Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, Chapter 11

“Wake up, Mommy! Wake up!”

“Muh?” I say. I feel Lily’s little body crawling into the bed next to me, then on top of me. God, she’s getting heavy.

“Noah says wake up,” she says in her most bossy voice. “We have to go fishing.”

I stayed up too late last night. Noah left for his date at a quarter to eight, looking almost painfully handsome in a blue dress shirt and khaki pants that reminded me of what he wore on our first date. He winked at me when he left and said, “Don’t wait up.”

But of course, that’s exactly what I did. I was especially horrified when it hit midnight and Noah still wasn’t back yet. I finally heard him coming in at half past twelve, then had to scurry back to my bed, to make sure he didn’t realize I’d been waiting up for him.

Of course, Gwen didn’t seem the least bit upset that her son still hadn’t come home when she was getting ready for bed. “Does he usually come home this late?” I asked, trying to sound casual.

“How should I know?” She frowned at me. “He’s an adult. I don’t make him call me when he gets back to his apartment.”

At that point, I realized I was making a fool of myself and decided to shut the hell up.

Considering how late Noah got home, I’m surprised he woke up so bright and early. But then again, he always was a morning person. That’s why he said being a surgeon would suit him. But it didn’t work out that way.

“Why don’t you go fishing without me?” I suggest to Lily.

No.” Lily shakes my arm. “It won’t be any fun without you, Mommy.”

Well, that’s sweet. I thought with her hero worship of Noah, she wouldn’t have minded going with him alone. Glad she hasn’t forgotten about her old mom.

Except just when I’m thinking how great my kid is, she adds, “That’s what Noah said.”

Hmm.

“Also,” Lily adds, “he said to wear your bathing suit.”

“Is Noah wearing a bathing suit?” I ask.

“He’s wearing swim shorts.” Lily’s eyes are wide. “You can see his robot legs. They’re so cool!”

This I’ve got to see.

After I shower, I put on my modest bathing suit and toss a simple blue sundress over it. Noah always told me he liked me in blue, but that’s not why I wear the dress. At least, I don’t think it is. And that’s not why I put on makeup either.

I mean, some days I feel like wearing makeup. Today is one of those days. It’s totally unrelated to spending the day with Noah.

Noah is in the living room, showing his fishing equipment to Lily. He’s kidding himself—she’ll never have the patience for fishing. But what catches my attention is the fact that this is the first time I’ve seen him in shorts since I’ve been here. He’s sitting, so I can see the calf-sized metal protruding from the legs of his shorts, then the computerized hinge that makes up his knee joint, leading to a slightly widened metallic royal blue shaft that ends with his sneakers. Lily’s right—they do look pretty cool.

“Finally!” Noah says when he sees me. He pushes his hands against the couch to provide leverage to stand up. “We’ve been waiting forever for you to be ready, right Lily?”

Lily folds her hands across her chest and nods angrily.

Since the path to Noah’s boat isn’t paved, he grabs his cane to help him balance. He holds the tackle box in his other hand and puts Lily in charge of holding the fishing pole. “We’re going fishing,” Lily announces happily.

“And when that gets boring,” Noah says, “I’ll take us to a place where you guys can swim.”

I smile, thinking back to the first time I ever got on a boat with Noah. It was when we were dating about three months. He took me out to Lake Erie and rented a rowboat, then rowed us to a secluded spot where we could go fishing. When he opened his tackle box filled with fishing supplies, I told him it looked like a sewing box. He made a face at me. “You’re being really emasculating by calling my tackle box a sewing box,” he said.

He showed me a little red ball from his tackle box that really looked like something that should be in a sewing kit. “This is a bobber,” he told me. “It floats in the water, which keeps the bait in place and also will tell us if we’ve got a bite.”

He threaded the bobber through the fishing line, then he pulled out a hook. He tied an elaborate knot at the end of the line, before digging out his can of worms that was to serve as bait. I had to look away as he pierced the worm with his fishing hook.

Then we waited.

While we waited, we talked. I’d dated several guys before Noah, but he was the first one that I felt like I could just sit on a boat and talk with for hours on end. It always felt like we never ran out of things to say to one another. I told him things I’d never told anyone before, like my dreams of becoming a famous artist one day and my certainty that it would never, ever happen. And he confessed things to me that I knew were hard for him to talk about. He told me I was the first person he’d ever been able to open up to about his father.

