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The Edge of Always
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When everything falls apart, love remains . . .
The Edge of Always
Camryn Bennett has never been happier. Five months after meeting on a Greyhound bus, she and her soul mate Andrew Parrish are engaged-and a wedding isn’t the only special event in their future. Nervous but excited, Camryn can’t wait to begin the rest of her life with Andrew, a man she knows in her heart will love her always. They have so much to look forward to-until tragedy blindsides them.
Andrew doesn’t understand how this could happen to them. He’s trying to move on, and thought Camryn was doing the same. But when Andrew discovers Camryn is secretly harboring a mountain of pain and attempting to numb it in damaging ways, there is nothing he won’t do to bring her back to life. Determined to prove that their love can survive anything, Andrew decides to take Camryn on a new journey filled with hope and passion. If only he can convince her to come along for the ride…
Table of Contents
A Preview of The Edge of Never
A Preview of Song of the Fireflies
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A few months ago, when I was laid up in that hospital bed, I didn't think I'd be alive today much less be expecting a baby and engaged to an angel with a dirty mouth. But here I am. Here we are, Camryn and me, taking on the world… in a different way. Things didn't quite turn out how we planned them, but then again, things rarely do. And neither of us would change the way they turned out even if we could.
I love this chair. It was my dad's favorite chair, and the one thing he left behind that I wanted. Sure, I inherited a fat check that will set Camryn and me up for a while, and of course I got the Chevelle, but the chair was equally sentimental to me. She hates it, but she won't say so out loud, because it was my dad's. I can't blame her; it's old, it stinks, and there's a hole in the cushion from my dad's cigarette smoking days. I promised her I'd get someone in here to clean it, at least. And I will. As soon as she figures out whether we're going to stay in Galveston or move to North Carolina. I'm fine with either, but something tells me she's holding back on what she really wants, because of me.
I hear the water from the shower shut off, and seconds later a loud bang vibrates through the wall. I jump up from the chair, letting the remote control hit the floor as I rush toward the bathroom. The edge of the coffee table clips the shit outta my shin as I pass.
I swing open the bathroom door. "What happened?"
Camryn shakes her head at me and smiles as she leans over to pick the hair dryer up from the floor beside the toilet.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
"You're more paranoid than I am," she laughs.
She glances down at my leg as I rub it with my fingertips. She sets the hair dryer back on the counter, comes up to me, and kisses the side of my mouth. "Looks like I'm not the one of us who needs to worry about being accident-prone." She smiles.
My hands cup her shoulders and I pull her closer, letting one hand fall down to touch her little rounded belly. I can barely tell she's pregnant. At four months I thought she'd at least be emulating a baby hippo, but what do I know about this stuff?
"Maybe so," I say, trying to hide the red in my face. "You probably did that on purpose just to see how fast I could get in here."
She kisses the other side of my mouth and then goes in for the kill, kissing me fully and deeply while pressing her wet, naked body against mine. I moan against her mouth, wrapping my arms around her.
But then I pull away before I fall into her devious trap. "Dammit, woman, you've gotta stop that."
She grins back at me. "You really want me to stop?" she asks with that up-to-no-good smile of hers.
It scares the shit out of me when she does that. Once after a conversation laced with that smile, she stopped having sex with me for three whole days. Worst three days of my life.
"Well, no," I say nervously. "I just mean right now. We have exactly thirty minutes before we have to be at the doctor's office."
I just hope she's this horny throughout her entire pregnancy. I've heard horror stories about how some women go from wanting it all the time until they get really big and then if you touch them they turn into fire-breathing banshees.
Thirty minutes. Damn. I could bend her over the counter real quick…
Camryn smiles sweetly and jerks the towel from the shower curtain rod and starts drying off. "I'll be ready in ten," she says as she waves me out. "Don't forget to water Georgia. Did you find your phone?"
"Not yet," I say as I start to ease my way out the door, but then I stop and add with a sexually suggestive grin, "Ummm, we could—"
She shuts the door in my face. I just walk off laughing.
