A Novel in The Tav series
Jake Manning’s smart mouth frequently gets him into trouble. Because of it, he can’t hold a job. Combined with some bad luck, it's prevented him from keeping steady employment. A huge debt looms over him, and alone he shoulders the care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters. When a housekeeping position opens, Jake’s so desperate he leaps at the opportunity. On landing, he finds his new boss, Patrick Stanford, a fussy, arrogant, rude… and blind man.
Born without sight, Patrick is used to being accommodated, but he’s met his match with Jake, who doesn’t take any of his crap and threatens to swap all the braille labels on his groceries and run off with his guide dog unless he behaves.
Jake gets a kick out of Patrick. Things are looking up: the girls are starting their own lives and his mum’s sobriety might stick this time. He’s sacrificed everything for his family; maybe it’s time for him to live his life and start a relationship with Patrick. When his mother needs him, guilt makes his choice between family and Patrick difficult, and Jake must realize he’s not alone anymore.
I TOOK one last look at my reflection in the mirror and decided that decent was about as good as it was going to get.
I was freshly showered and shaved—the five-dollar polo shirt was the best I had—and the jeans were the only pair I owned that didn’t have a hole in them. I kept my hair cropped close enough to my head that it didn’t require combing, and the usual thick, gold chain I wore around my neck had been carefully hidden in the drawer in my bedroom. I’d decided to keep the single gold stud in my ear, though. I made no apologies for my orientation and I might as well be upfront about that in my interview. Besides, an empty hole in my lobe pretty much said the same thing as a solitary earring.
With a final look in the mirror, I grabbed my keys, wallet, and phone, and walked out the door. The bus stop was only a few yards away, and the buses ran frequently along the main road. I didn’t even have a chance to contemplate whether I wanted to risk sitting on the bus-shelter bench seat and possibly get gum or some shit on my pants before I spied the squarish green Transperth vehicle approaching.
Carefully I waved the driver down and was disgusted to count out the change needed. A whole $2.80 for a frickin’ bus ride to travel three suburbs away. My budget was waaay past stressed, had sailed on past hurting with barely a flicker of its eyelid, and was firmly staring at oh-my-God-you-have-to-be-joking. I could feed all five foot ten of my body on two dollars a day with wise shopping and no fancy frills. It was painful to hand over the money to the bus driver and only receive a tiny white ticket in exchange.
I found an empty seat and—after carefully checking—plonked my arse down for the ten-minute journey. I would’ve preferred to ride my trusty, rusty bike, but that would mean arriving at a job interview all sweaty. Not such a good first impression.
Okay, I conceded to myself, second impression. I’d already blown the first impression. I’d worked my usual Sunday-night shift down at The Gardie Tav and had arrived home at 2:00 a.m. So when my mobile phone rang just before nine in the morning, I was not exactly Cheerful Charlie on the phone. Without opening my eyes I’d slammed the device against my ear and growled, “Yeah? What?”
A small pause ensued, and I was about to hang up when a no-nonsense, female voice asked, “Is that Jacob Manning?” That woke me up fast. This was no marketing call from India or drunken mother calling because she couldn’t find her car keys. The voice was older, polished, refined and with a definite military-like bark to it.
I sat up, looked at the bedside clock, and put on my best yes-boss-no-boss tone, “Yes. This is him.”
“Mr. Manning, my name is Mrs. Martha West and I’m from Housekeeping Inc. We have received your resume in the mail this morning and I was wondering if you had time to come and see me for an interview this morning at ten o’clock?”
Floored doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. I had put my resume in the post on Friday because I was desperate for any kind of work. I thought the company may have some sort of outdoor cleaning branch or industrial contracts that I might suit. Anything was good, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. The postage had cost me over a dollar, but I had managed to peel a sixty-cent stamp off an envelope that my housemate had received, so I happily sent my details to the company for half price.
Suddenly I realized that Mrs. Martha West was still waiting for my reply. “Ahh, sure. At your Applecross office?” That was where the newspaper advertisement had instructed the resumes to be sent.
“Yes. Is that a problem?”
“No, ma’am. I just need to take the bus, so as long as there isn’t a bus strike I can be there at ten.”
The ma’am was a little over the top, but she had that prissy, snobby voice that gave me flashbacks to Mrs. Sydney-Smith’s science classes where we had to call her ma’am or do detention. I’d chosen the detention every day after school for four weeks before caving in to her demands. I would’ve gone longer, but my little sister was sick, and I wanted to get home so I could take care of her.
