Girl Behind The Veil-Chap 1

Hello, you amazing humans! It’s been a while. I know I’ve been MIA. But, such is life at times. It moves way fast…so fast, it’s hard to keep up at times.

Quick update on my writing adventures. I’m planning to republish my Chaysing Trilogy in paperback form as an indie author. I’m currently going through it and changing some things a bit. I’ll have my amazing cover designer make some minor changes. Hopefully, I’ll have the books available in paperback form by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I wanted to share Chapter One of Girl Behind The Veil. I’m really proud of this story, so I hope you like it.

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The Mission

Kaden

My assignment was simple. Buy the girl and get out. It shouldn’t be too difficult since I’d been in much more dangerous missions than this. Piece of cake.

Besides, being in the Special Forces for the United States government had trained me well to perform under pressure. At the age of twenty-five, I was one of the younger soldiers in my unit. But I had more than proved my worth. Not only was I picked for this assignment because of my age, but I was one of the top combat and weaponry agents, as well as being fluent in four languages.

I was disguised as Pier Silvani, a wealthy son of a very successful Italian businessman. Pier had a reputation of getting what he wanted, even if he had to break the rules to get it. It made me sick how many human trafficking operations existed in the world. These evil men found ways to obtain the innocent girls in their possession and sell them to the highest bidders.

I rode in the back of the Jeep while the two Pakistani men with their guns in their hands sat in the front. They had picked me up from my hotel couple of hours ago and were bringing me to check the girls out in person. I was well aware that I was at a complete disadvantage with no weapons of my own. I wasn’t even allowed to bring a cell phone with me.

Typically, I wasn’t assigned to such missions, but this one was different. Apparently, they had kidnapped the wrong girl. It looked like this girl I was to save was somebody important. I was never informed of her father’s identity, but was told he was a big shot in the political world. As soon as he found out his daughter was missing, he contacted the right connections with enough influence to have my team be brought in to find her.

Once it was determined that this human trafficking organization had kidnapped her three weeks ago while she was shopping at a bazaar, we were given strict instructions to keep it all very simple. I would act as a client, buy her from the organization, and get her out. We would then see her safe to her father, and the mission would be completed.

I only hoped that she never told her kidnappers her true identity. If they realized they had a goldmine in their hands, God only knew what they’d do to her. Even I wasn’t notified of much information about her. I was merely shown a picture of her and was told she was only nineteen years old. My unit hadn’t even told me her name.

Luckily, we had enough contacts to get me in as one of the potential clients. At first, I was given photographs of girls to choose from by the kidnappers. I wasn’t interested in any of the other girls, though. Sure, it would be pretty awesome to be able to save them all, but their fate was out of my hands. I was after the one and only—the girl with the beautiful, gray eyes.

Since my team had already shown me numerous photos of her, I recognized her picture immediately when it was presented to me. She had a hijab around her face, so her hair was completely covered, but her gray eyes were unmistakable. Whereas the other girls had cast their eyes down, this girl had stared straight into the camera with a look of defiance.

To keep it believable, I’d chosen four different girls out of the twenty pictures they’d shown me, one being the subject. Now, as we approached the compound—which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere in northern parts of Pakistan—my senses were on high alert. Already driving for two hours, there was nothing around us but vast land.

As we got closer, I noticed five different Jeeps parked, and two large tents were set up. I was guided into one of the tents by the driver and was ordered to stay there until further instructions. Knowing I was with no weapons in the middle of nowhere and responsible for saving somebody of great importance made my adrenaline pump even faster. But the fact that they believed I was very wealthy who liked to live on the edge helped me get this close to the subject.

When they brought the four girls into the tent, each was covered from head to toe in her traditional attire. Five men with guns were accompanying them. One of the men, who appeared to be their leader, approached me and shook my hand. He smiled as he pointed to the girls behind him. I smiled back, showing him I was looking forward to the business transaction.

“Welcome, Pier Silvani. I think you’ll be pleased with these girls, yes?” The man spoke in Urdu.

“Yes, very pleased,” I replied in Urdu. I wasn’t that good in the language, but I was able to wing it if needed.

“Shall we speak in English to make it easier for both of us?” he asked in a heavy accent.

