Monday, July 24, 2017

Between the Pages Chapter 12 is up!!

Hey, everybody! *waves*

Thanks for your patience during my little hiatus. When last we left off, Max and Inez were on their way to an event with the entirety of Inez's family, Max ends up in a compromising situation, and (as usual) things are not going according to plan for the main characters... Interested to read more?!

I hope this chapter was worth the wait. :)

Happy Monday!

*hugs*

Chapter 12
Updated Table of Contents

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The New Boyfriend: The Conclusion

Hi all! Totally forgot that I had to post this story... sheesh, I gotta get my head back in the game!

Anyway, this is the longish conclusion to the short story The New Boyfriend. I know people aren't quite as into the short stories, but I hope you guys enjoyed this one.

The New Boyfriend, Part 3

Or read from the beginning.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our Choices

Sorry for the long wait! This is one of the episodes with a bit more action than I am used to write, plus I wanted to make sure I can definitely update the week after... You will see why! =)

Last episode you decided to keep Lucy and not trade her for gas. It was a tight decision that still surprised me, I would say. This is the great thing with playing this game, it is unpredictable for me as well. Good... Let's see how this turns out for Caroline and the others.

Your Choice: "I won't give her to you. I just cannot."

 
Have an awesome weekend,
Lovis

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 28

Hello my friends,
still there following along?
I know my story shifted somewhat now but I hope you still enjoy it. As Anna and Shane face challenges they can't control anymore it gets difficult for them to stay strong for each other.
I give you Chapter 28 of New Beginnings. Thanks for reading and coming along so far with Anna and Shane.
I appreciate you so much,
Hugs, Dani
Table of Contents TOC NB

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In/Exhale Continues

Hey, everyone! I'm sorry I had nothing for you last week... It was a very difficult week for me. I feel like maybe I've bitten off a bit more than I could chew. I'm really hoping that I can keep up and not have too long of gaps for you guys, but I have my limitations, sadly. So please bear with me and be patient. I appreciate it!!

Previously on In/Exhale: Kai and Jon went to Omaha to visit Harbinger Clinic. Jon has convinced Kai to voluntarily commit himself in a couple days, despite Kai's reservations about the hospital being too good to be true. They've returned home and Jon is extremely worried about how bad his brother has gotten. He asks Renee to help him keep Kai safe.

This week on In/Exhale: Renee and Kai finally reunite after the weekend apart. Kai is stressing about his dinner at Frankie's house, among other things. Jon finds the tape of their mother in some of Kai's boxes in preparation for moving to Vicky's and decides to watch it. What the tape reveals is even worse than Jon could have imagined.

Next time on In/Exhale: Kai goes to dinner and meets Frankie's parents, but something happens that he never could have anticipated.

February 11, 2001 - Part II



Thanks again for your patience, everyone. I'm really hoping to have an episode of Love UnSeen for next week, and definitely another installment of I/E the week after next.

-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, July 16, 2017

The New Boyfriend -- Update!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my new story, The New Boyfriend!  It's just a short one, but I'm so glad you're enjoying it.  This is part 2, from David's point of view:

Part 2: David

And for those of you who missed it, here is Part 1: Ariel.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 27

Hi my dear readers,
it's time for another chapter of NB. I know I probably scared you last week with the revelation of Katrina. I didn't have as much time to edit this week as I wanted to but unfortunately I had a kind of rough week facing my own challenges .
So, Anna and Shane are literally getting caught in an storm and they try to hang on as good as they can. Follow along as they face yet another challenge. I give you Chapter 27 of NB and I thank you for reading and coming along.
You all mean a lot,
Hugs, Dani

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The New Boyfriend



Hi all!  This is a little short story I wrote.  It'll be about three parts.  Please let me know what you think!

The New Boyfriend

Chapter 1: Ariel

David is nervous with a capital N. 

I’ve seen him nervous before but never quite this nervous.  He’s clutching the steering wheel with his left hand so hard that all the blood has left his knuckles.  I can see his teeth grinding together and he hasn’t spoken a word in the last twenty minutes.  The pop station we’d been listening to has mostly turned to static as we crossed state lines ten minutes ago, but David hasn’t even seemed to notice until I finally reach out and change the station, allowing Maroon 5 to blast through the car.

“Oh,” he says, smiling sheepishly.  “Thanks.  I… I’m a little distracted.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” I deadpan.

David glances at me out of the corner of his eye.  “I’m just a little nervous.  It’s not every day that I meet my girlfriend’s parents.”

“So?” I say. “I told you, they’re nice.”

Well, my mom’s nice.  My dad can be… intense.  But David doesn’t need to know that.  We don’t need to make things worse.

“And they know?” he says.  “They know the whole situation?”

“Yeah, they know you’re a teacher.” I wink at him.  David teaches math at the local high school.  That’s how I met him—through my friend Cindy, who teaches at the same school.

“Ari…” he sighs.  David’s not in a playful mood right now.  “You know what I mean.”

“They absolutely know,” I say.  “When I called them, I said to them, ‘Mom, Dad, I am bringing home my disabled boyfriend.  He’s disabled, you know.’”

