Sometimes Fate can be a bitch and take away everything you hold dear, but sometimes she finds it in her heart to give something back…

Ten years after Charlie’s death, Ben still hasn’t faced the fact his first love is gone. Unable to grieve, he’s acted the office clown and made his life so busy he never has time to think. Upon a return to the home he once shared with Charlie, Ben finally admits that Charlie is gone. Then a black panther appears ...

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Cabin Fever

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Sometimes Fate can be a bitch and take away everything you hold dear, but sometimes she finds it in her heart to give something back…

Ten years after Charlie’s death, Ben still hasn’t faced the fact his first love is gone. Unable to grieve, he’s acted the office clown and made his life so busy he never has time to think. Upon a return to the home he once shared with Charlie, Ben finally admits that Charlie is gone. Then a black panther appears and chases him through the forest, changing his life forever.

That panther is Francois, a mesmerising man who breaks Ben’s self-imposed celibacy and shows him it’s time to move on. Ben visits Francois at his secluded cabin, and a fever overtakes him, compelling him to have sex with the alluring man. Ben finds he wants to live again, but although the sexual attraction between himself and Francois is strong, he knows Francois isn’t the man for him. He’s just a stepping stone on the path of grief, encouraging him to embrace a new life.

When Ben visits a gay club that caters to people who have fantasies he’s never been able to act out, he meets Dave. There is no instant spark like there was with Francois, no immediate falling in lust or love, but an easy camaraderie and sense of wellbeing makes Ben realise you can love someone over time. Knowing something otherworldy has been involved in his transition, Ben is finally forced to think, to accept that everything happens for a reason. Now all he has left to do is say goodbye to Charlie, something he never thought he would do…

Publisher's Note: This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and re-edited for release by Totally Bound Publishing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781848432
  • Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/6/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 80
  • File size: 262 KB

Meet the Author

Sarah Masters is a multi-published author in three pen names writing several genres. She lives with her husband, children, and three cats in an English village. She writes full time and is also a cover artist and blog designer. In another life she was an editor. Her other pen names are Natalie Dae and Charley Oweson.

Sarah is busy co-authoring with Jaime Samms. They have several books in mind so will be writing for a couple of years to come! She also needs to finish her M/M novel, the tale she's dubbed The Book That Doesn't Want To End. She's at the last chapter but is afraid to open it in case that last chapter isn't really the last chapter…
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Read an Excerpt

Ben stood at the bottom of a driveway he remembered as freshly laid tarmac, black as the ace of spades and stinking that tangy smell that oddly reminded him of petrol. But looking at it now, all cracked and worn, weeds sprouting from sun-ravaged, craggy gaps, made him realise how long he’d left it. How long he’d been away. Years. Christ, the time had sped by, him being busy at work, going out for dinner at night with colleagues—drinking and having fun until midnight came perilously close. Then having to hightail it home so he’d be fresh and ready for work the next day.

An endless round of keeping himself busy so he didn’t have to think about the past and what he’d lost. It was a bugger to begin with, trying to keep memories and emotions at bay, but it had worked in the end, hadn’t it?

Yeah, it had done that all right, until last weekend when he’d spotted someone who looked alarmingly like Charlie…so much so Ben had, for a few moments, convinced himself it was him. Gone up to him in the pub, hadn’t he, put his hand on his arm and leant forward, shutting off Charlie’s view. So he’d only been able to see Ben.

“What the fuck?” the man had said, voice holding an edge that warned Ben he’d fucked up, that he’d made one hell of a big mistake.

“Shit, sorry.” Ben took his hand away as though he’d been damn well burned, lifted his arms, palms out, in a gesture of don’t-smack-me-one-mate and stepped back.

It hadn’t been Charlie, of course it hadn’t.

Charlie was fucking well dead.

Problem was it had set him off. Taken him down a road in his mind he’d promised himself he wouldn’t go. No, he’d sworn he’d be buggered if he wallowed in grief, crying all over the bloody place that Charlie was no longer there—Charlie wouldn’t have wanted that. At first, people had kept asking if he was all right, that ‘Jesus, you’re keeping it together well, Ben’, but the queries had soon tapered off once he was seen to be neck-deep in work and socialising, smiling a smile that didn’t feel like it belonged on his face until it had become so permanent he guessed it did belong now.

But he’d allowed the memories to come in that night he’d thought Charlie was in The Plough, and he’d stood at the bar, full pint in hand, staring at the wooden floor but not seeing it. Images had been there instead of smooth grain and knots, ones that had brought a lump to his throat and made his eyes sting. Made him huff out a few quiet laughs too. It had been good back then, with Charlie, but when he’d gone and…died…Ben had vowed he’d never search for anyone else. What was the point? No one else would compare.

He sighed and stared at the ratty grass either side of the drive, channels through some of it as though someone had walked there, taking a shortcut to the fields out the back most likely. Those fields led to a creek, and if he remembered rightly, kids used to paddle there in the summer. So had Ben and Charlie. Blimey, what had they been then? In their early twenties? Life had been one round of laughs after another, five years of happiness all swiped away by the swift hand of fate. And the bitch that was fate had decided Charlie ought to get crushed between two cars as he’d crossed the busy High Street in town, leaving Ben on the pavement outside HMV with hot piss staining his jeans and a scream bellowing out of his mouth.

Fuck it. Don’t think about it.

Ben sucked in a deep breath and held it, cheeks puffed out, lips pursed. His head spun, and a few seconds later multi-coloured stars danced in his vision. He released the air in a great whoosh, staggering to the side a bit, his lungs shrivelling. He flung his hand out to grab the top of the gatepost and leaned on it, telling himself to stop being such a melodramatic prick and get himself together.

He walked up the driveway slowly, and not because he was putting off opening the mental floodgates. No, nothing like that. He just had to be careful, that was all, what with the weeds being so long. He wondered what he was doing here. Wondered what fate had in store. She might have lured him back here on purpose, wanting him to suffer the pain and torment he should have felt. Wanting him to remember what it was like to be happy.

Shrugging, to ward off memories that had begun to creep into the edges of his mind, encroaching on his ability to remain strong, he approached the front door and fumbled in his pocket for the key. This house, situated on a dirt track just outside town, was his, handed down to him in his grandad’s will at the perfect time. Charlie and Ben had recently come out, and as the filthy looks, the barrage of abuse and the exclusion from their circle had reached its zenith, where neither of them thought they could take any more, the house had been their bolt hole.

Funny then, that when Charlie had died, those from their former circle had come out of the woodwork like inquisitive rats and offered condolences, had turned up at his funeral as though they hadn’t said the shit they had, acting like being gay wasn’t so bad after all. Ben disliked them for doing that. Difficult not to when he’d been shunned, when they’d made it very clear he wasn’t welcome anywhere near them. So what had changed? Had they suddenly been re-educated with regards to gayness? Or did they think that because Charlie was dead it meant Ben wouldn’t be gay anymore?

Wouldn’t bloody surprise me.

He slid the key into the lock and turned it, pausing for a moment to wonder if he could do this. If he hadn’t grieved, if he’d squirreled all the feelings away, what would happen if the things inside this house, the precious memories, scooped him up and deposited him smack bang in the middle of some torrent of emotion he couldn’t handle?

Got to do it some time. May as well be now.

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