“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” -Confucius
The year since Galilee Falls lost its reigning superhero Justice has not been kind to Joanna Fallon. She's lost her best friend, her boyfriend, her badge, even her mind. The city of Galilee Falls hasn't fared much better with supervillain related crime skyrocketing to cataclysmic proportions.
Deliverance for the city arrives in the guise of The Royal Triumvirate--King Tempest, Lady Liberty, and Lord Nightingale--who vow to be the heroes the city needs. Salvation for Joanna appears in the brilliant form of Dr. Jem Ambrose, another lost soul in need of saving. But salvation comes with a high price.
When Emperor Cain, an old nemesis of The Triumvirate, decides he will stop at nothing to make sure there is no city left to defend, it is up to Joanna to rise not only for her city, for her new love, but for herself as well…
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Devil on the Left Books
Date of Publication: 12/10/13
ISBN: 978-0-9893944-2-0 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-0-9893944-3-7 (print)
Number of pages: 282
Word Count: 102,000
His last words were, “I love you.”
My tear filled eyes fly open, and I spin around. Jem stands a few feet away, concern radiating from his every pore. His hair is a mess, wild and his clothes rumpled. No glasses either. He came in a hurry. Not like him to forget the details. “Joanna, please get away from there. It’s dangerous.”
I turn back to the abyss. “I was just thinking. About last words.”
“Yeah. I read the most common are, ‘Oh, sh*t’ or ‘Oh, God.’ Justin’s were, ‘I love you.’ He looked me square in the eyes and told me he loved me. He’d said it in passing a few times, the usual, ‘You’re my friend, I love you,’ type of thing, but deep down I never really believed him. If he loved me then he should love me, you know? Like I did him. But at that moment, his last moment, I finally became a believer. Because that’s what love is, right? Putting someone before yourself? For twenty years he loved me, and I think I just now realized he loved me a hell of a lot more than I loved him. If I even really did love him. Maybe I’m just not capable of it. Two people were on that fence, and the thought of letting go never even crossed my mind. Not even for a millisecond. But it crossed his. Because he was good, and strong, and capable of the biggest love of all. And he’s dead. And I’m here. It should have been me.”
“No,” Jem says forcefully. All of a sudden he’s next to me, grabbing and turning me toward him. “No.”
“Anyway you look at it, his life was worth more than mine. I die, a few people are sad for awhile, but they move on. He dies, the whole city implodes.” I wipe a tear off my cheek. “Who the hell am I? I’m nothing. A traumatized alcoholic who ruins everything and everyone she comes into contact with.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is. I hurt everyone I care about. Justin, Harry, Lucy. I make everything worse. I mean, why the hell would God let me live when such better people die? Rebecca, Daisy, my dad, Justin. It-It-It doesn’t make sense.”
“No, it doesn’t. That’s why it’s the eternal question: why him and not me? Why does a murderer go free while an innocent man is convicted? Why does my brother draw breath but Uma doesn’t? There is no answer, Joanna. I’ve searched for it all my life and haven’t found a clue. And believe me when I say if you let that question take over your life, it can nearly destroy you. Pursuing that question allows guilt to guide your life, and that is no way to live it.” He closes his eyes. “Believe me.” He opens his beautiful eyes again, looking square in mine. They’re brimming with sadness and hope. “You-You turn around and survey your life, your goals, and you don’t recognize them. Or yourself. But you continue looking because the quest is all you have. And you’re alone. So alone for so long with only that guilt to drive you that when someone wonderful comes along, so wonderful you actually begin to imagine another life for yourself full of love and joy, it rocks you to your core. You’ve seen the dawn after a million starless nights, and it’s beautiful, but you’re afraid it’s just an illusion. That it’ll be taken from you, or that you never really saw it, and you’re alone again once more with that ache. I don’t want that for you. Justin wouldn’t either. You survived. You’re alive. So live.”
I can’t hold back a moment longer. I fling myself against him, wrapping my arms around his torso in a hug. His limbs envelop me as I finally allow myself to burst into tears right against his pulsing heart. It beats so fast and strong against my cheek. Our limbs melding, his warm body feeding my cold one, his smell of stale sweat mixed with faint cologne, all of it bliss.
We remain like this for one perfect second before I sense him gazing down at me. I pull apart to look up but don’t dare meet his eyes. His hands move to my cheeks, cradling my face. His thumbs wipe my still falling tears, and I place my hands over his. “Please tell me I’m not crazy,” he whispers desperately. “Please tell me I’m not imagining this. Please tell me you feel this too. Please.”
I want to speak, but the words won’t come out. Everything becomes real when you say it out loud. Somehow I find the courage to gaze into his eyes, the sadness brimming in them shifts to awe and something else that scares me to f*cking death. I leap away. “I-I have to go. I-I can’t…I’m sorry. Bye.”
Like the f*cking coward I am, I sprint off that rooftop as fast as I can, down the stairwell, and out of the hospital before all my resolve fades. I can’t take much more of this. I can’t keep this up. He just needs to…no. I stop at the edge of the dark river to catch my breath. No more. This needs to end one way or another. I’m done.
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About Jennifer Harlow:
Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator.
Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series and Justice, the first in the superhero thriller trilogy. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com