Interview with an Ex

on Aug 21, 2014 by Charlie Cochrane

One of the key plot points in Second Helpings is the ability (or inability) of Stuart and Paul to move on from their exes. Although in Paul’s case he isn’t even sure if his ex is ex. For Stuart, it’s about finding a second chance after the death of his much loved partner Mark. In the story, we hear a lot about Stuart’s viewpoint on Mark, but what about vice versa? So here’s a posthumously posted ‘interview’ with Mark about the man himself.

How did you meet?

It was a blind date, although neither of us knew that at the time. Stuart thought he was meeting up with Guy, one of his work colleagues. I think he’d secretly fancied Guy for ages, so when the bloke arranged for them to have a drink, Stuart thought his luck had turned and Guy had turned with it.

So did you know about the blind date?

Did I heck as like. I been invited to drinks in the pub with a chap I worked with. A friend of Guy’s. You can get the rest.

Love at first sight?

No. Lust, certainly. Well, don’t look so shocked. Even hospital chaplains have naughty bits that need exercising. Christians do have sex, and quite enjoy it, but they never put that in the Diocese newspaper.

Lust turned to love, though?

It did, indeed. Stuart was, quite literally, an answer to my prayers. I’d been terribly lonely, in a complete “I shall die alone and be eaten by church mice” slough of despond, when in walked—no, technically I was the one who walked in—this gorgeous hunk, who had no idea how gorgeous he was, which makes things even better.

Wouldn’t some people say that the idea of a sexually active gay priest is untenable?

They would. And I’d say that there are plenty of so-called Christians whose lifestyle and preaching I’d find untenable. They seem to worship a God made in their own spiteful image. Sorry, I’ll get down off my high horse. Next question, please?

If you ever chose to leave the church what would you enjoy doing instead?

When I was small I wanted to be a ship’s captain. Now I’d like to write, if Stuart could keep us in the style we’re accustomed to.

What genre?

Deep theological tomes under my own name. And gay romances under a pen name. I suspect I’d make more money from the latter than the former. Stuart would be mortified, of course. Poor lamb, he’s extremely shy.

Do you find that his work impacts on your home life?

I think both our jobs do, but at least I rarely have to deal with cases where a child has been assaulted or even killed by one of its family. When Stuart has the forensics to complete on those cases it hits him hard. I couldn’t do what he does.

What keeps him going when things are tough?

Love. Understanding. Plum crumble. And a generous sprinkle of using our double bed to the full.

Second Helpings

Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?

Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.

Find It

Second Helpings
Excerpt

Some accident of the light, illumination from the pub garden streaming through a window and catching Paul’s hair, produced a halo. The effect was frightening. That’s just how Mark had appeared when Stuart had first seen him—in a pub of all places, sitting in a stream of sunlight, motes of dust dancing about his head like pinhead angels. He hadn’t thought of that first meeting in an age, deliberately shutting off those memories of happier times.

“I asked whether your dad and my mum were an item once.” Paul gently tapped the table top.

“Sorry.” Stuart winced, as though that hand had struck him. “I was miles away. Almost like I saw a ghost.”

Paul studied him for a moment, then looked away. He produced a rueful smile, one which softened the angles of his face. “I thought I’d said something I shouldn’t.”

“No, you’re okay. It’s just…” Stuart pulled his beer towards him then pushed it away again. He wasn’t sure he wanted it any more. “My partner died last year. Sometimes it still feels like yesterday.”

“Oh, God, I’m sorry. I had no idea.” Paul grimaced. He’d grown pale, as pale as some of the victims Stuart had come across at work, deep in shock and wondering why the hell this was happening to them. “Mum didn’t warn me.”

“Perhaps she doesn’t know. Dad doesn’t particularly like discussing it.” Stuart looked at the table, like a chess player weighing up the next move among the beer mats and glasses. “He’s taken a hell of a long time to get over Mum dying. Mark’s death brought it all back and he’s only just finding his feet again.”

“Mark?”

“My partner.” Well, there was a decisive move. Paul would know he was gay.

“Mark was your partner?”

“Yes. Got a problem with that?” Stuart wondered if he’d drawn the homophobe in the pack.

“No.” Paul shook his head. “Would it help to talk about him?”

Stuart’s tide of anger came like Paul’s offer: sudden, unexpected and uncomfortable. He didn’t even know what he was cross about. “Why? So you can vet me, too?”

“No. God, no. I’m gay as well. I had no idea you were.”

“Oh, sorry, didn’t I make it clear as I came in? Should have worn my pink scarf and mascara. Then we could have joined the great queer conspiracy together.” It should have made it easier, the common nature: it didn’t. And, with a sudden clarity of thought he’d not felt in ages, Stuart realised the attraction he felt—and felt so guilty about—was putting a barrier between them.

Find Me

Charlie Cochrane

About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

One of the key plot points in Second Helpings is the ability (or inability) of Stuart and Paul to move on from their exes. Although in Paul’s case he isn’t even sure if his ex is ex. For Stuart, it’s about finding a second chance after the death of his much loved partner Mark. In the story, we hear a lot about Stuart’s viewpoint on Mark, but what about vice versa? So here’s a posthumously posted ‘interview’ with Mark about the man himself.

How did you meet?