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Good news/Bad news

Bad news: There is no update for Our Choices today. I'm so, so sorry! Maybe next week neither, I do not know. Currently life is pretty crazy and... huh. End of next week it will return to normal. Maybe. Or potentially change forever. Yes. Crazy, right?
So good news: As I tend to procrastinate/freakout/losemyself/notsleepatall/wanderaroundincheyennewyoming when deadlines are approaching, I whipped up this short story… It's part of a larger WIP that may never be finished (most of it only exists in my head anyway) but maybe will... Treat it with caution, I had zero time for editing, I'm not in any state to even tell you if I like it and I may rewrite and rewrite this scene a hundred times before it ends up in the original work. But for now I thought I just give you a bit of porn, to pass the time. So in a nutshell, this is M/M and pretty explicit. Have fun with Limits!
Throw your criticism at me! And your love! Thanks :)

Lovis
(of course that thing is part of The Secret Stash

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Best Man: Now Available as an eBook!

So a while ago, I was posting a story called The Best Man, about bride-to-be Kirby who becomes attracted to her fiance's best man John (a quadriplegic).  I posted a bunch of parts, but I got stuck and eventually stopped writing.  But because everyone was so encouraging, I promised I'd try to keep working on it and eventually finish it.  Well, I finally finished it!


The Best Man is now available on Amazon!  I spent a bunch of time editing it and also added a TON of devvy stuff at the beginning, so if you do buy it, please read from the very beginning.  And hopefully, you will find the ending very satisfying.  Just as a reminder, here is the original chapter 1.

Buy it today!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 26

Hello NB friends,
wow, this week went by so fast, especially with the holiday yesterday. Hope everyone in the US
had a great 4th July  Because we have dogs we escaped all the fireworks and spent a day at the coast.

Anyhow, I do have another chapter ready for you and give you Chapter 26 of NB. And unfortunately
Anna and Shane do not get their HEA yet, too many things are going on and need to be overcome.

Thanks to everyone reading and commenting, I appreciate my readers very much, you do mean a lot to me and I am very glad to be able to share this with you.
Hugs, Dani
Table Of Contents TOC New Beginnings

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In/Exhale FINALLY Returns! Happy 100th Episode!

Happy 100th Episode!


It's baaaack!

I'm so sorry for the unexpectedly long hiatus. I can't promise that the upcoming weeks will be smooth sailing, but I'm going to do everything I can to try to avoid taking more than a week or two off here and there if at all possible.

#

Previously on In/Exhale: Kai and Jon went to visit Harbinger Clinic in Omaha, an expensive private psychiatric hospital that Jon and Dr. Miller had picked out while Kai was sick as an alternative to JMH. Kai's mental illness has been getting worse: he's become suicidal, he's not eating, his panic attacks are more frequent, and the night before he and Jon were to leave for the trip Kai took off, blacked out, and almost got himself killed if Nikki hadn't been there to pull his ass out of the fire. Despite being better than they could have hoped, Kai remains wary of Harbinger and refuses to stay even though he knows he needs it. Meanwhile, Dr. Miller visited County House to get Kai's records and discovered that Kai had been sexually abused.

This week on In/Exhale: Picking up where we left off, it's Sunday. Jon and Kai are in their hotel in Omaha. Jon's own health is beginning to falter with all the stress. He's becoming increasingly concerned that he may have to put his relationship with his brother in jeopardy in order to protect Kai's life.

Next time on In/Exhale: Back in Janesville, Renee and Kai finally reunite after the long weekend apart, but not everything is all roses and kittens. Kai's particularly anxious about his upcoming dinner with Frankie and his new adoptive parents, as well as trying to manage long enough to make it to Valentine's Day with Renee in a few days.

February 11, 2001 - Part I


#

Thank you so much for all your patience and support. The past six months have been so difficult for me, between losing my father so suddenly and getting even sicker. Sometimes Kai and my lives parallel even more than I would have liked!

I can't promise we'll see each other next week, but we will definitely return with the next episode in two weeks. Maybe I'll be able to sneak in an episode of Love UnSeen in between. It'll depend how I'm feeling.

As always, I appreciate your comments and suggestions for both stories.

Enjoy,

-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.

PPS: The picture is one artist's rendering of a young Kai.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Between the Pages: Chapter 11

Good morning! Here's chapter 11 of Between the Pages! Thank you so much to everyone who is reading and following along--it makes me so happy! And thank you to everyone who comments too. I love getting your feedback...even if I am crap at responding to comments...*cringes*.

I probably won't be able to post for the next two weeks as I'm most likely going to be moving (yes, "most likely"...it's a long story lol). So (if this is allowed?) if anyone needs Mondays for the next two weeks, take 'em!

Happy belated Canada day to any Canadians on the blog, happy early Fourth to any Americans, and happy Monday to the rest of you folks! :-D

Oh! Here's an updated Table of Contents too.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The New Boyfriend, Part 2: DAVID



Holy shit, Mr. Rhodes is tall.  Not just tall—huge.  The guy’s a fucking giant. I’d be intimidated by him in the best of times, but now is not the best of times. I can’t conceive of how a tiny girl like Ariel came from the seed of such a big man.

I wish I didn’t have to be here.  It’s only because I’ve fallen for Ari bigtime that I came here.  I’d do anything for her.

“This must be David,” Mr. Rhodes says, although he’s not looking at me.  He’s looking at Ari and doesn’t seem particularly pleased.

“That’s right.” Ari puts her hand on my shoulder, which I would ordinarily like, but right now it makes me practically jump out of my skin.

