Cherry Girl

Neil & Elaina

Book Cover: Cherry Girl
ISBN: 9781942095255
ISBN: 978-1942095262
Pages: 306
ISBN: 9781664967199

Childhood crush...

Lifetime love...

Never letting go...

Elaina Morrison has loved Neil McManus her whole life. She doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t love him. Through heartbreaking tragedy and years of separation, her love holds true…until life stomps all over her heart, shattering her perfect dream, teaching her how hard it is to let go.
Real life doesn’t have anything on romantic dreams though, as these two have learned over and over again. It sucks big time, leaving painful scars in its wake.
But Neil isn’t giving up. He’s a soldier who has endured years of longing and sacrifice to wait for her. He’s fought his way through battles before and this is one he can’t afford to lose on any level.
Neil is going in fighting to make Elaina see what he already knows.

That she will forever be his Cherry Girl… 


I remember the very first time I ever saw him.  That first moment our paths crossed.  The memory is branded into my head with indelible clarity.  As clear as fine crystal with bright, sunlight shining through it.

I was ten years old when my brother, Ian, brought him home for dinner.  He sat across from me at our family table.  I probably looked like a total idiot gawking at him, but he didn’t seem to mind my staring.  Good thing, because even then I couldn’t take my eyes away.  Neil was beautiful to me when I laid my child’s eyes upon him for the first time.  Purely and simply beautiful.

It didn’t matter that he was seven years older and totally uninterested in a gangly little girl with braces on her teeth who was definitely not anything close to beautiful.


He winked at me when he caught me sneaking a peek over a bite of Mum’s delicious buns.  I remember that gesture of his made me feel strange inside, like everything was squished together and turned to mush.  Feeling shy and self-conscious, I tried to come to grips with the knowledge that I had met the boy I had every intention of marrying someday.

Yes, it’s true.  I fell in love with Neil McManus when I was a child.   I am sure of how I felt, just as I am sure the feelings didn’t go both ways.  I watched him go through plenty of girlfriends over the years, too.  What I don’t remember is if he said anything to me that very first time we met.  I do know he looked my mother in the eye with respect, and thanked her for the delicious dinner.  That impressed me, even then.  Even in my ten-year-old mind, I could read in him the deep appreciation he had for what Mum had easily offered to a guest in our home.  I could tell that Neil was not accustomed to cozy dinners at the family table.  He appreciated something I took for granted every day.  He was just a young friend my brother had dragged home from God knows where, and from whatever trouble they’d been deep into, but he became something more than that from the very beginning.  At least, for me he did.

Neil showed up for dinner quite often after that first meeting.  Some days it felt like he was my new brother who’d just moved in with us.  Other times, he’d show up after a few weeks’ absence, wearing a hollow look in his dark, dark eyes.  His home life was shit, apparently.  No mum, just a dad of some sort who didn’t care about him.  My dad wasn’t around a great deal either, but it wasn’t because he didn’t want us, it was because he traveled a lot for his job.  I missed my father, of course, so I suppose it was natural for me to connect with an older male figure who was always nice to me, and didn’t act like I carried the plague.

Neil called me Cherry Girl due to the colour of my hair.  I’d have to agree with him on that.  My hair was pretty much the colour of one of those dark cherries—nearly black with an undertone of deep red running through it.  Neil told me my hair was very beautiful, and that small gesture was enough for my self-confidence to blossom.  I took his compliment and ran with it.

I remember when he touched my hair for the first time, too.  The memory is as perfect as the day it happened and I couldn’t forget if I wanted to.  Because it was also the first time he rescued me…



Cover image by Cristina Cappelletti.