Series: Ever More #2
on December 7, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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A father desperate to save his little girl. A doctor fighting for a cure. And two broken hearts that can only be healed together.Ava Larsen is too busy finishing her pediatric oncology residency to find love… and she knows what it feels like to have a broken heart. She assures herself that kissing the gorgeous alpha stranger the night before was nothing more than a dangerous yet delicious mistake— one she won’t repeat.
Widower billionaire Aleksander Maximilian is one of the most powerful men alive, but he’s helpless to save his daughter Olivia from cancer. Doctors have assured him it would be best to enjoy her last days at home. To make Olivia’s wish to spend her last Christmas on Lake Tahoe come true, he hires the best home care team in the business.
It turns out the head of the team is the breathtaking woman he shared an unexpected kiss which ignited sparks. But this is the worst time for Aleksander to have finally have passionate feelings for someone, not to mention it’s strictly forbidden to Ava to get involved with her patient’s father.
Tragedy brought them together. A miracle might rip them apart.
An emotional gripping love story of hope, redemption, and never giving up, Forevermore is the second book in USA Today bestselling author Cristiane Serruya’s EVER MORE Series. If you enjoy romances by Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Sylvia Day, and Maya Banks, then you will cherish this heartwarming, steamy contemporary erotic novel.
Sequel to So Much More, FOREVERMORE stands on its own, but reading in order guarantees a more enjoyable time.
4 reasons why I LOVE to write romances!
Guest post by Cristiane Serruya
Hello and thanks for hosting me. I’m so happy to be here with you and your readers today.
Since 2011, I’ve been immersed in the written word—penning romance novels, to be exact. The process of crafting and getting a work through the publishing machine—especially the indie world—can be a lonely and hard path but when my new imaginary friends walk out of my romances, they’re worth all of grueling pain I submit my wrists and fingers to. Here are four reasons why I have been hooked by love stories.
- The characters
The men! Handsome or scarred, funny or brooding, overbearing or supportive. Dark-haired, blond, paled skin, tanned and everything in between! Now put them together with blondes, brunettes or red-heads; thin or curved or toned; opinionated and bold or delicate and shy! Oh, my! To make it even better, throw in a couple of kids—I love stories with smart kids! Of course, makes it even funnier if we have a few criminals in the story, too. There, I have a bunch of new friends—and enemies—for me to play with for a while.
I get to create stories
Imagine those said characters meeting over a business meeting, as in The Complete TRUST Series; or fighting for a cure for a sick child, as in Forevermore, and the sparks flying over a heated argument or a nice gesture.
And then imagine them doing it. Yeah! And some revengeful ex-partner or dark secret, which threatens their relationship. I decide who loves and hates; who lives and dies! I can totally transform a person I know in a good or a horrible character. I can even take my revenge on the ones I don’t like much and create a whole new ending for a situation gone wrong. It’s freeing!
Learning is a passion of mine. In order to create believable characters, research is necessary. For example, Tavish Uilleam MacCraig, the lead male character of Love Painted in Red, who appeared on my first release Entwined Fates, TRUST Series #1 and was supposed to be a secondary character, grew so much as a character during TRUST Series that he demanded his story to be told. As it unfolded, and from it I have already Damaged Love, which features Tavish’s best friend, Lord Richard Smith, and after comes the story of Richard’s older brother, Lord Hugh Smith.
All the three of them are veterans of war—I am always in awe of those men and women who sacrifice themselves to make this world safer.
We don’t have a strong military here in Brazil and I wanted them to be believable veteran dealing with PTSD, living with disabilities, having invisible scars, for the readers to feel their pains. So I interviewed many veterans online. It was an enlightening and heartbreaking experience and it helped me make Tavish and Richard come out beautifully—or so I like to think—with their physical and psychological scars and yet full of life strength and vigor.
The happily ever after
With all the horrible things happening in the world, unnecessary killings, religious and racial strife, it’s great to be able to escape to a world where my characters have survived bad things and are still able to find a fulfilling and healing relationship with a happy ending—and don’t forget the steamy sex I got to create. But sometimes, I get out of a story emotionally tired; so tired, I need a break.
