Chapter 1: To reclaim a pleasure


It was a creek at any other time of the year, but the winter rains made the water surge into a raging river. Waves swelled into whitecaps as the water coursed along the Big Tujunga Canyon. Atop a rocky outcropping that overlooked the dam, Robert watched the torrent cascade over the concrete wall and rush toward the basin of the San Fernando Valley, ten miles away.

            From the edge where he stood, a pebble dropped into the canyon when he shifted his stance. The stone echoed its impact on the craggy ledges of the steep granite wall.

            Robert turned away, not wanting to hear the sound of metal when the stone struck the crumpled car in which Xochitl had lost her life. Two weeks previously, she had driven off the mountain road and into the canyon, crashing onto the riverbank 250 feet below where he stood. He had never thought to give a value to happiness, but it was because of that accident he had relinquished all the love and pleasures he had known.

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