My little novelette, The Will to Love, is now available from Amazon in paperback as well as for Kindle! It's a story about unrequited love, true love, and destined love, with a rattlesnake thrown in. Here's the prologue and the first few paragraphs of Chapter One so you can take a quick look at it.
Daniel knew he was dead. He seemed to be hanging in darkness somewhere far above the hospital. But he could see every detail through the ceiling as the EMTs worked with his body on the gurney in the emergency room—one forcing air into his lungs and one pounding his chest while Dr. Agnew charged the paddles to try to jumpstart his heart.
The doctor positioned the paddles. “Clear!” The body convulsed, but after an initial blip, the trace running across the EKG screen returned to an erratic line.
Dr. Agnew turned to the nurse who was adjusting the defibrillator. “Again.”
Daniel watched his body convulse yet again, and the line again jumped, continued with a few spasmodic blips, then settled into a flat, steady progress across the screen. The doctor stood frozen, paddles held ready to use. “He isn’t responding.”
The nurse turned to reach for a nearby tray of syringes.
“No. Don’t.” The doctor lowered his hands and shook his head slowly. “We’ve already resuscitated him once in spite of his advanced directive. It’s time to let him go.”
The nurse blinked to hold back the moisture gathering in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you were friends.”
“Damn!” The doctor thrust the paddles at her and stalked out, sorrow twisting his features.
“Too bad,” said one of the EMTs. “Heard he was a pretty nice guy. Donated a chunk of money to upgrade the cardiac care wing when his wife died.”
“He was. And we failed him.” Still holding the paddles, the nurse wiped at her cheek with one forearm.
The scene began to fade as Daniel felt himself float away into a swirling gray mist. Where the hell is the tunnel? And the light I’m supposed to follow?
He heard a chuckle. No—sensed it. Puzzled, he turned to find out who was laughing at him, and saw a dim glow in the distance. Was that the light? As he moved toward it, the glow grew brighter until he realized he was in a church. Shadowed pews on each side of a broad aisle seemed to be filled with people. Was this his funeral? If so, the people looked awfully damn happy, and he didn’t see a casket. Instead, a minister stood in front of a flower-laden altar, and in front of him…
It was his son, Dan! Older, maybe by ten years, and dressed in a tux. He stood facing a girl with tousled red hair topped by an ornate veil that spilled down the back of her simple, form-fitting—and a very nice form it fit—wedding gown.
His son must be getting married. He was sure he’d never seen the girl before, but she looked familiar somehow. Like someone he’d known once, a long time ago. He wanted to get a better look at her, and found himself drifting around to look into her face.
A shimmer in the air above and behind the young woman began to coalesce as he realized who the young woman resembled—Virginia, the girl he’d fallen in love with fifty years ago, the girl who’d left him wanting to die because he couldn’t imagine living without her. The slanted eyes were the same aqua green, and that slim-waisted, full-hipped figure was identical.
He looked back at the shimmer and gasped as it took the form in his memory. Not the graying, stooped Virginia he’d seen in recent photos, but the young, vital woman he’d known. She smiled at him, filling him with the same deep ache as when she was seventeen and he twenty, and he heard her voice: It’ll be OK, Daniel. It wasn’t our time. It will be theirs.
Then darkness fell and he was sucked into a whirlpool, spun and battered and spewed forth into hard, brilliant cold. He gasped as pain shot through his body and his eyes flew open to see a wide-eyed nurse jump away and collide with the table near the gurney, sending a metal tray crashing across the floor.
“Oh, my God! He’s alive!” An alarm started to shrill, bringing feet thudding toward him.
I am alive, he thought, with some surprise. And I have a lot to do before I die.
Mandy lowered her suitcase to the floor and stared around the entry—or foyer, she supposed it would be called—of the mansion where the taxi had dropped her. The foyer was bigger than the combined living room and both bedrooms of her cottage back in Illinois. The floor under her Walmart luggage looked like marble.
Double doors opened opposite a wide staircase that curved up past a multi-tiered crystal chandelier, and a gray-haired woman wearing an elegantly tailored suit strode out, head down, examining something on a clipboard. Mandy cleared her throat, and the woman looked up with a slight frown. Her eyes traveled from Mandy’s tousled copper-colored hair, down her Star Wars T-shirt, to her worn jeans, and ended on her Reeboks before returning to the freckles sprinkled sparsely across Mandy’s pug nose.