by Braced, Chie, Cynix, KV, Lev & Hartmann
(by Hartmann: Mia’s POV)
Tonight’s weather forecast: A touch of doom. A pinch of gloom. And a whole lot of misery. With no end in sight.
“Just my luck.”
The words couldn’t be heard over the deafening sound of rain, beating down against the windshield.
Nope. Nothing could be heard. And the whole damn car was vibrating from the force of the torrential downpour.
“It just had to happen tonight of all nights!”
Of course, the unfortunate weather wouldn’t normally be much of an issue.
Except that she also had a flat tire.
Of course, the flat tire wouldn’t normally be much of an issue.
Except that the donut was MIA from her trunk.
Of course, the missing spare tire wouldn’t normally be much of an issue.
Except that her phone was dead.
Of course, the dead phone wasn’t ideal, but it still wouldn’t normally be much of an issue.
Except that she was in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, even that stupid fact wouldn’t normally be much of an issue.
Except that it was the dead of night.
Mia slammed a fist against the steering wheel. The horn’s reply was just barely audible.
Let’s recap: A flat tire. No spare. No phone. Nowhere near civilization. In complete and utter darkness. And just to makes things more interesting…
She was running dangerously low on fuel. Of course.
Leaning her rich chocolate locks back against the headrest, Mia closed her eyes and groaned in frustration.
Yep. Tonight of all nights.
Just as she was contemplating whether or not to shut off the engine…
Mia’s eyes shot open and she bolted upright to find a blinding set of headlights lighting up her minty green VW beetle from behind. She squinted at her rearview mirror but couldn’t make out her new visitor against the bright glare.
This is like a horror movie…
Holding her breath, Mia waited for the arrival her chainsaw-wielding backwoods killer.
This is like a b-rated, campy, slasher film with terrible acting…
But the gruesome, blood-stained knuckles never knocked on her window. Instead, a muffled honking noise continued to persist through the onslaught of rain.
Okay. I guess that they’re not coming to me…
Mia unbuckled her seatbelt and swung open her door.
Must be scared of a little rain…
With a deep breath, she swung her legs over the side and stepped into the onslaught of rain to scurry towards her new companion.
It has to be a woman…
The window was already rolled down as she approached the driver’s side door.
Because if it’s a man, he’s not very much of a gentleman…
Those are the most incredible blue eyes…
“Do you need a hand?”
That I have ever seen in my life…
(by Braced: Logan’s POV)
“Wow, who the hell would be driving out in this weather?” Logan asked as he pulled up behind the stalled VW. He honked his horn, hoping the person in front wasn’t some serial killer trying to pretend their car was broke down, though not many killers would drive a VW Beetle. Just doesn’t fit the profile.
In the dark, pouring rain, Logan saw her. Her chocolate locks quickly pressed against her face as the rain beat down.
“Hey, stranger, need a hand?” he asked.
“Yeah, my tire is flat, and to top it off, I’m running on fumes.”
“Well, look…I’d love to help you change your tire, but you see tires are the problem. I’m gimpy.”
“Gimpy. Handicapped. Crippled. Differently-abled, ugh. SCI. Spinal-cord injury. Dumb ass drunk ran a red and right into my Chevy. Anyway, it sounds like you’re in a world of hurt out here. This road doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and it’s late. What do you say about me driving you to the nearest sign of civilization so you can get a tow truck out there?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Do you have a cellphone?”
“It’s dead,” Mia said with despair.
“Well, unless you can wrangle up a team of coyotes and raccoons to pull your car away, I think you should at least consider my offer. Look, you can see my wheelchair in the back. I’m about as likely to hurt you as your tire is to fix itself. Scouts honor, I’ll get you back to civilization.”
“Very well. But you try any funny stuff and it’s pepper spray city!”
“Not even knock-knock jokes?”
Mia grabbed her purse and hopped in Logan’s vehicle. They started down the dark highway, and the rain started to pick up in intensity.
“It was a night like this one,” he said.
“The night I had my accident. I was coming home from work, I had a late day. Never even saw him. He blew a red light and next thing I know, I wake up in a hospital bed, unable to move anything below my waist.”
“I’m so sorry,” Mia said, putting her hand to her mouth.
“Don’t be. It wasn’t you that was three times the legal limit. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge. Talking about, if this rain keeps up, I hope Stearns Bridge doesn’t wash away,” he chuckled.
A faint glow on the horizon was the first indication of civilization. A four-corners choice of gas stations and fast food restaurants cut through the inky darkness with artificial light and hope. Logan pulled into the Shell station and stopped the car.
“Well, thank you for not….raping me and dumping my body in the woods.”
“Look, here’s my card. If you’re still having trouble, my cell is on there. But, they’re good people at this Shell, they’ll hook you up with a tow truck and everything.”
“Let me give you some money for your troubles,” she said, digging in her purse.
“What troubles? Have a pleasant night Mrs…”
“Ms…Mia Lovell, and please, let me give you at least a few bucks for gas.”
“Wouldn’t ever be able to convince me to take it, Miss Mia Lovell. Take care now,” he said, driving off.
