by Annabelle Costa
This is what the bastard has done to me: he’s made me into a voyeur. I’m the creep staring at him across the room. But I can’t help but watch this creature, because to look away would be a travesty. He’s striking—from his shaggy blond mane to his vivid green eyes to his broad shoulders and arms with muscles that ripple with each movement, clearly visible under his worn T-shirt.
But let’s not kid ourselves. None of that is the reason that I can’t take my eyes off Logan Winchester.
No, what draws me to Logan like a magnet is what’s below those firm, tight muscles in his chest. And by that, I mean his legs. It’s the part of him that makes everyone in the room stare at him—then quickly look away. Long legs, far too thin when compared with his brawny biceps, tapering down to sneakered feet, positioned next to each other in a single foot plate. Those legs never move, except to sway slightly when he shoves his calloused palms against the pushrims of his sleek chrome wheelchair.
I wish I could stop staring.
My own seat across the bar affords me a fantastic view of Logan’s body as he makes his way to his final destination. I sip on my frosted glass of beer, silently rooting for him as I simultaneously root against him. I want him to fail and I want him to succeed. You might say I’m conflicted.
That’s what this bastard has done to me. He’s fucking ripping me apart.
Logan pauses by the round table just adjacent to the exit. He takes a deep breath and rakes a shaking hand through his golden locks. I squeeze my own hand shut, nearly able to feel those silky strands in my palm just before my nails bite into my palm. I dared touch his hair only once—in jest—and while he had laughed, I had been so flustered by the sensation that my cheeks grew so crimson that I had to turn away.
Katy Perry’s voice blasts over the speakers, loud enough to block out the words coming from Logan’s lips. The way you turn me on. I. Can’t. Sleep. Yeah, you said it, Katy Perry.
Whatever he’s said is enough to get the girl’s attention. She turns, blinking blue eyes lined with far too much mascara. With her slightly wavy black hair and slim build, she almost resembles Katy Perry—that’s Logan’s type. Even though I don’t know her, I hate her—that bitch. I hate that she’s got the hair and the eyes and the figure Logan wants.
I, on the other hand, am hopelessly brown-eyed, dirty blond, and buxom. Just one reason that I have landed square in the goddamn Friend Zone.
The girl’s blue eyes light briefly when they settle on Logan’s handsome face. Yes, he’s fucking hot—she’s got eyes and she can see it as well as I can. Her dark red lips spread into a sensual smile that slips precipitously when she finally notices his method of transportation. The chair.
Logan gets it—I can tell by the way his smile falters. He sees her reaction. He’s not clueless. But he forges on. His lips move, perhaps offering to buy her a drink?
Moment of truth. Will Miss Katy Perry overlook Logan’s one fatal flaw? Or will she allow the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met to buy her a drink?
She shakes her head no.
Thank fucking God.
I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. It would have hurt if Logan went home with Katy Perry tonight. Hurt bad. But I hate seeing the anguish on his face as he returns to our table empty-handed. The Wheel of Shame, Logan called it once.
Logan pulls up to our table, tucking his legs under the surface, out of my visual field. I know he has no sensation down there, a fact revealed to me one night when we’d both had a bit too many beers. I wonder what would happen if I reached out and put my hand on the surface of his bony knee. Would he know? And if he knew, would he flinch? Wheel away? Tell me how yes, yes, he likes me, but just not like that?
“I take it that she said no,” I murmur.
Logan snorts and shakes his mane of yellow hair. “Was there any doubt? Honestly, Lucy. I told you that it was pointless.”
I hear the pain in his voice. Yes, I was the one who encouraged him to traverse the bar to talk to the young woman he’d been admiring all night. Call me a masochist if you’d like. But I knew how drawn Logan was to her. And in my head, it seemed an impossibility that any woman could refuse the Adonis sitting before me.
Logan groans and takes a swig of his half-finished Sam Adams. He wipes his lips with the back of his wiry forearm. I love the golden hairs on his forearms, the way they glisten in the overhead lights of the bar. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine those arms enclosing my body. I imagine my head on his broad shoulder, the weight of my body resting on those thin, still legs.
I am sick. Sick.
If God forbid Logan knew the way I grew wet just thinking about being close to the imperfect parts of his body, he’d… well, I can’t imagine what he’d do. Hate me? Never speak to me again? Expose me to everyone I know?
No. No, I can’t risk it. Goddamn it.
When Logan first joined the agency where I’m employed, it was common knowledge that I had a boyfriend of two years. John. John and I were going to move in together, but Logan brought a quick end to that affair. My cravings for the paraplegic I saw every day at work overpowered any feelings I thought I had for my able-bodied lover.
While I had always known my predilection for men who traveled on wheels, I had never known one like Logan before. Logan oozed sexiness. He personified sexiness. I could barely think straight when I looked at him.
Sometimes it’s too much for me.
“The next one will say yes,” I promise him.
“No.” Logan shakes his head again. “No, there won’t be a next time. I’m done.”
The tone of his voice tugs at something in my chest. “Done?”
“Done with women.” He nods his head decisively. “It’s easier that way. After all, what woman in her mind would actually go out with me? I mean, look at me.”
He slaps his leg when he says it, as if punishing them for their refusal to carry him anymore. You idiot, I want to tell him. I look at you a million times a day, and it’s all I can do to keep from ripping off my panties and mounting you in your chair.
But while Logan claims he’d take any woman, I doubt that’s truly the case. He’s used to model-beautiful waifs. I’m not in his league. Just passably cute, nothing more.
“Lots of women would,” I say.
“Please, Lucy,” he mutters. “Let’s not kid ourselves.”
