by Frances Fox
Book #1 of a new series
Editor: Lourenza Adlem
Release Date: 1st August 2023
Keywords: MM, Rockstar, Contemporary, British, Hurt-Comfort, Opposites Attract, Spicy.
The first book in an exciting new contemporary MM series!
A tired rock star and a judgemental gardener…what could possibly go wrong?
The Purple Lizards are a rock world phenomenon, but lead singer Martin’s tired of his rock-and-roll persona. He’d rather be at home with his garden. When he gets home from tour he finds his gardener has had a heart attack and Simon, his grandson, is helping him out. Simon’s different to Fred. He talks, for a start. Martin and Fred have a perfectly functional friendship based on long silences and discussions about heritage vegetables. Simon talks about personal things as well. It makes Martin prickly.
Simon’s at a bit of a loss. He stepped up to help his grandfather whilst he was in hospital despite his misgivings about the absent Martin. But Fred clearly likes him, which is unusual for a start. Fred prefers plants to people. That he actively likes a rock star who used to smash up hotel rooms is really strange. Simon’s reserving judgement. Apparently the band have a break in their tour coming up. He’ll see whether he can work for the man once he’s spent some time with him.
A tired rock star and a judgemental gardener…what could possibly go wrong?
Chapter 1: Martin
Martin was exhausted. He’d been hoping the Green Room was empty so he could sit in the quiet for a while and not have to think or engage with anyone. He really wasn’t up for any sort of argument.
However. The sound of a raised voice that penetrated into the corridor through the not-quite-shut door gave him the heads up that his solitary break wouldn’t be happening. He stood with his hand on the door handle, listening. It was Ken, he thought. He couldn’t make out the other voice.
He switched on his phone’s record function and held it to the crack in the door.
“I’ll go to the papers,” Ken was saying. “They’ll be interested to know the great Pete Heggarty is fucking a bloke!” He was slurring a bit. He did that a lot these days.
Heggarty…Martin presumed it was Heggarty…said something too quiet to hear. Ken’s voice got even louder. “You’ll sign up if you know what’s good for you. I’ve given you enough time to bring those dip-shit band members of yours round. Else everyone will know.”
Martin sighed and pushed open the door. “That’s enough,” he said quietly, with as much authority as he could summon. He stepped into the small room. “Ken. You’re fired. Get your things and leave. I’m emailing the agency now saying you’re no longer our manager. I’m citing bullying and intimidation.”
Ken opened his mouth to reply, but Martin held up his phone. “I recorded you. Out.” He jabbed at the open door into the corridor behind him with a vicious thumb.
Ken opened his mouth to reply, took another look at Martin’s expression, and shot out the door, muttering under his breath.
Martin looked at Pete Heggarty, sat in one of the saggy armchairs of the Green Room. He looked irritated, but not distressed. “How long’s that been going on?” he asked him, closing the door behind him and then flopping loose-limbed and tired into the neighboring armchair. He rested his head back against the chair cushions. God, that was good.
Heggarty sighed, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “A couple of months,” he said. “Since we started the tour, more or less.” He paused and then added, “Thanks. I was getting to the stage where thumping him was beginning to look like the only way to shut him up. He wouldn’t leave it.”
“My pleasure,” Martin said, trying to cover up his exhaustion with the whole situation. Not just today…but the whole tour. His whole professional life. “Arsehole. I’ve not been happy with him for months…he’s got a coke habit that would put a member of parliament to shame and I think he’s started gambling. I stopped trusting him when someone came round last year debt collecting for some online casino. No loss. Although now I need to find us a new manager. I’ve been putting it off, that’s all.”
“He wanted me to sign us up with them on a ridiculously prescriptive contract,” Heggarty said, coming alive a bit and sitting forward in the chair to put his elbows on his knees. “It’s not just me that makes choices for Heggarty’s Bow though—even if I cared that he’d out me to the press as bi. Try that blackmail shit with Lindy and he’d end up with a broken nose.”
Martin stifled a snort. “I didn’t think you were exactly closeted anyway,” he said.
“Well no. I just do my thing,” Heggarty said. “You’re right…he must have been permanently high as a kite not to notice it wasn’t the lever he thought it was.”
“I haven’t had the chance to thank you for picking us up as your support on this tour,” he finally went on slightly more awkwardly, rubbing his hands on his jeans-clad knees. “Er. I…we…we really appreciate it. It’s our big break.”
