Sunday, July 30, 2000

In/Exhale - November 4, 2000

November 4, 2000


Renee woke suddenly, uncertain of where she was, to the sound of a key scraping in a lock. Her heart immediately began to race in her chest; Kai was still beside her, but sound asleep. She debated waking him for a moment, her breath held, as she waited for the door to open. She knew, inwardly, she had nothing to worry about--after all, Kai was right here, and whoever was coming in had a key, but her body had other ideas, and she had to struggle to keep herself calm.

Finally, someone emerged through the entrance, a tall, lanky figure shaking out his hair and slipping out of a long overcoat. As he stepped into the light, she noticed the white coat and the blond hair. She hadn’t met him in person, yet, but this had to be Kai’s brother, Jon. Dr. Taylor.

He seemed to be making his best effort to be quiet as he entered the kitchen; Renee realized now, with a quick glance to the VCR, that it was almost three in the morning. She and Kai had been asleep hours.

She heard beeping, like Jon was heating something in the microwave, and decided to carefully slip out from Kai’s embrace and the warmth of the couch. She’d say a quick hello to Jon, then be on her way. She needed to be at Lost Apple in five hours.

As she approached the kitchen, she could see Jon’s back, leaning against the counter, watching the microwave. She attempted to balance being quiet--so as not to wake Kai--and loud enough so as not to startle Jon.

She stood in the entrance to the kitchen, finally clearing her throat. He contained his jump, but gaped at her, shocked and confused--though he looked disturbingly like Kai, only older, he obviously didn’t have Kai’s self-control over his emotions.

“I’m sorry; I was trying not to scare you.”

He blinked. “You must be Renee.”

She nodded, offered her hand. They shook quickly; Jon clearly was either still unsettled by her sudden appearance or he just didn’t know what to say to her. “Kai fell asleep, and I guess I did, too,” she said in explanation. “On the couch.”

Jon nodded, stared at her awkwardly.
   
She gestured for the door with her thumb. “I should probably go.”
   
Jon took in a breath. “It’s actually really nasty out there. Black ice. You’re welcome to stay the night here. You can take my bed. Or Kai’s. If he’s still sleeping, he probably won’t wake up until the morning.”
   
Renee smiled at Jon’s consideration. Even though she’d lived through last winter here, her experience in driving in ice and snow wasn’t extensive. Still, she wasn’t the most comfortable with the idea of spending the night in an apartment with two men she barely knew.

The microwave beeped, and Jon hesitated a moment before reaching for it, though he seemed unsure if he should eat or not, as if waiting for Renee’s permission. It was crazy how much alike the two brothers looked and yet how different they were, personality wise. Kai always seemed in control of a situation, carefully crafting what to say and guiding the conversation in the direction of his choosing. Jon seemed to flounder, like someone who barely knew how to swim trying to keep his head above water.

Renee recognized the smells of the dinner she’d help Kai cook earlier. “It’s good. Don’t let me stop you,” she said finally.

Jon nodded and began eating, not quite with relish, though he clearly enjoyed his food more than his brother despite the fact that he looked like he weighed at least twenty pounds less. “Did he take his medicine? Do you know?”

Renee shook her head. “I don’t, but I think he did.”

Jon sighed, nodded. He ate quickly, hurriedly, clearly tired and ready for sleep himself. “I can drive you home, if you want,” Jon offered, though she could see he was exhausted and only offering to be nice. “Kai can pick you up in the morning and bring you back to your car.”

Renee sighed. “Kai wouldn’t mind if I stayed?”

Jon looked at her, confused, as he pulled a zippered pouch out of one of the drawers. “Kai would be furious with me if I let you drive home in this weather.” She watched him prick his finger with a little device--he didn’t even flinch--then squeeze the blood out onto a test strip. “My bed’s bigger, but Kai’s room is warmer. I can get you something to sleep in.”

