Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane
It’s never a quick, clean break. No, it’s a slow and agonizing process that begins with the first word of the book, and that first word is like the end of the thread that holds my poor little heart in one piece. The further along I read, the more the words begin to unravel the story, the longer that thread becomes because my heart is slowly and agonizingly pulling apart at the seams until, finally, it lays, fragmented and feeble, in a puddle on the floor of my chest cavity, wondering how Ms. Lane will ever find the right words to put my Humpty Dumpty heart back together again.
And this is what she does to Chase’s psyche too, the evil genius. She pinched the end of that thread between her fingers, began to write his story, and we, the reader, got to watch him unravel, bit by torturous bit, as he evolved, or, maybe in Chase’s case, devolved into a fragmented soul with nowhere to hide and no one to hold him together. That thread was so delicate and was strung so taut to begin with, his grasp on the façade so ephemeral, that it took little more than a breath and a sigh and love to snap it and leave him shattered.
The omniscient narrator directed this movie of words masterfully; kept the camera at all the right angles for us to see; asked the right questions for us to discover; listened to those answers to inform us; kept all the players on their marks so they could help us to understand. Then, as the many personalities that Chase tried so desperately to hold together began to fracture, that imaginary camera took us into the mind of a boy who held the weight of a tortured past upon his shoulders like Tate Walker wore all those scars on his skin. But Chase’s scars aren’t the kind that can be tattooed over. Chase’s scars are imprinted upon every cell of his being, weeping and bleeding and threatening to drown his sanity in the red water that robbed him of his innocence.
But like Tate has Brian, Chase has Tommy, and Tommy, who has his very own demons to slay, is the knight in tarnished armor that rides into Chase’s life and helps him to navigate the poisonous thorns that tear at his very being. Tommy finds the sleeping prince disguised as a straight man, covered in ashes and soot and buried within the memories of a broken child, and, with the courage and the power of a touch and a kiss, awakens and lays waste to the dragons with nothing more than love as his sword and shield.
And, yes, my heart is once again whole and waiting for that next great fall.