Release Date: September 1, 2023
Guy Grant devotes his entire life to the NRA. But after a horrific personal tragedy involving gun violence, he is left grief-stricken and questioning everything he once believed in.
Teenager Sam Schuyler suffers with depression after his father leaves the family, causing him to spiral into an endless cycle of shame after he discovers he could have prevented the loss of lives in a local mass shooting.
As Guy and Sam struggle with guilt and grief, their lives come together, forever changed.
Guy Grant kicked the soccer ball back to his grandson. It was Saturday mid-afternoon in late September and they were at his daughter’s house in a modest Alexandria neighborhood. The houses were close together but each had their quarter acre of fenced yard. The six year old missed the ball and went scrambling after it as it rolled toward the edge of the grassy backyard. His blond curls bounced as he ran. He was slim and muscular and very quick on his feet. Guy smiled as he watched Little Guy’s fierce determination to get behind the ball. As his grandfather had just taught him, he stopped it with his foot before facing Guy and kicking it back.
“Good job, son,” cried Guy. The ball sputtered slowly towards him. He stepped his foot atop it gingerly and watched as little Guy barreled towards him, aiming his toe to take it away. Guy leaned down and snatched it up in his hands. “Let’s take a break, Little Guy. Your old granddad needs to catch his breath.” He tucked the ball under his arm and leaned his hands on his thighs, heaving. They had been playing soccer for nearly an hour, and he was done in. Nearing 60, he had let himself get overweight and out of shape. His once blond hair, straight not curly like his grandson’s, had more and more gray in it. He pushed it back from his face and resolved to get a haircut this week.
“Okay, Granddad,” he said with clear disappointment. He grabbed Guy’s hand and led him towards the nearby bench. “You can sit here and breathe, Granddad. Want some lemonade? Mommy made some. I can get it.”
“That sounds perfect. And did I smell fresh baked cookies as well?”
“You sure did,” said little Guy. “Before you got here, Mommy let me put the chocolate chips in and lick the spoon.” In a flash he was off.
Guy watched in awe as his grandson ran to the back door where Guy’s daughter came out with a tray holding glasses of lemonade and a plate of cookies. How he loved this little boy. He knew he hadn’t been a good father to Laura. A workaholic she had called him once in anger when she was maybe sixteen on one of the rare weekend visits he hadn’t canceled due to work. Laura had been small, maybe eight years old, when his ex-wife, Maureen, had reached her limit and kicked him out. Maureen had also called him a workaholic, probably where Laura first heard it. He had to admit they were both right. He’d been driven and ambitious. He had risen to a pinnacle he had never dreamed he could achieve: head lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. It cost him a marriage and two children in his climb to this position. He was wealthy enough to provide for his children. Maureen’s bulldog lawyer saw to that. But the flame burning under him had not dimmed, it had only grown stronger. He had worked hard to get here but he had missed so much. When he finally came to his senses and slowed down enough to realize his loss, Laura was in college and wanted nothing to do with him. His son, two years older, was hiking in Europe and even more out of touch. It was now years later. His son was living on the west coast, he didn’t even know where. Laura had married a less ambitious but hard-working man, Tom Ivey, and had a son. He knew she didn’t approve of what he did for a living. She would never understand the importance of the Second Amendment the way he did. That subject was closed between them. But that she named her son after him and that she let him try to make up for it with time with her precious Little Guy felt like a miracle to him.
Laura set the tray on the small table next to the bench while Little Guy bounced and reached his hand towards the cookies. “Hold on, buster,” she said. “Offer refreshment to your grandfather first. Remember your manners. He’s our guest.”
Little Guy quieted immediately. “Yes, Mommy.” He turned his attention to his grandfather and touched his arm. “Would you like some, um, refreshment, Granddad?”
Guy tousled his hair. “Yes, I would, thank you. I would like one of those glasses of lemonade.”
The boy took two hands to pick up a glass and turned carefully as he handed it to Guy. “Here, Granddad.”
“Thank you, son, and I would also like a cookie on a napkin.” Guy watched closely as the boy picked up a napkin and placed the biggest cookie in the center before handing it over. Laura was a wonderful mother, he’d have to admit. The child may be a ball of energy, but he was learning to be considerate and mannerly. It hadn’t come from him, he knew, but he was glad to see what Maureen had surely passed down.
Laura sat in a lawn chair as Little Guy snuggled up beside his grandfather with his own cookie and glass of lemonade in a small lidded cup. “How are you feeling, Dad? Don’t over do it.” She wore a simple shirt-waist dress in a red flowered pattern with a red apron. Her blond curls sparkled in the afternoon sun.
Her mother’s curls, Guy noted. He took a long swallow of the sharp sweet liquid before he answered. His heart beat had finally slowed a bit. He was three months past his second heart attack and tired of taking it easy. He raised his eyes to his daughter. “I couldn’t be finer getting to play with my grandson. This old ticker isn’t giving up yet. I want to watch this boy grow up.” He rubbed his side against the boy who beamed up in response. “We have fun together, don’t we, Little Guy?”
“We sure do, Granddad,” said the boy with bright eyes.
“Don’t you have a new book to read to your grandfather? Maybe it’s time for a quiet activity.”
Little Guy jumped up. “Yes! Granddad, Mommy got me a book especially for me to read to you. Can I now? Want me to go get it?” Guy barely had time to nod before the boy was gone.
“He can already read?” asked Guy, incredulous.
Laura smiled. “He sure can. And he loves to show off how well he can read.”
“Thank you so much for letting me come today, Laura. It means the world to me.” Guy reached for her hand. She let him take it, a limp fish. He released it. He studied her dark brown eyes. At least she had his eyes. She was blinking back tears.
“I know you love him,” she whispered. “I want him to be surrounded by people who love him.” She gathered herself up and met his eyes with a look that made him sit back. “Don’t disappoint him. One time you don’t show up when you say you will and that’s it. No second chances.”
He cleared his throat and thought a moment. He put his hand to his heart. “I promise, Laura. Cross my heart. I’d love to have him sleep over at my house sometime if you’ll let him.”
“We’ll see,” she said. “We’ll see.”
The screen door banged as Little Guy shot through it, book in hand. “I found it, I found it, Granddad!” He settled in beside his grandfather.
“Let me see, what is this book?” asked Guy, bending towards it.
“I want to read it all to you, Granddad.” He held the cover in front of them. “See it says How to Babysit A Grandpa.”
Guy chuckled and glanced at Laura. “How to Babysit A Grandpa? And you can read now? I can’t wait to hear you read it to me.”
Slowly, Little Guy began to read.