Title: Letting Go
Author: SF Benson
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: July 6th, 2018
They need each other more than they know.
As a future ballerina on the world stage, she has her whole world ahead of her. Her family and friends are so proud of her accomplishments, but all that will change when her needy boyfriend and fate team up to destroy her.
You can’t dance from a wheelchair.
As a former Praetorian Guard for Caesar Augustus, his whole world is behind him. When the emperor died, a judgment was made not in his favor. But none of that mattered…
The dead don’t find love again.
One night, life and death collide on a dark road when a surly wraith saves a life. Their paths intertwine, giving them both a second chance…
But there are problems. She only wants to die. He’s fighting to live again.
When the path you’re on no longer works…
When everything familiar to you is obliterated…
When you stop fighting for what can never be again…
You don’t give in.
The night I died began with a celebration with my friends and me. We caught a Broadway play and enjoyed a dinner in a five-star restaurant. The plan included dancing, staying overnight, and heading back to Falls Creek in the morning.
It wasn’t supposed to be our last girls’ night out.
In two weeks, I’d leave for France. The Opera National de Paris had offered me a spot in the corp de ballet. No more hopping the train to class and listening to boring instructors drone on about insignificant facts and figures. Instead, I’d train to become a professional ballerina. Something I’ve wanted ever since I saw my first live performance of Swan Lake at the age of four.
Dancing for the Paris Opera Ballet Company was supposed to be the culmination of my hopes, dreams, and years of hard work. Unfortunately, my boyfriend didn’t share my joy. He didn’t appreciate the fact the prestigious troupe chose me from the small group of foreigners. He only saw me leaving him.
But none of it mattered the night my boyfriend and fate teamed up.
On the way out of the restaurant, my phone lit up. A chill passed through me as I peered at the screen and saw Rob’s name. My foundation shook. Time slowed down and agony, like a death shroud, settled on me. I tried hard to shake off the sensation, but I couldn’t. Was it a precursor of what was to come?
“Hey, Rob. What’s up?” I tried to ignore the heated stares from Marie and Abby, my best friends since second grade.
“Babe, come over. I really need you in the worse way,” he pleaded.
Lowering my voice, I whined, “Now, Rob? I’m in New York. I’ll be home tomorrow.”
“So, this is how it’s going to be?” His tone turned nasty. “You’re about to leave me, and you can’t even be with me now?”
Not another argument.
Ever since I told Rob about France all we did was argue. He insisted there had to be a place in the States where I could dance. He suggested Canada. As if that could compare to Paris. Rob claimed he couldn’t live without me. He said he only wanted to keep me close out of love.
“Rob, let’s not fight about this,” I urged.
“Then come home.” Desperation colored his words. “I promise you we won’t fight.”
This had become our thing. He’d call, and I’d run to him. Over the last two years, I wasn’t proud of the person I’d become or the love we supposedly shared. But we’d been together since sophomore year in high school. Rob had changed from the angsty but cute boy to a man with deep mood swings. Every time his spirits dipped low, he became needy and wanted me at his side.
Frankly, I’d grown tired of being his security blanket. Our relationship had reached the end of the road. Going to Paris would allow us to take a break, meet new people, and have new adventures. But the thought of dumping Rob troubled me. I still loved the man despite all his flaws. He was the only guy I’d ever had sex with. I clung to the hope that after some time apart, we’d rediscover each other and return to happier times.
The upcoming trip made Rob more persistent. Desperate too. He was insecure about our future. Perhaps one more night with Rob would ease his fears. We’d talk, and I’d help him understand the importance of this move. After all, Rob was a good guy. He simply required kid gloves at times.
Having made up my mind, I told him, “Okay. Calm down. I’ll tell the girls. We’ll be home in a few hours.”
“Thanks, babe,” his voice brightened. “See you soon.”
As I returned my phone to my purse, I steadied myself for the soon-to-come complaints. “Ladies, we need to change our plans. I have to go home tonight.”
“No, Toni.” Marie objected as we stepped onto the sidewalk. “Remember, this trip is for us, not Rob. You can see his ass tomorrow night.”
Pulling my wool coat closed, I pointed out, “Marie, you don’t understand. I’ll be leaving soon. I’d rather not have Rob upset with me. He’ll be good after I spend a little more time with him.”
Abby added, “I don’t understand what you hope to accomplish by going back early, Toni. Nothing will change. Don’t you get it? Rob doesn’t want you to enjoy your life! And if he’s using that ‘I’ll die without you’ line again, it’s bullshit. It’s always about him. Not this time. Toni, don’t let him spoil our time together.”
Sighing, I knew it was true. Rob didn’t like my friends, and my friends hated him. He constantly interrupted our plans. Abby and Marie did their best to dissuade me from running to Rob. But this time was different. It wasn’t about the girls.
“You know how Rob gets. The longer we don’t speak, the moodier he becomes. It’s better this way. Trust me.”
