Vital Sign by J. L. Mac
It’s surprising how stories with the same premise, but have been told in many different styles still send me reeling without convincing myself to appreciate it. I have seen this in movies and heard many touching stories with the themes alike yet it riveted me like i haven’t heard it before. J. L. Mac knows her way to inflict heartbreak and mend it into oblivion afterwards, she makes it impossible to get away from her books unscathed with her heartfelt writing and skillful story-telling.
'Vital Sign' is a story with a very long journey in a considerably short span of time, it is squeezed into details and abundant with raw emotions that will hold you captive like it has taken charge of another life for you. Zander and Sadie's story is dominated by grief, guilt, regret and dwelling in the past which gives them only momentary happiness. They weren't the quintessential couple and i bet no one will dare choose the path they're dealt with. However, theirs is the story that in the end will strengthen your faith to fate and believe that second chances are not so hard to find if you only seek for it wholeheartedly. And in other cases, this book can help someone who's in the same shoes as Sadie or Zander. It's truly tormenting but it was worth it.
Sadie lived by her name for more than two years after she lost her husband on a shooting incident at their very own home, she’s a very very sad and broken woman. She was self-destructing and barely living, until her and Jake’s parents forced her into meeting her deceased husband’s organ recipients thinking it will make the grieving process easier for her. But it wasn’t… it wasn’t until she met the man who now has Jake’s heart. The man who was alive and well in exchange of her husband’s death. The last man whom she should fall for, is the same key to her rebirth.
Alexander McBride feels like he did not deserve a second chance at life, but his Governor father worked his powers for him to be on top of the list of organ recipients. And now he has to deal with another guilt of meeting the widow of the man whose heart is currently beating on his chest, but Zander did not expect that she’s the woman he’s been waiting for 29 long years to be with forever.
They are both being chased by the demons of their past and while Zander is already in the midst of moving on, Sadie’s still angry of everything. Even if they find it hard to admit, they share the same struggles and for this, their need for each other is palpable. Sadie’s afraid of loving someone besides Jake, she doesn’t want to find his replacement nor rebuild memories with another man, she cannot let go of the mere fact that her and Jake’s story has come to an end. That was what put Zander’s feelings to a test and his patience consumed so he’s already preparing to deal with the heartbreak that comes with falling for Sadie. But not wanting to really let her go, he then agreed with her need for distance and time, only because she promised to find her way back to him once she’s made herself whole again.
Even if this book depressed me for the most part, i never once doubted the happy ever after. The spark of connection from their very first meeting—even before they knew what part they played in each other’s lives—gave away that this is a love story that transcended all the odds of a very strange force of fate.
While and after reading this, it’s so difficult not to want to know Jake and Sadie’s story too which is the same thing with Zander’s history. I feel like there’s so much more hidden things meant to be revealed. Either way, this book is brilliant just the standalone way that it is.
How am I supposed to let go of Jake if there are pieces of him still out there, living on in some perfect stranger?
I am utterly and completely heartbroken that I had a fairytale life and in a split second it was stolen from me.
“So that’s where I am, Sadie. I’m tired, and I’m scared, and I’m on the edge of giving in, but I’ll hold on because I know that you’ll come through this. If I could take this from you, I would. I’d take that hurt in a heartbeat. But I can’t. All I can do is push, and squeeze, and corner you until you give in and come out of this to scream to the world that you’re still here, dammit. You may be worse for the wear, but you’re still my baby girl and you made it.”
The connection I feel to this woman was so instant. I’ve never felt anything like it. Something about her, about me, about the situation that we find ourselves in—if I believed in fate, I’d say that’s exactly what it is. If fate exists, if it’s real, I would say that somehow our journeys are the same.
“Having gone through loss like that, you can kind of spot one of your kind even in a crowd. I lost my son when he was only twelve years old. I know what it’s like walking around holding on so tight to those memories because you think you may lose them.”
