To Be A Man by Laura Beth Peters
Demetrius Gallo is a broken man. Can a woman just as broken fix him?
Demetrius Gallo is a former race car driver, so it’s a painful stroke of irony when a car accident leaves him helpless to care for himself. Always a man who had to be in control, he’s frustrated by his circumstances. His frustration is only compounded when his brother hires a beautiful woman to be his home health aide, to be a witness to his frailty.
Demetrius knows he’s a difficult patient. He refuses to accept his limitations, yet he flounders in the fear that he will never be a whole man again. Demetrius needs to feel like a man, needs to feel like he can still be the virile male he always presented to the world. He convinces his home health aide, Sutton, to share more than his recovery, to share his bed. With Sutton, Demetrius finds pleasure beyond anything he has ever known. But then it becomes something more.
When Sutton pulls away, Demetrius thinks she’s in love with his younger brother Antonis. However, when pushed, Sutton reveals a past that is just as tangled in hurt and grief as his own. Can two broken people find happiness in each other? Do they even want to?
Only behind the wheel of a car did Demetrius feel grounded. It was only then, going over a hundred miles an hour, that Demetrius felt in control of his life, that he felt like the whole world was there for his taking. There was so much in Demetrius’s life that had been out of his control. His mother’s death from cancer when he was only ten years old. His father’s cruelty as his grief turned him into a raging alcoholic. His amazing rise to stardom as the youngest race car driver to win the Indie 500, and then his quick demise when the doctors told him nerve damage in his hands could not be repaired with surgery. The damage made it impossible for him to hold a vibrating steering wheel at two hundred miles an hour, the same vibration that had caused the damage in the first place. But, the doctor kindly assured him, it would not affect his day to day life.
What did they know? He could still drive like he was racing with the devil.
That’s exactly what he was thinking as he watched that tree come racing toward him at just over ninety miles an hour.
He woke nearly a month later.
The news was good and bad. Demetrius broke his pelvis, both his legs, and his right arm. Four ribs were broken and he had some internal bleeding. There were concerns about his head injuries, but those were healing with little lasting effect. And then there were the gashes to his face.
The first time he looked in the mirror he was physically ill.
He looked like Frankenstein. It looked like his face had been deconstructed and put back together by a toddler.
The doctors said they could fix it, but they had to wait for the fractures underneath to heal. That could take months. Months he would have to live with this monstrosity looking back at him every single day.
It almost made the fact that he couldn’t walk seem minor.
It would take time for his pelvis to heal, they said. And his legs were so badly crushed, he would probably have to relearn to walk when they healed. So, not only did he look like a monster, but he was now confined to a wheelchair like some sort of effeminate jackass.