Short Order

by Pat Henshaw

Recent graduate Dr. Fenton Miller takes December off to decide which job offer to accept. Then he meets his landlord, sous chef John Barton. Suddenly, thinking about his career becomes his last priority. A better option might be a month-long roll between the sheets with John.

While John is attracted to Fen and might even agree to his plan, John has got more pressing matters to worry about. His past has arrived in tiny Stone Acres from San Francisco and is intent on sucking him back into a life he hated.

Promising to help John and shelter him if necessary, Fen finds he’s also being threatened by a homophobic father who doesn’t find Fen as entertaining as his kids do.

As they wade through their problems during the happiest time of the year, Fen and John rely more and more on each other for happiness.


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  • 5 Read lists

That night I stood freezing at Barton’s door, admiring Blue Cottage. The snow drifts piled on the lawn made the house look greeting-card perfect. I searched for a doorbell. Instead, a lion-headed knocker snarled at me. I grinned. Every house needed an intimidating guardian, right?

A man who looked about my age and height opened the door and slipped out, shutting it behind him. I was curious to see inside, but I got that the guy wanted his privacy. No problem.

“Hi. I’m Fen.”

He looked me over, then turned to the left along the shoveled porch. As he walked, he played with the keyring, bouncing a key in his hand. Did I make him nervous? If so, was that a good thing?

“This way.”


Okay. I took a breath and followed his pert ass and brisk steps as we rounded the porch to a steep staircase. From my brief glance at his face, he seemed okay. I was still slightly put off by his brusque manner. But hey, I reminded myself, I was renting from him, not fucking him.

In silence I followed him up to a small porch and a solid-looking back door, which he opened after only a little fumbling.

I was greeted by the stuffy, closed-up odor of a place long left undisturbed.

“You’d be my first renter. It’s furnished, but I can store anything you don’t want.” He made quick eye contact with me. The words erupted from him like I made him uncomfortable or something. Maybe it was my piercing and the tattoo, or maybe the hair color. I tried a smile, but he blushed and turned away, gesturing to the rooms.

Even though the air inside was chilly, I looked around and fell even more in love than I had when I’d first seen the house. The 1940s era furniture and knickknacks turned what could have been sterile rooms into my kind of home. I exhaled, letting the ambience settle in my soul as I wandered through a country kitchen, tiny dining room, sitting room, two bedrooms, and a classic bathroom, ending eventually at a circular tower room. I fell even deeper in love along the way as I touched the scratched kitchen table, a velveteen-covered parlor settee, a solid-looking four-poster bed, and the needlepoint-cushioned window seat in the tower.

If I were Barton, I’d charge thousands a month for this place. I prayed he wasn’t me and was relieved when my prayers were answered.

“You want to keep the furniture?” He still didn’t look at me as he bent over the kitchen table to fill out the rental agreement. Who needed him staring? I could live with letting his voice pour over me and seeing his kissable lips.

“I can’t imagine living here without all of it.” Or maybe even you, I thought, eyeing his pert butt wiggling at me as he wrote.

He stopped, stood, and eyed me for a few seconds before bending and going back to writing. I hadn’t said that about his butt out loud, had I?

As I was daydreaming about his ass and the scarred table, he stopped writing, looked over the form, and finally twisted it toward me. “Sign here, initial here, and date it. Then I need your rent for the month.”

I was signing before he changed his mind. The rent was ridiculously cheap. “No deposit?” There had to be a catch, right?


I glanced up. He was gazing down at the table, or maybe at my hands. Or my groin? I signed as fast as I could and wrote a check to John Barton, the name on the rental agreement. So he had a first name, and we had a deal.


I drove back to my cousin’s house whistling. Within an hour, and with Beth and Kate’s help, I was moved in. Having only clothes and electronics made the move a one-trip job. Then I went food shopping for breakfast stuff and frozen dinners. We all celebrated by eating a late dinner outside town at a diner called the Rock Bottom Cafe. Renting a place with a wonderful kitchen hadn’t automatically taught me to cook.

