Thursday, June 21, 2018

Update to the Consolation Prize

Hi everyone! 

Quite excited to share this week's chapter with you. It's another long one! Please leave comments—can't wait to hear your thoughts. 

Chapter 3 

Table of Contents 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

Hope you're still enjoying this story, even after you know what Bailey did to Noah.  This is, in my opinion, one of the devvier chapters in the story, in which they all go swimming....

Chapter 11

Table of Contents

The live version of the book is going up in the next week or so, so I still have time to incorporate suggestions if you have any!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Update to The Consolation Prize

Hi everyone! 

Happy Thursday. This week we finally get to see Scottie and Will meet for the first time. I'm super excited to hear your thoughts—enjoy!  

Table of Contents 

Chapter 2 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend... the chapter you've been waiting for

So you've all been waiting very patiently to find out what happened between Bailey and Noah all those years ago to piss him off so much.  Well, here it is, the final flashback:

Chapter 10

Table of Contents

I wrote and rewrote that flashback chapter like a million times, so any feedback would be appreciated!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Update to The Consolation Prize

Hi everyone! 

I hope you'll are having a good week. Thanks so much for all of the comments on the prologue. Excited to post the first chapter and looking forward to hearing what ya'll think. 

Enjoy! 

Table of Contents 

Chapter 1

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

For those of you who were hoping to see Bailey finally stand up to Noah and tell him to quit being a jerk, this week you get your wish.....

Chapter 9

Table of Contents

As always, feedback is welcome.  Oh, and next week you get to find out the truth about what happened ten years ago.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Consolation Prize

Hi everyone! 


I've been a reader here for a while, am a copywriter by day, and have been writing fiction on the side for as long as I can remember. I finally worked up the nerve to share with ya'll. Excited to hear if ya'll like it, and please don't hesitate to offer feedback (both positive and constructive). I don't want to give too much away, so here goes nothing. Thanks for reading! 


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Nerve Interpreter, final chapter

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 - end

--

Thank you so much to all for reading along, and for the lovely comments (and for being patient with today's late post).

I'm going to take a two-week break, and then come back with more Shadowboxing (whew). And do let me know what you thought of this "genre" of dev story (I think of it as mundane sci-fi :) ) - I'd be very interested to hear what folks thought of the execution, whether you'd be interested in seeing more, if there are any particular assistive tech scenarios you've ever mused about, etc.

Cheers!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

Due to popular demand, I'm doing a Memorial Day weekend update to the story :)  This is actually one of my favorite chapters and gives more clues to what happened to Noah and Bailey in flashback form:

Chapter 8

Table of Contents

Also, as you could see, I will change things based on YOUR feedback.  So feel free to say what you like and don't like!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend!

In this chapter, Bailey and Noah end up getting a little more alone time.  Please enjoy!!!

Chapter 7

Table of Contents

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend here in the states.  How many of you will be around if I post an update?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Between the Pages update

Happy (free) Friday to everyone!

Yikes. It's been quite some time since I've posted on here. I've had some free time in the last few weeks...and I used it to catch up on some writing. I haven't forgotten about this story (or any of my others), real life has just been incredibly demanding lately. If there is anyone still following this story, I hope this update makes you happy!

I'm posting on Free Friday because although I have three more chapters written, I don't know when I'll get a chance to post them. I hope this tides you all over for a little while though.

Happy weekend and happy reading.

P.S.: If there's anyone new interested...check out Between the Pages from the beginning! 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Book! 25 Candles

I promised you guys a midweek surprise and here it is.  The third installment of Dean and Callie's story, in which they finally turn up the heat:


Callie is turning 25 years old.

It’s the first birthday she’s ever had where she’s been in a serious relationship. Her boyfriend Dean is everything she’s ever wanted in another human being. And all she wants for her birthday is…

Him.

Alone.

All night long.

Dean is crazy about Callie. He’s never met anyone like her before, and he wants nothing more than to grant her birthday wish. But ever since the accident that landed him in a wheelchair, things aren’t that simple…


Get 25 Candles on Amazon now for 99 cents!

This book is all about Dean and Callie having sex for the first time.  It's kind of graphic, very sexy, and super devvy.  There's even a huge wheelchair basketball scene. I hope you guys like it!!!!!!

(And if you haven't already, check out the other two books in the Dean & Callie series: Santa Crush and Valentine's Date Disaster.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New story: The Nerve Interpreter

Hi all, I'm back, but interrupting myself with a new, shorter story - I needed a change to regain momentum. This will be three or four chapters long (just need to decide how I'm going to divide up the ending), and will give me time to figure out how to wrap up Shadowboxing.

The romance element to this one is pretty subdued; the focus is on the protagonist's relationship with his disability, and on a near-future science-fictional concept for assistive technology - one of several that I've been mulling over lately.

I do hope you enjoy!

The Nerve Interpreter: Chapter 1


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

In this week's chapter, we finally find out what happened to Noah all those years ago....

Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Also, the mid-week surprise will be THIS week. Wednesday or Thursday!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

So it's Sunday, which means another update to Bailey and Noah's story.  There's another flashback in here, although I did end up cutting one.  I didn't want it to be out of control long.

Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Also, for any fans of Dean and Callie's story, I've got a little mid-week surprise coming up for you guys next week!  So stay tuned....

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

No Shadowboxing... still

Popping in to say I'm still on hiatus; sorry all. Work is just throwing one thing after another at me.

Chapter 13: Killing Time till the Day of Execution (in which Asher dealt with nightmares and lovingly judgy best friends)
Table of Contents

I hope everyone is well, and enjoying Annabelle's new story.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

Welp, it looks like I'm the only one posting a story right now.  For that reason, I decided to make this chapter a little longer than I originally intended.

Last time it was revealed Noah is a double above knee amputee, and he isn't getting along any better with Bailey.  See if things improve in...

Chapter 4

Table of Contents

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

No Shadowboxing this week

Apologies, all - I'm still underwater with work, guests, etc.

Thank you for the supportive comments, and again, here's the last chapter + ToC in case you'd like to catch up:

Chapter 13: Killing Time till the Day of Execution (in which Asher dealt with nightmares and lovingly judgy best friends)
Table of Contents

Props to Annabelle for keeping the dev fiction flag flying here in the meantime :D

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend!

