Since One for the Road releases on THURSDAY, I thought today would be a good chance to share a sneak peek at chapter 1 with you. Meet Max. --- St. Jack’s Bay was the last place Max wanted to be. In fact, when he left it behind ten years before, he’d sworn on every grave in town that he’d never be back. Unfortunately, life made a liar out of him and he hoped he wasn’t going to be cursed for the rest of his life as a result, even though being in St. Jack’s Bay again felt like curse enough.
He’d done his best to stay away. There were times he resorted to sleeping on couches when he was between apartments, once even sleeping in his car when a new landlord miscounted the numbers of days in a month and left him homeless for the entirety of May 31. Even when his mom got sick and his younger sister had begged him to come home, he’d remained steadfast in his resolution to never set foot again in the small coastal town that held nothing more for him than heartache and broken promises.
His sister told him he was being dramatic, that a high school heartbreak was no reason to pretend an entire region on the map didn’t exist. But Max saw no harm in trying and he’d done fine, until his sister had called him at 2:17 in the morning, five days earlier, to tell him that their mom had finally died. Not finally in like a breath of relief at the finality of it, but finally in the way it was something they’d been anticipating for the past handful of years, though her health hadn’t quite seemed that far gone yet.
He offered her condolences, and she told him to get fucked. Then she sent him a thousand dollars for a plane ticket, and he chose to not wonder where his sister got that kind of money. Instead, he begrudgingly packed a hiking backpack worth of clothes and caught the first flight home.
Lydia picked him up from the airport with tired eyes and a bottle of whiskey in the cup holder of her car.
“Have you been drinking and driving?” he asked, throwing his bag into the back seat and buckling himself in.
“What day is it?” she asked.
“Probably.” Lydia gave a quick glance down at the bottle, tipping it to the side and then scoffing. “Actually, no. This one is still sealed. It was a gift.”
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to, Maximillian,” she chided, heading onto the dark and bumpy road that led to the east side of town where their childhood home stood.
Lydia ignored him for the rest of the drive, pulling up in front of the white clapboard house and cutting the ignition. They sat in the car together, staring up at the two-story house that had definitely seen better days, but was still filled with memories. Some he treasured and some he would have paid his entire savings account—which wasn’t much—to forget.
“How did it happen?” he asked, the question he’d recited over and over in his head for the entire five-hour flight east.
“She was asleep,” Lydia said on a breath. “I…I think it was peaceful.”
“Was she alone?”
“I was at work.”
“What even do you do for work these days?” he asked, looking down at the liquor bottle and back up to her.
“I told you not to ask questions you don’t want the answers to.” Lydia shoved the door open and climbed out of the car, stalking on her own up the rickety and peeling stairs. The porch light blinked to life from her movement, casting a putrid glow across the porch while she fumbled with the lock and then pushed the door open. She didn’t bother to wait for him. She didn’t even look back.
Max closed his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose and gathering the courage to go inside. He’d done the hard part, right? He was back in town and that was the worst of it. So why couldn’t he get out of the car?
He must have taken too long because the screen door slammed open, the light blinked back to life, and his angry and tired sister yelled at him from the porch.
“Are you coming in or not?”
He opened the door and leaned out, body still in the seat. “I don’t know.”
“You’re a child.” She rolled her eyes. “Your room has clean sheets if you want a bed. If not, lock my car before you tuck in for the night so Mushy Jack doesn’t get you.”
He huffed out a laugh. “You don’t believe in him still, do you?”
Lydia gestured to the swampy marshland around the property, the pussywillows and the towering trees that had sprung up from the muck and the mud. “Of course I believe in him. I also believe that I’m tired, so…bye.” Reserve your copy to see what happens next...click here!