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Authors: Christina Channelle

Never Letting Go (Delphian Book 1)

BOOK: Never Letting Go (Delphian Book 1)
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Copyright © 2016 by Christina Channelle. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form (including by electronic or mechanical means) or stored in a database or retrieval system without written consent from the author. Please respect the work of the author and not engage in piracy.

 

This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, characters, and incidents are figments of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious setting.

...

Cover image from iStock.com

Cover design by Christina Channelle

Formatted by Christina Channelle

BOOKS BY CHRISTINA CHANNELLE

 

Four Letters Series

Those Four Letter Words

Jaded Little Lies

 

Blood Crave Series

Dahlia

Fallen Tears

Rowan

Sage

 

Also by Christina Channelle

Dealing With It (Two Short Stories)

Four Letters in Reverse

Never Letting Go

 

Coming Soon

Four Letters in Reverse, Volume 2 (Coming Spring 2016)

Love, Lies, X’s and O’s (Coming Fall 2016)

To Mom.

PREFACE

 

 

I
NEVER BELIEVED
in it, love at first sight. It seemed foolish, like something you’d see in a romantic comedy or read in a book. Those standard happily-ever-afters that leave you crying yet grinning ear to ear as the “love interest” of the day declares his deep and undying devotion to the heroine of the story—the sun setting, a burst of doves flying above their heads at that precise moment when the director yells, “Cut!”

Or maybe it was butterflies.

I thought love was something you had to nurture, to grow. Falling in love with your best friend would be a prime example. So I looked to my parents as a model to what love truly was, being childhood sweethearts and all. What else was I supposed to do? Mom and Dad had been gaga over each other: whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears day and night; writing love letters back and forth, and leaving them in secret places for the other to find around the house. Or simply holding hands as they strolled side by side in the middle of a park, me trailing after them from behind. All this was my inspiration for true love. That is, before each of my parent’s untimely deaths.

Tragic, I’ve been told.

My goal when it came to love was to mirror what Mom and Dad had. I thought that one day, I, too, would fall in love with my best friend—with Liam. Only this time, we would both live until our children and grandchildren stared back at
us
in awe.

So no, I didn’t believe in love at first sight. That is, not until I met
him
. After that, I would have believed anything—hand to God. And I would have followed him anywhere, even straight to Hell.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

F
OREIGN, OR RATHER
unfamiliar, would be the word I would use to describe how I felt.

Faintly, I could hear the glimmer of voices surrounding me in this dark haze, caressing my ears like skin against silk. I felt like I was in a cocoon of sorts, protectively enveloped, quietly drifting in some far-off place that had only just been discovered. I wanted to stay that way forever, like a drifter going from place to place. But we all know that what you want never really seems to happen in the real world.

This was something I knew to be true.

Opening my eyes, I had to squeeze them shut against harsh lights. It made me feel like I was being medically examined in some hospital, or probed by extraterrestrials wanting to find out how I operated. My lids felt swollen, heavy with fatigue. My eyes burned, tears leaking from their corners.

It was the most uncomfortable of feelings.

I must have been dreaming.

“Hello?”

Although the word seemed alien to me, almost as if I had never heard it before, I instantly understood its meaning. The voice that had spoken was warm, making me feel as if I were suddenly sitting in front of a fireplace, wrapped in a heavy blanket, flames crackling. The heat of the word practically licked my skin.

Again, I tried opening my eyes, this time a bit more cautiously. Blinking, I slowly adjusted to the artificial lights, now able to see.

I found myself staring back into a pair of bright blue eyes, a look of wariness in their depths. For a brief moment I couldn’t look away as I stared up at him. Then he cleared his throat and glanced away, as if uncomfortable with my gaze. With the spell of his eyes broken, it was then that I noticed I was lying on the ground—no, on hardwood floor.

And with not one, but three interested faces peering down at me.

I sat up, then winced at the abruptness of my movement, bringing my hand to the back of my head.

Pain
, my mind whispered.

“Careful now.”

I directed my eyes toward the person who had spoken such kind words. It was the first person I had noticed, the one with the blue eyes and the warm voice. His voice was deep and calming, and as I sat there I tried to think of the emotion I should be experiencing. Inhaling softly, I closed my eyes, ignored the painful throb in my head, and waited for the proper term to flutter into my mind.

Gratitude.

“Where did you come from?”

Satisfied I had found the correct word, I opened my eyes again to the voice speaking to me. It was a pleasant voice, reassuring to say the least, and immediately captured my attention.

