Loud and Clear, by Aidan Wayne
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Welcome to the blog tour for Loud and Clear, a new novella from Aidan Wayne out now from Riptide Publishing! This novella features two characters with disability as they learn to communicate with one another. Today I have an excerpt from the novel showing Jaxon and Caleb’s first attempt at communication! Plus, there’s a fantastic giveaway at the end of the post, so check it out!
Jaxon is getting by fine, severe dyslexia or not. Being a cab driver means he doesn’t need to read much, and the job has its perks. The pay isn’t bad, the people can be interesting, and having memorized the city streets keeps him from feeling too stupid.
When he picks up Caleb, a quiet fare in a nice suit, Jaxon doesn’t think anything of it. Then he ends up driving Caleb home the next week too, and the next, and the next. Eventually Caleb tries to communicate—by writing things down. Turns out that Caleb has such a bad stutter he spends most of his time mute.
If only Jaxon had an easier time reading what Caleb had to say. But he’s interested in trying, and Caleb seems interested back. They discover that, with a little bit of effort, it isn’t so hard to make themselves understood. Especially when what’s growing between them is definitely worth talking about.
As Jaxon drove over to the Flameshow Bar for the third time in as many Tuesdays to pick up a Caleb Wrotslavsky, he was seriously wondering if this was going to become a new regular routine or what. And why it had started up now. He’d worked plenty of Tuesday nights, and he’d never seen this guy before. Had he just moved to the area? And why Tuesday?
There were several people waiting outside the bar this time, but Jaxon picked out Caleb easily. The tailored suit was a dead giveaway, even though his face was hard to see in the half dark of the bar’s lights.
“Caleb?” Jaxon called, as he slowed to a stop. The man immediately nodded and walked forward, forgoing showing his ID this time and heading straight for the car door to get inside. “How are you doing tonight?”
Caleb glanced up at him, then shrugged.
“Okay,” Jaxon said easily. If Caleb didn’t want to talk, the guy didn’t have to. “The Towers?” Caleb nodded. “Cool.”
Jaxon clicked the meter on, and away they went.
“You’re really not much of talker, huh?” Jaxon couldn’t help but ask at a stoplight, glancing over his shoulder. Caleb actually snorted, the most sound Jaxon had ever heard the guy emit. He shook his head, lips quirking before he went back to looking out the window.
Okay, then. Jaxon shrugged and turned back around, the light green again.
The rest of the trip was the becoming-usual silence. When they pulled up to the Towers, Caleb was ready with his card, handing it over before Jaxon gave the total.
“Impatient to get home, huh?” Jaxon said, swiping it and giving Caleb the receipt to sign.
Caleb shook his head, then, as if thinking about it, nodded before taking the pen and scribbling on the receipt. He handed it back, then got out of the cab.
“Have a nice night,” Jaxon said, as usual. Caleb nodded again and waved, his hand floating by his lips for a second before he turned and headed toward the entrance. He had nice lips.
Jaxon shook his head, turning his attention back down to the receipt in his hand. The same tip, a nice one, and . . . something else scribbled at the bottom.
He turned on the light in his car and squinted. Those were letters, all right. Probably there was even a sentence. Caleb had written something on the receipt. Huh. Curious, Jaxon bent over the words, trying to sound them out. Caleb’s handwriting wasn’t messy or anything, but Jaxon had trouble with letters even if they were typed. Most handwriting tended to make things harder.
Nnn . . . ot . . . Not. Okay. Not mmmu . . . ck. Muck? No, wait, that was an h right? Much. That made more sense. Okay, so, “Not much” and the next words were “of” and “a”; those two were easy, he could sight-read those. The next one was long though. Come on, Jaxon, break it down, you can do this. T-t-t-a . . . l . . . k . . . Ta-llll-kuh. Talk? Talk! And then an “er” at the end . . . Talker! And then two more easy ones, “at” and “all.”
Not much of a talker at all.
. . . What?
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Aidan Wayne is a big believer in character-driven stories with happy endings. This is not to say that stories can’t contain a little (or a lot) of grief, just that at the end of it all expect there to be bandages and hugs. They particularly like to write about minority characters because damn it, they deserve happy endings too.
When not writing, Aidan enjoys practicing aerial, martial arts, and ASL, and watching reality cooking shows. They are probably in the middle of twelve projects as you read this.
To celebrate the release of Loud and Clear, Aidan is giving away $15 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 28, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!