Mia stared at the car as it drove off in the night and then stared at the card in her hands. Then she noticed she hadn’t taken a breath for almost a minute and exhaled deeply.
“It’s just a guy in a chair, Mia. Just a…gorgeous guy with sea blue eyes in a chair…” she told herself as she walked into the Shell station.
(by Cynix: Logan’s POV)
Logan stared into the rear view mirror as he drove away, watching as Mia’s silhouette faded into the distance.
What a hottie..! Plus, she seemed like a decent person too…definitely my type…
Immediately, another voice in his head took over. You’re such a fool, man!
What? a fool?
And so begins the internal debate.
Yeah, you’re a big fool…
Well, it’s your birthday for one thing! And you choose to spend it alone, driving in this rainy night. You’ve wanted to change things for so long. You knew full well that you were stuck and had no idea where to start. So you just kept this day for yourself. To gain perspective, to find strength, clear your mind, and see things differently. And still you’re the same…
Okay, okay! Let’s assume that you know me better than I do. Why I am a fool? What was I supposed to do with her anyways? Mia needed someone to fix her tire and I did my part, all that I could do, as any decent man would.
Oh…so she’s Mia now, is she…? Listen, you fool! Did it ever cross your mind or even occur to you…that perhaps she was your birthday present?
Logan laughed aloud at the ridiculousness of the notion and slowed down in speed, as he tried to cut off the inner conversation and pay attention to the road again.
“Do you hear that? A birthday present!” He exclaimed sardonically, as if the empty car was full of friends!
A birthday present? And what exactly was I supposed to do with her? Take off her blouse, pull down her bra and stick my face between her tits? He accompanied the unspoken words with exaggerated hand signals and head movements.
“It sure would be nice though…” he murmured gently as he pictured this…feeling a sweet sense of disillusionment flow over him…and a content smirk becoming stuck to his lips…
Who she is…and who I am…let’s just face reality here, he interjected wryly. I just hope that her troubles end soon.
See? You’re a fool and a loser. The independent, devilish voice in his head started up again, refusing to quit. There’s one born every minute of every day.
He tried to ignore it.
Okay, fine. Then let’s not talk about you and your birthday. Let’s talk about a girl who’s in trouble. Do you really believe that you’re satisfied with the help that you gave her? You just abandoned her in a remote place with people that want…well…after so many beers…all they want is a pretty face and juicy pussy to stick their miserable dicks into…and you know damn well that they won’t stop even if isn’t so juicy. Got it?
The torrential thought process just would not stop. It flooded Logan with worry and guilt.
Are you sure you’re feeling okay with this? The least you could’ve done was stay with her until she went safely on her way. If I was you…well…you…but not you…I would be driving her anywhere she needs…talking with her…staying with her as long as I could…not to mention that I’d give her some dry clothes and shelter for the night…
It’s your birthday tonight, man…and it is all yours to enjoy! Besides, helping a pretty girl – only that! – is a joy in and of itself! Maybe someone above gave you this…maybe not…but you have to at least try…
Logan sighed and firmly pulled up the handbrake as he turned the steering wheel…
“It is my birthday, after all.”
(by Chie: Mia’s POV)
The rain hadn’t abetted, sliding down the exposed window of the gas station’s convenience store in long, cascading drops that began as individuals and slowly mingled together, reminding Mia that even water seemed to find someone to cling to. The bridge was out, the tow truck company had informed her when she’d managed to make the call from the very dingy and surprisingly still functional payphone. So what would normally have been an hour wait would take much, much longer.
“You should find someone to give you a ride home and come back for your car in the morning, hun. That’s what I’d recommend,” the lady tow truck dispatcher had suggested.
And Mia had considered it. Had almost used the last of her change to call Nathan, to ask him to pick her up, despite how the very thought of his voice made her stomach churn. Her fingers, clutching her quarter, had hovered over the coin slot as the scent of cheap cologne, smelling more like bad whisky than sandlewood, had suddenly hit her nostrils. Then the feeling of his hands on her body, possessive and suffocating, and her heart began to beat faster. Nathan wouldn’t take her back to her place, but to his. When he answered her call, he’d say something about how he knew she’d come back, or some other shit he’d found out of some Asshole’s Guidebook to Cliched Retorts, Vol. 3. Not that Nathan ever read anything.
Ugh. She had to stop thinking about him, but she also had to get out of here. The way the guy working the counter, with his greasy, too-long hair and crooked smile kept ogling her made her shiver, and not just from her still-damp clothes. Again, the rain on the window mocked her. How had she let Nathan take everyone she ever cared about from her? She hadn’t even realized she’d been pushing away her friends and coworkers until she’d finally escaped Nathan’s grasp and found herself utterly alone.
She didn’t think she could find a better metaphor for that than getting stranded out in the rain in the middle of BFE, relying on the kindness of a stranger.
A very handsome stranger, who didn’t smell like alcohol but instead smelled the way a man was supposed to, like clean sweat and the Yellowstone forest after a rain. Like cedar and spice . . . and everything nice, she concluded with a grin. But she hurriedly wiped the smile from her face as she noticed Clerk McCreepy waggling his eyebrows at her.