He went through the rest of the motions of what she assumed was checking his blood sugar, not thinking anything about injecting himself in front of her. Once he finished, he signaled for her to follow him.

He led her to his own bedroom, which was sparsely furnished and even less decorated than the rest of the apartment, pawing through a few drawers before he found something. A pair of pink plaid flannel PJs. “Uh, these pajamas are my girlfriend’s; they’ll be a bit big, but probably fit better than any of our clothes.” He pointed. “That’s my bathroom, if you want to change in there. I’m going to go check on Kai.”

#

Renee emerged a few minutes later; she’d rolled up the pants at the legs and the waist, and tied the shirt to help keep it in place. She probably looked ridiculous, but she was warm, and she wouldn’t have to risk getting in an accident out on the icy roads. Jon was repositioning Kai, who was still sound asleep, shifting him onto his back and tucking a pillow under his legs before covering him with an extra blanket. Jon’s movements were tender, feeling Kai’s forehead and cheeks and examining his hands as if Kai were his son instead of his brother.

“Is he OK?” Renee asked in a whisper.

Jon looked up. Nodded. “His blood pressure’s a little low, but positioning him like this will help. He’s really out,” Jon said with a faint smile. “Did you decide where you want to sleep?” Jon asked, standing up.

“Uh,” Renee toed the ground. “I guess Kai’s room. I hate to put you out anymore than I am already.”

Jon’s smile broadened, reminding her more of his brother, but he shook his head. “All right, well, it’s right through there. He should have fresh sheets in his bathroom, if you want them, and his alarm is set for seven, but you can turn it off if you want.”

“That’s perfect. He’ll really be OK on the couch?”

Jon laughed. “If he hasn’t woken up yet? Yeah, he’ll be fine.” Then Jon stretched, yawned, and flicked off most of the lights, though not all of them, oddly enough, Renee observed, disappearing into Kai’s room.
#


Kai’s bedroom was tidy, but not as IKEA-catalog neat as the rest of the apartment, or his brother’s room. The surface of the low dresser off to one side was dotted with prescription bottles, pens, sticky note pads, small crumpled papers, partially empty bottles of water and sports drink. An old photograph was tucked into the corner of the mirror, below a cascade of post-its with notes scrawled in Kai’s slanting, hurried handwriting. Things like, Call Jake. Prepare 1st Date Sun. Pick up Rx. Appt w/ Dr. Mic - Nov 16 @ 2PM. Buy Gatorade.

An unmade, extra-long twin bed, like the kind Renee remembered from the dorm, was pushed up against the far wall, a single nightstand and lamp beside it, the shelves of which were full of items she couldn’t quite identify at first glance. An inhaler and a novel--clearly a library book--lay on its surface. In the far corner, near the bed, stood a pair of forearm crutches, the scuffs on the wall indicating he often leaned them there, and Kai’s black knee brace. His leather braces, the ones she’d seen him wearing in PT, were no where to be seen, perhaps stored away in the closet opposite. On the other wall was a low bookshelf, sparsely filled with well-worn novels and a couple textbooks. She noticed the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit Kai had purchased the other day at the reading.

But other than the single photograph, nothing personalized the room. No mementos or pictures, no photos or decorations. It was clearly lived in, evidence of Kai’s presence everywhere--including the overflowing hamper beside the dresser--but without looking at the name on the prescription bottles, without knowing that brace and crutches were his, it could easily have been any young guy’s room. It looked like Kai’s instinct to hide went farther than his reticence to talk to her.

She resisted the temptation to pry in his closet or drawers, or to check any of the prescription bottles for clues into Kai's life, though she did duck into his bathroom, figuring maybe he’d have some mouthwash she could use as a substitute for brushing her teeth.

Kai’s bathroom was about twice as large as his brother’s, though other than the high toilet pushed close to the wall and the grab bars like she’d seen in public restrooms, it seemed pretty standard, just with more space, obviously so he could maneuver his wheelchair in it.

