Description Other Fires: Novel by Lenore H. Gay
Joss and Phil’s already rocky marriage is fragmented when Phil is injured in a devastating fire and diagnosed with Capgras delusion―a misidentification syndrome in which a person becomes convinced that a loved one has been replaced by an identical imposter. Faced with a husband who no longer recognizes her, Joss struggles to find motivation to save their marriage, even as family secrets start to emerge that challenge everything she thought she knew.
With two young daughters, a looming book deadline, and an attractive but complicated distraction named Adam complicating her situation even further, Joss has to decide what she wants for her family―and what family even means.
Advance Praise Other Fires: Novel by Lenore H. Gay
“Once again, Lenore Gay has woven a story that captivates the reader from page one. Other Fires is a brilliant study of tragedy on multiples levels. Beginning with a dysfunctional family struggling in the aftermath of a terrible fire, she expertly peels back the layers of human behavior and motivation that unravels the lives of the guilty and innocent. Peppered with surprising twists and turns, the story will stay with you long after you close the cover.”―PAM WEBBER, author of The Wiregrass and Moon Water
“Heartwarming and dramatic, the two major intertwining stories in Other Fires reach across decades from troubled childhood to mid-life adults and reaffirm what remains human and vulnerable in all of us. The portraits of the main characters arc from hopelessness to vulnerability and a sense of recovery. Gay holds the reader’s attention from the first page.”―DIANA Y. PAUL, author of Things Unsaid
“How do people figure out their minds? This novel explores what constitutes reality, and from whose perspective. Drawing on her varied experiences in life and background in rehabilitation and mental health counseling, Lenore Gay weaves together the perspectives of compelling characters who interact in ways that keep the pages of this novel turning.”―CHRIS REID, PhD, Rehabilitation Psychology
by Linda Lu
‘Other Fires’ by Lenore H. Gay is a novel of corrosive family secrets, the search for the truth and the challenges that life throws at us.
Joss and Phil’s marriage has been on shaky ground ever since he cheated on her, but a fire in their family home sets things spinning in an entirely different direction. Instead of deciding to leave her husband, Joss finds herself having to care for him in his hospital bed. Worse still, Phil is diagnosed with Capgras syndrome, a neurological disease that often makes it impossible to recognize one’s own loved ones. Because of a head injury that happened when he was trying to escape the fire, when Phil wakes up from an induced coma, he believes that his wife has been replaced by an impostor of some kind.
Joss is unsure how to treat Phil. The burden of caring for their two small daughters is placed entirely on her shoulders, and she has a manuscript on mythology that she must finish before the deadline a few months away. Her oldest daughter, Terpe, becomes obsessed with the idea that she must figure out how the fire started in their home and launches her own personal investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, a local electrician named Adam arrives at the house to rewire the top floor, which was damaged in the fire. Adam is a sweet, naive man who lives with his mother who recently left town without informing him of where she was going. Trying to navigate the world on his own for the first time, Adam immediately clings to Joss because of her worldly knowledge and the two begin having an affair.
This novel explores and untangles the relationships between these four characters and how the fire affected their different perspectives. The wealth of emotion that Lenore H. Gay writes with is apparent and brings out a richness of prose that makes this a worthwhile read.
The kids were asleep. Joss laid a book next to her on the bed. Desperate for more sleep, she refused to go to the doctor for sleeping pills. A few friends had taken them and they felt groggy and dizzy. She needed all her wits, not spacy in the morning with two kids. A stupid idea.
When she dozed off she found herself in an empty church filled with ringing chimes; she walked down aisle after aisle. The chimes rang and rang, growing louder until she woke. Palms down she smacked the bed with both hands, irritated to find herself awake again already.
Her bedside lamp still lit the room. Suddenly the front door chimes rang. Who in the world? The chimes rang again. She lurched up and hurried to the door before the noise could wake up the children. The peephole didn’t reveal anything, whoever stood on the porch stood too close to the door to be seen.
“Who is it,” she demanded. Glad she still had on clothes, trying to make her voice gruff. She should buy that tape of a barking dog she read about.
“Joss? It’s Adam.”
She repeated his name to herself, ran her hand through her tangled hair and opened the door.
“Sorry. You were asleep?” He glanced at his watch.
“Not really. What are you doing way out here?”
“Just driving around. You crossed my mind. I wondered what you were doing.”
