There are those who can't see and those who don't want to, but we're all blind sometimes.
ISBN# 978-1-60820-8937 (print) $14.99
MLR-1-02013-0162 (ebook) $7.99
Release Date October 2013
Cover Artist Deana C. Jamroz
. 288 pages / 79,000 words
Available At: Featherweight Press (ebook)
Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?
Excerpt One – Meeting Ace
I will never forget the first time I saw Ace Richmond, not as long as I live and probably beyond. He was sitting at the kitchen table, the chair pushed back and his long legs crossed at the ankle under the table. There was a plate of sandwiches in front of him and he was eating an apple. I saw none of that.
To say that I had ‘seen’ him through the window would have been like saying that I had seen the reflection of the moon on the surface of a still lake or the sun setting into the sea. Beautiful but only a pale shadow of the real thing.
Today he was wearing an acid green t-shirt with a pink elephant on the front that was somewhat jarring on the eyes, especially matched with the lurid pink tartan trousers and the large jewel encrusted sunglasses that were completely out of place. I had to blink twice to fully take them in. However, if his clothing was something of a shock it was nothing compared to the rest of him.
He had appeared slender and ephemeral from my standpoint below, thin and pale. Up close he was far more substantial. He was not so slender at all, although there was a certain grace in the way he was lounging in the chair that made him seem more willowy than he was.
He was pale; his skin almost translucent, like the white hair that cascaded over his shoulders and obscured half of his face. He was gorgeous too; far better looking than I had observed or imagined, but not in the fragile, fey way that I had thought. He was very substantial indeed. Weird in the clothing sense but lovely and…real.
Excerpt Two – Ninja
We had lunch in the same restaurant that we had the first time, and Nick was suitably impressed. Ace enthused about the menus, the food, how nice the waitresses were, and Nick watched him with a slightly bemused expression on his face.
That was nothing though to the expression he wore when we went down onto the beach and I had Ace doing cartwheels again.
“Bloody hell,” he murmured under his breath as we watched Ace’s wild abandon. I don’t think he was physically able to say any more. Ace literally took his breath away.
“He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”
Nick nodded, unable to take his eyes away from his brother.
Eventually Ace stopped and stood still, turning his face to the sea breeze, and simply waited, quietly.
“What’s he doing now?”
“Waiting for what?”
I couldn’t help a giggle. “For us, of course. He has no idea where he is now.”
“Oh. I…I didn’t think. He must trust you a lot; just to stand and wait and not be scared.”
“Ace is never scared. He’s the bravest person I know.”
We were walking by then, and Nick fell silent. We hadn’t quite got to Ace when he said, “I wish I could see the sea.” There wasn’t any sadness in his voice, just a hint of wistfulness. “It feels so…big and wild.”
“It is.” I slipped my arm around his waist, and he rested his head on my shoulder.
“Mister… Mister…” At the sound of the breathless but excited voices, we turned and I saw two boys, about eleven years old, racing across the beach toward us.
“That was awesome,” one of them gasped as they skidded to a halt.
“Can you do it again? Can you teach us?”
“How did you do it? Are you an acrobat?”
“Or a ninja?”
Ace laughed and shook his head; he frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know how I do it, not really. It just feels…right. I don’t know if I could teach anyone, because I don’t know what I do myself.”
“Aww, but we really want to learn.” His voice was so earnest that Nick and I exchanged glances and stifled giggles.
“Please, Mister, just tell us what you do.”
“I just… You need to find something inside that really wants to come out, that needs to be free, and then you just throw yourself at it and it takes you over.
“I learned how to trust my body and the space around me at school. We do a lot of martial arts and most of the flipping and stuff are just part of the moves.”
One of the boys turned to the other and said, “See? I told you he was a ninja.”
“Ninjas,” said the other one, “wear black and don’t look like that. He’s all white with funny eyes.” His eyes widened, and his face got an excited expression. “Maybe he’s from one of those secret organisations, like the White Dragons or something, like we saw in that film. Maybe he’s an assassin.”
“WOW, Mister. Are you really? Are you? Are you a secret assassin?”
The other boy hit him in the shoulder so hard he almost fell over. “If it’s a secret, he’s not going to tell you about it, is he?”
“Oh. Sorry, Mister.” He was subdued for a moment, with downcast eyes, scuffing the sand. Then he brightened up and with a sly expression on his face. “But are you? Are you really? I mean you can trust us, because we’re only kids so you know we’re not like…like from a rival gang or something.”
His friend rolled his eyes and sighed. “Sorry. He’s a bit thick. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.” Ace was grinning as the boy dragged his friend away.
“Hehe, one day I’m an angel and the next a secret ninja assassin. Nice. I wonder what I’ll be tomorrow.”
I hugged him close. “Mine,” I said, and he giggled.
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.