So as promised, this week is the big reveal!  You can see if you guessed correctly!  Also, I did include one flashback, so you can tell me if that works for you.

Chapter 3

Read the whole thing....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No Shadowboxing this week

Hi all,

Apologies, but I'm skipping this week - the next three-four weeks of work are nuts for me, so I need some time to catch my breath and build up a backlog. Thank you for your patience.

In case you'd like to catch up in the meantime...

Chapter 13: Killing Time till the Day of Execution (in which Asher dealt with nightmares and lovingly judgy best friends)
Table of Contents

And below the cut, a couple of doodles to make up for the wait:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Devo Diary on hiatus

Hi everyone, sorry there is no update to Devo Diary this week. I'm going to be super busy over the next several months with work, family and travel. Since I've reached a natural stopping point in the story, it seems best to take a break here. But don't worry, there is still a lot more to go, and a lot more PWDs coming up. I'll be back in about four months or so, hopefully with a big backlog so I can go back to posting weekly. Thanks again for all your comments and for following the story so faithfully! I really appreciate it. See you again in a while.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Update to My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend!

OK, so I'm a big fat liar, because I said I was going to reveal Noah's disability in this chapter, but it turns out in order to get to that part, there's still a good amount left.  So I totally 100% will reveal it in the next chapter after this, but for now, you're going to have to keep guessing:

Chapter 2

And if you haven't read it already, here's Chapter 1.

Also, in case you thought I was making up Lily's cat dress, here it is, in all its cat glory:



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing Chapter 13

It's late, but it's here!

Shadowboxing, Chapter 13: Killing Time till the Day of Execution
Table of Contents

As well as applying to Asher's current situation, the absurd title may or may not be a reference to the fact that I can write slice-of-life relationship-wrangling until the world ends (with some hopefully devvy opening and closing scenes, in this case), but am also aware that I need to wrap up the legal plotline... :)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

New Story: My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend

Hi all!  I said I'd be back next week with a brand new story, so here I am, back with a brand new story!  Once again, this is the teaser:

I’ve met the greatest guy ever.

Noah Walsh is handsome as sin. He’s sweet and smart and successful and sexy—all the best adjectives beginning with “S.” My six-year-old daughter worships the ground he walks on ever since he fashioned her smiley face pancakes out of bananas and blueberries. Oh yeah, and he can cook.

The only problem?

I dumped this great guy a decade ago, right after I wrecked his life.

And boy, this man holds a grudge.


My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend


Riding with my daughter Lily on an Amtrak train may be one of the nine circles of hell.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 12, pt. 2

Last week, Roy stumbled into meeting Asher's parents in a very much unprepared fashion. This week, we'll watch him strive to figure out the rest of the encounter...

Shadowboxing, Chapter 12, pt. 2: Meet the...
Table of Contents

I found the end of this chapter quite challenging to write, and I'm still not sure that I hit it. But I hope you enjoy it, and welcome any feedback of any sort.

Monday, April 2, 2018

New Devo Diary!

Hi everyone, time for the bi-weekly update of Devo Diary. This is the last chapter of my Taipei adventures. In this chapter, I finally try out my scheme to reinvent myself as a lesbian by hanging out in the gay neighborhood and becoming a regular at a lesbian bar. Plus a surprise email from The Mantis at the end! What has he been up to while the Cruel Mistress has been away?

Devo Diary Chapter 44: The Cat House

Table of Contents

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

Since I released my new book last week, there will be no updates today.  However, you can buy or download a copy of Baby Crazy on Amazon if you need something to read today:

Baby Crazy: Get it today!

I hope you check it out!  I'm keeping the price at $2.99 for now, but will probably raise it when I put the first in the series on sale, so get it now while it's cheap!  Also, next time I will hopefully be smart enough not to release my book right before a holiday weekend. 

Next week, I'm going to be back with a new story about a double above knee amputee.  Just for a little taste, this is the blurb I've been working on:

I’ve met the greatest guy ever.

Noah Walsh is handsome as sin.  He’s sweet and smart and sexy—all the best adjectives beginning with “S.” My six-year-old daughter worships the ground he walks on ever since he fashioned her smiley face pancakes out of bananas and blueberries. Oh yeah, and he can cook.

The only problem?

I dumped this great guy a decade ago, right after I wrecked his life.

And boy, this man holds a grudge.

Friday, March 30, 2018

New Book: Baby Crazy

My newest book, Baby Crazy, is finally available in the Kindle store!


Reasons why Anna Harper never wanted to have children:

-- The lifetime cost of raising a child is a quarter of a million dollars.

--The baby might vomit. And then she would have to have the entire house sterilized.

--What if while she was driving in the car, the baby managed to open its car seat, and then she got into an accident while the baby was out of the car seat?

--What if the baby doesn’t like her? After all, she has observed that most people don’t.

Reasons why Anna Harper has started trying for a baby:

--Her husband is baby crazy. And it’s beginning to seem like he can’t be happy without one.

Buy it on Amazon for only $2.99 or FREE if you have Amazon Prime or KU!

You can read the first chapter here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 12, pt. I

Hello all, here's this week's update. I've decided to split Chapter 12 into two posts, in order to avoid having to take a skip week next week (I'm extremely busy with family events this week and weekend). Luckily it's a long chapter altogether - though it didn't have a natural breaking point, so I apologize if it feels like it breaks off ungracefully.

Shadowboxing, Chapter 12, pt. I: Meet the...
Table of Contents

I hope you enjoy, and thank you yet again for all the friendly and appreciative comments!

- R

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hi all!  This will probably be the last chapter I post of Baby Crazy!  Hope you enjoy.....

Chapter 11

Table of Contents

Also, if you go to my seldom updated blog, you can get updates on my releases and discounts by signing up for my mailing list on the sidebar!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 11

Hi all -

Last week was the morning after Asher and Roy's first time together - the two worked through some baggage, with a few doses of flirting and teasing to sweeten the sour spots.

This week, we finally get to see Roy in his natural habitat...

