by Nia Farrell
Length: 5,690 words. Release Date 12 December 2020.
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Musician George Elliott is in rehab, recovering from the car accident that nearly killed him. So far he’s beaten the odds, learning to walk and talk again (even if it’s with a stutter). He’s on the autism spectrum and struggles with PTSD whenever there’s a change—and everything is new to his injured, amnesiac brain.
He doesn’t know where his home is. He can’t remember what it’s like to be with a woman, but he very much wants to when he starts sessions with music therapist Carole West.
Plus-sized George finds himself falling hard and fast for a beautiful woman he doesn’t think he can have. But it’s Christmas season. In this short story inspired by the classic holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life, miracles do happen.
Originally part of A Curvy Holiday charity anthology, By George is a heart-warming BBM romance with a heat level of four, written for Ages 18+.
Beta reader Dawn Martin-Smith “God Nia, I don’t know how you do it. The story of George is absolutely fantastic. I had tears in my eyes pretty much from the get go. Your talent is incredible.”
George felt his breath seize and fought the anxiety that made his chest tighten and his heart race. He’d never had panic attacks before the accident (or so he’d been told). Any change carried the threat of one—which sucked—because everything was new to his injured, amnesiac brain.
Tina rapped on the door.
The voice that answered was as rich as dark chocolate and as sultry as a summer night. Tina opened the door, revealing a wall of musical instruments on the left. To the right, an electric keyboard sat by a set of shelves lined with drums and percussion. On the far side of the room sat the source of the voice, a beautiful blonde with a soft smile and compassionate eyes as blue as the azure sky.
“Hi, George,” she said, rising from her office chair and rounding her desk to greet him. “Do you know who I am?”
Anxiety clawed at his chest, tearing ragged holes in his breath.
“That’s okay, George,” she quickly assured him. “My name is Carole. Carole West. Can you say it?”
“Cuh-Cuh-Ca-rrrole W-Wuh-Wuh-WWWest,” he managed, cursing his stutter that the accident hadn’t taken with his memory, damn it all.
She beamed at him like a teacher with a prize pupil. “Very good, George! Now, come on in. Have a seat. I have some things I want to show you, and then we’re going to try some fun things that I think you’ll enjoy.”
Carole looked at Tina. “Thanks for showing him down. I’ll buzz you when we’re through.”
The door closed, shutting the two of them in together. George lowered himself into an empty armchair. Carole sat on the piano bench and looked at him sitting white-knuckled with nerves.
“Are you okay, George?” she asked, all solicitousness. “I know this is a break from your routine.”
Evidently, he was on the autism spectrum, too.
He hated that she knew it. He couldn’t hide his stutter but he’d become something of an actor, able to convince people that he was just like them.
“I’m f-f-fine,” he grunted, sounding sulky, regretting that he had too much going against him to interest anyone as lovely as her.
“Oh, George,” she sighed, blinking away the moisture that sprang into her eyes. “You’re here. You’re strong—stronger than you know. I want to show you something and hopefully give you some new goals to achieve.”
Rising, she picked up a remote control from her desk, aimed it at the DVD player, and pressed a button. A concert lit up the screen, starting with a shot of the guitarist’s hands, his fingers dancing over the strings, his soulful voice serenading the fans who’d come to see him perform.
The camera angle shifted, showing the audience. Carole was sitting in the front row with Tina.
“See anyone you know, George?” she asked, freezing the frame and trying to not grin.
“Th-th-that’s y-you,” he stuttered. “A-a-and T-Tina.”
“Correct!” She hit the play button. The camera panned left until it pointed back at the stage, passing over band members and background vocalists before focusing on the lead singer.
George clutched the arms of his chair and stared.
“I’ve been a fan of yours for years, George,” she said softly. “You don’t stutter when you sing because there’s music in your soul. I hope to help you find it again.”