Hello! Hope all is well! Jed and Sage’s story continues in Broken. This contains both Chap 6 & 7 since both are fairly short. Please be sure to read Chap 1-5 first. Links are below:
Chapter 1 & 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
Chapter 5: Link
For the next month, Sage attended all of Jed’s therapy sessions. Although Jed was reluctant at first, he allowed himself to let his guard down around her. To his surprise, they were back to being the same friends they were years ago.
Knowing Sage was his biggest cheerleader during his therapy, Jed continued to work hard. He wanted to impress her, and she used that to push him even harder. Sage gave him no breaks, and he knew that was exactly what he needed.
One evening after dinner, when they pulled up to his parents’ house, Jed noticed the limo parked out front. “Who could that be?” he wondered out loud.
As soon as he had pulled himself into his wheelchair from the car, he heard, “Jed! Oh my gosh! I’ve been worried sick about you.”
Recognizing Bonnie’s voice, he immediately felt his muscles tense. Turning to face her, he asked, “How did you know where to find me?”
“What kind of greeting is that, darling? You look great as usual.” Bonnie leaned down and kissed Jed on the lips.
“Bonnie, how did you know where to find me?” he repeated.
“I kind of found out from Nick’s laptop. I know I shouldn’t have snuck around like that, but he wasn’t talking, and I really had to see you. I’ve missed you so much, babe.”
Sage cleared her throat. “Um, yeah, I gotta go now.”
“Er, sorry, Sage. Yeah, so this is Bonnie.” Jed introduced them awkwardly.
“Hello, I’m his girlfriend,” Bonnie interjected.
“Uh, no, Bonnie. You know that’s not true.” Jed was becoming irritated with her.
“Girlfriend, lover…what’s the difference?” Bonnie purred.
“I have to go,” Sage said, turning quickly to retreat. But, before she could go anywhere, a bright light flashed in her eyes, blinding her. Suddenly, there seemed to be hundreds of flashes coming from every direction.
“Damn it!” Jed cursed. “Let’s get inside.”
“Jed Dalton, do you have a statement for us?” One question after another was being fired off all at once.
“Are you still paralyzed?”
“Is this your new girlfriend?”
“When will you write music again?”
“Will you ever be able to walk again?”
“Is your music career done?”
Sage and Jed retreated into the safety of the house, desperate to escape the paparazzi. Bonnie, on the other hand, stood out there, waving and smiling at the cameras.
“Of course he’ll be writing music. He’s doing fantastic,” Bonnie answered.
Jed cringed in the house, hoping she wouldn’t say anything stupid.
“Real piece of work you got there,” Sage mumbled. “Guess you prefer looks over brains for your girlfriends.”
“Stop. Just stop. You know damn well she’s not my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend, lover…what’s the difference?” Sage mimicked. “I’m out of here.”
“How are you going to go? They’re all over the place out there.”
“I’d rather face the stupid paparazzi right about now.” Sage ran out and dashed into her car while Bonnie continued to pose for the cameras. As she sped her car out of there, the press had no choice but to get out of her way.
When Jed saw Sage the next day, he was pleasantly surprised. “I didn’t think you’d come today.”
“I told you I was sticking around. Where’s your girlfriend?”
“For the hundredth time, she has never been my girlfriend and never will be. I sent her home last night. I had a feeling she brought the press with her, so I let her have it. She flew back out to LA last night.”
“Now that they know where you’ve been hiding out, what are your plans? They’ll keep hounding you here at your parents’ home. I already saw some lurking out there.”
“They’re already here? Damn it! I’ll have to leave from here, but I want to continue my treatment with the therapists who know me. I’m thinking of moving into a hotel for a while.”
“You remember my family owns that cabin not too far from here, right? It would be a perfect place for a hideout because it’s completely secluded. That might be better than a hotel. I mean, they’ll find you at a hotel for sure.”
“Sage, did you forget? I need everything handicapped accessible. How would I be able to do things for myself?”
“We can bring your bath bench and your adapted toilet seat. There are no steps into the cabin, and it’s all one story. The driveway is a nice pavement. I really think we could make it work.”
“We are not going anywhere. I’m the one who’ll need to figure something out,” Jed said.
“I’ll stay at the cabin with you. It’s a two bedroom cabin. It’s not like we’re staying for a long time. It’ll just buy you some time to work things out,” Sage insisted.
“No, Sage. There are still some things I need help with. Things I don’t really want you to be around for.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Jed! I’m a doctor. I do this for a living, remember? If I can help strangers, why can’t I help my friend?”
“You know damn well it’s different.”
“If you’re worried about the whole toileting thing, I have an idea. I think we need to talk with your doctors and see if they’ll pull your catheter and put you on a bowel and bladder training program. You already said you can feel the urgency to use the bathroom more consistently now. That’s a good sign. If you toilet yourself every couple of hours, I think you could really train your body.” Sage’s eyes danced with excitement.
Jed’s heart raced at the thought of having the silly tube pulled, but he remained cautiously optimistic.
“Don’t you see your doctor today? I planned on going with you if you’re okay with that. Maybe we can ask him.”
“Okay, it would be nice, that’s for sure. This has been a huge thorn on my side.”
Before long, both were sitting in the doctor’s office. After Dr. Parker reviewed Jed’s therapy notes, he said, “I’m pleased with your progress, Jed. Looks like some of your muscles are starting to work. And yeah, I think it’s a good idea to see how your bowel and bladder training program goes. I’ll have the nurse pull your catheter today.”
“Wow! That’s great! Thanks, Doc! I was scared this tube was permanent for me.”
“Well, let’s not jump the gun, Jed. This is all trial and error. Hopefully, all goes well, but be prepared for accidents. You still don’t have all your sensations and motor functions back. So, one day at a time, remember?”
“We’re going to remain optimistic, Larry,” Sage replied. “Jed is already doing so much more than we had anticipated. Plus, once he makes up his mind on something, he’s a stubborn fellow. If anybody can get through this, it’s Jed.” A hint of pride echoed in her voice.
“With your expertise and support, Sage, I know odds are in Jed’s favor. You know how it is with medicine, especially with rehab. It’s one day at a time…one step at a time.”
“We appreciate your honestly, Doc. I’m ready for this tube to be out of me, though. Where’s that nurse?” Jed asked.
When they were alone in the car later, Sage asked, “So, how does it feel?”
“Well, the good news is when they pulled the catheter out, I actually felt a little pain. I think it was pain anyway. An uncomfortable feeling maybe. That’s a good sign, right?”
“Absolutely!” Sage said and reached to squeeze his hand.
Jed smiled. “So, we’re moving in together in that cabin of yours? You sure you know what you’re getting into?”
“Oh, I’m ready, big guy. I’ll pick you up in the middle of the night to avoid being seen.”
When they reached his parents’ home, they rushed inside to avoid the paparazzi once again.
“What the heck is going on out there? How did they find you, Jed? You’re all over the gossip sites.” Trina was in the house, waiting for them.
“Already?” Jed turned to his sister.
She pulled her phone out and searched for his name. “Here’s one headline. It says, ‘Jed Dalton Doesn’t Let His Wheelchair Slow Him Down With Women.’ And, there are pictures of Sage and some bimbo.”
Sage laughed. “What type of reputation have you built for yourself?”
Jed rolled his eyes. “They’re parasites. I need to get out of here.”
Just then, his parents came to the living room. “Where are you going to go? They’ll just find you wherever you go.”
“Right now, I need to focus on my rehab. I can’t worry about the paparazzi.”
“I’m getting him out of here,” Sage replied. “We’re going to the cabin tonight. Hopefully, that’ll buy some time.”
“Oh yeah, great idea. They haven’t figured out where you’re getting your rehab yet, have they?” Jed’s mom asked.
“Not yet, anyway,” Jed answered, rolling his eyes.
More to come soon! As always, thank you for your support. All of my books and stories can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK
Happy Sunday! Here’s Chapter 5 of Broken. Before you read this, please make sure to read
Chapter 1 & 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
“Rise and shine, handsome!”
