Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Table Of Content


 
Lauren and Patrick. Art by Rowan

 
       Chapter 1
       Chapter 2
       Chapter 3
       Chapter 4
       Chapter 5
       Chapter 6
       Chapter 7
       Chapter 8 
       Chapter 9

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 1


Some people have the gift to make an entire hall fall silent.
 
I’m proud to say I can do the same. Only I‘m none of those people you’re probably thinking of.

Of course it would be kind of great if it were my stunning looks that make people stop talking mid-sentence or the beauty of my smile causing them to stare wide-eyed. Sure, I try to keep my appearance as immaculate as is possible. Which isn’t easy in fact if you don’t clothe yourself in the morning, shave your own face or brush your own hair. And yes, I’ve heard a few times that I have a sunny smile (mostly from women over fifty, though). But no, I don’t think any of that applies here. I’m pretty certain that those rows and rows of mostly middle-aged, gray-faced men in dark, pin-striped suits aren’t turned toward me now in almost perfect silence because of my style in clothing. Neither is it my voice, because I haven’t spoken yet and I don’t really plan to.

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!

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 2


Lauren and I are alone now and I got to admit I grow a bit nervous, busying myself with the talker. I type with the knuckles of my right hand, by leaning my fist to the side from the position of the joystick. I can only reach half of the screen that way and need to scroll through some of the alphabet to type anything. The word prediction algorithm is a blessing.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 3


I know that while most people might be fooled, Romina isn’t so easily deceived. I don’t know if she suspects that there’s something going on between Lauren and me but I’d bet my right arm she will soon. 

And my right arm is my good one, in case that may not have been obvious to you.

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.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 4


Berating myself for wallowing in self-pity, I dedicate myself to the task of making Lauren laugh a few more times before I have to leave, just because she looks beautiful when she does. She throws her head back, squeezes her eyes shut while her shoulders jump and her uninhibited laughter is loud enough that people turn their heads around to us.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 5



Romina returns after the time it would take to blend every single dessert in the entire dinner hall. She places the glass on the table and comes around to me, businesslike, hooks her arms under my shoulders to pull me upright, tightens the strap over my chest and puts my right hand next to the joystick again, like she does countless times a day. Her face is carefully guarded while she works with me, then, without a word, she sits on Lauren’s abandoned place, looks from me to Lauren and finally moves the glass with the dessert over to me with a questioning quirk of her eyebrows.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 6



I briefly debate imitating the jackasses from dinner and letting the rest of the conference slide to have more time to spend with Lauren the next day. However, I have a few important meetings to attend in the morning and discussion rounds I can’t miss, and Lauren has appointments too, she explained. So we simply exchanged numbers and decided on a time when she’ll pick me up at the hotel.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 7



“That’d be 11.50 for you, sir,” the lady behind the counter says in a voice that is flat with boredom. She doesn’t look at me, though, instead she talks to Lauren who is standing right next to me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 8



When we exit the museum we still have another hour to go until the taxi will pick us up, and Lauren and I decide to have coffee in the museum’s cafeteria. It’s a glass building tacked into the side of the concrete museum building with a narrow door that I navigate with gritted teeth. The sleek metallic counter is very high and there’s a queue of people in front of us, so I can’t possibly read what is written on the chalkboards behind the counter. Lauren bows down to me and reads the menu to me. I appreciate the effort but unless I ask her to negotiate with the chef about getting me a blended cake or something I won’t really eat anything here.

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.

Lobster, With A Straw - Chapter 9



“Is Romina waiting inside?”
 
I nod.

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!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Consolation Prize—Chapter 20


Nora took off to her family’s house the next day. Her parents had moved out to Costa Mesa in California, so she booked her ticket, took the bags she packed the night she found the key, and boarded a plane—just like that. She had taken a leave of absence from work and hadn’t booked a return trip. Her life was falling apart, and she was running. It was something Scottie was eerily familiar with.

The initial earthquake might have been over, but Scottie had a feeling that the aftershocks had just begun. Cory’s secret would come out—Scottie was hellbent on that—and Nora was walking a tightrope over a breakdown—it was only a matter of time before she got tired of keeping her balance.

Hugging her tightly, Scottie inhaled the herbal scent of her hair. She’d washed it before confronting Cory the night before—the first time in seven days—and it was tied up in a messy knot on the top of her head. Despite her misery and dark circles, she still had the look of a beautiful person, the scaffolding of attractiveness firmly in place. No amount of emotional trauma could wipe that away.  

But seeing the pain in her glassy eyes, when Scottie slammed the cab door and watched the yellow car disappear down the street, was like swallowing nails. Her guilt was at an all-time high and it was threatening to lite her up from the inside out. The farther away Nora was right now, the better. She’d have to tell her eventually. Will as well. But right now wasn’t the time. She needed answers first. Pulling her long sweater around her against the chill, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and inhaling like someone who’d been starved. It was her first sober cigarette since college. Taking another drag she closed her eyes and hardened her resolve. She knew what she had to do.

<> 


SCOTTIE: Are you home?

She sent the text without looking at the screen, pressing the gas of Will’s car flat against the floor and accelerating like fire through the light at the Holland tunnel. Will had removed the hand controls for her when she’d called him at work and asked, trying to keep the desperation in her voice at bay, to borrow it. They were currently jostling around in the back seat.

