Tuesday, April 30, 2019

What It Was


Chapter 1

 I stepped off the city bus pulling the hood of my rain jacket over my head. Once again it was another rainy day in September. Fall was moving in with quick strides, colorful leaves were falling from the trees and blowing everywhere. A cold wind from the Sound was gusting through the streets of Seattle. I only had one block to walk to my work place. It usually took about ten minutes.

The bus closed its automatic doors behind me and with a loud engine roar pulled away from the stop, leaving a cloud of environmentally compliant exhaust behind. People who had stepped off the bus with me now scattered into all directions. It was crowded in the city with the usual morning commuters flocking into the city from the suburbs. Traffic in Seattle was a relentless chaos, too many cars, too many construction sites, and too many people.

I had been taking the bus for two years. I lived up in Queen Anne in a tiny apartment but that was all I could afford with the cost of living in this city. I worked in the customer service department of a large bank, ironically specializing in real estate financing and brokerage. The numbers that ran over my desk on any given day when it came to Seattle real estate were numbers I would never earn in my life time.

I rushed over to the cross walk waiting for the light to turn and then squeezing across the street with lots of other pedestrians. I walked faster than usually. I had plenty of time to get to work though, but I was cold and tired and wanted to get inside the warm building. My work day usually started at eight and it was only seven thirty now.

I arrived in the lobby the same time some of my coworkers arrived from other bus stops, public transportation sites, or from the actual employee car garage. I stood in the elevator and was chatting with other employees going up and getting out on different floors of our bank. The Real Estate Finance Department was on the tenth floor.

As I stepped out of the elevator, I met Matt in the hall way. At the employee entrance he held the glass door open for me.

“Good Morning Shay. How are you?”

I took off my hood and shook it out somewhat, splattering drops of rain everywhere including Matt. 

“Good Morning Matt, I’m sorry. What a mess out there?”
“Yeah, sure is. Washington fall for you.”

We stepped inside the warm hallway of our department with the lights on since it was still dark outside. I shook myself again, letting my blonde hair fall loosely over my shoulders and running my hand through it. Matt stood by and was already taking off his coat.

I looked up at him and smiled, “We’ll have this for the next seven months. I don’t even want to think about it.”
He laughed, “Right, it’s not a good thought. I miss summer already.”

He then actually helped me with taking off my coat and handed it to me.I thanked him and we both clocked into work. A few other coworkers came in through the door and we all greeted each other.

I had a cubicle in a row with five other cubicles. Matt sat two cubicles down from me. Now as I walked into my cubicle, I saw through the window it was raining even harder now. As I glanced down onto the streets for a moment, I saw the trees across from our building were swaying in the wind. I hung my coat on the hook, stashed my bag in the corner, and turned on the desk lamp over my computer. I sat down at my desk with my back against the window front. I had been occupying this cubicle for two years. 

It was personalized with a variety of my things, from a stuffed animal my older brother Chad had given me for Christmas to my college degree in a wooden frame, Bachelors in Finance. Scattered throughout my cubicle were other personal items but still decorated tastefully and not too playful. I had my professional integrity to protect and keep things somewhat conservative, especially with my wealthier clients.

As I got situated Matt stopped by once again, “Maybe we can grab lunch together today if you want?”
I looked up at him, “Yeah, maybe, let’s see how the morning goes.”
“Okey dokey, have a good morning then.”
“You too.”

Matt left and I switched on my computer. I knew that Matt had been crushing on me for a while but I had recently gotten out of a four-year relationship. Matt had just started working here about a year ago when I had still been in that relationship. Ever since the break-up, Matt had been lingering around me quite often and a few times we had gone out for drinks or lunches but I just wasn’t ready yet to get into anything else. Matt was a very patient guy.

My morning was busy and I had two clients come in for financing of homes.

I didn’t even realize how fast the time had gone by when I finally was done with my second client and Matt peeked around the corner of my cubicle, “Hey.”
I looked up from a stack of paper, “Oh hey Matt.”
“Do you want to go to lunch?”
I leaned back in my desk chair, “Oh wow, it’s already that time, isn’t it?”
Matt stepped into my cubicle, “It sure is. I was thinking Teriyaki.”
He sat down on one of the chairs in front of my desk and smiled at me, “Looks like you had a productive morning.”
“I did, I finished two deals, people happily overpaying for houses in the Seattle area.”

Matt laughed and nodded. I pushed a stack of paper together and moved it all into a folder on my desk, then set it with several other folders over on the side of my computer, “Yeah, I need to eat something.”
Matt shifted, “All right, let’s grab some lunch then.”

It was about ten minutes later when we sat in the Teriyaki place across the street from where we worked. It was still raining and we were watching people rush by outside, their coats pulled up and over their heads, some umbrellas in between, probably tourists. Of course, Seattlelites didn’t use umbrellas, we wore our rugged outdoor clothing from places like “The North Face” or “Columbia Sportswear”. Tourists on the other hand were usually known to carry umbrellas, it was somewhat of an inside joke amongst the locals.

Matt turned to me, “So how have you been?”
I finished a bite, “I’m doing good. Just getting used to living in my tiny apartment.”

After my break-up I had moved into the apartment in Queen Anne. Before that I had lived in a slightly larger apartment with my ex, maybe about fifteen more square feet but like a thousand dollars more rent every month. 

Matt then stated, “I told you, you should have moved out of the city and gotten a larger apartment for the same rent you are paying for your tiny place.”
I remarked, “And commute like an hour longer every morning and every night. No thanks.”

The living conditions were tough in Seattle and its suburbs. Rents were sky high, mortgages pretty much unaffordable unless you were rich out of your ears, and the homeless problem grew every day, people living on the streets in very large numbers.

Matt lived out in Tukwila, which was about a thirty-minute drive if the Interstate was open.
We chatted about work and living in Seattle like we didn’t already talk about that enough in our jobs. Matt specialized in commercial properties though whereas I took care of people buying houses and apartments. I dug into my Teriyaki chicken and rice bowl and looked out the large window of the restaurant. We sat next to each other with view out to the sidewalk and watched people rushing by and hurrying to wherever they needed to go.

Matt then asked, “What are your plans for the weekend?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know yet. No plans yet. Depends on the weather I guess.”

Most of my friends also lived in the city and some of them were still friends I had from my previous relationship so depending on what was going on I always had to make sure I didn’t see my ex.

Matt then said, “Shay, I would really like to take you out for dinner or a movie or something.”

I had expected it was going to happen sooner or later that he would ask me out. He had been patient long enough I guess. He was an attractive guy in his mid-thirties, a few years older than I.

I looked at him and smiled nervously, “I don’t know Matt.”
“What don’t you know?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I just don’t know if I’m ready yet to date.”
“Shay, it’s only a dinner or a movie or both.”

