OS: Today Roe Horvat stops by to tell us about their new book and cover for The Layover designed by: Roe Horvat, https://www.facebook.c
Thanks for having me!
There are several things I’ll never forget about my time in Basel, Switzerland: the night lights of the Old Town, the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club, the price of a latte I bought at a coffee cart by the train station… And then there was the tall, rangy guy in a flight attendant uniform. He stood in the middle of the terminal glaring at his phone. His jacket was open and shirt rumpled.
I thought it was unusual because the stewards tend to be impeccably dressed. He wasn’t particularly handsome or remarkable, except that he was visibly sad. Genuinely, heartbreakingly exhausted and not in an I-haven’t-slept-in-two-days way. He looked like he knew all the secrets of the Universe and saw no meaning in sharing them because everyone was going to die anyway.
When he noticed me staring, he turned quickly and walked off, and I never saw him again. Still, I wrote a story about him, giving him the happiness he’d seemed to need so desperately. And then I spend hours finding material for the cover art because these things tend to get personal.
So, there he is, the sad flight attendant with the unlikely happy ending waiting for him. I hope you’re well, Ondro, whoever and wherever you are!
Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either…
He exhaled long and closed his eyes.
“It’s fine. You’re fine.” What an inadequate thing to say. Luckily, Jamie was probably too exhausted to panic properly.
“You speak German,” he mumbled accusingly. I had to bend my head and put my ear closer to his pale lips; he spoke so softly.
“With disgust and only when forced,” I said, trying lamely to lighten up the situation.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
I hugged him tighter. “I don’t know, honey. You seem to have a fever.”
“I feel like shit.”
Despite everything, I chuckled. “Yeah. You’ve said that.”
He burrowed into my hold, still shivering. “Your flight….”
“I don’t care. I’m not leaving you alone in a foreign hospital. Forget the flights.”
“They won’t let you come with me.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
He nodded, hiding his face in my chest.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” He was scared. Of course he was.
“I’m not leaving you.”
“Tell them you’re my boyfriend.”
“They’ll make you leave.” He was irrational, but I understood.
In the middle of the dark fear I felt for him, there was a giddy spark. He wanted me to stay, to protect him and take care of him. Me. I felt grateful for the weakness that made him dependent on me. I imagined that had been my most selfish moment so far.
“They won’t. I won’t leave you.”
Roe Horvat was born in former Czechoslovakia in a time when everybody wore the same red and blue sweats and free thinking was a risky business. They endured a miserable adolescence in the postcommunist wasteland, mostly observing from afar and dissecting the pointlessness of being. It might have made them sophisticated… or bitchy. Equipped with ample sense of sarcasm, they left the Czech Republic to explore Europe.
Roe lived in Germany and Spain for a while, reinventing their inner sweetheart. Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the landscape vast and freedom great. They work as a motion graphics artist and are the ultimate daiquiri junkie in their spare time. They grow their own strawberries and freeze them in small batches to survive the long and dark Scandinavian winter.
Roe writes to gain control in the chaotic world, saving the lives of their fragile imaginary friends and sharing the love in all shades of the rainbow. Contemporary romance conveniently balances out Roe’s real-life pragmatism. One day, though, they might start time traveling.