Shadowboxing, Chapter 11: Bobbing and Weaving
Table of Contents

...except it's mostly about feelings! AGAIN! Thanks for riding along on this incredibly (for me) self-indulgent relationship-navigation extravaganza. :)

- R

Monday, March 19, 2018

New Devo Diary

I'm back! My adventures in Taipei continue. After wallowing in self-pity last chapter, this chapter things perk up again. First, I join a community chorus and start making more friends, then an obsession with a new dating site leads to a blast from my dev past. Not exactly romance, but lots of thoughts on dating while dev in this chapter.

Devo Diary Chapter 43: OkCupid

Thanks again for all your comments!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

This will probably be my second to last update to Baby Crazy.  I still am getting the vibe that this is out of the realm of what most of you are looking for here, so I'm going to put up a little bit more, then those of you who are still interested can read the book.  I have something new to post starting in April!

In the last chapter, Matt was trapped on a broken stair-lift....

Chapter 10

Table of Contents

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Update: Shadowboxing 10

Ten chapters?! I've never written this much of one story before in my life...

Shadowboxing, Chapter 10: Aftershocks
Table of Contents

Thank you so much to all for the supportive messages last week. I'll be honest that my year is only going to keep on getting busier from here, and I'm quickly running out of my posting backlog. But I'll try to plan ahead better in the future to make sure that any necessary posting breaks are at least announced further in advance (and come with Roy+Asher doodles :) ).

- R

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

In this chapter, Anna and Matt break the news to their parents.  It's a pretty intense chapter... hope you enjoy!

Chapter 9

Table of Contents

Friday, March 9, 2018

An Encounter

Hi everyone, we have a special treat for one-shot Friday! PD member Tykes has contributed some steaming hot erotica from the point of view of a para. I'm posting it on his behalf. If you enjoy it, let him know in the comments or over on the message board and maybe we can persuade him to post here on a regular basis 😘
 
 
 
An Encounter 

The hotel door closes behind you, you look round nervously, no words have been said, and there is a sexual tension in the air you had long forgotten could exist.  You turn to see me approach, a steely glint in my eyes, and you back away as I wheel towards you, until your back is pressed against the wall with my frame pressing against you, pinning you against the wall.

Without a word, my hands reach up, fingers searching for the buttons and unbuttoning your blouse, pulling it open, my hands stroking then squeezing your breasts, falling to your thighs, running up and down your thighs then slipping under the hem, my hands outstretched sliding up your thighs, fingers hooking the waist of your panties. 

Pausing ... Looking you in the eyes ... 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

No Shadowboxing this week

Hello all,

Apologies, but I got flooded with work at the beginning of this week, so I haven't had time to revise this week's chapter like I'd wanted to. (I'm a compulsive reviser.)

Retroactive spoiler: if you ever wanted to skip straight to the sex scene, last week was your chance. :)

Last chapter: Chapter 9
Table of contents

Thank you to all who've been reading and leaving enthusiastic feedback - I'm so happy that folks are enjoying the story. To make up for this week's gap, I have two Asher + Roy doodles beneath the cut -


Monday, March 5, 2018

New Devo Diary

Hi everyone, I'm back again with the latest installment of Devo Diary.

In this chapter, I move overseas temporarily and have to restart my social life in a new place. Sorry the PWDs are a bit thin on the ground, but even in a new city I'm still in the SM scene. First, I meet up with my old friend Phil. Don't worry if you don't remember him, we haven't seen him since the very end of Chapter 8 (!!) (I can't believe how much I've written). Then I hear from Warren again. Remember in the last chapter just before I left he promised to come visit me, let's see how that goes...

Devo Diary Chapter 42: Phil

Table of Contents

Thanks again for all your comments, I really appreciate it a lot! Please leave a comment!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Update to Baby Crazy

Back again today with an update to Baby Crazy.  Things are about to get a lot more intense.....

Chapter 8: The First Trimester

Table of Contents

Also, for those of you who haven't had a chance to check it out, The Best Man is on sale for 99 cents for a very, very limited time in the US and UK.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend: Chapter 2

Noah’s cabin isn’t as small as I feared it would be.  I expected some tiny little hut wedged between two trees where we’d all be forced to share one giant bed, but this cabin is more like a single-story house, with a large patio containing a porch swing and a rocking chair.  I catch a glimpse of the back porch, which seems to have a barbeque grill, as well as a table and chairs set up.  There’s a chimney, as well as a paved path leading to the front door.  It looks large enough that we’ll probably all be sleeping in at least two giant beds. 

True to form, the urge to use the bathroom has completely left Lily by the time Noah pulls up in front of the cabin.  I’m not sure of the mechanism behind how all the pee vanishes from her bladder the second we actually find a toilet.  Maybe Noah the Doctor could explain it to me.

Noah doesn’t even offer to take my bags this time.  I heave them out of his trunk and he waves a hand to lead us inside.  There are two small steps to get up to the patio, and I watch him hold onto the railing as he carefully climbs the steps.  Again, it’s not anything anyone would notice if they weren’t looking for it.

Thank God, it looks like this cabin has all the comforts of home—there’s a fully stocked kitchen, a sofa, a loveseat, and at least one indoor bathroom.  I had been seriously worried I might be squatting in an outhouse.  I think I can deal with being here for a week.

“Gwen!” Dad calls as the woman I recognize as Noah’s mother comes out from a room in the back.  She looks mostly as I remember her, although slightly older.  The lines on her face are deeper, but she still has the same strawberry blond hair pulled into a messy bun. 

“Hi, Lenny.” Gwen’s face breaks into a smile.  “How was the trip in?”

“Long,” Dad admits.

Gwen bends down next to Lily. “And you must be Lily!”

Lily nods shyly.

“I’m so glad to meet you,” Gwen says. “I got you a little present, if that’s okay.”

Lily nods more eagerly this time. Is it okay?  When has being given a present not been okay with a six-year-old?  What planet does she think this is?

Gwen straightens up and comes eye to eye with me.  She has blue eyes—Noah’s eyes.  None of the warmth that was in her voice when she spoke to my daughter is in her expression anymore.

“Hello, Bailey,” she says stiffly.  “It’s good to see you again.”

“Yes,” I murmur. “Good to see you too.”