He was right with his statement. It didn’t really mean anything but there were things I wasn’t sure about when it came to myself. I was dealing with some things and I didn’t really want to commit to anyone.

I met Matt’s blue eyes on me. They were very nice eyes and he was an attractive guy. He wore his hair in a trendy cut, longer on top, short and faded on the sides and in the back. At work he usually wore a suit and tie and he was really an attractive man. Sometimes at work behind his desk he wore glasses and they made him look a tad bit nerdy but in a very sexy way. When he took off his glasses, he really did look very sexy and his bright blue eyes were prominent in his face.

Right now, I was looking at him and thinking to myself how I could actually be hesitant about his offer. I knew there were women in the bank who had a crush on Matt and some had tried unsuccessful to get with him or get a date out of him.

There I was sitting and looking at this very attractive man who asked me out and I was uncertain.

Matt tilted his head and smiled at me his very sexy smile, “Come on Shay, don’t leave me hanging. I want to take you out. I know a very nice Thai restaurant out in Montlake. We could go to a movie after or a drink if you want. I know you like Thai.”
I laughed softly, “I do like Thai.”
“So, what’s it going to take? Just say yes.”

The wrinkles in the corners of his eyes made him look even sexier. His blue eyes coincided with his teal tie.

I nodded, “Okay.”
Matt smiled and pretended to wipe sweat from his forehead, “Phew, I did it. Got the prettiest girl in the finance department to go out with me.”
We laughed together and he added in a more serious tone, “Thanks Shay, you won’t regret it. What time and day this weekend is good for you?”
“Saturday for sure.”
“Okay, what time?”

We decided on six o’clock on Saturday evening. Matt was going to pick me up at my apartment. 

We kept eating and as I was looking out to the sidewalk with all the people passing by, my eyes caught a figure across the street. A few cars passed by and a bus and I then got a good view again. It was a person in a wheelchair pushing the rims and coming to a halt under one of the storefront roofs. I could see it was a man and he looked like just another homeless guy out on the street, now parked in his wheelchair and begging for money.
I watched for a moment and then pedestrians blocked my view again.

Matt pulled me from my observation and followed my eyes out to the street, commenting, “It’s coming down harder now.”
“Yeah.”
I looked at my cell phone quickly and added, “I guess we have to get back too.”

Matt looked at his cell phone and agreed. We finished our lunch bowls and then slipped into our jackets. I grabbed my purse and we left the bistro.

Matt stayed close to me as we stepped outside and prepared to cross the street. I had my hood over my head and we waited at the light. My eyes wandered to the homeless person in the wheelchair. He was still there. I couldn’t see his face because he wore a hoodie and had the hood pulled far into his face.

The light turned and we crossed with lots of people to the other side, dodging the oncoming pedestrians trying to get across to the opposite side.

I kept glancing over to the guy in the wheelchair. I hadn’t seen him in our area before. Usually the homeless had their regular corners and they defended those corners with all their might. I had seen fights erupt among them before when a new person would come too close to their regular corners. I had never seen this guy in our area but I kept glancing over there now as we crossed and reached the other side. We had to pass right by him and I saw his hands held open in his lap. I felt the urge to give him some change or a few dollars. I don’t know what it was because usually I had become quite numb to the homeless begging on the corners. There were so many of them in our city that it was almost a nuisance that they were everywhere. Full homeless camps were set up under bridges or in abandoned industry lots and it was a constant topic on the evening news. 

As we passed by him I saw the hoodie he wore was pulled into his face but looking at his hands held open, they were not hands of an old person. His legs were in some torn jeans with stains and his feet were in some worn out Nike sneakers. I couldn’t see his face and we passed by without my being able to give him some money.

His wheelchair had caught my eyes too. It wasn’t one of those old raggedy or bulky wheelchairs homeless people sometimes had from written off hospital inventory or donated from a charity organization. His wheelchair looked more like a regular wheelchair non-homeless, disabled people would use. His wheelchair looked like something I would see on pictures or in video clips of disabled men who lived normal lives. It didn’t look new but it was definitely a wheelchair a person would have if they had a disability affecting their walking or couldn’t walk anymore at all. This looked like a wheelchair the paraplegic guys I followed on YouTube had, maybe an older, worn out version of a wheelchair but definitely not a bulky old hospital wheelchair.

We hurried by and got back to our office a few minutes late. Matt helped me out of my jacket again as we got to our cubicles.
“Thanks Matt.”
“You’re welcome. Shay…” I looked at him and he smiled at me, “I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”
I smiled at him, “Me too.”

He stood there as I hung up my jacket on the hook in my cubicle.
“How many clients do you have this afternoon?”
I looked at my desk calendar, “One more today, penthouse suite on Mercer Island.”
Matt whistled softly, “Penthouse huh?”
I grinned at him, “Yeah, it’s the big bucks coming in.”

We laughed and he then wished me a good rest of my day and headed to his cubicle.

I got organized and pulled the files for my next client up on my computer with the property they were interested in, valued at almost one million. And I kept thinking about the guy in the wheelchair sitting under a storefront roof about ten floors down from me begging for money.

My afternoon passed by quickly and I had a successful appointment with my client. Throughout the afternoon though I couldn’t get my mind off the guy in wheelchair. I was hoping for some strange reason that he was still going to be there and I could give him some money and maybe get a look at his face.

Everyone got ready at the same time. Matt came over and we all slipped into our jackets and headed for the elevator. My coworkers wanted to go for happy hour drinks but I really didn’t feel like it.

Jenny, a girl who worked in the same department tried to persuade me into going with them, “Come on Shay, you didn’t go last week either. What’s going on with you? Are you getting lame on us?”
We laughed and Adam, another one of my coworkers then added, “She’ll go if Matt goes.”
With that he looked at Matt and Matt smiled, “I’m up for a drink.”
I sighed and smiled, “You guys are annoying. Why are you forcing me to drink?
Matt stood next to me in the elevator and said, “I’ll go for a drink. Come with us Shay.”

I was eventually persuaded into going with them and as we stepped out onto the sidewalk my eyes quickly travelled over to where I had seen the guy in the wheelchair. He was still there and I really wanted to give him some money.

Whereas everyone was about to head into the other direction I then told them, “Hey, I’m going to run into Rite Aid really quick and I’ll be over at The Black Bear in about fifteen minutes.”
I was glad when no one protested but instead Matt just said, “I’ll hold a seat for you.”
“Okay, thanks Matt. I’ll see you guys in a bit.”

