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Life after Death: An American Family, #2

Life after Death: An American Family, #2

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Life after Death: An American Family, #2

303 pages
4 hours
Nov 5, 2018


The Childs family faced the unthinkable... now they have a second chance.

The Childs family has endured a terrible tragedy, but the FBI's shocking discovery has turned their lives upside down.

His kids have all moved on from the death of their mother, as has Isaac from the loss of his wife, but now that the FBI has finally solved the case, the Childs family must face the loss of Ramie all over again.

Each has their own relationships and their own lives, but all are upended due to unforeseen circumstances. As they maneuver these new lives, they must deal with love, heartache, and jealousy as a family, and the choices they face will not be easy.

Their decisions bring out the best in some... and the worst in others.

Evolved Publishing presents the second book in the "An American Family" series, contemporary suspense thrillers that explore one family's trials and tragedies. [DRM-Free]

Books by Jackson Baer:

  • An American Family (An American Family – 1)
  • Life after Death (An American Family – 2)
  • Clouds Fall like Fire
  • The Earth Bleeds Red
  • The Lights Will Never Fade

More Great Thrillers from Evolved Publishing:

  • "Forgive Me, Alex" by Lane Diamond
  • The "Syndicate-Born Trilogy" Series by K.M. Hodge
  • "The Oz Files" Series by Barry Metcalf

Nov 5, 2018

About the author

I’m a professional thrifter, the father of four children, and an avid runner. I was born and raised in Georgia, and spent time in Oklahoma, California, Connecticut, and then Oregon, as an adult. I’m a graduate of Oregon State University and now reside in North Georgia, raising my family, near family. My first book, The Earth Bleeds Red, was released in 2013. I took a few years off from writing to start my own business, and my second book, The Lights Will Never Fade, came out in Jan 2018. My new contemporary suspense/thriller series, An American Family, is coming in the fall of 2018 from Evolved Publishing. I’m a bit of a free spirit who enjoys working from home, traveling around, looking for treasures to share, and creating worlds that otherwise would not exist. Thrifting and writing are my two passions, and I’m fortunate to be able to do both.

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Life after Death - Jackson Baer





An American Family – Book 1

Copyright © 2018 Jackson Baer

Cover Art Copyright © 2018 D. Robert Pease


ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622530276

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-027-4


Editor: Mike Robinson

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond


eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by Jackson Baer


Book 1: An American Family

Book 2: Life after Death


Clouds Fall Like Fire

The Earth Bleeds Red

The Lights Will Never Fade


Jackson Baer’s Website


Early Praise for AN AMERICAN FAMILY:


Baer writes with guts and sensitivity—the kind of suspense that turns a reader into a fan. I can’t wait for his next thrilling read.

~ Gregg Olsen, New York Times Bestselling Author


Each chapter brought a surprise, and the suspense never let up until the very last page. I wanted to know more.

~ Jessica Peters, Escape 2 Fiction


Absolutely heartbreaking. This book has everything. Suspenseful, crime, heartbreak, laughter, romance, and just full of messed up stuff. Follow Isaac as his world crumbles....

~ OKbook Hoarder


I liked the characters. They are all so flawed and yet still have qualities about each of them the reader could relate to.

~ Avid Reader Book Reviews


I absolutely loved this book. It was amazing and very well written.

~ Paula, My Books Blog


We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book.


In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 3 Chapters of FRACTURE POINT, the first book in the A Point Thriller series by multiple award-winning author Jeff Altabef.





A POINT THRILLER Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of the award-winning RED ON THE RUN, the first book in USA Today Bestselling Author K.M. Hodge’s The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.






