Today I am so pleased to welcome Amy Lane to Joyfully Jay. Amy has come to talk to us about her latest release, Fall Through Spring. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Skipper and Richie
Yes, I know—when you’re writing a blog tour, you’re supposed to focus on the book at hand. But this is the third book in the series, and the series started with Skip and Richie in Winter Ball, and I have to tell you—I really love these guys.
Skip and Richie met in tech school—Richie was in the automotive track and Skipper was in business. Graduating from tech school doesn’t get you a degree as a captain of industry—but it usually gives you a place to start, a way to make a good living, and it doesn’t take the time or the money that state college does.
These guys don’t have a humanities degree. They live practical lives, in which health coverage, food, and housing are the ultimate dream.
And love. Love is a dream that when the story opens, they don’t think they can achieve.
Rec league soccer is their social outlet and their emotional one. Skipper doesn’t have a family—when he’s sick, he has to depend on his friend from work, and on the guys on the team.
It would figure that the one person they loved the most was someone they knew from team. And given that they’d been best friends for six years, it would figure that their true love would be each other. The fact that they were both men was a mental block—but these are physical guys. Once they get over that obstacle, it’s all about what they can do in bed together.
And then it’s all about what they can do to be together always.
When I first wrote these guys, I had no intention of making this a series. But Skipper’s stalwart friend, his awkward boss, and his boss’s slightly evil little brother, proved such interesting characters that they needed their own books. And wouldn’t it be fun if the awkward boss ended up with a working-class guy like Skipper, but with a squirrely brain.
And then, in the background of that story, we Skip’s best friend and his boss’s brother falling in love.
Fall Through Spring is Clay and Dane’s story—and it’s a little bit heartbreaking and a little bit funny, and hopefully a lot of proof that everybody should get a happy ending. Everybody.
But it couldn’t have taken place without Skip and Richie first—giving people who feel like they have no way to a happy ending, a roadmap to love.
And don’t we need one of those? That, for me, is always the most fun about the first characters in a series—they set the tone, and they show the other characters the way.
And by the time I get to the third book, seeing the path that the new character take, seeing how some of it was forged by the first couple, and new ways were forged by the second, it is always a delight to see what twists the third couple can put on the roadmap of the series.
Of course it helps when you start with a couple of everyday guys like Skip and Richie, who have hearts bigger than they ever know.
I hope you enjoy Fall Through Spring—it can definitely be read as a standalone. But when you see mention of Skip and Richie, or Mason and Terry, throughout the book, and wonder what their story is—know that it’s out there.
Because everybody should have one.
“Do your parents always get you gift certificates?” Dane asked casually, and Carpenter tried not to sigh.
“They… they do,” he said, feeling some of his ebullience fading. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to his dutiful Christmas visit tomorrow. Waking up and having waffles with Skip and Richie? Yes. Going to his parents to have bean-curd-shaped-like-ham? Not so much.
“You got sad,” Dane said, his voice assuming tones of wonder and horror. The two of them backed up, almost like a dance, so they resumed their original position next to each other facing the yard, with the firepit warming their backs and backsides. “Why did you get sad?” he asked, and Carpenter looked out into the darkness beyond their happy little gathering of hot chocolate and sugar cookies.
“Richie’s getting him a dog,” he said wistfully. “That’s his Christmas present. They’re going to go get a dog together, from the shelter. I might even get to come.”
“That’s sweet,” Dane told him, not asking what this had to do with Carpenter’s parents, for which he was grateful. “We could never get pets—my father is deathly allergic. My mother would take me to the shelter to volunteer all the way through high school so I could, you know, get my dog on.”
Carpenter laughed slightly. “We had a dog when I was a kid. After Snoodles died, I wanted another dog so bad. A cat. A gerbil. But it was always a test. Were my grades good enough? Was my room clean enough? Did I improve in soccer, science, reading, math, and thaumaturgy?”
Dane didn’t laugh at the thaumaturgy joke, which told Carpenter that his voice was too shaky with the underlying hurt. “I just… you know. Close, but no cigar. And maybe it was just a way to not have another animal, because animals are giant colossal pains in the ass that shed and shit and eat and knock over trash and stuff. But….”
“But you didn’t care about that,” Dane said. And maybe because he’d gotten his dog on, because he saw animals on a daily basis in the veterinary science department, or maybe because he just really got Carpenter and Carpenter’s heart was sort of wounded, as if seeing his best friend fall in love had shown him what Carpenter was missing, he nodded, completely honest.
“I would have cleaned up all their shit just to have a creature who loved me, however.”
Dane made a hurt sound and leaned on him again. “Maybe you can get a cat,” he said encouragingly. “And then I could come over to your place and visit your cat, since Mace and I aren’t working pet-friendly hours at the moment.”