She turned from the phone and spied a stack of ponchos on a rotating display, along with umbrellas, and she grabbed one. It would be cold and miserable, and she’d probably catch some fatal disease, but she could walk home. Or at least back to her car. Sleep in it. It wouldn’t be fun, but it would mean she wouldn’t have to call Nathan and she wouldn’t have to deal with the clerk and she’d be free. Finally free.
Yeah, like that would ever happen.
She turned back to the payphone. She could call a cab. She didn’t have enough money on her to pay for one, but they took cards, right?
Again, her finger held the quarter above the coin slot, poised to insert it.
But then she heard it. A familiar honk. And the flash of headlights. It was hard to see through the rain and the dark, especially with the bright lights of the store blinding her a bit, but as her eyes adjusted, saw past the storm, she recognized the car. Recognized him.
He’d come back for her.
(by Lev: Logan’s POV)
The impulse of physical attraction is more like an impulse of stupidity. Logan knew it, but he was still following through only because she was pretty to him. A pretty girl, he’d help in an instant; an ugly girl, she’s on her own.
I’m only doing this because I like her body. My rationalization ability is top notch – I want under her bra, and I’m pretending I care about her well-being at all. Ridiculous! But that’s just how guys are. Right? Right.
There stood Mia. She seemed happy, but also clearly expecting he’d follow the social script. Damsel in distress always gets rescued by her knight – if her top is short enough, tits big enough, ass smooth enough. No, not intentionally, but she fit the part and played the role. Logan followed the pre-approved selections of the society that he thought was watching. It was easy, thoughtless, and automatic. Sometimes, it rose to his explicit awareness.
Sex. Is it always about sex? Of course. Men want sex, women want emotional bonds. I don’t need to feel guilty. Embrace the feeling. I need more visceral pleasures. She’ll want to call me back, but that’s why men and women will never understand each other.
Logan parked the truck. “Hey you, I thought you’d need help!”
Who am I kidding? I was absolutely certain she would. She isn’t superhuman, neither am I – we are stuck with our emotions, doomed to deal with sexual desire. All animals run on pure instinct, driven by their horniness, and any wisdom or knowledge is a result of idle boredom when a guy can’t get laid. The dude with that stupid German name I heard in college, Nee… Nye… Niet… whatever it was… he wanted us to be superhuman. Why would I do that? I can’t help what I do, we’re all animals. Stuck in our ways. I am what I am! A primal creature driven by my urges.
“I’m so glad you came back! The people here are creepy.”
“It’s the least a gentleman can do for you! Come around, I’ll open the door.” The passenger door clicked and unlocked. Mia opened it and stepped in. She looked down at his legs.
Oh, of course she’d focus on that. My useless legs. Stupid shallow girl. No, women don’t want emotional bonds, they just want a strong guy to hold them down and screw their brains out. As sex crazed as a guy. I’m in a wheelchair – not material for procreation. I’ll get this over with.
The script, that’s all Logan could understand. What men do. What women do. He didn’t care how people really acted. Conveniently packaged into perfect categories based on bare intuition, people turn into robots. The damsel was the only woman he knew, the gender script said so.
“Where to?” Logan asked.
(by Hartmann: Mia’s POV)
Mia pulled open the passenger door, her heart pounding against her chest all the while.
Why do I feel so nervous?
A glance up at Logan froze her to the spot. And reminded her of the exact reason for her anxiety. There was something behind those icy blue eyes. Piercing. Dangerous. Unpredictable. She immediately lowered her gaze and swallowed the lump in her throat.
Why is he looking at me like that?
Logan gave a short laugh – she wasn’t sure why – which drew her from her momentarily daze. She frowned at herself and clambered into the white Chevy truck to settle into the passenger seat.
I can still feel his eyes on me. Staring down at her hands, Mia squirmed uneasily and smoothed down the hem of her drenched shirt. Why won’t he stop staring at me?
Logan’s deep and throaty voice caused her to jump. “Well, what?”
“I asked you…” he laughed a most sexy laugh that immediately became imprinted in her mind “…where to?”
Oh, right. “My place.” God, why does that sound like an invitation?
“Which way am I going?”
“Just follow the highway.”
“Will do. Tell me when to get off.”
“Yes. I’ll tell you when to get off,” she echoed the promise breathlessly. And maybe you can tell me when to get off too…
Stop it! He’s not even my type…
And he really wasn’t. Men like Nathan – if you could even classify them as such – were her normal go-to. Pretty boys with far too much testosterone in their balls and dead space between their ears, coupled with far too little respect for women. It made for an ugly combination. Cocky and controlling SOBs who never failed to be drenched in an overwhelming amount of cheap Axe body spray, which promised them that “she’ll want your touch.” Ughh. Disgusting…
But the scent filling her nostrils now was anything but disgusting. It was subtle…understated…woodsy… musky… inherently masculine…
A small gasp escaped Mia’s lips as she suddenly felt an arm snake across her lap.
