“What in the fuck is this? Are you God damned kidding me? Did I tell you to get wet and fucking sandy? Did I? That’s a piss poor excuse for wet and sandy. You’re going to fuck around and kill a team mate, aren’t you?” the instructor bellowed as he pointed at my wet and sparsely sand covered torso.

I closed my eyes, opened my mouth, and attempted to scream, “No sir.”

The sound emitted from my mouth was scratchy and weak. I had completed the five mile run in an unsatisfactory time and was being punished for it. The human mind is incapable of comprehending the depth of the physical conditioning necessary to complete SEAL training. Regardless of a recruit’s intent, devotion, desire or perceived state of readiness prior to arrival, the physical, mental or emotional preparation for what he must endure would be impossible.

“Run back out to the US Navy’s Pacific Ocean and dip yourself in it Jack-off. The Navy built this beach for me to drown you in, did you know that? I’m sick and motherfucking tired of screaming your name. Get wet Jack-off, and get sandy. Wet and fucking sandy. Lives depend on it,” he screamed as he pointed toward the ocean.

The instructor’s voice had become horse during our short duration of training. I was certain the sound of his strained vocal cords was solely due to my lack of ability. He had spent the majority of his time screaming at one person and one person only.


Exhausted, I ran as fast as I could and dove into the ocean face first. As I landed, sand and small sea shells filled my mouth. I closed my eyes to protect them from the salty water and waited for the next wave to wash over me. Now soaked from head to toe, I rose from the beach and ran the distance from the edge of the water to where he stood waiting. Satisfied I would be relieved of my punishment and sent to join the remainder of the class, I planted my boots firmly in the sand and attempted to stand erect. He stared at me as if I had committed a sinful act. His eyes resembled what I expected the devil’s to look like. As his face began to quiver from what was undoubtedly a fit of anger, he opened his mouth and did his best to scream.

“You’re not going to make it. You’re a fucking idiot. Please do us both a favor and D.O.R, Jack-off. I gave you simple fucking instructions, Jack-off. Wet and motherfucking sandy. You ran to my fucking ocean and washed your stupid self off, didn’t you? You took a fucking bath in my God forsaken ocean. Two things, Jack-off. Wet and what? What was your mission?”

I stood and stared, confused.

Go get wet Jack-off and get sandy.


Wet and sandy.

I had forgotten the sandy portion of his instructions. Five days into this phase of training and I would likely be killed by the instructor in a fit of rage. If not, only two and a half more years of punishing training and I would be deployed as a Navy SEAL. I parted my lips and moved my sandy tongue to the roof of my mouth, attempting to clear it of the beaches debris.

“Wet and sandy,” I responded in a gravely tone.

He crossed his arms over his massive chest, “Are you fucking sandy, Jack-off?”

I lieu of responding, I dropped to the surface of the beach as if my legs had been cut from underneath me. Flat on my back, I frantically flipped my arms through the sand, doing my best to cover every respective inch of my wet torso with the small granules. Satisfied my entire body was completely covered, I scooped up a handful of sand and dumped it onto my wet face.


He’s not screaming, he must like what I’m doing.

I reached out and retrieved another handful of official US Navy sand. I opened my mouth and released the sand. As the sand filled my mouth and fell into my throat, his voice broke the silence.

“This is the first thing you only half fucked up today, Jack-off. In the time it took you to complete the task, I’m sure no less than three of your teammates would have been killed. You’re only concerned with yourself. You’re wet and sandy, but three men have died in the process. Outfuckingstanding. Get out of my face. Go away. I feel ill. Your incompetence and lack of desire is making me sick,” he barked.

I jumped to my feet and attempted to run. As I brushed the sand from my eyes, I saw my class standing along the beach in the distance. Assembled into seven man boat crews and holding rubber rafts over their heads, their bodies shook from exhaustion. My tired legs quivered underneath me as I attempted to propel myself forward. As I stumbled toward my class in an unintended zig-zag pattern, my mind filled with wonder. Without a doubt, upon arrival yet another instructor would start punishing me. At least one of the teams would be one man short.

