Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.
Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.
Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.
Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.
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Tourist season was always a dodgy time for a rentboy in Norfolk, or, at least, Zac Payne assumed it was. He hadn’t really been in town long enough to tell. In the city he’d left behind, every day had been dicey . . . and dirty. Even in high summer, the temperate British sun was no match for the noise and smog of the Big Smoke.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was different—quieter, cleaner, and conversely less predictable. In London, he wouldn’t have thought twice about approaching the miserable-looking hottie leaning against the front wall of the town’s only gay bar, because one protracted stare would’ve told him all he needed to know: that the blond bloke was rich, lonely, and lost, and easy pickings for the faceless good time Zac had to offer. Here in King’s Lynn though, Zac couldn’t be sure the man was even gay, much less willing to put his hand in his pocket for the privilege of having Zac in his bed. Or that he didn’t have a bunch of mates waiting around the corner, ready to give an audacious poof a kicking.
Not that Zac particularly minded a good kicking. In the right context, that shit was fun and the sick side of him enjoyed it.
Focus. Are you marking him, or not?
It was a fair question, because King’s Lynn was a town that had a respectable bedtime. If he didn’t pick up a job soon, he would be done for the night. Fuck it. Zac ducked behind a lamppost and lit up his last weed pipe. He sucked down a lungful of herbal smoke and closed his eyes as it filtered into his bloodstream, dulling what remained of his inhibitions and lighting his senses with a subtle fire. Reborn, he opened his eyes. Colours brightened, the stars sparkled, and across the street, the blond was more alluring than ever. With his high cheekbones, shaggy hair, and broad shoulders, all wrapped up in ripped jeans and a designer T-shirt, he was the kind of dude Zac dreamed of when he went to bed alone.
Zac crossed the road, weaving through the late-night revellers who were spilling from the club, searching for taxis to take them home. The blond saw him coming. His previously empty stare turned curious, and Zac’s confidence took a boost. Perhaps he’d struck gold. “All right, mate?”
The blond smiled slightly, showing Zac a beautiful set of teeth. “Yes, thanks. You?”
Zac shrugged. “I’m bored. This club is shite.”
The blond’s grin widened. “That why you’ve been loitering outside all night?”
“How do you know what I’ve been doing all night?”
“Because I’ve seen you every time I’ve come out for a fag. Looked like you were waiting for someone.”
Not someone. Anyone. But this bloke didn’t need to know that. “Maybe I got stood up.”
“Maybe we both did.”
“Yeah?” Now Zac was the curious one. “What happened?”
“My mate dragged me out. Thinks I need to get laid.”
“And do you?”
The blond shrugged. “Doesn’t everyone?”
Zac couldn’t argue with that. Fucking was like breathing to him, especially when he had a good partner, something he’d yet to find in the rural monotony of eastern England. Shoulda gone to Newquay.
“What’s so funny?”
The blond raised an eyebrow. “You’re smirking.”
“Yeah? About what?”
“About how you need to get laid.” It was a reckless move, but Zac didn’t care. It had been a long night with no work, like the night before, and the night before that. No work tonight meant no food tomorrow, and he needed to eat almost as much as he needed to get fucked.
If the blond was taken aback by the bluntness, he didn’t let it show. He took a moment to consider his response, before he treated Zac to another lopsided half grin. “If you’d said that a few hours ago, I’d have said I could live without it, but I’ve drunk my body weight in Jäger since then, and I reckon it might be the only thing that will sober me up.”
It was as good a reason as any. “What’s your name?”
“Liam. What’s yours?”
“Zac. Wanna come back to mine?”
“Where do you live?”
“In town. The new flats on the high street.”
Liam pulled the latest iPhone from his pocket and studied the screen before he seemed to make a snap decision. “Why the hell not? Looks like I’ve got nothing better to do.”
“Then let’s go.” Zac held out his hand and wrapped his fingers around Liam’s smooth, warm palm. “Oh, and by the way, it’s a hundred for the fuck . . . three if you want to stay all night.”
Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.
Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.
Cover art inquiries: email@example.com
To celebrate the release of Rented Heart, one lucky winner will receive $25 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!