Ellie Abela’s life has been anything but easy. Tragedy follows her where ever she goes, and she’s been a lot of places. At twenty she’s lived in over ten different states, all because of her dad’s career in medical research. His career is just another list of the causes of tragedies in El’s life. He’s dying, and with every breath he takes closer to Heaven, Ellie dies a little bit inside too.
At twelve she lost her mom in a drunk driving accident, and in a matter of months she fears she’ll lose the last person she has in the world to cancer.
While Ellie’s life has been rife with sadness, Trent Wentworth’s has been a challenge. A drug-addicted mom and a dead-beat dad meant at twenty three he was the adoptive father of his two year old sister. Now at twenty five he’s working his way up the corporate ladder and a struggling single parent.
Each is searching for a cure to the things in their lives dragging them down.
Not all cures are black and white; not all cures save us–and sometimes saving isn’t what we need. Sometimes we just need to realize how lucky we are to be alive, at least for this moment.
I wrapped my fingers around the steering wheel, and it squeaked with the pressure as my knuckles turned white. The sound echoed through the car as my grip continued to tighten. I used to wonder if it was harder to know you're going to die, or just dying without the ability to say goodbye. The tears began to stream down my face as I sped down the highway. The guardrails were just silver blurs as I hammered the gas.
I shouldn't have wondered it. My life was cruel punishment for the thought. The question should've been what's harder, never getting to say goodbye or knowing that every breath could be goodbye?
My chin trembled as my eyes fell to the speedometer.
I was going too fast.
The highway was too straight; a never ending path in front of me that I wanted to drive on until I fell off the edge of the Earth.
I already had, hadn't I?
My eyes lashes fluttered, the drops of tears weighing them down.
Never getting to say goodbye.
I knew that evil. God, did I know that evil. The look on Dad's face as the phone slipped from his hands, the words forming at his lips never reaching my ears.
I read them.
I knew them.
The shock hit my body, and I desperately wanted to feel something--anything besides the rolling waves of pain. That numbness weighted down my limbs as the physical ache coursed through my veins. The anger and pain crushed down on me until my chest was so tight I couldn't breath. Then I had Dad-- he was always there, despite his own pain. His warmth overtook the shocking cold of loss. He broke the edges that hardened on my soul.
Knowing that every breath could be goodbye.
That was now.
I lifted my foot off the gas, letting the car slow until I pulled over and stopped. My head dipped between my shoulders as my chest heaved with a sob. I let my hands drop to my lap, red lines marking them where my skin had met too tightly with itself. The tears puddled in my palms.
I knew he was going to die. There was nothing that could stop it. I had to watch it. The pillar of strength when Mom died was withering into nothing in front of my eyes. The numbness that hit me when Mom died was a constant part of my life; it never left. I had just gotten better at hiding it. The chains around what was left of my heart tightened with each passing day. Each day meant there was one less breath. Who would save me now?
My eyes rose to the black sky above me.
There was no cure for Dad.
There was no cure for me.
I walked over to the door leading to his room and pushed it open. I wanted a distraction. I didn't want to think about it. I heard Trent follow me, and I walked over to the guitars hung on the wall. I ran my fingers over the strings. I knew Trent was leaning against the door frame, watching me carefully.
"My dad used to play drums before he got sick," I explained. "I used to want to learn how to play guitar...then we could have our own band."
Trent walked forward, going to sit on his bed, and I turned to face him.
"He's a scientist. He's been trying to find the cure for different types of cancer for as long as I can remember...and I don't mean little labs somewhere. Government labs...and all those tests...and chemicals--and whatever the fuck," I replied, stopping as my body trembled. "He was handling--that's what gave him it...the cancer. He was trying to find a cure," my neck pushed forward as I fought back the tears. "And he...he basically killed himself."
"There's no cure?" Trent whispered.
I looked at the ceiling, dimly lit by the bedside lamp. "If there was, he would've found it."
Trent stood and his face came into my vision as he looked down at me. He ran his hand up my back until it reached my head, tipping it back to a normal position. He put his forehead against mine, his hand cupping my cheek as his other stayed on my lower back.
