London in the Rain (MM)


Heat Rating: Steamy
Word Count: 11,070
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A life of set routine is the norm for Raymond Smith. Now in his mid-thirties, a fleeting wartime romance far behind him, he is an exemplary clerk at a London insurance firm where he’s perceived as dry and conventional.

But Raymond has a secret. Every month or so, he visits Charlie’s, one of the more understated bars in Soho's flowering gay scene in the 1930s. There, he seeks relief with strangers to get him through the next few weeks.

On one of these visits, he encounters suave David Carstairs, a well-travelled linguist with the Foreign Office. Rather than a brief encounter, David offers him friendship and even affection. Despite Raymond’s misgivings, the two men, with their contrasting backgrounds and experiences, start to form a bond in the spring of 1936 as Europe inexorably begins to march towards war.

Will Raymond fearfully reject this chance of happiness? Or can he unbend enough to allow David into his heart and life?

London in the Rain (MM)
0 Ratings (0.0)

London in the Rain (MM)


Heat Rating: Steamy
Word Count: 11,070
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Raymond was almost breathless when he entered Charlie’s, the doorman lifting the curtain for him without hesitation. He paused in the inner doorway, taking in the quiet scene. As it was so early, very few tables were occupied, and the pounding in his head increased as he fruitlessly looked around the room. At last, his gaze locked on a familiar figure, sitting in the same position as Raymond had occupied the previous Thursday.

Charlie, the owner, elegant in black satin with her brassy hair piled high, was leaning over the bar talking to him in a familiar way that indicated long association. As he approached, the man gave a welcoming smile and Raymond’s headache vanished.

“Scotch and soda?” The man queried before giving his order to Charlie. As he chatted with the proprietress, Raymond looked at him surreptitiously. He’s not out on the town tonight, he thought, as the stylish dress clothes had been replaced by a tailored Savile Row suit. He must have come straight from work in much the same way as Raymond, and he wondered if his gentleman was something in the city or even a cog in the wheel of government.

Placing down their drinks with a vermilion-lipped beam, Charlie moved down the bar to serve the next customer. The man smiled at Raymond, picked up his glass, and said, “Cheers!”

Braced for the first taste of harsh spirit, Raymond’s eyebrows rose when the contents proved to be far superior to what was normally served. He must be more than a vague acquaintance of Charlie’s, thought Raymond, as this is the good stuff. He took a long swallow, appreciating the fine flavours.

“Bad day?” The man asked sympathetically.

“Oh, you know,” Raymond shrugged. “The usual ups and downs of office life.” Although his companion smiled understandingly, Raymond would have been astonished if the man had any familiarity with his humdrum routine.

The gentleman took a sip of whisky, and after hesitating, he began, “Well, whatever happened today, despite any inconvenience to you, I’m glad it brought you here. I was hoping I might see you again,” he finished with a shy smile.

Raymond said nothing, hiding his confusion with the rest of his drink. He must be joking. Why would someone like him give me a second glance?

Embarrassed, he changed the subject, pretending to peer into the corners of the room, saying, “Your young friends not with you tonight?”

The man laughed, “Thankfully, no. One round of the delights of Soho was sufficient for my young cousin and his chums. From the amount and variety of booze they put back, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still suffering from sore heads. Talking of which, would you like another?”

He gestured to Charlie, who took away their glasses to refill them from her private supply, returning their replenished drinks with a conspiratorial grin. Raymond took a sip of his fresh drink, letting the fine whisky roll around his mouth.

“By the way,” the man said, “I don’t know your name. How remiss of me. I’m David Carstairs.”

Taken aback by such openness, Raymond paused before he shook the proffered hand, his own captured briefly by a warm, firm grip.

“Raymond Smith,” he muttered in response. Meeting David’s amused, slightly disbelieving glance, he laughed and said, “No, it’s not a false name.”

“There are plenty of genuine Smiths in the world, I suppose,” David said lightly. “And not merely assumed for reasons of disguise.”

Raymond felt keenly aware of their surroundings and all the secrets this place of assignation held, including his own.

As though on the same wavelength, David said casually, “This bar is a pleasant place to unwind and not too far from King Charles Street where I work.”

So he’s in the Foreign Office, then, Raymond thought. I should have guessed. He’s got the looks and poise and, no doubt, the education too.

He cleared his throat, “I’m not far away either. My office is in Southampton Row.”

It seemed oddly personal to trade such information here, where Raymond had exchanged greater intimacies with men, never knowing a single fact about their lives.

David glanced at his watch. “I assume you haven’t had the chance to eat as yet? Perhaps after we’ve finished these, we might get a spot of supper somewhere?”

After gulping down his first drink, Raymond had been slowly sipping his second glass of whisky to remain as long as he could in David’s presence, convinced the other man would excuse himself at the first opportunity.

Raymond blinked, taking in the import of the invitation. “I’d like that very much,” he replied. David’s shoulders relaxed as though they had held some invisible tension.

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