Mend Read online





  Foreword

  As I sit here on January 5, 2018 and type this foreword, almost a year has passed since I finished the first draft of Mend.

  I watched him slowly grow weaker, but tried to continued to keep writing. The once strong man that was my first super hero could barely walk anymore and it broke me. The cancer that filled his body was winning and no matter how hard he fought, it was a losing battle.

  I remember almost every moment of January 28, 2017, the day I typed The End in this book and I don’t ever want to forget it either.

  I sat by my father’s beside with my knees up around my chest and tried not to break down into tears while he laid on his side, staring at me with a sweet smile like he often did. “Did you finish your book?”

  I scooted forward and rested my chin on the mattress. “I did, Daddy.”

  “Good,” he said and winced as he adjusted his legs.

  “Can I do something?” I asked, feeling completely helpless and heartbroken.

  “No. I’m okay.”

  That was my dad. He never complained about anything. He was the most caring and supportive man I’ve ever known. I was truly blessed to have him in my life and wish I could’ve held on to him a little longer, but some things aren’t meant to be.

  “Are you sure?”

  He touched my nose and smiled again, trying to pretend he wasn’t in pain. “Go home and start the next book.”

  “I can’t do that, Daddy,” I said as tears threatened to fall.

  “It’s important that you start the next one.”

  I somehow muttered the words, “It’s not important.”

  “It is important.”

  “It’s not more important than you.”

  “It is.”

  “It’s not,” I told him and I wasn’t about to cave.

  There isn’t anything more important than my family, especially my father. I would’ve given up everything I had, including my career, if it meant I could have him in my life for a little while longer.

  Eight months earlier we buried my brother and my father watched me struggle with my words along with my life every day since. I’m sure he knew I’d be unable to write much of anything without him in my life.

  My father closed his eyes, facing in my direction as I leaned against the wall and watched him sleep. I sat in silence, crying without a sound because I didn’t want to wake him.

  That was the day I knew my father would die. I wasn’t ready, but then again, can we ever be prepared?

  For the next three nights, I laid at his side and held his hand, running my fingers through his hair as he struggled to breathe and fought to stay with us just a little while longer. He didn’t sleep and neither did I. I couldn’t waste each precious minute I had left with my father on something as frivolous as sleep. I played him his favorite songs, talked to him non-stop, and cried when he couldn’t see me anymore.

  When he took his last breath, my world changed forever.

  The heartache of losing a parent is indescribable, unescapable, and all consuming. Even today, a year later, I’m a shell of my former self and I’m not sure I’ll ever find the happiness I had before…when my father was in my life.

  Mend, the book you’re about to read, was the book I finished right before my father passed. It’s the last one he ever knew I was writing. I couldn’t open the book for months. Every time I did and tried to read through it, I had to close the document because there was too much emotion and memories tied to the words.

  In all honesty, Mend was a hot mess. I knew my dad was dying while I wrote the book. I couldn’t think clearly. Every day before I started to write, I’d have to go back and re-read my previous words. I no longer had the ability to remember anything I’d written the day before. Instead of pushing Mend out, I put it aside and didn’t think about opening it again until December 2017.

  The document sat on my desktop, taunting me in a way. I couldn’t leave it there any longer to linger in obscurity. With the help of my friend and developmental editor, Glenna Maynard, I decided that I could finally dive back into Mend and complete the book I’d promised my daddy I finished.

  Mend may not be the panty scorcher I intended it to be. When I started writing Mend, I planned on this to be Maneuver which has a smoking hot cover. But ultimately, that’s not what I wrote. To be fair to readers, I changed the name and found a more appropriate cover. No longer am I willing to keep the book to myself and am finally ready to share my words with you.

  The story is no less beautiful even though it’s not filled with sexy scenes. It’s a story of lost love, misunderstandings, and second chances. Sometimes I don’t have control of the words that pour out of me and Mend is a perfect example of that. I never intended to write this book, but my brain had other plans. The characters often rule me more than I have power over them.

  I hope you enjoy the story of Jack and Evie as much as I do. Thank you for sticking by my side the last year and being patient with me as I try to find my words again.

  I keep writing not because I can, I write to honor the memory of my father and to make him prouder than he was when he breathed his last breath.

  I write for you, too. Without readers such as yourself, I may have totally lost my way.

  I’m slowly finding my groove again and I just know 2018 will be an amazing year of books and tons of words.

  I apologize for any typos. I wanted to share my feelings and added this just before publishing. Sorry, Lisa.

  Love Always,

  Chelle Bliss, xoxo

  To the only sister I’ve ever known…

  I love you, Kelly. - Chelle

  Prologue

  I gaze up at her from where I’m kneeling on the floor with my fists clenched so tightly my fingertips ache. My vision blurs as her words sink in. “You can’t go.”

  Sitting on the edge of my bed, she holds her tiny face in her hands as tears fall between her fingers, landing on my jeans. “My dad got his orders weeks ago but never told me until tonight. We leave tomorrow, Jack.” Her voice cracks on my name.

  I swallow, desperately trying to process the information yet not wanting to believe it at the same time. “Tomorrow?” Panic starts to settle in my bones. “You can’t leave now.”

  “I have to.” She lifts her eyes to mine in a silent plea and apology.

  I wipe the tears from her cheeks, wishing we could run away and leave our lives behind. “Maybe you can stay with me.” I refuse to let her walk out of my life. We’re so close to being free of her father, only nine months from graduation.

  Shaking her head, she whispers, “I can’t.” Her bottom lip trembles as she squeezes her eyes shut. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”

  “I’ll talk to my mom. She knows we love each other, Evie.” My throat starts to close, and I feel like I’m suffocating at the thought of her not being here. Evie opens her mouth to say something, but I stop her. “Don’t give up.” I hold her hands in mine, caressing the soft skin with my thumb, and search her eyes for a glimmer of hope.

  “My dad will never go for it. You know that.”

  I grip her hands tighter and shake my head. I’m unable to believe we only have tonight. “There has to be something we can do.”

  “I have to go, but it’s only for a year,” she whispers softly, barely able to look me in the eyes. “I’ll come back.”

  “I can’t wait a year. I’ll visit you every weekend.”

  “Jack,” she says as more tears fall, turning her head away from me. “We’re moving to Germany.”

  Her words punch me in the gut, almost knocking me backward. “Germany?” I stammer.

  Her father’s moving her to another continent, halfway across the world, and it’s entirely because of me. He’s hated me from the moment h