It was exactly the case of Forevermore, Olivia, Alek, and Ava’s heart-wrenching and heart-warming story that I needed a break before I jump into the skin of Benedict, who is blind, and Natalya, from Evermore. Ah, what did I do during my break? I wrote a light, funny and suspenseful romance. So, pre-order already Royal Love, Last Royals Series #1.
Last, I want to share some good news. Almost all my books are on KindleUnlimited, so visit Cristiane Serruya’s Amazon Page and read them for free!
I love to connect with readers, so feel free to stalk me online: Facebook Author Page, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram. And follow me on BookBub, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Those who want to receive my very, very sporadic emails about new releases and promotions can sign-up here: Cristiane Serruya Website and win a free romance, free cookbooks, and so much more!
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts here and helping me promote my work.
LaGuardia airport was an army of people and a cacophony of sound. Nearly losing herself in the chaos of it, Ava weaved her way through the crowds of travelers looking for the meeting point.
She found it odd that being alone among so many people made her feel even more lonely. She had no real friends and practically no social life outside of work. She liked her co-workers, but aside from her grandparents, she didn’t feel close to anyone. Not as a friend, and certainly there were no lovers in her life.
For the past ten years, Ava’s libido had been so dormant that none of her dates could spark it to life.
Yet, sometimes she dreamed of a faceless man doing things to her—wicked things. She’d feel the weight of his body pressing down on hers, him sliding in and out of her, until he treated her to a burning climax.
But for the last two nights her dreams had been populated by a face, Aleksander’s. Even though he was touched by sadness, there was an omnipresent carnality about him, in his grayish-green eyes, in his full mouth, in the way he stood.
This morning, she had woken up throbbing with lust and had brought herself to an orgasm but it had been lackluster, just as anti-climactic as those she’d had with Otto.
None of the men she had met had ever made her dream of might-have-beens: an evening out dining with candle light with a man who made her smile, who didn’t look at her as if she were a piece of meat—or a thing. None of the men she had gone out with had made her dream of a future.
Ava wanted affection, desire, security. Love.
And now the one who makes me dream is forbidden to me.
She huffed at her wayward thoughts as she pushed her way through the throng of people, pulling her luggage behind her to the bar where they were supposed to meet.
Parking her luggage in a corner and putting her shoulder bag on it to alleviate the weight on her shoulder, she surveyed the room, and then, not finding Sydney, nor Aleksander, she looked at her watch. She was on time. In fact, she was a few minutes early.
“Dr. Larsen,” a husky, deep male voice—Aleksander’s voice—called out.
Ava raised her head to see him walking in firm strides in her direction.
It’d only been little more than a few hours since she’d last seen him, yet the shock of his presence before her shook her physically.
He was so commanding. So vital. Aleksander had gripped her and kissed her with such an intense passion she’d felt as if she were drowning, helpless and wanton, and wanting more. Now he stood before her and she had so many things to say—and she could utter none of them.
“Good morning, Mr. Maximilian.”
He had to stop and rack his brain for something appropriate to say because the first thing that came to his mind was completely inappropriate: You look beautiful.
It was strange for him to feel such a powerful attraction and it was disconcerting to even have such feelings under the circumstances in which they were happening. But they at least assured him that he was still an adult male with a working brain and body, despite the maelstrom of emotions he’d been living with.
“Dr. Larsen,” he repeated, to remind himself she was Olivia’s doctor. “If you follow me, we are in the VIP lounge waiting to be called.”
Doctor Larsen. Doctor Larsen. He kept repeating in his mind, but it kept whispering back to him: Ava. Ava. Just Ava.
“Please,” Aleksander said, holding the door open for her.
As he gave instructions to the attendant concerning the loading of Ava’s luggage in his private jet, she looked around.
The lounge was bright and spacious with windows lining the far wall with a view of planes landing and taking off. Lush sofas pressed against each wall with several dining chairs and tables scattered neatly about the room, and a full self-serve coffee stand rested at the rear of the room. It radiated an elegance that reminded her just how well off Aleksander really was, and it made her wonder about the luxuries—and pleasures—that awaited her at The Cottage.
Ava was immediately aware of his hand on the small of her back guiding her to where their party was waiting and she prayed he didn’t hear the soft gasp that escaped her lips at his touch.
Sydney was already in the lounge sitting and chatting with Olivia who sat on the floor with Pinkie, her stuffed rabbit, and Toddy.
