Forever Us, Book 1
by Nivia Borell
Publication Date: November 28, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Bria du Mont and Damien du Sky have been in love for as long as they can remember. Neighbors and best friends since childhood, they planned to be together forever.
That is until Damien seeks to propose to Bria on her eighteenth birthday and finds her in bed with another man.
Bria has no memory of how she ended up in that situation, but Damien still leaves her. Traumatized by his departure, she develops broken heart syndrome and becomes emotionally numb in her search for closure.
Meanwhile, Damien drowns his pain in alcohol before becoming a ruthless CEO and a playboy who refuses to let himself love again.
Prisoners of their past, Bria and Damien prove incapable of staying away from each other. They dig deeper into the fateful night which tore them apart and uncover secrets which will threaten all they know and challenge the meaning and strength of true love.
There is no end to the depth of blankness, and no one knows it is everything left of my core.
Here I am, with every fleeting minute, fading into nothingness. A question infiltrates my thoughts in the face of finality. Will I be remembered? And if so, based on what and how? What is it that makes us worthy of being memorialized? Is it a special trait we inherit or learn? Or maybe the way we decide to live our lives? Is it what we succeed at or what we failed to achieve? The dreams we buried or the hardship we overcame? The days and nights that blended while we made decisions which altered our lives and drove us to a different path than we desired or imagined? Or is it solely because of the people with whom we struck a chord of their soul on our way and planted us in their hearts that make us unforgettable? Isn’t it love which locks us in the mind and heart of the other as we cast the key away? Then, no one who has been loved has ever been forgotten, or…
Well then, here lays the paradox. To begin with, love destroyed me.
I glance up the twilight sky and ponder as I take in its endlessness ‘who am I in the largescheme of life?’ No one special, just a girl who had the incredible luck to be born, live, love, and her spirit crushed.
My hands intertwine with the railing of my balcony suite as I gasp realizing my end is approaching. I avert my gaze toward the dimly illuminated Lake Zürich which spreads out in front of me while the veil of darkness dawns to kiss the day goodbye. I plod back into the safety of my borrowed home for the night and rub my arms. My feet burrow into the plush blue carpet as my eyes adjust to the arctic white walls and the refined cream furniture surrounding me.
I pace from corner to corner until I slouch on the king-size bed, and although lavish, it doesn’t seduce me with the possibility of sweet relaxation. I hop up as if burned leaving behind only faint evidence in the form of a ruffled royal blue blanket. I avoid stumbling over my luggage on my way to the bar. Why should I bother to take my clothes out of my suitcase, anyway? Soon I will be gone—just a bitter memory.
After I pour myself a generous glass of ruby wine, I perch into the lush armchair with my forefinger tracing lines on the mahogany desk, and the other grasping the glass of my favoritepoison. As I stretch my feet, I’m dragged into the clutch of tonight’s event, the reason I am here and not home.
Welcome to Oblivion.
A rather proper party motive for my present and precarious position.
I raise my glass of wine to the superficial and vain, to all the cowards, myself included, and to those who stare right through you praying not to make the mistake of glimpsing the mad core of another person. I commend the ones who want to forget themselves for a few glorious moments and feel accepted, part of, and, oh, let’s not omit, important. Alcohol and lies are the best mixes for people wavering with shaky legs on the delicate lines of life and sustenance. Like seductive mermaids, they call to the weak, charming with a dare to let the mask fall and unchain their true self.
My painted red lips arch into a sardonic smile because I know nothing good ever came out of this alcohol and mask-induced bravery.
And last, I drink to myself, or more likely, to the end of me—my name, my identity, my story. Blurred images come to my mind, and I’m incapable of grasping the recollections. None of them reach my heart. I can’t summon how it used to be or who I was. Well, here I am at twenty-five relieved everything will end soon.
I have played my role so damn well that no person will recognize the void residing in me. Everything I am is fake. I am dead inside. My heart stopped beating when I was only eighteen. The time when others began to nibble on adulthood was the moment my life tumbled, tearing my world apart. Everywhere I went, I’ve left a small, broken piece of my soul hoping he’d collect them someday.
