Genre: General Fiction Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press Publication Date: June 30, 2017
A broken man, a dying woman, a friendship that knows no bounds.
50 Hours follows FRANCO ALLESSI, a broken, lonely man who wants nothing more than to outrun the ghosts of his past. After two grueling years of trying to numb the pain of his wife’s death with cheap whiskey, he’s convicted of drunk driving. When the judge sentences him to 50 hours of community service. He chooses Savannah Falls Hospice for no reason other than it’s walking distance from his run-down house trailer.
On his first day at the hospice, Franco meets AUBREY BREWER, a woman whose time on earth is quickly ticking to a stop. Their unusual relationship teaches powerful, life-changing lessons about friendship, acceptance, and the importance of appreciating that precious treasure called Life.
“This is the kind of book that wins Pulitzer Prizes.”
– Catherine Lanigan, Author of Romancing the Stone
“50 Hours is a moving story about love, loss, friendship, and last chances. It’s a reminder that our lives are precious stories, no matter how long or short. This is a must-read for all of us who have been touched by cancer – victims, caregivers, family, and friends. This poignant and touching tale will inspire hope in the midst of even the darkest hours.”
– Cerella Sechrist, author of the popular Findlay Roads series from Harlequin
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… 50 Hours is an unforgettable tale of healing, redemption, and the cost of true love.”
– Rachel Muller, author of bestselling World War II series, Love & War and Phillip’s War
Loree Lough’s books are always an absolute pleasure to read, and 50 Hours is one of her best yet! Its messages of love and compassion will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
– Kate James, award-winning author of Sanctuary Cove, Silver Linings, and The Truth About Hope
Agnes squeezed Aubrey’s hand. “I’m sure the couple who bought your house appreciate the hours you put into your beautiful yard. Especially the hydrangeas.”
“Michael hated them, especially when the petals began to drop in the fall.” She didn’t like talking about her ex, and yet she said, “He thought they looked like trash, littering the lawn, but I loved the way they looked, nestled between the blades of grass . . . ”
“Why don’t I drive you over there so you can see them? I’m sure the new owners won’t mind.”
Aubrey had no desire to see someone else’s car parked in her driveway, another woman’s curtains in the multi-paned windows . . . more evidence of all that cancer had taken from her.
She shook the image from her mind. “Do you have plans this afternoon, or can you stay for lunch?”
“I’d like nothing better. Unless they’re serving that tasteless, rubbery chicken again.”
“I know, right? The stuff is better suited for a clown act.” She pretended to bop her mother’s head with a rubber hen.
Giggling like schoolgirls, they startled a blue jay from its roost in a nearby shrub and, as it took flight, azalea petals rained to the ground.
“That’s Bobbitt, my new boyfriend. He sits in the tree outside my room, squawking. Guess he got bored with that and decided to become a stalker and follow me around the grounds.”
Agnes clucked her tongue again. “Well, be sure to keep your windows closed. Birds are riddled with parasites, you know, some small enough to flit right through the screens.”
Aubrey stifled a smirk. “Yes, Mama.” Warm, sweet moments like these were rare these days, and she committed this one to memory. Was her mother doing the same?
“You know,” Agnes said, looking up at the old mansion, “I’ve always admired the architecture of this place.”
It would be hard not to appreciate the regal beauty of the 1840s estate house and its surrounding acreage. Overcup oaks stood on either side of it, like silent and stately sentries. An arbor of magnolias shaded the winding drive that brought visitors from the road to the grand entrance, and mighty marble pillars supported the curved portico that gleamed in the noonday sun. How it had escaped Yankee cannonballs was anyone’s guess, but thanks to the care of a fastidious maintenance crew, every brick and stone had remained intact.
“It’s quite a sight to behold, don’t you think?”
Aubrey sighed, more deeply this time. “Yes, I imagine it’s as good a place as any to die.”
About Loree Lough
Bestselling author LOREE LOUGH once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and “Readers’ Choice” awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 7 book-to-movie options. Her 115th book, 50 Hours, is her most personal to date. More recently released, The Man She Knew and Bringing Rosie Home, books #1 and #2 in her “By Way of the Lighthouse” series from Harlequin Heartwarming. Next up, #3, The Redemption of Lillie Rourke. Stay tuned for more in 2019 and beyond…
Astrid can’t remember the best day of her life: yesterday.
A traumatic car accident erases Astrid’s memories of September 9th, the day she spent with an oddly charming stranger named Theo. Ever since, she’s been haunted by surreal dreams and an urgent sense that she’s forgotten something important. One night, she gets a mysterious call from Oliver, who knows more about her than he should and claims he can help her remember. She accepts his help, even as she questions his motives and fights a strange attraction to him.
In order to find Theo and piece together that lost day in September, Astrid must navigate a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife, from the seedy corners of Chinatown to a drug-fueled Alice-in-Wonderland-themed party to a club where everyone dresses like the dead. In between headaches and nightmares, she struggles to differentiate between memory, fantasy, and reality, and starts to wonder if Theo really exists. Eventually, she’ll need to choose between continuing her search for him or following her growing feelings for Oliver. Astrid might go to extreme lengths to find what she’s lost . . . or might lose even more in her pursuit to remember (like her sanity).
“A compelling and original take on the classic amnesia tale . . . The narrative bursts with detailed, vivid characters . . . The dialogue is expertly crafted.” – The BookLife Prize
“Simply riveting from start to finish… a captivating, literary piece that winds a path somewhere between mystery, romance, and psychological thriller.” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
What’s the last thing you remember?
A rumble, a static rush, the world on a dimmer switch.
Outside, everything was gray.