They all headed into the opposite direction of where I was going. The guy in the wheelchair was at the corner of the Rite Aid drug store. I didn’t have to get anything from the store really. It was cold and rainy still; the roads were wet and as the cars were driving through I had to watch out for them going through puddles on the street. I pulled up my collar and tugged my scarf in some more. My hands were already getting cold and I debated getting my gloves out of my purse but decided I would be okay for a short time. 

I walked toward him and even though there were lots of people walking by, no one stopped or gave him anything. He sat there hunched over in the wheelchair, and with his hood pulled into his face, his hands still open on his lap.

I had reached him and stopped in front of him. I fiddled with my coat and pulled out the five-dollar bill I had taken from my wallet earlier. He moved his head and looked up somewhat and even though I couldn’t make out a whole lot, I saw a little of his face with dark bangs hanging into his forehead and over his eyes some.

As I was about to give him the money, I saw how his hands were red and calloused. His whole upper body was shaking from the cold and now I wished I would have bought him a hot coffee or something. There was a Starbucks around the corner and I could run in there and get some coffee for him. I handed him the five-dollar bill and he took it and looked up some more and now I got a glimpse of his dark eyes below the bangs. A shadow of a dark beard was visible.

It was the voice of a young man when he said, “Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
For a split moment our eyes met and I replied, “You’re welcome.”

I really wanted to say so much more and my mind was racing but he lowered his eyes, his face invisible again under the hood, and he stuck the money into the pocket of his hoodie.

I stood for a few more seconds with all kinds of thoughts in my head but then realized this was awkward and I had to keep moving with the crowds of pedestrians who didn’t even waste one moment on this guy.

I decided to run into Starbucks and as I stood inside, I looked at the board with trembling hands and when they asked me what I wanted I ordered a venti drip coffee. I waited for a few moments until they called my name and I grabbed the paper cup with the sleeve around it. I put some packets of sugar and creamer in a small bag and I hurried back outside. It had been at least twenty minutes already and I knew I needed to get to the pub.

Outside I mingled once again with all the people on the sidewalk and when I got to the spot where he had been, he wasn’t there anymore. I had this large coffee in my hand now and stood there clueless. I looked around for him but it was almost impossible to spot one specific person among all the people rushing along and hurrying to their busses, cars and homes.

And then I did spot a wheelchair on the other side of the street and realized it was him pushing the rims and wheeling along with the crowds of people.
He sat hunched over in the wheelchair, his hood still pulled far into his face, and his bare hands on the rims of his wheelchair.

I ran across with the next light and I felt silly when I ran after him and called out, “Hey.”

He didn’t hear or acknowledge me, most likely not even wasting a thought that anyone was actually calling him. And I felt like a crazy person, running after this homeless guy in a wheelchair with a hot coffee in my hands. I didn’t want to just waste five dollars though and it would have been weird if I showed up at the bar with a Starbucks coffee in my hand. And when I did get Starbucks every once in a while, it definitely wasn’t just a regular drip coffee. I usually had some fancy overpriced coffee cocktail like everyone else who made this company a multi-billion-dollar business.

I was right behind him now and said, “Hey.”       

He stopped in his pushing motion and came to a halt on the side of the building. I now saw he had a backpack on the handles of his wheelchair.
I got in front of him and he looked up at me, probably very surprised at seeing me again.

I held the coffee in my hand and the rain was drizzling onto the plastic lid of the cup. I looked at him and he actually moved his hood up some and I saw more of his face. His eyes were dark and flickered nervously. I saw he was still shaking and his hoodie had wet spots on the shoulders where the rain drops were landing.  

I now felt sillier than ever at this feeble attempt to be a good citizen and do something good for someone less fortunate.

I felt really dumb actually but now offered the coffee to him and tried to explain with a stutter, “I…You were not…not at the same spot but I…wanted to get a coffee for you since…since it’s pretty cold out.”

I could barely finish the sentence I was so nervous. I really didn’t know why I was so nervous. Somehow it felt like I was doing something wrong instead of something good. I felt awkward having hunted him down and basically forcing my charity on him. It seemed so selfish in a way even though it was meant to be just the opposite.

He seemed cold and nervous too but he reached for the coffee with his cold, dirty, and red hand. It was a large hand though, a strong hand from what I saw. His fingernails were trimmed but dirty.

He took the coffee from me with a shaking, blotchy hand and I tried to think of something else to say, “I’m sorry I hunted you down. I just thought…”

I really felt even sillier now saying anything else. I felt like a complete snob.
He then sat up some and looked at me directly from under his hood and through the dark strands of hair.

He did something to his wheelchair with the free hand and then added this second hand to holding the cup and now had both hands wrapped around the cup. I saw his hands were shaky and the cup trembled in his hands as he brought it down to his lap.

His voice was nervous but sincere when he now said, “That’s very kind of you. I’m sorry I wasn’t…at the spot anymore.”

Even though he sounded nervous I also heard gratefulness in his voice. It was a young man’s voice but also a defeated voice.

I wanted to say something else but he added softly, “My hands are cold. The warm cup feels good. Thank you so much.”

He still had both hands wrapped around the cup and just held it there in his lap.

I managed a smile, “Well, hope you enjoy.”
He nodded slightly, “I will.”

I stood up taller again and was ready to make my getaway.

Just as I was about to take a step he said again, “Thank you so much. It means a lot.”
His voice trembled and I could hear the insecurity in it.
“You’re welcome. Have a good evening.”

The moment I said the last sentence I wanted to disappear. How was this guy going to have a good evening? He surely wasn’t going home to his apartment with the fireplace on. More likely he was heading to one of the many shelters in town or one of the illegal homeless camps scattered throughout Seattle always on the verge of being cleared out and the people driven away just to find another spot to set up their tattered tents with all their belongings in shopping carts or backpacks. He possibly would actually end up sleeping in one of the entrance ways of a store or unoccupied building.

His evening was probably going to be one of survival of the fittest and I felt like a complete idiot.

I was stunned when he smiled nervously and said, “You have a good evening too.”

I needed to leave because I could barely stand looking at him anymore and feeling like a snobby diva. At the same time there was something about him that made me nervous in a strange way. His being in the wheelchair which didn’t look like some fake wheelchair thing but a real wheelchair that belonged to him and one he most likely depended on to get around interested me. I wondered about his disability and I wondered who he was. He was someone’s son for sure and whereas any other homeless person never occupied my mind any further because I had developed a numbness living in Seattle, with him something was different. I walked away and my head was spinning. 

Of what I had seen, he had beautiful dark eyes.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Cabin Fever: Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

What It Was - Chapter 2




Chapter 2

I hurried against the main flow of the pedestrian crowds toward the pub where I was supposed to meet my coworkers. I realized I didn’t even have a Rite Aid bag on me to actually show proof that I had been at the drugstore. I didn’t want them to know that I went out of my way to actually see this random homeless guy. In hindsight the part about getting him a coffee just seemed plain ridiculous and if they would know I actually had run after him, they would probably think I’m crazy.  I couldn’t let them know.

