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Breathless

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Whitney Summers and Stefflon Meyer made a vow to remain friends forever, no matter what life threw at them. But when Stefflon dies from ovarian cancer, Whitney is left to fulfill her friend's dying wish: to bear Stefflon's child with the help of her husband, Ken Cavalieri. The problem? Whitney hates Ken more than anything. Can she keep her promise to her best friend and raise the child with the man she despises? Or will her hatred for Ken ultimately tear everything apart? As Whitney navigates this difficult situation, she begins to uncover secrets about Stefflon's life and her marriage to Ken. What other surprises await her as she tries to honor her friend's last wish? Will Whitney be able to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, or will everything fall apart?

Broken Like Smoked Glass

It was a day that left a scar in the sky. A terrible day to die.

Not that there was a day when dying felt good but the sky was too clear and the day was too bright. A perfect day to die wouldn't have such an innocent atmosphere.

Whitney stole a glance at the lively blue sky tainted with white clouds that took the shape of life itself. The sun. It was gold-crisped and warm, holding no sign of grimness. Her eyes trailed behind the cluster of flying birds that made themselves artwork in the skylines. Their flappy wide wings outstretched as the wind tossed them from north to south.

It seemed more like a day to drink coffee and laugh. A day to seat by the river bank and listen to the sweet gurgles of fine pebbles when thrown into the water. A day to spoil oneself with a cupful of fun. A day to admire the alluring radiance of white clouds …but it was not a day for all of that.

It was the day Stefflon ceased to breathe.

The day everyone close to Stefflon would cry their eyes out while combing through their boxes and rummaging through their wardrobes and alcoves for black clothes as tears clouded their vision and made their eyes sore. The storm greeted all except Whitney.

No, she was always in black. She had, for long, been swallowed by blackness the moment she got the news of her friend's passing away.

Black raven hair, black pants, black shirt, black designer bag, and black shades. She needed the shades to conceal her sore eyes sac. She hated it when people peered into her grimy and sore eyes like they were reading her heart. She hated watching people witness the unending streaks of tears drip down her eyes.

A minute or even an hour passed since she received that call that had left her frozen for a handful of seconds. The call of Stefflon’s death. It felt like a sharp pain. A thrust by a blunt object. A sudden hole in her heart. A heart-wrenching emotional wreck. But, she knew the moment she shifted away from the window, she would have to accept it, embrace it and marry it—the fact that her best friend no longer breathes. The pain was an illusion of what she felt.

It could not be true. It cannot be true. It shouldn't be true. Why should it?

She mopped the tears that were pudding down her face without breaking her gaze on the sky. She wondered if Stefflon was somehow one of those birds or perhaps, the wind itself. Some people liked to believe that they’d return to the universe as birds when they die, some believe they would become butterflies, and some, the wind.

Stefflon herself always said she wanted to return as the sky and she always said she wanted Whitney to return as the cloud so their friendship would be forever.

Right there in the heart of the vast blue sky where they'd be free from the tassels of the painful and chaotic world. Whitney hated the cloud, not in a real sense, but she rarely bought the belief of returning as one when she died. To the amazon, a raven was preferable, or even a crow but now, as she peered at the sky, she had a desperation to be the cloud, to be close to Stefflon. Can I just be the cloud already?

Whitney finally broke her gaze from the sky, she ambled over to her office desk and collapsed on the black swivel chair beside it. Beside her desktop was a framed picture she had taken with Stefflon four years ago. She picked the picture and ran a finger through it. Her heart ached and more tears escaped her swollen tears-logged eyes at the thought of never seeing Stefflon again. It was so hard to believe.

They had been best friends since they were only nine and they had even gone to the same high school. They built a bond that withstood even the strongest turbulence between them.

Stefflon was mostly misunderstood; she had a strong personality; others misinterpreted it as being rude. The picture on her desk was from their high school graduation day. They had both shed tears afterward because they feared going to college would be the very end of their friendship; the same bond they spent the rest of their lives building.

