Last Chance Book Club - By Hope Ramsay


Savannah White pulled her twelve-year-old Honda into Aunt Miriam’s driveway. She set the parking brake and studied the old Victorian house through the windshield. It had seen better days. Mauve and gold paint peeled from the shingles and bric-a-brac, the porch steps sagged, and the azaleas along the front porch were overgrown.

She studied the garden for a long moment. Clumps of daffodils sprouted in the side yard, shooting up through the pine needle ground cover. She had never realized that there were daffodils in the side yard. Savannah had only visited Aunt Miriam in the summertime, well past daffodil time. The whimsical yellow flowers were a reminder that she was taking a huge risk. Savannah had no idea if she would even like living in Last Chance year-round.

Of course, no one knew yet that she planned to stay. If she had announced her plans, her ex-mother-in-law would have done everything in her power to stop Savannah from leaving Baltimore. Claire White wanted complete control over the education of her grandson, Todd. But Savannah hoped that moving here might shake up Todd’s father, Greg, who had canceled every weekend visitation for almost a year and who was behind on his support payments. Greg couldn’t have cared less about Todd.

And that left Savannah to wage a never-ending battle with Greg’s mother, who seemed more than happy to spend money on the boy and make up for the support Greg never sent. But there was a huge price tag associated with taking Claire White’s assistance.

Savannah was tired of always being beholden. And she was tired of living close to her own mother, who never stopped adding up all of her faults and failures. When her last relationship, with Jeremy, had fizzled, Savannah decided to make a change in her life. She started planning a great escape back to her roots. She’d held tag sales to reduce the clutter. She’d put stuff in storage. Her lease was up. She was all ready to go when Uncle Harry died. God bless him, he’d provided the perfect cover for a clean getaway.

Guilt slammed into her chest for allowing herself to think such a thing, even if it was true. She was sorry that she wouldn’t see her gruff old uncle again. Aunt Miriam was going to be lost without him. But Claire White hadn’t even batted an eye when Savannah announced that she was taking Todd out of school for a few days to attend Harry’s funeral. And of course, Todd didn’t know the truth either.

She turned toward her twelve-year-old son. He sat in the passenger’s seat completely engrossed in a video game. His brown hair curled over his forehead, and the tip of his tongue showed at the corner of his mouth as he concentrated. His eyelashes were amazingly long for a boy, but his skin was so pale he looked like one of those teen vampires from Twilight, albeit a slightly chubby one.

“It’s time to put the game away,” Savannah said.

Todd didn’t acknowledge her request. Tuning her out had become a pattern.

“We have to go now. It’s time to meet Aunt Miriam.”

No response.

She reached over and took the game from his hands.

“Mom,” he whined, “I was just about to win that level.”

Savannah turned the damn thing off and tucked it into her oversized purse. “Sorry, kiddo, we’re here. It’s time to join the real world.”

He rolled his pretty brown eyes. “Aw, couldn’t I just stay in the car?”


“But I didn’t even know Uncle Harry, and I’m sure Aunt Miriam is just some dumb old lady.”

Savannah ground her teeth. “You will show respect to Aunt Miriam, is that clear?”

“Yes, but I hate it here.”

“You’ve been here for five minutes, during which time you’ve done nothing but zap zombies.”

He rolled his eyes. “Mom, Semper Fi doesn’t have any zombies. I was shooting members of the Imperial Japanese forces occupying Iwo Jima.”

Savannah stared at her son. “You do realize that World War Two is over, and the Japanese are our allies now, right?”

Todd crossed his arms over his chest and sank back into the seat. “I’m not going to some dumb old funeral.”

“The funeral isn’t until tomorrow. And you will get your butt out of this car and go be nice to your aunt Miriam or I will put your PSP in a microwave and nuke it.”

“You wouldn’t. That would blow up the apartment and kill the microwave.”

“Don’t bet on it, kiddo.”

“If you did that, Dad would buy me another one, and Grandmother would yell at you.”