I hold out my hand for Mr. Rhodes to shake, although I have to wipe the sweat off on my pants first. He hesitates a beat, then reaches out to take my hand.  Some people, when they shake my hand, they give me a tiny squeeze like they’re scared they might break me, but Richard Rhodes doesn’t hold back—he goes for the bone-crushing grip.  But I can hold my own in a handshake.

“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” I tell him.

He doesn’t tell me to call him Rick.

“Oh, dear,” I hear Linda Rhodes murmuring.  She’s looking down at the kitchen floor, and that’s when I realize that I’ve tracked dirt all over the floor with my wheels.  Usually I’m on top of things like that, but with all the anxiety of meeting these people, I didn’t think of it.  Also, my wheels are dirty as hell. Much worse than they get after my usual day in the city.

“I’m really sorry,” I say, cursing the fact that I’ve been here only two minutes and I’ve already fucked up.

And then it’s a whole production.  Linda has to clean the floor and I go back to the welcome mat and do my best to get the wheels clean, all the while apologizing.  Everyone else can just take off their shoes and the dirt situation is taken care of.  I can’t jump out of my chair and crawl for the duration of the visit.

By the time my wheels are clean and Linda has mopped up, I’m ready to go home.

“Let me show you to your room, David,” Linda tells me.  She has this smile on her face that’s so freaking phony.  But it’s better than Mr. Rhodes’s hostile glare.

They made up the den for me, which is fine.  I put my overnight bag on the unfolded piece of shit couch, already knowing my back will be sore tomorrow, but I can deal with it.  It’s just one night.

Ari drops her own bag on the couch and sits down on it.  “It’s lumpy,” she complains.

“Your bedroom is made up upstairs,” Mr. Rhodes tells her.

Ari frowns at him.  “Daddy, I can stay with David.  I’m thirty-one years old.”

I almost smack myself in the forehead.  Why, when I’m trying to make good impression on this man, would she tell her father that we’re obviously fucking?  Yes, we are obviously fucking.  But this is her parents’ house.  For Christ’s sake, we can sleep in separate bedrooms for one night.

Although it’s getting harder and harder to sleep apart from Ari.

“Ariel, that’s the way it is in my house,” Mr. Rhodes says in a low voice that’s nearly a growl.

“That’s so bullshit,” she shoots back.  “You think David and I don’t sleep in the same bed at home?”

“This is fine,” I say quickly, before things can get too out of control.  “Really.”

Ari looks between the two of us and finally said, “Fine.”

As much as it will kill me, I’ve got to tell Ari not to sneak into my bedroom during the night.  If we get caught, her dad will skin me alive.

“I’ve got to go check on the food,” Linda tells us with that comically big smile.  “Dinner should be ready in about twenty minutes.”

As if I could keep any food down right now.

The elder Rhodes leave the room and I’m left alone with Ari.  She’s rifling through her bag and I take a minute to stare at her.  Ari’s all curves and lots of red hair with freckles.  Every time I look at her, I get a mental hard on.  That’s what I call it when I see something that I know would make me hard if my brain were still connected to my dick.  But that connection is gone.  My dick literally has a mind of its own.

Of all the things that sucked after I broke my back, that was one of the hardest to swallow.  You’d think not being able to walk anymore ever again would be the worst, and I’m not going to lie, that was very, very hard.  But I’m still going to say losing control of my dick was the hardest.  It made me feel like I wasn’t even a man anymore.  And that’s how plenty of girls treat me—like I’m a fucking eunuch. 

With the help of Viagra, I can get hard again with manual stimulation.  It’s not a hundred percent, but I can do it, although I get a lot of anxiety when I’m with someone new about not being able to maintain it.  When you’re in a relationship though, it’s not so bad.  Ari knows how my body works now and that it’s not going to be perfect all the time.  So we’ve got a vibrator that we use more than we even have intercourse.  And more than that, I get off on eating her out.  I love doing that.  I don’t even get jealous that she’s coming so hard when I can’t.

Ari notices me staring at her and grins, “What?”

“You’re sexy, that’s what,” I say.  But only after glancing at the door to make sure her parents aren’t in earshot.

“What else is new?” Ari giggles, settling into my lap.  I love her there.  Her body feels so good pressed against mine.

I brush her red hair aside and whisper in her ear, “Your dad hates me.”

“You’re imagining things.”

I raise my eyebrows at her.

“Okay,” she concedes.  “He needs to warm up to you.”

Yeah, that’s an understatement.  And we’ve still got a whole dinner and tomorrow morning for him to work on hating me more.

***

Linda is agonizing over the seating arrangement in the dining room.  She’s got four plates set out and four chairs.  She’s staring at one of the chairs, biting her lip.  When I wheel myself into the room, she frowns at me, but doesn’t say anything.  I decide to put her out of her misery.  “What’s wrong?” I ask.  “Can I help with anything?”

“No, it’s just…” Linda purses her lips.  “Do you need to have a seat?  Should I… pull it away?”

It’s actually not a stupid question.  I always stay in my wheelchair to eat at restaurants, and I feel like there’s a chance I might need to make a quick getaway. But the Rhodes’s dining table is very high and the chairs are correspondingly high.  So high that I’m going to be at least half a head lower than everyone else if I’m in my wheelchair and they’re in the regular seats.  And Mr. Rhodes is so goddamn tall as is.

“Leave the chair,” I decide.  “I’ll sit in it.”

