Excerpt from We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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We Are Not Like Them

A Novel

by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza X
We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2021, 336 pages

    Aug 2022, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Chapter Four

Shaun's words are a sucker punch to my gut. It takes everything I have not to turn and bolt out the door. Coming here was a mistake, I see that now, but I can't leave. I can't do anything except slink into the booth across from Riley, who stares at me like I'm a stranger. She's waiting for me to say something, face as blank as an empty canvas. I have no idea what to say. I'm sorry? But what am I sorry for exactly, and why am I apologizing to Riley?

Finally, almost like she's taking pity on me, she says, "How are you?"

I didn't know what to expect; she hasn't returned any of my calls this weekend, but her concern is such a mercy that I feel a flicker of hope.

"I'm okay, I guess. But ... it doesn't matter how I feel." I sound like a martyr, but there are more important things I want to explain. I plant my damp palms on the table, ready to launch into the speech I practiced a thousand times on the way over.

"Listen, Rye, Kevin thought he was chasing a guy who had just shot someone. He thought there was a gun. He feared for his life." I stop short of saying it was Cameron's fault, even though I'm completely convinced of that. He shot first, so Kevin had to open fire. Cameron was inexperienced; he made the bad call. If Kevin had been with Ramirez, this never would have happened. Maybe I'm being overly defensive, but it's just that I want—I need—Riley to know.

I search her expression for any trace of understanding, trying to gauge the likelihood that she'll say what I so desperately need her to say: I'm here for you. There's a hard glint in her eyes—it passes in a blink, but it's enough for me to know that I'm probably not going to hear those words.

"This is all so awful, Rye," I manage. "What's going to happen to him?"

"The doctors say they're going to operate tomorrow and try to dislodge the last bullet, to stop the bleeding."

Shame burns my cheeks. I pretend that's what—who—I meant.

"Yes, he's going to be okay," I say with conviction, or, more truthfully, desperation. I can't get the boy's picture out of my head, can't stop thinking about his mother, sitting next to his hospital bed, waiting for him to open his eyes. I haven't even seen or touched my baby, and I already know I'd die for him or her.

"Let's hope," Riley says. "There are a lot of prayers for him, that's for sure."

She looks at me as she says this, really looks at me—and I slide my hands forward on the greasy table, close enough that she could grab them. She doesn't. There's no graceful way to change the subject, to turn it back to Kevin and me, but I don't have a choice. It's the reason I came here to Monty's in the first place. "So you saw that I called last night?"

"Yeah, I did. You didn't leave a message."

"Since when do I have to leave a message for you to call me back?"

Riley doesn't answer. It's suddenly like I'm at a job interview or in the principal's office—formal and furtive. I'm at the mercy of her judgment, and it makes me feel like I'm trying to run on solid ice.

"Well, I wanted to ask you in person. For a favor." I clench my fists, gather my nerve. "I was wondering ... you know how the media can be. No offense." I was trying to go for a joke, at least I thought I was, but it doesn't land that way. I quickly continue on. "I was hoping that maybe you could do a piece about Kevin, his side, you know? I saw that you're covering the story. You could talk to him and he could tell the viewers what really happened?"

Kevin and I came up with the plan over the weekend, or rather I did. He was still wary of Riley as "media," and didn't think there was any way the department would let him talk publicly, but I convinced him that maybe she could actually help us. It was worth a try. But Riley's mouth twists like she drank something sour. She shakes her head even before she answers. "I can't ... I can't interview Kevin. It wouldn't be ... right. What I mean is, I couldn't be objective, and that's my job. Professional objectivity." The words she mutters are white noise; it's the tone that hurts, so distant, robotic. She's wearing the Riley mask—that's what I call it when she shuts down her emotions like this. She's an expert at it. After Corey dumped her, or whatever happened between them last year, she acted like she was a-okay. Same responses every time I asked about it: "I'm fine." "It wasn't meant to be." "We were never that serious." The mask. But I know better. Corey was good for Riley. He made her way less uptight. She loved him in a way that I'd never seen her love anyone, and as much as she may think she has people fooled, she's never fooled me.

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Copyright © 2021 by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. From We Are Not Like Them: A Novel by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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