As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"

Sizzling Kiss Contest Entry

Emma walks toward the front door, her feet brushing along the dusty concrete walkway. She focuses on staying just a step or two behind Jace. As they near the front door, he turns and looks her right in the eyes. Her abs tighten, though her stomach feels like vanilla pudding—goopy and dropping off in globs. Is he gonna to try to kiss her? She can’t let him kiss her, but why? She can’t remember.

His eyes. So blue. Blue like a perfectly calm lake at five in the morning. No. No kissing. Boys hurt girls, they always do. Avoid him just like every other guy who has tried. The scene runs through Emma’s mind, step by step, boy by boy.

• Step one: He gives that look.

• Step two: She smiles. She can’t help it.

• Step three. She stops flattering herself. He’s just playing some dumb game.

• Step four: He leans in.

• Step five: She pulls back and makes a random comment, pretending she didn’t notice the lean-in.

• Step six: Repeat as necessary.

It works every time. This time will be no different. “I had a really good time tonight,” Jace says, stepping closer to her.

“That’s just because my grandma didn’t try to figure out how we’re related. That scared the last boy off.”

He laughs and runs his fingers through his golden brown hair. Then he looks down at Emma—eyebrows raised, lips parted. Her red-stained lips pull up at the corners. And then…no lean in.

“Can I kiss you?”

Silence. This has never happened before. She thinks of what to say, how to get out of this one. Then, before she can speak, she feels his lips upon hers, soft at first then firmer. For one short second, she freezes. She tastes the subtle hint of powdered sugar from the donuts they ate on the way to her house. And then she relaxes, her lips moving against his. His arms slide across her back, pulling her closer until she can feel his chest moving in and out with each breath. Her fingers curl around bunches of his soft hair. She opens her lips, just slightly, and he nibbles on her lower lip just enough to wake her up.

Emma pushes back away from him. His eyes droop, hurt. “I…I’m sorry. I can’t…” She looks away.

He moves toward the bench by her front door and sits down. “You know, I don’t really want to go home yet. How about you tell more about your grandma?”

Her heart beats faster than normal, but she isn’t scared. She’s excited. “In a minute.” She sits down next to him, hearing nothing but the crickets and her own breathing.“How about one more kiss?”

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