“I would prefer it,” I agreed, being careful to speak with an accent as well. “Thank you.”

With a swift move, he approached each of the girls and pulled their garments off them. Four completely naked girls stood before me, and it took everything out of me not to react at their humiliation. As much as I wanted to cover the girls, I pretended to inspect each of them by circling around them. Some of the girls whimpered, some trembled out of fear, and all but one kept their gaze down to the ground.

I knew who the girl I was searching for immediately. She was the one who kept staring straight ahead, her lips drawn into a thin line, showing defiance. Her skin was as clear as a porcelain doll, and the contrast of her jet-black hair cascading against her snow-white body took my breath away. Her almond-shaped eyes were the most unusual color of gray, and I was certain that the depth in them could pierce one’s soul.

Whereas the other girls stood with their shoulders stooped forward, she remained erect with her shoulders and head held high. There was not a sound coming from her while she stood strong and held onto her pride. Even though her hands were rolled into tight fists and she kept her chin up, I could tell she was hanging on by a thin thread, holding onto any little dignity that remained.

An overwhelming urge to cover her with my own jacket from the prying eyes of the disgusting pigs snuck up on me. I wanted to protect this girl—a complete stranger—and whisk her away.

“Don’t worry, they’re all virgins. We inspected them.” The man laughed as if he was sharing some inside joke with me.

I forced myself to laugh with him and then pointed to the girl I was after. “I want her.”

“Ah, yes, she is special, yes? We call her Azmia. A beautiful girl, yes?” He approached her and smacked her on her bare bottom.

I saw Azmia close her eyes and clench her jaw, trying to keep herself together.

I stepped right in front of her and cupped her chin in my hand, forcing her to look at me. She stared deep into my eyes, daring me to make the next move. Leaning forward, I brushed my lips against hers ever so softly, causing the men to laugh and whistle. She, however, kept her lips tight, maintaining indifference to my kiss.

“Azmia,” I repeated the name. How fitting since Azmia meant brave. “Yes, very beautiful. I want her. Here’s the money you asked for.” I held out the briefcase containing $50,000 in cash.

The man grabbed the briefcase from my hand and opened it. Once satisfied of the content, he nodded. “Yes, you’ll enjoy this one. We have her papers and her new IDs for you. You should have no problems getting her out of the country.” He then turned toward his men and spoke in Urdu. “Cover the girls up and get this one ready to go. And keep your hands off her!”

I wasn’t surprised that he had to remind his men to keep their hands to themselves since it appeared they wouldn’t hesitate one bit to fulfill their wildest fantasies with her.

Within ten minutes, the girl named Azmia was sitting next to me in the back seat of the Jeep, covered from head to toe in her black garment. This time, the man who spoke English was riding in the front as a passenger, but the driver remained the same. They were supposed to take us to the airport in Islamabad where they believed my private jet was waiting for us. It was a three-hour drive, and if everything went as planned, we should be at the airport before sunset.

My goal was to just keep us safe for the next three hours, and then my assignment would be done. My team was already waiting for us at the airport, and they’d take over. They were supposed to check us in through the gates as if we were any other passengers to avoid suspicion. All I had to do was to get Azmia to that point. Once there, they’d get her to her father.

As we drove through a completely deserted road, I kept my eyes on the men in front of me. I was well aware that both of them had handguns attached to their waists. We had been driving for nearly half an hour, and I knew the nearest sign of any civilization was probably another hour away.

The men were talking amongst themselves and would occasionally say a couple of things to me. They were mostly making jokes about my time with my new girl. I humored them and laughed at their silly jokes. But when I heard a sudden pop from the side of the Jeep, I had a sinking feeling that we had a flat tire.

“What happened?” I asked.

The driver got out and answered to his boss in Urdu. “Flat tire, Sahib.”

I showed my irritation. “I don’t have all day. I need to get to my destination while it’s still daylight.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” the leader said to me in English. “The rest of my men are not far behind us. We’ll use one of those Jeeps to get you to the airport.” He grabbed the radio and spoke in Urdu to explain the situation. He then turned toward me again and said, “See, they’ll be here in twenty minutes.”

The driver entered his seat again while we all waited. My senses were so focused on the men that I didn’t notice when Azmia suddenly lunged toward me. Caught off-guard, she was instantly on top of me, punching and scratching.