But inside, a galaxy of color and light. Fireflies behind my eyes, neon in my bones. A nerve net of bioluminescence.
Radiant with hope. Glorious.
Do you know where you are?
In the heart of a storm. Give me lightning. Give me the flood. I’ve bled the sky of pigment, devoured its clouds. They remain like honey on my tongue, crystalized with promise. Nothing was ever sweeter.
No more color. Fade to grey.
I’ve been robbed of this elation.
Stay with me.
I have the weirdest taste in my mouth. Metallic, like I’ve been sucking on pennies, and spicy—no, not spicy. Stinging. Blood. What the—? I move my tongue and feel tiny pebbles. They’re sharp, cutting my gums and the insides of my cheeks. Not pebbles. Teeth? No. Glass.
I turn to spit out pieces of broken glass, but there’s something around my neck and I can’t move it. Okay, don’t panic. I push the glass out of my mouth with the tip of my tongue and pieces roll down my chin on a trail of saliva and blood. Now let’s turn on a light in here.
I open my eyes. Huh.
What is this place? There are shelves of equipment, strange monitors, dials, wires. Some kind of . . . storage room? The image blurs and wobbles. If my head is a handheld camera, whoever’s operating it has a serious case of the shakes. I can’t get a steady picture and I have no idea what this place is.
Have I been kidnapped?
That thought should trigger some modicum of fear. But it’s like I’m trapped in a block of ice and fear is on the other side of it. I can barely muster any curiosity to figure out where I am. The rest of it—how I got here, if I’m safe, hurt, etc.—will have to wait.
So let’s see. The room is tiny, and moving, and noisy. There are beeps, the hiss and tinny chatter of a walkie-talkie, the looped bellow of a siren.
Seriously, where am I?
Nowhere good, a black whisper warns, and a fog in my mind parts, clearing a path for fear, the belated guest.
The image finally snaps into focus and it registers: an ambulance.
Why the fuck am I in an ambulance?
I sit up with a—nope, I can only lift my head maybe an inch.
Why aren’t you panicking more?
Because it’s getting foggy inside my head again and blurry outside of it. I could really use a nap. It’s so chilly in here. And bright. Might as well close my eyes and deal with this in the morning. Ah, the dark is much better.
Hang on. Let’s get some questions answered first, maybe make sure I’m not missing any limbs. I try to sit up again and a hand on my shoulder prevents me from rising any further. No, it’s not just the hand. I’m strapped in.
“Nice to see you coming around, but don’t try to sit up. My name is Leo and I’m a paramedic. Do you know today’s date?”
I squint but can’t make out the face above me.
“September ninth, 1999,” I mumble.
“It’s actually September tenth,” he corrects me. Close enough.
“What happened? Am I hurt?” Of course you’re hurt, genius. I doubt you’re tied to a gurney, with a mouthful of glass, just joyriding in an ambulance.
“It’s going to be okay, Astrid, we’re almost at the hospital.”
How does this guy know my name? Why am I going to the hospital? Because that’s usually the drop-off destination of ambulances. Try to keep up here. What happened to me?
My head is so damn heavy. Back down it goes, more blood, more spit trickling out of the corners of my mouth. I form words but can’t speak them. I manage a garbled whisper, but it’s drowned out by sirens, rattling noises, and the tapping of heavy rain on the ambulance roof.
I need to take stock. I’m mostly immobile, but am I paralyzed? I try to wiggle the toes. Okay, those work fine. Fingers? The ones on the left hand move then seize up in pain. Blinded? Obviously not, but my vision is still fuzzy at the edges. Obviously, I can’t move my head much, but I shouldn’t anyway, in case I have a concussion. Or worse. Go away, black whisper, I don’t need you scaring the shit out of me right now.
Back to my self-assessment. Do I feel pain anywhere else in my body? Now that I mention it, hell yes. Where? Everywhere, especially my left side.
Why can’t I remember how this happened? I keep asking the paramedic, but he won’t tell me. Why won’t he answer me?
Oh yeah, because he can’t actually hear me. Because my lips are barely moving and no sound is coming out.
It’s an effort to form any more words or keep my eyes open. Is there a cold, heavy blanket over me? Uh-oh, those blurry edges are going dark. It’s like someone pushed me into a deep well and I’m falling in slow motion.
“Try to stay awake, Astrid.”
Fingers snap in front of my face.
Cut it out, ambulance man. You’re messing up my nap. It’s so much nicer with my eyes closed. All you do is boss me around with “Don’t sit up” this and “Stay awake” that. The darkness is quiet and doesn’t make annoying demands.
His voice is like a megaphone in my ear. Where is your mute button, ambulance man?
I think I found it. It’s here, further down in the dark.
I hear two voices, growing fainter as they speak.
“She’s out again, but vitals are stable.”
I’m not out, yet, ambulance man. Give a girl a break, would ya? It’s not my fault I have anvils on my eyelids. Besides, the light in here is too bright. And you are too loud. But I can still hear you fine . . . Mostly . . . Kind of . . .
“You’d think people would know not to drive like assholes in this kind of rain.”
“What is this, third one today?”
“Fourth. You hear about the wreck by the BQE? Five cars and a motorcycle. Two fatalities.”
“This one got lucky.”
“So to speak.”
“So to speak.”
“Want to get breakfast after this?”
“So? I want breakfast. Couldn’t you go for some French toast or pancakes?”
“Maybe eggs. Some strong coffee, bacon . . .”
How about taking my order, ambulance man? I’ll have—
Margarita Montimore received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She has blogged for Marvel, Google, Quirk Books, and XOJane.com. When not writing, she freelances as a book coach and editor. She grew up in Brooklyn but currently lives in a different part of the Northeast with her husband and dog.