It’s too early in our relationship for me to call him first, but the next evening, I decide to text him instead. I devise like twenty text messages in my head and finally come up with: How’s life at the Apple store? And then as soon as I send it, I realize it’s the stupidest text ever and I’m filled with regret.
But only a minute later, I get a response: Busy. How’s life at the engineering store?
Are you keeping the engines all clean and shiny?
I smile at Chris’s latest text. He’s flirting with me. I’m relieved. Maybe I didn’t entirely blow it when my brother showed up at my apartment naked. I take a deep breath and type:
Maybe you’d like to come back here after work one day this week? I can show you a clean engine.
My heart is literally pounding as I wait for him to reply. Was that too forward? He seems easily spooked. Maybe I should have just waited for him to ask me at his own pace. Oh well, too late now.
When Chris’s reply appears on my screen, my heart sinks: Pretty busy this week.
Shit. I blew it. That’s it. I met a great guy and one naked Tom scared him away.
Then he adds: How about we do something this weekend?
My heart soars. Weekend date! Score! What do you have in mind?
He writes back: Let me think about it. I’ll call you later tonight.
I want to tell him that he doesn’t need to come up with any brilliant ideas for our date. Takeout Chinese at my apartment would be ideal. All I want to do is continue our make-out session. But at the same time, I do appreciate his sense of romance and wanting to impress me.
As promised, I get a phone call from Chris later that night. He doesn’t call till nine, and I’m so excited that I could barely eat dinner. Whenever I’m nervous, I completely lose my appetite. Kate says she’s jealous of me because when she’s nervous, she eats like a pig.
“Hey, it’s Chris,” he says when I answer the phone. I almost expect him to add, “From the Apple store.”
“Hey there,” I reply in my sexiest voice. Which isn’t very sexy. I don’t have a particularly sexy voice, unfortunately.
“So,” he says, “are you free on Saturday afternoon?”
Even if I wasn’t, I would break whatever plans I had. “What do you have in mind?”
He hesitates. “It’s a secret. How about if we meet up at 11AM?”
For a moment, I really do feel a little like I’m back in high school, when guys actually gave a shit what we did on a date and wanted to impress me. Then I remember that Chris didn’t date at all back in high school, so maybe that’s why. Of course, he’s presumably dated in the 10+ years since then. Like that girl with CP.
"Well, can you tell me how to dress?" I ask. I'm hoping he'll tell me that I need to wear overalls or cowboy boots or something, which will narrow it down.
"Casual," he says.
Casual. That doesn't help. "Should I bring anything?"
"Just yourself. I'll meet you at your apartment."
I can't help but feel a little intrigued. With Patrick, everything was always so meticulously planned. I think he had a touch of OCD or something. He would actually make a written list for me of everything I needed to bring before an outing. It's nice having the control taken out of my hands this way.
As much as I'd like to flirt with him more on the phone, I'm too scared of ruining it. So I just say, "Well, I guess I'll see you Saturday then."
"Sounds good. See you then."
All I can do now is pray that no naked men show up to ruin my date.
Chris is prompt, which I love. Nothing drives me crazy more than people who keep you waiting, so I'm thrilled when at exactly 11AM, I get a call from him on his cell phone, telling me he's downstairs. It's literally 11AM on the dot, which is an accomplishment. He didn't keep me waiting, and he didn't annoy me by showing up too early.
I hurry down to meet him. He's dressed in baggy jeans worn at the knees, sneakers, and a gray T-shirt that shows just a hint of the nice, nice muscles in his upper arms. I love the way he looks good without seeming like he spends a lot of time looking good. Ever since the Metrosexual fad, men seem to feel like they have permission to dwell on their looks. Chris doesn't have any product in his hair, and his clothes look good, but are obviously more comfortable than expensive. He looks good without even trying, which is more than I could say for myself. Before he spots me, I watch him sitting there, doing one of his sneaky weight shifts.
