Thursday, January 17, 2013

Monthly Moderator Update

Seems like it's been a little slow with the holidays and all.  Here are the updates from this month:

After the First

Ink
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


Pieces

Tales of a Sick & Twisted Devotee
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15 

Cheers!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Historical amputee story

Hello everyone!  My name is Kat and I'm a big fan of both historical fiction and the "wounded heroes" genre.  I decided to try my hand at writing a story for y'all.  This story is called Pieces and it takes place in Mississippi soon after World War 2.

This is my first attempt so please don't be too harsh!  I would love any feedback though, and if people enjoy it, I will try to keep writing it, although writing is sure harder than I though it would be.


Pieces

I overheard Miz Corliss on the phone saying about her son Bobby that he’d be coming home from Germany today but that he’d left some pieces of hisself behind.

Read the rest...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unexpected (Table of contents)

Short summary:
Meaghan is dragged to a speed dating session by her best friend. She doesn't expect to meet anyone there, but a handsome paraplegic might change her perception of speed dating forever...

Table of contents:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12


I apologize for any typos and grammatical errors - I do my best to avoid them and I proof read before I publish.  Some errors might be inevitable though, English isn't my native language.  Constructive criticism is always welcome. :)

Unexpected 1


-Chapter 1-
In general Meaghan Barnes was happy with her life; at the age of 28 she had a great job, a nice apartment and a pretty decent social life.  What she didn’t have was a man in her life; something her mother liked to remind her of on a regular basis.  Especially since her younger sister had announced that she was expecting her first child.  Meaghan had been in a few relationships, but none of them had lasted for more than a few months.  Much to her mother’s dismay Meaghan was pretty content with her life as it was and wasn’t searching for a man.  Her best friend, Kelly, had dragged her to a few speed dating sessions without success and she’d jokingly suggested that she should sign up for an online dating service a while back, Meaghan refused.  If she couldn’t find a man without retorting to a website she’d rather be single. Speed dating was as far as she was willing to go.

Unexpected 2


-Chapter 2-
Since it was a work night Meaghan and Bryan had called it a night well before midnight. Meaghan had an appointment with a client at 9 the following morning and Bryan had to be at work at 8. Against Meaghan’s protests Bryan had insisted on paying. “I asked you to join me, so I’m paying,” he’d said firmly as he handed his credit card over to the waitress.  He’d followed Meaghan to her car and waited until she backed out of the parking space before he headed back to his car that was parked in a handicapped space closer to the bar they’d met in.

---------------

As soon as Meaghan entered her apartment in Georgetown she flopped down on the couch, dug her iPhone out of her handbag and called Kelly. She answered the call on the third ring.

“Meaghan! How was he?”

“Hi Kel,” Meaghan greeted her best friend with a laugh.

“Come on Megs, spill it!”

“He’s great. We ended up eating dinner at Mr. Xiu’s and I have to admit this is the best first date I’ve been on for a while.”

“Really? What did I tell ya’? Speed dating isn’t such a bad idea.”

“Hopefully I won’t have to do that again. Bryan and I are going out again on Saturday.”

“Oh my gosh! Megs that’s amazing!!! What does he do for a living?”

“He’s a doctor, oncology fellow at Georgetown University Hospital.”

“Wow! Good looks and a doctor? You really scored!”

Meaghan laughed. She decided to not mention Bryan’s disability to Kelly. She had a tendency to be judgmental and Meaghan was pretty sure she’d tell her to dump Bryan before they’d even been on their second date if she knew he was in a wheelchair.

“I guess I did. Anyway, it’s late and tomorrow’s a workday. We should both get some sleep, right?”

“Yep! I should’ve been in bed already, but I had a feeling you’d call me. Have fun on Saturday and I expect you to tell me all the details.”

“I know you do,” Meaghan laughed and ended the call.  

