Author: AM Hargrove
Release Date: November 12, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Cate Forbes, a dedicated college student with a carefully plotted future, doesn’t know the first thing about love. When she accepts a blind date with a rumored tasty piece of eye candy, she thinks she can get by with a night of fun. Cate’s plans quickly unravel when she gets one look at the sexy…
The relentless hockey-playing medical resident knows what he wants—a career in Oncology and Cate. Although he’s heard the gorgeous brunette is a little relationship skittish, a single night out isn’t what he has in mind. Determined to have her—in every way possible—he shows her just what a future with him would hold.
Only life has other plans. The unthinkable happens and everything begins to shatter. Both in too deep, they will have to fight the cruel and hang onto the beautiful.
Cruel and Beautiful is a New Adult Contemporary Romance standalone, full-length novel based on true events, and includes mature content, not suitable for younger readers.
A raspy voice wakes me up. That’s not quite true because I don’t really sleep anymore. My body hovers in that place that’s not exactly sleep and not exactly awareness. After the last year, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get a solid night’s sleep again.
“Yeah? What is it?” I’m instantly on high alert.
“I think it’s time. I want to go to the hospital.”
The words I’ve dreaded for weeks punch me in the gut, deflating me. But I refuse to let him see it. “Yeah, okay. Let me get dressed.”
“Cate? I think you need to call 911. I’m pretty sure I can’t get up to walk.” He inhales and it’s then I hear the faint rattle that lies deep in his chest. Oh, God, how will I ever get through this?
“Drew?” I lean over him and press my cheek against his. What used to be firm flesh is now nothing but skin wrapped around bone. My hands latch onto to his shoulders and it’s much the same. All the mass has disappeared, vanished, stolen by the disease that ravages his beautiful body and soul.
“It’s going to be fine, Cate, I promise. Things will be good. Just call 911.” He struggles to clear his throat.
Always the positive one. I want to yell and scream, stomp my feet and smash things. But I do none of that. I look into his cloudy blue eyes that were once so clear and stunning, and only nod. I pick up the bedside phone and make the call, asking the voice on the other end to tell the paramedics not to use the sirens or flashers and explain why. When they arrive at our apartment, I lead them to Drew, and then follow the ambulance to the hospital. On the way, I make the dreaded family calls.
Hollow. That’s what I am as I watch them wheel Drew in on the gurney. Everything has been ripped out of me—my guts, my heart, my soul. I bite my knuckle as I stand there. He knows what’s happening. He’s a doctor. He’s charted everything out and explained it all to me, though I’ve refused to believe half of it. Why did he have to be right? My mind only wants to accept certain things. And this part isn’t one of them.
When we finally get to a room, he sleeps. The deep purple smudges beneath his eyes are a stark contrast to his pale skin. It reminds me of a time when he used to be so tanned. And his hair, which is like downy fuzz grown back from the last and final round of failed chemo, is so different now from the thick mass of messy waves that were always sun streaked, even in winter. In this state where he’s nothing more than a skeleton, he’s still my perfect Drew. And I ask myself again, for the thousandth time, how am I going to deal with this?
Later in the day, when Drew wakes up, he motions me to his bedside.
“Cate, you know, when I first saw you at that party, I knew you were my one, my it girl. And then you put up such damn resistance to me, I didn’t think I’d ever get you out on a date. But I did.”
I suck on my lower lip, trying not to outright sob, as I remember back then.
The corner of his left lip curls, his little trademark that I love so much. It plows into me like a damn tank and I want to crawl into the bed next to him and cling to him forever.
“I knew if I could get you out on a date, I could win you over. Thank God I did. You’ve been my life, Cate, my reason for being. I’m only sorry it all turned out like this. This,” and he motions with his hand up and down his body, “wasn’t part of my plan for you. I wanted the whole deal with you—marriage, and we got that, but I wanted kids, an SUV, a big house, and grandkids, too. I’m so sorry I fucked it all up, babe. But listen, I love you more than my life. And hear me out now. I want you to go home.”
I nod and suck back my tears. “Okay. I’m going to go home and shower, because I’m kind of rank. I love you too, Drew. More than I can say.”
“Cate, stop. That’s not what I meant. I want you to promise me something, okay? Swear to me right now.” His voice is firm, much stronger than it has been in days.
“Okay. What is it?”
“I want you to leave this room now and go home, but I don’t want you to come back after you shower. I want you to say your good-byes to me right here, right now.”
“What!? What are you saying?” My heart stutters in my throat.
“I’m saying what you think I’m saying. I love you so much more than having you sit here by my side for the next few days. I don’t want that. You swore to me, Cate.”
“Drew, I can’t.”
“Yes, you can. Now, go. Turn around, walk through that door, and don’t ever look back. All my stuff is boxed exactly like I asked you to, and you know what to do with it. My parents and yours will be here, along with Ben. But you, you don’t need to be here. I don’t want you to be here. I want you to remember me as I was, when I was healthy, during our best times. Now, look at that door and take your first steps into your new life, Cate. And promise me you’ll live. Just live, Cate. Do it for me.”