“Relax…” Logan’s well-muscled torso was leaned far over the middle console “…I have only one rule if you’re in my vehicle.”
“Wait a minute…”
“I’m sorry, Ms Lovell, but it’s not negotiable,” he murmured huskily, his minty breath hot against her bare neck. “No matter how pretty you might be.”
With a long exhale, she nearly arched towards him and then…
He was gone. Safely upright in the driver’s seat. Mia blinked in confusion. It took her a moment to realize what he’d done. It took her a moment to realize that he’d merely grabbed the seat belt and buckled her securely in place. “Thank you,” she managed to whisper.
“No problem,” Logan replied with a casual shrug and put the truck into drive. “Safety first, I always say.”
Well, that was disappointing…
Giving her head a solid shake, Mia absently tucked a strand of stray hair behind her ear. He’s a cripple, remember? Not exactly high on my checklist of wants. Quite the opposite actually…
She couldn’t resist a stolen glance over at his legs. They looked normal enough. The distressed jeans had a rip across the right knee, revealing a thin sliver of skin underneath. No plastic. No metal. Regular old human flesh.
He doesn’t have robotic limbs or anything weird like that. What did he say again? Furrowing her eyebrows, Mia quickly flipped through the pages of her memory. A spinal cord injury, right?
“Are you finished?”
Mia’s eyes shot up to meet Logan’s. There was an odd expression behind their frozen depths. Amusement? Annoyance? Both?
“Yours are nice too, Ms Lovell.”
“Your legs,” he stated lowly, his voice eerily calm. “They’re nice too.”
(by Braced: Logan’s POV)
Nice going Logan, he thought to himself. Now she thinks you’re a creep, and that’s exactly what she was trying to stay away from. Wait, she was looking at my legs. What if she’s the creep? Ok, just…
“Thanks…I mean…I didn’t…I…what?”
“You’ve got nice legs,” he said, clearing his throat. In for a penny, in for a pound, eh old Logan boy?
“Look, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here, I…think we should just go home…I, uh mean, you should just drop me off at my home.”
“As you wish,” he replied. They drove off into the night. At least they were out of the forest. Sure, the area was still sparsely populated, but there were the occasional gas stations and fast food joints. It wouldn’t be too long before she was back home. And yet…looking at Logan driving quietly in the dark, only illuminated under the odd street light, part of her didn’t want the ride to end.
“So, you get stranded here often?” Logan asked. What the actual fuck was that? No, seriously Logan…
Mia laughed heartily. She was actually wheezing with laughter. “That is officially the worst pickup line I’ve ever heard!!”
“Well it worked, because here I am, picking you up.”
“Oh you’re just full of puns tonight, aren’t you?”
“It’s a gift, it’s a curse; I’m not sure which.”
“Do you always hide behind humor?”
“Not always. Sometimes I use snark for cover. I even ducked behind a well-fortified pile of sarcasm once,” Logan said, earning an eye-roll from the beauty in his passenger seat.
“Here, turn left right there on Taylor.”
“Is this your street?”
“No, one more turn. I can’t believe I’m letting a total stranger see where I live.”
“Well I’m not that strange, am I?”
“Hell yeah, you are. But…not altogether in a bad way. I can stand a few bad jokes and corny puns,” she said with a smile that was caught just as they passed under a streetlight. What a smile.
“Next. On Walker St.”
“Oh now, isn’t that ironic?”
“What is? Oh…oh…I didn’t…”
“Haha, don’t worry about it! I’m not like that. I know some other gimps like that, but I’m not like them,” Logan said, and now Mia caught his smile; warm and disarming in every possible way.
“There, the gray ranch-style home with the red mailbox.”
“Yeah, that’s the one. Thanks again. I mean, hell, I didn’t think there were still guys out there like you.”
“Well, I hope the worst of your luck is behind you now, Ms. Lovell.”
“Mia…just call me Mia.”
“Right…Mia, so I guess…well…goodnight,” Logan said. You’re a real casanova.
“Um…Logan,” Mia said, biting her full, luscious lip, “would you like to come in for a cup of coffee?”
(by Cynix: Logan’s POV)
Logan took a moment to consider her invitation. He stared at the steering wheel and then at Mia’s eyes. She’s just being courteous, right?
She opened the passenger door and stepped down from the truck, her eyes never breaking contact. “Well?”
Just courtesy. What else would it be? “Sure. A coffee would be nice. Why not?”
If Logan didn’t know any better, he’d think that Mia was shaken by something. But she closed the door and circled around the back to his side. She managed to speak as she held open the driver’s door, “Tell me what to do. How can I help you?”
“You may have a step back, since I don’t want to hurt those pretty shoes of yours,” he said with a smile and he began to turn towards the passenger’s side, stretching his right hand to the wheelchair in the back. He picked it up and brought it to his chest. Then with the other hand, he put it on the ground.
As Mia observed him, Logan knew what she was thinking. He knew that she was curious as to how he could exit the vehicle without having the use of working legs.
“You don’t have to wait for me. As you long have to open the door I’ll be alright.”
“Are you sure, Logan?” Mia replied hesitantly.
