In Darkest Peru by Louise Lyons
Release Date: 13 February, 2015
Shy and geeky Rhys White, has recently been ditched by his boyfriend of five years. On top of that he’s been made redundant from his job as a computer programmer.
Tired of being boring and unadventurous, he throws caution to the winds and buys a plane ticket to Peru.
Rhys’ adventure in Peru starts out well, but then disaster strikes. All of his belongings are stolen. Everything is gone—passport, wallet, phone, clothing, the lot.
Stranded in Cuzco, not too far from the famous Machu Picchu, Rhys tries to find someone to help him. He’s about to give up, when a sexy Brazilian named Rafael, comes to his rescue…
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“OH, FUCK. What am I doing here?” Rhys asked himself out loud. “Why didn’t I listen to Mum?” He could remember the conversation, almost word for word.
“Peru? Why on earth would you want to go there, love?” she had demanded incredulously, her Welsh lilt more pronounced than usual. She had retained it even after moving to Manchester when Rhys was a toddler. His father was a Mancunian and he hadn’t wanted to live too far from the city.
“Because… there’s a lot of… interesting stuff there,” Rhys had answered.
“There’s interesting stuff here. Why do you have to head off to the other side of the world? On your own!”
In truth, Rhys had decided on a trip to that particular country without thinking it through. There were a lot of interesting things there. He had been reading the Lonely Planet guide to Peru and had decided he was keen to hike the Inca Trail, to visit the Floating Islands, and to fly over the Nazca Lines. But what had actually given him the idea was the black-eyed stare of the Paddington Bear toy which sat on his pillow. Paddington was the first gift Jonathan had given him. Jonathan, who had confessed to sleeping with someone else—two someone elses in fact—after five years together. He had admitted this during his curt announcement he was leaving Rhys. The bastard.
Rhys replayed those horrible few minutes in his head for about the hundredth time.
“We need to talk.” One of the most ominous-sounding phrases possible—at least Rhys had thought so when Jonathan grunted it at him. His stomach had flipped over as he waited for his lover to continue. He didn’t bother to prompt him with a question. He had sensed things weren’t right for a while, but he hadn’t had the courage to broach the subject. He hadn’t wanted to hear that it was over.
“I think it’s time we went our separate ways.”
“Any particular reason?” Rhys had gritted his teeth.
“It’s just not working. I’m going to move out.”
“Just like that.”
“It’s been a long time coming.”
“Is there someone else?” Rhys had asked numbly.
“Has there been?” Rhys had followed Jonathan into the bedroom, watching as he began to remove items of clothing from the wardrobe. “You’re gonna leave right now?”
“Yes. It’s for the best.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Has there been anyone else?”
“Yes. A couple of one-night stands.”
“A couple? You fucked around with two other guys?”
Jonathan had merely shrugged and continued packing, so Rhys had stormed out of the flat and gone for a walk—a long walk. When he’d returned two hours later, Jonathan and all his belongings were gone.
Rhys had checked the shelf where Jonathan kept his CDs, and had then gone into the bedroom to find half of the wardrobe and the drawers in the chest empty. It was almost as if the other man had never been there, and Rhys wondered how long it had been since Jonathan stopped loving him. Had he ever loved him? Had the last five years been a complete waste?
Rhys had looked down at the bed they’d shared and anger had welled up inside him. He could remember a time when Jonathan lay curled around him when they went to sleep, cuddling him and pressing gentle kisses against the back of his neck. Jonathan used to whisper how much Rhys turned him on and how perfect they were for each other. It seemed like a long time ago. For months they’d fallen asleep with their backs to each other. They’d still fucked, but that was all it had been—the love-making had been long past.
Rhys had eyed Paddington, sitting on the pillow where he’d been for two years, carefully placed there each morning after Rhys and Jonathan vacated the bed; Paddington had stared blankly back at him. Rhys had snatched up the bear, intending to toss it out with the rubbish, but then he’d changed his mind. It wasn’t the little stuffed creature’s fault that he’d been ditched by his boyfriend and made redundant from his job in the space of one week.
Losing his job had been almost as hard to take as Jonathan leaving him. The managers hadn’t even done it in person—Rhys and three colleagues had been given letters stating the company was cutting back and that they were being given four weeks’ notice. There had been no hints or gossip beforehand—it had come completely out of the blue and all four of them had been stunned. It was just what Rhys had needed four days after Jonathan left him.
Rhys had placed Paddington back on the pillow and collapsed onto his back on the bed. He wept, and then he got angry again. When that lessened, he rolled over and took another look at Paddington, and he remembered having the story read to him when he was a kid. From darkest Peru….
Rhys wasn’t the adventurous type and didn’t think he had much to offer. He wasn’t bad looking with his slim build, mousy brown hair and gray eyes, but he didn’t think he was very interesting. He would rather spend his spare time with his computers than go out partying or play sports. Maybe that was why Jonathan cheated and finished with him.
Rhys had fallen asleep thinking about Peru, and when he woke he got online and booked a ticket—just like that—before he could talk himself out of it. Why not? It was time he did something different; something out of character; something interesting.
While Rhys worked his final weeks at his job, he spent his spare time looking for alternative employment and managed to get four interviews easily enough. It seemed Manchester was crying out for computer programmers. His qualifications and experience got him in front of the management at least. Two out of the four interviews went well, and he remained hopeful until he received the letters, both telling him it had been a tough choice but he hadn’t made it. He wasn’t too concerned. He’d saved, and he had enough money to pay the bills for six months. He sent off another bunch of applications the same day he packed up his desk at his old company and walked out of the door for the last time. It was done, and in three days he would be leaving it all behind, at least temporarily.
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