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Can you have a second chance at a first love?
Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fifteen years ago.
Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.
When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.
Author: S.A. McAuley
Release Date: 10/02/2015
Fair warning that this is going to be a bit personal. Only a bit. Promise. I also promise that there’s a reason.
I’ve been married for four years to the most amazing man that life could’ve ever put in front of me. We don’t have an easy history. We’re too different. Way too much. He’s much more collected than I am. He manages to keep calm while I go all over the place complaining and going over stuff that I’m pretty sure no one else would put up with. I rant and ramble, while he’s always direct and concise. He’s way too organized for my messy style. We clash. A lot. But we love each other more than our differences could ever keep us apart.
In May, 1994, my mom picked me up at school. She was crying. I asked what happened, and she told me that she’d gotten back some medical results that had been practiced on my brother. He was 9 at the time. The results said that he was diabetic, and so we needed to head to Monterrey (a neighbor state where medical attention is much better) to get the best doctors and help my brother.
My brother has lived with diabetes for 21 years now. There were so many things we saw and now hope we could have changed, but when they happened, we didn’t know how.
In 2009 I was at work. I got a call from my brother’s girlfriend. She was crying so bad. She was so scared. My brother had crashed in his truck against the wall of a house. He’d gotten hypoglycemia and started convulsing while driving. He lost control and crashed. I left work, called my friend Jaime (my now husband but weren’t dating then), and left for the hospital. Within minutes, I was there, and minutes later, Jaime came in through the door too.
He didn’t leave my side. Not once. He was there all the time. Quiet and giving me space. He got the permission from the head doctor to bring a guitar into my brother’s room and sing to him. My brother loves music. And he was delighted to see that there was someone there who just wanted to hang out with him as if he was at home. A good guitar, magazines, books,and an iPad loaded with movies. They laughed a lot. I’m still surprised no one asked Jaime to leave. But bless them for not doing it.
A few days later, my brother was released. And a few months later, Jaime and I started dating, officially. Two years later we got married. It was a small wedding, and this time my brother sang for us.
Two years ago my mom came home with some bad news. My brother’s kidney was failing him and dialysis was needed. Every day. Three times a day, until we could get him a new kidney.
It’s not damn easy to stay strong while your mother breaks. After she left I went into the bedroom and literally collapsed in my husband’s arms. I told him everything. We needed a kidney. The doctors didn’t see much hope and I was devastated. For days I avoided my family. I didn’t know how to act or what to say. I was selfish. Very selfish. I thought that if I saw them I was going to hurt so I decided not to see them. That is a horrible thing I do: when I’m hurting, I hide. I felt hopeless, helpless and useless.
The distance didn’t last much, within a couple of weeks I was at my mom’s again. And, me feeling hopeless, useless and helpless it’s something I’ve learned to live with.
Two years later we are still waiting for a kidney. He’s better now, though, but he still needs his transplant. We hope that in the following year, it’ll finally happen.
I don’t think I will ever find the words to explain what it feels like to go day by day feeling like you’re living on borrowed time. Like time is running out and you can’t do anything at all to stop things from happening. Because you know that one more day is one more day too late. My sister and I were both rejected as donors, and while I understand there’s nothing I can do to change that, I don’t think I’ve actually forgiven myself for not being able to do it. On a conscious level I know this is stupid, but I can’t help it.
In all the madness that this part of my life is… In all the things I don’t know because I can’t foresee the future and I can’t know, there is one thing I do know: I could never go through this if my husband wasn’t there by my side, holding my hand, and pushing me to believe. People constantly ask me why I married someone who always seems so serious. Someone who speaks his mind whether others like it or not. What they don’t see is that those are the things that complete me, balance me. That he makes me strong, because over all, and after all my mistakes and my break downs and my fears, and my terrible stubbornness, he just won’t give up on me. Or on the ones I love, like my brother. He’s adopted my family as his. He lives for them as much as I do. And I’m forever grateful for that.
That’s what Adam and Nick are for each other. They had a history before they met again 15 years later. Their lives completely different from what it used to be. Both of them with kids – Nick’s daughter, Katie was a delight to read, and Adam’s daughter, Miriam, reminded me so much of my brother when he was a kid that it was impossible not to get attached. Both men are also coming to terms with who they are now. Both of them coming to terms with the fact that even though they wouldn’t change what they’ve got of the lives they have now, there was something unfinished. Something that still had a lot to give. When they met again, rebuilding trust and what they had was a bit difficult, but they did it. And when Adam’s world was crumbling around him, it was Nick who reminded him that he was strong. That he was one of the strongest persons he’d ever met, and that if he needed to break down, Nick would be there to catch him, and help him up.
Their story is beautiful. A story of love and how much we change while at the same time keeping our essence intact.
The girls are a kind of missing piece in each other’s lives. I remember, when I was younger, that someone told me that kids don’t bond as deep, or for life, but some of the fondest memories I have about my childhood are those I created with my best friend in school when I was nine or ten.
Friendship is an important part of my life. And in Nick and Adam’s case, their friends are also amazing. I love a good story that also gives the reader the delight of great secondary characters. I loved them all. I loved their closeness and the unconditional love they have for each other. That’s how life is, y’know.. We have our partner, but we also have those souls that make us better everyday. Those who stand by us no matter what. Those who love you, accept you, hold you, challenge you, and basically push you to chase your dreams.
So, all in all, I was pleasantly surprised. I expected to like this book, but I didn’t expect to connect with it so deeply, even if it was on a painful part of my life. Like I said, the story is really beautiful. It has its angsty moments, but not as hard.. It’s just that in my case, it hit too close home. I’m glad I picked this up. Very much.