Monday, August 14, 2000

Previously On... In/Exhale

Our story begins in late August 2000, a little over a year since our protagonist, Kai Fox, had a double-lung transplant, supposedly to cure him of a severe respiratory disease called FS. For one of the first times in his life, Kai is hoping to live a “normal” life. He’s living with his brother, Dr. Jon Taylor, whom he reunited with just a few years before his transplant, and enrolled in college. He’s trying to put the hurt of his last relationship with Becca Banks behind him.

Things are a little rocky between Kai and Jon. Jon’s a workaholic--a pulmonary/critical care doc who led the research to declare FS a distinct disease. It’s now his primary area, focusing most of his time on treating both in- and outpatients with the disease. Since the Taylor siblings were separated at a young age when their parents’ died suddenly in a car accident (Jon was 14; Kai, 6; their sister, Sara, 4), Jon has only known Kai as a young child and as someone very ill, and he’s not sure how to handle an adult, relatively healthy brother. Part of the gulf is the fact that Jon’s sign language is rusty, creating a kind of communication barrier between them. (Kai was mute as a child, and went to a deaf school until high school.)

Becca hurt Kai--badly. He loved her, and thought she reciprocated, but when he got really sick, she disappeared, taking up with another guy named Phil, only reappearing--briefly--a few months after his transplant before disappearing again. Even so, part of him still loves her--so he’s spent the last few months distracting himself with Nikki. Beautiful, sexy, adventurous Nikki.

A ripple hits the pond when Kai meets Renee Poche in his classes. Renee is a petite, curly-haired New Orleanian and second-year architecture student who decided to go to school so far from home partially to escape an older man whom she had a rocky relationship with when she was in high school. After spending her first year focusing on her major, she finds herself in several freshman core classes with the handsome and mysterious Kai. Renee, known for not always having the best forethought when it comes to men, falls fast and hard for Kai, crushing hard.

But having the “normal” life he always wanted doesn’t go as smoothly for Kai as he hoped. He starts having breathing problems--problems he shouldn’t be having, post-transplant--and his MLS (the neuromuscular disease he has) has been flaring. Plus, school is harder than he thought. Since his transplant, his memory and concentration isn’t great, plus having attended a deaf school for most of his life, he processes things visually better than he does aurally. Jon suggests Kai drop some classes, but Kai doesn’t want to risk putting himself a year behind in his major, and he doesn’t want to drop any of the classes he has with Renee, either.

On a night that Kai intends to be his last with Nikki (so he can focus his attentions on Renee), he has a horrible nightmare in which he dreams he’s being buried alive. He wakes to a bad respiratory attack, ending up in the ER. Nikki stays with him, offering to help him keep this a secret from his brother, and giving him a place to crash, making Kai even more confused about his relationship with Nikki. Kai gets further confused when Becca calls him out of the blue. Kai first tells her to go to hell, but then recants and agrees to meet her.

After missing a few days of class, Renee offers to lend Kai her notes, and later, to study with him. In the process, Renee learns a bit more about the mysterious Kai--including that he’s an orphan, that his silence isn’t personal, and that he’s obviously interested in her. They share an incredible kiss.

That night, Kai has a bad MLS attack that wipes him out.

Other important characters:

Art - The owner of Lost Apple Books, where Renee works on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. He’s an old friend of Kai’s who knew him as a kid.

Diane - Renee’s roomie, who often gives her advice.

Evangeline - Renee’s grandmother (aka maw maw), whom she calls regularly to keep in touch.

Jake - Kai’s friend from hearing high school, he learned ASL and was one of the few people who stood by Kai through his transplant. He’s a new medical student at Loyola in Chicago.

Jenny - Jon’s former girlfriend, who decides to leave Jonesville for Chicago and returns the ring Jon had given her.

Jo - A nurse at Jonesville Memorial who took care of Kai a lot growing up.

JP - Renee’s older brother, who she doesn’t get along with.

Jude - One of JP’s frat brothers, with whom Renee had a sexual relationship in high school. Things ended badly, but her parents (and JP) are in denial about him and still like him. Part of the reason she went to school far from home.

Luc - Renee’s younger brother.

Marge - The manager of the diner where Nikki works. She often gives Nikki (and Kai) advice.

Nancy - The owner of the sandwich cafe where Kai and Renee meet and have their first kiss.

Vicky - The office manager for the pulmonology outpatient clinic at Jonesville Memorial, who works with Jon and flirts with him.

Stay tuned next week for the long-awaited September 8, 2000, Part I!


  1. Glad you're back!

  2. I am so delighted that you have returned with this highly addictive story.

  3. I'm really glad you're going to post more here. I've been enjoying this "soap" so much. Your post also inspired me to check out your own website and I will definitely be a regular visitor there too now!

  4. I can't wait to read more - this was one of my favourite stories from last year.