The guy occupied my mind though. Once again it had been a wheelchair that had caught my attention. It was my dirty little secret and the source for lots of shame and guilt. I had a thing for guys in wheelchairs, always had had it. Usually though it wasn’t some homeless guy I would check out but instead I followed good looking, attractive guys on YouTube and I admired them doing their work-outs in wheelchairs, how they instructed on doing wheelies off or onto the curbs of sidewalks, how they showed their accessible homes or told their stories about how they became paraplegic. I had a serious thing for those guys and I had my channels I was subscribed to under a random name. None of my friends knew about this side of me. I had always felt it was wrong, and had kept this very ingrained trait of my personality hidden away from everyone, including my family or my ex boyfriends who had all been able bodied and fit. In my fantasies I had very different images from the real-life men I was dating.


New Chapter - Will Love Prevail

Hi friends 🌈
another week, another chapter of WLP.
Hope you had a great week. Mine was so busy with all kinds of stuff going on. Time seems to just race by me right now.
I give you Chapter 27 of Will Love Prevail.
Thanks to everyone still reading along and for the comments I get,
Hugs, Dani 💟

Sunday, April 28, 2019

What It Was - Chapter 3


Chapter 3

Thursday morning was not very busy. I didn’t have any appointments scheduled and was working on projects and paperwork for some of my clients. I read through some informational material about the real estate market in Seattle and had to go online to take a test on some new regulations.

Matt was nice and perfectly attractive like he was every day. And even though he was a very good-looking guy, my mind kept drifting off to Jordan in his worn-out sneakers, dirty hoodie, and ripped jeans out on the street with no money and no home. I couldn’t wait for my lunch break and I was already trying to come up with an excuse for Matt in case he was going to ask me to go to lunch with him.   

My lunch break came around and I was going to try to get out of the office before Matt would even have a chance to ask me to join him. I slipped into my coat and basically snuck out of the office without anyone knowing.

I hurried to the elevator and took it down. In the lobby I greeted our security guards and then went outside. As I came around the corner of the street where I had previously seen Jordan under the Rite Aid store roof, I was disappointed when I didn’t see him in his spot. He wasn’t there and as my eyes travelled over the immediate area, scanning the sidewalks and the cross walks, I didn’t see him anywhere. It didn’t rain that day but instead it was cold and windy. Leaves from trees were drifting through the streets and with the strong wind dark clouds were rolling across the sky quickly.


New story: Cabin Fever

Hi all!  This is a new sexy story I'm writing that I hope you will enjoy!  The first part is a bit long, but hopefully you'll enjoy it!  As always, I would love feedback :)

CABIN FEVER


“I think we should turn around.”

My boyfriend, Chase, and I are on our way to a romantic weekend in a cabin in Vermont.  It sounded so wonderful when he told me about it.  A nice warm cabin surrounded by snow.  Just the two of us.  No interruptions from the outside world.

But right around the time when I lost reception on my phone, it stopped seeming like a great idea.  And now that the snow is coming down fast and hard, and the tires of Chase’s Ferrari are slipping on the tiny road we’ve turned down, it doesn’t feel like a great idea anymore. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

What It Was - Chapter 4


Chapter 4


Saturday came around and I did some grocery shopping at the market in walking distance not far from my apartment. I did have a small car but I didn’t use it very much really, usually to drive out to my parent’s place or to visit Chad and Amber. My car was mostly parked in an assigned spot in the garage under my apartment complex.


At the supermarket I bought a few things I needed. I didn’t need to worry about dinner that night since Matt was going to take me out. I was looking forward to the date with Matt but I also knew that I couldn’t take this any further. I stood at the register and paid. The girl behind the counter chatted cheerfully and told me how delicious the Strawberry cake, I bought a slice of, was.


I stepped out on the sidewalk with my two bags and made my way back toward my apartment. Right outside the grocery store a homeless guy was sitting on the ground with a sign in front of him stating that anything helps and God may bless us.
I dropped two dollars in the small, dirty plastic container on the ground in front of him. He looked up at me and thanked me. I nodded at him and went home.


Friday, April 26, 2019

What It Was - Chapter 5

 Chapter 5

I spent some time at the gym on Sunday and met up with my friend, Lisa, afterwards. We hung out at a cozy coffee shop in the middle of where we both lived. I didn’t tell her about Jordan but I did tell her that I had gone out with Matt and she wanted to know everything about the date. I left it at that we were taking it slow and were not together yet. She insisted I keep her updated though.

I also called my parents and talked with my mom for over an hour about work, life, my date with Matt, and about my brother Chad and his girlfriend Amber. My mom made sure I was updated on my parents’ life and we planned to meet up the next weekend.

Monday morning, I started with the daily rut of commuting to work and after I had stepped off the bus, I took a detour to pass by Rite Aid and see if there was a slight chance that Jordan would be there. It was early in the morning though and he wasn’t there.

He also wasn’t there during lunch when I used another errand to Rite Aid as an excuse to get out of lunch with some coworkers and Matt. Jordan wasn’t anywhere in sight and I was sad about that. I also didn’t see him when I got off from work and checked again on my way to the bus stop. He was not there.

Monday, April 22, 2019

New Chapter - Will Love Prevail

Hi friends,
sorry about the later post but life has just been so busy lately.
I was actually in Portland this past weekend and had a great time. Not too long ago I was in Burien where my character Mark lives and I literally felt like I would have to visit Chiara and him...lol
It's so strange how attached we can get to our characters I guess, they feel so real at times.

Anyways, I edited the next chapter this afternoon since I was still off and am giving you Chapter 26 of Will Love Prevail. I just really love my characters Chiara and Mark so much and they are getting their happy ending. The story is not over yet, I want to give you a bit more of them actually being together.

So for this week, enjoy this chapter and thanks for reading, for you patience, and for commenting. Now I'm off to be a soccer mom, another one of my many personas...lol

Hugs, Yours, Dani

TOC - Table of Contents

Later today

Hi friends of WLP,
I will be posting later today. Sorry...
I was gone all weekend for a getaway for my birthday and didn't have time to get the chapter ready tonight.
But I will post later today,
Hugs, Dani

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

It's been a rough month for me and the holidays have been very busy.  So I don't have anything again this week.  But I should have something new next week.  Sorry for the delay!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Love UnSeen Continues

Hey, everyone! I hope you all are ready for a bit of angst and fluff in this week's episode! One of my biggest pet peeves are romance stories where miscommunication is the primary conflict (especially if it goes on to long), which is why I wanted to have Jack & Dan talk in this chapter. Hope you guys don't think it's too saccharine!

