Naked Hero - The Journey Home
Series: Naked Hero , Book 2.0
By: J. K. Brighton | Other books by J. K. Brighton
Published By: Firm Hand Books
Published: Nov 02, 2013
ISBN # 9781301019007
By: J. K. Brighton | Other books by J. K. Brighton
Published By: Firm Hand Books
Published: Nov 02, 2013
ISBN # 9781301019007
Word Count: 146,500
Available in: Palm DOC/iSolo, Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.mobi), Epub
Naked Hero - The Journey Home (Naked Hero) by J. K. Brighton - Romance>Action/Adventure‘Naked Hero’ is the story of Lewis Macleod’s search for the elusive perfect man as he battles with the adversities of life. Told in two parts, the second ‘The Journey Home’ picks up his story at Wimbledon six months after his adventures Down Under in ‘The Journey Away’. But things have moved on, and the man who will watch him play the final from his supporter’s box is a surprise package.
Lee Porter and Scott Taylor, the two suitors in Australia, are still hovering in the background. But it is The Big Dour Scotsman, Gavin Strang, who now takes up the challenge to win Lewis’s favour. From London the story moves to Gozo, a small Mediterranean island steeped in mythology, where Lewis escapes having regained his Wimbledon title. He needs time away from the public glare to reassess his life. Gavin is there acting as a friend, but romance inevitably blossoms.
It is a thorny path the couple tread however, with turmoil aplenty in the form of Jilly McPhee – a mischievous minx who is after a scoop. Lee Porter is far from idle either, and he’s there with a sting when the action returns to England. But for the nomadic Scotsman, Lewis Macleod, the journey home must go full circle, and it is north of the border where he must go to find the answer to his private quest.
Note: ‘Naked Hero – The Journey Home’ was originally released as an experimental piece of work under the simpler title ‘Naked Hero’ and is now offered as a rewritten polished novel. It functions perfectly well as a standalone book but would be appreciated more if read after 'The Journey Away'.
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Sensuality Rating: Not rated
From Nancy (Amazon.com)5.0 out of 5 stars Double wow October 14, 2013 I really enjoyed this second book of this story. It was well told and the turnout at the end was worth my time and purchasing the second book. I really appreciate authors who offer a free Kindle download book because it allows new readers the ability to get a feel for their writing style without an initial investment. Must read both books for full
From By RJL19930 (Amazon.com)5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Read with a Different Storyline October 17, 2013 I read this series and throughly enjoyed it. It could use a little more introspection, but I loved it. I would recommend this book to anyone.
From Jake (Amazon.co.uk)5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Great 10 Oct 2013 Having read the first in the series, Naked Hero - The Journey Away,I was expecting to be disappointed by this sequel.This book, I can honestly say, is even better than the first. Lewis, the somewhat infamous Scottish tennis player, hits the headlines again after winning Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships for the second time. His relationship with
Excerpt:Having got back to the house by eleven o’clock, Lewis and Gavin settled by the pool for an hour to relax then decided it was time to return to Mgarr ix-Xini for the promised lunch.
They drove there by jeep on this occasion, direct to the bay where there was a sort of shack with outdoor seating overlooking the inlet – very unpretentious and bordering on the idyllic. There were only two other occupied tables, so they had no difficulty in finding a spot with an uninterrupted view and were soon joined by Norma, who managed the cafe along with her husband, Joe.
“Hello, Gavin - welcome back. Can I get you something to drink - some wine perhaps?”
Gavin glanced at Lewis and saw the involuntary raising of his eyebrows. He almost laughed as they were quickly pulled down and a tight-locked grimace was placed over his mouth to prevent any words from escaping. Lunch at Mgarr ix-Xini was unheard of for Gavin without a liberal sprinkling of wine to wash it all down, and the decision was clearly being left to him, although it was obvious what Lewis’s preference would be.
“Aye, that would be great, Norma, a bottle of the local rose, if you’ve got one chilled,” he eventually replied. “Oh, this is... This is Lewis - he’s staying at the farmhouse for a couple of weeks.”
“Hi there,’ said Lewis. ‘This is a tremendous place you’ve got here.”
“Thank you. You are Scottish as well, I think,” said Norma betraying not a trace of recognition.
Lewis nodded, initially playing the matter down. Then a devil in him decided to use the opening for a little teasing. “That’s right. I’m from the Hebrides originally - the real Scotland.”
“That’s good,” answered Norma not understanding what he meant. “I hope you enjoy your stay. I’ll get you the wine and let you decide what to eat. We have everything on the board.” She nodded to a large blackboard where the menu for the day had been written in chalk.
“What do you mean by the real Scotland?’ asked Gavin once she had gone. ‘You don’t get any more Scottish than Glasgow!”
Lewis threw back his head and let out a chortle. “Your arse, you do! I lived there once, so don’t try to tell me any different. You Lowlanders are just a bunch of Sassenachs that got lost on a hike. I bet you’ll be celebrating big style this weekend, what with the feast of Saint George going on.”