It’s a wishful thought to have about he who hates me with such passion. Acknowledging the impact of that hatred would break me further except, at this point, there’s nothing to shatter which hasn’t already been ruptured by myself as a sacrifice to the temple of our love. My only masochistic satisfaction is comprehending he once loved me. No one would believe it, though, not even me any longer as the first-row witness to our story. Everything I now glimpse in his icy, scornful, yet mostly indifferent blue eyes—the lack of everything we were and shared with layers of dust on the monument of an epic and failed love. As someone otherwise incapable of feeling a damn thing, I’m still affected by the power he has to slice through me. Isn’t that ironic? But at least I am feeling during those moments of pain. Mad as it may sound, these will be the only ones I’ll miss if a dead person can still miss anything. I’m not panic-stricken to halt and scrape at life’s walls. For many years, I’ve lived in impenetrable inner darkness with my poisonous mind as my treasured company. Shivers run through me at the thought of leaving my carefully-built charade. My weakness would sicken me, but lucky me, I don’t care either way.
The phrase, ‘In the blink of an eye,’ crushed me, and life made a sacred duty of teaching it to me, forever changing the course of my existence and giving me another gift—an illness that became my sanctuary and assured me I must have loved in the only way that has the capacity to tear one from the inside out.
They called it broken heart syndrome. Everything came at once. I became ill, and I gave up fighting because the reason for my existence couldn’t even look at me anymore—the same person who always said I was the light of his life, his personal sun.
However, in the blink of an eye, I instead became the dark shadow of the moon. I was no longer the girl who kept his demons at bay, but the one who called them out to play, luring them to do their worst on me. After years of trials, he succeeded to decimate the final fragments of my sanity one year ago—his gift for my twenty-fourth birthday. It makes me cringe, and it’s enough not to reminisce as I massage the throb behind my temples.
But long before my twenty-fourth birthday, there was a night, six years earlier, when my downfall was cemented. In twelve months, I wrecked my heart, my soulmate, my health, and my… I shut my eyes and wrap my hands around my chest breathing through the havoc. So yes, I didn’t have it in me to keep fighting and keep moving on. Depression and guilt were constant reminders of my brokenness beyond repair, and of the things I’ve lost at my expense and my fault only. My family couldn’t take it anymore, and my doctors gave up hope attempting to help me. No one can save someone who has no intention, will, or desire to be helped. It’s the saddest and frustrating task of all, and in the end, it is a losing battle.
I witnessed that suffering is selfish, it craves the anguish of everyone around, and it strives and grows with each increase of misery.
For almost a year, nothing worked. I kept deteriorating, torn between fighting and giving up, dying a little more each day. Death never came, though, and with it my hopes of a clean end.
As it was, what broke the cycle was not my mother’s cries, my father’s pleas to come back, my brother’s suffering of losing me, or even everything the finest doctors in the world tried to do to make me function again. The answer laid in the remnants of a lost and shattered love and the dying wish of an old man, my best friend, and the man who would become the father of the new, although dysfunctional, me. Quinn Hope gave me a purpose and said something I will never forget, and it has become my mantra ever since. I realized not being alone and having the support of someone is ultimately the best helper to keep crawling forward.
He said as he pointed to the vacuumed spot behind my chest, “I know you’re broken, little one. I see you’re hollow inside… but as long as your heart still beats inside your chest, the fight goes on. What will your legacy be? Will it be a memory of a woman who resigned or of someone who defeated the odds and rewrote her path? Dear girl, I notice something in you, a flicker, but this small spark will give you something back… not what you’ve lost, but a fragment you can leave behind. You have to find it in you, child. I will be right here for you for the entire time this adventure lasts.”
When everyone gave up on me on that hospital bed surrounded by the pungent stink of antiseptic and false hopes, myself included, it was Quinn who got through the walls with his promise of making me someone worth remembering. In exchange, I promised him the only thing I could—I would spend a few more years trudging along until I could leave something better behind than the memory of the old me, the biggest failure to the people who adored me.
I sneer at the thought of it. My mind is my hulky enemy not allowing me even a single day to forget, and even though it numbs my feelings, it has never had the same effect on my brain. It runs one program and never allows me an easy breath. No, on the contrary, every new gasp is a constant reminder I’m still living and still the one to blame.
