The Deep of Sound (Bluewater Bay, #8) by Amy Lane (Published by Riptide Publishing, June 15, 2015, 309 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.
Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.
Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.
Deep of the Sound Blog Tour, Excerpt—Stop 10
By Amy Lane
Any parent with kids knows that feeling. That perfect blessed feeling when someone not him or herself suddenly takes over in the childrearing. It can be a grandparent coming over to let mom get a nap, or a favorite Aunt or Uncle taking the kids out roller skating in order to buy their affections—it doesn’t matter. Suddenly, for a moment, the caregiver gets to set down a psychic weight, a burden that is usually sweet but oh, God, it can really drag us down.
That feeling of relief, of joy, is usually something we’re so grateful for, we’ll do anything.
In this scene, Cal unexpectedly sets his burdens down and Avery picks them up. Cal is so grateful, that once, just this once, he may be tempted to let another human being– one who isn’t his great uncle and isn’t his brother—into his aching, guarded heart.
“There’s a car,” Keir said. “Cal, there’s a car. The hazard lights are on. You need to stop.”
“You need to stop, Cal. You need to—”
“I know, I know, I know.”
Nobody was on 101 this late afternoon. If this person needed help, Cal had sort of a moral obligation. Bluewater Bay was forty miles away—if cell service was out, and it often was, this person was stranded but for the kindness of strangers.
Cal left the truck running as he grabbed his slicker from the back and threw it on. And even though it had only happened once, when Keir was six years old, he continued with the regular litany of warnings.
“You can’t touch the steering wheel.”
“I won’t touch the steering wheel.”
“You can’t touch the brake pedal.”
“I won’t touch the brake pedal.”
“You can’t touch the gas pedal.”
“I won’t touch the gas pedal.”
“You can’t get out of the car.”
“I won’t get out of the car.”
Cal paused, standing on the tarmac, leaning into the cab. “You absolutely cannot try to drive unless there is a serial killer in there and you see me beheaded.”
Keir nodded. “I understand, Cal. Once I drove the truck into the house and took the support off the garage. It’s where I got my scar.”
He rubbed his forehead, and Cal nodded. Everything with Keir was absolutely literal, including the need to state the memory that had become family legend. Cal’s father had shouted, “Keir, damn it, get in here!” from the garage, and six-year-old Keir had gotten behind the wheel and tried to drive the car into the house.
“Right, and we’re not doing that again.”
Cal nodded and slammed the door, trotting around the truck to the little white Honda. He knocked on the steamed window, and backed away, giving whoever was inside some room.
The door swung open and a scarecrow got out.
He stood taller than Cal by at least two inches, with a riot of curly dark hair quickly plastering to his narrow face. He squinted at Cal through thick-framed glasses, which were held up by ears that stuck out a little. His plain blue hooded sweatshirt was growing quickly sodden in the rain, and he took off his glasses and grimaced at Cal in apology.
“My car just died. No cell service. I’ve got no idea how to fix it.”
Cal nodded. “Hybrid?”
“We’ve got a couple of garages in Bluewater that can fix that. I’m headed into town. You got a place to stay there?”
He saw an ironic twist to the young man’s mouth. “I actually do, but I don’t have any cash for a week. I’ve got no idea how I’m going to pay for a tow.”
Cal grunted, thinking. “Yeah, well, I’ll get you to town, you can tell Clarke where it is. The tow will be between you two, but right now, I can get you out of the fucking rain.”
He was surprised at the strength of the young man’s smile. “That’s amazing!” he said, nodding his head like Cal had just affirmed something important about the world. “Thank you! Thank you so much! Here—can I get some clothes?”
“Nothing too big—it’s three of us in the cab.”
“Oh. Uhm, hang on a minute.”
Cal watched the young man think fast, then reach into the car and rummage. He came out with a backpack, the kind with the softened pocket that held a laptop. It was bulging out the front—probably with clothes and toiletries—and he killed the hazard lights and slammed the door.
He smiled hopefully at Cal. “Hey—I’m Avery. Avery Kennedy.” He stuck out a long, bony, pale hand. “Thanks so much for the lift into town.”
Cal took that white hand in his own, not needing to look to see the contrast of his Native American brown skin. “Cal McCorkle. You got all your shit?”
Avery nodded, not seeming to be put off at all.
The truck steamed up the minute they got in, and Cal had to let the engine idle a minute so the defog would compensate for the extra body. Next to him, Keir and Avery were staring at each other.
“I’m Avery.” The cab was pretty crowded, so Avery’s attempt to stick out his hand to shake was ridiculous, really.
“I’m Keir. I’m Cal’s brother. What happened to your car?”
Cal darted a glance at Avery, to see if he’d be alienated by the abrupt speech pattern. Odd or truncated speech patterns often defined the severe Asperger’s part of Keir’s diagnosis, and introducing Keir to new people was always a challenge.
Avery blinked at him through his steamed glasses and shrugged. “It broke down. You and your brother were nice enough to give me a ride.”
Cal put the truck in gear, and risked a sideways look at Avery. He was peering at Keir speculatively but not unkindly.
“My brother isn’t nice. He yells a lot. It’s why he likes to be alone.”
Cal swallowed. Wow. If you wanted to know what Keir thought of you, apparently just sit next to him and look at him funny.
Avery made an understanding sound. “Well, sometimes what people do for us is more important than what they say.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, like my ex-boyfriend. He liked to tell me I was really smart. But then he’d make fun of me to all his friends about how I hunched over my computer all day and didn’t know how to do real work. So he said really nice things to me, but he made fun of me behind my back. It made it feel like basically none of the nice things he said meant anything.”
Avery sounded bitter, like the wound was fresh, and Cal grunted. Wow, could he have found anything more helpless in the rain?
“My brother earns money for the house. He pays for food and medicine. He works two jobs.”
“Keir, maybe not tell all my business?” Cal said gruffly.
Avery ignored Cal and responded to Keir. “Well then, he must be a good guy. Even if he yells.”
There was a moment of silence, for which Cal could only be grateful. God, Keir could talk a subject to death.
“He is a good guy. He lets me watch Avatar. Do you like Avatar?”
“The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra?” Avery asked, and if Cal hadn’t had a death grip on the wheel, he might have wrecked the truck. “Because I like them both, but I get really frustrated with Korra’s character.”
“The Last Airbender is my favorite, but I like that Korra has moved into the steampunk world. What’s your favorite episode?”
Avery responded easily, because apparently he really was as much of a nerd as he looked, and Cal fought the temptation to weep tears of gratitude. Keir’s focus was so very narrow. Natural history, that damned show, and Cal. Cal hated talking about his own life, could only quiz him so much on natural history, and only knew the very basics about the show. God, finally, someone who spoke Keir.
For a good half an hour, Cal got to listen to them talk about everything from voice actors to animation houses to world building, and for that half an hour, Cal was both stunned and happy.
His brother was really freakin’ smart. He analyzed this show with all the passion and intelligence of a literature major analyzing the works of Milton or Shakespeare. Cal remembered his old AP classes—Keir talked about dialog, conflict, theme—and Cal wanted to cry. All of those beautiful tools in his brain, all of that incredibly specialized function.
But hearing another adult responding, understanding everything Keir was saying—that was a beautiful thing. Cal had seen the California license plates, and for a moment he was tempted to break into this freaking perfect storm of conversation, this gift of heaven for his brother, and demand to know if the A+ in geek was a California thing or an Avery Kennedy thing.
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
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Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an eBook package of all of Amy Lane’s backlist titles with Riptide! (Excludes The Deep of the Sound and anthologies.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 20, 2015. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.