BY: MOLLIE BLAKE
This second part of An Unconventional Affair finds Barrington Stone working in Australia for a year. Tranquility “Tee” Hammond, fifteen years his senior, has ended their affair, but for Barrington it was never over. He can’t wait for the year to pass to go back to her. However, after a drunken encounter, with a woman he later discovers is a sex worker, his life is changed forever. How can he possibly leave Australia, now that he has a daughter?
After accepting that Barrington won’t be coming back to the UK, Tee rekindles her relationship with the charming-yet-unconventional Sebastian Chandler, owner of a motorsports racetrack. Although living with Sebastian is “complicated” and life for the couple isn’t perfect, they are settled and Tee is happy.
But everything changes when Barrington returns. Tee’s heart is in turmoil, and Sebastian is afraid he will lose the woman he loves. As the plot thickens and twists unravel, Barrington must decide if there is one risk worth sharing.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In An Unconventional Affair, A Risk Worth Sharing by Mollie Blake, Barrington Stone has gotten himself into a fix Down Under when he gets a prostitute pregnant. Even though he longs to return to the love of his life in England, Tee Hammond, she made it clear before he left that their affair was over. And now he has a daughter, so how can he leave? And even if he could, would Tee take him back, or is he doomed forever to love her from afar?
Hot, spicy, and thrilling, like all of Blake’s books, this one will grab and hold your interest all the way through. If you like tense and sexy stories, you can’t go wrong with this one.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: An Unconventional Affair ~ Book 2 by Mollie Blake is the continuation of the story or Tee Hammond and Barrington Stone. The first book ended as Barrington had left England for a year’s apprenticeship in Australia, leaving Tee behind after she tells him that it is over between them and he should move on. Barrington’s plans to rush home after his year is up and win Tee back are quashed when he gets a one-night stand pregnant. Even worse, the woman is a hooker, and when his daughter is born, Barrington fears for her safety if he leaves and returns to England. So he is stuck in Australia for the foreseeable future—until events conspire to bring him and Tee together again.
Like the rest of Blake’s books, An Unconventional Affair ~ Book 2 is well written, fast paced, hot, sexy, and full of surprises. You won’t want to miss it.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Was that the door? Or just Barrington’s head?
Bang. “Barrington, it’s me, Lachlan. Open the bloody door!”
Okay. It was the door and his head. Barrington dragged himself from the sofa and released the catch before staggering back and falling onto the cushions once more. A welcome darkness enveloped him as he wrapped his arm over his eyes.
“Shit, Barrington,” Lachlan said quietly, staring down at the empty whisky bottle, the half-pint glass on its side, a screwed up piece of paper on the floor, and the man still in yesterday’s clothes on the sofa. “What’s happened? Why didn’t you make it to the office? We were all wondering where the hell you were.”
“We” meant the team in the mergers and acquisitions department at accountants, PZ, where Barrington was working on a one-year placement from the UK.
He had been in Melbourne for three months and had immersed himself in his work, devouring every piece of information he could lay his hands on. “Had” being the operative word.
That was before a note was pushed under the door to his rented studio apartment—a note informing him that the woman he had slept with, the woman he didn’t know, was pregnant.
The whisky hadn’t taken away the regret nor the shame. Nor the reality.
“What’s goin’ on, mate?”
“Just leave me alone.” Barrington’s arm still covered his eyes.
Lachlan bent down and picked the piece of paper up from the floor. He smoothed it out and read the few words scrawled over it. “Fuck!” he gasped.
Feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him, he considered pushing his friend over on the sofa to make room for him to sit down. But at six foot two, Barrington was tall. Lachlan would have to push him onto the floor to make room. And right now that didn’t look like a good idea. Instead, he walked over to the kitchen area and filled the kettle. He needed a coffee, and he was bloody sure Barrington did too.
Placing two mugs of the steaming hot drink on the floor below Barrington’s head, Lachlan sat down beside them and took a sip. “You may as well start talkin’ to me ’cos I ain’t leavin’ until you do.”
Lachlan remembered only too well the evening he had encouraged his colleague to join him and some other guys from the PZ team for a drink. They had ended up at a nightclub in South Yarra. Now Lachlan felt responsible.
Barrington slowly heaved himself up into a sitting position, spread his long legs apart, and placed his elbows on his knees. He reached down for the remaining mug and stared at the drink. “I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do.” Dejection dripped from his words.
“This is Lindsey Addis, right?”
Barrington’s deep sigh caused the coffee to ripple on the surface of the mug. “If that’s the girl I left the club with that night, then yes.” Finally taking a sip and savoring the hot liquid before gulping it down, he laughed scathingly. “Ha, see. I don’t even know her damn name!”
“Well then.” Lachlan got up and sat on the sofa next to his friend. “If she really is pregnant, it probably isn’t even yours. I bet she’s sent that note to half a dozen guys.”
