Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

All By Myself, Alone

All By Myself, Alone
All By Myself, Alone

Monday, May 12, 2014

COMMUNITY SERVICE BY DAKOTA MADISON- EXCERPT+ CHAPTER ONE AND REVIEW


Book BLURB:

COMMUNITY SERVICE is a 2014 RONÉ AWARDS Nominee (New Adult Category).



As Maggie Mitchell enters her final semester of college, the last thing she wants is a guy in her life, let alone two of them.

Her new lab partner, Sawyer Reed, is still the overconfident and sexy jock that made fun of her in high school. The only thing that has changed is that he now uses a wheelchair, the result of a skiing accident.

Jude Marino is a hot actor who all the girls want and would do anything to get. He works at a local theater where Maggie has been assigned to complete community services hours after rear-ending a police car.

Both Sawyer and Jude want Maggie but only one of them will be able to capture her heart.

SHORT EXCERPT:


As I entered the lab, I was immediately struck by the state-of-the-art technology. I knew Dr. Weaver was the recipient of a number of very large grants but this lab was beyond anything I could have imagined. I could feel my body start to shake with nervous anticipation.

"Looking for a lab partner?" I heard a voice say from behind. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.

When I turned around, I was surprised to see Sawyer Reed staring at me. I hadn’t seen him since high school. He was a year older than me but I still knew who he was. Everyone in school knew Sawyer Reed. He was a popular jock who all the kids adored. He still had the same boyish good looks that I remembered so well. And the same sexy little grin that could light up any room. And the same killer green eyes that would drive girls wild. The only thing that was different, and it was really different, was that he was in a wheelchair.

It completely floored me.

I had the biggest crush on Sawyer Reed. I think every girl in our school did. It was hard not to. He could charm the pants off of any girl in a matter of minutes, and usually did, or so I heard. I wasn’t a girl that guys wanted to charm the pants off when I was in high school. I was awkward bordering on geeky. My mom called me a late bloomer.

And I definitely wasn’t on Sawyer’s radar…

Except when we were on the school bus. Every day when he passed by me on his way to the back of the bus, he’d call me Freaky Four Eyes. Not that I didn’t deserve the moniker. For some reason, when I was a teenager, I thought it was a good idea to wear Marilyn Monroe Cat Eye glasses. Not that I looked anything like Marilyn Monroe. In high school, I had frizzy brown hair and the body of a 12-year-old boy. I could have been called the antithesis of Marilyn Monroe, if there was such a thing. But I sure loved those glasses.

I didn’t think there was any way that Sawyer would remember me. I looked a lot different than I did in high school. I found product, so my long brown hair now fell into controlled waves and I wore contacts. I’d also filled out a little. I was still no Marilyn Monroe in the curves department but I had a decent figure.

And why would he remember some younger girl he teased on the bus anyway?

When he said, "I’m Sawyer" and introduced himself, I realized he really didn’t remember me, so I responded with, "I’m Maggie."

I wasn’t sure if I should put out a hand for him to shake. When I looked down at his hands, I noticed he was wearing half gloves with the open fingers. I assumed it was because he used a manual wheelchair and did a lot of pushing every day. I guessed it got hard on the hands after a while.

He must have noticed me staring at his gloved hands because he said, "I’m a T-10 incomplete, if that means anything to you. I’m paralyzed but I still have some feeling in my lower body. I assume you’ve taken A & P."

I nodded. I took Anatomy and Physiology my sophomore year. I didn’t know a lot about spinal cord injuries but I had learned a few things about spinal cord function. I knew enough to know that level of injury impacted the lower half of the body, paraplegia, and an incomplete injury meant the spinal cord was not completely damaged and there may still be some functioning.

"How long ago was the accident?" My voice sounded so tentative. I didn’t mean for it to be. I guess I wasn’t sure what was appropriate to ask a person in a wheelchair. I had never actually spoken to anyone in a wheelchair before. That really made me think. Was it because I didn’t have an opportunity to meet anyone in a wheelchair or had I purposefully not made the effort? I had to admit, his wheelchair made me a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the wheelchair or because the Sawyer I’d known before was able bodied.