Does she want to see this? “I’m sure Mia…” he smiled again “…trust me.”
The sound of Mia’s retreating footsteps mixed with the sound of Logan working hands as he assembled the wheelchair. By the time she had unlocked the front entrance and opened it, Logan was giving his truck’s door a slap.
Mia watched him come towards her with fast, strong pushes. There was a small step and she appeared concerned by it.
She’s wondering if she should push me. “May I come in?”
With a short, confident wheelie, Logan jumped up onto the step. “Thanks for inviting me in!”
Mia led him to the sitting room. “I’ll put on some fresh coffee and bring it to you. Make yourself at home.”
Logan’s eyes traveled through her house. There was an eclectic feel to the style but everything was tasteful, in its rightful place and really clean. “This is a nice and cozy house you have here,” Logan said loudly. “It seems that you’re a serious housekeeper…”
“Thank you!” Mia’s voice called back from down the hall. “The decor is all me! As for the housekeeping? Maria is responsible for that.”
“Yes, the cleaner I have. She does a great job! She comes twice a week.”
Her voice was coming closer….
“Well? How do you take your coffee?”
Logan noticed that Mia had changed her clothes. She was now wearing pink pyjamas with matching slippers. “Oh…you’re fast,” he said.
“I wanted to feel more comfortable.”
“You are in your house, after all…”
“How do you take your coffee?” she asked again.
“Black..!” Lowering his voice to a whisper, he added, “As the night.”
Mia placed a dish of cookies and a cup of coffee at the edge of the table in front of Logan. Then she moved around to the other side of the table and sat down on the corner of her red leather sofa. “Well, I didn’t thank you yet for bringing me home,” Mia said as she touched the cup to her lips. “Why did you do that for me?”
Logan took a sip as well. “Um…that’s good coffee, Mia…and to answer your question…I guess it’s what any gentleman would do,” he replied with a gentle smile and a sparkle in his eyes.
She seemed to be taking full advantage of the opportunity to watch him better. And she didn’t seem as bothered by the wheelchair as he’d expected her to be.
“It’s my birthday you know…”
Mia looked at him with great skepticism, as if it was some kind of trick. “Your birthday? Yeah…right! Nice try, Logan…”
“It is, Mia!” Logan responded in a serious tone.
“Well, happy birthday to you then,” Mia said awkwardly as she stood up. Turning her back to him, she paused for a moment before asking, “Will you excuse for a minute?” Without waiting for an answer, she took off down the hall.
See, Logan? I think that it’s time for you to leave. Drink your coffee and when she returns, just thank her and leave. It’s obvious that she wants you to go now. She’s gorgeous…but not for you…and besides, she looks like a very selfish person… Logan sunk into his thoughts and paid no attention to the sounds coming from various locations in the house. And then…
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a glow of light coming his way.
Nice try, Logan…she didn’t even believe that it was your birthday!
“Happy…birthday to you…happy…birthday to you…happy….birthday…” Mia was singing to him…
Logan stared in shock as Mia sauntered towards him, wearing a long and dangerously low-cut black dress with a pair of high, strappy stilettos. She was holding a plate with a chocolate donut that had a big red candle stuck in the middle of it.
“….dear Logan, happy birthday to youuuu!” She finished the song and bowed to him, bringing the candle’s flame to his eye level.
Logan was speechless but managed to blow out the candle, which was conveniently located at the height of her cleavage.
“Happy birthday, Logan!” Mia seemed hesitant but gave him a quick kiss on his left cheek anyways.
“Thank you…” Logan managed to say.
“Coffee is not fit for the occasion…I’ll bring out the vodka…”
(by Chie: Mia’s POV)
Mia had surprised herself with the offer of vodka. In fact, after the words had sprung from her mouth, she hadn’t even been sure she still had any alcohol in the house. Too many bad memories, bad decisions, but when she’d snuck back into her kitchen–partially to come up for air because somehow she just couldn’t breathe right around Logan–she’d discovered half a bottle of Smirnoff in her freezer.
She’d only intended one toast. Just one, then she’d send far-too-charming Logan off into the night and she’d crawl into bed and try to forget that all her problems would still be there when she opened her eyes in the morning.
But one shot had turned to two, then three, and after that point she lost count. She’d always been a lightweight, and the past few years had only made her tolerance drop further. Logan was funny, though, in addition to charming and hot and nothing at all like Nathan, and it wasn’t just because of the wheelchair. Though the alcohol probably helped, even though he didn’t seem to be getting as drunk as she was.
Was she crazy? Even disabled, what had she been thinking, letting a stranger into her house? A strange, delicious, sweet man with incredible shoulders. She’d always loved shoulders. And blue eyes.
“Mia? You alright?”
Mia muttered something vaguely intelligible and tried to get herself back on track. She suspected he’d been talking to her and she’d been so focused on that perfect line from his neck to the top of his shoulder she had missed it.
He laughed. “Uh, thanks for the birthday send off, but I should get going. You’re probably exhausted.”