As I take another sip of Chateau Mouton, I peek through the window and see a part of the city which has been both my home and tormentor blanketed by the sky’s nightfall. I bow in front of the proud, large hills and majestic lake reflecting the plump moon peering behind the irregular mountain’s crest as if demanding attention for making something terrestrial appear celestial.
I assume by now the guests are arriving dressed in their black attire and masks—an idea I had in hopes of making everyone feel at ease with the false safety it guarantees because tonight is a play zone for those who crave to take a little pause from life. So, this is my last act. Tomorrow, I will be free.
Exhausted over the past seven years, I beg for release as I toss down this dried, fruity bouquet of ruby liquor. I drink to the girl I once was—in love and loved.
“This is for you, my dear lost girl, to celebrate you as you once were, happy and carefree, so full of dreams and hopes. You had something I will never have… a future.”
These words threaten to choke me. Is this the proverbial moment they rave about in the face of finality, you covet another chance at life? I shake my head at my disarrayed thoughts.
After the last sip, I set the glass on the dark wood table, pull myself up, and roam toward the ample mirror of the closet to survey myself. I stare while a heavy pant jolts my body as the last flicker of what has kept me going disappears from my hazel eyes. With my finger raised, I try to clasp and hold onto the dimming spark, but it flees through my clumsy fingers.
A breath I’ve kept a prisoner for too long slips out my mouth as my image in the mirror fogs before me for a few seconds. I try to find shallow pleasure in my appearance—how my long, golden-brown hair is straightened to perfection, and my black leather pants are so tight they meld like a second skin. My low, V-neck satin shirt with black pearls sewn around my cleavage give my look a glamorous touch—all sophistication and body-fitted. My barn owl heart-shaped necklace, which holds so many memories of a life long gone, now mocks me.
I stare at it questioning why I’m wearing it. Am I that masochistic tonight? I nod to myself in affirmation because, for a few hours, I want to remember, to delve into something, anything, even though I know it will be pain. What else could I still feel? I squeeze my hands into fists and examine further.
My makeup is the final touch—smoky eyes and red lipstick—the look of a woman who wears her marks with pride. I resemble a perfectly-put-together doll, shiny on the outside and empty on the inside. How well it suits me, a lean body of dejection.
I used to think I was pretty, but it was love that made my hazel eyes flicker with life and my lips pink and full from being kissed so often by him. He used to say I was the most beautiful girl on earth, his princess, his goddess. We were so young, stupid, and in love. Now, he can’t even look in my direction without biting back a snarl. The sigh which erupts from my lungs rocks my body.
With trembling fingers, I clamp my black lacquer Hypnose watch around my wrist and put on my lace mask. Its intricate ebony pattern hides my features and lends me a hint of mystery. I slip on my pumps, the black ones with the red sole, while the elegant watch on my wrist is heavy with its constant tick-tock, a clear sign my time is almost up.
The strong knock on the door yanks me out of my train of thoughts. When I open it, I see my dearest friend, Alexander, Quinn’s son. My lips curve into a genuine smile which he returns tenfold. This is how I show this unbelievably handsome man how important he is to me. I crane my neck to take in his tall, strong frame, elegant and perfectly-shaped brows a beauty aesthetician would find hard to recreate, complemented by a sharp outline of chocolate eyes which someone could get lost in—two pools of dark enigma—accompanied by his crooked smile that could melt women’s mind He is my partner in crime, the light to my darkness, the glue to my shattered pieces, and the real in my unreal life.
Alex presses me to him as my head rests in the crook of his neck, and I sense as I let the embrace go on he realizes I’m saying goodbye. It doesn’t hurt. It’s like everything else I experience—nothing is there, it’s as if I’m already dead, yet still stubbornly breathing.
He cups my face with his long, fine fingers, a fallen expression covering his face. His head hangs, and the corners of his mouth turn down. My eyes sink as I tilt my head to the side and sigh. This is what I do to all the people who care and love me. I destroy them because I am the fuel for their suffering and etched in their forlorn gazes is my signature. Destruction should be my middle name. He hides it behind his full lashes as soon as he realizes I’ve noticed.
“Ready, Bria?” he asks me in that deep and rugged voice which is so familiar to me.