In the eyes of the instructor and the US Navy, a boat crew was one man short. In my mind this class would always be one man short.

Graham and I had agreed to join the Navy together. We went to the barber and had our long locks of hair buzzed off as a team. We walked into the recruiter’s office side-by-side, and after an assurance of being able to receive our training together, joined under the US Navy’s buddy program. We were inseparable. We were invincible. We were best friends. Settling for nothing short of becoming Navy SEALs, we began training at home as we waited for the day we were scheduled to ship off.

Graham never made it to training. An accident two weeks before shipping out ended his life at eighteen years of age.

I closed my eyes and attempted to find a few ounces of inner strength. As my boots dug into the loose sand, I swung my arms and screamed. Now in an all-out run toward my class, I mentally prepared myself for what may be next.

The only easy day was yesterday.



“Hi my name’s Karter and I’m a drug addict.”

“Hi Karter.”

“I think I’ll just listen.”

“Thanks Karter,” the group said in unison.

“Karter, you need to share,” she strung my name along until it was two five second long syllables separated by one overly long period of silence.

I slowly turned to my left and looked over my shoulder in disgust at the counselor who partially blocked the doorway into the meeting room. It was day one in what was to be a twenty-eight day drug rehab program, and I was attending my first twelve step meeting. My problem wasn’t drugs. My only real issue, if there was one, was my mouth.

“Isn’t it some form of invasion of privacy? You being here? I think you should be in your fucking office and let us advance through this program at our own pace. This meeting is for addicts, not assholes,” I smirked slightly and blinked my eyes repeatedly.

“I am an addict Karter, just like you. Please share with the group. Anything. Say something, even if it’s a small something,” she pleaded softly as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.

The group remained silent as they waited for me to speak. The room smelled like the combination of a cafeteria in a shitty hospital and a wet can of coffee grounds. I rolled my eyes and turned around. I surveyed the numerous faces and eventually became focused on the wicker basket in the center of the table. I stared at the small pile of folded pieces of paper and considered what to say.

I looked around the room.

Sixteen, including me.

All I needed to do was complete the program, go in front of the judge and convince him I was a drug addict. If he believed me to be in the process of recovering, I would get my driver’s license and my life back. Even I should be able to make it twenty eight days.

“Hi my name’s Karter and I’m a drug addict,” I paused and raised my fingers to my mouth.

“Hi Karter.”

As I nibbled what little black polish remained on my fingernails, I began to explain what happened to the best of my ability. I’ve never really had a problem talking to people, but I didn’t care much for authority. The staff member standing in the doorway with her eyes fixed on the back of my head was grinding on my nerves.

“You know how there’s always someone who seems more interested in your business than they should be? Some absolute asshole who is repeatedly peering over your shoulder? Maybe it’s simply a figure of speech and they’re not really behind you taking your inventory,” I paused and glanced over my left shoulder.

“But they’re watching you none the less, waiting for you to fuck up,” I said as I turned and faced the group.

Heads bobbed up and down like they were on springs. Several people gave some form of slight verbal confirmation. I took a slow aggravated breath through my nose as I thought of my bike being in an impound yard, undoubtedly being rained on while I was attempting to entertain a group of fifteen has beens, fuck ups, and wards of the legal system.

“Well, those types of people seem to flock to me. One of them called the cops and I ended up in a psych ward for an evaluation. My only way out of the psych ward was to admit I was an addict. You know, give them a reason for me being there. So, that’s what I did. The judge required I attend a treatment program. This one was twenty-eight days instead of thirty, and oddly enough it was cheaper – so here I am,” I grinned and raised my eyebrows as I looked down at my fingernails.


“Glad you’re here, Karter,” someone said from across the table.