I brought a sketchbook along, and while we talked and fished, I sketched. At first I was drawing the lake and the trees around us. But then I drew Noah. I captured the curve of his lips, his strong jaw, and the shading around his eyes. It was actually a very good likeness.

“You’re looking at me funny.” Noah squinted at me across the boat. “Like you’re studying me.”

“I’m drawing you,” I told him.

He laughed. “Really? Can I see? Or should I not look?”

“Sure. Take a look.”

Noah carefully crossed the boat to sit next to me on a bench barely wide enough for my own hips—it was a snug fit with the two of us. He looked at the drawing and raised his eyebrows.

“Wow,” he said. “You really think I’m that good-looking? No wonder you like me.”

I rolled my eyes. Noah was just messing with me—he knew how hot he was. He had to when girls were constantly throwing themselves at him. But he only seemed to have eyes for me.

Noah pulled the sketchbook out of my hands and started kissing me. Nobody else was in sight, so I allowed him to slide his fingers up my shirt, under the awkward bulge of my life preserver. Even though we’d been together three months, we still hadn’t had sex yet. I was ready.

And right now, on this lonely rowboat in the middle of the lake on a warm spring day, with Noah’s arms around me and his lips on mine, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment for our first time.

“Noah,” I breathed in his ear. “Do you have a condom?”

He pulled away, his brow furrowed. “A condom?”

I nodded.

He grinned crookedly. “This is when you’re asking me for a condom? When we’re on a tiny rowboat in the middle of nowhere?”

I shrugged and returned his grin. “The heart wants what it wants.”

“It sure does.” Noah looked around the expanse of water, frowning. “I don’t have a condom, no. And to be honest, I’m scared if we had sex on this boat, we’d capsize and drown.”

“Oh.”

He picked up the oars from inside the boat. “I’ll have us on shore in twenty minutes, and I’ve got a condom in my car. You hang on, okay?”

I nodded again. So much for fishing.

Noah rowed so quickly that it would have been funny if I wasn’t feeling the same urgency as he was. By the time we get back to shore, we were ready to rip each other’s clothes off. But Noah had to tie up the boat, and then we had to find a place to park where we wouldn’t get arrested for indecent exposure. He drove around for ten minutes, diving deeper into the wilderness, until we pulled onto an empty dirt road that looked like it doesn’t see much (or any) traffic. He pulled off to the side just in case. Then he popped the glove compartment.

“Emergency condom,” he said, holding up the little square package. He nodded at the backseat. “We’ll probably be more comfortable back there.”

Once we moved to the backseat, Noah started kissing me far more aggressively than he was in the car. But then he abruptly pulled away from me to gaze into my eyes. “Bailey,” he murmured.

“What?” I said.

“I love you,” he said. It was the first time he’d ever said it to me. And he said it very solemnly. Like he really, really, really meant it. He later confessed it was the first time he’d ever said that to a girl.

“I love you too,” I said. Like him, it was the first time I’d ever said that to a boy. And I really, really, really meant it. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling this way about anyone else.

As Noah kissed me, I could only focus on how wonderful it felt. When he tugged down my shorts, he didn’t rush a thing. He touched me down there until I shivered with pleasure. When I was dripping wet, he put on the condom, and crawled on top of me.

His eyes stayed with mine the whole time, as he ran his fingers through my hair. He kissed me as he touched me with the tips of his fingers, until it felt like a balloon burst all over my genitals, spilling lovely feelings everywhere. A moment later, he gasped and collapsed on top of me.

“Jesus,” I said as I wiped sweat from my forehead. “That was… wow…”

“Bailey Chapin,” he said in a reprimanding voice. “That wasn’t your first orgasm, was it?”

It most certainly was. The one boy I’d been with before Noah was my date on prom night, who had no clue or interest in bringing me to climax—I only slept with him so I wouldn’t graduate high school as a virgin. I’d tried touching myself in the past and it always left me cold. I tried reading so-called erotic stories but none of them were able to make me feel half as turned on as when Noah kissed me. He was stimulating nerve endings I didn’t even know I had.

“It was,” I admitted.

“Wow,” he said. “I’m the man.”

I laughed and kissed him again.

“I love you,” I said to him.

“I love you more,” he replied with a grin.

