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Twenty-seven year old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband.
Her life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a haunting secret Ray Sherman carried home from Afghanistan comes to light.
Hounded by a federal investigation and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Carrie and Ray desperately lean on each other, until a disastrous accident puts both Ray and her sister's lives at risk.
In the last hour, Carrie and Ray will each find themselves faced with a choice.
A choice that will change everything.
GiveawayLife is cheap (Ray)Sarah and I had to squeeze in between the people on the crowded elevator to get in behind Jessica and Carrie. There’s something just freakishly unnerving about touching people when they don’t know you’re there. It made me want to puke. If I even could puke in this state. And watching Carrie, holding Jessica’s hand with that deadly serious expression on her face … I’d have done anything to be able to touch her. To make her understand I was still here. To tell her everything was going to be okay.
Somehow, though, I didn’t think that was true.
Just as the elevator doors closed, I saw the strangest thing. A little boy, halfway down the hall to the emergency room. He was young, maybe eight or ten, and wore a Spider-Man t-shirt and a cap turned halfway to his shoulder. He was looking around, lost, confused, and then a nurse walked right through him. I almost jumped out of the elevator, but the doors closed and he was gone.
It was frightening.
Sarah, on the other hand, was beyond ridiculous. Riding on the elevator in front of her was a buff looking EMT in his early twenties. About six feet compared to her five foot two, he nearly hid her from me with his bulked up shoulders and his neck that looked like a tree trunk. This guy seriously worked out. He looked like he hadn’t shaved, and he’d been up a long time. His eyes were drooping, dark circles underneath them, and he leaned against the side of the elevator as if he would just go to sleep.
“Hey, Ray, check this out,” Sarah said. Then my mouth dropped open because she reached her arms around him, putting her tiny hands on his ample pecs.
“Sarah, knock it off,” I said.
She took that as a challenge, pressing herself up against him. Even though I’m a hell of a lot older than she is, and I’m married to her sister, I’d be inhuman to not admit that she’s one very sexy girl, more so in that red dress than in her usual pseudo punk outfit. She grinned at me, stood on her tiptoes, then opened her mouth and slid her tongue up the side of his neck.
“Oh, for God’s sake! Sarah!”
The guy twitched, his eyes opening up. There’s no way he felt anything. But he seemed to react anyway.
She dissolved into snickering and backed away from him. “Have a sense of humor.” She wiggled her eyebrows at me, and said, “There are definite advantages to this nearly dead thing.”
I breathed a sigh of relief when the elevator doors slid open and we stepped out behind Carrie and Jessica.
“Sarah, you can’t do that stuff. Just because we’re ... whatever we are … I mean…”
She turned toward me, so suddenly I stopped in my tracks.
“Don’t you tell me what I can or can’t do. For all you know we’re both dead. What the hell happens after this? I don’t know. You don’t know. So just leave me alone!” Her voice rose to a shout at the end.
I grimaced. “Sarah ... we’re going to be fine. Both of us.”
She shook her head. “You don’t know that. You don’t know anything. What I know is I’m fucking pissed. I’m not even eighteen years old yet. And it’d be nice to get a chance to have a life.”
A flash of anger ran through me. Anger about Weber and Roberts and Kowalski and all the others we lost. Anger at this spoiled rich girl who somehow thought her life was better or more valuable than theirs. Totally misplaced and wrong, but there it was.
“Sometimes we don’t get that chance,” I said. “You want to hear the truth? Well, here it is: you’re right. I don’t know shit. I know I’ve seen close friends blown all to hell. I’ve seen people I cared about with their lives ripped to shreds from bullets and bombs, and the survivors turn on each other like fucking rabid dogs. Life is cheap, Sarah. So maybe it’s over. We had our chance.”
She backed away from me as I spoke, her eyes avoiding mine. Finally she just turned and started to walk away, following behind Jessica and Carrie.
“Sarah!” I called.
She ignored me, so I called louder, “Sarah, I’m sorry.”
She stopped, then finally turned around, and looked at me. Her eyes were cold. “Just because you’ve been in a war doesn’t mean you’ve got a monopoly on shitty situations. And this is a shitty situation. So back to what I said before—don’t tell me what to do.”
With that, she turned back around, the skirt of her dress swirling as she turned and walked away.
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About the author
Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future. Author's
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