Authors: Daryl Banner
He lifts his brows, surprised. Then, without prompt, he takes my hand and presses it to his chest. Through his firm muscle, I feel the strong drumming of his heart.
Then, to my own astonishment, I take
hand and press it to my chest, letting him feel the racing of my own. We stand there in the doorway forever, dripping wet and listening to each other’s heartbeats.
And then I go for the most reckless thing I’ve ever done in my stupid, safe little life. I’m in the moment and my blood is pumping and my face is tingling and the glimmer in his eyes is vibrant. I lean into him, our hearts touching, and my lips find his. The kiss is long and unexpectedly deep, and I worry my heart could burst free from my ribcage.
“I’ve never felt more alive,” I confess, listening to our chests as they drum together. “I’m Jennifer.”
He smiles. “I’m John.”
A F T E R WO R D
from the author
This book was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I don’t want to say goodbye to Winter and her friends. I really, really don’t want to say goodbye to the world they lived in, to the undeathly terrain and the unfriendly Living and the fear and the ridiculous drama of it all. But I guess, like life, nothing lasts forever. And I have to accept and embrace the end of this series.
Thank you for being with us—that is, me and the various Living and Undead you’ve come to know over the years—and for seeing Winter’s story through to the end. If there’s anything I’d love for you to come away with from this book, perhaps it’s Marigold’s lesson: dare to be the fool. Speak up when you think you shouldn’t. Stand up in front of all those people even while your heart is racing because—hey, listen to that—
your heart is racing.
And the whole reason for this life is to express, to push, to make better, to love, to feel anguish so strong you don’t want to live anymore, and to feel the reprieve from that anguish, even if there’s not a single friend nearby and the only comfort you know is a song, or a thought, or your own heartbeat.
I love you. Please stick around with me. I have so many more stories to tell.
For hearts both beating and unbeating,
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