I looked up. He was staring at my tits.

“Stare much?” I asked as I pulled my hand from my mouth.

I’d like to dig your eyes out, you douchebag.

His gaze immediately shifted to the person beside me. I shook my head lightly and looked down at my nails. It seemed all men were the same. If a girl was anything remotely close to attractive, men didn’t care who she was. Immediately, their minds shifted to thoughts of sex. I liked sex as much as any man if not more, but I generally wanted to know a little about who I was going to be fucking before we got started. Generally speaking, men gave me an ice cream headache. If I had my bike and a blank canvas, I didn’t so much need a man.

I sat and admired my tattoos silently as several people spoke. When a man from across the table began to speak, either the beginning of the story or the tone of his voice captured my attention. Whichever it was, I looked up and began to listen as he began. The more he spoke, the more I attentive I became.

“My name’s Bill, and to me this program’s simple. Breathe in, breathe out, and don’t take a drink between breaths. As easy as it is, I seem to fuck up regularly. I’m seventy-two, and I’ve been in this program for forty years and in treatment half a dozen or more times. I’ve drank all my life. Well, as soon as I was old enough to lift ‘em up and pour ‘em down my throat,” he paused and looked at each person in the group individually for a split second.

He looked down at the table and began to speak, “I was celebrating the Bicentennial. 1976. Most of you probably weren’t even born yet. I was headed home from the bar out on west Kellogg – it was before they built the elevated highway. So I remember hitting this cat on the way home. Vaguely. Just a little whump. It kind of woke me up. I blinked my eyes and shook my head, wondering what a cat was doing on the highway.”

His voice was quiet and gravely as if what little time in his life he didn’t spend drinking, he spent smoking. Something about his story caused me to listen to each and every word. His calming tone was like the man who does the Meat it’s what’s for dinner commercials. As he sat and stared down at the table, I waited for the rest of his story.

“It was about three in the morning when they woke me up. Four of ‘em. They wanted to see my truck. I stumbled to the garage and opened it, not sure why they were so damned worried about a homeless cat. It must have been some special cat. Still today, I remember thinking just that. Must have been some special cat. So I opened the garage door. The first one who got to the front of the truck vomited. Right there. He just pushed his hands onto his trouser legs and threw up right there in my garage. I don’t really remember what all the rest of ‘em said, but when they turned me around to put the handcuffs on me is when I saw his leg. It was kinda under the bumper, caught in my brush guard,” he hesitated and wiped the tears from his face.

The room was silent. As he rubbed his eyes with his index fingers, he cleared his throat. After a short moment of silence, he continued.

“You see, the cat I hit wasn’t a cat. It was a kid. He was nineteen. He was trying to change his tire is what they told me in court. He was going home to his wife and their newborn baby boy. He worked the night shift at the diner that used to sit at the intersection of Edgemoor and Kellogg. The other day would have been his birthday. I woke up drunk the next morning. The sixth of June. Tough thing to forget, killing someone. I suppose all things considered, we probably ain’t supposed to forget. Probably ain’t so much God’s will to let us to. Well, that’s all I got. Hope it helps one of ya make it out of this disease alive.”

He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. Several people wiped tears from their eyes. I raised my hand to my mouth and nibbled the tips of my fingernails. I’ve always been fascinated with what we remember and what our mind chooses to set aside as either useless or unworthy of recollection at a later date. Without a doubt, Bill’s story would stick with me for a lifetime. I moved my hand to my chin and stared at him blankly as I thought of his misfortune.

Often, words come out of my mouth before my mind has time to apply the brakes. Because most of my thoughts are good, it’s generally not a problem. Generally. Inevitably, there are times after I’ve spoken when I wish I would have been able to catch myself, bite my lip, and prevent me or others from being embarrassed.

“What was his name?” I asked, “the nineteen year old boy?”