Before I could take control of the situation, the leader jumped out of the Jeep and pulled her off me. Snatching her hijab off, he grabbed her hair and dragged her out of the vehicle. I leaped out as well, trying to calm everybody down. The driver had remained in the Jeep, waiting on the leader to handle the girl.

“I told you to learn your manners! He’s your master now!” The man screamed at Azmia in Urdu while shaking her like a rag doll. He pulled his gun out and held it to her face.

“Stop!” I ordered. “I can handle her. She’s mine now.”

“She has to be taught a lesson for her behavior,” the man replied back to me, shoving her to the ground.

Azmia landed hard, but only a soft whimper escaped her lips.

“I said, I’m her master now. She’s mine! I’ll handle her!” I kept my voice stern.

The man turned to me, taking in heavy breaths as if to calm himself down. “Fine! But I warn you, girls like this one must be controlled.” He then bent down to pull her up to a standing position. To my horror, he punched her on the side of her face.

As Azmia toppled down again, I could no longer hold back my fury. I dove forward, tackling him down. The impact caused him to drop his gun, and I took the opportunity to grab him in a chokehold. When I saw the driver stepping out of the Jeep, instincts took over. Without hesitating, I snapped the lead guy’s neck, and he lay limp in my arms.

I knew I had to act quickly as the driver ran toward us with the gun pointed at me. Everything happened all at once. The gunshot echoed into the deathly silence of the isolated road. The driver went down, and I realized Azmia had just shot him. She was standing still with the leader’s gun in her hand, her eyes wide with shock.

I stood up slowly, stepping toward her. When she pointed the gun at me, I raised my arms up, showing her I was harmless.

“It’s okay,” I said in English. “Do you understand English at all?”

She remained quiet, but continued pointing the gun at me.

“I’m here to help you.” I then spoke in my broken Urdu while I kept taking small steps toward her. “Your father sent me.”

A look of confusion crossed her face, and I took the opportunity to grab her wrist and snatch the gun out of her hand.

“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.” I placed the gun on the waist of my pants and continued, “We have to go. The rest of the men will be here in no time.”

When I saw her trying to weigh her options, I moved quickly. I grabbed the driver’s gun and checked the back of the Jeep. Seeing the backpack, I breathed a sigh of relief when I noted the content in there. It had some water bottles, first aid kit, a knife, a military blanket, and some military rations.

“Bingo,” I whispered to myself. Placing my arms through the backpack, I turned to her. “Let’s go! We have to get out of here before the rest of them arrive. We have to go through the woods where they can’t follow us with their Jeeps.”

I was speaking in English because there simply was no time for me to try to figure out how to translate everything into Urdu.

“I killed a man,” she stated in Urdu, staring at the dead body.

“It’s okay. We must go.” There was no way I could deal with her mental state at the moment. I grabbed her arm and began running toward the tree lines.

Although Azmia still seemed to be in a state of shock, she ran alongside me. I held onto her arm to help set her pace. We needed to get as much distance as possible before the rest of them found their men dead.

 

Okay, folks. That’s all for now. I would love for you to read the rest. The story is really heartfelt and brings to light many real problems such as human trafficking, PTSD, cultural differences… Here’s the link: Amazon

9 Unforgettable Books About People Who Refuse To Be Defined by Disabilities

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Something great happened! I just got an email from Ezvid Wiki.

“Ezvid Wiki was the world’s first video wiki, and is now among the top 3,000 websites in the United States. Our YouTube channel has over 425,000 subscribers, 250 million views since founding, and we have informed over $200 million in purchasing decisions to date.” Sounds pretty impressive, right?

They explained, “We’re writing to let you know that you have been included in our recently published wiki: Unforgettable Books About People Who Refuse To Be Defined By Disabilities.”

My curiosity rose, and I looked them up. Of course, I became even more impressed. Guess what? They thought my book, My Perfect Imperfections, was pretty awesome. They placed it in their list of 9 Unforgettable Books About People Who Refuse to Be Defined By Disabilities. Please see the link that has these wonderful books listed. They even made a video about it! LINK

To say I am honored, is an understatement. To be ranked with some very talented authors with such amazing stories…well, I am speechless. Thank you, Ezvid Wiki, for recognizing this beautiful love story of a young girl with cerebral palsy who faced horrific events throughout her life. But, each time she fell, she got back up. She did not let her disability define who she truly was.

If you haven’t read this story, I really think you should give it a try. Honestly, it will completely open your eyes to so many stereotypes. And, you’ll fall in love with the characters…I promise. Amazon My Perfect Imperfections. 

Until next time, good peeps!

Keep reading, keep dreaming, keep going. Love to all!

Highly Anticipated Release!

MBTU cover eBook

Man Behind The Uniform

Preorder for only 99cents: Here

Man, I can’t believe how long it took me to finish this sequel to Girl Behind The Veil. I want to apologize to all who have read Girl Behind The Veil because I’ve left you guys hanging for almost two years. I know it was a cliff hanger ending…

The good news? Man Behind The Uniform is being released on May 30th. You can preorder now! This story will absolutely blow you away. It touches on some tough topics like PTSD, abuse, cultural diversity, life of a soldier, and human trafficking. But most of all, it’s about courage and perseverance. It’s about embracing our differences and accepting one another for our individuality. The story is full of action, passion, betrayal, and love. I promise you, it’s a heart wrenching story, but it will have you rooting for the characters all the way till the end. Here’s a little blurb:

Two worlds
Two lives
Two hearts…
Beat as one

Death would be a gift.
It was a wonder he was still alive.
It would be so easy to let go.
To stop the unbearable pain…
To finally be at peace…
Yes, he would welcome death with open arms.

But, he had a promise to keep.
He had promised her he’d find her.
And so his stubborn heart kept beating.

As Kaden Reid’s world came crashing down, the soldier,
who was once a hero, was left a broken man.
Only one person had the power to help him fight his inner demons.
But, would love be enough to light a path out of the darkness?

Here are some teasers:

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Note: This is a sequel, so must read Girl Behind the Veil first.

Order: Girl Behind The Veil

Preorder: Man Behind The Veil

As always, thank you for your ongoing support!

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Gosh, can’t believe 2018 is over! Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Honestly, 2018 has been a blur for me. Feels like I’ve been running around like a mad woman.

What am I working on right now? Well, it seems like I’ve been working on the edits for Man Behind The Uniform forever. I just can’t seem to find the time to really sit down and get it done.

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Honestly, I’ll have to perhaps make a schedule to work on it after work in the evenings. It’s such a great story! I know many of the readers have been waiting anxiously for this release since Girl Behind The Veil was a crazy ending! I promise, I’m going to figure out how to get this done. The goal is to release it by April the latest!

Speaking of Girl Behind The Veil, it won the Gold Medal from Readers’ Favorite in Fiction Cultural category and also another Gold Medal from Florida Association for Publishers and Authors. I was lucky enough to attend the award ceremony in Miami to retrieve my gold medal. I met some very talented authors, and wow! What a privilege to be ranked amongst some of the top authors from all over the world. Here are some pictures:

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Oh and in other great news… I was a guest on this amazing podcast called, The Things She Does! It was a new experience for me, but I think it turned out really great! Gosh, the interview was so in depth. Shout out to the host, Nickie Snyder, for having me and empowering/inspiring women all over the world. We talked about so many things, ranging from my books, being a physical therapist, being an immigrant, raising children, being a military wife, and life in general. How do we try to balance it all? What are some ways we can pursue our dreams? Would love for you to listen to this podcast. Like I said, the interview turned out great.

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Here’s the link:

https://www.thethingsshedoes.com/episode64/

So what are the goals for 2019? Gosh, who knows what tomorrow will bring? But, I’ll do my best to control what I can. Goals:

  1. Publish Man Behind The Uniform
  2. Drink more water
  3. Continue to go to the gym 2-3 times a week.
  4. Spend quality time with my family
  5. Do some sort of PR for the books at least once a week.

What about you? What would you like to focus on in 2019? Remember, if you want to make changes in your life, there is no such thing as the “right” time. Start now!

As always, thank you all for your ongoing support. Here’s to an amazing 2019! Love you all. Remember, books can be found here: Amazon

 

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

 

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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

Broken teaser2

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

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00018]

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

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