New Release: Seven Minutes in Vegas. In Vegas, everything’s a gamble – even love

LATEST RELEASE

Flirting with Fire (Excerpt)

Brown leaves crunched as Tate Astbury walked to the granite headstone symbolizing the division of his life into two parts: Before and After. Winter lingered in the air; that clean, cold scent seeped into his bones, bringing back childhood days in New England with family celebrations and weeks that carelessly slipped by into spring then summer.

That was Before. Before the guilt festered. Before he saw two people in the mirror instead of one. Before he took the one person who meant everything to him for granted.

Tate approached the headstone with the name he learned to spell at the same time as his own, the date of birth he shared, and the date of death he didn’t. He plucked off the dried leaves and twigs that had fallen on the plaque and put a single white rose down.

“Never thought I’d make it past thirty, yet here I am, thirty-three years old. All the dumb shit I’ve done since you…since I last saw you, you would think I’d be the one interred.” He should’ve been. They had done everything together. Death shouldn’t have been any different.

Tate squinted, staring across the field of headstones to where a couple stood holding hands in front of a grave.

“It’s gotten easier. Like, some days, I don’t think about you or what happened right away.” Until he looked in the mirror. Then he saw the irreplaceable soul whose face he would never forget, a blessing and a curse. “You’d tell me to quit being so dramatic and get on with my life. But today it’s hard, so cut me some slack, aight?”

A cardinal perched in the tree above him and whistled, its song like someone calling for its dog. And then it shit, missing Tate’s head but landing on his shoe with a splat.

“Fucker.” Tate laughed, figuring he must look like a crazy person out there laughing alone. Well, not entirely alone. There was that bird with a wicked sense of humor.

“I get it. Enough with the pity party. I’m going to celebrate with the boys later. But this one’s for you.” He unscrewed the miniature Jack Daniel’s bottle, not his favorite but his twin brother liked the brand, and poured the entire contents on the grave.

“Happy birthday, Mazi.”