Can a young man find the courage he never knew he had when faced with losing everything he holds dear?
A few months before his final exams in secondary school, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly discovers he's inherited a house on Adelaide Road in Dublin from a grandfather he never knew. Having been ignored, bullied and abused for as long as he can remember, Lennart can't wait to leave behind his father and the small town he grew up in. Moving away as soon as he finishes his exams doesn't cure his deep-rooted insecurities though.
Meeting twenty-three-year-old Aidan Cassidy in a gay club on his second night in Dublin, scares Lennart. Used to being ignored and ridiculed, he doesn't trust the attention he receives and can't believe a man like Aidan could possibly be interested in him. It takes infinite patience and understanding from Aidan to slowly coax Lennart out of his shell.
But the past refuses to stay where it belongs and Lennart's father is determined to take the house in Dublin off his son by whatever means necessary. Just when Lennart is learning to trust and embrace life, a violent attack threatens everything he holds dear. Suddenly Lennart is in danger of losing his house, the man he's grown to love and maybe even his life. If Lennart wants to protect Aidan and safeguard his future, he'll have to find the courage he never knew he had.
|Totally Entwined Group
|Barnes & Noble
About the Author
Helena Stone can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode.
The urge to write came as a surprise. The realisation that people might enjoy her words was a shock to say the least. Now that the writing bug has well and truly taken hold, Helena can no longer imagine not sharing the characters in her head and heart with the rest of the world.
Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish Country side she divides her time between reading, writing, long and often wet walks with the dog, her part-time job in a library, a grown-up daughter and her ever loving and patient husband.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Helena Stone 2015. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.
I took one step forward before retreating again. The wall against my back grounded me, taking some of my panic away. I stared across the street at the door, the bouncers and the slow trickle of people entering the club. I had waited for this moment, dreamed about it for months but now it had arrived I couldn’t find the courage to take the last fifteen steps separating me from the threshold.
I forced myself to breathe slowly while I counted up to ten and down to zero again. My body was on high alert, thoughts rushed through my mind and worry cramped my stomach. This was ridiculous. I only wanted to enter a club, discover what it was like on the inside in order to satisfy my curiosity. Here in Dublin, I had no reason to be afraid—there was no one to tell me what I could and couldn’t do, and, most importantly, nobody to frown upon me and who I was.
I was free at last, but I might as well still be shackled to my father and his rules for all the good it did me. I could hear the contemptuous words my dad used to spew at me whenever I’d attempted to create a social life for myself as if he stood next to me. ‘Don’t make a fool of yourself. Surely by now you’ve figured out people don’t want to be around you. Nobody likes a loser.’ I had hoped the distance between us would diminish his power over my thoughts. I’d been wrong.
Across the road, two more men entered the club. They exchanged a few words with the bouncers and a burst of laughter reached my ears. I studied them. They looked just like me—nothing made them stand out as special or remarkable. Tight jeans, even tighter T-shirts, and loafers. Nothing about their appearance distinguished them from the people who walked past the club on their way to different venues. Nothing, apart from the fact that some of them had been holding hands and others had their arms wrapped around each other, or hands stuffed into each other’s back pockets. Nothing, except that couples entering this club were either all male or all female.
That stood out like a red flag in a black-and-white movie. I couldn’t imagine ever seeing that back home. The sight filled me with a longing so deep it hurt. I closed my eyes for a moment and allowed the soft June breeze to wash over me. I wanted to believe I could be one of those men one day. Nineteen years of being told I was nothing—not good enough, a disappointment as well as a disgrace—had me convinced my dream would always be that, a futile fantasy.
Time passed and I just stood there. I had to make up my mind—either bite the bullet, cross the road and enter the club or go back home. There would be no shame in going back to my house. I’d only arrived in Dublin two days ago. I didn’t have to hurry or force myself. This city was home now. I could visit this club and others like it whenever I wanted, or rather, whenever I found the courage. I half turned to start the short walk home before stopping myself. No. If I chickened out now I might never be brave enough to take the first step. Before I could change my mind again I stepped away from the wall, crossed the street and walked up to the door.
“Sorry, mate, we’ll need to see your ID.”
The bouncer sounded kind enough, but his words still left me fuming inside as I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and handed my age card over. Looking like a sixteen year old when my nineteenth birthday was months behind me sucked.
“Thanks. That’s grand. Enjoy your night.” The bouncers stepped aside and allowed me to enter the place I’d been longing and dreading to visit in equal measure.
What had I done? Why had I not gone home? Every instinct screamed at me to turn around and walk out again. I glimpsed bright lights, dark corners and a bar along the left hand wall before I lowered my gaze to the floor. I’d seen enough to know the place was relatively empty. A few bodies moved on the dance floor in the middle of the club and some people sat at the tables surrounding it. The music was loud and the beat traveled through my body, making my eardrums vibrate. I didn’t look up while I made my way to the far end of the bar where I picked the empty stool next to the wall.
The marble-like surface of the bar wasn’t interesting enough for all the attention I paid it, but I couldn’t bring myself to look up, never mind study my surroundings. I waited for someone to come and tell me I wasn’t welcome. It had happened whenever I’d found the courage to go out in the past and I couldn’t believe the same wouldn’t happen here. The setting had changed, but I was still the same as I’d always been.
“What can I get ya?” The bartender appeared out of nowhere, or maybe he’d been there all along.
“Bacardi and Coke, please.” I whispered the words and wasn’t surprised when I had to repeat them so he could hear me over the noise. I took advantage of the bartender having forced me to look up and studied my surroundings while I waited for my drink. The place was dimly lit and divided into various areas. On the far side, couches and coffee tables created comfortable looking seating areas. Near the door, where people were now entering in a steady flow, and at the opposite end of the large space, I saw high tables without seats. The dance floor in the middle of the room sparkled under the spotlights and steadily filled up with swaying bodies.
The bartender had moved back to the center of the bar to fix my drink and talked to a man while he did so, nodding his head when the man stopped talking. Despite the fear churning through my stomach, curiosity took over. Something about the customer with dark hair caught my attention. He was little more than a silhouette but I couldn’t pull my gaze away from him until he turned his head and looked straight at me. Shit. Muttering the soft curse, I diverted my attention back to the marble top of the bar and traced a dark line with my finger while trying to get my breathing under control. So much for staying inconspicuous while checking out the club. I fought the urge to look back up and establish whether or not the man was still looking at me. Don’t attract attention to yourself. The voice screamed in my head and I acknowledged its wisdom.
When my drink appeared in front of me on the bar, I paid for it without looking up or acknowledging the barman. I nearly spilled the rum and Coke as I picked it up. The combination of bubbles and alcohol hit the back of my throat as I drained half the cocktail in one gulp. Tears sprang to my eyes and I swallowed hard to keep from coughing. I couldn’t do this. Admitting defeat was easier than forcing myself to be braver than I’d ever be. I’d finish my drink and go home. Being alone wasn’t easy but I preferred it over the fear and tension keeping me on a knife’s edge right now. Maybe once I’d lived in Dublin a while longer, after I’d gotten a better feel for the place, this would be easier. After all there was no hurry. I’d no intention of ever going back home. I had a new place to live and the rest of my life to explore it.