“Whatever,” Marie said. “You better be glad I love you, girl.”
Two hours into the drive, my gaze flicked upward. Marie and Abby sat in the front seat. Pissed. Marie looked at me in the rearview mirror. The scowl on her face let me know she was still upset.
“I hope you find someone else while you’re in Paris.” She searched for another channel on Sirius. “We’re young. We’re supposed to be having the time of our lives. Personally, you don’t need someone like Rob ruining yours.”
In order to avoid another argument, I chose not to reply. It wasn’t worth it.
The next few miles were spent in silence. We’d be in Falls Creek soon, so I texted Rob.
Antoinette Leoni: Hey, we’re almost back to town. I’ll have Marie drop me off at your place.
Technically, Rob’s condo belonged to his parents, but they allowed him to move there after high school when he claimed to need privacy. Since Mom and Dad weren’t expecting me, I’d stay with Rob overnight. The time together would do us good. In the end, Rob would calm down and maybe help me decide whether we should attempt a long-distance relationship.
Rob Mitchell: It’s about damned time. Let yourself in.
His mood had gotten worse. Not good.
Antoinette Leoni: We’re on the toll road. See you in a bit.
I thought about what more I should say for a moment before settling on a simple sentiment.
Antoinette Leoni: I love you, Rob.
Rob Mitchell: I love you, too.
Slipping my phone into my coat pocket, I stared toward the front of the car. I didn’t like having Marie and Abby mad at me because of Rob. Unfortunately, neither my friends nor my parents appreciated my boyfriend. They found him overbearing and far too possessive.
Soon, I would learn time was too short for anger.
Problem was, nobody knew Rob like I did. When he wanted to be, he could be a sweetheart. His romantic gestures rivaled some of my father’s toward my mom. As long as I didn’t piss Rob off, he was the best guy ever. Sure, he had issues, but who didn’t?
Truth be told, I shouldn’t have cared so much. In the end, it accomplished nothing.
Rob’s life hadn’t been easy as the son of a former military officer. Mr. Mitchell was always on his son’s back about something or another. Once Rob graduated and no longer needed his parents to pay his way, he’d be out from under his father’s dictatorship. It was my hope Rob would relax and stop being so possessive. Just because Mr. Mitchell was that way with his wife didn’t mean Rob had to pattern that behavior. Did it?
I only wanted people to see my boyfriend the way I saw him—a man full of potential who really did care about me.
But after that night…that terrible fate-filled night…none of it would matter anymore.
Abby turned up the music and announced, “Okay. You bitches have brought down my mood. I don’t want to hear any more talk of boyfriends. We’re not even talking about Paris. We need to finish this party in high—”
A glaring bright light cut off Abby’s words. Her mouth hung open as her eyes bulged. Somebody screamed.
The world tilted right before someone pushed it forward, sending us out of control.
Marie jerked the wheel, and I slid across the backseat, but the attempt to steer out of the way came too late. Something slammed into the car. Metal squealed. Wheels screeched. Our screams filled the night as time unraveled and stalled.
Breaking glass surrounded me as my body slowly catapulted over the seat. Time wobbled, and the rough asphalt, breaking my descent, scraped and dragged my skin from the bone. Intense pain cut through my body and stole my breath. Everything hurt, but I couldn’t move.
Tears rolled from my eyes as they shifted from side to side. Something hissed in the distance, and a high-pitched beeping filled the air. The smell of stale whiskey tickled my nose. I wanted to gag but couldn’t. Instead, warm liquid dripped from my mouth while my vision began dimming.
Where were Abby and Marie? Were they okay?
In the distance, a hub cab spun, performing a mechanical pirouette. There was twisted beauty in the spiraling object as it took its final bow. A worthwhile display without an appreciative audience. No applause. Not even a standing ovation.
People say your life flashes in front of your face before you die. They claim you’ll see images of people and places that mean something to you. Don’t believe it. It’s not true.
My life didn’t flash by. It stalled like someone lifted the needle on an old 45 record. It slowed to a damn crawl and then trickled onto the pavement. For a fleeting moment, one lonely minute or two, I thought about the guy I loved—how much I’d miss him—and my parents —right before my eyes fluttered shut on my final curtain.
A native of Detroit, Michigan and a graduate of Western Michigan University, SF has fed her creative brain through a variety of jobs from customer service to working with animals. Although the work title has changed, one thing remained true—her desire to be a writer. As a kid she could often be found writing stories or with a book in her hand. It didn’t matter where the location, SF could be found reading (even at the beach).
Her debut novel, Regress—a dystopian set in her home state—developed from a dream. When she’s not concocting tales in her sleep, SF has been known to come up with entire dialogues in the shower.
SF prefers writing stories which answer the “what if” question in life. Her protagonists are strong and diverse set in post-apocalyptic or paranormal worlds.
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