A Little Tease – KK Hendin

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The first year of college is supposed to be about parties, parties, and getting the hell out of Texas. Instead, Milcah Daniels is spending her eighteenth year in and out of Houston’s hospitals. Her hair is falling out, they’ve cut off her boobs, and if she makes it to nineteen, she’ll consider it a personal miracle.

Breast cancer really has a way of messing with a girl’s social calendar.

When Milcah’s temporarily discharged from the hospital, she’s determined to get a tattoo for every medical procedure she’s had. Her quest leads her to Skin Stories, a new tattoo parlor a block from her apartment. And to its infuriatingly sexy artist, Callum Scott.

Callum is everything Milcah wants, and everything she shouldn’t have now. A new relationship when the official prognosis is one to five years is a terrible idea. But Callum doesn’t know about the breast cancer, and Milcah’s not running to tell him.

But when the doctor says things are actually looking positive, her entire life turns upside down. How is she supposed to start living again when she’s finally learned to accept her death?

 

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“You figured out what you’re going to order yet?”

I glance longingly at the wine list. Not that I’m old enough, but maybe he’ll get something and I can sneak some of it. “What about grown up drinks?”

“Nope. Juice, soda, or milkshake.”

“Well, if I have a milkshake, will it bring all the boys to my yard?”

Shit. I can’t believe I just said that.

Callum bursts out laughing. “I don’t know. Maybe you should try and see.”

This is veering dangerously into flirting territory, which is so not where we’re going to go tonight. Like I’m democracy and common sense, and flirting is North Korea. Not gonna happen.

The waitress sashays over to our table, puts down a pitcher of water and the bread basket, and turns to Callum. “What can I get you tonight?” she simpers.

Listen girl, I know he’s hot, but please. Show some self-restraint.

I glare at her back as Callum places his order. “I want a grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese,” he says, his expression the same as if he’s ordering a steak.

“Anything else?” the waitress asks, obviously not expecting that.

“I’d like a glass of apple juice,” he says, and closes his menu.

She looks at him curiously, but writes it down. “And what can I get you?” she asks me.

I struggle to keep my face straight. “I’d like an order of chicken nuggets with a side of cheese fries. And a banana milkshake.”

“Sure.” At this point, I’m pretty sure that the waitress thinks we’ve lost our minds. “Your food will be ready in a few minutes.”

I grab a breadstick from the bread basket and pop it in my mouth. The flavors explode. Callum reaches over to take one, too, and I grab the basket away. “Mine,” I say, swallowing a bite.

He laughs, and snatches a breadstick from the basket anyway. Damn. Not far away enough from him. “I know. I would come here to eat their breadsticks alone.” He chews for a minute, and looks at me. “Seriously, Milcah?”

“What?”

“Banana milkshake?”

“What? They’re really good!” I protest.

“No. No they aren’t. I didn’t even think anyone ever ordered those,” he says. “I thought they were just on all the milkshake lists for like, equal opportunity or something.”

“Equal opportunity for banana milkshake?” I ask. “Did the bananas have a rally where they discussed how they weren’t being treated equally in matters of milkshakes?”

“Possibly. But you know how the news is—so prejudiced against bananas that they’d never report it.”

“You do have a point. Although the bananas have pretty good PR,” I say.

“They do. Catchy jingles always work.”

I start humming the “Chiquita Banana” song and Callum joins in. The two of us are giggling like little kids, and I think people are staring a bit.

Mostly, I don’t care.

I haven’t let myself just have fun like this in what feels like forever. Ever since… No, Milcah. No cancer thoughts.

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