Monday, July 31, 2017

Between the Pages: Chapter 13

Happy Monday, friends! I'm back again this week with chapter thirteen of Between the Pages. Thank you to everyone who read and everyone who commented last week. I love knowing people are reading and enjoying my stories...and I like to know if people aren't too! So thanks both ways.

This chapter was originally going to be longer, but I decided to cut it down and make it mostly steam instead. *grins cheekily* Because of that though, it is a bit on the short apologies, but I promise to make it up to you guys soon!

Hope y'all enjoy. :)

Chapter 13
Updated Table of Contents

Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Beginnings Chapter 29

Hi my friends,
Thursday again and NB time.
I know the story right now is keeping Anna and Shane separated by the circumstances they are in. Amidst the chaos and heartache Anna is trying to put together her life and she misses Shane very much. Things are only slowly getting better.
Thanks for everyone who is still reading. I know the story right now is not about being devy with everything going on but I really appreciate everyone still reading and following along. You will be rewarded. Thanks for coming along so far.
I give you Chapter 29 of New Beginnings where Anna is picking up the pieces.
Hugs, Dani

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!


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,

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.


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 :)

(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.



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"'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...

Excerpt: The Girl I Didn't Marry

Prologue: 2009


Cops make me nervous.

I see the officer from all the way across the night club—he’s not dressed in his usual uniform of the sky blue dress shirt and navy blue slacks, but I recognize his bald head and black goatee from seeing him on his neighborhood beat. I know all the cops around here by sight. They come to my club a lot, and I make sure they have a good time. A really good time.

There’s no reason to think he’s here to shut the club down. There’s even less reason to think he’s going to arrest me. But still, I’m nervous. I don’t want to end up in jail. My father and my brother have been there before, but not me. Not yet.

“Can I get you another drink, Mr. Moretti?”

I look up at the pretty waitress standing in front of me. Her white-blond hair hangs loose around her shoulders, and like all the other girls in the club, she’s dressed in practically nothing. A tiny string bikini bites into the curves of her white thighs and pushes her tits together and up in the air. Not much is left to the imagination.

“I’ll have another beer,” I tell her. I nod in the direction of the cop, “And give my friend over there another of whatever he’s drinking. Tell him it’s on the house, courtesy of Nick Moretti.”

The waitress nods and hurries off, eager to please. I’m not just her boss—I’m her boss’s boss. And I bet she’s sick of waiting tables and wants more than anything to get up on the stage. Maybe she sings. Or maybe she dances—she sure got the body for it.

I loosen my tie with my thumb so I can breathe easier. It’s warm in the club and I think about taking off my suit jacket, but I leave it on. This suit cost more than any waitress here earns in a month and I don’t want it wrinkled. I always take my father’s advice:

You dress important and people treat you like you’re important.

I always listened to Pop’s advice. I still do, even now that I’m more successful than he ever was.

Only a few minutes later, the waitress is delivering a drink to the off-duty cop. I watch her gesture in my direction. This is from Nick Moretti. He owns this place. And by the way, a bunch of your buddies are probably on his payroll.

I don’t know what she’s saying, but a few seconds later, the cop smiles in my direction. He raises his drink as the overhead lights glint off his bald scalp. I nod in return, not letting on the relief I feel. The cop’s not here to take me away—not today, anyway.

“Here’s your beer, Mr. Moretti.”

The waitress plunks another Guinness down in front of me, the condensation glistening on the bottle. I look up at her and she winks at me, her eyelashes thick with mascara.

“You can call me Nick,” I tell her.

“I’m Bonnie,” she says.

It might not be a sexy name, but she’s a sexy girl. Young, pretty, and eager to please. And I can’t help but notice she doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. She lingers by my table, her eyes trained on mine.

“When’s your break?” I ask her.

“Right now.”

I nod at the empty seat to my right. “Would you like to join me, Bonnie?”

“I’d love to.”

Bonnie comes around the table, but instead of sitting down, she puts one of her long, thin hands on the place where my neck meets my shoulder. She rubs a muscle I didn’t even know was tight till she got her hands on it. She leans in so that her lips nearly touch my ear and murmurs, “Maybe I could sit with you, Nick?”

I grab the wheels of my chair and roll myself away from the table, providing access to my lap. Bonnie’s lithe little body slides onto my legs, and I put my left arm around her waist, drawing her closer to me. I can’t feel the weight of her hips on my legs, but I feel her skinny arms wrapping around my neck, I feel her lips pressing against mine, and I feel her tongue penetrating my mouth. She’s got some tongue, this girl. I bet she’s great in bed.

I already know how this will go down. I may just be a schmuck from Brooklyn, but I’m no dummy. Bonnie will make out with me for a while, then we’ll go back to my place or maybe the back room, depending how much time is left on her shift. And after that, she’s thinking I’ll be so grateful that she can hit me up for whatever the hell she wants. She’s thinking she should be rewarded handsomely for making out with the guy in the wheelchair.

She has no clue who she’s dealing with.

I know how to deal with Bonnie, just like I know how to deal with cops. I know the right things to say to keep girls like Bonnie happy—most of the time. I can handle her. It’s no problem.

But somehow today, the thought of it exhausts me. I’m sick of every time I kiss a girl, having to wonder what she wants. They all want something. Every goddamn one of them.

Except Jessie. She wanted me for myself.

Bonnie shifts on my lap and my right leg suddenly goes into spasm. It surprises her enough that she stands up, her eyes widening as she watches the way my leg jumps up and down on the footplate on its own volition. The first time my leg did that, I had a similar surprised reaction.

“What are you doing?” she asks, because she has no idea I can’t control it.

“Gimme a minute,” I say through my teeth. My Brooklyn accent is almost undetectable except when I’m agitated or with old friends from the neighborhood. I worked on getting rid of it during my years at an Ivy League college followed by Harvard Business School. But it’s still there, under the surface, waiting to show everyone who I really am.

I readjust my leg, hoping that will do the trick. The spasm subsides and I let out a breath. But when I look up at Bonnie, I can see her enthusiasm has waned. She’s got a tiny crease between her eyebrows.

“Are you going to be okay?” she asks, like she thinks I’m gonna drop dead any second.

“Fine,” I mutter. I can barely look at her. “You should go back to work though.”

Bonnie hesitates for a moment, then nods. I watch her tight little ass disappear in the other direction, but I don’t feel any regret about sending her away. I don’t want her. Not really. It would have been fun—not gonna say it wouldn’t. But it would have just been a distraction from the only girl I really want.

The girl I blew forever with.

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