by Thea Landen
Two years have passed since April Patterson’s husband was shot and killed in the line of duty, and she’s trapped in a haze of grief and uncertainty. Having grown frustrated by all other efforts to engage her in activities where she could meet new people, her cousin pays for a date via 1Night Stand. Not thrilled with the idea, April nevertheless contacts Madame Eve and requests the impossible: a date with her deceased husband.
Brilliant software engineer Drew Monroe created his company, Elysium, to help give closure to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, through the use of virtual reality. Though passionate about his work, being constantly surrounded by heartache and death has taken a toll on his mental health. When he accepts the case of a young widow referred to him by Madame Eve, her tragic tale depresses him further, but he commits himself to programming April the romantic date she desires.
April arrives at Elysium and prepares to enter Drew’s virtual realm. Will she find the solace she seeks within? Or will she discover she doesn’t need a fantasy world to discover happiness again?
Read an excerpt:
I came over to her in an effort to console her, and I doubted I’d even succeeded at that. In trying to offer her comfort, I’d contorted myself into an awkward position, trapping us between her chair and mine. The helmet she flung at me balanced on one leg, and my opposite elbow stuck out at an unnatural angle as I struggled to hold her in some sort of odd embrace. Terrific.
Her tears pooled on my upper arm, soaking through the shirt. “I’m sorry,” she kept repeating, her voice strained and muffled. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry….”
“No, I’m sorry.” My throat constricted, and for a second I thought I’d start crying with her. I grieved for a man I never met, and twinges of guilt tugged at my conscience as I thought about all the times I’d envied him. Coupled with the blatant shortcomings in operating Elysium’s software, I was not feeling very good about myself. “I’m sorry I let you down.” One arm tightened around her and shame pushed the next selfish words out. “I wanted to give you something no one else could. I wanted to let you be happy again.”
Little by little, April calmed down. She stopped shaking and her breathing slowed. Lifting her head, she stared at me with red-rimmed eyes. Something shifted within their gray depths, and she moved as if to stand. I expected her to disentangle herself from me and gather her belongings, but she leaned against the edge of the chair, wedging one knee between my thigh and the armrest. Before I could react, her hands were in my hair, her tongue was in my mouth, and she kissed me with a blazing intensity as if it was the last thing she’d ever do.
Kiss her back, you idiot.
Thea Landen lives in New York with her husband and a variety of houseplants. A former educator, she strives to encourage creativity and passion in all those around her, and uses writing to help inspire. Though she reads and writes in nearly all genres, she has a special fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and adventure and anything that pushes the imagination beyond its usual limits. When she’s not writing, or thinking about writing, her hands and mind are occupied by either yarn crafts or role-playing games.
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