April 2nd, 2014

“Do you have everything?” Jamie asked, biting her nails as she stood in the foyer of my parents’ house. Her beautiful blue doe eyes smiled my way, reminding me how lucky I was to call her mine.

I walked over and wrapped my arms around her, pulling her petite body closer to mine. “Yup. I think this is it, babe. I think this is our moment.”

Her hands draped around my neck, and she kissed me. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Of us,” I corrected her. After a few too many years of being wishers and dreamers, my goal of building and selling my handcrafted furniture pieces was coming to life. My father was my best friend and business partner, and we were both on our way to New York to meet with a few businessmen who had showed a big interest in partnering with the two of us. “Without you supporting me, I would be nothing. This is our chance at getting everything we ever dreamed of.”

She kissed me again.

I’d never known I could love someone so much.

“Before you go, I think you should know I got a call from Charlie’s teacher. He got in a little trouble at school again, which isn’t surprising seeing as how he takes after his father so much.”

I smirked. “What did he do this time?”

“Mrs. Harper said he told a girl who was making fun of his glasses that he hoped she would choke on a toad because she looks like a toad. Choke on a toad—can you believe that?”

“Charlie!” I called toward the living room. He came walking out with a book in his hands. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, which I knew it had to do with the bullying.

“Yeah, Dad?”

“Did you tell a girl she should choke on a frog?”

“Yes,” he said matter-of-factly. For an eight-year-old, he seemed to have surprisingly little concern about his parents getting upset with him.

“Buddy, you can’t say things like that.”

He replied, “But she looks like a freakin’ toad, Dad!”

I had to turn away to laugh. “Come give me a hug, dude.” He hugged me tight. I dreaded the days when hugging his old man would be something he wasn’t interested in. “You be good for your mom and your grandma while I’m gone, all right?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“And put your glasses back on while you’re reading.”

“Why?! They are stupid!”

I bent down and tapped his nose. “Real men wear glasses.”

“You don’t wear glasses!” he whined.

“Yeah, well, real men don’t wear glasses too. Just put on those glasses, buddy,” I said. He grumbled before running off to continue reading his novel. The fact that he was more into reading than video games made me pretty damn happy. I knew he got his love of reading from his mom the librarian, but I still liked to think that my reading to her stomach before he was born had something to do with his love of books.

“What’s the plan for you guys today?” I asked Jamie.

“This afternoon we are going to the farmer’s market. Your mother wants to get some new flowers. She’s probably going to buy Charlie something he doesn’t need too. Oh, and Zeus chewed your favorite pair of Nikes, so I’m going to track down a new pair for you.”

“God! Whose idea was it to get a dog anyway?”

She laughed. “I blame you for this. I didn’t even want a dog, but you didn’t know how to say no to Charlie. You and your mother have a lot in common.” She kissed me again before pulling up the handle of my luggage. “Have a great trip, and go make our dreams come true.”

I laid my lips against hers and smiled. “When I come home, I’m building you your dream library. With tall ladders and everything. And then I’m going to make love to you somewhere between The Odyssey and To Kill a Mockingbird.”

She bit her bottom lip. “Promise?” she asked.


“Call me when your plane lands, okay?”

I nodded in agreement as I walked out of the house to meet Dad, who was already waiting in the taxicab for me.

“Hey, Tristan!” Jamie called toward me as I was loading the luggage into the trunk of the car. Charlie was standing beside her.


They cupped their hands around their mouths and shouted, “WE LOVE YOU!”

I smiled and yelled the same thing back to them.

On the plane ride, Dad kept talking about what a big opportunity this was for us. When we touched down in Detroit for our layover, we both turned on our cell phones to check our emails and text Jamie and Mom to let them know we were okay.

When our phones turned on and we each had tons of messages from Mom, I knew something was wrong. The messages made my gut turn inside me. I almost dropped my phone from my fingers as I read.

Mom: There was an accident. Jamie and Charlie are in bad shape.

Mom: Come home.

Mom: Hurry!!

In the blink of an eye, in one moment’s time, everything I knew about life changed.

Chapter One


July 3rd, 2015

Each morning I read love letters written for another woman. She and I had much in common, from our chocolate eyes to the blonde tone of our hair. We shared the same kind of laugh that was quiet, yet grew loud in the company of the ones we loved. She smiled out of the right corner of her mouth and frowned out of the left, the same way my lips did.

I found the letters abandoned in the garbage can, resting inside a heart-shaped tin box. Hundreds of notes, some long, some short, some happy, others heartbreakingly sad. The dates of the letters went far back in years, some older than my entire existence on this earth. Some letters were initialed KB, others, HB.