"Samantha!" If there were any doubt in my mind that he was interested in another date with me, that doubt is erased. He looks absolutely thrilled to see me. Like him, I'm wearing jeans, but mine are very tight around the booty region. And my tank top ensures he'll practically get to second base just by looking.
"Hey, there," I say.
"Hey," he says. I'm hoping he'll reach out to at least give me a hug, but he doesn't. "How are you?"
"Curious," I say. "Where are we going?"
He hesitates, but I know he has to tell me sooner rather than later. "Central Park."
My shoulders relax. The park sounds great. It will ensure that I'll get to spend some one on one time with Chris. "Awesome."
"Let's just grab a cab."
"The bus goes straight there from here," I point out.
"Yeah, but..." Chris scratches his head for a minute. "Well, okay. I guess we can take the bus."
So I may as well be straight with you. I didn't suggest the bus because of the convenience. The bus is NOT convenient. It's slow and annoying. But for practically my whole life, I've gotten a little buzz from looking at the handicapped seats on the bus. You know, the ones that say, "Please give up this seat for an elderly or disabled person." Every time the bus stops and I see the driver lowering the lift in the back, my heart jumps in my chest and for a second, I imagine some crazy romantic encounter. But it never is. It's usually an old person on a scooter. Or a woman. Or I don't even know, but trust me, it's never, ever a cute young disabled guy. So the thought of Chris being that guy is making me strangely hot and bothered.
Don't ask me to explain being a devotee. I don't get it any more than you do.
When the bus arrives, Chris gives me this apologetic look. "Sorry," he says, "this is going to be kind of a pain in the ass."
The lift in the back door lowers and the driver and the whole bus waits as Chris wheels himself onto the platform and gets raised into the bus. The driver kicks three people out of their seats and then lifts the seats so that Chris can back his chair into the spot. He's still apologizing to everyone by the time I get on the bus. "Sorry," he says to me one more time. "I told you it's a pain in the ass."
"No problem," I say, not letting on that I'm so turned on, my knees feel like rubber. Which is inconvenient because there are zero empty seats on this bus. I'm standing over Chris, hanging onto the metal pole.
"I feel like such an asshole sitting here while you're standing," he says, shaking his head.
I wink at him. "Well, I could sit on your lap..."
I wasn't serious. Okay, I was a little serious. I have to say that in all the many years I've been riding buses, I've never once seen a wheelchair passenger riding with someone in their lap. I can imagine everyone on the bus watching us, and that too gives me a little thrill.
Except Chris just gives me this horrified look and shakes his head, pretty much killing that fantasy.
It turns out there’s some kind of carnival going on at the park. It’s so sunny, I have to reach into my purse to grab my sunglasses, and Chris is squinting through his own glasses. When I take a deep breath, I can smell fried food, burgers, and sunscreen. Which reminds me, I should have worn sunscreen. My poor white shoulders are going to get toasted to a crisp.
“Do you need sunscreen?” Chris asked, reading my mind.
“Yes,” I say gratefully and he pulls a tube of sunscreen out of the backpack on the back of his wheelchair. “Waterbabies?”
He shrugs and blushes. “What? It was on sale.”
I squeeze a blob of white cream onto my hand and start smearing it onto my bare arms. I know I should do my face, but I’m scared I won’t smear it properly and end up missing some big white blog right on my nose or something. Once I have a nice white layer of cream on my arms, I hand the lotion back to him. “Can you do my back?”
He nods and we head over to a bench so I can sit down. I turn my back to him and I’m practically shaking with anticipation. So much so that I jump slightly when his fingers touch the bare skin of my back. “Sorry,” he says and pulls away.
“No, it’s okay,” I say. “Go ahead.”
I feel the rough skin of his palms kneading the lotion onto the soft skin of my back. He starts at the small of my back and works his way up to my neck and then my shoulders. He lingers on my shoulders, massaging me much longer than what is required to appropriately protect me from the sun. It feels so good that it takes all my self-restraint not to moan aloud.
Sunscreen. The oldest trick in the book.
