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.
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
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:
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:
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!
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
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
Hello! Hope all is well! Jed and Sage’s story continues in Broken. This contains both Chap 6 & 7 since both are fairly short. Please be sure to read Chap 1-5 first. Links are below:
Chapter 1 & 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
Chapter 5: Link
For the next month, Sage attended all of Jed’s therapy sessions. Although Jed was reluctant at first, he allowed himself to let his guard down around her. To his surprise, they were back to being the same friends they were years ago.
Knowing Sage was his biggest cheerleader during his therapy, Jed continued to work hard. He wanted to impress her, and she used that to push him even harder. Sage gave him no breaks, and he knew that was exactly what he needed.
One evening after dinner, when they pulled up to his parents’ house, Jed noticed the limo parked out front. “Who could that be?” he wondered out loud.
As soon as he had pulled himself into his wheelchair from the car, he heard, “Jed! Oh my gosh! I’ve been worried sick about you.”
Recognizing Bonnie’s voice, he immediately felt his muscles tense. Turning to face her, he asked, “How did you know where to find me?”
“What kind of greeting is that, darling? You look great as usual.” Bonnie leaned down and kissed Jed on the lips.
“Bonnie, how did you know where to find me?” he repeated.
“I kind of found out from Nick’s laptop. I know I shouldn’t have snuck around like that, but he wasn’t talking, and I really had to see you. I’ve missed you so much, babe.”
Sage cleared her throat. “Um, yeah, I gotta go now.”
“Er, sorry, Sage. Yeah, so this is Bonnie.” Jed introduced them awkwardly.
“Hello, I’m his girlfriend,” Bonnie interjected.
“Uh, no, Bonnie. You know that’s not true.” Jed was becoming irritated with her.
“Girlfriend, lover…what’s the difference?” Bonnie purred.
“I have to go,” Sage said, turning quickly to retreat. But, before she could go anywhere, a bright light flashed in her eyes, blinding her. Suddenly, there seemed to be hundreds of flashes coming from every direction.
“Damn it!” Jed cursed. “Let’s get inside.”
“Jed Dalton, do you have a statement for us?” One question after another was being fired off all at once.
“Are you still paralyzed?”
“Is this your new girlfriend?”
“When will you write music again?”
“Will you ever be able to walk again?”
“Is your music career done?”
Sage and Jed retreated into the safety of the house, desperate to escape the paparazzi. Bonnie, on the other hand, stood out there, waving and smiling at the cameras.
“Of course he’ll be writing music. He’s doing fantastic,” Bonnie answered.
Jed cringed in the house, hoping she wouldn’t say anything stupid.
“Real piece of work you got there,” Sage mumbled. “Guess you prefer looks over brains for your girlfriends.”
“Stop. Just stop. You know damn well she’s not my girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend, lover…what’s the difference?” Sage mimicked. “I’m out of here.”
“How are you going to go? They’re all over the place out there.”
“I’d rather face the stupid paparazzi right about now.” Sage ran out and dashed into her car while Bonnie continued to pose for the cameras. As she sped her car out of there, the press had no choice but to get out of her way.
When Jed saw Sage the next day, he was pleasantly surprised. “I didn’t think you’d come today.”
“I told you I was sticking around. Where’s your girlfriend?”
“For the hundredth time, she has never been my girlfriend and never will be. I sent her home last night. I had a feeling she brought the press with her, so I let her have it. She flew back out to LA last night.”
“Now that they know where you’ve been hiding out, what are your plans? They’ll keep hounding you here at your parents’ home. I already saw some lurking out there.”
“They’re already here? Damn it! I’ll have to leave from here, but I want to continue my treatment with the therapists who know me. I’m thinking of moving into a hotel for a while.”
“You remember my family owns that cabin not too far from here, right? It would be a perfect place for a hideout because it’s completely secluded. That might be better than a hotel. I mean, they’ll find you at a hotel for sure.”
“Sage, did you forget? I need everything handicapped accessible. How would I be able to do things for myself?”
“We can bring your bath bench and your adapted toilet seat. There are no steps into the cabin, and it’s all one story. The driveway is a nice pavement. I really think we could make it work.”
“We are not going anywhere. I’m the one who’ll need to figure something out,” Jed said.
“I’ll stay at the cabin with you. It’s a two bedroom cabin. It’s not like we’re staying for a long time. It’ll just buy you some time to work things out,” Sage insisted.
“No, Sage. There are still some things I need help with. Things I don’t really want you to be around for.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Jed! I’m a doctor. I do this for a living, remember? If I can help strangers, why can’t I help my friend?”
“You know damn well it’s different.”