I line my wheelchair up with the chair and do a quick transfer while Linda and Ari are fetching food from the kitchen.  And now that I’m in the seat, I think to myself that I’m an idiot and I should have offered to help with the food.  Oh well. 

Without asking first, Linda pushes my wheelchair over to the corner of the room.  And that is not okay.  I hate not having my chair within arm’s reach.  Yes, in the unlikely circumstance that everyone else in the house died of food poisoning during the meal and I had to get back in my chair, I could do it.  It would involve lowering myself to the floor and dragging myself across the room, and that’s not much fun.  But I don’t want to call attention to my situation by asking someone to bring it back for me.

Goddamn it.  I shouldn’t have gotten out of the chair in the first place.  You’d think I’d know better by now.

I try not to think about it.  Ari will bring it over for me.  It’s just hard to relax when my only means of mobility is all the way across the room.

Mr. Rhodes comes out at the last second.  He blinks at me a few times, as if he’d hoped I’d decided to go home in the last half hour.  No such luck for either of us, Rick.  When it’s clear to him that I’m staying, he plops himself down into the seat right across from me.

We all take our food and I’m about to dig in, when I realize that the Rhodes have bowed their heads.  I don’t know what the hell they’re doing until Ari furiously motions at me to do the same. 

“David, would you like to say grace?” Linda asks me.

Say grace?  How the hell do you say grace?  Don’t get me wrong—I’ve heard of it.  I know that this is something people do.  But I can’t say I’ve ever been involved in the grace-saying process.

“David is Jewish,” Ari tells her parents to explain the baffled look on my face.

“Oh!” Linda’s face reddens.  “Oh, I didn’t realize.  I’m sorry, David.  Is there a Jewish grace?”

Maybe.  I’m not much of Jew either.

“The boy’s a heathen,” Mr. Rhodes mutters under his breath but loudly enough that we can all hear.

Shit.  This isn’t going well.

“I can say grace,” I say.  How hard can it be?  I bow my head down with the rest of it, trying to remember what I’ve seen in movies.  “Thank you God for this bounty before us. And… um, thank you for making the chickens that died to make this roast chicken.  And thank you for making the potatoes and the people who dug up the potatoes.  And the people who dug up the carrots.  And also thank you for bringing me to Ariel, who brought me to the house for this bounty.  And also, it’s a really nice house.  So thank you, God, for making the house.  And the people in the house.  Um… Amen?”

Holy shit.  That was the worst grace ever. 

“Let’s eat,” Mr. Rhodes says.

I’m two bites into my mashed potatoes when Mr. Rhodes says, “David, you ever been hunting?”

Is he kidding me?  Do I look like someone who’s ever been hunting?  I shake my head no.

He points his fork on my direction.  “You know how to fire a gun?”

This time Ari laughs out loud.  Thanks, honey. “No, sir.”

“How does someone not know how to fire a gun in this day and age?” Mr. Rhodes snorts. 

I don’t know what he’s talking about.  In this day and age, when every meal I eat is purchased at a restaurant or grocery store, my building has a doorman, and the British aren’t all up in my face, why would I need to fire a gun?  What good would it do me? 

But I say none of that.  Instead, I just shrug.

“What if someone were pointing a gun at you and it was either you or them?” he challenges me.

“Daddy, quit it,” Ari says.

“It’s a natural question to ask,” he says.

I’m not sure what to say.  As much as I want to be a tough guy in front of the man who could very well be my future father-in-law, I think that bird’s flown the coop.  “Nobody ever taught me,” I say.

Mr. Rhodes gives me a long, hard look.  “Tomorrow morning,” he says.  “Early in the morning, before anyone else is up, you and I are going hunting together.”

Shit, this was his plan all along, isn’t it?  The asshole is planning to take me to a deserted area and hunt me.  That’s surely what he’s going to do.  This is all a grand scheme of his to hunt the most dangerous prey of all—humans. And of course, he’ll kill me immediately because I don’t know how to hunt or shoot or fend for myself in the wilderness and also I’m in a fucking wheelchair.

Or else he’s just going to make me feel like an idiot for not knowing how to shoot a gun.  Either way.

“Eric was a good shot,” Mr. Rhodes comments.

Right.  Eric.  The guy who came before me.  I still can’t figure that one out.  The guy was rich and athletic and seemed to be crazy about Ari.  But she dumped his ass, and it had nothing to do with me.  She never explained it to me, but it worries me that if a guy like that wasn’t good enough for her, how am I supposed to be good enough?  Just the thought of it makes me sick.

“Ariel tells us you’re a teacher,” Linda says, deftly changing the subject.  “That’s so lovely!”

I smile at her.  “I enjoy it.”

That’s an understatement.  I freaking love my job.  I know they say a lot of teachers get burned out, but that hasn’t happened to me.  Okay, there are bad days and challenging students and frustrating bureaucracy and all that crap, but for the most part, I look forward to every single day of work.  I’ve gotten best teacher awards five times in the eight years I’ve been doing this, so I’d like to think it shows.

“It doesn’t bother the kids that you’re…” Mr. Rhodes waves at me. “Handicapped?  Is that what you like to be called?”

I let that comment slide.  Of all the synonyms out there for being disabled, “handicapped” is my least favorite.  But I don’t want to correct the guy.  “I think it’s good for them to see that even with physical limitations, you can still work in any career you want.”

