An excerpt from Black Leather Rose

At the end of the tour, Charles was satisfied that John would do as a lodger. He was certainly reserved, but that was probably better than a party animal. "So are you interested?"

"Yes." Said with as much emotion as John had displayed so far.

"When do you want to move in? As you can see, the room's empty, but there's no urgency if you've got to give notice at the current place. There are two more rooms still being renovated, and I can hold one of those for you instead."

"As soon as possible. But one thing first..."

Now what? The man was definitely edgy about something. "What's the problem?"

"I'm gay. Is that going to be an issue?"

Obviously he'd done a good job of squashing his physical reaction to John. "Not likely. So am I. Well, bi."

John blinked in surprise, but said nothing.

"Why bring it up?" Charles realised why before John could answer. "Your current landlord found out and asked you to leave?"

"Well, it was the excuse. A very convenient excuse, I think."

"Bastard! You don't have to put up with it, you know. You've got rights. He didn't try to throw you out without notice, did he?"

But John was shaking his head. "Actually, he's most upset I didn't take advantage of his generous offer of a month to look for somewhere else. Odd as it sounds, I think it really was an excuse. There's this girl he fancies, and she was complaining that she doesn't like where she's currently living. I think he must have offered her my room on impulse; and when she asked about me, he told her that I wanted to move out, rather than admit he'd have to ask me to find somewhere else."

"So you told him to take his month's notice and shove it?"

There was a sparkle of glee in John's eyes. "I tore up next month's rent cheque in front of him. He was silly enough to tell me while I was in the middle of writing it."

Oh, very nice. Charles laughed and held out his hand. "You're welcome to move in early if you want. It's only a few days, so no need to wait until the first of the month."

"Thanks." John shook his hand. A proper shake this time. "Look, I know I'm jumping at this because I can't stand where I am any longer. We might both be making a mistake. If it doesn't work out, well, I'll apologise and find somewhere else. But thanks for letting me get out of there now."

"I hope it does work out. I don't want the inconvenience of finding another lodger. But we can worry about that later." He doubted they'd need to. John just had the jitters after a bad experience with house sharing; give him a couple of weeks to settle in and he'd be all right. "Let's go and sign the paperwork, and you can write a new cheque for next month's rent. One written to me. Fancy a cup of coffee?"

"Love one."

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