Gwen glances at Noah’s grim expression, then back at me. “It was quite a surprise to realize who you were, but…” She shrugs helplessly. “It will have to be water under the bridge, I suppose.”

“Yes,” I say again. “Water under the bridge.”

Ha.

“Come on, Bailey,” Noah says to me.  “I’ll show you your room.”

I follow him down a short hallway to a set of closed doors.  He indicates the first door, “That’s the bathroom.  We’ve got one and a half bathrooms, so we’re all going to be sharing a shower for the week.”

That’s fine.  Lily can go a shower-free week without blinking an eye—actually, it would be her preference.

He opens the second door to reveal a room with a small queen-sized bed and a cot on the floor next to it.  There’s a small dresser and a window that gives us a great view of the woods.

“This is great,” I say as I drop the duffel bags on the floor.  “Perfect.”

Noah doesn’t say anything for a minute.  He leans over and shuts the door to the bedroom, closing the two of us inside.  I suck in a breath, staring at those blue eyes, terrified of what he’s about to say to me.  Preemptively, I say, “I’m sorry.”

He raises his eyebrows.  “Oh, are you?”

I take a deep breath. “If… if it helps, I’ve spent every moment since then regretting it.”

“It doesn’t help.” His blue eyes flash and I cringe.  “You think I give a shit that you feel a little bad about the whole thing?  Are you aware what you did to me?  You have no fucking clue, do you?”

I squeeze my fists together. “Why did you invite us here? To berate me for a week?”

Noah snorts. “Please, Bailey.  Don’t flatter yourself.  I invited you here for my mother’s sake.”

“Why? Does she want to berate me for a week?”

“No, but she wants to marry your father.” He shakes his head. “Despite the fact that I told her it would be a huge mistake to get involved with anyone from the Chapin family.  But she doesn’t want to listen to me.  She’s in love.  So you and I need to get along.”

“Right,” I mumble.

He frowns at me. “I’ll be cordial, okay?  For her sake, I’ll pretend that…”

He doesn’t complete his sentence, and for that, I’m glad.

“But let’s get one thing straight,” he says in a low growl.  “I don’t forgive you.  I will never forgive you.  We will never be friends.” 

I bite my lip.  “You really hate me, don’t you?”

Noah is quiet again, as if really thinking about his answer.  “‘Hate’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about you,” he finally says.

I wince.  Somehow in the time since I’d last seen Noah, I’d thought maybe he… well, maybe not forgave me, but at least didn’t think back on me with feelings of loathing.  I figured he’d moved on—got married, had a couple of kids, etc.  But that’s obviously not the case. 

“I’m sorry,” I say again. 

He shrugs, like he couldn’t care less about my apology.  Which I guess is true.

If Noah Walsh murdered me, I don’t think he’d go to jail.  There would be a trial, of course, because there would have to be.  But if the judge and jury heard the entire story, I think they’d let him off scot-free.  They’d decide he did the world a favor by getting rid of me.

*** 

I catch my father unpacking alone in the bedroom he’ll be sharing with Gwen.  He’s pulling out a pair of boxer shorts and whistling to himself. 

When is the last time I’ve heard him whistle like that?  When is the last time I’ve seen him smiling that wide?  Especially while unpacking underwear.  Some of his hair even seems to be growing back.

He looks up at the sound of my footsteps and his smile falters.  I don’t take it personally.  He knows why I’m here. He doesn’t seem any happier when I shut the door behind me.

“What the hell, Dad?” I snap at him, forgetting my age-old rule about never cussing in front of my parents.  If there’s ever a time to cuss, it’s now, damn it.

“I didn’t know,” he murmurs.

“No kidding.”  I take a deep breath, trying to control my anger.  I don’t want to yell at my elderly father, especially when he looks the happiest he’s been since Mom died.   “How could you not know?”

“Well, she told me she had a son named Noah,” he says.  “But… I didn’t realize he was that Noah.  Noah Walsh isn’t an uncommon name.  It’s not like he’s called… Benedict Cumberbatch.”

I wring my hands together.  “Did Gwen know?”

Dad shakes his head.  “No, she didn’t.  When I talked about you, I always called you Bee or just said ‘my daughter.’  She never put it together until… well, apparently Noah told her while we were on our way here.”

I bow my head and rub my temples.  “This is really awkward.”

He shrugs helplessly.  “I know, Bee.  I’m sorry.  I would never have brought you here if I realized…” He sinks down on the bed.  “But we’re here now, and I think you should make the best of it.  Gwen promised me Noah is fine with the whole thing.”

Fine with the whole thing.  Right.  Aside from despising me with every fiber of his being, he’s totally fine with it.

“Obviously, he’s doing really well for himself,” my father points out.  “He’s very successful.  He’s got an apartment up in the city, and this cabin down here, and he’s a doctor like he wanted to be, so…”

“Yeah,” I mumble, looking away.  I wanted Noah to be successful.  I wanted him to have everything he ever dreamed of.  But for some reason, now that I’m faced with it, it stings.

His brows knit together. “Bee, if you feel like you need to go back, I’ll make something up to Gwen.  Do what you need to do.”

I look at my father’s face.  It’s been less than ten years since Mom died, but Dad looks at least two decades older.  I forget how hard it’s all been on him.  He deserves happiness.  I don’t want to mess anything up for him by throwing a tantrum over something that happened a long time ago. 

Noah says he’s willing to try to put this behind him.  I guess I’ll stay.

***
 
Lily spends some time in the living room playing with her new Barbie doll while I hide in my room.  I get my sketch pad out from my bag and attempt to draw a picture of the cabin from memory.  I want to go out and take a look to see what details I’m missing, but I don’t dare leave the room.  I don’t want to risk another confrontation with Noah. 

A couple of hours later, Lily comes into our bedroom, holding her new Barbie doll.  It has blond hair and an impossibly skinny waist.  I’ve shied away from buying Lily too many Barbie dolls because they’re expensive and also because I feel like it would be nice for her to have a doll that looked more like a real woman. Of course, now there are all these dolls from other television shows like Monster High that look just look Barbies. I mean, it’s not like I’m overweight or anything—being destitute is a great diet.  But it would be anatomically impossible for me to have a figure like this doll that Lily is fawning over. 