“If you’re worried about the whole toileting thing, I have an idea. I think we need to talk with your doctors and see if they’ll pull your catheter and put you on a bowel and bladder training program. You already said you can feel the urgency to use the bathroom more consistently now. That’s a good sign. If you toilet yourself every couple of hours, I think you could really train your body.” Sage’s eyes danced with excitement.
Jed’s heart raced at the thought of having the silly tube pulled, but he remained cautiously optimistic.
“Don’t you see your doctor today? I planned on going with you if you’re okay with that. Maybe we can ask him.”
“Okay, it would be nice, that’s for sure. This has been a huge thorn on my side.”
Before long, both were sitting in the doctor’s office. After Dr. Parker reviewed Jed’s therapy notes, he said, “I’m pleased with your progress, Jed. Looks like some of your muscles are starting to work. And yeah, I think it’s a good idea to see how your bowel and bladder training program goes. I’ll have the nurse pull your catheter today.”
“Wow! That’s great! Thanks, Doc! I was scared this tube was permanent for me.”
“Well, let’s not jump the gun, Jed. This is all trial and error. Hopefully, all goes well, but be prepared for accidents. You still don’t have all your sensations and motor functions back. So, one day at a time, remember?”
“We’re going to remain optimistic, Larry,” Sage replied. “Jed is already doing so much more than we had anticipated. Plus, once he makes up his mind on something, he’s a stubborn fellow. If anybody can get through this, it’s Jed.” A hint of pride echoed in her voice.
“With your expertise and support, Sage, I know odds are in Jed’s favor. You know how it is with medicine, especially with rehab. It’s one day at a time…one step at a time.”
“We appreciate your honestly, Doc. I’m ready for this tube to be out of me, though. Where’s that nurse?” Jed asked.
When they were alone in the car later, Sage asked, “So, how does it feel?”
“Well, the good news is when they pulled the catheter out, I actually felt a little pain. I think it was pain anyway. An uncomfortable feeling maybe. That’s a good sign, right?”
“Absolutely!” Sage said and reached to squeeze his hand.
Jed smiled. “So, we’re moving in together in that cabin of yours? You sure you know what you’re getting into?”
“Oh, I’m ready, big guy. I’ll pick you up in the middle of the night to avoid being seen.”
When they reached his parents’ home, they rushed inside to avoid the paparazzi once again.
“What the heck is going on out there? How did they find you, Jed? You’re all over the gossip sites.” Trina was in the house, waiting for them.
“Already?” Jed turned to his sister.
She pulled her phone out and searched for his name. “Here’s one headline. It says, ‘Jed Dalton Doesn’t Let His Wheelchair Slow Him Down With Women.’ And, there are pictures of Sage and some bimbo.”
Sage laughed. “What type of reputation have you built for yourself?”
Jed rolled his eyes. “They’re parasites. I need to get out of here.”
Just then, his parents came to the living room. “Where are you going to go? They’ll just find you wherever you go.”
“Right now, I need to focus on my rehab. I can’t worry about the paparazzi.”
“I’m getting him out of here,” Sage replied. “We’re going to the cabin tonight. Hopefully, that’ll buy some time.”
“Oh yeah, great idea. They haven’t figured out where you’re getting your rehab yet, have they?” Jed’s mom asked.
“Not yet, anyway,” Jed answered, rolling his eyes.
More to come soon! As always, thank you for your support. All of my books and stories can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK
Happy Sunday! Here’s Chapter 5 of Broken. Before you read this, please make sure to read
Chapter 1 & 2: Link
Chapter 3: Link
Chapter 4: Link
“Rise and shine, handsome!”
It had to be a joke. What was she doing here? Jed pulled his blanket over his head, hoping she’d vanish.
“Come on! We have a full day today for your therapy sessions,” Sage said.
“You are not allowed to come in and out of my room as you please! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Old habits die hard.”
Flinging his blanket off of his head, Jed said, “We were kids then. This is crazy. Just get out. Mom! Dad!” He was angry at his parents for allowing her into his room again.
“Your parents aren’t here. I gave them a day off and promised them I’d take good care of you.” Sage flashed a smug smile.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he mumbled.
“Come on, it won’t be that bad. It’ll give us an opportunity to catch up. Maybe you can stop being such a grouch for some of the time.”
Feeling completely helpless, Jed threw his blanket off of him. “I really don’t want to be around you, Sage.”
“That much is obvious. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Let’s go, or we’ll be late.”
Staring up at the ceiling, Jed sighed in frustration. How had he managed to lose all control of his life? “Every day is a struggle to get out of bed,” he whispered.
Sage sat down on the bed and turned to him. “But, you are getting out of bed. Every single day. And that counts, damn it.” She sighed. “That counts, Jed,” she whispered.
Closing his eyes, Jed knew she was right. It was another day he had to get through. There was no choice in the matter. He reluctantly got into his wheelchair, angry at his parents, sister, and this horrible situation that had been thrown at him.
“I need to jump in the shower. I’ll see you in the kitchen in about thirty minutes.”
Before long, they were heading to the rehab hospital for his therapy. Jed remained silent in the car and was surprised Sage knew where to take him for his sessions. Once they reached their destination, he turned to her and said, “You don’t need to stick around. I have aqua therapy in the afternoon as well, so it’s going to be a full day of sessions.”
“I’m staying. I want to see how you’re doing.”
Grinding his teeth, he said, “Maybe I don’t want you to see, Sage. Did you ever think of that? Why are you doing this anyway? You want to be a big savior or something? Find a cure, and I’m your guinea pig?”
Sage sighed, and Jed noticed her eyes becoming moist. She quickly recovered and replied, “Nope. Believe it or not, you mean a little more to me than a guinea pig. Come on, let’s go in.”
During the therapy sessions, Sage commented on how he had some movement returning in his legs. “How fast are the sensations and the muscle activation returning?” she asked Robin, the physical therapist.
“To be honest, every week, he’s able to do something else. Remember, Jed? Just last week, you were able to maintain standing in the pool with assistance. I mean, granted, we had to help you quite a bit, but you were actually able to use your muscles,” Robin said.
Jed grunted, annoyed that Sage was all in his business.
“What about sensation?” Sage continued to inquire.
“That’s also returning nicely. Right, Jed? You told me you sometimes can feel the urgency to urinate.”
“Okay, do we need to talk all of my personal business here?” Jed asked, aggravated.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Robin said. “I just assumed—”
“Well you assumed wrong!” he barked.
“Don’t mind him, Robin. He’s just crabby. I’m Dr. Ramsey, and I’m involved with monitoring his progress. We’re also friends, so he’s a bit too comfortable acting like this around me.”
“We are not friends! And to be clear, I’m not comfortable around you at all!” Jed said, but he had to admit, a part of him wanted to work extra hard just to show her how much he could do. He also didn’t deny her remark about her monitoring his progress. Truth be told, he knew she would give him the best advice and the brutal truth—whatever that may be.
“Okay, take all that energy out on your workout, tough guy!” Sage directed, and Jed had to turn away to hide his smirk.
By lunchtime, Jed was much more relaxed around Sage, and they both headed to the cafeteria. He appreciated that Sage didn’t make him feel helpless. As a matter of fact, she expected him to do everything for himself, including figuring out how to carry his tray back to the table while wheeling his chair.
Once seated, she said, “I want to see your medical records when we get back. I’m assuming you have incomplete spinal cord injury, and from what I could assess, it looks like it’s at L4/L5 level?”
“Yeah, you got it. The injury is at that lumbar region of my spine.”
“The therapists seem pleased with your progress so far. Are you?”
“It’s frustrating, Sage. My life has changed drastically. It’s really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he confessed.
“I’m really sorry this happened. I had no internet where I was in Brazil during the time. It was also almost impossible for anybody to reach me. If I had known, I would have returned immediately to come see you.”
“And done what?” Jed frowned. “I was a mess when I first found out at the hospital. I didn’t believe it initially. There was no way something like that could happen to me. Not Jed Dalton. Then, I was pissed at the world. I completely shut down, not interacting with anybody. Of course, that got mixed with the depression. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near me at that time.”
“I would have been there. Whatever you were going through, I would have stood by your side,” Sage mumbled. Changing the subject, she asked, “Are you receiving psychological help?”
“I was seeing a shrink for a few weeks, but now, I’m not seeing anybody. It gets old talking about your pathetic life. I was done with it.”
Sage sighed. “I see your stubbornness hasn’t changed any. What about your music? What are your plans?”
“No plans yet. I’m just winging it right now. Just trying to get through each day.”
“Okay, fair enough. Jed, I’ve decided to stay here to help you with your recovery. I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”
Jed stared at her, narrowing his eyes. “Why?”
“I want to, that’s why. And, whether you’ll admit it or not, I can help you. I know I can.”
Jed rolled his fingers through his thick, curly hair, trying to understand his feelings. Seeing Sage more often was a dangerous game, but the way his heart leaped just then when he heard her say that, he knew he would be willing to take the risk.
During his aqua therapy session, Sage cheered him on from the deck. Jed worked extra hard, willing his muscles to work. He was pleased that he was able to put weight through his legs to stand while holding the rails.
When he felt steady enough, the therapists asked him to take a step. He stared down at his leg under water, which remained locked in place. His brain knew what it wanted the leg to do, but it refused to budge. Without meaning to, his eyes landed on Sage.
She nodded and mouthed, “Try! You can do it.”
Taking a deep breath, Jed clenched his teeth and gave it his all to lift the leg up. Robin helped by shifting his weight and assisting to move the leg forward. With a little nudge, Jed suddenly felt his muscle come to life to finish the step. Completely shocked he actually took a step, he couldn’t hold himself any longer, and his legs collapsed. He didn’t care, though, because by then, he was laughing. Hell! He actually took a step!
Once again, his gaze found Sage, and she was standing with her hand over her mouth as the tears rolled freely down her face. Jed stopped laughing and pulled himself to her with the rail.
Sage squatted down so they were face to face, not hiding her emotions.
“I think I deserve a kiss for that effort,” he teased, his smirk widening.
Grabbing his face, she leaned forward, and her lips tenderly touched his. Slowly their lips explored, teased, and remembered.
“Mmm, I’ll have to walk some more if I’m going to keep getting those kinds of rewards.” Jed laughed, stealing one more kiss.
Once the sessions were completed, Sage said, “We have to celebrate. Come on, let’s go get something to eat. My treat.”
For the first time since his injury, Jed truly felt like he was having fun. He wanted to go out with Sage instead of rushing back home. Normally, he preferred to lock himself in his room and avoid any type of interactions.
They decided to eat at Rocky’s Sports Bar back in town. Once they were seated, he said, “Look, Sage, I know I can be a real douche, but I do appreciate this. You know that, right?”
“Yes, I know you more than you know yourself.”
“Really? That’s a bold statement,” Jed teased.
“Call it what you will.” Sage smiled, taking another bite of her pasta.
“No way! Don’t tell me it’s Jed Dalton!” Both Jed and Sage looked toward the source of the voice and saw Dan Kirby approaching their table.
“Great,” Sage said under her breath.
“And, lookie here! Sage and Jed eating dinner together. Wow! The homecoming king and queen reuniting again.”
Jed tried to control his temper at seeing his rival from high school. Dan was a bully back then, and he used to compete with Jed on everything, including Sage.
“You look hot as ever, Sage. Tell me, what do you see in Jed these days? I know he was in the limelight and all, but he’s washed out now after his accident. Aren’t you paralyzed, man? Can you even have sex?” Dan asked, throwing his head back while laughing.
Before Jed could react, Sage sprung up and punched Dan in the jaw. When he collapsed to the floor, she straddled over him and said, “I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time.” She then turned to Jed while tossing some bills on the table. “Let’s get out of here.”
When safe in the car, Jed focused his attention on her, frowning. “I don’t need you to fight my battles.”
“It wasn’t your battle I was fighting. I’ve wanted to do that to Dan since second grade. He used to call me ‘rabbit’ because of my bucked teeth.”
“What?” Jed laughed. “Why didn’t you ever tell me that? I would have beat him up for you.”
“That’s why I didn’t tell you. I knew you’d go after him, and I didn’t want you to get into trouble.” Both Sage and Jed laughed, sharing their past together.
“You’ve turned into a badass. Since when did you learn to punch like that?” he asked, shocked with her moves on Dan.
“Since I started going to dangerous parts of the world. I thought it would be best to take some self-defense courses.”
“I’m impressed. And now I know not to get on your bad side.”
“Yeah! Watch your back, buddy!” Sage laughed.
Hope you all are enjoying Jed and Sage’s story so far! Chapter Six coming soon! As always, thank you for your support. All of my books and stories can be found on Amazon (and they’re all free on Kindle Unlimited). LINK
Yes! I just found out that My Perfect Imperfections won the Outstanding Fiction Book in the 2016 IAN Book of the Year Awards! This is truly an honor since books from all over the world are entered. I am full of all sorts of emotions…shocked, humbled, thrilled. And yes, I did the happy dance with my dog this morning. I think he thought I lost my mind.
Here’s the official seal!
Oh you guys want to see a picture of my puppy too? The poor guy had to endure my craziness this morning!
Here’s the dream cast for My Perfect Imperfections (coming soon)! I am so excited to share this beautiful story about a girl with Cerebral Palsy. I promise you that this story will make you feel every emotion.
Maia Mitchell as Lily Cooper (Note: Lily has green eyes)
Lily has Cerebral Palsy and relies on her wheelchair to get around.
Douglas Booth as Chance Ryker
(Lily’s first kiss, her first love… but, there’s a lot we don’t really know about him)
Olivia Holt as Layna Cooper
(Lily’s twin sister, who is perfect in every way)
Keke Palmer as Kathy (Lily’s best friend and colleague at work)
Mackenzie Foy as Layna Ryker
Angie Harmon (Lily’s mother)
Reed Diamond (Lily’s dad)
Benjamin McKenzie as Mark (the other guy)
Javier Bardem as Kenny (yes, there is a villain in this story)
I’m so excited that I was able to find actors/actresses that fit the way I visualized the characters! This story is completely different than anything I’ve written in the past. It’s dear to my heart, and I can only hope that it brings inspiration and hope to the readers.