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What if you had to relive the same five days over and over?
And what if at the end of it, your boyfriend is killed…
And you have to watch. Every time.
You don’t know why you’re stuck in this nightmare.
But you do know that these are the rules you now live by:
Now, the only way to escape this loop is to attempt something crazy. Something dangerous. Something completely unexpected. This time…you’re not going to run.
Combining heart-pounding romance and a thrilling mystery Never Apart is a stunning story you won’t soon forget.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Romily Bernard graduated from Georgia State University with a literature degree. Since then, she's worked as a riding instructor, cell-phone salesperson, personal assistant, horse groomer and exercise rider, accounting assistant, and, during a very dark time, customer service representative. . . . She's also, of course, now a YA novelist.
So don't let anyone tell you a BA degree will keep you unemployed.
Romily currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her debut novel, Find Me, won the Golden Heart Award for YA Romance from the Romance Writers of America in 2012.
Read an Excerpt
I'm going to die again.
Ander's hand tightens around mine like he can hear my thoughts. Or maybe it's just because he can hear my breathing: too fast, too ragged. We're running and running, and I can't go much farther. My lungs are burning. My knees are buckling.
"C'mon!" Ander tugs me closer and I slip, lose my shoe in a puddle. The rain's coming harder now, the grass turning to mud, but we don't stop. We can't.
Finn is drawing closer.
"Don't look back," Ander says.
I do. I can't help it. I can hear him.
Finn's breathing's gone ragged, too. He sounds like a dragon in the dark. He's driving us into the swamp, hunting us.
I'm going to die again.
Low tree branches whip my face, rip hair from my head. Ander grunts and staggers sideways, rights himself. I squeeze his hand, pump my shaking knees harder. He matches me stride for stride. We splash through a pocket of swamp water, and Ander shoves me left, toward a tangle of dead cypresses.
One ... two ... three ... four ...
Finn splashes in four seconds behind us and Ander twists sideways, hauls me to the ground. Mud, thick and rotten-smelling, cushions our fall. Ander rolls left, tucks us close to a thicket of overgrown briars. It's a hot summer night, but the swamp water's cold. I can't stop shivering. I clutch Ander's arm with one hand, my knife with the other, and for the first time I'm glad there's no moonlight. Finn will never see my blade coming.
Ander crouches over me as Finn draws closer ... closer ...
Away from us.
Finn slogs deeper into the water and stops, listening. Ander holds me tighter, and I crush my mouth against his T-shirt.
He's going to hear you. He's going to hear you.
Finn turns right, splashes farther into the swamp. His footsteps drift right and then left and then right again, and I swallow a sob, taste the rain running down my face. He's looking for our hiding spot.
I'm going to die again.
"Don't be afraid," Ander whispers. "If we Fall again, I will find you."
This is what Ander always says: I will find you.
This is what Ander never says: so will Finn.
Because Finn always finds us. Always. It's in my head like a mantra, like there are rules — and there are no rules or, at least, there aren't any rules that I know beyond this: It's always the three of us.
We always find each other.
Ander and I can run, but Finn always follows, and we always die.
"Not this time," I whisper, which means this time I can't miss. This time I have to kill Finn first. I lean forward even as Ander tries to press me back. He's afraid for me. He should be afraid of me. When did I become capable of murder? When Finn killed Ander the tenth time? The twentieth?
He always finds us — and he'll find us soon, even if we stay hidden. He knows we're here.
Another sob wobbles in my throat, and I chew it down, fingers tightening around the wet knife handle. I place my free hand against Ander's chest. For a heartbeat, he resists.
"You promised," I breathe, and somewhere in the dark, Finn stops. He hears us. "You promised," I repeat, lifting my voice a little louder because it will bring Finn closer and force Ander to keep his word.
In every lifetime, he has died and I have watched. In every lifetime, he has fought Finn and we have lost. This time? This time I will fight and Ander will watch and maybe the pattern will finally break.
And maybe we will live.
My heart swings like a pendant on a string. We will live.
