BOOK ONE: WORKING CLASS SERIES
Phil Mitchell pours his heart and soul into his job as manager of Speedy Mart, a local convenience store. He loves his work and he loves his fellow employees, but when it comes to his personal life, Phil is lonely and depressed and still pining for his long-departed ex.
He embarks upon the week from hell where anything that can go wrong does. It begins with a truck crashing into his outdoor sign and only goes downhill from there.
Add an asshole homophobic boss hell bent on seeing him fired and Phil realizes he needs to put into place a plan to save himself and his job.
First step in his plan… do something about his love life.
Meanwhile, Ezra, one of Phil’s team members, is dealing with his own roller coaster ride of a week.
As is Brandon, the local cop…
And Mark, the homophobic boss…
Perhaps, with a little… luck, the next week will be better.
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Phil had started out in retail back in high school, working as a bag boy at the local supermarket. He took some community college classes but did not complete his degree. It didn’t matter, though. Back then, a college degree wasn’t required, especially not for retail management. He rose quickly in the company, advancing to a management position.
Finally, when the company he’d worked at for ten years went belly-up, he found himself in the unemployment line. At age twenty-five, his mom had just died and he found himself completely alone, unemployed. He decided to go back to school to complete his degree. He signed up for online classes and continued with them even after he landed the job managing the convenience store. He received his diploma right around the time he met Darren online.
Looking back on his life, he realized that period, though difficult, had been perhaps the most hopeful he could remember. Though still grieving the loss of his mother, he felt like life had begun anew. He had a new career, a man he genuinely loved, and even a college degree. That was also when he began learning Spanish.
But the honeymoon stage of his relationship with Darren didn’t last long, and when it became obvious Darren was far more interested in spending his free time with a bottle of booze than with Phil, they started to grow apart. Phil devoted most of his energy to the store, and when he wasn’t working, he spent a good deal of time online. The relationship withered on the vine, until one day, Darren was gone.
“You work hard,” Humberto said. “You’re always working, no?”
“Sí,” Phil said, laughing. “Yes, I’m always working.”
“Every day I see you. You no have days off? You work too hard, man.”
“Well, it seems to me you work pretty hard, too, Humberto. You’re in here every day, on your way to work. Come on down to this register. I’ll ring you up.” Phil stepped over to the check stand on the far end, the one Janine had just vacated.
“Gracias,” Humberto said, stepping up to the counter with an armload of junk food. He placed the bags of chips and the Hostess snack cakes on the counter.
“What do you do?” Humberto stared at him, smiling, and Phil wondered if maybe he didn’t understand the question. “¿Cual es tu trabajo?”
“Oh… oh. Soy un manitas.”
“¿Manitas?” Phil had heard the word, but couldn’t immediately remember the meaning. “Oh, you’re a handyman. You fix things.”
“Wow, like, do you do plumbing work?”
“Oh yes, yes of course. Por supuesto.”
“Hm. Ya know, I need to find someone to come fix my sink. At home, I mean. At my house. Do you have a card?”
Humberto cocked his head to the side, as if thinking.
“¿Una tarjeta? A business card.”
“Oh, yes. Yes!” He reached into his shirt pocket and removed a business card, handing it to Phil. “Call me and I’ll come fix you up.” He winked, and as Phil looked into the man’s eyes, a lump formed in his throat. “I have all the right tools for the job.”
Phil quickly looked down at the touch screen on his register, trying to focus on the task of completing the transaction. “Uh, yeah. Um, do you want a bag for this?”
“Una bolsa,” Humberto said, laughing. “Sí.”
Phil placed the business card next to his register and tore off a plastic bag from the dispenser. Then he began filling it with Humberto’s items.
“I’ll let you see my big hammer,” Humberto said, lowering his voice.
JEFF ERNO began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. So far, he’s published over thirty novels. Jeff lives in Southern Michigan, where he works part time at a convenience store.
Jeff’s writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including male romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.