Hug It Out

By: Davidson King

I’m dedicating this book to my amazing husband.

He’s a little bit Teddy and a lot Riordan.

But more than that he’s my heart, and the love and

support he gives me daily is why I want to hug it out

with him for the rest of my life.





Teddy



“On the left, Zach. Left. Other left. How do you not see the health? It’s next to the boulder that looks like an elephant.”

“Oh, excuse me, Teddy. It’s a fucking beta, we’ve never gone through it,” Zach, a fellow gamer, said to me through my headset.

“So, make a note. Though I don’t think health is supposed to be obvious in this game.” I liked it better when games made it easy to grab, but this one was a bitch.

“And now we’re dead,” he said with a loud sigh.

“It’s cool. I gotta go anyway.” I sipped my slushy and started shutting down my console.

“Yeah, you got people to hug.” His laugh only made me roll my eyes. Whenever I wasn’t beta testing games, writing reviews for them on my website, or writing strategy guides, I was running my own business: Teddy Bear Hugs & Companionship. Zach found it hilarious I cuddled people and nurtured them.

“Whatever, Zach. I have to go. Talk later.” Without another word, I disconnected and began getting ready for my job.

First, a shower. My client today was a seventy-year-old woman. She’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and lived alone. Three times a week, I went to her house, would sit and talk with her, and then we would sit on the couch and hug while watching her daily soap operas.

Many people didn’t understand how vital it was to have human interaction and touch. I started this business because of my grandmother.

When my father passed away from a sudden heart attack when I was ten, my mother sort of drifted away. She worked more, traveled more, and I saw her less and less. Then I only saw her about twice a year. My grandmother, my father’s mother, took me right in and showered me with more love than any boy could handle. She always made sure to hug me and be there when I needed a shoulder.

When I turned twenty-one, she got sick. Cancer. She was a survivor, but it took a lot out of her to fight. When she needed it, I made sure to return all the love she’d given me. It was in that moment when I realized I wanted people to know of this amazing feeling.

When I explained this to my best friend, Delly, she wanted in. My mother gave me some money she had received from my father’s life insurance, and with it, I started Teddy Bear Hugs & Companionship. Delly signed on with me and five years later, we were four people strong.

I showered, skipping the aftershave and cologne, and headed out. I had just started the car when my phone vibrated. The number was one I didn’t recognize.

“Hello, this is Teddy. Can I help you?”

“Oh, hello, Teddy. My husband gave me your number and I was hoping you could help me out,” a female voice said.

I placed the call on speaker and began driving.

“May I ask who your husband is, and then who you are?”

“Yes! His name is Dr. Robert Banks. I’m his wife, Aisling Darcy-Banks.”

“Hello, Mrs. Darcy-Banks. I’m aware of who your husband is. He’s the head of psychology over at the hospital. I’ve seen him a few times when I volunteer over there. He’s a very nice man. I’ve also sat in on some of his lectures over at the university a time or two.”

Her laughter was soft. “He is. But I’m actually calling for my brother… Is this confusing you?”

“A little, but go on, I’ll catch up.” I made sure to drive slower to buy this lady some time. She seemed nervous.

“My brother, his birthday is next month. He has a very stressful job. Sadly, I don’t really know what he does. I suspect government special ops or something because he can’t talk about it. Anyway. He’s going to be thirty-three and I believe something really bad happened on a job recently. He’s been withdrawn, depressed, and doesn’t come to family dinners. It’s very unlike him. So, I wanted to hire a professional cuddler and companion for him for a month.”

Typically, when there was a loss of any kind, the person wanted a week at most. “A month? Do you mean in-home?”

“I want someone there every day for one month.” Aisling’s voice took on a more authoritative tone.

“Live in?” I began thinking of who might be able to invest all that time.

She hummed. “Is that an option?”

“The only issue with that is the fact that all my employees have numerous clients and obligations. They’d need to be able to come and go as they please to tend to their responsibilities.” I had one employee who stayed weekends for a man, but that was the longest up until now.