"Four years ago. My freshman year of college. It happened over Christmas Break."

Sawyer’s upper body looked as good as he did in high school, muscular and toned. I assumed he still worked out although I wasn’t sure exactly how someone in a wheelchair worked out. I guess I never thought about the mechanics of it. A flood of questions filled my mind. I wondered if he drove a car and how he got dressed and made his bed. Then I wondered why I was so curious. I never wondered how anyone else went about their daily functions. It was pretty obvious he had things under control because he looked great, in his nicely fitting white polo shirt and black jeans. I even got the slightest hint of a delicious smelling after shave.

"Maggie," Sawyer said and I was brought back to the present moment. "Got a lot on your mind?" He gave me that sexy little grin of his and it took my breath away for a moment.

"I—um—" I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt embarrassed even thinking about how he put his pants on in the morning.

"If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. I know being in a chair sometimes freaks people out."

Was it that obvious that I was freaked out? I felt like a real jerk. But I didn’t want to lie to the guy either. That was no way to start a relationship.

A relationship? What was I thinking? There was no way Sawyer Reed would ever want to be in a relationship with Freaky Four Eyes, even if he didn’t remember me from high school. Even though I now passed for normal in the looks department, inside I was still that little nerd who got teased on the bus.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Sawyer was probably being so nice because we would be spending so much time together as lab partners.

I looked at my watch. Dr. Weaver said she’d meet us at noon and it was just a few minutes before twelve.

"Is everything okay?" Sawyer asked. When I looked at him, I could see a level of compassion in his eyes that I had never seen before. "You seem a little nervous."

What was there not to be nervous about? I was starting the most sought after internship in the university with a super-hot guy from high school who was now in a wheelchair.

"You know you wouldn’t be here unless you deserved to be," Sawyer tried to assure me. "You’re obviously smart and I’m sure you’ll kick this internship’s ass."

That made me smile. He had a way of making me smile that no one else had. There was something about his energy and the way he made me feel in his presence that was just so comforting. "Thanks. I’m sure you’ll kick the internships butt, too."

"Of course," he said and smiled. He had to be the most confident person I had ever met in my life. I had no doubt he could talk a car salesman into buying a car.

CHAPTER ONE:

One
One more term, I said to myself as I walked through the busy quad on my way to the Geosciences building. One more term and I’ll be a college graduate.

In a way, it was hard for me to believe. It seemed like just yesterday my parents were moving me into the freshman dorm and now I was getting ready to graduate. Before I could walk on stage to receive my diploma, I had one heck of a semester in front of me—one that included an intensive, and highly sought after, research internship in the Paleolimnology lab. I already knew I’d be spending a great deal of my "free" time in the lab but the experience would be worth it.

Dr. Weaver was a world renowned researcher in Paleolimnology and someone I had been dying to work with since my freshman year. Most of the researchers in her lab were doctoral students. She only took two senior undergraduates every term. Spring term, I was one of the lucky two.

I had no idea who the other undergraduate would be but I knew the two of us would be spending a lot of time together. I just hoped it wasn’t Bobby Butler. He was a guy I dated sophomore year. (And I use the term dated loosely.) He hounded me until I was so worn down I could no longer refuse his advances. That’s when he pounced. (And I do mean pounced.) He took me to see a movie. I don’t even remember what it was. Not that I saw much of it. He was so busy trying to get his hand up my shirt and I was so busy pushing his hand back down on his lap that I had no idea what was actually happening on the screen.

When he took me home, and told me what a great time he’d had and how much he wanted to see me again, I realized he was completely clueless. I was foolish for agreeing to go out with the guy. I should have been honest with him and let him know that I really didn’t find his carrot red hair and dough boy physique even remotely attractive. But it wasn’t like guys were beating down the door to go out with me. In fact, he was the only date I had the first semester of my sophomore year. Unfortunately, we were both ecology and evolutionary biology majors and we had a lot of classes together. He always made a point of sitting right next to me in every class that we shared.

