Yesterday, the Naked Gardening Day Box Set was released 🥳
Where I’m at there are hardly any leaves left on the trees, the mornings are foggy and the wind is cold, so I don’t recommend getting naked in the garden. To each their own, of course. If you’re into freezing your butt off, then go for it! But if you’re more like me, then may I suggest snuggling up on the couch? Grab a blanket, something warm to drink, and your favourite reading device.
The Naked Gardening Day Box Set will transport you to warmer times with sun-warmed skin and colourful flowers.
There are five stories written by five different authors – Holly Day, Nell Iris, A.L. Lester, K.L. Noone, and Amy Spector . The stories are not linked and the only thing they have in common is that they’re celebrating World Naked Gardening Day. The level of gardening varies in the stories, but somewhere, somehow, for some reason, someone will be naked in a garden.
Below you can read the first chapter of my story, Perfect Rows.
Naked Gardening Day Box Set
Celebrate World Naked Gardening Day with five gay romance novellas!
The Naked Gardening Day stories are a collaboration between Holly Day, Nell Iris, A.L. Lester, K.L. Noone, and Amy Spector. They comprise five MM romance novellas featuring being naked in a garden somehow, somewhere, to mark World Naked Gardening Day on the first Saturday of May.
Contains the stories:
Perfect Rows by Holly Day: Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Cam. Grayson wants to grow vegetables, and he has a plan for how to do it. Cam loves flowers in perfect rows, but Grayson is incapable of growing things in lines. Most days end in conflict, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about the garden?
Strike a Pose by Nell Iris: Didrik would do anything for his BFF Filip, including taking naked pictures for a charity calendar of his dad Johan, the stunning man responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. Now a widower, Johan is ready to move on. As they start the project, the attraction between them grows. Their connection is easy, but not without challenges. Will they get their happily ever after?
The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector: When August Catch arrives at the Arachne’s Loom estate to collect his late Uncle Digby’s things, he is thrown together with Theo Webb, the heir to the Webb family fortune. The attraction is instant. When Theo begins to suspect Digby may have been murdered, he and August will need to work together to discover the killer, and not let the thing growing between them be a distraction.
The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone: Charlie’s ready to start a new job and life at Aldershill Manor. As a historian, he’s thrilled to dive into the archives. And he can run from a messy break-up. And explore lovely gardens, too. Lionel does not like tourists, conversations, or social niceties. But he loves his job: helping beauty grow. When he finds the new historian caught in a storm, he offers shelter, which might bloom into more.
Warning! Deep Water by A.L. Lester: Spring 1947. England has just come through the worst winter in living memory. Peter’s been drifting since he left the army a year ago. George is lonely, despite the busy horticultural nursery he owns. Peter’s decision to take a swim in the irrigation tank presents them both with the chance to reach out and help each other. Can two misfits find a way to fit together with someone after all?
Gay Romance Box Set: 86,131 words
Grayson Dawe walked through the garden. The spring night was cool, and the scent of lilacs clung to the air. His shoulders ached from a long day at work, and he was sweaty and had paint in his hair since he’d forgotten to put his cap back on after the breakfast break. The beer he and Ryan, his best friend and colleague, had grabbed after work had turned into three, and now it was getting dark.
He crouched to look at the plants in the raised bed. He had great plans for the garden this year. His goal was to not have to buy any vegetables at all from May to… he hoped September, but time would tell. He still had a lot to learn, and he had to share with Camden.
As soon as the thought flitted through his mind, he glared at the house that had belonged to his grandmother’s sister. He’d loved coming here as a child. They had two cottage-style houses facing each other, and between them was a big kitchen garden they’d shared.
As a child, he’d thought the garden was huge, and it was big, but not the maze of beds he remembered it as. It was like one of those Victorian kitchen gardens with beds surrounded by gravel paths. Some years ago, when Granny’s joints gave her too much trouble to handle being on her knees, he and Ryan had turned every plot into a raised bed. It had taken ages, but it was worth it. They’d built brick walls tall enough for her to sit on, and he could still picture her there with her hands in the dirt and a big smile on her lips.
