Authors: Nicholas Sparks
“Like I told you then, I was angry. I wouldn’t have expected a nice guy like you to be such a heartbreaker. But I’m finally over it, and I decided to give you another chance. So, from now on,
we’re going to try it my way.” She fixed me with a stern gaze. “The long-distance thing, I mean. Where I visit you and you visit me, and in between we text and call and FaceTime each other because, as of now, we’re a couple again.”
As soon as she said the words, I knew they were exactly what I’d wanted to hear.
“How long can you stay?”
“Only a couple of days, but I have some free time next month. That’ll be your turn to visit me.”
My mind flashed to Paige and my aunt, but I suddenly knew with certainty that I would somehow make it work.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
“Now tell me that you love me. You stopped texting that to me a few weeks ago, and I didn’t like that, either. But I’ve decided I’ll forgive you for that, too.”
“I love you, Morgan,” I said, the words coming easily.
Rising to her toes, she kissed me, her lips as soft as I remembered.
“I love you, too,” she whispered. “Let’s make the most of these next couple of days, shall we?”
The turn of events was so dizzying that it was difficult for me to grasp what was happening.
“What did you have in mind?”
She surveyed the surroundings, then settled her eyes on me. “You know what I’d like to do first? Before anything else?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea.”
“I’d really love to meet your sister.”
“I want to get the real scoop on what you were like as a kid. I’ll bet she has some interesting stories. I also want to tell her thank you.”
“You told me she raised you, and I love who you turned out to be. Why wouldn’t I thank her?”
It was my turn to kiss her then, if only because I knew she really, truly understood me. When I pulled back, I allowed my hand to linger on her hip.
“Let’s go up to the house,” I said, taking her hand. “I’m sure Paige would love to meet you, too.”
FOR ABBY KOONS, ANDREA MAI, AND EMILY SWEET
Like so many people
around the world, I have spent the last couple of years in relative isolation due to Covid. And as for so many others, the period of enforced distancing caused me to reflect deeply on the nature of my relationships. Some of those relationships atrophied in this era of crisis; others flourished and grew deeper. Remarkably, some fresh new connections emerged, as well, mirroring the shifts in priorities and desire for change that millions of people experienced during the Great Pause.
One enduring relationship has remained and, if anything, grown even deeper during these recent years: my friendship and collaboration with my longtime literary agent and producing partner, Theresa Park. T, at twenty-seven years and counting, our close partnership stands as one of the most important and constant in my life. Together with the leaders of my first-class team at Park & Fine—to whom I’ve dedicated this novel—you’ve helped me sustain a career that has defied even my own expectations. But even more meaningful has been the decades-long
journey that we have shared as friends and fellow travelers on the road of life.
Among the new relationships that I embarked on during the pandemic is my professional affiliation with Penguin Random House. I am immensely grateful to Madeline McIntosh for midwifing my introduction to the PRH family, and to Gina Centrello for making such extraordinary efforts to ensure that I was comfortable in every way. Kara Welsh and Kim Hovey, it’s been a pleasure to get to know you—and I now understand how your division runs with such professionalism, efficiency, and grace. Your long experience and relentless pursuit of excellence are surely responsible for your unparalleled roster of bestsellers, and yet your leadership style always feels deeply humane. To Jennifer Hershey, whose meticulous oversight of every detail of this book’s publication ranged from the broadest strategic initiative to the tiniest quibble in page proofs, I wish to convey deepest thanks and genuine admiration.
To Jaci Updike and her unparalleled sales team, you have my heart and soul (remember that I always will be a sales rep at heart!). It is an honor to have my books sold by such outstanding professionals.
In marketing, Quinne Rogers and Taylor Noel bring originality, dogged persistence, and fierce ambition to their jobs; it’s rare to find an ardent sense of possibility and limitless ambition in the genteel world of publishing, and yet they bring that to their work every day. Similarly, in the world of publicity, I cannot imagine greater dedication and passionate advocacy than that delivered by Jennifer Garza, Karen Fink, and Katie Horn.
The sophistication and innovative strategies of the PRH audio division stem directly from its stellar team: Ellen Folan, Nicole McArdle, Karen Dziekonski, Dan Zitt, and Donna Passannante.
I look forward to lots of high-quality audio versions of my books in coming years.
