Today's Reading

(The copy in this email is used by permission, from an uncorrected advanced proof. In quoting from this book for reviews or any other purpose, it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press. This book will be available in bookstores August 2024.)

CHAPTER ONE

Dan Foster was on his fifth Miller Lite when the sun exploded.

Or maybe his sixth—that familiar fog floated between his ears and the hair on his head felt heavy and he was talking more than normal, which meant he was talking a lot, because Dan Foster wasn't the strong, silent type. It was the perfect temperature, he pegged it around eighty-two degrees, give or take, and the waves were big enough for people exiting the water to say, "Rough out there!" but not so big that you actually felt helpless. His girlfriend, Mara, was looking at all the girls in bikinis, which Dan liked to watch her do, and the guy two umbrellas over was just blasting his Bluetooth speaker. Dan normally hated guys who brought their speakers to the beach—like, How self -centered do you have to be to assume we'd rather listen to your shitty playlist over the sound of seagulls or water crashing or, you know, our loved ones—but the dude was playing eighties yacht rock, and something about it was hitting just right. Dan swayed to the rhythm and pointed at Mara, and soon she joined him, dancing and touching and laughing and stumbling in the sand, not a thought about who might be watching because everyone was making their own moments.

But then there was this soft, low rumble, a flicker, and the sun exploded.

It was upsetting.

You'd think the sun exploding would be dramatic, like the Death Star at the end of A New Hope or, you know, the bigger Death Stars at the end of the other ones. It's the sun. A gaseous ball of fire a million times the size of Earth, Dan remembered from third grade. A red dwarf. Or was it yellow? Either way, it was big—and when it exploded, one would reasonably expect a hell of a light show.

Instead, it was like someone had pelted Earth with an egg. The yolk dripped down the side of the sky and was gone.

Then it was dark.

Not scary dark, not I-need-to-walk-with-my-hands-out-so-I don't-hit-a-credenza dark, but normal dark. Nighttime dark. The lights of the resort clicked on—must've been on autodimmers—and Dan put his hands on his hips and thought, Huh. As a man, he knew it was important to appear unshakable in the face of an emergency, even if his insides were melting. He'd learned that from his dad, who had learned it from his. It was a fake-it-till-you-make-it tradition passed down through generations of Foster men, who, at their core, had no idea what they were doing. Dan's instinct was to do that here too. To contort his face in a way that indicated someone should be along to fix this shortly, must've tripped a breaker, seen it a million times. But who would believe he'd experienced a cosmic event with galaxy-altering implications before? He was only twenty-nine.

So he just stood there dumbfounded for a while.

The worst part, really, was the screaming. Mara, God bless her, felt no burden to pretend she was in control, and screamed so loud that it shot the beer fog straight from Dan's head and into the night. Well, the day. The day-night. Mara tugged his arm, collapsed in the sand, wept. She pounded her phone with her index finger but cellular was down.

It probably wasn't a good time to bring it up, but Mara did have a flair for dramatics. Dan once used dish soap on her grandma's cast-iron skillet, which apparently you're not supposed to do because it ruins the flavor or something, and she'd performed monologues about that for three weeks. It was anyone's guess how long she'd go on about the sun exploding.

People kicked up sand as they sprinted to their rooms, like they could outrun the dark, and once Dan got Mara to her feet, they ran too. There might've been a tsunami coming, for all they knew, because the sun controls the oceans' waves. Or was that the moon? Whatever. The beach felt like the worst place to be when the sun exploded, and so soon they were on the wooden beach access ramp, and then they were on the textured cement pathway, and then they were wedged in with the crowd trying to squeeze into the breezeway of Building B.

"We can't take the elevator!" Mara screamed, and Dan realized those were the first real words she'd said since the explosion. "You're not supposed to take the elevator in an emergency!"

Dan said, "That's for a fire," as he shouldered a man next to him trying to cut in line.

"No, Danny. It's for all emergencies."

"I think it's just fires, actually, but okay. Okay. It's three floors up. We can take the stairs."
...