Finn sloshes closer, and I force myself to stand. He's a shadow against the trees, liquid dark churning through the shallow water. I manage three steps sideways and then three more, drawing Finn away from Ander. He follows until I pause.
I fight like total crap, but I'm good at being Finn's lure. He's given me lots of practice. I wait and wait and he studies me and studies me and then —
"Grace," Finn breathes.
And I charge. I hit him low, ramming my shoulder into his chest as his fingernails dig into my arms. Finn plows me into the mud, and I jam the knife in deep. Deeper. Finn swears. I stagger.
My hand slips. I lose the knife as Finn tips sideways. He seizes my wrist and I kick him, grabbing for the blade handle and missing.
No, I didn't miss. I can't find it.
We're grappling in the mud, then hands dig under my arms, yank me to my feet.
"Run!" Ander drags me forward and I stagger, feel Finn's fingers snatch at my bare leg, hear him hiss my name.
"Go!" Ander shoves us deeper into the swamp. We push past thicker trees and into colder water. This far in, it's even darker and the mud is deeper and Finn is cursing. He's to our right? Our left? I twist and trip, crash against a tree coated in wet moss.
"I can't," I gasp, and Ander doesn't argue. He presses his face into my neck and breathes me in like I'm not covered in sweat and tears and mud, like we're on a date and I am what he's always wanted. "You know how this ends," he whispers into my rain-soaked skin.
I don't answer. I can't. Won't.
My eyes search the shadows as my hands search for Ander. I find his fingers and knot them in mine.
"It's like he didn't even feel it! Maybe I missed? How could I have missed?"
"Because we always miss and Finn never does. Grace" — Ander gives me the tiniest shake — "you know how this ends."
I dig my fingers into his T-shirt, and tears leak down my cheeks. They're even warmer than the rain.
There's a splash to our right, and a shadow moves closer. Finn.
"When I jump him," Ander whispers, "I want you to run. Do you understand?"
Of course I do. We've done this over forty times. I understand how it works, how it ends, how much I love the boy I'm about to watch die.
"I love you," he whispers.
"I love you, too."
Ander pushes away from me in one smooth, silent movement. We've gotten good at that, but Finn still tenses. He heard us. He's gotten good at this, too.
I shrink against a rotting tree trunk, taste mud when I swallow. Once upon a time, we were all friends and now ... now ...
"Go, Grace," Ander says as Finn swings around. "Don't look back. Go."
Ander rushes him. One stride. Two strides. Connect. They go down with a splash and I'm ready to run, but running would mean leaving Ander to die, and I can't. I can't do it anymore. I can't watch this anymore.
Ander spins Finn around and there's the horrible smack of flesh on flesh. Finn staggers and I'm moving before I even realize it. I smash my fist into Finn's face and he tilts sideways, stumbles.
Ander lunges. Finn twists. The knife lifts.
His knees hit the water. His head rolls back. I cannot catch him as he falls.
Finn grabs for me and I stumble away, my bare foot plunging into a hole. Pain spikes up my leg. I yank sideways. More pain. I falter, color spraying behind my eyes, and when I open them again, I'm on my knees.
Get up! Get —
I feel him.
His chest under my palm. His T-shirt twisted in my fingers. I struggle to turn, shivering from the cold mud and the colder water, as Finn limps toward me. It makes tiny waves lap at my forearms and thighs. I shove up and we look at each other — really look at each other.
I see a boy barely past seventeen with Ander's blood on his shirt. Again.
He sees a girl barely past seventeen with Ander's blood on her hands. Again.
I'm coated with mud and drenched with rain. I look like I crawled from a grave, and it's so damn fitting I want to laugh.
"Please," I force through cracked lips. "Please don't do this."
"So many lifetimes," Finn says, drawing closer. "So many Graces and yet you all cause so much damage. How is that possible?"
I don't understand. I swallow, swallow again. All I taste is blood and all I smell is rot. "Please," I try again. "I don't understand! We used to be friends! Why does this keep happening? Why do you keep doing this?"
Finn shakes his head like he hates it when I lie, only I'm not lying.
"I don't understand," I whisper.