He missed her.
His great grandfather had bought the land, built the houses, and then given it all to his two daughters. They’d raised their families there, sharing space and resources. When his great-aunt had died, his uncle had sold her house, and they’d struck some weird deal with his grandmother so they still shared the garden. It had been much easier if they’d divided the property, then Grayson wouldn’t have to share a garden with Camden fucking Hensley. Annoying little shit.
Grayson had moved in last spring after Granny had passed away, and they’d gotten off on the wrong foot right from the start. He had plans for the garden, Cam had plans for the garden, but they weren’t the same plans.
Camden wanted flowers, wanted the garden to look pretty and to have everything in perfect rows. Grayson wanted food and didn’t give a shit about how it looked.
He strolled along the garden bed, smiling at a small tomato plant sticking up in the middle of the radishes. There was another one right in the middle of the pak choi he’d planted. He assumed they came from the compost. He composted everything he possibly could, and last year he’d had volunteer potatoes that had to have come from the compost. They’d grown right in the middle of the strawberries and had driven Camden mad.
He loved getting bonus potatoes, but the biggest joy was watching Cam glare at the plant every time he walked past it.
Grayson would have to do his best to protect the stray tomatoes, it was free food, and nature didn’t grow in strict lines.
Cam would pull them out if he got the chance.
Grayson glared at Camden’s house again. A light shone in the kitchen, and his stomach rumbled as he pictured Cam cooking in there.
He needed food, and he needed a shower. Abandoning the tomato plants, he headed for the door. He stopped by the raised bed closest to his house and plucked some lettuce and carefully pulled a couple of turnips from the soil. He wasn’t a big fan of turnips, but since he was challenging himself not to buy any vegetables, he needed early and fast-growing kinds, and turnips, sadly, fit the bill. Roasted turnips weren’t bad, and he’d thawed some chicken to go with them.
Peeling, rinsing, and chopping, he soon had the food in the oven and rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower. The day melted away with the suds running down his body, and he groaned as he rolled his head to loosen his tense neck muscles. He’d been painting ceilings all day and looking up for hours on end caused strain.
Turning off the water, he stepped out of the shower stall and grabbed a towel. He dried his face and looked into the misty mirror, unable to see anything. Reaching over to the window, he pushed it open. The cool air wrapping around him made him shiver and right as he was about to step away from the window, he spotted movement in the garden. Camden.
His fair hair shone in the dark as he squatted and— Grayson cursed as he pulled something from the garden bed. Oh, hell no!
The bathroom door banged against the wall as he pushed it open. He ran down the stairs, crossed the kitchen, and yanked the door open. His bare feet hit the gravel path between the raised beds, but he couldn’t let the pain of the small stones digging into his feet stop him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The towel caught in one of the rosebushes. Grayson yanked, but when it didn’t come loose, he dropped it. “Leave those tomatoes be!”
Camden stood, his eyes wide and his mouth open as he looked Grayson up and down. “Grayson.” His voice wasn’t more than a whisper, and Grayson noted he looked a little disheveled—Cam never looked disheveled. He was a suit and tie kind of person. His hair always cut at a perfect length and his hands always clean. Long slim fingers with neatly cut nails. Grayson spent more time secretly watching those hands than any sane person should.
“Don’t kill the volunteer plants.”
Camden frowned. “The what?”
“The self-sown plants, don’t touch them.”
Camden stared at him. “Aren’t you… erm… cold?”
Heat climbed Grayson’s face, but he hoped it was too dark for Cam to notice. “Don’t kill the plants.”
“It was in the wrong place.”
“There is no wrong place. If it’s there, it’s because nature wants it there, so leave it be.”
“Put it back.”
Camden’s back stiffened. “I will not put it back.” He twisted his fingers and snapped the plant.