Barrington’s stomach turned. “I think I’m going to be sick,” he mumbled, putting the mug back on the floor and heading into the bathroom.
Lachlan paced the room and waited for the sound of vomiting to cease.
“I’m going to take a shower,” Barrington called.
“I’ll wait right here.”
Five minutes later, Barrington came out of the bathroom, with a towel around his waist, and went straight into his small bedroom, emerging dressed in cycling shorts and top.
Lachlan should have expected his friend to want to hit the streets of Melbourne to clear his head. Having known Barrington Stone since he arrived from England just three months ago, there were two things he could be sure of. Firstly, the man worked like a dog with a speed for learning matching the speed with which his legs spun the wheels of his racing bike. Secondly, he was hell bent on gaining as much knowledge from his job as he could and then getting back to England. Lachlan knew he declined all invitations to go out with any of the girls in the office, always citing the fact that there was somebody waiting for him back home. But he also knew that Barrington never spoke about anyone back home, except for his dad. Maybe after a fast paced ride on one of their favorite routes, Barrington might open up a little and realize that things may not be as bad as he appeared to think right now. After all, he clearly didn’t have a clue who Lindsey Addis was.
“Yeah. Come back to mine and give me a few minutes to get ready.” Lachlan headed for the door.
So what do I do?” Barrington was slugging back his water and plucking blades of grass as he sat in the park, feeling a little calmer after venting some of his anger on his bike, although Lachlan’s character assassination of the woman he had slept with two months ago did little to ease his mind. Apparently, she was a sex worker, sharing her body on a webcam as well as in a bedroom. Barrington had nothing against sex workers per se—his dad had always taught him not to judge other people—but he didn’t know any and never expected to. Finding out this particular one had a habit of picking guys up for fun at the club she had found Barrington in made him hate himself, not her. What was more, the fact her brother appeared to be her pimp made him nervous. But the real killer, the thing that sickened him and scared the hell out of him, was that there could be a baby.
As the only child of a vicar, a boy who had lost his mother when he was ten, and an eighteen year old diagnosed with leukemia, Barrington valued his life and those people he was close to. What if this woman was really going to have his child?
He simply couldn’t feel as optimistic as Lachlan appeared to be about the baby not being his, and he ignored his friend when he tried to placate him further by saying perhaps there was a chance that there was no baby in the first place. The shame and regret at what he had done began to take a stronger hold. It didn’t matter that he had been seduced by the girl after innocently walking her home. He had been a party to the act. His memory of what actually happened that evening was hazy, but he did know he had said he didn’t have a condom and the young woman he found lying in bed next to him had assured him that she did. Fuck! Had he even put it on? He simply couldn’t remember.
But none of that mattered. Now he had to face the prospect that a child could be born, here in Melbourne, and he could be the father.
“You think I should just wait until the baby’s born and then get a paternity test? Not even try to get in touch with her?”
“Yep. Forget about it for now. Like I said, there may not even be a baby. And who’s to say it would be yours? Just get through the next nine months, and I bet you’ll be laughing about it.”
Barrington frowned. He would never be laughing about it. “It’s seven months.”
“I had sex with her two months ago. I have to wait seven fucking months.”
Lachlan fell silent. He watched some children playing cricket with their parents. It was a scene of happy families.
Then he turned his attention back to the man next to him. “Come over to mine. We’ll pick up a takeaway on the way.” He hesitated a moment before adding, “We can take a shower and you can borrow some of my gear. Stay over and go straight into work with me in the morning.”
Barrington continued to pick at the blades of grass, tossing them back into the field with a sense of frustration and futility. “I don’t know, Lachlan. I need to clear my head.”
“What you need is to get laid again. Take your mind off a shag you can’t even remember.”
“You must be joking. I’m done with women.” Barrington stared out at the horizon. It was a beautiful view but he was in no mood to appreciate it. “It’s going to be a long few months.”
Lachlan let his eyes rest on his friend a moment and was pained to see such despair. “It doesn’t have to be,” he muttered under his breath.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. Just come back to mine tonight. You need some company. Otherwise, you’ll only brood the whole night. We can watch a film and play some blackjack. We’ll grab a takeaway. You look like you need some food.”
Barrington started to get to his feet and pick his bike up off the grass. “Okay. Thanks.”
Lachlan smiled. “I’ll race you.”
Two hours later, after a film and three hands of blackjack, Barrington got up from the chair and put the empty takeaway containers into the recycling bin.
Lachlan remained sprawled on his sofa, watching his friend. “Can I ask you something?” he said as he sat up, his tone edged with apprehension. “Do you really have a girl waiting for you back in England?”
Barrington studied his friend a moment, partly wondering where the question had come from, and partly determining how to reply. Lachlan was the closest friend he had in Melbourne, and yet neither man had shared much of their personal life with the other. Before the pause began to get awkward, Barrington shrugged. “She’s not exactly waiting for me. She ended it before I left.”