I rush around the apartment, searching under cushions and in odd places for my keys and finally find them hiding underneath a stack of junk mail on the kitchen counter. I stop for a moment and take a particular piece of mail into my fingers. Camryn won't let me throw it away, because it was the one she looked at when giving the 911 operator my address the morning I had that seizure in front of her. I guess she feels like that piece of paper helped save my life, but really what it did was help her eventually understand what was going on with me. The seizure was harmless. I've had several. Hell, I had one when we were staying in the hotel in New Orleans before we started sharing a room. When I finally told her about that later, needless to say, she was not happy with me.
She worries all the time that the tumor will come back. I think she worries about it more than I do.
If it does, it does. We'll get through it together. We'll always get through everything together.
"Time to go, babe!" I yell from the living room.
She comes out of our room dressed in a rather tight pair of jeans and an equally tight T-shirt. And heels. Really? Heels?
"You're going to squeeze her little head in those jeans," I say.
"No, I'm not going to squeeze her or his head," she counters as she grabs her purse from the couch and shoulders it. "You're so sure of yourself, but we'll see." She takes my hand and I walk her out the door, flipping the lock on the knob before I close it hard behind us.
"I know it's a girl," I say confidently.
"Care to wager?" She looks over at me and grins.
We step out into the mild November air, and I open the car door for her, gesturing inside with my palm up. "What kind of bet?" I ask. "You know I'm all for betting."
Camryn slides onto the seat, and I jog around to my side and get in. Resting my wrists on the top of the steering wheel, I look over at her and wait.
She smiles and chews gently on the inside of her bottom lip in thought for a moment. Her long blonde hair tumbles down over both shoulders, and her blue eyes shine with excitement.
"You're the one who seems so sure," she finally says. "So, you name the bet and I'll either agree to it or I won't." She stops abruptly and points her finger sternly at me. "But nothing sexual. I think you pretty much have that area covered. Think of something…" she whirls her hand around in front of her "… I don't know… daring or meaningful."
Hmmm. I'm officially stumped. I slide the key in the ignition, but pause before turning it.
"OK, if it's a girl, then I get to name her," I say with a soft, proud smile.
Her eyebrows twitch a little and she turns her chin at an angle. "I don't like that bet. That's something both of us should take part in, don't you think?"
"Well, yeah, but don't you trust me?"
She hesitates. "Yes… I trust you, but—"
"—but not with a baby name." I raise an eyebrow interrogatively at her, but really I'm just messing with her head.
She can't look me in the eyes anymore, and she appears uncomfortable.
"Well?" I urge her.
Camryn crosses her arms and says, "What name did you have in mind, exactly?"
"What makes you think I already have one picked out?" I turn the key and the Chevelle purrs to life.
She smirks at me, cocking her head to one side. "Oh, please. You obviously have one picked out already, or you wouldn't be so sure it's a girl and making bets with me when we have an ultrasound to get to."
I look away, grinning, and put the car into reverse.
"Lily," I say and just barely catch Camryn's eye as we back out of the parking space. "Lily Marybeth Parrish."
A little smile tugs the corners of her lips.
"I actually like that," she says, and her smile gets bigger and bigger. "I admit, I was slightly worried—why Lily?"
"No reason. I just like it."
She doesn't seem convinced. She playfully narrows her eyes at me.
"I'm serious!" I say, laughing gently. "I've been going over names in my head since the day after you told me."
Camryn's smile warms, and if I wasn't such a guy, I'd cave to the moment and allow myself to blush like an idiot.
"You've been thinking of names all this time?" She seems happily surprised.
OK, so I blush anyway.
"Yeah," I admit. "Haven't thought of a good boy name yet, but we've got several months to think about it."
Camryn is just looking at me, beaming. I don't know what's going on inside her head, but I realize my face is getting redder the longer she stares at me like that.
"What?" I ask and let out a laugh.
She leans across the seat and raises her hand to my face, her fingertips pulling my chin to the side. And then she kisses me.
"God, I love you," she whispers.
