Happy March and Happy Saint David’s Day!
The new edition of All the Gear is finally out!
The story was previously released in 2012 by All Romance Ebooks, under the title All the Gear, No Idea and as part of their Perfect Strangers Collection.
This version was pretty much re-written from scratch. It was also extended by over ten thousand words. I have no idea if that means it has changed enough that it should be considered a new book rather than a new edition, so I’m going on the side of caution and calling it a new edition.
This edition has a gorgeous cover by the very lovely Kris Norris and was edited by the amazing Bronwyn Green.
It’s the fourth book in the Kinky Cupid Series and makes far more sense if you’ve read the previous books in the series.
McCormack’s damned if he’ll be the next of Marcus’s friends to find himself set up by Bret, and as Valentine’s Day approaches, he’s especially wary. But, apparently, it’s not Bret’s plans for him he should be worried about.
When Mr Tomlinson asks McCormack for a favour, he finds himself going along with it, even though babysitting a novice who has all the gear, but no idea what to do with any of it, is the last thing he wants to do on Valentine’s night.
Theo is nothing like the experienced subs McCormack usually plays with, but he soon finds himself captivated by Theo’s clumsy yet earnest attempts to please him.
It really does seem like opposites attract, and everything is perfect—right up to the moment when McCormack discovers that one of his friends has a hidden agenda where Theo is concerned.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
“Damn it, McCormack! You had to pick today of all days to be late? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
“No.” Bill McCormack didn’t turn around as he spoke. He’d easily recognised Bret’s voice, and someone not giving him too much attention was exactly what that boy needed. Shrugging off his coat, McCormack put it in his locker in the changing room at The Spread Eagle.
“No?” Bret echoed from just behind McCormack. He sounded so confused, as if he couldn’t quite understand anyone using that word when speaking to him.
“Whatever nonsense you’ve got planned, whatever scheme you’re running—my answer is no. I’m not getting involved,” McCormack clarified, with all the patience he could muster. On that particular evening, it was even less patience than usual.
The place was packed. But it was mostly full of people who were there for some idiotic Valentine’s Day special event the club’s owners had dreamed up. So, almost all of them would probably prove to be people who had no idea what leather was, beyond a fashion statement. Just what McCormack needed tonight.
“I’m not planning—”
“Yes, you are,” McCormack cut in, still not turning away from his locker. “It’s Valentine’s Day. You wouldn’t be you if you weren’t making some poor sod’s life miserable today.”
“Happy, McCormack. None of the men I’ve set up over the last couple of years are miserable. They’re happy. You really should try happiness some time. It’s fun.”
“No,” McCormack repeated once more.
Working from muscle memory rather than anything else, McCormack checked the pockets of his leather trousers—bunch of keys in one pocket, silver chain-style collar in the other. He was just as used to carrying the latter around as the former at this point, although it was more habit than a real hope that he’d meet someone he wanted to collar these days.
Having closed his locker and checked that it was secure, McCormack finally spun around to face Bret. Folding his arms across his chest, he stared at the boy for several long seconds. It seemed like Bret was going to try to outstare him, but after a few moments, he looked away with a huff.
“I just want to ask you about a favour.”
“You haven’t even heard what it is yet!” He blinked big blue eyes up at McCormack, as if that might help.
“Is your master here tonight?”
“Then any trouble you’re in, go to him about it. You don’t need my help.”
“The favour isn’t even for me!” Bret protested. “It’s for Mr Tomlinson.”
A year after their falling out, and McCormack was still tempted to roll his eyes when he heard that name, and he still resisted the impulse. “No.”
“Damn it, McCormack. Even you can’t hold a grudge forever!”
“Not, ‘no, I won’t do a favour for the guy’. I’m saying ‘no, I don’t believe a word you’re telling me’,” McCormack clarified.
Bret’s face was a picture of shocked innocence. He held the expression for several seconds before he realised that McCormack wasn’t going to be the least bit impressed with his acting ability. “Okay, so sometimes the truth isn’t what a guy needs to hear. But this time I swear, I’m one-hundred percent honest!”
McCormack raised a pierced eyebrow at him.
“Anyway, I’m just the messenger. Mr Tomlinson sent me to tell you he wants to see you in the main bar the moment you get here. Well, he put it a lot more politely than that, but that was the gist. And he wants to see you so he can ask you for a favour.”
“I still don’t believe a word you’re saying,” McCormack bit out. But, to be safe, he made his way towards the bar, just in case this was one of the very rare times Bret was telling the truth to a dom who wasn’t his master.