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Today's Reading

(The copy in this email is used by permission, from an uncorrected advanced proof. In quoting from this book for reviews or any other purpose, it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press. This book will be available in bookstores August 2024.)

CHAPTER ONE

Dan Foster was on his fifth Miller Lite when the sun exploded.

Or maybe his sixth—that familiar fog floated between his ears and the hair on his head felt heavy and he was talking more than normal, which meant he was talking a lot, because Dan Foster wasn't the strong, silent type. It was the perfect temperature, he pegged it around eighty-two degrees, give or take, and the waves were big enough for people exiting the water to say, "Rough out there!" but not so big that you actually felt helpless. His girlfriend, Mara, was looking at all the girls in bikinis, which Dan liked to watch her do, and the guy two umbrellas over was just blasting his Bluetooth speaker. Dan normally hated guys who brought their speakers to the beach—like, How self -centered do you have to be to assume we'd rather listen to your shitty playlist over the sound of seagulls or water crashing or, you know, our loved ones—but the dude was playing eighties yacht rock, and something about it was hitting just right. Dan swayed to the rhythm and pointed at Mara, and soon she joined him, dancing and touching and laughing and stumbling in the sand, not a thought about who might be watching because everyone was making their own moments.

But then there was this soft, low rumble, a flicker, and the sun exploded.

It was upsetting.

You'd think the sun exploding would be dramatic, like the Death Star at the end of A New Hope or, you know, the bigger Death Stars at the end of the other ones. It's the sun. A gaseous ball of fire a million times the size of Earth, Dan remembered from third grade. A red dwarf. Or was it yellow? Either way, it was big—and when it exploded, one would reasonably expect a hell of a light show.

Instead, it was like someone had pelted Earth with an egg. The yolk dripped down the side of the sky and was gone.

Then it was dark.

Not scary dark, not I-need-to-walk-with-my-hands-out-so-I don't-hit-a-credenza dark, but normal dark. Nighttime dark. The lights of the resort clicked on—must've been on autodimmers—and Dan put his hands on his hips and thought, Huh. As a man, he knew it was important to appear unshakable in the face of an emergency, even if his insides were melting. He'd learned that from his dad, who had learned it from his. It was a fake-it-till-you-make-it tradition passed down through generations of Foster men, who, at their core, had no idea what they were doing. Dan's instinct was to do that here too. To contort his face in a way that indicated someone should be along to fix this shortly, must've tripped a breaker, seen it a million times. But who would believe he'd experienced a cosmic event with galaxy-altering implications before? He was only twenty-nine.

So he just stood there dumbfounded for a while.

The worst part, really, was the screaming. Mara, God bless her, felt no burden to pretend she was in control, and screamed so loud that it shot the beer fog straight from Dan's head and into the night. Well, the day. The day-night. Mara tugged his arm, collapsed in the sand, wept. She pounded her phone with her index finger but cellular was down.

It probably wasn't a good time to bring it up, but Mara did have a flair for dramatics. Dan once used dish soap on her grandma's cast-iron skillet, which apparently you're not supposed to do because it ruins the flavor or something, and she'd performed monologues about that for three weeks. It was anyone's guess how long she'd go on about the sun exploding.

People kicked up sand as they sprinted to their rooms, like they could outrun the dark, and once Dan got Mara to her feet, they ran too. There might've been a tsunami coming, for all they knew, because the sun controls the oceans' waves. Or was that the moon? Whatever. The beach felt like the worst place to be when the sun exploded, and so soon they were on the wooden beach access ramp, and then they were on the textured cement pathway, and then they were wedged in with the crowd trying to squeeze into the breezeway of Building B.

"We can't take the elevator!" Mara screamed, and Dan realized those were the first real words she'd said since the explosion. "You're not supposed to take the elevator in an emergency!"

Dan said, "That's for a fire," as he shouldered a man next to him trying to cut in line.

"No, Danny. It's for all emergencies."

"I think it's just fires, actually, but okay. Okay. It's three floors up. We can take the stairs."
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...