Please God, I silently prayed, even though I wasn’t even sure God existed. Please let me share a lab with anyone but Bobby Butler.

As I entered the lab, I was immediately struck by the state-of-the-art technology. I knew Dr. Weaver was the recipient of a number of very large grants but this lab was beyond anything I could have imagined. I could feel my body start to shake with nervous anticipation.

"Looking for a lab partner?" I heard a voice say from behind. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.

When I turned around, I was surprised to see Sawyer Reed staring at me. I hadn’t seen him since high school. He was a year older than me but I still knew who he was. Everyone in school knew Sawyer Reed. He was a popular jock who all the kids adored. He still had the same boyish good looks that I remembered so well. And the same sexy little grin that could light up any room. And the same killer green eyes that would drive girls wild. The only thing that was different, and it was really different, was that he was in a wheelchair.

It completely floored me.

I had the biggest crush on Sawyer Reed. I think every girl in our school did. It was hard not to. He could charm the pants off of any girl in a matter of minutes, and usually did, or so I heard. I wasn’t a girl that guys wanted to charm the pants off when I was in high school. I was awkward bordering on geeky. My mom called me a late bloomer.

And I definitely wasn’t on Sawyer’s radar…

Except when we were on the school bus. Every day when he passed by me on his way to the back of the bus, he’d call me Freaky Four Eyes. Not that I didn’t deserve the moniker. For some reason, when I was a teenager, I thought it was a good idea to wear Marilyn Monroe Cat Eye glasses. Not that I looked anything like Marilyn Monroe. In high school, I had frizzy brown hair and the body of a 12-year-old boy. I could have been called the antithesis of Marilyn Monroe, if there was such a thing. But I sure loved those glasses.

I didn’t think there was any way that Sawyer would remember me. I looked a lot different than I did in high school. I found product, so my long brown hair now fell into controlled waves and I wore contacts. I’d also filled out a little. I was still no Marilyn Monroe in the curves department but I had a decent figure.

And why would he remember some younger girl he teased on the bus anyway?

When he said, "I’m Sawyer" and introduced himself, I realized he really didn’t remember me, so I responded with, "I’m Maggie."

I wasn’t sure if I should put out a hand for him to shake. When I looked down at his hands, I noticed he was wearing half gloves with the open fingers. I assumed it was because he used a manual wheelchair and did a lot of pushing every day. I guessed it got hard on the hands after a while.

He must have noticed me staring at his gloved hands because he said, "I’m a T-10 incomplete, if that means anything to you. I’m paralyzed but I still have some feeling in my lower body. I assume you’ve taken A & P."

I nodded. I took Anatomy and Physiology my sophomore year. I didn’t know a lot about spinal cord injuries but I had learned a few things about spinal cord function. I knew enough to know that level of injury impacted the lower half of the body, paraplegia, and an incomplete injury meant the spinal cord was not completely damaged and there may still be some functioning.

"How long ago was the accident?" My voice sounded so tentative. I didn’t mean for it to be. I guess I wasn’t sure what was appropriate to ask a person in a wheelchair. I had never actually spoken to anyone in a wheelchair before. That really made me think. Was it because I didn’t have an opportunity to meet anyone in a wheelchair or had I purposefully not made the effort? I had to admit, his wheelchair made me a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the wheelchair or because the Sawyer I’d known before was able bodied.

"Four years ago. My freshman year of college. It happened over Christmas Break."

Sawyer’s upper body looked as good as he did in high school, muscular and toned. I assumed he still worked out although I wasn’t sure exactly how someone in a wheelchair worked out. I guess I never thought about the mechanics of it. A flood of questions filled my mind. I wondered if he drove a car and how he got dressed and made his bed. Then I wondered why I was so curious. I never wondered how anyone else went about their daily functions. It was pretty obvious he had things under control because he looked great, in his nicely fitting white polo shirt and black jeans. I even got the slightest hint of a delicious smelling after shave.

"Maggie," Sawyer said and I was brought back to the present moment. "Got a lot on your mind?" He gave me that sexy little grin of his and it took my breath away for a moment.