“If you saw my apartment, I’d kill myself,” Carpenter muttered, thinking about how there were clothes everywhere—and not just clothes. A combination of giant clothes and slightly smaller clothes, and dirty clothes and clean clothes, and shoes to fit his feet when they swelled and shoes to fit his feet when they didn’t, and Skipper’s soccer equipment, and six different gaming systems and—
Dane had smacked him on the back of the head.
“That’s real.” His voice was flinty. “I’ve said that to my family and meant that. We don’t use those words unless we want to be dragged into a shrink’s office for six shots of Wellbutrin with a lithium chaser.”
“Wouldn’t that be lethal?” Carpenter asked, appalled.
“Well, I wouldn’t have cared,” Dane snapped back. “Now find another way to say that.”
Carpenter swallowed back the sarcasm, his heart cracking a little. I’ve said that to my family and meant that. “My apartment is a shithole, and I don’t want you to see it because now you like me.”
Dane cocked his head, as though he’d been speaking in another language. “How bad could it be?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen the floor in months.”
Dane’s angry scowl brightened. “So it’s like a treasure hunt? I could come see your house like a treasure hunt? Now you’ve got me super excited to see it! Can I see it now? Can we go today?”
“No!” Carpenter almost backed into the firepit in an effort to get away from that idea. “No! You can’t come see it today! Jesus Christ, I just told you it’s too ugly to see!”
“No—you told me it was a shithole that needed cleaning. I can clean. I’m great at it. We could spend an entire day cleaning your apartment, and then we could game.”
This was not how Carpenter expected this conversation to go. “You’re insane,” he said decisively. “So insane.”
Dane appeared unfazed. “We’ve covered that. Bipolar depression, anxiety—you’ve seen it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help you clean your place.”
“I’m a grown man,” he said with dignity. “I can clean my own place.”
Dane snorted. “Obviously not. Here—I get a month off. You get it to a place where I can come help. And I’ll come help.”
Carpenter dropped his chin to his chest and rubbed the back of his neck. “Dane, man, not even Skipper has seen my apartment.”
“Really?” Dane batted his lashes at Carpenter, and for a moment, between the firelight and the electric lamps hanging from the nearby oak tree, Carpenter got to see Dane’s eyes, and the complexity of brown that they were.
“Really what?” he asked, confused.
“The great and almighty Skipper Keith, slayer of hearts, hasn’t seen your apartment?”
“No,” Carpenter muttered, feeling grumpy. “It’s private.”
Dane’s expression became catlike, and Carpenter just stared at him, mesmerized.
“What?” Dane asked after a moment.
And Carpenter was lost for a manly, strictly heterosexual way to put this. “Your eyes. They’re… just, I need to see them in the sunlight.”
“They’re brown,” Dane said, nodding, like he was humoring Carpenter, which was a hoot because he’s the one who had just agreed to come over to Carpenter’s shitty apartment and play American Maid, like in The Tick.
“They’re a very impressive brown,” Carpenter said, swallowing hard. “I… you know….”
Dane didn’t move, and he didn’t move, and they were standing super close together, and Carpenter didn’t want to put any space between them.
“I know one thing,” Dane said smugly.
Dane shook his head, that air of cat-and-canary never leaving. “I’ll let you know when you’re ready,” he said. He turned then, so he was sideways and they weren’t facing each other anymore.
They were still close, but it was buddy closeness, and part of Carpenter relaxed.
So much easier.
Buddies. He liked having buddies.
Buddies who breathed softly in his ear and laid their head on his lap when they were watching television.
Buddies who didn’t ask him who in the fuck he thought he was fooling.
A Winter Ball Novel
As far as Clay Carpenter is concerned, his abusive relationship with food is the best thing he’s got going. When a good friend starts kicking his ass into gear, Clay is forced to reexamine everything he learned about food and love—and that’s right when he meets troubled graduate student, Dane Hayes.
Dane Hayes doesn’t do the whole monogamy thing, but the minute he meets Clay Carpenter, he’s doing the friend thing in spades. The snarky, scruffy bastard not only gets Dane’s wacky sense of humor, he also accepts the things Dane can’t control—like the bipolar disorder Dane has been trying to manage for the past six years.
Dane is hoping for more than friendship, and Clay is looking at him with longing that isn’t platonic. They’re both positive they’re bad at relationships, but with the help of forbidden desserts and new medication regimens, they prove outstanding at being with each other. But can they turn their friendship into the love neither of them has dared to hope for?
Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. Two of her books have received a RITA nomination, she’s won honorable mention for an Indiefab, and has a couple of Rainbow Awards to her name. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action-adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
Thanks for sharing the excerpt, Amy!