It takes a second to realize I'm grinning so big my face feels stretched out. "I love you, too. Now get your seat belt on." I point to it.
She slides back over onto her side and clicks the seat belt buckle into place.
As we ride toward the doctor's office we both keep glancing at the clock in the dashboard. Eight more minutes. Five. Three. I think it hits her as hard as it does me when we pull into the building's parking lot. In no time at all we may meet our son or daughter for the very first time.
Yeah, a few months ago, I didn't think I'd be alive…
"The wait is killing me," Camryn leans over and whispers to me.
This is so strange. Sitting in this doctor's waiting room with pregnant chicks on all sides of us. I'm kind of scared to make eye contact. Some of them look pissed. All of the magazines for guys seem to have a man on the cover in a boat holding up a fish with his thumb in its mouth. I pretend to read an article.
"We've only been sitting here for about ten minutes," I whisper back and run the palm of my hand across her thigh, letting the magazine rest on my lap.
"I know, I'm just nervous."
As I take her hand, a nurse in pink scrubs steps out from a side door and calls Camryn's name, and we follow her back.
I sit against the wall while Camryn undresses and then puts on one of those hospital gowns. I tease her about her butt being on display and she pretends to be offended, but the blush gives her away. And we sit here and wait. And wait some more until another nurse comes in and has our full attention. She washes her hands in the nearby sink.
"Did you drink enough water an hour before your appointment?" the nurse asks after the hellos.
"Yes ma'am," Camryn says.
I can tell she's afraid something might be wrong with the baby and the ultrasound will show it. I've tried to tell her that everything will be fine, but it doesn't keep her from worrying.
She looks across the room at me, and I can't help but get up and move over to her side. The nurse asks a series of questions and snaps on a pair of latex gloves. I help answer the questions that I can, because Camryn seems increasingly more worried every second that goes by and she doesn't talk much. I squeeze her hand, trying to ease her mind.
After the nurse squirts that gel stuff on her belly, Camryn takes a deep breath.
"Wow, that's some tattoo you've got there," the nurse says. "It must've been pretty special to sit through one as large as that on the ribs."
"Yeah, it's definitely special," Camryn says and smiles up at me. "It's of Orpheus. Andrew has the other half. Eurydice. But it's a long story."
I proudly raise my shirt over my ribs to show the nurse my half.
"Stunning," the nurse says, looking at both of our tattoos in turns. "You don't see that in here every day."
The nurse leaves it at that and moves the probe through the gel pointing out the baby's head and elbow and other various parts. And I feel Camryn's grip on my hand slowly ease the more the nurse talks and smiles while explaining how "everything is lookin' good." I watch Camryn's face go from nervous and stiff to relieved and happy, and it makes me smile.
"So are you sure there's nothing to worry about?" Camryn asks. "Are you positive?"
The nurse nods and glances at me briefly. "Yes. So far I don't see anything of concern. Development is right where we want it to be. Movement and heartbeat are normal. I think you can relax."
Camryn looks up at me, and I have a feeling we're thinking the same thing.
She confirms it when the nurse says, "So, I understand you're curious about the gender?" And the two of us just pause, looking at one another. She's so damn beautiful. I can't believe she's mine. I can't believe she's carrying my baby.
"I'll take that bet," Camryn finally agrees, catching me off guard. She smiles brightly and tugs on my hand, and we both look at the nurse.
"Yes," Camryn answers. "If that's possible now."
The nurse moves the probe back to a specific area and appears to be giving her findings one last check before she announces it.
"Well, it's still kind of early, but… looks like a girl to me so far," the nurse finally says. "At about twenty weeks during your next ultrasound, we'll be able to determine the sex officially."
I honestly don't think I've ever seen Andrew smile like that before. Maybe that night I sang with him the first time in New Orleans and he was so proud of me, but even still I'm not so sure anything can match his face right now. My heart is pounding against my ribs with excitement, especially over Andrew's reaction. I can tell how much he wanted a little girl, and I swear he's doing everything in his power to keep from tearing up in front of the nurse. Or me, for that matter.
