(Ever More, #2)
Publication date: December 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
A father desperate to save his little girl. A doctor fighting for a cure. And two broken hearts that can only be healed together.Ava Larsen is too busy finishing her pediatric oncology residency to find love… and she knows what it feels like to have a broken heart. She assures herself that kissing the gorgeous alpha stranger the night before was nothing more than a dangerous yet delicious mistake— one she won’t repeat.
Widower billionaire Aleksander Maximilian is one of the most powerful men alive, but he’s helpless to save his daughter Olivia from cancer. Doctors have assured him it would be best to enjoy her last days at home. To make Olivia’s wish to spend her last Christmas on Lake Tahoe come true, he hires the best home care team in the business.
It turns out the head of the team is the breathtaking woman he shared an unexpected kiss which ignited sparks. But this is the worst time for Aleksander to have finally have passionate feelings for someone, not to mention it’s strictly forbidden to Ava to get involved with her patient’s father.
Tragedy brought them together. A miracle might rip them apart.
An emotional gripping love story of hope, redemption, and never giving up, Forevermore is the second book in USA Today bestselling author Cristiane Serruya’s EVER MORE Series. If you enjoy romances by Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Sylvia Day, and Maya Banks, then you will cherish this heartwarming, steamy contemporary erotic novel.
Sequel to So Much More, FOREVERMORE stands on its own, but reading in order guarantees a more enjoyable time.
New York, Manhattan
Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center
Monday, November 9, 2015
It was a death sentence he carried.
And, at the same time, it was a freeing edict.
“She has only two months, three at most. You should take her home.”
The words said in a soft and compassionate male voice a few minutes ago still boomed in Aleksander Maximilian’s mind as he made his way to Olivia’s hospital room.
Fourteen months ago, when he was first told that his now eight year-old daughter was suffering from what might turn out to be a terminal illness, he and his wife, Rachel, grasped onto hope with a stranglehold.
Thirty-nine years old at the time, he was already one of the most powerful and influential men in the United States, and if the statistics said there was a chance his daughter could live, then live she would.
He forced himself to smile before he pushed open the door and saw a sleeping Olivia and her inseparable golden retriever. Toddy raised his golden head, ears perked, and identified the intruder as Aleksander, then dropped his head back down on Olivia’s thigh.
One of Olivia’s private nurses, Sydney Campbell, rose from the chair beside her bed. “Good morning, Mr. Maximilian.”
“Hello, Sydney.” He brushed a hand over Toddy’s head. “Is she too tired again today?”
“Not really.” Sydney smiled and added, “She and Toddy joined the visiting dogs and other children and they had a busy morning. She’s just taking a nap.”
“You can take a long snack break,” he said to her, and when Sydney opened her
mouth, he added, “I’ll message you if she needs something.”
Aleksander loved that the staff here genuinely cared about their patients. Either that, or they do an excellent job of faking it. I’m becoming cynical.
He took off his jacket, put it on the bureau, and before he went into the adjoining bathroom to wash his hands, he turned back to Sydney and said, “We’re going home tomorrow.”
He saw sadness come over the young nurse’s face—but not surprise—as she nodded, and it just made the weight on his heart even heavier. So, there is really no hope at all.
He avoided looking at himself in the mirror as he washed his hands. It had been a few weeks since they informed him that Olivia’s brain tumor was not responding to chemotherapy, but he continued to hope while the doctors kept the treatment going.
Back in the room, he took Sydney’s seat and caught Olivia’s thin hand in his. The girl let out a contented sigh as if she knew her father was there but she didn’t wake up.
When he buried Rachel, barely one month after Olivia was hospitalized, he made a promise on her grave that he would move mountains and wouldn’t leave a stone unturned until Olivia was cured.
And he had unturned stones all over the world. From a German pediatric oncologist to a British neurosurgeon—including a Brazilian spiritual surgeon and a Canadian shaman—a parade of doctors—and curious practitioners of various healing arts. He’d flown all of them to Manhattan to consult his daughter.
Yet, all his wealth and influence had not provided a cure for her. Now, his sweet little Olivia had only two months—three, at most—to live.
I have failed you, Rachel. His lips turned down and he had to blink to whisk away the tears gathering in his eyes. I failed you both.
Before she left the room, Sydney paused by him and softly put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Maximilian.”
Aleksander swallowed the lump in his throat and whispered, “So am I, Sydney. So am I.”