"I—um—" I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt embarrassed even thinking about how he put his pants on in the morning.

"If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. I know being in a chair sometimes freaks people out."

Was it that obvious that I was freaked out? I felt like a real jerk. But I didn’t want to lie to the guy either. That was no way to start a relationship.

A relationship? What was I thinking? There was no way Sawyer Reed would ever want to be in a relationship with Freaky Four Eyes, even if he didn’t remember me from high school. Even though I now passed for normal in the looks department, inside I was still that little nerd who got teased on the bus.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Sawyer was probably being so nice because we would be spending so much time together as lab partners.

I looked at my watch. Dr. Weaver said she’d meet us at noon and it was just a few minutes before twelve.

"Is everything okay?" Sawyer asked. When I looked at him, I could see a level of compassion in his eyes that I had never seen before. "You seem a little nervous."

What was there not to be nervous about? I was starting the most sought after internship in the university with a super-hot guy from high school who was now in a wheelchair.

"You know you wouldn’t be here unless you deserved to be," Sawyer tried to assure me. "You’re obviously smart and I’m sure you’ll kick this internship’s ass."

That made me smile. He had a way of making me smile that no one else had. There was something about his energy and the way he made me feel in his presence that was just so comforting. "Thanks. I’m sure you’ll kick the internships butt, too."

"Of course," he said and smiled. He had to be the most confident person I had ever met in my life. I had no doubt he could talk a car salesman into buying a car.

Before either of us could say another word, Dr. Weaver hurried into the lab. I had met her once before, when I interviewed for the internship a few months earlier. She had lost a little bit of weight since then and her slight frame seemed even thinner. She was a little taller than me, about 5 feet 7 inches but probably only weighed a little over 100 pounds. She appeared to be in her early 30s and always wore her straight black hair in a low pony tail. The two times that I’d seen her, she’d been wearing the same thing, a white lab coat over blue jeans and black clogs.

"I’m glad you’re both early," Dr. Weaver said as she approached. "It shows a work ethic that I appreciate. Yes, that’s a hint. I like people who arrive early and stay late. I assume the two of you have already gotten acquainted."

Before either of us could respond, she continued. "I’ll need you in the lab in the afternoons from noon until about four. I suggest an early lunch. I usually eat from 11:30 to 11:45. I don’t allow food in the lab and the only drink you can bring in with you is water."

She started to walk, so Sawyer and I followed. "I’ll provide you with a brief tour of the lab. And I’ll let Reese, one of my doctoral students, show you exactly what duties you’ll be performing. He’ll also be able to answer any questions you have. If you run into problems, or can’t make it to the lab for some reason, please send me an email and let me know."

I tried to take notes as Dr. Weaver took us on a whirlwind tour of the lab but she spoke so fast and I was so engrossed in looking at all the equipment, I didn’t get more than a few words down. I just hoped Reese would have some compassion on the newbies and be open to questions.

By the time we got back to the lab, there were three people, two males and a female, already working. Dr. Weaver took us over to one of the guys, an attractive Black man, who looked to be in his mid-20s.

"This is Reese," Dr. Weaver said. Before Sawyer or I could say anything more to our new boss, she had already turned and was on her way out of the lab.

When Reese turned to face us, I noticed he had a scar running down the side of his cheek. His complexion was dark, so it was immediately noticeable but as I took a better look at it, it looked deep.

Reese smiled when he looked at me and the warmth in his gesture immediately put me at ease. "You must be Maggie," he said. He put out a hand for me to shake.

His hand shake was firm but when I looked into his eyes, I noticed his eyes twinkled with a little bit of mischief. I got the distinct impression he was a little bit of a practical joker but only time would tell.

When I glanced over at Sawyer, he looked pissed. Was he mad that Reese had acknowledged me first? The last thing I wanted was competition between the two of us.

Reese looked down at Sawyer and said, "And you must be Sawyer?"

Sawyer nodded but I noticed that Reese didn’t make a gesture to shake Sawyer’s hand. It made me wonder if that happened a lot—if people didn’t know whether to shake his hand or not.