I’m not sure how long this would have gone on for, except this kid of about eight years old stops in front of us and just starts staring at us. He’s licking a soft serve ice cream cone and just stares at us like he’s watching a movie. I didn’t think the stares would bother me that much, but this kind of bothers me. And I can tell it bothers Chris too, because he yanks his hands away. “Okay,” he says. “You’re good to go.”
We have a pretty great time at the carnival, which surprises me because I’m not eight years old. We get hot dogs and colas, and share a cotton candy. I haven’t had cotton candy since I was a kid, but I was mesmerized by the swirling cotton machine. “Get it,” Chris urges me. “Just get the blue color so I can share it with you without looking like a girl.”
We sit down with our cotton candy, and I take a tentative taste. It really does sort of taste like cotton, except sickeningly sweet. “Well?” Chris says.
“I don’t know if I like this,” I admit.
“Of course you don’t,” he says. “You’re not five years old.”
I laugh. “So why did you encourage me to get it?”
He shrugs and smiles. “Well, you looked like you really wanted it.”
I take another hunk of cotton out of the bag and Chris grabs a piece at the same time. Our fingers brush against each other, and I get that tingle again. Either this is love or else my date is charged with electricity. “This carnival was a great idea,” I say.
“I thought you’d like it,” he says.
“What was your plan for if it rained?”
“Science museum,” he says, then blushes when he sees the look on my face. “I don’t know, I heard they had this new dinosaur exhibit that sounded… really cool. Bad idea, sorry. Good thing it didn’t rain.”
“Not a bad idea,” I insist. “I like dinosaurs. Or… I used to, when I was a kid.”
“I used to be a little obsessed,” he says. “I had model dinosaurs of practically every kind of dinosaur. You remember that obnoxious little boy in Jurassic Park who knew all the dinosaurs? That was me.”
“My favorite was the triceratops,” I say. “There was something about those three horns…”
Chris laughs. “Okay, so maybe next time we’ll do the science museum.”
Next time. I’m so happy he’s assuming there’s going to be a next time.
“I mean,” he quickly adds, “if you want to do something with me again.”
“I do,” I say.
“Good,” he says.
We just look at each other, continuing to eat this disgusting cotton candy. I’m mostly just eating because of the zing I get when our hands touch. It’s clearly not accidental on either of our parts, but I have a feeling that it’s not going to lead to anything further. Mostly because Chris hasn’t freaking touched me all afternoon.
Not for lack of trying on my part. I did pretty much all I could to initiate physical contact. When we were eating hot dogs, he got a little dot of ketchup on the side of his mouth, and I made an attempt to wipe it off with my finger, and he quickly jerked away and wiped it himself with a napkin. Whenever I put my hand on his shoulder or tried to touch his arm, he jerked out of my reach. It was really frustrating, to say the least.
When we’re at the carnival for about two hours, Chris tries his luck at one of the games. It’s one of those games where you have to throw a ball through this tiny little hole, and if you get it in, you win a prize. I always thought those games were rigged, so I’m completely amazed when Chris whips the ball right into the hole on his first try. The carnie looks pretty amazed too as he grudgingly hands me a giant stuffed panda bear that probably still costs less than the three dollars he paid to play.
“Couldn’t you have won me a smaller prize?” I tease him as I fumble to keep my hold on the bear. “How did you do that anyway?”
Chris just shrugs and smiles.
We find a table for me to set the panda down, and get a load off my own feet. One great thing about dating Chris is that I have an excuse to wear my flats. When I was dating Patrick, I used to wear three inch heels in order to make my legs look longer and not strain my neck while looking at him. But I’d rather be shorter if I’m with a guy who’s sitting down.
Chris’s cheeks are a little flushed from the heat and the sun. I gently touch my own cheeks and realize I made a huge mistake by not putting on sunscreen. “Omigod, my face got totally sunburned!” I whine. “I probably look like a tomato!”
“You’re a little pink,” he admits. “But you look adorable. Not like a tomato at all.”
He’s so sweet and earnest when he says it. I can’t help myself—I lean forward and press my lips against his.