“Would you like me to bring anything with me?”
“Determination and brass balls.” And then she hung up.
Well, fuck me. Obviously Mrs. Martha West wasn’t as snooty as I first thought. No problems, though. Me and my brass balls were pretty inseparable.
I grinned to myself as I pictured a matronly woman instructing me to drop my pants for inspection. I’d bring my brass balls as long as she didn’t ask to see them!
MRS. MARTHA West was exactly how she sounded on the phone. Her hair was liberally sprinkled with gray and had been ruthlessly pulled back into a bun and secured with a dozen pins. Her suit was gray too—a gray knee-length skirt, an ugly gray jacket over a spotless white shirt buttoned to her throat, and a gray-and-red silk scarf wrapped around the collar for a bit of color. She didn’t smile, she didn’t chitchat, and she didn’t offer me a glass of water. She just took a seat behind a massive but immaculate desk and waved me to the chair on the other side.
My resume was centered directly in front of her, and she picked it up and flicked through the pages before skewering me with a glare from her surprisingly bright blue eyes.
“Mr. Manning, I see you have had a variety of jobs in the past, none of which you have stayed at for very long.”
“Yes.” Well, it wasn’t like I could refute that. My sad and colorful employment history was noted in black and white in front of her.
She pursed her lips. “Any particular reason for that?”
I sighed. “Not really. A combination of personality clashes, better opportunities opening up, and some plain bad luck.” I did try to be a little diplomatic. This was a job interview after all.
Two well-plucked brows rose skyward. “Personality clashes? As in you didn’t get along with your coworkers? Or was it that you were unable to take instruction from your supervisor?”
Yes and yes… sometimes, anyway. “I refuse to do anything illegal, ma’am. That got me fired a couple of times. I’m gay, just so’s you know. So, if that’s a problem, I can leave now. But don’t go giving me a job and then giving me grief for my lifestyle later. My orientation has gotten me into trouble a number of times. And sometimes my bosses have just been real meatheads. I don’t tolerate idiots. It’s a personality flaw I’m working on. Sometimes biting my tongue gets a little painful and I end up telling people how to do the job better. Not everyone appreciates efficiency and good practice.”
Mrs. Martha West’s expression didn’t change. I wondered idly if she was Botoxed up? I’d heard that stuff can make changing your expression a little hard. But Mrs. Martha West didn’t look down or away. She just stared at me. I suspected this was the end of my interview.
“Mr. Manning, you sound like you have a smart mouth on you.”
Hell, yes. “I’m sorry. I’m working on that too. And please call me Jake. I know that sometimes my mouth runs away from my brain, but I’m a good, hard worker, Mrs. West. I can do the shit jobs without complaining, I turn up on time, I don’t call in sick unless I’m dying, and I’m desperate for a job.”
My inner smarty-pants was laughing at me. Desperate was an understatement.
Mrs. Martha West pursed her lips again. “Do you have any sort of cleaning experience at all?”
I gave a small cough. “I’ve been cleaning up after my sisters since I was old enough to use a flannel, ma’am. I’m the oldest, Mrs. West. My mother was a single mum, so I was left in charge a lot. I can do any sort of household chore you want. I’ve done cleaning in my jobs, too. Not houses, but I’ve cleaned bars and shops and offices and trucks and even pets. You tell me what you want done, and as long as you’re paying me and it won’t give me AIDS or rabies, I’ll clean it.”
That seemed to meet with her approval. She shuffled aside my appalling record of employment and picked up a manila folder. The folder seemed to hold only a couple of pieces of paper, but whatever was inside was unpleasant from the looks of it. I tried to see what the label on the front said, but I could only make out the word “Stanford.”
The file was closed and put neatly on her desk, perfectly aligned with the edge. Mrs. Martha West leaned forward on her elbows and addressed me earnestly. “Mr. Manning—Jake. I started cleaning houses when I was fourteen. I grew up in an orphanage and there wasn’t much else that was available to a girl in those days. I’ve cleaned houses for the rich, for the famous, for the obnoxious, for the prejudiced, for the offensive, for the crude, and even for royalty. I’ve put up with attitudes and rudeness my whole life. Don’t get me wrong, most of my employers were extremely nice. Those people are now my clients and they are unfailingly polite and lovely. But there are some out there who are just… angry with the whole world.”