He snorts.  “Well, not any career you want.  You couldn’t be… a construction worker.  Right?”

“Daddy, you’re being rude!” Ari snaps at him.  Except he’s right.  I can’t be a construction worker.  “Anyway, David’s a really good teacher.  The kids love him.”

Mr. Rhodes looks me up and down.  “How do you reach the blackboard?”

“Actually,” I say, “there’s a female teacher who’s only a couple of inches taller than I am in my chair.  And I’ve got a longer armspan. I got a stick with an eraser at the end of it so I can erase the top of the board if I need to.”

I got that device at the end of my second year teaching, after some kids wrote swear words at the top of the blackboard, rightfully predicting I’d have trouble erasing them.  You always gotta be one step ahead of those kids.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Linda says.  “I’m sure a lot of people in your situation would just lie in bed all day, collecting money from the government.  But you’re out there every day, just like normal people!  I don’t know how you do it.”

She smiles at me, really pleased with herself.  Ari looks irritated, but I don’t care.  She means well, at least. 

We manage to get through the rest of the meal with minimal grilling from Ari’s dad.  At least the food is good.  I barely have room for the apple pie that Linda brings out at the end.

“That was delicious, Mom,” Ari tells her mother as she stands up from the table.  She picks up a few dishes to help clear them. 

“Yeah, that was a really great meal,” I say to Linda.

She beams at me.  “I’m so happy you liked it.”

Ari and Linda disappear into the kitchen with dirty dishes and utensils.  Mr. Rhodes gets up from his seat, but I’m still glued to mine.  My wheelchair is still in the corner of the room, where Linda left it.  I can’t move until someone brings it to me.  I should have said something to Ari before she ran off.

I look at the kitchen door.  Maybe she’ll come out soon.  There are still plates on the table.

“You want to watch the game?” Mr. Rhodes asks me.

I don’t know why he can’t see my dilemma.  He was intensely aware of my disability the whole night, yet now he thinks I can follow him to the living room without a problem, despite the fact that I’m obviously not in my wheelchair.  Or maybe it’s only obvious to me.

“Um,” I say.  Christ, this is awkward.  I look at the kitchen door again—where the fuck did they go?  “I need my wheelchair.”

At first he can’t figure out what I’m talking about.  Then he sees my chair in the corner of the room.  He frowns.  “How the hell did it get over there in the first place?”

“Your, um, wife put it there.”

He rolls his eyes.  He goes over to the chair and wheels it back over to me. When it comes close enough for me to grab it, I feel intensely relieved.  My relationship with my chair has gone through a lot of stages since I got injured.  When I first got hurt, I hated the damn thing and the way it limited me and set me apart.  Now I think of it as practically part of me.  I don’t like being out of it—ever.  I know it sounds dumb, but I even sometimes wish I could sleep in it because what if I got burgled during the night?

Any olive branch Mr. Rhodes was trying to extend to me gets broken in half though.  As soon as I’ve got my chair, he takes off in the direction of the living room without me.  I could still join him, but I sense I probably shouldn’t.

Ari emerges from the kitchen—too late—to retrieve more dishes.  She smiles at me.  “Are you having a miserable time?”

I keep my mouth shut.  I’ve learned the lesson about never badmouthing your girlfriend’s parents years ago, no matter how blatantly they seem to hate me.

To be continued...

The New Boyfriend, Part 3

Linda

Goodness, Ariel certainly seems to like this young man.

I can tell by the way she’s humming. For my daughter, there is no surer sign that she’s in love. Even when she was only five years old, I was certain she had a crush on little Ryan Denning by the way she’d hum in the back seat of the car on the drive home! Of course, then it was tunes that I could recognize—now I’d be hard pressed to identify a song from the radio, aside from one or two songs from that nice Taylor Swift.

Ariel hums as she helps me with the dishes. I have not asked her to help me, but bless her heart, she knows that my arthritis has been acting up lately in my fingers, so I don’t refuse her help. Also I worry about that poor young man of hers all alone with her father. I hope Rick isn’t giving him too hard a time.

“So you’ve been with David for… eight months now?” I ask her. I try to sound casual, because Ariel most certainly doesn’t enjoy being grilled about her love life. God forbid I should say the M word! Or suggest that at thirty-one, I’d already given birth to her. And it wasn’t as if I had an easy time of it. I tried for five years to get pregnant before I had Ariel, and then could never manage to do it again.

A secret smile spreads across my daughter’s face. “Yes. Eight months.”

For as long as I can remember, Ariel has had a penchant for handsome young men. Not that Rick is ugly by any means, but I’d daresay I’ve never dated a man as physically attractive as some of the boys my daughter has brought home! That Eric especially was quite striking, with the blond hair and the cleft in his chin. He looked just like a young Robert Redford. Don’t tell Ariel, but I actually felt my heart speed up a bit when he shook my hand.

Rick adored Eric. The two of them talked about guns and hunting, then watched football together. If Ariel didn’t want to marry Eric, I think Rick wanted to adopt the boy! And he spoke so well. If Eric had wanted, he could have won the election for President of the United States.

But you know what the funny thing was? The whole time when Ariel was visiting with Eric, she didn’t hum once.

And now, one year later, here she is with David.