Finn lifts my dirty knife. "We all have to pay for what we did."
I wake up screaming in a voice that isn't mine, grabbing for a knife that's no longer there. I blink, blink again. Something's beeping, and I can't tell where it's coming from. My vision won't clear. I shake my head hard. A mistake. My stomach threatens to heave into my mouth.
I open my eyes to white tiles under my knees ... white towels above me ... white — oh. I'm in a bathroom. I Fell.
I'm going to die again.
If only it would work.
I slide a trembling hand under me and push myself up. There's club music thumping hard enough to vibrate the floor, and outside the door, someone's calling someone else an asshole.
Oh, wait. The guy's calling me an asshole.
"Hurry up!" he bellows.
"Out" — I cough — "out in a minute."
The guy grabs the door handle, rattles it. He thumps his weight against the wood, and I freeze because for a terrible moment I think it isn't just some random person out there. It's Finn, and he's here to kill me again. The handle rattles and rattles and I can't drag my eyes from it.
He's never found me this fast before. We've always had five days. He's never been this quick.
The door handle jerks once more, stops. I suck in a breath, blow it out, suck in another. In, out, no pause — even though I should because I'm already light-headed. I'm always light-headed after I Fall, but this feels different. It feels ... off, way worse than usual. I try to stand and topple to my knees.
This isn't the Fall. I'm drunk. Or, rather, this Grace is drunk. I lurch up again and have to grab the sink edge for support. My legs are numb.
How long was the other me on the floor?
I crank the faucets as high as they'll go and splash my face with water. Still dripping, I grope for a hand towel and press it to my skin. Better. I feel better. I still press the towel a little tighter though, because I know what comes next.
Just do it already. C'mon. You've done it — I squint against the rough terry cloth — forty-two times now. Just look at yourself.
I snap up my head and flinch. The face in the mirror is mine, but the details are never right, and maybe by the time I get to Fall 142 I'll be used to it.
My fingers wrap around the sink's edge as I lean in. This Grace has my brown eyes and my pointed chin, but she wears her eyebrows heavier and her hair curlier.
"My name is Grace," I whisper. My voice is raspy, vibrating inside my head like a stranger.
Which I guess is fitting, since this Grace kind of is.
"My name is Grace," I repeat, forcing my voice to lift because I could go on. I could say I've died forty-one times and now woken up forty-two times and every time I wake up, I'm me — only I'm a different me in a different timeline.
I take another breath, smelling vomit and perfume — roses? Whatever. Doesn't matter. I'm stalling, and I know the drill. These are the other rules Ander and I know: get your stuff, get oriented, get going because we only have five days until Finn finds us again.
My stomach rolls, and I hold my breath until the nausea passes.
Bam! Bam! "Hey!"
"One second!" I toss the hand towel in the laundry basket by the tub and smooth down my dress, spotting a heavy brown purse sprawled on the floor by the door.
Get your stuff. Considering the huge purse is on the bathroom floor, it's probably mine. I paw through the contents, fingers brushing something plastic. Phone. I check the screen. It's Saturday night, almost eleven, and the battery's dying. The beep I heard earlier now sounds more like a bleat.
Saturday night means you have until Wednesday. I toss the cell back in my purse and consider myself in the mirror again.
Get oriented. Where are you?
Clearly, I'm in someone's bathroom — I don't think it's mine, though. For some reason, it feels like this is someone else's house. This Grace is at a party, a big one from the sounds of it. Is she happy about being at the party? Too soon to tell.
I look down, noticing my clothes again: silky purple sundress whispering against my full hips, white platform sandals with a neon green grass stain on the right toe, a tangle of mismatched gold necklaces. I touch one nail-chewed fingertip to a tiny pendant shaped like a coin.
Get going. You can handle this.
Except when I readjust my purse strap, I wobble again. I press one hand to the glossy white wall. Is it the beer or the shock?
"Get a grip," I whisper and then almost laugh when I realize that should be another rule. I tug the door once and it flies open, nearly smashing me in the face.
"What the —"
"Sorry!" I shove past the boy on the other side, gagging again because he reeks of sweat and pot.