She quickly got ready for bed and curled up under the covers. She was just about to drift off to sleep when her cell phone warbled on the nightstand. It was a text from Bryan; “Thanks for a wonderful first date. Sweet dreams :) Bryan”
She smiled as she replied; “Can’t wait to see you again. Tonight was great. Sleep well. Meaghan :)”

-----------------

The following two days Meaghan was busy at work, but she struggled to focus on her work. Her thoughts kept drifting to her dinner with Bryan. Saturday couldn’t come fast enough.  Thursday morning she had a meeting a couple of blocks from his workplace and when the meeting ended earlier than anticipated she impulsively sent him a text message; “Hey Bryan. Just finished a meeting not far from GUH and I’m hungry. Would you like to join me for lunch? Meaghan”
She didn’t even know if he was at work or if it was his lunch hour, or if he was working a night or afternoon shift, but she was itching to see him again and crossed her fingers as she hit ‘send’. A couple of minutes later her phone beeped with a reply.
“Is this fate or what? I was just about to head to the cafeteria for lunch (yes, I know the cafeteria sounds lame, but I can’t leave the hospital right now). Join me?”
Meaghan sent a quick reply and they agreed to meet at outside the cafeteria. She quickly surveyed her appearance; she was wearing a dark grey tailored suit with a black top, her hair was pulled into her signature sleek ponytail and she was wearing horn-rimmed glasses instead of contacts. Se smiled to herself; Bryan was about to meet the ‘real’ Meaghan Barnes instead of the elementary-school-teacher version of her.

Ten minutes later she was waiting outside the cafeteria at Georgetown University Hospital and a smile spread across her face as Bryan came out of the elevator and wheeled toward her.  He was wearing light blue scrubs, with a white, long-sleeved jersey under the top, he had a stethoscope draped around his neck and a pair of protective goggles hanging from the V-neck of his scrub top. His feet were clad in the same sneakers he’d been wearing to the speed dating session. She noticed the dark shadow on his jaw and the slightly mussed appearance of his hair indicated that he’d probably worked a long shift. As he came up to her she bent down and gave him a quick hug.

“So…,” he said with a slightly teasing tone. “This is the real Meaghan Barnes?”

“Yes Dr. Norfleet, it is. Do you approve?”

“Very much so. You seem much more comfortable in these clothes.”

“Really?” Meaghan asked with surprise lacing her voice.

“Yep! Sorry about my somewhat scruffy appearance,” he said apologetically as he grabbed the push rims on his wheelchair and suspended himself from the seat for a few seconds before he dropped back down. Meaghan noticed he looked self-conscious.

“Don’t worry about it. You wear those scrubs well,” Meaghan said with a laugh. “Well, shall we get something to eat?”

--------------------

Meaghan followed Bryan trough the cafeteria line; he got a foot long hoagie with a load of toppings, a bag of chips and an iced tea and she got a Caesar salad and a bottle of water. Much to her dismay Bryan insisted on paying.

“I asked you to have lunch with me, so I should be paying,” she protested as Bryan handed over his employee ID badge and the cashier swiped it on the register and handed it back to him.

“I’m not about to let you pay for hospital cafeteria food,” Bryan said with a grimace as he placed the badge back in the holder that was hanging from the breast pocket on his scrub top. Meaghan put both of their food on one tray and grabbed it. She followed Bryan to a table by the windows and sat down. Bryan settled in across from her and eagerly grabbed his hoagie and ripped the wrapper open, causing Meaghan to laugh.

“Hungry?” she asked as she added the dressing to her Caesar salad.

“Starving! I’ve been at work since last night and I’ve only eaten a couple of power bars. It’s been a busy night and with two doctors home sick I’ve been attending to twice as many patients as I normally do. It’s crazy.”

“Wow, when do you get off?”

“At four, at least that’s what I hope. Then I only have an evening shift on Friday and I’m off for three days.”

“Long weekend?”

“Yeah, but then I’m working seven days straight, starting Tuesday, so…” he shrugged and then he suspended himself in the air for a few seconds before he dropped back down into the seat of his wheelchair. He noticed Meaghan’s curiosity and looked at her.

“It’s called a weight shift, I have to do them every fifteen minutes or so. Helps circulation in my legs and prevents me from getting sores. Our body wasn’t created to spend the majority of time sitting.”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that,” Meaghan said with a blush, before she turned her focus back to the salad bowl in front of her. Bryan turned his attention back to his meal and they ate in a slightly awkward silence. Just as Bryan wiped his mouth with a napkin his beeper went off and he grabbed it.

“Sorry to leave in a haste, but I’ve got to respond to this.”

