Please read all the way to the bottom of this post to find the link for the next person on the hop and to get details about the giveaways!
You can click here to check out all the rest of the stops on the hop!
I'm so excited to be part of the Valentine's Rewind hop and to have a chance to share an extra story from one of my books! I was having a hard time deciding which characters to revisit, so I asked on Twitter and the response was almost unanimous that I should check in with Jason and Quinn from MOMENT OF SILENCE. It was an absolute pleasure for me to do that, plus it gives me the opportunity to share something that several readers have asked me about.
MOMENT OF SILENCE is the story of Jason, the disowned son of a rabbi who meets and falls in love with Quinn, a man who's about to take his final vows as a Catholic priest. They start out as co-workers with Quinn volunteering at the LGBT homeless teen shelter Jason runs, and quickly become friends. When friendship turns to love and passion, things become...complicated. And Quinn goes on a silent retreat to contemplate his final decisions. He leaves Jason with two envelopes: a white one, to be read immediately (which Jason reads in the book) and a blue one (to be read only if he doesn't return). Since this is a romance novel, it's not a spoiler to tell you he returns! So the blue envelope doesn't get opened in the book. SO MANY READERS asked me what the blue letter said....and I knew...so I'm sharing that now, exclusively here.
BLUE LETTER DAY takes place between the end of MOMENT OF SILENCE and the epilogue found at the end of the book.
BLUE LETTER DAY
(an exclusive extra scene from MOMENT OF SILENCE)
I'd been living at Jason's apartment for almost two weeks and, in spite of the fact that I'd moved my clothes into his closet and drawers, somehow I'd never had cause to open the bottom drawer right alongside his bed. Our bed. Until this afternoon.
All I wanted was a piece of paper, but when I pulled open that particular drawer what I saw made me forget what I'd gone there to get.
The familiar envelope stared up at me, like a rectangular blue ghost. I picked it up, half expecting it to feel alive. My heart raced as I checked to see if it had been opened. It hadn't. The seal was intact. My words to him echoed in my head: “Only read the blue one if I tell you I can’t come back."
I could still see the look on his face when I handed it to him---a mix of fear, hope and sadness that reflected everything I felt. My chest ached at the thought of what I’d put us both through. Thank you, God, for letting me make the right decision. I’d be thankful forever that I'd come back before Jason had reached the point of despair that would have lead to him reading these words.
"Whatcha got there?"
I jumped. "I didn't realize you were home."
"Just got here." Jason sat alongside me on the bed. He ran a finger over the envelope then gave my hand a squeeze. "I never read it."
"So I see."
"But I wanted to."
He shrugged. "Curiosity. A need to know what you would have wanted your final words to be if you didn't come back."
“What stopped you from opening it?”
“You told me not to.”
The ache returned to my chest.
“Plus I felt like if I read it, that might somehow make you not come back. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t want to jinx anything.”
The hurt in his voice damn near broke my heart. Hurt I'd caused. "Read it."
I held the envelope out to him but he didn't reach for it.
"Read it to me.” His tone was soft and serious.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I want to hear it the way you intended. I want to hear it in your voice."
"Okay." I owed him at least that. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat. "Dear Jason."
He closed his eyes as he listened and my heart twisted again.
I hope like hell that you don't have to read this letter, that I've come back to you and that we're happier than two people should ever be allowed to be...but just in case that's not what happens, I need you to know some things. Not just know them. Believe them. Feel them. Breathe them in until you absorb the fact that no matter what's happened, one thing will never change. I love you. Don't ever doubt that.
If I live to be a hundred I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on you. I don't even think you knew that I was there. You were on the phone, arguing with someone about a delivery that was late. You were so passionate, yet you stayed so calm. It was obvious you were frustrated and upset, but you didn't yell. You didn't threaten. And by the end of the conversation you'd gotten the person to agree to whatever it was you wanted. You hung up the phone and smiled. And I was a goner.
Do you know what that smile still does to me? I got so flustered I forgot what I'd been coming in to say to you. Then you looked up and saw me. It didn't matter that I wasn't thinking straight, because you came over and introduced yourself and kept talking until I remembered how to speak. I knew at that moment---that very first day---that I was in trouble. And for once it was trouble that seemed worth the risk. You were worth any risk.
That time the kids were arguing about who got to sleep where, you turned chaos into laughter and had them all getting along and actually happy. When your sisters were upset, you always managed to reassure them. The impact you have on people is magical. And I'm not immune to the powers of that magic. You take my breath away daily.