I won’t lie—we were surprised when she mentioned that he was one of the handicapped. I’m not so naïve to think that people with disabilities don’t have needs of their own, but somehow I thought they would date other people with disabilities. That makes more sense, doesn’t it? Or perhaps a very homely girl who was desperate might date a boy in a wheelchair. But certainly not my beautiful Ariel.

Now that I’ve met David, I understand though. Perhaps he’s not Robert Redford, but he’s still quite handsome. And when he looks at my daughter, I can tell how much he likes her. I never saw that with Eric. Eric seemed more interested in himself than anything else.

“So things are serious with this boy, then?” I ask her.

“Oh, Mom!” she laughs. “Why do you always call them ‘boys’? He’s not a boy, you know. He’s thirty-two.”

Thirty-two seems like a baby to me now. She may as well tell me he’s two. “You’re changing the subject, Ariel Marie, and you know it.”

She can’t quite wipe the smile from her face. “It’s getting serious, yes.”

“Does he feel the same way?” I ask her.

“I think he does,” she says softly.

Rick won’t like this at all. He was raving about how Ariel could have the nerve to “bring home a cripple.” I was holding my breath through the whole dinner, hoping he wouldn’t express his thoughts out loud.

But even if Rick won’t support Ariel, I will. I’ll be at her wedding to this nice young man. I would love for David to be my son-in-law. And maybe they can finally make me some grandkids.

***

Rick is trying to read the label on one of his bottles of pills. I recently convinced him to start seeing a doctor regularly again, and now he blames me for the fact that he carries a diagnosis of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He takes one pill of one and two of the other, but the bottles are identical, so Rick has to read the label to know which is which.

Unfortunately, my husband is badly in need of reading glasses. He is holding one of the bottles at arm’s length, squinting as he tries to make out the writing. He needs longer arms is the problem.

After several minutes of this, Rick thrusts one of the bottles in my direction. “Which one is this?”

“Lipitor,” I read off the bottle.

Rick nods as if he knew it all along! Honestly, I don’t know what he’d do without me.

“Linda,” he says. “Where’s that cup I had on the sink?”

“I washed it,” I tell him.

Rick’s face screws up. “Why would you wash it? It was clean!”

“Rick, it was covered in grime.” That cup was sitting on the sink for at least two weeks. I had hesitated to wash it for just this reason. “I didn’t want you to get sick drinking from that cup.”

“Well, you didn’t put a new one here,” he pouts.

I sigh and wipe a glob of toothpaste off the edge of his jaw. “I’ll get you a new cup, sweetie.”

I can tell Rick feels guilty that he’s sending me downstairs to the kitchen, so he quickly adds, “You should have replaced the cup when you took it.”

And I suppose he’s right.

I carefully walk down the dimly lit carpeted stairwell to the first floor. On the way to the kitchen, I pass by the den that converts into a guest bedroom if needed. When we bought this house, I liked the idea that there was a potential bedroom on the first floor, given that Rick and I aren’t getting any younger. Who knows when one of us will have a stroke and need a bedroom on the first floor? It was good luck that we had it ready, since David can’t possibly get up the stairs.

I notice the door to the bedroom is slightly ajar. I don’t mean to peep, but I can’t help but my eyes are drawn to the opening as I walk by. And I see the two of them—David and my daughter.

They’re not doing anything illicit, thank goodness! Naturally, I don’t have any delusions that in this day and age, my unmarried daughter has had intercourse with several men, David surely among them. It bothers me when I think about it, so I banish that idea from my mind. But nothing of the sort is happening in there now. David is sitting in his wheelchair and Ariel is on his lap, her arms around his neck, and they’re kissing.

No, they’re not just kissing—they’re necking. David’s hands are sliding up Ariel’s back and she’s got fistfuls of his hair. I’ve caught my daughter kissing boys before, but never with quite so much… gusto. I hear her moan slightly and he pulls her tighter. The passion emanates from them so strongly that I can almost feel it in the hallway.

I can’t remember the last time Rick kissed me like that. It’s been years. Goodness, maybe even since before Ariel was born. Married people don’t kiss that way. Or at least, these married people don’t. I suppose somewhere there are two married people who might kiss that way. Who knows—maybe Ariel and David will someday.

It is the first time in my life that I can ever remember feeling jealous of my daughter.





Richard


You learn a lot from a person when you go hunting with him.

You can tell how impulsive they are by how quick they pull the trigger. You can tell how smart they are by where they position themselves to watch for prey. You can tell how patient they are by how long they’re willing to wait out in the woods just for the chance to catch one buck.

We haven’t even gotten to the woods yet, and I already know all I need to know about this kid Ariel brought home. And I don’t like any of it.

First, he doesn’t know how to shoot in the first place. I ask you, what kind of grown man has never shot a revolver? You tell me.

Second, when I wake up at five in the morning to get ready to hunt, he isn’t even awake yet. He’s still sound asleep in his cozy little bed. And when I went into his bedroom and told him it was time to go, he looked at me like I was the crazy one. That’s a laugh.

Third, before he even got in the car, he started spraying himself down with bug spray. Bug spray? What kind of a man carries around a spray bottle of bug spray? He offered me some and I considered taking it just so I could toss it in the trash.

Fourth, the kid can’t even walk.

I could deal with his inability to shoot, his sleeping in, and the bug spray, but I don’t know what my Ariel is doing with a man who can’t even stand up. I didn’t think I brought her up to respect a man like that. Fine, she can donate money to one of those charities that helps people with disabilities. The telethon that Linda is always watching on PBS. That should be enough. She doesn’t have to date the guy.

