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About the Type

This book was set in Adobe Caslon Pro. A long running serif font first designed by William Caslon in 1722 and used extensively throughout the British Empire in the early eighteen century. It was used widely in the early days of the American Colonies and was the font used for the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

ON THE EDGE OF TOMORROW Copyright Š 2017 BHC Press All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2017933092

ISBN: 978-1-947727-19-9 Visit the publisher at: www.bhcpress.com Also available in hardcover and ebook


contents

9

139

emerald barnes

sara daniell

love in death

so, it ends here

51

155

elise manion

Landen west

a sister's love

twelve months

75

183

tracy hewitt meyer

margaret nerz iribarne

tender is the deception

puppets

87

john darryl winston

caytlyn brooke

and then i blinked

the paternal order of dominic

127

217

jean booth

about the authors

trial

203


It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ E.E. Cummings ~


This preview contains the first two chapters of Love in Death by Emerald Barnes


arnes

db emeral

love in death

1 Charity I SLAMMED THE door to my locker, and the metal clanged loudly through the empty hallway. I was late, but I didn’t care. I didn’t even want to be here, though my mom had forced me out the door. If I missed one more day, I’d get detention or something. I wasn’t paying attention when they scolded me for missing so many days. I hated this freaking place. “Whoa there,” came a voice from behind me. I spun around to see Gabe watching me. I rolled my eyes and walked down the hallway. “You all right this morning, Charity?” “Yeah. Fine.” His shoes squeaked on the floor as he hurried toward me. “Did you do last night’s Algebra work?” “Nope.” 9


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“Come on, Charity. You’re gonna fail if you don’t start trying.” I rolled my eyes. “What’s it matter to you?” “It doesn’t really. I just thought it’d matter to you.” I was doing well enough to pass. That was all that mattered. He needed to keep his mouth shut if he knew what was good for him. “Why are you even out of class right now, Gabe?” “Had to run to the office for Mrs. Smith.” Of course. Teacher’s pet. I rolled my eyes and kept walking. He followed me to Mrs. Smith’s room for Algebra II. “Miss Dalton. It’s good of you to join us,” Mrs. Smith commented as we walked through the door. She took the hall pass from Gabe as I walked to my seat in the back with my head down. I didn’t acknowledge her. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to get through this day in one piece and without any tears. Mrs. Smith walked to the board without saying anything else to me, and for that, I was grateful. She wrote an equation on the board, and I zoned out. I didn’t think that trying to find an imaginary number would actually help me in life. My thoughts wandered back to my father. He loved math. He was good at it, and he was the only one who could explain it to me in a way that I understood. Why had God let him die? My mother and I had spent hours praying for him, and God let us down. He didn’t care about us. He didn’t care about my father. If he had, he would have let him live. “Miss Dalton, can you tell me the answer?” “No.” She exhaled loudly, and everyone turned in their seats to face me. I could see it in their eyes. Pity mixed with confusion mixed with just a hint of disdain. I had changed. A lot. I knew that, and I didn’t care. I didn’t care what they thought of me. Nothing mattered without Daddy.


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Gabe rolled his eyes, and out of everyone, he knew the full story. He knew exactly how much I had changed. He also knew how much I loved my father. “Miss Dalton, see me after class.” A chorus of “ooh” followed her demand. I didn’t know what Mrs. Smith wanted to say to me, but I was sure if I was in trouble again, Mom would ground me for life. As soon as class ended, I waited for everyone to clear out. Gabe waited around until he was the last one out of the classroom, and with one final look, he walked out of the door. It wouldn’t be long before he gave up on me completely. Then I’d lose him too. Before I could pack up my things and meet Mrs. Smith at the front of the room, she sauntered down the aisle toward me; her large hips narrowly missing each desk as she passed them by. Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a bun, and her red glasses sat on the edge of her sharp nose. Her green eyes considered me, and I could tell exactly what she was going to say before she said it. “Miss Dalton.” Her voice was sweet but stern. “I know it isn’t easy losing a loved one. I lost my mother a few years back, and it was extremely difficult. If I had lost her at seventeen, I couldn’t have handled the pressure either, but your father would want you to excel at school. I knew him. He was a good man.” I hated that phrase. He was a good man. Of course he was a good man. He was my daddy. What else would he be? Besides that, I couldn’t argue her point. Daddy would have wanted me to excel at school. He had high hopes for me, but everything changed after the diagnosis. I only wanted him to be well, but it didn’t happen. Now I was doomed to a life without my father. “Yeah. He was.” “And he wouldn’t want you to be this way. You’ve basically given up. You are nearly failing your classes, only skirting by, and you’ve quit softball. Charity, how much longer do you think your teachers giving


