By Valerie Twombly
Jess slammed the front door much harder than he’d meant. He knew he came off as a complete jerk but seriously didn’t give a rat’s ass. He was tired, he was cranky, and now thanks to his neighbor he was horny.
He made his way to the kitchen and whipped open the fridge, reaching for the quart of organic milk. Not bothering with a glass, he twisted the little plastic cap off and brought the container to his lips. The cold liquid flowed down his throat and helped ease the burning dryness that always accompanied his nightmares. After several large gulps, he wiped his mouth and placed the milk back on the shelf.
Now that he was wide-awake, he sat at the table and stared at the clock on the stove. The power had gone out a few days ago, and the damn digital numbers blinked like a neon light in the darkness. He shoved his fingers through his hair and realized he was shaking, and his heart was in overdrive. A slow, deep breath in just like his therapist had told him.
I am at peace. I am at peace.
Slowly, his heartbeat came back to normal, and the vision of her nipples came into view. He wondered how they would taste. How her body would feel beneath his, but then he remembered how she’d looked at the empty space where his arm should have been. No sane woman would want a guy like him.
Half a man, that’s all he was, and what did he have to offer? Nights filled with thrashing and screaming in bed and not the fun kind either. He would do well to hire himself a hooker, get a little pussy, and ease the ache between his legs. His dreams of having a wife and kids had died on that battlefield along with part of his soul. There was no getting that back. Normal would never be part of his vocabulary again.
Pushing himself to his feet, he stretched. “Might as well get that shower now.” In a few more hours, he would head out for the thirty-minute drive to the Paws for Veterans facility. He’d received a call a couple of days ago, letting him know they had a dog they thought would be a perfect match for him. The coordinator emailed him a photo of a chocolate lab named Java. Part of him wondered if this female would shun him as well, but dogs weren’t known for judging people. He prayed this worked. He’d heard a lot of good things about the program, and lord knew he really needed to get his shit together. There were days he couldn’t leave the house due to his panic attacks. If this dog gave him even a small sense of normalcy, he’d take it.