_____

 

I’m not sure if I’ve even been in a motorboat before. I’m a city girl, after all. Since Noah and I broke up, I could probably count the number of times I’ve walked on grass, much less gone hiking. But I have to say, I love riding in Noah’s motorboat. I love the feeling of the wind whipping my hair around my face, the smell of the lake, and the sounds of Lily squealing with delight in the back seat.

When we get to a quiet, isolated spot, Noah pulls out his bucket of worms. This one is basically a container of squirming dirt. Lily is fascinated by it.

“Where’d you get them?” she asks.

“I dug them up myself this morning,” he tells her.

Even though the worms are distasteful to me, there’s something sexy about the thought of Noah digging up worms from the ground.

“Do you want to put them on the hook yourself?” he asks her.

“Yeah!” Lily says, because even at six, she is far braver than I am.

Noah digs around in the dirt and pulls out a squirming little worm. “The thicker end is the head and that’s where you want the hook to go through,” he explains.

He hands the worm to Lily, who immediately drops it on the floor. She giggles as he picks it up and she tries again.

“If you hit the head a few times with the hook, that usually gets it to stop moving,” he tells her.

It takes a good five minutes, but Lily finally manages to pierce the worm with the hook. Noah threads it through a few more times, then holds the hook up in the air. “Do you want to say a few words in honor of this worm’s sacrifice?”

Before I can roll my eyes, Lily calls out, “Yeah!”

“Okay.” Noah looks at the worm thoughtfully. “Dear worm, thank you for helping us to catch a fish. We couldn’t do it without you. Your sacrifice is much appreciated.”

“Amen,” Lily adds.

“Amen,” Noah agrees.

Oh Lord.

Noah lets Lily try casting off the line, but since she can’t get it to go more than a few feet from the boat, he ends up doing it himself. And then it’s time to wait. Fortunately, Lily brought a coloring book and I brought my sketch pad. Noah hasn’t brought anything, but he seems content to lean back in his seat, listening to the quiet music playing on the boat’s radio. Even Lily seems to be enjoying the silence.

“So how was your date last night?” I comment to Noah, after we’ve been sitting quietly for about fifteen minutes.

He looks up at me in surprise. He seemed to be in some sort of trance, staring at the water. “Oh. Um, it was okay.”

Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “You got back kind of late.”

He raises his eyebrows at me. “Not that late.”

I glance back at Lily, to see if she’s listening. She seems to be very busy coloring in Rapunzel’s hair. “It was after midnight.”

He chuckles. “So… what? Were you waiting up?”

“I happened to be up.”

Noah shifts his legs. I see the hinges on his knees moving like computerized machines. “I think it was just after midnight. That’s not so late for a date.”

I’ll have to take his word for it. As Lily pointed out, my social life is not exactly jumping.

I continue sketching, not looking up at him. “So was it a good date?”

He shrugs. “Sure.”

Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “Will you go out with her again?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Why are you so interested?”

My cheeks grow warm. I don’t know why I started asking him about his date last night. What’s wrong with me? It’s like I’ve reverted to being twenty years old again. This is such an inappropriate conversation.

“Never mind,” I say and go back to my drawing. That’s another thing about this trip—I haven’t done this much sketching since I was in college.

“What are you drawing?” Noah asks me.

I shrug.

He winks. “Is it me?”

I roll my eyes. “Don’t be so full of yourself. I’m drawing the lake.”

He leans over to take a look at what I’m drawing. He watches me for several minutes, as if fascinated by my sketching.

“You missed your calling,” he murmurs.

I shrug again.

Noah jerks his head in Lily’s direction. “Also, I don’t understand why she’s got a coloring book. That’s so uncreative. She was so happy when she was drawing in your sketchbook the other night. That’s what she ought to be doing.”

“She likes coloring books.”

“Lily,” Noah says. My daughter looks up and smiles. “Don’t you want a page from Mommy’s sketchbook so you can draw whatever you want?”

“Yeah!” Lily says with so much enthusiasm, you’d think he’d offered her a trip to Disneyland instead of a blank piece of paper.

I rip out a page from my sketchbook and pass it back to Lily. She gets right to work on her drawing. I’ve never seen her concentrating so hard, except during that bad bout of constipation when she was three. He’s right—she does stick her tongue out of the side of her mouth when she’s concentrating.

“Look how inspired she is!” Noah says.

