Authors: Brynn Stein
“The entire cast of characters was amazing. Every single one of them added to the story. I loved the friendship they shared and the bonds they had.”
—Bike Book Reviews
“I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you want a classic, traditional romance novel, without cowboys or babies or werewolves or jerks, you could be swept away too.”
—Inked Rainbow Reads
Though the Years
“Thank you for making my eyes so wet I could barely see the words in front of me. Thank you for writing this beautiful and timeless tale of love.”
—MM Good Book Reviews
“Wow! This was simply amazing, such a beautiful book…”
—Crystal’s Many Reviewers
“I absolutely adored this fantastic tale, and if you love reading a beautiful story of how two men are able to overcome the obstacles thrown in their way… then this is one book you definitely need to buy.”
—Rainbow Book Reviews
Through the Years
What No One Else Can Hear
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Ray of Sunlight
5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886 USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
What No One Else Can Hear
© 2015 Brynn Stein.
© 2015 Reese Dante.
Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.
All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.
Digital ISBN: 978-1-63216-989-1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015905848
First Edition July 2015
Printed in the United States of America
This paper meets the requirements of
ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).
I wish to thank all the editors at Dreamspinner, who are consistently excellent to work with, but especially Sue Adams, Alison, and J J, who stuck with me and hammered out the problems inherent in trying to turn an old manuscript into a new work. When I became the least bit depressed at the uncharacteristic work needed, Sue Adams, my senior editor, reminded me to focus on the fact that it simply showed how much I’ve grown as a writer since originally drafting the story many years ago and not to dwell on the need for correction. She and the other editors have my undying gratitude.
As a special ed teacher, I have worked with many children on the autism spectrum over the years. I have worked in public and private schools, and even in a residential school similar to the center mentioned in this book. The characters in this story draw from those experiences. Even though my character, Stevie, is not actually autistic—or not only autistic (not even Jesse is sure)—he has many characteristics of an autistic child. This book is dedicated to all those affected by autism: children on the spectrum who struggle with daily activities that many of us take for granted and their families and other caregivers who see not their “handicap,” not what they cannot do or what they do differently, but the beautiful, unique child within.
believe it. I stood in the doorway of a child’s room on the third floor of the Lynneville Center for Children with Autism after having been hastily hired and sent up here. At first I was shocked to see dozens of expertly drawn pictures of me taped up all over the walls. Then I noticed the four worried-looking adults in the room, their attention focused on the bed. In that bed, seemingly catatonic, was the very boy I’d been seeing in my dreams for almost six years.
I had been looking for Stevie all that time, but now that I had found him, I realized that until that moment I’d always had the smallest doubt that he was real—almost a hope that there wasn’t a suffering child who needed me, whom it had taken me
long to find. All my energy for six years had been focused on finding him, yet a niggling doubt had remained … until I stepped through that doorway.
“Stevie,” I whispered. “I finally found you.”
He didn’t move; he only blinked on reflex. He simply lay on the bed, so still, and stared at the ceiling. I knew I could help him. I moved to his side, nudging the doctor out of the way, and touched his hand.
“Come on, man. Come on back now.” I put my hand on his head, and Stevie immediately turned his head toward me. Though his eyes were still a little unfocused, he had no trouble recognizing me.
“Hi, Bear,” he said and reached out to be hugged, as he always had in my dreams.
It was so natural for Stevie to talk to me and hug me that it didn’t occur to me it might be strange for the staff gathered in Stevie’s room. They were suddenly doing the best imitations of goldfish I had ever seen. The doctor and the other man had comically wide eyes, while the two women looked almost ready to cry from shock or maybe just relief.
The older one, a lady in her forties, seemed to recognize my confusion. She came to stand close to me and said in a hushed voice, “That’s the first time we’ve ever heard him speak.”
He always could, of course.
He spoke to me all the time in my dreams.
He finally let go and looked at me. “Bear, you’re here? You’re really here?” His gaze scanned the room. “Not in the forest?”
“No, buddy.” I laid him back down and rubbed his hand as I spoke. “Not in the forest this time. We’re right here, in your room.”
Stevie yawned and looked exhausted.
“Go to sleep, big guy. I’m working at the center now, so I’ll be waiting for you when you wake up.”
He smiled and was asleep almost immediately.
By that time the staff’s shock had worn off and curiosity had set in with a vengeance. We barely stepped out of Stevie’s room before the never-ending string of questions began.
“Bear?” “Forest?” “Stevie can talk?” The questions bombarded me simultaneously.
We all took seats in the living room area and I set about answering their questions. I was hoping what they had just witnessed would keep them from laughing me out of the room. The story I had to tell them was pretty spectacular.
Dottie, the lady in her forties, started things off by introducing me to the others. Dr. Brown was the physician on staff and had been watching Stevie decline over the last several months with no idea how to help him. Hank and Stacy were the other staff members who had been in Stevie’s room. They, along with Dottie, were support staff for the students who lived here, providing whatever assistance they needed, with supervision and compassion. Other people working on the hall that night wanted to hear as much of the story as possible, so they came and went, working when needed, listening when they could, as did Dottie, Hank, and Stacy.
“I don’t even begin to know where to start asking questions,” Dr. Brown finally admitted.
“The beginning is always nice,” Stacy said.
I smiled and thought Stacy had a good idea, so I told them about my first meeting with Stevie.
time I dreamed of Stevie was almost six years ago. I’d suddenly found myself in a dark forest and heard a small child crying. I made my way through the thick woods, looking for the source of the sound. I rustled bushes and called out, “Is anyone there?”
No one answered but the crying continued. Then, as I fought through the thicket, I heard a gasp. I fought harder, twigs crackling beneath my feet. When I finally emerged into a small clearing, I saw a young boy, terrified out of his mind, with wide eyes and open mouth, as though he were too afraid to even cry anymore.
I stood still and cultivated a nonthreatening look, and after a short while, his face calmed and his body relaxed.
“I thought you were a bear.”
“You did?” I walked toward him and squatted down about three feet away, so as not to frighten him anymore. “I’m not a bear.”
“You still sort of look like a bear.” His eyes twinkled.
Hank interrupted my story. “How did you look like a bear?”
I chuckled. “Well, to a four-year-old, I probably seemed pretty big.”
Hank laughed. He was at least a half a head taller than my five feet ten inches and probably outweighed me by a good fifty pounds, putting him at just over two hundred pounds. “He never called me a bear.”