The Long Way Home (The Homelanders Series #2)by Andrew Klavan
Sometimes you have to go home to find out who you really are.
Charlie West went to bed one night an ordinary high-school student. He woke up a hunted man. Terrorists are trying to kill him. The police want to arrest him for the stabbing death of his best friend. He doesn’t know whose side he’s on or who he can trust. With his pursuers/strong>
Sometimes you have to go home to find out who you really are.
Charlie West went to bed one night an ordinary high-school student. He woke up a hunted man. Terrorists are trying to kill him. The police want to arrest him for the stabbing death of his best friend. He doesn’t know whose side he’s on or who he can trust. With his pursuers closing in on every side, Charlie makes his way back to his hometown to find some answers. There, holed up in an abandoned mansion, he’s joined by his friends in a desperate attempt to discover the truth about a murder he can't remember—and the love he can never forget.
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THE LONG WAY HOME
By ANDREW KLAVAN
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Andrew Klavan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Killer in the Mirror
The man with the knife was a stranger. I never saw him before he tried to kill me.
I was in the Whitney Library when it happened, about seven miles from my hometown of spring Hill. I'd been there for about forty-five minutes. I had come with a plan-a plan to clear my name, to get free, to get home to my family and out of danger. Now I had to leave. It wasn't safe for me to stay in any one place for very long.
I was in the main research room on the library's second floor. I went down the hall and pushed into the men's room. I took off my black fleece and hung it on the door of one of the stalls. Then, wearing just my jeans and black T-shirt, I stood at the sink and splashed cold water on my face.
I was tired-way tired. I had been on the road-on the run-I don't know-several weeks-a long time. I had to fight to stay alert. If I didn't stay alert, I wouldn't stay alive.
I dried myself off with a couple of paper towels. I looked at myself in the mirror. The guy looking back at me was six feet tall. Thin but with broad shoulders, good muscles, still in good shape. I had a lean, kind of solemn face with a mop of brown hair flopping over the forehead. brown eyes-serious eyes-probably too serious for a guywho was only eighteen-but honest and straightforward. At least, I always thought they were ...
I shook my head. Snap out of it. This was no time to doubt myself. I had to keep my spirits up, keep going. Never give in.
It was hard sometimes. I have to admit it. With the bad guys after me, and even the good guys-the police-after me too. It was hard not to get discouraged. Lonely. I missed my home. I missed my friends. I missed my mom and dad. I even missed my sister, who could be very annoying, believe me. Imagine sitting down to watch your absolutely favorite television show and just as it's about to begin, a nuclear explosion wipes out all of civilization as we know it-that's how annoying my sister could be. But I missed her anyway.
I missed just being a regular guy, just going to school and church and hanging out and doing regular things.
But it was no good thinking about that now. I had to keep going. I had to do what I'd come here to do. I'd promised myself I wouldn't stop trying. I'd promised God too. And I wouldn't stop. Not ever.
I turned away from the mirror. I took the fleece down from the stall door. I'd bought it at a thrift shop a few days ago. Something to keep me warm now that winter was coming. I tapped it to feel the papers folded up in the inside pocket. That's what I'd come to the library to find. I had what I wanted. It was time to go.
I slipped the fleece over my head, working my arms into the long sleeves.
It was just then-just as I got the fleece on-that the man came in.
He was a little older than I was-in his twenties maybe. A bit taller and a bit bigger around the waist and shoulders. He was wearing black jeans and a red windbreaker. He had a round, clean, pleasant face. Blond hair, blue eyes. He looked like a nice guy. He gave me a quick nod as he entered and I nodded back. Then he moved past me, heading toward the urinals at the far end of the room.
I took a step away from him, toward the door, ready to leave. As I went, I glanced over at the mirror to check myself one last time. I lifted my fist to my reflection by way of encouragement. Never give in.
And, as I did that, I caught a glimpse of the man behind me. I saw his reflection, too, out of the corner of my eye. Strangely, he had stopped walking toward the urinals. He had pivoted around, back toward me.
Suddenly, without any warning at all, he had a knife in his hand. It was a killer's knife, a combat knife. A seven-inch blade of black steel.
At the very moment I spotted him in the mirror, he tried to plunge the blade into my spine.
A jolt of terror went through me, an electric panic that gave me almost supernatural speed. I leapt to my left, turning sideways. The blade lanced past my midsection, so close I felt its motion through the fleece. My years of karate training kicked in. I reacted without thinking, smacking his elbow with my left palm to push the knife hand away.
