Jalpa’s Ramblings: Do You!

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Okay, I think it’s really important for all of us to do some soul searching. So many times, we get busy in our daily life and go through the same old routine without even thinking about it. We wake up, get ready, go to work, raise our children, make sure hubby is okay, clean the house, provide food, help the kids with their homework, check on elderly parents, take care of the pets… the list in endless. By the time you’re done with this, it’s already 11 o’clock at night.

I remember there was a time in my life when I had three jobs (had to pay off the school loans), needed to make ends meet, and the kids were still just babies. I don’t even think I had time to take a long shower simply to treat myself. Literally, my life was constantly on the run. I didn’t even have time to figure out what I could change about my life. It was just the way it was.

Through the years, I have gone a bit wiser (I think). I realized I had to have some “me time.” I have to do me! It’s so so important…for your own sanity. Trust me, I forced myself to take some time out for me. It could be half an hour walk or read a little before going to bed or watch a favorite TV show, etc. These days, though, I make an effort to do things I’ve always wanted to do. Life is short. And if not now, then when?

Although I am still working full time as a physical therapist, I have decided to pursue other dreams as well. For the past five years, I’ve been writing and actually published eight books (ninth on the way). Frankly, I’m pretty damn proud of myself about this. Was it easy? Certainly not! But I’ve always loved writing, and it’s actually very therapeutic for me. Also, most of my books have some type of message, and if I can make a difference in some of my readers’ lives, well, then I’ve accomplished my goal.

Traveling also is very important to me. I want to visit all over. I’m a huge nature lover, so my husband and I have picked up hiking. It’s a great way to exercise, stay fit, and it’s actually quite calming. I highly recommend this. Also, I love learning about different cultures around the world. Hence, traveling becomes very educational.

Exercising/fitness is important to me as well. For so many years, I’ve neglected this. Trying to raise kids and running around…well, there simply wasn’t any time. Plus, I would be exhausted if I ever got a moment to spare. But two of my kids are away at college now, so really, only my baby (the 13 year old) is home these days. This actually gives me more time. I’m determined to find time throughout the week to squeeze in some exercise. Honestly, as we age, staying healthy is imperative.

Why am I rambling on and on about all this? I just think we all fall into that “trap.” You know, the trap of the routine, daily life, and we forget about someone very important: ourselves. I think we need to look within ourselves and see what will make us happy. What is our passion? Please don’t neglect this. It’s never too late to do what you love. You don’t want to be that person twenty/thirty years down the road and be full of regrets. Don’t wait for tomorrow to hope things will get better. Make today be the day that will make you smile.

You do you!

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Girl Behind The Veil Wins TWO Gold Medals!!

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I am so so excited to share that Girl Behind The Veil won not one, but two gold medals!

FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association) President’s Book Awards announced the winners recently. In their Romance Suspense category, Girl Behind The Veil took gold! I was completely surprised because I know it’s a tough competition, especially in that category. Additionally, the judges are industry professionals, publishers, and librarians. So, for them to read the story, and then award it the gold medal, is truly a humbling experience. Thank you, thank you!

This weekend, Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards just released their winners. I am honored that this heartfelt story won in Fiction Cultural category. Again, I wasn’t expecting to get first place. When I saw the list, I was shocked and had to refresh the page to make sure I saw it correctly.

Honestly, as authors, we put our heart and soul into our stories. We create these beautiful characters, and we cry with them, feel their pain, joy, fear, and triumph. Our books are our babies, and to be recognized for all the sweat and tears that was put into the writing…well, honestly, I am beyond grateful.

Girl Behind The Veil is especially emotional to me because the main character (Salena) is a victim of human trafficking. I wanted to write about this important topic because we need to do so much more with this worldwide problem. I hope with this story, it not only raises awareness, but inspires people to do something about such a horrific tragedy.

I also bring up cultural diversities, stereotypes, and acceptance. Many times, family and society say one thing, but the heart says the opposite. I can completely relate to this since I was raised in United States, but my parents are from India. It’s actually quite common to feel like you’re living two different lives (one consisting of traditional values and the other consisting of more modern, western values).

In each story I write, I leave a piece of me behind. If you haven’t read Girl Behind The Veil yet, I’d love for you to check it out. I promise it’s a story that will stay with you forever. Here’s the link: Amazon

I am proud of the recognition the rest of my books have received. Yay! Go me!

As always, thank you for your support! Have a great week!

All Book awards

Broken (Chap 11) from Loving You Hurts So Good

 

Loving You cover website

Broken teaser2

Broken teaser1

Here is the conclusion of Broken. Please be sure to read Chap 1-10 first. Links are below: 

Chapter 1 & 2: Link   

Chapter 3: Link

Chapter 4: Link

Chapter 5: Link

Chapter 6 & 7: Link

Chapter 8 & 9: Link

Chapter 10: Link

 

Chapter Eleven

Sage sat on the outdoor swing at her home with People magazine in her hands. She couldn’t seem to look away from the picture of Jed on the front cover. It was a picture of him playing the piano, seeming to be lost in his music. She must have read the featured article about him at least a hundred times already, word for word. Titled, “Jed Dalton Rises Again,” it detailed his life since the accident and how his music saved him.

