VBT: Hold- Rachel Davidson Leigh
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Lucas Aday, the star of Rachel Davidson Leigh’s first novel, Hold.
Hi Rachel, thank you for agreeing to let Luke join us for this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m Rachel, and my hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and pairing readers with their perfect books. My debut novel, Hold, is a story about grief, identity, and transformation. After his sister’s death, Lucas Aday can hardly drag himself back to school. He couldn’t possibly prepare himself to stop time or to fall for the only other boy who doesn’t stop moving.
I’m glad that you get the chance to talk to Luke today. He deserves as little bit of celebrity after everything I put him through. Take it away, Luke.
1) What do you find attractive in a man?
Oh, wow. That got personal fast, didn’t it? Um.
I guess I like a good smile. I’ve only liked, maybe, two guys, but they both got this light in their eyes when they smiled and I liked that. I think I also go for guys who think fast? That sounds weird, but it’s cool when a guy can go from one idea to another and another so fast I can hardly follow what he’s going to say next. Even if I can’t actually keep up, it makes me want to be faster and smarter too. So, I guess I like guys who make me better, especially if they have weird minds.
My friend, Marcos, is reading over my shoulder while I write my answers and he says I like weirdos because I’m a weirdo too.
That’s probably true. I know it sounds like I should be mad, but he didn’t mean it like that. He meant the good kind of weird. He’s also saying that I should tell you that “I like guys with good butts” and if I don’t say so I’m “lying my ass off,” but that’s not true. I didn’t say that.
2) The first thing that went through your head when you saw Eddie Sankawulo?
Honestly? I was pissed off. It was my first day back at school after Lizzy’s funeral, the lacrosse guys wouldn’t leave me alone, I was having a panic attack in the hallway, and then he showed up. It was weird. With anyone else, I would have been thinking four-letter words, but he was still Eddie. Even then, he was funny and he didn’t move like anyone else I’d ever seen. It was like he already owned the hallway, and he did have a great smile.
3) Do you think you’ll insist the author visits you again?
This is going to sound rude, but please no? I’m really happy with how it all worked out, but the parts of my life, and my friends lives, that she talks about were some of the toughest things I’ve ever had to go through. She got to be there for some of the best parts of my life too, but if she showed up again, I don’t know, I’d get scared a piano was about to drop on my head. Fanfic authors, on the other hand, can visit us as much as they want. I can speak for everyone when I say that we wouldn’t mind being in a coffee shop AU or trapped in an elevator.
4) Before you met Eddie, what was your ideal man?
Thanks for that. Now Marcos is poking me with a pen and grinning. FYI, I hate him, and I definitely should have read these questions before I let him come over.
Before Eddie showed up in my life, I might have had a long-running, obnoxious, crush-that-would-not-die on the Marcos who is currently poking me in the side. Yes, we were friends then too. Yes, he knew and it was awkward. Actually, there’s a pretty good story there, but I don’t think I can tell you.
At the time, I would have said that I liked guys who were really sweet, with a quirky sense of humor, and I probably would have said that same thing about the smile. I might have also said something about his eyes. Now, I’d say that I had a thing for mean space cadets who should stop playing with my pens.
5) You’re going out for dinner. What’s your favorite food?
See? This is what I thought the interview was going to be like. This is a really nice question. When I go out to eat with my friends, I steal all of the seafood on the table, Eddie takes the meat, Marcos boggarts the veggies (even the fried ones), and my other best friend, Dee, eats breadsticks like she’s carbo-loading for the Olympics.
Something had made the whole world stop around him, like his own bubble in time, but it was gone. He couldn’t crawl back inside.
* * *
He broke into a weak smile with the shine again in his eyes. “You came to the game. It was a crappy game, but you were there.”
Luke inched in the door and sat on top of the desk closest to the door. The two desks between them might as well have been two miles. “Of course I came.” He didn’t say, “I came because you asked,” or “I had to go because you wanted me there,” because that didn’t make any sense at all. “I didn’t really know what I was watching, but I tried. Dee gave me a crash course in lacrosse.”
“Next time, I’ll come over and give you a tutorial,” Eddie said with a shaky grin. “You see, there’s this ball, and the whole team is trying to make sure it goes into the other team’s net.”
“Shut up” Luke rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t help smiling back. Next time. He said, next time. What happened to Wes? “I’m sorry, but I can’t take lacrosse lessons from a man who looks like he’s going to the opera.”
Eddie eyed his black-on-black. “I look like I’m going to an audition,” he finally said. “I don’t know. Today, I wanted to look good.”
You do, Luke thought. You are.
