Wide Open

Wide Open

by Deborah Coates

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429988117
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Series: Hallie Michaels , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 500,279
File size: 299 KB

About the Author

DEBORAH COATES lives in Ames, Iowa and works for Iowa State University. Her short fiction has appeared in Asimov's and Strange Horizons, as well as Year's Best Fantasy 6, Best Paranormal Romance, and Best American Fantasy.


DEBORAH COATES, author of Wide Open and Deep Down, lives in Ames, Iowa, and works for Iowa State University. Her short fiction has appeared in Asimov's and Strange Horizons, as well as Year's Best Fantasy 6, Best Paranormal Romance, and Best American Fantasy.

Read an Excerpt


1
 
 
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota, she’d been traveling for twenty-four hours straight. She sat on the plane as it taxied to the gate and tried not to jump out of her skin, so ready to be up, to be moving, to put her head down and go. And Lord help anyone who got in her way.
She hadn’t been able to reach her father or anyone else by phone since she’d gotten the news, just contact with her commanding officer—We’re sorry, your sister’s dead. Here’s ten days’ compassionate leave. Go home.
Three sharp bongs, and the seat belt light went out. The plane filled with the sound of seat belts snapping, people moving, overhead doors opening up. The woman in the seat next to Hallie’s was still fumbling with her buckle when Hallie stepped past her into the aisle. She felt raw and sharp edged as she walked off the plane and up the Jetway, like rusty barbed wire, like she would snap if someone twisted too hard.
Halfway down the long wide concourse, ready—she was—for South Dakota, for her sister’s funeral for—
Goddamnit.
Eddie Serrano’s ghost floated directly in front of her, right in the middle of the concourse. She swiped a hand across her eyes, hoped it was an artifact of no sleep and too much coffee, though she knew that it wasn’t.
He looked like he’d just stepped out of parade formation—crisp fatigues, pants neatly tucked into his boots, cap stiff and creased and set on his head just exactly perfect. Better than he’d ever looked when he was alive—except for being gray and misty and invisible to everyone but her.
She thought she’d left him in Afghanistan.
She drew a deep breath. This was not happening. She was not seeing a dead soldier in the middle of the Rapid City airport. She wasn’t. She squared her shoulders and walked past him like he wasn’t there.
Approaching the end of the concourse, she paused and scanned the half-dozen people waiting just past security. She didn’t see her father, had almost not expected to see him because—oh for so many reasons—because he wouldn’t want to see her for the first time in a public place, because he had the ranch and funeral arrangements to take care of, because he hated the City, as he always referred to Rapid City, and airports, and people in the collective and, less often though sometimes more spectacularly, individually.
She spotted a woman with straight blond hair underneath a cowboy hat standing by the windows. Brett Fowker. Hallie’d known Brett since before kindergarten, since a community barbecue when they were five, where Brett had told Hallie how trucks worked and Hallie had taken them both for what turned out to be a very short ride. Brett was all right. Hallie could deal with that.
She started forward again and walked into a cold so intense, she thought it would stop her heart. It felt like dying all over again, like breath froze in her lungs. She slapped her hand against the nearest wall and concentrated on breathing, on catching her breath, on taking a breath.
She looked up, expecting Eddie.
But it was her sister. Dell.
Shit.
Suddenly, Brett was there, a hand on her arm. “Are you all right?” she asked.
Hallie batted her hand away and leaned heavily against the wall, her breath sharp and quick. “I’m fine!” Her voice sounded rough, even in her own ears.
Dell looked exactly as she had the last time Hallie’d seen her, wearing a dark tailored shirt, jeans with a hole in one knee, and cowboy boots. She was a ghost now and pretty much transparent, but Hallie figured the boots were battered and scuffed because she’d always had a favorite pair that she wore everywhere. Even when she’d dressed up sometimes, like no one would notice the boots if she wore a short black dress and dangly silver earrings. And no one did—because it was Dell and she could carry something like that off, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Hallie scrubbed a hand across her face. Goddamnit, Dell. She wasn’t going to cry. She wasn’t.
“I’m sorry, Hallie. I’m sorry.”
Brett said it over and over, like a mantra, her right hand a tight fist in Hallie’s sleeve. In sixth grade after Hallie’s mother died, she and Brett had made a no-hugging-ever pledge. Because no one had talked to Hallie that whole week, or looked her in the eye—just hugged her and handed her casserole dishes wrapped in aluminum foil.
Trust Brett to honor a pact made twelve years ago by eleven-year-olds.
“Brett,” Hallie said, “I—”
“Hallie!” Suddenly someone was hugging her. “Oh god, Hallie! Isn’t it awful?”
Lorie Bixby grabbed her around the neck, hugged her so tight, Hallie thought she might choke. “It can’t be right. I know it’s not right. Oh, Hallie…”
