Game On Game Over

Game On, Game Over – release date October 8th!


By the third day John was fully integrated into the closed society of the archaeological site and the personnel working on it. They were a gregarious bunch, passionate about what they were doing, but capable of amusement at their own expense. All the lecturers were over forty years old, and their relationships with the much younger students were governed by mutual respect and liking. The Tajik locals running the catering, laundry, and site security were friendly, proud of their past, and appreciative of the interest their culture and history fired in foreigners. All in all, the whole, mismatched conglomerate worked together with cheerful tolerance and good humor. But the third day also brought Brent Babcock.


John was with Anahita in her trench, an exploratory cut along an inside wall of the caravanserai where some scroll ends and clay tablets had already been found. She was speculating optimistically about further finds when a voice laden with a harsh New York twang cut through her lightly accented English like a blunt saw. John peered over the edge of the trench and saw a man in his late forties, short, stocky, with thinning hair in a buzz cut, and the face of a pugnacious leprechaun. He was talking animatedly with Mike, hands waving to emphasize his points.


“Who the hell?” John muttered. But he’d lingered aboveground too long. Mike gestured to him—desperately, if he was any judge—and reluctantly he climbed out of the trench.


“John, this is Brent Babcock,” Mike said as soon as he joined the two men. Babcock barely topped John’s shoulder and John was a lean six feet tall. Mike’s solid six-five dwarfed them both. “Mr Babcock, Doctor John Jones, my Assistant Director. John, Mr Babcock’s a reporter—”


“Journalist,” Babcock interrupted, sticking out his hand. John took it. “Hi. I’m writing a series of articles on the Silk Roads, and gathering material for a book.” Their handshake was brief, Babcock’s grip strong to the point of discomfort. John managed to resist the impulse to tighten his own grip in response to the power play.


“You’ve chosen a fascinating subject,” he said mildly.


“Yeah, I know. This was the Lost Road of Ishkoshim, right?” The capital letters were obvious, the title of the book and a TV documentary probably already scripted in the man’s mind.


“Um, it wasn’t actually lost,” Mike said. “This spur of it was simply abandoned after the quake in the eleventh century. The spring and cisterns were—”


“Yeah, I get it. Like I said before I want to hear your take on it, some of the background history to the dig. Take some photos as well.”


Mike frowned thoughtfully. “I’ll have to clear it with the higher-ups first,” he answered. “But I don’t expect it’ll be much of a problem. We’re not exactly rewriting the history books here, and though the finds have been interesting, it’s not in the same category as Tutankhamun’s tomb. I’ll contact them and let you know.”


“Okay. I’m not on a tight schedule. I can afford to spend some time on this. I got a photographer in tow. I’d like him to have a look around, get an impression of the site while you’re getting the go-ahead from your bosses.” As if the result was a foregone conclusion.


“I don’t see a problem,” Mike said. “On the strict understanding no pictures are taken until sanctioned, and while either of you are on site, you’re accompanied by one of my people at all times.”


“I can live with that. You got a deal, Mike.” Babcock’s hand shot out again. “Call me Brent.”


“I’ll leave you with Doctor Jones,” Mike said, shaking his hand and wincing slightly. His brief sidelong glance at John was apologetic. “He’ll be your liaison.”


It wasn’t what John wanted to hear. But it was a logical choice. Liaising was part of his job description as far as the site was concerned, but if the man and his photographer were going to be underfoot for an unspecified period of time, they might adversely affect his covert mission. While a journalist wouldn’t be as easily removed from the scene as an archaeologist, it was certainly doable—and would be done if or when necessary.


Babcock talked at John for over half an hour, and it was as well John was skilled in keeping his thoughts and emotions from showing on his features. His usual friendly mask remained unshaken despite the journalist’s belligerent arrogance, but there was no doubt Babcock was good at what he did. His grasp of the history and trade dynamics of the Roads was excellent. The man was intelligent and articulate—borderline too articulate—and thoroughly unlikeable.


That night John lulled himself to sleep imagining various devious and intricate plans for the permanent removal of Brent Babcock.


* * * * *

Silver Publishing’s Pre-Order Buy link HERE



The Game is on – John Jones, aka Aidan Whittaker, a negotiator with MI6, is currently on assignment in Tajikistan, close to the Afghanistan border. Overtly on a University-run archaeological site, he’s covertly brokering a deal with local tribal leaders. His undercover mission is complicated by the arrival of a couple of Americans; journalist Brent Babcock and his photographer Scott Landon. The two men are there to document the ancient Silk Road, but when Babcock gets wind of a hot news story, he starts asking awkward questions.


Scott Landon is a different kind of trouble for John. Fourteen years John’s junior, gay and single-minded, he wants into John’s bed. Not being prepared to jeopardize his operation, John rejects him, despite being drawn to the younger man. But then events around them spiral out of control. Will it be Game Over…?





