Title: In Over Our Heads
Series: Stories from the Shore
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 16, 2017
Genre: Romance, Second Chances, Vacation
Anthony Vallen is the life of any party. Full of energy and fun, Anthony adores romance and enjoys playing matchmaker for his friends while dancing the night away with a series of Mr. Right Nows. But he’s given up on his own happy ending. A bad breakup years ago made him a secret cynic about love… until he runs into Walter Elkins—the boy who broke his teenaged heart—on a scuba-diving vacation in Key West. Suddenly, Anthony’s reasons for shunning romance no longer hold much water. Being with Walter again forces Anthony to get serious—about himself, his worth, and his heart’s desires.
Brilliant and self-contained, scientist Walter Elkins prefers deep thoughts to other people. He’s a good boss and a model citizen, but Walter doesn’t let anyone get close. After a tragedy drove him out of his science career, Walter landed in Key West and became owner of a dive shop and a bar. Things are fine until Anthony Vallen—the only person who ever penetrated his defenses—shows up, and Walter’s calm, controlled life capsizes. He and Anthony have a second chance for love, but Walter must confront the old fears that threaten to torpedo their happiness.
Hi all, and thanks to LoveBytes for having me on today to share my latest release, In Over Our Heads, the second book in Stories from the Shore. It is the story of Anthony Vallen, a key secondary character in All the Way to Shore. He’s an incurable romantic (for others) who helps his cousin Jonathan find a happy ending with Marco. In Over Our Heads starts with Anthony, Jonathan, Marco, and Marco’s sister Sophia in Key West for a scuba diving vacation. Anthony has no plans to scuba dive, especially not when the dive instructor turns out to be his old high school boyfriend, Walter. But one thing leads to another and soon they’re both in over their heads!
“So.” Walter unknit his eyebrows a bit, which I guess was his way of giving us an encouraging smile. “You all have your partners. Each buddy is responsible for the safety and well-being of the other buddy. Any concern at all, and you both come up to the surface. Understand? Don’t wait and try to work things out yourself. Don’t panic. Keep breathing. Your air won’t fail you.” He cast a grim glance around. “Any questions?”
“Jeez, yeah,” I couldn’t help retorting, humor covering panic. “Are we allowed to have fun?”
Camila snorted out a small laugh behind Walter, then put her hand over her mouth.
“Safety is the most important goal,” Walter said stiffly. He loosened up, his shoulders dropping a notch and an actual smile touching his face for a brief moment. “But yes. All you have to do is get down there, and you’ll see. You’ll be having the most incredible experience of your life. The reef is magical.”
I did a double take at this practically poetic verbiage coming out of Walter.
Marco nodded. “It truly is. You guys are going to love it!” He slung an arm around Jonny and hugged him to his side. “Ready, pesciolino mio?” he asked in a tender voice.
Jonathan gazed at him, adoration pouring out of his cute blue eyes, despite his obvious trepidation. “Sì, tesoro. Sono pronto.”
Speak English, you cheeseballs! I thought but thankfully didn’t yell out loud. Anger was the other way I handled being scared out of my gourd.
“I’m so psyched, caro!” Sophia gave me a hug of her own. “Are you ready?”
“Yep.” My voice wavered, and Walter gave me a sharp glance as though he was trying to see inside me with his X-ray vision. “Let’s do this thing!” By then all I wanted was to get it over with.
Jonny and Marco waddled over to one side of the boat, Sophia and I to the other. As I’d expected, Camila went with them while Walter stayed with us.
One final adjusting of my mask and checking the straps to my tank, and then I inserted my regulator while Sophia did the same. Walter helped us up to the ledge on the side. “You’re going to do fine,” he said in my ear. “I know it.”
I grunted an incoherent response, then faced Sophia. We took hands, nodded to each other—oh God oh God oh—and jumped in.
Through a fresh wave of terror, my training kicked in. Walter had made us practice the descent a bunch of times yesterday. “Breathe!” I could hear him saying. In, out, in, out. That’s all I concentrated on in the first terrifying moments. Sophia held her nose, which reminded me to hold mine to clear the pressure in my ears. My God, so many things to deal with!
Then the novelty of being in the ocean deeps took over. Sophia and I faced each other, our trusty bubbles coming in a steady stream, nodded, and started to swim slowly along, hand in hand. Amazement filled me. I was under the frigging ocean, surrounded by beautiful fish and anemones and waving coral! I almost laughed but caught myself. Sophia squeezed my hand, let go, and pointed to a school of silver-blue fish turning as one in a synchronized dance. So this was what Walter—and Marco—had been talking about. It was magical.
We spent several moments just swimming, gazing at the colors and movement of this underwater world. We weren’t that far underneath the surface and could still see the bottom of the boat through the clear water. Walter had cautioned us to stay in sight of the boat at all times, the better for him to keep an eye on our bubbles. It wasn’t a problem because there was so much life to explore.
I caught sight of a fish that looked like it’d stuck its fin in a socket. It was electric! After I pointed it out to Sophia, we swam closer to get a better view. That took us into a darker part of the water, although the surface was still visible.
When our electric fish swam around a bend in the reef, we followed and beheld what seemed to be an entire meadow of multicolored fish and corals. I felt like I’d dropped into the middle of Finding Nemo. This was wondrous! I grew almost giddy with the joy of seeing this spectacle—a sight I would never have seen had it not been for that dratted Marco bugging us all to do this. I seriously owed him a mudslide when we got back to shore. And I owed Walter one for teaching me so well.
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.