“Dr. Larsen, this is my brother, Thaddeus,” Aleksander said. “Thaddeus, this is…”
“The famous Dr. Larsen,” Thaddeus interrupted, shaking Ava’s hand in greeting. “I’ve heard much about you from my brother.”
“Oh, really?” Ava asked, a bit too curious about what all he knew.
Aleksander cleared his throat, and Ava didn’t miss the sharp look he sent his brother. “Yes, I’ve told Thaddeus all about the trip and the team that would be caring for Olivia. Now, Dr. Larsen, if you’d like to put your things down over there and grab some refreshments…please do. We still have a bit before we’re ready to board.”
“Of course,” Ava muttered, not knowing what else to say with his hand so distractingly hovering at her back. She took the opportunity to escape to the coffee bar to serve as a momentary distraction.
She needed to get a grip on her desires, and fast, otherwise she would never make it until the end of the month, much less to the end of January.
“Wow! You really scored this time,” Thaddeus whispered when Aleksander sat back beside him in the lounge. “How did you get so lucky as to find someone who quit the Swedish Bikini Team to become a doctor? She’s perfect, you know.”
Aleksander stiffened. Letting his brother talk him into going to the Rose Bar had been a mistake. Feigning ignorance, he asked, “Who’s perfect?”
Thaddeus chuckled. “You know exactly who I’m talking about. Your unbelievably hot doctor. Ava Larsen.”
“Perfect for what?” Aleksander sounded ridiculously innocent, even to his own ears.
“Please.” Thaddeus snorted. “What else is a perfect woman good for?”
“Whatever you’re about to suggest, don’t bother. I’m not interested.”
“Bullshit. You can try to deny to yourself,”—Thaddeus crossed his arms in front of him—“but you’re not fooling me. Not a bit. I think you’ve discovered the next Mrs. Maximilian.”
“Hell, no.” He reached behind him and knocked twice on the post. “I’m not looking for a wife.”
“You don’t need to marry her to take her—”
Aleksander raised his hand to stop his brother’s tirade. “I’m not looking for that either.”
“You need more enjoyment in your life. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, I know, but allowing a bit of pleasure isn’t the same as abandoning that weight. If anything, adding a bit of enjoyment might help you bear it longer.”
Aleksander shrugged, but he didn’t protest. Yes, I do need more enjoyment in my life.
Thaddeus frowned. “Huh?”
“Norway doesn’t have a bikini team, you dumbass,” Aleksander said, smirking at his brother.
They didn’t speak again until they stepped into the cabin of his G-650.
“Vania will attend to you.” And again he put his hand on her lower back as they entered the plane, sending a jolt up her spine, but his attention was on his daughter.
He crossed to the back of the plane and put Olivia on the sofa in front of the plasma TV recessed in the far wall with her journal, Pinkie, and the ever-present Toddy, and made sure she had her favorite movie on, before he strapped her seatbelt.
He squatted in front of her. “Do you want something to drink?”
“No, Daddy. I’m fine,” she said, and jutted her chin to where Ava was handing her coat and stroller to the solicitous uniformed flight attendant. “Why don’t you make sure Ava has her seatbelt fastened, too?”
He rolled his eyes at his daughter. “Don’t you think she’s big enough to fasten her own seatbelt?”
“Well…” Olivia pretended to think about it for a moment, all the while searching her mind for another idea which would make her father sit with Ava. “Yes, she might be. But what if she is afraid of flying? You should hold her hand.”
A muffled chuckle from Sydney told him he would not win this battle. He shook his head at his daughter and tapped her nose. “You are too smart for your age, you know?”
“I know.” She beamed at him. “Now, make sure Ava is not scared.”
With a kiss on Olivia’s cheek and a smile to the nurse, he moved back to where Ava was.
She hated being impressed. Again.
Champagne of a superb vintage was one thing—she was accustomed to luxury since Eirik and Hildegard never spared her and her brother—but she didn’t care for her raised-brow reaction to the lush cabin with its deep chairs, sofas, the antique carpet, and even a Baccarat vase filled with flowers.
Guiding her to an empty seat, Aleksander sat directly across from her and crossed his legs.
“Dr. Larsen prefers champagne, Vania.”