I noticed the black hair atop his head, a striking contrast against his blue eyes that looked like I was staring into a vast ocean that only I was privy to. The corners of his eyes crinkled up when he smiled kindly at me, complementing the single dimple in his right cheek. By just looking at him, anyone could tell that he was someone who knew how to laugh.

But there was something else hiding under all that blissful contentment. Something obscure and sad, and it immediately piqued my interest. For some reason, I really wanted to be in on the secret.

I stared at the corner of his lips as he continued to speak, not toward me, but to the others present in the room. “Guys … I don’t think she understands a word I’m saying,” he mumbled softly, as if afraid I’d be insulted at the notion of not comprehending him.

“I like her,” stated the girl kneeling next to him. She wore a short black dress that puffed out around her with a black choker wrapped around her neck, pink shiny embezzlements adorning it. Her white-blonde hair was extremely long, almost past her lower back, as the ends brushed the floor. I directed my gaze to her face and found blue eyes staring down at me.

Her eyes were identical to the man’s.

“It’s always the silent ones we should be weary of.” The words themselves were harsh, but as I looked to my right I was greeted by a kind smile with equally kind brown eyes behind wire-framed glasses. They belonged to a guy casually sitting on a couch, his shoulder-length dark brown hair tied back. As he continued to stare, he tilted his head to the side as if analyzing a computer software program that wouldn’t work properly.

I guess
I
was the computer software program in this scenario.

“Kaede, help me out, will you?” the man with the blue eyes asked calmly. The man on the couch, Kaede, stood up and slowly sauntered over to my side, then both he and the blue-eyed man grabbed my arms and brought me to my feet. I didn’t protest, shuffling alongside them as we entered a kitchen, where they placed me on a wooden chair next to a table.

Sinking down into the hard chair, I averted my eyes downward and focused on a crack on the wooden table. I knew I was still being stared at, three pairs of eyes boring holes into the crown of my head.

It was difficult not to look up but I managed. I needed a distraction, so I started to trace the crack on the table instead, feeling the texture of the wood as it scraped against my skin.

I find wood to be … quite rough in manner.

“Here you go.” That calming voice spoke once again and I looked up to find a glass of orange juice placed in front of me. It was in that instant that I realized that I
was
thirsty. I reached for the glass, instinctively bringing the rim to my lips. The juice was cool down my throat.

Refreshing.

This was familiar: the taste of juice in my mouth. Closing my eyes, I licked my lips slowly, trying to memorize this feeling. Perhaps if I stayed like this long enough, I would be brought back to that time of familiarity…

“Yo, Briggs!” Kaede’s voice boomed through the kitchen and I startled, setting the glass on the table, the clanking of the glass hitting the wood almost palpable to my ears. I hadn’t noticed the front door had opened—
I believe an apartment building was where we were located
—and a new presence had entered the living room. I looked over to where he stood by the stairs, utterly still. Although we were indoors, he wore sunglasses. And even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I knew they stared directly at me, hard as stone.

He didn’t like me.

If the man with the blue eyes was warm like a fire on a cold winter day, this man was like the wood I had just caressed: rough, jagged.

Broken.

At the thought, a shiver ran down my spine.

“You rang?” Although I sensed his anger, his light comment didn’t reveal any of the emotions I felt silently coming from him.

Not yet at least.

The man with the blue eyes pressed his lips together in what could only be described as preparation for a battle. “Come over here. We’ve got a situation.”

The battle must be with this new person.

Briggs.

Briggs slowly descended the stairs, his thick boots causing the metal stairs to vibrate under his weight. The vibration joined in harmony with the pounding of my heart as we waited for his presence to join us.

He was large, muscular. His strong jaw, stubbled with a day’s worth of growth, formed the most unpleasant frown. As he came closer, I realized that he had a large birthmark branding his left cheek. It ran angrily all the way down to the angle of his jaw line. As I continued to stare, the room suddenly became eerily quiet, his face starting to flush a bright red.

He appeared to be quite self-conscious about that matter.

“Hmm.” Blue Eyes cleared his throat and gave Briggs a quick slap on the back. He ignored the fact that I had caused Briggs embarrassment, purely for Briggs’ benefit, I was sure. “Here I come home to find a strange girl lying on the floor in our living room, unconscious. None of us have a clue where she came from or how she got in here, for that matter. It’s like she fell from the sky. And to top it off, she hasn’t spoken a word since she woke up.” He stopped speaking, running his hands through his hair.

Kaede grinned humorously, shrugging. “We don’t know if she speaks English or what. Perhaps I should try Japanese?”