He watched her as she slept, taking labored breaths, and he wondered if he would be there, watching her like this when she took her last breath.
Her hair had once been long and dark-blonde but due to the series of chemo treatments, she had lost every strand. Even her eyebrows and long lashes had fallen out.
Olivia’s lashless eyes fluttered awake and her big blue eyes found him immediately.
“Good morning, Daddy,” she greeted with a yawn.
Her diagnosis still lingered heavily in his mind and Aleksander held back his tears. “It’s almost seven in the evening,” he said with a strained chuckle. “You’ve been asleep for a while.”
“Oh,” Olivia said, followed by another yawn. “Toddy and I played with a lot of friends today.” Hearing his name, Toddy perked up for a moment and licked at her hand and Olivia gently patted his golden head as a reflex. “And I’m still a little tired from my last treatment.”
“I know.” Aleksander debated telling his daughter that her doctors had declared her terminally ill, but decided against it. He saw no reason for Olivia to be dwelling on death although he knew he would have to talk about it sooner or later. Better later. “You won’t have to take anymore treatments from now on, or come to the hospital anymore. The doctors want me to take you home.”
He expected sadness and tears—Olivia was not a naïve girl, much on the contrary, and she knew what going home would mean—but instead, Olivia’s eyes brightened. “Nurse Sydney said I would have more energy for a while without the chemo. I’m so excited.”
“Yes, that means we can go to The Cottage this year, right?” Olivia asked, referring to their country house in Lake Tahoe.
“The Cottage? Are you sure you’ll have the energy to go?” Isn’t she too sick to go so far from the hospital?
“I’ll have enough energy,” Olivia said with a smile. “I’m going to wear my prettiest clothes and twirl around and maybe even run outside. I can’t wait!”
Aleksander smiled then, a genuine smile that lasted only seconds, but even those seconds were a rarity since he’d learned that her treatments were no longer working. “Well then, I guess we’ll have to make sure you get to The Cottage before, uh, before you get tired again.” Before you leave me.
“Can we have a Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas night and a New Year’s party, too?”
“You want parties?” Aleksander asked dumbly. After losing Rachel and now knowing he would lose his daughter, his only child, holiday spirit was the furthest thing from his mind.
“Yes! With roasted turkey, reindeers, and a real tree that we can decorate.”
“Sure, we can have whatever you want, Pumpkin,” Aleksander said. Whatever she asked for, he would grant it. He would give her anything money could buy, but all the money in the world couldn’t buy what he desired most.
“I’ll make a list of what we need,” she said, stretching out her hand for her new journal and pencil, which lay on the bedside table on top of the one she had finished filling up the day before.
Aleksander handed them to her with a smile. His little girl was an avid writer. Olivia drew pictures in her diaries, kept notes about what she was doing, and how she was feeling, and made lists about everything.
“Mr. Maximilian,” Sydney called through the door after a knock.
She walked in with a tray in hand. “It’s time for Olivia to eat and take her medication.”
“Of course,” Aleksander said, standing.
Sydney placed the tray on the stand beside Olivia’s bed. “Oh, you don’t have to leave yet.”
“Yes, I know, but, well, I should get going. I’m meeting someone tonight, and I have a lot to do to prepare to bring Olivia home tomorrow.”
He saw the puzzled look cross Sydney’s face. It was a common look, one he could read without much effort. He thought of clarifying his phrase, reassuring Sydney that he wasn’t, in fact, meeting a woman, but he didn’t bother. He had no time and no interest to
pursue women; and no energy to undo erroneous impressions.
“Enjoy your meeting,” was all Sydney said in response.
Aleksander kissed Olivia on the forehead then patted Toddy on the back. “Be good, Pumpkin. I’ll see you in the morning to bring you home.”
“Ok. Love you, Daddy. See you tomorrow.”
“Love you madly, Pumpkin.” Aleksander smiled brightly and nodded a final time to Sydney as he left.
He kept the parting smile on his face until he made it to the comfort of the back seat of his black BMW and his driver closed the door.
Only then, with his own image reflected in the closed partition, did Aleksander let the tears roll slowly down his cheeks.
Upper East Side, Fifth Avenue
Aleksander Maximilian’s penthouse
He turned on the shower, and stepped in, hoping to wash some of the impotence away.
When he stepped out to grab one of the towels from the stack, his eyes caught his reflection. He barely recognized himself anymore.
His damp hair curled past his nape; a mop of chestnut longer than it had been since his early twenties, and his face sported more than the fancy devil-may-care shade of a beard.
