection of three of my Up North stories, so we’re talking small-town contemporary gay romances.
This box set includes Around Seven, Banger Challenge, and Once in May which are some of my favourite stories. It’s always hard to pick favourites, but these are all dear to me.
Around Seven and Once in May take place in Nortown, whereas Banger Challenge is a road trip story. The opening scene is in Nortown, but they’re having car troubles between a lot of places after that 😆
They all have a bit of hurt-comfort going on, Once in May being that with the most trauma in the background… or they all have trauma, but of different kinds.
Once in May is past abuse which had led to John struggling with pretty severe PTSD. Around Seven is childhood trauma due to unfit parents, and Banger Challenge is dealing with the death of a parent.
But these are romance stories, so they’ll find their happily ever after with their special someone before the story ends.
Below you can read the first chapter in Once in May, and you can grab Finding Home for 20% off in the JMS shop until the 3rd of March.
Can a restless soul find a home?
Three contemporary gay romance novellas. Three characters looking for a place to belong. Follow them as they put down roots in the small towns of the north. Oswald has never had a place to call home, but he can’t live in his car forever. Zen is lost after the death of his father and spends his time on the road. Zach returns to his hometown after several years away and finds something he never believed he would.
Contains the stories:
Around Seven: Oswald Sattle has been sleeping in his Toyota Camry for the last nine months. Out of money and out of options, he’s on his way to Nortown for a job opportunity he can’t turn down. Joshua Roth has everything he needs, but he wants to make Oswald smile. He keeps suggesting things that will make Oswald stay, but Oswald doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. Maybe it’s time to move on again?
Banger Challenge: A month after losing his father, the only thing holding Zen Zeppelin Cave together is focusing on a charity junk car race to raise money for cancer research. He had planned on completing the race on his own, but a spur-of-the-moment decision changes that when he invites the adorable, blushing police officer whose driveway he’s blocking to tag along.
Once in May: To hide 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. He should’ve known the peace he’s found wouldn’t last. One day everything is fine, the next Zachary Fane shows up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to John, and if following him around is the only way, then so be it.
Contemporary Gay Romance: 102,893 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/FindingHomeBoxSet
Chapter 1: Phone Calls & Problems
John Welsh banged the front door closed, locked the deadbolt, put the security chain in place and reached up to push the latches closed. Not until then did he dare breathe. He had no real memory of driving home from the café, but since he was here unharmed, he figured it had gone well enough.
As the tremors started up again, he hurried through the small log cabin, checking first the kitchen then the combined living room and office. When he couldn’t find any signs of anyone having been there, he dived for the phone on the old desk in the corner and headed to his bedroom.
It wasn’t really a bedroom. When he’d moved in, it had been a small storage space, but the first time he’d inspected it, he knew it would be where he slept. Big enough to fit a narrow bed and still leave a small aisle between it and the wall, the small space was crucial, as was the lack of windows. With only one possible way into the room, there would be no surprise visits.
Unlocking the door took longer than usual, but once he had it open, he slipped inside and shut it without a sound. It was a solid front door, not meant to be inside a house. He locked the three deadbolts he’d installed, double checked they were locked, and grabbed the cover off the bed. The hard, cool press of the walls against his shoulders as he slid down to the floor helped calm him down enough to hit the speed-dial button on the phone.
“Yeah?” Timothy’s deep grumble surrounded him like a blanket, and John drew in one shuddering breath.
“John? John, are you there?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m here.” He pushed the blond tresses out of his face, pulled his knees to his chest and let his head fall back against the unyielding wall.
“You want to talk?”
“No…not really.” Hearing Timothy breathe was enough.
“What happened?” An alertness crept into Tim’s voice, sending a wave of guilt crashing over John. He shouldn’t have called, shouldn’t burden Timothy. That was why he had the rules—to ensure Tim didn’t have to worry, but he’d ruined it by calling.
“I was too late.”
“Too late for what?”
John remained silent for longer than he should. He could tell Timothy was getting restless on the other end of the line. “I went to have breakfast.”
“You did? That’s great!”
No, it wasn’t great. He shouldn’t have gone. The rules allowed him not to go into town this week. He’d told Timothy he wouldn’t, and yet he had gone. Why had he gone?
“I didn’t make it out until…until…some people came.” His hands started shaking at the mere remembrance. That man—the owner of the dog he’d found—had come too close. He’d been about to touch John, but Tom had stopped him.
“So…you had breakfast in a public place while other people were around. That’s great!”
“He almost touched me.” John hoped Timothy couldn’t tell from his voice how shaken he was.
“He? Who?” The growl was comforting, even though John knew Timothy didn’t think a verbal thank-you counted as nearly touching. In John’s defence, the guy had taken a step in his direction.
“The owner of the dog that came by the other day.”
“He touched you?”
“Erm…no. He said thank you.”
A chuckle? Really? Timothy was laughing at him? “Oh, babe. People usually do when you find their long-lost pets.”
“He wasn’t long lost, he was recently lost,” John tried to grumble, but instead, he sighed. He rolled his head a little as his shoulders loosened. Timothy was on the other end, listening to every breath he took, probably measuring how fast they came.
“Are you starting to feel a little better?” Timothy had turned serious again.
“Yes, a little. Thank you.” He did feel better. His limbs were heavy, and he had to suppress a yawn.
“Anytime. I take it there won’t be any other breakfast visits this week?”
“No…I…I think I’ll stay in for a few days.”
“It’s only Monday, though. Maybe you’ll feel ready later on, around Friday maybe?”
“I don’t have to. I talked to several people last weekend.” He’d delivered eggs to the egg hunt. He’d talked to that Tristan guy when he and Tom had come to pick up the dog, and he’d even said hi to Tom in the café today.
“You never have to, John. You’re the only one who says you do. I’d love for you to eat breakfast in the café every day, gossip with the locals or whatever, but I want you to do it because you want to.”
John changed the subject. Nothing he could say about his rules or timetables would change how Timothy saw things.
“When are you coming to see me?”
“Soon, babe. It’s just… It’s a mess here. Anna isn’t…she hasn’t been doing well lately. I’ve had Lily a lot and…” Timothy’s voice trailed off.
“I’m sorry.” Timothy didn’t want to talk about Anna. She was Tim’s sister and, from what John understood, she’d been in and out of some recovery program. He thought it was alcohol, but Tim hadn’t been clear on it. Either way, she wasn’t around a lot, most often leaving her daughter with Timothy.
He shouldn’t burden Tim with his problems.
“No, no, I like having her. It’s just…a little too much to do sometimes. Talking about, did you look at the work I did on the site?”
John let him change the subject; it didn’t matter what they talked about. All he wanted was to hear Timothy’s voice, but he grew more tired by the second. Even if it was only Jen in the café, the breakfasts were exhausting. Today had been…
John yawned and tried to forget about it. After a few more minutes, they hung up, and John crawled into the bed, hoping sleep would make him forget.