She sighed, closing her eyes. He still looked as beautiful as ever. It had been a year since she had last seen him. Jed had left the very next day after he’d found out about Tim. She had tried to plead with him again, but he told her he wanted nothing to do with her.

She couldn’t blame him, though. Wanting to control every situation, she once again had disregarded his feelings.

Jed had done well for himself during the year. He had released a brand new album called Broken, which was an instant best seller. She wasn’t surprised by the success. Not only was Jed a talented musician, but every single song from the album was intense and heartfelt. Now, touring around the country, Sage couldn’t help but be proud of him. Seeing him happy and doing what he loved the most filled her with joy.

It didn’t mean she didn’t miss him, though. Sage missed him every minute of the day and night. She had decided to move back to her hometown, unable to walk away from the memories. If that were all she had, then she’d hold onto them with all her might.

Opening her own practice in town, Sage stayed busy at work. Although she still stalked him on the Internet, she knew she had lost Jed forever.

Seeing Trina’s car pull up her driveway surprised her. What was she doing here on a weeknight?

“Hey, Sage!” Trina waved as she climbed out.

“Hey! You never come over on a weeknight. What’s up?” Sage asked, giving her a hug when Trina reached her.

“Well, so you know Jed is on a tour, right?”

Sage nodded, afraid to find out where Trina was going with this.

“He’s ending his tour in Dallas this weekend. Did you know that?” Trina asked.

Sage shrugged her shoulders. Of course, she knew that. She knew exactly which city Jed was performing on which date.

“Anyway, he had sent me two tickets to his show, saying he really wanted me to come. Of course, they’re VIP tickets. I’m going, but I want you to come with me.” Trina’s eyes danced with excitement.

“No, I can’t, Trina. I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to come,” Sage mumbled.

“Oh, whatever! He sent me two tickets, so I can bring whoever I want. Why wouldn’t I want my best friend to go with me? Come on, Sage. You have to go. It’ll be so fun. And I know you’d like to see Jed again. Don’t even try to deny it.” Trina put her hand on her hip, ready to take on the battle.

Sage had to admit, she would love to go see him. The mere thought of watching him perform live gave her goose bumps. Maybe he didn’t have to know she was there. Maybe she could slip out as soon as the concert was over.

Without giving herself time to change her mind, she quickly answered, “Okay, I’ll go. But on one condition. I don’t want you to tell Jed I’m coming with you. I honestly don’t think he would be happy with that, and I don’t want to ruin his mood while he’s performing.”

Trina rolled her eyes before answering. “Fine, I won’t say anything.”

***

A limo picked them up Saturday evening from Trina’s apartment, courtesy of Jed. He wanted to make sure his sister was well taken care of.

As they got closer to Gexa Energy Pavilion, Sage’s anxiety built. A part of her couldn’t wait to see him, but the other part was petrified of how she’d be able to hold herself together once she did see him.

Sage put up a brave front, though, and followed the security who escorted them to their front row seats. After the opening act was done, the crowd went crazy, waiting for Jed. With her heart pounding out of her chest, she was consumed by the energy around her. She was not at all surprised that the show was completely sold out.

The stage went completely dark and began filling with smoke. Suddenly, through the fog, a lonely wheelchair rolled forward. The audience were screaming for Jed as his silhouette filled the stage.

When Sage was able to see him completely, everything started spinning. Unprepared of her reaction, she had to lower herself down to her seat. Jed looked breathtaking as he dominated on that stage. It didn’t matter that he was in his wheelchair. He was confident, mesmerizing, and incredibly gorgeous.

Jed took his place behind the piano and started to sing. The crowd shouted even louder, some even crying when they heard his voice. But, he didn’t hear them. Jed was in his own world as he lost himself in his lyrics.

Sage’s entire being reacted to his singing, and her body trembled. Jed controlled every single fan that night as he pulled them into his spell.

The night came to an end much too quickly. But, before he left the stage, he grabbed his guitar. The crowd fell silent, as Jed demanded attention. “I have one last song for you guys. It’s called Broken.”

The crowd went wild.

Jed smiled and signaled his fans to quiet down. “It’s for a very special person who had stolen my heart when we were kids. The thing is, she never gave it back. This one is for you, Sage.”

Some say I was broken,

Maybe I was,

But how is it that a broken man feels whole?

‘Cuz baby, only you possess my soul.

 

Yes, I’ve been a fool,

Too proud to understand.

Maybe I’m just crazy

Crazy in love with you.