His wheelchair is in the back of my truck while we drive to a clearing where we can go hunting. I got a treestand all set up, but it’s plain that David isn’t making it up there unless I carry the boy on my back. So we’re going to find another place to hunt. We surely won’t bring home any deer, but at least I’ll see what this kid is made out of.

“You really never shot a gun before?” I ask him. I can’t get over it. What’s wrong with this kid?

David shakes his head no. “Never. My parents… they didn’t believe in guns.”

“Didn’t believe in guns!” I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Is he the son of a couple of hippies? “How can you not believe in guns? The right to bear arms is our second amendment right. It’s in the constitution. It’s our goddamn right to have a gun to shoot animals and to protect our families.”

“Yeah,” David says.

He looks like he’s got more to say, but he doesn’t say it. So I say, “What? You think we shouldn’t be allowed to have guns?”

“No!” He shakes his head emphatically. “I’m just saying, I’m not sure guns make you more safe. You know that if you have a gun in your home, you’re more likely to shoot a family member than shoot an intruder.”

“Liberal bullshit propaganda.” Jesus Christ, that Ariel really knows how to pick them. Bad enough the boy can’t shoot, but he doesn’t even believe in it? “That’s not true at all.”

David looks out the window, and finally just says, “Yeah. Maybe you’re right.”

And now I respect him even less. Can’t even stand up for what he believes in.

We pull up to the clearing in the woods that I was told had a path to an area that was good for hunting. Not only can’t David get up in the treestand, but he can’t hike through the heavy woods either. Useless. I had to ask around at the general store to figure out a place I’d be able to take him. I had to tell them that my daughter was bringing home a boy in a wheelchair. They all looked at me like they felt real sorry for me.

I have to get David’s wheelchair out of the back of my truck. I can tell we’re higher up than he’s used to and he’s slow and careful about getting back in his chair. I gesture at the clearing. “You think you can manage this?”

He looks at the clearing than back at me. “Yeah, probably.”

He’s able to manage it, but just barely. I can see him struggling with each yard we travel. It’s a smooth path, but there are stones and branches and… well, shit, it’s the woods. But we manage to make it to the area that my buddy at the store described. When I tell David we can stop, he looks relieved.

“All right,” I say to him. “You up for shooting a rifle?”

“Yeah,” he says, but I can tell he means no.

I think the easiest way to learn to shoot is flat on your belly on the ground, but I can tell that’s not happening with this kid. Instead, I hand him my rifle and show him the proper way to hold it. I can see right away that he wasn’t lying about never having shot one of these things before. He’s having trouble holding it the right way, and when he practices aiming, he’s shuts his left eye and squints with his right.

I remember taking Ariel’s last boyfriend out hunting a year ago. Eric. Now that was a standup guy. A real man. Unlike this loser. Eric knew his way around a gun and he wasn’t a great shot. We stayed in my treestand for two hours together, not even talking once. And we brought home a buck—bigger than any I’d landed in years. It wasn’t my fault that the sight of the deer made Ariel cry. Eric thought she was being ridiculous too.

I fix David’s grip on the gun. “Keep both eyes open. You’ll aim better.”

David opens his other eye, but he still looks scared shitless.

“Squeeze off a shot,” I tell him. He hesitates and I say, “Go ahead. Do it. Aim for the oak tree just ahead.”

His finger rests on the trigger. After several seconds, he pulls it. The shot resonates in the air, scaring away any bucks that can’t already smell us, considering the wind is taking our scent right to them. The shot actually hits the tree, which is surprising.

David gasps at the kickback. My rifle has a hell of a kickback—bad enough that when my buddy Bill borrowed it a few weeks back, he complained about a bruise on his shoulder after. David rubs his shoulder as he lowers the gun. I watch him, knowing whatever hurt he’s feeling isn’t a tenth of the hurt I’ve been feeling since my only daughter brought him home.

“You hit the tree,” I tell him, in case he’s blind also.

“Yeah.” He smiles crookedly. “I played a lot of shooting games when I was a kid.”

I don’t roll my eyes but I’d like to.

I take the gun back from David. I didn’t need to take him on this trip because I want to figure out what he’s like. I don’t care what he’s like. I just want him out of my daughter’s life.

“Tell you what, David.” I look him in the eyes. I know the kid’s a high school teacher—he can’t have much money. “I’ll give you ten-thousand dollars if you break up with Ariel.”

David’s mouth falls open. “Wh… what?”

It’s not enough. I hope I didn’t ruin the whole thing by lowballing him. But while we’re well off, we’re not rich. “Make it fifteen-thousand.”

He’s shaking his head. “Mr. Rhodes…”

Christ, what’s it going to take to get rid of this kid? “Twenty-thousand. Take it or leave it.”

He doesn’t answer at first. I take that as a good sign. When he finally speaks, he says, “Does this usually work?”

I hear a dog howling in the distance. “Sometimes.” My right hand grips the gun. “You know it’s going to end anyway. Just take the money.”

He shakes his head again. “I’m not going to break up with Ari for twenty-thousand dollars. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. That’s life.” He looks me in the eyes. “But I’m hoping it does work out. Because… I love her.”

“You love her,” I snort. “Boy, you don’t even know what love is.”

