Authors: L.P. Dover
Tags: #romance, #erotica, #contemporary romance, #new adult
Fighting for Love
Copyright © March 2014 by L.P. Dover
Editor: Melissa Ringsted
Cover Artist: Regina Wamba (Mae I Design)
Photo taken by: Christopher Correia (CJC Photography)
Models: Allison Correia and Nathan Tetreault
Inkstain Interior Book Designing
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
To my husband—
Thank you for giving me my second chance.
To my family and friends—
I love you all dearly.
To Jaime and Kim—
There is no way I could do any of this without you. Much love to the lamps, chocolate pastries, and chocolate covered strawberries.
To the most wonderful editor in the world—Even though times have been rough, you are still going strong. Keep your head up, sunshine.
Thank you for all of the amazing covers you think up for me.
And a special thanks to all of my readers and fans. Without you, none of this would be possible.
I LOST EVERYTHING TODAY.
All that I had done to protect him didn’t mean a single thing now. I left to give him a better life, a chance for him to follow his dreams just like we’d always talked about. Except in doing that, and leaving him in the dark, I condemned myself to a fate worse than I could have ever imagined. It had only been three months since I’d left him, but it felt like it had been a hundred long, agonizing years.
I needed him and I needed him now, to feel his arms wrapped around me—holding me tight—and telling me everything would be okay.
It’s not going to be okay.
Especially, when the look on the doctor’s face went from hopeful to an outright mask of uncertainty when I told her what was going on. She examined me thoroughly and I gritted my teeth through the pain, trying my hardest to stay positive and calm, but it was no use. The only link I had to the one person I’d given everything up for slowly slipped away from me as each minute passed.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I envisioned in my mind that I was back at home getting ready to have the summer of my life before I left for college. It was supposed to be perfect, just me and Matt enjoying our time by the ocean and being what we were … teenagers. Things weren’t supposed to happen like this.
The ever deafening silence in the room made me want to scream. My eyes burned like fire, scorching me from the inside out as I tried to hold back the tears. Was I stupid for still wanting to hold onto hope? That maybe there was still a chance.
This can’t be happening to me. It’s all just a bad dream. It has to be a bad dream.
Shaking my head quickly, I finally opened my eyes only to be blinded by the fluorescent lights of the examination room. The table felt like a boulder against my back, but I lay there, numb to everyone and to everything around me, silently letting the tears fall. I had to brace myself for what was to come.
Jace and Lexi, who were my two closest friends at Berkeley, both squeezed my hands, bringing me back to reality. Lexi, in her Hello Kitty pajamas and her blonde hair in a messy ponytail, tried to stay strong for me, but I could tell she was barely hanging on by a thread. Jace was a different story. He was literally the strong one out of the trio both—literally and physically—however, even the strongest ones broke at times. I could see it in his melancholy, crystal blue gaze that he was also trying his hardest to stay strong.
It all happened when we were studying together in my apartment, eating pizza like we always did for the past few Wednesday nights, when something went terribly wrong. I’d had a few issues before, but everything came back normal after the tests, so I thought I was in the clear. I didn’t understand why it was happening again.
Jace and Lexi rushed me to the emergency room as fast as they could, hoping that I’d be okay like I was before. This time was different, though; I could feel it in my blood and I could sense the spark of life dying inside of me as each second passed. A person knows when something is wrong, and I knew something was terribly wrong.
I was so angry with myself that I couldn’t even look at my friends without feeling ashamed of how weak I was. I did everything right, and everything I was supposed to do to keep myself healthy and strong.
What more could I do?
Lips trembling, I bit down hard, not even caring about the pain or the metallic taste of blood on my tongue, and turned my head away. Jace brushed the tears off my cheeks with the pad of his thumbs, but as soon as he did, more fell in their place. It was hopeless.
Putting his forehead to mine, while his other arm wrapped gently around my shoulder, he leaned in and whispered in my ear, “We’re here for you, Shels. I texted your mother and she said she’ll be down here soon. You’re not alone, okay? I’ll stay in here with you if you want me to.”
“Same here,” Lexi agreed, putting her arm around me as well. “I’m not going anywhere either.”
Swallowing hard, I nodded quickly, and squeezed my eyes shut. “Thank you,” I whispered hoarsely, trying to hold onto their warmth. I was cold, my body trembling and teeth chattering as I tried to take in a deep breath.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dr. Jacobs place her stethoscope on the desk before hesitantly turning toward me with sorrow-filled eyes. “What did I do wrong?” I asked her. Hearing the sound of my voice, I could barely recognize the strangled cry that left my lips. I was heartbroken, and I felt … empty. I guess it was because I was.
She swallowed hard and took a deep breath, approaching me slowly. Her strawberry blonde hair was smoothed back in a tight bun, and even with her glasses on it still didn’t hide the turmoil in her midnight blue eyes.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, sweetheart,” she answered soothingly, placing her hand gently on my arm. Her lips quivered when she tried to reassure me with a smile, but it only added to the grief. “Sometimes it just happens and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It doesn’t mean that it will always happen like this. You’re young and healthy. One of these days, when the time is right, it will happen again. I’ve been through it, too, so I know the pain you must be feeling. The last thing you need to do is blame yourself. It’s not your fault.”