All eyes shifted to me. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. It didn’t seem inappropriate at the time, but as everyone stared I wondered about the consensus of the group. He lowered his hand from his face and leaned forward in his chair as he stuffed the handkerchief into his pants pocket. He sniffed again loudly and narrowed his gaze as his eyes focused on mine.

“You know Karter, that’s what’s strange. I can remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. I can remember the name on the officer’s uniform who handcuffed me. I recall the smell of the vomit. Hell, it’s still stuck in my nose. But now? Now I can’t remember his name. Can’t really say when it was I forgot, but I did. Don’t rightly know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s the truth. Any more, he’s just become a date. June 6, 1976,” he sighed as he shook his head slightly.

I pursed my lips and stared at the basket, frustrated he was incapable of remembering the name of the boy. I wanted to know who he was, what his name was, and what his wife and son thought about everything. How their lives were changed by the events of that one night in 1976 when everything changed for them. Without a name, it seemed as if it didn’t even matter. It was just some bullshit story from some bullshit old man in a bullshit room of a bullshit drug treatment program.

Twenty-seven more days and this nightmare would be over. I picked the remaining polish from my authority finger with my thumbnail as I became more frustrated at Bill’s lack of memory. As I blew the flakes of polish from the edge of the table, I nodded my head and grinned.

When this nightmare ends, I’ll paint all twenty eight days on a new canvas.

Today will be a pile of bullshit.

And a face with no name.


After twenty years in the Navy I received exactly what I wanted; retirement. Now my days felt empty and my life seemed meaningless. In a sense, I’d ridden a roller coaster for the last twenty years, and now expected to be satisfied with standing on the ground. Without a doubt, some positions in the military are without any degree of excitement. Being deployed as an active duty Navy SEAL was not one of those positions. I suspected the feelings of worthlessness could be compared to the countless police who retired and eventually committed suicide over feelings of either guilt or deep depression.

I was far from deeply depressed, but the last three days away from my SEAL Team seemed like another lifetime altogether. As I accelerated to merge into traffic, I quickly realized there was a motorcycle stalled in the center of the lane in front of me. When I instinctively stomped on the brake pedal, the right rear tire locked up and screeched on the pavement until the truck came to a stop.

The woman kneeling in front of the motorcycle quickly turned and extended her middle finger in the air as she stood. A few purple highlights stood out in clear contrast to the more prominent brown color of her hair. A helmet hung from the left handlebar of the bike, and what appeared to be a small tool kit was unrolled beside the front tire. The thighs of the faded jeans she wore were almost worn through. A Ramones tee shirt and a pair of canvas sneakers blended appropriately with the colorful tattoos on her right arm. As I released the brake and carefully pulled my truck to the side, I pushed the button to activate the emergency flashers.

“Sorry about the brake locking up,” I said as I got out of the truck.

“If you’d have hit my bike, I’d be beating your big ass about now,” she said as she kneeled down began to gather her tools.

“Fair enough,” I shrugged.

“I saw you as soon as I came around the corner. The truck hasn’t been driven for years, probably needs to have the brakes checked. My name’s Jak. Need some help?” I asked as I stepped toward the motorcycle.

“Battery’s dead.  Looks like I need a new voltage regulator,” she responded as she stood.

I turned and admired the motorcycle. I didn’t much care for motorcycles, but it was a beautiful bike. Everything that wasn’t covered in glossy black paint was chromed. As she walked around the other side of the bike, she appeared to be sizing me up for a fight.

“Need a ride somewhere?” I asked.

“I’m not leaving it here,” she snapped as she pointed toward the cars entering the highway.

“Well,” I hesitated as I turned toward the truck.

“We can load it in the bed of the truck. I’ve got some tie-down straps in the back.”

“You got any ramps?” she raised her eyebrows and pushed her fingers into her back pockets.

“I sure don’t, but we shouldn’t need them. Together we can lift the front tire into the bed, you can get in, and I’ll lift the rear in by myself,” I said confidently.