Gavin screwed up his eyes and put on a stony face as he looked over at Lewis, whilst fighting back the impulse to put this Anglo-Scot in his place - a battle which he thankfully won. It wasn’t difficult - the smile that was returned brought perspective, and cracked the facade, despite Gavin’s desire to convey at least a modicum of wrath at such a slight.
“Just joking,” said Lewis. “I’m from Ayr originally, although the clan harks back to the Hebrides. Come on! Let’s have a look at this board. I’m hungry.”
The fare of the day was freshly caught fish and sea food. Lewis recognised a few of the names, but most meant nothing to him. “What do you recommend?” he asked.
“Well, we could start with some calamari. It’s the proper stuff, not those silly rings you get out of a packet. Fried in a bit of olive oil then tossed with balsamic vinegar.”
“Sounds fab!” Lewis enthused, his mind already made up. “And then what?”
“Well, as you’ll be paying for it, we could get a Scorpion fish. A bit of salad would round that off nicely.”
“What! No chips with my fish! Now that is taking things a bit far!” exclaimed Lewis in mock horror. But he eventually conceded on seeing Gavin’s frosty glare.
Norma was waiting for them on their return and duly took their order. They were left to enjoy the wine she had poured and the spectacular view in front of them.
Lewis felt himself melt away with the heat and the simplicity of the scene which he now took the time to appreciate more fully. The long narrow inlet stretched before them, its calm waters protected on either side by high steeply rising rocky verges. For more than half a mile it ran, offering its protection to the beach, and with an obliging curvature, blocking out the world in the form of Malta across the sea. Along the right flank, where steps had been carved into the rock, some young lads were jumping and diving from the steep cliffs in an attempt to impress each other, and the girls who lay sunbathing on the flattened rocks just above the water - a simple performance, with no fee in mind, other than perhaps a kiss. A path ran along the top of the left flank, leading eventually to the watchtower which guarded the entrance to the bay. It wasn’t the best example on the island, a bit rough round the edges perhaps, but its solid form gave comfort and reassurance to those who viewed it from the land.
The beach itself was deserted apart from a small boy who sat cradled between his father’s legs whilst throwing pebbles at the sea. Smiling contentedly as a memory hit, Lewis closed his eyes and lounged back into his chair, stretching his legs out before him. He felt no need to force a conversation, lost as he was in a remembered embrace. When it did come, it was without consideration, straying onto a place where no living soul had trod with him, such was the degree of comfort he felt.
“It reminds me of Lewis... the island that is. There’s a similar sort of bay there. I used to go down to it all the time, just to sit and think. You never had this sort of heat, though - different plants as well... But it’s the rocks and the calmness of the water - the peacefulness - the way it’s not overrun, just a few people getting on with the business of living.”
“Is that where you got your name from?” asked Gavin.
“Aye! It was my dad’s idea – he said it was because that’s where the Macleods originally hailed from before the Mackenzies turfed us out, but I reckon there was another reason. You see, I have this horrible feeling that Posh and Becks weren’t the first to name their son after his place of conception. My parents spent their honeymoon on Lewis, and I popped along nine month later, so it’s a fair bet. Thank God they didn’t have the money to go anywhere more exotic. That would have got changed by deed poll when I was eighteen, I can assure you.”
Gavin smiled to himself at the notion - Goa Macleod had a ring to it, or perhaps even Gozo. After a few more ludicrous re-christenings, he asked, “Did you go there a lot?”
“Every year,” replied Lewis. “My Aunt Maureen has a holiday home there. Just a wee Butt ‘n’ Ben, but I loved it. I haven’t been back since... since I was twelve.”
“Did your mum not take you back?” asked Gavin, knowing he was treading onto very thin ice. Marie had warned him of the sensitivity which lay there.
Lewis adamantly shook his head. “No. Maureen was my dad’s sister - she and my mum never got on very well. I spent my time in England or abroad after that anyway - tennis academies, training camps, junior tournaments, that sort of thing. Holidays were non-existent.”
Warily Gavin pressed him further. “That must have been difficult for you... after what happened to your dad.”
The taboo subject had been directly mentioned but Lewis took it in his stride. “What, the camps and such like? No - they were the best place for me. I could forget there, and remember at the same time... remember why I was there.” Lewis looked over to Gavin, who sat uneasy, sensing that he should have perhaps left the subject alone. “Don’t worry, Gavin! I’m twenty-three now. I can talk about my dad without falling apart, though I couldn’t for a long time. That’s why most people avoid the subject...” Lewis paused for a moment as he looked back to the sea recalling again the times that he had looked on it with a different man. “It’s funny - my dad never pushed me in any way. He had no great unfulfilled dreams that he wanted to live out through his son, or saw me as a ticket to the high life, like a lot of other tennis parents see their kids. He just encouraged me to do it if I wanted to. And of course, I did - I wanted to show off to him, so he would be proud of his wee boy. But he never pushed me, not in the way that was needed to become really good...” Lewis paused. He’d never opened up like this to anyone – not even to Lee. Yet somehow in this setting he felt comfortable enough, and after so many years, it needed to be said, even if he did so in a stuttering choked voice. “If he had lived, then you probably would never have heard of me... but he didn’t... so you did. The whole world got to hear of me because he died... and because I still wanted to make him proud of me... There was no other tennis parent that pushed harder than he eventually did... even if it was from the grave. But he’s done his job now...”
