Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Grief … or guilt - The Missing Year by Belinda Frisch

Published: November 17th, 2014


Thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler was everything Lila had ever wanted. A rising-star surgeon with his whole life ahead of him, Blake gave Lila ten perfect years of marriage before plunging her into the hardest year of their lives.

When a late night shooting leaves Blake in a coma, Lila is faced with a difficult decision: continue life support or let him go.

One year later, Lila remains unwilling to speak, in a private mental health facility where she refuses to move on.

Dr. Ross Reeves knows firsthand about loss, having spent the better part of five years burying himself in his work. Tasked with the challenge of breaking Lila’s silence, Ross investigates Lila’s past and her husband’s death, finding more to Blake’s murder than meets the eye. A series of mysterious coincidences has Ross wondering if Lila is acting out of grief … or guilt.


Grief wasn’t a linear process.

Five years had passed in the blink of an eye and every time Ross thought he was ready to deal with life after Sarah’s death, something pulled him back.

He cared about Mattie, but he was still very much in love with his wife.

Ross collapsed on the bed and rolled onto his side, remembering Sarah’s nearly bald head on the pillow, her body so thin he could make out the lump of her colostomy before the curve of her once sexy legs. She’d died weighing seventy pounds, a skeleton compared with the hundred and ten she once determinedly maintained.

“At least now I can have dessert,” she had joked, the pounds falling visibly away.

Ross had made sure she had her fill of favorite sweets every night until she could no longer eat them.

He reached for their wedding photo on the nightstand and smoothed his thumb over the image of Sarah’s smiling face. Sarah beamed, standing with her arms around Camille, her stunning best friend and maid of honor. Delicate white flowers sharply contrasted Sarah’s dark hair, tied up in an elegant twist. Ross stood next to his best man, Jeff, who pursed his lips in Sarah’s direction, blowing her a kiss.

“You sure you want to settle down with this one?” Jeff had said. “You could run away with me right now, and only everyone would know.”

“Sorry, Jeff,” she had said. “I found the love of my life.”

Sarah had been head-turningly beautiful, always the prettiest girl in the room. In Ross’s eyes, even when the cancer took her.

Jeff’s advances had been in jest, though Ross suspected he did in fact have a longstanding crush on Sarah.

He didn’t blame him.

Sarah was almost too easy to fall in love with.

Ross held Sarah’s pillow to his face and inhaled, her scent long ago faded. With each passing day, he lost another memory. Fine details, but something he once knew well. He couldn’t recall the pattern of the freckles on her nose, or the feeling of her soft hair first thing in the morning. He couldn’t remember her exact voice, or the way it sounded when she sang in the car. He’d forgotten too much and held on to what he could, making their home a museum to their life that he shamefully hid.

Medical equipment filled their bedroom and bathroom: a walker, a shower seat, and the commode Sarah used before being fitted with a catheter. The “his” and “hers” closet remained undisturbed, Sarah’s clothes hanging on the left, a memory associated with most every outfit. Her jean leggings and sweaters reminded him of cuddling in front of the fireplace on a snowy winter night. Her sundresses brought back walks on the beach, and her wedding dress, sealed in a clear plastic bag, reminded him of the most perfect day of his life.

He took his wedding band from its place in Sarah’s jewelry box and put it on, as he did most nights. The ring settled into the fading indent on his finger.

For someone who specialized in helping others overcome grief, he had no idea how to deal with his own.

He closed his eyes and was startled by the sound of his ringtone.

The number registered as “Private.”


“Ross? Guy Oliver calling.”

Even if the man hadn’t identified himself, Ross would have recognized the familiar voice. Ross cracked a slight smile, remembering the strict but brilliant mentor with whom he’d spent four years of residency. “It’s good to hear from you. How are things in New York?”

Guy cleared his throat. “Good. Well, okay.”

“Is something wrong?” Ross said. At Guy’s mid-sixties age health issues were likely.

“Not necessarily. It’s just that … I hate to even ask you this.”

“Doc, you’re scaring me. What’s wrong?”

“I have a patient I need a hand with.”

“You mean like a case review? Why didn’t you just say that? Is it something I can do online?”

“I wish it was that easy. I know it’s an imposition, but I would need you to come to the center.”

“For how long?” Ross could manage a couple of days, but with the Arlene Pope situation he couldn’t afford more than that.

“A month. Six weeks, maybe?”

“Oh,” Ross said. That kind of commitment was out of the question.

“You know I wouldn’t ask if I thought there was anyone else.”

“Guy, I’m flattered, but I’m in the middle of a big case. I really don’t think I—”

“Ross, I really need you on this. We’d pay your flights, rental car, and a per diem on top of matching your current salary.”

“It isn’t that.” Ross hadn’t been back to New York since Sarah’s funeral. Their hometown, less than ten miles from Lakeside, held too many painful memories.

“If you’re worried about work, I’ll talk to Dan for you.”

Dan, Ross’s boss, was both a friend and former colleague of Guy’s. Guy had initially recommended Ross for his current job.

“It’s not Dan, either. Even if he’d give me the time, I have this case—”

“How much longer?”

“How much longer for what?” Ross said.

“Until the patient discharges.”

“I honestly don’t know.” His report would certainly get the ball rolling on Arlene’s transfer to jail, but Ross had no idea if that meant hours, days, or weeks. Arlene’s lawyer was most likely going to push for a second opinion. Ross expected to have to defend his position.

“What if I give you two weeks to wrap things up in Chicago? That would give you a month here.”

“Guy, I really can’t.”

“A woman’s life depends on this. My patient, Lila, is suicidal and non-verbal. Her family is threatening to remove her from care. If anyone can get her to talk, you can.”

“And why is that?”

“Because it was her losing her husband that landed her here.”

About the author:
Runner-up Halloween Book Festival 2012 and optioned for film, Cure
Honorable Mention New York Book Festival 2014, Better Left Buried
Amazon Top 100 Medical Thriller, Fatal Reaction

After fifteen years of working in healthcare, Belinda Frisch’s stories can’t help being medicine influenced. A writer of dark tales in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres, Belinda tells the stories she’d like to read. Her fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of the Zombie War. She is the author of Cure, Afterbirth, Fatal Reaction, Better Left Buried, and The Missing Year. She resides in upstate New York with her husband and a small menagerie of beloved animals.

Blog ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter 

Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Joseph Hawkshaw said...

Love the cover looks so cool

Unknown said...

Great excerpt , thank you so much for the giveaway too

stacey dempsey said...

Thank you for the giveaway and I enjoyed the excerpt too

Juana said...

Loved both the excerpt and the pretty book cover.

Juana Esparza

Beautiful Disaster said...

Thanks for the excerpt because I enjoyed reading it. I've added it to my TBR pile.
Happy Holidays :)

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book! I enjoyed reading the excerpt! This sounds like an interesting read! I will totally be adding this book to my "to-read" list.

johnthuku0 said...

Romantic cover. :) Looks nice though. Thanks for hosting.

Ricky said...

Wouldn't want to be in Ross's shoes right now.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the chance

Unknown said...

sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway.

rounder9834 @yahoo.com