Like his bedroom, the bathroom was impersonal yet visibly lived in, more prescription bottles scattered around--there seemed like an awful lot of them--along with several inhalers and plastic pieces she couldn’t identify set carefully to dry on a towel. She spotted the mouthwash and poured some into a plastic cup she plucked from a stack off to the side. Using it quickly, she felt uncomfortably like she was invading Kai’s carefully crafted privacy. She suspected part of his closing the door on her earlier, when he’d disappeared into his room, was as much to keep his domain private from her as to shield her from whatever it was he’d come in to do. Take his medicine, she presumed.

She opened the large cabinet near the door where she expected to find extra towels and sheets, spying these stacked neatly on a shelf, but below them she saw boxes of medical supplies, some she recognized, like surgical gloves and masks, and others she didn’t. Further convinced her instincts about privacy invasion were right, and realizing she was even more tired than she’d thought, she decided to forget about changing the sheets and just go to sleep.

Renee sighed, flipped off the light, and returned to his bed, sinking down into it, realizing it was covered in pillows, like Kai was some kind of pillow hoarder. It made the narrow bed strangely comfortable, and they smelled reassuringly like him, so she gathered them up into a nest of sorts, pulled up the blankets, and soon slipped into a contented sleep.

#


Kai woke slowly. The first thing he realized was how stiff he was, his neck and back tight. He opened his eyes, confused at first until he realized he was on the couch. He’d spent the entire night here? He rubbed at his neck, working his fingers into the muscle as he searched for the clock. Six-thirty AM. Ugh, no wonder he was tight. He’d taken his meds when he’d snuck into his room to cough, but hadn’t bothered to stretch.

He used the back of the couch to pull himself up with a grunt. He felt a little dizzy, and suspected his blood pressure had dipped a bit, but he worked through it, yanking the pillow out from beneath his legs--had he done that? Leaning forward as much as his back would allow to stretch it.

Renee had come over, they’d had dinner, then they’d sat on the couch together. He must have fallen asleep. Had she left without waking him? Or had he woken but couldn’t remember? But if he had, why hadn’t he gone to his bed?

He heard someone moving around the kitchen as he continued to try to stretch himself loose. He pulled his legs off the couch one by one, glancing around for his chair. It wasn’t where he remembered leaving it, but then he couldn’t remember much of the night before. The good news was other than being tight and a little light headed, his chest felt clearer. Only a couple doses of the amphigarol and he was already clearing the mucus better. He reached for a handful of tissues and coughed. It was good news, of course, as he noted what he coughed up was still clear, and less sticky, though also bad: whatever caused his body to produce the abnormal gunk in his lungs that the amphigarol fought against obviously hadn’t been cured by the transplant the way everyone had hoped.

“Kai?”

Kai coughed a few more times, wiped his mouth, and looked up. Jon stood with two mugs, offering him one. “I’m fine,” Kai said, balling up the used tissues and accepting the mug. Hot milk with sugar. He took a few sips, then tried to stretch his back some more by arching his shoulders.

Jon took a seat at the other end of the couch, sipping his coffee. “Shh. Renee’s asleep in your room.”

What?!” Kai fingerspelled rapidly with his free hand to express his shock.

It was too dangerous for her to drive by the time I got home, so I offered to let her stay. You were asleep.

Kai groaned but said nothing else, rolling his neck to try to stretch it. He’d have to sneak through his own bedroom just to use the toilet or take his meds. Renee only knew a fraction of what life with him was like. He wasn’t ready for a sleepover, which made him furious with Jon. But at the same time, if the weather was bad, Jon had done the right thing to keep her here. If Renee’s safety meant Kai had to do some explaining sooner rather than later, and be slightly inconvenienced, then so be it. Kai sighed heavily, annoyed he couldn't even really be mad.

Jon seemed to be waiting for Kai’s angry signed outburst.