Don't forget to comment, especially if there's anything you want to see happen as I'm always open to suggestions. Even if I don't use your exact idea, it may inspire me of how to direct the story when I'm stuck.


Previously on Love UnSeen: Worried and hurt that despite having sex, Dan is still choosing his fiancee over him, Jackson rushes to his appointment with Harold. Unfortunately, it reminds Jackson of his guilt over his father's suicide, which Jackson blames himself for causing.

This Week on Love UnSeen: Lyn, Jackson's overprotective sister, swoops in, and Jackson is able to talk to her about his conflicted feelings for Dan. Encouraged by their talk, Jackson sits down with Dan in an attempt to determine whether or not he can be trusted.

Next Time on Love UnSeen: Dan and Jackson's first real date doesn't go as planned. Jackson is forced to recall a painful memory from his past, but Dan consoles him and invites Jackson to join him in the darkroom as a token of his sincerity.


Love UnSeen - 17


So a few things I've realized as I've been working on Love UnSeen over the past few weeks:

  1. This story is going to have a LOT more sex than anything I've ever written before. (Ironically, no actual sex in this week's episode.)
  2. This story has sooo many plot threads and tbh I'm scared about how the heck I'm going to tie them all together (nervous laughter)
  3. I know a lot of you would like to see Dan's POV, but I kind of want to stay in Jackson's for the entire book. It'll be difficult, but part of why I started this story was because you almost NEVER get the blind guy's POV in romances like this. I'll have to see where the story goes, though.

As always, the Table of Contents has been updated, in case you want to catch up or re-read any previous chapters.

Thank you again for your support and for reading! I appreciate it!

-CA

Monday, April 15, 2019

New Chapter - Will Love Prevail

Good Morning friends,🙋

hope this finds everyone starting their week off right and in good spirits.
I have been so busy with working a lot and so much stuff going on. 😵 Been working evening shifts until midnight for the past couple of days but at least I got the chapter in on time this week, phew.

I was a bit worried last week because somehow I had to change my user from Google to Blogger (I wonder what this was about and if the other authors had to do this?).

When I didn't have any comments I thought something had gotten messed up but then I threw out a plea 😉 and I saw that you can still comment, thanks for that and also thanks to everyone still reading this.
Anyways, here is Chapter 25 of Will Love Prevail. Hope you enjoy and thanks again,
Hugs, Dani

Table of Contents TOC

Saturday, April 13, 2019

NEW He's Not Mr. Perfect!

Hey there, here I am, another week late, with a new installment of He's Not Mr. Perfect. I hope you like it!
By the way, I would really appreciate if you'd tell me in the comments what you'd like to see in the future, from small things to bigger, immediate or long-run. I have some plot-developing moments planned, but I'm still very much a gardener writer, where I like to see where things take me. I'd appreciate the ideas, really. I'm a little stuck on this scene. I feel that it needs *something* before it can move to what I have planned.
Without further ado, here's

Chapter IX - Dirty Little Secret

I believe there won't be a chapter next week, since I'll leave town on Thursday morning for Easter holiday, but I might be able to schedule a new chapter of B-L-I-N-D before that, this time early into Babs and Henry's relationship. Won't make any promises, though ;)

Enjoy!

Monday, April 8, 2019

New Chapter - Will Love Prevail

Hi friends,
sorry for the delay this morning. I was just too busy the last few days to be ready to post last night.
And maybe a bit tired too...
Well, here is Chapter 24 of Will Love Prevail.
Thank you so much for the comments last week. I was so happy to read them and appreciate them so much. Thanks for sticking with this story and reading and commenting. You guys really mean a lot to me.
Hugs,
Dani

Here is an updated TOC

Sunday, April 7, 2019

New story next week

Sorry, folks!  I got nothing for you today.  I needed a week off.  I've got something new, but I'm trying to figure out the best way to post it because there are several chapters prior to introducing The Guy, and I don't want you guys to get bored waiting.  So I'm trying to decide how to cut it.  In the meantime, if you haven't already, please check out my new book...

Love is Blind is only $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Love UnSeen is BACK!

Hey, everyone!

(TL;DR - don't want to read my author's note? Skip to the wait: Part 16)

First off, I want to say how EXCITED I am to finally be able to continue this story and share it with all of you. It's been a rough few years, but I'm determined to get this story's first draft done, and your feedback helps so much with that.

I will be posting regularly, EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY unless something major changes, just as I did with the finale of Season 3 of In/Exhale.

As before (if you remember), I will be writing this more or less "off the cuff": in other words, I won't be polishing it like I do I/E before I post, but instead this will be more or less a first draft. So that means there likely will be bumps along the way, especially as I am NOT an outliner (because no matter what I do, things never work out the way I plan).

I will try to keep a chapter or two ahead if possible. The good news is with my new medication and med schedule so far I'm feeling SO much better. It's wonderful to be inspired to write AND have the energy and lack of pain so I can actually do so. I don't want to make any promises, because with my illness I can't predict one day from the next, but for the first time in a long time I'm really hopeful that I'll be able to write (and post) regularly as before.

So while Love UnSeen is my first priority right now, I'll also be steadily working on the e-book for Season 3 of I/E, and writing S4, so that can be posted hopefully by the end of this year. Additionally, I will *finally* be able to get UnConventional available again, both as an e-book and in print (the latter for the first time ever!). I also may end up writing and posting a few random fanfics, but again, it all depends on how things go.

Needless to say, hopefully we'll be seeing each other regularly for quite some time!

I was lazy and didn't do a summary of the first 15 parts. So you probably want to re-read at least a few parts, if nothing else. But here's the quick and dirty:

Overall (Very Succinct) Summary: After a break-in shatters his security, Jackson Santoro, a blind man with CP living in New Orleans, is forced to take on a roommate, Dan Oldendorf.  Except Dan is the man Jackson has been fantasizing about ever since he met him at his sister's wedding. Their mutual attraction draws them together, despite Dan revealing he's currently engaged. To a woman.

Previously on Love UnSeen: Jackson and Dan have sex, all of Jackson's concerns about Dan's lies fading into heated touches and sensual kisses. But what else is Dan hiding? And why is Harold, the current king of Cadmus, the Mardi Gras krewe Jackson's ancestor founded--who hates Jackson--suddenly so interested in him? And will Jackson's abusive ex, Benji, finally stay out of his life?

This Week on Love UnSeen: Jackson and Dan's second round is abruptly interrupted by a phone call. Jackson goes to Harold's for his costume fitting, which dredges up the painful past.

Next on Love UnSeen: Jackson's sister consoles him and urges him to confront Dan, which he does, with unexpected consequences.

And now, without further ado . . .

