The horrendous nightmare always starts off the same way. Vivid and soul shattering, helplessly pulling me under into its black abyss…
I’m surrounded by smoke, there’s so much of it it’s suffocating. I cough and sputter, my eyes burning as much as my lungs.
“Joshua!” His name rips from my raw throat as I stumble through the destroyed streets, tears of sorrow streaking down my face. I look around at the burned city we once called home, the man I love somewhere in midst of destruction.
“Joshua!” I scream for him again, refusing to give up.
I will never give up.
Through the thick smoke a figure emerges. Hope surges in my heart when I notice the fire gear.
“Thank, God.” It puts me in motion, my heels clicking on the cement as I run toward the firefighter covered in soot. The closer I get though I realize it’s not my beloved husband. It’s one of his fellow brothers, Firefighter Gibson.
He grips my shoulders and the heavy regret in his red brimmed eyes sends my heart plummeting. His mouth moves, telling me the unthinkable but I shake my head, refusing to believe it.
It can’t be true.
“I’m sorry, Rose. We lost so many, but a little boy lived because of him.”
Despair grips my heart in an unforgiving vise, my world shattering as I crumble to my knees. My pain echoes through the ruined streets, shredding my vocal chords and destroying what’s left of my existence.
“Sam, wake up!”
I bolt upright on a scream. Blanketed in darkness, my mangled heart beats rapidly in my chest, sweat coating my body and tears soaking my cheeks. I try to breathe through the pain ravaging my chest, my hand clutching the spot that physically hurts.
Jase’s handsome face appears before mine, drowning out the shadows in our room, his dark eyes that I never thought I would see again striking me to my core. A sob tumbles from my lips and I scramble onto his lap, my arms curling around his neck as I cry out a loss I can’t understand but feel all the way down to my soul.
His strong arms come around me, holding my broken pieces together. “Breathe, baby. It’s okay. It was just a bad dream.”
But it wasn’t. It was real. I can still smell the deadly smoke. It lingers in the air, the remnants of it searing my aching heart.
He pulls back, his concerned eyes searching mine. “Same nightmare?”
“It’s not a nightmare,” I choke out. “I’m going to lose you.” Voicing the horrific words out loud compounds my fear even more and forces another broken sob from my throat.
“No you’re not,” he argues sternly. “We talked about this, Sam.”
I shake my head, my eyes falling away from his. He doesn’t understand. He can’t. Not when he hasn’t seen what I have. Felt the devastation and loss. For the past several months the same nightmare continues to plague me and I fear that one day it will eventually become a reality.
“Look at me.” Framing my face between his hands, he lifts my eyes back to his. “You’re not going to lose me.”
“I already have,” the words are out before I can stop them, the knowledge and truth burning in my heart as strongly it did for Rose. “This isn’t some nightmare, Jase. You die in a fire saving a little boy. Only you aren’t you and I’m not me. But… we are them and…Ugh!” Frustrated, I trail off, sounding insane even to myself.
“Baby, I’m right here. Look at me, feel me.” He places my hand over his strong and steady heartbeat. “I’m yours, Sam. Always and forever.”
I gaze back into his eyes, eyes I know I have looked into and lost before, all for the sacrifice of his courageous job. “If I asked you to quit firefighting, would you?” The selfish question is out before I can stop it, desperation running my mouth.
“Yeah, I would,” he says, surprising me. “But I’m really hoping you won’t ask me to do that. I love my job, Sam. As much as you love yours. It’s who I am. It’s what I’m meant to do.”
My eyes close in defeat and I rest my forehead on his. “I’m sorry,” I cry. “I don’t want you to change. I love you for who you are, but I can’t lose you. I want to marry you and have your babies. I’m terrified of losing it all before we even have a chance to build a life together.”
Just like Rose did.
“Listen to me,” he commands, staring deep into my eyes. “I could walk across the street one day and get hit by a car. Or end up in a plane crash.”