“No! I mean, I am. But you should stay!” Mia’s gaze flew to the clock on the far wall. Her brain had decided it was not reading analog tonight, but she knew it couldn’t be too late. Right? “Stay. Please. Little while longer?” Her L’s were coming out a little funny and she decided it was definitely time to stop drinking. “I don’t drink much,” she said in explanation.
He chuckled. “So you told me once or twice.”
She found herself studying his wheelchair. It wasn’t at all like the kind she’d seen before in airports or hospitals. Smaller, more compact, it fit his body like it was part of him, and she supposed it sort of was. His feet were tucked onto the single footplate, his pants a little loose on his legs. She suddenly wanted to touch him. Very much. If she touched him, she wouldn’t be alone. If she touched him, he would stay.
“So . . . spinal cord injury,” she said, struggling a little on the three words, smiling too brightly because of the alcohol. “That means you’re paralyzed, right?”
His eyebrows jumped up, and his cheek quirked, clearly amused. “I can’t feel anything below here,” he said, indicating a spot on his torso that looked about waist level. He had really nice hands. Strong, masculine, calloused hands.
She scooted a little closer, so their knees were nearly touching. She nested her hand in his. “So you can feel this?”
He smiled, closed mouth. Nodded.
Then she placed her other hand on his chest, feeling the soft thrum of his heart beneath her palm. “And this?”
She watched the slow movement of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed. He nodded, his eyes transfixed on her.
“And you can feel this?” she asked with a playful grin, sliding her hand up to his shoulder, rubbing her thumb along the firm muscle there.
“And what about this?” she asked, a whisper in his ear. He smelled so good here, the spicy, woodsy scent strong, and she brushed the tip of her nose along his skin.
She felt him shiver and heard his breath catch. One of his hands went to her waist, hovering there like he wanted to pull her closer but was hesitating for some reason.
“And this?” she asked, placing her lips just below the shell of his ear, just to taste him.
“Mia,” he said, his voice low and husky, his fingers finally touching, trying to guide her closer.
She giggled, pulled back, teasing. Non-drunk Mia would probably have thought she was insane for coming on to this man she hardly knew, especially so fresh off of everything that had happened with Nathan. But drunk Mia couldn’t resist the pull of Logan. She’d been drawn to him since he’d first picked her up, and now, so close to each other, vodka fueling her boldness, she was powerless against him.
“I think you’re drunk,” he said with a laugh, but the arousal was still heavy in his voice. “I don’t want you to do something you’d regret.” He said it, but there was little conviction in it, and everything about his hands on her and his eyes dark with wanting told her what he really felt.
“I’ll regret it if I don’t do this,” she said, placing her lips on his.
“Mia,” he tried to protest, but he didn’t break their kiss long, just enough to whisper her name.
“It works better if you don’t talk,” she teased. She was about to dive in for another kiss, deeper this time, curious if she could climb in his lap or if that would hurt him, when there was a knock on the door.
An insistent pounding, and Mia’s blood instantly drained from her face, arousal evaporated.
Logan wasn’t so gone himself he didn’t read her shift in demeanor. “Expecting someone?” Under another circumstance, he may have said it playfully, but right now, his hands had dropped to his wheels, holding himself tensely. Poised to react.
More pounding, and an intense, male voice cried out, “Mia!”
(by Lev: Logan’s POV)
For a split second, Mia looked anxious as she was pulling away from her deep kiss. But she hid her feelings well – as she stood up straight, she made sure to put her cleavage at the center of Logan’s view. Something was off. No, the guy wasn’t Mia’s friend, not by a longshot. The guy sounded angry, and her sly look conveyed a feeling that she succeeded at a manipulative scheme. Her brief moment of anxiety was because her plan reached the final stage.
I’m a god damn idiot and hypocrite. I said to myself I wouldn’t try to get in this… slut’s… pants. And here I am, a random girl trying to get me drunk and rubbing her tits in my face, while I’m ready to knock her to the ground and drop myself on top of her right from my chair. I’d put my head where it belongs – tasting her between her legs… There I go again, no strength of will.
Mia stood up straight and walked to the door. Logan knew the damsel was always stronger than her knight, no matter how desperate and horny she appeared. She’d toy with him, but what she really wanted was the power and authority of royalty. Mia walked with a grace showing that the medieval script was memorized long before she was born – it was simply natural for a woman to abuse her status as a muse on a passive pedestal. This was the script down to its ugly logical end. Logan didn’t know that his role would always be second-rate, for the script was reality.
She opened the door in one swift motion. “Nathan! You weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow!” Nathan was tall and muscular, and that’s all Logan could notice.
Ha! No wonder she picked me. I’m so inferior, this guy must be about ready to explode. That’s the man she really wants, to grab her, lift her up, and bang her while standing up, all without using anything but sheer strength. What can I do? Nothing. I can’t even feel my dick. She’s got us both trapped where she wants us.
“The hell are you doing?” Nathan glared at Mia, then at Logan. “Wake up, Mia – he can’t make you cum like I can.”
