Chance of a Lifetime (Anderson Brothers)By: Marissa Clarke
Nothing reckless. Nothing dangerous or daring. Simply a mint. Just like that.
“No, I’m not okay,” she answered. “I’m horrible, in fact. Never been worse.”
“We lost a coworker,” Sherry explained. “It was unexpected.”
Andy cleared his throat. “I’m sorry.”
“Me, too. She was supersweet.”
She regretted not hanging out with her more. Sally had asked her to go out after work several times, but she’d always declined. She’d been too busy keeping to her routine. Following her brother’s wishes. Playing it safe. Never stepping outside her circle of safety.
Safety. For what? Sally was a fun-loving, outgoing girl who had recently become engaged. And she died because she choked on a mint, not because she did something dangerous like ski down some uncharted vertical slope or jump out of an airplane—or in the case of Gen, simply cross the freaking street.
Which just went to show, no matter how careful she was, no matter how protective her brother was of her, something unexpected could come along and end it all in the blink of an eye.
No more. From now on, no more playing it safe. She reached to get her purse off the next stool and accidentally bumped her cane, which fell to the ground with a metallic clang. When Sherry made to retrieve it, she stilled her with a hand on her shoulder. “I’ve got this.” After righting the cane, she rooted in her purse until she found what she was looking for. She flattened the scrap of paper on the bar and slid back onto her stool.
“What is that?” her friend asked.
Gen closed her eyes and remembered how excited she’d been in high school when she created this. Life had so many possibilities at fifteen. Funny how ten years could turn that around. “It’s my bucket list.”
The paper crinkled as Sherry picked it up. “What’s on it?”
She didn’t even need to read it to know what it said. “Things I intend to do as soon as possible. Starting with number one right now.”
The list had sat dormant for ten years. But not anymore. No more waiting for a mint to off her.
Sherry squealed through her nose like she did at the studio when she was really excited. “You know I can’t read braille. What’s first on the list?”
A smile stretched across her face. “Number one: Kiss a total stranger.”
Once Sherry stopped squealing and clapping, and the list was tucked carefully back inside her purse, Gen took a deep breath and a fortifying swallow of beer.
Yep. She was really going to do this, and no big brother or an overabundance of caution or fear was going to get in her way. “Where’s the doc?”
“He’s in the corner still.” Sherry rotated her forty-five degrees plus a little more.
“Nothing right now. Do you want your cane?”
“No. If I’m clear, I’m going hands-free.”
And for a moment, her heart seemed to stop beating. This was way out of character for her. As if sensing her doubt, Sherry leaned closer. “Good idea. As smokin’ hot as this guy is, you’re definitely going to want your hands free.”
The encouragement did the trick and her heart kicked in again. “How far away?”
“Twenty feet, max,” Andy said.
“Standing or sitting?”
Sherry giggled. “Sitting on a stool. His face is perfect height for a lip-lock.”
For a moment, a lump rose in her throat. Nuh-uh. She’d suppressed all signs of life for years now. No chickening out. Not ever again. After another deep breath, she raked her bangs out of her face. “Get me within six feet of him and point me in the right direction,” she instructed her friend, who immediately offered her elbow.
Consciously loosening her death grip on Sherry’s arm, Gen took a step forward, and then another until she counted ten steps, which should put her within five or so feet of him.
“Straight ahead,” Sherry mumbled under her breath then pulled her hand away.
Gen tilted her head and listened, but picked up nothing other than her friend’s retreating steps and the regular sounds of the bar early on a Tuesday night. “What’s up, Doc?” she asked, finally.