 

Broken, Broken

Will never let you go

Broken, Broken

Only you can possibly know

Broken, Broken

No, nothing can hold me down

Broken, Broken

Not when my baby is around

 

Silent tears slipped down Sage’s face as Jed looked straight at her while he sang. She felt Trina squeezing her hand, but Sage’s gaze remained fixed on the love of her life.

When the song ended, Jed put his guitar down. While the crowd screamed for him, he pushed himself up to standing. Sage almost fainted at the sight of him standing so tall on stage. Somebody from his crew ran to him and handed him crutches. Jed then took steps with his crutches on the stage until he came to the edge. All Sage could do was stand there with her hands covering her mouth, shocked to see Jed actually walking.

The pavilion exploded to see him up on his feet and moving around. There wasn’t a dry eye in there. Before long, Jed was rushed off of stage, and the security grabbed Trina and Sage to take them backstage.

Sage remained in a haze, as everything was happening fast around her. It was as if she was in a dream, floating toward something beautiful. To Jed.

When they were brought to a room, Jed was already waiting there, standing with a cane.

Trina squealed in delight and ran into his arms. “Why didn’t you tell me you could walk?” she cried.

“I wanted to surprise you.” Jed wiped her tears and kissed her cheek.

“Jed, oh my gosh! You have to come home. You have to show Mom and Dad,” Trina continued to stare at her brother, astonished at his strong will.

Jed looked over Trina’s head and caught Sage’s eyes. She was frozen on the spot, shocked at seeing him up with only a cane for support.

“Your brother is a stubborn guy. Of course he was going to beat the odds and walk again.” Nick strolled in, his eyes dancing. “You killed it out there, man. The crowd is still screaming for you.”

Jed didn’t respond but continued to stare at Sage.

Clearing his throat, Nick said, “Come on, Trina, let’s leave these two alone.”

Neither Sage nor Jed noticed them leaving the room and closing the door. Finally, Jed said, “You came.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Come here.”

As if in a trance, Sage reached him. He pulled her in his arms and brought his lips down, incapable of holding back. His passion rose as Sage’s body molded to his, and she deepened the kiss. Unable to control his breathing, he lowered himself down to his chair, pulling her down onto his lap.

Sage clung on with dear life, afraid to let him go…afraid to lose him again. Interlocking her fingers to the back of his hair, she brought his face into the nape of her neck, trying to fight the tears.

“This year…” she started.

“I had to leave, Sage. I had to find myself. Do you understand?” He looked up at her and cradled her face with his hands. “I had to find me again.”

Sage nodded, her eyes moist with unshed tears.

“I needed to believe in myself again. I knew that would be the only way I could finally love you with my whole being.” Jed pulled her hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ears.

“And you’re walking.” Sage’s voice trembled.

“I can even take a few steps with my cane. I’m diligent with my workouts. I have all my sensations back now, so I know it’s just a matter of time before I won’t even need the cane.”

Sage buried her face in his hair, unable to stop the tears.

“Hey! None of that now! You’re my badass girl, remember? Tough love and all that?” Jed teased.

She looked up at him and tenderly kissed his lips with all the love she possessed for him. “Now what?” she asked, caressing his cheek.

“Hmm, I’ve been having this same dream every night. This crazy girl keeps showing up in it.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, some girl with long dark hair and light brown eyes. I kid you not, she follows me everywhere.”

“Huh, strange dream.” Sage smiled.

“Sure is. Finally, I accepted that she had no plans on leaving me alone.”

“So what did you do?”

“I married her and had lots of kids with her.” Jed laughed. “And, that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing. Hope you’re ready for feisty, brown-haired girls running around.”

Elated, Sage closed her eyes, cherishing this moment in time. “Or stubborn, blond haired boys,” she whispered.

***

“When Life pushes you down, show that bitch you can get back up again.”–Flavia Weedn

The End

 

Hope you all enjoyed Broken. As a physical therapist, I’ve had many patients with spinal cord injuries. This story is dedicated to these courageous people! Thank you for showing me what perseverance truly means. 

There’s a part of my heart and soul in every story I write. All of my books can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK

As always, thank you for your support!

Broken (Chap 10) from Loving You Hurts So Good

Broken teaser1

Jed and Sage’s story continues in Broken. Things are not going well with these two…so much pain, so much anger.

Here is Chapter 10. Please be sure to read Chap 1-9 first. Links are below: 

Chapter 1 & 2: Link   

Chapter 3: Link

Chapter 4: Link

Chapter 5: Link

Chapter 6 & 7: Link

Chapter 8 & 9: Link

Chapter Ten

That weekend, both headed to Dallas to meet with Dr. Tim Johnson. They were having lunch with him at the hotel restaurant. Jed was looking forward to meeting him, hoping the doctor could provide some insight. He had already made significant gains and was even able to take some steps in the underwater treadmill with assistance.

When they reached the hotel, Sage led them to a corner table.

“Hey, gorgeous,” Dr. Johnson pulled Sage into his arms and kissed her cheek.

