FORGOTTEN PROMISES by Denise Skelton
True Love Comes Along Once in a Lifetime. That s what Detective Holly Lawson James believed. Her husband and co-worker Edmond was everything a woman could want in a man and a partner; strong, warm and romantic, he filled her life and her heart with passion and joy -until a police sting went terribly wrong and abruptly took him from her and their little girl, Abby. On that day her life changed forever. Now five years later Holly has grown accustomed to being alone, a state that suits her perfectly well, because she's sure that true love comes along only once in a lifetime.
Despite promising his wife otherwise, Tyler Green knew he would never find love again. He had watched powerlessly as cancer ravaged his beautiful Felicia. Day by day, moment by moment, the illness, like a thief, dragged her closer toward death and tore away big chunks of his heart. When it was finally over he was left empty and cold, but it doesn't matter to Tyler because he's sure that true love will never head his way again.
Still, love has a way of getting through to the stoniest of hearts and all it takes is one mischievous little girl and an unlikely meddling angel to prove them both wrong. But there is danger lurking in the shadows of their new beginning and one person's obsession may well cause Holly to lose the most important thing in her life..her daughter!
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The dark blue curtains in the bedroom were drawn, keeping the late afternoon sun from bathing the 10- by 12-foot room. When Tyler saw Felicia lying motionless on the bed, his heart tightened and he automatically heaved a heavy sigh. Then he immediately scolded himself as he suppressed a gag.
He hated that smell. It’s the smell of a place with almost no ventilation. The smell of illness. The smell of death. He hated himself more for the very thoughts that entered his mind before he had a chance to block them. The idea of just driving away and never coming back, never looking back. Wondering…why them? Of all the people in the world, why did he have to watch his wife die slowly? Why was he cursed to watch her hurting daily, while he was left sitting on his hands watching her suffer so? Thinking, why can’t this just end? Why can’t it be over?
Tyler leaned against the doorframe, watching her frail frame that nearly disappeared on the queen-size bed. She looked so aged and withered for someone only 27 years old. Her once beautiful mocha skin was drawn and ashen, all life gone. Her once glorious mane was gone, leaving only smooth, tight skin behind.
That’s what the chemo had done to her. No…the chemo had weakened her, but the cancer was the culprit here. It was gradually eating away at her, and it would continue until there was nothing left. Tyler watched the spasmodic rise and fall of her chest as she struggled to take each breath. She slowly turned her head to meet his gaze.
"Hey," he said, forcing a smile.
Felicia smiled weakly at him. "Hey," she said, reaching for his hand.
Tyler’s chest tightened again in the emotional pain that seemed to haunt his every moment, and he tried to breathe evenly as he went to the bed and sat down on the side. "How are you feeling, my love?"
"No pain," she whispered. "Just tired." She took his hand. "I need to talk to you."
"Sure, what do you want to talk about?" he asked, his finger lightly brushing her brow. It was meant to be a loving gesture, but all he could think about was what she once was, and what her cancer had stolen from her. Stolen from both of them.
"Tyler, I need you to promise me something." Her voice was so weak, but in the stillness of the room, he could easily hear her.
"I need you to promise me that when I’m gone—" She grimaced as she sucked in a painful breath. "When I’m gone, you’ll start living your life again."
"You’re not going anywhere, baby."
"Yes, I am. We both know it Tyler—I’m dying."
"No," Tyler said, shaking his head. Tears stung his eyes, and he tried to hold them in, if only for her.
"Yes," she said, a lone tear streaming from the corner of her eye, marking her cheek. "Tyler, it’s okay, I’m not afraid anymore. I’ve accepted it. But I don’t want you to sit around mourning me. You should celebrate my life, our life and the good times we had to gather. You can’t dwell on my death, baby…it won’t do either of us any good."
"Don’t talk like that."
"I have to say this, Tyler…I want you to be happy. I want you to find love again, and maybe…maybe have children. Something that I couldn’t give you." The pain in her voice, the sheer agony, tore at Tyler’s heart. He could hear, too, that she was resigned to her thoughts.
To her fate.
"No. I’ll never find anyone to love as much as I love you." The honesty in his voice shook him to his core, and he found that he was no longer able to keep the tears that had been threatening to spill from leaking out of his eyes.
"Yes, you will. You just need to open your heart. You’ve been taking care of me for so long. You put your career on hold, gave up the dream of having a child, all for me."
"It was for us; we needed to get you well."
"Tyler, I’m not going to get well. I’m tired. I’m so very tired, but I can’t let go. I can’t let go until I know you’ll be okay. Until I know that you will find happiness, find love—" She gulped. "I need to know, Tyler…"
"Baby, you’re my life. I’ll never love anyone like I love you."
"Yes, you will. Tyler, just promise me that you’ll be happy."
"I promise," Tyler barely whispered past the lump in his throat. He leaned forward, his lips brushing hers. When he drew back her eyes seemed to sparkle like they once had, and she smiled up at him as if nothing in the whole world was wrong. He tried to take a deep breath, ignoring the smell of the room, and reached for the copy of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger that sat on the nightstand.
"I love you, Tyler."
Tyler smiled down at her, brushing her brow again.
"I love you too, baby." Opening the book, he cleared his throat, "Where were we? Do you remember what page I stopped on?" Tyler looked at her and immediately knew that she was gone. He closed his eyes, dropped his head and sobbed silently. It was like a dam had broken, and the tears came flowing freely. Then with trembling hands he set the book on the nightstand and scrubbed his face, brushing tears from his cheeks.
"I love you, my Felicia. I’ll always love you…and I’ll never love anyone again."
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