Love Always, Kate
Leukemia’s been my life since I was eleven. Now, six years later, I want my life back. Only I’m not sure what that is.
The test results came back today. 22,000. Which means I’m officially out of remission—again.
I have three options:
Another round of chemo.
A super-new experimental drug.
Dump it all— forget the meds and treatments and enjoy the time I have left.
I think I know what I want.
Then, in walks Damian, changing everything.
I mean, everything.
He’s got his own set of issues. It binds us together, you know? We understand what it’s like to lose what matters most in seconds.
Still, the last thing I need is to have someone else to crush if I can’t fight hard enough. And the last thing he needs is someone else to grieve.
Never mind. I’m down to two options now.
Somehow I know that whichever one I choose, the result will be the same. With the sand in my hourglass seeping to the bottom, I hope there’s enough left to show Damian that life’s worth living. Worth fighting for.
Worth dying for.
Meet the Characters:
Interview: Kate Browdy
Thanks for joining me today, Kate.
You are so young, yet you’ve already been through so much. How do you cope with it all?
First of all I have amazing parents. They did their research, they went to support groups, they found Dr. Lowell and moved us to Iowa so I could be under his care. He’s one of the best.
Then I have my diary. During my first treatment, when I was eleven, someone told Mom how much keeping one helped other patients. When she gave it to me, I eagerly began to write in it. It became my safe place, my hiding place.
Have you ever let anyone read it?
No, never. It’s too personal. Everything I’ve ever felt, my fears, my dreams, everything is in there.
This is your third relapse. Is this time any different?
In terms of the leukemia, not really. I’m on a more potent chemotherapy drug, but other than that, it’s the same process as before. The biggest difference this time is that I feel like I’ve missed out on so much of life. Like, unintentionally, I’ve let the disease control me instead of the other way around.
Is that where Damian comes in?
(Smiles) Yeah, I guess. The first thing you notice about him is how gorgeous he is. Oh, and the dimples. Then you look into his eyes, and realize that there’s something dark behind them. Life hasn’t been kind to him either, and he lets it get to him. At first, I thought I could fix him, but in reality, he fixed me.
Oh that’s so romantic!
He is, especially when he’s not trying. And when he is, I know it’s because he wants everything to be perfect for me. We never know how long we have with the people we love. That’s something Damian understands well.
He’s your doctors’ son. Is that weird at all?
Sort of. At first it was, anyway. I mean, he snuck into his dad’s office and checked out my medical file! He’s got ways of finding stuff out. I’ve always known Dr. Lowell as Dr. Lowell, the doctor. It never dawned on me that he was also Jackson Lowell, the father. They’re different people.
What has this whole experience taught you?
That life is short. Short and beautiful. And even though it might hurt sometimes, that doesn’t make life any less special.
Thanks for sharing your story with us.
He reached up and caressed the side of my face. With a gentle tug on my hand, he lowered me down. I slid off the unromantic porcelain throne and sat on my knees on the floor. Damian placed both hands on either side of my face, his eyes locking with mine. He leaned in closer.
Were my lips dry? Were they supposed to be? What if I sucked at it? I hadn’t brushed my teeth since that morning, and…
Before I had a chance to finish my thought, Damian’s lips were pressed against mine. I closed my eyes, ‘cause that’s what happened on TV, and let my shoulders fall. More questions ran through my mind, the old ones forgotten. Was I supposed to breathe or hold my breath? What should I do with my hands? Should my lips stay closed or open? Please, oh, please don’t throw up!
I kept my hands on my lap for a moment, but as Damian’s mouth opened and sucked my lower lip between his, my arms wrapped around his neck on their own. He responded by moving his hands to my shoulders and sliding them down my arms. His lips moved over mine tenderly, then he folded his arms around my waist and hugged me against him.
When the kiss ended, I stared at him. Small shivers still raced down my spine, and my whole body tingled. Damian smiled. He kissed the tip of my nose, and his fingertips trailed over the side of my neck. My insecurity dissipated at the expression on his face.
