Jalal Vaziri: At thirty, he’s adrift, estranged, and at war within.
Jalal had suffered three torturous nightlong battles in a row, and now, as he sat on his porch steps, the thoughts that fueled his insomnia returned. He gazed out over the ocean to the sun bleeding its fluorescence into the water as it slipped below the horizon. How was it possible to live in such a beautiful, serene place and not be inspired? He had not written any verse in months. It just would not come. He felt eviscerated. Defenseless. Frightened. As it did every day now, the fear plagued him. What if I have nothing left in me to write?
Meredith Dahlberg-Lang: At fifty, she’s beautiful, intelligent, rich, and in hiding–from herself.
Meredith curled up at one end of the sofa to wait. Jalal had finally come around to asking the questions she feared all along. Blindsided by his confession, she had forgotten for a few minutes that she needed to make her own. She knew enough pop psychology to realize that what she blurted out this morning was intentional, even if subconscious. She had misdirected him once, withheld enough of the truth to deceive him into blaming Stephen for what she had done to herself, and today, with that slip, she misled him again.
Renee Marshall: At twenty-three, toughened by life, she’s fighting against the love she wants.
Damn him. Why’d he have to cheat now? “Six more weeks, Matt. That’s all I needed—” She’d flipped the light switch and the glare exposed the mess he’d left behind: half-opened drawers, empty hangers on the bed, a leftover packing box. Gone. The breath she held eased out like a prayer. “I wanted to be the first to leave this time.”
During the minute she stood in the doorway surveying the remnants of Matt, she assessed the situation, adjusted her plans, and shot her middle finger into the air. Done, and done. She cleared the bed with a sweep of her arm, peeled off her tip-increasing micro-skirt, cut the lights, and crawled under the covers.