Read an Excerpt
I loved the Gaslamp Quarter at night. Here I got to wear heels instead of New Balance, trade my sweats for a little black dress and red lips. The city made me sexy.
It was a tranquil Thursday in late spring and I should have been hanging out with my mommy friends on Kingston Court. Once a week, without fail, we met up in the cul-de-sac with our kiddos in the evening to drink wine and catch up on all the neighborhood gossip. Tonight was special though. I had a date with my favorite man.
My husband Mark shifted the gears of our BMW as I peered up at the passing lights and giant fashion ads painted on the brick walls of San Diego’s classic building facades. Victorian era architecture mixed with modern skyscrapers. The din of traffic and dingy smell of the streets made me forget to worry over ladies’ night or our two children at home. At least for this moment, we were young again.
Mark slid a hand against my bare thigh as we slowed at a light. “Wanna ditch dinner and find a dark alley?”
The subtle streaks of his greying hair were hidden in the dimly lit sports sedan, turning him into a darker, more mysterious, version of himself. I laughed and leaned toward him, kissing the freckle below his ear. “Tempting. Very tempting. If I wasn’t so hungry I might take you up on that.”
I breathed in his citrus scented after-shave, as I wrapped my hand around his bicep. Mark flexed his arm and narrowed his green eyes at me. “You sure?” he teased in a low voice, almost like a growl. “I get all crazy when you dress like that.”
“Shoot.” My eyebrows sank as I glanced down at my open purse. A small green toothbrush sat on top of my wallet.
“I have Ben’s toothbrush.”
My husband and I looked at each other in resignation.
“Jamie is watching him. Maybe it’ll be fine,” I said, though we both knew it wouldn’t.
Our five-year-old son could be difficult. His most recent obsession was brushing his teeth after every meal. I could think of worse things for him to be insistent upon, but going to bed without his toothbrush of choice wasn’t an option. It was only a matter of time before my best friend would call telling us to come home.
Mark’s tired face turned stoic without the charm of his smile. He pulled into the next u-turn lane to head back for the freeway.
“Are you mad?” I asked, reaching for his knee.
“Eh, we’ll just drop it off and swing by that Thai place you like.” He shrugged and took my hand, reverting back to the role of comforting husband.
I scrunched up my nose and removed the barrette holding back my shoulder length brown hair. We were celebrating my thirty-eighth birthday and there was nothing romantic about the Taste of Thai at our neighborhood strip mall.
The light in front of us turned green, and I brushed my hand against the back of his neck, hoping to be absolved of my guilt. “Maybe we can still—”
He turned to look at me. His eyes, focused only on mine, carried none of the fear I suddenly felt wash over me. In that single moment life froze. I needed to speak, to take the wheel, something. Instead, I watched the set of headlights outside Mark’s window get closer.
An intake of breath. A downpour of shattered glass. The sound of my scream as if it belonged to someone else.
The car lifted then tumbled. A dizzy Ferris wheel of lights …