It never mattered to me whether it was a boy or girl. I'm like just about every other expecting mom out there who just wants it to be healthy. Not that our baby's health doesn't take precedence over gender in Andrew's mind, though. I know better than that.
He leans over and kisses me lightly on the lips, his bright green eyes lit up with everything good.
"Lily it is," I say with complete agreement, and I kiss him once more before he pulls away, running my fingers through his short brown hair.
"Pretty name," the nurse says. "But keep a boy name handy, too, just in case." She pulls the probe back and gives us a moment.
Andrew says to the nurse suddenly, "Well, if you don't see a little package of junk already on my kid, it's definitely a girl."
I choke out a small laugh and vaguely roll my eyes as I look at the nurse. What's even funnier is that Andrew was being serious. He cocks his head to one side when he notices the amused look on my face.
We spend the rest of the day shopping. Neither of us could resist it. We've spent some time looking at baby stuff before but never bought much, because we didn't know if it should be pink or blue and we didn't want to end up with a room full of yellow. And even though there's still a chance it could be a boy, I think Andrew is more convinced than before that it's a girl, so I go along with it and let myself believe it, too. But he still won't let me buy much!
"Just wait," he insists when I go for the next girlie outfit in the newborn section. "You know my mom's planning a baby shower, right?"
"Yeah, but we can get a few more things now." I put the outfit in the cart anyway.
Andrew looks into the cart and then back at me with his lips pursed in contemplation. "I think you've surpassed a few, babe."
He's right. I've tossed about ninety dollars' worth of clothes in the basket already. Oh well, if anything, if it turns out to be a boy I can exchange it all later.
And that's how the rest of the day goes until we stop by his mother's house to give her the news.
"Oh, that's wonderful!" Marna says, pulling me into a hug. "I thought for sure it'd be a boy!"
My hands slide away from Marna's arms, and I sit at the kitchen table with Andrew while Marna heads to the fridge. She pulls out a tea pitcher and starts preparing us a glass.
"Baby shower will be in February," Marna says from the bar. "I've already got everything planned out. All you have to do is show up." She beams at me and puts the tea pitcher away.
"Thank you," I say.
She sets a glass down in front of each of us and then pulls out the empty chair.
I really do miss home. But I love it here, too, and Marna is like another mom to me. I haven't been able to bring myself to tell Andrew yet about how much I miss my mom and Natalie, just having a friend to talk to. You can be in love with the greatest guy on the planet—and in fact, I am—but it doesn't mean it won't be somewhat difficult not having other friends. I've met one girl my age here, Alana, who lives upstairs with her husband, but I just haven't been able to click with her on any kind of level. I think if I'm already making up lies to keep from going somewhere with her when she calls, then clicking with her at all might never happen.
But I really think my secret sadness and missing home and all that is because of the pregnancy. My hormones are all out of whack. And I think it also has a lot to do with worrying. I worry about everything now. I mean, I did a lot of that before I met Andrew, but now that I'm pregnant, my worries have multiplied: Will the baby be healthy? Will I be a good mother? Did I screw up my life by… I'm doing it again. Fuck. I'm a horrible person. Every time that thought crosses my mind it makes me feel so guilty. I love our baby and I wouldn't change the way things are if I could, but I can't help but wonder if I… if we messed up by getting pregnant too soon.
"Camryn?" I hear Andrew's voice and I snap out of my deep thoughts. "Are you all right?"
I force a believable smile. "Yeah, I'm good. Was just daydreaming—y'know, I prefer purple over pink."
"I got to name her," Andrew says, "so you can choose whatever colors you want." He encloses my hand underneath his on the table. It makes me smile just to know that he cares about any of this stuff at all.
Marna pulls her glass away from her lips and sets it on the table in front of her.
"Oh?" she asks intrigued. "You've already picked out a name?"
Andrew nods. "Lily Marybeth. Camryn's middle name is Marybeth. She should be named after her mom."
Oh my God, he just melted my heart. I don't deserve him.
