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Her Touch(9)

By:Alexa Riley

“So now we just need one for you, princess.” She turns her nose up at that one.

“My dad calls me ‘bug.’ Don’t know where it came from, but it stuck.”

“Nah. That one’s his. I want one of my own for you.” She seems to like the idea of that, if her smile is any indication. “We’ll hang out some more and see what pops up, firecracker.”

She rolls her eyes. “Definitely not.”

We spend the afternoon hanging out, and Maggie does some volunteering when one of the clinic physicians needs an extra set of hands. I work with a new patient and talk about his goals and what his home life is like. We decide to set time up every day so that we can talk and he can check in. It’s all part of the process, and I’m happy that I can be a part of it in some way.

After we leave, I drive us back home, and Maggie heads straight into the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner, and can I help?” I ask, following her.

“I’m making chicken, and sure,” she responds as she pulls stuff out of the fridge and hands me vegetables to chop. “It’s movie night, too, by the way. Major will be home in about an hour, and we’ll have dinner and hang out.”

“Sounds good,” I say, grabbing a beer out of the fridge and opening it up.

“Are you going to join in?” Her voice is hopeful.

“That’s okay, right?” For a second I wonder if she was telling me so that I’d try to find something else to do, but she sounded like she was inviting me.

“Yes.” Her voice is high-pitched, like she’s nervous, and then she clears her throat. “Yeah. That’d be really nice.”

The sun is setting, and the way the light falls into the kitchen makes it glow. Maggie is by the stove cooking, and for a moment I just stare at her.

She’s young. Too young for me. But something about her makes me feel like she’s older. I shouldn’t feel this pull to her, but I find myself wanting to be around her as much as I can. When I’m in the same room as her, I feel happy. She’s this walking ball of joy that I don’t want to step away from.

“Sunshine,” I whisper, and she turns to look at me.

“What did you say?” She smiles in confusion as she stirs the vegetables.

“Your nickname.” She’s like pure sunshine with her warmth and glow, and I’m just a planet revolving around her. She pulls me to her like gravity, and I can’t seem to walk away.

“Hmm. Sunshine. I guess that’s not so bad. I’ve got blonde hair.” She shrugs and goes back to what she’s doing.

I put my beer down and clear my throat. “I’m gonna go check my emails. I’ll be right back.”

I don’t wait for her answer as I walk out of the kitchen and up the stairs. I practically run to my room and shut the door, locking it and then leaning back against it as I close my eyes. What is wrong with me? This is the daughter of the man who is like a father to me. She’s sixteen years old. Why am I having all these feelings of attraction? God, this is so wrong and so fucked up on so many levels.

It hits me that I’ve been laughing and playing with her today, and she’s been giving it back. I’ve basically been flirting with her, and she didn’t seem the least bit upset about it. Jesus, I’ve got to get this under control. She’s a girl.

I rub my face with my hands, and I hear the front door open. Major’s voice rings out as he says hello to Maggie. I’ve got to go down there and face him. I need to get my shit together. I can’t let some sixteen-year-old girl trip me up like this. Jesus, you’d think I’d never had someone smile at me before.

As I take some calming breaths, I convince myself that she’s just being nice and I’m being nice, too. We can do this. It can be brotherly and sisterly. We can hang out and I can forget about all the things that are running through my mind.

Like how she’s close to being seventeen.

Chapter 5


“Now turn and pull.” I do as Eli says, pulling him as hard and fast as I can. I take him down to the ground, flat on his back. I stand over him triumphantly, my hands on my hips. He has a smile on his face as he stares up at me.

“You catch on quick.” He smiles even bigger. I can tell he’s proud of me. We’ve been working on self-defense in the garage after Eli gets finished working out and doing some light physical therapy on his leg. He doesn’t even have a limp anymore when he walks. The scar on his face is no longer red and angry. He’s almost fully healed, and I worry that he might be thinking about moving out soon. I push the sour thought away, not wanting to think about it.