Love UnSeen - Part 16


-CA

PS - Catch up with the updated Table of Contents. Please note I have *fixed* all the posts so you can travel from one chapter to the next directly via a link at the bottom of the page.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Cabin Fever, Chapter 2

Jake’s house turns out to be a cabin, like the one where we were supposed to spend the weekend.  Well, not just like the one where we were supposed to spend the weekend.  I saw a photo of that cabin, and it was really nice—“picturesque” is the word I’d use.  This cabin isn’t picturesque.  It’s about as far from picturesque as you can get.  “Run down” is the term I’d use to describe the scratched walls and splintered wood.  It’s one story high and clearly very small, with a broken-down porch that looks like it’s about to collapse under the weight of the snow.  The windows reveal nothing but darkness inside.  If our intention coming out here were truly to “rough it,” this cabin would fit the bill.

We make a halfhearted attempt to get Chase to stand up and walk into the cabin, but it’s a lost cause—he’s barely conscious.  Finally, Jake lifts him up and carries him again.  When I get inside the cabin, I’m horrified to discover it’s just as cold in here as it was in the Ferrari.  And so dark.  Jake lays Chase down gently on a ragged sofa next to a dimly lit fireplace while I hug myself for warmth.  I glance around and see only a few candles burning to keep the room lit.

“Where’s the light switch?” I ask.

“There isn’t one.”

“So how do you turn on the lights?”

“I don’t. No electricity.”

“You mean the storm knocked it out?”

“No.  I mean the house isn’t wired.”

No electricity ever?  But… I need electricity!  I use it to power my phone and my television and my electric mixer.

“But how…” I glance at Chase, who looks no better than he did in the car.  “How are we supposed to get warm if there’s no electricity?”

“Relax, Princess,” he says, and my toes curl at the words.  “I’ll get the fire going again.  Unless you want to do the honors?”

I glance over at the smoldering logs.  I have absolutely no idea how to get a fire going, keep it going, or put it out.  I know if a fire happens in the microwave because you put tin foil in there, you turn the microwave off.  That happened to me a few months ago, and I was quite proud of myself for handling that situation without requiring the fire department. But that’s about all my experience with fires.

“That’s okay,” I say.

He jerks his head toward a door at the edge of the room.  “There are blankets in the linen closet.  Grab a bunch of them and get him covered up.”

I walk over to the closet while Jake takes off his ski mask.  Underneath, his hair is long and wild, and he’s got a beard like Rumpelstiltskin.  It looks like he hasn’t combed his hair or his beard in months—if ever.  I’m guessing he doesn’t entertain much.  His eyepatch went askew, and I stare at him, trying to catch a glimpse of what’s under it.  But he quickly adjusts it, and I look away before he catches me.  Maybe I don’t want to know what’s under there.

While Jake fiddles with the fire, I pull three thick woolen blankets from the closet.  They feel like they’d be extremely itchy, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m lucky to even be alive, so I can’t complain about an itchy blanket.  I bring them over to the couch, where Chase is still shivering violently.  His lips look blue.  I call his name and he doesn’t answer me.

“Are you sure we shouldn’t get him to a hospital?” I say.

Jake pokes at the fireplace with a metal stick and orange flames jump in the air.  “I told you it’s not safe.”

“He really doesn’t look good…”  I touch his fingers, which are like ice cubes.  “He might have frostbite.”

“I don’t think so.”

“His fingers are freezing.”

“I don’t think he has frostbite.”

I frown, frustrated that he doesn’t seem to appreciate how sick Chase might be.  “Well, how can you be so sure?”

Jake pulls off his gloves one by one.  I gasp as I get a look at his hands.  It was impossible to tell with the gloves on, but now I can see he’s missing large chunks of his fingers.  Both his pinky fingers are abbreviated—no sign of the left one and the right is just a nub.  On his left hand, he’s also missing half of his third and fourth fingers, and his index finger looks shorter than it should be too although his thumb is intact. 

“I know about frostbite,” he says.  “Okay?”

I nod, only noticing after a second that my mouth is hanging open. It’s bad manners, but I can’t help myself. “Okay,” I mumble, averting my eyes.

“If you’re worried, then make him some warm compresses.”  Jake puts his gloves back on.  “I’ll go get your bags from the truck.  His clothes are soaked, and we need to find him something that’s dry.”

I obediently march back over to the closet and locate a couple of washcloths.  They seem clean enough, at least.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the “no electricity” deal—how does he live like that?  I go over to the sink in his tiny kitchen and am relieved that at least there’s running water.  I was scared he was going to tell me I was going to have to go retrieve it from a well.  Except when I stick my hand under the water, it’s so cold, I let out a screech and yank my hand away.

Jake has dragged our luggage into the cabin and he’s got one of them open.  He’s holding up a dress of mine—a cute black number from Ann Taylor that’s just the right amount of short and slinky.  His mouth is hanging open.

“You brought a cocktail dress, but not gloves?” he says.

My cheeks grow warm.  In retrospect, maybe that dress was a little… impractical.  But it seems like around Chase, impromptu parties are always breaking out.  So I figured I should come prepared.  “What’s wrong with bringing a dress on a trip?”

He glances up at me.  “Things must be really different in the world you live in.”

I glare at him.  “You mean in the world of electricity?”

He arches an eyebrow at me, and I feel a flash of guilt for snapping at him.  The guy just risked his own life to save mine—I should be grateful just to be here. But on the other hand, I don’t appreciate how he’s rifling through my stuff.  I’m a private person, and this makes me very uncomfortable.

“Can you just… not go through my bags please?” I say.  I was going for “firm but polite,” but I have a feeling it came out sounding bitchy.  I should be kissing this man’s feet for having saved us, but something about him is rubbing me the wrong way.

He straightens up and drops my black dress.  Even though he’s not as tall as I had initially thought, he towers over me—and I’m not short.  His good eye stares down at me.  He could probably crush me with one arm if he got the thought into his head.  And considering how unkempt he is and that he’s been living here alone off the grid for God knows how long, I have no clue what he’s capable of.  It makes me uneasy, to say the least.  It’s like being in a cabin with a wild animal.

“I’m trying to find warm clothes for your boyfriend over there,” he says.  “But all I see is fancy, useless crap.”

So my clothes are crap?  I take a deep breath and bite my tongue.  He saved your life, Natalie.  Don’t forget that.

He looks down at the washcloth in my hand.  “That’s not even wet.”

“The water was cold.”

“Well, we don’t have hot water here.”  He looks at me like I’m an idiot for even thinking we would.  “You have to heat it up on the stove.”

Wonderful.

Jake yanks the washcloth out of my hands.  “Let me do it. You find some clothes that aren’t a fucking cummerbund or silk shirt.”

That is so unfair.  Chase doesn’t have a cummerbund.  He does have several silk shirts though.