He opened his mouth, but the words stuck in his throat. He felt the influence of their room, just like all the rehearsals before this one. Even when he couldn't find a good direction to save his life, he eventually sank into their place, their stage and Eddie’s smile, as if he could stay here forever. As long as Eddie kept looking at him as if he were the smartest, funniest, most talented boy he’d ever known, part of him was sure the outside world would hold its breath and wait. Outside, there were secrets and questions and too many hospital beds, but in here—Luke’s stomach clenched. It would be glowing and perfect for a while, but then he had to go.
* * *
If he were a better person, he would have made Eddie stop. If he were in a movie, Luke would have said “stop” really quietly, and Eddie would have listened, because that’s how movies worked. Luke scowled. Real life needs better editing. He scooted off the desk, stuffed his sketchpad into his backpack and walked into Eddie standing perfectly static outside the doorway.
He wasn’t the only one. He’d dotted the hallway with statues in a picture so silent he could hear his shoes clip against the floor.
Luke hadn’t just stopped Eddie. He’d stopped everything and he hadn’t felt himself try. When Eddie had walked out the door, Luke had wanted him to stop and listen, but his demented mind had only managed one thing. He slid out into the hall with his back flat against the wall and his bag clenched against his stomach.
It had been less than a minute since Eddie picked up his bag. Luke couldn’t have counted to one thousand in his head, and Eddie had already turned into someone new. The sad boy from their stage had disappeared. He had his back to the door and one hand in the air, as he turned toward a cluster of students in track pants and T-shirts. The whole group stood across the hallway with their mouths open and smiling, and, in the middle, a pretty girl stood on her tiptoes to wave back. Luke stepped closer to see her face. She glowed as if she made energy in her fingertips. Her skin was darker than Eddie’s, and she had her hair piled into a ponytail that spilled from the back of her head in a high, elegant pouf. Three years at this school, and Luke couldn’t have picked her out of a lineup, but she already knew Eddie. Luke had frozen the moment when her face lit up with joy. She was so happy to see him, and he—
Luke circled around to see Eddie’s face, and he was beaming back at the girl. In the seconds it took him to step away from the classroom door, he’d been remade. Luke peered into Eddie’s happy eyes and wanted to interrogate their shine.
How? He thought. How did you learn to be everyone at the same time?
* * *
They didn’t have to say where or when they would find each other after school. Dee, Luke and Marcos met outside the south entrance by the wobbly picnic table, because that’s what they’d been doing since they were thirteen. Luke let Dee hug him, twice, and they walked toward her house as though nothing had changed in a month of absences and ignored calls.
They fell into step along the side of the road with the February wind at their backs. Neither of them said anything about the funeral, and, after days of flowers and cards promising Lizzy’s arrival in heaven with all the pretty angels, Luke was so grateful he would have let them hug him all over again. It was the kindest silence.
Five years ago, in seventh grade, the walk had begun as a two-some. Back then, Dee and Luke had bonded, in hushed, embarrassed giggles, over their shared crush on the new boy with the soft brown skin and the big, toothy smile. He was so sweet. She’d been the first person to get how the pieces of Luke fit together, before his parents and long before anyone else at school. She’d glommed onto his side like sticky tape and it all should have been a mess. By rights at least one of them should have ended up heartbroken and in tears, but by luck they’d both fallen for a boy who liked neither of them and was too dense to understand the problem.
It wasn’t until freshman year, when all three of them were connected at the hip, that Dee finally had broken down and told Marcos why she and Luke had both suddenly become obsessed with Ender’s Game. Of course it was a good book, but it was also his favorite book and at the time that’s what had mattered. They’d created a Marcos Aldama book club, for God’s sake, and they might have started on The Song of Ice and Fire series if Dee hadn’t gotten up the courage to ask if hewantedtowalkhomewiththemsometime.
When she’d explained, he’d just stared at her over the top of his ham sandwich. “But how?” He’d asked. “I looked like Manny from Modern Family.”
He hadn’t, not really. Except maybe a little in the face.
Most of all, even when he’d awkwardly clarified that no, he didn’t want to date Luke or Dee and asked if that was cool, Marcos had never said a thing about Luke being a boy. It had probably never occurred to him to care.
They walked out of the school parking lot and down West Thirty-third toward Dee’s house. As always, she marched ahead while the boys trailed behind. Marcos’s arm was slung around Luke’s neck, as if to make sure that Luke was actually, physically, there. Their hips knocked together in an uneven beat when Luke stepped forward on one side and Marcos stepped forward on the other. They couldn’t find a rhythm, but neither pulled away. Luke used to imagine that this was what a first kiss would feel like: all awkward limbs and too much feeling.
Neither of them asked questions. Instead, Dee chattered about one show she’d convinced Marcos to watch and another, which she hadn’t. Luke hadn’t heard of either of them, but that wasn’t new. Lizzy liked old TV shows, so that’s what he knew best. Luke caught every other word as she ran through the plots, but the rest flowed together like music.
* * *
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