An Olympic hero faces his longest run – to make up for the past.
Alex Schaefer is a sports journalist and commentator at the top of his game. He hosts a successful weekly podcast has just written the biography of a world class football player. With his career on an upward trajectory, Alex has never been busier. There is no time in his life for love or romance.
Ethan Bower was used to success. As a British sprinter, he won a host of silver and gold medals at the Olympics, European and Commonwealth championships, and spent over a decade at the top. Persistent injuries brought Ethan’s career to an abrupt halt in his mid-thirties. Now he has to start over again. Trying to get his foot in the door of athletics commentary and presenting isn’t easy.
Ethan and Alex have history. Eight years ago, at the height of Ethan’s success, Alex was chosen to ghost write his autobiography. An experience they would both rather forget. Ethan hated what Alex wrote about him; a fact he’s made very public. When Ethan attends the launch of Alex’s latest book, they meet again for the first time in years and something becomes apparent to both of them – they have each improved with age. Now in their thirties, they are older and more mature.
Can they put the past behind them and their ambitions for the future to take a chance on each other now?
Release Date: 18th January 2022
Word Count: 30,353
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, GAY, GLBTQI, SPORTS
As a journalist or reporter, the best asset anyone could have was the ability to walk around unnoticed.
Something inside him clammed up when he was on camera. He could sit in the podcast studio and talk for hours, but the few times he’d been dragged onto TV shows, he’d found himself unable to articulate or express any of the points he needed to make.
He was in a minority. Plenty of other journalists sought fame and attention from TV and social media, and they were welcome to every bit of it.
Alex didn’t need or want it.
Lanita gathered her things together, stuffing them inside a huge red leather bag. “C’mon. Let’s go. I’m taking you for a drink.”
Alex shook his head. “I can’t. I have to go home to get ready for the party.”
“Bitch, please. What are you going to do? Take a shower and change your shirt? You can do that in fifteen minutes. I know what you’re like when you go out, and you don’t need two hours to achieve it. C’mon. We’re going—me, you and Naz. You know we can’t make this evening, and we want to celebrate the book too. I’m buying, so you’d better take advantage of that while you can.”
They recorded the podcast at a studio in Media City close to Salford Quays and an array of trendy bars and restaurants. Ten minutes later, they were settled in a comfortable booth with a bottle of champagne on the table.
“To Alex and Fernando,” Lanita said, raising a toast.
They clinked glasses.
“When are we gonna get him on the show?” Naz asked. “Fernando, I mean. If anyone can pull a few strings, it’s got to be you. We should be all over this book release.”
Naz was a good ten years younger than Alex and Lanita but knew more about broadcast technology and recording than the two of them combined. He was a talented kid and had been with the show since the beginning. Alex had picked well when he’d hired him.
“It doesn’t feel right, using privilege like that,” Alex said. “Besides, there’s also the BBC policy about advertising. I can’t plug my own book on the show.”
“Bullshit,” Naz and Lanita said in unison.
“You don’t have to mention the book at all,” Naz continued. “We just want an interview with Fernando. You know what he would do for our listening figures. Ask him about it tonight.”
“No,” Alex said firmly. “I’m not going to exploit our friendship for listeners.”
“I would,” Lanita said. “If I was going to the launch, I wouldn’t hesitate. And he would say yes. I’m sure of it.”
“How come you’re not going?” Naz asked.
“I’m presenting a feature on The One Show. Can’t get out of it,” she said, taking a sip of champagne. “It’s bound to be some party. I heard the pre-sales are the biggest in years for a football book. They expect it to be bigger than Beckham’s. Your publisher will have money to burn. There are bound to be some big names around tonight.”
“Oh, please don’t say that,” Alex protested. “I feel nervous enough as it is.”
“There’s are players and managers going from Liverpool and Manchester,” she continued undeterred. “Soap stars, musicians, athletes. Ethan Bower, Rory Evans, Moses Adebayo… They’re all going.”
Alex froze, backtracking on what she had just said—one name in particular.
“Ethan Bower?” he said. “He’s going?”
“Sure. All of them are.”
Naz grinned at Alex across the table. “Doesn’t he, like, hate you?”
Alex grimaced. “I have no idea.”
Naz laughed. “I think you do.”
“What’s this?” Lanita perked up, a huge smile on her face as she put down her glass. “What have I missed?”
“Nothing,” Alex said.
“Alex and Ethan Bower have history,” Naz chuckled.
Lanita turned to Alex, her pretty eyes sparkling. “OMG. You haven’t shagged him, have you? Tell me you didn’t.”
“I didn’t,” he protested. “It’s nothing like that.”
She groaned. “Pity. Then what? Come on. Spill the story? And how come I don’t know this already?”
“It’s no big secret,” Alex said, shooting Naz a dirty look. “I ghostwrote Ethan’s autobiography, which came out about eight years ago.”
“You did? I don’t even remember him having a book out.”
“With good reason. It was a busy time with a lot of big-name biographies vying for the Christmas market. His book kind of got lost in the crowd. It didn’t really bother me. As a ghostwriter, they paid me a flat fee. Whether the book was a success or bombed, I got paid just the same.”