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you a pass will last? Eventually, we’ll have to fail you, and you will have to repeat your junior year.” I stood. “I’ll take my chances.” I grabbed my bag and rushed out of the door. I heard her calling after me, but I didn’t stop. Mom was going to kill me if Mrs. Smith wrote me up, but since she tried to talk to me first, I doubt she was going to. At least for a little while. I still had some time. Gabe leaned against my locker, his hazel eyes watching my every step. “What did she say?” he asked, unmoving. He pushed his hand through the mop of blond curls on his head. Behind his black-rimmed glasses, his eyes were narrowed at me. “She told me that I’d fail my junior year if my teachers got tired of my attitude.” “I told you.” “I know. Move.” He slid over and leaned against the locker beside mine. I opened the door, grabbed the book for my next class, and slammed it shut. “Charity, listen. I can help you catch up. We’ll talk to your teachers and see if they can give you some extra-curricular work.” “Why do you care, Gabe?” “Because at one point, we were best friends.” I tried not to let on that that hurt me. “I’m a lost cause. You might as well get used to the fact that our plans are no longer gonna happen.” Gabe leaned close to me and whispered, “I’m not giving up on you so easily.” He walked away, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to punch him in the face.


love in death

13

2 Charity “CHARITY, WHAT WERE you thinking?” Mom asked, exasperation in her voice. I didn’t answer her, keeping my gaze on the television’s evening talk show instead. I wasn’t actually watching it, but I didn’t want her to know that. “Charity, answer me.” “What?” She turned the television off and stood in front of me. “What were you thinking when you told your English teacher to back off?” “He was badgering me.” “Yeah, and now you have detention for two days. It could be a lot worse!” She threw her hands up in the air. Her blue scrubs rose up, showing off a little of her stomach. She was slim and had gotten even slimmer since Daddy died. Her blonde hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, and she wasn’t wearing much makeup. She was gorgeous, but she looked older than her thirty-five years. “I’ve had a long day, Charity. I don’t feel like putting up with your attitude.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “I didn’t ask you to.” “Go to your room.” I looked up at her and rolled my eyes. “Go,” she demanded, placing her hands on her hips. I stood and faced her. “Fine.” I threw down the remote and stomped as loudly as I could just to irritate her on my way down the hallway and into my room. I slammed the door shut and threw myself on my bed. I turned on some music I knew she would hate and blasted it.


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Mom beat on my door. “Turn that music off, Charity Marie Dalton! Right now!” I pretended that I didn’t hear her and left it on. “Charity!” Again, I didn’t respond, and she continued to beat on my door. She pushed it open and walked into my room, switching off the music. She pulled the phone from the dock and slipped it into her pocket. “You’ll get this back in a week.” “A week? Mom!” She touched her fingers to her forehead and closed her eyes. “I’m done, Charity. I can’t keep this up any longer.” It felt like someone gripped my stomach and squeezed. I hadn’t meant to push my mom to her breaking point, but I was already at mine. Would she leave me too? “I don’t know what you want from me. I miss him too, you know, but life goes on, and we have to move with it. It sucks, but that’s life. I cannot keep you from grieving, but my gosh, Charity, you have to ease up. Grieve in a different way. Is this the path you really want to go down? What matters to you, Charity?” Tears rolled down my cheeks. Why was she being so mean? It wasn’t like it mattered if I was this perfect little girl. I had never been perfect. I’d been the quintessential party girl—or so Gabe said. I drank on the weekends, and I partied with my friends. Now, I partied some, but I mostly drowned my feelings in alcohol every weekend. I was pretending it didn’t happen, but we all knew it did. She was crying as well, and it took everything within me not to throw my arms around her neck and let her hold me like she did when I was just a kid. “Nothing matters to me anymore, Mom. Nothing.” The pain in her eyes was evident, and I knew the mistake I had made. I had just said that she didn’t matter to me. Which wasn’t true.


love in death

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“I didn’t mean that you…” I tried to apologize. “Whatever, Charity. I’ve got work. Do whatever you like. Obviously, I can’t stop you.” She walked down the hallway and into the living room. I heard her shuffling around, then the door closed shut, leaving me alone to my thoughts and actions. I felt horrible. I shouldn’t have said what I did, but that’s how it felt to me. It felt like nothing else mattered in this life without Daddy. How could I survive without his constant love and support? I needed both of my parents, and now, part of me was missing. I pulled my pillow close to me and snuggled it as I cried.