“Also,” Jake adds, “you need to find some dry clothes for yourself.”  He gestures at my useless boots.  “I’m betting your feet are soaked.  Get out of those boots and warm yourself up. ASAP.”

He may have a point.  My feet are completely numb, although I can still move my toes.  But I’ll be okay.  Chase is the one whose life is in danger—I’ll deal with my wet feet later.

I rifle through Chase’s luggage, and I have to say, he brought a lot of useless stuff.  In his bag, I find a gigantic bag of toiletries that takes up a third of the luggage, containing moisturizers, three kinds of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t have time to sort through.  The clothing is all really weather-inappropriate.  Why did he bring a silk vest?  I know Chase believes a vest should always be worn with a suit, but why on a trip to a cabin?  Also, why did he bring a suit in the first place?

I do finally manage to dig out a single pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater.  The socks I find don’t seem particularly warm, but they’ll have to do.

“Chase.”  I crouch down beside him and hold out the clothing.  “We need to get you out of those wet clothes.”

Chase lets out a low moan.  His eyes are open only to slits.  Again, I can’t help but think we have to get him to a hospital… or else.  But every time I look out the window, the snow is coming down harder than it was the last time.

Jake emerges from the kitchen, and now that he’s walking on an even surface, it’s obvious the way he was limping before wasn’t entirely due to the snow.  He winces every time he puts weight on his right leg, but that doesn’t slow him down. He’s carrying a pot of water that has steam emanating from it.  I want to dunk my body in that pot.  The chances of getting a hot shower in this cabin are zero.

“I can’t wake him up,” I say, my voice breaking.  “I think… he’s really sick.”

Jake lowers the pot onto the coffee table.  He seems completely unconcerned.  “We just need to warm him up.”

“What about calling for an ambulance?” I lift my eyes.  “They might be able to send some EMTs out here, at least…”

“I don’t have a phone.”

“You…” I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this one.  My phone is my life.  I’d have it surgically attached if I could.  “You don’t have a phone?”

“Nope.”

“At all?  Not even a landline?”

“Nope.”

“Then how do you call people?”

“I don’t.”

“But…” I shake my head.  “What if it’s an emergency?”

“There’s a phone at the general store five miles down the road.  If I really need it.”

I blink a few times.  He lives out here all alone.  No wife, no kids, no family, no friends.  And he has no phone to even communicate with the outside world.  “Don’t you get lonely?”

“Nope.”

 And that’s apparently the end of that conversation.

Jake bends down next to Chase.  He lifts his eyelid with the only intact finger of his left hand—his thumb.  Chase’s eyes flutter and briefly come into focus.  He startles at Jake’s appearance—not that I can blame him. 

“Hey, buddy.”  Jake shakes his arm.  “We need to change your clothes.  Can you hear me?”

Chase just stares at him for a minute, and when he finally speaks, his voice sounds slurred: “Who are you?”

“My name is Jake. What’s your name?”

“Ch-Chase.”

“Can you sit up for me, Chase?”

Chase is acting like he does when he’s had a few too many bottles of red wine from his private cellar. But Jake is really good with him.  He manages to sit him up and get him out of his wet clothes and into the new dry ones.  He’s nicer to Chase than he was to me.  I guess you have to have hypothermia for this guy not to be a jerk to you.

“What about the warm compresses?” I ask.  The pot of water is still steaming.  I dip my fingers into it, which is heavenly.  “Should we put the compress on his hands?  They were ice cold.”

“No,” Jake says.  “That will force the cold blood back to his heart, lungs, and brain, and he’ll die.”

“Oh,” I say.  Good to know.

“Put it on his forehead.”

I rest the warm compress on Chase’s forehead.  His eyes are shut and he moans softly, but doesn’t open them.  He looks terrible.  His complexion is pale and waxy, and he’s barely said two words.  I’m still convinced he needs a hospital, but Jake doesn’t seem like he’s going to give in on that.

“He’ll be okay,” Jake says, as if reading my thoughts.  “He’s got the blankets and the fireplace.  Let him rest.”

I look around the small living area.  “Where will I sleep?”

“I got a sleeping bag in the closet.”

“A sleeping bag?”  I wince.  I’ve never slept in a sleeping bag in my entire life.  Even when I had sleepovers at a friend’s house as a kid, they always managed to rustle me up a bed.  But as an adult, it sounds nothing short of horrible. 

“Sorry, Princess.”  He shrugs.  “That’s all I got.”

I flinch the way I do every time he calls me Princess.  He thinks I’m a spoiled brat, who can only sleep on silk sheets draped in satin without so much as a pea under my bed.  Well, I’ll show him otherwise.  “No, a sleeping bag is great,” I say quickly.  “Actually, it’s more than I expected.  Honestly, it’s not like I even need a sleeping bag.  I can just… you know, sleep on the floor. I do that all the time when I’m camping out.  I always say: sleeping bags are for the weak.”

Jake is gawking at me. 

Too far, I think.

“Great,” he says flatly.  “If you prefer the floor, I’ll just leave the sleeping bag in the closet then.”

“No!” I nearly yell. “I mean, since you have the sleeping bag, I suppose I’ll take it.  It’s been a long day, after all.”

His lips curl into a crooked smile.  He’s smirking at me.  I’m not fooling anyone—he knows I’m full of it.  “If you say so, Princess.”

As Jake goes to retrieve the sleeping bag, I look around the cabin, scanning the small living space.  You could fit this entire cabin in my living room.  You could fit two of these cabins in Chase’s living room.

“Where’s the bathroom?” I ask him when he returns with the thin film of fabric that I’ll be sleeping on tonight.

“No bathroom,” Jake grunts.

My mouth falls open.  “There’s no… but how do I…?”

He jerks a thumb at the front door.  “You go outside and there’s a shovel.  You dig a little hole and you squat.”

No.  Oh my God, no.  I do not want to do that.

“There are some leaves for toilet paper,” he adds.  “Just be careful not to take the poison ivy ones.  Leaves of three, let it be.  Leaves of four, wipe some more.”

I stare at him.

Jake holds my gaze for a moment, then bursts out laughing.  “I’m just joking, Princess.  The bathroom is right over there.  It’s got a toilet that flushes and everything.”

I force a smile, even though inside I’m not laughing.

***

The floor of the cabin is even more uncomfortable than I would have imagined.  The fabric of the flimsy sleeping bag does nothing to cushion my body from the hard wood.  I toss and turn, intermittently emerging from my restless sleep to heat up some water and give Chase a new compress.  God, I can’t wait until morning, when the blizzard is over and we can hopefully get the hell out of here.