It had to be a joke. What was she doing here? Jed pulled his blanket over his head, hoping she’d vanish.
“Come on! We have a full day today for your therapy sessions,” Sage said.
“You are not allowed to come in and out of my room as you please! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Old habits die hard.”
Flinging his blanket off of his head, Jed said, “We were kids then. This is crazy. Just get out. Mom! Dad!” He was angry at his parents for allowing her into his room again.
“Your parents aren’t here. I gave them a day off and promised them I’d take good care of you.” Sage flashed a smug smile.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he mumbled.
“Come on, it won’t be that bad. It’ll give us an opportunity to catch up. Maybe you can stop being such a grouch for some of the time.”
Feeling completely helpless, Jed threw his blanket off of him. “I really don’t want to be around you, Sage.”
“That much is obvious. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Let’s go, or we’ll be late.”
Staring up at the ceiling, Jed sighed in frustration. How had he managed to lose all control of his life? “Every day is a struggle to get out of bed,” he whispered.
Sage sat down on the bed and turned to him. “But, you are getting out of bed. Every single day. And that counts, damn it.” She sighed. “That counts, Jed,” she whispered.
Closing his eyes, Jed knew she was right. It was another day he had to get through. There was no choice in the matter. He reluctantly got into his wheelchair, angry at his parents, sister, and this horrible situation that had been thrown at him.
“I need to jump in the shower. I’ll see you in the kitchen in about thirty minutes.”
Before long, they were heading to the rehab hospital for his therapy. Jed remained silent in the car and was surprised Sage knew where to take him for his sessions. Once they reached their destination, he turned to her and said, “You don’t need to stick around. I have aqua therapy in the afternoon as well, so it’s going to be a full day of sessions.”
“I’m staying. I want to see how you’re doing.”
Grinding his teeth, he said, “Maybe I don’t want you to see, Sage. Did you ever think of that? Why are you doing this anyway? You want to be a big savior or something? Find a cure, and I’m your guinea pig?”
Sage sighed, and Jed noticed her eyes becoming moist. She quickly recovered and replied, “Nope. Believe it or not, you mean a little more to me than a guinea pig. Come on, let’s go in.”
During the therapy sessions, Sage commented on how he had some movement returning in his legs. “How fast are the sensations and the muscle activation returning?” she asked Robin, the physical therapist.
“To be honest, every week, he’s able to do something else. Remember, Jed? Just last week, you were able to maintain standing in the pool with assistance. I mean, granted, we had to help you quite a bit, but you were actually able to use your muscles,” Robin said.
Jed grunted, annoyed that Sage was all in his business.
“What about sensation?” Sage continued to inquire.
“That’s also returning nicely. Right, Jed? You told me you sometimes can feel the urgency to urinate.”
“Okay, do we need to talk all of my personal business here?” Jed asked, aggravated.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Robin said. “I just assumed—”
“Well you assumed wrong!” he barked.
“Don’t mind him, Robin. He’s just crabby. I’m Dr. Ramsey, and I’m involved with monitoring his progress. We’re also friends, so he’s a bit too comfortable acting like this around me.”
“We are not friends! And to be clear, I’m not comfortable around you at all!” Jed said, but he had to admit, a part of him wanted to work extra hard just to show her how much he could do. He also didn’t deny her remark about her monitoring his progress. Truth be told, he knew she would give him the best advice and the brutal truth—whatever that may be.
“Okay, take all that energy out on your workout, tough guy!” Sage directed, and Jed had to turn away to hide his smirk.
By lunchtime, Jed was much more relaxed around Sage, and they both headed to the cafeteria. He appreciated that Sage didn’t make him feel helpless. As a matter of fact, she expected him to do everything for himself, including figuring out how to carry his tray back to the table while wheeling his chair.
Once seated, she said, “I want to see your medical records when we get back. I’m assuming you have incomplete spinal cord injury, and from what I could assess, it looks like it’s at L4/L5 level?”
“Yeah, you got it. The injury is at that lumbar region of my spine.”
“The therapists seem pleased with your progress so far. Are you?”
“It’s frustrating, Sage. My life has changed drastically. It’s really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he confessed.
“I’m really sorry this happened. I had no internet where I was in Brazil during the time. It was also almost impossible for anybody to reach me. If I had known, I would have returned immediately to come see you.”
“And done what?” Jed frowned. “I was a mess when I first found out at the hospital. I didn’t believe it initially. There was no way something like that could happen to me. Not Jed Dalton. Then, I was pissed at the world. I completely shut down, not interacting with anybody. Of course, that got mixed with the depression. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near me at that time.”
“I would have been there. Whatever you were going through, I would have stood by your side,” Sage mumbled. Changing the subject, she asked, “Are you receiving psychological help?”
“I was seeing a shrink for a few weeks, but now, I’m not seeing anybody. It gets old talking about your pathetic life. I was done with it.”
Sage sighed. “I see your stubbornness hasn’t changed any. What about your music? What are your plans?”
“No plans yet. I’m just winging it right now. Just trying to get through each day.”
“Okay, fair enough. Jed, I’ve decided to stay here to help you with your recovery. I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”
Jed stared at her, narrowing his eyes. “Why?”
“I want to, that’s why. And, whether you’ll admit it or not, I can help you. I know I can.”
Jed rolled his fingers through his thick, curly hair, trying to understand his feelings. Seeing Sage more often was a dangerous game, but the way his heart leaped just then when he heard her say that, he knew he would be willing to take the risk.
During his aqua therapy session, Sage cheered him on from the deck. Jed worked extra hard, willing his muscles to work. He was pleased that he was able to put weight through his legs to stand while holding the rails.
When he felt steady enough, the therapists asked him to take a step. He stared down at his leg under water, which remained locked in place. His brain knew what it wanted the leg to do, but it refused to budge. Without meaning to, his eyes landed on Sage.
She nodded and mouthed, “Try! You can do it.”
Taking a deep breath, Jed clenched his teeth and gave it his all to lift the leg up. Robin helped by shifting his weight and assisting to move the leg forward. With a little nudge, Jed suddenly felt his muscle come to life to finish the step. Completely shocked he actually took a step, he couldn’t hold himself any longer, and his legs collapsed. He didn’t care, though, because by then, he was laughing. Hell! He actually took a step!
Once again, his gaze found Sage, and she was standing with her hand over her mouth as the tears rolled freely down her face. Jed stopped laughing and pulled himself to her with the rail.
Sage squatted down so they were face to face, not hiding her emotions.
“I think I deserve a kiss for that effort,” he teased, his smirk widening.
Grabbing his face, she leaned forward, and her lips tenderly touched his. Slowly their lips explored, teased, and remembered.
“Mmm, I’ll have to walk some more if I’m going to keep getting those kinds of rewards.” Jed laughed, stealing one more kiss.
Once the sessions were completed, Sage said, “We have to celebrate. Come on, let’s go get something to eat. My treat.”
For the first time since his injury, Jed truly felt like he was having fun. He wanted to go out with Sage instead of rushing back home. Normally, he preferred to lock himself in his room and avoid any type of interactions.
They decided to eat at Rocky’s Sports Bar back in town. Once they were seated, he said, “Look, Sage, I know I can be a real douche, but I do appreciate this. You know that, right?”
“Yes, I know you more than you know yourself.”
“Really? That’s a bold statement,” Jed teased.
“Call it what you will.” Sage smiled, taking another bite of her pasta.
“No way! Don’t tell me it’s Jed Dalton!” Both Jed and Sage looked toward the source of the voice and saw Dan Kirby approaching their table.
“Great,” Sage said under her breath.
“And, lookie here! Sage and Jed eating dinner together. Wow! The homecoming king and queen reuniting again.”
Jed tried to control his temper at seeing his rival from high school. Dan was a bully back then, and he used to compete with Jed on everything, including Sage.
“You look hot as ever, Sage. Tell me, what do you see in Jed these days? I know he was in the limelight and all, but he’s washed out now after his accident. Aren’t you paralyzed, man? Can you even have sex?” Dan asked, throwing his head back while laughing.
