Authors: Jessa Russo [paranormal]
“A ghostly, romantic, and riveting story. Ever is an exceptional debut portraying the indescribable writing skill and fascinating ideas of an impeccable author.”
Shane @ Itching for Books
“[Ever] brings romance and paranormal together with a unique twist that delivers a powerful punch.”
© 2012 Jessa Russo
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Cover Design by Alex & Me Design
Cover photo by Face On By Tamara
Edited by Krystal Wade
You always dreamed of writing your first book, but never got the chance.
I dedicate my first book to you.
I hope you’re proud of me and watching my journey unfold.
I love you and miss you always.
1946 - 1996
ne glance at the calendar was all I needed. One quick glance and I instantly realized why my heart felt heavy. Why Frankie kept sneaking sideways glances at me. Why Jessie was more chatty than usual. My eyes widened at the realization. I’d almost forgotten. How could I have almost forgotten? The day was …
I lived next door to Frankie my entire life. We played together when we were little. He pulled my pigtails. I tattled; he teased. He’s the very best friend I’ve ever had.
I’ve been in love with him as long as I can remember.
Today marked the second anniversary of his death. Exactly seven-hundred and thirty days had passed since the car accident took his life, and
. Seven-hundred and thirty days since the only guy I’ve ever loved died in my arms, followed me home from the hospital, and never left my house again.
How could I have almost forgotten?
As I looked at him leaning against the antique roll-top desk my mom insisted was proper living room decor, he was beautiful, even in death.
I’d never forget holding onto him as the last breath left his body. I cried and screamed, but no one came in time. No one heard me. No one even knew we’d swerved off the road until an hour or so later when I pulled myself from the overturned Chevy and crawled to the top of the hill. Frankie was by my side the entire time. My hands and knees were bloodied and filthy from the climb. He kept telling me to continue when all I wanted to do was close my eyes. At the time, I’d convinced myself he was a figment of my traumatized mind. I knew his body remained pinned under the steering column. I knew he couldn’t possibly be walking with me, urging me to survive. I figured I’d simply been unable to let him go yet. Maybe I just needed
Turned out he couldn’t let me go either.
Just a silly square on the calendar. This date signified so much. The earth-shattering feeling of losing him. The shock of finding out he was …
… still here. The solid, devastating fact that he would forever be here, with me, and yet,
truly be mine.
I’ll never forget it, and yet … I almost did.
My heart sank. Part of me wished I
forgotten this day. I wished my mom didn’t insist on having a calendar hanging in every freaking room.
I hadn’t touched him since he died. We hadn’t hugged. He hadn’t held me. I saw him every day. I woke up in the same house with him every morning. But still, I couldn’t touch him. And he couldn’t touch me.
When I looked at him now, two years later, I felt a sense of longing I just couldn’t shake. A sense of need that couldn’t be met. An emptiness grew inside me. I ached for him—I ached for
—and all the things I lost when Frankie died. All the what-ifs and the maybes, the hope that one day he’d see me as more than just the silly girl he’d grown up with.
I needed to
again. I needed contact. I needed to be touched and held and loved. I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. My loneliness ate away at my insides, chipping pieces away from my soul every day that went by without the physical closeness I craved. I just wanted a normal life, a normal relationship. A boyfriend.
But as I looked at Frankie and he smiled that crooked smile I loved so much, pushing his Buddy Holly glasses up on his nose, my heart clenched, and I knew I had to keep up the facade. I had to remain right where I was, pretending to be happy alone. But if
meant with Frankie, then I couldn’t really be anywhere else anyway.
I couldn’t be
anyone else. I just couldn’t.
None of us acknowledged the significance of this anniversary or the car accident it represented. We didn’t speak of what we lost that day. We didn’t remember the tragedy, or at least, we weren’t supposed to. But the memory was always there in the back of my mind, a constant reminder. I’d never be normal again. I’d never have a normal life, a normal relationship.
While my best friend Jessie went on date after date and had story after story of all the good, bad, and ugly of dating high school boys, I just got to listen. I’d never go on an official date. I’d never get to double date with my best friend. I’d never talk to her about sex or exchange embarrassing make-out stories. At this rate, I’d probably never even
an embarrassing make-out story—let alone
I’d never have a
I couldn’t just go date some random guy and pretend I hadn’t given Frankie my heart all those years ago. Pretend he didn’t still have possession of it.