Yeah, yeah. She’s probably drawing a flower or something like that. He’s getting a little overenthusiastic.

After a minute, Lily holds up her paper and declares, “Done!”

Noah plucks the paper from her hands. He studies it for a minute, his brow furrowed. “Wow, Bailey, Lily did a really good job on this picture. She’s really talented.”

I roll my eyes. “Do you even know what a six-year-old’s pictures are supposed to look like?”

“Do you?”

“I know better than you do.”

I pull the paper out of Noah’s hands. It’s a drawing of two people who seem to either be holding hands or perhaps are Siamese twins connected at the arm. It’s probably the former, because there’s a heart between them. And she drew the feet perfectly, just like I showed her the other day.

“What is this?” I ask Lily.

“It’s you and Noah out on a date,” Lily says.

I nearly choke. I look at Noah, whose blue eyes have gotten really wide.

“Lily,” I say carefully. “Noah and I aren’t actually going to go out on a date.”

Lily screws up her face like she’s going to throw a mid-lake tantrum. “Why not?”

“Because,” I say. I glance at Noah, who doesn’t look like he’s going to give me any help on this one. “Noah is already going out on a date with another woman.”

“But he doesn’t really like her,” Lily says. “He said he wasn’t even sure he was going to ask her out again.”

Oh no. Lily was doing that thing where it seems like she’s not listening at all, but really, she is. On Noah’s part, he seems to be suppressing a laugh. Ha ha, very funny.

“Lily,” Noah says. “Do you want to hear the real truth?”

Lily nods intently. I’m listening carefully too.

“Your mom and I actually did go out,” he says to her. “A really long time ago.”

“On just one date?” Lily asks.

Noah hesitates. “Maybe two,” says the man I nearly married. “Anyway, it turned out that your mom felt we weren’t right for each other. So we stopped going out on dates.”

Lily’s lower lip juts out. “But why didn’t Mommy like you? You’re much nicer looking than Daddy.”

Oh God. Noah can’t hold back his laughter anymore. Thanks a lot, Lily.

“Is that so?” he says. “Well, that’s really good to know.” Then he stage-whispers to me, “Apparently, your ex-husband is really ugly.”

I smack Noah in the arm. He looks at me in surprise, maybe because it’s the first time I’ve touched him since I arrived here. I didn’t even realize what I was doing—I’m just so used to being touchy-feely with him. It’s odd to be sitting here next to him, but not be able to touch him or kiss him.

My life preserver is starting to feel really tight.

“I! Wanna! Go! Swimming!” Lily declares, apparently tired of our reminiscing. “I hate fishing. It’s so boring.”

“You got it, kid,” Noah says. He pulls the fishing line in from the water, then turns back to the steering wheel. He punches his prosthetic leg down on the gas pedal, and we’re off again.

Noah finds an area where the water isn’t too deep. He says I’ll probably be able to stand, but Lily won’t. Dad took Lily to the community pool a lot over the summer, so she’s actually gotten to be a decent swimmer, but I still make her keep on her life preserver just in case.

Lily splashes around in the water for a bit, happily swimming laps around the boat. I’m not really swimming much—just floating on my back and enjoying the warm water. Noah stays on the boat, leaning back in his seat like he was when we were still fishing.

“Noah!” Lily calls to him. “Come swim with us!”

Noah glances at me. “Uh, I don’t know. I think I’m just going to chill on the boat.”

“No!” Lily whines. “It’s no fun if you don’t swim with us. You already got your trunks on!”

He looks like he’s struggling with an internal debate. Finally, he says, “Okay.”

I quickly figure out why Noah was hesitant to get in the water. It’s clear that he can’t get his prosthetics submerged in water. So before coming in the water, he has to remove them. I watch him pull up the leg of his right shorts and fiddle with what looks like a little white circle. He grips his upper prosthetic, gives it a yank, and it pops free. He puts his leg down on the floor of the boat, then pulls off what looks like a rubber sock. He repeats the process with his other leg.

This is the closest I’ve gotten to looking at Noah’s bare legs since that day in his bedroom right before I destroyed him. The scars are still there, but very old. The limbs aren’t swollen like they were, and the skin hangs loosely around his thigh bone. Before I can look too closely though, he pulls down the legs of his shorts to completely cover his stumps.

