Friday, November 17, 2017

Free Friday Short

Hi guys,

this short story is for the amazing anonymous reader who followed me through Blue and Silver. You asked for Noel's version of Blue... Well, here it is: White. I hope you all like it (and I hope the ano is still around after all this time :))!
This bonus chapter can be read independently from the other story parts. Thanks again to Annabelle for proof-reading and very valuable comments!

Cheers,
Lovis

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New Book: The Girl I Didn't Kill For

For those of you who have been asking, The Girl I Didn't Kill For is finally available on Amazon:



Buy it on Amazon or read it free if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited!

The cops have come to arrest me.

I know it’s them the second I hear that knock on the door. Cops have a knock I’d know in my sleep. That solid firm knock that you can hear anywhere in the apartment. I heard that knock many times before. I heard it when they took my father away. I heard it more times than I can count on my hands each time my brother Tony got busted.

But I never thought it would ever be me.

This is actually happening. These cops are taking me to jail. I’m going to be booked on a Murder One charge. I’m going to sit in a jail cell just like my brother did and my father did. I got the best lawyer in the city, but I’m not sure if even he can get me out of this one. The evidence is damning.

And the worst part?

The woman I love believes I’m guilty.


Buy it on Amazon or read it free if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited!

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Devo Diary

New chapter here! Sorry it's another short one. Longer chapters are coming up, I promise. In this chapter I transition to being friends with Skip. Also it's March 2003, which means the opening of the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie, a significant event in my dev life, so I take some time to reflect on everyone's favorite blind superhero.

Devo Diary Chapter 32: After Skip

Table of Contents

Saturday, November 11, 2017

NEW STORY: Santa Crush

Hi all! It's Annabelle with a Christmas-themed novella. I decided to mix things up a bit and post on Saturday since I had Friday off.  Not sure if people like Saturday better than Sundays?

This is the first time I've ever written anything like this, so I hope you guys enjoy it. A friend of mine who read it already said it's her favorite thing I've ever written. It will probably be about 6-7 parts.

SANTA CRUSH



Dean

Nobody knocks anymore in this goddamn house.

They used to.  Even when I was a teenager, people would tap on my closed bedroom door prior to barging in.  Back then, they thought I could be doing something worth requiring privacy.  Like maybe I had a girl in here.  Or maybe I was relieving a little tension.  But these days everyone just swings the door open to my room without knocking because they assume all I could possibly be doing in here is working on my computer or watching TV.

To be fair, they’re mostly right. 

“Hey, Dean.”  It’s my brother Rich barging in this time. Rich is the last person I want to see right now.  “What’s going on?”

I lift my eyes to look at my little brother.  Rich—three years younger than me.  The pothead.  The screw up.  The one who would never amount to anything.  Yet he’s got his own place, while I occupy our parents’ den.  So who’s the screw up?

“Busy,” I mutter. 

These days I only seem to have the energy for one-word sentences.  Busy.  Tired.  Reading.  Or sometimes two words, if I’m really motivated.  Not hungry.  I use that one a lot on my mother.  Apparently, I’m “wasting away to nothing.”

Rich grins at me.  “Busy looking at porn?”

I glare at him.  He’s wearing badly ripped jeans that ride somewhere below where his butt crack probably starts.  He’s got on a T-shirt with a picture of a girl holding a hoe on it, with the words, “Every farm boy needs a good hoe.”  Even though I was always too polite to ever wear one, shirts like that used to get a laugh out of me.  But not much gets a laugh out of me these days.

“Busy working,” I mutter, gracing him with one of my rare two-word sentences.

“Christ, do you ever take a break?”

I glare at him again.  No, I don’t take a break.  Because I’m broke and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living in my parents’ den.  That’s not my aspiration.  I have a Master’s Degree in computer science and I intend to use it to haul myself out of this shitty situation.

Eventually.

“I got a question for you, Dean,” Rich says.

I don’t answer, having already used up my word allotment for this conversation.

“When’s the last time you’ve been out of the house?”

Monday, November 6, 2017

New Devo Diary

Hello everyone, it's another chapter of Devo Diary! For all of you who are tired of the dead-end relationship with Skip, fear not, I have moved on at last. In this chapter, I start getting more involved in the BDSM scene, and go on a date....
Devo Diary Chapter 31: Paul the Pornographer

Sorry this chapter is a little short but it was a shortish episode. Also I want to keep up the weekly pace so some chapters might be on the short side.

As always, here is the Table of Contents.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has read and commented along the way!  Your support has honestly meant so much to me.  But this is definitely going to be the last chapter I post on here because I am eager to post my Christmas novella before the season is over!  The book will be out, at latest, by the end of the month.  So please enjoy an extra-intense:

Chapter 13

And one last time: Table of Contents

If you haven't already, please check out the prequel, The Girl I Didn't Marry!  It's all about how Nick and Jessie first met, Nick got injured, and then turned into the successful businessman he is in the current story.

And next week, I'm going to start posting my Christmas novella, Santa Crush.  The whole thing will (eventually) be made available on the blog in its entirety, but it's also on Amazon for those who prefer that.

 

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Devo Diary

The flashback is over, now it's back to your regularly scheduled Devo Diary. When we left off, Skip had just asked me for an open relationship but after my history with K, I really don't want that. Also, some more discussions with friends about dating as a devotee.

Devo Diary Chapter 30: Skippy Boy Genius part 4

Table of Contents

Thanks again to everyone who leaves a comment! I really appreciate it!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

So here I am, back with another chapter of Nick and Jessie.  I guess I'm still posting, thanks to your encouragement!  So that's the good news.  The bad news is I don't think I'm going to get the book out early, but I'll keep posting till then.  I got distracted by the sudden urge to write a Christmas-themed novella.  So, uh, that's happening.  Anyway, in the last chapter Jessie is quitting her singing job, so to get her to stay, Nick has to make her an offer she can't refuse...

Chapter 12 

Table of Contents

And once again, thank you for all the comments last time, and thank you in advance for the ones this time.  It definitely inspires me to know people are reading and what you guys like, since writing is on ongoing process.

Monday, October 23, 2017

New Devo Diary

Here is the second part to the flashback about my relationship with K. Big thanks to everyone who commented about the hot blind guy action! I tried to make it extra devvy for you. This is the second year of our relationship, when things went from complicated to crazy.

Chapter 29, part 2

If you want a reminder of the post script to K, I coincidentally ran into a mutual friend a few years later and got an update on him that made me rethink my feelings about him a little. It's in chapter 14 in the middle.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Thank you soooooo much for all your comments and support on the last chapter.  Obviously, it's really influencing me because I mean to stop posting two chapters ago, yet here I am with:

Chapter 11 

Table of Contents

Would love to hear from you guys again!  Tell me any lines you particularly liked or just pop in to say hi!

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Devo Diary!

Hi everyone, Devo Girl here with another installment of Devo Diary.

This week we have a FLASHBACK to the real story of everything that happened between me and K, the blind guy I dated in college. I intended to post this all as one chapter but it got so long I decided to split it in two, just to stretch things out a little more. So this is just the first year of our two year relationship. Part 2, including how he dumped me, will be next week.

I purposely started Devo Diary at the moment after K dumped me, for two reasons. 1, I felt like if I started with K, the whole story would be an entire novel in its own right and I would never get to anything else and 2, I wanted to hold off on the reveal that we were in an open relationship until the moment it came up again with Skip, to add a bit of dramatic tension.

In case you want a refresher on what I have written about K already, start with Chapter 1. Chapter 6 includes a flashback describing the awful moment my parents met K at my graduation.

Ok, this is one of the less flattering chapters. I was not acting with what the Buddhists call the higher self. Judge away.

Devo Diary Chapter 29, part 1

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

So my arm has officially been twisted..... let me say I genuinely appreciated the comments and would definitely not have pushed this out without hearing from you guys.  I'm posting one (probably final) double-sized chapter of the story.  I haven't decided if I'll do one more before posting something new or not.  I guess we'll all be surprised, including me... :)

Chapter 10

Table of Contents 

Also, I know the Amazon page says the book won't be out till December, but I'm really, really pushing myself to get this thing edited to have it ready for early November. *fingers crossed* 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Free Friday Short

Hi everyone,

this is a small and sweet story, just perfect for a gray, rainy fall day. I hope you like Norrbotten Bus. Thanks to the wonderful Annabelle for proof reading! :)

Have a great time,
Lovis

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Devo Diary

Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks for the great comments! I'm so glad to be posting again. I was going to wait to build up even more chapters first, but I couldn't let Annabelle be all alone here :)

Here is Devo Diary Chapter 28. As Annabelle predicted, things with Skip start going south. Plus, the truth about my blind boyfriend from college, K.

As always, here is the Table of Contents. Or click on the Devo Diary tag to see all the chapters in order.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Hi all! I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger last week. Why was Jessie so scared of Nick? Find out in....