Even with an enigma for a landlord, my life was perfect.

Reviews:Tosha on Gay Book Reviews wrote:

Another good book in the Foothills Pride series. Pat Henshaw is truly a great author.

Fen is new to town for the most part. He has visited some but this is the first time he has been back since he graduated college and he is excited to start working. While he decides on which job offer to take he will be working at the nursery with Beth.

While he is staying in town he was originally going to stay with Beth and Kate but that changes after only one night of staying with them. He decided he really needed to find somewhere to rent and it just so happened that the place he fell in love with the last time in town is looking for a tenant. So it is a win win for Fen because he loves this house. What he did not expect was to fall for the owner as well.

John is the owner of the house that Fen is renting plus he is a sous chef at a local restaurant. But he has pain from his past that haunts him and keeps him from letting people in. But he cannot seem to not let in Fen. The more they get to know each other the closer they become. When John’s past comes back to haunt him, both Fen and John have to be strong enough to make it through it for each other and for Ricky also.

Can two men that have not each other long but are quickly falling for the other work together to overcome the obstacles that they are facing and do it together?

This was a good quick read about not letting your past define who you are but to let it help you to make you stronger and better than you thought possible. Pat Henshaw did a great job on this book. I look forward to more by this author in the future.

Dan on Love Bytes wrote:

I knew when I picked up this book that I would enjoy it. After all, I really enjoy all this author’s stories. This one wasn’t an exception.

Fen Miller is in Stone Acres to work with his cousin and her girlfriend during the holiday season at their nursery. He can’t possibly live with two lesbians though because even when being quiet they make enough noise during sex to put him off. Then he finds an ad for an apartment in a beautiful old Victorian house that he has always admired in town. When he meets the man who owns the house, and he is as short as Fen, they instantly bond over the ‘short’ thing. Both have been picked on their entire lives for being short and they have that in common. It turns out they have more in common that just that as the story proceeds.

I liked this one. There was a backstory involving John and a young guy that shows up mid story named Ricky. Both John and Ricky are trying to escape from a very bad man named Leo and the reasons lead to some drama in the story.

I’ve got to say that I’ve liked every story in this series. But…I’ve got the same comment on this one that I had on all the others. I want more! I’d love them to each be longer. I just get to know and like the characters and we’re at the end of the story. I know many of you probably think they are the perfect length…so I might be the minority. Length grumbles aside. I enjoyed Fen and John. Their characters and situations were a great addition to the residents of Stone Acres.

I highly recommend this installment and all of the previous ones.

Prime on MM Good Book Reviews wrote:

For those that have been reading Pat Henshaw’s Foothills Pride series, you won’t be disappoint. Just as I had expected, this was a sweet and lovely story that was exactly to the standard that I have come to expect from the world that Henshaw has created. For new comers to the series, you don’t necessarily need to read the series in order, but I would recommend it. I still think that this series in comparable to Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series.

The story follows Fenton Miller, he’s recently graduated after completing his PhD. Unlike many PhD graduates, Fen is going to relax and work at his cousin’s plant nursery over the holidays while he decides which job offer he is going to choose. However, all that is shot to hell when he meets local sous chef, John Barton and there is an instant attraction between the two men. The chemistry is off the charts amazing and the two characters not only develop well throughout the story.

Other than really liking the book, I have to say that Fen at first was hard for me to relate to and being that I have a PhD in marine microbial ecology, that’s just weird. It’s mostly because he is repeatedly introduced as Dr Fenton Miller. Yes, it is true, he is a doctor being that he has completed his PhD. However, in the real world it is normally insufferable people that do this. There’re a couple other things that I didn’t really get on board with immediately with Fen, yet in the end he grew up a lot throughout the book and I absolutely loved him. Yet he compliments John, who is wonderful character that I fell in love with and was able to relate to immediately. John makes Fen a better person and I’m glad they got their happily ever after.

About the Author

Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S’s three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California. Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist. She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, Thailand, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.

Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter’s life in NorCal. Pat's pronouns are she / her.

She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that
Every day is a good day for romance.

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