I am going to die.
I can’t change or fix it.
It is just something that is bound to happen.
I have fought for so long that all I want to do is give up, but I can’t because I have a sweet, devoted husband.
I have a sister, who I am deathly afraid to leave behind because I am all the family she has left.
And then there’s Maximilian Grant—the ex that I can’t seem to shake or get rid of.
I want to remain a warrior, but when what’s left of my life is tested, and my love becomes a jumbled up mess, all I can think is one heart shattering thing.
How can I leave this world peacefully knowing not only is there one man that would die for me, but two?
I shift constantly, causing Max to wake up and reach for me. “Hey,” his voice is thick and groggy. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Fine. Just can’t sleep.”
“No. I’ll be okay. You can go back to your room if you want. You don’t have to stay in that uncomfortable chair.”
He sits back in the chair, lips twisting, his body adjusting in the dark. “I’ll stay until you fall asleep again.”
“Okay.” I cuddle with the blankets. “Max?”
“Think you can sing that song for me? You know, the one you always used to sing when you spent the night at my place.”
“Aw man,” he shakes with laughter. I grin in the darkness. “Okay. One sec.” He sits forward, grabbing my hand and stroking the back of it as he starts to sing I See Fire by Ed Sheeran.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Max has a horrible voice—all crackly, deep and awkward—but it has always comforted me.
He sung it one night during karaoke at a bar that had two dollar drink night. It was great. Since then, this was the song he’d sing whenever I needed a pick-me-up or needed to be comforted.
While he sings, I finally start to drift off again.
I’m not sure when he’s done, all I know is that I’m dreaming again– only this time it’s a peaceful one.
I’m surrounded by people that love me.
My friends from Capri.
Even Grandma Lane, Aunt Jessie, and my father, Abraham Hales. The only thing is… I’m gone. But I’m glad to be gone. Instead of being at a funeral, they’re celebrating the fact that I’m no longer suffering—that I’m happy.
They’re celebrating the life of Shannon Hales-Streeter… celebrating me.
They’re all smiling.
Sharing funny, beautiful memories.
It’s beautiful, so beautiful I feel Max rub my back in my sleep. I’m whimpering… which has been happening a lot since my diagnosis. I feel it, but I can’t seem to wake up.
But when I finally do it is because the warm stretch of horizon sun is kissing my skin. Max is no longer here.
Good. He’s given me the wide window of opportunity to cry in silence as I recall each memory of us. Everything I’ve ever been through.
Every single thing.
And then I wonder all over again… why me?
Shanora Williams is a twenty-something that creates authentic romantic stories that, may or may not, make you question what a “Happily Ever After” truly is. After hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list at the mere age of nineteen, Shanora ventured further into the creative writing world, working even harder to create unique and memorable romances for all to enjoy.
She currently resides in Waxhaw, North Carolina and is the mother of one amazing boy, in love with her devoted man, and a sister to eleven.
When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her family, binge reading, or running marathons on Netflix while scarfing down anything sweet and salty. She also writes under the pen name S. Q. Williams.