Not everyone will grieve in this order, nor will everyone go through every stage. It’s during the stage of denial when Alex Hart meets Andrew Foster. He takes her one-step closer to acceptance: the stage when new, meaningful relationships are formed. The stage when the realization occurs that this is now the new state of normal.
Just when Alex thinks she is on her way to healing, she enters the bargaining phase. That’s the phase where you wonder what you could have done differently. You wonder “what if?” Specifically, what if the ones you loved hadn’t left you?
Leaving…this is what makes heading off to war so difficult and frightening for Alex. She knows all too well what it’s like to be the one on the losing end of life, which is why she’s made it her personal mission in life to save as many lives as possible. The extreme high she gets from treating trauma victims turns into Alex’s own form of therapy, or so she thinks.
When faced with her world being turned upside down, Alex may just find that her true therapy is in the one who has always saved her.
He shakes his head. “No.”
I glance into his brown eyes. “You want me to do this one?”
“What if I mess this one up?” I reach down and pick it up. “Like the whole bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full count, two outs…”
He smiles. “I guess we’re about to find out how you do under pressure.”
I don’t care about the stone. I don’t care if I can skip it, or not. I just want to kiss him again. “You made the game up…”
“I did,” he quips proudly.
“Then you can change the rules.”
“No matter what, I get another kiss. Either way it’s a prize.” I shrug.
“Ha. A prize either way. What’s your reasoning?” He chuckles.
“Either the prize for winning…skipping a stone, or a consolation prize for choking.”
“Deal.” He moves back and plops into the overgrown weeds. I’d call it grass, but I’m not sure I see any blades of grass. It’s mainly clover, wild onions, and dandelions. “How about if I give you a bigger kiss if you do it? That way you still have some incentive to do your best.”
I glance back over my shoulder. “Deal.”
I replay the instructions he gave me earlier. I turn so that my side is facing the water. I put the stone just right in my fingers. I look back to him, holding my hand out. “Like this?”
As my head turns, I freeze because it’s not Drew sitting in the field. It’s my father. As if freezing and not moving will make this real. It has to be a figment of my imagination. Our eyes are locked and he smiles as he gives me a thumbs up.
I feel a tear trickle down my face. I’m paralyzed, unable to move.
J.B. McGee was born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina. After graduating from South Aiken High School, she toured Europe as a member of the 1999 International Bands of America Tour, playing the clarinet. While attending Converse College, an all-girls school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, she visited Charleston often. It quickly became one of her favorite vacation spots. She met her husband, Chad, during Christmas break her freshman year, and they married in 2001 and she moved back to her home town.
In 2005, the couple welcomed their first son, Noah. J.B. finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2006. During her time studying children’s literature, a professor had encouraged her to become a writer.
In 2007, she welcomed their second child, Jonah, and she became a stay at home mom/entrepreneur. In 2009, the found out their two children and J.B. have Mitochondrial Disease. In 2011, a diagnosis also was given to Chad. Please take a moment and learn more about Mitochondrial Disease. Awareness is key to this disease that has no cure or treatments.