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What Once Was Lost
Following a volatile break-up with his partner, Casey has been raising his son, Ryan, mostly on his own. While Ryan is on a camping trip in the Adirondacks, Casey and Brook make another attempt to work through their differences, with disastrous results. But when Ryan and his friend disappear in the mountains, Casey and Brook travel together to find him. The tension leads to an opportunity to listen to each other, reconcile their history, and recover the love they once shared.
It couldn't be real. It was a vision or a nightmare or maybe stress-related, but that could not possibly be his former lover standing on the porch with his hand raised to press the bell again. That was not the man who continued to haunt both his dreams and his nightmares. He shuddered; the previous night's mental sleep wanderings had been a horrifying mix of erotic and sorrowful, and he wasn't in a hurry to relive them in the flesh. In confusion, Casey slammed the door shut.
"Open the damn door, Case," the man on the other side said.
Casey growled and opened it again. "What the hell are you doing here, Brook?"
"I came to get my kid for the weekend because you failed to drop him off."
"We talked about this weeks ago." Casey glared at Brook. "Ryan's going camping with Annie, Chuck, and their kids. You knew about this."
"Maybe I decided the answer is no." Brook crossed his arms. "You never gave me the choice--you just told me what was going on, same as always. I'd like a say in what happens this time."
"Not gonna happen. Also, you have no business showing up at my door. We agreed to a neutral location for a reason."
"Oh, right, because we couldn't stop pissing each other off every time we were together. I'm glad to see you've gained some maturity since then," Brook shot back.
No, you ass, Casey thought. It's because if I let you in my house, and you begged to stay, I'd have taken you back and gotten my heart crushed again. "Go home," he said. He made to close the door again.
Brook blocked it with his foot. "He's my kid too. I should've had a say in it. This is my weekend."
"First of all, he's not yours in any legal sense. Second, you lost the right to have a say the minute you fucked someone else in our bed."
Brook's mouth dropped open, and his eyes flicked to the stairs behind Casey. When Casey turned his head to follow Brook's gaze, he sighed. Ryan was standing in the middle of the staircase, staring at them. His mouth was set in a thin line, and he had a deep scowl.
"Ry, I'm sorry," Casey said. "You don't need—"
"I don't need what?" Ryan asked, crossing his arms. "The truth? Is that why Pop left?"
Both men were silent, but from the look on Ryan's face, neither of them had to say anything else. Ryan scoffed and turned around to thunder back up the stairs.
"Charming as always, I see," Brook said.
"Fuck off. I didn't invite you here today. You showed up unannounced right before Ry's weekend trip. But hey, I guess you don't care whether you ruin it for him. Kind of like everything else."
"God, I forgot what a whiny ass you are," Brook said, sneering.
Casey wanted to punch him, but that wouldn't do anything to improve things with Ryan. "Look, this isn't the time. You want to have some drawn-out argument where we both accuse each other of random shit from the whole span of our relationship? Great. I'll pencil you in for noon tomorrow, when my son is happily off in the woods with his best friend's family. Until then, get the hell off my porch."
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An excerpt from Sandra's 4 star review:
Casey and Brook used to be a couple, raising Ryan (son of Casey's late sister and Brook's late brother) together for years, until Brook did a bad, bad thing, and they broke up.
Their relationship, what's left of it, is rather volatile, made so by Brook's betrayal and Casey's inability to move on, and we can infer from the start that there are a lot of angry, hurt feelings at play. Both have tried to be somewhat civil for Ryan's sake, but putting Casey and Brook into the same room is akin to lighting a fuse to a powder keg.
The plot device that compels Casey and Brook to put their considerable differences aside made sense within the story, and I liked how the author uses Ryan's disappearance from the camping grounds as a reason for Casey and Brook to spend time together and being forced to actually listen to each other - hearing what the other is saying, without blowing up, and seeing that perhaps they are both at fault, which is so often the case in failed relationships.
The author uses a common misconception - bisexuals might stray to the opposite sex of their chosen mate at any time - and makes it that this is really just that, a misconception, showing that monogamy is certainly possible. Because, why wouldn't it be? It's a choice, after all, right?
About the author:
A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.
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