“Well, it’s difficult to explain but it’s like this. You can hold onto those memories, honey, but don’t hold too tight. No need for that. You hold them too tight you’ll crush ‘em, and then they get to be something ugly. Somethin’ miserable. They become something that hurts you ‘stead of something that helps you. What you don’t realize is that whether you hold onto ‘em or not, they’re still there with you. Right there in your heart. They’re a part of you. With every breath you take, those memories are alive and well and no one ‘cept God in heaven can take that from you.”
I want her body. I want her mind. I want her heart. In many ways, I feel like it’s already mine to claim. In my sick fucking head I feel like Sadie Parker has always been mine for the taking, like she was made for me, intended for me.
Alexander McBride is both my fallen angel delivering me to hell’s gate and the blinding light that serves as my guide, my deliverance to the hereafter.
Sadie Parker makes me want more. More hours in the day. More things to make her smile. More life. More of her.
Some newly discovered part of me hopes that I’m the main character in Sadie’s ending. Not her happily ever after, because she’s already had one of those, but maybe I can be her second chance at happiness. I think she could be mine. I’d bet on it.
“I’ve always prided myself on being a man who can predict things. There are no curve balls as far as I’m concerned. Everything I do, I see coming. Except you. I never expected this. I never expected you.”
“I saw you on that beach and I knew that you had to be mine. I had to have you. I knew that you were who I was looking for. I would have waited for you forever if I had to. Whether by design or just plain dumb luck, I’m the one who was meant to find all the pieces of you so that I might put them back together. Let me put you back together, Sadie. I need you,”
"I’ve been fighting against the ghost of him every goddamned day, Sadie! Every day! It’s more than I can handle. I’m not Jake! I’m no saint. I don’t lead some virtuous life full of good deeds and friends and family who would vouch for me at the drop of a hat. I’m fighting an invisible enemy that I know I have no hopes of defeating, but here I am. I’m begging you for one ounce, one fucking iota, of hope!”
"You think I don’t hate this too? You think I don’t hate that I’m not the most deserving man to get another shot at a life that I’ve already fucked up? You think I don’t feel like shit for having his heart and now falling for his wife? You’d be sorely mistaken. I hate myself for it every time I look in the mirror. Every time I close my eyes and imagine you next to me for the rest of my existence. Every time I have to resist the urge to take your hand, bring it to my lips, and swear on my life that I can make you happy given half the chance. Every time.”
“I won’t let you take the easiest, quickest route out of my life all because you’re too damn scared to let this happen. Dammit, Sadie! I’m the one that isn’t worth a damn, but I’m willing to risk heartbreak just to try it with you.”
“I don’t hate you,” I cry. “I’m glad that you’re alive. I guess—I guess that sometimes I’m just not glad that I am.”
My first love’s heart saved my future love’s life.
"For God’s sake, Sadie, are you really going to stand here and deny me the one thing that I know I was born to do? To be? Is that what this is? Because if you are—if you insist on closing that door—I’ll be forced to tell you that facing a future without you in it is a future I want no part of. I’ll be forced to tell you that I’ll wake up every day searching for you beside me. I’ll be forced to tell you that I’ll be ruined for any other woman. Maybe I already am.”
Zander, I think we both know what I have to do. Give me time. Give me room. I’ll find my way back. -Sadie
“What is it that you were born to do, Zander?”
To mend you when the world breaks you. To keep you safe. To tell you when you’re wrong but scream to the world that you’re right. To stand beside you no matter what comes our way. To wager my next breath, against all odds if I have to, just to see you happy. To love you.”
“You’re not scared of losin’ him,” she points out softly. “You’ve already lost him and we both know that. You’re scared of findin’ you. You don’t know who you really are without Jake. I get it, okay? But you can’t stop living out of fear of what you may end up seeing.”
Zander, No amount of explaining could make what I did hurt any less. Please know that I had to do what I did. I had to leave. I never wanted to hurt you. This is Jake’s cell phone. Dial one for his voicemail. The password is the month and year of our anniversary. 1109. Just listen. In spite of myself, you are my truth. You are my constant. You are my proof of life. You are my vital sign. With you, I more than breathe—I live. Please forgive me. -Sadie
I’ve been pushed, squeezed, and cornered all the way to him. Always to him, my vital sign.
“It’s a reminder that sometimes the longest route is the most rewarding,”