“No problem. I’ll see you Saturday?”

“Definitely! I’m looking forward to it.”

“Me too,” Bryan said with a wide smile before he turned and wheeled out of the cafeteria.

---------------

Saturday afternoon Meaghan was fussing about what to wear for her third date with Bryan. After careful consideration she landed on a black pencil skirt topped with a white tailored shirt and a black cardigan. She pulled her hair back in a ponytail and applied a light makeup. Just as she slipped into her black Manolo Blahnik stilettos the doorbell rang. She hurried to the front door and opened it. Bryan was sitting in his wheelchair with a bouquet of red roses in his lap. He was even more handsome than Meaghan remembered and he’d obviously put more effort into his appearance than he’d done at the speed dating session. He was wearing dark gray dress slacks and a black tailored shirt that showed off what appeared to be a very toned upper body. His hair appeared to more tame and he wasn’t sporting a five-o-clock shadow on his jaw.

“Hey Bryan, good to see you again,” Meaghan exclaimed as she leaned down to hug him. “Did you manage to catch up on some sleep?”

“Good to see you too. These are for you,” he said as he handed her the roses. “You look great by the way, I definitely prefer this over dresses that looks like my grandmother's curtains. And yes, I’ve caught up on my sleep. Slept for almost 12 hours straight actually.”

“Don’t let Kelly hear you talk that way about her clothes,” Meaghan chuckled. “Um, why don’t you come in for a second while I put these in a vase?”

“Sure,” Bryan said with a smile. Meaghan stepped aside to let him enter her apartment. As Bryan wheeled past her she was grateful that she lived in a recently refurbished building that was fairly accessible.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” he commented when they entered the large living area with floor to ceiling windows on one wall.

“Thanks,” Meaghan said as she walked over to the open plan kitchen.  She quickly grabbed an appropriate vase from a cabinet and watched Bryan make his way around the room, occasionally pausing to study something closer. After she’d put the roses in the vase she placed them in the center of her kitchen island and turned to Bryan who had completed his exploration of her living room.

“Ready?” he asked. “We should get going, we’ve got a reservation at seven.”

Meaghan grabbed her clutch and after locking her apartment she followed Bryan to his car; a fairly new black Audi sedan. He opened the front passenger door for her and then wheeled around the car to the driver’s door while she settled in. She tried not to stare as he transferred from his wheelchair to the drivers seat and then positioned his legs with his hands. It was evident to her that he couldn’t move them at all.  After he got himself settled he made quick work of disassembling his wheelchair and placed it in the back seat.

----------------------

Twenty minutes later Bryan pulled into a handicapped parking space outside an Italian restaurant in downtown DC.

“I hope you like Italian food,” he said as he turned off the ignition.

“I love it,” Meaghan assured him as she unbuckled her seatbelt and got out of the car. She walked around to the drivers seat and for the second time that evening tried not to stare as Bryan assembled his wheelchair and transferred to it. Sheesh Megs, if you’re serious about dating this guy you’ve got to get over the damn wheelchair thing.

“Well, follow me,” Bryan said as he locked his car and turned toward the entrance of the restaurant. Meaghan walked behind him and observed as he confidently approached the hostess.

“Norfleet, reservation for two.”

The hostess seemed a bit flustered at first, but quickly pulled herself together.

“Follow me sir,” she said as she grabbed two menus and walked ahead of them to a table tucked away in a corner. She placed the menus on the table and removed one of the chairs before she walked away. Meaghan took a seat and Bryan settled in across from her.

“This place is lovely,” Meaghan said as she picked up her menu.

“Their spinach and feta stuffed pasta is fantastic. My favorite is that with their creamy tomato sauce with garlic, chili and white wine.”

“That sounds divine. I think I’ll have that.”

As on cue a waitress appeared and took their orders. Within moments she returned with their drinks; a glass of white wine for Meaghan and a alcohol free beer for Bryan.

---------------------

“Did you always want to be a doctor?”

“Well, I did like to play ‘Operation’ as a kid,” Bryan chuckled, and then he got more serious. “I guess on some level I always wanted to be a doctor and it’s sort of a family tradition.”

“Oh?”