She had insisted on picking him up on her way back through the city, but he was adamant he would just meet her at home. There was an accessible subway station not too far from his office…according to him. Part of her didn’t quite buy it, but she didn’t argue. Will had seemed wound tight and tense when she’d met him in the lobby of his building. She’d assumed she’d have to go up to his floor to grab his keys, but he’d intercepted her like a bad pass. It was as if he couldn’t wait to get her into the car and out of his sight. It made her pause, but not stop. He was probably still frustrated with how she’d acted last night, and she couldn’t entirely blame him. She had been stone cold, barely able to look or speak to him after she’d pieced together the identity of Angela K. King. Every time she opened her mouth she was worried word vomit, or worse, actual vomit, was going to pour out, ruining his pants, shoes, wheelchair, and their relationship. 

Will kissed her like he meant it as she zipped her coat back up and leaned down to him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. The smell of him was comforting—masculine and clean—like a bar of soap. She didn’t know what she was going to find but she tried not to show how nervous she was. She’d lied and said she needed to see a storage facility for the stuff in her family’s apartment she couldn’t take with her but didn’t want to get rid of. He didn’t ask for much clarification past that, and Scottie wondered if he believed her at all. She watched him wheel his way back to the elevator, pressing the button and running his hands through his hair as he waited. Biting her lip, she took off down the sidewalk to his blue Volvo.

But driving back to the city, her heart was in her throat. She could feel herself shaking slightly as she tossed her phone into the open cup holder and reached for the XL 7/11 diet Coke. The bubbles were flatter than she wanted. She ached for the kind of carbonation that almost hurt and pricked her throat all the way down and cursed 7/11 under her breath. Fuckers. If she wasn’t behind the wheel of a car she’d be drinking tequila—that much she knew.

Her phone pinged almost immediately, and Cory’s name lit up the screen as she gazed sideways, slowing down at another light. She reached for it and opened his message, feeling a bit sick. She swallowed to keep the bile down.

CORY: Yes, I am.

He typed quickly as the three dots appeared again just as the light changed. She hastened the car and her pulse. She was ready to jump out of her skin. Everything swirled in her brain, words fuzzy and intangible. She took a deep breath and focused on the road ahead of her. Passing the gas station and the Holland Hotel, she imagined that people were in those rooms—with an hourly rate for convenience—doing exactly what she and Cory used to do. Again, her stomach churned and threatened to empty its contents all over the dashboard. Her phone buzzed again and she glanced at it carefully, keeping her eyes on the road as much as possible.

CORY: Want to come over?

He had sent it with bated breath, unsure of what she wanted. Of course, Scottie couldn’t have known that. Because it was typed, she couldn’t see his uncertainty and more importantly, his twisted hope that she was coming over for what he’d been wanting ever since she took off for the west coast. He may have lost Nora but he knew she’d come back eventually. As for Scottie, he thought he’d lost her to Will, and he had a really hard time comprehending how a guy who’s dick probably didn’t even work could keep a woman like Scottie. According to this text, it seemed, he couldn’t after all.

SCOTTIE: I’m on my way.

<> 

Before she found herself speeding up the West Side Highway to Cory’s apartment, Scottie had gone for an unannounced visit to the home of Angela K.King, or Kristin as she now knew her. She’d spent most of the night, while Will’s chest rose and fell in the comforting rhythm of sleep, on her laptop in the corner of the bedroom, scouring the internet for an address. She finally scraped it out of a news clipping from five years ago.  

Kristin and her sister lived in Orange, New Jersey, and ran a tattoo and piercing place out of their home. They’d turned the garage and the downstairs into a parlor. The clipping had a picture of the two of them—both blonde, Kristin considerably more attractive than her sister Hayley—posing outside the small house they shared, beaming at the camera. It made Scottie feel icky knowing that she was about to just show up at their doorstep, but she didn’t let her resolve weaken. This wasn’t about her anymore.

She’d parked Will’s car in their driveway, slamming the door, her sneakers scraping across the asphalt badly in need of repaving. It looked like the shop was open, but the cold was intense, and there was no life outside. She’d squinted as she approached, hoping to catch something through the windows. The lights were on and then she’d seen it—a flash of movement. Someone was home. Zipping her coat up to her chin, she’d sped up, jogging the rest of the way to the door. She couldn’t tell if it was the front door to their house or the front door to their business. Maybe they were one in the same? A deep breath. A mental reset. A brief knock.

She’d chewed on her lip as she waited, moving her feet around in her boots just to keep herself from bolting. Her heart was pounding hammer hard when the door had clicked open. A blonde woman in a sweatshirt, light jeans, and bare feet stood there with a cigarette hanging out of her lips and a baby propped up on her hip. The baby had been crying, fresh tears soaking her cheeks. She sniffled once and stared at Scottie, her blue eyes startling. Scottie looked down immediately before she could picture Will’s blue eyes looking up at her, his rough hand reaching for her own, his lips brushing her neck. Then she immediately thought of the hunch Nora had about a secret child. This baby couldn’t be it, right?

“The entrance to the tattoo shop is down there,” she said flatly, a thick Boston accent weaving its way over her words. Scottie nodded twice, thrusting her hands in her pockets, moving her feet back and forth against the cold.

“I’m actually looking for Kristin,” Scottie answered, her voice conveying more confidence than she felt. She brought her eyes up to look at Hayley. She wasn’t the Hayley from the newspapers. Her face was wrapped with lines, especially around her eyes and mouth. Her hair was dreary, dry, and dyed an unnatural blonde.

“Oh,” she cracked, cocking her head and looking Scottie up and down. “Fine,” she acquiesced, stepping to the side to allow Scottie into the house. Scottie stepped over the threshold and onto the thick carpet that went wall to wall. It smelled like cat pee and the shades were drawn over the two windows in the living room.