Chapter 9

Table of Contents

Also, just a heads up that next week I'm most likely going to start posting something entirely different.  The readership of this story has cut into a third of what it was since I started it and the rest of the book is very plot-heavy, so I'm going to start over with something new and sweet for a little variety. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Devo Diary is Back!!

Hey everyone, Devo Girl here, and I'm back with new chapters of Devo Diary! Sorry for the long wait, but I wanted to get some chapters written before I started posting again. The good news is that I will now be posting weekly, at least for a while. I'm going to claim Mondays, since it seems no one has that day for now.

So if you are new to Devo Diary, or if you read it a long time ago and stopped, now is a great time to jump onboard. Devo Diary is the 100% true story of my dating life, in all its embarrassing absurdity. I changed the names and a few identifying details to protect the guilty, but other than that it's all real.

You've probably forgotten some of the details so here's a quick refresher:
At this point in the story, I'm thirty years old but still living like a student as I make my way though a seemingly interminable graduate program in a big West Coast city. After wasting two years of my life in a dead-end relationship with a quad, I tried online dating and met a dreamy new guy named Skip, who was also into BDSM. This is the start of my major involvement in the SM scene. Even though he's an AB guy, my dev desires still played a big part in our relationship.
Here is the first chapter of the Skip relationship story arc. Start here if you are new or need a reminder:
Devo Diary Chapter 26: Skippy Boy Genius part 1

And here is the new chapter:
Devo Diary Chapter 27: Skippy Boy Genius part 2
Including some devvy role play and more reflection on what it means for me to be a dev. I promise there are still more hot disabled guys coming up in future chapters--I'm still far from the end.

If you want to read the whole thing from the beginning, here is the Table of Contents.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Hi all!

Time for your weekly update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For! This is a slightly shorter chapter, but that's good because you can read it while you're waiting for the subway to come in the morning. It's also pretty devvy, IMHO.

Chapter 8

Table of Contents

Also, I'm trying to get some new reviews on Amazon for The Girl I Didn't Marry, which is part 1 of this story.  If you enjoyed the book and wrote a review, link to it on Amazon, send me an email at razberripie@gmail.com, and I'll gift you a totally free copy of the pre-released version of The Girl I Didn't Kill For (which you can redeem and read in early December).  Already bought the book?  No problem--I'll gift you a free copy of any of my other books (your choice).  Hope to hear from you! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Status Update - I/E & Love UnSeen

Hey, everyone,

I'm sorry I've been a bit MIA. Various reasons, including lack of internet at various points, but you don't really need excuses.

The long and short of it is I just haven't been able to write much lately. And I'm really sorry.

Honestly, I'm hoping to get back into weekly postings of Love UnSeen, but as for In/Exhale, I'm honestly not sure when that'll be ready to start up again. Maybe a month?

I wish I could give you better answers, but I figured you deserved at least this much. I'm sorry the past year has been so insane. I'm sorry it's taking me so long to finish In/Exhale's third season. It will happen... just not quite yet.

As always, appreciate your support and patience.

-CA

PS - In case you're interested in catching up or re-reading, you can find the Table of Contents for In/Exhale here and for Love UnSeen here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Kind Of Bummed

Hey all,
first off thanks to the 4 readers who commented and thanked me after the last chapter of NB last week. You guys rock!

I can't help that I'm actually kind of bummed and feel somewhat hurt though. I know no one posts on Tuesdays currently so I thought I will just post this today.

I had posted a longer emotional last chapter intro, had added my email just in case people want to write privately, had even added some pictures (yes, there were two at first) to the last chapter which I was excited about but I can't help I feel that somehow all the work I put into those 37 chapters, making sure I posted every week for people who like the story and really gave it my best shot seems a little unappreciated and I'm discouraged right now to keep going and post anymore in the future. I'm not asking for comments all the time but this was the very last chapter of NB and I was hoping to get a little bit more on comments to at least say Thank You. I also understand that some people can't comment or want to stay anonymous but 4 comments on a final chapter after 37 weeks seemed very little.

I was debating if I should post this because I really don't want to whine or complain and I didn't want to let this get to me but these last couple of days my mind was spinning as in "Did they not like the end?","Should I have ended it more devy?","Was the picture weird?","Did I overdo by putting my email address on here?"and so on...

Annabelle is writing about being insecure which I don't think she has anything to worry about, she is a published writer after all but for me who is an amateur this end to NB kind of put a damper on my writing and posting spirit. No comments can sometimes mean that people may not have good comments so there comes that insecurity into the picture. Maybe I'm not really worthy to even post here.

I know this was a long story once again and I thank everyone who at some time or another commented or let me know they are still out there following along. It meant so much to me.
And for me personally this is the only assurance I have by posting here and with that opening up a part of my soul and letting myself be vulnerable to some extent. I am not published, I am not in any writing group or whatever it is that writers do, I'm not an English major at college,  I'm just a person writing stuff and a couple of years ago finally finding the courage to share my stories here on the Blog.

I now edited and shortened my intro, took out my email address because maybe it was too much. I also deleted the second picture. I felt kind of dumb going to all the lengths of finishing this up.

Well, I think I speak for every author who posts on here. Our stories are unique and only reach an extraordinary small audience because our stories are not the norm and are not mainstream, they are created out of lots of emotional tumult sometimes, finding ourselves and finding peace with who we are and what we like.
Sharing these pieces of our creativity with like minded individuals, people who most likely are just like us and understand where our stories originate from means so very much to us. Writing these stories opens up our inner workings to our readers and with that makes us vulnerable to a certain extent.
We gain strength and motivation from YOU out there who reads and follows along. You are our drive and we need you to let us know that you are there.

You, our readers mean a lot to us, maybe more to one author than another.
Hugs,
Dani

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Well, I am slightly horrified that I seem to be the only one posting here anymore now that Dani finished her wonderful story. Eeek, no pressure! Anyway, will try to keep posting weekly. And I've got so much stuff written, it's a little ridiculous, so no worries there.

Here is Chapter 7!

Table of Contents

And if you run out of stuff to read, you can check out Book 1: The Girl I Didn't Marry, where Nick and Jessie first meet, fall in love, Nick gets injured, and then becomes the badass he is today.  Plus I got like ten other books available.  Check 'em out!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 37 - The End

My dearest NB readers,
the time has come and this is my last chapter for New Beginnings.
Wow, it has been an awesome experience once again. Posting and sharing this story with you was something I looked forward to every week. I will miss coming here, I will miss all of you and seeing that people are reading my stories even though I don't know who most of you are or where you are from. My heart goes out to all of you.

Anyways, I am finishing this with a sad and happy heart. Writing is my way of dealing with lots of things and so being able to share with you my amateur work is a privilege and I am so thankful to all of you who have followed along from the start. Your praise and your loyalty means so much to me.

Here is the final chapter of  NB Chapter 37
Thanks again and hope to be back soon,
Lots of love, yours sincerely, Dani

Here is also the Table of Contents
TOC New Beginnings

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Hi all!  Thank you so much to everyone who commented last week!  I know this is a little different from my usual stories, so I appreciate knowing you guys are hanging in there.  Here is:

Chapter 6

And if you want to catch up, here is the Table of Contents.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 36

Hello my dear readers,
it's getting closer to the end. This is the second to the last chapter of NB and I'm getting just a little bit sad but I'm happy at the same time because things for Anna and Shane are looking bright and positive. In this chapter Anna finds a house listing and she and Shane go check it out.
I thank each and every one of you reading still and thanks to all loyal commenters. It means a lot you are still here letting me know that you like the story.
I give you Chapter 36 of New Beginnings. Thanks everyone,
Hugs, Dani

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

OK, in order to make up for last week, here is an extra long chapter, where Nick and Jessie have lunch and he finds out her little secret....

Chapter 5

And here is the Table of Contents

Friday, September 8, 2017

NEW BOOK: The Girl I Didn't Marry

I promised I was going to have a new book out this month, so here it is, The Girl I Didn't Marry:



Now available on the Kindle on Amazon!

The blurb:

I’ve wanted to marry Jessie Schultz since we were fourteen years old.

It doesn’t matter that I’m just a dumb schmuck from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and Jessie’s the most beautiful girl I ever met. It doesn’t matter that her father would rather rearrange my face than let his only daughter end up with the son of a local mobster. But it does matter when he starts threatening Jessie about what he’ll do if he sees us together again. So I gotta wait.

Then I get hurt.

I can’t let her see me after. Not like this. Not when I can’t even stand up to look her in the eyes.

So I wait. Hoping I get better, knowing if I don’t, it could be the end for us before we even get started.

Get it on the Kindle on Amazon today!

Still on the fence? Check out the prologue....

