MendChelle Bliss / Romance & Love
As I sit here on January 5, 2018 and type this foreword, almost a year has passed since I finished the first draft of Mend.
I watched him slowly grow weaker, but tried to continued to keep writing. The once strong man that was my first super hero could barely walk anymore and it broke me. The cancer that filled his body was winning and no matter how hard he fought, it was a losing battle.
I remember almost every moment of January 28, 2017, the day I typed The End in this book and I don’t ever want to forget it either.
I sat by my father’s beside with my knees up around my chest and tried not to break down into tears while he laid on his side, staring at me with a sweet smile like he often did. “Did you finish your book?”
I scooted forward and rested my chin on the mattress. “I did, Daddy.”
“Good,” he said and winced as he adjusted his legs.
“Can I do something?” I asked, feeling completely helpless and heartbroken.
“No. I’m okay.”
That was my dad. He never complained about anything. He was the most caring and supportive man I’ve ever known. I was truly blessed to have him in my life and wish I could’ve held on to him a little longer, but some things aren’t meant to be.
“Are you sure?”
He touched my nose and smiled again, trying to pretend he wasn’t in pain. “Go home and start the next book.”
“I can’t do that, Daddy,” I said as tears threatened to fall.
“It’s important that you start the next one.”
I somehow muttered the words, “It’s not important.”
“It is important.”
“It’s not more important than you.”
“It’s not,” I told him and I wasn’t about to cave.
There isn’t anything more important than my family, especially my father. I would’ve given up everything I had, including my career, if it meant I could have him in my life for a little while longer.
Eight months earlier we buried my brother and my father watched me struggle with my words along with my life every day since. I’m sure he knew I’d be unable to write much of anything without him in my life.
My father closed his eyes, facing in my direction as I leaned against the wall and watched him sleep. I sat in silence, crying without a sound because I didn’t want to wake him.
That was the day I knew my father would die. I wasn’t ready, but then again, can we ever be prepared?
For the next three nights, I laid at his side and held his hand, running my fingers through his hair as he struggled to breathe and fought to stay with us just a little while longer. He didn’t sleep and neither did I. I couldn’t waste each precious minute I had left with my father on something as frivolous as sleep. I played him his favorite songs, talked to him non-stop, and cried when he couldn’t see me anymore.
When he took his last breath, my world changed forever.
The heartache of losing a parent is indescribable, unescapable, and all consuming. Even today, a year later, I’m a shell of my former self and I’m not sure I’ll ever find the happiness I had before…when my father was in my life.
Mend, the book you’re about to read, was the book I finished right before my father passed. It’s the last one he ever knew I was writing. I couldn’t open the book for months. Every time I did and tried to read through it, I had to close the document because there was too much emotion and memories tied to the words.
In all honesty, Mend was a hot mess. I knew my dad was dying while I wrote the book. I couldn’t think clearly. Every day before I started to write, I’d have to go back and re-read my previous words. I no longer had the ability to remember anything I’d written the day before. Instead of pushing Mend out, I put it aside and didn’t think about opening it again until December 2017.
The document sat on my desktop, taunting me in a way. I couldn’t leave it there any longer to linger in obscurity. With the help of my friend and developmental editor, Glenna Maynard, I decided that I could finally dive back into Mend and complete the book I’d promised my daddy I finished.
Mend may not be the panty scorcher I intended it to be. When I started writing Mend, I planned on this to be Maneuver which has a smoking hot cover. But ultimately, that’s not what I wrote. To be fair to readers, I changed the name and found a more appropriate cover. No longer am I willing to keep the book to myself and am finally ready to share my words with you.
The story is no less beautiful even though it’s not filled with sexy scenes. It’s a story of lost love, misunderstandings, and second chances. Sometimes I don’t have control of the words that pour out of me and Mend is a perfect example of that. I never intended to write this book, but my brain had other plans. The characters often rule me more than I have power over them.
