Will Rise from Ashes

Will Rise from Ashes

by Jean M. Grant

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Overview

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781509225118
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Publication date: 04/17/2019
Pages: 396
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.81(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Inception

A gray column of ash exploded on the screen. The plume darkened the sky.

"Mom, come look!" Will said, without turning from the TV.

She fidgeted with the mail on the kitchen counter. Then said a bad word. The metal trash lid clanged open, and she grumbled. He tapped a finger on his thigh as he listened to the newscaster.

A few minutes passed. "Mom ..."

"One minute," she called. He turned. She dragged the basket of dirty laundry from their vacation to Yellowstone down the basement steps. Thump, thump, thump.

"But it's the volcano! On TV!" His pulse flickered. This was important. She needed to see.

"Hang on a sec, Will."

The clock read 9:03 p.m. Eastern Time, but it still felt like Mountain Time and he wasn't sleepy. He counted to one second. He knew she didn't mean that. Her "a sec" or "a minute" could be way longer.

She returned from the basement and opened the window over the kitchen sink. The metallic, vibrating hum of the foghorn sounded in the distance. He rose and added a tally mark to the chart on his clipboard. Soon, he'd need to make his snow charts, too. But it was only August.

"Where are they?" Mom said.

She came through the doorway to the living room with her mug in one hand. It smelled like burnt stinky milk. He covered his nose.

"Mom, watch out!" She almost stepped on his eight red volcano cut-outs lined in a row in front of the TV. His heart kerthumped. He straightened one, so the bottom edge realigned with the rest. There, better.

"So, honey, what is it? Find an interesting documentary to watch?" she finally asked, drawing her gaze to the TV as she stumbled. "Will, the tape and scissors. I need you to pick them up, okay?" She yawned. "We need to go to bed soon." She leaned over the coffee table and clicked her laptop shut with another curse. "I can't even track their flight. Where are they?" she repeated to herself.

Her brown eyes were shiny, holding that sad look she got when she thought about Dad. Some expressions confused him, but Mom was easier to understand than others. She was sad a lot these days. Was she sad about his little brother Finn not returning home yet? He approached her and hugged her around the waist. He nudged the top of his head against her ribcage. "It's okay, Mom. Finn and Uncle Brandon will be here. Maybe their flights were delayed again?"

She exhaled. Coffee breath. His stomach squeezed. Delays. Yuck, he didn't like delays either.

She said in a whisper, a raspy grating sound, "They should've landed by now ... the traffic north to Maine from Boston isn't awful this time of day. Finn's going to be so wired."

But he's not a robot, Will wanted to say, but he knew it was just one of Mom's weird phrases. The commercials ended. He grabbed her hand. "Look, Mom. Yellowstone! Maybe Finn and Uncle Brandon saw it erupt since we were all just there! How lucky of them to see that, huh?" He pointed to the LIVE symbol in the bottom right corner.

Her mug slipped and fell in a crash, spilling all over his volcanoes.

* * *

I stared at the open laptop. My brother's flight was still listed as "pending departure" on the airline's website. The airplane icon was frozen in time. It had not budged in the past twelve hours. I powered the laptop down.

Drumming my fingers on the counter, I heaved a sigh and picked up my phone. Again. I hit redial, hoping against hope Sarah would answer this time. The news had not shown California affected by the ash cloud yet.

Hell, an ash cloud.

A volcano.

It was the morning after, and I still couldn't say those words aloud.

The click of her picking up on the other end shut that pervading thought down.

"Hello, AJ?" she breathed into the phone.

"Sarah! Thank God. Please say you've heard from Brandon."

Silence. Crackles.

"Sarah?" Dear God, don't let me lose her, too. She was the only connection I had to my brother Brandon ... and to my sweetheart, Finnie. My mother-in-law had already called me in a panic last night. Even Patsy's rock- solid attitude wavered in the wake of mankind's largest volcano ... and I didn't need it to add to my anxiety.

"... closing roads north of us near Sacramento and San Francisco ... last I heard from him was before he boarded ..."

"He's not called at all?" I tried again. A few more crackles.

Will trudged into the kitchen, toting a large clear bin of Lego bricks. "No, not all those, honey. Please. Pick your favorites. We won't have room in the car," I said.

"Car?" Sarah said, her voice clearer. "You're not planning to drive out there, AJ? No, no, don't do that! And that's a long car ride for you — you know, since ... Can you handle it?"

My pulse raced and head buzzed from minimal sleep and a high dose of caffeine. Jitters shook my hands. "My son's out there." I choked on my own words. I tucked the phone between my ear and shoulder as I unscrewed my pill bottle. I popped a pill. I tossed the recapped bottle into my open handbag. "No call or text?"

"Not yet. But he will."

Always the optimist, my sister-in-law. Well, I supposed she had to be, with a husband who had spent the better part of the last twenty years in the air force. Now that they'd settled into a routine in southern California, he had grown restless in his early retirement. He was the one who had insisted on our trip redo, coming in Harrison's place. And now he was ... oh, Jesus, no. Stop that, AJ!

Will raked through the bin, the sound of bricks clacking against each other both jarring against my swelling migraine and a squeezing of my heart. Finn wasn't here to dig through them with him. My seven-year-old baby was out there. Somewhere. With my brother. "Will, please, take that to the living room. And get your bag from upstairs. We leave in five minutes."

"Okay, Mom. I have the list here, on the clipboard. Make sure we double- check that we have it all." He handed it to me with a pencil. I forced a smile. "I'm going to say goodbye to Snow."

Sarah's voice poked in. "AJ, please, give him more time. He'll call. He'll get through. You can't possibly be thinking of driving all the way from Maine to ..." Her words faded but not from the poor connection.

"Exactly. We don't even know where they are! He could still be in Salt Lake City," I said, a lump rising in my throat.

Will perked up from the living room. "That city's not there anymore, Mom."

The knot in my stomach tightened. Thanks for the reminder, honey.

"Well, it is. Just in bits and pieces," he corrected, while stroking the cat. "Don't be sad, Mom. We'll find them."

He turned on the TV.

Sarah's voice held a higher note of affirmation. "No, stop that. I'm sure he got on the flight to Denver. I ran through the timing, the delay, and the eruption. He caught the flight. They got on. They got out of there, okay?"

She neglected to mention the earthquake that had also hit Denver shortly after the eruption.

Earthquake. Eruption. Either way, their whereabouts were unknown.

"Dear God, Sarah. The Yellowstone supervolcano erupted."

"I know, honey."

Silence.

Will's channel-surfing emanated into the kitchen. Click, click, click.

"I can't talk you out of this, can I?" she said.

"Nope."

"Then please detour to Virginia and drop off Will with Patsy and George. Or with a neighbor by you," Sarah offered.

The commercials on the TV ended, and the newscaster's voice streamed into the kitchen.

"Governments of multiple states including Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, and Nebraska have issued State of Emergency orders and have requested federal aid. Over 70,000 National Guard personnel are now activated and have been deployed to the hardest hit areas where they'll assist with search and rescue, evacuations, and relief operations including delivering packages of water, food, and medical supplies. Highway driving is now strictly prohibited in the states aforementioned unless escorted by National Guard or specific military convoys. Mobile relief and medical units are being set up in surrounding regions."

Will flipped through the channels. He stood two feet in front of the TV, stock still and engrossed.

My pulse drummed in my head. I paced the kitchen, fingers fluttering over the checklist again. Belatedly, I countered, "Sarah, driving south to Patsy will take too long and with the bottlenecks on the beltway around DC, I may never get to Colorado. I can't leave him here with a neighbor." What if it got worse here? What if he had an episode or meltdown? I didn't say that aloud, as Will's ears were always on listening mode.

More clicks.

"The president will be addressing the nation this evening. The death toll has risen to over 50,000, with estimates projected at over 250,000 ..."

"Will, please, turn that off. Gather your bags."

Click.

"... the mandate on freezing all prices of gas, food, home utilities, and many more goods. See our website for the complete list. Price gouging will be handled by —"

Click.

Tingles rippled from my fingertips to my palms. I opened my mouth to yell at him, but I clamped it shut.

"Finally. Some weather!" Will said.

"Early measurements are in, although not verified. The region around Yellowstone has seen extensive damage from earthquakes, ground drop, lava flows, and ash in measurements of inches. Bordering states have unverified levels of ash ranging from centimeters to inches. We've confirmed earthquakes in Washington, Idaho, Arizona, and Colorado, with the quake near Denver registering a 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale. Ash clouds have already been observed in Kansas, where recordable amounts of ash have fallen. Jennifer joins us from ..."

I tuned it out, the images from watching TV all night already burned in my memory. I hurried down the basement steps again, nearly tripping on my weak ankle.

Sarah's pleading came back to me. "Oh, AJ, honey, please just be careful, okay? Check in with me when you can? If I hear from him, you'll be the first to know."

I nodded, not responding as the line cut out and tears brimmed in my eyes. I swiped them away and bustled around the basement, collecting what was left on my packing list.

I could do this.

I lugged the last of my things to the car.

The car is not my enemy, I repeated three times.

I plodded upstairs to the living room. "Let's go, Will."