“So, what’s the big deal? Does he think it’s your fault his book flopped? I mean, how old was he, anyway? In his twenties? He can’t have had much of a story to tell at that age.”
Naz cleared his throat theatrically and read aloud from the screen of his phone. “Quote… ‘The man who wrote my book didn’t do his research and was poorly informed. He seemed like a nice enough guy when we sat down for the interviews, but when he wrote it up, he did a real hatchet job on me. What’s written in that book are not my words. He made it up so I would sound like a shallow, egotistical arsehole. I tried to get him fired and hire someone new, but it was too late. The book had to be in the shops by a certain date, and there just wasn’t time to start over. I’m glad it didn’t do well in the end, so less people got to read that bullshit. Jesus, that guy was a prick.’ End quote.” Naz put down the phone, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
“A hatchet job,” Lanita said. “Classy.”
Alex sighed and swallowed some champagne. It tasted bitter all of a sudden. “That’s Ethan’s version of what happened.”
“And how does your version differ?” she asked. “Dramatically, no doubt.”
“The part about him being a shallow, egotistical arsehole… I didn’t make that up. It was all there to begin with. All I did was put his personality on the page.”
“I’ve always found him quite charming,” she said.
“You know him?”
“A little. Not so much from his competition days, but I’ve met him recently. In fact, I saw him just last month on a breakfast show, and he was very nice. I wouldn’t call him an arsehole at all.”
“Maybe he’s mellowed. I met him at the height of his success.”
Ethan Bower was one of the UK’s most triumphant sprinters. He’d won silver and gold medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games for the four-hundred-metre races, as well as sharing team glory in the relays. With his wholesome good looks and dazzling green eyes, Ethan had been the poster boy for British athletics when Alex had been approached to pen his biography. Alex had leapt at the opportunity. Ethan had been one of the UK’s most exciting stars…a hero.
Ethan had proved to Alex that the adage of never meeting your heroes was true. With reddish-blond hair, Ethan had the fiery temper to match. As Alex spent time with him for the purpose of the book, he’d witnessed first-hand Ethan’s obnoxious behaviour. He’d treated everyone as if they were beneath him—his coach, trainers, physios, ground attendants, reporters and even his fans. He’d been mean-spirited and aggressive and focused on nothing other than his own achievements. His apparent lack of empathy or understanding of others had caused Alex to question more than once whether or not Ethan was a psychopath.
Alex had raised his concerns with the publisher at the time—that he didn’t think he could present an impartial view of Ethan, after everything he’d witnessed. They had dismissed his unease. They needed the book in a hurry and didn’t care how it was written. Ethan already had a reputation as a bad boy of athletics. No one wanted to read a sanitized version of his story.
“Throw it all in,” his editor had advised.
The experience of writing the book had almost put Alex off ghostwriting for life.
Thankfully, none of his other subjects had turned out to be as difficult as Ethan.
“He’s pretty hot,” Lanita said. “He was always a good-looking guy, but have you seen him recently? OMG, time has been very kind. He’s unbelievably fine.”
“It doesn’t matter what he looks like,” Alex said. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and from what I saw, the inside of that man is the worst kind of brat.”
“You might be surprised. What you’re describing does not sound like the man I know. He was charming, well-spoken…quite humble, in fact.”
Alex spluttered, almost choking on his drink. “Humble? Ethan Bower? You have definitely got the wrong guy—not unless he’s had a personality transplant. ‘Toxic’ is the best word I can think of to describe him.”
She shrugged. “Well, like I said earlier, it’s going to be a big party. You probably won’t even see him if he’s there. Don’t let it spoil your night. It’s about you and Fernando, not Ethan.”
“Too right,” he said. “And if I do see him, you can be sure I’ll give him a wide berth. He doesn’t like me, and I don’t like him. I don’t think we have anything to achieve in speaking to each other.”
This book was, okay. Not something I would likely read again, but okay.
Alex was kind and sweet, and preferred to stay out of the limelight. Ethan was the opposite, needed and wanted the limelight, and in the past wasn’t kind and sweet. This was definitely an enemies to lovers, almost insta-love story.
When they spent time alone together seemed to really have a lot in common and enjoyed each other’s company. However, whenever anyone stepped into the fray, Ethan’s agent, Rory, that’s when things seemed to go sideways.
I had a hard time with Alex’s back and forth on “is Ethan still a jerk or not”, then “oh yes, he’s a jerk, I don’t want to talk to him”. Meanwhile, Alex ended up being the jerk, not really giving Ethan a lot to go on, in the beginning, then getting upset when Ethan had some work stuff come up. I wanted to see a bit more of them working their way back together.
Since this was a novella, we didn’t get a lot of time with anyone, even the side characters, but both of the women seemed strong and confident. Meanwhile, Rory…pretty much a slimeball. lol
As I said, okay, but I won’t be revisiting this story.
began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.
Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonkbusters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.
You can take a look at Thom’s Blog and follow him on Twitter.