Authors: Shanora Williams
Copyright © 2015 Shanora Williams
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Published on January 26
Editing by Librum Artis Editorial Services
Cover Design by Cover Lust Designs
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Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end.
Madame de Staël
: this message to the reader is kind of long so bear with me!
If you are reading this, I want to tell you the true story on which I based this book.
I had a friend—a lovely and dear to me friend—that I am glad I ever had the pleasure of knowing.
She was kind, sweet, humble, beautiful, and so young, but she was also very, very sick.
I met her way before her cancer hit her.
Lung cancer is what it was, but oddly she’d never touched a cigarette, never smoked a day in her life.
It hit her hard five years ago, way before I ever started writing. Back when I was an amateur, at best. She was there for me through it all: through my tears when I released my first contemporary book that had the shittiest ratings ever; through my sorrow when I felt like I’d never get better as a writer.
When my son was born she sent me so many clothes and gifts for him, when she already had so many hospital bills piled up for herself.
She had two beautiful girls who were the light of her life and are doing well today, but I know they miss her so much.
I won’t mention her name because she asked me not to, but one of her main wishes was for me to write her a story. We FaceTimed almost every day and she’d toss around ideas and plots. She told me her husband took her to Paris as a gift for her birthday. Paris was her dream city. She was lucky to have gone before she found out about her cancer.
So I wrote this for her and I wanted her to be able to read this book before she passed away but, unfortunately, she didn’t get to read the entire thing.
She seemed so healthy and happy one day, but then the next she was gone.
She is now resting in peace, an angel in heaven, and this is a story that is based on the suffering she endured and the peace she finally acquired when it came down to fate.
I will tell you all that this book is VERY heavy, VERY deep, and VERY real. The disease in this novel is something I made up. It is NOT real. I also want you all to know that there is light at the end of this book. There is an HEA in the eyes of some.
She loved reading my books. She constantly badgered me for release dates and all of the little details. She loved reading about two men who pined after one girl in romance novels. She was huge on love triangles and second-chance romances, so I told her I would make a book involving those elements.
This story is very close and dear to me. I ALMOST didn’t share it because when she passed away, I was a complete mess.
I didn’t want to put it out there anymore. I wanted to hold off.
I was absent a lot last year before releasing
because I felt like I’d
her. But then I had a dream where she appeared while I was playing with my son and it was as if she had never left.
To this day I think I had that dream because she still wanted me to release “her” book.
So, I’m sharing this story I created in honor of her. I’m sharing it because she believed in me when I was nothing,
but mainly because I will be donating half of the proceeds to her loving husband and gorgeous daughters.
If you are reading this, then thank you. I really hope you enjoy it and I hope you can take her wishes about this novel into consideration. This was how she wanted it to go. I just put her ideas on paper and ran with them.
uch love and BIG hugs
edicated to my loving
, sweet, beautiful dear friend. I think about you every single day. I will never, in all my years, forget about you. I know you are having a great time up in heaven now.
BEWARE 2: The Comeback
Who He Is (#1)
Who We Are (#2)
Who I Am (#3)
Who I’m Becoming (#4)
Hard to Resist Series
Hard to Resist
Hard to Hold On
Hard to Forget (1.5)
Sweet Promise Serial Series
Sudden Desires (#1)
Sudden Flames (#2) - Releasing in March!
(A Second Chance Fighter Romance) will be releasing in May, 2016!
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Many people are afraid of it. To them darkness means fear, but that fear is based on a figment of their imagination and what they believe hides within the darkness.
The Boogie Man. Whatever it is they’re afraid of, it’s because they’ve allowed themselves to become afraid of it. To me, the darkness is like the sun.
I bask in it.
Dwell in it.
I enjoy it.
The coolness. The quiet. The peace. Staring into nothingness.
I don’t mind darkness. I’m not afraid it, either. In fact, I love it, because it hides my appearance. It hides who I really am. I spent most of my childhood cloaked in shadows.
In the darkness, I can hide my face and my eyes and no one can read me. No one can tell how I’m feeling. No one will worry too much because they can’t see me.
It’s a pleasure, honestly.
It is why John and I are sitting in this room, me staring up at the blank ceiling and him watching the rain drizzle down the windowpane as if it’s some wet, constantly-altering masterpiece.