He edges to the side of the boat that Lily isn’t on, then hoists his butt onto the edge of the boat. I doubt I’d be able to make a move like that without my legs helping me, but he’s much, much stronger than I am. Without hesitating, he swings his limbs over the side of the boat, then dives into the water, legs-first. He goes under for a second, then emerges with his hair plastered to his scalp. He shakes his head to clear the water from his face.

“The water’s nice, right?” I say.

Lily is too short to stand in this water, and Noah is too without his prosthetics. He hangs on to the side of the boat. “Yeah, it’s great. I’m glad I came in.”

“Me too,” I say.

Noah narrows his eyes at me, but then dives back into the water and starts swimming around the boat.

Noah is a really strong swimmer—I can tell right away. The two of us used to both like to swim back in college—it was something we used to do together. I would have thought that the loss of most of his legs would have slowed him down but it hasn’t. There’s a buoy in the distance, and Noah swims to it and back in no time at all.

“Do you still swim a lot?” I ask him when he returns.

“Five miles three times a week,” he tells me, wiping water from his eyes.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the only swimming I do is when I splash around the community pool with Lily. “Way to make me feel out of shape.”

He shrugs. “Well, you have a kid. I’ve got lots of free time.”

“Can I swim out to the floaty thing, Mommy?” Lily asks, pointing out at the buoy.

I squint at it. “No, that’s too far.”

“Noah did it!”

“Yes, but he’s an adult, isn’t he?”

Lily looks to Noah for support but he shakes his head. “Your mom’s right—it’s really far.” He cocks his head thoughtfully. “But you know what might be fun? If your mom raced me to the buoy.”

Lily claps her hands excitedly. “Yes! Race!”

I glare at Noah. “I don’t think that’s a fair race.”

“You’re right—it isn’t,” he says. “Your legs are longer than mine. I should get a head start.” He looks at Lily. “But we’re only going to race if you get back in the boat first.”

“Why?” Lily says.

“Because you can’t be out in the water yourself when your mom and I are distracted,” he explains. “That’s how kids get hurt. I’m a doctor—trust me.”

It probably would have taken me two hours to convince Lily to get back in that boat, but when Noah tells her to do it, she scrambles back up there without question right away.

The race is a surprisingly big deal for the next several minutes. We decide Lily is going to do the countdown to our race, which she performs with great relish: “Three… two… one… GO! GO!” And then, “Go, Noah!”

My own daughter isn’t even rooting for me.

Noah and I are even for the first several yards, but he quickly manages to overtake me. I see him taking long strokes with his arms, as his stumps intermittently kick in the water. I’m swimming as fast as I can, but I’m really out of practice and my stamina has gotten terrible. After he’s gained some distance on me, I can see him intentionally slowing down. It must be painful for him to swim so slowly.

He reaches for the buoy at the same time I do. Noah comes up from the water and I can see the droplets glistening in his eyelashes. “So who won?” he asks.

“I think it was a tie,” I say. “Except I’m pretty sure you let me win.”

He grins. “You think?”

We float there for a minute, and I’m acutely aware of the fact that Noah’s bare chest is less than a foot away from mine. He’s looking straight at me and I can’t seem to look away. I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s been ten years since we’ve seen each other, but it feels like we’re twenty again and still in love. I feel like I could reach out and touch him, and everything would be back the way it used to be.

And I want it so bad.

“Mommy!” Lily hollers. “Swim back! Race back!”

Noah raises his eyebrows at me. “Shall we?”

I nod, the spell broken. It’s not like Noah and I are going to start making out in the middle of a lake in front of my daughter anyway.

We swim around a little more after that, but after another half hour, Lily says that she’s tired and we decide to head back. Noah getting out of the water is slightly more of a challenge than getting in—he has to grab on to the edge of the boat so that it tips in his direction, then hoists his body up until his butt is on the side of the boat. Then he swings his legs around so that he can drop down into the driver’s seat.

We all dry off with the three fresh beach towels Noah brought along. Lily wraps hers around her like a cape, with only her little face peeking out—she’s never as cute as when she’s fresh out of a pool or the bath. Noah towels off his short hair quickly, then his muscular upper body, then goes to work more carefully on his stumps. The scars where they removed the rest of his legs look so faded and dimpled compared to what I remember from years ago.

I can’t help but notice the way Lily is watching him with fascination. She’s seen his prosthetics before, but this is probably the first time she’s seen him without them. I hope it’s not too weird for her. Then again, Noah can do no wrong in her eyes.