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 35

Hello friends,
and it's Thursday again. Thanks to everyone still reading along.
I give you another chapter of NB. Here is Chapter 35 .
Anna and Shane are heading to pick up the wheelchair.
Thanks to everyone reading and commenting. I'm happy there are people who still follow along and enjoy my story.
You mean a lot to me,
Thanks and Hugs,
Dani

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sorry!

Time just got away from me these last few days and I don't have any updates to The Girl I Didn't Kill For today. So sorry! I promise I will have it for next week. And the "prequel" will be available really, really soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy the previous chapters:

Table of Contents

Thursday, August 31, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 34

Hi friends,
this was a busy week for me and I almost couldn't get the chapter edited on time but I won't leave you hanging especially when we are nearing the end of NB. I hope the editing was sufficient for this chapter.
Thanks for everyone who is reading along still and thanks for all your comments. You guys mean a lot to me.
I give you Chapter 34 of NB. It starts out "wet" as someone called it before and hope you enjoy Anna and Shane getting close once again.
Thanks everyone,
Hugs, Dani
TOC   New Beginnings

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In/Exhale Continues

I apologize that it took so long for this final episode of the day to get to you guys. I'm also sorry it's being posted so late.

For those of you who don't know, I live in the Houston metro area, which was recently hit very hard by Hurricane Harvey. Fortunately, our home didn't flood, but we had power go in and out and water come far too close for comfort (especially for someone who lived through Hurricane Katrina).

The bad news is I haven't been able to work much lately on any of my writing because of my health. So I don't know if I can promise a new episode of I/E next week or even in two weeks. But I'll do my best.

Previously on In/Exhale: Kai has had a long weekend. He went to Omaha to visit the hospital there, and although he agreed to check himself in in a couple days, he has his reservations. Despite his anxiety, he went to dinner at Frankie's house and was hit by a rush of emotions about the fact that he wasn't adopted. The dinner capped off with Frankie kissing Kai and revealing his long-time crush, that set Kai whirling.

This Week on In/Exhale: Kai reacts to the dinner and everything he's been struggling with lately. When powerful suicidal thoughts hit him, he makes some potentially devastating decisions.

Next time on In/Exhale: The aftermath of Sunday night. David has his important job interview with the Deaf man he met at the meeting, but circumstances in Kai's life may prevent him from making that interview despite its significance....

I hope you won't hate me too much after this episode!!

In/Exhale - February 11, 2001 - Part IV

I have to admit I'm really nervous about how you guys will receive this episode... I'm looking forward to your comments... (or maybe not?)

Thank you again for those of you who continue to support my crazy stories despite how erratic my posting has been. I have been feeling better relatively with my current med regimen and I'm hoping this will mean more time to write. As always, your comments and support really help motivate me to keep going.

-CA

PS: If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents. Or, if you'd like to try reading my other story, try Love UnSeen's Table of Contents.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Update to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Hi all!

Thank you a million to everyone who commented on the last chapter.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to post next weekend, so I'm going to make this one extra long.  Jessie and Nick finally meet up again for the first time since his injury.

Chapter 4

Please let me know what you think!

And I finally made a Table of Contents!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 33

Hi NB friends,
I hope you enjoyed last week's long chapter. Thanks to all my loyal NB readers for commenting and reading.
I give you another long chapter this week as Anna convinces Shane to look into getting a wheelchair.
Here is Chapter 33 of NB. Let me know how you like it and as always thanks for reading.
Hugs, Dani

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No story today

I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing that. I will have the next episode of I/E next weeek... after that, it'll depend on how I'm doing. I'm really sorry... I miss Kai and Jackson too, lol.

Thanks for understanding.

-CA

Sunday, August 20, 2017

UPDATE to The Girl I Didn't Kill For

Thank you so so much to everyone who commented on the last chapter. It really means a lot to me, honestly. I know it seems silly that someone just writing "Hey, I enjoyed this" would be motivating, but I promise it is.

And to anyone who felt the last chapter was too short, this one is definitely longer. And involves a massage....

Chapter 3

For those of you who haven't read the beginning, here's the first three chapters together.

P.S. Crazy in Love is supposed to be on sale today for only 99 cents in US and UK.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 32

Hello NB friends,
another week, another chapter. This week I give you a monster chapter...it is pretty long. I tried to cut it in half but then I was like oh well, they can have it all. Anna and Shane are back together and can finally catch up and be very close again. They spend some intimate moments together and are looking into a future in which they will never be apart.
So, I read over the chapter, made changes, edited and took away and I hope it's good to go. I give you Chapter 32 of NB. Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading, commenting and having been there for this long. We are nearing the end but I still have a few chapters in store for you before Anna and Shane ride into the sunset together :-)
Hugs, Dani
TOC New Beginnings

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Girl I Didn't Kill For -- UPDATE

Well, I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone for the little pep talk in the comments. When you're in love with something you wrote and it feels like other people aren't loving it as much as you'd hoped, it's a downer. I was like, "Well, maybe nobody wants to read about a mobster in a wheelchair." But you guys poured on the love so I thank you for that. So so much. So much that I worked hard to add in some extra devvy stuff.

Chapter 2!!!!!

Note that it starts out in the past for the first scene for the "how they met" story, but then comes back to the present day and will stay there.

(In case you missed it, here's chapter 1)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Our Choices

This is the conclusion of Our Choices. I hope you enjoyed the story, thanks for playing, reading and commenting. I really appreciate that! Special thanks go to Annabelle for beta reading this last chapter! You are awesome :) All remaining mistakes are mine.

Your choice: Let Jim free.


Hugs
Lovis
Table Of Content

P.S. I'll be without internet for at least three weeks and when I come back I want to see hundreds of new stories and updates on the blog!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 31

Hello NB friends,
hope you had a great week and are ready for another chapter of NB. Shane is back in Anna's life and they are slowly getting closer again but realize quickly their feelings are just as strong as ever. I give you Chapter 31 of New Beginnings. I thank you very much for reading and commenting, love you guys,
Hugs, Dani

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In/Exhale Continues

I'm sorry this is so late. It seems whenever I try to make plans--just like with Kai--the world and my body seem to rebel against me. Didn't have internet for the past couple days, and very high pain so I wasn't able to get the work done I'd hoped. Started a six-week course of steroids that will hopefully help, though. I really hope they will and I'll be able to get back to posting more consistently.


Previously on In/Exhale: Kai and Jon visited Harbinger Clinic in Omaha and Kai agreed to check himself in after Valentine's Day, but he's struggling to keep things together until then. Jon discovered a tape of their mother revealing her revulsion for her younger son, and Renee helped Kai prep for dinner at Frankie's, when his nerves threatened to overwhelm him.

This Week on In/Exhale: Kai almost catches Jon with the tape, but he's called away to an emergency. Kai goes to dinner at Frankie's, suspecting that all isn't right in the Hoffmann household despite appearances, and uncovers something shocking he never expected.

Next time on In/Exhale: Sunday comes to an epic conclusion as Kai deals with the fallout of the dinner and makes some poor decisions that may have some drastic consequences for his future.

February 11, 2001 - Part III


Thank you for all your support and patience. I am definitely continuing both stories but I'm not sure what schedules are going to be like. I'll do my best to keep up but I have to say no guarantees.

-CA

PS: If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents. Or, if you'd like to try reading my other story, try Love UnSeen's Table of Contents.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Girl I Didn't Kill For: New Story

Hi all! It's Annabelle, back with a full length story this time! It's definitely a departure from my usual stuff, but I was trying to expand my horizons. I hope you guys like it!

Prologue: 2012

The cops have come to arrest me.

I know it’s them the second I hear that knock on the door. Cops have a knock I’d know in my sleep. That solid firm knock that you can hear anywhere in the apartment—they don’t bother with the doorbell. I heard that knock many times before. I heard it when they took my father away. I heard it more times than I can count on my hands each time my brother Tony got busted.

But I never thought it would ever be me.

There’s two of them standing at the door—a man and a woman. The man’s got a pair of cuffs on his belt and it makes me sick.

“Nicolas Moretti?” the male cop asks me.

“That’s me,” I say. I’m playing it cool—acting like I’m not scared as shit. This is actually happening. These cops are taking me to jail. It’s not a summons, which I got a bunch of times before—I’m going to jail. Jail.

“Mr. Moretti, we have a warrant for your arrest,” the male cop says.

This is the part where they’re supposed to cuff me and take me away in front of all my neighbors. Except the two of them just stare at me dumbly like they’re not sure what they’re supposed to do. You’d think when they came to arrest Nick Moretti, they’d have come better prepared. It’s not like they don’t know who I am—I’d bet every cop in the city knows my name.

The male cop—his badge I can now see reads O’Neil—pulls the cuffs off his belt. And that’s when I really start shitting my pants. They’re going to cuff me. They’re really doing this.