I don’t want to talk right now.
The rain, along with the constant beeping of the machine beside me, have become sounds I love. Predictable, like a metronome keeping time in my hollow mind.
John’s head turns as I sigh.
“You okay?” he asks, leaning forward. The dark circles around his eyes make my heart squeeze.
My lip twitches as I nod.
He places a hand on my arm. It’s warm. Comforting.
I try to smile, but my cracked lips prevent a full one.
“Quiet today,” John murmurs, running his fingers down my pale, icy arm and lifting my hand. Leaning forward, he kisses the back of it, those sparkling blue eyes on mine. They flash from the streetlights filtering in through the window above. It’s nearing midnight. “You should try and sleep.”
I blink, withdrawing my hand slowly. “You know you don’t have to keep telling me to sleep, John. I know when I should rest.”
“I’m just worried about you, Shannon. I have every reason to be.” And he’s still upset about the argument we had earlier over me not wanting to be sedated again because I felt just a tiny bit of pain.
I was fine. I swear I was. I didn’t need it. He was just being his usual overbearing self.
I mumble beneath my breath and hear him shift in his chair.
“What?” he asks.
I don’t respond to him.
My silence clearly bothers him, and, seconds later, the lights flicker on above me. I shield my eyes, feeling like a vampire exposed to sunlight.
“What did you say?” he asks.
“Nothing,” I mumble.
“Yeah, you said something. Would you be kind enough to repeat it?” John stands tall and firm, shoulders hunched, brown hair floppy and messy.
I remember the first time I ever saw him. I was struck by his beauty. He’s so handsome, but so serious, all the time.
I loved it at one point because, to me, seriousness meant dedication and stability, but after I was diagnosed, his seriousness slowly began to bug me.
I blow a breath. “John, let’s just forget it, okay? I really don’t want to waste my energy arguing right now.” I adjust the tubes running from my nose.
He sighs. “Repeat yourself please.”
“Why? What do you think I said?”
“I don’t know,” he snaps, and I flinch. “That’s why I’m asking you, Shannon!”
Our eyes lock, the hostility thick in the air. He has no reason to get so upset. We go through this so much—too much, in fact. I’m starting to get sick of the same old thing. Arguing over my health, something he wishes he could control but we both know he can’t.
“You need to stop kidding yourself. Stop playing so many games when it comes to your health, Shannon.”
Anger strikes me, and I before I can think about it, I spit out the words I was once afraid of him hearing. “Fine. You want to know what I said? I said I want you to stop worrying about me! I don’t need you to! I want you to move on! Forget about me and this fucking hospital already! We both know I’m not going anywhere. Well, actually, no. I take that back. I’m eventually going somewhere: deep in the dirt.”
His hostile attitude disappears and switches automatically to concern.
“No.” He marches forward, standing above me, breathing heavily. “Why would I forget about you?
can I forget about you, Shannon?”
“You’ll have to one day.” I look up into his watering eyes, and it pulls at my heartstrings. I hate seeing him like this, so worried over me. “I’m… I’m going to die, John. Don’t you see that?” My voice cracks. It’s unintentional. I don’t want to cry.
John’s eyes fill with tears and he tries reaching for my face but I turn away, sinking back against the hard hospital bed.
“Baby…” His head drops and shakes. “Babe, please don’t talk like that. Anything can happen. You can fight this. You’re the strongest woman I know.” His voice is thick and full of the anguish that constantly makes my tears build and, soon, gush like a waterfall.
I wave a hand, dismissing him. “Just turn the light back off, please.”
“No. I know what you’re trying to do and I won’t. You can’t hide from me. You’re still beautiful. You’re perfect.” He pulls my hands away before I can shield my face with my palms. Running the tips of his fingers along the soft spot behind my ear, he whispers with a slight smile, “You’re gorgeous, Shannon. My beautiful wife. Don’t
tell me to forget you.”
My lips press thin, my eyes hot, at the point of boiling over. “John,” I whisper.
I’m going to crush him. The hope in his eyes? That faith? Crushed. “I am going to die,” I inform him, as if he doesn’t already know. “Why haven’t you accepted it yet?” My voice, although thick with emotion, is firm.
Slowly, John’s large hands retract and he stares at me, looking at me from the top of my head to my chin. I lower mine, not in shame, but in guilt.