Hallie unwound Lorie’s hands from her neck and raised an eyebrow at Brett, because Lorie hadn’t been particular friends with Brett or Hallie back in school, though they’d done things together, because they lived close—for certain definitions of close—and were the same age. Hallie hadn’t seen her since she’d enlisted.
Brett raised her left shoulder in a half shrug, like she didn’t know why Lorie was there either, though Hallie suspected it was because Brett hadn’t wanted to come alone.
They were at the top of the stairs leading down to the luggage area and the parking lot. To Hallie’s left was a gift shop full of Mount Rushmore mugs and treasure maps to gold in the Black Hills. To her right was a café. It beckoned like a haven, like a brief respite from Afghanistan, from twenty-four hours with no sleep, from home.
But really, there was no respite. This was the new reality.
“Tell me,” Hallie said to Brett.
Brett hadn’t changed one bit since Hallie’d last seen her, hadn’t changed since she’d graduated from high school, except for the look on her face, which was grim and dark. She had perfect straight blond hair—cowgirl hair, Hallie and Dell had called it because all the perfect cowgirls in perfect cowgirl calendars had hair like Brett’s. She was wearing a bone-colored felt cowboy hat, a pearl-snap Western shirt, and Wranglers. “Tell you?” she said, like she had no idea what Hallie was talking about.
“What happened,” Hallie said, the words even and measured, because there were ghosts—Dell’s ghost, specifically—in the middle of the airport, and if she didn’t hold on tight, she was going to explode.
Brett drew a breath, like a sigh. “You should talk to your daddy about it.”
“Look, no one believes it was really suicide.” Lorie leaned toward them like this was why she’d come, to be with people, to talk about what had happened.
“What?” No one had mentioned suicide to her—accident, they’d said. There’s been a terrible accident.
“No one knows what happened yet,” Brett said cautiously, giving Lorie a long look.
“Tell me,” Hallie said, the words like forged nails, iron hard and sharp enough to draw blood.
Brett didn’t look at Hallie, her face obscured by the shadow of her hat. “They say,” she began, like it had all happened somewhere far away to people who weren’t them. “She was out driving over near Seven Mile Creek that night. Or the morning. I don’t know.” Like that was the worst thing—and for Brett, maybe it was—that she didn’t have all the particulars, the whys and wherefores. “She wracked her car up on a tree. There was no one else around. They’re saying suicide. But I don’t— No one believes that,” she added quickly. “They don’t.” As if to convince herself.
“Dell did not commit suicide,” Hallie said.
“Hallie—”
She walked away. This was not a discussion.
She didn’t look to see if Brett and Lorie were behind her until she was halfway to the luggage carousel.
Five minutes later, they were crammed into Brett’s gray Honda sedan. Hallie felt cramped and small sitting in the passenger seat, crushed under the low roof. Lorie sat in the back, an occasional sniff the only mark of her presence.
Brett turned the key in the ignition, the starter grinding before it caught. Hallie felt cold emanating from Eddie’s and Dell’s ghosts drifting behind her in the backseat. Though Lorie didn’t act as if she could feel them at all.
“She called me,” Brett said as she pulled out of the parking lot.
“What?” Because Dell and Brett hadn’t been friends.
“Yeah, right out of the blue,” Brett said.
“When?”
“Monday morning. That morning.” Brett swallowed, then continued. “She wanted me to skip classes—I’m working on a master’s in psychology, you know—well, you don’t know, I guess.” It didn’t surprise Hallie. Brett had always wanted to know how things worked, even people. She’d been a steady B student in high school, but she worked until she knew what she wanted to know or got where she wanted to get.
“I’m thinking about University of Chicago for—” Brett stopped, cleared her throat, and continued. “She said she wanted to celebrate.”
“And she called you?”
“Shit, I don’t know, Hallie,” Brett said. “She called, said she wanted to celebrate. Suggested horseback riding up along, well, up along Seven Mile Creek. It was weird.”
“Maybe she didn’t have anyone to ride with anymore.”
“She didn’t have a horse.”
“What?” Because Dell had always been about horses.
“She’d been gone,” Brett said, like they didn’t have horses outside western South Dakota.
“Did you go?”
Brett was silent while she maneuvered through the sparse late-morning traffic and onto the interstate, headed east. They had an hour, hour and a half depending, to get to Taylor County and the ranch. Or to the funeral home in town. Hallie wasn’t looking forward to either one.
“She canceled at the last minute,” Brett finally said. “I’d already brought the horses up, was getting ready to load them in the trailer when she called. She said she’d been mistaken.”
“Mistaken?”
“Yeah … I hadn’t seen her but one night at the Bob since she’d been home. She said she wanted to celebrate, I don’t know, something. And then she canceled.”
Hallie’s hand rapped against the underside of her knee until she realized she was doing it and made herself stop. “Did she say anything?”
“When she canceled?” Brett shook her head. “She just said something came up. But that’s where they found her, Hallie. Up on the Seven Mile.”
Jesus.
Hallie didn’t want to be riding in this car, didn’t want to be listening to any of this. She wanted to move, to … shoot something. Because Dell hadn’t killed herself. She hadn’t. If no one else would say it, Hallie would.