Of course, the book you are holding in your hand or reading on your device could not exist but for the detail-oriented, deadline-driven, and technologically savvy production folks who work around the clock to deliver a flawless and beautiful product: Kelly Chian, Kathy Lord, Deborah Bader, Annette Szlachta-McGinn, Maggie Hart, Caroline Cunningham, Kelly Daisley, and David Hammond. You all take such pride in your work and it shows.
Last in my thanks to my new PRH team, but definitely not least: the inspired art directors Paolo Pepe and Elena Giavaldi, who created the gorgeous new look of this novel. The magic you bring to this process holds me in awe.
I owe the success of my career-spanning novels, feature films, partnerships, and social media to the loyal (and sometimes long-suffering) team who continues to manage and oversee all of my business and public-facing endeavors. In the world of film and TV, my close friend and wizard-like agent, Howie Sanders, at Anonymous Content: Howie, I continue to marvel at your instincts on timing, story, and the marketplace; I treasure your unflagging decades-long friendship more than I can say. As my entertainment lawyer and fierce, tenacious advocate, Scott Schwimer never gives up on the best possible terms or on me as a friend; Scottie, I hope you know that you remain close to my heart through all the ups and downs of our respective lives. To my new partners and friends at Anonymous Content, CEO Dawn Olmstead and producer and manager Zack Hayden, I’m grateful for your support and vision for our creative future. On a related note, I can hardly overstate my excitement at the prospect of working with Peter Cramer, Donna Langley, and Lexi
Barta at Universal Pictures on a slate of new projects based on my books—thank you for betting on the stories I write and for bringing such enthusiasm and energy to our collaboration.
My publicist Catherine Olim at Rogers & Cowan has guided me through the best of times and the worst of times, with pragmatic yet savvy instincts; Catherine, you never hesitate to tell me the truth and I prize your forthright opinions, which always come from a place of love and protection. LaQuishe Wright (“Q”) is hands down the most brilliant, supportive, and sophisticated social-media manager in the entertainment business—and also a trusted friend whose integrity is beyond reproach. Mollie Smith, you practically invented my Web presence and fan outreach—without you I wouldn’t know how to connect with my readers. Your insights and patience with all of the changes and developments in my career over the past decades have been a stabilizing force for me. In Theresa’s office at Park & Fine, Charlotte Gillies has proven indispensable at managing all the logistics, scheduling, contracts, and payments that Theresa oversees, constantly liaising with my entire team. And where the nuts and bolts of earning a living are transformed into numbers I can understand, Pam Pope and Oscara Stevick, my faithful and rigorous accountants, reign supreme—thank you, old friends, for shepherding me to a place of order and security.
Of course, my working life as an author is profoundly intertwined with the personal and community relationships that sustain me: My children, Miles, Ryan, Landon, Lexie, and Savannah; Victoria Vodar; Jeannie Armentrout; Tia Scott Shaver; Christie Bonacci; Mike Smith; Buddy and Wendy Stallings; Angie, Linda, and Jerrold; Pat and Bill Mills; Todd and Gretchen Lanman; Lee and Sandy Minshull; Paul Minshull; Eric and Kin Belcher; Tony and Shellie Spaedy; Tony Cain; Austin and Holly Butler; Gray Zuerbregg; Jonathan and Stephanie Arnold; David and
Morgan Shara; Andy Sommers; David Geffen; Jim Tyler; Jeff Van Wie; Paul DuVair; Rick Muench; Bob Jacob; Chris Matteo; Pete DeCler; Joe Westermeyer; Dwight Carlblom; David Wang; Missy Blackerby; Ken Gray; John Hawkins…and my gratitude further extends to my family, as well: Monty, Gail, Adam and Sean, Dianne, Chuck, Todd and Allison, and Elizabeth, Sandy, Nathan, Josh, Mike and Parnell, Matt and Christie, Dan and Kira, and Amanda and Nick…and, of course, all of
Two by Two
The Longest Ride
The Best of Me
The Last Song
The Lucky One
At First Sight
Three Weeks with My Brother
Nights in Rodanthe
A Bend in the Road
A Walk to Remember
Message in a Bottle
is the author of twenty-three books, all of which have been
New York Times
bestsellers. His books have been published across more than fifty languages with over 150 million copies sold worldwide, and eleven have been adapted into films. He is also the founder of the Nicholas Sparks Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving cultural and international understanding through global education experiences. He lives in North Carolina.
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