Or maybe Reese just didn’t want to? But that didn’t make sense, did it?

Reese turned his attention back to me and said, "I hope Dr. Weaver didn’t scare you too much."

I shook my head even though I had to admit I was a little scared. Her expectations seemed very high and I didn’t know if I was up to the job.

Reese gave me a conspiratorial look and then whispered, "I won’t tell if you bring coffee into the lab. Just be sure it has a tight lid and make sure you don’t spill it."

I smiled. "It’s sometimes hard to get through the afternoon without a little caffeine pick-me-up."

He winked at me. "You’re not the only one." Then Reese looked over at Sawyer and he got serious again. "Dr. Weaver would like the two of you to work on the most recent lake sediment samples. You will be working very closely together. I hope that’s okay." Reese glanced at Sawyer then he glanced back at me.

"It’s fine," I replied.

When I looked at Sawyer, he looked even madder. His face was a stone mask and jaw was clenched tight. If it was humanly possible, steam would have been coming out of his ears.

Was he mad because we’d be working together? I was so confused. I could feel myself starting to get upset. I thought Sawyer and I were getting along but now I wasn’t so sure. Maybe I had completely misread the situation.

Reese took me and Sawyer into an area near the back of the lab. "Here’s your new home away from home. Make yourselves comfortable. I’ll show you what Dr. Weaver needs the two of you to do. It’s a little complex but once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t be too difficult."

I pulled my notebook out and began to write furiously as Reese went over the steps of the procedures we needed to follow. After he demonstrated the process twice, he asked each one of us to repeat it.

I went first and Reese guided me through the process and gave me some pointers to make the procedure a little easier.

When it was Sawyer’s turn, I noticed Reese took a step back. He didn’t seem as engaged with Sawyer. He wasn’t guiding him or giving him any pointers the way he did for me. He just let him do his thing.

"That’s fine," Reese said when Sawyer completed the procedure and gave him a barely there half smile.

It made me wonder if Reese was uncomfortable with Sawyer because he was in a wheelchair or if something else was going on. There was definitely a difference in the way he treated the two of us.

"Well, I think the two of you have got things under control," Reese said. "I’ll be on the other side of the lab if you need me."

"Thanks," I replied and Reese gave me a big smile before he turned and walked away.

Sawyer didn’t say a word to me as he set about getting his equipment ready but he was clearly still angry about something. He was not being careful or quiet with what he was doing.

"Is something bothering you?" I asked. I really didn’t want to spend the rest of the day with someone giving off such negative vibes.

"If you’re done flirting with that guy," Sawyer growled. "Maybe we can get some work done."

"Flirting?" I was incredulous. "I was not flirting."

I glared at Sawyer. I could see that he was still mad but underneath, I could see he was also hurting.

"That guy is so hot for you, it’s not even funny."

"I have no idea where you got that from. He was just being nice."

"Yeah, he was really nice to me. That guy was nice to you for one reason. He wants to get in your pants."

"You can’t be serious. He’s a doctoral student. I don’t think he wants to hook up with an undergraduate and he definitely doesn’t want to be with someone like me."

"Keep telling yourself that."

"And why do you care so much anyway?"

Sawyer didn’t respond. He was focused on his equipment for the procedure. Why did Sawyer care so much? Was he jealous? That couldn’t be the case, could it?

After we worked in silence for a while, Sawyer finally took in a deep breath and exhaled. Then he said, "I didn’t mean to say—um —what I said."

I turned to face him. "Is that an apology?"

"Yes."

"That was a pretty lame apology."

He pursed his lips like it was killing him to actually speak the words: I’m sorry.

When "I apologize" finally came out of his mouth, I had to smile. "Apology accepted," I said.

"I shouldn’t have said Reese wants to get in your pants, even if it’s the truth."

I placed my hands on my hips. "You should have stopped at I apologize."

"I know I should be used to it. A lot of people treat cappers like we’re second class citizens."

"Capper? What does that mean?"

"A handicapped person—a capper. We’re also called crips and gimps. That’s the short list of insults people use when you’re in a chair. I know people have to look down at me but does that mean they have to look down on me too?"