Instead, Kai attempted to stretch again. “You were right to let her stay. I’ve gotta wake her up soon, anyway. She has work.”

Jon blinked, a little surprised. “You sore? I didn’t want to wake you . . .”

Kai sighed. “I could use a good massage,” he said, smiling faintly. “But I’ll live. I needed the sleep. I feel a lot better.”

Jon nodded. “Good. I was worried about you yesterday. I’m going to get a shower; I have clinic for a few hours, then I’m on the graveyard again.” Jon sighed, rolling his eyes. He finished his coffee, then rose. “See you later.”

#

A few minutes later, Kai snuck into his room, trying to be as quiet as possible. Renee was sprawled in his bed, looking adorable, her curls a frizzy disaster around her head, tangled up in the pillows and blankets and the borrowed pajamas several sizes too large for her. Man, he had to pee, not to mention take his morning meds, but glancing at the clock, his alarm would sound soon.

He debated for a moment, but finally, his bladder won out and he shut himself in the bathroom. His finger hovered over the lock. Kai never, ever locked himself in a residential bathroom. It was silly, and he told himself it was in case something happened, his brother or someone else could get to him, but even now, he couldn’t bring himself to turn the lock. It was something Dr. Miller would probably chastise him about, but the risk of Renee walking in on him felt like less of a threat than a locked door, even if it was of his own making.

Kai had rigged up a urinal to use so he didn’t have to transfer to pee. It was meant to attach to a bag, but he’d simply modified it so he put the end in the bowl so that while he peed, it drained directly into the toilet.

He’d just finished, cleaning his device, and himself, when he heard his alarm. It’d be an inconvenience, but he could take his meds in his room and let Renee have his bathroom for a moment to shower. He gathered everything into a bag, including his notebook and pen, set it in his lap, and pushed out the door.

Renee had managed to shut off the alarm, and was sitting up in his bed, her hair a frazzled mess, looking so small, still waking up. But she smiled when she saw him. “Morning.”

“Morning,” he said, echoing her smile. “I hope you slept well?”

She nodded, patting the pillows. “Deceptively comfortable.” She stretched, then seemed to remember she wasn’t completely dressed and her hair was a mess, pulling the blankets higher around herself. “This would be awkward if I weren't wearing someone else's pajamas and sitting in an usurped bed.”

He chuckled, feeling a warmth in his belly at the idea of Renee waking up in his bed, even if he hadn’t slept in it with her. “I’ll be the gracious host and yield my bathroom to you. There’s towels if you’d like to shower. I also should have some unopened toothbrushes in the bottom left cabinet; I like to change them monthly, so I always keep a few extras. Take your time. I’ll go make some coffee for you, in case Jon drank it all.”

Renee beckoned him close, so he obeyed, pushing to the edge of the bed. She got up on her knees and leaned in for a kiss, short but deliciously sweet. “Thank you for being a gentleman.”

“I’m the one who fell asleep on you last night. Sorry about that.”

“Well, you’ll just have to make it up to me tomorrow for our surprise ‘first’ date.” She grinned and pulled him in for another kiss that made him melt inside.

“You’re going to love it. It’s bingo Sunday at the Prairie Valley Retirement Home.” He realized he was smiling, a silly grin, his lip between his teeth.

But Renee was beaming back at him. “I can’t wait.” She winked, planted a quick peck on his cheek, before hopping around him and disappearing into the bathroom.

#

You’re in love with her,” Jon signed single-handedly as he poured himself yet more coffee from the fresh pot Kai had made for Renee, filling a large to-go cup.

I’m not,” Kai signed quickly, turning his back on his brother to signal the conversation was over, opening the fridge to see if he had anything he could make her for breakfast.

Jon tapped firmly on Kai’s shoulder, so Kai reluctantly looked up. “I think she’s in love with you, too.”

Whatever,” Kai signed dismissively. “Don’t you have work?

