A freak accident, a moment in time, and life changes forever. Stay or go – there’s no such thing as the easy way out. The accident wasn’t his fault but in the horrific aftermath, Jack’s actions may have possibly caused consequences he could never have foreseen. Consumed with guilt and unable to listen to reason, he takes the only option he believes is open to him: he disappears. Living a quiet life away from everyone he loves, he drops off the grid but the memories continue to haunt him.
Four years later, a funeral signals a homecoming fraught with tension as he finally forces himself to face up to the consequences of his actions. Betrayed and angry, his former best friend Callum wants nothing more than to see him disappear once again – for good this time. Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend Ally has moved on and he can see that his return is anything but easy for her. People change, life goes on and things are never as simple as they seem. The past has a habit of catching up with you when you least expect it.
Living with regret and guilt almost tore him apart, but there is no guarantee that trying to make amends will soothe his soul or help the people he loves the most.
Courage has many faces. Fighting for what you believe in, no matter what. Showing strength of mind and body when the cards are stacked against you. Rising to the challenge and playing through the pain.
And yet sometimes, courage means simply standing your ground.
“You want to know if I told her about what happened that night.”
Callum glared at him, and Jack could tell he was on the right track.
“The answer is no, I didn’t. But why the hell didn’t you? You were there, you knew.”
“Because it wasn’t my place to tell her – it was yours.” Callum snapped.
“Jesus, Callum! You just let her think God knows what, all this time?”
“What the hell do you care what she thought! You weren’t here, remember? I didn’t tell her because what the hell would be the point?”
“What would be the point?” Jack repeated indignantly. “She would have known!”
“Known what? That you were a coward? She figured that one out for herself when she woke up and you were gone!”
Jack opened his mouth to speak, but Callum cut him off.
“Don’t you dare come back here and start blaming me or anyone else! No one told you to go – you made that choice yourself.” Callum hissed, eyes blazing. “You did the wrong thing then and by coming back now and stirring it all up again, all you’re doing is making it worse. You’re here for your own selfish reasons, not because of Tom or because of her!”
“I’m trying to make it right!” Jack insisted, heart racing.
“And how in the hell do you think you’re gonna do that?”
Jack stared at him dumbfounded, knowing that he had asked himself that question a million times and come up empty.
“She doesn’t need you anymore. The best thing you can do now is just crawl back into whatever hole you crawled out of and leave her be.”
Jack shook his head determinedly, his heart pounding. “No. I’m not going anywhere, not this time.”
Callum laughed scornfully. “That’s your master plan? Seriously?”
Jack glared at him in silence, his anger mounting.
“Oh come on – you gotta admit, that’s a reckless statement, especially for you.” Callum snorted derisively. “You disappear when the going gets tough, remember?”
Jack clenched his teeth so tight his jaw ached. “That’s not what happened and you know it.”
“Do I? Because that’s what it looked like from where I was standing!”
“You know damn well why I left!” Jack blurted out, his voice thunderous and desperate. “You knew what I did – you were there!”
“Yeah, I knew what you did – big deal! You were trying to save her life – she wouldn’t have blamed you!” he said hotly. “You did the wrong thing, Jack – you should’ve stayed.”
Jack stared at him, his heart racing. He thought about the relationship they used to have – how close they were. Like brothers. And now this; strangers – worse than that; enemies.
“I made a mistake.” he choked. “I won’t make that mistake again.”
Callum shook his head. He stood up straight and took a step backwards, eyeballing Jack as he forced his hands back into his pockets.
“Here’s the thing – you made your choice. Now you have to live with it, just like the rest of us. You can’t change what happened and if you stick around, you’re only gonna hurt her. Is that what you want?”
Jack opened his mouth to reply but Callum didn’t give him a chance.
“She was just starting to get her life back together, after everything she’s been through. Don’t rip it all apart again.” he pleaded quietly, clearly emotional. “Do the right thing this time – leave.”
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Amanda Dick is a night-owl, coffee addict, movie buff and music lover. She also writes.
Born in Opotiki, New Zealand, she is rather partial to dark chocolate and believes in the power of a good vanilla latte. She has a passion for the colour green (particularly in clothes and gemstones) and insists there is nothing sexier than a man in a kilt.
She spent several months traveling around Europe in her late 20’s (there’s a story there – she’ll get around to writing it one day). After ridding herself of her wanderlust, she met the love of her life (while working to pay off said wanderlust) in Edinburgh, Scotland. They moved in together the week after their first date – so yes, she believes in love at first sight. She also believes in Women’s Intuition and following your heart.
She writes on her trusty laptop, predominantly late at night, when it’s quiet and interruptions are few. Most of all, she enjoys writing about human behaviour – love, loss, joy, grief, friendship and relationships in general. She loves to put normal, everyday people into situations that will test their boundaries. She is passionately curious about how we, as human beings, react when pushed to the edge.
After living in Scotland for five years, she has now settled back home in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two children.