John was so engrossed in the painstaking work of excavating the fallen tiles without disturbing the contents of the niches behind them, he nearly fell over when a strange voice said, “Hi.” He regained his equilibrium and glanced up over his shoulder.


“Hello,” Anahita responded, but John barely heard her.


“Ma’am,” the man said, smiling and tipping a nonexistent hat. He was crouched on the planks protecting the edge of the trench. Aviator shades hid his eyes, but his smile was wide and bright. Sun-streaked blond hair curled over his forehead and onto the collar of his blue T-shirt, both emphasizing his tan. He was in his early to mid-twenties, ridiculously good-looking, and not one of the students. A camera hung around his neck. Babcock’s tame photographer, then. And, irritatingly, he was on his own, no Babcock in sight, and no escort either. John scowled, unwilling to admit to the immediate attraction pulling at him, or the pleasant warmth of incipient arousal in his groin. It was an added complication he didn’t need and he couldn’t allow his libido to get in his way. His solution was simple; a prickly defense kept away all kinds of trouble.


“So where’s Babcock?” John demanded. “I thought he was supposed to show up again.”


“Uh, yeah, but something came up and he sent me instead. I gotta report back to him.”


“You shouldn’t be on site without an escort,” he said curtly.


The man’s smile didn’t waver. “Yeah, I know I need a watchdog.” It was a pleasant drawl, redolent of the American Southwest, and it did nothing to cool John’s blood. “I’m trying to find one. Scott Landon.” He held out his hand.


John planted his hands on his hips and ignored the offered courtesy. “Go over to the building and wait for Professor Preston. He’ll allocate someone to assist you.”


“Been there, done that,” Scott said cheerfully. “No one showed.”


“I expect he’s busy,” Anahita piped up. “I’ll go and see if I can find him for you.”


“Thank you, ma’am.” But he made no move to return to the offices and wait for Mike.




Scott didn’t know what impulse drew him to the trench inside the ruins, but he was grateful for it when the man straightened and turned to face him. He was tall, lean, and sun-browned, his almost-black hair worn a little too long and showing a few threads of silver at the temples, though he was probably under forty. Deeply set in high-cheekboned, hawklike features, dark brown eyes gazed stonily at Scott. Somehow the man managed to give the impression of glaring down his impressive, aquiline nose despite his head being on a level with Scott’s knees. While not strictly handsome, his was the most interesting face Scott had seen in years, and also the most attractive. Right now, however, that face was the personification of aloofness. A warm pulse of interest spread through Scott’s blood. Never one to pass up a challenge, he waited until the woman took herself off, then gave the man a thorough checking out from behind the mask of his shades.


“So,” Scott said brightly, “what do you have here?”


“A trench,” he bit out, his rich voice becoming more clipped. “Wait by the offices, Mr Landon.”


“Okay,” he said, not moving. “But please call me Scott. Mr Landon’s my father and it’s way too formal for me.” He widened his smile to an out and out grin, as charming and engaging as he could make it. “Hey, c’mon, you need to loosen up. I’m not like Brent, I swear. Can I come down there?”


“I do not need to do anything, Mr Landon,” the man said icily, “and no, you can’t. Go away.”


Scott sighed, and wondered what the man’s mouth would be like when it wasn’t pressed into a thin line. Of course, he might not be gay, but he wouldn’t be the first so-called straight guy whom Scott persuaded sexual experimentation was a good idea, though he might be the most difficult. Nor was the setting ideal for seduction. But, as Scott reminded himself, a faint heart never won tall, dark, and interesting.


* * * * *


Available for Pre-order ow, Release Date )ctober 8th

Pre-Order link HERE

River Avon at Salisbury

Just for fun, here’s a pic I took a few weeks ago while walking into town.

After a great day yesterday on the Silver Publishing Facebook, I’m taking a day off to regroup *g*.

The final edits have been done on Starfall and Clue Game, and they are with the publishers for the last round of technical stuff.

Starfall will be released on March 19th by Silver Publishing.
Clue Game will be released on March 26th by Torquere Press in their Sip range.

Game On, Game Over is completed in first draft and is with my beta-readers for their input. It came in at just over 52,000, pretty much on target. That will change a little bit as it goes through the editing process, but not by much. It’s still in one document, even though its two parts are so different in setting and pace. When/If it’s accepted, I’ll be going by what my editor suggests. It might end up as two novellas – Game On, and Game Over.

So while I wait for Game On Game Over to come back from my betas, I’m going to dive into Fool’s Rush, the third and final part of the Fool’s Odyssey Trilogy for Manifold Press.

That leaves a further six titles on my WiP list:

Spiked – fantasy
Finders, Keepers – contemporary
Cause and Effect – paranormal
The Carandor Interface – SF
Oil and Water – paranormal
Tribulation – SF

Not to mention the as-yet untitled ideas floating around in the porridge that passes for my brain…

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