Before Jed could react, Sage sprung up and punched Dan in the jaw. When he collapsed to the floor, she straddled over him and said, “I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time.” She then turned to Jed while tossing some bills on the table. “Let’s get out of here.”
When safe in the car, Jed focused his attention on her, frowning. “I don’t need you to fight my battles.”
“It wasn’t your battle I was fighting. I’ve wanted to do that to Dan since second grade. He used to call me ‘rabbit’ because of my bucked teeth.”
“What?” Jed laughed. “Why didn’t you ever tell me that? I would have beat him up for you.”
“That’s why I didn’t tell you. I knew you’d go after him, and I didn’t want you to get into trouble.” Both Sage and Jed laughed, sharing their past together.
“You’ve turned into a badass. Since when did you learn to punch like that?” he asked, shocked with her moves on Dan.
“Since I started going to dangerous parts of the world. I thought it would be best to take some self-defense courses.”
“I’m impressed. And now I know not to get on your bad side.”
“Yeah! Watch your back, buddy!” Sage laughed.
Hope you all are enjoying Jed and Sage’s story so far! Chapter Six coming soon! As always, thank you for your support. All of my books and stories can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK
Happy Monday! Here’s Chapter 3 of Broken. Before you read it, please make sure you’ve read Chapters 1 and 2. Here’s the LINK
Later that night, Jed wasn’t surprised when Nick walked into his room.
“Hey, how are you doing, bud?” he asked, taking a seat on the recliner next to the bed. When Jed remained silent and continued watching the television, Nick said, “Who the hell was she to get that kind of response out of you?”
“It doesn’t even matter anymore,” Jed mumbled.
“Of course it matters. It mattered to everybody at that table, including Sage. She looked like she saw a ghost. What’s the story?”
Taking a deep breath, Jed turned to Nick. “Same old story. She was Trina’s best friend growing up, but she’s my age. I guess we always had a thing for one another, and finally in high school, we decided to date. That was probably our first mistake because we got serious fast. It got so intense that we were even talking marriage by the time senior year came around. We were inseparable. I truly believed I loved her.” Jed rubbed his face, trying not to remember the emotional connection.
“Go on,” Nick encouraged.
“Same shit, man. We were too damn young. It was bound to end. Graduation came around, and she got into Harvard. She was absolutely brilliant. That was her dream college, and who the hell was I to stop her from following her dreams? When she told me she was accepted, I encouraged her to go. But selfishly, I wanted her to decline and choose to stay with me. She asked me to go with her. It was nuts. I wasn’t going to follow her there; we both knew it. I told her if she was leaving, I was moving to LA to follow my own dreams. She was devastated and angry. She said she was going for her education, and I should support her. She didn’t understand why I’d leave for LA when I didn’t even have a plan.
“That’s the thing. We were both too different. She always knew what she wanted out of life. She was a planner. She wanted to go to top colleges and be a doctor. She wanted to go to third world countries and help them once she was a licensed physician. Sage wanted to make a difference in this world. But me? I lived for the moment. I had no plans at all. I knew I wanted to be a musician, but I had no idea how the hell I was going to accomplish that. I just figured things out as I went along. Completely opposite than her.
“We had still decided that we’d try to make it work long distance. But soon, she got busy with her studies, and I got busy with my life. I didn’t care, though. I was willing to not have that ‘perfect’ relationship as long as she was still mine. Eventually, Sage just told me it wasn’t going to work. That we were fooling ourselves. I told her I’d fly out there, and we should talk about it face to face. She refused, saying it was a waste of time. She explained that we tried, and it didn’t work. She told me good luck with my life, and that was the end of that.”
Jed laughed sarcastically under his breath. “At first, I told myself she just needed some time. That we both will figure it out. I mean, after all, we loved each other. But, it didn’t work out that way. We both moved on. Believe it or not, I was never able to forgive her for breaking up with me over the phone like that and refusing to see me. So, I buried myself in my music. Soon, you saw me playing at my gig at that bar, and the rest is history. I’ve never returned back home until now. And to my knowledge, Sage never really comes here either. I knew she was in Brazil working recently, so I had no idea I’d be running into her. I mean, shit, what kind of luck do I have? Seeing her was bad enough, but the fact that she saw me in my wheelchair…damn it! I didn’t want her to see me like this.”
“Well, if it helps any, she was just as shocked to see you. Maybe both of you need to talk or something. Seems like you guys may have a lot of catching up to do.”
“I want nothing to do with her,” Jed suddenly shouted. “I don’t want her anywhere near me. What good can it possibly do? The past needs to stay in the past.”
“All right, all right, I get it. It’s just that I’ve never seen you react to any woman like you did to her. I mean, don’t get me wrong. She is a beauty, that’s for sure, but I’ve never seen that side of you. Is she married or anything?”
“No, she never married. The only reason I know is because Trina slips updates on Sage here and there. She knows I don’t want to hear about it, but somehow, she’ll still manage to throw the information in the middle of a casual conversation.”
Nick laughed. “Yeah, I can see that about your sis. Okay, back to business, what are your plans?”
Jed brushed his hand through his tousled hair, trying to figure out how to get his life in order. “I don’t know. I have no answers for you. I appreciate you coming out here, but I just need some time.”
“Okay, man. I’m gonna keep calling and nagging you, though. I’ll also be back next month.”
That’s the end of Chapter 3. I’ll post Chapter 4 soon enough. If you want to continue reading Broken, it’s on Amazon: LINK
Remember, all of my books are free on Kindle Unlimited. Hope you all have a fabulous week!
Hello, lovelies! Hope life has been good to you since my last post. I wanted to share my short story, Broken, with you all. It’s really a heart-felt story, and as a physical therapist, I’ve always been drawn to patients with spinal cord injuries. I will post a chapter every week (this one has two chapters since Chapter One was so short). Hope you enjoy. 🙂
“There’s a good chance you will never be able to walk again.”
The doctor’s words echoed in Jed’s mind. Back home with his parents in Texas, Jed couldn’t imagine the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The doctor had went on explaining, “You’re lucky to be alive. They think the car that ran through the red light was going at least seventy miles per hour.”
Lucky to be alive? Jed would rather be dead than feel this helpless. Three months ago, the accident had left him with a spinal cord injury, paralyzed from waist down. The therapists kept insisting since it wasn’t a complete spinal cord injury, and he had some movement and sensations in his legs, he shouldn’t give up hope.
The shock of this drastic change in his life had done a number on him. Even with his parents’ support and his sister’s encouragement, it was impossible for Jed to not fall into depression.
Today, though, he couldn’t spend all day in his bed. His agent, Nick Tasky, was flying in from Los Angeles to check on him. Through rehabilitation, he had learned to perform basic, everyday tasks. Forcing himself to get into his wheelchair, he propelled it to the bathroom to start his day.
When Nick finally arrived a few hours later, Jed was prepared for the lectures that were bound to come.
“You look great, man! You shaved for me?” Leave it to Nick to lighten up the mood.
“Okay, you caught me. I shaved for you because I didn’t want to hear your damn nagging.” Jed and Nick were sitting on his back porch, enjoying the Texas heat.
“Well, why else do you think I’d fly all the way down here and suffer in this hot weather?” Nick laughed, punching him on his arm.
“So, what’s up?”
“I want you to get your life together, man. You can’t just do nothing. You’re only twenty-nine years old. I told you over the phone to work on a new album through this experience. You know it would be a hit. The public is waiting to hear from you. Do you know how many fan letters and emails we receive every single day?”
“What the fuck, man! Did you notice I can’t walk?”
“So, that means your life is over? You are huge right now. You can still sing and play your guitar or the piano. Look, I just don’t want you to give up. I think your music may be therapeutic for you. I really believe it’s just what you need to heal.”
Jed took a sip of his iced tea and continued watching Jade, his Labrador Retriever, chasing after a squirrel. “I know you mean well, Nick. And I appreciate you coming out here to talk to me. I just need some time to figure things out. I’m lost right now.”
“Listen, you can just come back to LA with me. That’s where you belong, and you know it. You can continue your rehab there. I think being busy there will help to get you out of your funk.”
