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Asher – Ashes & Embers
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I should have died.
But I didn’t, and I wasn’t.
Living the life most women only dream about, I was madly in love with my soulmate—Asher Valentine—amazing husband, loving father, and rock’s favorite kick-ass frontman. A man who loved me every day, in every way, since we first met as teens. We were blessed with a beautiful daughter who was the light of our life. My all-female rock band was tearing up the charts.
Then tragedy struck, and I lost it all.
Now all I have is a stack of journals, an antique key, and a big black void where my memories should be.
Used to be.
And I have him—this man with wild hair, tattoos from head to toe, a soft voice, and an even softer touch that gives me butterflies. He’s clearly hopelessly in love with his wife.
I’m told that’s me.
But that wife is gone, and she took everything they once had, leaving me in her place.
A broken replacement. A new version that doesn’t quite fit.
I’m slowly falling in love with him, but will he ever truly love me? Or will he forever be in love with her, the phantom woman who haunts us both?
Asher can be read standalone!
There is NO cheating in this book. The Hero stays 100% faithful to his wife from the time he meets her at 15, all through her 8 year coma, and forever after. This is a story of what marriage and true love is.
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“You brought me all the way up here to my favorite place to distract me, didn’t you?” Ember squints against the rays of sun slicing through the trees.
I grab her hand and link our fingers as we walk along the steep, rocky path that runs the length of the waterfall. “Is it working?”
She mimics my playful grin. “You know it is, Valentine, and it isn’t fair.”
My wife only calls me by my last name when she’s teasing, flirting with me, or when we’re having a rift. Sometimes a mix of all.
When we reach the small lookout at the top of the falls, I pull her close, squeezing her hand so she can’t walk away to stare at the water. Her cheeks are flushed pink and damp from the hike up the mountain, her lips slightly parted as she catches her breath.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” She smiles at me with that twinkle of playfulness in her green eyes I’ve been crazy about since I met her.
“I just love you. That’s why.” I lean down and touch my lips to hers, lingering for a few seconds, sharing the same breath.
“I love you too.”
We sit on a boulder covered in soft moss near the ledge and admire the view of the falls and clear water in the river below. Autumn in New Hampshire is our favorite season, and this is our special place. It’s the spot where we said “I love you” for the first time. It’s where I asked her to marry me. It’s also where she told me she was pregnant with our daughter. We’ve written songs here. Made most of our life decisions here.
A lone cloud drifts across the sky, dimming the brightness of the sun, leaving us in a moment of unexpected grayness. Much like this morning when over breakfast she blurted out words that nearly made me choke on my coffee. Unfamiliar words like unhappy.
I told her I didn’t understand. And I don’t. I still don’t.
Her words seeped into my chest and settled there with a persistent burn. Now, hours later, that ache endures, plaguing me, and I want it gone. Stat. I know deep down that her words this morning weren’t merely words. They were stepping stones thrown down a path that would take us to a place we’d never been before.
My hope was that she wouldn’t be able to think about being unhappy in a place that holds nothing but precious memories, which was why I suggested we get on my motorcycle and take a ride here.
“Ash, I don’t think I want to live like this anymore.”
The soft sincerity of her voice cuts through my thoughts like a dagger slicing a ribbon, leaving my hope frayed and tattered.
The cloud moves, and the sun’s warmth and light return, but it doesn’t diminish the chill of foreboding still rooted in my gut.
Is she thinking of leaving me?
“Define this.” I nod at a hiker who smiles in our direction as he walks by on the path a few feet away. My fingers twitch, itching to hold a cigarette and bring it to my lips, even though I haven’t smoked in more than four years.
“I don’t want this crazy rock star life anymore. I miss you. I’m lonely. I hate that we’re both constantly in a state of utter exhaustion. I’m worried about us. All I want is calm and quiet. Some normalcy. To be home more with Kenzi. It hurts me so much to say it, but I’m not happy with how things are. It’s too much nonstop stress. Too much time apart.” She stares at the water tumbling down the rocky mountainside. Her top teeth dig into her glossy lower lip, something she does when she’s worried or lost in thought.
Every word feels like a brick, each one stacking up to create a wall I’m not sure I can climb. I rub my hand across the stubble on my chin, hoping the noise of the rushing waterfall has affected my hearing and my wife isn’t telling me she’s unhappy with our life.
Our hearts and happiness have always been perfectly in sync. Our goals, our dreams, our desires have always been parallel. Solid and unwavering. We’ve been called a power couple in the music industry. The fans even gave us one of those smashed up stupid couple nicknames: Ashber.
We’re happy. Aren’t we? We send each other sexy and mushy texts day and night. We still kiss like lovestruck teens. We talk on the phone for hours when we’re apart, chatting about life, music, Kenzi, and our future. We can’t keep our hands off each other when we’re together. We live in a never-ending honeymoon phase.
“I thought you were happy with our life,” I say, terrified of where she’s going with this, and even more terrified to admit that I’ve been feeling the same way.