****

Jolted awake from a nightmare, I sat up in my sleeping bag. I shuddered and rubbed my throat.

It wasn't real, yet I swallowed ash, my tongue parched.

Predawn light crept across the meadow and rocks as I scanned the surroundings. Thick evergreens encircled the clearing where we'd set up our makeshift camp. The sharp scent of pine shifted me from the haze of sleep to awareness. I blinked a few times and turned to Will's sleeping bag.

It was empty.

Shit.

I stood, grabbed the lantern, and croaked, "Will!" as if his name were stuck in my throat.

Not him, too. One child's unknown whereabouts and now Will ... where the hell was he?

Will hated camping, despite his love of the outdoors. Will grew scared if left alone. Will wandered.

I recovered my voice and searched shoeless around the clearing. "Will!" I shone the light into the bushes.

Someone's scream still rang in my ears. Had I screamed, or dear God, had it been Will?

He must've had to pee. But Will didn't like to pee in the woods like his brother. He could hold it for twelve hours if needed. He preferred bathrooms, with toilets. No standing for him.

A cold drizzle began to patter the ground, and my socks were already soaked. I shivered as I hurried along a narrow dirt path through the trees toward the nearby pond.

I held the lantern in front of me to deflect errant tree branches. "Will!"

No answer.

Why had I stopped by a pond, of all places? Will was drawn to water in any form, but he wasn't a proficient swimmer yet. Dammit, why hadn't I pitched the tent? A zipper would've woken me sooner. Because I had been exhausted, that's why.

My chest tightened as worst-case scenarios assaulted my brain. Getting lost. Drowning. Kidnapping.

A moment later, the placid pond lay before me.

There he was, at the water's edge, hunched over something.

"Oh, my God, Will. Why are you here?" Tingles prickled my fingertips, and the lantern teetered in my hand. My mind wrestled itself over what I was more concerned with: my sweet Finn, stuck somewhere in the ravages of Colorado, or my quirky nine-year-old Asperger's Will, who loved water too much.

What if I hadn't awoken? He'd slithered away without me knowing. There were countless what-ifs these days.

He prodded the mud with a stick, crouching like kids do, his prominent spine poking through his thin, wet pajama top. His backside hovered close to the ground, and his legs were tucked beneath him.

"Will!" I said too sternly. "Why —"

"Because we stopped here last night, Mom. Don't you remember?"

I loosened my hand. Fingernail marks peppered my palm. I set the lantern down and squatted the best that my approaching-forty-year-old body could beside him. I blew a forceful breath. Now was not the time for my palpitations to return. Mental note: take my pill when I returned to our camp. "I asked why you came to the pond ... now? You know the rules with camping. It's ..." I paused and looked at my watch ... the one Harrison had given me on our first anniversary. "It's only five in the morning." Not like that was early for him.

He turned to the mud after a brief glance at me. "I followed these frogs."

I shook my head with a muffled curse. I was hopelessly failing with my efforts to stop swearing around the boys.

"Mom, why did you scream?"

"What? I didn't scream."

"Yes, you did. You scared the frogs. Did you have a nightmare?" Will asked with his usual earnest, no-nonsense tone.

"I —" Numbness returned to my fingertips. I had been screaming. The nightmare flashed across my memory. The scream burned. Panic raced through my veins as chunks of volcanic rock tore down the hillside, heading straight for my Finn. I tried to call to him, but fear halted me. My legs wouldn't move. Then, he was gone, swallowed by the rush of mud and rocks.

I stifled a sob.

"It's okay, Mom. Good thoughts, remember?" Will stuck a spindly pine twig in the mud.

I nodded. "Yes, good thoughts."

A sudden movement across the pond caught my eye, and I shifted the lantern behind Will. There it was again. Campers on the shore farthest from us. Were they traveling west, too? Muted voices. I grabbed Will by the shoulder. I wondered if they'd heard me scream as well.

"Ouch!"

"Shh! Come back to camp. Let's pack and go."

"But the frogs!" he whined.

"They're happy there. Let's go."

"You're right. No ash has come this far yet."

Yet.

I rubbed my throat, the scream still burning and the fears of where my brother and youngest son could be, still paralyzing.

****

"Mom, how long will it take?" Will asked, not looking from his clipboard drawing, which I knew to be another map. All he drew these days were geographical maps. Correction: not even these days. He'd been drawing them since kindergarten. How many hundred had he drawn since then? Accurate enough to plug into any map software program.

"I'm not sure, honey." I drove the car in a sleepy daze, my body longing for caffeine. Coffee had not been on the essentials list, and Will hated too many stops. Triple mocha latte, Harrison used to say as our inside joke. I'd grab my java fix at the next gas station stop. Two nights of disjointed sleep and too much worry plagued my overworked mind.