“Dad’s a doctor, so was my grandfather and great grandfather too. There was no pressure to follow in their footsteps though. My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to make our own choices.”

“You come from a big family?”

“Yeah. Apart from my older brother Josh, whom you met the other night, I have a younger sister and brother. I’m the only doctor though. Josh’s a lawyer, my sister’s an actress and my youngest brother is in college, studying computer science. He’s the nerd of the family. What about you? Always wanted to be an architect?”

“Not really. Growing up I was determined on making a living off my passion for horses. I dreamed of being a professional rider.”

“You’re horse buff?”

“Nah, not since high school. I go riding with Kelly from time to time though, her family owns a big horsefarm.”

“So what made you decide to become an architect?”

“My senior trip sort of triggered it. I went on a round trip in Europe and the architecture over there really blew me away. I’d been interested in art history for a while and after the trip to Europe was eager to learn more about architectural history as well.  I ended up studying architecture in college and went into a masters program after I finished my undergraduate studies.”

“Do you mainly work with residential properties?”

“Yeah, a lot of refurbishments actually. My two main projects right now are major refurbishments of Georgetown townhouses. We’re actually putting on an expansion on one of them.”

“Oh, I didn’t think that was allowed. A buddy of mine applied to put an expansion on his townhouse a while back and was denied. Something about preservation codes.”

“There are ways to get around them, you just need an architect that knows how.”

Bryan laughed. “Well, I’ll tell him to get in touch with you if he decides to try again.”

---------------

When Meaghan let herself in to her apartment after Bryan had dropped her off it was well past midnight. After dinner they’d gone to a bar not far from the restaurant for drinks.  She was amazed at how easily the conversation flowed between them and it how many similar interests they had. The only thing that bothered her was that they were dancing around the big elephant in the room; Bryan’s disability. She didn’t want to pry and he didn’t exactly seem eager to talk about it. Part of her didn’t really care about it; he was a nice, easygoing guy and she liked him a lot, disability or no disability, but she was aware that depending on a wheelchair was only a part of how it affected his life. After their lunch date she’d done some searches online and she wondered how much of what she’d found out applied to Bryan. She hoped he’d open up to her more when he got to know her better; she’d leave it up to him to decide what and when he wanted to share. 

Unexpected 3


-Chapter 3-

Meaghan and Bryan had been dating for about a month and they still hadn’t spent the night together.  Meaghan had (not so subtly) hinted that he should spend the night at her place the previous Friday after they’d eaten takeout and watched a movie, but he’d ignored her hints and left around midnight, after a rather passionate make out session on her couch.  She wondered why he was reluctant to spend the night with her and realized it had to do with his disability. Bryan still hadn’t revealed much about his disability to her (apart from the obvious part, his wheelchair). She'd done a bit of research online, so she had an idea of how it affected his life, but she wanted him to tell her himself. Part of her was starting to lose patience and wanted to ask questions, but something told her that prying would probably cause him to pull away from her, so she decided to be patient, at least for a little while longer.

“How do you feel about the sea?” Bryan asked casually. It was Friday evening and they were having dinner at a French bistro, not far from his apartment. Meaghan hadn’t been to his apartment yet and had to admit she was eager to see it. When Bryan insisted to have dinner at the bistro that was barely a block away from where he lived Meaghan hoped it meant he intended invite her back to his place after the meal. His question about the sea pulled her out of her musings.

“In general? Or did you have something more specific in mind?” Meaghan asked as she looked over at him with a puzzled look on her face, wondering where the question came from.

“Well…um…my parents have this cottage by the sea, down in North Carolina, and I figured we could spend Labor Day weekend there. If you don’t have some crazy family traditions that weekend of course…”

Bryan fidgeted with his napkin, his normal confidence was lacking. Meaghan’s jaw was about to drop; from refusing to spend the night at her place to inviting her to spend a weekend with him at his family’s cottage was a big leap.

“Well, my family does have some crazy traditions that weekend, but I’d much rather spend it with my boyfriend in a cottage by the sea,” Meaghan said with a wide smile that seemed to bring Bryan’s confidence back.

“Awesome! I was thinking we could leave Friday afternoon and come back to DC on Tuesday. That way we’d avoid the worst traffic. Would that work for you?”

