say goodbye
from Chapter 16
Gary is racing to Becca's home — he knows he's the reason she's been attacked. As he's done before, he asks his late wife Sarah for guidance. But this time —
...He'd doubted Becca could be identified, failed to connect the dots. He'd been blinded by his feelings.

The right lane of Route 80 was plowed until, without warning, it wasn't. At speed, he rammed a drift, and it shoved back. The right side of his car bounded off the ground and it skidded out of control. He swung the wheel, jammed the brakes and the car spun around and around, shuddering to a stop in the middle of the highway. It stalled facing the wrong way, into traffic, everything dead but headlights angled toward the median. He was road kill.

Only at 3 A.M., in this blizzard, he was alone on the road.

He listened to his racing heart and the howling wind, sat leaning against the wheel, as still and stalled as his car. Even headlights cut out, leaving him in darkness.

An auto traveling in the other direction broke the spell. Its driver must have been coming off a night shift. It was only time until another car hit him.

Becca filled his mind. He turned the ignition and the car restarted. Back with the engine came fans blasting hot air, beating windshield wipers, headlights illuminating falling snow — and in their cocoon he circled to change direction, shaky, thankful the air bags hadn't exploded and the car hadn't flipped.

The message was clear: a warning for him to focus, to wake from his year asleep.

After that, he drove carefully. He'd be no use if he were dead. As for falling in love, there'd have to be a better time.

Only there was no point bullshitting himself. He couldn't keep away from her.

Ahead of him, the wind built a curtain of snow, and he slowed. His being with Becca would raise her risk. He had to make her safe. Could he love again, and survive her loss?

Without willing it, he recalled the evening and saw her talking with his friends, understanding, waiting for him, standing up to him when she needed to, pressing close on her own to kiss him.

"Sarah, what should I do?" he asked out loud. He waited, but this time there was no answer. He heard road noise, saw blackness swallowing the polka-dotted flare of his headlights.

A gust rocked the car, but what shifted was inside him. "Becca," he whispered, like a prayer.

Soon he was speeding again.