Louise Caiola, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Making of Nebraska Brown, called LETTING GO “a smart and sexy story that captures the raw essence of love. Heartfelt, haunting, tender, tough and true.”
Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, when Langston, who dreams of being a chef, meets Cecile, a Juilliard-trained pianist, he is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real and full of potential for a deeper bond, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Can these busy, complicated people be ready for each other at the same time? Does it even matter? Before they can answer these questions, each must do battle with the ultimate demon—fear.
Told in a witty combination of standard prose, letters, emails, and diary entries, LETTING GO, in the tradition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s AMERICANAH, is a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions. From the Great White North to the streets of New York City to the beaches of Bermuda, LETTING GO is a journey of longing, betrayal, self-discovery and hope you will never forget.
Excerpt from Letting Go
Cecile followed him into the lobby, empty except for the night clerk, who didn’t look up. Langston sat on one of the russet leather couches, and Cecile sat in a matching chair at a right angle to him. He watched her gaze intently at the coffee table, or maybe the Edmonton Journal someone had left on top of it, her graceful hands folded on her lap. He let his eyes travel up her slender arms and rest on her face, wishing they hadn’t come out of the club, because wherever her mind had gone, he was clearly not invited.
Finally, Langston asked, “How long have you been in New York?”
She startled, then focused on him. “Four years.”
“Do you like it?
“Most of the time. The homeless people are kind of disturbing.”
“You get tired of the begging?”
“Well…yes, but mainly I just feel bad. I mean, I can’t give money to everybody, and some of them must really need it. I guess they all do, even if they’re addicts, because even addicts need to eat.”
Her response surprised him so much that he couldn’t think of anything to say. After an awkward pause, something came to him: “I guess helping even one person makes a difference.”
“Allegedly.” She smiled with her lips again.
“Why are you so sad?” Liquid courage.
Cecile turned her head, her eyes darting away. “Homelessness is depressing.”
“It’s more personal than that, isn’t it?”
She bit the inside of her lip. “Maybe.”
Langston cleared his throat. “Sorry,” he said. “New topic.”
He groped for something innocuous. “So you’re here to see the family?”
Cecile chuckled. “Sort of.”
“What’s so funny?”
She sighed, gazing into the distance for a while. Then her eyes found Langston’s face, and stayed there. “I’m here because I was supposed to get married next weekend.”
The couch squeaked as he fell back against it. “Wow.”
“It’s for the best,” she said softly.
“What happened? You don’t have to answer, of course.”
She looked at her hands, then rested her eyes on him again. Her face relaxed. “It’s okay.”
She told him, speaking hesitantly at first and then more freely, about what had happened. When Langston offered his heartfelt condolences, she brightened a bit. Then they talked about her being a musician, life in New York and Toronto, and their mutual study of French, and the more they talked, the more natural her smiles became. By the time Teresa and Betsy emerged from Darling’s, they were leaning towards each other, laughing like two old friends.
Betsy yawned. “You coming, Cecile?” she said.
Cecile glanced at Langston. “Is it closed already?”
“Yeah, it’s closed already. And I’m not going anywhere else but home, so don’t bother to suggest it.”
“Yes, Queen Elizabeth,” Cecile replied, remaining seated.
Teresa grabbed Langston’s hands and leaned back.
“Okay, okay!” he protested, allowing himself to be pulled to his feet. He glanced at Cecile, who was looking at him and smiling. I’m leaving in a few hours, he thought, this time with dismay.
As the four of them ascended in the parking garage elevator, Langston became aware that his chest was touching Cecile’s back. She turned in surprise, her mouth so irresistibly close to his that he couldn’t stop himself from kissing her.
For a moment, he felt oxygen reaching places he hadn’t known were there. Then she pulled away, blushing, and whispered, “Stop, okay?”
But when he followed her off the elevator, instead of getting off at the floor where Teresa had parked, she smiled and glanced at her sister, who rolled her eyes.
Cecile was leaving town in two days, and he in less than that—four and a half hours, not even enough time for a decent night’s sleep.
“I really like your poems,” she deadpanned, with a twinkle in her eye. “I hear American kids study your stuff in high school.”
“Will you write a song for one of them?”
She laughed. “Maybe.”
“Then I need your address.”
No one had a pen.
“There’s a pen in the car,” Cecile remembered, and the three of them walked towards a decade-old red Corolla. There wasn’t any paper, though, so she wrote her address and phone number very carefully on a tissue, and he did the same.
Betsy sang, “Goodbye, Langston,” climbing into the driver’s side.
He held up his hand and waved self-consciously. Had he really kissed a woman he barely knew in front of her younger sister, who looked like her attendance at the club could only have been due to a fake ID? Part of him didn’t want to look at Cecile, still standing in front of him. He’d had a few drinks, but he wasn’t drunk. Why had he done it?
He made himself meet her eyes, and he immediately understood why, not in a way that could be put into words, but in terms his body grasped perfectly.
About the Author
Maria Thompson Corley is a Canadian pianist (MM, DMA, The Juilliard School) of Jamaican and Bermudian descent, with experience as a college professor, private piano instructor, composer, arranger and voice actor. She has contributed to Broad Street Review since 2008, and also blogs for Huffington Post. Her first novel, Choices, was published by Kensington.
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