“She seems nice,” Jon said in a whisper. “Don’t push her away.”

Kai glared at Jon, but Jon only smiled and waved.

“I’ll be late again tonight.”

"Falling in love, maybe," Kai conceded. "But not love love," Kai said, fingerspelling one of the "loves" for emphasis. "Since when are you the expert, anyway?"

Jon just smiled. "Maybe the four of us should have dinner? Maybe once I'm back on a normal schedule?"

Kai nodded vaguely, lost in his thoughts. Jon might be socially clueless at times, but he was observant. Part of what made him so good at his job. Could it really be possible? Renee barely knew him, and he barely knew her. Jon was probably just overeager to see Kai happy after the disasters of Becca and Nikki. Right?

#

Renee slipped into Kai’s bathroom, her clothes from the night before bundled in her arms. She twisted the lock; she trusted Kai and his brother, but it made her feel a little safer. She left her clothes on the sink, then fished a couple towels out of the cabinet, stripping out of her borrowed PJs. She shivered, and rushed to the shower.

It was a tub shower similar to the one in her own apartment, but when she pulled the curtain away, she noticed a few minor differences. The first was a white plastic chair set into the tub; it had handles built into the seat.  Next, she spotted two more grab bars, then that the showerhead had been converted to a hand wand and mounted lower on the wall, so it was easily reachable from the seat. Renee had wondered, vaguely, how Kai showered. Now she knew.

She reached in and turned the water on hot to get some steam going, observing how, like a typical man, Kai’s bath products consisted of only soap and shampoo. She sighed,  testing her hair. It normally took special hair products to keep it manageable; and about half a cup of conditioner to prevent it drying out, especially in the winter. She could take her chances with just shampoo, or leave it unwashed and pull it into a bun and hope no one would notice. She tucked it up now, twisting her curls together, then wrapping them around each other and pulling the end through to hold them in place.

She cautiously stepped into the shower, realizing, even as short as she was, it would be awkward trying to stand in front of the shower chair--which she wasn’t too keen on moving--what if she broke it? And she’d probably have to hold the wand to really get good coverage, even if she decided not to wash her hair. Yet she was hesitant to sit in the seat, too. Even though Kai had given her permission to uses his bathroom, it still felt wrong, like an intimacy they weren’t quite ready for. Of course she knew he was disabled, and the wheelchair did make it pretty obvious, especially when he was transferring in and out of it, his legs so still when they weren’t spasming, standing in his shower suddenly made it real.

She’d assured him she didn’t mind if he never walked again, but as she finally let herself sink into the seat, it hit her: had she really thought through what being with someone like Kai would mean? In only a couple weeks, she’d be spending Thanksgiving with her family, and everyone usually gathered at her maternal grandparents’ house, which had been in the family for generations. It was a large, 150-year-old Victorian house, raised almost an entire story above the ground to keep it protected from seasonal floods and even the worst hurricane’s rains.

But that also meant steps. Lots of steps. And more inside, since the bedrooms were all on the second or third floors. Her parents’ house, the home where she’d grown up, was of a similar design. And that didn’t even account for doors that weren’t wide enough or a bathroom too small for him to maneuver in. Kai was resourceful, of course--she’d seen it first hand, but inventiveness could only take him so far. There were things, probably a long list if she forced herself to really think of them--that Kai would not be able to do.

She reached for the soap--plain, unscented, to start cleaning herself when she heard a gentle knock on the door. “I’m not done,” she said stupidly; he had to hear the running water.

“I made coffee and I’m going out to scrape the ice off your windshield as long as you’re not blocked in. Just thought I’d let you know.”

