So Near the Horizon

So Near the Horizon

by Jessica Koch

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781974201792
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/01/2017
Pages: 356
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Jessica Koch was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany, and began writing short stories when she was still in high school - but never submitted her work to publishers. Shortly after finishing school, she met Danny, a German-American dual citizen. Her experiences with him eventually formed the basis for So Near the Horizon, though it was nearly thirteen years before she felt ready to bring the manuscript to the public.



The author describes a life lived somewhere between hope and fear, between optimism and despair. She reflects on events from her own past with raw honesty, confronting more than one difficult subject along the way.



Jessica Koch lives near the city of Stuttgart with her husband, their son, and two dogs.



The second and third books in the trilogy, So Near the Abyss and So Near the Ocean, are already best-sellers in Germany as well.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

October 1999

"The north wind," I announced in a dramatic voice, pointing toward the horizon. "Never a good omen!"

"You don't even know which way north is," Vanessa retorted, laughing.

Our Ferris wheel car had stopped at the very top. I leaned out, theatrically stretching my arms toward the sky. It almost felt like I was brushing the clouds with my fingertips. The view out into the distance was amazing. "It was as though the heavens had silently kissed the earth ..."

"Hey!" Vanessa waved a hand in front of my face. "What's up with you? Since when are you such a poet?"

"I'm not," I said, switching back into my normal voice. "That just popped into my head."

The Ferris wheel started turning again, and I settled back into my seat, impatiently drumming my fingers on the railing as we descended for what seemed like forever. We had big plans for tonight, and I couldn't wait to get started.

Back on the ground, the feeling of weightlessness stayed with me as we climbed out of the car. Pleased, I followed Vanessa across the fairgrounds, which were still relatively empty this early in the evening. Vanessa was wearing skin-tight jeans and a short sweater that showed a strip of bare skin every time she moved. With the right shoes, she could have made the most of her long legs, but she hated heels and was in ordinary sneakers as usual.

I couldn't afford the same luxury — the platform heels on my black, knee-high boots were my only hope of at least halfway keeping up with her in terms of height and leg length. My own top was a green-and-white pullover that, in my humble opinion, looked great with my long, auburn hair. It was an unusually warm October evening; only the wind gave any indication that winter was around the corner. And I could have sworn it was coming from the North.

"Let's get something to eat, okay?" Vanessa steered me toward one of the tables scattered around the fairgrounds.

Vanessa and I were on our annual pilgrimage to Stuttgart, the city nearest our hometown, for the Cannstatter Wasen festival. This was our first time going alone — in previous years, our parents had always insisted that my older brother, Thorsten, chaperone us. Vanessa and I had both started our very first jobs that summer. I'd found an entry-level position that would let me train as an architectural drafter before taking exams for certification in a few years. But Vanessa had struggled to find anything, and the position she'd finally landed was in Munich, nearly two hundred miles away from our hometown, while I lived at home. We were both planning on getting driver's licenses soon, but until then, we would just have to survive without each other. Except for special occasions like this one.

Vanessa sat down across from me, and we were just tucking into our French fries when she suddenly kicked me under the table. "Look over there," she said, nodding to her left. "They've been checking us out for a while now."

"Hm?" I glanced in the direction she'd indicated. Three guys were standing maybe ten feet away from our table, very obviously talking about us. "Oh, God," I groaned, indignant at the very thought of anyone stealing my precious time with my best friend. "I hope they don't come over here."

"Why? They're cute."

I looked them over skeptically. They were all at least twenty, probably even older. She was right, though: they really were pretty easy on the eyes. One was strikingly tall, with broad shoulders, pitch-black hair, and olive skin. Southern European, I guessed. Maybe Spanish. The other two were blond. The shorter one had close-cropped hair and glasses, and I could see his freckles even at this distance. He was average-looking at best, nothing remarkable, while the other two looked like they'd stepped straight out of a Seventeen magazine poster.

When they saw that we'd spotted them, they elbowed each other and pointed at us, then started in our direction.

"Great," I muttered, staring down at the Coke I was gripping in both hands. I'd been looking forward to this weekend with Vanessa for months.

"Evening," the boys said when they reached our table. Apparently, they'd discussed seating arrangements in advance, because they chose seats without hesitation: the Spaniard and Average Joe sat on either side of Vanessa, and the third guy straddled the bench I was sitting on. His hair was a hot mess, sticking out in every direction, but other than that, he looked put together — unnervingly attractive, even. Not like he'd just rolled out of bed.

Two for Nessa, one for you, my inner voice taunted me. We were always competing like that.

At least there's one for me, I retorted. I'd probably have continued my internal monologue if the cute blond hadn't stuck a hand out in my direction.

