This was my first attempt at actual romantic suspense. Still not overly sure I managed it well, but eh, not much I can do about it now.
The day was overcast, which only seemed fitting. Crouched by the gravesite, Jazz studied the pale gray headstone with troubled eyes. “Why did you have to go and die, Sheri?” he whispered. Even though nearly two years had passed, he still couldn’t quite believe she wasn’t going to be lying in bed next to him in the morning. They had been married less than two years when Sheri was diagnosed with a brain tumor, an inoperable one.
She was dead less than six months later, and all the treatments in the world couldn’t have saved her.
It seemed so unreal. Bawdy, loud, lovable Sheri with her wildly curling mass of blonde hair and her gamin grin lay under six feet of cold, dark earth. And her widowed husband was left alone, again, to raise their little girl. Mariah was almost three when her mother died and now, two years later, she hardly remembered the woman who’d given birth to her, although Jazz kept a picture of Sheri by Mariah’s bed.
He could see something of Sheri in Mariah’s grin—hear the echo when his little girl laughed, and that hurt almost as much as it helped. He hadn’t planned on loving Sheri. They’d gotten married because of the baby. Both of them wanted a child, they liked each other well enough and had planned on that being enough.
It would have been, too. If Sheri hadn’t died. Jazz had fallen in love with her, slowly, day by day. The woman made him laugh like he hadn’t laughed in years and for a while, he stopped taking life so seriously. Then life took Sheri from him.
“I miss you, Sheri,” he whispered, closing his eyes.
Though he had known her less than four years, married her only because of an unplanned pregnancy, Sheri Robertson McNeil had been the focus of his life. The loneliness that ate at him had disappeared when he had met Sheri at a party, only to return in full force now that she was gone again.
As the clouds overhead opened, a heavy downpour falling, Jazz opened his eyes and stared at the headstone, his lean face etched with despair. “Damn it, Sheri. You were all I had. How in the hell could you go and die on me?”
Blowing out a harsh breath, he rose and stared down at the gravesite one last time. In the morning, he’d bring Mariah by one more time to say good-bye to her mama, and then they were heading south.
After sixteen years away, Jazz was finally going home.
A voice from the past whispered in his ear, You’re cursed, boy. Everything you touch is destroyed, and everybody you love dies.
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