“When Latimer arrives at his local orphanage to adopt a child, he has no idea of the chain reaction his actions will cause. Rocco is the most innocent boy he’s ever met, in desperate need of love and attention. At seventeen he’s older than the child he had planned to adopt, but he doesn’t care. He can’t resist those eyes; the eyes that are so like his husband Beau’s, who died five years earlier. It’s too much for his grief-stricken heart to take. There’s no way he can turn his back on Rocco.
His two son, Dominic and Chandler, adopted many years ago, agree with him. Rocco was meant to be part of their family. Rocco being gay isn’t something they’re worried about, but being young, innocent and naïve is. When Dominic’s best friend Donny returns from a trip abroad and takes an instant shine to Rocco, and Rocco to Donny, it’s suddenly very clear that nothing will ever be the same again.
Can they find a way to live with a boy who is mute and deaf? A boy who has never been taught the basic skills of life; who has been mistreated, unloved and uncared for over the last seventeen years? Can they find a way to let him have his independence without letting him get hurt?”
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the book, when Rocco first meets Dominic, who will soon become his adopted brother.
“Dominic let his father and brother leave the room before approaching the young boy they had agreed to adopt. He walked over quietly, patient and cautious. He didn’t want to spook him, but he also didn’t want to appear as if he was afraid to be close to him.
He sat on the floor on the right side of the boy, bent his knees and lay his arms over them for a moment. He could see that he was reading a book, some paperback that had his undivided attention. He barely registered his presence, so Dominic reached behind him to the book case. His shoulder bag, left over from his voluntary work that morning, tugged as he twisted. He lifted it up over his head and lay it beside him so that he could get comfortable. He noticed a glance in his direction, but the boy didn’t speak. He decided to be direct.
“My name is Dominic. What’s yours?” He asked, not in the least surprised that he got no reply. He hadn’t honestly expected one. “I’m here with my father and my brother. We’re hoping to adopt you and take you home to live with us. Is that something you’d like?” He wondered, keeping an eye on him. The boy was staring at him openly now, with a small, uncertain frown.
“Dominic.” He spoke slowly, pointing to himself in case he could read lips. There was a trace of understanding, but it was still overshadowed with confusion so he tried again. He used sign language, spelling the letters of his name so that there was no mistaking his meaning. The boy’s gaze flitted between his hands and his face, but there was no confusion any more. “We want to adopt you. Would you like a new home?” He asked, signing and speaking at the same time.
To his total surprise, the kid lifted one hand from his book and started signing fluidly. He was so fast that it was difficult to keep up with what he was saying. Dominic said a silent thanks for knowing sign language so well. He volunteered at his high school teaching deaf kids and his best friend had been deaf in one ear his whole life.
“Would it be a new home I get to stay in? Would I have to come back?” He asked a flurry of questions with his hand. Dominic knew he missed a few, but he caught the main points.
“Yes, a new home.” He signed with both hands. “It’s a big house, with a swimming pool. You would have your own room and as many books as you wanted.” He told him, turning and reaching into his satchel bag for his tablet computer. He often used the program on it to translate his speech to sign language when he was volunteering. It had a handy little feature that allowed him to film someone using high speed signing, as he liked to think of it, and have the translated words appear on the screen.
The most vital part of all was that it was an e-reader. As soon as he switched it on the boy shuffled closer and looked over his shoulder. He had to balance it on his raised knees to free up his hands for signing.
“This is how I read books. I can store so many books on it that it would fill this entire room. What’s your favourite story?” He asked, hoping he had it so that he could hand it over. The boy pointed to the book in his hands.
Dominic reached across and gestured to touch the book, since he wasn’t sure what was allowed. The boy nodded his permission, so he pulled the cover closed to see the title. It was a surprising choice for someone who seemed so gentle and childlike. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ was one of his favourite novels of all time.
“I have that.” He signed with a smile. He tapped the ‘Books’ tab on the tablet and opened up the novel that he had read barely two weeks ago, for the millionth time. He showed it to the boy, letting him see the cover page and watched his eyes widen in joy and surprise. He handed the tablet over. The boy took it tentatively, dismissing the paperback entirely.
Dominic reached out and swiped his finger over the screen to turn the page. He smiled when he saw the boy’s reaction to the illustration that came up. A faint smile twitched at his lips as he leaned in close to the screen. He tried to copy him, by touching his finger to the screen and swiping it but he was too quick and not putting enough pressure on the surface. Dominic showed him again, holding his long finger in his grip to show him how hard to press and how slowly to move. Again, the boy tried again and managed to turn the page, beaming in pride.
Dominic touched his fingertip to the bottom of the boy’s chin and gently encouraged him to look up. When he did, he let go and signed to him.
“I’m Dominic. What’s your name?” He signed, hoping that now that he’d captured his attention they could have a conversation or at least open up a line of communication between them.
“Rocco.” He signed back quickly.
“It’s nice to meet you Rocco.” He smiled at him. Rocco smiled back, his eyes wary but full of delight and wonder.
“You’re Dominic.” He said, as if to make sure that he was right.
“Yes.” He knocked his hand in the affirmative. Then, suddenly, Rocco nudged over until he was sitting right next to him, so close that their hips and shoulders touched just faintly. A head dropped onto his shoulder and curious eyes turned to the book open on the tablet.
Dominic smiled to himself. He’d made a friend, and it seemed like Rocco was more than happy to be adopted by his father and become his brother. They had a way of communicating with a boy they’d been told was mute and unresponsive. And the best part was that it seemed by breaking that barrier of silence and offering him a solid future he had created some kind of bond or connection between them. One that Rocco trusted and accepted.”