"Danijel," he said. He pronounced it like "Daniel," with an American accent. Was he American?

I shook his hand, purely out of manners, and looked up at him.

His eyes are way too blue. Why is he wearing colored contacts? Who does that? The intense blue confused me; I forgot to look away.

"My friends call me Danny," he added, in flawless, native German. Not American then.

"What about your enemies?"

It threw him off for a fraction of a second, but he recovered quickly.

"I don't have enemies. Everyone likes me." The crooked smile he gave me was so gorgeous, all I could do was stare. He gave me a moment — apparently, he was used to such reactions — before asking, "Do you have a name?"

The other two guys introduced themselves as Ricky and Simon, but I barely registered the information. It took me a second before I managed my own response. "Jessica."

Normally, I could talk to just about anyone. So why did this guy leave me so tongue-tied?

"Jessica," he repeated softly, nodding. Then he asked a question I didn't catch, because I was still too busy staring at him: his high cheekbones, narrow chin, symmetrical features. His permanent grin revealed a row of even, snow-white teeth. The sleeves of his gray hoodie were pushed up over his elbows, and his arms were sinewy, muscular. He had a generally slim build, but he obviously worked out.

Athlete, my uncharacteristically slow brain reported.

Had I been alone, I would have given myself a sarcastic slow clap for noting the obvious rather than formulating a reply.

Suddenly, Danijel snapped his fingers right in front of my face, jolting me out of my trance. "Still here?" He looked downright amused.

"Yeah," I said, frantically wracking my brain for a clever reply.

"Am I annoying you?" he inquired good-humoredly.

"Um ... It's just that I'd rather be alone with my friend."

"Aha," he said, casting a meaningful glance at Vanessa, who was now deep in conversation with Ricky. The tables around us were mostly full now, and I couldn't make out their conversation over all the noise, but it was fairly clear that she didn't want to be alone with me.

Simon glanced around at the rest of the table, clutching his beer and looking a bit lost.

"If that's the case ..." Danijel said, swinging his leg around to the other side of the bench so he could lean back against the table. He fell silent, watching the people around us with interest. My brain made a series of futile attempts to gather up what was left of my intellect and rummaged around frantically in search of my missing speech skills.

Just then, I noticed a thin, jagged scar on Danijel's face. It was only visible upon close inspection, though it ran all the way across his left cheek.

"What'd you do there?" I asked, pointing to his cheek. Immediately, I felt like smacking myself for failing to come up with anything better than that overly personal question.

Fortunately, he took it in stride.

"You mean this?" He ran his finger along the scar. "That was my dad. Hit me in the face with a bottle."

"He what?" Was this guy serious?

Danijel smiled to take the edge out of his words. "He didn't mean to. It was an accident."

"But still awful." I couldn't imagine any scenario where something like that could happen completely by accident. But there was no relying on my mind at the moment, anyway. There was still a giant "Out of Order" sign hanging in front of it.

Danijel shrugged.

"Not too bad," he said. "I'm still plenty hot."

Cocky little snot, I thought. He was right, though.

I couldn't think of an appropriate response, so I didn't say anything at all, and I could tell Danijel was starting to get bored. He turned his attention to two extremely attractive blonde girls in high heels and excessively short skirts. He watched them intently for a long moment, and I threw an irritated Help me! look at Vanessa. She only beamed at me for a moment before turning back to Ricky. I rolled my eyes.

Simon had noticed the blonde girls as well. "Not a chance!" he called to Danijel.

"Wanna bet?"

"Three to one!" Simon said, stretching a hand out across the table.

Ricky broke off his conversation with Vanessa to look at the girls as well. "I'll take that bet, too. Four to one," he told Danijel, extending his own hand.

"Twenty minutes." Danijel stood up, shook his friends' hands, and walked over to the girls. I gave Simon and Ricky a questioning look, but they were too busy grinning stupidly to notice. I briefly considered starting a conversation with Simon — I'd be able to come up with a million things to say to him — but I didn't feel like it. Instead, my eyes again sought out Danijel, who was now standing between the two girls, chatting to them. Even from here, I could see them blushing and giggling nervously. Danijel put one arm around each of them and led them away, out of my field of view. I could only shake my head.

What kind of sick game are they playing?

After what felt like a million years, he returned and smacked a scrap of notebook paper down on the table in triumph. "Both!" he announced proudly.

Ricky raised his hands above his head and clapped three times. Simon whistled admiringly and pushed some money toward Danijel. Ricky reached into his own pocket and laid a bill on the table as well. Danijel stuck the cash and the card into his pocket, then sat down beside me again.

"Where were we?" he asked, giving me a friendly smile.

"What the hell was that about?"