Your obnoxious ex set my teeth on edge because the thought of anyone having been with you made me jealous in a way I'd never experienced before. I couldn't bear the thought of him having touched you. Or kissed you. Or upset you. I've never felt so protective of anyone as I felt when he was harassing you in the restaurant. And when I picked up your hand, I thought it would be the look on his face that would be priceless---and it was---I loved seeing him thrown off his game. But it's the look on your face I'll never forget. Because I'd half expected you to pull away and you didn't. You sat there letting me hold your hand and looking at me in a way no one had ever looked at me before. I...saw myself through your eyes. I liked the way I looked through your eyes. I knew then and there that I wanted to go on holding your hand forever.
When I thought you were going to hook up with Erik at that party, I nearly lost it. I almost kissed you right there in that roomful of people, but I wasn't sure you wanted me to. And I wasn't sure I should. But I couldn't think about anything else. When I finally did it, the experience was so much more intense than anything I'd ever felt, I couldn't cope. I ran like a coward. Not from you. Not because I was worried it wasn't right. Because I knew from that first kiss that I would never feel about another person the way I feel about you.
The way you let me talk. The way you listen. The way you never judge or pressure me or anyone. You're the most beautiful human being I've ever known. Your heart is endless. Your kindness overwhelming. Your patience admirable. There is nothing about you that doesn't leave me in complete awe of you.
How could anyone not want that? Not love that? I'm powerless against it. I love you more than I knew it was possible to love another person. Without condition and without end.
I wanted to tell you that every moment we were together, but I didn't want to scare you or sound like a lunatic. But it's true. The thought was always on my mind. I love you, Jason. And I always will.
If you're reading this and I've been foolish enough not to return, it's not because that's what I want. You're what I want. You're all I want. But if other things intervene, if circumstance keeps us apart, know that losing you will forever be my biggest regret. My darkest mistake. My penance will be not having you in my life.
Wherever I am I promise you'll be in my thoughts. My waking and sleeping thoughts for all eternity. In my heart and soul we'll be together. The perfect beautiful memory of our time together will need to sustain me for as long as I live. But I want more than that for you. I love you enough to know that if I can't be with you, I want you to find someone you love. Someone else who will see all the wonderful, amazing things I see in you. Never settle for less than that. And know, please know, with every fiber of your being that my love will still be going out to you in thoughts and prayers and memories.
My only wish for you is happiness. Remember our moments when you can. Think about the heaven on earth we shared. And forgive me for making that time so brief.
And please, promise me you'll remember how very much you're loved.
You are and always will be.
My voice cracked as I finished and I swallowed hard to keep from losing it. Because I had to ask. "Can you ever forgive me? For putting you through not knowing?"
Jason took the letter from my hands and studied it, running his fingers over the words. My pulse raced so fast I felt light-headed. He folded the pages, placed them back in the envelope then into the bottom drawer. It squeaked as he shoved it closed and the sound tore at my heart.
"I'm so sorry, Jason. I was...I don't know what I was. I knew I wanted to come back to you. I knew I'd be miserable if I didn't. But asking forgiveness...I don't know if I deserve--"
He cut me off with a kiss. Not a peck or a light brushing of lips, his mouth claimed mine with such force it silenced all thoughts. All there was, all I knew, was Jason and the swirling warmth of his tongue. The heat of his fingers caressing my cheeks and sinking into my hair.
He inched closer, nudging me further onto the bed as he swung a leg over and straddled my lap. Having him close, our bodies pressed together, felt so right. So perfect. Then he pulled away.
Serious dark eyes met my gaze and he pressed his forehead to mine. "There's nothing to forgive."
"But everything I put you through..."
"You're a gift. I've always thought of you as that. A blessing. A mitzvah. And I always knew there was a chance I'd lose you. I was willing to take that chance for even one day with you."
I couldn't speak. I stroked his cheeks with my thumbs, eyes welling as I noticed his had filled with tears. "I couldn't imagine not coming back you. Not being with you."
"I'm glad. I imagined it and it was awful. This is much better." He wiggled closer on my lap, lining us up so we were pressed together as close as possible.
"Much better...although I could think of a few ways to improve it..."
"Oh yeah?" Those dark eyes somehow turned even darker, filled with lusty mischief that set my heart galloping even faster.
"Yeah. What do you say we see if we can make some new memories we'll never forget."
"We do that every day." He gave my shirt a tug and yanked it over my head, then tore off his and flung them both across the room. "The only problem I can see is that we're both still wearing pants. That seems unforgivable given the thoughts I have for how we should spend the rest of the afternoon."
"I don't ever want to be unforgivable."
Jason climbed off enough to undo his pants and shove them down while I went to work on mine. Before our belts had even finished clattering to the floor he was in my arms, long and lean and perfectly aligned with me from head to toe. The letter was our past. Our memories. And all the what-ifs were safely stored away in that drawer. We didn't need them anymore. We had now, and the next day, and forever to do nothing but be us. And I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing just that.