She tapped the manila folder and leaned back in her seat. I was confused and unsure how to answer. But the woman continued her story without input from my side of the desk. “I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’ve been an honest employer to those who are easily taken advantage of and I’ve built my business with a reputation for excellence. I have over two hundred women on my books who can clean for me—some men too, but mostly women. And not one of those women will take on this client for me.”
“Oh.” It wasn’t the most intelligent response, but I was baffled.
“Yes. Word has gotten around about his attitude and none of my regulars will have a bar of him anymore. He has gone through dozens of housekeepers, eight this year alone. Mr. Stanford has been a client of Housekeepers Inc. for over ten years. Word gets around, Mr. Manning. No one is game to take him on. So I’m interviewing you. You sound desperate. Are you willing to hear more?”
Gulp. “Ahh…. What’s wrong with the… ahhh… client?”
Mrs. Martha West was straightforward. “He is rude, churlish, ungrateful, ill-tempered, arrogant, fussy, and completely anal about his house. But he pays good money. If you take on this job you will be required for six hours a day, five days a week. Mr. Stanford will have you come into his house and do the required tasks while he is at work, so you don’t need to ever see him, but he is irritable and will be extremely rude in his instructions and requirements. Perfection is demanded and he will not be slow to tell you when you have failed. Are you still interested?”
I smiled slowly at Mrs. Martha West. “Them brass balls you asked about? I have them here. You want me to clean a house and put up with shit flying my way? Hell! Sounds like my childhood all over again. When do you want me to start?”
The Blinding Light is well written and a lovely read.
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This is my first book by author Renae Kaye and wow ... I am extremely happy to have read the same.
This book has made me laugh and cry at the same time to the point of not wanting to put it down until I could read it all.
The writing style is excellent and the way Jake tells his story makes you feel like he is a friend telling you about his life.
A life that he had to go through taking care of his family not thinking of himself. A life in which he finally found happiness with a man that showed him the love of a partner. A life that Patrick wanted for himself too ...
Patrick a blind man that could see more than anyone else who is not blind. Patrick showed him the light and all they could be.
Loved this book it was sweet, funny, little angst and very easy to read. I love the writing style of this author.
Both main characters are loveable especially Jake he is so sweet. Always taking care of everybody and putting their needs first (not always good), it was nice to see that in the end he had grown and he knew he had to put his and Patrick's need first.
I highly recommend.
Amazing! I groaned a bit when I first saw it was in first person but soon totally forgot all about it! Wonderfully written to include all view points. I found myself laughing out loud and smiling through the book. The ending was just a little abrupt and I wished for a more flushed-out HEA but it was still a fantastic book! Great characters that are well developed and show growth. Good plot line and well thought out. Looking forward to more from the author.
As I was reading this book I was sucked in to the story line and I just fell in love with sweet Jake, who was always trying to take care of everyone else and not making time for himself! This is a man anyone would be lucky to have, but Jake wouldn't give his heart to just anyone!
After going to a job interview and accepting a housecleaning job despite the fact that he had been warned the client was....difficult, Jake finds his life changed forever!
Patrick is a blind man who is used to just barking orders and having them followed, not having to answer to anyone, but boy does that change when Jake comes to work for him. Jake is a caregiver by nature, he has had to care for his three younger sisters because his mother, for one reason or another wasn't able to, what will happen when he tries to take care of Patrick, someone who isn't used to attention like that at all?
Through the sharing of their respective stories and the connection they feel for each other, will these men learn their places in each others lives, and heart?
This is a beautiful story of two men who are so different, but so right for each other, it is a wonderful read with delightful and heartfelt surprises along the way I recommend to anyone! Thanks Renae, for giving us a book that proves it isn't what one can't do that counts, but what they can!
Just wow! An honest story about real people falling in love despite the circumstance. These characters-all of them, are people found in our own home towns and cities. They talk the way we talk and they live the way we live. I know these people! I love exactly these types of people. So when a story comes along that reflects the life I know, it is very easy to love it.
That said this is a romance, it comes complete with a HEA, crazy family and the requisite broken MC. But wow, Ms Kaye has packed a lot into these pages: funny, crazy, sexy, overworked and a baby!
I anticipated this release and wasn't for a second disappointed!
I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I reviewed it!
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