Authors: Marilyn Cruise
Tags: #romance, #erotic romance, #contemporary romance, #steamy romance, #new adult
The Everlasting Chapel
This is a work of fiction.
All the characters, organizations and
portrayed in this novel are either
of the author’s imagination or are used
First Edition, Mar 15, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Marilyn Cruise
All rights reserved.
Other Books By Marilyn Cruise
The Black Chapel
Book 1 in the
The White Chapel
Book 2 in the
Way Too Far
A Steamy New Adult Romance
About Scarlett’s best friend, Anne
The brunette teller behind the counter
raises an over-plucked eyebrow and glares at me like she thinks I’m
trying to rob the bank or cash a check that obviously is a
“I’d like to deposit this,” I say with a
trembling voice, although now, even I’m having a hard time really
believing that the damn thing is authentic and that the funds will
Maybe this is all a cruel joke Diane is
playing on me from beyond the grave. I certainly wouldn’t put it
past her. She’s probably in Heaven, laughing her head off,
congratulating herself that she was able to make me believe I had
walked into a goldmine—her goldmine. Or maybe she faked her own
illness and death, and this is a new game she has conjured up just
to make her son’s life miserable. She could even be here watching
me, getting a kick out of watching the poor stripper girl suffer. I
stop myself from looking for her. I don’t believe Diane could do
something so evil toward her son, even if at this point I almost
think he deserves it.
I suppose one shouldn’t speak of the dead in
such a way, but with Mrs. Manning, I have a feeling she would
delight in such gossip about herself. And in a strange way, I miss
“You want to deposit
teller asks as she holds the check, her eyes running up and down
Judgmental bitch. “That’s what I said.”
Obviously, I don’t resemble a billionaire at the moment, but she
shouldn’t be giving me the ‘you-look-like-a-homeless-chick’ glare.
I can’t help it if I look like shit today. Yesterday I worked at
Ophelia’s and waited tables until 2:00 a.m., and then I had to be
at the Portland Museum of Art at 6:00 a.m. to sort through the
inventory, and now I’m on my lunch break just trying to deposit a
check I feel kind of—okay, really guilty—about depositing.
But those aren’t the only reasons I look
like a worn out old crone. The last two weeks have been extremely
stressful. I started work Monday before last, and have had to
simultaneously train at two jobs while making sure my father is
comfortable at the hospital. Whenever I had a spare moment, I
interviewed nurse after nurse, trying to find a candidate who I
feel comfortable leaving my father with while I’m at work—which is
many, many hours.
The moment Vivian Hall, my childhood nanny,
applied for the position, I knew I had found the right caregiver. I
have so many great memories of her, and as a child I remember
asking my mother if Vivian was related to Mary Poppins. Vivian’s a
sweeter-than-honey, no-nonsense, fifty-something,
never-been-married woman. She has soft, rosy cheeks, black hair,
thin lips, and most importantly, kind eyes. She starts on Sunday
and will be taking care of my father—in-house and full time—when he
gets home. I’d watch him myself, but I’m not sure if this check is
real or not and don’t want to gamble on whether or not I can afford
his chemotherapy treatments. Better to be safe than sorry.
Especially when it comes to the Manning family and their money.
I still have a small—okay, huge—part of me
that doesn’t want their charity. But unfortunately, the larger part
of me wants it more than the part that doesn’t, so here I am
cashing in on my father’s life-saving medical treatments and a big,
bright future for me. I mean, how can anyone blame me? Three
fucking billon dollars with my name on it. Maybe once I’ve used
what I need, I’ll donate the rest to charity. Now that would make
Michael go completely insane since that’s what he was so
desperately trying to avoid in the first place.
“It’s real,” I say to the teller, my heart
beating at triple speed. As imperceptibly as I can, I wipe my
sweaty palms on my pants.
“I’ll need to have the manager clear this,
but he’s out to lunch at the moment. Do you mind waiting?” she
says, gesturing to the occupied seats behind me.
Wait? I don’t have time to wait. I have to
be back at work in fifteen minutes. “It’s okay. I’ll come back
“We’re closed tomorrow,” she says. “It’s
Saturday.” She smiles as if she enjoys postponing my very large
I should complain about her and get her
fired. Fortunately for her, I’m not that cruel. “That’s okay. I’ll
be back on Monday.”
“Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’re
closed then, too.” She smiles again—a plastic grin.
Maybe I will complain just a little.
“Tuesday then,” I say.
“Tuesday it is. Have a great weekend, Miss
Hansen,” she says, handing me back the check and my ID. “We
appreciate your business.”
I just give her a clipped smile and walk
toward the exit. Back to work.
I am rather glad to be as busy as I am. It
helps keep my mind off Michael and all the things associated with
that ridiculous situation. It’s beyond anything I can really cope
with at the moment. He’s called me a few times every day and left
messages for me to call him back, but I haven’t been able to. Or
really wanted to.
At first I thought it was sweet, and I found
myself hoping that maybe someday we could reunite, but with each
passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that ending all
association with him was and will always be the right thing to do.
And now when he calls, I feel a bit frustrated that he doesn’t see
that we both just really need to move on.
Hell, I’ve already moved on, and I’m doing
rather well considering all the craziness that’s been hurled at me.