“Kristin?!” Hayley shouted, her voice scraping like a car tire over gravel.

“Yeah?” A response came, muffled and far away.

“You’ve got company,” she shouted again, inhaling on her cigarette and bouncing the baby up and down on her hip. “I’m sure she’ll be down at some point,” she offered vaguely, waving her cigarette wielding hand above her head. She nodded once and turned left, sauntering out of the room, leaving a trail of smoke behind her. Scottie took a deep breath and hugged herself, almost wishing she was still out in the cold as she heard footsteps taking the stairs two at a time.

And all at once, there she was, the beautiful woman who had driven her out of Royal Palms in one full swoop. Her throat was tight as she took her in. The same woman with soft blond waves and dark green eyes that sparkled and creamy pale freckle-free skin stood before her in grey sweats and a white t-shirt. She was considerably shorter than Scottie though, and in this grey light, without Will’s hand in hers, there was something slightly off about her face and the way she carried herself. She wasn’t quite as beautiful as Scottie had remembered. A bitterness came out of nowhere in her mouth and she cringed reflexively. It didn’t go unnoticed.

Kristin took a step toward Scottie slowly, confusion knitted in her features then as she crossed her arms, the pieces seemed to click together slowly. Her expression went from confused to guarded in a matter of seconds.

“You’re here about Will Nash, aren’t you?” she asked, words cautious. Scottie took a deep breath and nodded.                

“Uh huh,” she answered quietly, never letting her eyes leave Kristin.

“Cory warned me you might show up,” she said flatly, narrowing her eyes slightly and biting the inside of her cheek. “He told me not to tell you anything.” Scottie didn’t speak. She didn’t even breathe. The silence between them was loaded and highly combustible. It stretched on for what felt like a full minute, but then Kristin let out an exhale and shook her head wearily, as if all of a sudden, she was completely exhausted.

“Come on into the kitchen. I’ll make some coffee. You’ll want to sit down for this.” 


<> 

Will pushed himself through the locker room of the gym a few blocks from his apartment. He felt like a caged animal and needed to blow off some steam. His quads were spasming from the tension and frustration, but Will didn’t move to massage them. He had to work out his frustration by pushing himself to the limit. Emerging into the main floor of the gym, he looked around. It was relatively quiet, and he slid comfortably into the rhythm of metal clanking on metal as he found the free weights. It was inevitable that he would get a strange look here and there. People didn’t expect people like him to workout, to push his fractured body in the ways he still could. It was as if they were seeing a fish out of water, but he’d gotten good at ignoring them. His workout was just that—his.

He’d taken off from work early after he’d blown up at Emily on the corner of Wooster and Houston. He couldn’t believe some of things he had said. They’d been in a meeting with a potential client. And, like it was with most things, there had been a half-second, when he’d been introduced as the creative director on their project, where Will had seen a flicker of confusion. He found this to be one of the most tiring things of all. People were afraid of people with disabilities, and whether it was their ignorance or self-congratulatory pity, Will had to constantly prove himself. He had to prove that his life still had worth, even without his legs. He had to prove his opinion was as valid as anyone else’s. He had to prove that his brain was in complete working order, even if his lower half refused to listen to it anymore. Although, he had spent quite a bit of time questioning his judgement in light of the nightmare that Emily had become.
                 
He’d nailed the presentation they’d planned, and sitting around the table, discussing the logistics of a partnership, he’d felt as if they’d completely forgotten that he was sitting not in an office chair, but in a wheelchair, and that was a victory. Until he looked down and saw Emily’s hand resting on his knee. Furthermore, she’d pulled his right foot off of his footplate and had slipped out of her shoe, her left foot rubbing up and down his leg. Will felt suddenly ill, wondering how long she’d been touching him without his knowledge, the violation of it all visceral and all consuming. Calmly, he reached down and grabbed her hand hard, moving it away from him, while trying to concentrate on what the client was saying. He didn’t want a scene. He wanted to fucking disappear.

Wheeling and weaving through the weight machines, Will found the chest press, loaded the right amount of weight, parked and locked his chair, and transferred onto the narrow bench. It had taken some practice to get the hang of that particular transfer, considering how narrow the seat was, but he’d spent years doing it. At this point it was second nature.

As he leaned back and pressed the bars forward, letting out a whoosh of air, he remembered the doctor telling him that one day, he simply wouldn’t think of himself as able bodied anymore—that being in a wheelchair would be normal. At the time he’d scoffed, angry at anyone and anything in his path, especially someone telling him he could still lead a full life from a sitting position. Then he’d be reminded of the bitter truth that he had no one to blame but himself. He’d driven off the road and into the ditch. And then he’d try to remember what had happened only to come up with nothing but a blank screen.

But sitting there, feeling the sheer power of his upper body, contrasted with the emptiness and stillness of his lower body, it did feel admittedly normal. He couldn’t remember what it had been like not to see a wheelchair waiting patiently by his side wherever he went. He couldn’t remember what it felt like contract the muscles of his leg to take a step.  

And what pissed him off, was that Emily had taken advantage of that comfort, that self-confidence, that acceptance in who he was in this body. She’d known he wouldn’t feel it if she nudged his leg under the table. She’d taken advantage of him, and of all places, an arena where he’d finally found comfort and pride.

He could barely stop shaking as he shook the client’s hand, a phony smile plastered on his face as he and Emily walked them to the elevators. The second the doors closed he rounded on her, trembling with hurt and betrayal. She stared at him blankly and crossed her hands over her chest, refusing to acknowledge that she’d done anything wrong.

