Fifteen years after a tragic car crash claimed a friend’s life and permanently injures his then-boyfriend, Broadway musician Tobias Spence reconnects with his former love. As Emmett and Tobias explore their renewed relationship, the two men face old hurts and the new challenges of a long-distance romance. Will Tobias lose his second chance at love to the ghosts he can’t seem to put to rest?
This is my very first book I’ve read by Ms. Charles despite it being her second book. The feelings she brings out from the very first page are absolutely heart breaking and beautiful. She weaves this story where you wonder if Toby and Emmett are going to make it and hope and pray they pull through. You laugh and cry and get frustrated with them as they struggle to overcome their past and find a way to heal the broken bits. And you meet all of these other characters along the way that you want to know more about and shout for joy when they call both Emmett and Toby on their bullshit. And the ending. Oh my word the ending is absolutely beautiful. It shows how perfect Toby and Emmett are together, how they make it and are never going to give up on each other even if one needs to fly every so often and the other needs roots to keep them grounded. But you know it’ll be ok and they’ll make it and they’ll love each other and it’ll be enough for them. Because holy moly her writing is so epic that you just get lost in the book that you kind of forget it’s not real for a little bit.
The only thing I’m left with is a list of characters that showed up in the story and a desperate please for more by this author. From the barista that has to tell us how watching horror movies with his grandma shaped who he is, to the unnamed doorman in New York City that matches with scientific precision for a reason to all of the characters that Toby and Emmett encounter whose story I need to know because even if they’re on page for a paragraph, they’re written with such clarity that I can feel them as real and want to know more about them. Just like Toby and Emmett are real and living and loving in Indiana making beautiful music together that I can almost hear as I read their story.
Emmett is kind enough to stop by to talk about his favorite childhood memory. I have to say his memory is so beautiful you can almost visualize as he and Scotty took off. Read and enjoy!
One would assume my favorite childhood memories were born in the local and school theater. From my first role at Xavier Area Community Theater in the children’s chorus for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat until my final rehearsal in Godspell before the accident turned my plans upside down, I experienced many memories that are permanently etched into my heart.
It’s no secret that the stage was my second home—a home where I could both be myself by practicing an art that I loved, but could also put on the armor of someone else and shed the idea that maybe I wasn’t good enough. My character was. And if he wasn’t, he would be by the end of the show.
But, where I felt most alive and without the need for someone else’s persona to cover my own, began immediately after rehearsals. More often than not when I got home, Scotty would be waiting for me. His timing earned free meals, and afterwards we would tear out of the house and go. He always had some form of transportation with him: a bike, skateboard, skates, a scooter. One winter, he showed up on cross country skis. I never did find out where he found them. Anyway, we would casually leave my house, and once out of Mom’s eye-shot, I would attach myself to him—sit on his handlebars, hang onto a rope tied around his waist.
With one push off, we would careen down the slope of my street into the forty-five degree turn of the southern third of it, faster and faster, whooping and hollering like the lunatics we were until the only way to stop at the upcoming neighborhood intersection was to abandon ship. I let go, he jumped off, and his “vehicle” would sail into the intersection.
We were too stupid to consider the damage a flying skateboard might cause to an oncoming car. Too stupid to worry about breaking a limb of our own. Too stupid to plan ahead and slow ourselves down during that turn to avoid the potential catastrophe that awaited us.
And yet, catastrophe never happened. He never lost a skateboard. Never lost a scooter—well, not that way anyway. He did lose one when he backed over it the first time he tried pulling out of his driveway in his dad’s car. He never lost a bike, and we never got injured outside of scraped knees and elbows.
Until we did. Until the day we rode through an intersection and lost everything. You’d think that would have soured my memories of our wheeled adventures. Instead, I recall screaming down the hill, him shouting directions so we wouldn’t crash on the turn, tumbling until we sat upright after jumping ship. And the best part, I remember his laughter and his ridiculous face that said, without a word, “Awesome! Let’s do it again.”