“It’s a full size Harley Softail. It weighs seven fifty,” she chuckled.

“Well, it’s worth a try,” I shrugged.

“Better not scratch it. I’m Karter,” she said as she reached over the bike.

Her hand was covered in grease, paint, and tattoos. Without hesitation, I took her hand in mine and shook it firmly. If she was nothing else, she was an interesting woman. She looked as if she spent a considerable amount of time in the sun, probably on her bike. It was difficult to tell her age due to the dark color of her tanned skin, but my guess was somewhere in her latter twenties.

“I’m Jak,” I said as we shook.

“Yeah, you said that already. I heard you the first time,” she nodded as she released my hand.

She swiftly kicked the kick-stand and began pushing the bike toward the rear of the truck.

“I got it, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to push this fucker somewhere,” she said as I tried to help her push the bike backward.

“Fair enough,” I said as I released the seat from my grasp and smiled.

“You said that earlier. Fair enough. Quite a vocabulary you have, Jak,” she smiled as she brought the bike to a stop alongside the rear of the truck.

In twenty years of travels, I’d been to more countries than I could ever count, and encountered no less than a million people. I had never, however, been exposed to any woman more brash than Karter. I smiled and rolled my eyes as she positioned the bike in the center of the truck’s bumper.

“Just hop in the bed and steady the handlebars,” I said as I lowered the tailgate.

“Fair enough,” she responded.

I turned to face her and smiled. As she jumped into the bed of the truck, I noticed the knife clipped to her right jeans pocket. Although many people in recent years carried knives, very few chose one worth actually using. She, on the other hand, had selected one worthy of combat. One I would have chosen.

Benchmade. Nice choice,” I nodded as I pulled upward on the handlebars.

“Thanks for noticing. Not much sense in carrying some cheap fucker from Wal-Mart. Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” she said as he bent over and reached for the handlebars.

“I agree,” I responded.

A Benchmade folding combat style knife would cost a civilian roughly three hundred dollars. When a similar but certainly less effective copy could be purchased for one tenth the cost, the few who chose to carry such a blade generally did so for a reason. A gorgeous Harley riding, tattooed, combat knife carrying woman covered in miscellaneous colors of paint and grease. If Karter was doing nothing else, she was capturing my interest.

I needed to know more.

As soon as the rear tire of the bike entered the bed of the truck, she grinned as if she wondered all along whether or not I could have actually lifted it.

“So you’re more than just big and sexy. You’re actually useful, Jak. You hold it steady, and I’ll strap it down,” she said as she straightened the handlebars.

She thinks I’m sexy.

Well, Karter, the feeling is mutual.

“Fair enough,” I chuckled.

Maybe retirement wouldn’t be so bad after all.


I’ve never really been attracted to a man without knowing an awful lot about him. To me, looks aren’t everything. They certainly help, but without a personality and a fascinating background, an attractive man is nothing more than a turd sprinkled in powdered sugar.

Underneath, a turd will always remain.

For what reason I wasn’t sure, but Jak could have been the biggest, stinkiest, most repulsive turd ever, and I doubt it would have mattered. I’d never been in the presence of a man who immediately captured my attention and kept it. He could have stood up, slapped me, and told me to fuck off and I’m afraid I would have followed him home. As little time as we’d spent together, I knew one thing for sure.

Jak made me feel like a carefree little girl.

“Worst bike wreck as a kid?” I asked.

He choked on his salad as he erupted into laughter, “This is a good one.”

He lifted his hand to his mouth and touched his two front teeth with his index finger, “See these?”

I narrowed my gaze and admired the whitest teeth I’d ever seen in a man’s mouth, “Your teeth?”

“These two. My two front teeth,” he tapped the tip of his finger against them.

“Okay?” I looked down at my plate as if I was interested in the salad it contained.

I wasn’t. Not at all.

