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.

“Come on Megs, you know you wanna come with me.”

“No Kelly, I don’t actually. Another speed dating session? Seriously? The last one you dragged me to was a complete disaster.”

“It’s just for fun. It’ll be over in an hour and who knows? Maybe you’ll meet prince charming? What do you have to lose?”

Meaghan sighed. Kelly had a point; she didn’t have anything to lose (except from an couple of hours of her time and she didn’t have any plans for the evening). If none of the guys were decent she never had to talk to them again.

“Okay, I’ll come.”

“Awesome! Listen, why don’t you wear that dress I left at your place and maybe wear your hair down or something?”

“What? No, I’ll wear my own clothes.”

“Have you ever considered that your black and gray wardrobe and sleek ponytail might be a bit intimidating? Why don’t you give a softer look a chance for once?”

Meaghan sighed. She liked her style and didn’t see anything wrong with it.  At the same time she realized that Kelly might have a point.”

“I’ll think about it, okay? No promises.”

“Great! I’ll meet you outside the bar at 6:30, okay?”

“See you there Kel,” Meaghan said and hung up the phone. With a sigh she flopped back on the couch; she couldn’t believe she’d agreed to go to a speed dating session again. Hopefully this time wouldn’t be as bad as the previous one.

---------

Forty-five minutes into the speed dating session Meaghan was about ready to shoot herself.  This was definitely where all the losers in town came to pick up girls and so far she hadn’t been able to carry a five-minute conversation with any of the men she’d been paired with.  Now it was time for the final “date” of the evening; all Meaghan wanted was to get through the next ten minutes and then get the hell out of there.  She made her way to a table in the corner where a dark haired man was seated; he seemed to be distracted by his phone. Great, he’s more interested in his damn iPhone than me, Meaghan thought as she pulled out the chair across from him. The sound obviously caught his attention and he put the phone down and looked at her with a small smile on his face. Hmmm, maybe my luck is changing, Meaghan thought. The man, whose nametag said Bryan, was definitely good looking; chiseled jaw, straight nose and dark brown eyes. His dark brown hair was shaggy, slightly tousled and curled over his forehead and along the collar of the plaid shirt he was wearing. The shirt had short sleeves and showed off his muscled arms; it looked like he kept himself in shape.

“Sorry about that,” he said apologetically as he extended his right hand across the table. “I’m Bryan Norfleet.”

“Meaghan Barnes,” she replied as she shook his hand. His handshake was firm and she noticed his hand was slightly rough. “So, have you done this before?”

“Huh?”

“Speed dating?”

“No. My brother dragged me here,” he said with a shrug. “Apparently it’s a complete disaster that I’m about to turn 30 and still haven’t found ‘the one’. What about you?”

“I’ve been to a few. My best friend over there,” Meaghan pointed to Kelly, “shares your brother’s views. It’s not really my thing though, to be brutally honest. How do you feel about it?”

“It’s not my thing at all either.  There’s a limit to how many awkward conversations I’m willing to put up with in one evening.”

Meaghan laughed. “Definitely. Tonight is actually the worst session I’ve ever been to. Until I met you I was about to lose faith in humanity.”

“Until you met me?” he asked with a grin.

“Yeah, you’re the first normal guy I’ve met here tonight.”

“You think I’m normal?”

“Well, you haven’t given me a lecture about your snakes, you seem to have all of your teeth and appear to have access to a shower.” Meaghan ticked them off one at a time with her fingers, earning a laugh from Bryan.

“Well, I don’t have snakes, or any other pets for that matter, I brush my teeth at least twice a day and I shower daily.  And I have to say that I’ve got similar thoughts about you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Would you like to have a drink with me when we’re done here?” Bryan checked the time. “I know it’s not ‘by the book’, but I’d like to get to know you better and they’re about to wrap things up here I guess.”

“I’d like that,” Meaghan said with a smile. There was something about Bryan’s slightly rugged appearance that appealed to her, in addition to his apparently easygoing personality.

“Great,” Bryan replied with a smile that lit up his entire face. Before he could say anything else the hostess announced the speed dating session was over and thanked everyone for attending.