At least, I think she’s fawning over the Barbie.  Then I discover it’s not Barbie she’s fallen in love with.

“Noah is going to cook us dinner tonight,” Lily informs me.

“Oh, is he?”

“Uh huh.” Lily nods excitedly.  “He said he’s going to make stuff on a grill.  Like with a big fire.”

“Ooh,” I say.  I wonder how old Lily will be before she can recognize my phony enthusiasm.  I hope that it doesn’t happen until her artwork gets a lot better.

“He went out this morning and bought lots of hot dogs because Grandpa said I like hot dogs,” she says.

“That’s nice of him.”

“And he said he’s going to take us to a movie this week!” Lily says.  “Maybe Dogcat.”

I grit my teeth. “We already saw Dogcat.” We saw it, it’s done, and we never have to see it again.  Never.

“Oh.” Lily’s excitement seems dampened.

“Maybe he can take us to another movie?” I suggest. 

“Okay!” Lily agrees, and before I can stop her, she runs out to find Noah, who is apparently her new hero.  Lord knows, she doesn’t have a father to be her hero.

A minute later, Lily bursts back into the room breathlessly.  “He says he’ll take us to see anything we want.”

Despite everything, I feel a rush of affection toward Noah for being so kind to my daughter. 

“Also,” Lily adds, “he’s going to take us out on his boat and we’re going to catch fish!”

I imagine being stuck out in the middle of the lake with Noah on a tiny boat while we wait for fish to nibble on our bait.  Lovely.

“I like Noah,” Lily says, her little face beaming.

“I can tell,” I say.  I grin at her. “Do you think he’s handsome, Lil?”

She giggles and hides her face in her hands.  “Mayyyyybe.  A little.”

I can’t exactly blame her.  I was certain that if I ran into Noah by now, he’d have been long since snatched up. 

“Is he married, Mommy?” she asks me.

“I don’t think so,” I say.

“How come?”

I shrug. “I guess he hasn’t met the right woman yet.”

Lily nods solemnly. “Do you think he’s looking for a woman to marry?”

“I…” I really don’t want to have this conversation with my child.  And I really hope Noah isn’t able to hear us. “I don’t know.  Maybe he doesn’t want to get married.”

 She thinks about this a minute.  “I think he should get married,” she decides.  “He’d be a good husband.”

I swallow. “You might be right.”

I look down at my sketch pad, down at the likeness of the cabin.  I’ll focus on my art this week.  Try not to think too much about the past.  I can’t change it, after all.

“Mommy?” Lily says.   

God, I can’t talk about Noah anymore.  “Uh huh?”

“Why is there a chair in the bathtub?”

I look up at Lily’s wide blue eyes.  “A chair?”

She nods. “When I went to the bathroom, there was a white chair!  In the bathtub!  And a bar sticking out of the wall!”

I bite my lip. “I don’t know, sweetie.  You’ll have to ask Noah.”

I don’t dare tell Lily that I know the answer to her question. 

***

By the time I emerge from the bedroom, Noah has already fired up the grill, and the tantalizing scent of grilling meat wafts from the back patio into the cabin.  They’ve got a table out on the patio, and Gwen is instructing Lily on how to set the table.  It’s such a homey scene.  I imagine an alternate universe in which the man grilling the meat is my husband, and the woman teaching Lily to set the table is my mother.  Instead, the cook hates me and my mother is dead.

“Smells good,” I comment as I emerge onto the patio.  I hope the food is close enough to done that I don’t have to make awkward conversation for too long.

Noah lifts his blue eyes briefly to glare at me as I take a seat.  He doesn’t seem quite ready to be cordial with me.  It’s a good thing we’ve got a whole week out here.

“I want a hot dog!” Lily calls out.

“Right, I got it,” Noah says.  “You want a hamburger.”

Lily giggles. “No, I said a hot dog!”

“Two hamburgers for Lily, coming right up!”

“No!” Lily is laughing so hard now that her face is turning pink.  “I want!  One!  Hot! Dog!”

Noah nods. “Got it. Ten hamburgers for Lily.”

“Be careful,” I say to Noah.  “You’re going to end up playing this game with her for the next hour.”

He winks at my daughter. “At this rate, I’m going to be grilling hamburgers for Lily for the next hour.  So you want twenty hamburgers?”

It’s sweet.  He’s good with her—I have to give him that.

The hot dogs are done first.  Noah grabs a paper plate, opens up a hot dog bun, and drops her hot dog inside. He asks her if she likes ketchup and she says yes. And before I can warn him, he gives the hot dog a spritz of ketchup.

He wouldn’t know.  He doesn’t have kids of his own, so he probably has no idea that you never add a condiment to a child’s food without asking exactly how it should be added first, because omg, you could ruin it.  Lily likes ketchup, but is very clear about the fact that you never, ever put the ketchup directly on the hot dog.  It’s the eighth deadly sin, in Lily’s eyes.  Hot dogs can only be dipped in ketchup, never slathered.  Now it’s ruined.  If we were at a restaurant, I’d be sending back the hot dog as we speak.

Lily looks down at the offending hot dog on her plate, then back up at Noah.  I would have bet my life’s savings that she wouldn’t have touched that hot dog, but to my utter shock, she sits down and starts eating it.  I can’t believe my eyes.  She must really love him.

“What do you want, Bailey?” Noah asks me without looking up from the grill.

“A cheeseburger, thanks,” I say.

Noah finishes grilling burgers and hot dogs for everyone else.  When he grabs the bag of hamburger buns off the table next to him, and they slip from his fingers and fall to the floor. He looks down at the buns on the ground and lets out a barely audible sigh.  I open my mouth, ready to offer to grab them for him.  But I suspect doing so will only make Noah hate me more.

 I pretend to look away, but I can’t help but watch him out of the corner of my eye as he holds onto the table for support as he gets down on one knee.  He picks up the buns, then hauls himself back up, still gripping to the table for dear life.  Once he’s back on his feet again, he looks in my direction, but I’ve busied myself by staring out at the lake in the distance.

“These hamburgers are amazing,” Dad says to Noah once we all have our plates of food.

“Thanks,” he says.

“Noah loves the grill,” Gwen says.  “He buys charcoal by the truckload.”