I hope you enjoy the story of Jack and Evie as much as I do. Thank you for sticking by my side the last year and being patient with me as I try to find my words again.
I keep writing not because I can, I write to honor the memory of my father and to make him prouder than he was when he breathed his last breath.
I write for you, too. Without readers such as yourself, I may have totally lost my way.
I’m slowly finding my groove again and I just know 2018 will be an amazing year of books and tons of words.
I apologize for any typos. I wanted to share my feelings and added this just before publishing. Sorry, Lisa.
Chelle Bliss, xoxo
To the only sister I’ve ever known…
I love you, Kelly. - Chelle
I gaze up at her from where I’m kneeling on the floor with my fists clenched so tightly my fingertips ache. My vision blurs as her words sink in. “You can’t go.”
Sitting on the edge of my bed, she holds her tiny face in her hands as tears fall between her fingers, landing on my jeans. “My dad got his orders weeks ago but never told me until tonight. We leave tomorrow, Jack.” Her voice cracks on my name.
I swallow, desperately trying to process the information yet not wanting to believe it at the same time. “Tomorrow?” Panic starts to settle in my bones. “You can’t leave now.”
“I have to.” She lifts her eyes to mine in a silent plea and apology.
I wipe the tears from her cheeks, wishing we could run away and leave our lives behind. “Maybe you can stay with me.” I refuse to let her walk out of my life. We’re so close to being free of her father, only nine months from graduation.
Shaking her head, she whispers, “I can’t.” Her bottom lip trembles as she squeezes her eyes shut. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”
“I’ll talk to my mom. She knows we love each other, Evie.” My throat starts to close, and I feel like I’m suffocating at the thought of her not being here. Evie opens her mouth to say something, but I stop her. “Don’t give up.” I hold her hands in mine, caressing the soft skin with my thumb, and search her eyes for a glimmer of hope.
“My dad will never go for it. You know that.”
I grip her hands tighter and shake my head. I’m unable to believe we only have tonight. “There has to be something we can do.”
“I have to go, but it’s only for a year,” she whispers softly, barely able to look me in the eyes. “I’ll come back.”
“I can’t wait a year. I’ll visit you every weekend.”
“Jack,” she says as more tears fall, turning her head away from me. “We’re moving to Germany.”
Her words punch me in the gut, almost knocking me backward. “Germany?” I stammer.
Her father’s moving her to another continent, halfway across the world, and it’s entirely because of me. He’s hated me from the moment he found out Evie and I were dating.
“In a year, we’ll graduate, and we can be together forever.” I refuse to believe this will be the end for us. Evie and I have plans…a future.
“I’ll come back to you,” she promises, resting her hand on top of mine as I grip her cheeks and gaze into her blue eyes.
She’s everything to me.
I try to memorize every detail of her face. The blueness of her eyes and how they match the sky just as the sun meets the horizon on a summer evening. The flecks of brown in her blond hair that turn auburn in the sunlight and how those silky strands feel wrapped around my fingers. Near the corner of her right eye, she has the tiniest collection of freckles resembling the Big Dipper. There’s no one more beautiful than her.
She’s become part of me.
My other half.
The first thought I have every morning and the last every single night before I close my eyes is of Evie. My chest tightens at the thought of not seeing her every day.
When she leaves, what will be left?
How can there be an us if we aren’t even in the same country?
Evie being my girl is all I’ve ever known. She’s as much a part of me as the air I breathe.
I love this girl more than life itself.
“How long do we have?”
She nestles her face into my hand and closes her eyes. “He gave me an hour to say goodbye. If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t even be getting this. You know how he can be.”
“It’s not goodbye, Evie. I can never say goodbye to you. We’ll see each other again. I promise you.”
“I’ll love you always, Jack. I promise I’ll come back to you. I’ll be back before you have time to miss me.”
I miss her already, and she’s right in front of me. I don’t know how I am going to do this. How do I let her go? I’m terrified that once she walks out this door, it is going to be the last time I see her.