That gave me reason to pause. Had I looked down on Sawyer? Had I done anything to disrespect him? I didn’t think so but I wasn’t entirely sure.

"Will you do something for me?" I asked.

He got a glint in his eye. "What do you want me to do?"

"I’m being serious, okay?"

He bit his bottom lip and tried not to smile "Okay, I’m completely serious."

"Yeah, right. You look like you’re going to laugh any minute."

He tried to make his face serious. "Okay. Now I’m serious. What do you have to say that requires this level of seriousness?"

I looked into Sawyer’s dazzling green eyes and my heart skipped a few beats. I took a deep breath and tried to control my growing attraction toward my lab partner. "I don’t have a lot of experience with people who use wheelchairs. Promise you’ll tell me if I do or say anything that’s really stupid or if I do or say something that hurts your feelings or makes you mad or upset."

He seemed to be thinking about it for a minute. Then he got a really serious expression on his face and said, "I have to admit that I’m a little bit offended by the jeans and baggy long sleeve sweat shirt you’re wearing. I think I’d find a short skirt and little form fitting V-neck sweater much less offensive."

"Seriously?" Now I was the one who was offended.

When he gave me his dazzling smile, it melted away any anger I was feeling. "I am serious when I say, I appreciate the sentiment. No one has ever said that to me before and I really do appreciate it. And I really will tell you if you unintentionally say something stupid or upsetting."

"Okay," I said. "And maybe tomorrow, I’ll think about wearing a V-neck sweater. It’s a little cold for a mini shirt, though."

He laughed. "I’ll settle for what I can get. It’s kind of been my mantra since I’ve been in the chair."

***

When I got back to my apartment later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sawyer. We had exchanged phone numbers, under the pretext that we needed them in case of emergencies, since we’d be working together. But I couldn’t help but feel like there was more to it than that. That Sawyer wanted my number so we could go out.

Then I realized that it was probably just wishful thinking on my part. Sawyer could never be interested in someone like me, could he?

I wondered what it would be like to date someone, who used a wheelchair. Of course that led to me thinking about whether or not he could have sex.

Why was I thinking about sex with Sawyer Reed?

When my cell phone chirped, my heart skipped a few beats. Was Sawyer calling me? I actually got nervous and excited until I saw the call display.

It was my mother.

"Hey, Mom," I said as I answered the call.

"So how was your first day on the job?" My mom phoned me practically every day, so I don’t know why I was expecting it to be anyone else.

"Fine. Dr. Weaver has high expectations but I’m catching on quickly."

"You always do well at everything you put your energy toward. I’m sure the internship will be no exception. And, who is your lab partner? I know you were nervous about it being one of your old boyfriends."

"It’s a guy I went to high school with. Do you remember Sawyer Reed?"

"The name sounds vaguely familiar."

"He was a year ahead of me. Very popular. He played football and basketball." I didn’t want to reveal that he also made fun of me every day. My mom didn’t need to know about that when I was actually in high school and she didn’t need to know it now, either. She had no idea how much of a nerd I really was in high school.

"Does he have a girl friend?" My mom was very interested in me meeting someone. She didn’t like the fact that I was too busy to date. She thought college was the perfect time for women to meet their life partners because that’s when she met my dad. The fact I was already a senior and hadn’t had a very serious relationship really bothered her.

"I don’t know, Mom. It’s not something we really discussed. Besides, he uses a wheelchair."

I’m not sure why I said it that way. Did being in a wheelchair somehow preclude him from having a serious relationship? I didn’t think so but I wasn’t sure. Did girls want to date guys in wheelchairs? Did I want to date someone who used a wheelchair?

It was very confusing.

"Oh," my mom said. She sounded really disappointed. "What did you say his name was?"

"Sawyer Reed."

My mom paused for a moment then she said, "Finney and McCaleb."

"What does that mean?"

"That’s who handled his lawsuit. It was a skiing accident."

My mom is an ambulance chaser, which if you don’t know, it a derogatory term for a personal injury lawyer. She also specializes in DUI cases. Yes, she defends people who drink and drive. Cops just love her.