The cheeseburger in front of me smells so amazing that my stomach rumbles, reminding me that my lunch consisted of a bag of Doritos on the train.  I pick up the burger and take a bite and…

Ugh, this is terrible!

The burger Noah served me is charred to a crisp.  I feel like I just ate a mouthful of somebody’s incinerator. 

I look at my father and Gwen, who are happily munching on their burgers.  There’s no way their burgers taste like mine.  This is practically inedible.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Lily asks.  “Don’t you like your burger?”

I notice that Noah is watching me, a tiny smile playing on his lips.  “Yeah, Bailey, is something wrong with the burger I made you?”

I swallow hard.  “It’s just…” I notice that everyone is staring at me. “It’s a little bit burned.  That’s all.”

Dad seems aghast at my comment. Gwen glares at me.  “It’s from a grill.  They have a char to them. It’s not going to taste like the burgers at McDonald’s.”

“Right.” I feel my cheeks growing hot.  “Actually, it’s fine.  Just… you know, a tiny bit burned.  Not even.  I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

I take another bite of my burger.  It takes superhuman effort not to spit the damn thing out.  I glance over at Noah, who is chuckling to himself.  Asshole.

“If you don’t like it, Mommy,” Lily says to me, “Noah says we’re having more for dessert.”

I frown. “More?  You mean, more burgers?  For dessert?”

Lily nods eager. “Yeah, Noah says it’s the best dessert. More!”

Noah grins at her. “No, that’s s’mores.  We’re having s’mores for dessert.  We can make ‘em right on the grill.”

“I don’t think she knows what s’mores are,” I tell Noah.

His eyes widen.  “Lily, you’ve never had s’mores before?”

Lily shakes her head solemnly as she always does when she knows she’s going to experience something really meaningful or delicious.

“Really?” Noah is incredulous.  “But your mom and I used to…”

He cuts his own thought off mid-sentence.  I wonder if he’s remembering the same thing I am.  The two of us, cuddled together by a campfire, roasting marshmallows on sticks we found in the woods.  The woods used to scare me, but with my head resting on Noah’s broad shoulder and his arm around me, I felt completely safe and warm and happy.

I used to love s’mores.

“Hasn’t your dad ever taken you camping?” Noah asks Lily.

Lily crinkles her nose. “He doesn’t like that.”

“Theo isn’t what you’d call the outdoors type,” Dad volunteers.  “He’s more the lazy, deadbeat musician type.”

And then everyone laughs.  Ha ha, my ex-husband is a big loser and I’m a loser for having married him.  Real hilarious.

“Well, I’ll have to show you some cool outdoorsy stuff this week then,” Noah tells Lily. “Starting with s’mores, okay?”

Lily nods eagerly. “What are s’mores?”

“Basically,” he says, “you melt some marshmallow on a piece of graham cracker, then you cover that with chocolate.”

I think he had her at “some marshmallow.”

To be continued....
 
P.S.  I've been debating how much of the flashbacks from Noah and Bailey's past to include here.  There was one that's in the original that I cut out to keep the flow and get to the devvy parts faster.  But what do you think?  Include flashbacks or no?

My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, Chapter 3

An hour later, everyone goes back into the cabin, bellies full of meat, marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.  Lily officially loves s’mores.  And Noah.  She definitely loves Noah.

Noah stays behind to scrape and clean the grill.  I do my part by wiping down the patio table, but I’m watching him out of the corner of my eye.  I see his impressive biceps flexing as he scrapes the char from the lines of the grill.  He’s still so built—it’s hard to tear my eyes away.

“Thank you for being so nice to Lily,” I say.

Noah glances back at me briefly, then goes back to the grill.  “I know what it’s like to have a dad who isn’t around much.”

Noah’s father left his mother when he was about ten years old, but was usually absent prior to that. There were issues with alcohol, but in general, he just seemed like he wasn’t a great guy. A loser, Noah always called him. I remember Noah telling me about a heart-wrenching Boy Scout trip where every dad showed up but his. It was one of his goals in life to be completely different from his own father.

“Anyway,” he says, “she’s a sweet kid.”

I smile at the compliment. “Thanks.  She likes you too.  Actually, I think she has quite the crush.”

Noah snorts. “Yeah, I get that a lot from the little girls who show up at the emergency room.”

“The moms too, I’ll bet.”

He doesn’t look at me as he mumbles, “Yeah.”

The female patients must go wild for Noah.  A handsome, young doctor with no ring on his finger?  He must have to bat them away.

“So,” Noah says quietly, “does Lily know about me?  Did you tell her?”

I bite my lip. “Tell her what?”

He turns to glare at me.  “What do you think?”

I wince at his anger, which is probably deserved.  “No.  I haven’t told her anything.  Do… do you want me to?”

He doesn’t look terribly surprised that I hadn’t told her. He shakes his head. “No, let me.  I’m used to telling people.”  He shrugs. “Can’t be any worse than telling a woman I’m out on a first date with.”

“Oh,” I mumble.  “Is that… I mean, do they react… badly?”

Noah slams down the spatula and glares at me. “Well, gee, Bailey, how the fuck do you think they react?  You think they rip their clothes off with desire?”

“No,” I say quickly, then when I see the look on his face, I backpeddle.  “I mean, I’m sure there are some women who… there have to be women who… I mean, you’ve had girlfriends, haven’t you?”

I see the look on Noah’s face and recognize at this point that I’m not making this situation any better.  “Jesus Christ,” he says.  “Of course I’ve had girlfriends.  What the hell do you think?  This is really insulting.”

“I’m sorry.” I run a shaking hand through my hair.  “I didn’t mean to… I mean, you’re the one who brought it up.”  I chew on my thumbnail—an old bad habit of mine.  “I feel like I can’t say anything without you yelling at me.”

“Sorry to make things uncomfortable for you,” Noah shoots back.

I scoop up a package of unused paper plates from the table.  I want to throw them at him.  “If you want me to leave,” I say, “just say so.  I’ll have Lily and me on a train to New York first thing tomorrow.”

He studies my face as if he’s really thinking about it.  I know he said he invited me so that we could learn to be cordial with each other, but I think it’s a lost cause.  It’s clear Noah doesn’t have it in him to be nice to me, even if he thought he did. 