It was hard enough working for someone he’d slept with who clearly was still working out the nuances of how that kind of relationship could slide back down the relationship scale from personal to professional, but working for someone who had lost all respect for him both as an teammate and as a person? She’d not only compromised his physical and psychological comfort, but she’d compromised his presentation, his client, his work as a whole. And Will was absolutely not going to put up with it. His resolve was hardening, a decision being made—if he wasn’t fired over what he’d said to Emily, then he’d quit.


<> 


Kirstin was focused on pouring cream into her coffee. She’d brought out two heavy mugs, one plain white one with a considerable chip in the side, and the other from a diner called “The Prestige Diner.” That was the mug she handed Scottie as she sat down with heaviness, groaning resignedly. She stirred the spoon round and round absently, while Scottie took a sip of hers, black, the edges clinking against the ceramic. The refrigerator hummed quietly as Scottie waited for Kristin to speak. She didn’t for a long time, and Scottie grew impatient.

“I just want to clear up that this isn’t about an affair, really, is it?” Kristin shook her head in shame, pursing her lips.

“And that baby? Not a secret love child of yours and Cory’s?” Scottie continued harshly but with conviction. Kristin shook her head again, this time, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Great,” Scottie retorted, “glad we cleared that up.” Scottie took another sip of her bitter coffee and leaned back in the kitchen chair to listen. Kristin didn’t speak right away, but when she finally did, her voice was strong, but small—an odd combination. It was as if she was trying to justify what she was saying, but also acknowledge that she’d fucked up considerably.

“I want you to know that I did love Will…” she started, catching herself and correcting her statement. “I do love, Will.” Scottie furrowed her brow and crossed her arms. Kristin refused to look at her, instead focusing on the skin around her left pinky nail.

“I was taking on student loans. I wanted to get my degree. I had something not everyone had. I was smart. I wanted to dig myself out of the life I’d grown up with. I thought Will would give me that. And maybe he would have. But I was also 19. I’d been brought up hard in a rough neighborhood in Boston. My parents were fuck ups. There was always something going wrong. I was exposed to lot of drinking. Sex. Drugs.

“And rock and roll?” Scottie snapped, immediately regretting her tone and intrusion. “Sorry,” she muttered lamely to herself, staring down at the mug of steaming coffee. Kristin just stared at her for a minute then huffed an exasperated breath.

“I don’t have to tell you anything,” she replied sharply.

“I know,” Scottie hedged, “I’m sorry.” Kristin narrowed her eyes and turned, looking out into the frigid yard. Dead grass gave way to one bare spindly tree. The desolation of the scene punched Scottie in the gut.

“Cory offered something Will didn’t. Will was always so…so safe. So…strong, and so stable. He gave me this kind of stability that I’d never ever had. But he was always so serious, so….genuine.” Scottie swallowed hard, hating the peculiar and uncanny reflection of herself she was seeing in this woman.

“Logically I knew Will would make me better. He’d make my life better. But Cory, well…he was rich. I’d never been with someone who had money like that. He’d take me to nice dinners. We’d sneak around. The sex was aggressive and rough. It was what I was used to. Sex with Will…well, it had never been like that.” Scottie bit her tongue so hard she tasted blood. Her vision was blurry and spinning, and she knew that if she opened her mouth she might just scream.

“The night Will was paralyzed…” Kristin continued, taking a deep shuddering breath and pressing her face into her hands. Scottie wanted to shake her but she rung her hands out in front of her instead. “Cory and I had snuck upstairs. We were at a party in New Hampshire. I’m sure he’s told you this part…”

“He has,” Scottie agreed, trying to keep her voice neutral, but it was proving incredibly difficult. “But I came all this way to hear your side of the story, remember?” Kristin sniffled and pulled face out of her hands, revealing blotchy skin and haggard eyes. Scottie knew with one look that this girl had been through hell in her life. A kindred spirit of sorts.

But then Kristin took a deep breath, opened her mouth, and told her side of the story. 

"I had a price," she murmured more to herself than to Scottie.  

And before Scottie knew it, she found herself doubled over in that frigidly desolate lawn puking up that bitter black coffee.

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Consolation Prize—Chapter 19

It had been two weeks since Nora moved into Scottie’s family’s place in the West Village and Scottie, afraid to leave her alone for too long, had stayed with her every night—at first in the same bed, then she slowly began moving to the other room. Nora was fragile and needy, like a little kid who was afraid of the dark. 

Scottie also began to notice her old ways creeping back in. Over the years she’d gotten quite good at building walls, quickly and efficiently. Somehow, Will Nash had passed right through everything she’d work so hard to construct, but now, as things trembled, precarious and breakable, she was back to stacking bricks. She was harboring so much fear for what was about to happen since the other shoe had yet to drop. And from Scottie’s experience, the other shoe always always dropped. There was no chance of it not dropping. The dread crept over her like a cancer, choking everything else out. 

Nora had confronted Cory the day he got home from his trip, barely sane, barely dressed, and definitely not sober. She insisted on going to their apartment, but Scottie had insisted that Cory come to them. Nora was in no state to traverse public transit on top of the fact that she refused to wear anything but the ratty white robe Scottie had found her in that first night. And, like a tried and true cheater, Cory denied it until he didn’t have a voice left. It wasn’t until Nora showed her hand that he went silent, cold, and pale. He wouldn’t tell her anything about the checks, Angela King, or a secret baby. He clamped down, shuttered the windows, and closed for business. He told Nora not to come home or call back until she’d worked through, what he called, “her own issues.” Then he got up, buttoned the grey peacoat he had refused to take off upon arrival, and unceremoniously walked out, slamming the door behind him, and took the 1 train home. 