“Absolutely,” Meaghan grinned. “A long weekend with just the two of us. I can’t wait.”

“I’m excited about it too.”

“So, you’re sure you have the whole weekend off?”

“Yep! I asked for time off a while ago.”

“Oh, so months ago you presumed you’d have a girlfriend to bring with you to your parent’s cottage in North Carolina?”

“Nope, I planned on spending the weekend at my parents’ house in Philadelphia, with my family.”

“Won’t they be disappointed if you don’t show up?”

“They’ll live,” he said with a reassuring smile. “I’m sure Josh will convince them. He’s been desperately trying to get me to find a girlfriend and he finally got what he’s been hoping for.”

“What about you? Haven’t you been wanting a girlfriend too?”

“Of course, but I haven’t been as desperate as Josh have been on my behalf – or his own for that matter.”

“I think your brother and my best friend have something in common,” Meaghan laughed. “Kelly have always wanted a family, but for some reason she seems to be perpetually single.”

“Maybe she’s trying too hard? I think that’s Josh’s problem.”

“I’ve been thinking the same thing about Kelly. She goes to speed dating sessions all the time; she has dragged me to a few. I never imagined I’d actually meet someone at a speed dating session.”

“Me neither, I only went because Josh insisted and I figured it would keep him off my back for a little while.”

“Well, I’m glad we both agreed to go,” Meaghan said and gave Bryan’s forearm a squeeze.

“Um…would you like to come up to my place? I’ve got a nice bottle of wine we could share,” he asked, insecurity evident once again.

“I’d love to,” Meaghan answered with a wide smile. Oooh, I sure hope this means I get to spend the night.

-------------

“This is it,” Bryan said as he flipped on the light in his hallway. “It’s not as stylish as your place, but it’s home.”

Meaghan followed him down a wide hallway with cream-colored walls and dark hardwood floors that ended in a spacious living room.

“I like it,” she exclaimed. “It’s very you.”

He turned around 180 degrees and looked up at her. “Really?”

“Definitely,” Meaghan said with a wide smile. “Now, where’s that nice bottle of wine you were bragging about?”

“Oh…right…um, make yourself comfortable and I’ll be right back.” He gestured toward the big, brown leather couch and wheeled into what appeared to be the kitchen. 

Meaghan sat down on the couch and looked around the room again. There was a dining table and a credenza in one end and the L-shaped couch with a coffee table in front of it in the other end. Across from the couch there was big cabinet Meaghan assumed concealed a TV. Bryan wheeled back into the room with two wine glasses, a bottle of wine and a corkscrew in his lap and after depositing everything on the coffee table he transferred to the couch so he was sitting next to Meaghan. He made quick work of uncorking the wine and pouring two glasses of wine. He offered one glass to Meaghan.

“This is really nice,” she exclaimed after a couple of sips.

“It is, isn’t it? A buddy of mine is really interested in wine, like on a seriously nerdy level, and he told me to buy a few bottles of the 2008 version, which is apparently one of the best years for it.”

“I honestly thought of you as more of a beer guy,” Meaghan commented. “You generally order beer when we’re out.”

“Well, I am, but I appreciate a good wine from time to time too.”

“So do I, and this is great.” Meaghan kicked off her shoes and curled up against Bryan’s side, he wrapped his arm around her and tugged her even closer.

----------

They sat like that in comfortable silence for a while and just enjoyed the wine.  After she finished hers Meaghan put the empty glass on the coffee table, Bryan followed suit.

“Um…would you like to spend the night?” He blurted out, suddenly insecure again.

“I’d love to,” Meaghan said with a wide smile. Finally!

“But before we go any further I think we need to talk a little bit.” Bryan sighed and leaned back against the soft pillows of his couch. It was evident that it was a conversation he wasn’t looking forward to. Meaghan reached over and took his hand in hers; giving it an encouraging squeeze in an attempt to tell him she could deal with whatever he told her.  Part of her was tempted to tell her she’d done some research about paralysis and had a basic idea about what he was going to tell her, but she wasn’t sure how to say it.

“Do you know anything about spinal cord injuries?” he finally asked.

“Not much,” she shrugged. Seeing how miserable it made Bryan look she decided to tell him she’d done some research. “But I have to admit I did a little research after I met you. You’re a paraplegic right?”