The hallway's crowded, and the music is even louder. I have no idea which way to go. To my left, a bunch of people. To my right, a bunch more people. So much for getting oriented. A brunette with a fraying braid and a pine-green dress staggers into me. I shrink against the wall.
I pivot, searching for the voice. Eyes meet mine, but no one holds my gaze.
"Grace!" A blond girl bounces to my side, ponytail swinging. She's smiling at me like we're best friends.
Maybe we are?
"Where've you been?" she yells. "We've been looking for you everywhere."
"Bathroom," I yell. She links her arm through mine and I'm grateful. I'm nowhere near steady. I have to concentrate on every step even though my new friend weaves us easily through the crowd.
Or maybe it's just that the crowd parts for her. The blonde's like Moses in a miniskirt; people just skitter out of the way.
The hallway widens into a massive white living room. The couches are white. The walls are white. The cavernous ceiling above is white except for the far corners, which are dusky with shadows. Two girls are dancing on a coffee table, and at least four guys are watching. Someone's strung white lights across the rafters. They dribble down the columns and into twinkling pools by people's feet.
Never seen a party this big.
Only as soon as I think it, I realize I'm wrong. The night of my first Fall, I was at a party like this. In fact, the house almost feels familiar — like Ander should be kneeling in the bathroom to my left and Finn should be waiting for me by the door on my right, like we're back in our real lives again.
Even though Finn isn't there, my heart still lurches. My blond friend squeezes us between a beer pong game and a couple making out against the wall.
"Becca!" A guy in a baseball cap grins at her and she — Becca — marches straight past him. His smile crumples and unease curls through me. I know what it feels like to be blown off.
"Sorry," I mouth, and his face slackens. He's surprised. Why is he surprised?
I look at my feet and concentrate on the grass stain smudge. Get oriented: he's surprised because this Grace doesn't apologize.
Becca tugs my hand hard. "How much have you had to drink?" she shouts.
"Um ..." I can't find an answer. Everywhere I look, people are watching us, and chills creep across my skin. It's not my imagination. Almost everyone is sliding sideways glances in our direction. They look ... nervous, maybe even a little scared. They watch us, but they don't come any closer. It's like they're in awe.
Becca tugs me again and I stumble. Are these girls popular? Am I popular? The idea is like bubbles on my brain. I've never been popular before. I wonder if I'll like it.
"Who're you looking for?" Becca asks.
Ander. Finn. "Nobody."
I follow her through smudged glass doors, and humid summer air hits me like a wall. I smell freshly mowed grass and honeysuckle and water and ... Blood.
I'm going to die again. I suddenly can't breathe, and I have to shake myself. Stop it.
Becca releases my hand and joins a long-legged brunette lounging on a porch swing. "Found her," Becca says, taking a blue Solo cup from the other girl.
"God, Grace." The brunette plays with the tips of her hair as she studies me. "Did you get lost or what?"
"Sorry," I say, shifting from foot to foot. No matter what lifetime I am ever in, girls like these make me nervous. They keep staring, and I try not to wince.
"Is it your asthma again?" the brunette asks.
I shake my head hard, curls bouncing. "Guess these parties aren't my thing."
Only as soon as I say it, I know these parties are my thing. This Grace, the Grace I'm supposed to be now, loves these parties, and that's partly why everyone's here. They look at me like I've lost my mind, and I look everywhere else.
The wraparound porch sits above a wide sweep of manicured lawn. The grass slopes down, down, down to a hard edge of shadows. Trees.