He was aware of Bret stepping into his slipstream and following along in his wake, but he wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or not. The brat had a tendency to be in the middle of nonsense, and McCormack really wasn’t in the mood for that kind of silliness.
Nudging his way through the crowd, McCormack walked into the club’s main bar room. He had every expectation of finding everyone in the world apart from Tomlinson there. But there he was, at the bar, along with Dan, the bartender, and Steve Lewis, the other owner of the club.
All three men looked up as McCormack reached the group.
“Bret found you? That’s good. I need a favour.”
McCormack could almost feel Bret’s smug expression boring into the back of his neck.
“No problem,” Bret chirped. “I’m always happy to help, and I’m sure McCormack will be too.”
McCormack gritted his teeth, ignored Bret and kept his eyes on Tomlinson. “A favour?”
“Yes.” Tomlinson closed the file he’d been working on while perched on his usual stool at the end of the bar. Ever since he’d started dating Dan, he seemed to spend more time there than in his office. “It seems we have a slight problem with one of the new guys who turned up for the event tonight.”
That’s why you shouldn’t throw events aimed at people who don’t know what they’re doing. McCormack kept that to himself with difficulty. “What kind of a problem?”
“Apparently, he’s some kind of social media darling—the kind of person who can make or break a business with a couple of online sound bites.”
Losing the patronage of guys who were foolish enough to take the word of some vanilla guy, just because he has a lot of followers, didn’t sound like too bad an outcome to McCormack, but he dutifully kept that to himself too. “And this favour you want?”
“Worst case scenario is this boy ends up hooking up with some other new guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing, it all goes badly wrong and the club gets the blame online.” He paused for a few seconds. “You know what will happen then.”
McCormack bit back a curse. Yes, he knew. The moment that kind of rumour got out every predator who wanted to use kink as an excuse for abuse would come tumbling down on them, thinking he could get away with that kind of shit in their club.
“Best case scenario,” Tomlinson continued. “Is that he hooks up with someone who genuinely knows what he’s doing. Someone who I know can show him what leather is really about without screwing him over.”
Tomlinson’s choice of words was obviously intentional. After accusing McCormack of being someone who would screw Dan over last year, this was obviously Tomlinson’s way of trying to prove once and for all that he really did trust McCormack—with a sub, with his business’s reputation, all of it.
Babysitting a newbie wasn’t something McCormack had any interest in, but it also wasn’t a favour he could really refuse.
He was just about to resignedly agree to at least see if this boy was interested in a scene, when a movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.
“What exactly does Bret have to do with all this?” he asked.
“It was Bret who recognised him and pointed him out to me,” Tomlinson admitted.
“And you believed him?” McCormack managed to make the words sound vaguely polite rather than completely incredulous.
“Of course not. I looked him up.” Tomlinson indicated his phone and his laptop. “Everything checks out. Theo Rhys. Social media influencer is apparently the current label.”
“Fine,” McCormack said.
“I’ll point him out to you,” Bret offered.
“No. Tomlinson will show me a picture and I’ll find him myself,” McCormack corrected.
A couple of taps on his phone, and Tomlinson turned the screen towards McCormack.
White guy. Early twenties. Pretty. Lots of sculpted muscles. No visible tats or piercings. He might have been hard to spot in a crowd where none of those characteristics were entirely uncommon, if it weren’t for the fact the boy had dyed his hair a whole rainbow full of colours.
He was as far from McCormack’s type as anyone in the club, but a favour was a favour. McCormack bit back a sigh. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks. I reserved one of the private rooms, so it’s free if you want to use it.” He tossed the key to McCormack.
A glance told McCormack that it was his favourite private play space in the club.
It wasn’t really the best set up for carrying out this kind of mockery of a scene, but pointing that out would have seemed churlish at the best of times.
“One more thing?” Tomlinson asked, as McCormack was turning away.
McCormack turned back to face him. Politeness really wasn’t getting any easier with practice. “Yes?”
“If you do end up doing a scene with him, I’d appreciate your opinion on what kind of sub he is and how well he’d work out with someone long-term.”
McCormack shrugged. “Fine.” As additional requests went, it was odd but it could have been a lot worse.
He turned and headed out of the room, Bret once again trailing along at his heels. McCormack ignored him, even though he knew that tactic never did a lot of good with Bret.
The crowd would have been far less annoying if it wasn’t full of idiots and wannabes. The guy in the pic, Theo, had looked to be tall. But no rainbow head of hair peeked over the top of the scrum.
