How hard would you fight for the one you love?
Josh Collins has the perfect life—a beautiful girlfriend and a baby on the way, until an accident takes his life.
Avery Rhodes’ world imploded the moment she lost Josh. Her life and future unravelled in an instant. Alone and pregnant, she finds herself facing an unimaginable, turbulent and painful new reality.
With his newfound guide Gabriel, Josh is witness to the unintended consequences of his death, until he can’t take it anymore. He has to fight for everything and everyone he loves.
Together, Josh and Avery are forced to learn what happens IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES.
The soft click of the radio as it turned on stirred his senses. Josh Collins pulled the pillow over his head, desperate to block out the sound of the music coming from the nightstand a few feet away. Every moment it grew louder, pulling him further from the sweet confines of sleep. He felt Avery move beside him before she rolled away, and the lost contact with her body woke him up more than the sudden disturbance of the music ever had.
His eyes were still closed as he batted the pillow away and reached out, his fingers fumbling to hit the off button before it could wake her. The DJ announced it was going to be yet another beautiful day in the city of Tampa Bay. He hit the button and the room suddenly plunged back into silence.
He pulled the pillow over his face, breathing easily as he tried to wake himself up.
“Josh…” Avery’s voice was sleepy, muffled by the blanket she’d pulled up over her head earlier.
He set the pillow aside and rolled closer to her, moving the blanket back to kiss the smooth skin of her neck. “Go back to sleep.”
“Positive,” he assured her, smiling to himself when she didn’t say another word, just slid deeper under the covers.
For a moment, he simply lay there, waiting to wake up fully before getting out of bed. His grogginess seemed especially hard to get rid of that morning. Maybe he just didn’t want to leave her. Rubbing his eyes one more time, he pushed himself out of bed with a yawn. He had a long drive ahead of him for that hour of the morning to meet up with his brothers for a few days in Orlando.
Josh kept the room as dark as possible as he grabbed his jeans and a clean t-shirt from the walk-in closet, wincing as the door squeaked. Risking a quick glance at the bed, he smiled in relief that she hadn’t stirred, her form still sound asleep beneath the blankets. He slung his clothes over his arm, grabbed his watch and wallet from the dresser and headed down the hall for a shower and shave, not wanting to risk waking her by using the bathroom off the bedroom.
An hour later, he loaded his lone suitcase into the back of the SUV. A funny feeling washed over him as he slammed the trunk down. He couldn’t explain the feeling, a strange draw to return to the house. Had he forgotten to shut the coffee pot off? He scratched the back of his neck. What the heck, one last check around wouldn’t hurt. He clicked the button on the remote to lock up the SUV and hurried back up the path to the house, frowning as a cloud passed in front of the sun. The clouds overhead weren’t exactly following the predicted path for a beautiful day, but maybe they’d dissipate, only causing a mild disturbance. That wasn’t unusual for Tampa Bay weather.
Josh checked the kitchen one last time. The coffee pot was off, the phone’s ringer was set on low. Her cell phone still sat on the charger in the kitchen, its charging light blinking off and on. His sat right beside it. He shook his head with a chuckle and a sense of relief as he picked up the small phone and slid it into his front jeans pocket. That explained that odd feeling that he needed to return to the house. Seeing a note Avery had written to herself next to the phone, he moved it to the fridge door and headed back upstairs for one last peek at his girlfriend. She lay in the middle of the bed, hugging the oversized teddy bear he’d put in his spot when he’d grabbed his suitcase earlier. He smiled to himself as he headed to the dresser and grabbed one of the loose sheets of paper on her side. Scribbling down a few words, he left it sticking out from beneath his pillow. “I’ll see you in a week, beautiful.”
Half an hour later, he was on the road. The luke-warm coffee, the last remains of his drive-thru breakfast, sat in the cup holder in the console beside him. His fingers tapped along to the beat of the song blaring through the speakers. The driver’s window was down, the wind rushing over him.
The clouds hadn’t gone away. In fact a weather warning was coming into effect, a severe thunderstorm no one had predicted was due to hit the area at any time.
Josh checked the clock. If he kept going at the rate he was, with any luck he’d make it to his destination before the weather got really bad. Using the control on the steering wheel, he turned the radio down and cast another glance at the clock. It wasn’t even an hour since he’d left the city limits.
He frowned as the clouds overhead became darker and more ominous at an alarming rate. The wind streaming through the window took on an uncomfortable chill, and he rolled the window almost all the way up before focusing his attention back on the stretch of highway ahead of him. There wasn’t a lot of traffic yet, thank God. Most people were probably afraid of the bad weather and decided to wait it out at home. For a brief instant he wondered if he should do the same thing, turn around, go back to Avery and wait until the storm passed.
But he was already over halfway into the trip. He reached down and took a long sip of his coffee. He might as well make sure he was wide awake for the rest of the drive.
Within minutes, the dark clouds overhead opened up, the rain quickly changing from a few sporadic drops to sheets that hazed out his entire line of sight.
Narrowing his eyes, he tried to focus on the road, hoping the storm would clear up in a matter of minutes and he’d be able to drive through the worst unscathed. A few more miles and he could be out of the worst of it, leaving it well behind him. He eased up on the gas, aware of the beams of headlights fighting through the haze ahead of him. A quick check in his rearview mirror showed more lights behind him. Traffic was picking up. If the rain continued at that rate, he probably ought to find a place to stop at the side of the road and wait for the worst to pass over.