Jed took an instant dislike to the man. He was a young doctor, probably in his thirties. With nicely groomed dark hair and blue eyes, the guy looked more like a model than a physician.

“Hey, Tim. This is Jed. I’ve told you about him,” Sage said, slipping out of his arms.

“Hello, Jed. Nice to meet you.” He shook Jed’s hand and sat back down once Sage took her seat.

“Likewise,” Jed mumbled, already in a bad mood.

While eating lunch, Sage filled the doctor in on Jed’s diagnosis and his progress. She also told him how quickly he’s making gains.

“The fact that you have an incomplete spinal cord injury and your body continues to show improvement are all good signs. If you keep improving at this rate, who knows? The key is repetitive movement. Studies show that repetition of the same movement patterns—let’s say walking—helps to retrain your muscles.”

Jed nodded politely, but all he really wanted to do was to get out of there.

“And as far as your bowel and bladder program, I’m happy to hear it’s going well for you. With your sensations returning as fast as they are, you may be able to reach your prior level of function.”

“That’s great to hear,” Sage exclaimed, smiling at Jed.

Jed threw her a tight grin and quickly finished his meal.

“I’m going to go use the ladies’ room,” Sage announced after she completed her plate.

Once she was gone, Tim Johnson abruptly pushed his chair back and announced, “I’ve got to use the bathroom as well. Be right back.”

Jed did not like the feeling of unease that had lingered with him during the entire meal. Unable to resist, he decided to head toward the bathrooms as well. When he reached the hallway, he could hear Sage and Tim’s voices. He couldn’t see them because he hadn’t turned the corner yet, but he could clearly make out their conversation.

“Baby, I’ve missed you so much,” Tim said.

“Tim, please, don’t.” Sage sounded distraught.

“I just don’t understand anything. Are you coming back to Boston? It’s been too long.”

“No, I told you, I have to stay here. I’m going to help Jed as long as it takes.”

“He seems to be doing fine. I’m sure he has plenty of money; he can hire help. What does he need you for?”

“Tim, please stop asking me the same questions.”

“Who is he anyway? Why do you feel obligated to help him?”

“He is a good friend. We grew up together. I already told you all this. Of course, I’m going to help him.”

“Sage, I know you always like to help people, but you know he’s not one of your patients, right? You can’t blame me for wanting my fiancé back. I miss you and want you back home—where you belong.”

Jed’s heart stopped beating. Had he heard that right? As if needing to torture himself some more, Jed scooted forward to get a visual of what was happening. While Sage was leaning with her back against the wall, Tim was very close to her. Jed saw him reach and caress her face. When Tim leaned forward for a kiss, pain like no other pierced his heart, and he couldn’t watch any longer.

Swiftly turning his wheelchair, he hustled back to the table. He didn’t want to wait here anymore, but he was stuck. With his pride at stake, Jed decided he quickly needed to take control and calm himself down. He didn’t want them to know he had witnessed their interaction, and he certainly didn’t want Sage to see his pain.

Taking deep breaths, he willed his heart to slow down. He chugged his whisky, desperately needing something to help him get through this. What a fool he had been. He broke his number one rule by letting his guard down and trusting her. Why would he possibly think she would want somebody like him anyway? She didn’t even want him when he was whole…when he could satisfy her every need…when he wasn’t a burden to her. And now? He had nothing to offer her. Could he even blame her?

He watched the two of them walking back to the table together. He wasn’t surprised to see Sage’s blushed face, and how she was avoiding eye contact with him.

“You ready to leave, Jed?” she asked, grabbing her purse.

Without answering, he wheeled himself out of the restaurant and into the parking lot. Both were silent in the car until Sage asked, “Is everything okay?”

“How do you know Tim?” Jed asked, his voice dangerously soft.

“Oh, he’s just a friend,” she replied, almost too quickly.

He always knew what a terrible liar she was. “Okay.”

“Why?” she asked, glancing toward him while driving.

“Just wondering.” Jed turned away to stare out of the window. Lost in his thoughts, he remained quiet for the rest of the trip.

Once they reached the cabin, he went straight to the bathroom. He splashed cold water to his face, hoping it would help the agonizing ache in his heart.

When he returned to his bedroom, Sage was waiting for him. “I know something is bothering you. What’s up?”

Jed clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. “I’ve decided to leave for LA as soon as possible. I’ll be contacting my agent, Nick, to get it all set for me.”

“Why are you leaving? I thought you liked your therapists here.”

“I can get therapy there as well. I have a home there, and I need to get my life in order.” Jed kept his voice indifferent, not wanting her to see how much he was hurting.

“I don’t understand,” Sage whispered, confused.

“There’s nothing to understand, really. You have your life to live, and I have mine. I need to go back to it. Can’t hang around here forever.”

“What’s this about? I know you, Jed. I know you’re upset about something.”