‘I saw the way he looks at you.’
Now I could see it too. It was the sparkle in his eyes. The way the corner of his mouth curved up in an impish grin. He leaned in and kissed my neck where his fingers had been.
“You taste good,” he whispered in my ear.
It could have been the chemo dancing its way through my bloodstream because I was suddenly light-headed. Then again chemo didn’t typically make me feel good.
Damian kissed me on the neck again, and I had never felt the little pin-pricks that covered my body before. I ached to have him kiss me again. I wanted him to envelop me in his arms and draw me into his body and keep there forever.
‘Damian isn’t as strong as you are. If he falls for you, and you don’t recover, it’ll kill him.’ I couldn’t speak for Damian. And whether or not it was a good idea didn’t matter. I knew the moment he pulled out the clippers and looked into my eyes that I was in danger of falling for Damian Lowell.
Carrie Reese doesn’t believe in ghosts—until she falls in love with one.
From the moment he walks through the door, a cool breeze surrounds Carrie. She knows Lucas is too good to be true...and he is. Because he’s dead.
Devastated over her parents’ divorce, 17 year-old Carrie is spending the summer with her grandparents in Villisca—the creepiest town in Iowa. Even though it makes her skin crawl, Carrie doesn’t regard the haunting of the infamous Moore House to be anything more than superstition.
Lucas, however, knows exactly why the mysterious farmhouse should be avoided. But that’s not what brings him to town. As a ghost, he cannot cross over into the afterlife until he finds his soul, and there’s someone in Villisca who can help. Instead, he finds Carrie. And there’s something about her that draws him in. Why didn’t he find her sooner? Like, when he was alive?
When the force of their love disrupts the containment spell around the Moore House, the rift to Hell inside the attic opens, releasing the demons. Since love isn’t meant to be shared between the living and the dead, the demons target the lovers, intent on dragging them to where their souls will face eternal destruction.
Sometimes there’s more at risk than merely dying.
Meet The Characters:
The Interview: Carrie Reese
Thanks for joining us today, Carrie.
Yeah. Thanks for inviting me.
Villisca, Iowa—Why does that sound so familiar?
It’s a good thing it’s me doing this interview. If you’d have asked that question to Megan, she would have bitten your head off. She did mine! Villisca is famous for the Axe Murders of 1912 that were never solved. Now, the Moore House is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the Midwest.
Creepy! Have you ever been inside?
Yes. And I’ll never go back.
What makes you say that? Did you see something?
Let’s just say I saw more than I bargained for.
Does that mean you believe in ghosts?
I didn’t used to, but now I have no doubts. Can we talk about something else, please?
Of course! You seem to have two hotties vying for your attention. Let’s start with Mike Carson. How’d you meet?
Mike helps my grandpa around the farm. When we were first introduced, I swear, he came off like the most conceded jerk. To be fair, sometimes he still is. But after awhile, we warmed up to each other. He taught me how to ride my horse, Goldie, which I would never have mustered the courage up to do on my own. Mike is actually pretty charming when he wants to be.
And not bad on the eyes either.
(Laughs) Yeah, I think he works hard at that.
How about Lucas? What’s your relationship with him like?
(Sighs) Complicated. He’s … well … he… I mean, we…
Yeah. Yeah. I work at my grandma’s antique store, Renae’s Antiques, and one day he walked in. He took my breath away immediately—I’m not sure I can even explain it even now. Then he touched me and something clicked inside me. It was like, suddenly, I’d known him forever. But that’s stupid because, before that day, I’d never seen him before in my life … well, except that one time, but that doesn’t count. From that day, he captivated me. I’ve never loved someone so much.
Lucky for you, it seems like the feeling is mutual.
It is. That’s one of the only things in life that I’m sure about.
So, what does the future hold for Carrie Reese?
Oh, gee. I don’t know. It’s hard enough thinking about the present. And with everything else going on right now, the future is something I’m … well, I’m worried about.
