Two guys, a train, and lots of steam.
Sam Chancellor has been in love with the steam engine Old Bess since he was six years old. Well, maybe not literally, but even when he’s lost everything else in his life, he’s always had her. But now her place in his heart has been unexpectedly challenged. Her new driver, Ryan Saunders, is the embodiment of all Sam’s fantasies.
Ryan has written off Sam as just another geeky trainspotter—until the moment Ryan sees him without his usual shapeless hoodie and realizes that, for a nerd, Sam’s pretty built.
When Ryan overlooks Sam’s awkwardness long enough to suggest a hook-up, Sam seizes the opportunity—and Ryan—with both very eager hands. Finding common ground in their shared love of Bess, their time together is better than Sam ever dared dream.
But there’s a reason Ryan never talks about his past. And when Ryan’s job is threatened, Sam’s well-meaning intervention puts both Ryan and Bess in deadly danger.
Warning: Contains train geekery, bed-hogging, a hero with no experience and another with plenty to spare, and a spider called Mabel.
Sam is absolutely adorable! He is equal parts naive, hopeful, and nerdy. He is perfect for Ryan who is so jaded and out of hope sometimes. Together they figure out how to save their mutual love, Old Bess, from someone that is skimming from the trust. The way they just stumble into a relationship is kind of silly and perfect. They are so happy together, but I’d love to see how they last now that Bessie is safe.
Four and a half
I asked Sam to join us today to tell a memory of visiting Old Bess when he was feeling low. Instead, we get a beautiful scene that you can only find here. I hope you like it as much as I do. Read and enjoy!
Sam’s a little on the shy side, so instead of talking directly about himself, he shared exclusively a scene in which Old Bess cheered him up. It takes place eight years before the events in “Blowing Off Steam”.
As he walked out of the shop, Sam pulled off his tie and shoved it in the pocket of his too-big jacket. Uncle Ken had lent him the smart suit coat especially for the interview. Sam knew it looked as if he’d borrowed it, but it was still better than his other option—wearing the school blazer which he’d stuffed in the back of his wardrobe on leaving school a month ago and thought he’d never have to see again.
Not that it mattered. Neither the borrowed jacket nor his carefully polished shoes had helped one jot. His job interview at the town’s biggest department store had turned out to be a complete and utter disaster. He’d tried to smile through the nerves twisting inside him, but the man on the other side of the interview table had simply stared at him, his eyes cold and hard above a huge, beaked nose that Sam had scarcely been able to tear his gaze from. The blonde woman had at least smiled back at him, but her questions had been the hardest to answer.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?” she’d asked.
“Here?” he’d said, and couldn’t prevent his uncertainty from sounding in his voice. It was true but the fact she’d asked the question at all made him think his answer must be wrong.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
He should have been able to ace that one because Uncle Ken had coached him through it so many times. But punctuality, willingness and perfectionism had all fled from his head, and he’d ended up staring at her, mouth dry and stomach knotted in fear. “I work hard,” he’d croaked at last, because the silence had just gone on and on and he’d had to say something. “And I don’t like getting things wrong.”
As soon as it was out of his mouth he realised he’d just confessed he did get things wrong. Things got even worse from that point, until all he wanted was to run away from the stuffy room and hide forever. Instead, he had to go home and face Uncle Ken, who would be waiting on tenterhooks to hear how he had got on, even if he’d pretend to be reading the paper or doing the crossword when Sam got in. And when Sam told him it had been as big a disaster as the Montparnasse derailment, Uncle Ken would just say it was the shop’s loss, and would never bring it up again.
Sam didn’t want to disappoint Uncle Ken. He certainly didn’t want to have to confess, yet again, that he was the biggest loser on the planet. Before he knew it, he was heading for the one place that offered him sanctuary, the place that made him feel right when even Uncle Ken couldn’t.
At the station, he paused briefly to watch a class 47/4 loco pull in to Platform 3. Even that sight failed to lift his spirits, and he trudged onwards to Platform 5, where he sat on the empty end of a bench and tried to ignore the guy and girl at the other end. They couldn’t have been much older than him, and the way they were holding hands and smiling at each other made him feel even more hollow inside.
Instead he concentrated on the crowd of tourists on the platform. They were craning their necks to look up the track, though half of them were looking the wrong way. They were all waiting for Bess.
He heard her before he saw her, that distinctive sound that always brought a smile to his face. When he was little, his mum had always called steam trains “chuffers”. It had made his engine enthusiast father roll his eyes before smiling fondly at her. But the thing was, they did chuff. Or at least Bess did as she steamed along the track, the rhythmic sound from her blast pipe filling the air, her maroon and gold livery gleaming in the sunshine, smoke rising steadily into the summer sky from her funnel.
At the sight of her, something deep inside Sam eased. In the face of her beauty, her power, her perfection, everything else somehow got put into perspective. So much had happened in the decades since she’d emerged new and shining from the works, and none of it had changed her. She just kept going, strong and beautiful. It didn’t matter that he’d messed up the interview he’d been practising so hard for, just like it had stopped mattering what the bullies had said or the way everyone had laughed at him at school, when he had this—Bess, so beautiful in the sun.
All too soon, the tourists had climbed on board and she was moving off again. He strained his eyes after her until the only signs left were the smoke in the blue sky and the sound of her whistle echoing down the track.
Taking a deep breath, Sam found everything inside him felt lighter and freer. He was smiling slightly as he headed home, where Uncle Ken and a cup of tea would be waiting for him.
“You’re kind of built for a nerd, aren’t you?” Ryan said. “I guess trainspotting’s a more active hobby than I’d thought.”
Sam should have walked away because this guy was insufferable. Except there was humour gleaming in those eyes as well as something else. Something that if he wasn’t entirely losing his mind was actual, sexual interest.
In him, Sam Chancellor.
“It’s all that running alongside the engines to get the numbers down,” he blurted out before he could stop himself.
To his amazement, Ryan laughed. A true laugh that caused his eyes to crinkle at the corners. It made him even more gorgeous than he already was.
“Ryan Saunders,” he said. “I drive old Bessie.”
“Bessie?” Sam was horrified at the heresy. “She’s Bess. She’s always been Bess.”
“Given I’m the one whose hands have been over every inch of her, I guess she’s allowing me intimacies the general public doesn’t get,” Ryan said.
The low seductive voice and the thought of Ryan’s hands stroking over him the way they did over Bess meant Sam was getting hard. He clutched his satchel in front of him like some sort of shield, except that wasn’t helping at all because it was pressed against his dick and, God above, he was about to get a hard-on, here and now, right in front of Ryan Saunders.
“You haven’t told me your name,” Ryan said.
“Sam,” he choked out. “Sam Chancellor, and I have to go.”
He put his head down and fled.
Joy Lynn Fielding lives in a small English market town, where she indulges her passions for vintage aircraft, horse-riding and gardening (though not all at the same time).
Joy has a tendency to wax lyrical about the fascinating facts she discovers during her research for books. Thankfully she has a very patient Labrador who has a gift for looking interested in what she’s saying while he waits for the food to arrive.
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