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“Well,” she said, giving me her full attention. “This particular interview went rather well, didn’t it? I think you did an amazing job.”

“Thank you.” I feigned a smile. “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to sign the books and go home. Can we bypass the extra photos thing?”

“I’m ten steps ahead of you.” She placed a bag on the table. “Here are the books and there’s a pen inside. Are you still up for a dinner with readers tomorrow?”


“Great. I’ll go tell them we’re leaving shortly and be right back.”

As she left, my phone vibrated against my thigh. My heart stopped.


I unlocked the screen and opened my email app.

Not Jake.

Not even close.

It was Ben.

Subject: Fate.

I know that your book is really about us. You didn’t have to make me a pilot to make it more interesting. A stockbroker is just as impressive. I’m here for you and I will take better care when we get back together. I want to take you out for dinner sometime this month. Can you wear the dress I prefer this time, though? It’s only fair, since you want me just as much as I want you.





Pittsburgh (PIT)—> Salt Lake City (SLC)

Another interview came to an end, another stack of books quickly signed, and another bouquet of flowers were placed into my hands three days later. This time though, I didn’t sit in the green room to kill time. I headed straight to a waiting town car, prepared to sleep more thoughts of Jake away.

As soon as I slipped into the backseat, my phone rang. My mother.

“Yeah?” I answered, not bothering to say hello.

“Did any of this come about because we didn’t give you enough attention, Gillian?” My mother’s voice came over the line as I stepped into the green room. “Is that why you felt the need to lie to us about quitting your job and hiding this novel business?”

“It was never about any of you,” I said flatly. “Everything can’t always be about you, you know.”

“If you’d gone to MIT, I wonder if any of this would’ve happened.”

I bit my lip, trying to hold in my anger. To my surprise, my family were stunned by the release of the book, but not in a good way. It didn’t matter that I’d accomplished something none of them had done. It was “mindless writing,” “words that could’ve been put to better use in a research setting.” It still wasn’t good enough. I still wasn’t good enough.

“Your father and I are going to fly up to see you for lunch next month. We want to discuss the best way to attack this head on. We need to figure out a way to field questions our colleagues have about your...Your book.”

“You know what?” I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “Don’t bother coming to visit me. Ever. Until you and everyone else in the family gets your heads out of your asses. I published two books. Two. And instead of having relatives who say, “Congratulations, we’re proud of you.” You still manage to make me feel like a disappointment.”

“Gillian, I’m impressed with all you’ve done, I’m just trying to make a connection with you.”

“I’ll send you my signing schedule. If you want to see me, buy a ticket...Since none of you have even bought a book yet, that would be nice, I think.” I hung up before she could say anything else.

My phone immediately vibrated and I saw that she’d sent me a text.

Mom: I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you...Not at a signing though. One on one. So I can apologize in person. So we **all** can apologize in person...

I started to text her “No thanks,” but another text from her came through. A series of pictures of my sisters, my brother, and she and my father holding my book.

I stared at the pictures for several minutes, failing to hold back tears because I didn’t want to believe that the pictures were real.

Me: I would like that very much...



New York (JFK)

I stepped off the elevator at my condo, ready to get some sleep after a particularly long flight, but my cell phone rang before I could open my door. Unknown number.

“Who is this?” I answered.

“Is this Mr. Weston?” It was a male voice.

“Depends on who’s calling.”

“This is Dr. Armin from Infinity Assisted Living. Is right now a bad time?”

“No.” I swallowed, fearing the worst.

“Great. I was actually calling because—”

“Are you calling my Jake?” My mother’s voice was in the background. “I’ve told you to stay the hell out of my room unless he’s with you. I don’t trust you or your staff, and I swear to God if you’re talking to someone other than Jake right now, I will make sure he sues you for malpractice.”

“Mr. Weston.” The doctor sighed. “Are you by chance close enough to get to Newark right now?”

I hung up and took the elevator downstairs, catching my car before the valet could put it away.

I sped toward New Jersey, toward the care facility, without a second thought, nearly getting in several accidents along the way.

When I arrived, I didn’t stop at the visitor’s desk. I walked right by the receptionist, giving her a look that dared her to get in my way. As I approached my mother’s room, I hoped she’d still have a few more minutes, that I hadn’t missed her in that state yet again.