Just released from prison, Julian Serrano is determined to get his life back by reconnecting with his son, maintaining a legit job, and steering clear of the life of crime that led him to prison in the first place. All while under the watchful eye of his parole officer, Diana Rivera. But while Julian fights to stay out of the life that cost him everything he loved, Diana struggles with her own heartache and loss.
Thrust back in the life when things don’t go as planned, Julian must decide who to trust and what plays to make. All while trying to keep Diana believing he’s staying on the straight and narrow. In an untangling web of betrayal, lies, and old debts come due, Julian and Diana must come together to save each other from the ghosts of their pasts.
Diana thought about the day he’d left. She remembered lying face up in their bedroom and being
exhausted after two hours of crying and yelling. She had gone home early after Chloe, their
neighbor from two houses down, had called to ask her about the moving truck that was parked in
their driveway. Diana had made the mistake of confiding in her about her rocky marriage, so
Chloe had turned the dial on the nosey neighbor routine up to ten and was always on the lookout.
Diana remembered arriving just in time to watch him load the last few boxes. Although
she had been expecting something like this—things had been different between them after they’d
lost Isabel—she’d asked questions anyway. She’d thought if she forced Derek to stand and
speak, they could somehow work through the heartache together. She slowly realized there
would be no conversation, at least not the one she envisioned.
Diana realized Derek was inherently a coward. He took some exhaustive measures to
avoid speaking with her and to avoid any confrontation. He took a sick day from work and used
a credit card she hadn’t known about to hire the movers. Like the antagonist in a crime film, he’d
been planning this heist for months.
She remembered following him around their house. Diana watched as he double-checked
for things he didn’t want to leave behind. She didn’t yell at him, and even though she was dying
inside, Diana did not cry. She did not want to give him the satisfaction.
He eventually spoke to her. Derek stopped, faced her, and laid it all out. He told her he
wasn’t happy anymore, that something had died inside him after Isabel died.
Derek reminded her, as if she had somehow forgotten, that it had been almost a year since
their baby died and she wasn’t getting any better. He’d told her he’d only stayed after Isabel died
because he thought she was weak and incapable, but he couldn’t waste his life taking care of her.
And she must have been standing too straight because he added the final gut-punch of telling her
he just didn’t love her anymore, at least not in the way a husband is supposed to love their wife.
J.J. Hernandez was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Florida. He is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and has been a law enforcement officer in Central Texas for twenty years. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and two daughters.
I was sitting on the floor in my own house babysitting a warm bottle of Corona and
staring at the images on my television screen. My daughter had just graduated from
high school and my house was full of friends and family (hence my sitting on the floor).
My brother had spent a lot of time on his Imovie app cutting home video clips together
and synching them with one saccharine song after another to create a thirty minute
tear jerker on par with any crappy Nicholas Sparks film adaptation.
Now I’d be lying if I said the sap reel didn’t get to me (my youngest daughter had just
graduated from high school afterall). But it wasn’t so much the heart pulling images of
my daughter through the years as it was the heart breaking video clips of my mother,
Diana Hernandez (née Rivera). Some of you may recognize the name Diana Rivera from
my book, The Broken.
She’s been gone thirteen years now, but seeing her face and hearing her voice reminded
me of what a strong and unique woman she was; and how she did whatever she
wanted, whenever she wanted. My mom didn’t sit around waiting for things to happen,
she made things happen. Sitting there with my butt going numb on the hardwood floors,
I realized the only thing stopping me from making the transition from dreamer to author
was my own bullshit.
Those memories kicked me in the butt, and I was out of excuses. I sat down and I pulled
from every part of my life to build the world within my book; and to make it somewhat
unique from the thousands of books released in the crime fiction genre every year. I
decided all the main characters in anything I wrote would be of Latin descent or
heritage. I’ve always heard you should write what you know; and if I know anything, I
know what it’s like growing up in a Puerto Rican household. I used little quirks from
people I have loved and who loved me to create realistic characters. I combined
anecdotes from my childhood and experiences from my career in law enforcement to
come up with the plot and stage the scenes.
I don't know if this book's any good, that's for other people to judge. My book is a pretty
straight forward thriller, with the only difference being my protagonists speak Spanglish
and eat a lot of arroz con pollo.
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