Nora screamed once and pounded her fists on the threadbare table until she had nothing left, letting her anger dissolve into quiet fraught sobs,  her arms covering her face, electric red hair sticking to her wet cheeks. 

But Nora didn’t go back home. She didn’t call. And she didn’t try to work through her own “issues.” She could smell the lies hanging off his skin and that odor would kill her if she gave into him, so she mostly drank. 

Scottie, consumed with her own fear, the kind that gnawed on her day in and day out—especially during those cold nights without Will by her side—eventually broke her down. She worked up the nerve to call Cory on a frigid Wednesday when Nora was deep in a Valium induced all-day nap. Will had promised to stay over that night, despite the apartment not being quite ideal for him with its small bathrooms, single steps between rooms, and tight doorways.  But Scottie missed him terribly, even if she was folding in on herself, and a tiny part of her was feeling like maybe, just maybe, things wouldn’t blow up in her face. 

Cory had answered on the first ring, saying her name in the throaty way he used to when they were seeing each other, dragging the “ie” out a little longer than normal. The familiarity of the sound left her shaken and thrown for a dizzied loop. 

“As long as you don’t tell her, I won’t tell her. There’s no point in ruining what we’ve got.” His voice was breezy—too breezy—and it made Scottie buzz with anxiety. 

“But she already thinks you’re cheating on her,” Scottie pressed, worried that Cory would crack under Nora’s diamond strength pressure. 

“And I’m not,” Cory insisted, and weirdly, hearing it from his own lips, Scottie believed him. She’d seen him lie plenty, and it struck her hard as a brick wall that he seemed different. If he was lying, he’d certainly changed his tactics. 

“So, what are those checks, then, Cory?” Scottie asked, hopeful that she might be on the precipice of a truthful answer. He would be honest with her right? After all they’d been through? There was some kind of twisted pride in hoping he was loyal to her over his wife. The line was so quiet she thought he might have hung up. “Cory?” she asked the void. 

“I can’t talk about that,” he answered finally, in a voice that sounded entirely unlike his own. 

“But,” Scottie pushed, a frustrated breath blowing through her lips. 

“I can’t,” he barked, “and if you press this, I will tell her.” 

“Cory,” Scottie shouted, the apartment feeling suddenly dark and cold around her, her voice echoing around the cardboard boxes she’d started to pack. 

“And him,” Cory continued with ice, “I’ll tell Will.” Scottie’s entire body felt numb and unwieldy. She sunk down to the wood floor, a car rattling down a hill with broken brakes, cradling her face in her free hand, burrowed in a stunned silence as the line callously went dead. 


<>


Will buzzed the apartment and did a quick weight shift as he waited for Scottie to let him up. The double set of doors—heavy, old, and dusty—weren’t easy for him to maneuver around, especially with the pint-sized vestibule, but he could do it with concentrated effort. Exactly what he wanted to do after a long day he thought as he exhaled a frustrated sigh. Scottie had been so distant with him the last two weeks and it made him nervous.

 The wind whipped around him for a second and he shivered, leaving the band of hyper-sensitive skin right above his hips—where normal sensation trickled to a drip then disappeared completely—exposed as his shirt lifted slightly. At the chill it almost seemed to snap, crackle, and pop like the cereal he loved so much growing up. 

Finally came the unmistakable hum, and he pushed hard on the door, struggling to push his chair over the bump while keeping it open. He wasn’t able to scoot into the tiny room enough for the door to close behind him, so the wind followed him in as he pressed the second door open against the suction effect that was taking place. He’d already broken out in a sweat, and the combination made him feel chilled and clammy. 

Once he was safely inside the building he took a deep breath and fixed his legs. They’d gotten jumbled in the clamor of beating the end of the buzzer. He couldn’t help but notice that the lobby had once been beautiful, with carved wood molding and original mosaic tiled floors in black and white. But it needed a good cleaning—dust hung like icing in every nook and cranny. Just a little bit of attention would go a long way. 

Will couldn’t help but think the same thing as he pulled the creaking grate open for the elevator. It was from God knows what year, and it didn’t inspire a ton of confidence as it groaned slightly when he rolled on. He eyed the stairs wistfully for a minute as the door closed. Pressing Scottie’s floor, he closed his eyes and offered a silent plea to get him to the 6th floor. He’d hate to plummet to the basement and die in this sad little elevator all alone. He tried to force himself to laugh it off, but the slight nagging that it wasn’t totally impossible made the sound catch in his throat. It came out sounding like some kind of strangled cat. He hadn’t been this anxious to see her in a long time. All the while, the elevated ticked up, passing each floor painfully slowly. At six, the heavy windowed door slid open and will undid the latch on the grate. He’d made it. Now he just had to make it back down. 

In all of their time dating, Will had only been inside Scottie’s family’s apartment twice before. He knew it was hard for her to be there, and with his wheelchair, it just made so much more sense to spend time at his apartment. But because of the limited exposure, he wasn’t sure what to do when he got to her door. He didn’t have a key, and knocking felt formal, but barging in felt too comfortable. He decided to try the door, and finding it unlocked, he nudged it slightly and stuck his head in through the opening. 

“Scottie?” he asked tentatively, suddenly afraid he might have the wrong apartment. It was 6H right? Now he wasn’t so sure. 

