The Bones Of You, in bookstores November 2014
Oliver Andrews, an American getting his Masters abroad at Cambridge University, has kept his head down, focused on his education and promising career to the point where almost everything in his life before academia has fallen by the wayside. When a well-meaning friend sends him a particular video clip, the life that he’d so carefully built for himself begins to crumble. There are ex-boyfriends, and then there are those who changed your life, who worked their way into the very marrow of your bones, redefining everything you thought you knew about yourself.
That would be Seth Larsen, the ethereal voice singing on Oliver’s computer, and apparently the new toast of Broadway. Seth, the boy who helped Oliver stand proud and come out, the man who now was causing Oliver’s life plan to shatter into a million pieces.
An excerpt from the soon-to-be published novel,Â The Bones Of You, Interlude Press, 2014.
Oliver clicked the link and saw that Gus had emailed him an embedded video with a note: â€œHope this makes your day better.â€ Â
Oliver could definitely use a feel-good something. He was steadily getting his ass kicked by his masterâ€™s, even though it was everything he had hoped he would be doing at this stage in his academic career. He felt that he had a lot to prove as an American student, and as a result, he was constantly behind on sleep from trying to stay on top of his reading and research. Â
Probably a dog dancing or something; he loves those.
He put the dayâ€™s lecture and scheduled conformity experiment out of his mind by clicking play and then pause to allow the buffer to catch up. The Internet hated their building, the sort of cold stone affair commonÂ in town. At first it had been amazing to be living in a bit of history. Then the wet cold of autumn set in, and Oliver missed good olâ€™ American sheetrock and insulation.
While he gave the video a moment to load, he tapped the stack of papers on its edge to straighten it, muttering his dayâ€™s schedule to himself under his breath until he got everything just right. Then he clicked play, and the screen filled with an American morning show. Oliver rolled his eyes at the overly-peppy hosts and moved to grab his satchel to get the research papers safely stored, figuring that heâ€™d listen to whatever whistling dog or stupid human trick was about to come on as he packed up to leave.
And thatâ€™s when he heard it: a beautiful voice that was painfully familiar. God, that sounds just like… He dropped the satchelâ€”the papers, thankfully, stowed awayâ€”and turned to his computer screen. It seemed as though time had stopped, that it took forever to see proof on the screen that heâ€™d heard what he thought he had heard. And then he saw him.
Oliver immediately forgot that he needed to get to campus, that he had a mountain of work ahead of him, that heâ€™d not even eaten yet. Seth. Seth, his first love, his first, well, everything, was on his computer screen, singing. And if heâ€™d thought Seth had a beautiful voice as a teenager, it was nothing to how he sounded now. Clearly, his time at Juilliard and whatever heâ€™d done after had developed his voice into something truly special, almost otherworldly.
Oliver gripped the computer with both hands, his face close to the screen, his breath trapped in his aching lungs. Seth, tall and lean, his pretty, still-boyish face aglow from the joy of performing, was in the middle of the studio, hands clasped in front of him, eyes closed and head tilted slightly as he sang a song Oliver wasnâ€™t familiar with. Oliver was transfixed by the lines of Sethâ€™s long throat, by the way the fitted shirt he wore accentuated the breadth of his shoulders, by the small smile on his face as he sang. It was Seth, but now so much more than the captivating boy he had loved all those years ago.
Memories came rushing back to Oliver, tumbling over each other as if trying to assert their dominance: Seth in his Bakerfield Prep uniform, sitting across from Oliver in their French class, smiling shyly. Sethâ€™s Adamâ€™s apple bobbing as he swallowed nervously before pushing open Oliverâ€™s bedroom door after they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Sethâ€™s head thrown back, laughing at something his dad said at dinner, eyes sparkling with warmth as he turned to look at Oliver. A warm, sunny Saturday just after Oliver had graduated from Bakerfield when Seth, home from his first year at university in New York City, had managed to spend the night when Oliverâ€™s parents were gone for the weekend.
That was it. That was the day that would forever be branded in Oliverâ€™s memory: his hand running through Sethâ€™s thick, light brown hair. Seth, eyes closed and still sleepy, turning his head to press a kiss to the inside of Oliverâ€™s wrist. Seth falling back asleep and Oliverâ€™s arm going numb, him knowing nothing on earth would make him move and wake Seth. Because Oliver had known even then how precious and fleeting these moments were, even if the two of them didnâ€™t want to admit that things were changing, that life was moving too fast for them to keep up, that they were still kids and had no idea how hard life would get when they were finally on their own. Heâ€™d had that entire Saturday with the person he loved in his arms, unable to accept that it might be the last time he would get the opportunity.
Oliver swallowed around the lump that had risen in his throat at the first sound of the voice that belonged to the only person heâ€™d ever really loved.Â He clicked on the pause button and tried to catch his breath. Seth was frozen in mid-action on his screen, turned to the left as if acknowledging the hosts of the show. Why was he on The Today Show? Why did Gus send him this? He scrolled back up to read the message of the email.
Hope this makes your day better.
Oliver attempted a laugh; a strangled, sad sound came out. He noticed the clock in the lower right-hand corner of his computer screen. â€œShit,â€ he muttered, flipping the screen closed and jamming the laptop roughly in his satchel. He would deal with this later, whatever that meant. For now, he had about three minutes to get fifteen minutes away. He stepped out onto the slick stones that made up the walkway to his flat and pulled the heavy wooden door shut. The icy cold wind cut through every layer he had on, and he tried to stop thinking of how beautiful Seth’s bare skin had been with the midday sun shining on him at two in the afternoon on that warm and lazy Saturday, him spread out on Oliver’s bed, smiling as if he weren’t about to shatter Oliver’s heart into a million pieces just a few hours later.
Look forÂ The Bones Of You in bookstores this Fall. Pre-orders for US/Canada on September 16 at interludepress.com.