“No,” he says finally. “I want this to work out.  For my mother’s sake.  She deserves to be happy.”

“Fine,” I say, “but you have to stop being such an asshole to me.”

He opens his mouth as if to protest, but then thinks better of it.  “I’ll try,” he finally says.

Our eyes meet across the patio.  It surreal that we’re standing here, struggling to be civil to each other.  This wasn’t where I thought we’d be ten years ago.  Everything went horribly wrong, and I know there’s nothing I can do at this point to fix it.

***
 
Sketching is better than psychotherapy for me.  When I’m feeling awful, all I need to do is get out my sketchpad and let my mind go blank as I watch the image take shape before me.  I don’t think about anything else when I’m sketching other than the drawing in front of me.  There was a year when I couldn’t draw because of… well, everything that happened. That was one of the worst years of my life. I’ve probably saved thousands of dollars in therapy bills thanks to my hobby.  (Good thing too, because I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on therapy.)

So instead of getting worked up about the fact that Noah is in his bedroom, thinking about how much he hates me, I sit out on the sofa and sketch while Lily plays with her new Barbie.  Gwen and my father have gone out for their “nightly walk” so it’s very quiet in here.  I’m sketching Noah’s small kitchen, with its small wooden dining table, creaky chairs, and humming refrigerator.  (The challenge is to sketch “humming.”)  As the image takes shape, the tension gradually melts from my shoulders and the sharp pain in my temples subsides to a dull ache.

Until Noah comes out into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water.

He walks into the room with that barely perceptible limp.  His T-shirt is far from tight, but it still can’t hide all the muscles in his chest and arms.  I hate that he still looks every bit as good as he did a decade ago.

He grabs a glass from the kitchen cabinet and fills it with filtered water from his refrigerator.  Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “I thought you always said water filters were bourgeoisie.”

Noah puts his water glass down on the kitchen table with an aggressively loud thump.  Great—why did I say something to antagonize him?  I should have stuck with a neutral topic, like the weather.  Why oh why didn’t I talk about the weather?

“This isn’t the suburbs.” He shakes his head at me like I’ve said something too stupid to believe. “You can’t drink the water unfiltered out here.  You’d get really sick.”

“Okay,” I mumble.

Given how much he hates me, I’m hopeful he’ll bring the water back into his room, but he doesn’t.  He sits down with it at that wooden table in one of the rickety chairs with an ungraceful plop.   And he sips his water painfully slowly, watching me over the rim of the glass.  It makes it hard to do… well, anything.

“I wonder when your mother and my father will be getting back from their walk,” I say, because sometimes it’s hard for me to shut up when I’m nervous. And Noah is making me very nervous. “I hope they’re okay.”

Noah looks down at his watch.  “They’re adults.  They’ll come back eventually.”

“Yes, but…” I look at the door.  “Your mother took her purse, didn’t she?  Could they have gotten… mugged?”

“Mugged?” Noah snorts.  “Here?  You’ve got to be kidding me.”  He takes another sip of water.  “No, around here, the bigger worry is coyotes.”

My heart speeds up.  “Coyotes?”

He nods solemnly.  “And snakes.”

He’s messing with me.  That’s his mother out there—he wouldn’t send her out to be eaten by coyotes and snakes.  But my calm from a moment ago has been completely shattered, and I feel a rush of relief when I hear footsteps right outside our door.  Human footsteps.  Nothing four-legged or slithery.

Gwen and my father burst through the door, and I see right away that Gwen is limping.  Despite the fact that I’m certain Noah was teasing me about the coyotes and snakes, he looks alarmed when he sees his mother. 

“Mom!” His light brown eyebrows scrunch together. “What happened?  Are you okay?”

I know how close Noah always was with his mother, especially since his dad walked out on them.  As a teenager, he chased out a guy his mother was dating when the guy got too fresh.  He liked being able to protect her.  It must gut him to see her hurt.

“I’m fine!” Gwen hobbles into the living room and collapses onto the sofa.  “I just got scraped up by some evil branches.”

But Noah insists on taking a look. He is, he points out, a doctor.  My father holds her hand while she straightens out her left leg—sure enough, there are angry red marks all over her calf, which are oozing dark red blood.  I close my eyes, not willing to let them see how much the sight of Gwen’s injury is bothering me.  I’m trying not to think about that dark red blood.

“That’s a lot of blood,” Lily comments. 

Thanks for the observation, honey.

“Let me get this cleaned up,” Noah says.  “Bailey, could you grab the first aid kit in the closet over there?”

He’s pointing to the closet about six feet from where I’m sitting.  It’s an entirely reasonable request, except if I try to stand up, I will definitely pass out.  Even without standing up, it’s a coin flip whether I’m going to stay conscious.

“Um…,” I murmur.

Noah raises his blue eyes to look at me.  I see a flicker of amusement on his features—almost affection.  “It still bothers you so much, Bailey?”

I turn my head away, unable to even mumble a response.

“I’ll get it!” Lily yelps, abandoning her Barbie on the floor.  She’s too eager to impress Noah.

Unfortunately, Lily doesn’t have the slightest idea what a first aid kit looks like. After a moment of contemplation, she pulls an umbrella out of the closet and holds it up triumphantly.  I don’t get that.  Yes, she might not know what a first aid kit should look like.  But she does know what an umbrella looks like.  My father finally has to go over to help her, but he can’t find it either.  Noah finally has to fetch it himself.

While Noah is rifling around the closet, looking for the kit, my father holds Gwen’s hand.  He smiles at her in a way that makes me wish I had a boyfriend of my own around for all the various cuts and scrapes I’ve had over the years. Not only am I single, but there’s nothing even remotely on the horizon.  I am uber-single.

“Must be nice having a son who’s a doctor,” Dad comments.

Gwen smiles and nods.  “Yes, it is.”  She flashes me a pointed look.  “He always looks out for the people he cares about.  That’s just the sort of person he is.”

Oh God.  Way to rub it in.

Noah fishes out his first aid kit from the closet after a minute of searching.  The sight of it is painfully familiar. I don’t know if it’s the same one he had in college, but it may as well be.  I’ve been watching Noah break out his first aid kit for a long time, at even the slightest excuse.  It was sort of his thing. I used to tease him about how a papercut doesn’t warrant a first aid kit.