It’s been seven years of being ready.
“We’re talking about me, aren’t we?”
I view the pain stretched in his hooded eyes, the turmoil in his soul, and I hate myself more because of my incapacity to feel. For him, I would have given everything I have to summon my heart to beat for someone else.
I owe him so much that I break my rule for him, only for my Alex, for just one moment, for everything we’ll never have. I caress his smooth face, graze across his strong chin and high cheekbones and plant my mouth on his tight lips. I put every fractured part I am in this singular kiss. This is my final goodbye to a man who deserves everything, and not my nothingness, with a hotel corridor, the witness to our stolen intimacy as the lamps broadcast our shadows on the white walls.
Alex encompasses my frame, his hands digging into my flesh as my back hits the wall. His hot mouth sucks my yelp in, lips glued to mine, and his passion ripples on my tongue—the last attempt of a desperate man to bring me back. I feel his heart hammering under my palm, while his moist lips remain pressed against mine. This kiss is for all the years of friendship, for the bond we’ve created, and for everything we will never have. I moan as I feel nothing, like my insides are an emotional blower sending all feeling and sensation aside.
The moment flies by, and I set him free as he releases me. He murmurs, “I love you so much, Bria, and this kills me.”
I wonder what pushes me to continue this peculiar conversation as I keep ascending the self-loathing rope.
“Look at me, Alex, and see me for what I am. You know if I could… God, if I could, I would have given you my all, but I can’t. You deserve someone capable of emotions and someone who can return your love. Love should always be two-sided, Alex, because the other way around only leads to misery.”
His chest is an impenetrable wall covered in a soft black shirt and handmade suit jacket, legs parted and eyes burning. He resembles a gladiator preparing for battle, driven and focused.
“I don’t want someone else or something better. I want you, as incapable of feelings as you are. Don’t you get it? I’ll do everything in my power, I’ll fight with your demons my whole life, but don’t go. Don’t leave me, Bria, and don’t leave yourself.”
My palms find his hard chest as his upper body twitches at the contact, and his eyes plead with me. I tilt my head and answer, “Alex, I think there’s only one thing worse than not being able to feel and comfort the ones who love you, and that’s unrequited love. You can give all you want, but at some point, there is nothing left in you, and what will remain of you then? You can’t offer me closure of my past.”
“But I can give you something, hoping I can stitch you back together.”
My lips tease into a defeated smile. He’s such a dreamer and warrior, and he has a huge savior complex. He is beautiful inside and out.
“What exactly, Alex?”
But at that moment, the air shifts around me as the corner of my eyes catch a pool of steel-blue eyes and the most perfect mouth I have seen and kissed, set in a firm line. His fleshy and soft bottom lip is made to bite and taste, and the perfect bow on the top lip I traced with my finger and tongue repeatedly years ago. Everything stalls as my vision is plastered on a broad frame enclosed in a custom-made dark suit which makes his posture even more imposing than he already is. My breathing halts as a hundred knives stab me in my heart, and my nails gouge into Alex’s arm as his upper arm jerks.
What’s Damien doing here? I didn’t send him an invitation to my party. We had said our goodbyes in a thousand ways, one more painful than the other over the years. So why is he emerging from the suite next to mine? Fate must have a twisted sense of humor, I lament. I am smashed like a baseball between throwing up and fainting as my muscles shiver from within. On instinct, I lean toward Alex in an attempt at something I can’t pinpoint as he shields me. I have seconds to put myself together, but in my stupidity, I forget his capacity to subdue me as he keeps my gaze prisoner to his blazing eyes that are even more prominent due to the dark mask covering half of his face. His stare, akin to fury, vanishes before I can examine it further.
The power he has over me to make me mush is unnatural. Damien’s carved chin cranks, in what is his unique way, a greeting to us, letting his musky and unique scent slap my senses into an undiluted shock stare. I’m left peering at him from under Alex’s twitching jaw. With his hands placed into his slacks pockets, he strides toward us. I’m envious of his noble pace, step after step of flowing precision, taught self-confidence, and layered elegance.
Damien stalls halfway to us and scratches his chin before saying with no inflection at all, as flat as he probably exercised it in the mirror, “Happy birthday, Bria!”