“I’m not ready for that. Like I said, I need some time to think about what the hell happened. And, to be honest, I need to be back here, home with my family.”
Nick sighed. “Okay, I get that. But, I refuse to watch you give up. You need to join a support group. At the very least, maybe see a psychologist. As your agent, I won’t allow you to throw your career away. As your friend, I won’t allow you to throw your life away.”
Jed remained silent, but a part of him knew Nick was right.
Trina, Jed’s sister, and Nick got along instantly. When she suggested they go to the local bar to get a bite to eat later that evening, Jed didn’t know how to get out of it. He hadn’t been out since the accident, and he definitely didn’t feel like socializing—especially with anybody from this town. But, he didn’t want Nick alone with Trina since he knew firsthand about Nick’s reputation with women. Jed reluctantly agreed, making them promise they’d all be back in couple of hours.
Rocky’s Sports Bar had been the hangout spot years ago when Jed used to live here. As they pulled up, it looked like it was still the place to go. Immediately, Jed regretted the decision of coming here. He silently prayed he wouldn’t run into anybody from his past.
Once inside, they got a corner table, and Jed was happy that not only did he not recognize anybody, but nobody recognized him either. That was one thing he liked about this small town in Texas. The people were so wrapped up into their own lives and drama, they had no idea what was going on with the rest of the world.
When Trina excused herself to go to the bathroom, Jed turned to Nick. “Look, Nick. Stay away from my sister.”
Acting surprised, Nick said, “What are you talking about?”
“You know exactly what I’m saying. Don’t think I haven’t seen you flirting with her.”
Nick laughed. “Your sister is beautiful. What do you want from me?”
“Damn, Nick! That’s my little sister. I know how you treat women. I, of all people, should know.”
“You’re no saint, either, Jed. Actually, you may be worse than me. I’m pretty sure I had to deal with many women’s phone calls after you broke their hearts.”
Jed took a swig of his beer. “I’m not trying to bang your sister, though! Look, Trina is different, okay? She believes in love and all that crap. Plus, like I said, she’s my baby sister.”
“She’s one year younger than you, which would make her twenty-eight years old. Pretty sure she’s an adult, my friend. But, hey, I hear you loud and clear. Don’t worry, I’m leaving tomorrow anyway.”
Jed nodded, knowing Nick was true to his word. When he saw Trina returning to the table, he didn’t say anything further about it. He knew his sister was smitten by his ruggedly handsome friend, and he was glad Nick was leaving the next day.
The conversation between the three was easygoing, and Jed was actually beginning to relax. But, just that quickly the mood was broken, when he heard Trina say, “Oh my God! What’s Sage doing here?”
Instantly, Jed’s heart stopped beating. Sage? She was supposed to be out of the country. Why would she be here? He hadn’t seen her in years, and he certainly was not ready to see her at that moment.
Before he could figure out what to do, Trina was already standing up and waving her over. Jed’s fingers tightened into a fist around his bottle of beer. He knew he was holding his breath, hoping against hope that somehow Sage wouldn’t notice them.
The familiar voice penetrated into his deepest core. A wave of emotions collided into him, drowning him. He knew he had to quickly take control of himself before she reached them.
“What are you doing here, Sage? When did you get back?” Trina asked, delighted to see her friend.
Without even turning around, Jed could feel her presence near him. His shoulders were suddenly tight, and he tried to slow his breathing down. How could this woman bring such emotions out of him after all this time?
“I just came back–maybe couple of hours ago. I tried to call your cell, but you didn’t answer.” Sage pulled Trina into her arms for a tight hug.
“My phone is buried in my purse, of course. Did you come here looking for me? How did you know I was here?” Trina continued to hold onto her friend.
“Of course I came here for you. You know you’re my only friend in this stupid town. I called your parents, and they told me I’d find you here.”
Jed was praying that somehow she wouldn’t notice him. She obviously hadn’t realized he was there yet. He just wanted her to disappear.
“Hello, I’m Nick.” Nick smiled and extended his arm for a handshake. “Would you like to join us?”
“Er, sorry, where are my manners?” Trina blushed, suddenly flustered. “Um, Sage, this is Nick, my brother’s agent.”
Sage’s friendly smile disappeared, and her face drained of color. Forgetting about Nick’s extended hand, she slowly turned her attention toward Jed. She took him in—his gorgeous face, his dirty-blond, messy hair, his blue eyes staring back at her with no emotions, and finally, his wheelchair.
When she didn’t say anything, Jed finally said, “Hello, Sage.” His voice remained guarded and indifferent.
As if that helped her get out of her trance, Sage nodded back. “Um, hey, Jed.” Turning her attention back to Trina and Nick, she said, “I actually can’t join you guys. I have to go.”
Without saying anything further, she raced out of the front door.
“Wow! What was that all about? I take it you guys have a history together?” Nick asked Jed.
Jed ignored his question, wanting nothing more than to leave and hide in the safety of his room.
“I’m sorry, Jed. Sage wasn’t due back for couple of weeks. If I had known, I wouldn’t have brought you here,” Trina mumbled, embarrassed by the entire encounter.
“It’s fine,” Jed said. “Are you guys ready to get out of here?”
Hope you enjoyed the first two chapters. More to come next week. If you want to read the full story, you can get it from Amazon. It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited. Link: here
As always, thank you for your support.
I earned that beautiful five star seal from Readers’ Favorite for Girl Behind The Veil! This story was really emotional to write. I loved Salena and Kaden’s characters and their story, but more importantly, I wanted to raise awareness of human/sex trafficking, life after trauma, stereotypes of different cultures/races, and cross-cultural relationships. I wanted the readers to feel what Salena was going through…to understand her pain and her struggles. Although the story is a romantic suspense, it is so, so much more. I am ecstatic and relieved that these professional reviewers were able to see what the story truly was about.
Jalpa Williby exposes the horrific world of human trafficking in Girl Behind the Veil. Special Forces operative Kaden Reid goes undercover to rescue a young woman from a human trafficking ring in Pakistan. His mission objective – act as a client, buy her, get her out and return her safely to her father. The mission is a success, but the girl hidden behind the veil with the beautiful gray eyes pierces his soul. Salena Hamas is delivered safely to her father, but she is forever haunted by her kidnapping. Burying the tragic incident deep inside, Salena finishes college and becomes a successful journalist for the New York Times. But, Salena isolates herself behind an invisible veil. When she attends a charity event to raise awareness of human trafficking, her past collides with her present. Her hero, her savior, Kaden Reid, reappears. The opposite worlds of Kaden and Salena intersect once again. They spend a wonderful life-changing week together, but will their relationship survive another goodbye? Salena returns to work, Kaden goes on another covert mission. Their love is powerful, however, days apart turn into endless silent months; doubt, fear, and heartache overshadow Kaden’s parting words, “Wait for me.”
Girl Behind the Veil is the first book of Jalpa Williby’s The Invisible Veil series. Williby writes an unforgettable, gripping and passionate story of overcoming tragedy. Although suspenseful and romantic, the story focuses on the post-traumatic effect of sexual abuse on its victim. The heroine is beautiful and fragile, intelligent and defiant, desiring security and stability. She is paired up with a masculine, duty or die, honorable yet tender “restless soul.” The supporting cast consists of a doting traditional father, a vindictive woman from the past, new and forever friends. The plot turns predictable, then bam! Suddenly, it hits you with shocking surprises. It is an emotional landslide to the very end. Jalpa Williby writes to inspire. In Girl Behind the Veil, she raises awareness of human trafficking and cultural differences by creating dynamic characters and bringing their tragic story to life – from victim to victor.
Girl Behind the Veil by Jalpa Williby is the first in The Invisible Veil Series. When Salena is kidnapped by human traffickers while visiting her father in Pakistan, Kaden Reid is sent in to retrieve her as a part of his Special Forces duties. What he doesn’t expect is the gray-eyed woman to haunt his every moment for the next four years. However, as fate would have it, he finally sees her again at an award ceremony in his honor. Salena, on the other hand, is still traumatized by the incident of all those years ago, opting to channel her recovery into journalism, working for The New York Times. Yet, Kaden is not the only one haunted by specters of the past. After a memorable week in Chicago, the pair part, but is it the end of their romance, or just the beginning?