Jed tried to wheel away from her, unable to look at her. But, Sage dashed in front of him and halted his progress.

“Get out of my way, Sage.”

“No! Not until you tell me what’s going on.”

Losing his temper, Jed yelled, “Fine! You wanna know? You’re nothing but a liar. All this time, you’ve been lying to me. You think I’m that stupid? And I specifically asked you about Tim. I gave you the opportunity to come clean, but you continued to lie.”

Sage blinked a few times, shocked at hearing his words. “I…what?”

“Yeah, you got nothing to say now? I saw you guys, Sage. I know he’s your fiancé.”

“No! He’s not, I swear. I broke up with him. We were engaged, yes, I admit. But as soon as I saw you with Trina that first day, I flew back to Boston the very next day and broke it off with him.”

“Yet, you lied to me. You’ve been lying. And when I just asked, you said he was only your friend. Why?”

“Fine, I should have told you right from the start. I just didn’t know what to say. I took the easy way out by not saying anything. I didn’t want that to stop you from seeing him to get a second opinion. I’m sorry, Jed, but I swear, I’m not with him.”

“Why aren’t you with him?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Tears tumbled down her cheeks, but Jed had hardened his heart by then. “I’m in love with you, Jed. I’ve never stopped loving you. I realized that as soon as I saw you again. You have to believe me.”

“You’re in love with me? Really? Yet, when Tim asked you who I was to you, you told him I was just a friend. Why wouldn’t you tell him straight up that you’re in love with me?” I paused, trying to catch my breath. “You know, I’d rather be with somebody like Bonnie. At least I know exactly what I’m getting with her.”

A look of pain flashed before Sage’s eyes. “I…Jed, please.” Her voice trembled as she hid her face in her hands.

“Leave my room now. I don’t want you near me.”

Ahh, Jed and Sage…sigh. Chapter 11 (the conclusion) coming soon. Thank you, amazing readers, for your support. All of my books and stories can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK

Broken (chap 8 & 9) from Loving You Hurts So Good

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Hey, everybody! Jed and Sage’s story continues in Broken. Here are Chapters 8 & 9. Please be sure to read Chap 1-7 first. Links are below: 

Chapter 1 & 2: Link   

Chapter 3: Link

Chapter 4: Link

Chapter 5: Link

Chapter 6 & 7: Link

 

Chapter Eight

The cabin was surrounded by trees and hidden nicely away from the main roads. Luckily, it was fairly easy to move his wheelchair around because of the cemented pathways. They arrived at two in the morning, and by the time Sage unloaded everything and set the bathroom up, it had turned into three o’clock.

“Thanks again for everything. I think we escaped undetected. I know you must be tired. I’m going to try to use the bathroom one more time, but I think I should be okay now. You should get some sleep,” Jed said.

“Yeah, I’m wiped. I’ll just wait until you’re in bed.”

“You don’t need to tuck me in, Sage.”

Sage laughed. “I like tucking you in. Now, go try to use the bathroom. I want to know if you’re successful with it.”

“You’re a bully!” Jed laughed, wheeling himself into the bathroom. He had no idea how he got so comfortable with her so quickly. It was as if the last ten years had never occurred.

When he returned to the bedroom fifteen minutes later, Sage was still there, but was wearing her sweats and a tank top. “Figured I’d go change and then check on you before hitting the sack.”

“Cute nightie. Sexy!” Jed teased.

“Hey! It’s comfortable. So, were you able to pee in the toilet?”

“I know you won’t leave me alone until I answer, so yes, I did pee. Satisfied?”

“Much.” Sage watched when Jed positioned his wheelchair next to the bed to scoot himself over. “Why don’t you try to stand up to get into the bed?”

“Because I’ll fall flat on my face,” he answered, frowning.

“How do you know unless you try? You have to try every time so you can teach yourself to stand again,” Sage encouraged.

“You think I can just miraculously stand and get into this bed?”

“No, but I can help you stand. I’m just saying the more you force yourself to use the muscles, the better.”

“All right, let’s try it. I’m a lot taller than you. You sure you can help me? I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Yeah, I’ll do what your therapists do. I’ll be right in front of you and hold onto your waist to assist.” Sage took her position, and Jed made sure his feet were properly placed under him. “Okay, at the count of three. You ready?” When Jed nodded, she continued, “One, two, three.”

Jed pushed up with his legs with all his might, and Sage helped him up. He had to hold her shoulders with his hands for support. Somehow, he was bearing weight through his legs, but he knew they would collapse any second. Quickly turning, he fell onto the bed, taking Sage with him.

Both laughing hysterically, Sage remained on top of him while he continued to hold her. “Hey, I think you were able to stand for a second or two,” she said.

“I was pushing down with my hands quite a bit on your shoulders. You okay?” Jed asked while playing with her hair.

Sage looked up at him, suddenly realizing how close they were. “Yeah, um, I better go.”