At around two in the morning, I wake up with a crick in my neck.  I stretch it out, but it’s ridiculously hard to get comfortable.  I mean, I’m on the floor.  Who sleeps on the floor in the twenty-first century? I look over at Chase, who is lying under four blankets.  Maybe I could take one of those blankets so I’ve got another layer of cushioning between me and the ground.  He’s not going to die if I take one blanket, is he?  Is he?

Screw it.  I’ll just spend the night tossing and turning.

The fire has died down and the cabin’s gotten colder again.  I shiver, even with my heavy sweater on.  I creep over to Chase to check on him, hoping he’s more alert than earlier.  I touch his cheek and…

He’s ice-cold.

“Chase.”  I shake his shoulder.  “Chase, wake up.”

He groans like he did before, but doesn’t wake up—he won’t even open his eyes a little bit.  It’s been hours—by now, he should be less lethargic, shouldn’t he?  He’s really sick.  Jake doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about—Chase needs to get to a hospital right now.  I don’t care if there’s a blizzard outside.

“Chase.”  I shake him harder this time.  “Can you sit up?”

He doesn’t open his eyes. 

When Jake came in, he hung his keys on the ring by the door.  I look there now, and the ring of keys is still there.  His car keys are on that ring.  I could take his truck and go for help.  Jake refuses to do it but somebody has to.  I’m not going to let my boyfriend die on this sofa.

I shove my feet back into my useless non-waterproof boots, which are still cold and damp from last night.  I throw on my Thinsulate coat, which suddenly seems nowhere near warm enough for what awaits me outside.  The red scarf has dried out, at least, so I put that on, along with my hat.  Then I grab Jake’s keys from the hook and quietly let myself out the front door.

The green truck is parked right in front of the cabin.  The snow is still coming down hard, and my leg sinks into it up to my knee as I make my way to the truck.  My feet were slightly damp before, but now they’re completely saturated with ice-cold liquid.  But I’ve got to push through it—for Chase.  I’m the only one who can save him now.

Once I’ve reached the truck, I fumble with the keyring.  He’s got three keys on it, and I frown at them, trying to figure out which one opens the door.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

I look up, startled.  Jake is standing by the door of the cabin in his thick coat with a normal hat that covers his unruly hair.  The snowflakes form white dots as they fall on his heavy beard.  He’s peering at me with his left eye.

“Uh…” I back up against the truck, my heart pounding.  “I, um…”

He takes a menacing step towards me.  My eyes are drawn to that eyepatch covering his right eye—now that I’m close to him, I can see there’s a thin white scar snaking out below the patch.  “Are you stealing my truck?”

Oh my God, he’s going to kill me.  This man is going to snap my neck with his bare hands and throw me into the woods, and they won’t find my body till spring.

“I was borrowing it,” I say in a tiny voice.  “Just… you know, so I could get help for Chase.”

“I see.” He takes another step toward me.  “Borrowing it…”

I consider making a run for it, but it’s pretty obvious how that would go.  He could chase me down in a second in this storm.  But he wouldn’t have to—if I disappeared into the woods, I’d freeze to death before morning in my inadequate coat and boots and not even any gloves.

“Chase is really sick,” I manage.  “I could barely wake him up.”

He stops moving toward me.  He cocks his head to the side.  “You ever drive a truck before?”

“No.”  I lift my chin.  “But I’m sure I could figure it out.”

The menacing look vanishes from his face, replaced with a look of amusement.  “All right, then.  Go ahead.”

I stare at him.  “What?”

He waves his arm at the truck.  He’s not wearing gloves and I can see the stubs of his missing digits.  “You refuse to believe me that it’s not a good idea to go out in this storm.  So take the truck.  Go for it.”

“I…” I look at the truck then back at him.  “Fine.  I’ll do it.”

“Be my guest.”

I fumble with the keys, still uncertain which one opens the door.  The fact that my fingers have become numb and pink doesn’t make it any easier.  I select one of the keys and try to fit it into the lock with shaking hands.

“It’s unlocked,” Jake says.

Oh.

I squeeze my left hand into a fist, trying to get back some of the circulation.  Then I yank open the door of the truck. I climb inside while Jake watches me, nearly tripping on the snowdrift that formed right outside the door.  When I glance back at Jake, that look of amusement is still on his face.  I look down and…

Why are there so many pedals down there?

Shit, this is a manual transmission.  And I… well, Chase gave me a few lessons on how to drive a manual transmission, but this doesn’t look anything like his Ferrari.  But it’s probably the same once I get going.  I’ll be driving really slowly anyway.

“Everything okay in there?” Jake calls to me.

“Yep,” I say.

I can’t let him know how freaked out I am.  I’ve got to be strong.  For Chase.  I’ve got to help him or he could die.  I’m his only hope.  So I put the key in the ignition and…

Damn it, why won’t it turn?

I push as hard as I can, but it won’t budge.  I jiggle it.  What the hell?  Is this the wrong key?  But no, it fits in the hole.  It’s got to be right.

“Having a problem, Princess?”

I peer out through the window, and Jake is grinning at me.  It’s the first time I’ve seen him smile since he found our car.  Considering he’s been living in the backwoods for God knows how long, he actually has pretty nice teeth.  Fairly white.  Not gleaming and perfectly orthodonture-straight like Chase’s, but that slightly crooked left incisor gives even more character to his face. He has, actually, quite a nice smile.

I want to smack that smile off his face.

“The key won’t turn,” I finally say.

He cups his hand to his ear.  “Eh? What’s that?”

“The key won’t turn!”  I pound on the steering wheel in frustration.  “I can’t start the truck!”

“Huh.”  He shakes his head.  “Well, maybe the truck’s trying to tell you something.  Maybe the truck knows there’s a fucking blizzard outside and it’s not a great idea to get lost in it.  Maybe the truck’s smarter than you are.”

“Oh, is it?”

“It would appear that way, yes.”

 I want to scream in frustration.  I bang my fist against the steering wheel and it lets out a honk of protest. 

“Get out of the truck,” he says.

Reluctantly, I climb out of the vehicle, my boots sinking down into the snow before they hit the ground. I barely feel the cold wind whipping at my face.  All I feel is the sting of frustration.  And humiliation.  He holds out his right hand and I drop the keys into it.

“I’ll get the fire going again,” Jake says.  “That’s why I came out—to check on it.”

“Thanks,” I mumble.

“Don’t worry,” Jake says.  “Your boyfriend is going to be just fine.  He’ll live to apply hair product another day.”

I want to knee him in the groin. He may have saved our life, but I’m sick of being polite while he insults me and Chase.  “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

He raises his eyebrows, which aren’t as bushy as his beard.  “Don’t I?”

Whatever.  This storm will be over soon and then we’ll go get help.  This nightmare will be over soon.  Chase just has to hang in there a little longer.

To be continued....