He lifted a brow when Ava shook her head. “I’ll have water. Thank you.”
“I’ll have the same as Dr. Larsen then,” he told Vania, who scurried off and returned only a short moment later with two glasses of water that she placed on the mahogany coffee table between them.
“I’m used to everyone addressing me as doctor when I’m at work in the hospital, but…” Gaining her nerve, she lifted her eyes to stare at him. “Since we’ll be living together for three months—I mean…uh…”
His lips curled up and he waved away the apology she was prepared to give. “I know what you mean.”
“Right. So, doctor seems…I don’t know, maybe too formal?”
Half smile still in place, Aleksander stared at her with a dangerous twinkle in his eyes. “What should I call you then?”
“All right, Ava it is then.” He tried not to hear his mind cheering in victory. “And you can call me Aleksander. Or Alek, for short.”
They sat in what felt like an eternity of silence, and Ava took a swallow of her water to buy herself a bit more time to gather her thoughts. She needed to get it off her mind, and sooner rather than later. Gaining her nerve, she lifted her head to look at him. “Can I ask you something?”
“The floor is all yours, doctor.” His gaze met with hers. “Ava.”
For a moment she was lost in the clear depths of his grayish-green eyes. They were the color of a field shadowed beneath the clouds of a gray storm. I always fancied storms. She inwardly shook herself at the inane thought.
“I don’t know if you feel what I feel…or if this is totally one-sided, but whatever this is, I can’t let it run wild for three months.”
He said nothing, just crossed his arms over his broad chest.
Feeling the need to explain, she rambled on almost incoherently, “What I mean is, I’m here for work. I mean, I love Olivia, I really do, but there are certain ethical boundaries set in place by the medical establishment, and I just want to make sure that those professional boundaries aren’t muddled with personal affairs.”
“What happened between us the other night was personal,” he told her. “Strictly man to woman. I’m of the opinion that lovemaking should be personal. Your work with Olivia is professional. What happens between you and I…it’s personal.”
His words were like a shot of adrenaline.
Aleksander’s bold statement rolled over her and it brought a steam of anger mixed with lust. “Don’t assume that I’m naïve. I know very well that men like you only find amusement in the chase. But once you catch the hare, you’re done. While the hare is stewing in the pot.”
He laughed, exuding a masculine confidence that was both arousing and infuriating at the same time. “You’re an appealing armful, Ava, and I’m accustomed to taking what I want, one way or another.”
“No one takes me, one way or another.” Ava’s chin thrust forward, and her eyes flamed. She spoke with a deadly calm, “If I make love with anyone, it’s only because I want to.”
“Of course,” Aleksander agreed with an easy nod. “We’re both aware you’ll be willing when the time comes.”
She sputtered for a response, but before she said anything else, he continued, “But here we are stuck in this shitty situation: both of us aware, neither of us allowed, because your job is to keep my daughter alive for as long as possible.”
Ava’s heart sank at the turn in conversation, and all at once she saw it flash through his stormy eyes: the grief, the pain, the loneliness. “Yes, it is a pretty…ah…for the lack of a better word, shitty situation.”
“You don’t have to worry. I’ll do everything for it to be a happy time. I’m determined to make Olivia happy—happier—for as long as I can.” His face already had an indifferent expression. “So, tell me why you chose to become a pediatric oncologist.”
Well, at least that conversation is over. Ava was caught by surprise at the sudden change of topic but she went in stride. “It’s a rather complicated story.”
“We’re 30,000 feet in the air. I have time.”
“This is my dream, and it always has been,” she tried to explain without giving much of her private life away. “I can’t just suddenly…not want it. Once, you probably had a dream too. You must know.”
“I did,” he said. “And I found out there was more than one dream that worked. I found out that…happiness wasn’t in just one thing.”
“Well, I guess I haven’t found that out yet.” If I’m ever going to. “I’ve worked for this all my life. I’ve planned for it.”
“It depends what you want on your epitaph.”
“On my…” She gave him a curious look. “I am too young to think about dying.”
