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Lisa / January 20, 2015

Countdown to The Farther I Fall, (5/5)


Release day is here! Come join me at the official Facebook release party tonight at 7:30PM eastern!

Also here: the final excerpt from chapter one of The Farther I Fall. Here we meet one more vitally important cast member: Lucas’s twin brother Lee. (Lee will have an adventure and a romance of his own coming up this summer in As Lost as I Get–there’s a sneak preview at the back of The Farther I Fall.)

When Samantha Tennison told him she’d hired her sister, Gwen, to be his new tour manager, it didn’t occur to him to connect her with the Englishwoman he’d met at the club. And Gwen had looked just as surprised to see him.

In the light of day, he might have overlooked her. Her short dark blond hair was cut in wispy layers, and she wore just a trace of mascara and lipstick and no jewelry, aside from a simple pair of gold earrings. Between that and the cut of her dark blue suit, she may as well still have been in uniform. Cute, he would’ve said, but nothing more. He’d seen a secret side to her on that dance floor though, a side he wanted to see again, and soon. It had been going so well, but then she’d taken off.

Going to the club in the first place had probably been a terrible idea, but the boredom was driving him crazy. Nobody warned him that the craving for cocaine wasn’t the worst part; it was the comparative gray bleakness of everyday life without it. He’d gone home alone that night because no one else he’d met had half her spark. No one else had broken through the layer of dullness induced by constant sobriety.

He was alone a lot these days, unless you counted the people who were watching him like a hawk so he didn’t fuck up. The constant piece of advice he’d gotten in rehab was to dump the people he used to use with, which meant most of his friends. Pretty much everybody except for Craig, and thank God he had stuck around after the fiasco in London. It was no wonder he’d gone looking for company the other night. It was a goddamn shame she’d run out. The more he listened to her talk, with that delicious accent of hers, the more he was reconsidering his initial assessment of “cute.” She was gorgeous.

And if that weren’t enough, she was smart. He was right that she didn’t know much about the music business, but she caught on quick, and she definitely had a good handle on the other organizational aspects, the ones he usually ignored. Craig had made a joke at Lucas’s expense, and she’d relaxed enough by then to laugh, tilting her head back. Lucas wanted to kick Craig beneath the table, but he couldn’t stop looking at the fine line of her throat, remembering how her skin had tasted . . . Then Craig kicked him, and he realized he’d been staring.

The meeting ended, and he was at a loss. She’d warmed up to him while they talked, but she still didn’t seem to like him much. Clearly a more long-term plan was required. He was going to be spending a lot of time with Gwen Tennison over the next twelve weeks, but he wasn’t ready to say good-bye yet. As they walked out of Sam’s office, he considered his options.

“So Gwen—”

Before he had a chance to say anything else, he heard Craig say, “Lee! What are you doing here?” Lucas groaned while his brother shook hands with Craig. Lee was his mirror image—if his mirror-self wore three-piece suits and cut his hair less than an inch away from high and tight.

“Oh, just coming by to give my baby brother a lift back to his hotel,” Lee said. He was four minutes older than Lucas, and he took the big brother role very seriously. “Make sure he doesn’t get lost on the way.” Between Lee and Craig, Lucas had barely been able to take a piss since leaving rehab without someone checking in. He didn’t blame them.

Lee was eying Gwen in a way Lucas recognized all too well. He unclenched his teeth and said, “Gwen, this is my brother, Leighton.”

As expected, Lee wrinkled his nose. “Call me Lee, please.” He shook Gwen’s hand with a little too much warmth for Lucas’s liking. “You must be the new tour manager.”

“No one told me that Lucas had a brother.” She looked between them twice, and Lucas was conscious as always of the striking contrasts between the two of them—but for the first time he worried that he was getting the short end of the stick in comparison with his staid twin.

“He likes to keep me a secret,” Lee said. “I hear you were with the British Army. Where did you serve?”

Lucas clasped his hands behind his back and turned away as if uninterested. Of course Lee had done his homework on Gwen. He probably knew more about her than Lucas did. He made a show of inspecting the tour posters that decorated the outside office.

“I was with the 16 CS Medical Regiment, attached to the 16 Air Assault Brigade outside Kandahar,” she said. “A combat med tech.” That tidbit Lucas hadn’t heard. He adjusted his estimation of Gwen once more, taking a closer look at the way she stood and carried herself.

“Lee will be quick to tell you that your unit was no doubt inferior to the US Marines,” Lucas said, rocking back on his heels. “He has a superiority complex.”

Gwen flashed him a grin, mischievous and friendly, that made the pulse beat harder in his throat. “I’ve met a fair few of your Marines, and yes, I imagine he would.”

“Not at all,” Lee protested. “CMT, that’s a dangerous job.”

“. . . for a woman?” Gwen lifted her chin, a hint of shadow falling across her eyes.

“For anybody,” said Lee. “It’s not a job I could have done.”

Gwen looked away with her ready-to-be-defiant stare, her expression softening. “Are you still on active duty, then?”

“No, I’m a private security contractor,” Lee said, and Lucas cut him off with a snort.

“Glorified bodyguard,” Lucas said.

Lee turned to Gwen, who was looking at him quizzically. “What my brother means to say is that he doesn’t actually know what I do.”

She grinned at him. “I think your brother was about to suggest coffee, Lee. Did you want to join us?”

Lucas tried to glare at Lee subtly enough to make him say no. It didn’t work.

“That would be great,” Lee said. “I’d like to get to know the woman who’s going to be keeping my brother in line for the next few months.”

thefartherifall_final“Actually,” Lucas said, “we should probably do it another time. I forgot I was supposed to call Emma and arrange some pre-tour publicity.” Emma Hansen had been his manager for years. She made a reputation for herself by looking like someone’s sweet old grandmother and kicking ass like the bully next door. “And I believe someone said something about me not getting lost on the way.”

Gwen looked from one brother to the other, then nodded. Lucas would have sworn she was disappointed. Was it at not being able to spend more time with him, or because it meant she wouldn’t get to spend more time with Lee? “I’ll let you gentlemen get on with it then. A pleasure to meet you all. I’ll see you next week.” She shook hands with each of them, and Lucas had to force himself to let go when it was his turn.

He couldn’t help but watch her walk away toward the bank of elevators. Next week his brother would be out of the picture, and then Lucas would have twelve weeks to try and get behind that cool, brisk facade and find out more about the woman he’d danced with.

That’s chapter one, and now you can go read the rest! Thanks for reading the excerpts, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the rest.

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