Yeah, keep telling yourself that, my alter-ego says. I have too! I
snap back. I’m able to function at a healthy level, and do things
like go to work and even shove some food down my throat once in a
while. Anne says I’ve lost a little weight, but with my schedule, I
just don’t have time to eat as much as I normally do. And to prove
my point that I am perfectly fine, I’ve even considered the
sensible option of changing my phone number just so I don’t have to
backslide and feel as if I want to cry every time I see that
I’m well on my way to a perfectly happy life
without the selfish, no-good scoundrel.
On my way out, I pass a mother and her
screaming five-year-old-ish son. Suddenly the kid vomits all over
the tile floor, sending drops of puke onto my jeans and boots. I
gasp as I jump backward, and instinctively hold my breath so I
don’t inhale any of the floating spew particles.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am,” the mother says,
her tired eyes filled with concern. “I didn’t realize he was sick,
and…oh, dear.” She looks at my pants and boots. “I am truly so very
Unable to hold my breath any longer, I take
a breath. The stench of the stuff fills the air. I hear a few
people whisper, and everyone around me scurries off like
cockroaches when the lights come on.
“It’s okay,” I say, looking for something in
my purse to wipe myself off with. Just don’t inhale. Just don’t
A bank teller quickly brings paper towels,
hands me one, and then starts to wipe the slimy stuff off the
floor. I think I’m going to barf. The mother apologizes to me
again, grabs the screaming child by the arm, and disappears into
This is disgusting. I have to go home and
get cleaned up—there’s just no way around it. I’m sure Staci, the
clerk at the Portland Museum of Art bookstore, will understand. But
what I’m afraid of is, if this kid has a stomach bug, and I also
get it, it makes me look like an unreliable employee if I take a
few sick days right after I started working.
Once I manage to clean myself off a little,
I head for the exit, and as I walk through the doors, I hear
someone yell my name.
“Miss Hansen!” a male voice calls.
Great. I really don’t want to meet anyone
right now. I just want to go home and get cleaned up. I turn
around, and there I see Doctor Jamison.
Of course it had to be the handsome doctor
Anne thinks I should have a fling with. He might even be the most
gorgeous man I have ever laid eyes on, with his intense green eyes,
his blond, wavy hair, the sexy cleft in his chin, his deliciously
muscular physique, long legs…
Okay, I better stop thinking about it.
Right. Now. However, I mentally note that it is strange how my
stomach doesn’t do that flip thing it does when I see Michael. I
definitely think this man is just as gorgeous as Michael—if not
even more gorgeous—and is a gift to all women who have the fortune
of laying eyes on him. This guy is a little older than me, but no
more than five to eight years I’m sure, and he definitely has his
In any case, this is not the best time to
meet a handsome doctor, especially since I actually have been
considering Anne’s naughty suggestion. I give him a thin smile.
“Funny to run into you here of all places,”
“Yeah, I was just…doing some banking.”
There’s an awkward pause. “And this kid just vomited all over me.”
“Seriously?” He doesn’t look disgusted, only
concerned. Must be a doctor thing, because if I were him, I sure as
hell would be stepping away from the person covered in upchuck.
“Yeah, well I just need to go home and get
cleaned up,” I say.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he
Really? Wow, I like this guy. “No, but
thanks for the offer. Oh, and thanks for being such a great doctor
for my father.” He has been very attentive, and has answered any
question I have had.
“Of course. He’s a strong man, and with
great support from you, I’m sure he’ll be back to himself in no
“Well…I had better…” I say, pointing toward
“This is kind of out of the blue, but I
wanted to see if you’d have dinner with me sometime?” he asks.
For a moment I just stand and stare. Dinner?
As in a dinner date, or just eating a meal across a table and
engaging in conversation? Something tells me it would definitely be
a date. The way the doctor’s eyes drink me in tells me he’s not
into casual dinners.
This is not good.
Dates lead to hugging, and hugging leads to
kissing, and kissing leads to fondling, and fondling leads to… Oh,
dear. I realize I’m light-years ahead of myself, and light-years
ahead of his intentions too probably, but now that I’m one step
closer to a fling, I’m suddenly terrified. I feel like I would
be…cheating on Michael. Which is ridiculous! He divorced me, and
hell, we didn’t even have a real relationship.
“Or…maybe lunch?” he asks.
“I…I’m really busy. I have two jobs right
“Coffee?” he asks, smirking playfully.
I laugh. I suppose I have to eat, and it
would be nice to eat with someone else instead of just alone.
“Maybe lunch. They do let me out once in a while from the Portland
Museum of Art.”
“How about this coming Monday?” he asks.
Wow, he really wants this. “Okay.”
He pulls out his phone. “What’s your
I give it to him, and he calls it.
“I left my phone in the car,” I say, trying
to explain why it isn’t ringing in my purse, making sure he doesn’t
think I’m giving him a fake number.
He smiles and waits until my voicemail picks
up. “Hi, this is Spencer Jamison, the guy who just mauled you at
the bank.” He winks at me.
Uh-oh. Okay, I should have said no. He’s
already flirting with me, and I’m not ready for that. Besides, my
new mantra is: guys are a thing of the past. Unless it’s a
friends-with-benefits type relationship, my alter-ego suggests.
What? Okay, this has got to stop. Besides, a respectable man like
Dr. Jamison wouldn’t be interested in an arrangement like that,
would he? More importantly, could I actually do something so crazy?
Desperate times call for desperate measures, my alter-ego says. No!
I am so screwed. What? No! I’m not going to screw him, dammit!