Author’s note

State of Love & Trust - review

State of Love & Trust, a novel by Grace Ombry

I’m serializing the first 10% of State of Love & Trust here on my blog. It’s a story about Pearl Jam fans in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Corktown.

Begin with the first installment. This post is #4 in the series.


Chapter 3 – Pilate – “Saint” (part 1)

Ellie – Detroit, Mich. – Friday, June 30, 2006

Saint caught me dangling his codpiece over the kitchen wastebasket. He stomped in and snatched it from my hand. “You wouldn’t dare.” He half smiled, clutching it to his chest.

“Yeah, actually I would.”

“Harsh. You know I need it.” His round eyes were all innocence. “You were really gonna toss it?”

“Yup. Don’t leave it on my counter again. Man, that’s just gross.”

“Sorry. I only set it there for a second.”

“One second too long, friend.”

He was only twenty-one, but c’mon. A codpiece. On my counter. That’s just … ew. If he was ever going to work out as our roomie, I had to get him trained. Pronto.

He strapped the leather piece over his skinny jeans. It was a weirdly intimate process to watch so I made a point of looking at Reece’s collection of Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings refrigerator magnets. Saint buckled on thick leather arm guards and a wide, studded collar then yanked open the door and pounded down the back steps without another word. I didn’t get how he could love a dog that he needed to armor up against.

I one-hundred percent hated Tremor Christ already. Sure, the Rottweiler/pit mix was named after a truly great song and I could respect that. But the admiration stopped there. The dog was a hundred and fifty pounds of muscle and teeth, with yellow eyes far too wise for a creature I might need to outsmart. Rescued from a kill shelter after three or four failed re-homing attempts, he was more of a wild beast that could momentarily pretend to be tame than he was a pet.

I peeled carrots at the sink, the window providing a decent view. I shoved it open, letting in the soft summer air and the scent of warm grass. All the commands Saint used were in German. Sitz, platz, hol, aus, packen, nein, varous.Everything. He’d told me there were two good reasons he trained Tremor Christ in German: it sounded more forceful than English, and it prevented strangers from commanding the dog.

That didn’t seem like the greatest idea to me. I’d flunked German before I dropped out of high school. If I ever had to command Tremor Christ what would I do? I’d probably panic and say gesundheit. Volkswagen. Tannenbaum. Heil Hitler.

Face it. If that dog ever got loose, I’d be screwed.

I never went out to my bus after the dog took over the yard. He was always chained, sure, but I didn’t trust him. Not after what he did to Judas, the neighbor’s yellow tabby. Oh, Reece thought it was real funny about their names. But there had been fur and guts all over the chain link fence, blood spattered on the side of my bus, and Judas’s ear stuck to the step on the deck. That rescued monster of Saint’s was pure evil.

Saint had apologized to the neighbors and even offered to buy them a kitten, but the whole incident burnished our white trash reputation on our street of tightly packed old houses.

Every time I stood peeling vegetables or washing dishes while Saint worked with Tremor Christ, his thoughtless courage floored me. This might be it, the time the dog didn’t obey him. The time an ambulance would come to take Saint away, sirens silenced.

I left cold water gushing from the tap while Saint held his arm high and commanded the dog to packen. Tremor Christ jumped and clamped his massive jaw on Saint’s leather arm guard. No matter how many times I witnessed this exercise, I’d almost pee my pants.

Reece squeezed my hips from behind, his lips and razor stubble tickling my neck. “What’s for dessert, sugar?” It wasn’t a question. Dinner wasn’t even on the stove yet.

Saint threw this week’s woobie for Tremor Christ. It was a sock monkey I’d picked up at a rummage sale for him a few days earlier. Already it was torn and filthy, spinning lazy circles through the air. Tremor Christ loped after it over our carpet of dandelions, jumped skyward and snatched it in his teeth. He shook it hard.

“Phooey,” Saint commanded the dog. At least, it sounded like phooey to me. Tremor Christ released the limp monkey atop Saint’s boots.

I’d have to try to remember that command.

“He’s such a freak,” Reece said.

“What do you mean?”

“Just look at him. Studded collar. A fucking codpiece? Get real.”

Reece took my hands out of the sink and kissed them. They were dripping wet and covered in bits of carrot peelings. The orange specks clung to his chin. I let him lead me away from the window, from the kitchen, from Saint.


Stay tuned for the next installment of State of Love & Trust!

Can’t wait?

State of Love & Trust is available in print through and Barnes & Noble.

Kindle or eBook editions can be downloaded at these fine purveyors of books.

Spotify playlist for Stae of Love & Trust


State of Love & Trust. Copyright 2016 © Grace Ombry. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form what­soever without the written permission of the author.

Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash