No matter how busy he keeps himself, successful Broadway musician Tobias Spence can’t outrun the memory of a tragic car crash from his past that claimed a friend’s life and permanently injured his former boyfriend, Emmett.
Even after losing Tobias, Emmett Henderson made peace with that awful night, living in his Indiana hometown where he has become a revered choral director. When his students are asked to perform in New York City, he decides to chance reconnecting with his former love, if for no other reason than to get a proper goodbye.
When Emmett and Tobias finally meet 15 years after parting ways, it is clear to both of them that their feelings for each other have not changed. As they 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?
~ Pride Promotions
“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.”
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
My first inspiration came when asking a question relating to our own family tragedy where a cousin was killed in an accident similar to the one in Black Dust. It had been about fifteen years since her death and I had to wonder what happened to the driver and the other passenger. How did their lives pan out now that they were in their thirties? I still don’t have that answer, but it made me consider and bring to life my own characters going through a similar situation.
3. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ?
It took me a year to write this book. I had written quite a bit of it—90% of which ended up on the cutting room floor—a few years ago. This one is definitely my longest project.
4. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way? ?
I think I’ve always been on the search for a good story, but now I’m aware of it. My husbands least favorite start to a conversation is, “So, I had this idea… ” because he knows it rarely has to do with remodeling our kitchen (which… come to think of it… ), but with another story brewing in my brain.
5. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
I don’t know that I wanted to give up necessarily, but there were many times where I wondered if I was in over my head—where I thought what I wanted to say was beyond what I was capable of saying. My mind changed either by plowing through blindly, or after talking to a few select friends who would pick me back up, set me right and wish me well.
6. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect? ?
I’m not a fan! I found after my first book that the few cruddy reviews I got hit me differently than I thought they would. Initially, I could shrug it off: This book wasn’t for you. But then, as days wore on, I’d “hear” a line here or there; a comment that sat on a nerve and picked at it would begin rotation in my mind and cripple me. In fact, that’s partially what slowed down the initial process of this book. And I have very few bad reviews, but man are they louder than good ones. I’m hoping this time around—because bad reviews happen to everyone—I’ll be able to take it more in stride.
7. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? ?
I’m writing my third novel now, a story about living after death, about family, parenthood and being guided by those who have gone before without losing touch of those who are with us now. After that, I might need a nap. After the nap, I will be fiddling around with some other ideas that poke at me from time to time. Nothing concrete yet.
Fun facts: :
1. Name your favorite fruit. ?
I have a quote in my upcoming book: “Peaches that smell peachy are the peachiest.” (It’s spoken to a child, for the record) I wouldn’t write such silliness about any old fruit.
2. Coffee or tea? ?
Tea, typically iced and fruity—like peach. Mango. If hot, I like the spiced varieties. Rhooibos, etc.
3. Favorite season? ?
Spring. New life, evening walks, warmth after winter, and sneezes.
4. How about fav time of 24 hours? ?
mid-evening. I’m not too pooped to enjoy it, the house is quiet, husband is home. We’re either reading, enjoying some television, but most importantly, I’ve typically closed down the computer for the night.
5. Were you a boyscout/girlscout? ?
I was a brownie, which precedes girlscouts. I was not a good brownie because I got caught in a lie and the troop leader was a bit over zealous in her punishment for it. I don’t recall the punishment, but I remember my mother being very angry—more at the leader than me and my big mouth.
6. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?
I’ve been doing library books a lot lately because I’ve been having a DNF issue. I’m a very impatient reader. So, even though I didn’t buy it, I’d recommend Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It’s a YA novel and the two main characters stole my heart in unexpected ways.
7. Cats or dogs? ?
Dogs. I do like cats now, which I didn’t in my younger years, but the earnestness of a dog cannot be beat.
8. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? ?
Oh, give me candlelight dinner any night. Or you know, Netflix and chill.
9. What song have you listened to most recently? ?
The entire Hamilton soundtrack. I haven’t connected to an album of any kind like this in years. And I cannot stand rap. Or history.
1. Your top secret, uber guilty pleasure is… ?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Given that, I do I enjoy a good conspiracy theory. I love reading people spin their tales of insanity. I am fascinated with the way their minds work (or don’t work, depending) and the parallels it all has with religious fanaticism.
2. If you could choose to be someone else for just one day, it would be… ?
Just one day? A chorus member of the Hamilton cast. I know—I’m overboard with it. I always wanted to perform on Broadway, even though I did not have the acting or dancing chops, and this one is the hot ticket. So, just a day. Yes, please.
3. Your oldest memory is… ?
My first day of Kindergarten. I was very scared of Mom leaving me there. I cried. No one else was crying. (This was long before preschool was a thing.) My teacher, who remains on my top ten list of best teachers ever, brought a Dixie cup to me, set it in front of me and told me that it was there to catch all my tears. I felt a fool, clammed up the tears and made it through the day. Now, I’m sure she’d have been in trouble for insensitivity, but it makes me laugh.
4. The one thing you’d do anything to avoid/get out of is… ?
Haha, promoting my books! Oh, what a confession. Seriously, it’s a necessary evil and I try, but it’s so far out of my wheelhouse I grumble at every turn. So yeah—buy my book, huh? That’d be neat.
5. Your favorite part of a date is… ?
The goodnight kiss, of course! Well, if the partner is good at that sort of thing.
6. The one thing you could/can never get over is… ?
Donald Trump leading the Republican Presidential Nomination. I can’t even talk about it.
7. If you could have any one superpower, it would be… ?
Teleportation, without question. I could travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted and yes, that would be a dream.
About the Author & Links:
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.