“In here,” her familiar voice came, it was muffled and slightly thick, like she was, or had been, crying into a pillow. Will bit his lip and rolled over the threshold, worried at what he might encounter. He went back and forth a few times over the doormat to try and get some of the slush off his wheels, but knowing she didn’t really care allowed his attempt to be acceptably half-hearted. 

“Hi,” he said softly as he appeared in the kitchen doorway. Scottie was sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and drinking something that was decidedly not water. Will was unsure what to do when she didn’t turn and acknowledge him. She just stared straight ahead, green eyes fuzzy, glossed over, and detached, right arm wrapped around both of her folded legs. She was resting her chin on her knees, and taking another long drag, she turned her head slightly and smiled weakly at him. 

“Hi,” she practically whispered. Will wheeled closer to the table, narrowly fitting in the space between it and the kitchen counter. He rolled right up to her, his knees bumping her toes, curled over the edge of the seat. 

“What’s on tap?” he asked playfully. She laughed, and it was genuine, her oddly pale cheeks flushing with color for a second. He could tell she was embarrassed for him to find her in this state. 

“Cigarettes,” she quipped, inhaling and flicking the ash directly onto the table. 

“I didn’t realize you smoked,” he replied, cocking his head. He’d seen her smoke outside of bars when she’d been drunk, and just as he was nudging that thought, he realized that the reason she was smoking now was that she was drunk. And if she was already drunk then that meant she’d probably been drinking for quite a few hours. 

“And tequila,” she offered, her breath heavy with it as she reached for her glass and took a sip. Will gently eased the glass out of her hand and put it back on the table. 

“How about some food?” he asked. She shook her head once, her stubborn nature taking the reigns as she took another puff of the cigarette and blew the smoke out of the side of her mouth. 

“How was work?” she asked, leaning back in her chair and eying him like she was really seeing him for the first time. 


“Oh well, you know, it was fine,” he replied, rubbing the back of his neck and offering a half smile. Emily had slipped quite naturally into the role of a woman scorned, and she’d taken to dipping in and out of a professional persona to keep Will on his toes—metaphorically at least. He was exhausted from trying to distinguish which Emily was going to greet him in the morning, or which one was going to lead their weekly creative meeting, or which one he’d encounter in the kitchen around lunch. He was beginning to suspect that maybe it was time to look for another job, and he had no one to blame but himself. He’d been imprudent to think that it wouldn’t get complicated between them. When he got involved with her his self-esteem was pretty much circling the drain. He was coming off Katie which had been him coming off Kristin, and he was entirely shattered. He went into their tryst a broken man, and she’d latched on to his weakness, and though he had plenty to thank her for, he didn’t realize until they were finished, that she’d molded him into exactly what she’d needed. He was just a lump of clay. 

He just had assumed that because Emily was married she was settled, and that had been possibly one of the most naïve assumptions he’d ever made. A woman cheating on her husband—regularly—with a younger, admittedly vulnerable, employee of hers screamed anything but settled. Being married didn’t mean shit, really. Nora and Cory were living, breathing, crumbling proof. 

Scottie knew, even in her blurry state, that Will was being deliberately vague, but she barely had the energy to analyze her own feelings, so she couldn’t possibly take his on, too. Despite that though, it was nice to see him. His face immediately calmed her, his voice kept her thoughts from getting out of control, and his touch, well, that was what really made her forget. Leaning toward him, she callously snuffed her cigarette out on the table that her grandmother had had for over 60 years. His lips met hers and he was deliciously fresh to the tequila and tobacco tinged musk that was lingering in her mouth. He kissed her back gently at first, but the more she pressed him, the harder he kissed her back, the desire absolutely buzzing between them. 

“Scottie,” he whispered pulling his mouth back from hers just slightly. Their foreheads pressed together, his slightly crinkled. “You’re drunk.”

“You’re drunk,” she teased, falling back into him, climbing from her chair clumsily right onto his lap, looping her legs around his barely-there backrest and lower back. His strong hands slid up her shirt searching for her bra. Lucky for Will, she wasn’t wearing one. Smugly she leaned back and ran her hands through his thick hair as he held her securely in place against him. Releasing one hand, he reached for her glass—still half full—and emptied it in two big sips. His face contracted like he’d just sucked on a lemon, and he sputtered for a second, shaking his head. 

“Yikes, that really was just tequila,” he said friskily. 

“I’m not a liar, Mr. Nash,” she retorted, winking as he worked one of her boobs out of the v-neck of her sweater. He took it in his mouth, nipping at it carelessly. She arched her back and groaned, desperate to feel him inside of her. It was making her dizzy. Or maybe that was the tequila. Or maybe it was both. 

“Tell me Nora isn’t coming home soon,” Will asked, his lips still on her nipple, the vibrations of his voice on her skin sending shudders through her. 

“She’s busy confronting Cory again,” Scottie whispered, easing herself off of him and stepping back toward the hallway. She reached for his hand and pulled him toward her, a show of aggression. An unreadable expression fluttered over his features but then disappeared behind a crooked grin. 

“Are you taking me to bed?” he asked suggestively. 

“Yes,” she answered simply, squeezing his hand gently at first then harder. There was something unnerving her under her skin. The old Scottie seemed precariously close. Swallowing hard she forced a smile. Will was studying her and if he saw anything wrong then he didn’t let on. She silently praised herself for her performance. She still had it. 

“You better not be teasing me,” he chided 

“As I said before, I’m not a liar, Mr. Nash.” 