“I am, T12 complete injury. I can’t feel or move anything below my hips, it’s like that part of my body doesn’t exist.”

“But you have full use of your upper body? Your arms and shoulders seems to be in excellent shape,” Meaghan said with a smile, tracing a finger across his chest. She could feel the tautness of his muscles through his thin dress shirt.

“Yep, that part of me is probably in better shape than it was before I was injured.” A small smile spread across Bryan’s face for a brief moment, then he got serious again.  “You realize I can’t have sex like an able bodied person?”

“Yeah, and you have a bowl and bladder routine you follow, and you have to regular skin checks to make sure you don’t get sores, right?”

Bryan nodded. “You did some thorough research, didn’t you?”

“Not that thorough,” Meaghan shrugged.

“Doesn’t all of that freak you out?”

“At first it sort of did,” she admitted. “But I really like you and I want to be with you.”

“You mean that?” Bryan looked amazed.

“Yep, you’re not getting rid of me Dr. Norfleet.”

“You know, I’ve been dreading this conversation. The last time I did it the girl couldn’t get out of her 
fast enough…”

“As I said, I’m not going anywhere.”

“Well, how about my bedroom? I have to admit I’m tired, it’s been a long week.” Bryan tried to stifle a yawn, but failed miserably.

“I thought you’d never ask.” Meaghan got up and grabbed the wine glasses and bottle from the table. In the kitchen she rinsed the glasses in the sink and placed them in the dishwasher. She replaced the cork in the wine bottle and left it on the counter. She liked Bryan’s kitchen; it had obviously been adapted, with lowered counters so he could work while sitting in his wheelchair, but the cabinets were sleek and modern and the countertop was shiny black granite.

--------------

When she returned to the living room Bryan was gone. Meaghan flipped off the lights and followed the hallway down to the door in the end, it was ajar and the lights were on in the room.  She felt butterflies flutter around her stomach as she entered Bryan’s bedroom.  It was spacious; furnished with a king size bed that was made with a dark gray down comforter, a dresser and a leather armchair in the corner.  A big flat screen TV filled the wall across from the foot of the bed.  There were doors on both sides of the screen; the one on the right was ajar and revealed a walk in closet. The one on the left was closed, she assumed it was the bathroom and that Bryan was in there.  She realized he probably had to go through some sort of routine before he went to bed and she decided to not interrupt, so she grabbed the remote that was resting on the nightstand that also held Bryan’s alarm clock and turned on the TV. She flicked through the channels until she hit CNN and settled in on the opposite side of the bed to watch the evening news. 

She had dozed off when Bryan came out of the bedroom, almost half an hour later. The sound of the door latch opening woke her up and the sight of him wheeling out of the bathroom, wearing only a pair of grey pajama pants brought a smile to her face. His upper body was even more toned than she’d expected. He looked a bit insecure again.

“Sorry for hogging the bathroom for so long, unfortunately it’s a regular thing.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Meaghan said with a reassuring smile. “Um…can I borrow a t-shirt to sleep in? We didn’t exactly plan this, so I didn’t pack an overnight bag.”

Bryan did a face palm before he wheeled over to the dresser and pulled out the top drawer. “I should’ve thought about that, help yourself. Do you want to borrow pajama pants too?”

“Nah, I usually sleep in a t-shirt,” Meaghan said as she picked a faded blue t-shirt from the drawer. Bryan disappeared into the bathroom again and reappeared a couple of moments later.

“There’s a new toothbrush for you by the sink,” he said with a smile.

“Thanks,” Meaghan replied and headed into the bathroom. Just like his kitchen it was adapted to his needs; a big shower with a bench in it, lower sink and grab bars in several places.  It was warm and inviting, with travertine tiles on the floor and walls and a dark wood cabinet in the corner. 

When Meaghan came out of the bathroom a few minutes later Bryan was already in bed. She smiled when she saw that he’d pulled back the comforter on ‘her’ side of the bed. She quickly rounded the bed and got settle next to him.  Both of them were tired and a bit insecure about the situation, so they didn’t move past passionate kisses and Meaghan curling up next to Bryan, resting her head on his shoulder.