Grayson growled, curling his hands into fists and taking deep breaths. “It could’ve given us plenty of tomatoes.”
“It was in the wrong place.”
“There is no wrong place!” He took another deep breath. “Look. I know you’re stubborn and thick-headed—”
“Oh yeah, I’m thick-headed? At least I finished school.”
Grayson winced. The familiar pain laced through him, and he slumped his shoulders. He wasn’t up to Camden’s standards, but surely, they could live next to each other without fighting. “Can’t we just divide the garden?”
“No. Both the barbecue area, the garden shed, and the greenhouse would be on your half of the garden. That’s not fair.”
“The beds. Can’t we divide the beds? Half are yours to do what you want and half are mine.” It would make it a lot harder to grow all the vegetables he’d planned to grow. The greenhouse was filled with seedlings he’d planned to transplant to the beds this weekend, and not all of them would fit if he only could use half the beds, but it was better than nothing.
He shivered as he tried to make out Cam’s expression in the dark.
“No. The clematis and the lavender are on your side.”
“Fuck the flowers! I don’t have to have the beds closest to my house. Pick half of them as yours, and I’ll take the rest. And I want to discuss chickens again.”
“No chickens.” Camden crossed his arms over his chest.
“Fuck you, Cam.” He turned around and stomped off. The towel tore as he yanked it from the rosebush, but he didn’t care. He had to leave before he said something he’d regret.
* * * *
Camden Hensley watched Grayson stalk off and blew out a breath. That was one fine ass; too bad it was attached to an ass. The garden could be lovely, it was lovely, but it could be truly beautiful if Grayson could only find it in himself to be a little more organized. Everything was higgledy-piggledy with Grayson. Everything. The way he dressed, the mess in his car—he mixed black T-shirts with white when he washed, for fuck’s sake. Though, Cam guessed he should be glad he washed at all.
Who wanted to paint walls all day? And this obsession with chickens… He shook his head. It had started as soon as Grayson had moved in. He hadn’t been there more than a day or two before he’d approached Cam about wanting to build a chicken coop.
They would not have chickens running around, roosters crowing at dawn—no, thank you.
Cam loved his home, loved the garden, and the peace that came with living outside the city. But everything had been so much better when Frances had been alive. She’d been an adorable little lady and instead of criticizing everything Camden did in the garden, she’d been pleased.
He couldn’t believe Grayson was her grandson. They were nothing alike—not in appearance, not in manner, and Frances had never snarled at him. She baked cookies and used them as bribes to get him to sit with her in the garden and chat for a bit. She was easygoing, satisfied with life, and it was a welcome break from the ugliness of the world.
The garden had been his oasis until Grayson had moved in. Loud, demanding Grayson. He towered over Camden as if he believed his size would intimidate him. It did, but he’d never admit it.
Cam remembered Grayson from school, though he doubted Grayson remembered him. He’d been the rail-thin kid in the corner with unwashed clothes whose mother forgot to pack lunch on field day. She forgot to serve dinner too, but it wasn’t as obvious as the lack of lunch on field day.
Grayson had been wild. Not mean, but loud, though Camden had been terrified of him. He’d spent more time roaming the corridors than he had attending lessons, and then one day he’d been gone. Cam didn’t know what had happened, but someone had said he was working at his uncle’s painting firm, and since he was a painter now, Camden assumed the rumor had been true. He’d been fifteen then, so Grayson had been sixteen.
Camden looked at the house Grayson had stormed off to. Twenty-one years of painting walls, no wonder he was growling all the time. Cam would’ve died of boredom. Perhaps he should give in on the chickens simply to give Grayson something new in his life—no. No chickens. No noise. No mess. If Grayson wanted more excitement in his life, he could go back to school and get himself a better job.
He glanced at the house again. Had Grayson put on clothes? Probably sweats and a holey T-shirt, a paint-stained holey T-shirt.