“No one is too young to die,” he said, glancing at Olivia napping on the sofa a few feet away from them. “Sometimes you don’t know what matters most until you’re staring down the barrel of a gun. Or until you’re on the wrong side of one too many chemo treatments done to your daughter and you’re impotent to stop her from dying. Makes you wonder if that’s all your life was—money and success—a dream which suddenly turned into a nightmare. And I’ve never read on a tombstone: She was a great doctor. Mostly they tend to say: Beloved wife and mother.”
Maybe there’s a reason for that. “Women shouldn’t have to choose. But they do.”
“And there’s no other choice,” he said.
“It’s my dream,” she said again. There was nothing else to say. “Even if I would like to have a family, kids, it’s always been my dream.”
But her blue-green eyes were strangely hollow and shuttered, and Aleksander somehow knew that her words were false. What could have happened to this woman to make her carry such sorrow? “Then,” he said, “I guess you have to go after your dream.”
“I will.” She made a point of discreetly yawning and pushing down on a button that reclined her seat and she rested her head on the pillow, closing her eyes.
Every second with the man, who was possibly the most sexually attractive male she had ever encountered, she played with fire. And not just with his wants, but with her own new feelings—pleasure at the rumble of his voice, excitement at his looks of longing.
Aleksander was more than happy to let her sleep—or pretend to. Frankly, at this point in time, he was more than happy to let her do anything as long as she stayed with Olivia for the agreed-to months.
Olivia woke from her short nap and immediately started making lists, which always brightened her mood as she focused on the things she wanted, and never thought of the likelihood of her not being around long enough for her wishes to come true. It was an activity borne of unconscious optimism. Ava being at The Cottage with them was such a good thing, it had to signify further good things to come.
She stopped writing for a moment and petted her favorite bunny who shared the seat beside her with Toddy, who lay their sleeping with his head on Olivia’s lap. She stroked his fur for a moment as she thought of what else she would like to have happen, and then happily resumed writing.
She’d listed about twenty items when she stopped and raised her head to look at her father. He watched Ava sleep, though it didn’t puzzle Olivia why he watched. She knew.
She whispered to call his attention, “Daddy.”
Aleksander unlatched his seatbelt and walked to the sofa, sitting beside her. “Hey.”
“She’s pretty when she sleeps.” Olivia said.
“Hmm, women are beautiful when they sleep, because their mouths are shut,” Aleksander answered, getting Olivia to giggle.
“You are beautiful at all times.” Turning his attention to her diary, he asked, “Making another list, Pumpkin?”
Olivia twisted her lips and frowned, wondering if she would tell. “It’s a secret.”
“Well, all secrets get out at some point,” Aleksander teased, pretending to reach over and snatch her journal.
Olivia jerked it away and laughed. “Okay, I’ll tell you three things on my list.”
“Yes, that’s all you get since you made Ava sleepy with all your boring business talk.”
A soft chuckle escaped Sydney, and he couldn’t help but also smile himself. “Okay then, tell me three since I’m so boring.”
Olivia turned around and leaned over her seat to look at Sydney, who was sitting beside her. “Which three should I tell him?”
Sydney looked at the journal pages in earnest and pointed. “How about this one, this one and…this one?”
“Okay,” Olivia said, sitting back down in her seat. “I’m going to read the first one. Are you ready, Daddy?”
“I’m ready, Pumpkin. Tell me.”
“Number four: I’m happy that Ava could finally meet Daddy.”
At that, Aleksander’s brows rose, but he quelled the surprise and smiled.
“And why does that make you so happy?” Sydney asked, with a devious grin in place.
“Because a beautiful woman like Ava would make Daddy happy.”
Aleksander blinked, stunned, and not wanting to delve into the reasons why Olivia thought Ava would make him happy, he asked, “What else?”
“Number twelve is, I’m happy that I’m so awake! So far I’ve only needed one nap.”
“That means you’ll have lots of time to enjoy The Cottage,” Sydney added.
“And what’s the last one?” Aleksander asked, with a smile.
“I’m glad I get one last Christmas with everyone.”
It was only with supreme effort that Aleksander kept his smile in place and continued chatting with her, as a raw ache initiated a tantrum inside his heart, kicking, punching, screaming: It’s not fair. Do something.
He recited Head, Heart in his mind—a litany—trying to soothe the pain.
Yet unbidden, his head turned in Ava’s direction.
And his heart—maybe hopelessly—whispered again: Do something.