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Here’s the first chapter of In That Moment:
New York City, New York, September 2001
The dream was so vivid and terrifying that Anne was jarred from sleep and she bolted upright in bed. She frantically reached for Kevin, assuring herself that he was there with her and safe.
“What, Annie?” Kevin’s voice was thick with grogginess. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, Kev. I just had the most awful dream. And feel like I wrestled with it all night—like I never really went to sleep.”
“What time is it? I’ve got a meeting at eight forty-five.”
Anne looked down at Kevin lying on his stomach, his head cradled in his arms and his thick brown hair a matted mess. She put her hand on his warm back. He really was here, not like in the dream.
“It’s after seven thirty but I don’t think you should go to work today, Kev. My dream has got me feeling anxious.”
“Seven thirty! I’ve gotta go. I’ll just barely make it if I get in the shower right now. You kept me up too late last night,” Kevin teased. Then he threw the covers back and sat up on the edge of the bed. He rose quickly and walked to the window. He stood gazing outside for a second, stretching his long arms above his head. “Wow, what a bright day. Is coffee on?”
Anne admired him as he stood naked, with his back to her. The sunlight from the day made him only a silhouette but she could still discern the muscles in his back and long legs. She adored everything about him, every inch of him. She ached to think of losing him as she had in 1987, and as she had in the dream.
“I’m serious, Kevin. Why don’t you take off today?” Anne embraced him from behind, pressing her bare breasts against his back and wrapping her arms around his waist. “We could go back to bed,” she suggested seductively. “You’d be safe here with me.”
Kevin turned to Anne and kissed her. “Annie, honey, I really do need to be in the office. What’s with this dream? Sometimes you’re as superstitious as my grandmother. I’m getting in the shower. Would you bring me coffee?”
Anne felt deflated and still a little unsettled from the dream. She stared out the window. The sky was an unusually brilliant blue—something that only occurred when the August humidity gave way to the crispness of September. And she felt an odd energy coming in from the new day, beckoning her to be alert and present. She walked into the kitchen, poured two cups of coffee and walked into the steamy bathroom.
“Kev, what time is your meeting over? Why don’t you take off after that and spend the day with me? It’s technically our four-month anniversary even though we celebrated last night. And the day is so perfect, it’s like it was made for us.”
“Aren’t you going to work, Annie?”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. I have a dentist appointment this morning and I had planned to go in after that but if you’ll take off… you know what? I forgot to tell my assistant about my appointment. I better call and leave a message.”
Anne hastily walked to the bedroom, retrieved her cell phone and called her office on the ninety-first floor of One World Trade Center to say that she wouldn’t be in. Then she returned to the bathroom where Kevin was drying off. It was just after eight o’clock.
“Annie, it’s just a breakfast meeting at Windows and it’ll be over no later than ten. The meetings are normally earlier but we’ve got folks who are flying in this morning. I’ll try to get out after that.” Then Kevin hung up his towel, and knelt down in front of Anne who was seated on the edge of the tub. He took her hand. “There’s no place I’d rather be than with you.” He kissed her hand. “I’ve gotta get dressed if I’m going to make the train.”
Anne smiled as he walked away. She was so grateful to have him back in her life even though it had come at quite a high price to her. She walked into the bedroom where Kevin stood in front of the wardrobe tying his tie. She pulled on a robe and walked up behind him looking beyond him at his reflection.
“Be careful this morning, Kev.”
“I will. I’ll be back before you know it. You want to just meet back here?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. I’m going to be nervous until I see you again.”
Kevin grabbed her around the waist and forcefully pulled her to him. Then he kissed her hard.
“Love you, Annie,” he called as he walked out the door at eight twenty-five.
Anne’s appointment was at ten thirty so she had the luxury of watching the morning news, something she seldom enjoyed. She poured another cup of coffee, turned on the TV and walked to the bathroom to shower.