I have to ask everyone: What’s your biggest fear?
Probably that: The future.
The corner of his lips rose, his dimple sinking deep into his cheek. Then, suddenly, he jerked me hard to the side. Clutching my hand, he stooped and whisked past the stores, dragging me along. He ducked between two closely set buildings, yanking me down with him. Lucas crouched low to the ground.
“What are you doing?”
“Shhhh,” he hissed.
He peered around the corner and snapped back.
“What?” I whispered. “What’s going on?”
Slowly, he faced me. His intense stare looked directly at me, but seemed like he saw something else. The hint of terror in his eyes didn’t escape me.
“We need to get to the car,” he said as softly as he could.
“Why?” I urged. “Lucas, tell me what’s happening.”
He shook his head, his eyes squeezed together.
“We don’t have much time.”
“What’s wrong?” I pleaded.
“I don’t think he saw us.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know. We must get to Susan’s. And fast.”
“Can I see him?”
Lucas nodded. He peered again, and this time he didn’t turn back as fast.
“He’s around the corner, on the next street,” he murmured. “Listen. We have to get to my car. It’s only a half a block away. You can make it.”
He dug in his pocket.
“Take these,” he said, folding the keys in my palm. “You have to drive. The spell on the car should hold. You’ll be able to drive unnoticed—he can’t feel you in there. I don’t think he’ll pay much attention to a random car driving by … I hope.”
“Are you coming with me?” I breathed, my mouth going dry.
Lucas cradled my face in his hands. “I’m not leaving without you. Okay? Just get to the car and start driving to Susan’s. Do you remember how to get there?”
I nodded too fast.
“Good. I’ll tell you when to go. As soon as you get to the car and start it, I’ll be there. It’ll be okay.”
Lucas’s hands gripped my shoulders. He pulled me forward and kissed me hard. He peeked around the corner and tugged me closer.
He whispered in my ear. “Walk casually and whatever you do, don’t look behind you. Do not make him suspicious. Go. Now!”
On Lucas’s command I crept from the space between the brick buildings. I did as he told me and walked as calmly as possible, fighting the urge to glance over my shoulder.
I hurried to Lucas’s car, fiddling with the keys in my hand. The cold metal jingled as I shuffled the keys in the dark, searching for the one to unlock the door. It was quiet—too quiet. The second key slid into the lock and clicked, ringing out into the empty street. I closed my eyes and gulped, my body trembling. My breath cast a white cloud in front of me.
I opened the door, trying not to make noise. I edged it open only far enough to slide behind the wheel. As I did, the outline of a muscular man rounded the corner a block away. I shifted my eyes to where Lucas was hiding. It was dark, but I didn’t think he was there. I fumbled with the keys again as I closed the car door.
I took a deep breath and jabbed the key in the ignition. The car purred to life. I flipped the switch and the headlights cast a glow on the sidewalk and buildings. A huge, muscular man, dressed in a dark long-sleeve shirt and jeans, was almost to the breeze-way where we’d been hiding.
Lucas wasn’t in the car.
My hands clammed up. Sweat beads formed on my hairline as I stared out the windshield. It wasn’t too late. It couldn’t be.
“Carrie … Move !… Now!” a voice growled from behind me.
I jerked my head around.
“Go!” Lucas pressed again.
I shifted the gear to reverse and backed onto the street. My eyes blazed forward as the man passed the car on the sidewalk. I held my breath and stepped on the gas hard enough to feel the lurch.
The man turned his head and looked directly at the car. I could feel his stare settling on me.
“Don’t worry about it. Just go,” Lucas commanded.
I sped the car forward, focused on the road in front of me. Small drops of rain began to plop onto the windshield. Red tail lights appeared, and I slammed on the breaks. I rocked forward, almost hitting the car in front of me.
I stole a glance in my rearview mirror. The man was still standing on the sidewalk, watching.
About The Author:
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. The man who never reads lives only one." --George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Connect with D. Nichole King
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