I tightened my grip on the wheel, my chest tightening. I'd forgotten to take my pill this morning. I reached into my handbag and dug out the bottle. Half looking at the road, I twisted the cap off, grabbed a small white pill, and popped it in my mouth with a chug of water. I knew on this trip, of all trips, I would need to stay on top of them if I didn't want my anxiety to halt me in the days ahead.

"I can do this," I whispered for the umpteenth time since we'd departed.

Will pondered aloud. "Grandma drives from Virginia to California every year to see Aunt Sarah and Uncle Brandon and that takes her five days, right? So, it should take us maybe four days to get to Colorado?"

"Uh-huh," I said, mid-yawn, distracted by a few stopped cars ahead. At least they were pulled off to the side. Gray-black smoke curled from the crushed hood of one vehicle.

"Well, that's if Colorado is still there," Will said matter-of-factly.

Dammit. Tears blurred my vision. Not now, not again. His wheels always churned. "It's there, honey. The news said southern Colorado is not in the impact ring." Oh my God, was I really talking about this?

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Will Rise from Ashes"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Jean M. Grant.
Excerpted by permission of The Wild Rose Press, Inc..
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.

Table of Contents

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

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Will Rise from Ashes 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Sharon_Arundel 5 months ago
First time reading this author and this book is extremely well written. The author takes us on an emotional journey and shows real understanding of parenting an autistic child. A.J. the main female character has been through a lot of heartache and feels so alone as she attempts to move through her grief and raise her children. When a natural disaster occurs it’s the last thing, she needs but ends up being what helps to save her as she embarks on a perilous journey to find her other child. It’s through this journey that she meets Reid who is going through his own struggle and torment as he searches for his sister. The 2 adults and AJ’s autistic son Will, come together in such a beautiful way as they learn and rely and help each other. This is a deeply emotional story that is also full of hope for the future, well worth the read. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Anonymous 5 months ago
On the way home from a family holiday at the Yellowstone national park, young widow, AJ Sinclair, leaves her youngest son, Finn, in the care of her brother to travel ahead home with her autistic son, Will. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts the very next day, communication falters, and AJ has no way of knowing if her brother and Finn made it out from the massive devastations. Ever since her husband died in a drink-and-drive accident, AJ has suffered from anxiety and left her own driving to a minimum. Now she must overcome her fears as she and Will set out on a journey across the country to find their missing brothers. With the country in chaos, the obstacles they face on the way are numerous. Then they meet ex-soldier, Reid Gregory, who’s traveling the same route to get to his sister. After he helps them out of a few sticky situations, AJ agrees to let him hitch a ride, and she eventually opens up and puts her trust in him. However, Reid has secrets of his own. Will Rise from Ashes is a fast-paced read. Still, it manages to depict a beautiful and authentic mother-child relationship. The characters are fully fleshed out, the dialogue realistic, and the writing flows naturally. With several historical romances under her belt, Jean Grant also knows how to weave in a romantic plotline, but without putting it in the front seat. This is a book about finding your own strength and keeping your family together in the face of disaster.
ChristineMarieG 6 months ago
This book was about a mother, AJ, and her nine-year-old son who travel cross-country to find her brother and younger son after a natural disaster. AJ has suffered from depression and anxiety the past year, ever since her husband was killed in an accident leaving her to raise her two children alone. The trip to find her son ended up being a trip to find herself. The writing was beautiful, and the story was filled with well-developed characters. I particularly enjoyed AJ’s relationship with Will, her autistic son, which I believed painted an accurate picture of the challenges and joys of raising a child on the spectrum. The love story also felt very real. Overall, it was a story of hope and renewal and left me feeling uplifted.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I grew up in a library and spent 8 years of my life working at a library, and have had the opportunity to come across some fantastic books and authors. Will Rise From Ashes has the right amount of suspense to keep me interested and wanting more! It was a hard book to put down until the last page. The book was full of suspense and emotions that really pulled me in and made me want to learn more about the main character. I also enjoyed learning more about autism. Jean told a story that was riveting and left me wanting to read more stories about AJ and her children in the future!
Anonymous 8 months ago
As an avid reader and parent of a child with special needs, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down. It's a fabulous fictional story, and it centers on a mother of a child with special needs and her journey, both physically and emotionally. It beautifully captures all the emotions, hopes, fears, and love that a parent has for a child with special needs. The author does an amazing job not only telling a wonderful and creative story but also accurately describing the challenges and rewards of families with a loved one on the autism spectrum. Highly recommend this book!