But O’Neil hesitates. He looks at the female cop, Conti, and she looks equally baffled. They should be reading me my rights now, although come to think of it, they didn’t read Pop his rights when they busted him either. They got to do it before they question you though. I know that much. But the confusion of how to arrest me has thrown them off.

“You don’t gotta cuff me,” I tell them. My Brooklyn accent is slipping out because I’m nervous. I lost it during all those years in college and when I went to Harvard Business School. I worked hard not to sound like some two-bit street gangster. But when I’m stressed or anxious, it comes back like it was never gone in the first place. I hate it. I don’t want to sound like a thug—I want to sound like what I am, which is one of the most successful businessmen in the city. A guy who they’d allow the dignity of not being forced out of his home in shackles.

“We do,” Conti tells me, although she sounds apologetic. She’s young, maybe early twenties, and she’d be pretty if her hair weren’t pulled back in the most severe bun I ever seen. Not as pretty as Jessie though. Nobody is.

I swallow a lump in my throat as I realize I can’t talk them out of this. They got their orders. Still, I give one last appeal: “But if you do, I won’t be able to…”

They look down at me, acknowledging the situation—the fact that I’m sitting in a wheelchair. I can’t walk, and if they cuff my wrists, that’s it. I won’t be able to move. The thought of it makes me sick.

“We gotta,” O’Neil tells me.

I take deep breaths, trying not to panic. I pull off the tie that’s hanging loose around my neck and suddenly feels like it’s choking me—they won’t let me keep a tie in a jail cell anyway. It doesn’t help me now that I’m wearing an expensive shirt and pants, and shoes that cost more than the shirt and the pants put together. It doesn’t matter when they’re busting me for Murder One.

“I need stuff if you’re going to take me,” I tell them. “Medical stuff. Okay?”

O’Neil nods and Conti looks embarrassed. I can see they’re trying to figure out if they should trust me to get the stuff on my own or if they should go with me. Do they think I’m going to grab some gun I got hidden away and start shooting at them? Yeah, I got a gun hidden away—two, actually. But I’m not dumb enough to start shooting at some cops. I’m Nick Moretti, not some loser on the street selling crack.

Or maybe they think I’m going to make a getaway. I’m in an apartment on the thirty-second story. Do they think I’m going to jump out the window and fly away to a Caribbean island? I’m in a goddamn wheelchair—even getting out the window if I were on the first floor would be an impossible challenge. All I want is to get my pills and shit out of the bathroom in privacy, but it’s getting obvious I won’t even get that.

O’Neil follows me to the bathroom down the hallway. It isn’t going to take long because I already got a month’s worth of extra supplies stuffed into a duffel bag under the bathroom sink. Sometimes I gotta go fast, so I’ve got it all packed. It wouldn’t work to be rushing on some trip and discover that I forgot one of my medications.

O’Neil eyes the bag with suspicion. “I got to check that out.”

I don’t want him to, but not because I got a gun or drugs in there. I don’t want him rifling through my bottles of pills. Maybe I’m in a wheelchair, but I try to project to the world that I’m a tough guy. A tough guy doesn’t take five medications. He doesn’t need a bunch of catheters whenever he goes on a trip.

But I can’t say no to a cop, so I thrust the bag in his direction. “Be my guest, Officer.”

He gives it a cursory look while I stare down at my hands. I don’t want to be cuffed. Christ, it’s bad enough they’re doing this to me. Soon as I get to the cell, I’m going to ask to call my lawyer. I’ll be back home in an hour—not even long enough to use the contents of this bag. I’ll make these assholes sorry they did this to me.

“It’s fine,” O’Neil says, handing me back my bag.

And then we’re back in the living room and it’s the moment of truth. O’Neil gets out the cuffs and my heart is slamming so hard in my chest, I think I could drop dead of a heart attack. No. Fuck no.

“Hold out your hands, Mr. Moretti,” O’Neil says.

“Don’t do this,” I appeal to them one last time.

O’Neil shakes his head. “I’m sorry.”

I do as they say. I hold out my hands, and O’Neil snaps the cuffs into place. He makes them loose, but they still bite into my wrists. My brother Tony says he’s still got a place on the back of his left hand that he can’t feel on account of his handcuffs being too tight once. But Tony was a thug and pissed off the cops. I’m no thug. I’m one of the most important men in the whole goddamn city. And now the cops wheeling me out of my apartment building with cuffs on my hands will be all over the front page of The New York Post tomorrow morning.

I rest my hands in my lap, on top of the duffel bag. A sweat breaks out on my forehead, and I try to calm myself down. But it’s hard. The cops will have to push me down to their car, and they’re going to have to lift me inside. And the media sharks downstairs will get it all on tape.

“How do we push the chair?” Conti asks me.

“The handles are folded down,” I tell her.

I didn’t want handles on my chair, but there are rare times when they’re necessary. Like now. When my hands are cuffed and the cops need to push me to their car.

I feel myself moving—Conti is pushing me. This is really happening. I’m really going to be booked on a Murder One charge. I’m going to sit in a jail cell just like my brother did and my father did. I got the best lawyer in the city, but I’m not sure if even he can get me out of this one. The evidence is damning.

And the worst part?

I’m innocent.


Chapter 1: 1994

Nick

Today is one of those days that started out ordinary. First my older brother Tony got into a fight with Pop because Tony won’t stop hanging around what Pop calls “the low lives.” Then Ma started yelling at Tony to eat his breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs. Finally, Pop told Tony he needed to get a haircut and that’s when my brother stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him.

And I just sat there, eating my own eggs and sausage and thinking about what an idiot my brother is. Pop don’t ask much of us—why can’t he just do it?

“At least Nico’s a good kid,” Pop said to my mother.

I am a good kid, as far as Pop is concerned. I get good grades, I don’t get into trouble, and I keep my hair cut short. Anyway, nobody messes with me. In this neighborhood, everyone knows you don’t want to mess with Angelo Moretti’s son.

That’s a normal morning for me—Tony storms out, I eat breakfast, then I ride my bike to the middle school where I’m in ninth grade, in time for homeroom at a quarter to nine. But today is different. Because today Mrs. Leary tells us that there’s a new kid in the class. Some girl who just moved here from Milwaukee. I don’t even know where the hell Milwaukee is, but when Jessica Schultz stands up in front of the room to introduce myself, I suddenly get very interested in Milwaukee and everything there is to know about this girl.

“Tell the class about yourself!” Mrs. Leary barks at the girl in her crackly voice. Mrs. Leary’s ancient and deaf, so she yells all the freakin’ time. But you can get away with a lot in her class because she can’t hear anything going on in the room.

Jessica Schultz squeezes her fists together and looks up at us with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Bensonhurst has got a lot of Italians, so most of them have dark hair and eyes like I do. We got a couple of kids in the class with blue eyes—nothing like Jessica’s though. And her hair—shit. I’ve never seen hair so blond before. It’s like somebody spun gold out of her scalp. I can’t quit staring at that hair.

I can’t quit staring at Jessica.

“I come from Milwaukee,” Jessica tells us in a voice that’s barely a squeak. “I lived there all my life. But my dad got a new job here, so… now we live here.”

A few kids snicker. Jessica tugs on her green sweater, which is too small on her. All her clothes are bordered on too tight, but the sweater is the worst. Or the best, considering how you’re looking at it. I don’t think it’s on purpose though. I think she grew out of it and hasn’t had a chance to get one that fits better. Or maybe can’t afford it. Lotsa kids in this class are wearing clothes that are too tight because they can’t afford something bigger yet.

I don’t got that problem. At all. Pop buys me all new clothes because he says I should have better than Tony’s shitty hand-me-downs.

Jessica’s bluer than blue eyes meet mine from across the room, and for a second, it’s like I can barely breathe. I never looked at a girl and felt this way before. I kissed a couple of girls before, like Mary Castellano in the bushes behind the basketball court last month. That was fine—I liked kissing Mary. Since I grew four inches over the summer, girls seem a lot more willing to go behind some bushes with me. But I never wanted to kiss a girl in the bushes as much as I want to kiss Jessica right this minute.

And while I’m staring at the blue eyes, the gold hair, and the tits nearly splitting the seam of her old sweater, I get the craziest thought in my head:

This is the girl I’m going to marry.

I wouldn’t say it to anyone. If you’re fourteen years old and you go around telling your friends you want to marry some chick you just saw for the first time five minutes ago, they think you’re nuts or a pussy or something bad. But I’ve never wanted anything as bad as I want this. Aside from wanting to take over my father’s business someday.

“You can take a seat, Jessica,” Mrs. Leary tells her.

Jessica scurries to a desk two seats in front of me. Good thing it’s just homeroom because no way I’d be able to concentrate with her straight in the middle of my field of vision.

I glance over at Kevin Price, my best buddy here at school. He’s looking at Jessica too, and when our eyes meet, he winks at me. Kevin loves new girls. I don’t try too hard to imagine what he’s thinking about.