Marna smiles over at me, her face full of happiness and every other emotion imaginable that someone like Andrew's mother could possess. Not only did her son beat his illness and come back strong from the brink of death, but now she has a granddaughter on the way.
"Well, it's a beautiful name," she says. "I thought Aidan and Michelle would be first, but life's full of surprises." Something about the way she said that seemed to have a hidden meaning and Andrew notices.
"Something going on with Aidan and Michelle?" Andrew asks, taking a quick sip of his tea.
"Just part of being married," she answers. "I've never seen a marriage without some kind of struggles, and they've been together for a long time."
"How long?" I ask.
"Married only five years," Marna says. "But they've been together for about nine, I believe." She nods as she thinks about it further, satisfied with her memory.
"It's probably just Aidan," Andrew says. "I wouldn't wanna be married to him." He laughs.
"Yeah, that would be weird," I say, wrinkling my nose at him.
"Well, Michelle won't be able to make the baby shower," Marna says. "She has a few conferences she has to attend, and it just doesn't fit with her schedule, especially since she's so far away. But she'll probably send the best gifts out of everyone." She smiles sweetly over at me.
I acknowledge her and take another sip, but my mind is wandering again and I can't stop it. All I can think about is what she said a few comments back, about never knowing of a marriage without struggles. And I slip right back into worry mode.
"Your birthday is December the eighth, right, Camryn?"
I blink back into the moment. "Oh… yes. The big twenty-one."
"Well, looks like I have a birthday party to plan, too, then."
"Oh, no, you don't need to do that."
She waves away my plea as if it's ridiculous, and Andrew just sits back with that dopey grin on his face.
I give in because I know with Marna there's no use trying.
We head home after an hour, and it's already dark out. I'm so tired from running around all day and from the Lily excitement.
Lily. I can't believe I'm going to be a mom. A smile spreads across my face as I step into the living room. I drop my purse on the coffee table and plop down on the center cushion of the couch, kicking my shoes off. But before too long, Andrew is sitting down next to me with that knowing look on his beautiful face.
I could fool Marna, but I should've known better than to think I could fool him.
I lift Camryn into my arms and pull her onto my lap. We sit here together, my arms wrapped around her and my chin nestled into the crook of her neck. I know something's bothering her. I can feel it, but a part of me is afraid to ask.
"What is it?" I ask anyway and hold my breath.
She turns to look me in the eyes, and they're consumed with worry. "I'm just afraid."
"What are you afraid of?"
She pauses, letting her gaze fall about the room until resting directly out in front of her. "Everything," she says.
I reach up and turn her chin back toward me. "You can tell me anything, Camryn. You know that, right?"
Her blue eyes fill with tears, but she doesn't let them fall.
"I… well I don't want us to end up like… well like a lot of people."
Oh, I know where this is going. I grab her by the waist and turn her body around so that she's facing me, straddling my lap.
"Look at me," I say, taking both of her hands. "We're not going to end up like everybody else. You want to know how I know?"
She doesn't respond, but she doesn't need to. I know she wants me to go on. A tear escapes one eye, and I reach up and wipe it away with the pad of my thumb.
"We won't because we're both conscious of it," I begin. "Because it was fate that we met on that bus in Kansas, and because we both know what we want out of life. We may not have the details mapped out—and we don't need to—but we both know which direction we don't want to go."
I stop and then say, "We can still travel the world. We just have to put it off for a while longer. And in the meantime, we live our lives the way we want to. None of that daily monotonous bullshit."
I get a tiny smile out of her.
"Well, how do we avoid that exactly?" she asks, crossing her arms and smirking down at me.
Now there's the playful smartass Camryn I know and love.
I rub my hands up and down her thighs briskly and then say, "If you want to work, you can work. I don't care if you want to flip burgers or shovel shit at the zoo, do whatever you want. But the second you get tired of it or feel like it's becoming your life, walk the fuck away. And if you'd rather sit back and do nothing, you can do that too, like I've told you before. You know I'll take care of you no matter what."
I know what's coming next, so I brace for it. And sure enough Camryn snarls at me and argues, "No way in hell will I sit back on my ass and let you take care of me."