“Or maybe she’s just mute?”

“Get rid of her.” The tone in Briggs’ voice didn’t leave any room for discussion. Everyone in the room froze at his tone, myself included.

He wasn’t someone I wished to be in a dark alleyway with anytime soon.

Absentmindedly stroking her long hair between her fingers, a sulky frown on her face as she walked closer to him, Amy, who had been quiet all this time, was the first to break the silence. “Briggs, don’t be like that. That’s a horrible thing to say.”

She walked over to me and softly patted the top of my head, grinning. “It’s like we found a stray cat—look at her pretty eyes. They’re just like a kitten’s.” Amy looked back at Briggs, her own eyes large, batting mascara-covered lashes at him. “And we wouldn’t want to put her out on the street. She’s so cute. Can we keep her?”

“Are you kidding me?” Briggs looked at Amy in shock, shaking his head heatedly. “She’s not a pet—absolutely not!” He seemed to be trying to control his temper and I noticed him clench his hands tightly, his knuckles becoming white.

“But why not?” Amy was oblivious to Briggs’ anger. She gave a little laugh and bit the inside of her bottom lip. “It doesn’t look as if she belongs to anyone. She has no tags. Plus I’m sick and tired of being the only girl around here. You know just as well as I do that it would be dangerous out there for her with everything going on lately.”

“Get rid of her.”

I concentrated my gaze back on the new man, Briggs. I wondered where his anger toward me originated.

“Amy has a point,” Blue said, glancing over at me.

I remained emotionless, taking a sip of orange juice, curious as to what they were referring to.
Dangerous?
I glanced toward the window that was over the kitchen sink and stared outside. Nothing seemed out of ordinary. Trees bristling, people walking on the sidewalk as cars passed by, dogs held from the collar by their masters.

But as I looked closer, I realized one strange thing.

I saw only men.

Briggs practically hollered as he looked at Blue. “You’re being ridiculous, Dante!”

I glanced back at the group. Finally, I knew what his name was. It fit him quite perfectly, really. Tall, dark, and handsome.

Dante.

My mind began to drift but I shook my head, watching as Briggs took Dante off to the side. They spoke in hush tones so I was unable to hear them. Dante’s face looked urgent while Briggs had this irritated expression that I soon came to realize was his usual demeanor. They continued to speak for minutes, then broke off as Dante patted Briggs on the back and walked over to me, leaving Briggs to sulk in the corner, a scowl on his face.

I ignored him and concentrated on Dante, who focused solely on me.

He tried to strike up a conversation. “Hello again.”

As per usual, I said nothing and just looked at him, curious. I wanted to know what they had discussed and wondered if they’d share it with me.

Dante smiled kindly with his eyes, as if amused by my lack of answer. He crouched lower and we stared at one another. I knew I should feel wary, or some sort of caution by being so near, but I instinctively knew that I could trust him over anyone else. His face was so close to mine that I could actually see the fine hairs on his skin, feel his light breath on me as he exhaled quietly.

It was minty.

“I get the feeling that you don’t talk.” He grinned with the corner of his mouth, a small, slow smile, closely watching me watching him. “But I think … I think you understand exactly what I’m saying.”

I memorized what he looked like. I even noticed the tiny freckle at the corner of his mouth, which caught my attention for a while, just like Briggs’ birthmark. He must have noticed my stare because he lightly brushed his freckle with his knuckle and cleared his throat, laughing as a dimple appeared.

“Geez, you really know how to make a guy feel uncomfortable.”

“She must like you, Dante.” Kaede looked over at me and gave a little wink, a huge smile across his tanned face.

“Knock it off.” Dante shot Kaede a look, then turned his gaze back to me. His eyes widened. “You understand me, right?”

Again, I did nothing, just continued to look back at him.

“Okay,” he said, running his hands through his hair. “If you understand me, I want you to nod your head.”

“I doubt she’ll be even able to do that,” mumbled Briggs, who sat on the bottom rung of the metal staircase. He cradled his chin in his hands, clearly looking annoyed.

I looked away from Dante, who I imagined was a bit frustrated by my lack of response, to Briggs, whose heated gaze bored holes through me behind his sunglasses.
It’s like he wants to murder me with his eyes alone
, I mused.

I decided to play along.

Turning to Dante, I locked gazes with him and gave him a slow nod.

“Good,” Dante said, smiling in relief.

I found that I really enjoyed his smile. I peered back at Briggs, gauging his reaction, finding him silently brewing.

BOOK: Never Letting Go (Delphian Book 1)
6.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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