Mia spoke up: “That’s all you care about, what about my feelings!” It was a ploy – rile the man up, he’ll want you more. Whatever Mia felt about Logan, the stronger man was by definition the one that brought her an orgasm, regardless of any prowess in virtue or the lack thereof. This man was Nathan. She was only completing a natural cycle of psycho-sexual control, finally being pulled towards primal sexuality, away from platonic connection. A good fuck always beat a fun and flirty evening. Just as it was for Logan, the script was reality.
You’re such an idiot, Nathan! She already knows that I can’t make her cum – she wants you to be obsessed with her. Sex, that’s all there is! Life is sex; even power plays are for getting laid. I’m sexually dead and broken, so my life is broken. I am truly nothing.
Logan wheeled himself towards the door. “Whatever, I’m outta here.”
(by KV: Logan’s POV)
“Do you want some coffee? What the hell was I thinking?” This is what Logan was mumbling to himself as he wheeled back to his truck at incredible speed. “I’m a fool,” he thought as he was driving to blow off some steam.
The rest of Logan’s night was filled with a dive bar or two, a few weak pickup lines, and judging by the smell of his breath… he had a cigarette or two.
By the time he woke up in the morning he realized that it was almost noon. “I’m going to be late to lunch, and I really don’t give a damn,” he thought privately. After barely being able to pull himself into his chair he started looking around for his phone. “Who the hell sent me 15 messages?”
The first one just read, “Hi.” Twenty minutes later the next one says “It’s Mia please answer!! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know he was going to show up then. Plz answer!” The next twelve just started rambling. Mia must’ve kept drinking after Logan left the previous night. Logan was expecting one from Nathan thanking him for warming her up. Skimming through them and still feeling a knot in his stomach from the embarrassment, he saw one that read “I want to make it up to you, really! Come back over tonight, and I promise we won’t be disturbed.” Logan sent her back a text explaining it really wasn’t necessary. He didn’t feel like seeing anyone today, and definitely didn’t want to be with someone out of pity.
Lunch was a blur, Logan once in a while still got together with an old college buddy who lived the life that Logan had before the accident. His friend didn’t rub it in but eventually couldn’t contain himself anymore and started bragging about his latest “notches”. Logan kept thinking about Mia and wondering why she would invite him over tonight after he’d heard her say that Nathan was supposed to be there tonight.
With perfect timing, his phone went off and she had sent him a text that said that she “won’t take no for an answer.” He hesitated for a few seconds before reluctantly agreeing to meet her that evening.
Pulling up to her place, he took a second alone in his truck, debating if he should even go through with this or not. He decided that he already gave his word and proceeded to get out of the truck. Logan got to her front door and before he could even knock he saw her smiling and holding the door open. Logan gladly accepted the invitation to come in and immediately she attempted to slide an apology into the small talk. Logan laughed and explained that an apology isn’t really necessary. Before his accident, he wouldn’t have been playing this game and he most likely would’ve been brawling with Nathan all over this nicely furnished apartment.
Logan was stunned, she looked even more stunning than the night before. After a few minutes the doorbell rang and Logan started thinking that there is “no way my luck can be this bad.” He thought to himself, “did he leave his watch on her nightstand or was I becoming a pawn in a sick game between two psychos?”
“Pizza!” shouted Mia. She jumped up from her seat, and ran to the door clutching about twenty dollars in her perfect little hand.
Logan exhaled a deep breath, and Mia nervously giggled, instantly knowing what Logan was thinking.
She set up plates, gave each of them a slice and smiled as she bit in. “I promise you, last night does not happen… I mean it did, but it shouldn’t have. We’re having problems, and I thought he was coming by today so we could formally break it off, but… well… life happened.”
Logan noticed how upset she really was by the ordeal so he assured her it was okay and they shouldn’t neglect this beautiful box of Pizza that was in front of them.
After dinner she jokingly said “maybe no Vodka tonight” and Logan couldn’t have agreed more. A few hours went by and they were really hitting it off.
She slowly had been scooting closer to him for the past 15 minutes when suddenly she leaned in and placed a light kiss on his cheek, and slowly pulled away to whisper in his ear, “I’ve never done this before.”
He obviously knew what she meant but figured he’d have some fun with it, and replied, “Sex?”
She giggled, trying to hide her embarrassment and quickly said, “you know, with a person in a…”
He cut her off immediately as he didn’t want to hear her utter those dreadful words, and he knew deep down she wasn’t ready to either. Thinking fast, Logan uttered something along the lines of “I know, a V-neck, I can’t believe I chose this.”
She giggled, and the next thing he knew she was placing that perfect hand over his cheek, and he jumped a little bit. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
Logan chuckled and said, “No, just wasn’t expecting it to feel so soft.”
The truth was the warmth reminded Logan of his accident, of his body lying on the ground helplessly, feeling the warmth of fresh broken bones all over his body, the blood between his face and the pavement. He had a bit of a flashback, but quickly shook it off and put on a smile.
(by Hartmann: Mia’s POV)
I won’t take no for an answer.
Mia had no idea what had possessed her thumbs to type out the words and hit “send”. Especially considering the fact that her invite – sweetened with the suggestive promise that they wouldn’t be disturbed – had already been politely declined. No man, in his right mind, would ever agree to see her again and yet…
Here he is.