When she returned to the bedroom she spied her reflection as she passed the mirrored-front wardrobe. She was thirty-eight years old but her body was as slender as it had been in her twenties and even more muscular. She was fortunate to have inherited her father’s tall, lithe physique. But at her age, good genes needed to be supplemented with exercise. Her gym time had paid off. She was pleased with what she saw.
Then she heard the rumble of thunder. She walked to the window. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Odd, she thought.
Anne turned back around to face the television and her gaze became transfixed. She stood, staring in astonishment.
What was unfolding on all the news channels that morning was surrealistic to anyone who was watching. On this extraordinary September morning in New York City at eight forty-six, an American Airlines jetliner had apparently flown straight into the North Tower of World Trade Center. A large stream of thick black smoke was rising from the building against the deceptively blue sky.
“Kevin!” Anne shrieked to the empty apartment. “Oh my God!” Anne stumbled over Kevin’s shoes and clothes strewn on the floor from the night before until she reached her cell phone and nervously dialed his number. But when the phone began to ring, she heard the ringtone coming from the kitchen. Kevin had left his cell phone on the kitchen counter! Anne’s whole body was shaking and then she remembered Kevin’s other cell phone—one that she knew never to call. It was the one used by his family, by his wife. But right now it was the only way that Anne could find him. She dialed the number. No answer. She dialed the number over and over to no avail.
Anne hastily pulled on clothes, all the time watching the TV coverage of the accident. At this point, the newscasters could only speculate the extent of destruction from the crash or the condition of the inhabitants of the North Tower. Anne had no idea what she would do but she knew she needed to get to Kevin.
But before she could get out of the apartment, a second United Airlines jetliner flew straight into the South Tower of World Trade Center and the sounds of chaos could be heard across the city.
The first plane had made impact with the North Tower between the ninety-third and the one-hundredth floors, eight of the nine floors occupied by Mason and McMillan, Kevin’s employer, instantly decimating everyone and everything in that space and completely cutting off all escape routes for the tenants on the higher floors. And that included Windows on the World where Kevin was having his meeting this morning.
Anne, like millions of viewers, sat and helplessly watched the tragedy occur in real time, nervously sobbing. There would be no way that she could get to him now. Nothing she could do. It seemed like her dream had heralded an awful reality.
Anne’s law office, Sampson and Riley, was also right at the center of the disaster. It was a small office with only thirty employees but at least three of Anne’s closest friends in the city were probably there, in that office only two floors below the point of impact. She struggled to grasp what was happening, all the while calling Kevin’s phone which mockingly rang over and over. And for every phone call that Anne made, the other cell phone rang—the phone that Kevin had purchased to communicate solely with her. Anne knew that Kevin had given his sister the number for emergencies and that she would be the one calling. But Anne didn’t answer it. Kevin’s sister didn’t know about her and now certainly wasn’t the time to make introductions.
Around ten o’clock, Anne’s own cell phone began to ring. She had scarcely thought that other people would be concerned about her. All of her friends knew she was in New York and that she worked in One World Trade Center. Most of them probably assumed she was in that building on this morning. The first call came from her best friend, Cathy.
“I can’t talk, Cath. I didn’t go to work today and I’m okay. Just let people there know.” She was referring to the people in New Bern, North Carolina, her hometown. “I gotta go.”
Cathy was Anne’s very best friend but she hadn’t confided even in Cathy about her relationship with Kevin. She hadn’t been sure what to tell her. She had hoped that things might change for them before Anne had to admit that she was having an affair. But right now none of that mattered. She had to find news about Kevin! She had to find Kevin! Her sobbing escalated and her worry turned to hysteria.
The South Tower collapsed less than an hour after impact and the North Tower followed within the next thirty minutes, both taking down Three World Trade Center along with them. Clouds of toxic dust and rubble rose to cover the city. The clear blue morning had turned dark and stormy. And somewhere in that storm was Kevin.
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