It’s not a plane crash that took him from me. It was a fire and his honorable sacrifice.
“Nothing in life is ever a guarantee, Sam. Except for one thing.”
“What’s that?” I ask, my voice barely above a whisper.
He reaches up, cupping my wet cheek. “My love for you and that I will always come home to you. One way or another.”
The words ease a small part of my fractured soul and I drop my head on his shoulder, letting go of a heavy breath.
He gathers me in his arms and stands.
My head snaps up from his shoulder, eyes meeting his. “What are you doing?”
“We’re finishing this once and for all.” Walking into the kitchen, he deposits me in a chair then rips the calendar off our fridge and drops it down on the table in front of me. “Pick a date.”
“Pick a wedding date. The sooner the better. Then I’m going to knock you up,” he blatantly informs me. “We are going to fuck like rabbits, have a ton of kids and I’m going to raise them with you until we are old and gray.”
I blink at him, my mind scrambling to catch up. When it does, I burst into laughter, but it isn’t long before I’m weeping again.
God this is insane.
Jase drops down in front of me, his hands gripping my silk covered hips. “Pick a date, baby. Let’s do this so I can prove to you that we are going to grow old together.”
Sniffling, I wipe my cheeks with the back of my hand and look at the calendar. We talked about a few dates, mainly Summer of next year but something held me back. The days we talked about never felt right but now, as I turn each page of the calendar, I stop on one, the fated date standing out amongst the rest. It’s a feeling I can’t explain, a purpose far greater than either of us realize.
“This one,” I whisper, pointing to the day.
“September second,” he murmurs.
September 2nd, 1869.
That date holds meaning, a pivotal one. I don’t know what exactly, but I know it as sure as I know my love for this man.
“Is that okay with you?” I ask, looking down at him.
“It’s more than okay, but we have a lot to do. That’s only two months away.”
“I’m ready if you are.”
A crooked grin tilts his lips, the same one that captured my heart and never let go. “Baby, I was born ready.”
He says the words so nonchalantly, not realizing the power they hold. I have no doubt we were born for each other. That somehow, someway, we have shared a life and love as equally strong before as we do now, but we were robbed of our chance at forever.
Perhaps this is fate’s way of making up for that loss so long ago. It’s a hope I cling to, letting it slowly douse the burning fear that resides in my heart.
My hand reaches out to touch him, fingers grazing his strong jaw. “I love you.”
He turns his face to the side, pressing a kiss to my palm. “I love you more. Forever, Sam, that’s how long we have.” He follows up the promise by taking my mouth in a soul scorching kiss, offering the silent reassurance I so desperately need.
Picking me up from my seat, he carries me back to our bed, his mouth never missing a beat. Our hands and mouths are urgent as we make love, creating a magic that only we can. Every touch he delivers is a memory of the past and promise for the future. Every kiss a sacred vow that we will uphold until the end of time.
My arms come around his shoulders, our hearts beating as one as I hold him desperately close, clinging to this moment and praying I never lose it like Rose did.
“Don’t ever leave me,” I whisper, the words leaving my mouth before I can stop them, the burning images of my nightmare still so raw and fresh in my mind.
Deep dark eyes peer down into mine, holding me captive and owning every bit of my soul. “I promise to love you until your last breath, Samantha Evans, then I promise to find you again and love you even harder.”
The vow flows through every part of me, completely obliterating my fear altogether.
After we make love, we lie in a sweaty tangled mess, his strong heart thrumming against my cheek and fingers dancing along my back. In the the comfortable silence my thoughts stray to our upcoming day.
“I want a vintage wedding,” I tell him, whispering into the dark.
Lifting my head, I make a fist on his chest and rest my chin on it, gazing into his warm brown eyes. “Yes. Something from the late eighteen hundreds. I want white twinkling lights, an old train clock and maybe even a horse drawn carriage.” My heart is full as I list all the items, every one of them feeling sacred.
“Not to dash your creative vision, baby, but where the fuck are we going to find an old train clock?”