"Not all cures are black and white--not all cures save us," Trent whispered, and I felt my eyelashes heavy with tears.
"I'm dying too--every time I look at him and know that every breath he takes is closer to his last one." I didn't bother wiping away the silent tears now making their way down my face.
"It's always been that way, El. We're all going to die someday," He crushed his eyes shut, shaking his head. "That sounded harsh. I didn't--"
He opened his eyes, his chest rising with the deep inhale he took. "I do get it. I used to come home and wonder if I was going to find my mom dead." His eyes drifted before coming back to mine. "But every time I didn't--every time I came home and she was fine--I was thankful for it, even more so if she was straight."
I laid my head on his chest, and his hands stayed on my lower back, his own head lowering into the crook of my shoulder. We stayed like that for a moment as my heart beat evened out, my eyes drifted to his bed and the rate picked up again. My chest tightened as I stared at the neat brown and tan checkered comforter, and then my eyes drifted to the time.
My eyes suddenly felt heavy, and my mouth formed a yawn.
Trent looked down at me, and his own eyes were heavy. "Tired?" he asked.
"Yeah, and I don't feel like driving home." I ignored the whooshing of blood through my ears as my face heated.
"I can take the couch," Trent explained as he pulled away and pointed his thumb over his shoulder before going to his dresser and pulling out a pair of pajama bottoms and a plain black tee. "They might be big, but it should be more comfortable for you."
I took them from him, my hand touching his and causing tingles to run up my spine. "You know, I don't mind if...if you don't take the couch."
Trent's eyebrow twitched as he looked at me, and I laughed.
"Come on, we're both adults, and I'm sure you can keep your hands off of me if I'm hidden under all this," I replied, holding up the clothing that undoubtedly would be baggy on me.
"Are you sure?" he asked, pulling his own pair of pajama pants out of the drawer.
"Positive, now turn the other way so I can get undressed," I ordered, using my pointer finger to signal a circle.
He put his hands up. "Of course, but I think you'll be the one peeking."
I rolled my eyes as I turned, pulling my shirt off and replacing it with his. I paused as I heard the zipper of his pants go down. I pursed my lips as I gazed straight ahead as I unzipped mine and pulled them off. I cursed as I struggled to pull the tight bottom off. "Skinny jeans."
"You okay?" Trent asked, his voice deep with amusement.
"Oh, shut up! If you had to wear jeans this tight you'd understand."
I turned and flopped on his bed, putting my arms behind my head as I stared at his bare back. Between his shoulder blades was another tattoo, this one of a bird flying through the sun.
"You didn't tell me about that one," I commented, and he turned, putting his hands up.
"I didn't know you wanted to know where all of them where," he replied, smirking down at me as my jaw dropped.
There was another tattoo on the cap of his shoulder, this one a Japanese lotus in bright orange and pink. My eyes wondered to his chest, which was covered in a thin layer of hair I hadn't expected. He scratched it, his neck turning red up to his ears.
"Sorry about the hairy chest. I can put a shirt on if it bothers you," he said.
I sat up, pulling my knees to my chest as my eyes wandered again. I shook my head, putting my eyes back where they belonged, on his face. "If you have to put a shirt on it won't be because of your hairy chest."
His eyebrows twitched as he laughed. "You like it then?"
I tapped my hands on my knees as my eyes dropped to his slightly sculpted chest, down to his flat stomach and his hip bones. I lay back, pulling the pillow over my face. "Why couldn't you put on a burlap sack?" I muttered into it.
I felt Trent's body indent the bed next to me, and he lifted up the edge of the pillow, blinking at me.
"What was that?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes smacking him with the pillow before putting it back under my head and turning my back to him. Trent reached over me, flicking off the light switch, and wrapping his arm around me. I snuggled into him and closed my eyes.
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.
Cassandra Giovanni is published by Show n’ot Tell Publishing based out of Connecticut, USA
Connect with Cassandra on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter. Learn more about her and her novels at her website, www.cgiovanniauthor.com and read the first ten chapters of each of her published novels through her Book Catalog.
In Between the Seasons (The Fall Series #1)
Walking in the Shadows