“Reading. Come on in. Would you like coffee? I can’t drink it this late, but I’ll make you some. Maybe I’ll have some decaf.”
“Water’s fine. With lots of ice.”
The kitchen clock read 8:05, not late. She ignored the sinkful of dirty dishes, took two clean glasses out of the cabinet. She put their ice water on the kitchen table and sat. Adam drank his water, put down the glass and drummed his fingers.
He laughed, a high pitched, anxious sound. “So. Here I am.”
She waited until he started again,
“I’ve been thinking about you. I should’ve called first. I’m being rude.”
“Yes, sort of. It’s always best to call.” Alcohol. When she pinpointed the smell, her stomach tightened. He told her he’d stopped drinking, still he didn’t act drunk. What in hell could she be thinking, letting in a man she barely knew into the house?
“From now on, I’ll call first.”
The jolt in her stomach didn’t feel like fear. She waited.
On the edge of the chair, he stayed poised to say something. She supposed it was important.
He tapped his fingers on the table. “You’re not like anyone else. Not the girls I knew in high school. You know, over the years I’ve worked for my share of rich ladies, but you’re not like them, either. Some were snooty, they just gave me orders and disappeared. Some flirted, but I didn’t date them or have sex with them.”
His words surprised, yet irritated her. So, she wasn’t the only lonely wife without a husband. He would not hurt her. Would she have the strength to make him leave?
“I thought about a special dream all day. You and I were sailing someplace, maybe on an ocean. I messed with the sails like I knew what to do on a sailboat. The sky turned dark. Lightning struck the water close by. We pulled the boat up on a beach. Weird that we could see where to pull the boat. We secured the boat right there and climbed back into it. We spent the night on a king-sized mattress. There were stars.
A pulse hammered at his wrist. He grinned like a shy teenager and looked away. “My buddy Fred, you know, the contractor, told me your husband’s still sick? His car is in the same spot in the driveway.”
“How perceptive.” Her own voice sounded sarcastic but she didn’t care. “Yes. His recovery seems very slow.”
“I want my dream to happen.” Adam picked up her hand. “Do you?”
She pulled her hand away and drank water. “We didn’t sleep on this boat?” She waited to feel scared, but she didn’t feel it.
His cheeks reddened. “We didn’t sleep at all.”
The two of them together. What a terrible idea. She had so much to do she could barely keep up. And Phil? She and Phil would never be a couple again, still this attraction with Adam was moving fast. The two of them staying together for any length of time — impossible.
She whispered, “No.”
He took her chin in his hand. “You sure?” He moved closer. She didn’t hesitate or back away. He pulled her off her chair and held her, stroking her hair. With Adam’s hand cradling the back of her head she felt Phil’s hand on the same spot. While she rinsed dishes, Phil would hold her head, kiss the back of her neck, turn her to face him and unbutton her blouse.
Adam led her to her bedroom. How did he know her bedroom’s location? Oh, right, he’d stood at the door talking with her. He would leave if she asked. He wouldn’t force her. At least she hoped he wouldn’t try to force her. For sure she’d hate him!
She felt calm, not thinking about anything while he undressed her, kissing her gently for a long time. He moved without haste. They lay together on her big bed. She stroked his cheek while he unbuttoned his shirt. She felt a jolt of happiness. His skin felt hot and soft and she kept her hand on his chest before slowly moving it lower. She heard him gulp and she smiled to herself.
Later when they lay close, she said, “We can’t fall asleep. It’s past midnight. The baby wakes up early, she’ll wake up Terpe, and everything will be crazy busy until I get the girls fed and where they need to go. You have to leave now.”
He stroked her stomach and moved his hand lower.
About Lenore H. Gay
Lenore Gay is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with a master’s in sociology and rehabilitation counseling. She was an adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rehabilitation Counseling Department for thirty years. She has worked in several agencies and psychiatric hospitals, and for ten years worked at her private counseling practice before becoming Coordinator of VCU’s Rehabilitation Counseling Department internship program.
Her debut novel, Shelter of Leaves, was a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year award and a finalist for an INDEFAB award. For three years, Lenore has served on the Steering Committee of the RVALitCrawl, which has been featured in RVAMag, Richmond Family Magazine, and Richmond Magazine. She is an active member of James River Writers. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Giveaway Other Fires: Novel by Lenore H. Gay
This giveaway is for 1 copy each for 3 winners and is open to the U.S. only.
This giveaway ends November 26, 2020,midnight pacific time.
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