Table of Contents

Title Page


Books by Jackson Baer


Chapter 1 – The Coast

Chapter 2 – Soggy Fries

Chapter 3 – First Draft

Chapter 4 – Fate

Chapter 5 – Blink

Chapter 6 – Young Love

Chapter 7 – Take Care of Yourself

Chapter 8 – The Wagon

Chapter 9 – He Loves It When I Say His Name

Chapter 10 – Damian Lillard

Chapter 11 – A Table by the Water

Chapter 12 – Bagdad Theatre

Chapter 13 – Never Let Me Go

Chapter 14 – Hall Pass

Chapter 15 – Opening Night

Chapter 16 – I’m Not Really Good at Drawing

Chapter 17 – Morgan Freeman

Chapter 18 – Literally

Chapter 19 – Give Thanks

Chapter 20 – Religion & Politics

Chapter 21 – Vintage Trunks

Chapter 22 – The Third Time’s a Charm

Chapter 23 – I Do

Chapter 24 – Cat-Like Reflexes

Chapter 25 – Four More Months

Chapter 26 – Love the Good

About the Author

What’s Next?

More from Jackson Baer

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: FRACTURE POINT by Jeff Altabef

Special Sneak Preview: RED ON THE RUN by K.M. Hodge

Chapter 1 – The Coast

OLIVIA WALKED DOWN THE SIDEWALK ON 82nd Ave, near the Old Chicago Pizza in Happy Valley. Oregon proved to be even more beautiful than she could have imagined. It was exactly how Lindsay remembered it. They’d moved on July 5, two months after Olivia’s mom had, for all intents and purposes, returned from the dead.

Things were not back to normal, but life did in fact move on, as it always seemed to do. Olivia and Lindsay allowed the Pacific Northwest to win them over. They settled into a one-bedroom apartment that sat within walking distance of that Old Chicago Pizza, and a large nearby mall . They could take the bus or hop on the highway conveniently from their apartment complex, though they usually chose to drive. The bus offered more weirdness than they were used to growing up in the South. After witnessing a homeless man pleasure himself one night across from her, Olivia from then on decided to drive.

The summer made them feel like Oregon was the most quintessential place in the world. Olivia couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t live there. Even though it was a bit more expensive than Georgia, it only rained a handful of times over those first two months. As September came to a close, though, she understood why people chose to reside in other parts of the country. She hurried into their apartment and dropped her umbrella in the corner.

See, I told you it rained all the time, Lindsay said as the rain fell for the fourth straight


I know you said it rained a lot, but it’s rained almost non-stop for like a week. Olivia looked out of their apartment window. She didn’t want to go back outside. The temperature hovered in the mid-fifties, though it felt like the thirties. She changed into dry clothes, but her skin still felt like ice.

Sweetie, it’s only been four days. Just wait until it does this for a week or even ten days straight, because it will. It barely ever rains in the summer, but it rarely stops the other nine months out of the year.

I know. Olivia frowned and wondered how her parents were doing back in Georgia. She hadn’t realized how far away Portland truly was from Georgia. Yes, she understood the nearly three-thousand-mile divide between them, but the three hour time difference was something she didn’t prepare herself for. It seemed like every time she wanted to call her mom or dad, it was either too early or too late. Once the summer came to an end, Olivia was officially homesick.

We don’t have to stay here forever, Lindsay said as she tried to reassure her. They continued to grow closer together after their cross-country move. Isaac’s one hundred-thousand-dollar gift did, in fact, make life easier for them. It allowed Lindsay to work without any financial stress, and it gave Olivia the freedom to travel the coast and explore the area. She’d driven all over the state, ventured north into Washington, and drove down south to Northern California. She enjoyed her time in Northern California and Southern Oregon, but she found her home to be in Northern Oregon and Southern Washington. She loved Portland without the Portland traffic. The suburbs gave her joy, but the coastline proved to be therapeutic.

I know we don’t have to literally stay forever, Olivia said. I just miss my family—that’s all.

How come your dad hasn’t come to visit yet? I thought he said he was going to come out once a month? Lindsay held Olivia’s hand and watched the rain fall outside.

I can’t blame him, I mean, he’s got a lot going on. The twins are almost six-months-old now, and he said Julia hasn’t been feeling too well lately.

What’s wrong with her?

