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Awake

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After nearly beating Peter Arnt to death, John doesn't sleep again until he's dropped him off at his favorite Mexican prison; the one with the very obliging warden who will take anyone for the right price. He gets a cheap hotel room and crashes and wakes up in the morning next to Jessica.

She looks a little older than he remembers, as she did in the videos he watched at the house. There's noise from downstairs, children's voices, dishes clinking, flatware clattering, and he says, "What the hell?" Jessica leans in and kisses him, morning breath be dammned, and tells him the kids are making him breakfast in the hope that he'll take them out on the boat like he promised and not let himself get called into work.

It's a dream; it has to be a dream, so he gives himself over to it completely. His children, Emily, ten, Jason, nine, and Molly, seven. The sailboat, a twentysix-footer named "Second Chance." Jessica, warm and alive in the circle of his arms as they brace their feet against the opposite bench and cling to the tiller, the boat heeled over as they tack into the wind. It's a perfect day, complete with picnic lunch, and that night they make love the way he's dreamed about for years, slowly and passionately. They fall asleep spooned together his arms wrapped around her as though he's planning to hold on to her forever.

In the morning he wakes up in Mexico.