The bell rings and Jessica stands up, looking uncertainly down at her schedule for the day, her pale hands shaking. I should offer her help finding her first class. I should, but for some reason I can’t. I’m glued to my seat.

“Nice tits, new girl!” Kevin leers at her.

Jessica looks up at him, her blue eyes widening like she’s never heard that kind of language before. Maybe kids are nicer in Milwaukee than they are in Bensonhurst. Welcome to Brooklyn, New Girl.

Kevin might have a smart mouth, but I don’t talk to girls that way. Ever. One of Pop’s words of wisdom that he tells me all the time:

Always treat women with respect, Nico.

So I do. Always. I treat ladies the way they deserve to be treated, whether it’s some chick on the street or hundred-year-old Mrs. Leary. I don’t yell dirty things at them when they walk by the way other guys in my class do. Maybe Jessica don’t count as a woman yet, but I figure close enough.

I smack Kevin in the arm and hiss at him, “Shut up, you idiot. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“What?” Kevin looks at me, wide-eyed. “She does have nice tits.”

Well, he’s right.

“Just don’t talk to her that way,” I say.

Kevin smirks at me. “So, what? You into her? Because it’s fine if you are. She’s too chubby for me anyway.”

“Shut the fuck up, Kevin,” I mutter.

I look at Jessica’s seat and see that she’s gone. She probably hurried off after Kevin shouted at her. I can’t blame her.

But even though she’s gone, I know I’m not going to be able to stop thinking about her.


Jessie

I have been walking for twenty minutes now and I’m lost.

I thought I knew how to get home. I practiced it once with Mom, and I thought I had it down. She asked me if I wanted a ride home today, but I insisted that I could do it myself. It’s only a ten-minute walk. I’m fourteen years old—I could handle a ten-minute walk on my own!

Except I must have gone straight when I was supposed to go left, or right when I was supposed to straight, or maybe I went in the wrong direction altogether. And now I have absolutely no idea where I am aside from lost.

This wouldn’t have happened in Milwaukee. I know every inch of that city. There’s nowhere I can’t get to on my bike. I wish I had my bike now. My parents said they didn’t feel comfortable with me riding it around here. Too many cars. Except every other kid in the school hopped on their bikes at the end of school and rode home.

At least it’s not very cold out and my stupid itchy sweater is keeping me warm. The French braid that Chrissy did during lunch has been coming apart all afternoon, and my hair is now mostly loose around my face. The wind intermittently lifts it in the air, which feels nice.

I could enjoy the walk if I wasn’t so frustrated about being lost. And also a little scared—this neighborhood is really seedy. I passed a filthy homeless guy lying on the sidewalk who smelled like urine. He asked me for money, and when I said I didn’t have any, he asked me if he could touch my hair. I started walking faster after that. But I think I’m just making myself get more lost faster.

I need to find a payphone. I can call my mom and ask her to come rescue me. I didn’t want to do it, but I don’t have much of a choice.

I see a payphone at the corner and dig a quarter out of my pocket. I’ve got one quarter, two dimes, and one penny—that’s all the change in my pocket. On top of that, I’ve got four dollar bills.

I stick my quarter in the payphone. I’ve only used a payphone a few times in my life, and I don’t exactly know what I’m doing, but I figure it can’t be that hard. Except when I dial my home number, all I hear in the receiver is silence. It’s not ringing. I think this stupid payphone is broken.

Great.

I slam down the receiver and keep walking. The neighborhood I’m in is looking increasingly sketchy, but I’m not sure what to do. I see three teenage boys up ahead. Maybe I should ask them for directions home. It’s clear at this point that I’m not going to manage to wander home without help.

“Hey, honey,” the tallest of the boys says to me as I approach them.

Another boy snickers, “Nice ass.”

Now I think maybe I shouldn’t ask them for directions.

“I never seen you around here, baby,” the other boy says to me. “You new in town?”

I get this sick feeling in my stomach. Something in my brain is telling me to run, but my legs are frozen.

The tall boy saunters over to me, grinning. “You got pretty hair.” He reaches out to touch my hair and I jerk away, horrified. My reaction makes the other boys laugh. “What are you so scared of, baby? We’re just looking to have a little fun.” He looks me in the eyes for a split second before I look away. “Don’t you like fun?”

“I have to go,” I croak, backing away from them.

I turn to leave, but there’s another boy behind me. They’ve surrounded me. Oh my God, I can’t get away from them. Even one of them is stronger than I am, but I have no chance against all three. There’s nothing I can do—I can fight but I’ll certainly lose.

The tallest boy creeps closer to me, a terrifying glint in his eye.


To be continued…

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Our Choices

And here comes episode 13! Thanks, guys, for still being with me. This is the last chance to make a decision because, yes, this is the second to last chapter of this story! I hope you enjoyed it, I am certainly looking forward to your comments and your last decision.

Your choice: Burn her


Cheers
Lovis
Table Of Content

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 30

Hello my friends,
I am back with another chapter for NB. I didn't have much time to edit and go over the chapter a couple more times like I usually do but I have had a friend visiting so we did some road trips and lots of sightseeing and I didn't have much time to do anything for myself really.
I appreciate all of you and will not leave you hanging though. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Anna and guess what....Shane. I give you Chapter 30 and hope you will like it and keep coming along. Thanks for all the lovely comments. I guess I will have to write a prison story one day....:-)
You guys are great, thanks so much,
Hugs, Dani

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

No post today

I'm really sorry to those of you who waited all day for the next installment of In/Exhale. I was hoping I was going to be able to post it but was unable to.

Next week I will definitely post it and I hopefully can also add another episode of Love UnSeen for your trouble.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

-CA

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Girl I Didn't Kill For, Chapter 2

1994
Jessie

I feel the tall boy’s hand on my sweater and I jerk away. Again, he laughs at me, “What are you so scared of? I told you we’re going to have fun.”

Could I run? There’s no way. They’d catch me. Could I scream and get someone’s attention? I glance at the windows of a nearby building, which are all boarded up. Who in this neighborhood would stop these boys from doing what they want to do? The bum who wanted to touch my hair? Nobody, that’s who.

“Hey!” The voice comes from all the way down the block, but it carries loud and clear. “Hey, assholes! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

They back away from me, if only just to see who’s yelling. I look down the block and I blink a few times in recognition.

I noticed the boy with the dark hair and eyes staring at me across the cafeteria during lunch today. I was sitting with two girls from my class, Ashley and Chrissy, and I asked them who he was.

“That’s Nick Moretti!” Ashley exclaimed.

“Nick Moretti,” Chrissy repeated and smiled secretly.

Ashley wagged her finger at me. “You want to stay away from Nick, Jess. Everyone knows his dad’s in the mob.”

I frowned at her. “The mob?”

“Like he’s a gangster,” Ashley said. “Like, you know, Al Capone. Or the Godfather.”

“That’s just a stupid rumor,” Chrissy snorted.

“It’s not a rumor—it’s totally true,” Ashley insisted. She glared at her friend. “Just because you think he’s cute, that doesn’t make it not true.”

“Nick’s a little more than cute,” Chrissy said.

Chrissy was right—Nick was a little more than cute. He was way cuter than any boy I ever met back in Milwaukee. He was cute enough that I didn’t mind the intense way he was staring at me.

And now he’s walking toward me.

He’s walking with his bike, striding closer to us every second. His eyes are pools of darkness, staring at the tallest of the boys. He’s got to be at least a year or two younger than that kid and a couple of inches shorter, but he doesn’t look scared at all. Nick walks right up to the kid and glares at him.

“You leave her alone,” Nick snaps at the tall boy. “You got me?”

“Look who it is!” The tall boy flashes a toothy grin. “Nick Moretti! ‘Sup? How’s your brother doing? He in juvie yet?”

Nick doesn’t flinch or budge. “Shut up, Mike.”

The tall boy, apparently named Mike, pats my ass affectionately. I flinch, and I can see Nick’s hand ball into a fist. But still, he just stands there, his dark eyes staring down the older, bigger boy. Mike is the one who hedges first.

“Relax, Nick,” Mike says. “We were just joking around with the new girl.” He smiles at me, “Isn’t that right, new girl?”

I don’t say anything.

Nick shakes his head in disgust at the older boy, and then nods his head in my direction. “Let’s go.”

I follow him blindly. Really, I have no reason to trust Nick more than those other kids, but somehow I know that he’d never do anything to hurt me. After all, he just saved me. Plus, I might be a little prejudiced based on the way he looks. Up close, Nick Moretti is even more handsome than he was across the length of the classroom. Every time he glances at me to make sure I’m following him, I get that fluttering in my chest.

We walk next to each other, him leading his bike along next to him, not saying a word. When we get to the end of the block, Nick focuses his dark eyes on me and says, “Where do you live?”

