A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane on tour for her newest release, A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3). Welcome back, Amy!
Deals with God
By Amy Lane
We do this all the time.
“Oh please oh please oh please, let me make this flight and I shall never, ever, ever, stop for coffee on the way to the airport again!”
“Oh please oh please oh please, let me find that one shirt, the perfect shirt, for this occasion before it’s time to leave and I’ll do laundry all the time and fold it as soon as it’s out of the drier forever and ever amen!”
Or, more seriously,
“OH please. Please. Please, let this person be okay. I’ll do anything. Anything at all, please, just let them be okay.”
In book two, Red Fish, Dead Fish, Ellery made a deal with God. If Jackson came home alive after a harrowing night and a terrible day, Ellery would go to temple for a year.
Now, some people would take a look at their beloved and say, “Oh, thank you God, I know you know I didn’t really mean it and you gave him back anyway!”
But some people would follow through.
The only reason Ellery won Jackson in the first place is that he’s made of follow through.
The book opens up with Ellery trying to get to temple (and Jackson trying to convince him that nobody’s that excited about Jackson’s survival and worship is a terrible waste of a Saturday morning) and the question is brought up again.
“How much does God really care about the deals we make when we’re desperate and sad? Is he really going to hold us to that, or can we sort of shimmy out of it?”
Ellery shimmies out of nothing.
Jackson whines and bitches and complains—but he always keeps his word.
So Jackson is forced to look at himself—hard—to see if he’s worth all this trouble. He’s never been worth trouble before—he’s mostly just been trouble. As far as he sees it, he’s cannon fodder, and that’s flesh and bone well spent.
But Ellery doesn’t see him that way.
The thought leaves him twitchy. Oh my God, he is made of hangups! He’s had to work his ass off to get over the injuries from the last book and he’s still not whole! He’s not eating, he’s not sleeping, and he can’t close his eyes without waking up in a sweat-wringing nightmare.
He can’t go out on the most basic run without risking his life.
And every day, every morning, when he and Ellery walk out the door, Ellery has to face the fact that Jackson might not come back.
So in the course of book three, Jackson has to make his own deals with God.
Not the kind Ellery made—not the straight up trade. It’s more of the, “What do I have to do to make myself worth all this trouble,” variety or bargain.
And while we all know Ellery has essentially accepted him with all his glitches, what Jackson eventually decides to do is fix what he can, so he’s not such a burden to love.
Now we know where this is heading—eventually. In order for Jackson to truly fix himself, he needs to realize he’s worthy of love while still broken. But Jackson and Ellery have many more adventures to go, and nobody said Jackson was great at the emotional learning thing.
So we have the promise of that in future books—and boy is it a big job.
As Ellery has thought at the end of book one and book two and now book three—they have so much more to do.
Fish Out of Water: Book Three
A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?
PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.
But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.
Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.
It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!
“Sh….” Ellery slicked his hair back from his face and whispered to him as he collapsed limply, Ellery’s long limbs sheltering him from the cold outside their little bed.
“Sorry,” Jackson said, blinking hard, irritated at himself for losing sight of his plan. He was supposed to keep control, dammit. He was supposed to blow Ellery’s mind, not get swept away in the sexual tide himself!
“For what?” Ellery asked tenderly.
“Was trying to make it holy,” Jackson told him, lost enough to tell the truth.
Ellery struggled out from under him, pushing Jackson to his side while Ellery rolled over to face him. “Tell me this wasn’t!” he demanded.
Jackson grimaced. “Do you have to?” he asked. “I mean, if our sex is holy and shit, doesn’t that mean you don’t have to go?”
“Nobody is holding a gun to my head! Goddammit, Jackson, do you not get why I have to do this?”
“Aren’t you too late to go this week?” Jackson asked hopefully.
Ellery laughed, grim satisfaction in every syllable. “I set the alarm early so we could have breakfast.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And you know what? We still can.”
Jackson grimaced. Dammit. “But….”
Ellery’s expression softened, and he reached out to brush Jackson’s cheekbone with his fingertips. “Baby, why does this bother you so much?”
Jackson scowled. “Because if you’re thanking God for me, God’s going to show you what a mistake that is, and I like it here.”