Having read Miss Williby’s novels in the past, I knew I could expect a story that would capture my attention from beginning to end. I found both characters, Kaden and Salena, believable; however, there were parts where Kaden frustrated me beyond belief, as did Salena. I think that’s what makes a really good novel, when the characters are flawed and do things that make you want to throw the book against the wall. The addition of human trafficking made the story relatable to a great deal of current events going on in the world, as did Salena’s drive to help victims in similar circumstances to her own. Overall, I was highly impressed with this first book in the series. I will note, the end of the book is not the end of Kaden and Salena’s story, and there is a teaser of things that will come in book two! Girl Behind the Veil by Jalpa Williby is an excellent example of romantic suspense, and I will be eagerly seeking the second installment when it comes out!
Girl Behind The Veil (The Invisible Veil Series Book 1) begins like many others with the hero on a mission to rescue a nineteen-year-old girl from the slave trade. This is what he does for a living. What he does not expect is that he will be attracted to her, and she will see him as her saviour and fall for him. However, I did not see this as primarily a love story but the colliding of two worlds; she is Muslim, brought up in England and now working in New York, while he’s all American. Despite her western education and her father’s campaigning in their native Pakistan for women’s rights, there is still a gulf between them. This is handled very sensitively by the author and I would be amazed if the reader didn’t connect deeply with Azmia/Salena, a woman of today caught between an ancient paternalistic culture and modern western ways. Her rescue successful, Kaden, her saviour, and she part ways, never expecting to see each other again – however, four years later …
I am a great fan of this author. Jalpa Williby paints such vivid pictures with her words. You feel as if you are on the run from the human traffickers, hiding out in the cave, racing to freedom across the wild Pakistani countryside. The story is realistic. Salena’s emotions are just right, neither too hysterical nor dismissive. We suffer with her at every step of the way. The time Kaden and Salena spend together keeps the reader engaged, asking ‘Will they or won’t they?’ I was genuinely worried about her father’s reactions, despite his views on female emancipation (I’m struggling not to give any spoilers here), and every time Salena meets her father the tension rises. While this may be read as a love story, the issues are far, far deeper – the human slave trade, trauma, cross cultural relationships. It’s a story that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page. I only have one big problem. The moment I finished I immediately went on line to find the next book in the series … only to discover it’s not out yet! I shall be waiting for it the moment it’s published. A well deserved 5 stars from me for an author who writes great stories and whose books I love.
Here’s the link: ReadersFavorite
Girl Behind The Veil is available on: Amazon
Here’s the final chapter of my short story, Best Friends. Hope you’ve enjoyed this sweet escape. 🙂 Please make sure to read the first five chapters before this last chapter.
Chapter 1: Link
Chapter 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
Chapter 5: Link
For the entire month, Ryan did not try to reach her. She missed being able to talk to him about nothing and everything. She missed running with him, asking for advice, watching movies with him, and most of all, arguing with him. She hadn’t realized how much Ryan had become a permanent fixture in her life. Now, without him, she was utterly lost and empty. Nobody knew her better than Ryan. Hell, he probably knew her better than she knew herself. Some days, it got so unbearable that she couldn’t help but try to contact him. She tried everything from calling, texting, and even liking every single one of his pictures on social media, just so he would receive a ton of notifications from her. Each time, though, he ignored her.
As far as Jeff went, he was angry with the rejection and did everything he could to ruin her at work. But, to her surprise, she was promoted. Her boss told her she was one of his top attorneys, and she deserved the recognition.
Her colleagues from work insisted on celebrating with her. They were taking her out for dinner and drinks the next Saturday evening. On impulse, she texted Ryan.
Hey Ryan. I wanted you to know that I got a promotion at work. They’re taking me out to celebrate on Saturday. I would rather celebrate it with you. It would mean a lot to me if you could stop by. We will be at Jon’s Karaoke Bar at 10pm.
Most of the coworkers from her firm joined them, including Jeff. She had avoided him for the last month and still had no desire to be anywhere near him. She knew he came to celebrate just to save face.
As the night progressed, she couldn’t help but keep checking to see if Ryan walked in. It was hard to even enjoy herself because her focus was on the front door. Just when she was about to give up, she saw his tall frame standing at the entrance. He was wearing black jeans, a white, button-down shirt, and a black, casual blazer. As soon as she saw him, Kat’s heart jumped. His hair was the same messy look, but seemed to be longer than last time she saw him, making him look even sexier.
Noticing her, Ryan stopped for a brief second before heading toward their group. Kat wanted to run to him and jump on him. In the last seven years, she had never gone this long without seeing him or talking to him. As soon as they were done with college, Ryan had contacted her, and instantly they’d become best friends once again.
Kat left her friends and met him halfway. “Thanks for coming,” she said, restraining herself from pulling him into her arms. She hadn’t seen him in over a month. All she wanted to tell him was how much she missed him not being in her life.
“I can’t stay long. Maybe about half an hour,” he responded. He leaned down and kissed her cheek.
Kat’s heart skipped a beat as his soft lips caressed her. Although it was a brief kiss, the burning lingered.
“That’s fine. I’m just glad you came,” she said, her voice sounding breathless even in her own ears.
“Jeff got you the promotion?” Ryan suddenly asked.
Kat narrowed her eyes at him. “Is it that hard to believe that my promotion was from my own merit?”
“Not at all. Apparently, you had a hard time believing that when you thought you needed him to help you move ahead.”
“Jeff is a nobody to me, Ryan. And yes, I was promoted because of my hard work.” Kat turned to walk back toward their group.
Ryan grabbed her arm and swung her back toward him again. “Hey, I’m proud of you.”
Kat smiled, knowing the truth in his words. “Come on, have a drink or two before you head out.”
Once at the table, everybody swarmed around Ryan, glad to see him. Of course, Jeff kept his distance.
“Our next singer is Katrina Tyler,” the MC announced.
Everybody started clapping and screaming for her. Kat squeezed Ryan’s hand and headed to the stage. Although she was nervous, at least she knew she looked good. She had her tight leather pants on with her stilettos, and her sequined, tan blouse revealed just enough of her cleavage to leave any hot-blooded man begging for more.
Taking the mic, she cleared her throat. “Hello!” Kat paused and cleared her throat again. “This song is dedicated to my best friend. He knows how much I hate putting myself out there, but he’s worth it.”
The crowd hollered for her while her work colleagues turned their heads toward Ryan. Getting up from his chair, Ryan left the group and leaned against the pole, watching her.
When One by Ed Sheeran began playing, Kat lost herself in the song. She changed the word “man” to “woman” in the first line instinctively. She sang the song to Ryan with all her heart, never looking away. Ryan remained motionless, but kept his focus on her…only her. Neither noticed the crowd had gone silent, lost in the magic that was unfolding before their eyes.
When the song finished, people whistled, clapped, and sighed. Kat made her way where Ryan remained standing by the pole, watching her every move.
“Nice song,” he said, as a slow smile played on his lips.
Caught up in the moment, Kat leaned forward and kissed him on the lips while everybody cheered. “I love you, Ryan Stark,” she said, once she stopped kissing him.
“I know,” he answered as he reached to put a lock of her hair behind her ear.
“You do?” Kat asked, feeling like her legs were going to collapse.
“Kat, I’ve been in love with you since the first time I saw you. You know what I remember? The first time you popped my zit. Now, that’s true love. You wouldn’t have done that for me unless you loved me.” Ryan smirked, cupping her chin to look at him.
Kat laughed, remembering that incident all too clearly. They must have been twelve years old, and she had pinned him down to get at his zit. He didn’t want her to do it, but she’d insisted, and finally had to tackle him down to get to it.
“You know what I remember? When we were in kindergarten, and we were in the same soccer team. I fell and scraped my knee. I’m sure I must have cried.”
“You not only cried, but you let out a bloody scream, Kat!”
