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Derrick Hernandez and Tess D’Ovidio have been best friends forever. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for one another. But their childhood bond is put to the test when Tess shows up on Derrick’s porch covered in blood…
Tess has no memory of what happened. She’d gone to a bush party with one of the football players. She remembers the bonfire…and then, nothing. Working backward, Tess and Derrick learn that she and seven other players were the only ones to make it back from the party alive.
During the next few weeks, each of the survivors is plagued with nightmares that reveal fragments of memories from the horrific night. But when the young men start dying under mysterious circumstances, Derrick can’t figure out if Tess is next—or if she’s somehow responsible. All he knows is that he has to save his best friend—or die trying…
Music plays a large role in Blood and Other Matter, so I definitely had to come up with a soundtrack for key scenes, characters, and the general mood of the story. Take a look at this scene from Blood and Other Matter, then check out this exclusive playlist.
Seeing her happy was great and all, but I drew the line when her playlist shifted to songs from animated musicals shortly after crossing into Florida.
“Oh, come on!”
She blocked my hand from reaching the skip button. “It has words and everything!”
“You didn’t think they were stupid when you made me watch this movie every day for a—Unbelievable Skies!”
“Oh, my God!”
This drive would never end. “Tess, I will pay you money, just stop—”
Her voice cracked on a high note, and I gave in, reciting the words in the most irritating monotone I could manage.
Tess shoved my shoulder, but her eyes sparkled.
I upped the ante, infusing every line in “my” part of the song with whatever annoying technique—shouting the lyrics Marine style, introducing accents, or shifting the words around until they said something perverse—I could.
She kept singing through peals of laughter. I might have sung a line or two in earnest by the end, but she’d never been able to prove it.
When my alarm went off, signaling half an hour before moonrise, we parked in a beach lot and headed toward a set of wooden stairs leading toward the ocean. Fishing my keys out of the pocket, I dropped them over the railing
“Were those your car keys?” Tess leaned over the railing. “Derrick! Why would you—”
“Just making sure we can’t go anywhere if SPOILER HAPPENS.” I glanced at the shadowy scrub brushes they’d landed in, barely visible in the dim light coming from the street light above the stairs.
I’d find them, eventually. “Come on.” I kicked off my shoes, grabbed Tess’s hand, and pulled her down the stairs and toward the shoreline, stopping when the edge of the waves licked at our feet.
With a mischievous grin, Tess kicked the freezing water toward me.
“Hey!” I cried, kicking it right back.
She dodged, shrieking, and ran up the shore. Laughing, I followed after her, launching an all-out sand fight, running up and down the beach like the idiot tourists we were.
“I surrender, I surrender,” Tess gasped a few minutes later, out of breath. “God, this is so incredible.” She spread her arms wide, her gesture taking in the whole ocean. “I mean look at this.”
“It’s really dark.”
Another few miles and we’d have made it to the populated strip down the beach, but I didn’t want to risk SPOILER. The twinkling lights from hotels, bars, and the tiny parking lot behind us provided some illumination but not much.
“We could stay here, you know? Find our own little street corner. Set out a hat. Sing our amazing duets. There’s got to be some demand for mangled cartoon lyrics.”
I sputtered a laugh.
“It’s not even a little tempting?” she teased.
“Actually, it kind of is.”
Now she laughed in earnest. “Which part?”
The part where I’m with you. I glanced down at my feet, half buried in the sand.
Obviously “A Whole New World” from Aladdin made it into my playlist along with a few other special animated features. Tess also loves listening to theatrical scores. She explains why in the scene below.
As we moved the futon into the office, her playlist shifted. “Oh, my God,” I groaned, recognizing the score to one of Tess’s favorite movies. “This doesn’t even have words.” Tess shifted her grip on the futon as we moved sideways into the room. “So?” “So?”
I recognized that spark in her eye. Hopeful, almost reveling in the prospect of more familiar banter, I continued. “I never got what you and Ainsley saw in these scores. I’m not saying there’s nothing to respect with instrumental music, but if you’re going to listen to it for hours on end, why not Mozart? Or something classical?”
“Or something impressive enough to be worth your precious time?” Tess mocked, walking backward. “Well, yeah.” We sat the futon down. “What’s the appeal?”
“I don’t have a visual with classical music.” We went back to my room to grab extra bedding and Tess’s stuff. When we walked back into the office, a softer song began. “See there—” She jabbed a finger toward the phone.
“I can tell you exactly what character walked on screen because that’s her song. But it ties in perfectly to this next part, because that’s his song. And the way they twine together?” She grinned, looking more at ease than I’d seen her in weeks.
“It’s like a million little puzzle pieces, only better. They stand apart but put together, they make this big thing and there’s emotion and resonance and imagery. I mean, if I hadn’t seen the movie, this would have no meaning to me. Pretty, but incomplete.”
“It’s part of a bigger picture.” I thought back to my stargazing. “I like the pieces.” She shrugged, throwing a pillow on the futon. “I like the familiarity of them when I hear them in the next song.”
“I get that.”
The score she’s listening to in this scene is How to Train Your Dragon 2. The How to Train Your Dragon series has one of the most amazing scores, for the record. If you haven’t listened to it, you’re missing out.
Of course, not every scene involving music was quite as happy-go-lucky. Blood and Other Matter is, after all, a horror story.