Book cover of “Ascent of the Fallen Man“ by Adina Rose

Ascent of the Fallen Man

  • Genre: Romance
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: Adina Rose
Dylan, a barista with humble beginnings, falls deeply in love with Ashlene, a girl from a wealthy family. Despite her parents' disapproval and their preference for a prominent lawyer, Lyle Daniels, Dylan and Ashlene marry. But after enduring relentless mistreatment and a heartbreaking split, Dylan leaves to rebuild his life. Years later, Dylan r... 

Chapter 1. How We Got Here

DYLAN

Ashlene looked like a real-life enchantress. My real-life enchantress. Or at least before everything fell apart. For no apparent reason. Just a sweet marriage turned sour.

She was sleeping on the same bed as me. With her eyes closed, she looked like an angel. Her long lashes, the pale skin, and a slight hint of blush on either of her cheeks, her long black hair, and the thin lips I now miss kissing. Gently, I reached her face to tuck the stray strands of hair. She was sleeping peacefully, and I was extra mindful that my movement would disrupt her slumber. A sad smile crept on my face. How did we get here anyway? Everything started so perfectly.

I remembered the stirring in my chest when she first walked into the coffee shop. She ordered a large caramel macchiato and sat at the farthest table from the door. Alone, she sipped her coffee, eyes glancing through the glass walls of the café into the slight drizzle of rain outside. Even in her school uniform, she got my attention. From that day on, I would always look forward to seeing her enter the coffee shop again.

The first time I talked to her was when I braved myself and passed her a note. It was a one-liner, a great leap, hoping to make her a friend. I couldn’t forget the smile she gave me on her way out, and since then, she has become a regular customer. In due time, that blossomed into something more. Now she’s my wife. For two years now.

“Stop looking at me, Dylan.” One of her eyes opened. The coldness in them matched the slight drizzle of morning rain outside the window.

“I’m sorry. You look pretty, my love.”

She gave me a blank expression.

“Please, Dylan. It’s almost a year after the wedding. You can stop flattering me.”

I nodded. No good morning? None, nothing at all?

She removed the blanket covering her lower body and stood up. Her sleeping robe was a thin fabric of purple silk. She crossed the room to the bathroom, which was not that far from the bed. A sad expression crossed my face. Since the time we moved here after our wedding, Ash has become a different person. She would only spend her time working, and when she got home, she’d only get dinner and sleep. There was less room for us to talk about anything.

I guess there was no need to say that this shabby apartment wasn’t what she was used to. She grew up in a huge house, with handmaidens here and there to assist everything she did. She ate a feast every meal, and most of all, she had security insurance in the bank to last her entire future.

That was before. Now, she was living in this trash of a place. For me. Who had nothing to offer to this marriage.

“Get up, Dylan. You can prepare the breakfast while I’m in the shower,” she shouted from the bathroom.

I did get up. With bare feet and no shirt, I walked to the kitchen, where a medium-sized refrigerator and a small table with four chairs occupy almost half of the kitchen space. I opened the refrigerator and checked what could be cooked. There were four eggs on the tray, half a cabbage, and one carrot. With a sigh, I pulled them out and washed them one by one. I prepared the pan for a vegetable omelet and brewed some coffee, grabbing two mugs from the glass stand.

She walked out of the bathroom after 15 minutes, looking like an angel draped in a towel. A pink towelette was wrapped atop her head.

“Do you have something to do tonight?” I asked, beating eggs.

“Why?”

“Huber asked us to join them for dinner. He said his wife’s making carbonara.”

I couldn’t see her reaction to my question. Huber was our neighbor, the room at the end of the hall. He was married to Gwen, and every now and then, the four of us hung out for a simple couples’ night. Basically, they were our only social life in this area.

“Sure. I’ll grab some pastries for dessert on my way home.”

“Wonderful.”

After a minute, she was in the kitchen, seated on the table, watching me fry the omelet. She was chatting with someone on her phone, which I guess was Emily, her friend at work. In less than an hour from now, she would be in the city library, and I would be at the barber shop. We’d meet at 5 pm to go home together or sometimes, she would be the first time to reach the house as I would be stuck with a customer.

When the simple breakfast was placed on the table, and we were sitting across each other, we ate in silence. She liked her coffee black, with no creamer and only half a tablespoon of sugar. I prepared a mug for her, and she sipped it, holding the cup with both her gentle hands.

“This is awful,” she said, putting the mug down with a thud. The stirring spoon fell to the floor, and I stood up to get it right next to her feet.

“Sorry. Do you want me to change it?”

“How come you cannot make this right?” She frowned and placed her hand face on both her hands.

“I’m sorry, love. I’ll just make another one.”

“Don’t bother. It’s because this is cheap coffee, that is.”

I looked down and sighed. This was nothing. I knew she only missed her home. We locked eyes for a moment, unblinking, but all I could see in them was disappointment. In mine, I hoped what she could see was love, the same love that made her marry me. If only she knew none of that changed with me, she’d know I was still the same man. And then her phone rang from the living room, and she hurried and got it.

“That must be my boss.”

She jogged to the living room and got her phone. I followed her with my eyes, curious of what the call was about as well.

I saw her facial expression change ten seconds after answering the phone.

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