He pulls away immediately, grabbing the wheels of his chair and rolling back several inches. His cheeks turn even redder. “I’m sorry, I just don’t do the whole PDA thing,” he says.
What the fuck? I don’t even know what to say to that. Does that mean he’s never going to touch me when we’re in public?? Since he’s barely willing to touch me in my apartment, when exactly am I going to get touched?
I’m sure he can tell I’m pissed off. He wheels back closer to the table with a pained expression on his face. “Okay,” he finally says. Then he leans forward and kisses me. And honestly, I wasn’t about to forgive him so fast, but he seems so tense, I feel a little bit sorry for him.
He pulls away a little too quickly, and just in enough time for me to see Patrick and his blond girlfriend approaching our picnic table. I can’t remember her name, but it’s the same girl from last time. That means that Patrick is already in a serious relationship. And I’m on a date with a guy who has to be coerced into kissing me.
“Sam!” Patrick says, waving vigorously. Unfortunately, he looks fantastic. He has a great tan, and I can see the muscles practically exploding out of his shirt. Chris has very nice muscles in his chest, but they still don’t compare with Patrick’s. “How are you doing?”
I want to hide under the bench, but it’s too late. I plaster a smile on my face. “Hi, Patrick,” I say.
Chris’s head jerks around at the mention of Patrick’s name. Presumably he remembers that Tom said my ex’s name was Patrick. I see his jaw drop open slightly at the sight of Patrick.
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” he says, slinging his arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders. I can’t for the life of me remember her name, but she’s just as beautiful as I remember. “I think half the city is here.” He turns to Chris and smiles. “It’s Rob, right?”
Oh no. Patrick does not think this guy is the loser I was dating last time we bumped into each other. How could he think that? Rob and Chris look entirely different! Except apparently to him they don’t. Maybe to every other person in the world, two guys in wheelchairs are interchangeable.
“No, it’s Chris, actually,” Chris says, a perturbed look on his face.
Honestly, I don’t know how this could get any worse. I feel like everything’s about to unravel right in front of me. Chris is going to find out I’m a dev and he’s going to freak out and dump me. But by some miracle, Patrick says, “Oh, sorry. Sam told me her boyfriend’s name, and I guess I remembered it wrong.”
Thank you, Patrick.
“Anyway, it’s nice finally meeting you, Chris,” Patrick says. “We’ll leave you two alone.”
That could have been way worse, but Chris still looks a little upset when Patrick and his girlfriend leave. He’s staring at my giant panda, a somewhat dazed expression on his face. “That’s your ex-boyfriend?” he finally asks.
“Uh, yeah,” I confirm. “Why?”
“It’s just a little hard to understand,” he says, “how you could date someone like him and then someone like me.”
“Why? I can’t date two guys who are a little different?”
“It’s a pretty big fucking difference,” Chris says. It’s the first time I’ve heard him swear. He runs his hand through his hair and takes a shaky breath. “Sorry, Samantha. I was just surprised, that’s all. Most people do have a type though.”
“So am I like Jenna?” I couldn’t help but ask that one. As much as I’m trying to keep my curiosity under control, I’m dying to know more about her.
“No, not at all.” He sounds very emphatic and I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not.
“I rest my case,” I say. “People can date two people who are totally different.”
“But that’s different,” Chris says.
He bites his lip. “Jenna was…”
I sit there, waiting for him to finish that sentence, but he doesn’t. I desperately want him to tell me what Jenna was that I am not, but after the longest pause in the history of the planet, he simply leaves me hanging. “Never mind,” he says. “You’re right. I’m an idiot.”
I grin at him. “That’s what I love to hear.”
“I aim to please.” He grins back. “So, um… you told him I’m your boyfriend?”
I almost didn’t notice that, what with freaking out about the Chris/Rob mix-up. I look at Chris’s face and he doesn’t seem upset about it, but I figure I have to do some damage control. I don’t want him to think I’m forcing him into a relationship. “Well,” I say, fiddling with the near empty bag of cotton candy, “I told him we were dating. I think he made the jump to boyfriend on his own.”