Renee smiled despite herself, a warmth filling her that had nothing to do with the water. She’d just been imagining Kai’s limitations, and yet he was offering to go out in the cold and prep her car for her--she wasn’t sure exactly how he’d manage, but just like in the kitchen yesterday, he had to have a system. Maybe life with Kai wouldn’t be the same as it would be with an able-bodied man, and maybe he’d have to find work arounds and do things differently, but she couldn’t hide the way her stomach felt wonderfully knotted up at the thought of being with Kai long enough she’d need to find out what all the complexities of his life might be.

#

Renee had been distracted all day, grateful the store wasn't too busy, unable to stop thinking about Kai. Not only about him in general--his rare genuine smiles, the sparkle in his blue eyes, the rich sound of his laughter, the subtle clean maleness of his smell, the roughness of his skin along hers. How nice it had felt, feeling his head leaning against hers, his arm wrapped around her as they slept together on his couch. How strangely wonderful his bed had been. But also about what he'd started to tell her before disappearing. And all those prescription bottles. He had told her more than once his health was complicated. She'd given into temptation after her shower, and had read the labels on a few of the bottles in his bathroom, all of which had apparently been to control or treat his MLS, plus one whose instructions read, Take one tablet up to four times daily as needed for nausea and vomiting. At that point, she'd decided she shouldn't pry anymore and had resumed getting dressed. But that last prescription had made her wonder: was that why Kai hated eating? Because he often felt sick? And did he feel that way because of his "complicated health," or was it a side effect of the myriad medicines he took? Maybe she could ask him tomorrow. Or maybe he'd finish telling her whatever it was he'd started to say.

A thump as a book was thrown down in front of her on the counter drew her out of her repetitive cycle of thoughts.

"Is this everything?" Renee asked automatically as she pulled the book closer to ring it up. She noticed the title, Redefining SLUT: Female Sexuality in the 21st Century.

"So. How was he?" Renee looked up at the voice, seeing Diane, leaning on the counter, arms crossed, eyebrows raised.

"What?"

"Someone didn't come home last night."

Renee blinked.

Diane leaned in. "And despite that sweater, which I know you keep in your car, you're also wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday."

Renee blushed fiercely, even though she had no reason to, grateful there weren't any customers around and Art was in his office.

"I've been watching you for the past fifteen minutes, and your look was the perfect combination of dreamy and confused and contemplative, which screamed--to me--that you had sex last night." Diane was beaming triumphantly.

"I'm at work, Diane. This is totally not the place."

"Fine. Tell me all about it tonight. But you've never been one to not kiss and tell."

Renee sighed heavily. "Are you even buying this?" She hefted the book in the air.

"Just trying to get your attention. You said this guy was different--"

Now Renee was getting mad. "He is. We did sleep together last night, but not the way you think. We fell asleep on his couch, and it was late and bad road conditions when I woke up, so I was invited to stay. He was a perfect gentleman. He even went out and scraped the ice off my windshield this morning."

Diane studied Renee, obviously skeptical.

"Look, Diane," Renee said. "There's something about him you should know. I've been meaning to tell you, but there's never been a 'right' time, and now seems like the wrong time for everything, so why not." Renee paused, took a deep breath. "He uses a wheelchair. He can't walk. Well, he can, kind of. It's . . . complicated." Renee found herself smiling, huge and silly. Kai was so right. There was no simple way to explain his disability.

Diane's mouth opened, her eyes narrowing. "Wait. You always talked about how tall he is. And you never said anything about. . . . And how can he both walk and not walk? It's one or the other."

"We'll talk more later," Renee said, still smiling, taking another page out of Kai's book and directing the conversation confidently. "But I'm serious about us, and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. So I'd appreciate your support."

#

Jon jogged into the pulmonology outpatient clinic, hoping to find Vicky there for some kissing if nothing else before his first patient arrived. He’d only managed a few hours’ sleep, and he was on shift again that night, but the strong coffee he’d consumed that morning helped energize him, not to mention the prospect of seeing Vicky, their first chance to be alone since she’d entertained him in his office on Halloween night.