And with that, she pulled him into the hall and sauntered down toward the bedroom that she’d loosely claimed at her own. It used to be her grandma’s, and like an onion, it held layers of bad memories, heavy with a terrible stench and the ability to make her cry without warning. She bit back the anxiety that was filling her up, a faucet that never ran dry. She needed Will to fuck her senseless so could stop the tinny rattle in her head. 

There was a thick patterned rug that covered almost the whole bedroom, and instead of thinking about Will and the obstacle the ugly thing would be for him, Scottie was enraptured with the recollection of lying in the middle of it, singing to herself to drown out the yelling in the living room. She must have been 12 or 13, and her mom was using again—not like there was ever much time between the bouts. She’d showed up at the apartment, Scottie and Sara in tow with dirty clothes, dirty faces, and empty stomachs. Their grandparents had taken them in and for the first time, actually attempted to get custody of the girls. 

It didn’t take. Their mom had them back out the door before the paperwork could be filed, disappearing in the middle of the night like a common thief. A lump formed in Scottie’s throat as she stood there feeling every bit the little girl that had laid on this rug years ago. 

“Hey, Scottie,” Will’s voice came out of the echoing void in her head and it startled her. She’d forgotten she wasn’t alone. His tone was clipped as she turned to face him. He was pushing hard across the rug, moving but slowly.

“Maybe we should roll this up?” he offered. Scottie looked at him with a confused expression on her face, and he couldn’t quite read it. She looked down at his feet then back up to his face, her features rearranging to irritation and, could it be, a flicker of anger? 

“Or maybe we leave it where it is,” she snapped, turning toward the bed and sitting on the edge carefully, hauling in a labored breath. Will visibly recoiled at her manner. He had never seen this side of her, and they’d been together for almost 6 months. Frustrated he couldn’t get to her faster, he pushed himself over the rug, arms straining slightly. His head was swimming from the double shot of tequila.  

“Sorry,” she whispered, barely loud enough for him to hear. 

“Are you okay?” he asked when he finally got to the side of the bed, his unfeeling knees brushing against hers. She nodded once, but wouldn’t look at him directly. 

“Scottie?” 

Her eyes were full and glassy, but no tears escaped. She wiped at the sides absently and sniffled once. And then, as if a switch had been flipped, she jerked her head up and took his face in her hands, eyes smoldering.

“Fuck me, Will,” she whispered, sliding her hands down his neck and over his shoulders. She pulled him toward her and he laughed and reflexively pulled away. There was some kind of desperate etching in her face and he didn’t know what to make of it. 

"Ok,” he replied, as sexily as he could, contending with the unsexy fact that he had to excuse himself to cath so he wouldn’t wet the bed and take a pill made for dirty old men who couldn’t get it up anymore. 

But this was Scottie. He had to remind himself—this was Scottie. He’d just never seen her quite this demanding—quite this frenetic. 

“Just give me a minute, okay?” he murmured as he leaned back to let her kiss his neck. Nipping his ear he heard a shadow of a groan as she processed what he said. She leaned away—leaving his face exposed and cold—and threw herself back on the bed with a sigh. Her arms were stretched out above her head and she stared blankly at the ceiling. 

“I’ll be here,” she replied, words sliding into each other with disappointment. She needed her mind blank and she didn't want to have to fucking wait for her boyfriend to fuck her. Will bit his lip and took a few quick breaths, edging himself back across the rug slowly, as the ghost of his perceived inadequacy rose up to meet him with vigor. 


<>


Scottie laid against Will’s chest, stretching the small red rubber band—the one that had been on his cock only a few minutes before—between her long fingers. She sighed through pursed lips louder than she meant to, cringing when she realized how it had come out. She felt Will tense underneath her.  

He stuttered out an ungainly apology through panting breaths. 

“It’s okay,” Scottie whispered feebly, holding the band taught and tracing circles on his muscled stomach. There was something fragile about Will that she hadn’t seen in a long time. His confidence was shaken, and Scottie felt a hot clammy shame roll over her as she realized it was partially, if not all, her fault.

They’d gotten all worked up when he’d come back into the bedroom, undressing each other with a kind of ferocious hunger. Will had worked his pants over his stubborn legs, and pushed himself over her, his strong arms stone pillars, while she bucked underneath him. She was breathing heavily, and the heat was building between her legs as he slipped two fingers into her. A gasp escaped her lips and she closed her eyes, caught up in her own pleasure. With Scottie clinging to him, arms wrapped tightly around his chest, he scooped her up and expertly flipped onto his back so she was on top. He untangled his legs while she kissed him across his collar bone, down his chest, over his stomach, and then skating through the invisible line, leaving him breathless, and taking him in her mouth. 

After a few minutes of stimulation and the pill taking effect, he was finally hard. She stroked him vigorously, a wicked smile playing across her lips as she slipped the rubber band down to help maintain the length—a little trick they’d learned and used before. 
Will grabbed her hips and pressed her down over him, sending shivers through her, her hands turning into claws against his chest. 

But the pleasure that had come fast and frantic evaporated almost instantaneously as he shrunk inside of her, slipping out in a crumbling heap. Will, who couldn’t feel his erection deflate spectacularly, kept guiding her hips up and down and she bent forward on aching knees, lifting herself up and rolling off of him. He pushed himself up and looked down to see his penis—uncooperative, soft, and infuriating. 

“Let me just try again,” he offered through hurried breathing, reaching down to get a reflex erection going again. Scottie never had been an optimist, but she pushed herself back up and on top, only find the erection slump against her leg like wet spaghetti. 