He leans forward to press his fingers into his temples, and his shirt sleeve slips up just enough that I can see the tattoo on his upper arm. It’s a compass. Before his injury, Logan loved to hike and rock climb. It’s how he broke his back, and he hasn’t done it since, even though I’ve researched adaptive equipment for him to get back to his own recreational hobbies. I just can’t, Lucy, he told me.
“Let me buy you another drink,” I offer.
He manages the thinnest of smiles. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“No! Of course not.”
Ha. If only he knew.
“I’d love another drink,” he sighs. “But I’ve got to be sober enough to drive home. You can’t operate my hand controls, can you, Luce?”
“Okay, fine,” I say. “Then you buy me another drink.”
Logan hesitates, his green eyes thoughtful. They are shimmering pools of the greenest hue I’ve ever seen. I could get lost for a week in those eyes. “I think I’d rather head out now, if you don’t mind. I’m not really in the mood anymore.”
Logan covers the check because I paid last time. He studiously avoids a glance in the direction of Miss Katy Perry as we head toward the exit. When his back is turned, I catch her gawking in his direction.
You don’t know what you missed out on, you fool.
Logan releases the pushrims of his chair to glide down the ramp to the parking lot. I forego the stairs and follow him instead. The muscles in Logan’s arms and upper back tense as he brings his chair to a halt at the end of the stairs. He’s been in that chair three years and he’s comfortable, but not an expert. He still seems anxious when he has to do a wheelie and bump down a flight of stairs. I watched him do it once, as the devotee inside me did cartwheels. My insides were mush when I saw the way he held onto his legs to maintain them in place during the trip.
Logan transfers into his car the same way he always does—he shifts his body into the seat of the car, then pulls his legs inside in one swift movement. The first time I was with him to witness the transfer, he actually apologized to me. His cheeks colored pink and he muttered, Sorry. God knows why he would apologize. It was the sexiest thing I’d ever seen in my whole fucking life.
His wheelchair rides in the backseat, and I take the seat beside him. I expect him to start the car, but he doesn’t. Instead, he just sits there, staring out the windshield, his green, green eyes glassy.
“I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life,” he says.
Oh no. Not this.
“Oh, Logan,” I murmur.
“It’s true though.” He turns to me, and those beautiful eyes are so sad. How could someone so ridiculously hot be so sad? “I need to learn to accept it. To stop getting my hopes up only to be shot down.”
Damn that Katy Perry. “She’s just one girl.”
“It’s not one girl,” he shoots back. “It’s every girl. Every girl I’ve tried to ask out. Every girl I’ve been set up with. No woman is interested in being with a man who can’t walk.”
“But you’re so handsome!” I blurt out before I can stop myself.
“Handsome?” Logan looks at me like I’ve completely lost my mind. He laughs. “Please, Lucy. That’s not a word anyone would ever use to describe me. Even before.”
He really doesn’t freaking know. Is it possible he could have no clue how incredibly sexy and good-looking he is?
I put my hand on his shoulder. I feel the tight muscles under my palm, and I lose my train of thought. That’s what this bastard does to me. But I don’t move my hand. Not this time.
“There will be women who want you,” I assure him.
He shakes his head. “They don’t want a cripple.”
“Some women don’t mind,” I insist. “In fact, some women even… like that sort of thing.”
Logan’s features contort in anger. “Please. There aren’t any women who would like me this way. Don’t say things like that.”
He just shakes his head. “Yeah, and how do you know?”
“I know because…” I take a deep breath. This could be the biggest mistake of my life. But fuck that. It’s a chance I have to take. I’m sick of playing it safe. I’m sick of hiding who I am. “I’m one of those women.”
Logan stares at me.
“I’m so sorry to tell you this way,” I babble. “It’s… not as weird as it sounds. It’s not like I… that I’m glad you got hurt or anything. I’m not. I wouldn’t be. I just… I think your wheelchair is sexy. And your legs are sexy. I mean, it’s not like I fantasize about your legs or anything…”
Oh God, Lucy, stop talking.
“I’m so sorry,” I say again, my lips still moving against my will. “I know you don’t feel that way about me, but I just… I had to tell you because I’m sick of keeping secrets. And I think that you’re… I mean, you’re the sexiest man I’ve ever known. So yeah.” I hazard a glance at his face, which carries a stony expression. “Um. Are you going to, like, say something?”
Logan is silent for an eternal minute. Oh Christ, he hates me. I should have kept my Goddamn mouth shut.
Finally, he reaches out and puts his warm, calloused palm on top of mine. “You seriously like me this way?”
I nod timidly. “Is that okay?”
He doesn’t answer me right away. But what he does do is lean forward and press those sumptuous lips—lips I’ve dreamt of kissing for the last year—square against mine. I’ve lain in bed and touched myself as I imagined this very moment, never imagining it could be as intense as it is right now. Logan’s lips are so soft as the stubble on his chin scratches against me, and I’m so stunned that I nearly forget to kiss him back.
This is the most intense kiss of my whole fucking life.
We separate after a few minutes or many hours or I don’t know how long. Logan is staring at me. I look down and I see that his hands are shaking as much as my own. “I’ve been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you,” he breathes.
He has? This Adonis really wanted boring, ordinary old me? How could that be?
I shiver slightly, my lips still tingling from his touch. “You really don’t mind that… that I’m…”
Logan stares at me for a moment. “I don’t mind. In fact…” He lowers his voice several notches and breathes in my ear, “I think it’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard.”
And he kisses me again. A kiss that makes me shiver as it sets my body on fire. I’m so turned on. I’m so Goddamn turned on that I can’t think straight. I can’t barely breathe.
That’s what this bastard has done to me.