Poz ( The Lives of Remy and Michael #2) by Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: 8 Jan 2015
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
The Lives of Remy and Michael: Book Two
A CalPac Crew Story
I thought life after high school would be easier. I’d go to California Pacific for a year while I got a handle on my HIV, then after Michael graduated from high school, we’d blast out of here for colleges—and life—on the East Coast. Then I visited Boston and everything changed. I realized I like CalPac. Turns out, Boston didn’t have anything for me beyond one of the biggest regattas in North America.
Life grew more complicated when I got home. I couldn’t find a way to tell Michael that I’d just blown our plan for our lives out of the water. Then my CalPac coaches dropped a bomb on me. Those rowing officials who’d been watching me? They were recruiters for the national team, and my coaches wanted me to try out. They’d even let Lodestone coach me. Now I have to choose, school or crew, CalPac or Michael, and I still haven’t told Michael I can’t transfer. Is there even a place for Michael in my life? Somehow we have to withstand training at the highest levels and having different goals. Will love hold us together… or tear us apart?
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Young Adult
All That Is Solid Melts Into Air blog tour exclusive excerpt (edited for clarity)
The junior varsity boats appeared to be in front, and I’m sure Michael would have something to say about that. That the JV were in front doubtlessly meant they had won a scrimmage, and if there was one thing varsity hated, it was losing to junior varsity. I’d have to gauge Michael’s mood before I said anything snarky.
In the meantime Coach Lodestone drove his launch toward its berth at the dock. A huge grin split his face as he called out, “Remy!”
I waved as I loped over to his boat. This man had been responsible for some of the greatest triumphs of my young life, as well as helping me through some of my most challenging times. He was a mentor, a father figure, a friend. So it wasn’t like he was important to me or anything. I rowed varsity under him for three years—okay, maybe not under him in the way some of my more overheated fantasies might have had it—so in many ways he helped to shape the man I was becoming.
I helped pull Lodestone’s launch the rest of the way in. Cap City forbade coaches driving their launches all the way into their berths. Apparently the club’s board frowned on ripping the bottom out of the boat by forcing it up onto the dock with the engines.
As important as Lodestone had been to me, and as much as I was doing a member of his gentlemen’s crew—being done by?—I’d been somewhat shy about showing my face around here, at least since I stopped helping with the learn-to-row camps at the end of summer. I lived inside my head, but sometimes I didn’t like to examine my motives too closely. I didn’t want to think about making a break from the most important four years of my life to date. My father’s a therapist. I learned a snoutful growing up about the stages of childhood development, and when Geoff and I were in high school, we couldn’t turn around without hearing about how it was another step in the separation process. If therapists’ kids were nuts, it’s because their parents made them that way. I didn’t want to think about separating from a place in which I had learned so many lessons about life. I didn’t want to think about making a break from a place where I had grown up.
Then something else occurred to me. What if I had avoided the Cap City boathouse up until now because I was pulling away from Michael? It had occurred to me before, and I had discussed the matter with my own therapist, but I sure as hell wasn’t going there right then.
I faked a smile as Lodestone jumped out of his launch. He grabbed my hand to pull me into a bear hug. Guess I wasn’t the only one with familial feelings. “Remy, it’s great to see you! Where’ve you been?”
“Oof. You might consider leaving a rib or two intact, Coach Lodestone.” Seriously, dude, ease up.
Lodestone shook his head. “You could call me by my name. You know, since you don’t row for me.”
“I thought I did.” I pretended to be puzzled. “Your name’s Coach, right?”
I blinked at him in innocence, an innocence no one on that dock believed for a shred of a second.
Lodestone stared at me. “Angels and ministers of grace, was that a joke?”
“No.” I held my face expressionless, even though it about killed me.
“How I’ve missed you.” Lodestone laughed hard. “Do you know none of these boys have the stones to bust my chops?”
“Shocking. I see Michael’s rowing varsity.”
We both lost it at that point. Lodestone, seeing some potential in me, had encouraged me to ride along in his launch so he could show me rowing from another perspective. I learned an incredible amount from those ride alongs, including that a certain now-varsity rower wouldn’t be stuck in JV for long. When I pointed this out to Lodestone at the San Diego Crew Classic one year, he grew rather testy. I stood my ground, and I think he respected that. It helped that I’d been right, because Michael now rowed at seven seat in the gentlemen’s varsity A boat, a boat that was most definitely not going to be first back to the dock.
I could’ve watched Michael row all day, although he was obviously tired. We might’ve met when we were both in high school, but we had both grown. My own maturation barely registered when I looked in the mirror. I mean, who observed himself on a daily basis, right? But Michael—Mikey—I paid attention to. Two years of puberty had been very good to him. He was now taller than I was and far heavier of build, and I fucking loved it. Let’s be honest, I’m subby, and our physical differences worked very well together.
By the time Michael’s boat landed, I stared openly. He looked up and smiled, so yeah, I’d been caught. Neither of us cared. I guess a few of the other guys noticed. I had only graduated the year before, and some of them recognized me, acknowledging my existence with a nod or a wave, but they had other things to do, like carry the oars to the oar racks and otherwise prepare to get the boat back into the boathouse and wipe the water off it. I didn’t recognize one or two faces. They ignored me, and I returned the favor.
“I said,” Lodestone repeated, snapping his fingers in front of my eyes, “are you rowing at Head of the Charles in Boston?”
I blinked. “I’m sorry, I heard some annoying, buzzing sound. Did you ask a serious question?”
“And the ego has landed.” Lodestone shook his head.
I blushed. “It’s not ego if it’s true.” I looked at my former coach. “You didn’t train me to row a novice boat. Junior varsity, freshman walk-in.”
“Damn straight,” Lodestone said.
“As it were.”
Lodestone gave me a shove toward the boathouse. “Go help your boyfriend wipe his boat down, and you’ll be out of here faster. And out of my hair sooner.”
Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.
Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.
When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.
Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.
Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.
Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.
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