Prologue: Goodbye My Friend
Ella sat quietly in the living room and stared at the ring in the palm of her hand. He’d told her to wait, and she was waiting. He was late. Two hours late. But he had told her to wait and she trusted him enough to wait. Without question.
She looked down at the ring once more. Pearl. Her birthstone. Her eyes glistened as she thought back to the scene that had met her eyes when she’d walked into the apartment yesterday.
Her favorite chocolates.
A romantic dinner for two.
Everything lovingly prepared. For her. By her special someone. Most important of all … Blake. Blake had been there … waiting for her.
A soft smile curved her lips. She’d been so happy. So full of bubbling joy. She’d laughed when he’d gotten down on one knee.
She’d never hoped … never dared to dream that he would take this step … that he would be hers in every way possible. A part of her had subconsciously prepared itself for their eventual breakup one day.
Trying on the ring, she smiled once more. It fit. That had to mean something.
“I love you.” She shivered as she remembered his softly spoken words. That voice had gently rasped against her skin, and lodged deep into her heart.
“Marry me.” And those words had made her melt … right into his arms. Ella’s lips curved into a big smile as she thought about what had happened next.
His arms coming up to wrap around her.
His lips landing on hers … ravishing her senses until she didn’t know which way was up.
His arms carrying her to his bed.
And then … bliss. Pure bliss. There had been soft sighs … gentle moans … and in the shadows of the night she’d given Blake her virginity. She’d given him not only her body, but her heart, as well.
He’d left her this morning, promising that he would tell his parents today. He’d promised to come back with their approval. He’d promised to fight for them. He’d promised.
A shadow of doubt fell upon her. Her eyes darkened with worry. His parents scared her. They were so cold … so emotionless … what if his parents didn’t believe in their love? What if they convinced him to leave her?
Her lips began to tremble as she thought about that possibility. She’d been dating Blake for two years now, but she had yet to meet his parents. He always made some excuse, but she knew that he was afraid to introduce her to them. They would only disapprove.
Ella’s hands clenched around the ring. This ring was the embodiment of all her hopes and dreams. It was proof that Blake was willing to risk everything so that he could truly be hers in the eyes of the world. She would not … should not doubt his sincerity.
He was just running a little late.
Just a little late.
Her cellphone chirped softly in the background.
“Blake!” Ella cried out delightedly, picking up the phone. “Where have you been? I’ve been so worried.”
Ella’s brow crinkled in confusion.
“John? Why do you have Blake’s cell? Where is he?”
“Ella,” John began hesitantly.
“John, please put Blake on the phone,” Ella ordered her fiancé’s best friend shakily. “He said he was going to meet me today but he’s late. I really need to talk to him.”
“Ella, honey, you have to listen to me,” John said hesitantly, breaking into her torrent of words.
“No!” Ella blurted out in a panic. “Where’s Blake?” Ella demanded.
“Ella, I’m sorry. Blake was in a car accident,” John revealed gently.
“God,” Ella breathed softly. “Where is he? Tell me what hospital is he in?”
There was a short, horrible silence.
“John?” Ella begged brokenly. “Tell me he’s in a hospital. Tell me he’s in critical condition. Tell me that doctors don’t hold much hope … but that there is hope. Tell me he’s alive, dammit!” Ella shouted into the phone.
“Ella, I’m sorry,” John whispered hoarsely. “Blake’s dead.”
The phone dropped from her hand and smashed on the unforgiving floor.
She dropped to her knees, and then curled into a ball on that same floor.
Blake was gone. He was dead. Her eyes started blindly into the distance as she tried to digest this news.
He’d left her.
She gazed at a blurred object in the distance … it was her ring, she realized when she could finally focus on the object.
Her engagement ring.
Her eyes welled in tears, beginning to roll rapidly down her cheeks. Her teeth clenched as she tried to hold in the loud sobs. She was afraid that if she started … she would only end up screaming and screaming until she lost her voice.
Ella pounded her fists into the floor, keeping her silence as her heart broke inside of her.
Forever had only lasted for 20 hours and 15 minutes.