Yes, another friend release. Because holy hell, are there a ton of books coming out I want to read!!! This one, I am assured, has all of Amy Lane's usual trademarks: a ghost of a chance at happiness for the heroes, a tragedy, the requirement that you bring your own shares in Kleenex and/or Xanax to the party, and, I was also assured, because I specifically asked, because I've read Amy's stuff before! A satisfactorily acceptable conclusion.;) I look forward to reading it with that sort of morbid fascination that one looks forward to...well, to reading an Amy Lane book, I guess, because it always turns out to be a singularly unique and fantastic experience.
Peter first came to the tiny backwater of Daisy, California, as a child, and he was sure of one thing: his cousin Michael would take care of him. When Michael started a friendship with the fragile, haunted Bodi Kovacs, Peter's consolation in losing any claim to Bodi was that Michael would care for him too. But tragedy struck, and Michael ripped himself out of their world and threw away the people who loved him most.
Six years later, Michael is coming home in a box. All it took to destroy a hero was a town full of bigotry and hatred. Reclaiming him will take strength of heart that neither Peter nor Bodi had six years ago. Since Michael left, Bodi has been lost and alone. Peter can try to make Bodi his and take the role Michael should have had, but first he and Bodi have to confront the past. They will need to face Michael, the good and the bad, the beauty and the sadness, and see his memory truly for what it was and not what it could have been. It's a simple act that may destroy them both: sifting through the flaming ruins of heaven is a sure way to annihilate a bleeding mortal heart.
And here's the excerpt:
Daisy, California. Population 2,726.
WHEN Peter Armbruster moved there when he was ten, it became 2,727. Children were born, old folks died, a few folks moved in. When Peter’s cousin, Michael, died in Afghanistan twelve years later, it was 2,813. Wait, no—2,812.
Because you had to count Bodi.
A month before he’d shipped out, Michael snuck his mom’s car out of the garage to help Bodi move all of his stuff from the bedroom of his old house to nobody-knew-where-at-the-time. As far as Peter knew, they went out the bedroom window, because Bodi’s mother wouldn’t have let Michael in her house right then, and Bodi himself was lucky all his shit didn’t end up on her lawn. The roar of Bodi’s Harley Davidson at two in the morning was pretty much the last anyone in Daisy knew for sure about where Bodi had gone—anyone except Peter. Peter had kept track. Bodi showed up in Arcata not much later, where he had opened a machine shop and was living in a flat above it, according to rumors. Although Peter was never sure of the identity of the occasional Daisy resident who had seen him, Peter knew that’s where he’d gone. Peter had checked those rumors out himself. He dreamed about Bodi in those six years, and always, always, he was somewhere other than Daisy, and he was happy.
The day Peter’s aunt Aileen got the news about Michael, she sat down abruptly on her front porch—not on the swinging seat behind her but on the boards. It wasn’t a collapse, per se, just a simple statement that she would take this news on her own terms, and Peter tried hard not to think bitter things such as that was how she expected the rest of the world had to live its life too: on her terms.
Peter helped her up and took the telegram from her nerveless fingers and then walked her into the house. Later, he’d start the neighborhood phone tree, wherein he’d call her best friend, who lived a mile away, and her parents—his grandparents—who lived down in Sacramento, and they would spread the word. Eventually, even Michael’s father, who lived up in Crescent City, would hear, although he didn't bother to show up at the funeral.
But in the meantime, it was only Peter James Armbruster and Aileen Catherine Armbruster in the silence of the house they’d shared for over eleven years. It had been that long since Peter’s mother had brought him to Daisy. He’d been ten, and his mother had been exhausted and grieving. Even if she didn’t have the means to raise him, she did have the love.
They’d heard from Ginnifer since then: she often showed up on Peter’s birthday, bearing cards and stories, and Peter had learned to love those visits—but also not to expect them. The last time she’d been there, she’d managed to hold on to a job and a boyfriend for a couple of months, and Peter could sense the relief in her, because the gypsy life she’d led hadn’t been of her choosing but more thrust upon her. Peter actually had more of a life in Daisy by then, and he hadn’t begged to go with her. He’d spent his first two years as a child pleading to leave with her. After Bodi arrived, he’d stopped begging, but just because he felt like he had chains that bound him to the wormshit of a mountain town didn’t mean that his mother’s absence hadn’t hurt.
And those chains that bound him hadn’t offered much comfort, either. After Michael had shipped out, it had mostly been just Peter and Aileen, echoing around in the big yellow two-story house that sat a block back from Zinnia Street, the main drag through Daisy.
Although it was maybe seventy-five miles from the ocean, Daisy was close enough to the foothills of Highway 120 to sit in the red dirt of the mountains. The dusty ochre-colored sunshine filtering through the blinds in the west-facing window tinted all of Peter’s thoughts and memories. That sanguine shade of light was omnipresent. It shined on the day his mother left him in Daisy, it shined on the day Bodi had left, and that light would forever bleed on the day when they found out Michael’s life had ended.
“Say it!” Aileen snapped as Peter put the kettle on the stove and, conversely, set about getting some ice in a glass. Ice water first, tea second. He had no idea why that made sense.
“Say what,” he muttered tonelessly. He knew what she was talking about, but he didn’t want to talk about it. His own mind was running a nonstop film loop of Michael, as Peter had known him. Michael had been four years older than Peter. When Peter had arrived in Daisy, Michael had been every bit as lonely living in that house as Peter had been in the six years since Michael had left. Peter had been an instant little brother for Michael. And Michael?
Michael had set Peter’s sun and his moon and his stars. He’d painted the sky black for the deep summer nights and initiated the breeze that breathed through Peter’s window into his sweltering attic room. Michael, with his dark, curly hair and his deep brown/green eyes (his father’s eyes—Aileen never let him forget it), had been everything Peter wanted to be. For Peter’s first two years in Aileen’s house, Michael had been Peter’s everything, and for the next four years, he’d been the other half of Peter’s everything.
And then he’d been gone.
“Say that I killed him,” Aileen spat now, wringing her thin, dry hands. She’d been pretty once. She had. She’d had blonde hair and a lively face, a wide smiling mouth, and sparkling blue eyes. By the time Peter had gotten there, she’d been middle-aged at thirty-four. Now she was ancient in her forties.
“A land mine killed him,” Peter said without emotion. “Just ask the DOD.”
“That’s not what you’re thinking,” Aileen snapped. She was crying. Her voice wasn’t breaking, and she wasn’t sobbing, but her eyes were red and her nose was swollen and there were tracks down the faint sheen of dust on her lean face.
“If I knew what I was thinking, Aunt Aileen, I’d tell you,” Peter said with resignation. For a moment, he watched his fingers pick at the cheap laminate on the wooden counter. He closed his eyes tight and saw Michael as he had been the morning before their entire world had fallen apart. He’d been happy that day: his face had been flushed and his hair had been tousled. Peter had been the only one to know why, but his smile—white teeth in a tanned face and green/brown eyes that crinkled in the corners, inviting people in—had been transcendent. Michael Hickham (unlike his mother, he’d kept his father’s name) had wanted the entire world to be as happy as he was.
Please note that there are internet issues beyond anyone's control right now, and a buy link is unavailable. When it becomes available, I will let everyone know!! (Sorry, Amy!)