“I can’t, Emmett. I—can’t go back.”
“Then we are clearly not ready for any sort of commitment.”
“Wait. You won’t agree to—to us—unless I come to Indiana?”
“I won’t,” Emmett said. “It’s all feeling a little one-sided to me, and I’m not okay with that.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I do understand, Toby. I was there for everything that makes you afraid of that place.”
“Yes. You were,” Toby said, taking Emmett’s hand in his. “But my concerns about going back have nothing to do with you.”
“Maybe they should have something to do with me.”
“That’s—” Toby pulled his hand away. “That’s not fair.”
“It really is,” Emmett said. He reached across the table for Toby’s hand again. “Please?” Toby took his hand and Emmett squeezed, holding on as if he might never let go. “We experienced a great tragedy together. And while Scotty’s parents lost their son, no one felt the things we felt. No one else woke up screaming and sweating when we heard the sounds of the crash in our sleep.”
“No one else knew the fear of maybe never walking again. No one else lost weight and a semester of school because he might get thrown in jail. No one else felt the things we felt together. That’s all ours. As much as you want to, you cannot take me out of the equation.”
“But, that’s just it, Em. I don’t want to feel those things again. I cannot walk back into that—that darkness.”
Emmett pulled their joined hands to his lips and kissed Toby’s knuckles. “You already have. You have been so enamored—you’ve practically spent this entire week making love to my scars. You’re there. And it’s not so dark anymore.”
“No, because you’re whole again. You’re not broken anymore.”
Emmett saw it, then. He saw in the way Toby had almost obsessed over the ridiculous tattoo and Emmett’s scars, as if begging for them to also bring him the powers that Derek had wished upon Emmett’s body those years ago. He saw it in Toby’s insistence that they start all over as if the accident never happened, as if the years of silence weren’t strung between them like a rope and plank bridge connecting two separate lands.
So he said it. To give it power. To make it a truth they shared—like their shared tragedy. “And you still are. Broken.”
Toby nodded, grasping at Emmett’s fingers like a lifeline. “I’m so—” He took a deep, shuddering breath. “I’m so exhausted making sure no one knows.”
“Oh, Toby.” All the more reason “trying again” was a bad idea. Unready to let go, Emmett kissed Toby’s fingers again. “Then come to my home,” Emmett offered, trite as it sounded in his own ears. “I’ve remodeled the master and made a party room in my basement for the kids.”
“You’ve never told me—”
“It’s beautiful, really. It’s on a couple of acres, and the back of the property is lined with a stream you can hear from the kitchen when the windows are open. It’s very peaceful. It sounds like you need some peace.”
“You deserve a beautiful life.”
“So let me share it with you. At least think about it?”
Toby nodded and began to clean up. “Will you still come see me in San Francisco after school’s out?”
“I don’t know. I’d really like an answer before I agree to see you again.”
“Okay. I’m sorry it’s not as easy as it should be.”
“I am too, Toby. Being with you was always so easy.”
Lynn Charles earned her degree in music education and for many years performed and directed choral music. When she’s not writing, she can be found strolling through local farmers markets near her home in Central Ohio in search of ingredients for new recipes. Her novel Chef’s Table was published in 2014 by Interlude Press.
7-Apr: Love Bytes, 3 Chicks After Dark, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Hearts on Fire, Jessie G. Books
8-Apr: Happily Ever Chapter, Bonkers About Books, My Fiction Nook
11-Apr: BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Oh My Shelves
12-Apr: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Divine Magazine
13-Apr: Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Velvet Panic, Book Lovers 4Ever
14-Apr: Louise Lyons, Unquietly Me, Havan Fellows
15-Apr: MM Good Book Reviews, A.M. Leibowitz
18-Apr: Alpha Book Club, V’s Reads
19-Apr: Butterfly-O-Meter, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Bayou Book Junkie
20-Apr: Up All Night, Read All Day, Outrageous Heroes, Molly Lolly, Mikky’s World of Books, Inked Rainbow Reads
a Rafflecopter giveaway