He hadn’t seen his usual barber for more than a month. He felt no need for a three hundred and fifty-dollar haircut, or the collection of Italian suits and shoes which filled his dressing room in Manhattan. He was just a shadow of the sharply dressed businessman he’d once been. That man had been put on hold when Rachel died and Olivia had gotten worse.
But it wasn’t his hair or face that made him not recognize himself.
It was in his eyes.
The eyes of a man haunted by a future ghost. Preoccupied with something no one else could see, eating away at his vitality and leaving him hollow.
He ran a hand over his jaw and grabbed his electric trimmer.
Just as he finished trimming his facial hair, his phone screen blinked informing him of an incoming call from Thaddeus, his older brother.
With a sigh he answered, “Yeah?”
“You’re coming to Rose Bar with me tonight, right?”
He was not in the mood to go out. He never was, anymore. But when he pictured returning to his empty and hollow penthouse by himself the image filled him with depression. “Yes, Thaddeus.”
“Good. You need to get a bit of fun in your life. Helps fight depression.”
Aleksander rolled his eyes, not at all thrilled that Thaddeus was again sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. He was sick of being analyzed like a patient even though he could not say his brother’s analysis was off the mark. “I’ll stop by Blackthorn’s and I’ll meet you there.”
“And take that Ferrari of yours out of hiding,” Thaddeus said. “What’s the point of having all that supercharged horsepower and black metal tucked away in your garage?”
Aleksander sighed. “See you at ten.”
Perhaps the electric atmosphere would dissipate some of his dark mood. He needed to keep his spirits up Olivia’s sake.
Markus Blackthorn’s penthouse
“I have bad news, and I have worse news,” Aleksander said, looking at his partners. He continued when no one responded with anything other than concerned glances. “I won’t be able to help with the Russian deal for a while because things have taken a turn for the worse with Olivia. I just came from the hospital.”
“Here.” Markus Blackthorn, Aleksander’s partner, put a glass of Macallan whisky in his hand.
“Thanks,” said Aleksander, gulping it down without tasting it. He welcomed the stinging bite burning down his throat. Any kind of pain was preferable to the hellish torment of knowing his daughter was going to die.
“What did they say?” asked Benedict Lockeheart, his other partner.
“They want me to take her home,” he bit out, leaning his head on the back of the sofa and looking up at the towering ceiling of Markus’s living room. “They said…continuing the treatment would only prolong her life without improving the quality. That it’d be better if she spent her…remaining days in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by the people and things she loves.”
“Shit, man, I’m so sorry,” Benedict said, and out of habit, he moved his hand as if to comfort Aleksander, but then he let it fall back in his lap.
Aleksander put his hand over Benedict’s and squeezed. Ever since his partner had lost his eyesight in a criminal explosion at their pharmaceutical company, those telltale little gestures had been diminishing, but they still happened. “Thanks.”
“Have you told her?” Markus asked, sitting beside his wife, Hannah.
“In a way. I asked if she wanted to go home for a while.” Aleksander sighed. “Do you know what she told me? She wants to spend the holidays at Lake Tahoe. And she wants for us to have lots of parties, starting with Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas night, and a New Year’s party.”
“And?” prompted Benedict.
“As soon as I find a trustworthy caretaker team—and a doctor—to take with us, we’re flying there.” He shook his head. “I’d rather have the same nurses who are already treating her. She likes them and it would be easier for me too, since they already know her…”
“Let me help, Alek,” said Hannah, speaking for the first time. “I’ll gather up this
team for you tomorrow.”
He could hear the choked-up emotion in her voice. Hannah had lost her mother to breast cancer a few years before, and after marrying Markus, she dedicated a great part of her time to raising funds for research and volunteering in hospitals. Being pregnant now made her even more sensitive to his and Olivia’s problem. He straightened his neck and gave her a sad smile. “I appreciate it.”
“Tomorrow morning, I’ll talk with the hospital administrator,” she said, with the knowledge that money was a great help at a time like this. “What time will you be at the hospital?”
“Seven probably,” he said. “I like to be there for Olivia’s breakfast. The nurses say she eats better when I’m around.”
“I’ll be there too,” she said, trying to stifle a yawn. “Sorry. It seems I’m always sleepy.”
“Then it’s time to take my son to bed,” Markus pointed out, running his hand over Hannah’s already rounding belly. “We still have a few things to discuss.”