"It's a game," Danijel explained. "It's called Number Hunt. We play every weekend."

I made a face. "How mature." Suddenly, I felt sorry for Simon, who most likely went home as the big loser weekend after weekend. On a whim, I decided to give Simon my number without him asking.

But Danijel foiled my plans by declaring, "I'm bored."

"Go home, then," I suggested, secretly praying he wouldn't.

"I have a better idea. Come with me!" He jumped up, grabbed my wrist, and pulled me up from the bench. The others blinked at us in surprise.

"Where are you going?" I practically had to run to keep up with him.

He stopped in front of the drop tower. "We are going on that," he announced. "And afterwards, you're giving me your number."

"No on both counts!" I said defiantly, putting my hands on my hips.

He gave me a tender look. "You're not like the others," he said. "I like that."

Oh, does Mr. I Get Everything I Want need to get shot down for a change? Well, he's come to the right place.

"I'm just getting warmed up," I deadpanned.

Laughing softly, he placed an arm around my shoulders and drew me closer. His eyes found mine. I felt like they were boring straight into my soul.

"You. Are. Going. On. That. Ride. With. Me. Now." He smelled like shower gel and aftershave. My knees felt weak.

"Okay."

What the hell? How does he do that?

Less than two minutes later, I was strapped into that nightmarish contraption, clutching the safety harness in terror. It was dark by then, and the view of the colorful festival lights as we rose was breathtaking. The car stopped at the top for a moment, giving us one last brief reprieve.

"Are you scared?" Danijel asked.

"Hell, yes!" But I was determined to keep from screaming on the way down.

I failed miserably.

When I finally stumbled off the ride, more or less in one piece, I felt like kissing the ground.

"That bad?" Danijel's voice was sympathetic.

"I will hate you forever for that." It almost sounded believable.

We made our way back to the others, who were looking around for us. "We're gonna go on the roller coaster," Vanessa said. "You guys coming?"

"Sure," Danijel responded for the both of us. I rolled my eyes.

Vanessa sat beside me on the roller coaster, and I took the opportunity to whisper, "Let's get out of here!"

"Why?" She looked alarmed.

"Bathroom! After!" That was our code for We need to talk, stat!

After we got off the ride, Vanessa followed me into the women's restroom, looking annoyed. I breathed a sigh of relief when we were finally free to talk.

"What's your deal?" she hissed at me. "I finally meet a cool guy, and you want to go home?"

"Hello! They're just playing us! Didn't you see what they do? They just flirt with girl after girl. I think they're keeping score!"

"So what?" Vanessa shrugged. "I didn't say I wanted to marry him, I just want to have a little fun."

"You're ridiculous."

"And you're a prude. Come on. You've got Dennis or whatever his name is. He's gorgeous."

"He's rude and full of himself, and I can't stand him."

"Please, just one more hour," Vanessa begged. "Then we'll have to leave anyway if we want to catch the last train."

I sighed in resignation. "Fine. One hour. Then when I give you the sign, we're taking off."

Desperate, I coughed for the third time and added an exaggerated throat-clearing sound. But Vanessa, though standing well within hearing range, was practicing selective deafness.

"Frog in your throat?" asked Danijel, who'd been clinging to me like a tick the whole time. It wasn't like he was getting on my nerves or anything. I just didn't feel completely in control of my senses in his presence. I did things I didn't actually want to do.

Without responding to his question, I strode past Vanessa into the crowd. Finally catching on, she followed, albeit reluctantly. I hastily turned a few corners, deliberately pushing my way into the densest crush of people. The festival was packed now, meaning it was easy to lose sight of someone ... or shake someone off. Resolutely, I grabbed Vanessa's hand and dragged her along behind me.

"What are you doing?" she exclaimed. I kept right on marching triumphantly until we reached the exit.

"Did we lose them?" I wheezed.

"Yeah. Great job." Vanessa scowled. "I like him. What am I supposed to say when he asks why we just disappeared?"

I smiled blissfully. "You're not supposed to say anything. Because you'll never see him again."

"He promised he'd call me. Get this: he comes to Munich sometimes for work, and he said he'd visit me the next time he was there. He's a telecommunications engineer, so he travels a lot."

I smacked my forehead with my palms. "You gave that jackass your phone number? Enjoy your disappointment. Just don't call me crying your head off."

"I won't," she snapped.

We turned the corner, onto a wide, pedestrian-only street, and headed toward the train station. Suddenly, we were the only souls around. Everybody was back at the festival.

"Seriously, Jessica," Vanessa grumbled. "You need to chill out. I just want to have a little fun with him."

I knew all about Vanessa's ways of having fun with men. I picked up the pace, leaving her a little ways behind me.

