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Authors: J. L. Merrow

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BOOK: Fall Hard
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Eventually Lewis had to nudge. “You’re walking me down the front path, and I need you to tell me what you’re seeing.”

“Oh. Right. Of course. Sorry, I got lost in there.” Jasper’s body tensed again, and his left eye twitched.

Lewis instinctively reached out to take his hands. Damn. Hadn’t meant to do that. Still, Jasper’s breathing slowed again, so maybe this was just the way it needed to be. Some people relaxed best when in physical contact with someone else. Lewis worked on keeping his arms and hands supple and limber, so as not to transmit any of his misgivings to Jasper.

“That’s fine. Just talk me through what you’re seeing in your front garden now.”

“The garden? Oh, it’s nice. Erm, pretty. Lighter. I’ve pruned the trees, and the ground underneath them is covered in soft moss, with daffodils bobbing around in the breeze. It’s how it used to be. When I was little.”

“And the front of the house?” Lewis prompted when Jasper fell silent again.

“It looks good. The curtains are all open. The windows gleam. All those green stains are gone. You can see into the rooms. You can actually see inside.”

“You’re going to walk me up to the front door now. What colour is it?”

“Red,” Jasper said, decisively. “A rich, warm burgundy kind of red.”

“Sounds cheerful.” And worlds away from the scuffed and peeling navy it was at the moment. “How do you feel, waiting by the door to show me inside?”

“I’m… I’m nervous. But just a little. Happy nervous. Not like I was the first time you came inside. I think I must be… Yes, I’m excited.” Jasper’s words came in a breathless rush, like he couldn’t believe what he was feeling. “I’m going to open the door now. The lock turns easily, and the door opens all the way inside.”

“What can we see now? What furniture is inside your hallway?”

“A hat stand. Somewhere for you to put your coat, and the table by the door’s still there, but it’s just got a bowl on it for my keys and wallet. Nothing else. I’ve got one of those wire baskets on the back of the door to catch all the letters and junk mail. But I don’t get much of that anymore.”

“Why’s that?”

“I filled in a form and took it to the post office.” Jasper’s eyes sprang open. “I did that. I really did it. Last week. I meant to tell you when you got here, but I forgot.”

“That’s great.” So they were making some progress after all, at least in terms of stopping new paper coming into the house, anyway. “That’s a really good step to take. Now, I want you to tell me what you see on the floors and the walls.”

“The floor is polished marble. It really is, you know? It’s under there somewhere. Kind of cold, but there’s a colourful carpet to soften it. One of those Persian rugs, all warm colours and patterns.”

“And the walls?”

“Covered in books.”

“In books?”

Jasper smiled then. A cheeky little smile tugging at the corners of his lips. It suited him. “Books. Everywhere. But they’re on shelves now. And I know where they all are. They’re all ones I’m looking forward to reading. Fiction. I’ve moved unread fiction down to the hallway.”

“Okay, so you’re starting to decide where you want things to end up. That’s great. What about the lounge? What’s it like in there?”

“There’s a sofa and a couple of armchairs. Brown leather. And the fireplace is working again. I’ve got logs burning in there. It’s cosy. Other than that…it’s bookshelves again. Floor to ceiling on every wall but the outside one. I’ve got the old books in here. Leather-bound ones. Looks really classy with all those rich colours and the gilt on the spines. You can smell them. That sweet, old-paper fragrance.” Jasper opened his eyes again and gave Lewis a fiercely defiant look. “I’m still going to need lots of books around me.”

“That’s fine. No one’s saying you shouldn’t have your favourite things around you. I like the idea of bookshelves. What kind are they? Built in or freestanding?” The more detail in which Jasper could picture this, the better he’d be motivated to work towards it. That was the theory, anyway. If Lewis were being brutally honest with himself, though, he was just enjoying listening to him talk. The way Jasper’s face lit up when he pictured his house in working order again—that was magical.

“The shelves are wooden. Built in. I must have hired a carpenter, because I don’t know how to do all that kind of thing. Can barely rewire a plug. Should have learned, really, but by the time I was old enough, Dad had died.”

Lewis’s heart melted at the plaintive tone in Jasper’s voice, but it was time to steer him away from negative thinking. “Okay, it’s fine to get help with the things we can’t manage ourselves yet. Carpenters need customers too. But tell me more about the room. When do you use it? What do you like to do in here?”

“I come in here every morning after breakfast to drink my coffee and read a book. I like to sit in the armchair by the window. There’s good light there. And in the evening… In the evening, I spend time in here with my…my…”

“Your friends?” Lewis prompted. Jasper needed a social life.

“With my boyfriend,” Jasper said, his eyes springing open. “With you.”

Lewis stared, his heart hammering wildly, as Jasper leaned forward and cupped his jaw. He should move. Back away. Laugh it off.

He should do something sensible and act like the therapist he was.

But he was flesh-and-blood too, and he wanted this. God, how he wanted it.

Lewis’s id told his superego to go take a long walk off a short pier.

Jasper’s lips touched his. Tentative. Soft and searching.

Lewis moaned and opened his lips to deepen the kiss.

Fall Hard




JL Merrow





Some memories are better off lost in the mist…


Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.

First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.

As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.


Warning: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.

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They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.


This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.


Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

11821 Mason Montgomery Road Suite 4B

Cincinnati OH 45249


Fall Hard

Copyright © 2013 by JL Merrow

ISBN: 978-1-61921-801-7

Edited by Linda Ingmanson

Cover by Kanaxa


All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: September 2013

Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty


About the Author

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