Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Summary: Chapter 1 The woman was snapped out of her daze by a loud, irritating voice. "Phoebe Cross!" a man's voice boomed. Isis sat in the waiting room at the state police headquarters. She was slow to respond to the false name-her sister's, actually-that she had given to the Department of Corrections so that she could be approved to witness the execution of her man, David Davis. It had been five years since the events that ...caused her man to be convicted of first-degree murder. Five years of letters, phone calls, and Saturday-morning visits. Appeal after appeal had been filed to prevent his death sentence, and every single one had been denied. Today would be his final day on Earth. Her auntie always used to say that there was more than one way to bake a cake, and not only was her auntie a master baker but also she never told a lie. In the state of Virginia, friends and relatives of an inmate weren't allowed to witness the execution of their loved one, although the victim's family can have a front-row seat and watch the convicted accuser be put to death. But if anyone thought that the state of Virginia's fucked-up laws were going to keep her from watching Dave take his last breath and sharing the last bit of air with her man, then they had shit really fucked up. Isis had told Dave that she would be there for him until the end. And by all means, she intended to do just that! Dave was her first everything: her first kiss, her first date, her first boyfriend. She had even lost her virginity to him. It had been love at first sight for the couple. Though she had been only fifteen at the time they met, if it had been up to her, she would have married Dave the first time she laid eyes on him. Everyone said that it was only puppy love, but she was convinced it was real love from the start-that kind of real love Mary J. Blige sang about. On their very first date, Isis and Dave made a pact. They agreed that they would stay together until death. And although such a thing was strange for a fifteen-year-old girl, Isis meant every solitary word it. She felt that kind of commitment toward him. It didn't matter that Dave was locked up on death row for most of their relationship. Isis was one of those rare chicks-rare people, for that matter-who always kept their word. If she said it, she meant it. It was 7:15 pm, and there she sat, waiting for it all to be over. Everything that they had planned was out of the window, because of one foolish mistake. "Phoebe Cross," the man called again. "That's me," Isis said, quickly wiping her hands across her eyes. She rubbed her cold arms, trying to warm up a little, which made her think about how years ago, when things were good, she used to stroll through her high school hallways wearing Dave's Avirex jacket. It had been too big for her and had practically swallowed her up, but it hadn't mattered because she'd been sporting her man's jacket and had wanted the world to know it. The memory gave her a brief moment of happiness. "I'm sorry," she told the man as she stood. "With the long wait, I must've fallen asleep." Even so, she wondered how he could not have known it was her name that he was calling out; she was the only woman in a room full of men there to be a witness. She walked toward the officer who had been calling her alias. He handed her a green visitor's pass and instructed, "Please put this where it can be visibly seen, and get in one of the three vans outside." He gestured toward the door leading to the outside parking lot. "The vans will transport us to the prison where the execution will be performed." Performed. He made the ordeal sound as if it were a magic trick about to take place instead of a man being put to death. "Thank you," she said, taking the pass from him. All eyes were on her as she placed the tag on her sweater and exited the [read more]
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