Sunday, March 27, 2016


After reading HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS,
many readers begged for "more Jake."
Per that request,
here's a scene from Jake's past
to give insight into what happens in Book 2.
(This scene is not included in either book.)


            Jake drops his backpack at the fifth station of the kidney dialysis center. "Let's get your weight and temp done right away so the nurse can get started."
            "Yeah. I know." His younger sister Laura steps on the scale. "I've been here before, remember? Okay. Sixty-eight pounds."
            The nurse writes this down. Jake passes Laura the electric thermometer.
            Laura slips on the plastic shield and places it under her tongue. A few seconds later it beeps. "Ninety-eight-point-seven."
            "Great." Jake pumps his arm. "No fever. Let's go!"
            "What's the rush?" Laura asks. "We're gonna be here for four hours no matter what."
            "I know." Jake shrugs. "But I got some stuff I wanna do."
            "Well, keep your pants on." Laura plops into the chair, holding her arm out for the blood pressure cuff.
            Nurse Lisa takes a reading. "You sure are antsy today, Jake. Got a hot date waiting?"
            "Nah." He shakes his head. "I need to go talk to the doctors."
            Laura sighs. "Not this again."
            "Yes, this again."
            Laura scratches her side.
            "Feeling itchier than usual?" asks the nurse.
            "A little."
            "How's your appetite? Your weight's down. The doctor isn't going to like that."
            Laura picks at the hem of her shirt. "I know."
            "All right. End of lecture. Let's get your dialysis started."
            Laura slips off her long-sleeved cover-up, exposing a surgically enlarged vessel. The nurse swabs her arm.
            "I should time you." Jake holds out his watch. "I'll bet you're the fastest one here."
            The nurse raises her eyebrows. "It's not about speed, you know. Dialysis takes time. Lots of time."
            "You're such a moron," Laura side-whispers to him.
            "Runs in the family," he whispers back.
            "You two." The nurse clucks her tongue. "Laura, your fistula site looks healthy. I've applied the Lidocaine cream. Ready for the needles?"
            Laura nods, tensing her jaw.
Disjointed beeping resounds through the room, every monitor at its own pace and rhythm.
            After she tapes in the inserted needles, Lisa removes her gloves. "You're all set. Three hours and fifty-eight minutes to go."
            Laura scans the side table. "Got any new magazines? I've already read these."
            "Sorry, honey, but when you're here three times a week, it's hard to have fresh ones available. Maybe Jake can find you something in the gift shop."
            "That's okay." Laura digs in her bag. "I brought a couple books."
            "Too bad." Nurse Lisa smiles back at them as she moves to another patient. "The high school volunteer at the gift shop has a crush on your brother."
            "That's right." Jake grins, settling into the chair alongside his sister. "No dame can resist my charms."
            Laura rolls her eyes. "You've got to be kidding me—"
            "I am undeniably handsome—" Jake frames his face with his hands like a portrait.
            "You're so embarrassing—"
            "And the most intelligent guy in the world—"
            "Whatever. You couldn't possibly be the smartest guy on the planet."
He shrugs. "That's a fair call. Just in Wisconsin, then."
            She snorts. "What you are is the most obnoxious guy in the state."
"Is that so? Then I don't feel bad about ignoring you long enough to finish my homework." He pulls out a textbook from his bag. "Then we can watch a movie if you want. Anything except Dirty Dancing."
            "You never want to watch that one." Laura glances at the clock. "Three hours and fifty-five minutes to go."
            Beep. Beep. Beep.
Dialysis machines chorus around the room. Voices are muffled. Each patient rests in a chair reading, watching a screen, or sleeping.
            Laura pokes Jake. "Are you done yet? I'm bored."
            "Yep." He stuffs his books into his backpack. "What should we do?"
            "I've a great idea." Laura sits up, notebook in hand. "We're both going to make a list of everything we want in a spouse—"
            Jake crinkles his nose. "What the heck? I'm not doing this."
            "But you promised to do whatever I want when we're here."
            He shrugs. "That's before you said we were going to do this."
            "No excuses." She hands him a piece of paper.
            "This sucks."
            "No complaining allowed." She bends over, scribbling away.
            "Fine, but this is stupid." Jake writes for five seconds, then puts down his pencil. "Got it. Are you ready?"
            "No. I just got started."
            "Wake me up when you finish." He closes his eyes, then peeks out. "Aren't you done yet?"