“WAKE UP, CHARITY.” I growled at whoever was shaking me, trying to wake me. “Come on, Chare. Wake up.” Dad. Was that dad? Why was he waking me up? I mumbled, “Not yet,” at him. “Are you okay?” Was that Gabe? It couldn’t be. Dad was waking me up. “Dad?” I sat up to see Gabe staring at me. Disappointment punched me in the gut. “Oh. It’s just you.” “Yeah. Just me. Just your best friend. Are you all right?” I ignored the hurt look on his face. I seemed to be doing that to everyone I cared about lately. “Why wouldn’t I be?” I shot back at him, rolling over. “Mom called me and told me about the fight you had with your mom.” Leave it to our moms to discuss the fight we just had. “And…?” “And I wanted to make sure you were okay. We are friends.” “Why do you keep saying that? I know we’re friends.”


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He pushed on my leg to urge me to move over, and he sat beside me on the bed. I faced him again, and he watched me as he mulled over what he was about to say next. Dread set in, and I really didn’t want to fight with someone else I loved. It was wearing me thin. Despite my reservations, I felt like I really needed Gabe. I needed some sort of rock, and he was it. “Chare, I feel like we’re drifting apart, like you don’t want to be my friend anymore. I think you’ve forgotten that you still have family and friends who are alive.” He might as well have slapped me. “I haven’t forgotten that.” “Are you sure? When your dad died, you pushed us all away, content to live in your little fantasy world where you dad wasn’t gone or at the end of a bottle. That isn’t life, Charity.” “What are you talking about? I know Dad is dead, Gabe. I know he’s never coming back!” I practically yelled at him. Why couldn’t he understand that I couldn’t imagine life without my daddy, that it all seemed pointless? Why couldn’t he understand that I was hurting? “But you have us,” he said, his voice still, quiet and sincere. “We didn’t die along with him. Let us help you.” I clammed up at his words. “I don’t need your help.” I crossed my arms over my chest and stared ahead at the picture of my dad and me that was sitting on my dresser. I was around six in the picture, and we were on the beach. Dad was lifting me above his head, spinning me around. I was laughing and so was Daddy. I wanted to go back to those days, to that beach. I wanted to be wrapped in Daddy’s arms one more time. Gabe stood. “That’s where I think you’re wrong.” He didn’t wait for my response, which was fine by me. I didn’t know what to say anyway. I was doing just fine. Gabe walked away, and a few minutes later, he was gone, shutting the front door behind him. And I—I reached for the half empty bottle of Jack underneath my bed.


about the authors

Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. jean booth was born in the sweltering Vegas desert. She moved about during her childhood until returning to her roots in Northern Nevada. She's happily married with nine cats as her children. Her greatest escapes are the stories found in books, and the ones in her head that she's decided to share. caytlyn brooke is an award-winning author who lives in Elmira, NY with her husband Daniel, her son, Jack, and her orange tabby cat, Ana who is only slightly overweight. She can quote any Disney movie and believes that everyone should wear polka dots. Sara daniell is a wife, mother, and bestselling author who spends her days teaching children and her nights loving her family, and finding time to immerse herself into her two creative passions. In her free time she not only writes unique and amazing stories, she also takes breathtaking pictures that capture her creative nature in color just like her writing captures her creative nature in print. margaret nerz iribarne is a writer and educator in Syracuse, New York.


Elise manion lives in northern Nevada with her husband of twenty-three years and Franklin the Weenie Dog. She’s worked in many different industries from retail to real estate. But with a passion for reading, especially silly little love stories, it was a logical step to try her hand at spinning a good yarn. tracy hewitt meyer is an award-winning author of young adult fiction. She has a B.A. in English and a Master of Social Work, but her true passion lies in the reading and writing of books. Tracy lives in the mid-Atlantic region with her family, and spends far too much time lost in her daydreams. john darryl winston is the author of the IA series and a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit, Wayne State University, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and received his MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, and many others. Winston currently lives with his daughter, Marquette, in Michigan and intends to acquire an African Grey parrot one day when he conquers his irrational fear of birds.


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