When she tried to pull herself off of him, Jed held her tighter.

“Not yet,” he whispered. He held her face and brought it down for a kiss. Deepening the kiss, Jed heard her moan. He permitted his hands to roam her body, reliving every memory. He knew exactly how to touch her…what made her feel good. With skin as soft as snow, she melted under his touch. What he wouldn’t do to make her his at that very moment. Reality came crashing down, though, and he abruptly pulled away. “We better stop.”

“Mm,” she moaned. “That felt good.” She rested her head on his chest, enjoying the rock-hard muscles under her. Jed had always been athletic and active, which is probably what’s helping with his rehabilitation.

“Sage? Yeah, so I totally felt something.”

Looking up at him, she asked, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, it felt good, like really good. I didn’t think I could respond like that with my paralysis and all. But, you definitely were able to wake up some muscles that have been inactive since the accident.”

Smiling ear to ear, Sage kissed him again. “That’s the best news yet, Jed.”

When he saw her eyes filling with tears, he said, “Don’t. One day at a time, right?”

“Yes, one day at a time.”

 

Chapter Nine

Each day, Jed continued to show improvements, and each day, they became closer. While she was stretching his legs on his bed one evening, she said, “One of my colleagues is attending a conference at Dallas this weekend. He’s a neurologist, and he specializes in spinal cord injuries. I’d love for us to meet with him to get his opinion. We can bring your records, and maybe he might be able to give us some type of prognosis.”

“You want us to drive up to Dallas?”

“Yeah, I’ve known him for a while, and I know he’s good at what he does. I think he’ll be honest with us.”

“All right, sure. We can drive up. It’s only an hour and a half drive.”

“Okay, good. I’ll let him know. Maybe he can meet us for lunch or dinner, and we can fill him in.”

Jed remained quiet for a few moments before he finally asked the question that had been bothering him for a long time. “Why did you break up with me, Sage?”

Pausing briefly, she answered, “We were in the opposite sides of the country. Our relationship was drifting, and I knew you were starting a new life in LA. I didn’t want to hold you back.”

“Bullshit! Don’t turn it around on me. You know damn well, I never wanted either of us to quit on our relationship, no matter how hard it got.” Jed remembered feeling the betrayal and the pain when she had ended it. “You wouldn’t even meet with me in person. Our relationship was that insignificant to you that you just ended it over a phone call.”

“It wasn’t easy for me, Jed. But, one of us had to do the right thing. I was busy with my studies, and every time I saw pictures of you on social media partying with different girls, I’d go crazy. I literally couldn’t even focus on anything but what you were doing. Finally, it all just got too much. I knew I had to let you go.” Sage quickly wiped the tears that had slipped out.

Jed grabbed her hand and pulled her down toward him. Rolling on top of her, he stared into her eyes, her soul. His eyes raw with deep emotions, he said, “You made the decision for both of us. You gave me no choice. Like I had no feelings. Like I was just along for a ride. I mattered, Sage. You mattered, and our relationship mattered. I didn’t want us to walk away.”

Sage could see the pain and anger in his eyes. “I tried to stay connected. I called you numerous times, so we could keep in touch,” she tried to explain.

“You think after our history together that I could just be your friend? Come on, you know me better than that.”

With her voice trembling, Sage said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to feel obligated to stay with me. I wanted you to have your freedom. I tried so hard to let you go, Jed. But, you were always with me. Right here, you were always with me.” She took Jed’s hand and placed it over her heart.

Jed buried his face into her neck. “Losing you nearly killed me,” he whispered.

Sage tangled her fingers into the lock of his hair and held him close. Unable to resist, she began to pull his t-shirt off. Playing with his chiseled chest, she closed her eyes, savoring the sensation. She could feel him trembling under her touch, enjoying the power she had over him. “I’ve missed you, Jed.”

Looking deep into her eyes, he slowly lowered his lips, devouring her. Turned on by his passion, Sage instinctively molded her body against his. Soon, he had her tank top off and was already playing with her breasts with his hands and lips. She couldn’t help the moans that slipped out as both of their breathing became erratic.

“Sage, my whole being wants you so bad. You can’t possibly imagine. But, I don’t think I can yet.”

Slowing her breathing down, she said, “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”

Jed kissed her one more time. “Stay in this bed with me tonight. I want you in my arms.”

Nothing could make her happier. Sage slid closer to him and cherished the strong arms cradling her.

Jed held her tight, thanking his lucky stars she was back in his life. Holding Sage in his arms felt like being home again.

Chapter 10 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

Broken (Chap 6 & 7) from Loving You Hurts So Good

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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

Chapter Six

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.