But I was moving so fast, in so much fear, I stumbled, tripped over my own feet, and staggered back deeper into the bathroom.
That saved my life. Because the man with the knife was well-trained. He knew how to fight. He was already slashing backward at my face. If I hadn't stumbled away from him, he'd have cut my throat right there.
I let out a grunt, bending away from the blade. I still didn't have my feet under me, and the movement sent me even farther off balance. I fell, tumbling down to the floor.
It was the end of me. I was sure of it.
You have to understand: a trained man with a knife is as deadly as anything, even more dangerous in some ways than a man with a gun. You might grab a gun. You might wrestle it away. But you can't get hold of a knife without getting cut. And if the knife-man knows what he's doing, he can carve you up with a blade just as fast as a bullet.
And this guy knew what he was doing, all right. All the karate training in the world wasn't going to save me if I didn't act fast and act smart. If I fell and he came down on top of me, I'd be dead in seconds.
I knew it even as I was falling. The panic raced through my belly. The thoughts raced through my head: I have to do something.
I hit the tiled floor and kept rolling, fast, away from the oncoming killer. I rolled and leapt up, gaining my feet in the back of the bathroom, pressed up against the far wall, the urinals on either side of me.
Before I could even think, he was there, he was on me, driving the knife toward my gut, the black blade glinting in the light.
A cry escaped me in my desperation. I only just managed to leap out of the way, to grab his wrist with my two hands.
But I couldn't hold him. He yanked the knife back and if I hadn't let go, he would've slashed my fingers off. Immediately, he came at me again. His round, clean face was now a mask of fury. His blue eyes were full of death.
I was losing this fight. I knew it. It was only a matter of time before the knife slipped home. There was no way to overpower a trained assassin like this. No way to outfight him.
There was only one chance. I had to outthink him. Somehow, in my terror, in my panic, with murder hanging over me like a sword, I had to figure a way out.
The killer kept coming at me, the blade weaving before me like the head of a cobra. He kept the point in my eyes so I couldn't see it clearly, couldn't gauge the distance. He was forcing me toward the middle of the room, to where I'd be hemmed in between the stalls and the sinks with nowhere to move. I stepped backward quickly, waiting for the fatal strike.
Then, with snakelike swiftness, the strike came-and at the same time, there came a desperate thought.
As the blade lanced toward me, I spun away, shouldering through one of the stall doors. He tried to come in after me. I grabbed hold of the door and slammed it on him, catching his arm for a second. He pulled free-and before he could force his way in, I slammed the door shut and shot the bolt.
This had to be fast-lightning fast. The door was light, the lock was flimsy. He would break through in an instant.
I didn't wait for him. I dropped to the floor. I ducked under the gap between the stalls.
There was an enormous crash as the knife-man kicked his way into the locked stall-the one I'd just left.
I flew out the door of the other stall, and in a split second I was behind him.
The killer already realized he'd been tricked. He was starting to turn from the empty stall, to turn toward me.
Too bad, brother, one mistake is all you get. I punched him fast and hard in the nose. His head flew back, blood bursting from his nostrils. I didn't let him recover. I grabbed hold of his wrist-the wrist of his knife hand-so he couldn't cut me. With my other hand, I grabbed his hair and bent him forward.
I dragged him out of the stall, turning my body to give me momentum. I slammed him face-first into the hard edge of the sink.
His knees buckled and he crumpled to the floor, unconscious.
I stood over him, gasping for breath, amazed that I was still alive.
I knelt down beside the fallen killer.
He didn't move. His upper lip was all smashed up and there was dark blood smearing his mouth. His mouth was open and I could see the blood staining his teeth too.
I began to search his clothes. I knew I had to hurry. someone could come into the bathroom at any moment and see me kneeling over his body. They would call for help and then I'd have the police after me again.
Quickly, I went through the pockets of his windbreaker first. They were empty. Then, one by one, I went through the pockets of his jeans. In the left front pocket I found a single key on a chain. The key was unmarked, but the chain said, "Harley-Davidson Motorcycles." I slipped the key into my pocket. I figured that would slow the guy down at least.
I went on searching. In his right front pocket I found a silver money clip with about two hundred dollars in it. yes, I know the Ten Commandments and yes, I know you're not supposed to steal. But this didn't feel like stealing. The guy was a killer, after all-my killer, if he'd had his way. I figured he owed me at least this much. I stuffed the cash into the same pocket as the key.
Just then, the killer groaned and shifted. I tensed, watching him. His hand lifted from the floor and groped weakly at the air. His eyelids fluttered. His bloody mouth moved, his lips parting. He was starting to come around.