I wanted to stare at him and find an imperfection. He looked like a muscular version of David Beckham. I was having a difficult time not staring. I tried to center my mouth over my plate just in case I drooled. As he began to speak, he started laughing again. As soon he caught his breath he lowered his fork onto his plate and wiped his hands on the napkin neatly positioned on his thigh.

No matter what he says or does, stare at your plate, Karter. Do not fuck this up.

“I was riding behind my best friend. This cute girl crossed the street. I think I was twelve. It was summertime and she was wearing shorts and a cute tangerine colored top, but it was really her hair that caught my attention,” he paused and began lightly chuckling.

“Her hair?” I said without looking up.

“Yes. She had beautiful hair. Dark brown, similar to yours,” he paused.

“Fair enough,” I sighed.

Damn it, Karter. He’s going to get annoyed and you’ll never see him again. Settle down. Breathe. Just breathe.

“You’re never going to let that go, are you?” he chuckled.

“So I stared at her as she crossed the street. My buddy yelling at me caused me to look back in his direction, but it was too late. I hit a telephone pole and my mouth smacked the handlebars. Knocked out my two front teeth. Well, it snapped them off. They’re fake,” he tapped them again with the tip of his finger.

I stared at my salad and counted the remaining pieces of chicken. Nine. I wondered how many it had when I started. As he began to speak again, I tried not to look up. After what appeared to be an eternity, I gave in and admired his dimples as he grinned.

“Nice,” I said as I took another precursory glance at his perfect smile.

I picked up my fork and stirred through my salad. As I attempted to find a cranberry, I wondered how old he thought I might be. He was obviously older than I was, and I didn’t care. I felt if we got to know each other a little more my age might not matter to him. If he became attracted to me, truly attracted to me, he wouldn’t care. If I didn’t offer, hopefully he wouldn’t ask. With his boyish smile and smooth skin, I guessed he was probably in his early thirties.

“Let’s hear it,” he said.

I looked up and smiled. His hands rested on the bottom of his chin. I glanced down at his plate. He had almost the same amount of salad as I did. I had been picking at my meal trying to make our lunch last as long as possible.

Maybe he enjoys this as much as I do.

“Mine didn’t knock out any teeth or leave any scars, but it broke my collar bone,” I paused and tapped my right shoulder.

“Continue,” he said softly.

His eyes all but demanded I stare into them, but I didn’t dare. Jak was dangerous, at least for me. Something about an older man attracted me much more than a younger, less experienced, less tactful boy. The difference between thirty one and twenty one was the difference between right and wrong. His size, strength, and handsome looks made me uncomfortably comfortable. As I thought of him lifting my bike into the back of the truck, I smiled and continued.

“I built a ramp out of plywood and two by fours. In hindsight, I should have used two by sixes. In life’s major fuck ups, there’s always a retrospective glance where remorse washes over us. Mine revealed a poor lumber choice. Anyway, I built a ramp outside of town by the river in a pasture. My girlfriend had a Suburban, and I always wanted to jump a Suburban on my bike, so we pulled it along the front of the ramp,” I hesitated and shook my head at the thought of my failed jump.

“Wait a minute. A Suburban? Like a Chevy Suburban? The SUV?” he asked.

I nodded my head, “You got it.”

Were you jumping it sideways or lengthways?” he asked.

“Lengthways. Shit anyone could make it sideways,” I responded, half irritated he would think I was interested in the easy way out of anything.

“A Suburban’s eighteen feet four inches in length,” he chuckled.

“Probably. But you know what?” I asked.

He raised his eyebrows, “What?”

“What’s scary is you know that. The length of a Suburban,” I laughed.

He looked somewhat embarrassed. I reminded myself to attempt keeping my mouth shut for the remainder of our lunch meeting. The fact he helped me get my bike to the Harley dealer and waited until I got it running was far more than I would have ever expected from a person passing by. One advantage of living in the Midwest, I suppose. The lunch meeting was my idea, and a last ditch effort to spend a little more time with him. Hopefully my charm and good looks would lure him into asking for my phone number.