I still remember the first time I saw that first aid kit during my freshman year of college.  My party animal roommate Carla had left a bottle of Corona on the floor of our dorm room, and I knocked it over accidentally, shattering glass all over the wooden floorboards of our room. During my angry attempt to clean it up, I slashed my hand on a large piece of glass.

I ran out of the room in the direction of the communal bathroom to get myself cleaned up.  But it turned out I wasn’t alone in there.  The first thing I noticed when I got inside was a cloud of steam coming out of one of the shower stalls. And that’s when I saw Noah, standing at the sink in nothing but his boxers, his usually light hair darkened from the water.

The sight of those tight muscles in his chest and arms made me forget all about my bleeding hand for a minute. It’s not like I hadn’t seen men without their shirts off at the beach or at the swimming pool, but none of them looked like Noah.

Wow.

He blinked water droplets out of his eyelashes.  “Bailey, right?”

I just stared at him, somehow rendered speechless.

His light brown eyebrows bunched together.  “Are you okay?”

“Yes?” I managed.

“Um… you’re dripping blood all over the floor…”

Noah later claimed he saw my eyes roll up in their sockets.  I’m not so sure.  My knees were definitely very wobbly, but I don’t think I was about to hit the floor.  I do remember him yelling, “Oh, shit!”  And then I felt his arms grabbing me, supporting me.

A second later, he was scooping me up in his arms like I was a princess and he was the gallant handsome prince carrying me off into the sunset. And also, he was shirtless. I wish I could have appreciated the sexiness of it, but I was just mortified that my hot neighbor had to rescue the dorky freshman from fainting.

“I’m okay,” I murmured.  “You don’t have to…”

“You almost fainted,” he pointed out.

My body was pressed against his own bare chest.  I’d never felt such a troubling combination of turned on and queasy.  I finally gave in, resting my head against his shoulder, and let him carry me back to his room, where he lay me down on the futon.

“Are you going to faint, Bailey?” he asked me.

I shook my head no.

“Throw up?”

My cheeks burned. “No.”

“Let me see your hand.”

I squeezed my fist shut and held it protectively to my chest.  “I’m okay.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go get my first aid kit.”

Noah disappeared into one of the bedrooms.  When he emerged again, he was fully dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, but he wasn’t any less sexy fully clothed.  He was also holding a plastic box containing bottles of antiseptic, band-aids, alcohol swabs, and gauze that he laid out in front of me. 

Noah held out his hand to me.  “Give it here.”

I looked away as I held out my injured palm.  I buried my face in the futon, trying to pretend this wasn’t happening.

I heard Noah laugh.  “Wow, you’re really squeamish, aren’t you, Bailey?”

“Pathetic, right?”

“No, it’s cute, actually.”

Cute.  The hot guy next door who had to save me from face-planting onto the bathroom floor just called me cute.

I felt Noah wiping away the blood on my hand.  It stung like crazy. I held my breath, biting my lip so hard I worried I was going to make that bleed too.  “Do I need stitches?” I asked him.

“Naw,” he said.  “It’s a bleeder, but it’s not that bad.”

When I opened my eyes again, Noah was done and the wound on my hand was neatly covered by two Band-Aids. 

“Thank you,” I murmured.

He grinned crookedly at me. “Any time, Bailey.”

To this day, I can’t look at a first aid kit without remembering the first time I fell a little bit in love with Noah Walsh.

***

I wake up in the morning with Lily’s feet staring me in the face.

Lily and I are no strangers to being forced to share a bedroom.  We’ve shared one for the past three years, since Theo took off.  And about half the time, at some point during the night, Lily migrates to my bed. 

I want to say it’s a joy sleeping with my daughter.  I do love having her warm little body encircled in my arms, and I’m sure she likes it too, which is why she comes into my bed.  But Lily is a very restless sleeper.  It’s not at all out of the ordinary for her to turn 180 degrees during the night and end up with her feet on her pillow, intermittently kicking me in the face.  In fact, when she does have her head on the pillow at the end of the night, I suspect it’s only because she did a full 360 turn. 

Well, at least her feet don’t smell too bad.

I sit up in bed, massaging a crick in my neck.  It’s not yet seven in the morning—I’m probably the only one awake in this house.  But looking on the bright side, that means I can hit the shower before anyone else can get there.

I tiptoe out of bed before Lily wakes up.  I grab the towel Noah left for me as well as my toiletries.  I nearly bring a change of clothes, but then I figure I can just wrap a towel around myself for the three-foot-long journey back to my room.  It will be fine.

The door to the bathroom is shut, but the light isn’t on, which is Lily’s usual MO.  I got her in the habit of closing doors behind her, so she always closes the bathroom door, which drives me nuts when we’re in someone else’s home because I’m never sure if it’s occupied.  I open the door to the bathroom, thinking I’ll have a little talk with Lily later.

Except as it turns out, the bathroom is occupied.  By Noah.  Who just finished taking a shower.

It’s not like I never walked in on Noah just after a shower before.  Hell, I’ve walked in on him during a shower many, many times.  On purpose.  And in a lot of ways, he looks very much the same as he used to back on the day he bandaged my wounded hand.  He still has a full head of hair plastered to his skull, although it’s shorter than it used to be. He still has those strong, tight muscles in his shoulders, arms, and chest, but that’s no surprise since I could see them through his T-shirt earlier. He does have more hair on his chest than he used to, but I suppose that’s normal with aging. And… well, let’s just say my favorite part of his anatomy is just as I remember it.

But the Noah before me is entirely different than the Noah I used to catch coming out of the shower.  That Noah wasn’t sitting in a wheelchair.  That Noah had two strong, muscular legs sprinkled with golden hair.  This Noah has two pale stumps, half the size of what his femurs used to be and half the width, with white scars where the rest of his legs used to be.

“Bailey,” he gasps.

“Oh my God,” I say.  “I’m so sorry!”

I slam the door shut, but of course, it’s far too late.  If I have earned any goodwill whatsoever in the last day, I have instantly lost it.

To be continued...
 
PS Did you guess??? :)