Looking every bit as delicious as the night before. And smelling even more intoxicating. Musky. Woodsy. The scent of a man who belonged on the cover of a Harlequin Romance novel. The type of man who wrestled wild animals with his bare hands and made sweet love to his woman all in one chapter.
Wait. Is it even possible to wrestle a bear from a wheelchair? And is it even possible to…
The feeling of his rough stubble was still fresh on her lips as she shyly confessed, “I’ve never done this before.”
A comedian too. The full package. Whatever that means.
MIa heard herself giggle as she clarified, “You know, with a person in a…”
The word “wheelchair” caught in her throat. And made her struggle for air. But thankfully, Logan stepped up heroically just as the compelling back cover blurb had promised that he would…
A knight in shining armor. Come to save the day. On his loyal steed…
“I know, a v-neck, I can’t believe I chose this.”
She couldn’t believe it either.
But damn. That snug v-neck tshirt looked incredible on his built upper torso. As no v-neck was ever meant to look. And damn. That wheelchair looked incredible wrapped perfectly around his lifeless lower half. As no wheelchair was ever meant to look…
He’s a cripple…no…wait…he’s disabled…no…differently abled…yes…that’s the correct term, right? He isn’t supposed to look so damn good, right? He isn’t even supposed to be attractive, right? And yet…
I can’t resist this man.
There was no alcohol tonight…
It doesn’t matter.
Mia brought a hand up to Logan’s cheek and felt him stiffen as she placed her other hand on his leg. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
“No…” a throaty chuckle “…just wasn’t expecting it to feel so soft.”
Mia curled her fingers, the feel of denim and flesh warm beneath her skin. She vaguely remembered him mentioning something last night about sensation, but she couldn’t quite recall.
Can you feel this? The unspoken question burned on the tip of her tongue…
“You can ask me, you know.”
Blushing, she gave her head a stubborn shake, silently berating her traitorous expression for its blatant betrayal.
“Why don’t I help you then?” he offered with an amused grin and a matching twinkle in those magnificent sea blue eyes. “I can feel…” turning his head slightly, Logan nuzzled his face against her palm “…this.”
“But I can’t feel…” he blanketed a much larger hand over her own on his thigh “…this.”
She bit her lip and whispered, “Not at all?”
“Not at all,” he confirmed wryly, his smile never once faltering. “Is that okay with you?”
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Mia nodded wordlessly.
“Are you sure?”
“Logan…” her fingertips trailed down to give his strong jawline an affectionate caress “…do I seem unsure?”
“I don’t know,” he murmured honestly with a soft chuckle.
“Well…” leaning further across the armrest of the couch, she brushed her lips against his and breathed the words “…I do know.”
(by Braced: Logan’s POV)
The V-neck had to go. Sexy as Logan looked in it, she had to see him without it. Mia grabbed the shirt cautiously and looked at Logan for approval. He nodded at the unspoken question, and with that, the V-neck was gone. He wore a plain, white t-shirt underneath, but that was no barrier to a determined Mia.
That chest…what the hell…! Why this man was not a model with that chest, she would never know, but what the world of fashion agencies was missing out was right in front of her. She placed her delicate finger on his collarbone and traced lazy designs. Logan closed his eyes and sighed.
Wow, he thought to himself. This girl is a seductress. Her warm finger felt so good on his chest. The air was a tad bit cool, but her warm hand staved off the cold with ease. She leaned in and closed her eyes, planting a gentle kiss on his right cheek, then she reached around and did the same to his left. But a kiss on the cheek wasn’t what Logan wanted, and she seemed to sense it, because she slowly moved her lips closer to his, stroked his chocolate hair and kissed him deeply.
This is incredible, Logan heard himself shouting in his mind. He quickly wrapped his arms around her nape and embraced as they kissed. She began to explore his upper body, running her hand over his smooth, chiseled chest. She even dared to tug at his nipple, earning a surprised groan from the stud. She smiled as they still kissed at his reaction.
Her hair tickled his chest as it brushed up against him. There was something soothing yet electrifying about this woman. She was full of contradictions; shy but up front. Clumsy with words, yet a temptress at every syllable. A damsel in distress and a succubus preying on her victim. Yet none of these contradictions mattered, because those warm lips and that delicate hand, and that soft hair against his chest, and her warm body against his, all of it convinced him this was the right choice. She was the right choice.
Mia’s breath seemed to quicken in pace, and her hands became more desperate and exploratory. No part of his upper body was left unexplored. She became bolder by the minute, caressing his nipples, forcing her tongue deeper on to his, stroking his heavenly hair. It was a scene straight out of a romance novel. All that was needed…yep, there it was, thunder rumbling in the distance.
She finally let go of his lips and breathed heavily. Her lips were parted slightly and she had a sultry, almost intoxicated look upon her face. She stared into Logan’s eyes like a jaguar sizing up a gazelle for the kill. She licked her lips slowly and smiled wickedly.
“Not a bad start,” she whispered hoarsely.
In fact, it was to be the start of something incredible.