Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Amazon ♥ B & N
Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever.
Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.
Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.
As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.
Lifting the canoe off my shoulders, I use a rolling motion to bring it down the side of my body and onto the tops of my thighs. From there, I ease the boat into the muddy shallows at the edge of the opaque green lake.
Almost immediately, a thin trickle of water seeps into the bottom. This is not good.
There are still two days left till the end of the trip. Two days until we reach base camp, a laughable description for the cluster of flimsy wooden lean-tos poised precariously on the granite ledge of a pine- shadowed island in the middle of nowhere. Still, the island’s where the floatplane picks us up. Then we van it to the airport. But with one less canoe . . .
Rubbing a hand over the back of my neck, I watch as water pools in the boat’s silvery bottom. Someone’s been careless on the other end of the portage, probably putting the aluminum canoe down on a rock. At least one of the rivets along the seam has popped.
Besides lining up the canoe alongside five others and tying the excuse of a bowline to a low limb on a nearby pine, there’s nothing I can do right now. I pull off my flannel. The T-shirt underneath is soaked with sweat. It stinks. Week four, and we’ve been pushing across the chain of lakes for five days straight. But tomorrow’s a rest day. Washing some clothes might be a good idea. If I don’t fall for the siren song of my sleeping bag, which may or may not have a girl in it.
Six guys. Six girls. Two guides who treat the term lightly. Add a complete lack of civilization, and even with the daunting distance we’ve trekked, there’s been plenty of time to—
The water winks. I do a double take. Under the ubiquitous spot- light of the late July sun, another canoe spins slowly at the center of the lake. An escapee. The silver shimmer of the empty belly of the boat flashes again now, a slightly curved grin, taunting me.
It’s as if the vessel knows I can’t resist playing hero. Never have been able to.
Really, the lake isn’t so wide. Anyone in the group could swim to the other side in twenty minutes, which means I can do it in less. It feeds the falls, but that doesn’t matter. If we lose the boat, we’re screwed. I peel off the T-shirt, yank off my hiking boots, slosh into the water. A second later, my feet lift off the bottom. Deeper than I’d thought. No worries. A few strokes and the canoe’s an arm’s length away. I grab the raveled bit of rope dangling off the bow and turn back, surprised to feel the current tugging around my legs.
A movement just beyond the shoreline at the barely visible trail- head catches my eye. Dan, Dan, the Portage Man—one of our fearless leaders—is emerging from the woods. He stops when he sees me. Goes still. Then he folds his arms, an unreadable expression on his face.
My foot strikes a rock. It’s big enough to balance on, which I do, grinning at Dan, though I’m pretty sure he won’t even crack a smile. He doesn’t like me. Whatever. This trip’s not going to change me or how I act. I just need to get through it. More proof for Dad that I can be like Jack.
Jack. My brother. He came here, too. Hiked these same trails. Maybe swam in this lake.
An image forms before I can stop it: Jack, in the water. Not here on the surface with me, but beneath.
Some bug—a greenfly or mosquito—dives toward my eyes. I swat at it. The picture disintegrates.
Lifting the bowline to show I’ve got the canoe, I begin pulling the boat toward shore.
Mimi Cross was born in Toronto, Canada. She received a master's degree from New York University and a bachelor's degree in music from Ithaca College.
She has been a performer, a music educator, and a yoga instructor. During the course of her musical career, she's shared the bill with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Sting.
She resides in New Jersey.