A drive home in the wee hours in the morning after a modeling job… then a moment’s distraction and a twist of Fate puts an end to one way of life for Ashley and opens the door to another.
Hey everyone! My name is M.A. Church, and I was part of the Carved in Flesh anthology from Storm Moon Press that came out a year ago. Now my story, Faded Love, has been released as a single title. This anthology caught my eye because of the subject matter. In a society that worships beauty and is filled with everyday images of what’s ideal, I had to wonder what would happen to an internationally well-known model who ends up scarred.
Then throw in his lover, Will—who is a sports model. To make matters even more interesting, Will just happens to have given Ashley an ultimatum before the car accident: he wants an exclusive relationship with Ashley. The mere thought of a commitment sends Ashley into a tailspin. And there you go, lol, a swirling brew of pain, anger, fear, regret, and… one man’s determination not to give up on the man he loves. In other words, Will has a hot mess on his hands, lol. Can he prove to Ashley that scars fade, but love doesn’t?
This anthology, in a lot of ways, strikes very close to home for me. Twelve years ago I had back surgery, and I have a pretty big scar on my back. Granted, over the years it’s faded, but when I tan in the summer, it’s noticeable. In my late teens and early twenties I also modeled regionally. *Laugh* It wasn’t anything to write home about, but modeling did teach me one thing. The old saying that models are nothing more than ‘coat hangers’ is so very true.
So imagine how a world-famous model would react to a scar on his face—the very face that made him a living, that he was known by. Yeah, Ashley’s emotions run the gamut from disbelief, anger, and self-loathing to fear—fear that without his looks, he’s worth nothing. Thank goodness for Will and his stubborn nature. Not long after the accident, Ashley learns Will has been offered an opportunity that’s the chance of a lifetime… on the opposite coast. Ashley, my spoilt little diva, has a hard choice to make.
My favorite scene in the story is where Will and Ashley kiss on a beach near the end. The message that comes through by the end of the story is Scars fade, but love does not. There's so much truth to that. The harder times of life might stick with us, but the ache of them usually fades over time; true love doesn't fade away. I wholeheartedly believe that, and it's where the title of my short story came from too.
One moment in time can change your life, especially a life that revolves around your face. A near-fatal car accident leaves a world famous model's face scarred and his career in a tailspin. The life Ashley knew is over and he wants to do nothing but fade away into nothingness. Only his lover, Will, can pull him out of his dark depression and make Ashley see even scars can be beautiful.
The first thing Ashley noticed when he woke was a feeling of disconnection. He was floating, drifting. His eyes weighed a ton, as did his body, and his faced itched. Trying to lift his hand to scratch at the insistent itch, he struggled to get the limb to function. Nothing seemed to work right. Was he home in bed? He didn’t remember getting home. A soft beep caught his attention. What was that annoying sound? His mind was fuzzy and his mouth was as dry as cotton. Seriously freaked out, he fought to open his eyes, and his body jerked as he twisted. Pain exploded, greeting him unmercifully, biting at him.
“Ashley? Can you hear me?”
That voice. He knew that voice. With a herculean effort he opened his eyes. Or tried to. One side of his vision was pitch black, and the other side was blurry. Sickly fear coated his body. He flung his hands up, searching. What the hell was covering the left side of his face? Clawing at the covering, he whimpered as an out of focus face bent over him.
“Hey, hey now, ease up there. It’s okay.”
“Will?” Ashley’s hand was gently held and pulled down. Why did Will’s voice sound so funny, like he was hoarse? “Will? What’s going on? Where am I? What’s on my face?”
“Listen to me. You’re in the hospital.”
“Hospital? Why the hell am I in the hospital?” Straining, he was finally able to make out the pale walls, and smell a scent he had always associated with hospitals: cleaners and sickness.
“You don’t remember… anything?” Will bent over Ashley, still holding his hands. God, Will’s skin was so warm, and his was so cold. “Tell me what you remember.”
“Was on my way home from that shoot. You called. I was going to call you back… Will?” Ashley’s voice rose and cracked. “Then, nothing until now. What—what… Will?”
One of Will’s strong hands managed to loosen itself from Ashley’s death grip and brushed Ashley’s hair back from his face. “You’re in the hospital. There was an accident, a bad accident. You were hit on the way home two days ago.”
“Fuck me! Two days ago?” Ashley bit his lip as pain spiked in his ribs. “How bad? Who hit me?”
“It was pretty bad. You have bruised ribs from the impact with the steering wheel, your arm is bruised—not broken—and more bruises over your body. I forgot the driver’s name. They hit you on the passenger side, slammed you into a street light. Two people in the other car died.”
“Died? Jesus.” Every time Ashley tried to lift his hand to his face, Will stopped him. “What’s wrong with my vision? Why can I only see out of one side?”
Gripping his hand, Will hesitated. “You were struck so hard your head hit the driver side window.”
Ashley gripped Will’s hand. There was more, he just knew it. What little he could make out of Will’s concerned face told him that. “And? Tell me, dammit!”
“The window busted. There was glass everywhere. Oh God, Ashley, I’m so sorry. You were cut. On your face… and—and… there’s going to be a scar.”
“A scar?” Ashley whispered, and then his voice gained in strength as horror stabbed at him. “A scar, on my face? My face? No! Oh my God, no! How bad, Will? How fucking bad?”
Tears soaked Will’s voice. “From the hair line to under your chin. Jesus, Ashley. I’m so sorry.”
The screams from Ashley’s room brought most of the nursing staff at a dead run.
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