I tell him my address and his eyes widen. “Well, what the hell were you doing in this shitty neighborhood?”

“I got lost.” I shrug helplessly. “What are you doing in this shitty neighborhood?”

I wonder if he was following me.

“They got a good arcade,” he says. “I was meeting my friend there. But then I saw those assholes giving you a hard time. So I stopped.” He motions to me and we both turn left. “And now I’m going to walk you home.”

“You don’t have to,” I say, even though I’m desperately glad he’s here and I’d probably cry if he left me. “Just point me in the right direction.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’m leaving you alone here,” he says.

The neighborhood may be terrible, but I feel a hundred percent safe with Nick Moretti by my side.

“I’m Nick, by the way,” he says.

I suppress the urge to say “I know,” and instead say, “I’m Jessie.”

“You’re new.” He kicks his sneaker into the sidewalk as he acknowledges this piece of information. He’s got expensive-looking sneakers. Air Jordans. “Where you from?”

“Milwaukee,” I say. Then I remember how confused Chrissy and Ashley got, and I add, “It’s in Wisconsin. The Midwest.”

He raises his eyebrows, which are as dark as his eyes. “What’s it like there? Is it a lot different than Bensonhurst?”

“Yes,” I answer quickly. “Totally different.”

“How?”

I don’t want to start complaining about how much I hate it here, so instead I say, “It’s colder there.”

Nick raises an eyebrow. “Colder? Sorry to disappoint you, but it gets pretty cold here in January and February.”

“Not like in Wisconsin,” I say. “It’s really cold there. Like, they have to close school sometimes just because it’s cold. Not snow—just cold.”

“Close school because of the cold,” he muses. He smiles at me and it makes my heart do a little flip. “You know, I think you’re just a bunch of wusses out in Wisconsin.”

I laugh. “You know another thing that’s different here? You guys all have accents.”

He blinks at me. “Accents? What are you talking about, Jessie? I don’t got an accent. You do.”

“No, I don’t!”

“Yeah, you do.”

“Come on.”

Except maybe I do. Maybe to him, I have a raging accent. Either way, he doesn’t seem to mind.

“Also,” I add, “you guys don’t have Friday fish fries here.”

He looks at me blankly. “Friday… fish fry? What the hell is that?”

“It’s great!” I smile as I conjure up memories of years of fish fries. “Every Friday night, we’d go to a restaurant and they’d have this fried fish meal.”

“We got fried fish in Brooklyn,” Nick says. “We got it at McDonald’s.”

“Yeah, but this is different,” I explain. “It comes with, like, French fries or potato pancakes, a little cup of tartar sauce, a little cup of cole slaw, some lemon slices, and a slice of rye bread. It’s sooo good.”

“I’m sure there’s a place here that can make you up some fried fish and French fries.”

“But what about the rye bread?”

“There’s a Jewish deli two blocks over.” He points in off to the right. “Don’t worry, we got good food here. And better pizza, that’s for damn sure.”

He could be right. I loved the local pizza place in our neighborhood in Milwaukee, but we got delivered pizza two nights ago that was way better than Sammy’s Pizza at its best.

Nick turns a corner and I finally recognize the neighborhood as my own. I want to fall to my knees and kiss the ground. I didn’t think I’d ever make it back here in a million years. Nick is officially my hero.

“That’s my building up there,” I tell him, pointing to the short, ugly brownstone that I now call my home.

“Okay,” he says, but he keeps walking next to me.

“You don’t have to walk me to the door,” I tell him.

“I don’t have to,” he concedes, “but I’m gunna.”

I don’t object further. I let him walk me to the steps of my building. Apartment 2A is where I live these days. I’m almost embarrassed for him to see. I wonder what kind of place Nick lives in. If his dad is some big important guy, he probably lives in a place a whole lot nicer than this.

“Thank you,” I say to him.

“No problem,” he says.

“I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be fine,” I add.

He frowns at me thoughtfully. “I’m gonna walk you home again tomorrow.”

I squeeze my fists together. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Yeah, I do.” He shakes his head. “It’s not safe for you to be wandering around here. I’ll walk you till you know the way.”

I don’t suppress a smile. “Okay. If you don’t mind.”

“It’s my pleasure, Jessie,” Nick says. And even though he has an olive complexion, I swear I can see him blush.

I stand at the steps to my building, watching as Nick hops on his bike and peddles off in the direction of his own house, wherever that is. I’m glad he’s going to walk me home tomorrow—it’ll be a relief not to have to worry about getting lost. After a week, I’m sure I’ll have the hang of it though, and we can go our separate ways.


2009

Nick


It’s a business lunch, but I can see that my guest is having trouble focusing on business. The waitresses in this joint are wearing skirts so short that you can nearly see their underwear and shirts so low-cut that you almost get a flash of nipple. Carlo Bianchi is old enough to be the father of any one of these girls, but he can’t stop staring.

And that’s just fine. Anything that makes Bianchi happy works for me.

“I can’t believe I never been here before!” Bianchi says to me, although his eyes are trained on the ass of a blond waitress. He’s even forgotten about the juicy, medium-rare steak sitting in front of him. “Where’d you hear about this place?”

“I own it, actually. The building, at least.”

My family owns a handful of buildings that house restaurants, and this is one of them. It’s good when I want to take a suit out for a meal and make sure we get the VIP treatment. I’m hitting Bianchi up for a lot of money right now, so he’s gotta know I’m important—someone he can trust to hand over his money to.

And he can trust me. I’m not some idiot who’s gonna lose him his money.

“You got great taste, Moretti,” Bianchi says with an approving nod that causes his jowls to shake.

“Thanks.” I grin at him. “Means a lot coming from you.”

While Bianchi’s attention is distracted again by a passing waitress, I do a quick weight shift in my chair. Because I can’t feel where I’m sitting, I need to shift my position in the chair every fifteen minutes or so to keep from getting a pressure sore. But I don’t need Bianchi to see that. Right now, I can’t afford anything that will make me look weak. The chair is already a strike against me—I’m trying my best not to call attention to it, but it’s not like I can hide the fact that I need it. That’s not an option.

When I shift my weight, my legs shift too. Since I can’t move them on my own, they just move with my upper body. Thankfully, they usually shift back into place on their own. If they don’t, it’s another quick movement to make sure they’re not crooked—like I said, I don’t need anything to make me look weak. I can’t hide from Bianchi that I can’t walk, but I don’t have to let on that I can’t move or feel anything from the mid-chest down.

“So I had my lawyer look over the papers you sent me,” he says as he chews on a chunk of his steak. A droplet of blood trails down the side of his chin and he wipes it off with the back of his hand. Carlo Bianchi isn’t known for having great manners, but he is known for being very, very rich. I asked Pop once how a guy like Bianchi made himself so much money, but he wouldn’t say. I’m guessing it was through activities a lot less legal than the hotel I’m asking him to front money for.

“Yeah?” I say, like I couldn’t care less. Even though I’m hanging on his every word.

“He knew all about you,” he says between swallows.

My stomach sinks. “Yeah?”

I got a reputation that’s good and bad. Good because I made a lot of money for a lot of people. Bad because I don’t put up with bullshit. You make a deal with me, you’re holding up your end of the deal to my satisfaction. End of story. I got plenty of guys to make sure that’s the case, and I’ve got enough connections now to back myself up, even without my father’s help.

Nobody disrespects me. Nobody calls me “kid” anymore. They better never call me “cripple” if they want to keep their balls.

“Yeah, he knew about you,” Bianchi says darkly. But then his face breaks into a smile. “He said you were one smart sonuvabitch. He said I’d have to be outta my mind not to invest.”

I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I had other guys I could’ve hit up for money, but once word got out Bianchi said no, it would get a lot harder.

Bianchi holds out his hand and I shake it, making sure my grip strength just matches his. He’s a big guy, but I’m younger and I got a lot more upper body power than he does from my years of pushing my chair around.

“Now that we got business out of the way.” He licks his lips greedily. “You know any of these girls?”

“Sure I do.”

He raises his unruly black eyebrows at me. “You been with any of them?”

I scan the restaurant. My eyes briefly rest on a brunette with big tits carrying a bottle of wine, who I remember having a good time with one night a few months ago. I was here late doing some deal and she joined me after my dinner guest left and her shift ended. We had a couple of drinks together, then before I knew it, she was on my lap. It was just one night, but it was a good night. She told me after that no guy’d ever made her scream that loud.

The waitress notices me looking and she winks at me. “Yeah. A couple,” I say.

He grins. “Got any recommendations?”

Another perk of renting to the owners of this place—I could fix up a date between Bianchi and his waitress of choice. None of them will say no to me—I’m their boss’s boss. Even so, I can’t resist saying, “But isn’t there a Mrs. Bianchi?”