Whitney smiled as she remembered it. They had been wrong; college did not break their bond. She peered at the frame and thought about the day they took that picture. There was no way either of them would have believed that seven years down the line, there would be no more Stefflon.

One time, Stefflon had kissed a boy Whitney liked and even went ahead to date him when they were seventeen. Blake who was Whitney’s younger sister by two years had misunderstood and called Stefflon a bad friend for that but Whitney knew Stefflon enough to know she was not. She had only wanted to prove to Whitney that the boy was not good enough for her and he wasn’t. That was Stefflon's reason for averting the friendship between the not-so-good boy and Whitney.

Stefflon had saved her from heartbreak by getting herself heartbroken. It came off as the height of sacrificial love.

Another one of the times when Stefflon was misunderstood by others was when she leaked one of Whitney’s insecurities on the school website in high school. Whitney had been so upset that she had refused to speak to Stefflon for days until one evening, Stefflon came to Whitney’s house and explained she had thought that was the only way Whitney would accept her insecurities and see them as weaknesses that had to be addressed and not disregarded.

Blake had the misconception that Stefflon went after the boys Whitney liked out of spite but it truly was not. She had gone after them to prove to Whitney that they weren’t good for her. That was how much of a friend Stefflon was to Whitney.

Although she did unreasonable things at times, Whitney always knew Stefflon could never hurt her. She always had good intentions and most people did not see that except Whitney. Perhaps, that mutual understanding was one of the many strings that kept them as best friends for sixteen whole years. Stefflon’s cheerful attitude was another one of those reasons but that changed quickly after she got married to Ken Cavalieri.

Whitney hated him.

He had made the last years of Stefflon’s life miserable. He had squeezed the Stefflon Whitney knew right from when they were kids into a gloomy Stefflon. A ghost of her true self. Stefflon was never the type to cry but merely a few months after she got married to Ken, there were days she would cry nonstop for hours.

Stefflon did not leave a single detail out every time she told Whitney of Ken’s ill-treatment towards her. He put his own family before Stefflon and let them maltreat her. Some nights he would stay away from home and Stefflon always feared he was cheating. Although it was evident in her emotional well-being in some way, Stefflon was never able to get proof of it.

Of course, the sly b*st*rd is sleek in his infidelity. Good enough to sweep every crumb of evidence under the rug.

He had even once wanted a divorce from her. Stefflon had not wanted to go through with the divorce, she loved him too much. Way too much for her good. She had only managed to convince him to remain married to her. And for God knows why he did.

Whitney hated that he agreed to remain married to Stefflon despite the abuse. He should have left her. He should have insisted and maybe, Stefflon would have found a little more happiness in the few years before her death. Maybe even love.

She despised the notion that despite everything he had done wrong, she still had to plan Stefflon’s funeral with him. She could not avoid giving her last respect to her friend simply because she was married to such a despicable man no matter how much she hated him.

She would endure his gruesome presence till they successfully plan the funeral and after that, she would never have to see him again.

Not when Stefflon lay in the morgue breathless. Never.

An Archenemy in a Coffin Shop

There were things worse than standing in front of a coffin shop trying to pick the perfect coffin for Stefflon.

One of those things was having been married to her. Being a widower because of her.

Maybe it was all wrong at the beginning or maybe it went wrong along the line but it was of no use trying to remember and recount how wrong their marriage had been. He couldn't readily get his head wrapped round it but he sure knew that they at some point, stepped out of line—he couldn't deny the fact that they had long fallen out; of love, of patience and perhaps, of everything a husband and a wife should share. Who was he to tell it to? His parents? It was a bad idea altogether. Her friend? She hated him more than the devil. A start dilemma was what he felt.

How messy it got. Stefflon was dead. And, living people were not allowed to speak negatively about the dead. Who the hell made that bullshit up?

It did not matter if they were your lifelong enemies disguised as

Heroes

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