The men rose and she kissed her husband affectionately on the cheek, following up with Benedict. Then she stopped in front of Aleksander and gave him a tight hug. “I promise you this: Olivia will have all her parties.”
She might not have said the word—she might not have even thought it—but he heard it nonetheless: her last parties.
4 reasons why I LOVE to write romances!
Guest post by Cristiane Serruya
Hello and thanks for hosting me. I’m so happy to be here with you and your readers today.
Since 2011, I’ve been immersed in the written word—penning romance novels, to be exact. The process of crafting and getting a work through the publishing machine—especially the indie world—can be a lonely and hard path but when my new imaginary friends walk out of my romances, they’re worth all of grueling pain I submit my wrists and fingers to. Here are four reasons why I have been hooked by love stories.
- The characters
The men! Handsome or scarred, funny or brooding, overbearing or supportive. Dark-haired, blond, paled skin, tanned and everything in between! Now put them together with blondes, brunettes or red-heads; thin or curved or toned; opinionated and bold or delicate and shy! Oh, my! To make it even better, throw in a couple of kids—I love stories with smart kids! Of course, makes it even funnier if we have a few criminals in the story, too. There, I have a bunch of new friends—and enemies—for me to play with for a while.
- I get to create stories
Imagine those said characters meeting over a business meeting, as in The Complete TRUST Series; or fighting for a cure for a sick child, as in Forevermore, and the sparks flying over a heated argument or a nice gesture.
And then imagine them doing it. Yeah! And some revengeful ex-partner or dark secret, which threatens their relationship. I decide who loves and hates; who lives and dies! I can totally transform a person I know in a good or a horrible character. I can even take my revenge on the ones I don’t like much and create a whole new ending for a situation gone wrong. It’s freeing!
- The research
Learning is a passion of mine. In order to create believable characters, research is necessary. For example, Tavish Uilleam MacCraig, the lead male character of Love Painted in Red, who appeared on my first release Entwined Fates, TRUST Series #1 and was supposed to be a secondary character, grew so much as a character during TRUST Series that he demanded his story to be told. As it unfolded, and from it I have already Damaged Love, which features Tavish’s best friend, Lord Richard Smith, and after comes the story of Richard’s older brother, Lord Hugh Smith.
All the three of them are veterans of war—I am always in awe of those men and women who sacrifice themselves to make this world safer.
We don’t have a strong military here in Brazil and I wanted them to be believable veteran dealing with PTSD, living with disabilities, having invisible scars, for the readers to feel their pains. So I interviewed many veterans online. It was an enlightening and
heartbreaking experience and it helped me make Tavish and Richard come out beautifully—or so I like to think—with their physical and psychological scars and yet full of life strength and vigor.
- The happily ever after
With all the horrible things happening in the world, unnecessary killings, religious and racial strife, it’s great to be able to escape to a world where my characters have survived bad things and are still able to find a fulfilling and healing relationship with a happy ending—and don’t forget the steamy sex I got to create. But sometimes, I get out of a story emotionally tired; so tired, I need a break.
It was exactly the case of Forevermore, Olivia, Alek, and Ava’s heart-wrenching and heart-warming story that I needed a break before I jump into the skin of Benedict, who is blind, and Natalya, from Evermore. Ah, what did I do during my break? I wrote a light, funny and suspenseful romance. So, pre-order already Royal Love, Last Royals Series #1.
Last, I want to share some good news. Almost all my books are on KindleUnlimited, so visit Cristiane Serruya’s Amazon Page and read them for free!
Those who want to receive my very, very sporadic emails about new releases and promotions can sign-up here: Cristiane Serruya Website and win a free romance, free cookbooks, and so much more!
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts here and helping me promote my work.
USA TODAY and AMAZON best-selling romance author, Cristiane Serruya lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with her six-foot-six husband, two teenage daughters, and Loki, her Shetland sheepdog. Cris is a writer, a lawyer, a reader; a woman, a mother, and a wife. Not necessarily in this order. Or in any order…
She has a Master’s in Business Law and a BA in Fine Arts. In 2012, after twenty-two years of practicing law, Cris decided to give writing a go. And–amazingly–it was just the piece that was missing in the puzzle of her life.
She loves to hear from readers so fell free to stalk her online and visit www.crisserruya.com to win a freebie left there only for you.
Those who want to receive Cris’s very sporadic emails about new releases, giveaways, and promotions can sign-up on http://bit.ly/CS-VIPlist
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