 
Copyright © 2012 by Deborah Coates

Customer Reviews

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Wide Open 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark, atmospheric and a bit eerie. One of the best contemporary fantasy stories I came across in a long time.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
Hallie Michaels is home from Afghanistan, but not for a good reason. She has been given ten days compassionate leave to come home to bury her sister, Dell. She arrives home full of grief and straight from the war zone where she was recently involved in a firefight that left her dead for seven minutes. Hallie was brought back to life, but you can't say it didn't affect her. She can now see and feel ghosts, and her combat friend and Dell both go with her everywhere. Hallie doesn't understand anything, it seems. She doesn't understand why or how Dell died, and there seems to be controversy about it at the sheriff's office. Some people are saying that Dell committed suicide and Hallie knows that can't be true. She doesn't understand why there are a series of mysterious fires in the area; fires that seem intentional and focused like arson but are started by lightning. She doesn't understand how a man she dated a few times before entering the military is now the head of a new company that is employing more and more people in the area, but none of the employees can describe exactly what the company does. She can't understand whether she likes or dislikes the new deputy in town, Boyd, who seems a part of it all. Most of all, she can't understand why so many women in the area have gone missing in the last few years while she has been away. Deborah Coates has written a knock-your-socks-off story in this debut novel. It is hard to characterize, as there are elements of feminism, of magic, of life on the ranches and farms of South Dakota. Coates has created one of the strongest heroines imaginable in Hallie, a women who has seen a lot and is not ready to roll over and give in to despair. It has crime and fantasy, all the elements mixed into a glorious tale that grabs the reader by the throat and won't let go. The story builds to a gripping finale, one that leaves the reader gasping. This book is recommended for both mystery and fantasy readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book. Kept me enthralled the entire read. Very good, well developed characters. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise of this book would make it seem like a perfect summer read. Unfortunately, I can summarize the plot in a sentence: Hallie deals with rage and picks a fight (but gets foiled by her guardian cop stalker/love interest) over and over, then there's some magic. The end. Except Coates took over 600 nook pages. What a waste of time and $3.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than i was expecting. Keeps you guessing til the end.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Lately, I haven't been as into urban fantasy as I was in past years, but when I was approached with a request to check out Wide Open, I admit to being fascinated by not only the synopsis, but also the gorgeous cover. I've admitted it many times - a good cover can suck me in.Deborah Coates had a fascinating idea for this book - the presence of lingering ghosts, the mystery of an unsolved murder of a sister of the protagonist, and other supernatural elements all can combine for an electrifying, fascinating story... but there was almost too much.As I was reading, I found myself getting distracted, wondering if maybe there was too much. Don't get me wrong, I was entertained - as long as I didn't stop to think too hard. But I do stop to think when I read, and there just wasn't enough of an explanation for what was happening.It's a fine line - that line that separates the real from the supernatural. It's a hard one to walk because I understand that, as an author, you don't want to reveal too much so holes aren't poked into your story, but yet.. there still has to be something to make the story believable in its unbelievably (if that makes sense?). I think that Coates tried to do this - but the end felt rushed and unsettling, with a focus shifting toward another aspect of the story rather than the strangely large paranormal aspect.I'd recommend Wide Open as a story that is entertaining as surface pleasure, but don't go into it expecting for everything to be fully explained or, like me, you'll end up a bit disappointed.
