Friday, July 31, 2015

Sneak Peak: JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE


“That is a brilliant disguise.”

I glanced down and met the bright blue gaze of a girl. She was about my age, or maybe a little older. Twenty-three? Twenty-four? Masses of curly platinum hair, a fierce nose that was too big for her thin face, a wide mouth painted tangerine.

I smiled. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but something about her reminded me of Amy, if Amy hadn’t been…Amy.

No, that wasn’t fair because Amy was pretty and this girl really wasn’t, although she definitely had something. She looked at me with bright expectation, and that was confusing because girls like her did not expect much from boys—men—like me.

That’s not a complaint, by the way.

Anyway, we were standing in the middle of Heathrow Airport, and I was trying to figure out where I was. I mean, I was in London, obviously. England. But it was like I’d stepped off the plane into a different world. Onto a different planet. A very busy, very noisy planet. Where the natives did not speak my language. That’s because people in England do not speak English. Or at least, not the same English that you and I speak.

Of course, in fairness, no one can ever understand anything being said over airport loudspeakers.

“A bowtie would have been even better,” the girl offered. Her smile was sly, knowing. “A bowtie would suit you.”

Okay, so now I knew she was making fun of me. I smiled again, to show I could take a joke, tugged down the brim of my hat—which I was already feeling a little self-conscious about; I’m not really the kind of guy who wears hats—and started walking. She walked with me.

People passed us, coming and going, lugging guitars and backpacks or wheeling luggage and children. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world.

“Where are we going?” The blonde girl asked.

“I’m improvising.”

As a matter of fact, I did have a list. A partial list which included, in no particular order:

The British Museum

Soho

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Ministry of Sound

Claridge’s

The Savoy

The London Eye

The Tower of London

The Globe Theatre

Since I only had four days in England, there was no way I was going to get to everything. But that was okay. The idea was to explore, investigate, broaden my horizons. Or at least get the hell out of Dodge for a while.

She put a hand on my arm. “I think we should go somewhere quiet. Don’t you?”

I paused. Looked at her in alarm.

Surely not? Her makeup was kind of dramatic, and her lacey black top was pretty sheer, but no. No, she was not professional. Just persistent.

“Actually, I’m meeting some people,” I said apologetically, though I’m not sure what I was apologizing for.

She laughed outright. “I should think so!”

This was getting strange. ER. Stranger. I said, “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

Her brows drew together. “What are you…” I missed the rest of it as, overhead, a blurred female voice delivered some vital piece of information that no one could make out. There was no mistaking my new friend’s expression though. She looked alarmed and then increasingly angry.

“…suitcase, you’ve got the hat,” she said as the voice above us cut off. “If you’re planning to…” Another overhead announcement. This time the voice was male, but the message remained garbled.

I thought it might be a good idea to bounce, and I smiled, nodded, and turned away. Tightly clutching my suitcase, I hurriedly resumed my search for the Underground.

According to the Heathrow website, the Piccadilly Line provided the most cost-effective rail route between Heathrow Airport and the capital. The capital being…Central London? The trip was supposed to be less than an hour, with trains showing up every ten minutes or so even off-season. And July was not off-season. According to legend—and the website—there were three London Underground stations, but it took me a while to find even one because I kept looking over my shoulder for the girl who sort of looked like, but was definitely not, Amy.

Once or twice I thought I spotted her a few yards behind me, hair like a white bush and a look of fierce concentration on her pale face. Each time she was lost to view.

Assuming she was there at all and not busily accosting some other international traveler.

Finally I found a station, boarded the “Tube” seconds before the doors whooshed shut, and staggered to a seat. I sighed and wiped my forehead, knocking off the hat that had drawn so much unwanted attention. I looked around uneasily, but there was no sign of pursuit. People had out maps and brochures and electronic devices and snacks. No one was paying me any attention.

I picked up my hat, brushed it off, and set it on the seat beside me.

It was just an ordinary hat. Your basic Peter Grimm paper fedora. The kind of thing a lot of guys wore. Not guys like me, maybe. Or not like the old me. But I wanted to be the kind of guy who wore a hat if he felt like wearing a hat. And where better to test the look than on another continent where you wouldn’t have to face anyone again if it didn’t work out?