Again, she slid off of him, removing the rubber band in the process. Will felt like he might throw up looking down at himself. He could practically grab the frustration radiating off of her. 

For Scottie, the disappointment startled her. She’d never felt this way with Will before. Sometimes the sex was wonderful and perfect, and other times it ended like this and they continued on anyway with something else. Will was particularly good at cunnilingus. But there was something distinctly different this time, a heavy thickness between them, that hadn’t been there before. 

Scottie found herself wishing he could fuck her—really fuck her. Fuck her the way that J.J. used to fuck her, the way that Cory used to fuck her. She wanted to be thrown up against the wall, pressed down onto the bed, fucked on the kitchen counter. And then she started to shake, the nausea at her own frivolity and twisted need threatening to choke her. The memory of J.J. slipping into her without asking heavy and stick like honey. Yet here she was, wrapped up in a cyclone of primal need and profoundly unresolved psychological pain and she wanted someone with working legs and a working dick to fuck it out of her.

As soon as the thought had come it was flushed out by the new Scottie, the one who knew that Will was everything she wanted and everything she needed.

But this revelation about Cory from Nora had left her shaken to the very core. 

Perhaps it was the slowly hardening reality that she hadn’t been enough—for anyone. She hadn’t been enough for J.J. and she hadn’t been enough for Cory. She’d always thought of them as co-conspirators, despite the awful truth of what they were doing to Nora, and it was sexy and intriguing and wildly fun. But now, it seemed, both J.J. and Cory had been conspiring behind her back. She felt like a downright fool, the fervor of it real and rising in her cheeks. Her face was suddenly hot with the realization that she wasn’t enough for her father either. 

So, why would she ever be enough for Will? She didn’t want to be left again. She couldn’t take it again. If anyone was going to do the leaving, it would be her. But she wasn’t there, was she?

Sitting up, she pulled her legs tight to her chest and hugged them. 

“Scottie,” Will whispered, pulling himself into a sitting position. He could taste his embarrassment and it was bitter. Why would he ever be what she wanted? He felt so incredibly stupid for thinking he could make a beautiful, funny, smart, madly engaging woman like her satisfied. His dick would never be the same as it was before, and though he’d intellectually realized that, he felt the loss in an overwhelming wave looking at her huddled next to him.  

“No,” she replied quietly, “I’m sorry, I’m just really out of sorts.” 

“I can tell,” he said, scooting closer to her, draping his arm over her, trying to table his humiliation for the moment—for her sake.

“I just can’t get over how you can love someone like that, and, and, and…” Scottie stumbled, losing her words and grasping as if they were floating in front of her. “It’s all a lie.”  

“It’s scary,” Will appeased her, “but it’s Cory. It’s not me.” Will rubbed her back and Scottie shivered from head to toe, the remorse at not disclosing her relationship with Cory coursing through her violently. The time for that had long passed, and now she had this crushing secret on top of this crushing insecurity. If only he knew how narrowly he was skirting the truth. 

“I’m so sorry I can’t be more for you,” he apologized, the ache of pain and sincerity threaded in his words cut her deep, breaking something inside of her. She didn’t need to be fucked the way that Cory and J.J. had relished. She might not have been enough for them, but she was enough for Will. She needed him—it was a simple as that. Of course, sex with him was different, and he’d told her that from the very beginning, and that was okay. 

"Will," she whispered, shaking her head against him. "You don't need to be anything more than you are for me," she managed to get the words out of her mouth as she wavered, fighting the sob that was rising in her chest. He didn't say anything, but he traced the line of her jaw with the side of his thumb and ran it over her lips. She kissed it softly as he slid back down her smooth skin. She hated herself for making him feel inadequate. Snuggling closer to him, the balminess of his chest radiated through her and she swallowed the tears that were bubbling up inside her.“I’m just so pissed at this Angela woman. I can't stop thinking about it,” Scottie hissed, practically spitting her name. 

“That’s who he’s cheating with?” Will asked. Scottie nodded, and Will visibly shuddered. She had shared almost no details with him, a combination of trying to respect Nora’s pain and self-preservation. “That’s Kristin’s first name. She never went by it, but every time I hear it I think of her,” he said simply, shaking his head as if to physically clear her image from his mind. Scottie softened slightly, and leaned into him harder. He wrapped her in his strong arms and held her tightly. Scottie played with a piece of her hair as Will hugged her closer. The tequila buzz had tapered off from a dizzied frenzy to a softly thudding headache. 

Pulling her back down onto the pillows, he kissed her on the top of the head and ran his hand through her hair. He decided, as he looked down at her, to let today go. He just wanted the Scottie he'd fallen in love with, and he was sure she'd come back to him. He wouldn't scare her away. He wouldn't spook her. 

“Fucking Angela Kristin King,” he mused absently and laughed a breezy laugh, the sound which—so utterly and blissfully naïve—sent Scottie spinning. She sat up sharply, as if she’d put her hand in an electric socket. The very air around him seemed to shimmer.

“What’s wrong? Everything ok?” Will questioned, sitting up slightly, worry rumpling his features. She forced a laugh out of her mouth, but it sounded metallic and fake. Her whole body felt numb and her ears were ringing as if she’d just experienced an explosion. She was disoriented and dizzy and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she couldn’t tell him. 

“Fine,” Scottie choked out. Then, taking a second to compose herself and smooth out the edges of her voice, compressing her panic as much as she could, she tried speaking to him again. This time her voice sounded so calm and placid, she would have sworn that it belonged to someone else. “Fine, everything’s fine.” 

Mr. Nash, she’d become a liar.