            Laura sighs. "You're such a pest."
            He closes his eyes again, then opens them. "Aren't you done yet?"
            "Be quiet. I'm taking this seriously."
"You're taking this seriously?" Jake laughs. "Why?"
"Because it's important. Duh. All the women's magazines say you gotta know what you want so you don't just settle for whatever man comes along."
"But you're twelve."
"I'm thirteen, and you know it."
He shakes his head. "No. You'll always be twelve to me, and you've never even been on a date."
"Thanks for reminding me. Some of my friends at school already have boyfriends… but I don't."
"You're too young to have a boyfriend."
"That's not it." Laura's shoulders slump. "Boys don't like me that way. They just feel sorry for me."
"No way. You're the prettiest girl in your school class picture."
She stares at her hands. "You're just saying that because you're my brother."
"I am your brother—you're so lucky by the way—"
"What are you—some love expert? You don't know anything about dating."
            Jake puffs up his chest. "Sure I do."
            "No, you don't. You hardly date. And anyone you do date doesn't stick around long. What's that about?"
He shrugs. "It's complicated."
"Then un-complicate it."
He cocks his head to the side. "Are you sure you want to hear this?"
"Well, the truth is they all get jealous of you."
Laura flushes. "Really? Even Marisa?"
"Yep. She couldn't accept that you always come first, and you're always going to come first. So it ended."
Laura sighs. "I'm ruining your life."
"No, you're not. Don't be silly."
"You shouldn't have just me. What if I die? Then you won't have anybody."
Jake pales. "Don't talk like that. I mean it."
Laura takes a deep breath. "I have to, because it might happen. And you need to be ready."
"No." Jake shakes his head. "Listen, can we talk about something else?"
She grins. "Like me dating some hot guy?"
"Ugh." He groans. "That's it. No more romantic comedy movies for you. You've been poisoned. There's more to life than dating. Lots more. You'll find out once you get better."
"I don't actually care about dating... It's just this." She points at the bulging fistula in her arm. "Nobody can deal with how ugly I am, and it sucks."
Jake grasps her hand. "You're not ugly. Don't ever say that."
Laura lowers her head and mumbles. "Some of the kids at school tell me I am."
Jake's eyes narrow. "Give me their names, and I'll wipe the playground with their ignorant asses."
"No, you won't. I won't let you."
"Just because other people are jerks, don't let them get to you. They're probably just unhappy about something in their own life and taking it out on you."
"I know, but it still hurts to hear it."
Jake carefully puts his arm around her shoulders. "Forget about them. Read me your list. See if I approve."
She folds the paper closed. "You first."
"No way. It was your idea, so you go first."
"Fine. Number one: he must be tall—"
Jake nods. "Of course. You don't want to have short kids, right?"
"What's so bad about being short?"
"You can't reach anything in the kitchen cupboards."
"Fine. No short kids. Okay, number two: he must be cute—"
"Of course no one's ever going to be as cute as me. Try not to be disappointed."
"Yeah. Very funny." Laura clears her throat. "Number three: he must be smart—"
"I'm also smarter than everyone else… in Wisconsin, anyway—"
"That's it! Show me your list first if you're going to keep interrupting."
Jake hands it over.
"But there's only one line."
He shrugs. "I got it covered. Just read it."
"My wife will be awesome… But that doesn't tell me anything."
"Sure it does. Besides, I'm not worried about getting married. I'm only worried about…"
"Me, right?" she whispers. "You're always worried about me."
Jake glances around the room. "I don't want you to have to keep coming here all the time. And I can't bear to think of those kids at school bugging you because of your arm."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I've got a plan."
"I don't always like your plans."
Jake grins. "Sure you do."
Nurse Lisa stops by to check the dialysis machine.
Laura giggles. "Remember when you brought the neighbor kid's karaoke machine in here and forced everyone to sing?"
Jake chuckles. "One of my finer moments."
"Actually, that was a blast," the nurse says. "You should do it again."
Laura groans. "Don't encourage him."
Nurse Lisa pats her on the shoulder. "You feeling all right, honey?"
"Good. I'll be back to check again later." The nurse walks away.
Laura yawns.
"Are you okay?" Jake asks.
"I'm just tired."
"Then rest your head on my shoulder and get some sleep."
"Okay." She yawns again.
Beep. Beep. Beep.

Fifteen minutes pass as Jake watches his little sister sleep. He brushes her head with a kiss, then whispers: "I'm going to fix this. You're not going to have to come here forever. Not if I can help it. I'm going to make it better… even if it kills me."

Now available on AMAZON!

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