“I’ll wait an eternity for you, Evie. I’ll never stop loving you. Just come back to me, no matter how long it takes. I’ll be here waiting.”
“I promise.” She flings herself into my arms, needing my touch as desperately as I crave hers.
We’re holding each other so tightly that I can barely breathe, but it doesn’t matter. All I want is for Evie to stay.
I never want to let her go.
Not like this.
Not before our last year in school.
We made plans.
Shared our dreams.
I breathe in the scent of her strawberry shampoo, committing the smell to memory. Not that I could ever forget anything about my Evie girl. She’s unforgettable.
“I don’t want to cry anymore,” she whispers in my ear and grabs the back of my hair, tangling it between her fingers. Those soft lips I have tasted so many times brush over mine, full of desperation, matching my own.
We fall back onto my bed as I kick off my shoes and pull my shirt over my head. I need to feel her skin-to-skin. I try to push away the thought that this could be the last time I hold her in my arms. This could be the last time I taste her lips. This could be the last time she is truly mine.
“God, I love you, Evie.”
“I love you too,” she whispers as I cover her body with mine.
Six years later
It’s the only word that describes how I feel in this very moment. Setting eyes on Evie—my first girlfriend—the only girl I’ve ever loved, feels like strong hands wrapping around my throat, squeezing with such intensity that I’m suffocating.
“Hey.” My little sister, Myra, appears in my peripheral vision. She nudges me in the side with her sharp elbow when I don’t respond. “You okay?”
The way Evie’s hair is blowing in the wind, licking her shoulders with each sweep of the unseasonably warm spring air has my dick stirring like she stepped straight out of a wet dream. She’s laughing and holding her stomach as she talks to some guy—a man I’ve never seen before.
I want to run over there, throw her over my shoulder, and claim her in front of the entire town, but I’m in shock and can’t bring myself to move.
I can’t help but stare at her long legs and remember the way they felt wrapped around me the last time we were together. When I made love to her for the last time. The promises we made reverberate in the back of my mind. “I promise, Jack…” Her voice is still so clear inside my head.
Myra takes a step forward, and her cotton candy tumbles to the dirt in front of her. “Son of a fuck,” she whispers, finally seeing Evie.
“Watch your mouth,” I growl.
“Is that…” Her voice trails off because it’s like we’ve both seen a ghost.
Swallowing the lump that’s lodged in my throat doesn’t make my ability to breathe any easier. “Yeah.”
“Well, Jesus.” Myra moves in front of me and tries to get my attention with a shove to my chest. When I don’t budge, she grabs my face and forces my eyes to her. “What do you want to do? I’ll go kick her ass if you want.”
“Myra.” I remove her hands from my face as my gaze drifts away from Evie. “Do not make a scene.”
Myra Nelson is a whopping five feet two, but she has the attitude of an NFL linebacker. Even as a little girl, she walked around the house crashing into everything on purpose just to watch it crumble in her wake, and she hasn’t stopped sixteen years later.
She crosses her arms in front of her chest and scowls. “I never make a scene. But I would for you,” she sasses, pitching a thumb over her shoulder in Evie’s direction. “Especially when it comes to her.”
“What happened is between Evie and me.” I know I need to de-escalate the situation before Myra goes apeshit. “Ma would have a fit if you got in trouble.”
She rolls her eyes. “I don’t give a crap. Some things need to happen, no matter the consequence.”
I focus my gaze on Myra’s, tightening my grip on her shoulders. “You will not do or say a thing, or I’ll carry you straight home.”
Her mahogany eyes sparkle in the sunlight as she takes a step forward, getting in my face. “You wouldn’t dare,” she hisses with all the attitude of a teenage girl.
Leaning forward, I drop my voice to a whisper so low only she can hear me. “In a fuckin’ heartbeat. Go find your friends, and forget you saw her.”
I can tell she wants to say something, and it’s hanging on the tip of her tongue. “Fine. But…”
“But nothing. Just go. Do as you’re told for once.” I tip my