Authors: Toni Aleo
The Bellevue Bullies Series
Clipped by Love
Hooked by Love
The Assassins Series
Taking Risks Series
Becoming the Whiskey Princess
You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever, in times of great trouble?
The pain is unbearable.
It is all consuming.
My head is pounding, my body feels tingly, but most of all, my chest just burns with the pain of a thousand fires. I can feel my blood leaving my body. The heat of it running along my breast and armpit, gushing down the white gown I wear and staining it. I spent so much on that dress and now it is ruined.
Because he shot me.
I should have known better. The first time I saw him, I should have known he was nothing but a mistake. Since I’m not one to make mistakes, I really should have rethought that, but I didn’t. I allowed him to play a little role in my life, and now I’m paying for it. My mom always said that you learn from your mistakes, but will I die from mine?
I knew from the beginning when we found Casey and Lena outside that it was going to be bad, but I never really thought it would end like this. That Casey really wanted to kill the love of my life. I couldn’t let that happen. Not with all that Declan had to live for. So I did what any other woman would do. I stepped into the line of fire. There was no other choice. I couldn’t let him die.
My ears still ring from the sound of the gun. It vibrates my soul and makes my skin break out in gooseflesh. Even with all this going on, I’m not scared. Even though the pain exploded throughout my chest, taking my breath away, I know I did the right thing. I’m not scared to die. I’m not saying it’s ideal since I want to have a life with Declan, but I know I am dying for a good reason. Crumbling against him, I look into ice-blue eyes and I don’t regret my choice.
I love him.
I would do anything for him.
Even die for him.
And that’s exactly what I am about to do.
I can hear my favorite song falling off his sweet lips, and I want to stay. I want to be in his arms for the rest of my life, but I can’t. I always thought that when you die, it would be like the scene in
when Harry finds himself with Dumbledore in the train station. Get on the train to die or go back; that’s always how I interpreted that part. It isn’t like that though. There is no train; there is nothing but light, and thankfully, the pain is gone. Nothing. I feel nothing. It’s almost as if I am floating. I look around for some sign of life, some sign of what I am to do next, and to my surprise, she stands there in all her ethereal glory.
Dressed in only white, her gown sparkles much like mine as she stands with her arms extended out to me. Her dark red hair falls in a mass of curls down her shoulders. Her eyes, the same aquamarine as mine, are bright and happy, unlike how they had been when she was dying. She is smiling, her eyes welling up with tears, and I find myself fighting for breath again. Looking at her, I feel as if I am consumed with all the love in the world, and I honestly can’t believe it.
My mommy is here.
Running to her, I wrap my arms around her middle as her nose and lips press against the top of my head. My tears stain her dress as her arms hold me in close. She feels like I remember. Like home. And she smells like roses. Sweet, beautiful roses.
“Ah, my sweetheart, my Amberlyn. Love, look at me,” she whispers against my temple, and I sob as she tips my head up, her fingers light against my cheeks as I meet her gaze. “So beautiful,” she says, kissing the side of my mouth.
“Mommy,” I cry as my heart jumps into my throat. Searching her eyes, I want to believe this is real, but it can’t be. Or is it? I can feel her; I can smell her. I am holding my mother. It has to be real. “I miss you so much.”
“Oh sunshine, I miss you more,” she says, holding me to her, her fingers running slowly through my hair like she used to do when I was a child. There wasn’t a day that passed where I wouldn’t lay my head in her lap and she would thread her fingers or braid my hair. It was perfect, but as I blink back the tears, she studies me with a look I’ve seen before. It was the same one she had when she told me she was dying.
Clearing her throat, she says, “But this isn’t how you are going to die.”
“Huh? I’m not dead?”
“No, and you’re not going to die. Not today. You are going to go back.”
My heart sinks. “But I don’t want to leave you. Or Daddy! Where is Daddy?”
Her eyes soften as her lips curve up in a grin. “He’s here and he loves you so much. He’s so proud of you, but sweetheart, you have to go back.”
My chest burns again, but this time with sobs as I cling to my mother, not wanting to let her go. “But I don’t want to lose you again.”
“But Declan is waiting,” she whispers in my ear. “He loves you so, my sweetheart. He is good for ya. You are going to have a beautiful life together.”
I know this is true, and I want to go back to Declan, I do, but I don’t want to lose my mother again. I already did that. Not again.