“I think,” he says, “that I’m going to need another ten minutes or so to dry off before I try to get my prosthetics back on.”

“I want to go back, Mommy,” Lily says in a tiny voice.

Noah glances at Lily, then back at me. “Look, Bailey, I can’t drive this boat without my prosthetics on. Do you want to do it?”

I look down at the boat’s controls in horror. “No. I really don’t.”

“It’s not that hard. It’s like driving a car.”

“I haven’t driven a car in four years.”

He sighs. “Okay, I don’t want you to get us all killed.” He grabs the towel again and goes to work trying to at least get his right leg dry. After a minute, he picks up that rubber sock, and rolls it carefully over his stump to cover it completely. Then he grabs his right prosthetic from the floor and pulls it over the rubber sock. He has to pull himself up into a standing position to pop it into place. He leaves the left one off.

The drive back to the harbor is mostly silent. Lily sits in the back, huddled in her towel, and the wind feels colder now that my hair is wet. When we make it back, Lily scrambles to her feet and practically trips in her haste to get out of the boat.

“You coming?” I ask Noah.

He hesitates. “Nah. I think I’m going to see if I can get a little fishing done. Maybe I’ll catch something for dinner.”

I expect Lily to whine for Noah to come with us, but she doesn’t. She can’t wait to get back to the cabin, walking as fast as she can go in her little pink sandals. She stays huddled in the towel the whole time, even though it’s not that cold. And then when we get back to the cabin, she sits down on the couch in the living room, still huddled in her towel. She doesn’t say a word, her little face white. It’s odd behavior for Lily. God, I hope she didn’t get sick from the water. Or seasick.

I bet she’s seasick. I’m probably going to be cleaning up vomit in a minute.

I sit down next to Lily and gingerly put my arm around her narrow shoulders. “Are you okay, sweetie?”

Lily looks up at me. But instead of throwing up, her face crumples and she bursts into tears.

“Lily, what’s wrong?” I ask. Not that it takes much for Lily to cry. She’s been in tears over getting a SpongeBob Band-Aid instead of a Frozen Band-Aid. But this seems different, somehow. She seems genuinely upset.

Lily sniffles and wipes a big glob of snot on the back of her hand, but she doesn’t say anything. Apparently, she’s going to make me drag this one out of her.

“Lily,” I say again, “please tell Mommy what you’re upset about. Did you hurt yourself?”

She shakes her head no.

“Do you… feel like you’re going to throw up?” (I still feel like it’s a good bet.)

But she shakes her head no again. Thank God.

“Is it…” Christ, parenthood is full of so many mind games. “Is it something that happened on the boat?”

Lily nods. Okay, that’s progress.

“Did you get water in your nose?”

Another no.

“Does it…” I frown. “Does it have something to do with Noah?”

Lily is quiet. Bingo.

“Sweetie, please tell me,” I say. “I promise whatever you say, I won’t tell him. I promise.”

She looks up at me and a fresh wave of tears floods her eyes. “Mommy, what’s wrong with Noah’s legs?” she says in a teeny tiny voice.

Oh. How did I not figure that one out? I was so busy ogling Noah that it didn’t even occur to me how scary it must have been for Lily to see something like that for the very first time. She didn’t notice when we were in the water, but when he was drying off, it was right in her face. It sure scared the hell out of me when I first saw it, and I was twenty.

“Lily,” I say carefully, “I thought you knew that he had those robotic legs.”

She wipes snot on her hand again, then wipes it on the sofa. Oh well. “I knew, but…”

I get it. She probably thought Noah’s real legs were inside the robot legs like it was a robotic exoskeleton. Or… who knows? Whatever she’d been imagining, it wasn’t those scarred stumps.

Now that I think of it, I bet Noah recognized that Lily was traumatized by what she’d seen. That’s why he got us back fast and left us to go fishing.

“Listen, Lily,” I say. “Noah… he was in a bad accident many years ago and… and his real legs were badly hurt. So they decided to replace them with the robot legs. You know, like with Luke’s hand in Star Wars. Or Anakin’s hand in Star Wars.”

I am so glad right now that I introduced Lily to Star Wars as it is now our only source of reference on amputees.

“But they look…” Lily lowers her eyes. “They look weird, Mommy.”