I’m not sure. He said she’s been having stomach pains. She doesn’t want to go to the doctor, but he said he’s going to make her if they don’t go away soon. My dad never goes to the doctor, so it must be serious if he’s talking about making her go. Olivia grabbed the heavy fleece blanket from the recliner and wrapped them both inside of it. The Boston Red Sox logo faced outward, and it always made the girls think about that first day they met—when Lindsay showed up at the Starbucks in a Red Sox shirt.

She’s not pregnant again, is she? Lindsay asked as if it would be a bad thing. Olivia didn’t like thinking about another life, especially an innocent one, as being a negative thing, but she assumed they would not want another child so soon after the twin girls. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that, well, she is older. What is she, forty-six?

I think so, and I hope they’re not pregnant either. I asked my dad, but he said that’s not it, that it’s something else.

What about your mom? Lindsay left the warmth of the couch for a moment to turn the heat up a degree, then scurried back under the blanket. How is she adjusting? I can’t imagine that any of this has been easy for her.

She is doing okay, I guess. I still feel terrible for moving away. She has no one. She bought that house in Towne Lake, and she lives all by herself.

I know, sweetie, but she didn’t want anything to do with you or your brother. She made that pretty clear.

No, I get it, but she had a right to be mad. We shouldn’t have given our blessing to Julia so quickly. I can see why she was so upset. I would be too. We betrayed her. Olivia understood that it wasn’t fair to blame herself, yet she couldn’t help feeling guilty for accepting Julia when her mother was still alive.

You have to stop thinking that way, Lindsay said as she held Olivia’s face. We’ll never be able to understand her trauma or her pain. But you didn’t betray your mom, and neither did Carter. Yes, maybe your dad should have waited a bit longer before remarrying, but even he didn’t betray your mother. You thought she was dead. You buried her arm, and the guy confessed to killing her. What else were you supposed to think?

I understand, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Mom has started to come around more lately. We’ve been talking daily, and she got her new arm last month. She’s still learning how to use it, but she sent me a picture the other day. She looks great. She’s gained most of the weight back, and she almost looks happy.

Are she and your dad talking at all?

Not really. My dad told her she could have the house in Woodstock, but she didn’t want to live there with all the memories. I can’t say that I blame her. I already told you that my dad gave her half of all his assets and money. That was fair, but still, twenty-two million dollars is a lot of money. I knew we were rich, but I didn’t realize we had that much.

He did give us a hundred thousand dollars to help us with living out here for the year.

Right, but that’s not twenty-two million. Olivia laid down on the couch and stared at Lindsay like she used to at her apartment back in Woodstock. Their relationship was still less than a year old, but it felt strong, stabler and more advanced than anyone else her age. I don’t ask about my dad when I talk to her. She doesn’t like to talk about him.

What does your dad say?

He doesn’t like to talk about Mom either. It’s like my parents got divorced without the actual divorce. He does always ask me how she’s doing, so I know that he still cares, but he’s happy with Julia and the twins. I try not to think about it, but I usually end up thinking about it anyway.

Let’s go do something, then. Lindsay jumped up from the couch and pulled the blanket with her so that Olivia would have to get up as well.

Hey, she said with a sly smile on her face, it’s freezing.

Come on, let’s go for a drive. Where do you want to go? We haven’t been to Lincoln City yet, and I hear they have a casino there.

I’m not old enough, remember? You have to be twenty-one. Plus, it will be too cold to walk on the beach.

Let’s go anyway. We can bundle up, and maybe it won’t be raining over there. Come on, it will be an adventure.

Okay, Olivia answered excitedly, that does sound like fun. She enjoyed being spontaneous, and a trip to the beach was just what she needed—even if the weather made her want to stay in bed all day.

The girls changed into warmer clothing and laced up their rain boots so they could walk on some of the rocks. They’d visited a few other coastal towns since moving out there, but were told to definitely spend time in Lincoln City and Newport. They jogged to Lindsay’s car and closed the doors as quickly as they could, shutting out the misty rain.