“Oh. Letting you know you could play away, as it were, while you’re here?”
“I think she meant it more in a permanent sort of way.” Barrington sat beside him on the sofa.
“Are you hoping to patch it up with her when you go back? Or d’you think she’ll have a met another guy?”
Barrington closed his eyes and was consumed by images of Tranquility Hammond. Tee, the English lawyer, fifteen years his senior, with whom he had fallen undeniably in love. And he knew she had loved him. He recalled her words when she finally let him know how special he was to her. ‘You, Barrington Stone, are the only man who has ever made me come.’
“She won’t meet anyone else. At least no one to have a steady relationship with. I don’t know if she’ll want to see me again but it was never over for me.” He rubbed the moistness from his eyes. Suddenly, he felt Lachlan’s hand rest gently on his shoulder. He turned to look at him, his eyes still glistening. And questioning.
“I can help you get through this, Barrington.” Lachlan’s voice was hushed.
The hand moved slowly onto his back, and fingers traced a small circle. Barrington stared at Lachlan, dumbstruck.
“I’ll be here for you.”
Barrington moved away from his touch. “I—I think I had better go.”
There was a barely audible sound. “Shit.” Lachlan ran his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, Barrington. I—I didn’t mean to scare you…” His voice trailed off and he looked away.
Barrington remained on the sofa. “I’m not gay, Lachlan. You know that don’t you?”
Lachlan leaned forward and gazed at the carpet. “Yeah, I know. I figured that out pretty quickly. And I guess you know that I am.” He looked up to face Barrington. “But…Well, you’re gonna be here another ten months. You said you didn’t want to be with any more women. That’s a long time to be on your own. I know ’cos I’ve been on my own for over a year now. I’ve never really got close to another guy, just a few hook-ups and the odd date that lasted a few weeks.” He paused. “But I know what it’s like to be lonely. And.” There was a longer pause. Should he continue to lay himself bare like this? What the heck. “I liked you, Barrington. The minute you walked into the office. And, well, even though I soon knew you weren’t gay, I just wanted to be your friend. I still do, and I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that. But hell, Barrington. I just have to tell you I can, er, help you. Make you feel better. If ever you want me to.”
Barrington stared after Lachlan as his friend stood up and walked into the bathroom. He left the door ajar. The sound of flowing water crept into the living room.
A minute later, instead of going back to the sofa, Lachlan hovered in the bathroom doorway. “Please. Don’t go. Stay tonight. The spare room’s made up. I’m not gonna do anything. I just wanted you to know.” His smile was warm, and he looked pleadingly at the man still sitting on his sofa. “I’m not gonna spoil our friendship, Barrington. Please understand that. I just wanted to help you forget some of your troubles.”
Barrington heard his words. He also heard a plea for companionship, and closeness. Did he want that too? Of course, he was lonely. He missed Tee every moment his head wasn’t filled with work. His job was his solace but it didn’t take away the ache of loneliness and yearning to go back to England, to Tee. And it didn’t stop the nightmares about the evening he had spent with Lindsey Addis, and the feeling of guilt it had left. Unsure how to respond to Lachlan, Barrington stood up and walked over to the window. His image was reflected in the blackness outside. His whole body sagged. Is this really me?
Sensing that the conversation was over, Lachlan crossed the living area to the hallway and picked up his keys from the dish on the small side table. “Here, I’ll help you get your bike out.” He started to open the door to push his friend’s bike into the corridor of the apartment block.
Barrington’s hand pressed the door shut. “I’ll stay,” he said in reply to Lachlan’s puzzled look. “Just for tonight. In the spare room.”
For some people, seven months spent doing very little except working and cycling might pass extremely slowly. For Barrington Stone they went all too quickly. He knew exactly what date to expect to hear news from Lindsey Addis.
On a rainy day in May, Barrington answered the phone at the hot desk where he was stationed.
He heard the gruff voice of a man. “Hello, Daddy.”
Barrington’s eyes widened, and his blood ran cold. He struggled to get the words out. “Who is this?”
“You just need to know that Lindsey’s had a baby girl and it’s going to be expensive. We’ll be in touch.” The line went dead.
Barrington’s eyes darted around the open plan office. Nothing had changed. Everyone was still working. The photocopier whirred in the corner, spurting out sheet after sheet, collating the set of financial statements he had just sent to it. A phone rang at someone else’s desk, and Jane walked past and asked if he wanted a coffee.
“Er. Yes, please. That would be good.”
“Are you all right, Barrington? You look pale. Even for a Brit.”
“I’m fine,” he mumbled, getting up from his chair and heading toward the gents.
Once inside the confines of a cubicle, he sat on the closed toilet seat and held his head in his hands. How did they know where he worked, and what the fuck was he going to do now?
© 2019 by Mollie Blake