 

Chapter Seven

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

Broken (Chap 5) from Loving You Hurts So Good

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

Broken teaser2

Chapter Five

“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

Broken (Chap 4) from Loving You Hurts So Good

Hello, good people! Here’s Chapter 4 of Broken. Before you read this, please make sure to reach chapter 1 & 2: Link   and Chapter 3: Link

Broken teaser2

BROKEN

Chapter Four

It had only been two days since Nick’s departure, and already, Jed fell back into depression. Trina came to see him every evening after work, forcing him get out of his room. His parents drove him to his therapy appointments, making sure he didn’t miss any. He felt completely useless and dependent on everybody else.

Jed had come a long way since the accident, though. He shuddered, remembering those horrible weeks of agony.

When he first woke up in the hospital, and his family broke the news to him, he thought it was all just a nightmare. He didn’t believe any of it.

“That’s crazy,” he told his parents. “I’m sure the doctors are mistaken. Just give me couple of days.”

Trina and his parents never left his side. He couldn’t understand why his mother’s eyes were always red and swollen, as if it was the end of the world.

Finally, when Jed still couldn’t move his legs a week later, anger like no other hit him. He hated everybody and would kick them out of his room. “Get the hell out! I don’t need any of you all!” he would shout, even to the doctors and the nurses. They had to sedate him several times because he was trying to pull his tubes out. Jed hated the world for the predicament he was in.

Once he realized nobody was planning on leaving him alone, he went into deep depression. He even told Trina that he should have died in that accident. “Trina, please, if there’s any way at all you can help me. I don’t want to live like this. I can’t feel anything from my waist down. No, I won’t live like this.”

“Jed, please. We’re all here to help you. Please don’t say things like that,” Trina begged.

Tears rushed down Jed’s face. “Don’t make me live like this. What kind of life do you think I would have?”

“Oh, I love you so much, Jed. Please, you’re my strong brother. You can’t give up. I can’t bear it.” Trina wiped her tears quickly. “Listen, Sage is a doctor. I think she’s out of the country, but I need to try to reach her. She can help you. I know she can.”

Jed pushed the IV pole down when he heard the name he despised with passion. “Don’t you ever bring her up again! She’s a nobody to me and to this family. What the hell do you think she can do for me? Just get out. You’ll never understand what I’m going through.” He didn’t care that he was hurting his sister. He just wanted everybody to leave him alone.

Eventually, when he was medically stable, he was flown to Texas, so his family could keep an eye on him. He received inpatient rehabilitation for several months and was left with no choice but to participate in his therapy sessions. Finally, when he was released from the hospital, he moved in with his parents.

Even with the support of his family at his parents’ home, to wake up every day and face the world was tough. As difficult as it was to get out of his bed, he knew the therapy sessions his parents took him to daily were important. He pushed himself to work hard, and the therapists continued to encourage him, saying that he was definitely having more movement in his legs.

When he didn’t have early morning therapy, he normally stayed in bed until he was coerced to get up. Wednesday was one of those days, so when Jed heard a knock on his door, he assumed it was one of his parents.

He grunted, hoping they’d leave him alone. But, the door swung open and he heard it close again. “Ma, I’m sleeping in today,” he muttered.

“It’s eleven o’clock. How long do you plan on sleeping in?” Recognizing Sage’s voice immediately, he lifted his head up to make sure he wasn’t hearing things.

Seeing her standing there with her skinny jeans and a snug t-shirt, Jed’s heart skipped a beat. A burst of emotions hit him—especially annoyance.

“What are you doing here? Who said you could just walk in my room like this?” Jed wanted to punch the wall, angry that she still held the power over his feelings.

“Your parents, actually.” Sage walked to the bed. “When do you plan on getting out of bed?”

“Not your damn business, Sage. You’re not welcome here. Can you leave?” The thought of her, of all people, seeing him at his most vulnerable state infuriated him. How dare she walk in here as if the last ten years hadn’t happened? Sure, growing up, she came in and out as she pleased. In high school, when they were dating, she practically had moved into his parents’ house.

“Whatever. I wanted to see you, okay? I’ll be leaving soon, and I wanted to make sure you were doing all right.”

“What the hell! Just get out!” Jed did not want her to witness him struggling to get out of bed.

“Jed, I’m not leaving. I want to talk with you, but I’ll wait in the living room. I’ll give you privacy right now, unless you need any help.” Sage folded her arms in front of her chest, her lips set in a thin line.

“Get out! Now!”

After Sage turned and stormed out, Jed threw his pillow at the door, frustrated that she had to come and disrupt his state of mind. He knew she was stubborn, though, so he reluctantly crawled out of bed and got into his wheelchair.

Heading to the bathroom, he decided he should at least get himself somewhat cleaned up since she looked beautiful as ever. She had not aged one bit in the last ten years. If anything, she was even more beautiful, her dark hair longer than in high school, and her body seemed to have more curves in the right places than he remembered. Splashing his face with the water, he cursed at where life had taken him. Knowing there was no time to dwell on anything at the moment, he finished up by putting on his sweatpants and a black t-shirt. His damp hair was more curly than usual, and he hadn’t shaved in couple of days, so a beard was starting to form. Refusing to do anything more with his appearance, he took a deep breath and headed out of his room.