“I’m full of useless information,” he smiled.

“Okay. So, down the ramp as fast as I could go and I hauled ass up the other side. As soon as my front tire got to the top of the ramp, I heard a snap. The ramp collapsed. Fucking two by fours couldn’t hold that much downforce. My bike flipped half way over and I landed on my head and shoulders. My right clavicle ended up cracked. It hurt like hell,” I looked down and began to pick at my salad again.

“How far you make it?” he laughed.

I looked up from my salad and smiled, “Half way.”

“Not bad,” he grinned.

I sat staring at my salad, relieved he didn’t ask when it happened or how old I was. Had he, I would have felt a need to tell a lie. I really wanted to see him again, and I didn’t want my age to come into play. Luckily, I just turned twenty one years old and was able to legally go into bars and clubs. If we would have met six weeks prior and he invited me out to a club, I couldn’t have gone. Thank God for the treatment program keeping me off the streets.

“So, how old…”

“Excuse me?” I stammered, not quite hearing the end of his question.

“Your age,” he rubbed his chin and appeared to look through me.

Son of a fucking bitch, seriously? I’m twenty-one and I think you’re gorgeous, interesting, sexy and for some fucking reason you make me comfortable. I don’t care how old you are and I want you to take off your clothes.

At least your shirt.

“How old were you when it happened?”


“When you broke your clavicle?”

“Oh, twelve. I think I was twelve,” I lied.

He nodded his head and looked down at his plate. He picked up his fork and stirred through his salad. Slowly he looked up. As our eyes made contact, he smiled.

Fuck, dude. Please don’t ask me how long ago it was.

“I’ve got to be honest,” he sighed.

About what?

Fuck, can’t we just enjoy this?

You’re married, aren’t you?

“I’ve been picking through my lettuce for an hour. I really don’t want this to end. I haven’t had this much fun in years. Not to sound like one of life’s inexperienced assholes slinging cliché remarks, but…” he paused and stared into my eyes.

Thank fucking God.

“I’ve never felt such an immediate interest in someone before,” he smiled, revealing his dimples.

I want you to pick me up and hold me off the floor so my feet dangle.

“That’s not too cliché. Kind of, but not bad,” I smiled.

Jesus, Karter. Tell him how you feel.

“Well it’s true. Karter you interest me greatly. Let’s do this again.”

“I want you to pick me up and let my legs dangle.”

“Say again?” his scrunched his brow and looked confused.

Did I actually say that? Like out loud?

I sat and did my best to act like I didn’t hear him.

“Did you say you wanted me to pick you up?” he asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled, “Maybe.”

“Well, we’ve made great progress for five hours,” he said as he stood from his seat.

“How so?”

Seeing him stand over me was intimidating and comforting both. He was built like an athlete. Not huge like a pro football player, but extremely muscular and physically fit in appearance. His chest was massive and the muscles in his arms flexed every time he moved them. As he walked around the table I sat and stared.

“Well, five hours ago you told me you were going to beat my ass. Now you want me to pick you up from the floor and let your legs dangle. I’d say that’s pretty good progress. Are you going to stand up?”

I felt hypnotized. I stood from my seat. As he hugged me, he lifted me from my feet with ease. My legs dangling and my feet six inches from the floor, I buried my face against his shoulder and my pressed my chest into his. Having known Jak all of five hours, and seeing where my mind had allowed me to comfortably go, I wondered what changes a little more time would bring. I lifted my head from his shoulder and positioned my mouth a few inches from his ear.

“So you want my number?” I whispered.

“Reach into my back pocket and pull out my phone. Program your number into it, Karter,” he responded.

I immediately shoved my hand deeply into his pocket.

Yeah, this man is going to be trouble for me.

Big trouble.


Karter Cover


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