Today I am very excited to be part of the Don’t Turn Around Blog Road Trip. You can visit each blog participant to read another chapter, get more into the story or to get insights from the author. There is even a giveaway on the final stop!
Chapter 4 of Don’t Turn Around is below:
THREE YEARS EARLIER
Patrick’s eyes blue and burning-earnest when he said it, a smudge of cream sauce in the corner of his beautiful mouth. “It’s time, sweetheart,” he said, leaning across the table and taking her hand.
Rebecca stopped mid-bite, fork hovering in the air. “I didn’t realize there was a clock.”
“I know it sounds crazy, but I promise you, you’ll love it there. Wide-open spaces, fresh air, salt-of- the-earth people . . . Come on, Becs. You’ve seen how the place is changing, the same as me. It’s like living in a museum. No one real lives here anymore.”
It was true: San Francisco had changed. She had seen it every day at the high school where she taught English: families forced to move because of the skyrocketing rents, the homeless population exploding, the mental health of her students pushed aside in pursuit of ever higher test scores. Tech had flooded the city with its venture capitalist riches, whitewashing away its grimy charm. Even the restaurant they were eating in had a sign on the door announcing a relocation to Oakland. When they asked the waiter about it, he shrugged and said, “Progress.”
Still, the Bay Area was the only place she’d ever called home. “Our lives are here.”
“Our lives are wherever we are, as long as we’re together.” He shook his head. “I want to go home, Becs. Please. My grandma’s on her own out there, and she’s getting old. I need to step up and take responsibility.”
“My dad’s on his own, too.”
“Your dad is in his early sixties and in better shape than I am. Gram is going to be eighty next year. You saw the state the house was in when we went back last Christmas. She can’t look after the place anymore.”
“We could hire someone to help her,” she suggested. “Or she could move into one of those assisted living facilities. I’ve heard some of them are really nice these days. More like luxury hotels than nursing homes.” She was grasping at straws.
“You know Gram will never leave that house. She’s always said they’d have to carry her out in a pine box, and I have no doubt that she means it.” He took her hand again, the warmth of his skin on hers so familiar. “I know I’m asking a lot, but I really do think you’ll love it in Lubbock. The people are genuine, and there’s so much space . . . so many more opportunities . . .” He took a breath. “Working for the DA— it’s not enough. There’s more I could be doing. If I were a congressman, or a senator— ”
“Because congressmen are renowned for their efficacy,” she pointed out, a little too sourly.
He held up his hands. “I know, I know. But I still think I could be more effective in an elected position than I can be here trying to cut deals with low- level drug dealers and prostitutes. It’s just— there’s no way I could get elected here. You know how entrenched politics are in California. Back in Texas, I’d be a local boy, one with a proven record in a blue state. It’d make me a strong candidate. The demographics are shifting. I really think I have a shot.”
She pictured him shaking hands and holding babies, a banner with his name stretched across the stage behind him. Their friends always said he should go into politics. She just hadn’t realized it was what he wanted, too.
She reached for the gold cross around her neck. She tried to see herself standing up on a stage next to him, smiling proudly as the crowd showered him with love. Because they would love him. She knew that as sure as she knew her own name. Everyone loved Patrick. He was one of life’s golden boys. It was what had drawn her to him in the first place. Out of all the women in the world, he had chosen her. She knew that made her lucky.
She should have known that eventually, he would want the world, too.
She stared at him across the table. His eyes were eager, searching, but there was something else there. The quiet confidence of someone who always wins and knows his streak isn’t about to end. He was used to getting what he wanted, and she had always been willing to give it to him.
“Two years,” she said, folding her napkin and placing it on the table. “I’ll give it two years, but if I hate it, we move back here for good.”
“Deal.” His smile nearly split his face in two. “Becky, honey, I promise you won’t regret this. I really do believe I could have a gift for political work. If I can get in a position of power, I can make a real difference.”
She convinced herself that it was a victory. Two years was nothing in the grand scheme of things, and maybe a change of scene would do them both good. Didn’t she keep complaining about how the city was grinding her down? The school budgets had been slashed to ribbons, she hadn’t had a raise in years, the classroom sizes were ballooning just as resources were dwindling. It wouldn’t be hard to get her teaching accreditation in Texas. She could have a couple easy years teaching in a nice suburban school, maybe take a few grad classes on the side. They could get a bigger place there— a house, even, with a front yard and a garage and a car. No more brushing their teeth on top of each other. No more sweaty bus rides uptown lugging bags of groceries.
Big skies. Open plains. Patrick by her side.
Two years was nothing. A blip on the radar screen.
She didn’t know then just how quickly a life could be obliterated, like a sandcastle at high tide.
I think this is such a fun way to share and discuss a book let me know if you enjoy it as well!
The paperback of Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry is available from Vintage Books on the 15th of Apr.