I am left with furrowing eyebrows as I watch him retreating caught in his web of deliberate indifference as though not even recognizing me—us. Anger and the desire to shout at him and punch his perfectly put-together apathy toward me on that portrait of an unrealistically beautiful and rough face surge through me.
Do you remember me? The girl you said you would love until the end of forever. My shattered soul howls but only a sigh leaves my body.
“Bria.” Alex’s stern voice puts an end to my disarray. I crane my head up to see the concern in Alex’s eyes—concern for me and also hatred for the one he holds responsible for everything he can never have.
“I’m fine, Alex.” The lie slips from my mouth like a habit.
“I despise him,” Alex snarls with scarlet cheeks and flaring nostrils.
“You would have loved him like everyone else because he’s the type of person you can’t not love,” I rant believing every single word.
“Do you still have feelings for him? Are you capable of loving him but no one else? Is this the reason, Bria? Some sort of false sense of loyalty you have toward him?” His brows knit together. The air around us drops to chilly. The quietness has something ghost-like about it as I put my hands around me for comfort and take a step back. My mouth hangs open.
He’s never asked me these questions before. No one ever does, and not even I have asked myself in so long. But the answer is simply, yes. I feel on those few occasions when I see Damien or hear about him as an ache swallows me. I plunge into a miserable agony when it’s his birthday and I stay away, the day of our anniversary, the day I lost the… the day my entire world fell apart.
I shake my head as I pull at the invisible chord wrapped around my neck. He’s the one I loved until it ripped me apart. And because I couldn’t feel anything afterward, the love I had for him morphed into the illness that keeps me alive.
“Alex, are you kidding me? You know I’m not capable of feeling love anymore. I am a lost cause.” But as I say it, I realize it’s only a half-truth. My mind chooses that moment to voice a dreadful truth, and that’s whenever he’s around, Damien makes me feel. Even though it’s fleeting, and even though I don’t understand how he does it, it’s there making my core vibrate with the unfairness of it.
“That’s not true,” he replies dryly.
“Well,” I snap as something deep within me dislodges and becomes wild, “then stop it. My heart is a mess. No operation can fix it to function properly again. I was in a coma for three weeks and had multiple heart attacks when I was only eighteen. I was chained to a hospital bed for almost a year. Plus, the best part… was my brain went into an emotional numbing mode to keep me alive. So stop, for once… just stop.”
“If it were me in your place, would you have given up on me? Tell me the truth, please, because I am going crazy here.”
I see his distress rise. It’s so evident in his slightly trembling voice and sunken eyelids, lines carving indentations in his forehead. I answer as I shrug, “Mostly… because I understand how it is to be emotionally detached, how it envelops you. I’m a shell of a human being. I’m empty inside. God, Alex, you’re irrational for knowing what you know and continuing to hope. I am beyond salvageable.” The words rushing from me are causing me physical exertion as I breathe through my mouth.
“Why did you kiss me, then? If he’s the only one. Why kiss me, too? Why now?” he asks, brows raised.
“It was a gift wrapped in a final goodbye to someone who’s kept me afloat. It’s how I want to thank you for being you. I felt nothing, Alex, and don’t compare yourself to him because sadly, you won’t stand a chance. No one else does, not even you.”
I caress his handsome but fallen square-shaped face and add, “Alex, let me go. If you ever loved me… let it be.”
In an instant, his whole demeanor switches into something raw and untamed. His grip on me tightens. “Bri…” That’s all he says, one word to camouflage the thousands he wants to add, but I got the message loud and clear. The conversation is not over, it’s just a pause.
It will be a long, long night.
Can I make it through?
With what energy?
And the worst part is that Damien’s here hunting me.
“Let’s go, Bri. Your guests await you downstairs. Don’t forget I have you, and I’ll catch you.”
As I step downstairs, I keep counting one step after another until I’m greeted by a vast open space of black masks, crystal chandeliers, and high-end black furniture.
About Nivia Borell
Nivia Borell is emerging contemporary romance author, voracious reader, daydreamer, and student of life on a mission to awaken emotions in the hearts of her readers through the power of the written word. Her debut novel is a contemporary romance entitled “Shattered Love,” which is Book one in the “Forever us” series.