Jed could hear his parents talking with Sage. Annoyed and feeling betrayed that they were being friendly with her, he clenched his jaw tightly and continued wheeling toward the one girl who had broken his heart.

“Hey, Jed. We were just catching up with Sage. Did you know she just returned from Brazil? She worked with kids there to help them. She does this kind of stuff all the time…and all over the world.” His mom was babbling, so he knew she was nervous.

When he remained silent, his dad said, “Come on, honey. Let’s leave these kids alone, so they can catch up.”

Jed’s eyes remained on Sage, trying to show her that she had no effect on him at all. Sage was nervously fidgeting with her fingers and looked everywhere but at him.

“It’s okay. Sage and I won’t be long. We can step outside on the porch,” Jed finally said.

“Yeah, we’ll be outside,” Sage agreed, heading toward the door.

Once outside, Sage sat on the rocking chair and waited for Jed to pull up next to her. Keeping his distance, Jed said, “What’s up? What do you want to talk about?”

Taking a deep breath, Sage closed her eyes. Finally, she opened them and said, “I’m going to be honest here. After I saw you the other night, I went straight home and Googled you. I wanted to find out what happened. First of all, I want to say how sorry I am.”

“Don’t need to hear that. What else you gotta say?”

Sage sighed. “You’re not making this easy for me, Jed. This is really hard—to see you after all these years. I tried to stay away this week, but I needed to see you. I needed to find out how you’re really doing.”

“Well, Sage, how the hell do you think I’m doing? I can’t walk, I can’t piss, and I can’t take a shit. I have a goddamn tube going up my penis that collects my piss. My parents have to make sure I have a bowel movement regularly. What else do you want to know?” Jed knew he was being harsh, but he didn’t care.

“If you’re trying to shock me, it’s not going to work. I’m a doctor, remember?”

“You asked how I was doing. That’s the best I got for you. Why do you care anyway? It’s not like you’ve tried to contact me through the years. Not once did you try to find out how I was doing.”

“I did try to contact you at first, but you wouldn’t return my calls, remember? Besides, I knew how you were doing because you’ve been all over the media, Jed. Your songs were all over the radio, and every time I logged onto my computer, there was usually some sort of news about you, especially on all the gossip sites. I knew about your success, your tours, who you were dating…yeah, I admit it. I kept tabs on you, okay?”

Jed didn’t respond, surprised at first. He sighed, shaking his head. “I don’t know what you want from me. Why are you here? There’s nothing left to say.”

Sage looked away quickly, staring off into the horizon. Just then Jade came running, excited to see her. Sage petted her and pulled her into her arms. “Jade! I’ve missed you, girl. You look great!”

This time, it was Jed who looked away. Pain pierced through his heart as he remembered they had rescued Jade together from the shelter during their senior year in high school. They also had chosen her name to be a combination of both of theirs. At the time, they had decided that Jade was their first baby until they were older and more responsible to have their own kids one day. But, of course, Sage didn’t even stick around to raise Jade. Instead, Jed ended up taking his baby to LA with him, and she had been his best buddy for the last ten years. The fact that Jade recognized Sage instantly felt like another betrayal.

When Jade continued to kiss Sage, he finally couldn’t take it anymore. “Jade!” he called. “Come here.” Jade immediately leaped off of Sage and approached him. “Sit,” Jed commanded. “Stay!”

He knew Jade wouldn’t disobey him, and in some strange way, he felt a small victory over Sage. Recognizing it was silly, he still wanted to rub it in her face that Jade was his baby.

Sage bit her lower lip and turned her attention back toward him. “How long are you here?” she finally asked.

“Don’t know,” he replied abruptly.

“I’m here for at least a few more weeks. For what it’s worth, you look great, and believe it or not, I’ve missed you. Like, a lot. But I know you don’t care to hear all that, so I won’t bore you. Jed, I’d like to see you more. If you don’t want to catch up on our personal lives, fine. I would love for you to tell me how your rehab and everything is going. I have a lot of colleagues who are neurologists. Maybe I can help somehow.”

“I don’t need your help, Sage. Why the hell would I take help from you?” Furious, he began to push his wheelchair back toward the house. “Take care and have a great life.” He continued without turning around to look at her.

“All right, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Sage replied.

Before Jed could turn his wheelchair around to yell at her, Sage leaped off of the porch and was already disappearing down the driveway and into her car.

Hope you guys are enjoying Broken. More to come in a near future. If you want to read the full story now, you can get it from Amazon. It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited. Link: here

Broken (Chap 3) from Loving You Hurts So Good

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

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Chapter Three

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! 

 

Broken (Chap 1&2) from Loving You Hurts So Good

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. 🙂

 

Loving You cover website

Broken

Chapter One

“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.

 

Chapter Two

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.

“Hey, Trina!”

“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. 

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