I know I said I liked the rain, but I think I’ve changed my mind. Olivia stared out the passenger side window and wondered if she could really stay for nine more months. She thought about nine months as being a stretch of time that usually delivered a prize at the end of the waiting, but this nine-month period seemed like it would only offer more sadness and disappointment. She’s the one who’d convinced Lindsay to move to Oregon. It wouldn’t be fair to try and get her to move back to Georgia so soon.

It will get better, I promise. Lindsay placed her hand on Olivia’s leg and offered her a consoling squeeze. This is a bad stretch, but you will get used to it. If you don’t, we’ll go back to Georgia. I just want you to be happy.

Thank you. I love you. You know that, right? Olivia asked as she grinned and looked sheepishly toward Lindsay. She started out so bold and forward in their relationship, but she found herself more insecure lately, not like her usual self. She wasn’t quite sure why she’d begun to act like this, but ever since her mom was rescued, she saw things differently. She loved Lindsay, but she feared that, as with all things, their love would not last.

I know, and I love you too. Lindsay spoke seriously, yet Olivia knew that she was not herself lately and that Lindsay could see she’d begun to regret moving to Oregon. With all her family turmoil back in Georgia, she realized that they probably should have waited. All of that was too late now, however.

They rolled through the entrance of Lincoln City about two hours after they left Happy Valley. The girls took in the unassuming restaurants and shops before finally parking in front of Mo’s Restaurant. They’d heard about this place and their amazing clam chowder—plus other seafood that everyone raved about.

I can’t believe it, Olivia said as they stepped out of the car. It actually stopped raining. It’s still kind of cold, but I’m not complaining.

Technically, you are sort of complaining. Lindsay grabbed her hand and caressed the fingers of her best friend. But, I’ll let it slide this time since I’m so hungry.

Thank you, you’re too kind. Let’s eat so we can go look at the water and maybe even walk on some of the rocks.

I’m glad we brought heavy jackets, Lindsay said. Olivia was more than grateful that Lindsay also packed scarves and beanies for them both. It was only around fifty degrees, but when the wind picked up, the air proved tough to handle. I want to walk to the lighthouse as well, Lindsay said. I saw they have one that’s supposed to be really beautiful over in Newport.

They shared a bowl of clam chowder and enjoyed it, even though neither of them particularly cared for chowder. The bread bowl it came served in made it rather delicious. After they finished their late lunch, they drove down the road to look out at the water and take in its beauty.

It’s amazing how much prettier it is than like Florida or any of the Gulf Coast, Olivia said. She shivered and leaned in as close as she could to Lindsay’s embrace. They shared their body warmth and had everything covered except for their nose and eyes.

Prettier? I agree. But the water is too cold to ever swim in here. Even in the summer, it’s usually freezing. That’s the only downside. As for beauty, I’ll take the mixture of rocks, mountains, and ocean any day. This is where I was meant to be.

I thought you said you were meant to be in Portland?

Yeah, I’ll take Portland over the beach, so I don’t have to worry about hurricanes. Lindsay rubbed her hands together and quickly wrapped her arm back around Olivia and placed her hand into her coat pocket.

After less than ten minutes of watching the wind carry waves to the shore, they piled back into the car to warm their bodies. So, it looks like the lighthouse is about thirty or forty minutes from here. It’s called Yaquina or something like that. Are you up for the adventure?

I love lighthouses. Olivia sat on her hands and welcomed the heat in the car. They left the car running, since they didn’t venture too far away from the vehicle. The rain held off as they drove from Lincoln City down south to Newport, though the clouds remained a deep gray. They embarked on the walk to the lighthouse, and the girls took dozens of pictures from every angle imaginable.

Let’s get a picture by the edge, Lindsay said as she took Liv’s hand and found a spot where the fence was torn open. It appeared that someone cut the fence, and yellow tape was draped across the opening with a sign warning visitors not to cross. The lighthouse sat away from the edge of the cliff, but the city had installed a fence around the area, as the drop to the water included more rocks than a person would enjoy encountering.