“Oh,” he says, looking down at his hands. Was that the wrong thing to say? Maybe he wants to be my boyfriend.
I glance down at my watch. Shit, it’s getting late. Time flies when you’re with a really hot guy who’s also very easy to talk to. “It’s later than I thought,” I comment.
“Oh…” Chris looks at his own watch. “Right. Can I… get you a cab ride home?”
What I really want is to invite him home with me, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m being a little too forward. Chris obviously wants to take things slow. Or maybe he’s just not that into me. I have no idea, but I sense that inviting him to my apartment is the wrong thing to do. If he wanted to come home with me, he’d ask, right? Clearly he has other things he wants to do tonight.
“Sounds good,” I say, trying to pretend like I’m not crushed.
Chris gets me and my giant panda a cab ride home and pays for it in advance the same way he did last time. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but it’s obvious at this point that he doesn’t like me all that much.
I don’t have any desire to go out tonight so I spend my evening with The Princess Bride and Rocky Road ice cream. I love The Princess Bride. I first saw it when I was a kid and I totally fell in love with Cary Elwes. No matter how old I get, no matter how able-bodied he is, I will always find him sexy in that movie. I owned the video when I was a kid, and then it was one of the first DVDs I ever bought. I’ve seen it so many times, I’ve memorized all the lines. Watching that movie is kind of like hanging out with an old friend that I know really well.
“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya,” Mandy Patinkin says on the screen. I mouth the words along with him. “You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
I take a bite of ice cream. I so love this movie. And Cary Elwes. Are any movies where Cary Elwes plays a guy in a wheelchair? Must Google that.
My cell phone rings and I pause the movie when I see Chris’s number come up. Why is he calling? Did he lose something at the carnival? Is he having food poisoning and he’s calling to find out if I’m having diarrhea too? That sounds like typical Chris. I pick up the phone. “Hello?”
“Samantha?” He sounds a little breathless.
“It’s Chris,” he says. Well, duh.
“Yes, what is it?” I know my voice sounds snippy, but I can’t help it.
“I just…” I can hear him taking a deep breath. “The thing is, I feel weird about the way we said goodbye today. I mean, I really wanted to ask if I could come over, but I got nervous and chickened out. I thought if you wanted me to come over, you would have asked, so I figured… you didn’t.”
“Oh,” is all I can think to say.
“But then I went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” he says as I melt a little. “I even called a friend to ask what I should have done, and he told me I was a complete idiot for not at least asking you to dinner. So I’ve been beating myself up all night and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep until I called you and told you all this.” He pauses. “Although as I’m saying all this, I realize you’re probably going to think I’m a big weirdo.”
“I don’t,” I say. I clear my throat. “I was actually… kind of disappointed you didn’t ask to come over.” Kind of. Like the earth is “kind of” round.
“Really?” He sounds relieved.
“Yeah, I really am,” I say.
“So I messed up, huh?” he says.
“Nothing that isn’t fixable…” I grip the phone a little tighter. “Do you want to come by… now?”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” he says. “Because I’m right downstairs.”
“Well, for Christ’s sake, get up here!”
I barely have time to shut off my movie and shove my ice cream back in the freezer before Chris appears at my door. His hair is adorably tousled and his glasses are just the slightest bit off-kilter on his nose. He’s got his hands on the wheels of his chair, waiting for my permission to come in. “Hey,” he says. “I’m here.”
“No kidding,” I say. I grab him by the elbow and practically pull him into my apartment.
I don’t even give him a chance to respond before I do what I’ve dreamed of for practically my whole life: I sit on his lap in the wheelchair and I start kissing him. In a sense, it isn’t that different from sitting on any guy’s lap, but every time I remind myself that we’re in the wheelchair, I get that much wetter. This is so unbelievably hot.