“I think I do,” he says. “And with all due respect, sir, if she stays with me, I’ll treat her really well. I’ll take good care of your daughter. I promise you that.”

“Someday you’ll regret not taking the money,” I grunt.

“I will never regret not taking the money.”

David is still looking me in the eyes. I remember Eric’s eyes—blue and cold and hard. David has kind brown eyes. It’s probably something Ariel likes about him. It makes me hate him just a tiny amount less.

I sit down on a tree stump next to David. He shifts in his wheelchair, but he doesn’t say anything. He’s said all he needs to say, I suppose.

“If we saw a buck,” I say, “would you have shot at it?”

David eyes the rifle in my hands. “No.”

Well, at least he’s honest.

I sigh and lay the rifle on the ground. “You healthy, at least? Aside from… well, the obvious.”

“I am,” he says. “I play basketball twice a week at the gym. I’m pretty good, actually.”

I snort. “Basketball. That’s not a game. Football—that’s a man’s sport.”

He smiles crookedly. “Well, I watch it.”

That’s a start, at least. “What did you think of the Superbowl this year?”

He thinks it over then shakes his head. “Can’t believe the Patriots took it. I’m thinking at halftime, when they were so behind, Tom Brady went and deflated all the balls.”

I can’t believe I’m actually laughing. The kid’s got a sense of humor. Well, fine. Maybe he’s not so bad. Maybe I can live with him dating my daughter. Looks like I’ll have to, because twenty-thousand bucks is my upper limit.




Ariel

There’s a part of me that’s worried David will come back shot dead from the hunting trip with my father.

I think it’s unlikely. Very unlikely, even. But possible.

So it’s a relief when my father’s truck pulls up to the house and they’re both alive and well inside. And it’s also a relief that there’s no bloody deer in the back of the truck. My father never hunted when I was a kid—this is a new things he’s taken up in his retirement years—and I can’t wrap my head around him bringing home dead animals. All I can think about his Bambi’s mother. Poor Bambi. That’s such a sad movie.

But they come back and not only is David alive, but they both seem to be in good spirits. It’s a miracle.

David’s wheelchair is in the back of the truck with the rest of the hunting gear. I grab it for him because I know he can’t reach it himself. I put it down beside him, but he needs a little extra time to make the transfer because the cab of the truck is so high. He has to do it in two parts, resting his butt on the edge of the truck before he lowers himself into the chair. “Remind me not to buy a truck,” he says.

“Trucks are cool,” I say.

He rolls his eyes.

I look over at my father, who is grabbing his gear from the truck. “How did it go?” I ask him.

Dad shrugs and smiles over at David with what almost looks like affection. I can’t believe it. Maybe David’s the one who killed my father and brought back a robot version of him. “The kids not a bad shot,” he says.

I raise my eyebrows at my boyfriend. “Is that so?”

“Sure. Don’t you remember how I killed all those dinosaurs in that Jurassic Park game we were playing at the mall?” He grins at me.

I laugh. “Oh, right.”

“You were terrible though,” he says. “If dinosaurs were loose in your apartment building, you’d be in big trouble.”

“I tell Ariel she should come with me to the gun range,” Dad says, warming to this game. “But she won’t do it.”

“Come on, Ari,” David says. “You should do it. Dinosaurs could be on the loose.”

“Or aliens could attack,” my father adds.

“Next time,” David says, “we’ll go to the shooting range.”

And my father looks the happiest I’ve seen him since I told him that Eric and I were done.

When my father goes into the house, I’m left alone with David outside. He’s smiling up at me, and I want to crawl into his lap, but I’m afraid of undoing all the good work he did on that hunting trip. But then he opens up his arms and I sit down in my favorite spot.

“There will be a next time, right?” he whispers in my ear.

I kiss his neck. “There will definitely be a next time. But next time, we’re spending the night in the same room.”

He nods. “We can broach the subject.”

I wrap my arms around him, resting my head on his shoulder. “I thought there was a decent chance my dad was going to try to shoot you during that trip.”

He laughs as he holds me closer. “I can’t say the thought never crossed my mind.”

“Or, I don’t know,” I say, “bribe you with a big wad of cash to break up with me. Or something clichéd like that.”

David laughs again.

“I think you might consider it.” I poke him in the arm, loving the feel of his firm biceps. “If he offered you, like, five-thousand dollars to dump me. You might do it.”

“I might,” David says thoughtfully. “Five-thousand bucks is a lot of money, you know. That’s three months’ rent.”

“Oh my God!” I say. “You’d trade me for three months’ rent?”

“It would be tempting,” David teases me. “Unless, of course, my rent went down because, you know, I had a roommate…”

I pull away from him. The laughter has faded from his face and he’s staring into my eyes. My heart is pounding. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying…” He bites his lip. “Move in with me, Ari.” He adds, “Please.”

I don’t even have to think about it. After all, I’ve already got a drawer and a toothbrush there. And my current roommate is a total slob. “I’d love to.”

He kisses me in a way that makes me hope my parents aren’t watching from the window. But it doesn’t matter. There are going to be a lot more kisses between me and David they’re going to have to watch in the future.

Maybe even one at the altar.

THE END

Our Choices

I think that was a tough decision last time, huh? It's not going to get easier with this one. Thanks for your feedback and thanks for playing! This is episode 10 today!

Your Choice: "Don't let him in."


Have a great weekend!
Lovis
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