It was always possible that the boy had already found a hook-up for the night and was off in one of the other private rooms. No one could blame McCormack if that was the case, and he could have his evening back. No harm, no foul.
“There.” Bret tugged on McCormack’s arm and pointed across the room.
Right on the far side there was someone with a similar build to the picture of Theo. No rainbow hair though, this boy had a baseball cap on. The cap was red and black, but McCormack doubted the boy was colour coding. The chances of Theo being into either fisting or real S&M seemed remote.
Theo was tilting his head down, as if hoping his face would stay in shadow. Mr Social Media obviously didn’t want to be recognised.
Just then, something seemed to catch Theo’s attention. He looked up briefly. He had a half-mask on. It didn’t make him look kinky, just like someone who’d seen too many superhero films.
As McCormack made his way across the club, he caught glimpses of what else the boy was wearing.
White vest and blue jeans. Unobjectionable, especially when no one could be expected to own a huge amount of leather when they first arrived on the scene.
Jewellery. Most of it was just the kind of stuff that would get in the way during a scene, but a few bits looked more like they could have been variations on a collar theme. Being worn by a guy who couldn’t wear a traditional collar all the time due to his job, they would have been fine. Worn by someone who obviously didn’t have a clue, they set McCormack’s teeth on edge.
Still getting closer, McCormack saw Theo’s belt. Leather with studs—possibly the most club-suitable piece of clothing he was wearing. Unfortunately, the boy had decided it was appropriate to hang a whole host of toys off it. Handcuffs. The kind of leather cuffs that wouldn’t actually work unless he took off all his jewellery. A length of chain. A flogger. A paddle.
There was probably someone running an internet store somewhere, who was very happily counting his profits. The little fool looked like he’d bought one of everything, and probably two of whatever was on sale.
“All the gear, no idea,” McCormack muttered to himself.
He’d been so focused on Theo, he’d forgotten all about Bret tagging along with him until Bret giggled at his assessment of Theo. His humour was probably at McCormack’s expense rather than at Theo’s, but McCormack already found himself feeling more protective over the little fool he’d been saddled with than he should have.
Lifting one hand, McCormack slapped Bret on the back of his head. Not hard enough to really hurt him—nothing Marcus, Bret’s master, would object to.
“Hey!” There was no venom to Bret’s protest.
“Go and find your master. I have no interest in tripping over you the whole night.”
Bret’s hand came to rest on McCormack’s shoulder. Before he could react, Bret levered himself up onto his toes and pressed a kiss on McCormack’s cheek. He stepped back before McCormack had a chance to land another swat on him.
“For luck,” Bret said. “It’s Valentine’s Day, after all!” As quick in his retreat as he had been in his attack, Bret disappeared into the crowd.
“Cheeky little bastard,” McCormack grumbled to himself. Lifting one hand, he ran it over his scalp. There was only a few days’ worth of hair covering his head. Tiny brown strands prickled against his palm as he slid his hand down to the back of his neck.
He supposed there was nothing left to do now but to get on with it. He made his way further across the room. Theo had positioned himself in the least crowded bit of the space. He wasn’t talking to anyone, or showing any sign of wanting to interact with the club’s other customers.
McCormack was just a couple yards away when he noticed someone else was approaching Theo too. He muttered a string of swear words under his breath as he realised that it was another guy who intended to make a play for the boy. From the way he was dressed, the guy had even less idea what he was doing than Theo had. It was just the kind of situation McCormack had promised Tomlinson that he would help him to avoid.
There was no way anyone would believe that he hadn’t sabotaged Tomlinson on purpose if that happened. Speeding up, McCormack arrived at Theo’s side just after the other man. Catching hold of the guy’s shoulder, McCormack spun him around.
Even if he didn’t understand leather, the guy at least had some sort of survival instinct. He might have stood a head taller than McCormack, but he took one look at him, realised he was out of his depth, and obediently got lost.
McCormack didn’t turn to watch him go. He had more important matters to attend to.
His new charge didn’t look any less clueless up close. He blinked at McCormack as if he’d never seen a tattoo or a piercing before, and certainly not several of both decorating the same man’s skin.
Thank you for reading! Hope you have an amazing March!
P.S. Work on Bayden’s Alpha is still ongoing. I’m not sure if I’m just over a third through or just over half way through the first draft, because I’ve reached the point where I have no idea how long it will end up being. Fingers crossed it wouldn’t end up being even longer than Axel’s Pup!