-----------

A few moments later a man that looked a lot like Bryan, except a bit scrawnier and with blonde hair, appeared by the table.

“Hey bro, I’m about to head out and figured I’d drop by the diner and grab some food. Wanna come?”

“Actually this pretty lady agreed to have a drink with me, so I’ll have to take a rain check.”

“Nice Bryan,” he said with a wink before he turned his attention to Meaghan. “Hi, I’m Josh, Bryan’s slightly older brother.”

“Meaghan Barnes, nice to meet you Josh.”

“Nice to meet you too. I’m going to head out. Have a good evening.”
Josh left and before they could say anything else the scene pretty much repeated with Kelly. Meaghan promised to call her the following day.

“So you can share all the ‘dirty’ details on me, huh?” Bryan said with a teasing grin as Kelly walked out of the bar.

“Oh, absolutely. You know how women are, we share everything with our best friends.”

“Well, I guess I’ll try to be on my best behavior then. So, should we get some drinks? Or would you like to grab something to eat?”

“No that you mention it, I’m actually hungry. How about you?”

“I’m hungry too. Well, what would you like to eat?”

Meaghan thought for a few seconds. “How do you feel about Chinese? There’s a great Chinese restaurant just around the corner.”

“Mr. Xiu’s? Sounds good to me.”

“Yeah, you’re familiar with it?”

“I’ve been there a few times, they’ve got the best Chinese food in town if you ask me.”

Meaghan stood up, hung her bag over her shoulder and draped her cardigan over her arm.  Her jaw almost dropped as Bryan came around the table to join her; he was in a wheelchair. Not the big, bulky kind Meaghan had seen at the hospital as a kid, but a small chair with a black frame and no armrests. The backrest was low, it came up to the small of his back and she noticed that his sneaker-clad feet were resting on a single footrest.

“I probably should’ve mentioned this sooner,” he said gesturing to his wheelchair; all of a sudden he appeared a bit unsure of himself and self-conscious. “I just didn’t want to scare you away. For some reasons the wheelchair seems to scare people away before they get to know me.”
It took Meaghan a few seconds to pull herself together before she decided to give Bryan a chance.  Before he revealed that he was in a wheelchair she’d liked him and she figured she shouldn’t hold his disability against him. He seemed like a nice guy.

“Hmmm…well, I want to get to know you and I’m hungry, so let’s go.” Bryan seemed to relax a bit and when her stomach growled audibly to emphasize her statement he burst out laughing.

“I think we’d better hurry, before you die of starvation,” he said as he started wheeling towards the door and Meaghan followed a couple of steps behind him.

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

“So, what do you do for a living?” Meaghan asked Bryan after the waitress had taken their orders.

“I’m a doctor. Used to specialize in emergency medicine, but for the past six months I’ve been an oncology fellow at Georgetown University Hospital. Working in the ER without working legs is a bit of a challenge, so… Anyway, what about you?”

“I’m an architect.”

“Really? That’s neat. Wouldn’t have pegged you for an architect though.”

“Oh? What would you have pegged me for?”

“Teacher. I was pretty sure you were an elementary school teacher.”
Meaghan looked down at her outfit. She’d listened to Kelly and was wearing a knee length dress with a floral pattern from her and her hair was in a French braid. Smart move Megs she berated herself for listening to Kelly.

“Why?” she asked meekly, although she knew exactly why.

“Well, you don’t exactly dress like an architect,” Bryan said with a shrug.
 Meaghan laughed self-consciously and decided to come clean. “I actually prefer black and grey clothes and I usually wear my hair in a ponytail, but Kelly, you know…my friend…”

“That I met back at the bar, the one that pushed you to go to the speed dating session, right?”

“Yeah…anyway, she advised me to go for a ‘softer’ look, so I wouldn’t scare they guys away. The dress I’m wearing is actually hers.”

“Well, I hope I get to see the ‘real’ Meaghan the next time we meet.”

“Oh, you think there’s going to be a next time?”

“A man can hope, can’t he?”

“Yeah, a man can hope. He might even get what he hopes for,” Meaghan said with a smile. She definitely liked Bryan and found herself longing for a second date despite not knowing much about him.

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.