"I can’t believe you know that," I said even though I absolutely did believe it. My mom is a brilliant lawyer. She’s a little messed up in other ways but she knows the law.

"Oh, well," my mom sighed. "Maybe he has some cute friends he can introduce you to."

I could feel anger coursing through my veins and I wasn’t even sure why. But I felt an overwhelming desire to defend Sawyer. "Sawyer is cute. He’s actually very cute. And sexy as hell."

"But he’s in a wheelchair," my mom pressed as if the word wheelchair said it all. But I wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easily.

"So?" I shot back.

My mom didn’t respond immediately. Then she said in her sickening sweet mom voice, "Maggie, I know you’ve had some self-esteem issues in the past. But you can do better than a guy in a wheelchair."

Before I said something incredibly stupid that I’d regret, I quickly said, "Gotta go, Mom. Bye." And hung up.

Tears started streaming down my face. Was I upset that my mom brought up my so-called self-esteem issues or was I upset that she basically completely dehumanized Sawyer because of his disability? Maybe it was both.

It never occurred to me that people would think I was settling by dating someone in a wheelchair. But it wasn’t just anyone, it was Sawyer Reed. Would other people have thoughts similar to my mom’s? People who didn’t know Sawyer Reed before his accident. It made me wonder what people saw when they meet him now. Did they just see him as a guy in a wheelchair?

Not that I had anything to worry about, apparently, because it didn’t seem like Sawyer was really interested in dating me anyway. Even though I’d given him my number, he hadn’t used it to call or text.

Yet.

I guess I spoke a little too soon because when I came back from the bathroom after washing the tears from my cheek, there was a text message waiting for me.

It was from Sawyer.

I hope you have a good night, Maggs. See you tomorrow.

No one had ever called me Maggs before. I kind of liked it.


 
 






BIO:


Dakota Madison has been writing since she learned to read and fell in love with books. When she's not at her computer creating spicy new romances, Dakota is traveling to exotic locales or spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.



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Community ServiceCommunity Service by Dakota Madison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Community Service by Dakota Madison is a 2013 Short on Time publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Maggie Mitchell is in her last semester in college and is about to start her internship. She gets the shock of her life when she finds out her lab partner is Sawyer Reed. She and Sawyer were classmates in high school, but Sawyer was popular, good looking and athletic and Maggie was a science nerd. Sadly, Sawyer was in a terrible accident that has left him with a spinal cord injury and in a wheel chair. Maggie and Sawyer find they have things in common and enjoy each others company and wish for more in the relationship. But, when Maggie has a fender bender and ends up being sentenced to community service she finds herself working with Jude Marino, a super hot actor with tons of charm and charisma. He also has a past with Sawyer and it's has Maggie in between a rock and a hard place.
This book explores the prejudices associated with people who have to live life differently than we do. Sawyer's accident didn't leave him angry and bitter the way you might think, but it did leave him feeling insecure and vulnerable especially with women. For the record, Sawyer does have some feeling below the waist so he is capable of making love. But, if someone becomes involved with him romantically he wants that person to be devoid of pity and to understand his limitations are a lifetime commitment. Maggie was on board with Sawyer right away, but when he finds out she is working with Jude, he changes. Now Sawyer wants Maggie to date other people and does everything he can to push her toward Jude.
This New Adult/ Contemporary romance was good because of the attention the author gives to those living with a spinal cord injury. Maggie's mother most likely represents a part of the population that makes assumptions about people who are wheelchair bound. She couldn't see how wrong Jude was for Maggie because she couldn't get past Sawyer's disability. The other areas of the book didn't work so well for me, again, because I am much older than the targeted audience. I did not like the games Jude and Sawyer played with Maggie's emotions. Maggie is a person, not a prize or trophy to win. While I could empathize with why Sawyer wanted to test Maggie's resolve, the set up still bothered me. Thankfully, Maggie gets a little advice on how to deal with situation and puts an end to it , which results in a HEA.
This one gets 3 stars

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting me on your website.
    Dakota Madison

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