I know what you’re thinking. That was wrong of me to say. I shouldn’t have said it. I agree that I am hard on John, but only because he deserves better than this.
He’s a famous chef in North Carolina but he’d rather spend his precious time in the hospital with a dying woman, slowly losing his grip on reality and even his creativity.
I shouldn’t be so unfair, huh? I mean, I am his wife and if he was the one dying I wouldn’t leave the hospital for a second, no matter what kind of career I had, but I’m stubborn and I can be a bit of a bitch sometimes.
Though it seems callous, it’s simply because I love him.
There’s nothing I want more than for him to get back to work, go back to what he’s so passionate about, other than me. I’ve told him plenty of times that it’s okay to go to work during the day—that I’ll be fine with the nurses and doctors around.
He pays for the best, after all, but he refuses. He says that he could lose me at any given moment—which I’ll admit is true—and if I do end up passing while he’s not around, he says he’d regret it for the rest of his life.
While I’m in the midst of my thoughts, John is walking towards the door.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“I need some air.”
The door flies open and is shut in an instant, the slam making the inside of my chest rattle.
I blink my tears away, watching that godawful, greyish-green curtain on the door flap before it finally settles.
I feel terrible.
And what’s worse is he left the light on, leaving me to stare into the mirror across from me. I study my frizzy, split-ended hair, the glazed over look in my gray eyes. The way my lips pout as if I want him to come back right away—well, I do, but he needs air.
I’ll grant him the space because I need it as well.
I lift my hand and run the tips of my fingers across the widow’s peak that meets at my forehead. It’s the best part. It suits me, the way it’s directed towards my features, enhancing what’s left of them.
The button nose and thin, cat-like eyes.
The full lips that John couldn’t seem to get enough of back when I was healthy. They’re chapped now, but before all of this—the sedations, the pills, and the medicines—they were perfect.
Always glossed for John.
Now they’re like fucking sandpaper.
My eyes well even more.
I turn my head away, staring at the blank white wall to my right.
Pressing the big speaker button on the bed, I call for the nurse.
Vickie pops in seconds later, eyes tired but curious. I’m guessing she witnessed the slam of the door that happened moments ago. Or heard it.
“Everything all right, Shannon?” she asks.
“Yes. Do you mind turning the lights off?”
“Of course not.” Her smile is faint as she reaches for the switch. When it’s off she turns for the door again. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
“I will. Thanks.”
When she’s gone I exhale deeply, allowing the darkness to wrap around me and calm my nerves. I press the back of my head on the soft white pillow, going over the argument I just had with John.
I shouldn’t have said that to him. That was so mean.
Although John can be serious, he’s also very sensitive. I should be glad that he feels this way—that he even cares.
I should be pleased to know that a man like him doesn’t want to lose me. He could easily move on to a newer, healthier girl with a great body. Someone who doesn’t have an expiration date.
When the disease returned, Dr. David said I only had eight months left, if that.
Well, it’s been five out of those eight months. I’m sure the chances have slimmed a lot more.
My health fluctuates.
One day I feel like I could stay up for hours, watch some TV and even eat the lunch John cooks for me whenever he decides to go home for something, but the next day I’m hardly able to move. My body will ache and my head will throb.
I will feel like I’m spiraling, like I can’t get enough rest, and that’s when Dr. David will sedate me. It’s the only thing that can take the pain away. Not even the pills work to take the edge off.
I’m not satisfied with the life I’ve lived. In fact, the first sixteen years of my life were a living hell— until I ran away from my drug-dealing mother and brought Sonny with me.
We did well—living with my grandmother until she passed three years later. And when she died, I’d saved up enough money to live on my own for a few months in Pineville.
I found a job at a nice bar in uptown Charlotte and worked long night shifts.
Sleep was sparse, but I loved working there.
The way the guests came to dance and party and feel alive.
I loved it all, being wrapped up and surrounded by drinks and money and pure excitement. Plus, it was rare for a twenty-one-year-old to be working at such an upscale, trendy club. I considered myself lucky to have even landed the job.
So, maybe I did love my life just a little more after I became a woman and accepted myself. I guess what I’m saying is I’m not satisfied with a
portion of my life. Certain decisions I made years ago.
Allow me to explain how this particular part of my life started…