“Anyway, I was on the ground, and you were all the way on the other side of the field dribbling the ball. You were about to score when you heard my scream. Instead of kicking the ball to get that goal, you ran toward me all the way across the field, helped me up, and brought me to my parents. All that in the middle of the game. Now, that’s true love.”
Ryan kissed her again. “Yes, it is. Let’s get out of here.”
Holding each other’s hands, both escaped the crowded bar. Although it was raining outside, neither cared. They both ran in the rain, laughing.
Suddenly, Ryan stopped her. “I’m ready to collect my debt now.”
Confused, Kat said, “Huh? What debt?”
“You owe me, remember? When I agreed to be your pretend boyfriend. You said you’d do whatever I asked.”
Kat laughed. “Yes, I do remember. Okay, name it. Your wish is my command.” She then bowed dramatically in front of him.
Kat’s legs buckled and would have tumbled down if it weren’t for Ryan grabbing a hold of her.
Pulling her close to him, he continued, “I don’t want to be friends with benefits. I don’t want to be your boyfriend in some silly relationship. I’ve always known I was going to marry you one day. I want you in my life forever, Kat. Marry me.”
Unable to hold the tears back, Kat wrapped her arms and legs around him as he spun her. The rain danced with them as they lost themselves in their past and the new memories yet to be created in the future.
“You wander from room to room, hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck.” -Rumi
That’s Best Friends. I absolutely loved writing this story. So many times, special relationships are right in front of us, and we don’t even notice.
If you’re interested in reading any of my books, here’s my Amazon page. Link
They are also free on Kindle Unlimited!
Ryan and Kat’s story is getting a bit complicated, huh? This is Chapter 5. Please make sure to read Chapter 1-4 before you read this chapter. I would put this short story in contemporary romance and romantic comedy categories. Hope you’re enjoying it. 🙂
Chapter 1: Link
Chapter 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
During their drive home, Ryan was back to himself once again. She was quiet, though, confused about her encounter with Jeff.
“Okay, what gives? You mad at me for not having sex with you?” Ryan teased.
Kat couldn’t help but laugh. He always knew how to make light of awkward situations. “No, you were right, of course. It would totally complicate things. I think it must have been just that intimate setting.”
Ryan reached for her and caressed her cheek with his finger. “No biggie. I know I’m hard to resist.”
Kat shoved his hand away, groaning. “Ugh, you’ll never let me forget that incident, will you?”
“Seriously, though, I can tell you got a lot on your mind. Is it Jeff?”
Kat sighed. “He came into the room when you went for a run.”
“He said a lot. Basically, he said he wants me back and he made a mistake.”
“Hope you told him to shove it up his ass,” Ryan said, frowning angrily.
Kat remained quiet.
“Kat, please tell me you did.” His frown got worse if that was even possible.
“It’s complicated, Ryan. You know I cared about him a lot at one point.”
“Yeah, and then you saw his true colors! What is wrong with you? You don’t need somebody like him in your life. He’s going to hurt you again.”
“Wow, thanks for the optimism. You can try to be a little more supportive, or at least understanding.” Kat turned back to stare out the window.
“You just don’t want to hear the truth. You’re so much better than him. He doesn’t deserve you. Please tell me you know that.” Ryan was gripping the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles turning white.
“First of all, outside of my feelings for him, you know he’s a big shot at the firm right? He’s a big deal, Ryan.”
Ryan turned to her, his eyes wide with shock. “You want to date him because he’s a big shot? Are you serious? Guess not much has changed since high school.” He turned back toward the road, staring straight ahead.
“That’s not fair. It’s a different world where I work. You wouldn’t understand because you’re a teacher. I mean you teach third graders, for God’s sake. It’s cutthroat where I work. Jeff could ruin me if he wanted to.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing right now. Maybe I was wrong about you. Maybe I don’t really know you after all,” Ryan mumbled.
Kat reached for his hand. “Just hear me out, okay? It’s not just that.”
Snatching his hand back, Ryan interrupted. “Stop talking to me. I don’t want to hear anymore, and I don’t want to talk to you right now.”
Kat had never seen him this angry. While she was always more emotional between the two of them, Ryan was always cool and collected. Knowing he meant it when he said he was done with the conversation, Kat remained silent the rest of the ride home.
Once he pulled in front of her high rise, Ryan pulled her luggage out and handed it to her. “Look, I want some time to myself for a while.”
Kat frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I don’t want you to call me or contact me in any way. If you must know, I see you in a different light right now. And I just don’t really feel like hearing all your drama with Jeff.”
“Wait, so what are you saying? How long do you want?” She couldn’t fathom the thought of not being able to talk with Ryan whenever she wanted.
“Take care of yourself, Kat.” Ryan turned back to his car and screeched away.
True to his word, Jeff called her that evening. Kat ignored his numerous calls, not ready to deal with him. All she could think about was how long she had to wait before she could contact Ryan again. But after Jeff continued to call her for almost the entire week, she finally agreed to allow him to come over Friday night.
He wasted no time with bringing up his feelings again when he arrived. “Have you thought about what I said?”
“Jeff, I just don’t know,” Kat whispered, hesitant to trust him.
“Of course you know. Look, I broke up with Angel as soon as we got back because I knew my heart was with you. You remember all our special times together, right?” Jeff pulled her into his arms and led her to the sofa.
“My feelings are all over the place, Jeff.”
“Let me help you remember.” He lowered his lips to hers and showed her how much he had missed her.
Kat closed her eyes and relaxed against the familiar kiss. Soon, she felt him unbutton her blouse and slip his hand inside.
Instantly, she pulled away. “No, stop. You’re going too fast.”
“Too fast? What are you talking about? It’s not like we’ve never had sex before. And if I remember correctly, you made me wait a long time before you finally gave it up the first time.”
Jumping up from the sofa, Kat distanced herself from him. “I made a mistake. Sorry, Jeff, but you need to leave now.”
“No, wait, Katrina. You’re right, maybe I was too fast. I can wait. Please give me a chance. Hope you left that boyfriend of yours. He can never meet your needs like I can.”
All this time, Kat had put Jeff on a pedestal, but she finally saw him for his true colors. Jeff craved attention. He couldn’t stand the thought of her being with Ryan. Not because he cared about her, but because it was a challenge to win her back.
“Please leave, Jeff. There will never be us. I don’t know what I was even thinking, but I know I made a mistake.” She walked to her front door and opened it, waiting for him to exit.
“You’re going to regret this decision,” he hissed as he rushed past her.
After he stomped out of there, the first person Kat wanted to call was Ryan. She wanted to tell him he was right all along–that Jeff was a prick. She knew Ryan would be proud of her when she shared how she’d kicked Jeff out. But when she called his cell, he didn’t pick up. Kat’s heart suddenly felt unbearably heavy. It had been almost a week since she’d last talk with Ryan. Didn’t he miss her? They typically spoke to one another every day, even if it was briefly. Taking a deep breath, she texted him to call her back.
Ryan didn’t return her call or her text.
That’s chapter five, folks! Chapter six will be posted next week. Any predictions on what you think is going to happen to these two?
If you’re interested in continuing with this story or any other short stories, you can get Loving You Hurts So Good on Amazon. It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited. Amazon
If you’re interested in reading any other books, here’s my Amazon page. Link
Many of you have been following Kat and Ryan’s story in Best Friends. This is a romantic comedy, and I absolutely loved writing this short story. Before reading this chapter, please make sure to read Chapter 1, 2, and 3 first. Here are the links:
Chapter 1: Link
Chapter 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
The strong body braced against her pulled her closer. When the powerful arms embraced her from behind and wrapped around her, she sighed. It had been so long to have a warm body next to her. As soon as the hand snuck under her shirt, her eyes flung open. Immediately recognizing that it was Ryan’s hand exploring her body, Kat froze. Was he even awake? Did he know what he was doing?
Kat wanted to stop him, but she was unable to resist the way he was making her feel. Her breathing hitched when his hand found her breast. She bit her bottom lip to stop the moan from escaping. A part of her knew this was wrong in every way, but it felt too good. What was wrong with her? It was Ryan, her buddy, for heaven’s sake!