Excerpted from "Never Apart"
Copyright © 2017 Romily Bernard.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Grace and Ander are stuck in a never-ending loop of alternate realities in which they run from Finn, Grace watches Ander die, and all three once again Fall. Now, in her forty-second Fall, things are very much like Grace's own life. Her twin brother Jem is there, as is her dog Visa. But she's popular (not her usual shy self), Finn is her friend, and this Ander is not her Ander - he doesn't know about what's been happening to them. Grace decides she's had enough, and it's time to change the course of events. The story begins at a cracking pace and never lets up. Grace's current day accounts of her Falls are interspersed with glimpses of her original life. We see how every decision she has made impacts her life and the lives of those around her. The tension builds, as we slowly piece together what happened in the past to put all of their futures on hold. Absolutely riveting. Warnings: underage drinking, violence. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (20 October): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2017/10/never-apart-by-romily-bernard.html
Romily Bernard's Never Apart was one of my most anticipated releases of the fall. Not only does it have a GORGEOUS cover but also an attention grabbing tagline. So to say I was just excited when I received an ARC of it would be a serious understatement - I was jumping up and down ecstatic. The Result? Romantic, mysterious, and emotional, Never Apart poses the question - how far would you go to save your first love... Never Apart features two timelines - then and now. Then divulges into the start of the summer, back when Grace, Ander, Jem, and Finn were best friends, spending their days doing everything and nothing at all. Now focus on the Groundhog Day-like disaster Grace's life has began, one that involves Grace spending her days attempting to save Ander and herself from Finn's deadly hands. Books involving two timelines can either be a hit or miss, in my opinion, but in the case of Never Apart it was a hit. I thought Romily did a great job of building suspense as well as development through the alternating timelines. Both offered up interesting looks into Grace's life, and without the "then" portion, I don't think this book would've been nearly as strong, as it offered up the perfect amount of backstory to get a full picture look into what was happening in the "now." Grace is a character you can't help but love but the start. Her character is for every teenage who's felt that their small town is suffocating as well as silencing and that there's more out there to life then knowing the same people from the day you're born to the day you die. Over the course of the book, Grace struggles with her dislike off her small-town. She hates how silent and timid it makes her; however, at the same time, she can't imagine leaving the ones she loves - Jem, Ander, her parents, and even Finn - behind. Worst yet, her family and friends are just as divided as she herself is one the issue. As the book progresses, Grace comes to head with the decision to stay or leave, and her journey is one that I felt was not only pitch perfect but also realistic, even considering the Groundhog feels to the plot. More importantly, I enjoyed that Romily Bernard showed that first love can be messy and troubled. From the moment Ander was introduced I couldn't stand him. He had so many issues of his own; however, he only ever focussed on calling Grace out on her short comings. It was hard for me to see what Grace saw in him; however, I appreciated the progress she made regarding the situation as the book progressed. Finn, on the other hand, was the real standout guy - he was intelligent and sweet. I loved how he always tried to get Grace to come out of her shell. No matter how negatively he was portrayed in the "now" portions, I forever held out hope he was the good guy at the end. The only aspect of this book that didn't "wow" me was the pacing. It wasn't always even, and sometimes (especially in the middle) it was hard to trudge through. Regardless, Never Apart is perfect for fans of romantic suspense, and with the dark, mysterious undertones it contains, I must say it's perfect reading material for chilly October evenings. Grade: B
I don’t know how to formulate words to express my feelings about this book right now… This was definitely not what I was expecting I thought that this was a cheesy mindless read about a couple getting through problems together. lol… I was just way wrong I’m not going to spoil anything so all I’m going to say is that this book takes you in directions you didn’t think would happen. I was definitely pleasantly surprised I loved the character flaws, especially Grace needing to change for the ending The best way to read this is to, in theory, know nothing so I’m not going to have a spoilery section for this one. This is a solid 5/5 stars for me. I just can’t express enough how in love I am with this book. It dealt with so many problems so well and the story just kept me reading me until the the end. **yes, there might be the love triangle trope but it has a different take on it. 400 pages in one day…I think that just says everything -Emily's Book Blog
After having died over 40 times Grace and Ander hope, once again, for a different outcome in their new life. I liked this beautifully written story and until the end I hoped so much for them to be able to be together. When the ending was revealed, I was not just a little shocked. I couldn't believe it, but still loved it. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing!
