About House of Cards
Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.
Available now from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/house-of-cards
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack
About Garrett Leigh
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
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, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.
Cover art enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
To celebrate the release of House of Cards, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Calum Hardy dipped the needle into the black ink and pressed his foot to the pedal of Dottie, the faithful old-school coil machine he’d had since his apprenticeship in Camden. Rob kept telling him he should upgrade to one of the quieter, shinier models on the market, but so far Calum had ignored him. Rob might know everything about everything, but when it came to tattoos, Calum was his own man—ha—sometimes, at least, if he didn’t count Rob’s name on everything except the debts and the overdrafts.
“I’m so nervous.”
Calum blinked as the client attached to the leg he was about to etch broke his reverie. “That’s totally normal. Just try not to tense up. It’ll hurt less if you’re relaxed.”
The girl smiled wanly. “That’s why I came to you. My friend told me you’re gentle.”
“I am, but it’ll still hurt, so you have to see the needle for what it is—a tiny sliver of metal. You’re stronger than that, right?”
Calum left the girl to her nerves and focussed on the candy-skull stencil he’d already applied to her thigh. This moment was his . . . and Dottie’s.
He pressed the pedal again, waiting for Dottie’s comforting buzz, but nothing happened. A split second later, the lights went out, plunging the shop into darkness. Power cut. Great. Third time this week. Calum set his gun down and went to the front door of the shop. He glanced out into the street and caught the eye of the maintenance worker who’d been the bane of his life all week long.
The worker shrugged. “Sorry, mate. Give us an hour or so.”
Nice of him to say, but it was already 6 p.m. Candy-skull girl was Calum’s last client of the day. Grumbling, he went back inside and gave her the news. She looked a little too relieved for his liking and left without rebooking, muttering something about omens.
With her gone, Calum lit a candle and cleaned up the shop, a job done by the receptionist in most studios, except that Calum’s receptionist was Rob’s cousin, and she downed tools at 4 p.m. each day, taking little notice of Calum’s protests.
Calum left the shop an hour later, and after stopping to buy a cheeky bottle of Rob’s favourite rum to hopefully drink in bed later, turned in the direction of home—a one-bedroom flat two streets away. He called Rob, but as usual, there was no answer. Rob only took Calum’s calls when he wanted something. Shame, because with Calum at a loose end, they could’ve grabbed some dinner, a drink . . . maybe more. It had been a while since they’d had some quality time to themselves. Work, play, work again, there always seemed to be something keeping them apart.
The flat where Calum lived alone loomed into view. Rob was likely down the road in the Ship, drinking up a storm on the shop’s expense account. Calum considered joining him, but then remembered Rob’s reaction the last time he’d dropped in on him unexpectedly. Rob hadn’t said a word—hadn’t needed to—but the look in his eye that night still haunted Calum in his weaker moments.
Give him space, remember? Stop smothering him. Damn. When had loving someone become so complicated? All Calum wanted was a cuddle and a bag of chips.
He let himself into the flat, his mind meandering in the uncomfortable space he usually found himself in when he considered his skewed relationship with Rob, which was likely why he often stopped himself doing just that. An empty mind was a happy one, right? Calum snorted softly. What a load of shite. He dropped his keys in the bowl. His gaze fell on a pair of dodgy loafers by the kitchen door—Rob’s latest fad—and beside them, a pair of chavvy Nikes that were far too big for either of them.
Calum frowned. It was unlike Rob to come over when Calum wasn’t there unless he needed cash from the jar on top of the fridge, and he never, ever, brought his mates round. God forbid; Calum was way too boring for Rob’s clique of wankers, who seemed to do nothing but snort mandy and talk about fisting.
Voices drifted down the hallway—no words, just sounds that set Calum’s teeth on edge. His frown deepened. Surely not. Rob had been distracted lately, leading Calum to suspect he might have been—but no . . . not here. Rob wouldn’t do that, would he?
There was only one way to find out. Calum steeled himself and trod silently down the hallway to the bedroom. The door was ajar, and unless whoever was inside was watching some hard-core porn, what he’d find on the other side was already solidified in his brain, etched on his soul, before he even looked.
But he did look. Calum stared at the tangled mess of flesh in his bed: sweat-sheened skin, curled toes, arched backs, and scraping nails. Shame none of it was his, because in another world—one where the dude getting fucked by a six-foot beefcake wasn’t his boyfriend—the scene playing out in his bedroom would’ve been hot. But there was nothing hot about watching Rob hammer the final nail into a relationship that had been wonky from the start. As Calum leaned against the doorway and absorbed it all, he felt nothing but the oddest kind of solace. This was the window of opportunity he hadn’t truly known he’d been waiting for. This is your chance. Pack your shit and go.
If only he could make his feet move, and his brain compute what his heart had feared for months: that his relationship with Rob was toxic and his whole life was a crock of shit. Of course he’d suspected Rob was banging other people. How could he not? Everyone else bloody did. But seeing it in the flesh was something else. Sickening, humiliating . . . and so freeing that Calum wanted to cry.
He finally backed up, hoping he could tiptoe away as unnoticed as he’d arrived. Fuck his stuff. He’d go to the shop and kip there, come back for his things when Rob went to work. He’ll let me go this time. But even as Calum thought it, he knew it wasn’t true. How many times had Rob told him—warned him—not to step out of line? “I’ll ruin you, Calum. You’re nothing without me.”
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”