Friday, August 1, 2014

* BLOG TOUR * - Between Before and After by Amanda Dick


Five friends. Three days. One heart-stopping discovery.

Three years ago, Danny Morris left behind a gun, a tonne of questions and a gaping hole in the lives of those who loved him. What he didn’t leave was a suicide note.

On the anniversary of his death, his closest friends gather at his parents’ beach house in New Zealand's idyllic Marlborough Sounds. Danny’s girlfriend, Kate, holds fast to his memory by continuing to live in the house they shared. Struggling to move on with her life, her blossoming feelings for Danny’s best friend, Finn, only complicate matters. Withdrawing from his high-flying lifestyle, Max has carved out a much simpler life. Self-medicating with alcohol, fighting off nightmares he refuses to talk about, the memory of finding Danny’s body has him sailing dangerously close to the edge. While Finn is finally ready to address his feelings for Kate, trying to save Max from himself dredges up long-buried anger and frustration that threaten to overwhelm him. For Lacey and Gavin, a recent bereavement gives them a heart-wrenching insight of a different kind.

Instead of time easing the pain, the group find themselves stuck in limbo, awaiting the understanding and peace that has so far eluded them.

Three years ago, a single bullet ricocheted through all of them - and this year everything will change again.

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Teaser - Max

The edge of the wooden dinghy became hard and uncomfortable but he wasn’t ready to head back up to the house and open himself up for more of the same just yet. He could feel himself being ripped apart, from the inside out. He had to get a handle on this.
He jumped, his pulse spiking. Gavin peered around the boat shed doors that he had pegged open to catch the most of the view.
“Sorry.” Gavin walked into the darkened boat shed, thick with the stench of damp, and settled himself beside Max.
They sat in silence for several uncomfortable minutes. He hoped that the fact he wasn’t making conversation would chase Gavin away, but even he knew better. Gavin wasn’t into confrontations. Ordinarily, neither was Finn, although he had seen him riled up on a couple of occasions over the years. He took another sip of beer as he mulled over Finn’s behaviour. Stubborn bastard. He shot a sidelong glance at Gavin. Maybe he was just doing a little damage control. 
“I keep forgetting how quiet it is out here,” Gavin said.
“Yeah, if you can get past those bloody cicadas,” Max mumbled, scanning the horizon as he took another long swallow.
“Noisy little buggers.”
They sat a while longer, the heat of the day beginning to gain momentum, gathering around them, stifling them.
“That was pretty intense out there,” Gavin said.
Max exhaled loudly, shaking his head. “He needs to mind his own business sometimes. He’s like a dog with a bloody bone.”
“He’s just worried. We all are.”
Max gazed out over the water. He didn’t even bother to lie and tell him that they didn’t need to be, he was fine. There didn’t seem to be much point. “I’ll tell you what I told him last night – I’m dealing with it. It might not be the way that he’d deal with it, or you or anyone else, but I’m doing the best I can. If you don’t like it, then fine – don’t like it. But don’t give me shit about it because you have no idea. When you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, then we’ll talk.”
The stifling dampness of the air seemed to multiply. Breathing deeply became an issue as he struggled to clear his pounding head. He waited for Gavin to start telling him about everything he was doing wrong, but he was surprised when he didn’t.
“You kinda dropped off the face of the earth for a while there,” Gavin said finally. “Freaked us out a bit, y’know? You’re all over the country and the only way we know you’re okay is when you call – if you call.”
Max took another swig of beer. There wasn’t a question in there, just a statement of facts.
“I don’t mean to put this back on you, I know you have a lot going on, but you gotta keep in touch, okay? I mean, you could drive off the road somewhere and we wouldn’t even know where to start looking for you. That’s a pretty shit state of affairs, considering we’re meant to be mates.”
Max felt pangs of guilt, deep down inside, muffled by alcohol and depression. The reason for both came racing to mind. “Did you ever, y’know, wonder what Danny was thinking about, the second before he pulled the trigger?”
The question hung between them and time stopped for several long moments. Even the cicadas seemed to hush, drowned out by the pounding in his ears. Flashes of what he saw that day stabbed at his memory.
Sticky blood.
The pieces of Danny’s skull that had attached themselves to the wall, the mirror, the furniture – to him, when he cradled his head on his lap.
The small entry wound in his temple he had tried to ignore, the enormous exit wound he couldn’t.
The smell – that horrific smell that still haunted his dreams. It smelt like offal, like a disgusting montage of rotting meat and urine.
Fragments of Danny’s skull, complete with strands of hair, clinging to his shoe.
He took a hurried gulp of beer, his hand trembling as he struggled to push the memories aside. He wished he could bury them forever, but these days they seemed to surface far too frequently.
“Honestly? Yeah. I used to think about it a lot,” Gavin said, his voice barely audible.
Max glanced around at him. “And?” he prompted, when no further details were forthcoming.
“And, I don’t know – I don’t have a clue. Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to know anymore.”
He understood the sentiment, but somewhere deep inside him, he had really wanted Gavin to say something else. Something reassuring. Something that would make sense. Something that would shine a light on the misery and show him the way back. Something he could live with.
“I just wish he’d told someone,” Gavin said. It was a sentiment they had discussed repeatedly. “That might’ve made a difference. Maybe we could’ve helped.”
They sat looking out over the bay as the sunlight caught the water, making it sparkle like a sheet of diamonds.
“He didn’t want help,” Max said.
He could feel Gavin’s eyes on him, digging deep inside his brain, trying to dredge up the images from that day.
They’re right there, right in front of you. Help yourself. 

Questions to Amanda Dick regarding Max

1)  After Danny's death, why did you close yourself of from your friends instead of letting them help you after what you saw?

A: It wasn't exactly a choice - I don't remember thinking "it's one or the other".  I just didn't want to talk about it.  I didn't realise it would become a habit that would follow me for three years.
2) What does the future hold for you now that you have finally opened up to your friends and also now you know about Finn?

A: The counselling is going well - Lacey's friend, Hayley seems to know her stuff. And it's easier, somehow, talking to someone I don't know. As to what I'll do in a few months, I'm not sure.  The future is open - and for the first time in a long time, I'm quietly excited about that.

Amanda Dick – AUTHOR BIO

Amanda Dick is a night-owl, coffee addict, movie buff and music lover.  She also writes.

Born in Opotiki, New Zealand, she is rather partial to dark chocolate and believes in the power of a good vanilla latte.  She has a passion for the colour green (particularly in clothes and gemstones) and insists there is nothing sexier than a man in a kilt.  

She spent several months traveling around Europe in her late 20’s (there’s a story there – she’ll get around to writing it one day).  After ridding herself of her wanderlust, she met the love of her life (while working to pay off said wanderlust) in Edinburgh, Scotland.  They moved in together the week after their first date – so yes, she believes in love at first sight.  She also believes in Women's Intuition and following your heart.  

She writes on her trusty laptop, predominantly late at night, when it's quiet and interruptions are few.  Most of all, she enjoys writing about human behaviour - love, loss, joy, grief, friendship and relationships in general.  She loves to put normal, everyday people into situations that will test their boundaries.  She is passionately curious about how we, as human beings, react when pushed to the edge.  

After living in Scotland for five years, she has now settled back home in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Author links

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