Title: Short Order
Series: Foothills Pride #8
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: December 13, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Cover Design: AngstyG
Length: 28,400 words/89 pages
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When recent horticulture graduate Dr. Fenton Miller arrives in Stone Acres, California, he thinks his only concern is which job offer to accept after spending the holidays working at his cousin’s plant nursery. But after he rents a room from another shorter-than-average man, sous-chef John Barton, Fen falls in lust.
While he’s attracted to Fen, John’s got bigger concerns when two men from his past arrive in town and pressure him to return to San Francisco. Although John tries to stop Fen from getting involved, Fen realizes his lover is in trouble and is determined to protect him.
As the holidays get closer and Fen makes his own enemy, the joy of the season gets lost in the ill will around them. To ensure love triumphs, Fen and John must stand tall to show that short, dark, and handsome is a recipe for love.
We ask Pat:
How do you relax?
I read books, watch TV, make quarter-inch dollhouse miniatures, and mostly play computer games. Although I’ve played games like Diablo and others where killing bad guys or beasts is the game’s object, I prefer the milder, mind-numbing match-three games like Jewel Quest and Cradle of Egypt. I do a lot of my plotting while I’m lulled into finding three things that match. I don’t know why.
What good MM romance series reflects your game playing?
Annabeth Albert’s Gaymers series best reflects the kind of role-playing that I used to do online. Unlike my daughter who got into War of Warcraft, I stuck to Diablo I and II. Mostly when I play, it’s by myself on my computer, but I’ve played online a few times, once with a partner who lived in New Zealand. The fact that I was a sitting duck for hoards of more experienced gamers took a lot of the fun out of Diablo for me. As far as reading goes, I knew Albert’s series was for me when one of the characters in her book mentioned playing Torment, which was one of my all-time favorites right after the Lands of Lore and the Zork series. I recommend gog.com (Good Old Games) if you want to buy an older favorite to play on a new computer.
Where can you see yourself in five years time?
Still writing, but maybe not publishing as much. I don’t think writing is one of those things you can give up once you’ve done it for as many years as I have. I also see myself reading as much as I do now, but traveling less. My husband and I are retired, so we won’t be going back to work and we’re settling down more and more. If I have to pick a scenario, I see us going to lunch at Dantorels and talking like we do today.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Write more and share what you write. Don’t be afraid of people who will laugh at you for writing. Let them laugh. In the end, you’ll have the last laugh. I’d urge my younger self to show my work to every one of my English teachers and ask for their suggestions and help. I probably couldn’t take away the shyness, but I could at least assure my younger self that when I grew up, I’d become a writer and reviewer. So any help I’d get when I was growing up would be important in my future career.
Which fictional person who’s not in your books would you like to meet and why?
I can’t decide between Jo March from Little Women and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, both of whom I consider strong women for their time. I’d love to talk to them about how they see their world and what they think of the world today. If they could live anywhere in the world, where would they settle down? If they were given the advantages of women today, what career paths would they choose? I’d also love to know if they were happy in their marriages and what kinds of lives they lived after the novels ended. I’d like to become their friend.
That night I stood freezing at Barton’s door, admiring Blue Cottage. The snow drifts piled on the lawn made the house look greeting-card perfect. I searched for a doorbell. Instead, a lion-headed knocker snarled at me. I grinned. Every house needed an intimidating guardian, right?
A man who looked about my age and height opened the door and slipped out, shutting it behind him. I was curious to see inside, but I got that the guy wanted his privacy. No problem.
“Hi. I’m Fen.”
He looked me over, then turned to the left along the shoveled porch. As he walked, he played with the keyring, bouncing a key in his hand. Did I make him nervous? If so, was that a good thing?
Okay. I took a breath and followed his pert ass and brisk steps as we rounded the porch to a steep staircase. From my brief glance at his face, he seemed okay. I was still slightly put off by his brusque manner. But hey, I reminded myself, I was renting from him, not fucking him.
In silence I followed him up to a small porch and a solid-looking back door, which he opened after only a little fumbling.
I was greeted by the stuffy, closed-up odor of a place long left undisturbed.
“You’d be my first renter. It’s furnished, but I can store anything you don’t want.” He made quick eye contact with me. The words erupted from him like I made him uncomfortable or something. Maybe it was my piercing and the tattoo, or maybe the hair color. I tried a smile, but he blushed and turned away, gesturing to the rooms.
Even though the air inside was chilly, I looked around and fell even more in love than I had when I’d first seen the house. The 1940s era furniture and knickknacks turned what could have been sterile rooms into my kind of home. I exhaled, letting the ambience settle in my soul as I wandered through a country kitchen, tiny dining room, sitting room, two bedrooms, and a classic bathroom, ending eventually at a circular tower room. I fell even deeper in love along the way as I touched the scratched kitchen table, a velveteen-covered parlor settee, a solid-looking four-poster bed, and the needlepoint-cushioned window seat in the tower.
If I were Barton, I’d charge thousands a month for this place. I prayed he wasn’t me and was relieved when my prayers were answered.
“You want to keep the furniture?” He still didn’t look at me as he bent over the kitchen table to fill out the rental agreement. Who needed him staring? I could live with letting his voice pour over me and seeing his kissable lips.
“I can’t imagine living here without all of it.” Or maybe even you, I thought, eyeing his pert butt wiggling at me as he wrote.
He stopped, stood, and eyed me for a few seconds before bending and going back to writing. I hadn’t said that about his butt out loud, had I?
As I was daydreaming about his ass and the scarred table, he stopped writing, looked over the form, and finally twisted it toward me. “Sign here, initial here, and date it. Then I need your rent for the month.”
I was signing before he changed his mind. The rent was ridiculously cheap. “No deposit?” There had to be a catch, right?
I glanced up. He was gazing down at the table, or maybe at my hands. Or my groin? I signed as fast as I could and wrote a check to John Barton, the name on the rental agreement. So he had a first name, and we had a deal.
I drove back to my cousin’s house whistling. Within an hour, and with Beth and Kate’s help, I was moved in. Having only clothes and electronics made the move a one-trip job. Then I went food shopping for breakfast stuff and frozen dinners. We all celebrated by eating a late dinner outside town at a diner called the Rock Bottom Cafe. Renting a place with a wonderful kitchen hadn’t automatically taught me to cook.
Even with an enigma for a landlord, my life was perfect.
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About the Author
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.
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