Laughter spills past my lips at the point he makes. “I have no idea, but I will find a way. I’m very resourceful, Crawford. You know this.”
His lips curl into that dashing smirk I can’t get enough of. “True, but I’m even more resourceful. So if my woman wants an old train clock then she’s going to get a damn train clock.”
The ridiculous statement has another bout of laughter escaping me, but I can’t deny the butterflies it triggers. They flock in my tummy and dance their way into my heart.
“What about you?” I ask, quirking a brow. “Anything specific you want to have?”
“Nope. As along as you’re there I have everything I need.”
Warmth invades my chest, spreading right to the tips of my fingers and toes.
“And peaches,” he adds. “There needs to be lots of peaches.”
“Of course, how could I have forgotten those?” I tease.
His obsession with the particular fruit has only grown over the course of our relationship which is why the majority of my wardrobe and undergarments consist of the color. It drives him wild. Grace even sells our Peach kiss Pie at the bakery. It’s a big hit and Jase gets it every time he goes in.
“Maybe we can get some from Mr. and Mrs. McNally’s peach farm again?” I suggest with a smile, thinking about the time we made love there.
Jase groans, his hands cupping my backside and giving it a generous squeeze. “That was a good fuckin’ day.”
It was more than good. It was beautiful and the most spontaneous thing I’d ever done, a moment I’ll remember forever.
“It’s a long way to go for some peaches though,” he says. “I’m sure we can find another farm around here and corrupt that one too.”
“Mmm, as much as the idea intrigues me, I was actually thinking we could have the wedding at my parents’ lake house in Colorado.”
He rears back, clearly surprised by the statement. “Really?”
“Sure. It’d be perfect since that’s where we met and fell in love. Besides, our friends and your family are there. It would make things easier on everyone and the property is beautiful. It’s also large enough for all of us to stay at.”
His brow cocks. “You want both of our families to stay in the same house?”
“Why not? Surely our fathers can put aside their differences for a weekend. It would be fun.”
He stares back at me unconvinced.
“I want us all to be together, Jase. It’s important to me.”
He lifts his hand, his fingers grazing my cheek as he brushes a piece of hair out of my face. “Okay. Then we’ll make it happen. Whatever makes you happy.”
My heart swells with the amount of love I have for this man. “You make me happy.”
Stretching up, I press my lips to his, savoring his warm breath. He deepens the kiss, conveying everything he doesn’t need to say because I feel it all the way down to my soul.
By the time we pull apart I’m breathless and my heart is full. Curling back into his chest, I close my eyes and rest peacefully, knowing no matter what happens and where we go from here, it will always be together. Because I believe with every fibre of my being that we are connected not just now, in this life, but beyond.
Our souls destined to be one forever.
Once I feel Sam’s breathing even out, I finally let go of the long tortured breath I’ve been holding. I’m not a superstitious person, never have been, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little more than freaked out by the nightmare she keeps having. A nightmare I know so well because I’ve had the same one for a long time.
Even before we were together, I experienced it. Lived it and knew it. Being engulfed in flames as I covered a small boy, agony ripping apart my chest to know I would never see the pretty green eyes that I lived and breathed for again. Green eyes I had never looked into until I met Sam.
I have no idea what it means, but I refuse to believe it’s a sign. I make my own damn destiny and it will be with this woman in my arms forever. Together, we will live out our life together until we are old and gray. It’s a vow I have every intention of upholding until the end of time.
Please note that Sam and Jase will be getting a Novella , Sweet Eternity, due to release 2018. If you haven’t yet read their story, Sweet Haven, book two in the Sweet Series, it’s available now on all platforms.
Thank you for reading and loving these characters as much as me. I am so excited to write their special day. Just imagine all the drama and crazy antics we will get between the Crawfords and Evans under one roof. 🙈
But above all else Sam and Jase will get the Happily Ever After that they deserve. A destiny that Rose and Joshua were destined to live out. ❤️