“Only because you’re not used to seeing them,” I say. “The first time is always scary, right? I mean, remember how scared you were the first day of kindergarten? And then you ended up loving it!”

“I hate kindergarten, Mommy!” Lily yells. “Ms. Nelson is always mean to us, and she never gives me any stickers to fill up my sticker chart, and she keeps taking my playtime minutes away!”

Oh right.

“Just trust me,” I say. “It probably won’t scare you as much next time you see it. I mean, they’re just legs, right?”

Lily squeezes her hands together in her lap. “Could that happen to me? What if someone took my legs off?”

“It won’t happen to you, Lily,” I assure her, although it’s a lie. After all, who would have thought that my tall, handsome fiancé would end up having both his legs amputated?

To be continued...

41 comments:

  1. Bailey... You're being obvious! I must have checked for this a billion times today! And as a SW fan O appreciate the explanation of amputee s from Luke and Anakin. At first I thought she was crying because they used to date. Poor Lily. Anyways... Update soon!
    Tc

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    1. Yeah, I wonder if Lucas was an amputee dev ;)

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  2. My favourite chapter so far. I'm loving the relationship with Bailey & Noah.

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    1. Thanks! It's one of my favorites too!

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  3. What a beautiful chapter! I'm really looking forward to the book, and Lily's reaction is understandable, but for me, the best is the way Bailey handles the situation. I want to see how Lily behaves with Noah after this ...

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    1. I'm actually debating about changing the book release date. I am stupidly releasing it prior to a major holiday here in the states. But I'm not sure it matters. Anyway, I can't release it later, only sooner. So I'm not sure what to do. Once I release it, I won't be posting more chapters..

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    2. Ohh! Now I have mixed feelings, I'm super excited to read the full story, but in this blog there is a direct communication with you and I can see the opinion of other readers, unfortunately I have no one to share my taste for your books because of the language ... Anyway I really enjoy your stories and as soon as it goes on sale, I'm sure I'll devour it in a few hours !!! Greetings from Mexico

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    3. I'll probably keep posting till the release date then :)

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  4. Aww, poor Lily! It's so hard for kids that have never had any real exposure to understand. And especially in that type of situation! I love this chapter! Can't wait for the whole book.
    Quadlover

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    1. Thanks! Like I said, the book may end up coming out sooner... but that means I have to rush forward on the editing...

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  5. Great chapter. Definetely very devy. The whole boat, swimming, off with the prosthetics, Lilys reaction just kept me riveted .

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    1. Thanks... I thought it was devvy, but I never know what others will think!

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  6. Can't wait for the whole book!!! The sooner the better!

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    1. Still aiming for July 2. I need to do one last edit, so I need the extra time.

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  7. Lovely scenes and wonderful on the boat and in the water! You handle your characters so well.

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  8. Really wonderful chapter. Love how realistic it is regarding Noah's stumps. How he gets out and back on the boat, how Lily reacts...

    Bailey and him on the water and the fashback...

    You know how to keep the tension...

    Shape

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    1. Glad you liked it! I was nervous the flashback might be boring...

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  9. Thank you, a great chapter as always! I won't change a thing about it! :)

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  10. Oh please, don't stop posting chapters! Now I'm so sad, because this is my absolute favorite story, and I have no means to buy the book :'( At least give us a nice closure, I beg you!

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    1. I think I'll post another two chapters, but don't worry, I will always have something new to post ;)

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  11. I want the book to come very very soon, but Amazon don't allow me to buy most of the books I want, I hope there will be an alternative to Amazon.

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    1. Oh no! How come? What country are you in?

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    2. Hhh, I'm from the middle east (don't give too specific) that's why

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  12. I love it! Your writing is perfect. Thank you!

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  13. I'm loving this chapter
    These two need to sitdown and talk about what happend when they broke up. there are so many misunderstandings there it drive me crazy especialy while reading how Noah feels about the whole ordeal ("Noah hesitates.
    “Maybe two,” says the man I nearly married. “Anyway, it turned out that your
    mom felt we weren’t right for each other. So we stopped going out on dates.”"). Not saying that Bailwy was right but it is more complecated than that.
    Also would really like of Lily to just run to Noah when he comes back and hug him...