The solemnity was broken with a smile from Lewis, who turned round after a moment’s reflection and raised his glass to draw a line under it all. “Cheers.”
The calamari arrived a few minutes later, lightening the mood even further as they started to tuck in.
“What are your parents like?” asked Lewis, in an attempt to change the subject, but unconsciously staying close. Letting go had never come easy for young Mr. Macleod.
“Oh, my old man pushed me as well,” replied Gavin. “Pushed me around the house when I was a boy, then pushed me out of it when I was fifteen. He wasn’t too happy when he found out he had a poof in the family, so he gave me a kicking that saw me in hospital and social services taking me away.”
“Sorry. Do you see him now?”
“No. He never said another word to me until I appeared on television. He was keen enough then to get in touch and try to tap me for a few quid. Cheeky sod! I told him where he could get off. It would have gone on drink and a brace of three legged horses, just like his dole money does. I’m well out of it all.”
“What about your mum?” quizzed Lewis.
“Aye, I still see her from time to time, but...”
Gavin shook his head, as if annoyed with himself for the disloyalty. But he knew that Lewis had a similar situation with regards to Fiona, so he opened up as well. “It’s terrible to say, but I don’t really think of her as my mum anymore. She certainly never protected me like a mother should have. Margaret Wallace – Davy’s mother who fostered me - she’s more like a mum to me now.”
“Okay. I think that’s enough of happy families. By the sound of things, you win the game hands down,” said Lewis. Then raising a forkful of calamari, he added, “These are delicious, by the way. I don’t suppose you can rattle this off back at the house? I wouldn’t say no to a plate of these every day.”
With that Lewis left the past where it belonged and returned his attention to the present that went on around him, enjoying the tranquil scenery as he tucked away more than his fair share of the calamari. But Gavin’s thoughts remained with the conversation as he watched Lewis pig out on the food and quaff back the wine at an alarming speed. It was hardly the behaviour he would have expected from a world class sportsman - not just world class, but the current best in his field. He wondered what Lewis had meant at the end by saying, “But he’s done his job now...” Did Lewis feel that he had done enough to satisfy his father’s ghost, or was he himself satisfied with all that he had achieved? Again Marie’s words came back – her prediction about Lewis’s reign at the top being brief due to his tempestuous relationship with the game. It was all down to motivation - easier to find when you’re clawing your way up, but much harder to maintain once you’ve reached the top. And at that moment Gavin would have to concur with Ms. Clement - Lewis Macleod didn’t strike him like the sort of man who wanted to put in the effort to stay at the top for very long.
The calamari devoured, Joe arrived to show them the fish, a flattish golden affair of considerable size. “It’s good for you, I think,” he said as it was proudly displayed.
“More than adequate for me,” replied Lewis. “Gavin will need a bigger one, though. He’s a right greedy so and so.”
Joe was taken aback, before realising it was a joke, or so he hoped. It was the last of the Scorpion fish. Gavin gave the reassurance that was needed then Joe sauntered off to the beach where the fish was gutted and prepared for grilling. As Joe crouched by the sea and performed his ritual, the boy came along to observe the scene, taking on board at an early age the significance of death and its ability to sustain. His father watched over him as the lesson was learnt.
Norma came along a few minutes later to clear the table in preparation for the Scorpion fish’s next appearance.
“Another bottle?” she asked, noticing the first was now empty.
“Oh, yes,” replied Lewis, awoken from his reverie. “I think that would be well in order, thank you...” Then turning to Gavin he added, “I’ll let you have some of this one, Gavin, but not too much, mind - you’re driving, mate. Are they strict about that sort of thing here?”
“No, not at all,” was the wary reply. Then as Norma wandered off out of earshot, he added, “But I’ll take it easy. I wouldn’t like to put the world’s top tennis player through a windscreen. Are you sure you’ve not had enough, though?”
“Certain! There’s nothing planned for the rest of the day, is there? I can sleep it off by the pool. I could do with a bit more kip after that fiasco this morning. Don’t worry, it’s under control,” said Lewis, as he looked again at the sea, and saw what lay beyond – the lonely tour that was his future.
Gavin wasn’t so sure about the control. He had grown up in the presence of drink, and was fully aware of the hold it could have on men - women as well no doubt, but his mother had never been tormented by it in that way - only by the consequences of an alcoholic husband. The hold was there, he recognised the tendrils, be them loosely attached to Lewis’s back. He knew it wasn’t his place to judge. He had witnessed at first hand the pressures that Lewis lived with, and thought it was only reasonable he should seek an escape from time to time. Now was clearly that time, but this was surely the wrong way for anyone determined to stay at the top.
‘But he’s not!’ thought Gavin. ‘He’s not determined at all. He’s had enough.’