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| SORRY NOT SORRY |




Coming February 2019



Janelle and Alyssa used to be friends.

Best friends. They knew each other's deepest secrets and went through the hardest times together. But that was then.
Now? Their status is somewhere between frenemies and full-on rivals. Janelle is all about making a difference in her community, while Alyssa reigns over the shallowest girls in school.
Until the day Alyssa collapses and is rushed to the hospital. Suddenly, everyone knows about her declining health and race against time. And, in a stunning twist of fate, the only person who might be able to save Alyssa's life -- is Janelle. But will the girls' bitter past get in the way of their futures?

With a fresh, unforgettable voice, Jaime Reed spins a riveting and empowering story of female friendship and how the difficult choices we make -- or don't make -- can change our lives.




EXCERPT

If I had to sit down with a shrink and explain my relationship with Alyssa Weaver, I’d probably get diagnosed with something incurable and hard to spell. We were those grouchy old neighbors that showed affection by trashing each other’s lawn displays at Christmas.  I’d driven around town, pitting the reason why I should visit against reasons why I shouldn’t. It was a tie.

Alyssa took her time answering the door. Word on the street was she’d just gotten out of the hospital today, so she was probably stiff and groggy. She emerged through the opened door and—Yeesh! It was worse than I thought. No makeup, hair giving me Medusa teas with sunken eyes glaring at me like this train wreck was my fault.

Giving up that warm, southern welcome, she asked, “What do you want?”

“An apology for you coming to the door looking like Cynthia from Rugrats,” I replied.  “Also, I wanted to… I don’t know, hang out and stuff.”

Squinting, Alyssa stretched her neck closer until her nose was an inch from mine. “You’ve been crying. What happened?”

Another reason for driving around town was the crying jag that occurred out of nowhere. All my fears, memories and emotions were beyond suppression. Alyssa didn’t need to know all that, so I said, “People getting on my nerves.”

She rolled her eyes. “What else is new? You’ll have to use the chair or the floor.” She lumbered back into the house and down the hallway.

I closed the door behind me, still blown away by the transformation. The interior walls were white. The carpet was tan. Their furniture was… There was furniture! Two couches—one against the wall the other under the front window with a glass coffee table between them. Two giant bookshelves flanked a TV stand and the 50-inch flat​-​screen dominated the center.

When I reached Alyssa’s room, she’d crawled back into bed, her lilac covers tucked under her chin. A humidifier pumped steam into the room. It was seventy degrees outside. She had on flannel pajamas and she was still cold?

The bed and the butterfly chair were the only viable seating options in the room. The chair now operated as a hamper, so I’d have to make do with the floor. I checked the closet for a blanket to sit on.  I was shocked to find the old purple sleeping bag crammed against her shoe rack. That thing had seen some wild nights of make-overs and pizza parties. There was still a pepperoni stain on the zipper that wouldn’t come out.

“You sure you okay with me crashing here for a bit?’ I asked Alyssa.

Channel surfing at rapid speed, she said, “I would’ve slammed the door in your face if I wasn’t.”

Seeing her point, I fluffed the bag a few times until it draped evenly on the floor.
After kicking off my shoes, I sat with my legs crossed and stared up at her. “I can’t believe you still have this thing. I’m surprised you haven’t burned it.”

“Yeah, I have an issue with letting stuff go.”

My stare dropped to my lap and stayed there for several of the most awkward minutes of my life. What could I say to that? I wasn’t reading into things, but neither of us had the strength to unpack the baggage between us. Alyssa sure didn’t.

What in the world was she gonna do about school? She was due back next week, but she clearly wasn’t ready. Her mom had mentioned pulling her out of school altogether, but it was still up in the air. Her whole life had been up in the air since she was a kid. Her family, her coin, her diet, her treatments, her energy—everything was managed, but never resolved. An unending cycle of modified schedules, the additional steps needed to start the day. 
Glancing around the room, I realized this was hoarding of another kind—the hoarding of procedures. Medical stuff was piled to the ceiling, and every inch of wiggle room had to be squeezed through just to get out the door. Day in and day out: sanitized incisions, fresh bandages, new needles. Beeping machines, daily records in journal pages. Nutritional fact labels with each bite of food tasting like a percentage. I looked at Alyssa’s thinning hair, the translucent white skin that hadn’t felt the sun in days.

It was her childhood battle with insulin all over again, times a thousand. The sick little white girl up the road with the junky house. The business partner who sold cookies and lemonade each year and refused to sample any of it. When would it end? One way or another, it had to.

I cleared my throat; let the air dry my eyes then asked, “So, you wanna—”

“Okay, the first rule of this hangout is that you do not talk about my condition or anything sappy. I just gotten through dialysis. I’m totally drained, my head is killing me, and I’m ready to blow chunks.”

 “I was gonna ask you if you wanna Netflix and chill.” I clarified.

“You are not a hot Korean guy with a sexy raspy voice, so no. I politely decline your offer. Plus, I don’t have Netflix anymore. Mama considers it a luxury expense. Cutbacks.” She said this last part with a crook of her upper lip.

What? Miss Shop-’till-you-drop finally got that credit card cut up? Say it ain’t so. I couldn’t kick the poor dear while she was down—not from my angle on the floor anyway. This was her being civil, and what better way to call off a two-and-a-half-year feud than by presenting a peace offering?

 Her eyes, droopy and dead to the world, sparked like flickering embers when I said, “You can use my password.”




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