She felt his face in the nape of her neck, as he continued seducing her with his tongue. When he played with her nipple, Kat couldn’t hold the moan back. She knew Ryan was aroused when she felt him against her hips, and she couldn’t stop herself from leaning into him.
“I want you, Sarah. I have to have you, right now.”
Reality hit her like a ton of bricks. Ryan was apparently still asleep and thought she was Sarah. Kat pulled herself out of his hold and rolled off the bed.
Confused, Ryan’s eyes sprung open as he tried to process the situation.
Kat stood back up, grabbed her pillow, and hit him with it. “Are you crazy? It’s me, dummy! You’re trying to make out with me.”
Ryan continued staring at her and finally realized what happened. For a brief second, he was embarrassed, but then he chuckled under his breath. “I wake up horny every morning. What do you want from me?”
“You called me Sarah!” Kat accused.
“Of course I would think you’re Sarah. I’ve been with her for the last couple of months. Would you have rather I called you Kat? Now, that would have been weird, wouldn’t it?”
Kat remained silent. He was absolutely right, of course. The only problem was that she knew it was Ryan that had turned her on. Suddenly ashamed, she turned away.
“I’m going for a run this morning. I think I need it. You coming?” Kat decided to change the subject. She knew it was pretty early in the morning, and the others were probably still sleeping.
“Of course. I’ll see you downstairs in about ten minutes?”
Kat dodged to the bathroom with a change of clothes. She put on her jogging shorts and her tank top, pulled her hair up in a high ponytail, and headed downstairs. Ryan was already waiting for her by the front porch wearing his tank top and basketball shorts. Kat always knew he had a fit body since he worked out all the time, but noticing how sexy he looked was making her feel uneasy.
Deliberately pushing all thoughts away, Kat took her frustrations out on the run.
The group decided to go horseback riding and canoeing that day. Once again, Kat was annoyed at how hard Jenna kept trying to get close to Ryan. True to his word, though, Ryan continued to focus his attention on Kat and be the devoted boyfriend.
By the time they got back to the cabin, Kat was beat and was ready to crash. She was glad the trip would end tomorrow since this charade had drained her. Not understanding her feelings toward Ryan, she decided to call it an early night. By the time Ryan got into their room, she was fast asleep.
The next day, Kat woke up extra early. She took a quick shower and watched Ryan as he still remained asleep. She always recognized that he’d grown up to be a beautiful man, but she’d never thought of him as anything more than her best friend. Lying there shirtless, Ryan’s chiseled chest, defined abs, and muscular arms screamed for her. Bottom line was, she wanted him.
Just then, Ryan’s eyes flew open. “What’s up? Why are you staring at me?”
Kat wondered if Ryan had been awake all that time and somehow figured out that she had shamelessly fantasized about him. “Has this weekend been weird for you?” she finally asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Okay, you’re my best friend, and I can tell you anything, right? I mean, I’ve always been able to tell you anything I wanted, so why should it change now?”
“Spit it out, Kat. What’s wrong?” Ryan sat up, suddenly curious.
“Well, I’ve been kinda sorta attracted to you. It could be because we’re in an intimate setting? I don’t know. But I need to get it out of my system. Do you want to be…you know?”
Ryan raised his eyebrows. “No, I don’t know. What are you saying?”
“Geez, Ryan! Do I have to spell everything out? I wouldn’t mind if we were friends with benefits. I mean, I’d be willing to try, if you were.”
Ryan jumped out of the bed and marched toward her. “You want to have sex with me?”
“Don’t worry, no strings attached. Admit it, Ryan, you were turned on yesterday morning. Sure, you thought I was Sarah, but it was still my body. I think we’re adults enough to handle it.”
Ryan stood in front of her and stared down hard at her, making her feel nervous. “I don’t know whether to take your proposal as a compliment or an insult.”
“Why would you take it as an insult?” Kat placed her hand on his bare chest, no longer in control of her actions.
Ryan grabbed her hand by her wrist and shoved it away. “Because, Kat, you just made me feel like a piece of meat.”
Kat rolled her eyes. “Will you stop analyzing everything? You sleep around with girls all the time. You have one night stands, for heaven’s sake!”
Clenching his jaw, Ryan pulled away from her. “No, the answer is no. I don’t want to be your friend with benefits. It would completely ruin our friendship.” Ryan walked toward their door. “I’m going for a run…alone this time.”
Hearing the door slam, Kat closed her eyes. She had no idea why he was upset with her, but she probably shouldn’t have said anything to him. This whole experience at the retreat had been awkward for both of them, and she couldn’t wait to go back to her normal life.
Surprised to hear the soft knock on the door, she said, “Come in.”
Jeff strolled in, closing the door behind him. “Trouble in paradise?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ryan slamming the door woke everybody up, Katrina.”
“As usual, I think you’re reading too much into it, Jeff. What do you want?”
“Look, I didn’t come here to argue. I just haven’t been able to get you alone at all this weekend. I have to get this off of my chest. I’m still in love with you. I’ve never been able to get over you.” Jeff walked toward her, his arms reaching for her.
Kat stepped away from him, confused. “What are you saying? We broke up six months ago. What about Angel?”
“Angel is nobody serious. You know that. I was upset because you wouldn’t agree to move in with me at the time. I was ready for the next step, and you weren’t. I’ve regretted my decision to end our relationship ever since. Please give me another chance, Katrina. What we had was special. Don’t give up on us.”
Kat frowned, her mind completely jumbled from this new information. “Jeff, you’re throwing a lot at me right now.”
“I know, honey. But, I had to just go for it. I would forever regret it if I didn’t fight for you.” Jeff reached her and took her hand. Kissing it softly, his baby blue eyes stared into her green ones. “You know I love you, right?”
Kat inhaled a deep breath. “I’m confused, Jeff. I need some time to think this over. You can’t just expect me to forget the last six months since our breakup.”
“No, of course not, dear Katrina. Let’s just get back home, and I’ll call you this evening when we can talk in peace.” Jeff leaned into her and teased her lips with his before turning around and walking out of the door.
Okay, chapter five will be posted next week. Hope you’re enjoying how this story is developing. What’s up with Jeff? Ugh, can’t stand him! Love how Kat suggest to Ryan that they should be friends with benefits. 🙂
If you’re interested in continuing with this story or any other short stories, you can get Loving You Hurts So Good on Amazon. It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited. Amazon
If you’re interested in reading any other books, here’s my Amazon page. Link
I posted Chapter 1 and 2 in the last two weeks. Each week, I’m going to try to post another chapter of my short stories. These stories were fun to write, so I want to share these amazing characters to my readers.
Here are the links to Chapter 1 and 2, so please read first before continuing. Chapter1
The day consisted of hiking the trails of the nearby lake park and a picnic. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves-even Ryan. Kat couldn’t help but notice how Jenna kept migrating close to Ryan every chance she got. She wasn’t sure if she was the only one who noticed and what Jenna’s boyfriend thought about her flirting. Apparently, Ryan seemed to enjoy the attention from her.
Kat’s attention shifted to Jeff and his new girl. She was disgusted with how clingy Angel truly was toward Jeff. She held his arm and acted like a damsel in distress as she hiked. Jeff was more than willing to be her knight in shining armor, as he steadied and guided her through the narrow trails. For the life of her, Kat couldn’t understand why guys were attracted to such pathetic women.
Besides the annoying people around her, including Ryan, she enjoyed the warm breeze and the fresh country scent. She lived in downtown Chicago, so this tranquility was definitely a nice change. Kat was determined to stay to herself and allow nature do its magic on her. It wasn’t until she heard Jenna scream and grab onto Ryan’s arm that she knew she had enough. Kat was well aware that Jenna had pretended to lose her balance to have Ryan’s arms around her to steady her. It was the oldest trick in the book.
Kat deliberately walked to Ryan and said, “Babe, come here. Let’s take pictures by this spot.” She grabbed his hand and dragged him away from the crowd.
“Hey, Kat, this is fun, isn’t it?” Ryan asked, smiling innocently.
She rolled her eyes and when she knew they were away from earshot, she said, “Jenna is all over you. I know you can see that.”