    On another matter I'm disappointed to learn that you won't be posting here once you publish the book. Not all of us can afford to buy or read openly

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    1. I love writing about misunderstandings. Wait till you see my Christmas book ;)

      Thank you for commenting. It does make me a little sad to hear my books are not worth paying even a small price for. I spent about a year working on this novel including all the time spent editing. I really try to create a wonderful product for my readers. I price it at a fraction of what traditionally published books cost, at less than the cost of a sandwich at McDonald's (even without fries), at even less than a lot of self-published books. I am here every week posting new writing for free, but I hope it is not arrogant to say that I believe a finished novel I spent a year of my life on is worth more than nothing.

      Thank you again for reading and commenting. I do appreciate your input.

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    2. Have to chime in to say, first of all great chapter but also that your books are ALWAYS worth the money. They are more than reasonable and I love having them in book format as opposed to just here on the site, plus we always get more!

      I’m in Canada too, and while the link you post doesn’t usually work, I can search for them on Amazon.ca and purchase no problem. Thank you for sharing your hard work!

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    3. Id like for you to consider other perspective because youre reaction is very defensive. I'm not living in the US so have no idea how much a McDonald sandwich costs. fact remains that there r pepole out that are not earning your salary in youre currency who cannot afford buying your book even if they feel it is worth it. publishing half finished work in the blog feels baiting and deceiving .

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    4. Sorry it sounds defensive. If you sign up for my mailing list (I'll put a link in my next post), I do often have sales and sometimes freebies. You're right that I don't have a sense of what things cost in some developing countries, but I suppose I assume if someone can afford a computer and internet to read these stories, they have a very small amount of money to spend a couple of times a year on a book. Maybe that's not correct though.

      I want to point out though that of all the people who post on this blog, I am one of the few who finishes my stories in any format. Most authors eventually get bored of posting here because it does become a grind to do it week after week, especially when the comments start to dwindle. Sometimes you start to wonder what's the point when you've been doing it for 20+ weeks. If I didn't have the motivation of completing a book for Amazon, I might fall into the same category and leave the works unfinished period. At least this way there's the option to read the whole book, because for most stories on here, that option doesn't exist.

      I'm sorry you feel deceived though. For the sake of full disclosure, I likely will not be posting any more 200+ page stories in their entirety on the blog anymore, because like I said, it gets sort of exhausting for me. I will try to end them at a place that you can feel closure though even if it's not the whole story. I don't want people to feel deceived. I have a ton more stories to post (4 fully written) and I'm so excited to show them to you guys. I hope you will remain a reader, Anon.

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  14. Hi Annabelle, I wanted to say I really appreciate your writing and all the time and effort you put in. I am definitely happy to support you and all of your work. Unfortunately I’ve tried to buy your books on amazon but it always says they are not available in my region (Canada). Is there any way you can fix that or is there another way I could pay/receive this and other books of yours? Thanks for your time.

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    1. So randomly I’m in another region in Canada and it is working! I’m not sure if it’s that or if amazon changed but I finally get to read the end of the girl I didn’t Mary! So exited :)

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    2. I'm so sorry you're having problems! I do get tons of sales in Canada, so there must be a way! Also, I recently learned how to do universal links, so hopefully that will work next time!

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    3. Thanks Annabelle. I think it was because I was searching the books on my kindle app. As soon as I went to amazon.ca I had access to all of them. Thanks to the fellow Canadian above for giving me the tip! Now the only problem is that your books are so good I’m reading them when I should be doing other important things like sleeping!

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    4. Annabelle, sorry for the intervention, but it also happened to me sometimes that your books were not available in my country (Mexico) on Amazon, but my husband bought me a subscription to Kindle Unlimited and now it allows me to read everything that is in that program, and that's how I have access to almost all of your books and also allows me to buy the ones that are not, regardless of language or region ... I totally recommend investing in a Kindle Unlimited account ;-)

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  15. I would have happily paid for your book after the first chapter. It is killing me to wait!!!

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    1. Nice writing but something kept bugging me about this chapter. My college varsity swimmer husband (who still swims 1-2 hours at least three times a week) about the 5 miles. He said that 5 miles would take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a fit, non-competitive swimmer. And that 5 miles would cause a significant degree of dehydration that might add another hour to stop and rehydrate. This doesn't even count the level of fatigue. Without legs Noah would not fall into the fit category and I cannot imagine his spending hours at the pool 3 days a week with a taxing medical practice schedule.

      Five miles is more of a runner's number.

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