Walking by Faith

Faithfully Yours #2

by A.M. Leibowitz

Walking by Faith - A.M. Leibowitz
Editions:Kindle: $ 7.99
ISBN: B01JVK455K
Pages: 261

Following a brutal attack that left him nearly dead, Becket “Cat” Rowland is a mess inside and out. To cope with the trauma and with his view of himself that he’s nothing but an empty shell, he’s taken three vows: simplicity, chastity, and silence. His once colorful, trendy, and often feminine wardrobe has been replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and he’s sworn off men. He locks himself away from the world, using the memorized prayers of his childhood as his only speech.

Cat is lost to himself and everyone around him until another hospitalization introduces him to nurse David Simms. David takes Cat’s silence in stride, caring for him without pushing and slowly building Cat’s trust. As their love grows, Cat begins to let go of his vows one by one, only holding onto the silence.

Despite how far he’s come, the severity of Cat’s panic attacks threaten to undo everything David has built with him. Cat’s only hope is to break the final vow and tell the truth about the night of his attack. When David fails to keep a promise he made to be there for him, Cat has to stand on his own and prove to himself he’s strong enough to survive.

Excerpt:

Maybe it wasn’t too late to make it up to God now, though, to atone for everything he’d done all summer. He grabbed the notebook and pulled the pen out of the spiral binding. Slowly, he scrawled his third vow: Chastity. No dating. No sex. No jerking off. He snorted; dating wouldn’t be an issue, not with his mess of problems. Where would he go, and who would want him anyway? The other two items on the list weren’t problems either, given his lack of interest. He almost couldn’t bear being touched in a non-sexual way by his own family, let alone anyone else. Sex involved the kind of physical contact he would gladly never experience again.

He read over what he’d written, and fury coursed through his veins over everything he’d lost. He winged the notebook across the room, hurtling it into the wall. It dug into the paint, leaving a small mark. Cat huffed, but a tiny part of him felt better.

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The noise alerted the other three members of the household, and in under two minutes, they were all clustered in his doorway. Cat looked up at the sound of the curtain moving. He glared at the others with their worried expressions. Mom saw the notebook and bent down to pick it up, still open to the page where Cat had written his vows. Cat crossed his arms and waited while the others read over the list. Dad glanced up, and he looked mildly amused. LR rolled her eyes and gave an exasperated huff. Mom seemed defeated.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said.

Cat didn’t answer.

Dad read the list out loud. Cat closed his eyes and listened to his father’s voice.

1. Vow of Silence. No speaking whatsoever. Yes/no questions may be answered with nod or shake of the head. Everything else shall be answered with traditional prayers.

2. Vow of Simplicity. No clothes or jewelry other than jeans and t-shirts. Limit of one pair of ordinary sneakers. Absolutely no makeup of any kind.

3. Vow of Chastity. No dates. No boyfriends. No sex. No jerking off.

A muscle twitched in Dad’s jaw, and Mom looked as though she had no idea how to respond. LR had no such hesitation. She snatched the notebook out of Dad’s hand and waved it at Cat.

“You think this is funny?” she demanded. “Is this your way of telling us all to go to hell for trying to help you?”

“LR—” Dad began, but she turned her glare on him.

“No, Dad,” she said. “I’m done pretending all we need is time, love, and tenderness or some shit.”

“LR!” Mom snapped.

“Oh, shut up, Mom,” LR retorted. “You heard what Dad read. Cat can talk. He’s choosing not to. So we’re all supposed to guess what he needs and when, while he figures out whatever is going on in his head. All the rest of this? It’s such bull. You think I didn’t hear what you guys said he was really doing that night? He lied to us! He lied to me.” Her voice broke. “And I was the one who helped him—” she cut herself off with a near-scream.

“We can talk about this,” Mom said. “Not now. We need to wait until Cat’s ready. He’ll tell us what he needs in his own time.”

Which will be approximately never, Cat thought.

“He obviously needs something now!” LR yelled. “He’s sick, Mom. They messed with his head, and now he thinks he has to do this. God knows neither of you seem like you want to do anything about it, though. I’m done.”

She pitched the notebook onto the bed and stormed out. Cat shook all over, and he watched the doorway, wondering if she would come back. His stomach ached for a different reason. It was his fault LR was so upset, and he didn’t know how to fix it. One more thing on his long list of sins to atone for. His parents turned toward him, but he refused to meet their gazes directly. He picked up the notebook and read over his vows again, ignoring Mom and Dad.

“Honey,” Mom said, “is there something else you want to tell us?”

Cat finally looked up and shook his head. He held up the notebook and waved it.

Dad sighed and nodded. “I know you need some space right now. I hope when you’re ready, you’ll talk to us.”

He put his arm around Mom’s shoulders, and they stepped out of the room. Cat blew out his breath and looked down at his hand, realizing he still had hold of the pen. He scribbled a single sentence underneath the vows.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

COLLAPSE

This story is both a prequel and a continuation of the series.

About the Author

A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. They are an occasional host for The BiCast, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work. They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post news and reviews for several LGBTQIA websites. In between noveling and freelance editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.


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