squirrelsohno on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When I was invited to participate in the blog tour for Deborah Coates¿ debut WIDE OPEN, I didn¿t know what to expect. I hadn¿t heard much (anything) about this book before I received the synopsis in my email. Well, it called to me and told me, ¿Read this book!¿ The plot, the setting, the ideas ¿ the synopsis is really good in so many ways. I heartily accepted Tor¿s offer and received my copy of WIDE OPEN and dove in.WIDE OPEN is the story of young soldier Hallie, a South Dakota native who has come home on bereavement leave after the death of her sister Dell. The police think Dell committed suicide, but Hallie disagrees. The fact that she sees her sister¿s ghost ¿ among others ¿ just makes her that much more desperate to investigate what really happened to her sister. What she finds out is something that involves ancient powers, disappearances, and a company with sinister intentions. Along with sheriff¿s deputy Boyd, Hallie ends up being the only person who can stop things before they hurt more people.I admit, I am somewhat conflicted about this story. I think the biggest problem I had was with the main character, Hallie. She was almost insufferable. Not only is she rude and brash to the people in her life, but she keeps everyone ¿ including the reader ¿ away, keeping her arms crossed and her mind closed. Likewise, I think the characterization in the story was somewhat off, comprising multiple characters that seemed only like a semblance of a person. Even Boyd seemed slightly off. But Hallie was by far the worst character, and the one that almost prevented me from getting into the story.But the story¿ The plot is great, the setting is amazing, and the author¿s vivid description of the South Dakota prairies is thrilling. I might want to vacation there now! Mount Rushmore, that place they mentioned in Jurassic Park¿ Even though there were some clunky sentences that could use refinement (trust me, Deborah Coates has a great future ahead of her with her writing style), the book¿s prose was tight and clean. The contemporary setting with family drama mixed with mystery and fantastical elements was such a wonderful change from the explicitly paranormal or explicitly contemporary. Being used to having one or the other, never both, I really enjoyed the way Coates¿ mixed them into a compelling story.Once you get past a slow build and unraveling of the story, the ending is thrilling and worth the wait. WIDE OPEN is not a novel for everyone, but if you can get into the story and past the prickly character, this is definitely a novel full of intrigue and excitement that you¿ll want to pick up.VERDICT: Although beleaguered by a nasty protagonist, WIDE OPEN is a book with great writing, unique setting, and wonderful details. Check this one out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting premise, fell flat towards the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great unique plot and fun to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it was ok; i liked the way the story was going, it was just going too slow for me. but it was interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first page, I could not stop reading. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good story line (see other reviews for that), but I found it just a little irritating that her main characters we're unable to express themselves in full sentences. Out with it already! For me it didn't get really interesting until about pg 500 of the 615 pages. Fairly good ending; just desserts and all.
islanderEC More than 1 year ago
Wide Open is an enjoyable, contemporary read that captures your attention. With its' heroine serving in the military, her situation fits right in to the problems serving military personnel face when confronted with a tragic familial situation. Add to that a couple of tag-a-long ghosts, and you have the ingredients for a story that holds your attention from the start to the finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not want it to end! One of the best books i have read in a long time! Fantastic writing, so descriptive you feel like your right there! Highly reccomend!!!!!!
Mom_2_4_boyz More than 1 year ago
loved it!`
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TV must have been more boring!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a little bit of everything. Mystery, drama, romance, suspense, action, supernatural. A small enough dose of everything which kept it entertaining and not overly done. I was a bit skeptical when I read the description, but I listened to the reviews instead and I do not regret it. I loved it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and novel plot. My only complaint is that Hallie never actually grieves and that is cancer just waiting to get you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. Would have been a great book except for the foul language. Hallie comes home from Afghanistan for the funeral of her sister whose death in am automobile accident is said to be a suicide. Hallie doesn't believe this and begins her investigation into Dell's death. The business Dell worked for is first in line for Hallie's questions. A very unusual story begins to unfold. Hallie's cursing in about every sentence dampens caring for her pain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since this book is a Bram Stoker award nominee, I thought the writing would be as good as early Michael Koryta or even early Stephen King. Suffice it to say, it isn't.