I was running out of time. I had to get out of here.
I scooped up the knife from the floor. I slipped the brutal blade under my belt so that it went into my pocket. I pulled down my fleece so that it hid the handle. That's when I noticed the blood on my hands. It was the killer's blood, plus some of my own from my bruised knuckles. I turned on the faucet, let the cold water run over my fingers. It stung like crazy, but I forced myself to keep my hands there as the blood washed off. I watched as the red streaks stained the water and swirled with it down the drain.
Finally, I splashed cold water on my face again, just as I had before the killer came in. Just as I had then, I pulled a couple of paper towels out of the dispenser and dried myself off quickly.
And just as I had before, I looked into the mirror. I looked at my own reflection.
I was pale now. My cheeks were a weird gray, the color of concrete, only with spots here and there of frantic red. A line of sweat ran down my temple.
But my eyes were determined.
The killer gave another low groan. He shifted on the floor as he continued to wake up.
I swiped the line of sweat off my face. It was time to go.
I moved to the door and pushed through. I walked down the little hallway that led into the main part of the library's second floor.
It was pretty much your usual library: one expansive room filled with shelves of books. There were some long reading tables in front of the shelves. There were people sitting at the tables, poring over open books and writing in notebooks. There was an information desk to my right with a librarian sitting on a high stool behind it. The walls were all made of steel-framed glass, big windows looking out at the sky and the buildings of downtown Whitney and Main Street below.
It seemed strange to me that everything should be normal here, everything quiet and peaceful, the way a library ought to be. I thought the whole room would've heard me fighting with the killer in the bathroom. But in fact, the fight had happened with hardly a sound. No one suspected.
I glanced at the exits. There were two of them. There was one staircase down to the main floor on my left and another to my right, just beside the information desk. I was about to head for the staircase on my left.
But I stopped before I even took a step.
There was a man loitering there. A small, wiry, olive-skinned man with a thin mustache. He was wearing khaki slacks and a brown jacket. He was leaning against a shelf, idly turning the pages of a dictionary.
I turned to the other stairway. I saw another man-a man sitting at a reading desk near the head of the stairs. He was a short guy, too, but thick and muscular and mean-looking. He had a block-shaped head with short hair and rough skin on his cheeks. He was staring down at a newspaper that lay open on the desk in front of him.
I looked back at the mustache-man near the left staircase. back at the block-headed man to my right.
They were Homelanders. I knew it the moment I saw them.
They had both exits blocked. I was surrounded.
Chapter ThreeAll I Know
My name is Charlie west. Until a year ago, I was a pretty ordinary kid. I was seventeen. I lived in a house in spring Hill with my mom and dad and my annoying older sister, Amy. I went to high school during the week. I went to church on Sunday. My secret ambition was to join the air force and become a fighter pilot, which I thought would be a cool way to serve my country.
I wasn't the most popular kid in school, but I wasn't an untouchable or anything either. I had some good friends: Josh Lerner, who was kind of a geek, and Rick Donnelly and Kevin "Miler" Miles, who were both athletes. I was a pretty decent athlete myself. My sport was karate. I was good at it. I had earned my black belt.
What else do you need to know? There was a girl. Beth Summers. I liked her. A lot. A guy I knew named Alex Hauser liked her too. He used to be my best friend, but he'd gotten into some bad stuff after his parents got divorced. We'd kind of grown apart and I guess you could say we'd become rivals for Beth's affection.
Anyway, that was my life, my ordinary Spring Hill kid life.
Then one day I went to bed and when I woke up, that life was gone. Suddenly, somehow, it was a year later-a whole year had disappeared just like that and I couldn't remember any of it. Suddenly, somehow, I was in the clutches of a group of madmen who called themselves the Homelanders. They were terrorists, foreign Islamists, out to destroy America, recruiting Americans to help them, people who could move around the country more easily than they could without arousing suspicion.
They told me I was one of them, a terrorist myself. But I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I love this country. You're free here to do and think what you want, to be whatever you can be. I'd never do anything to hurt America.
I guess the Homelanders must've figured that out because they tried to kill me. I escaped and called the police. Which you'd think was a good idea, right? As it turned out: no. As it turned out, the police were after me too. Somehow, during this year-this year I couldn't remember-I had become a wanted man. I'd been put on trial and convicted of murdering Alex Hauser, my former best friend.
So now, not only were the Homelanders trying to kill me, but the police, led by this very angry detective named Rose, were trying to catch me and throw me into prison.
