I pulled the phone out of my jeans pocket and looked at the message.

“Safe travels, Joaquin,” it read. It was Lillian. “I’m proud of you.”

I stared at the screen for a while. Daring, I repeated myself. Brave.

The flight attendant instructed us to fasten our seat belts. My heart is breaking as I break yours. It was the only reply I could think of. But I wouldn’t say that. No. No way. What am I doing? What the fuck am I doing?

This was real. I had packed for a long journey. Why? I was trying to ignore my disillusions, to bury my fears. I needed the resolve to continue. I needed to stand for what I believed in. What did I believe in? Bravery meant to face what you fear the most. But it also meant to have a compelling reason to do so; otherwise you are just a fool.

The passion I felt for Alexandra was slipping through the cracks of Lillian’s immeasurable understanding, a side she showed me in the last couple of days. How could I ignore that?

Lillian’s compassionate strength had shaken me to my core. The night before, when I saw her for the last time, she held me as I cried. Why couldn’t I have seen that before?

I sank into my seat in sadness, and the doubts I had pushed against the back of my skull began to weigh. This is going to be a terrible mistake.

I could still get out of the plane! I could still get out of the plane, I thought. Sitting on my aisle seat with Lillian’s words slipping off my hand, I wanted to get up and walk away. I would exit the plane, exit the terminal, leave the airport and forget all about this trip, Alexandra Kolluchy, and the impossible adventure I craved.

Instead, I would allow myself to fall in love again with the woman whose hand I learned to hold, the one who had endured so much for me and who had loved me for who I was, and more importantly, in spite of it. I needed to get out of the damn plane.

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