I didn't see the car approaching. It seemed to appear out of nowhere, hurtling toward me at an excessive speed. Before I could react, the huge, black BMW spun ninety degrees, tires screeching, and stopped in the middle of the walk, blocking my path. I stopped dead in my tracks, gasping for air, frozen in absolute terror. The driver's-side window rolled down, and Danijel leaned out.

"Didn't you forget something?" he asked, batting his strikingly long lashes at me.

Gathering my wits, I shook my head, completely perplexed.

With a smug grin, he stretched his hand out, palm upward. "Telephone number, please!"

"Jesus Christ," I snapped, looking around self-consciously. "You have serious issues!"

"True," he remarked dryly. "But that's neither here nor there. Your number?"

"Why? Just so you can win your stupid bet?"

"Exactly." He grinned, confident of victory.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "So Near the Horizon"
by .
Copyright © 2017 FeuerWerke Verlag.
Excerpted by permission of FeuerWerke Verlag.
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.

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So Near the Horizon 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
bluegreen91 More than 1 year ago
This was a very emotional read. There were some sweet moments of young love and strong relationships, but the overall feel of this book is turmoil, pain, and the general unfairness of life. If you start reading this without knowing anything about it, as I did, you will have a few big surprises. The chapters are all titled with the month and year they're set in, which is important to note in terms of one of the main characters. The characters seem realistic, personality-wise, but I don't know much about how people in their late teens/early twenties went about their lives in 1999-2002 Germany to say if their lifestyles are realistic. Be forewarned that there are deep, serious themes in this book that may not appeal to everyone. Had I known ahead of time, I may not have chosen to read this book, but it definitely kept me interested until the very end. I'm not sure I will continue the trilogy, as the subject may be too heavy for my general reading preference. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Scorn9 More than 1 year ago
So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch is a sweet, simple, romance read. There WILL be spoilers in this review, so beware! Romance seems to be a hit and miss genre - there are FANTASTIC novels, and there are HORRIBLE novels. So Near the Horizon, on the spectrum, is just below fantastic. This story starts out as if it's fiction - you don't realize it's based on Jessica's life (I mean...her name and the character's name are the same, but I honestly didn't even notice. See how much I pay attention?). Almost immediately our main characters meet, and the sass is real. I love the sassiness between Jessica and Danny,The abuse that was mentioned in the first few pages also left me kind of awestruck. You just meet someone and you say how your father hit you in the face with a bottle? Okay then... At least Danny's honest?... Our two leads, Jessica and Danny, are both pretty messed up. One minute they seem to be all over each other, and then next Danny's treating Jessica like she's garbage. You welcome her into your bed and sleep next to her all snuggled up, but then threaten to kick her out of your vehicle when you take her home? The bi-polar attitude of Danny made me not like him as a character and almost despise him. Jessica deserves better than some guy who flips his attitude whenever he feels like it. No matter his personal issues, he doesn't need to act so nasty all the time. It's almost like he's nice only when it benefits him. And sending a radio after to apologize? And then confessing his love to her? On top of that, he's almost always lying.... Yeah, this guy doesn't sit well with me, in the beginning. Even Christina rubs me the wrong way at the start - she's got her own problems, but she's a psychopath. She threatens to kill Jessica numerous times and no one even cares. The fact that she is threatening Jessica with death if she hurts Danny is absolutely, freaking, ridiculous. Christina has her issues, and she's a broken character, but this running theme of having a bad life and being a total jerk to people makes me quite annoyed. Life can't be all "sunshine and roses" (just like Christina says) but I feel like you can do better than hurting people since you're hurting...Or maybe that's just me. I also find that there's some repeated harassment that could have been avoided if reported. Out of everything in this novel, that drove me insane. Not that reporting always helps in real life situations... I'm positive that my initial bad feelings towards this book are due to the whole Fifty Shades of Grey/Twilight controversy. There's lots of books where the guys are just not great guys, but somehow win the girl in the end. Danny could be an EPIC character, but his flaws just seem so dark. It's almost abusive in my eyes (and this is coming from someone who's been through abusive relationships). Don't get me wrong - Jessica is absolutely FANTASTIC and writes this novel well, I just don't like the relationship. That's nothing against her, because she makes it likable (to a degree). But then, you get to the end of the book and realize Danny's not JUST a character. He was real, he's a person, that was his real life attitude and actions (maybe not 100% because it's a retelling of Jessica's life with him, but you get the drift). People aren't perfect, not like book characters. I went through this book hitting my head against the wall going "JESSICA, LEAVE THIS GUY! HE'S A JERK! HE'S NO GOOD FOR YOU" and then you find out his troubles, and you find