Author:S. Walden

The massacre was the only news—both local and national—for two weeks straight. Along with it, came all the mistakes of up-to-the-minute reporting. The numbers changed daily. The killer had a multitude of motives until everyone agreed on one. The gun debate flared up right on schedule—that moment directly after the first report. Everyone cried and screamed and fought with one another and proclaimed their moral superiority.


“I know what’s best!” they bellowed during discussion panels on cable news networks.


White noise to Jeremy. It was all white noise. He was the only one who truly knew Hannah. He was the only one who could understand her pain and her plan. That understanding didn’t excuse what she did, but it allowed him to release the day—her horrifying actions and death—from his heart forever. There was no reason to dwell on what she did or how she went. His only reason lay clinging to life in a hospital bed on the fourth floor of Mountainview Regional Medical Center.


“Regan?” he said tentatively. “You know it’s really unfair if you leave me.”




“I can say with certainty that I’ve had one of the shittiest lives ever,” he went on. “And I deserve to be happy.”




“With you.”


He watched her closely.


“I feel like you need me to remind you,” he said. “There’s this—” He pointed to his scar. “—and my angry dad. Who I killed, by the way. Yep. Killed my dad because he tried to kill me over the gu—” He stopped himself and cleared his throat. “Well, he tried to kill me, anyway. Then there’s Brandon and his gang. Brandon’s weird hero thing that’s totally fucked with my head. Hannah and all the stuff that happened with her. Oh, our school massacre. There’s that. Remember my journal? Remember how I wrote about doing exactly what Hannah did? Are you hearing this, Regan? My life is fucked.” He paused. “No wait. My life was fucked until we started talking. And then dating. You changed everything. You made it better. But you’re not done making it better, so you have to wake up eventually.”


She remained still.


He sighed. “I can yell at you again, but that might get me banned from the hospital.”


He thought he saw her mouth twitch. He froze, watching her carefully. No movement. He imagined it.


“Regan, wake up,” he ordered.


Slight movement. Now that he didn’t imagine! He sprang from his chair and grabbed her hand.


“You awake?” he asked.


He tried to be cautious about it. She hadn’t moved since she’d been admitted. What made 2 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon so different?


He eased his grip on her hand. “Move your fingers.”


Her index finger jerked.


His face lit up. “You heard me yell at you, didn’t you? And your dad was so pissed. Soooo pissed! But I was right to yell at you, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I, Regan?”


Her finger jerked again.


“Ha! That’s what I thought!” he said.


He leaned over and smothered her with kisses, inadvertently pushing her breathing tube side to side with his nose as he worked to make contact with every inch of her face—yes, even the creases of her nostrils.


He knew he should call for her parents, but he was greedy. He wanted her all to himself for a few moments more, aware that she may drift back to sleep before her parents could witness her movement.


“Move your finger,” he demanded.


All five moved.




And then the door opened. He leaned over once more and kissed her everywhere.


“I love you, Regan!” he cried, inches from her face.


“What’s happening?” Mrs. Walters demanded, words laced with fear.


“She’s waking up!” Jeremy yelled. “She’s waking up!”


Caroline squealed. Her parents raced to the bed, hovering and touching and asking a million questions, and where’s the doctor already?!


“Regan, if you can hear this, move your finger,” Jeremy said. His words brimmed with confidence.




His heart plummeted. Her parents looked at him accusingly. He thought Caroline would attack him.


“She just did it . . .”


Mr. Walters shook his head.


“Regan, move your finger!” Jeremy commanded.




“Don’t talk to her like that,” Mr. Walters snapped.


Jeremy ignored him. “Regan, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but so help me . . .”


Her fingers moved. Her parents gasped. Caroline jumped around. Jeremy saw the tiniest grin play at the corners of Regan’s lips—a grin that said, “Just messin’.”


“You little . . .” But he stopped there, and pressed his lips to hers. Gentle. No more demands. There was no need for them. He knew she would be all right.


And so would he.


Because they had things to do. She had games to play. Cakes to bake. A life to live. And so did he. He had a life to live with his girl, in another, better world.





S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Going Under. When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.


She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at and follow her twitter feed at @swaldenauthor. Visit her website at for the latest information on her current and upcoming projects.