Her hair was formed into a long, thick braid that dipped over her shoulder as she stood at the front desk, frowning as she double-checked she’d pulled the right patient files for the morning. Jon’s heart sped its beat, and it wasn’t simply the caffeine overload.

“Morning,” Jon said, sneaking up behind her and wrapping his arms around her, pulling her into a hug against him.

She gasped in surprise before laughing, batting his hands off her enough she could turn around and drape her arms around his neck. “Morning,” she said, offering him a short but deliciously sweet kiss. “I never thought I’d actually look forward to Saturday-morning clinic with you so much. I feel like this is the first time I’ve been able to spend some time with you in ages.”

Jon sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m ready for my crap schedule to be over, too, but I’d do it again to be there for Kai.” He leaned in for another kiss, but Vicky pulled away.

“What about me?”

“What?” Jon said, his eyebrows dipping as he attempted the kiss again.

Vicky accepted, but kept it to a peck. “Would you do it for me?”

Jon dropped his grip on her, his hands falling to her hips, confused. “Is something wrong?” If Vicky were sick and he had been too busy to notice. . . .

Vicky laughed softly, as if she could see his mind working, racing for the worst scenario, laying a hand on his cheek. “No. I’m fine. But . . . if something did happen to me, and I needed you. Would you take off weeks of work for me?”

Maybe it was a lack of sleep, or simply his (acknowledged) limited understandings of the workings of the female brain, but Jon couldn’t figure out why Vicky was asking him these things. Couldn’t they just kiss?

Without giving him a chance to formulate a response, Vicky pushed him away, turning her back on him and gathering up the stack of patients’ folders. She shoved them into his arms. “We’re busy this morning,” she said coolly, before walking around him. A moment later, he heard her office door slam shut.

She was angry. What had he done wrong? Juggling the files in his arms, he tried to understand. She had a huge family--seven brothers and sisters, both parents and sets of grandparents, plus more cousins and aunts and uncles than Jon could count. Kai only had him. He’d give her some time to cool off, and make his apologies, and hope he could get her to explain what he was supposed to have said.

###########


8 comments:

  1. :) Very nice. I like how just as she's doubting his abilities and what it would really be like to be with a man with a disability he comes in and shows her what it will be like. I loved that. I also really enjoyed how she told her friend about him was at the book store. And the extra ASL with Jon and Kai. You don't disappoint, even with the unexpected chapters you didn't foresee writing.

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  2. The differing male and female perspectives made me smile. You handle you characters so well. I love this story.

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  3. Love this so much; it feels so natural, like it's just grown organically into this great story. I adore Kai's sense of humour and he's really, adorably sweet under all his armour. And Vicky is just so human at the end. It's all just fabulous, thank you for sharing.

    Rose

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  4. I love Kai! I love Renee! I especially liked the scene with Renee tentatively taking a peek around Kai's bedroom and bathroom - wanting to, but at the same, feeling that she shouldn't really be there. I am so absorbed in this story that I find myself thinking about Kai and Renee at various times of the day and wondering what's in store for them in future episodes.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you adore these two as much as I do, lol. Next week is their "first" date, which is pretty unique and special and I hope you will enjoy that as well. :)

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  5. Thank you for another wonderful chapter!
    You did an absolutely great job showing Renee glimpses of the extent of Kai's disability. Her gradual realization and perception of it was laid out beautifully.
    Also, I adored both brothers' "gentlemanness" - one offering to stay overnight and the other scraping the ice off the windscreen (in the place where I live we've had the temperature round -20 every morning and scraping the ice off has become one part of my daily ritual, so that kind of gesture made me especially warm inside! (: ).
    Looking forward to Renee and Kai's date, I'm sure you'll outdo yourself again!
    Cheers,
    Anne

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  6. Thank you for this amazing update!

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  7. Chie, I can only echo what everyone above has said. It's such a complex story and yet you manage all the characters so well. It really is like watching a TV series, and I eagerly await each episode!

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