As we kiss, I slip my hand under Chris’s shirt and feel the warm flesh of his abdomen. His belly, as opposed to his upper chest, is soft and flaccid. His injury must have been above the innervation of his abdominal muscles. Don’t judge me, but somehow I find his gut just as sexy, or maybe even sexier, than the muscles up above. I already mentioned my bizarre fascination with guts. Even on an able-bodied guy, I find a gut sexy. But on Chris, knowing it’s part of his disability, know that all the abdominal crunches in the world won’t do a thing, that makes it so hot I think I might pass out.
I don’t know why I find guts so sexy. I know it’s weird, okay? I know that touching a bunch of flabby, loose flesh should not be something that turns me on so intensely. But it does. And I guess I’m getting carried away with Chris, because he actually grabs my hand by the wrist and moves it north, away from his belly.
On his part, he’s being very gentle when it comes to me. He runs his hands lightly over the skin of my back, making goosebumps stand up all over my body. His fingers linger on the clasp of my bra and I wonder for a second if he’s going to pop it open, but then he moves away.
I realize I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands, so I whisper in his ear, “Do you want to go to the bedroom?”
Chris looks completely shocked. “Really?”
“Don’t you want to?”
For a second, I’m scared he might say no. “Of course I do,” he says. “But…” He looks like he wants to say something, but he doesn’t.
I wonder if he’s worried about having sex. He mentioned that he has some sensation but no movement. I have no idea what that means in terms of his sexual functioning, but naturally, I’m aware that he may very well be impaired in that area. Of course, he doesn’t know what I know, so he’s probably nervous about it. Part of me wants to tell him I get it, just to reassure him.
Chris wheels to the bedroom with me on his lap. He’s so incredibly strong that it doesn’t seem to be hardly any extra effort for him to be wheeling both of us. He really does have some incredible muscles in his arms. I can’t keep myself from running my fingers over his biceps. It’s like a rock.
Once we’re in the bedroom, I climb into my bed and he quickly hops into bed next to me. He practically pounces on me, kissing my neck and my chest. I undo the clasp on my bra, and I have to admit, this is an area where I do feel a little bit self-conscious. I can wear a good bra that can make me look like a B-cup or even a C-cup, but when the bra is off, there’s no hiding my A-cups. One boyfriend complained to me, “They’re not even a handful!” Gee, thanks. That’s just what you want to hear when you’re getting hot and heavy.
But Chris doesn’t seem at all disappointed with my cup size. He spends forever on my breasts, holding the tip of my nipple in his mouth until I grab fistfuls of his hair and practically scream. Even though I don’t think we’ll go that far tonight, I can tell he’s going to be amazing at oral sex. He may act nervous, but the guy knows his way around the female body.
“Now it’s my turn,” I say to him after he’s been spoiling me for way too long. He smiles and allows me to push him down against the bed. I start to kiss his face and neck, then I lift his shirt to get at his chest. I love Chris’s bare chest. I love the tight muscles on his upper chest and then the softness of his belly. I kiss him all over, but I recognize he probably won’t appreciate it much if I go too low, so I mostly focus on his nipples.
It works really well. Chris starts moaning softly as he squeezes his eyes shut. If he were any other guy, I’d probably have dipped below the belt by now, but I know that likely won’t do much for him so I continue to focus on his nipples. All the stuff I usually do with a guy’s dick, I do on his nipples… at least, a variation of that. And he loves it. Loves. It.
The only problem is that I’m not entirely sure when to stop. With most guys, it’s obvious, right? But I’m pretty sure his nipples aren’t going to squirt out any kind of thick, white discharge, so I’m flying blind here. But I don’t mind in the slightest because I’m really enjoying making him squirm like this.
Eventually, his breathing levels out, and I move my lips back to his and we kiss for a few more minutes before collapsing into each other’s arms. “Shit, Samantha,” he says.
I smile up at him. “What does that mean?”
“That means you’re freaking amazing,” he says, and kisses me on the lips.
The high school student in me wants to turn to Chris and ask him if he’s my boyfriend now. But I don’t have to ask. I already know.
To be continued....