There was no one I could turn to. My parents had moved away and I didn't know where to find them. nobody believed me about the Homelanders-or if they did, they thought I was one of them. And how could I prove I wasn't, when I didn't remember anything?
Sometimes, to be honest, I wasn't even sure myself.
And that's where things stood. The situation was bad-crazy bad. Some days, it almost seemed impossible. But I'd promised God and I'd promised myself that, no matter what, I would never give in.
Chapter FourThe Killer in Question
But now here I was, trapped in the library, both exits blocked. I felt fear closing around my throat like cold fingers. I figured there were probably more of these Homelander thugs downstairs, even more of them outside watching the doors. If I tried to leave, they would wait till I got outside and kill me. If I screamed for help, they would kill me right here. There was no way out.
Now the two men saw me. Mustache-Man cast a glance over at Blockhead, and Blockhead glanced back. Obviously, they'd been waiting here, waiting for the blond killer to finish me off in the bathroom. I guess they weren't very happy to see me come out alive. Well, too bad for them.
I had to think of something. I had to figure out a way to get past them. They were staying cool, staying at their posts by the stairs. They didn't want any open violence. They didn't want to cause any trouble in public if they could help it. They preferred waiting for me to go outside.
Excerpted from THE LONG WAY HOME by ANDREW KLAVAN Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Klavan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Andrew Klavan is an award-winning writer, screenwriter, and media commentator. An internationally bestselling novelist and two-time Edgar Award-winner, Klavan is also a contributing editor to City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute, and the host of a popular political podcast on DailyWire.com. His essays and op-eds on politics, religion, movies, and literature have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and elsewhere. He lives in Southern California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Didn't like No. 2 as well as No. 1, but it certainly hasn't stopped me from purchasing Nos. 2 and 3! Exciting series and I am going to say it - - FOR EVERY AGE! I'm 70 years old and loved the action.
So far, the second book is better than the first one I know this isnt very common but it happened this time
Gold Star Award Winner! What would you do if you woke up one morning and couldn't remember anything that happened to you in the past year? What if you realized you were wanted for murder and for being part of a terrorist group? What if that terrorist group wanted you dead? This is what has happened to Charlie. Having no idea where else to turn up clues to his mysterious lost year, he returns to the most dangerous place - his hometown where it all started. There, the girlfriend and friends he doesn't remember decide to help him uncover the truth. With the truth well-hidden and people wanting to erase his future, will Charlie be able to save himself and keep his friends safe at the same time? What really happened during the past year? One thing's for sure - life will never be the same for Charlie again. Action-packed from start to finish, this page-turner will keep you glued to your seat. The story reads fast and the plot is intense. The characters are well-developed, and reluctant and avid readers alike will have a hard time putting THE LONG WAY HOME down. I would, however, recommend reading THE LAST THING I REMEMBER, the first book in the series, before starting this one.
This book is the best. Plenty of suspense and the end is surprising.
Really good book. I was sad that the last book was a cliff hanger but now i finnally got a chance to read this one!!!!
This story is so full of action that it will satisfy any thrill sekers who read it. And it has also got some romance as well, enuh that any romance fan will get caught up in this story. Also this story is full I mean "FILL" of mistery!! Some of the mistery will be reveald later as the story unfolds, and some of th mystery you will have to wate for the next book to find out the answer to the "mystery". There is a new mmystery almosed every paragraph, enugh to leave you glued to the pages, unwanting to put it down, gused to fined out the answer tho the mystery. You WILL NOT want to put the nook down no mater what kind of story you are into, "unless you are not human".
Guys this was a good read and had a great story line
The Long Way Home is the second book in the Homelander series that continues to follow Charlie West. Charlie woke up one day and an entire year of his life was completely gone. He had no memory of the events of the past year; the murder of his friend, his association with the Homelanders, or falling in love with the girl of his dreams. Andrew Klavan has does a great job of pulling you in and keep you guessing until the end. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Klavan does an amazing job of writing to a young adult as well as a 30-something. He throws in "life lessons" that we all need to be reminded of from time to time; believing in yourself, having faith, and the power of friends. There are twists and turns and surprising revelations by Charlie as he searches for the truth and for the year he lost. This is an amazing tale of having faith and believing in yourself. I am looking forward to continuing reading the rest of the books in this series. This book was provided by Thomas Nelson.
Really good book
at first this book was slow. but then it really picks up around chapter 9 or 10. i was happy for him to finally get some answers and solve the mystery of who killed Alex. it was like a complete twist. everything started to come together and make more sense. Im def going to read the next one. i couldn't put this book down. so good.