"He steps back, steps back again. He can’t believe what I’m saying. Once, I might not have believed it, either. But the lie is the closest to the truth we’re going to get. We’re never going home. We Fall again and again, and every time it’s a little different, but it’s never right." Grace is trapped in a loop that resets itself every five days. Despite her best efforts, she can’t find a way to escape the seemingly inevitable death of her boyfriend Ander at the hands of Finn. Heaven knows she’s tried forty plus times now. But landing in the latest loop, things feel different. Her twin brother Jem has returned, Ander has no memory of their previous Falls (he did in the first forty or so) and her family seems to be more functional. As Grace contemplates embracing the current Fall and staying in this set of events, she can’t shake off the feeling that there’s something she’s overlooking in trying to break the never-ending cycle of tragedy and death. Romily Bernard’s Never Alone feels a bit like a lost cousin of Quantum Leap. But instead of leaping into various points in history to put things right, Grace is leaping into the same of events over and over again, trying to get things right. Told in alternating points in time before the first Fall and in the current Fall, we’re slowly given clues as to how the Falls began to occur and what Grace may need to do to break out of them. Saying more than that will ruin some of the surprises that come in the second half of the novel. And those surprises are well earned by Bernard. Conveying Grace’s anger, frustration and sense of futility at being caught in a seemingly never-ending loop, Never Alone is a taut, engaging thriller. Bernard lays the foundation for the twists and turns to come in the final pages and every revelation feels completely and authentically earned. The sense of dread and unease builds between the two time frames in the story, hooking this reader in and not letting go. If you’re looking for an entertaining, well-executed thrill-ride with solid characters and an intriguing hook,Never Alone fits the bill perfectly. In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
never apart is like a cross between before i fall and infinity. grace keeps reliving the same five days in alternate realities. each reset comes with its own set of rules but the end is always the same—she and her boyfriend, ander, die at the hands of their friend finn. told in alternating chapters, between a time before the falls (then) and the current fall (now) we slowly unravel the deeper mystery of why grace and ander are stuck in this endless loop. it would be unfair to reveal more of the plot since how grace figures out what is going on is well worth the journey. bernard does an amazing job of sharing the urgency, the frustration, and the utter hopelessness grace feels at having to relive the same-ish scenarios over and over and always getting the same ending. in the end, this is an excellent high-concept young adult thriller.
Never Apart was an absolutely captivating novel that entranced, delighted, and entertained. This thriller was easily one of the best that I've read lately. The characters jumped off the page. The mystery was beautifully written and the ending was absolutely brilliant. Grace has lived the same five days forty times. Caught in a loop, she's forced to watch Finn kill Ander, her boyfriend, over and over again. Each time the loop resets, the three of them are in a different alternate version of their lives. But this latest "fall" feels different. Jem, Grace's twin brother, is in this timeline and Ander has no memories of their previous lives. Grace finally decides to try something different to break the pattern. I'm not going to reveal much more about the plot because this is truly one you need to read for yourself. This book does an excellent job of combining a heart-pounding thriller with an adorable romance and coming of age tale. It's told in alternating stories - one is in Grace's present as she tries to stop the falls and the other is in her past, slowly revealing the events that led to the first fall. This book will keep you frantically flipping the pages, desperate to find out what happens next as the mystery is slowly unraveled. The characters were absolutely brilliant. They were flawed and extremely realistic. The character development was excellent, I loved how themes like ambition, family, and love were explored. Even as one character slowly started to spiral out of control, it was done in a realistic and believable way. The author also did a fantastic job of portraying how Grace's emotional and mental state was affected by the constant loop of days. I would recommend Never Apart to fans of mysteries and thrillers. The pacing was spot-on and the plot was utterly engrossing, The constant plot twists will keep you guessing until the very last page. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Never Apart is spectacular, but if you're already a fan of Romily Bernard you know that her writing never disappoints! Never Apart has such an original concept and strong writing it was hard for me to put this book down! Grace keeps falling over and over, every five days she dies and returns to a life that is not her own. She desperately wants to get back to her family but doesn't know who to trust. I loved all the different versions of Grace's life. There are so many layers to the mystery here that by the time the truth was revealed I couldn't hold back the tears! As usual, I am always left wanting more from Romily's books and I am hoping that there is a sequel or novella in the works because I am just not ready to say goodbye to Grace or her story.