Martin shook his head, uncomfortable with the thanks. “No,” he said, “that’s all right. Don’t thank me. It’s mutually beneficial, after all. Lots of fans are buying tickets to see you, rather than us. Another couple of years and you’ll be headlining and we’ll be supporting you.” He grinned at Heggarty reassuringly. “That’s the way these things go.”
Heggarty nodded, accepting the brush-off gracefully. “You’re right,” he said. “But still. We’re having a great time. It’s a whole new world for us; we’ve not worked with anyone as big as the Lizards before. Quite the eye-opener.” He grinned at Martin. “Even if the wild-boys reputation doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be.”
Martin laughed. “Maybe when we were younger,” he said. “But these days…after we lost Dave…the rest of us decided to rein things in a bit.”
Heggarty nodded. “I can see that,” he said.
Martin shivered, remembering. Dave had like to party. Drowning in a swimming pool whilst high had made him a footnote in the annals of rock history and landed the Purple Lizards with a reputation for wild behaviour that still followed them fifteen years later.
“These days…” Martin said. “These days it’s a job more than anything. We’re all about the music. And in between, I like to go home and look after my garden.” He shot Heggarty a tired sideways grin. “Don’t tell the press, though,” he said.
Heggarty laughed. “Your secret’s safe with me,” he said. He looked at his watch. “I need to go and find the others,” he said. “I suppose we should actually talk about getting a manager at this point, rather than sorting things out ourselves.”
Martin sighed. “Yeah,” he said. “I did find it freed up quite a bit of space in my head when we handed the booking and admin over to someone else. That’s a conversation I need to have with Ginny and Pin and Crow as well now.” He pulled a face. “We were already kicking a change around… I was going to get Steve Petrie over for a chat at some point. No time like the present. Do you want a chat with him too?”
“Steve Petrie? He’s a bit high-powered for us I should think.”
Martin shook his head. “Nah, mate. Don’t sell yourself short. No harm meeting him and sizing him up. He’s a nice guy—he’ll tell you straight whether he thinks you’re a good fit.”
Heggarty nodded. “If you don’t mind, then yes please,” he said. “I’ll go and tell the others. Hopefully Ken will have got enough of a head start that Lindy won’t be up on charges for assault.”
Martin chuckled quietly as the other man left the room. He hadn’t spent much time with the members of Heggarty’s Bow, but they seemed like nice kids. They did appear very much like kids to him though…a good fifteen years younger than Martin’s colleagues, mid-twenties at the most. Not the crazy rock-and-roll stereotypes the Purple Lizards had been at that age. He shuddered. He didn’t ever want to go back to that. It hadn’t been a good time.
He was looking forward to this break in the tour before they did the Japanese leg. Three weeks home with his garden and the soothing company of Fred his elderly gardener was just what the doctor ordered to get over his irritation with Ken and the impending exhaustion that inevitably came with a long tour. And this was a big one. It was true what he’d told Pete Heggarty…Heggarty’s Bow were crowd-pullers, with a large and growing fan base. The Lizards had been lucky to get them as a support band. In another couple of years they’d be headlining this sort of tour.
Martin wished he wasn’t so permanently fed up with it all. All the time he was on tour he craved the peace and quiet of his home; and when he was at home he dreaded going out on tour again. Anyway. It was what it was. He just needed to put one foot in front of the other. He got out his phone and messaged his fellow band members concisely. Just found Ken blackmailing Pete Heggarty. Sacked him. Shall I ring Steve Petrie? I’m in the Green Room. Want to go for a coffee somewhere and discuss?
There, that should put the cat among the pigeons. He stood by for the first irate text, but Pin beat Ginny to it and rang him. He grinned as he picked up the call. “Coffee?” he said.
“Yeah, you bet,” Pin said. “That man was always an arsehole and he’s only got worse over the last couple of years. Crow and I are in the coffee shop over the road from the venue. Want to meet us there? I’ll message Ginny.”
“Sure,” Martin said. “I’m on my way.”
No solitary time for him today.
About the Author
Frances Fox writes contemporary MM romance. The Rockstar series is a new eight-book series of novellas following the musicians, stage-crew and friends of Heggarty’s Bow. If you like to read spicy MM stories about vulnerable guys looking for love, she’ll have you covered.