She's so hot when she's bein' all independent.
"Well that's fine. Whatever," I say, raising my hands up in surrender. "But I want you to understand that I don't care what you do as long as you're happy doing it."
"And what about you, Andrew? You can't just tell me not to worry about 'the monotony of life' while you take it on headfirst just because we have a baby to support. That's not fair."
"That's sort of what you said that first night I buried my head between your thighs. Did I have a problem with it then?"
She blushes hard. Even after all this time and all that we've been through together, I still manage to make her blush.
I lean up and cup her face within my hands and pull her into a kiss.
"As long as I have you, Lily, and my music, I don't need anything else."
Another tear streams down her soft cheek, but this time she's smiling underneath it. "You promise?" she asks.
"Yes, I promise," I say with determination, squeezing her hands within mine. I let the seriousness fade from my face and smile at her again.
"I'm sorry," she says, letting out a defeated breath. "I don't know what's wrong with me lately. One day I'm all smiles and perfectly fine and then it's like, out of nowhere, I'm doom-and-gloom pathetic."
I laugh a little under my breath. "Bitch-slapped by mood swings. Get used to it."
Her mouth falls open slightly, and she laughs too. "Well, I guess that's one way of putting it."
She stops abruptly. "Do you hear that?" Her eyes narrow as she pushes her ear toward the source of the sound that I hear, but pretend not to.
"Oh great," I say. "Don't tell me that pregnancy causes schizophrenia, too."
She smacks me gently on the chest and climbs off my lap. "No, it's your cell phone," she says, walking around to the back of the couch. "I thought the battery was dead."
No… I just turned the ringer off and hid it to make you think that. At least I thought I turned it off.
"I think you're sitting on your phone," she says.
I stand up and play stupid, rummaging around underneath the cushion. Finally, I pull it out to see Natalie's picture (technically, it's a picture of a hyena that I thought represented her best) looking back at us from the screen. Dammit. This is going to be awkward.
Camryn reaches out for it when she notices Natalie's name.
"Since when did Natalie start calling you?" she asks, snatching it from my hand.
Yes, definitely awkward because she doesn't look the slightest bit jealous. She's grinning!
- "Andrew and Camryn's journey was unlike any other I've read. Their story really stands out and I was just so impressed with the direction the author took this story in and with the way she stayed so true to these beloved characters. This series has the perfect blend of romance and adventure combined with heartfelt emotional depth....fans of The Edge of Never will be very happy with this sequel!"—Aestas Book Blog
- "5 stars! [J. A. Redmerski] did not disappoint...The Edge of Always had me on the edge of my seat until the very last page."—Kindle Crack Book Reviews
- "Magic. J. A. Redmerski once again recreates that special, intangible something... that intense and enduring connection between two people that makes this story so unforgettable. I felt every moment as Camryn and Andrew unravel the lingering tangles from their past and embark on a journey to define their always. I just can't get enough of their romance."—Vilma's Book Blog on The Edge of Always
- "Addictive and fast paced. Readers will be drawn to Camryn, a smart girl who has become emotionally numb. Her partner in crime, the systerious, spontaneous and sweet Andrew is the real highlight. Readers will quickly get wrapped up in the adventure."—RT Book Reviews on The Edge of Never
- "5 STARS PLUS! This is one of the BEST BOOKS THAT I HAVE EVER READ...THE EDGE OF NEVER will forever live in my heart and I just know, years from now I'll still be reminiscing, or better yet, re-reading this book."—Maryse's Book Blog
- "I found their blooming romance to be slow-burning and sensual, making for a real connection that gets lost in other books . . . All-consuming and riveting . . . Redmerski pours passion into this book .and I know it will not fail in touching readers' hearts."—FreshFiction.com on The Edge of Never
- "Knocked me down and left me gasping for breath . . . Every morsel of pain the characters felt, every intimate moment and deep love that the characters experienced, I experienced right along with them."—GliteraryGirl.com on The Edge of Never
- On Sale
- Jan 14, 2014
- Page Count
- 464 pages