Ryan smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “She’s a looker, Kat. I’m enjoying the attention.”
“Clearly!” Kat hissed. “We’re supposed to be in love, remember? I mean, you went through this elaborate story of serenading me—which by the way, I was not prepared for—and now, you’re giving me no attention.”
“Oh, are you jealous, darling? Maybe you miss me?” Ryan teased, watching her squirm from frustration.
“You’re impossible. Look, we had a deal, okay? Don’t mess it up. Besides, I can tell that Jeff is jealous of you, and I keep catching him looking at me.” Kat smiled at the thought of Jeff still having feelings toward her.
“Who cares? He’s an ass.”
“Again, we had a deal. Just don’t screw it up. Please!”
“Fine, fine. I’ll behave. I promise.” Ryan grabbed her hand and led her back to the group, giving her tender kisses on top of her head along the way.
When they returned to the cabin that evening, Kat was exhausted. She immediately jumped into the shower, needing to wash the sweat off. Once in their room, she changed into a clean pair of shorts and tank. While she was freshening up, she heard Ryan laughing and mingling with everybody. She had no idea why that was bothering her. He was clearly being friendly with everyone, and it was obvious they all loved him. And why wouldn’t they? He was very charismatic and had the gift of winning everybody over, especially women.
When Kat heard the knock at the door, she assumed it was Ryan. “Come in,” she yelled.
To her surprise, Jeff walked in, closing the door behind him. “Hey, Katrina. I’m glad I got a moment alone with you.”
Kat was suddenly nervous, not used to having Jeff in such close proximity since their break up. “What do you want? I don’t think you should be here.”
“Why not? Two friends can’t catch up?”
“I’d hardly call us friends, Jeff. Besides, I’m sure your girl, Angel, would not like you to be in here.”
“What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her,” he replied, walking toward her.
Kat began taking steps back, needing the distance from him. She had no idea what he was doing here, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. “You need to leave, Jeff. I know Ryan wouldn’t like you being in here at all.”
“No, I wouldn’t.” Kat and Jeff swung their heads around to see Ryan standing in the doorway, his arms folded across his chest. “Is there anything you want with my girlfriend, Jeff?”
Kat watched the two men and was astonished by the difference between the two. As tall as Jeff was, Ryan still had an inch or two on him. Where Jeff liked to have his hair nicely groomed, Ryan preferred the messy look. Kat was used to seeing Ryan in jeans and t-shirt, where Jeff typically dressed up. After the hike, Jeff had changed back into his kakis and his polo shirt, while Ryan remained in his shorts and t-shirt. Ryan never was the one to particularly care about his looks, but Kat clearly remembered Jeff spending more time in front of a mirror than her.
Ryan continued to glare at Jeff. “Do you need anything, Jeff?”
“No harm done, man. Just checking on her. We were close at one point, if you remember.” Jeff chuckled under his breath.
“That was history. I want you out of our room, now.” Ryan stepped in and opened the door wider, gesturing him to exit.
Without causing a scene, Jeff strolled out, and Kat released a sigh of relief. She had no idea why she had been holding her breath.
Closing the door, Ryan turned to Kat. “Why did you let him in?”
She could tell he was annoyed when she noticed the familiar frown on his forehead. “I didn’t let him in. He walked in,” she answered.
“He shouldn’t be walking into our room like that. It’s completely disrespectful. He’s clearly trying to make his moves on you.”
“No, he wasn’t. Wait, do you think? Do you think he’s still interested in me?” Kat wasn’t sure if she should be happy or annoyed, especially since his girlfriend was downstairs.
“Stop. Just stop. Here’s how it’s going to be. You want me to play your devoted boyfriend? Fine, I agreed to it, but you better be playing the devoted girlfriend.” Ryan came closer to her and lifted her chin up to look at him. “Do you understand? I won’t be playing this game of yours if it’s just one sided.”
Kat had no idea why her heart was beating out of control as his ocean, blue eyes pierced into her. She had known Ryan her whole life for God’s sake. But, for some strange reason, this was not the same Ryan she had known all those years. This Ryan was a confident, prideful man, who was not going to allow anybody to make a fool of him.
Trying to duck past him, Kat was surprised when he braced her against the wall. “I didn’t get my answer.”
“Why are you doing this? I won’t make a fool of you, okay? It’s only two more days, and this charade will be over.” Kat shoved him away and ran out of their room. Not understanding her behavior, she sprinted straight to the bar and chugged a shot of the whisky.
Later in the night, as the men played pool, Jeff turned to Ryan and said, “I’m still surprised to see you and Katrina together, Ryan.”
“Why would you be surprised?” Ryan asked, as he took another gulp of his beer.
“I mean if you two were going to hook up, why wait all these years? Why wouldn’t you have hooked up prior to this?”
Ryan laughed while Kat held her breath. “What makes you so sure that we didn’t hook up through the years?”
Jeff almost choked on his beer, and Kat had to walk away to pour herself another drink. “Nah, I doubt that. I’m just surprised because, frankly, I thought you were gay all this time.”
This time, it was Kat’s turn to choke on her drink. The room became silent as everybody’s attention shifted to their conversation.
Ryan smirked and asked, “Why would you think that?”
“Well, Katrina is clearly hot. No man would wait all these years to finally make his move on such a hot girl.”
Ryan remained calm and collected as he finished his beer. “Well, that’s where you and I differ, Jeff. You see Kat as a hot girl. I see her as so much more.”
Kat closed her eyes, processing what Ryan had just said. She moved toward them and took his hand. Staring straight at Jeff, she said, “Ryan is nowhere near gay, Jeff. I should know.” Smiling seductively, she turned back to Ryan and softly kissed him, seducing him. She caught a hint of surprise in Ryan’s eyes when she finally pulled away.
“Well, that’s our cue. Time for us to go to bed,” Ryan announced and guided her to their room.
“Thank you, Ryan,” she said when alone in the room. “What you said and did downstairs…well, I appreciate it.”
“Anything to get that kiss from you, darling,” Ryan teased.
Kat rolled her eyes, grabbed her toiletry, and hurried to the bathroom down the hall. She noticed Ryan had the same idea because he headed toward the second bathroom. Kat wondered if maybe she had drunk too much alcohol because she was feeling lightheaded and was having difficulty focusing.
By the time she got back, Ryan was already stretched out on the bed, his eyes closed. She immediately noticed that he had taken his shirt off and was wearing only his shorts to bed. It’s not like she hadn’t seen Ryan shirtless before, but for some reason, her insides were doing somersaults as he filled the full size bed. Blaming it on the alcohol, Kat forced herself to look away.
“You sleeping on the bed?” Kat asked, wondering how she would be able to sleep next to him with such close proximity.
“Where else would I sleep?” he asked, opening his eyes to look at her. “Nice pajamas by the way. Sexy.”
“What’s wrong with my PJ’s? They’re comfortable!” Kat looked down at her black and white, plaid pajamas. They were her favorite pair. Granted, the matching top and bottom were hideous to look at, but she didn’t wear them to feel sexy. Focusing back on the task at hand, she continued, “You can sleep on the floor. I’ll give you the comforter, and I even brought a sleeping bag.”
“I’m not sleeping on that hard, wooden floor. If you have a problem sharing this bed, you can sleep down there.”
“We can’t both fit on there,” she whined.
“We’d both be on top of one another. There’s no room, Ryan.”
“Again, I don’t have a problem with this. You figure out what you want to do. I’m crashing. Good night,” Ryan said, turning away from her.
Kat wondered what happened to the nice Ryan who had just defended her downstairs. She stared at the bed a few more minutes, contemplating what to do. Giving up, she crawled on the other side of the bed and squeezed in next to him. For several minutes, she remained stiff. Then, reminding herself that it was only Ryan, she closed her eyes and soon fell into a peaceful sleep.
That’s all for now, y’all! Chapter four will be posted next week.
If you’re interested in continuing with this story or any other short stories, you can get Loving You Hurts So Good on Amazon. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited. Amazon
If you’re interested in reading any other books, here’s my Amazon page. Link