He barely made out the sign that showed the distance left to Orlando. The windshield wipers raced to keep up with the amount of rain blurring his view through the windshield. His fingers tightened around the steering wheel, his shoulders tensed as he tried to keep the wheels steady on the curve of road. The rain wasn’t slacking. It was getting worse.
Without warning the screeching of metal and the sound of glass shattering filled his ears. The vehicle ricocheted violently and his body lurched forward, then was abruptly thrown backwards as the airbag thrust against him. For an instant, everything was suddenly, painfully still before plunging into complete darkness.
He squeezed his eyes shut even tighter at the unfamiliar male voice saying his name. He wanted whoever it was to go away. He didn’t want to be disturbed. Just let him be.
“Josh…” There it was again, more insistent than the first time. More commanding, punctuated by a small gentle shove to his shoulder.
His eyes felt heavy, and he had to concentrate to force them open, not sure what he expected to find. His vision was hazy at first, and he blinked, trying to get things to come into focus. A ringing shrieked in his head, a very loud ringing that was worse than any post concert noise he’d ever experienced. Then came a pounding. The faintest hints of a memory.
He closed his eyes, forcing himself to think back. The screeching of metal, the impact of a collision. He’d been in an accident. The first thought rocked him. He’d been in the vehicle. He’d hit…something, someone? A wave of nausea washed over him. He shouldn’t have gone. He should have stayed home.
He opened his eyes again, and they finally managed to stay that way. Instead of what he expected to find, the crumpled remains of his vehicle, or the pasty ceiling of a hospital room, he faced marble.
He jumped up, almost falling off the hard bench he was lying on. The palest cream marble surrounded him on all sides. He staggered to his feet, his equilibrium off. A figure stood a few feet ahead of him. A man a little older than him, clad in head to toe beige, his hands clasped in front of him as he watched Josh with what looked like a small amount of amusement. His gentle brown eyes met Josh’s, and he nodded in acknowledgement.
“What happened? Where am I? Who are you?”
The man stepped forward, putting a hand on Josh’s arm to help right him as he shifted uneasily. “I’m Gabriel. Where do you think you are?”
He swallowed the lump in his throat he hadn’t even known was there. He tilted his head, and took in his surroundings. Everything was that same marble. The floors. The ceiling. The walls. Silent. Still. Nothing. Yet a strange sense of peace filled him. A peace that truly scared him. He licked his suddenly dry lips. “I’m afraid to think.”
A gentle smile crossed the stranger’s face, causing that peaceful feeling to intensify. Against all reason, Josh’s worry ebbed. “Come with me.”
He began to walk away, his feet soundless on the cool marble. Josh hesitated a moment before following down the long corridor. Not a single door. Not a window. No artificial lighting anywhere. Yet the place was as brightly lit as the sunniest summer day. They reached the end of the hallway and turned right where they finally passed another figure. Josh slowed his pace, hoping to make contact with someone else, get a hint of where he was and why he was there, but the man passed them by without so much as a glance. Josh turned his head and watched the figure disappear behind them.
Stopping near the end of the hallway, Gabriel pushed open a hidden door, and ushered Josh inside without a word.
Josh stopped in the doorway. He peeked in carefully, unsure of what he’d find. The room matched the hallway. All marble. All clean. Neat. Sterile, really. Behind a long glass conference table sat a small group of three people, two men and a woman all in similar clothing to Gabriel’s. By their expectant looks, he got the impression they’d been waiting for him.
“Go on—” Gabriel urged as he gave Josh the gentlest nudge forward.
Josh moved slowly, the door closing silently behind him. A faint whoosh of air followed him in. He moved to the middle of the room, unsure of a lot of things all of a sudden. He cleared his throat as he met each of their gazes. “Hello.”
The lone woman at the table, her blonde hair vaguely reminiscent of Avery’s, nodded. “Hello, Josh.”
He studied each face. Calm. Serene. Not giving anything away as they stared back at him. “How do you know my name?”
“We know a lot of things about you.”
“Like the accident?” He scratched his elbow, and for the first time noticed his clothes. Gone were the jeans and shirt he’d worn when he’d left the house that morning. They’d been replaced with a pair of white linen pants and a matching button down shirt. Did someone pick him up on the road? Maybe they’d taken him to some sort of hospital, but this was like no hospital he’d ever been in before. And shouldn’t he have some injury from the accident? A gash or something? The impact had felt brutal, a flash of color outside the windows as he’d been thrown backwards. The pounding of rain on the windshield seconds before he heard the glass shatter somewhere around him. Then came that darkness, that eerie stillness that was repeated here.
Where was he?
He reached up and touched his forehead, prepared to feel the telltale signs of a bandage or stitches of some kind, instead there was nothing but the smoothness of his skin. He slowly lowered his hand.
The three seated behind the table scrutinized him as if they were capable of reading his thoughts. “Where am I?”
The man seated in the middle was amused by his question. “I think you know.”
“Trust me, I don’t.”
“You’re dead, Josh. As of 8:26 this morning.”