It was a blind date, although neither of us knew that at the time. Stuart thought he was meeting up with Guy, one of his work colleagues. I think he’d secretly fancied Guy for ages, so when the bloke arranged for them to have a drink, Stuart thought his luck had turned and Guy had turned with it.

So did you know about the blind date?

Did I heck as like. I been invited to drinks in the pub with a chap I worked with. A friend of Guy’s. You can get the rest.

Love at first sight?

No. Lust, certainly. Well, don’t look so shocked. Even hospital chaplains have naughty bits that need exercising. Christians do have sex, and quite enjoy it, but they never put that in the Diocese newspaper.

Lust turned to love, though?

It did, indeed. Stuart was, quite literally, an answer to my prayers. I’d been terribly lonely, in a complete “I shall die alone and be eaten by church mice” slough of despond, when in walked—no, technically I was the one who walked in—this gorgeous hunk, who had no idea how gorgeous he was, which makes things even better.

Wouldn’t some people say that the idea of a sexually active gay priest is untenable?

They would. And I’d say that there are plenty of so-called Christians whose lifestyle and preaching I’d find untenable. They seem to worship a God made in their own spiteful image. Sorry, I’ll get down off my high horse. Next question, please?

If you ever chose to leave the church what would you enjoy doing instead?

When I was small I wanted to be a ship’s captain. Now I’d like to write, if Stuart could keep us in the style we’re accustomed to.

What genre?

Deep theological tomes under my own name. And gay romances under a pen name. I suspect I’d make more money from the latter than the former. Stuart would be mortified, of course. Poor lamb, he’s extremely shy.

Do you find that his work impacts on your home life?

I think both our jobs do, but at least I rarely have to deal with cases where a child has been assaulted or even killed by one of its family. When Stuart has the forensics to complete on those cases it hits him hard. I couldn’t do what he does.

What keeps him going when things are tough?

Love. Understanding. Plum crumble. And a generous sprinkle of using our double bed to the full.


Second Helpings

Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?

Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.


Excerpt from Second Helpings:

Some accident of the light, illumination from the pub garden streaming through a window and catching Paul’s hair, produced a halo. The effect was frightening. That’s just how Mark had appeared when Stuart had first seen him—in a pub of all places, sitting in a stream of sunlight, motes of dust dancing about his head like pinhead angels. He hadn’t thought of that first meeting in an age, deliberately shutting off those memories of happier times.

“I asked whether your dad and my mum were an item once.” Paul gently tapped the table top.

“Sorry.” Stuart winced, as though that hand had struck him. “I was miles away. Almost like I saw a ghost.”

Paul studied him for a moment, then looked away. He produced a rueful smile, one which softened the angles of his face. “I thought I’d said something I shouldn’t.”

“No, you’re okay. It’s just…” Stuart pulled his beer towards him then pushed it away again. He wasn’t sure he wanted it any more. “My partner died last year. Sometimes it still feels like yesterday.”

“Oh, God, I’m sorry. I had no idea.” Paul grimaced. He’d grown pale, as pale as some of the victims Stuart had come across at work, deep in shock and wondering why the hell this was happening to them. “Mum didn’t warn me.”

“Perhaps she doesn’t know. Dad doesn’t particularly like discussing it.” Stuart looked at the table, like a chess player weighing up the next move among the beer mats and glasses. “He’s taken a hell of a long time to get over Mum dying. Mark’s death brought it all back and he’s only just finding his feet again.”

“Mark?”

“My partner.” Well, there was a decisive move. Paul would know he was gay.

“Mark was your partner?”

“Yes. Got a problem with that?” Stuart wondered if he’d drawn the homophobe in the pack.

“No.” Paul shook his head. “Would it help to talk about him?”

Stuart’s tide of anger came like Paul’s offer: sudden, unexpected and uncomfortable. He didn’t even know what he was cross about. “Why? So you can vet me, too?”

“No. God, no. I’m gay as well. I had no idea you were.”

“Oh, sorry, didn’t I make it clear as I came in? Should have worn my pink scarf and mascara. Then we could have joined the great queer conspiracy together.” It should have made it easier, the common nature: it didn’t. And, with a sudden clarity of thought he’d not felt in ages, Stuart realised the attraction he felt—and felt so guilty about—was putting a barrier between them.

Copyright © 2014 Charlie Cochrane. All rights reserved.


Find Second Helpings:


About Charlie Cochrane

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.


Find Charlie Cochrane:


8 Comments

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Michael.

  2. dtorini says:

    I really enjoy Second Helpings, though sometimes I felt Mark to be too good to be true along with Paul. But this interview showed him to be a “real” and decent chap that I – finally – get what Stuart felt. Thanks for this! 😀

  3. Name HJ says:

    I enjoyed seeing Mark’s view of Stuart, thanks! I’d really like to hear from Paul’s “boyfriend”, too, because his behaviour was so odd. Was there any truth in his mother’s being ill? If he could contact his boss, why didn’t he get in touch with Paul?

    • Thanks, HJ. Funny thing is that I can’t answer those questions. I really don’t ‘get’ Ben at all, or rather I see him from Paul’s POV only. I wouldn’t trust him with a balloon on a stick, let alone a relationship, but I could be wrong.

      Does that make any sort of sense?

      • HJ says:

        It does make sense, but it’s a bit frustrating! I hope Paul finds out some day what was going on with Ben. Otherwise it would be one of those things you worry about from time to time, trying to work out what really did happen!

tia

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