Patrick loves being assistant groundskeeper at the sprawling cemetery where he tends graves and offers a bit of comfort to mourners. When he sees a sad young man lingering over an old grave, his curiosity is strangely piqued for reasons he doesn’t understand. He’s never done this—struck up a friendship with a mourner. But soon that friendship blossoms into a romance.
It’s not going to be easy for the pair. Aidan is so damaged, like petals crushed in an angry fist, and even with Patrick’s warm heart and Irish charm, it might not be enough to bring him back from the edge.
Somehow, in spite of the need to go home and shower off the grottiness of digging earth for half a day, Patrick didn’t feel he could take his usual subtle approach. Nadia’s passing was not recent; her grave was not new; yet here was this young man, kneeling at her feet, his eyes closed, hands resting in his lap, oblivious to the sun’s slide from the sky, the increasing briskness of the breeze, Patrick’s presence…
“Hello there,” he said quietly, stopping on the path a few feet away. The man was too far into his own mind to startle. Instead, he slowly came to, his shoulders lifting slightly as he twisted to see what had disturbed his meditation. Patrick smiled. “I’m afraid we’re locking up for the evening.”
“It’s going on for seven o’clock, sir.”
“Seven…” The man’s voice petered away, his expression indicating he had no idea how long he had been kneeling there. If he doubted Patrick’s word, the confirmation came when the man tried to stand, and staggered, numb-legged. He automatically reached out to steady himself, catching hold of the front of Patrick’s coveralls, and then almost collapsed again, unable to bear his own weight.
Without a second thought, Patrick quickly grasped the man by the forearms to steady him. “There’s no rush now. You just take your time. All right?”
The man nodded and swallowed hard. “Thank you. I only came to leave the tulips.” He gestured toward the vase of closed tulips in front of the grave and in the midst of the red and white carnations.
Patrick kept his hold on the man and looked down at the flowers. “They’re beautiful,” he said. “Really lovely.”
“Thanks. Nadia loved flowers so much.” A glimmer of a happier time lit up the man’s features for just a second, before it was blotted out once more by the heavy cloud of sorrow.
Patrick felt that sorrow in his heart. He wanted to offer comfort, warmth, security, to soothe with his touch, his kiss… Oh my—no, no, Patrick. You’re way over the line. You’re standing at the grave of this man’s wife, and all you can think of is kissing him? But it wasn’t that sort of kiss he had in mind. It wasn’t about passion, or lust; just a desperate desire to take away the pain.
The man seemed a little more steady on his feet and Patrick gently released him. “OK now?”
“I think so.” He took a long, deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Thank you for your patience. I’m sure you’re eager to go home. It can’t be fun working here.”
Patrick shrugged and smiled. “I love my job. Fresh air, peace and quiet—”
“But it’s a cemetery.”
“Well, yeah,” Patrick said, the slightest hint of a chuckle in his words. It was enough to prompt the other man to lift his head. For the first time, his eyes met Patrick’s, and something bloomed inside, a heat radiating from somewhere he couldn’t quite pinpoint. It rose up through his chest, into his throat, filling his mouth and his nose, as he gazed into those incredible steel-gray eyes. There was so much pain there, and loss—anger—and yet there was more, so much more, that Patrick could almost hear the emotion, like a distant cry for help from someone who was drowning.
Beaten Track Publishing (Paperback): http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=leavingflowers
About the authors:
DEBBIE MCGOWAN is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at 17, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At 25, she went back to college to study social science— tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieMcGowanAuthor and http://www.facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
RAINE O’TIERNEY lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow author, Siôn O'Tierney. When she's not writing, she's either playing video games or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on gay romance) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you're interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!
LGBT Author Interviews: http://raineotierneyhatparty.blogspot.com/
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25176624-leaving-flowers
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow