This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. Each installment will be available for one week, and new installments will be posted every Friday. Miss one? Joining in late? Email me and I’ll send you the previous installments. Enjoy!
Live With Me
Candace was shaking as she leaned against her bedroom door and listened to Emmett move slowly down the hall. She was a world-class bitch for making him go that far on crutches when it was clear from the sweat on his ashen face that he was about to fall over from pain, exhaustion or both.
Not to mention her guest bed was too small. Hell, even her own king-sized bed wasn’t really big enough for a pro-basketball player, but at least he’d fit on the diagonal.
She opened the door to call him back, but the guest door was already closed, and after a moment, she decided it would be more cruel to make him move again. Shutting herself back in her own room, she changed clothes and washed her face before she ventured back out into the hall.
Barely audible snores were drifting from the end of the hall, and she tried not to think about his feet hanging off the end of the bed, putting stress on his healing leg. Grabbing the handles of his bag, she dragged it into her room and stared at it for a long minute before she started rifling through the contents.
She wasn’t being nosy, she told herself. Just looking for whatever medications he needed. And if she couldn’t help salivating a little over what he probably looked like in those boxer-briefs at the bottom of the bag, well, no one really needed to know.
Her search turned up two orange plastic bottles with different pills in them, a couple pages of instructions from his doctor and another couple pages with exercises on them that she assumed were from a rehab specialist. Leaving the bag in her room, she took the medications and information out to the kitchen and finally got the cup of tea she’d been making earlier before settling at the kitchen table to read through the doctors notes and medication information.
When she was done, she sat back in her chair with a sigh. As a personal therapist, her first instinct was to refer him to a colleague who could help him work through this on an emotional level. She’d seen it before, even worked with some atheletes who had been at the top of their game and then lost everything in one horrific swipe. She couldn’t work with Emmett, of course, being too close to the situation, but she could certainly refer him to some great doctors who would listen and help.
Her own emotions were at war as well — part of her wanting to feel vindicated that the boy who’d made a laughing stock of her in school had finally gotten his payback. The other part wanted to take care of the boy who’d been the object of her first real crush and the one who’d given her that first kiss to measure all others by.
She looked at the notes, and then at the exercises again. He was going to need help with them, and she wondered if he planned on hiring a personal trainer — or maybe he already had. She wondered too when he’d last taken his medication…judging by her watch, it had only been an hour since she’d talked to him, but surely he’d taken it well before that.
The phone rang and she scrambled to get it off the kitchen counter before the noise woke Emmett.
“Oh good, I’m glad I caught you,” Angela said, not bothering with niceties. “I was calling to check up on our boy. How’s he doing?”
“He’s sleeping.” Candace wasn’t sure what to say next. I’m sorry, but I yelled at your son for something he apparently doesn’t even remember doing? Or maybe, your son is sleeping on the too-small guest room bed because I was a bitch and kicked him out of my bedroom?
”Well? How is he? Did you two talk? I wish I could have been there to see it when you first saw him. After all these years. What did you think?” Angela sounded…happy. Too happy for a woman whose son was currently sleeping in a too-small bed and was probably going to need therapy to help him get over not only his injury and all that entailed, but his hostess too.
Deciding against letting Angela know that her first glimpse of Emmett in years had included a full frontal, Candace tried to play it cool.
“We did speak, but not much. He was tired, and I was…” Shocked? Smitten? Sixteen all over again? “I was tired too, I guess. We really didn’t talk much, Angela.”
“Well, there’s always tomorrow,” she said, sounding distracted. “Get some sleep, honey, and take good care of my boy. I’m trusting you with him, you know. “
“I know. I’ll take care of him.” Candace disconnected after a few simple goodbyes and put the phone down on the table.
“So does that mean you’re going tell me where to find a glass for water, or you’re going to smother me in my sleep?”
Candace looked up, and Emmett was close — too close, actually. How he’d snuck up on her with those crutches, she wasn’t sure, but the smirk on his face told her it hadn’t been an accident.
“Try the cupboard to the right of the sink for a glass. Then I think we should talk.”