So we didn’t speak about that fateful day. We didn’t talk about what today represented. We didn’t discuss the future because let’s face it: Frankie didn’t have one, and mine was pathetic at best.
We didn’t discuss how fate left us with nothing more than our friendship … and no possibility of anything else.
This day was just another date on the calendar. Just another painful, unspoken reminder that though Frankie was still here, I was very much alone. The ultimate case of loving a boy I could never have.
“Ever! Hello? Are you listening to me?”
Shoot. Jessie was talking to me. I quickly tried to replay whatever she’d last said. Oh yeah. Vampires and werewolves. We were on that subject again, were we?
”Good grief, Jess.”
How can you doubt what’s out there with your own house full of ghosts?” She waved a hand in Frankie’s direction, not caring to acknowledge the fact that using the word in plural form was a bit of an exaggeration. “I mean, geez, Ever, he is
under your nose!”
Catching Frankie grinning from the corner of my eyes, I shook my head at him and unsuccessfully stifled a moan.
Here we go again.
Jessie was getting all riled up, her blue eyes wide and her pink-lipped mouth pinched tight. Her cropped blonde hair bounced as she shook her head and delved once again into the exciting world of her beliefs versus my, well,
beliefs. Really, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I also had nothing to say on the subject that hadn’t already been said. We’d been over this before, and logical or not, my arguments were always ignored by Jessie. So why bother?
“Seriously, I happen to believe that in this vast universe there must be a little room for everyone. I mean, if there
is a parallel Fae world, would we know about it? No. Probably not. Think on that for a sec. Yeah, so who’s to say it does or doesn’t exist, right? Certainly not me. I mean, I’m open to whatever.” She shrugged, emphasizing her nonchalance.
“Come on, Jess. I’m not debating this with you again. Why haven’t we ever seen or heard of a vampire or a vampire attack? Wouldn’t word spread pretty quickly if a werewolf were running rampant on the night of a full moon? Or, oh, I don’t know, I think someone would have actually
a leprechaun or tooth fairy by now, don’t you think? And, don’t you think these things would be all over the
if they existed?”
I knew I was baiting her by bringing up the news—she’s a little bit of a self-proclaimed expert on journalism, being that it’s her dream to become the youngest person at KTLA—but I couldn’t help myself.
“Oh, Ever! I’m not even going there with you right now! You know it wouldn’t be on the news because we”—she was lumping herself in with professional newscasters again—”have duties to uphold a sense of calm. Can you even
what would happen if Sam Rubin started reporting on vampire bites instead of the Oscars? And furthermore, did
know that there was such a thing as ghosts before they took up residence in
She paused briefly, glancing over at Frankie slouched against the roll-top, and pretended to wait for an answer. I shot her a look, reminding her to watch what she said around him.
“No! You didn’t. And don’t shake your head at me, Ever, because I know you didn’t know. I was there when it happened, remember? I
how shocked you were when Frankie followed you home after …”
I held my breath, hoping she’d catch herself before saying the words.
shocked. But that didn’t change the fact that it happened. So why not open your mind a little and stop being so ignorant!”
Frankie snorted at the last part, amused that Jessie dared call me ignorant, but tightened his smile into a hard line when I glared at him.
me? I am
ignorant, Jessie. I’m realistic. There’s a huge difference—”
I was about to gladly debate that difference with Jessie when my mom came out of the kitchen and plopped a plate full of fresh-out-of-the-oven brownies in front of us. She gave me that wise warning look only a mother knows how to give, her long dark hair moving as she gave me a quick shake of her head. I shoved a brownie in my mouth, in its entirety, to keep from starting a fight with Jess. My mom winked at me then retreated back to the kitchen.
Yeah, yeah, I get it.
I changed the subject by walking to the DVD player to pop in the next disc we’d planned on watching, but my attention was drawn to the front yard. My view of the street was obstructed on one side by the old magnolia tree and flowering bougainvillea, and a moving truck on the other. The yard was draped in shadows. I had a tiny little tunnel of vision straight into the front yard next door.