Please say hello to Lynn Charles and
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?
"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."
Get the book:
We had a chance to ask Lynn a few questions...
Hi Lynn, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
I'm happy to be here! I’m an author, wife and mother living in Central Ohio. I’ve been writing—from lavish journal entries to fictional stories—most of my life. My first novel, Chef's Table, was published in December 2014 with Interlude Press. Black Dust is about a couple who, fifteen years after a tragic car accident tore them apart, are given a second chance to heal and to love.
- Tell us something no one else knows about your characters.
While Emmett speaks disparagingly about his niece and nephew, he secretly sort of loves them; they're not all that fond of their grandmother and their mother's uptight personalities anymore than Emmett is. It's a secret they all carry in their back pocket, and knowing looks and mumbled messages between the three of them make family gatherings a bit more bearable. Toby secretly envies Emmett's teaching career. He admits it a few years after we leave them, and begins to look for and find master classes and various teaching opportunities in the cities he plays. (Oooh? A sequel? The thoughts they are a-churning)
- What inspires you in life or in writing?
People. That's such an easy answer, but it's true. How do people handle the situations they're given? How do they NOT handle them? What makes them laugh and cry? I think I could sit in a public place for hours every day and just… study. We're all so fascinating and annoying and fun and weird.
- What is the most important thing about your subject/genre that people need to know?
That romance novels still can tell a beautiful story. It's not just sappy love fests and smutty sex. They're stories about the people I mentioned in the previous question. They're about love. And we all love love.
- How did you become involved in the subject/theme of your book?
It started with a question I asked around the anniversary of a tragedy in our family similar to the one in Black Dust. I lost a young cousin in an auto accident. The seating arrangement was different. No one was in love with anyone else—just three girlfriends headed to "the city" for an evening of fun. But, I wondered about the two girls that survived. The driver, who was faulted, even though it was one of those accidents that "just happens." The passenger that survived, but did have some injuries that required recovery. Fifteen years later, where were they? How did the accident affect them as adults? I don't know the answers to their story, but it was a spring board for my imagination. As for the world of music—it was my own once upon a time. It was fun to revisit it in this way.
- What famous person (living or dead) would you like to meet and why?
I would think any former sitting president would be fascinating, even ones I didn't particularly like. In fact, they might even be more fascinating. I have a few celebrities that I just want to order pizza and have a movie marathon with them. That list can change with the wind, but the entire original cast of Hamilton would rank up there right now.
About the author:
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.
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