With a groan and a heave, Ellery rolled off the bed. “There is no talking to you about this! Now get in the shower, and I’ll make pancakes. And no! You can’t wear jeans!”
“But you said I didn’t have to get out of the car!” Jackson hollered, finding a clean set of boxers in the dresser Ellery had set aside for him.
“I lied! You at least have to visit the outside, dammit!” Ellery grabbed his sleep pants and his sweatshirt from the folds of the covers and started dragging them on.
“But won’t I burst into fire?” Jackson asked, only partially kidding. His past… oh God. His past wasn’t checkered, it was chicken-pocked! “I mean, won’t you get kicked out and excommunicated if you show up with me next to you?”
“No, Jackson, they’ve got a big ol’ reformed-slut alarm that sounds as soon as you step foot on the ground, and then a force field shoots up, separating us and catapulting you to purgatory for the length of the service. After your first six visits, they give you the option of walking there on your own while a sorcerer whispers arcane words and tries to set me up with a doctor, because that’s just how Jews roll.”
Jackson stared at him, cheeks flushed with color, fine brown eyes sparkling with righteous anger, and like it usually did, the thing in his chest melted into a gooey little puddle.
“I can see your sarcasm is functioning well this morning. Isn’t that going to taint the pancakes?”
Ellery struggled to keep his mouth firm. “I can make my pancakes both strawberry and sarcastic. But if you want whipped cream, you’re going to have to shut up, get dressed, and let me have this. Understand?”
Jackson let out a sigh. “If I see anybody there in jeans, I’m not wearing slacks next time.”
“That, too, is understood.”
“And if anybody gives you shit about the gay—”
“We shall find a temple that has no shits to give. Also understood.”
“If you find someone there who’s better than me….” He scowled and stared at the picture of them Ellery had put up on the end table, Jackson looking uncomfortable in his best dinnerwear and Ellery smiling charmingly for his father, who was perhaps the dearest man Jackson had ever met. The picture had been taken outside Ellery’s parents’ house in Boston over Thanksgiving, and while Jackson could say for certain it had been a good time, every single memory he had seemed to be tempered with the stomach-churning anxiety he was dealing with now.
An Ellery Cramer and a Jackson Rivers did not make sense in any way, shape, or form. The longer they were together, the more Jackson looked for the chapped, palsied hand of fate to try to rip them apart. And every time Ellery said he was being ridiculous, Jackson had to walk away, because the fact was, he had almost died—twice—since the two of them had gotten together in the summer.
If that wasn’t God trying to tell Jackson the facts of life, Jackson didn’t know what was.
So Ellery going to temple out of some sort of weird deal he’d made with the big guy—on the one hand, it never hurt to suck up to the person in charge.
On the other hand, Jackson was a fan of the old Irish saying “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
In this case, he would just as soon nobody, God or devil, even knew he was on the planet. He’d had forces bigger than he was meddle in his life, and he had the layers of scar tissue to show he’d barely survived.
“If I find somebody who’s better than you,” Ellery snapped, bringing him to the present, “I’m not the one he’ll be hitting on.”
Jackson scowled at him. “You’re being stupid.”
Ellery’s thin lips curled up into a smile. “So are you.”
“Fine. Fine, I’ll go. I’ll even be a grown-up. But Ellery, those had better be some damned good pancakes.”
Ellery rolled his eyes and grabbed his robe, swanning out for his exit, singing “My pancakes bring all the boys to the yard…” as he went.
After he left the room, Jackson allowed himself a fond smile. God, he really was being ridiculous. Who over the age of twelve pitched this big a fit over church, or temple, or whatever?
But as he jumped in the shower and started to wash, he just couldn’t shake the unease that knotted in his stomach.
For much of his life, things like food, shelter, basic safety—things Ellery had taken for granted every day of his life—had been dreams to Jackson Rivers. Now, living with Ellery in his posh American River Drive house with cavernous rooms and real wood floors, Jackson had food and shelter and, God help him, emotional safety on a daily basis.
He was just waiting for God to stop helping him and rip it all away.
About the Author
Mother, knitter, author, wife, fur-baby wrangler, dreamer–Award winning writer Amy Lane writes romance because the voices in her head are real and she wants them to be happy at the end.