Dead Sea | Mia Kerick
Story Ballads #2
Release Date: March 3rd, 2021
He risks his life and finds his heart.
Kyle is a swaggering bully; Lenny strives to be invisible.
Kyle has been left alone in the world; Lenny is the world’s biggest loner.
When Kyle saves Lenny from drowning, their lives will never be the same.
After a brutal encounter with school bullies, Lenny swims out into the ocean, determined to let the current whisk him away. Next thing he knows, the meanest kid in town is pulling him from the waves, promising to be his Dead Sea, and to never let him sink.
All Kyle wants is to get out of beach cleanup, is that too much to ask? So he goes for a swim, only to come upon the most epic loser in the senior class drowning in a riptide. Lenny’s haunted gaze grips him, and Kyle makes the impulsive decision to save his life or die trying. Through this ordeal, Kyle and Lenny are transformed.
Kyle’s heroic act sets him on the straight and narrow, and he opens his heart to the young man he dragged from the ocean. Lenny changes too but is still unable to reveal the truth of his pain. While drowning in a sea of secrets, the reformed bully and wary victim fall in love. But staying afloat in the Dead Sea is not as simple as it seems.
The coconut-head sinks into the waves and stays gone. My guts squeeze as I wait for it to pop up again. It’s like I give a crap or something, Gramps. I hold my breath, seeing as this shit is real—the life-or-death kind of real. When the head breaks the surface, a lungful of air shoots out of my mouth. It’s got to be relief. You tell me, old man—what the hell else could it be?
The current drags me out, like ten feet a second. When I’m close enough to check out his face, it’s one I’ve seen before at school. This kid’s a complete nobody.
Grampa’s ghost is still hovering in the air in front of me. Weathered skin, twisted lips, crinkled eyes, and a bumpy nose from getting broke too many times to count. All framed by two frizzy mops of gray—one sticking straight up off the top of his head and the other hanging from his chin. Yup. I can actually see him, and he looks real good to my scared and lonely eyes. What’s even better is he’s barking at me the way he used to. “Riskin’ your life to save a boy you hardly even know, Kyle? A damn fool, you are.”
Like always, Grampa’s right. I don’t give a crap about the kid flailing around in the water, just a couple feet away. He’s mostly drowned already and seems pretty much cool with it. I’m risking my ass to save a half-dead nobody who’s got zero balls.
But sometimes you can’t go back.
“Your mama will string you up by your toenails for pullin’ this crap, if the ocean don’t finish you off first.” That right there’s a fact too. Even if Mom’s not too wild about yours truly, she’d lecture the hell out of me. Like, blah, blah, blah—funerals aren’t cheap.
The thing is, my ass is getting washed out to sea, and all I care about is making my way to that kid. Yup, I’m all in to saving the dude, even though it’d be easier to do a flip turn and swim away. And when it comes to riptides, you’ve got to go with the flow—only a damn fool would try to fight the ocean. It’s stronger than twenty of me, and I know this the way I know any other fact of life. Like Jesus is Lord, and I’m never gonna meet Him because, as Mom always says, “Kyle, you’re on a fast track to a very hot place.”
I take a good long look at nobody over there. But he’s got an actual name: Zip-lip Lenny Dubinski. From pre-calc and the geography elective I took so I’d have enough credits to graduate. A wave hits me full in the face. It shocks and stings like last night when Mom slapped me silly.
I sink again. Even so, I know better than to struggle. I don’t fight the tide’s drag or the oh-crap-I’m-dead feeling, like when you’re the only eighth grader at a high school kegger. And I speak from experience.
“Let Mother Nature have her way with you, boy.” Sounds like way more fun than it is, still, it’s what Grampa always told me to do if my ass ever got caught in a riptide. Like right now.
What’s most screwed up about this whole scene is that Zip-lip hasn’t lifted an arm to flag down nobody on shore to help him. And he’s got to be desperate, knowing he’s dying and all. He hasn’t even cried out for help. Then, everybody says he can’t make a sound.
About the Author
Award-winning gay romance author, Mia Kerick, knows that a satisfying romance novel is riddled with challenges. For true love to prevail, the leading men are gonna have to put in some effort. But the HEA is oh-so rewarding.
Mia has a great affinity for the damaged teenage soul in literature. Her YA gay contemporary romance focuses on such tropes as hurt/comfort and dark secrets that keep them apart. In Kerick’s books, the course of true love never does run smooth.
Mia’s books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine. They have won a 2019 IPPY GOLD award for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, a 2018 YA GOLD MOONBEAM Children’s Book Award, a YA Readers’ Favorite Award, several Gold Rainbow Awards in YA and adult categories, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, a YA Indie Fab Award, a First Place Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, a First Place Story Monsters Purple Dragonfly Award, and more.
Mia cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
To celebrate the release of Dead Sea, Mia is giving away a $15 Amazon Voucher!