He roars with laughter. “Oh, you’re a funny guy, Moretti! I like you.”

I return his smile. I don’t usually joke around with my business partners, but this deal put me in a good mood.

“How ‘bout you?” Bianchi asks me. “You married?”

I shake my head no. There have been plenty of girls—I don’t even want to admit how many—but I’ve never been married or even close. There’s only one woman I ever met that I wanted to get hitched to. And that’s Jessica Schultz.

I really blew that one.

I fell in love with Jessie nearly twenty years ago. From the moment I first saw her, I knew she was the girl I wanted to marry. For three years, her father kept us apart because he didn’t want his daughter hanging around a gangster—not that I was one. Not then, anyway.

And then… well, this happened to me. I ended up in this goddamn chair and I couldn’t face her anymore.

It took me ten years to get up the nerve to try to see her again. I drove all the way back to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral. And then…

I did the dumbest thing I’d ever done in my whole life. Something where you can’t just send a dozen roses and put it behind you. But I thought I could get her to forgive me. I really believed I could do it.

Yet here I am, three years later. Alone.

“You got the right idea, Moretti.” Bianchi shoves a bite of garlic mashed potatoes into his mouth. “Hold out as long as you can. Enjoy your freedom.”

I don’t want my freedom. I just want Jessie.

But I’m worried that ship has sailed.

To be continued...

The Girl I Didn't Kill For, Chapter 3

Jessie

Today my best friend Chrissy shows up for our lunch date ten minutes late wearing a tight red dress that makes every patron of the diner turn and salivate. It’s not just tight—it’s clearly expensive. The same could be said about her shoes, which I remember coveting in the window of Jimmy Choo’s last week and feeling nauseated when I saw the price.

Her boss, Nick Moretti, is clearly paying her well.

Before Chrissy can get to the table, I fiddle with my hair self-consciously. Over a year ago, I went through the trauma of the big three-oh. I’m noticing more lines around my eyes when I smile, and yesterday, I nearly fainted when I discovered a gray hair. I agonized over what to do about it, because they say if you pull out a gray hair, ten more will grow back. But I couldn’t just let it stay there—it was a gray hair! So I pulled the damn thing. I’ll probably be all gray by next winter.

Chrissy is the same age as me, but she’s just getting more gorgeous each year. I don’t get it. By the time she’s forty, she’ll be so utterly beautiful that I probably won’t even be able to bear looking at her any more. And don’t get me started on the men she dates. Each one is more handsome and muscular than the last. Seth doesn’t like to double date with her, because it makes him feel insecure.

Chrissy falls into the seat across from me, swiping strands of silky dark hair from her face. She looks tired but exhilarated. Whatever she does during her days at work, she clearly enjoys it. Unlike yours truly—I’m still working in data analysis and hating every moment of it.

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she breathes. “Things were crazy this morning.”

“Nick keeping you busy?” I ask.

Chrissy looks at me in surprise. Probably because I make a point of never mentioning Nick’s name—ever. I don’t know why I mentioned Nick today. It just popped out. I don’t know why I even thought of him. I never think of him anymore—as far as I’m concerned, he’s part of a completely different life. I haven’t seen him in a very, very long time. I’ve moved on.

“Sort of,” she says. “He just opened another new hotel a few weeks ago and he’s already trying to put together financing for a third—it’s just been so much work. Everyone is working nonstop.” She pauses to finger the menu. “But enough about me. How are you? What’s new?”

I shrug. “Nothing.”

Sadly, it’s true. In addition to being at the same old boring data analyst job, everything else is equally old and boring. There’s literally not one new thing going on in my life, aside from the fact that I’m a few weeks older than I was last time I saw her.

“How about the wedding?” Chrissy leans forward, eyes wide with excitement. “When are you and Seth getting hitched?”

“Never,” I say with more bitterness than I intended.

I’ve been engaged for three years with no end in sight. The year after Seth and I got engaged, we talked about how we didn’t want to rush into an expensive wedding because money was so tight. The second year, we started getting ribbed by our friends about how we hadn’t set a date yet. The third year, Seth started making excuses—weddings are a waste of money, he wants to be further in his career before we settle down, and for God’s sake we’re barely in our thirties, what’s the rush?

These days, I can’t even bring up our engagement without a blowout fight. I mentioned it two weeks ago, when a friend of mine booked her wedding at a local church. Seth completely lost it—he was yelling and screaming about how I was always pressuring him about the stupid wedding.

All the while, I kept thinking that I was also starting to feel sorry he proposed in the first place. Because if he hadn’t, I probably would have left him by now. But it’s hard enough leaving the person you live with—much harder to leave the person you promised your life to.

“How long have you guys been engaged anyway?” Chrissy asks.

“Twenty million years,” I say. “When he proposed, dinosaurs still roamed the earth.”

She laughs. “You know my opinion. I’m not getting married until I’m at least thirty-seven.”

Chrissy pushes back the arbitrary age that she’s willing to settle down each year. I don’t think she’s ever going to get married and have kids. She has too much fun without either. I can’t imagine her with a bunch of rug rats hanging off her legs.

“Got any candidates in mind?” I ask her.

Please don’t say Nick Moretti. If Chrissy showed up to a meal one day with a big rock on her finger courtesy of Nick, it wouldn’t have surprised me in the slightest. Whether or not they’re currently an item, I know how she feels about him—I suspect he’s the one guy in the world who might be able to convince her to settle down. After all, she’s had a crush on him since they were in first grade.

But she never loved him the way I did.

“There are always candidates,” she says. “I’m going to have to interview every guy in the five boroughs before I can make any sort of informed decision.”

I put up scare quotes. “Yeah. ‘Interview.’”

“Fine.” Chrissy laughs. “I’m going to fuck every guy in the city. Happy?”

The timing couldn’t be better—just as she says that, our young waiter comes over to announce the specials, and is so flustered that he drops his pen three times while trying to take our orders. It doesn’t help that Chrissy flirts with him mercilessly the whole time.

“Is he next?” I ask her after the poor waiter nearly trips over his own feet walking away.

“No time right now.” She whips a compact out of her purse and checks her makeup. “As soon as we’re done eating, Nick needs me at a meeting.”

“How about Nick?” I blurt out. “Is he one of your candidates?”

Before Chrissy can answer, I feel my cheeks turning red. Why did I ask that? I meant it to be teasing, but it doesn’t come out that way. It sounds like I’m digging for information. And I don’t even know why. Why do I keep thinking about Nick today?

Who the hell knows? Maybe I’m ovulating. Maybe this is the first sign of a malignant brain tumor.

Or maybe when your relationship is going down the toilet, it’s normal to think about the only other guy you’ve ever loved. Even if he won’t see me because he’s too scared to face me in a wheelchair.

“No,” Chrissy finally answers. “Not Nick. Christ, Jess, he’s my boss.”

As if that would ever stop her if she really wanted something. Chrissy, who was widely known to have slept with our eleventh grade English teacher, Mr. Pizarro. (He was, in her defense, really cute.)

“Your boss who you’ve made out with,” I remind her.

A tiny smile plays on her lips. “Yeah. But that was a mistake.”

Sure it was.

“I don’t know, Jessie,” she sighs. “If Seth is dragging his feet and you really want to get married for some reason, I say just dump him.”

“But I’m thirty-one,” I protest. According to my mother, I’m an old maid at this point. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but it’s starting to feel like nearly all my friends are married or engaged at this point. I suspect that any guy willing to make a commitment has already been ensnared.

“Exactly!” Chrissy says. “You’re only thirty-one! Live a little.”

I just shake my head at her.

“Come out with me tonight,” she says. “I reserved a table at Cleopatra’s Lounge. We’ll have so much fun.”

“Cleopatra’s Lounge?” That is a tempting offer. Cleopatra’s is a nightclub in the city that recently got a mention in the Times as being one of the hottest places to be. I’m way too old to go to a dance club where someone would probably spike my drink with Ecstasy, but Cleopatra’s is an old school club with singers, comedians, and even drag acts. I’d been dying to go there, but the times that Seth and I have tried, there’s been a line out the door and wrapped around the block. “How did you get a table reserved?”

She waves her hand. “I know a guy.”

Of course she does.

“Can I bring Seth?” I ask. He’s been dying to go to Cleopatra’s, even more than me.

Chrissy picks up a sugar packet from the table and flicks it at me. “No, you may not. The whole point is we get a girls’ night out. And you, my dear, get to see that there are plenty of cute guys out there who don’t live in your apartment.”

I suspect any cute guys we meet tonight will only have eyes for the stunning brunette in the red dress, but I still want to see this place. So I agree to go out with Chrissy. She’s always good for a good time.



Nick

You don’t expect to see a six-foot-tall woman with long white-blond hair barging into your office carrying a folded up table.

“Hey!” I snap at her. “Who are you?”

