This is one of those nail-biters, a novel where life changes in an instant, when young married life turns from idyll to nightmare. Author Jessica Strawser will read from Almost Missed You, her first novel, at Penguin Bookshop, in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 6pm. You can purchase the book there or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
NOW, AT THE SIGHT of a giant pink flamingo banner waving behind a dangerously small red plane droning overhead, she got to her feet and stretched. She shook the sand off her decadent new Ralph Lauren beach towel, a gift from Gram for the trip, and slipped her book and empty cup into the outside pocket of the coordinating beach bag. She attempted to fold her beach chair, wrestled with the stubborn arms of the thing, and decided to just leave it—they’d be back down later anyway, and even if they decided Bear had had enough sun, Finn wouldn’t mind coming to get it. He was good-natured about doing husbandly things.
Dry, hot sand puffed out behind her feet as she made her way to the resort’s gated pool area. She could already picture Bear’s face covered in chocolate ice cream, his adorable little dimpled grin sticky cheek to cheek.
When the elevator deposited her on the ninth floor with a ding, she paused outside their door to listen. All quiet. She smiled. He was still asleep—she hadn’t missed a thing. She slipped her key-card into the slot, which for once worked on the first try, and bounded in, eyes bright.
For a second, she thought that her card had somehow worked on the wrong room. She was about to call out a horrified
apology to anyone who might be in the suite. This one had barely been checked into. It had none of the open suitcases and discarded T-shirts and flip-flops and drying swimsuits and sunscreen bottles and magazines and snacks and toys that had already overtaken their room.
But then, from her spot in the front hallway, she realized that the purse on the table was hers.
She stepped farther into the room and glanced into the bathroom on the right. Her toiletries were there, lined up neatly on the marble sink top, but they were all alone. Absent was the chaos of Finn’s shaving gear and contacts and solution and glasses, of Bear’s bubblegum-flavored toothpaste and prescription eczema cream and Lightning McQueen comb.
Baffled, she walked into the combined living and sleeping area, and it was the same. Her things were just as she’d left them. But all traces of her husband and son were gone. As if they’d never been there at all. As if they’d been figments of her imagination all along.
From Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.