Hurry so we can get back to the car, Olivia said.

Lindsay took the selfie and kissed Olivia on the side of her lips. She held Liv’s hand to help her back over the edge and follow her back toward the car. As she did, her foot slipped on the wet ground, and she hit the mixture of grass and rocks with enough force to take some of her breath away.

Lindsay! Olivia yelled out and reached down to grab her arm. She did her best to pull her up, but the angle of Lindsay’s body made it too difficult for the petite Olivia to bring her back up. A young couple rushed over to help just as Lindsay was nearly back up over the edge and safe. When they stopped next to Olivia, their presence seemed to startle her.

Olivia fell forward onto the ground and tripped over the edge of the cliff. She fell in slow motion and rolled down the hill and over the rocks. When she stopped at the bottom, about forty feet or so from where they stood at the top, her body lay still with the waves pouring over her and the freezing water soaking her flesh.

Liv! Lindsay called out in shock as she looked down at her love. The small group of people stared down at the motionless body that lay mostly on the sand. Her head and upper body rested on the beach while the bottom half of her legs were spread a over a rock.

Someone call 911! cried the man of the young couple. Lindsay had already dialed the police. The man began to climb down the side of the cliff and slid from one collection of rocks to another. He made it to the bottom and pulled Olivia off to the side, as far as he could until help arrived.

Hello, he called out to Olivia, gently pressing his hands against her shoulders, can you hear me? It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be all right. He watched her lay there, unconscious—her body limp. He felt for a pulse and quickly found one, but she was not responding to anything. He held her in his lap for twenty minutes until the paramedics arrived and transferred Olivia to Samaritan Hospital in Newport, tending to her all the way there.

Lindsay followed the ambulance to the hospital. She walked in and immediately found Olivia in her hospital room. She was greeted by breathing tubes and wires that appeared to stretch everywhere. She sat in the chair on the far side of the room and moved in close to her love. She took her hand and prayed quietly, though still out loud, like she hadn’t prayed since she was a girl. She used to pray when she was a kid and stuck in her abusive home. She would ask God to help her—to take away the pain and the hurt. He didn’t step in back then, but she begged him to start now. She whispered her prayers over Olivia’s body, but Olivia lay there completely still, unable to respond.

Chapter 2 – Soggy Fries

COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT. Crawl to Daddy—crawl to Daddy.

Isaac lay on his belly on the living room floor and motioned for his twins to crawl, even though they were just shy of turning six-months-old. They were already scooting all over the place. They looked like little worms who were full of energy, yet they couldn’t keep their hands and knees up at the same time while moving forward. Victoria stayed up the longest, bobbing back and forth and laughing after she did. Bailey got up on all fours as well, but she liked to scoot backwards instead of making any attempt to crawl forward. Instead, she enjoyed shaking her head back and forth when they were looking at her and then grinning afterwards, enjoying the attention and the funny feeling.

They’ll crawl when they’re ready, Julia said as she sipped her coffee from the couch and watched her family down below. She held her Simpsons mug with Ralph Wiggum counting to blue on it. Isaac could see that she treasured these moments together, as the girls were getting big so quickly. You’re going to give them a complex, you know, make them think that they’re babies.

You better watch yourself, he said as he turned his head toward his wife, you know that you’re the real baby. He grinned and scooped the girls up and sat down next to Julia on the couch. Have you decided if you’re coming with us?

No, I’m going to stay here. I’m just now getting back into my normal routine with writing again. Not everyone is like you, you know. Some of us have deadlines.

Fine, you be the adult. I’m taking the girls out to eat and then to the park. I might even play some disc golf.

With the girls?

I doubt they’ll play very much, but I’m sure they will like it. I mean, they love going for walks. It will be the same as a walk. We’ll just stop for me to throw, and they can watch their daddy do what he does best. Isaac spoke in the high-pitched baby voice that the girls enjoyed so much, though probably not as much as

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