The woman doesn’t answer me. She unfolds her table in the corner of my office like I hadn’t even spoken. I’m not used to people ignoring me, especially in my own goddamn office. When I talk, people listen. I wheel around my desk to confront her directly.

“Hey!” I say again. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

The woman lays a sheet on top of the table and points at it. “Get on table!” she instructs me in heavily accented English. She sounds Scandinavian.

“Listen,” I say to her, “I don’t know what you’ve been told but…”

“Get on table!” She points to the table more vigorously.

Goddamn Chrissy.

The door to my office cracks open and I see Chrissy peeking in. When she sees the Amazon woman has set up the table, her face breaks into a smile. I want to be furious with Chrissy, but it’s hard when she smiles like that. Since I hired her three years ago to help her pay off her gambling debts, she’s become one of my favorite people.

“Oh, good!” she says. “You’re all set up for your massage! Sonja is supposed to be the best, Nick.”

“Chrissy,” I say in a low growl. “I don’t have time for this shit.”

“Yeah, well.” She glares right back at me. “I’m sick of listening to you whine about your back.”

She’s right. I’ve been complaining a lot about my back, which generally feels awful. Not that it’s surprising, considering the sheer number of hours I spend sitting in my wheelchair every day. I do weight shifts like I’m supposed to, but I still wake up at five in the morning and don’t go to bed till past midnight—later on weekends. I’m not tired—I’ve never needed much sleep—but my spine can’t take it.

It pisses me off. I’m only thirty-one and I ought to be able to work all night if I want without getting limited by pain. My older brother Tony can be in meetings all day, then go out and party the rest of the evening till two in the morning, and he’s fine. No pain. Meanwhile, I’ve been transferring to the sofa in my office for periods during the day just to take some of the pressure off.

I hate the fact that my body can’t keep up with me.

“Sonja is the best.” As she talks, Chrissy leans in close enough that I can smell her floral shampoo and takes the liberty of undoing my tie for me. Nobody else in the whole world could get away with what she’s doing right now. “I did my research, believe me. Got the lowdown on every masseuse in all of Manhattan.” Chrissy pulls off my suit-jacket and I let her. Mostly because my back is already sore and it’s only two in the afternoon. “I know you have a million things to do, but this needs to take priority.”

I sigh and look warily at Sonja. “How long is this going to take?”

“Massage is one hour!” Sonja informs me.

“An hour!” I shake my head. “Chrissy, I gotta be in midtown in—”

“No, you don’t.” Now Chrissy is unbuttoning my collar. “Tony said he’d cover the meeting for you.”

“Great,” I mutter. “I was hoping to fuck this deal up.”

That’s not entirely fair. Tony has gotten slightly better at not fucking things up. Slightly.

Chrissy yanks my shirt out of my pants, and I decide things have gone a little too far. I’m not in the habit of getting naked in front of Chrissy. That’s not something that’s ever happened or will ever happen. There was a time when it seemed like it might, but that time has passed. These days, Chrissy and I are more like brother and sister.

“I can take it from here,” I tell her. “Thanks.”

She eyes me warily. “Are you going to let her massage you?”

“Yes, if you leave.”

So she leaves. It’s a relief for about five seconds, until I realize that now I’m all alone with the massive Sonja.

Sonja frowns at me. “Take off clothes! Get on table!”

Fine. My back is aching, so I may as well see what this woman can do. I unbutton the rest of my shirt and pull it off while Sonja looks at me appraisingly. She might be a six foot tall masseuse but she’s also a woman, and I’m not pleased with the way I look shirtless. From my ribs up, everything is good. But without working abdominal muscles, I got a gut. Tony’s never been to a gym in his life and he’s got a washboard stomach, but I got the belly of a middle-aged drunk. Nothing I can do about it though.

I usually take my pants off in bed and it’s a little tricky in the chair. Sonja offers to help but I brush her away and do it on my own. The challenging part is going to be getting on the table. The height isn’t too bad, but the table isn’t entirely stable. I’m worried that if I try to do the transfer, I’ll knock it over. Maybe we can do the massage on my sofa.

Before I can contemplate it further, Sonja says, “I lift.” And then she grabs me under my neck and legs and lifts me right out of my chair. She does it so quick, I don’t even have a second to protest before I’m in the air. And you can bet I would have protested if I’d known what she was going to do. I really don’t like being lifted that way.

Once I’m lying on the table, Sonja attempts to turn me onto my belly, but I shove her away. I can at least turn myself. But I appreciate she holds the table steady while I do it.

There’s a donut shaped cushion in front of me and I lay my face in it. I never had a massage before in my life. It seems like something rich ladies do. I hope Chrissy doesn’t tell anyone about this. She better not have told Tony—he’ll never let me hear the end of it. I’d have to lie and tell him I was paying Sonja for sex instead of a massage.

I smell something that’s vanilla. Christ, am I going to smell like a bakeshop after this shit? If I do this again, I’m going to have to ask her to bring some more manly-spelling lotions. Something that smells like the woods or gasoline.

I lift my head from the cushion and crane my neck to look at Sonja. “Hey,” I say, “not too much lotion.”

“Put head back down,” she says stubbornly.

I don’t oblige.

“Not too much lotion,” she reluctantly agrees.

“Also,” I add, “keep your hands off my legs.”

This rule is not negotiable. I don’t want her hurting me in a place I can’t feel and set off the spasms from hell. Or worse.

“For entire body massage—” Sonja begins.

“Keep your hands off my legs,” I say in a voice that people don’t argue with.

She is quiet for a moment. “Okay,” she finally says.

Sonja lays her fingers on me. At first, it’s fine. Almost good. But then all of a sudden, it’s not fine. I’m used to pain—I live with it every day of my goddamn life, but not pain like this. When I start seeing stars, I shake Sonja’s hands off my back, and snap at her, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“You have many knots in back,” Sonja says crossly.

“What—are you putting your elbow on me?”

“Just fingers.”

I shake my head at her. “This was a mistake.”

“No.” Sonja pushes me back down, gently but firmly. “I be more gentle. We try again.”

An hour later, I have to admit, I’m feeling a lot better. I won’t say the massage didn’t hurt like a mother, but now that it’s over, my back feels better. I also let Sonja know in no uncertain terms that she is never to lift me on or off the table ever again.

I’m buttoning my shirt back up when Chrissy barges in with a cup of water. She shoves it in my direction, but I ignore her. I want my shirt buttoned more than I want a drink of water.

“Drink this,” she orders me. “Sonja said you need to keep hydrated after the massage to clear the toxins from your body.”

I roll my eyes. “Oh, did she?”

But she keeps pushing the water at me, so I take it. I gulp it down while Chrissy works on my tie. Chrissy Cagliari can tie a tie better than anyone I know. Anytime I’m going to an important meeting, Chrissy fixes my tie for me. It’s my secret weapon.

“She’s great, isn’t she?” Chrissy says.

“Not bad.” I shrug. “What did she cost?”

“You don’t want to know.” She winks at me. “Anyway, you can afford it.”

That’s true. Our new hotel is doing just as well as the first one did. All of our properties are doing better than they’ve ever been doing. And now that the housing bubble has burst, there are bunch of properties going real cheap. That’s what the meeting Tony covered for me today was supposed to be about—there’s a place I’m dying to get my hands on.

At the thought of that meeting, I ask Chrissy, “Tony’s coming to Cleopatra’s tonight?”

“Your table is booked for four,” she says.

Cleopatra’s Lounge is the hottest night club in the city right now, and I own the place. It was my pet project from when I first got started—a dying club that featured tired old acts and watered down drinks. Tony said it was a lost cause—that people wanted to go to bars or dance clubs. But I could see the potential in Cleopatra’s.

I hired Alex Mitchell, the owner of a successful club in Atlantic City, away from his old position. Alex and I worked together to come up with a roster of fresh new acts that would drive in crowds, including some up-and-coming sexy, young singers and edgy comedians. I wasn’t sure about the drag act that Alex wanted to book, but he ended up being right about that too. Business steadily increased until I arranged some good mentions in the paper and Internet buzz, and now we got lines around the block.

Tony loves Cleopatra’s now. Half the time when I meet with him, I gotta go there to do it because he won’t meet me anywhere else. It’s not the greatest location to have a quiet business discussion, but it’s easier than dragging Tony’s ass to my office. And it’s good entertainment.

“Natalie confirmed?” I ask.

Chrissy wrinkles her nose when I mention my latest girlfriend. “Yes, but I’m sure it’s not too late to cancel on her. Or break up with her.”

I smile. Part of the fun of dating Natalie is how much it pisses Chrissy off. That and some of Natalie’s other attributes.

“That’s not going to happen,” I tell Chrissy.

I have no intention of breaking up with Natalie now or any time in the near future. Natalie might offend Chrissy’s sensibilities, but I got my reasons.

To be continued....