Title: Love Always, Damien
Author: D Nichole King
Series: Love Always #2
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Limitless PublishingSummary:
They say time heals all wounds.
What a load of bull. It’s been four years, and Kate’s voice still echoes in my mind.
Every. Damn. Day.
I numb her memory when it taunts me. In college, I drown her out with booze and easy lays. I can’t do what she asked
I can’t let her go.
Not even when Lia shows up, freaking ripping what’s left of me to shreds. Caring about someone isn’t worth the deadness that follows after they’re gone. I didn’t ask for this. Didn’t ask for her.
And I sure as hell didn’t plan to miss her when she walked out of my front door.
Now, if I want to keep her, I have to straighten myself out and earn her. I can’t screw this up.
Because if I do, I’ll lose more than just Lia.
I’ll lose my life.
“Damian, are you there?” I repeat since he hasn’t said anything. “It’s me, Ellie,” I say, because he won’t recognize my new Florida cell phone number. I wanted a fresh start when I left Iowa, and that included seven new digits with an 850 area code.
A lot has changed in the last four years, and I wasn’t sure he’d remember my voice.
“Uh, yeah. I’m here,” he finally says, and in the background, I hear the clunk of glass hitting a table.
Inwardly, I cringe. I guess some things don’t change.
Just hang up, Ellie. This is a stupid idea.
I tuck my legs up under me, the wicker loveseat creaking. I should take my own advice, tell him this was a mistake, and figure something else out. Damian wasn’t the only reason I had to get away, but he was the biggest one.
“How’ve you been, Elle?” he asks.
He’s the only person who ever called me Elle. Liam started calling me Ellie when we began to date, but I was Elizabeth to everyone else. Even now, after all this time, a flood of chills sweeps up my spine as he says it.
I swallow, giving myself a second to reply. “I’m doing okay. You?”
Small talk is worthless. I should either end this call or get to the point. No use allowing these tiny ripples of emotion to make themselves at home in my stomach after I’ve worked so hard to keep them at bay. Destroying them by moving fifteen hundred miles away and immersing myself in my studies didn’t work, so this is the next best thing. Really, it’s all I can do to pretend they don’t exist. I can’t let them control me again.
“Yeah, I’m good. I’m good,” he says without conviction.
He’s not doing good. I can hear it in his voice. I also know the timing of this phone call sucks, but I won’t be in Iowa much longer, and I need to get this over with sooner rather than later. I’ve waited as long as I could, and now I’m cutting it super close.
The problem is I’m still debating whether or not to go through with my plans. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of options, and Damian is my absolute last choice since my friend Kerri had a family emergency and flew home to Canada last week. My plane leaves in two days, and if I don’t have something lined up, I can kiss this spectacular opportunity goodbye. Great Barrier Reef projects of this magnitude don’t come along every day. I need this to complete my thesis.
I only wish it hadn’t come down to asking Damian a favor. Of all things, that’s what I’m left with.
“Well, um, the reason I’m calling is that I’m in Iowa for a couple of days, and I was wondering if maybe we could…uh…meet up tomorrow morning?” I say against my better judgment. Then I hold my breath, half hoping he’ll tell me he never wants to see me again. Honestly, that would be best for both of us.
“Tomorrow morning?” he repeats. “Yeah, sure. We can do that.”
“I have a place up in Ames, close to campus. I can text you the address.”
His place? I’d been hoping for somewhere a little more…public. But before I can suggest a change in venue, the flutters rippling under my skin make their way to my mouth. “Okay.”
I’m a glutton for punishment. So stupid.
We don’t have to stay at his house, though, right? I mean, when I arrive there tomorrow, I’ll suggest we go out for breakfast or something. The last thing I need is to be alone with him again. The last time I let my guard down with him…well, it’s the reason I’m meeting with him in the morning.
I’ve got to get myself under control before then. I’m twenty-four years old now, for God’s sake. I can handle this.
I straighten my back, sitting up taller for my own encouragement, and take a deep breath. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Damian.”
Shit. That name again.
“Bye,” I breathe out and hang up before my heart rate doubles again. I lift my head to the porch ceiling, and suddenly I regret the whole conversation. I’m such an idiot! I shouldn’t have called him. I should have…I don’t know.
I don’t have another choice unless I call my professor and say “Screw the trip.” If I did, I’d be out a ton of money that took me over a year to save up, but hell. Maybe that’s worth not having to face Damian.
I mean, can he even handle it?
I peer into the backyard of my childhood home. So much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same. The old swing set my dad built for me still sits in the exact same spot it has for twenty years. Unused for the bulk of those years until the other day.
It’s nice to see my parents again in the flesh instead of over Skype. I haven’t been back since I left. Plane tickets are expensive, and between school, work, and everything else, I’ve never made the time to make it up. They did make it down to Florida once though, since I moved. Christmas, three years ago. Before Dad got too bad to travel.
This isn’t how I had envisioned my life. These aren’t the plans Liam and I made. Not even close.
As soon as we graduated from college, we were going to get married. Liam should be at Harvard Law right now while I teach kindergarteners how to read and write. Maybe we’d even be discussing when to start our own little family.
I take a drink of lemonade and set it back on the end table as I shake off the life I was never meant to have. The life Liam took with him when he died.
It’s been six years since I said goodbye to him. The first two after his death were the most difficult, but at least I had Damian to comfort me, numb me. And at first, that’s all our relationship had been about.
Then…then something shifted. For me, anyway. I can’t pinpoint when it happened exactly, I just know that when Kate Browdy entered his life, it tore mine apart for the second time. I have nothing against Kate; I never even met her.
But it was because of her I realized somewhere during those two years, I developed feelings for Damian. Feelings I tried hard to bury because they created a swell of guilt within me. I’d been Liam’s girlfriend, and now that he was gone, I was falling for his brother.
So, as soon as I finished the semester at Drake, I transferred to Florida State. I had to get away. Away from Liam. From the guilt and from the man who didn’t love me back.
And now, tomorrow morning, I have to ask that man a huge favor. A favor he knows absolutely nothing about, because I had to distance myself from him.
I have my life on track now. I have a goal for my future, and it doesn’t include Damian Lowell.
Hopefully, four years is enough time for my heart to forget how much I loved him.
Born and raised in Iowa, d. Nichole King writes her stories close to home. There's nothing like small-town Midwest scenery to create the perfect backdrop for an amazing tale.
She wrote her first book in junior high and loved every second of it. However, she couldn't bring herself to share her passion with anyone. She packed it away until one day, with the encouragement of her husband, she sat down at the computer and began to type. Now, she can't stop.
When not writing, d. is usually curled up with a book, scrapbooking, or doing yet another load of laundry.
Along with her incredible husband, she lives in small-town Iowa with her four adorable children and their dog, Peaches.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one." --George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons