Read Eternally Yours 1 Online

Authors: Gina Ardito

Tags: #Adult, #Ghosts, #PNR

Eternally Yours 1


Praise for Gina Ardito


…Ms. Ardito allows the reader to feel the sensations while grasping hold of the characters and never letting go…” - 
Coffee Time Romance on The Bonds of Matri-money


“…I literally read this book straight through. I read all night. I could not put it down…. The characters were so endearing…. I’ve never read anything like it…” - 
The Romance Studio on A Little Slice of Heaven


“…Never tedious or slow paced, this book is masterfully written and exquisitely drawn…” -
In D’Tale Magazine on Echoes of Love

Eternally Yours




Gina Ardito

Published by Victoria Ardito

Copyright 2012 Victoria Ardito



All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.





For Tori, who said from the start, “This
story is mine!” At last, it is.

Always believe in yourself
: dream big, love with all your heart, and seize every opportunity life offers you. I love you, Tkat!




Chapter 1


Jodie Devlin sucked at life. So she refused to screw up her death. No turning back, no chickening out, hoping life would get better tomorrow. Like, magically, some genie would appear to make her successful, beautiful, happy. Loveable.

Jeep explosion so many years ago in Castelan, El Salvador had stolen her parents, scarred her flesh, and ruined any possible chance she’d know love. Gabe had never loved her. She understood that now.

He didn’t deserve you,
some inner voice told her.

No more fantasies,
she fired back. After all, she knew the truth. She hadn’t deserved

For once, though, she’d do something right.
Her suicide tonight would go down perfectly. A combination of over-the-counter sleep aids, a brand new bottle of Grey Goose, and a filled bathtub gave her a trifecta guaranteed to succeed.

a half-dozen gulps of vodka, she downed all thirty blue pills, a handful at a time. The mixture hit her stomach like a prize fighter’s punch, but she swallowed hard to keep it all down. No way did she intend to exit like that 1940’s starlet she’d read about—Lupe Something-or-other. The Mexican Spitfire had set up a gorgeous room, donned the perfect gown, hand-picked the flowers and candles. Unfortunately when the cops found her the next day, poor Lupe sat hunched face-first in the toilet.

required more dignity for her end. The dignity she’d never gained in life. Shivering at the bitter memories, she stepped into the hot, glistening water. Aaaahhhh. Who knew death could come so pleasantly?

hands caressed her as she began her slow descent into nothingness. A cote of doves surrounded her, lifting her on snowy wings. Their feathers whisked her cheeks like the kisses of angels. Peace rolled over her, wrapped her in a precious homespun afghan. Her pain evaporated, leaving only sweet vanilla warmth. Closing her eyes, she allowed the birds to carry her onward…

Yoo-hoo? Next!”

snapped alert at the snotty woman’s prompt. Where was she? Was this hell?

Blinking, she studied the polished
golden marble walls and floor. Red velvet ropes with brass fittings encased her in a serpentine line along with a host of other barely attentive people. Each figure—male or female, tall or short, fat or thin—wore a diaphanous lavender toga. When she looked at her own body, she saw the same garment draping her limbs, soft as spun spider webs.

stood in a tremendous reception area of what might have been a five-star hotel lobby. Deep mahogany wood framed the glass elevators and a wraparound railing one story above her. Although a dozen doors broke up the monotony of solid walls, none held an exit sign or window which might lend a clue to her whereabouts. From the ceiling, at least a hundred stories up, chandeliers dripped filaments of colored light like purple rain. Was she in Prince’s house? Oh, God, this

But no.
Behind her, a waterfall, surrounded by lush ferns and majestic palm trees, splashed cool mist into primavera air. Men and women, garbed in white uniforms with gold braid, raced around life-sized white marble statues of angels, unicorns, and smiling dragons.

-exxxxt!” The woman’s voice turned the one syllable word into two.

Jodie’s gaze
flew to a long reception desk with ten clerks behind and nine customers in front. A dark-haired, sloe-eyed woman in the same white and gold uniform leaned forward from the open slot and signaled to Jodie with a crooked finger. Confusion dogging her steps, she inched forward. The woman’s attention veered to a computer monitor and keyboard, fingers clickety-clacking with expediency. “Name?”

“Jodie Devlin,” she replied through dry lips.

“Any middle initial?”

“R. Rosalind.”

The woman frowned. “Date of death?”

She almost answered with her birth date, but then stopped to think. “Date of…
” A lump rose in her throat, and she swallowed with difficulty. “…death?”

Over the polished mahogany top, the woman’s hands rolled in mid-air. “Can we speed this up, please? There are a thousand people behind you. What was your date of death?”

“The eighth of A-April.”

Brow cocked, the clerk sighed. “You’re not on my reservations list.
Are you sure you’re supposed to be here?”

Was she? She had absolutely no idea.
After another glance at the marble and mahogany décor, the crowds of lost sheep, and the harried attendants, she leaned over the counter to whisper, “Ummm…where exactly is here?”

“Oh, for God’s sake.”
Palms against the marble edge, the woman pushed away from the keyboard. Her barstool-style wheeled chair skidded across the floor. Leaning, she slammed a large red button on a table behind her. “Sherman? I think I’ve got a thirty-six-slash-eleven over here.” She rolled back behind the counter, eyes narrowed. “Are you, perhaps, a suicide?”

Heat rocketed into
Jodie’s cheeks—did she have cheeks? Whatever she had, embarrassment shot flames through her face. She managed a slight nod, and then turned away.

Through the milling crowd
, a small man, only about as high as her shoulder and narrow as a swizzle stick, strode toward her. He was garbed entirely in white except for the gold studs winking in his earlobes. Despite the snow white clipboard he clutched under one arm, he extended his hands in greeting. “Miss? My name is Sherman, and I’m the spirit guide here. How can I help you?”

He had a face like an apple left too long on a windowsill
, ruddy bronze with sunken cheeks, wizened to a state that made him appear ancient, yet ageless. Long white hair, a lion’s mane, swept away from his high forehead and fell to his padded shoulders.

“She doesn’t have a reservation,” the woman said with a sneer. “At least not for her current date of death.”

Understanding dawned on his mushy face. “Ah. Miss…?”

“Devlin.” Jodie’s reply sounded hoarse in her sandpaper throat
. Swallowing, she tried again. “Jodie Devlin.”

“Miss Devlin, why don’t you step away from the reception desk
so we can continue moving others forward? If you’ll follow me, I’m sure we can straighten this out.” Without waiting for her reply, he turned to head back into the crowd.

Sidling away from the snotty clerk,
Jodie hurried to catch up to Sherman. “Straighten what out? What’s going on? Where are we? Is this heaven?”

“Please, Miss Devlin.
Follow me.” He led her beneath a carved marble archway to a set of double-doors. As he approached, the doors whisked open on a sigh of air. Inside, gold leather club chairs sat at each corner of an enormous white marble desk. He pointed to the chair nearest the entrance. “Have a seat, please.” He tossed his clipboard on the desktop and took up residence in the kingpin’s seat.

Too antsy to relax, she sat on the edge of the club chair
, fingernails digging holes into the supple leather armrests.

From the top drawer, he pulled
out what looked like a small hand mirror and passed it to her. “Please focus your eyes directly in the two areas drawn on this device.”

Taking the mirror, she noted t
win dark circles in the center of the glass. “What is this?”

n identification scan,” he replied. “Now if you’d focus your gaze on those two pinpoints and count to ten, please? Oh, and try not to blink until after you’ve reached ten.”

She lined up
the two miniature circles with her pupils and counted. “One, two, three…”

By the time she reached ten, the gentleman
had turned his attention to the clipboard, which had suddenly begun to blink with an increasing and decreasing purple glow. Strange neon characters raced like ants across the clipboard’s face.

“Ah, here we are. Jodie
Rosalind Devlin. Only child of Rachel Andrea Gibbons Devlin and John Michael—also known as Jack—Devlin. Both deceased during a violent political coup in Central America. You were severely injured, but survived and returned to the United States where you attempted to rebuild your life. And you almost succeeded.” He looked up at her, brow steepled. “Your date of death should have been June 26, 2068.”

The hand mirror doohickey fell from her hands and splintered into shards on the marble floor.

He shot a glance
at the shattered glass, frowned, and then reverted his steely gaze to her. “Oh, yes. You heard me correctly. More than fifty years from your suicide. Do you want to know what would have happened had you decided against designing your untimely end?”

Nausea r
ose in her throat, and tremors danced across her flesh. Too stunned to speak, she nodded.

According to your file, which, of course, will now have to be updated, Jodie Rosalind Devlin, only child of Rachel Andrea Gibbons Devlin and—”

“You said that already.”

He waved a hand at her. “Jodie Rosalind Devlin married Gabriel David Sachs on September 8, 2012. Subsequently, she gave birth to three children: Jacqueline Monet Sachs, Iona Renoir Sachs, and Aidan Degas Sachs.”

An ocean of s
elf-pity threatened to drown her. Dear God, what had she done? Of course. Gabe, the art historian, would insist on naming his children after the Impressionists. She fisted her hand in her mouth to keep her agony inside.

“These three children presented the couple with eight grandchildren,” Sherman continued reading, apparently unaware of her turmoil—or else, he didn’t care. “Would you like to know their names?”

She shook her head
, her tongue too thick inside her mouth to form words.

Folding his arms on the desktop, he looked up at her, his agate gaze solemn.
“You bore so much pain after the loss of your parents, my dear. I felt your agony when the fire ate your flesh in that explosion. I know the scars you try desperately to hide. I have ached for your loneliness. I have seen you struggle time and again to connect with someone in the outside world. Gabriel was your gift, your reward for a life lived with so much suffering. Had you been able to withstand this last test, you would have known a joyful life. Your choice to self-terminate destroyed your chance at happiness. And such a selfish act not only affected
future, but the future of your husband, your children, their spouses, their children, and so on and so on.”

Rubbing fingertips over his eyes, h
e frowned. “Surely, then, you understand why we become perturbed at those who end their lives precipitously. Your rashness has disrupted the natural order we struggle to maintain here in the Afterlife.”

Shame forced her head down, and s
he looked at the puckered pink flesh above her bare feet. “I’m sorry.”

His sigh communicated
indulgent surrender. “We’re accustomed to these kinds of glitches and will make the necessary rearrangements. However…” He paused to study the clipboard again.

To keep from biting her nails, she sat on her hands
. The silence in the room became a wall, threatening to suffocate her. “However?” she prompted.

He shrugged.
“Your rooms are not prepared because you’ve arrived long before your reservation is due to be processed.”

-so…” She tried to force a light-hearted tone. Her stutter and his arched brows suggested she’d failed. “W-what happens now?”

We have contingency plans in effect for all untimely deaths, including suicides. You’ll be assigned a job here until such time as arrangements can be made for you to be transferred elsewhere.”

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