And then there was that half-heard reference to my suitcase. What was that about? I looked over at my suitcase. It was old, it was battered. That was kind of what I liked about it. It had belonged to my grandfather. Like the book, that tweed, striped suitcase had traveled with him to Europe in the 1960s. It was starting to show its age, sure, and more so after the trip across the Atlantic and down a couple of conveyor belts…so, come to think of it, maybe it hadn’t been the wisest choice.

Especially if it was going to trigger outbursts from crazy English girls.

I looked cautiously around once more.

All clear.

Relax. It hadn’t been the greatest start to my trip, but it was already in the past.

Speaking of the past…

I fumbled around in my backpack and took shelter behind The Book. Esquire’s Europe in Style.

My grandfather had regarded this book as a kind of talisman when he’d made his grand tour fifty years ago. It had been his idea—after the thing with Amy—that I should go abroad for a couple of weeks. He claimed his trip had been a turning point in his life, and there was no question that I was at a crossroads.

I studied the battered cover, decorated with cheeky orange and purple cartoons. I opened to my bookmark.

To be able really to dig Britain, you must be the sort of person who prefers the quiet and subdued to the noisy and strident, and who’s more comfortable with old leather, varnished wood and polished brass than with chrome and plastic. It helps to have a slight allergy to bright colors, loud talk and high-pressure operations in general…




Due out this November. Preorder now:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

31 comments:

  1. Looking for the "like" button. I have no doubt it's going to be very entertaining.

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  2. Ok, I'm hooked! Curious... was the fedora idea inspired by the fact the book cover guy is wearing one, or was the book cover partly perfect because the guy is wearing one? :-D

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  3. I have to say it, don't slap me, it is to short! I would love to read further and further. Hm a mix-up? Will Jefferson see all his target sightseeing places? I am looking forward to November!!

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    1. The best laid plans of mice and Jeffersons... ;-D

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  4. I'm hooked, too. I've already read your sneak peak twice, and now I want to know more about Amy and why Jefferson had to get out of Dodge for a while. He seems to be a very nice guy and I like the name Jefferson too. :-)

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying it. :-D Poor Jefferson's life is complicated, that's for sure.

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  5. I like it!I'm looking forward to read it ^_^

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  6. Please Sir, may I have some more? On audio?

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  7. I'm curious... is this M/M or GayRom? I know it's NA, but was wondering if there is a romantic relationship?

    The excerpt is interesting though! :)

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  8. Loved the short ... pre-ordered it ... can't wait to open my Kindle & there it is!! *tapping foot impatiently* hee hee

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  9. Mr. Lanyon, you write so sweetly :)
    but what is it with you & barebacking? When it's not explained, it never fails to ruin the moment for me :(
    (e.g. "Cards on the Table", "Mexican Heat", "I Spy Something Bloody"...)

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    1. No apologies. Different stories call for different moods. :-)

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  10. You had me at "That...."
    Preordered months ago.
    Now what am I gonna do?

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  11. Pre order as soon as I could. Great . I have read all you books except Mexican heat,I bought it long time ago but for some reason didn't want to read it ,put it off , thought I will not like it, funny feeling. Read the book today , could not put it down . Love it. Wonderful ,one of your best. I will not pay attention to my funny feelings again.

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  12. I'm so looking forward to see to what kind of adventures Jefferson Blythe will take us and that cool suitcase of his. :-) I love the tone of this sneak peak. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    And *phew* — I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who can't understand a word of those blurred airport announcements. ;-)

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  13. Pre order as soon as I could. Great . I have read all you books except Mexican heat,I bought it long time ago but for some reason didn't want to read it ,put it off , thought I will not like it, funny feeling. Read the book today , could not put it down . Love it. Wonderful ,one of your best. I will not pay attention to my funny feelings again.

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  14. Ooh I am intrigued. And that cover is absolutely lovely :)

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  15. Is this a stand alone? I wonder what kind of guy you will pair him up with!

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  16. Set in my home city! At least that section. I'll have to keep an eye out. I think I have some more of your titles to catch up on.

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