"So how'd your parents tell ya?" Star asked, trailing her fingertips up and down Jeff's narrow chest as she lay beside him in bed.
"They didn't make a big production out of it. They just sat at my bedside and told me how it was going to be."
"Still, that's gotta be rough. For alla yous," Star murmured.
"Eh," Jeff made a dismissive sound, then waited for the ventilator to fill his lungs with sufficient breath for his next sentence. After an hour, Star was starting to get used to the way it interrupted the flow of their conversation. "You have a lot of leeway with an eight year old. It's not the same sense of loss as it is for an adult. They talked to a child psychologist about it once the doctors finally confirmed my injury was irreversible. The shrink said to just be straightforward."
"So what'd they say? I mean, exactly."
"Why are you so curious?"
Star flashed him a smile. "'Cause I find ya fascinatin'."
"Well, I don't know if I even remember exactly what they said. But it was something along the lines of, 'Jeffy, you got hurt really bad when the truck crashed into us. You won't be able to move your body anymore or breathe on your own.' They told me what my injury was--C1 complete, by the way, when you're gossiping to all your colleagues about this later--and that was that."
"I wasn't gonna tell nobody," Star pouted.
"Right," Jeff smirked. "Anyway, my wheelchair just became a part of who I was. It didn't, like, ruin my life or anything for the first few years."
"But then it started botherin' ya?"
"Yeah. I think the first time I felt really self-conscious about it was when I was twelve. I was starting sixth grade and all the guys were starting to look at Victoria's Secret catalogs and shit. They all talked about masturbating. I'm sure they realized I couldn't masturbate, and maybe they suspected I couldn't have an orgasm, but I didn't want them knowing I couldn't even feel my dick. And it's not like I had a major social life in high school, but even what I did have would've been torpedoed if anyone had ever found out I had to wear diapers. Stuff like that. It wasn't exactly awesome growing up totally paralyzed."
"Goll-eeee," Star whispered, crossing herself absentmindedly. Unable to turn his head, Jeff gave her a funny look out of the corner of his eye. "You're Catholic?"
"Yeah, ain't you?" Star asked.
"No," Jeff said, wheezing a laugh.
"What's funny?" she asked, smacking her gum and sitting up to narrow her eyes at him.
"I just didn't know there were Catholic prostitutes."
Star blew a bubble with her gum and let it pop loudly. "Yeah well, I'm one-of-a-kind, don't ya know." As she said it, she straddled his naked body with her own. She looked at his sunken chest, his painfully thin arms and bony shoulders. The spot where his ventilator pushed breaths into his neck made her a little squeamish. But then she allowed her gaze to rise to his cleft chin with a day's worth of reddish-brown stubble covering it, up his strong, straight nose, to his thick hair the same color as his beard. "You ain't a bad-lookin' dude," she finally pronounced. God knew she'd been with worse. "From the neck up anyway. Kinda cute in a dorky sorta way."
"Gee, thanks," Jeff replied, sarcasm playing at the edges of his voice.
"Hey, sorry, I didn't mean nothin' by that," Star apologized. "It was 'sposed to be a compliment. You look like one a them smart guys my mother's always wishin' I would date instead of the losers with the motorcycles."
Jeff smiled crookedly. "In that case, I accept your apology and your compliment."
"Well," Star said in a suddenly seductive voice, "I'm gonna have a real crisis of conscience acceptin' your money at the end of this date if we don't do more than talk about your childhood."
"I don't know if I could live with myself if I gave you a crisis of conscience," Jeff said in his low, gravelly voice, desire beginning to smolder in his chocolate brown eyes. "Did my pill kick in yet? Am I hard?"
Star didn't break eye contact with him as she reached around behind herself and felt for him. For a second her hand brushed the other tube coming out of his body, the one a couple inches above his dick. She guessed he pissed out of that one. Then she found his penis. She cocked an eyebrow at him. "You're hard."
"Tell me how hard I am," he whispered.
"Hard as a rock," she lied, watching his eyes widen with pleasure.
"I want to be inside you."
"Your wish is my command," Star smiled. She grabbed the condom off the nightstand and Jeff watched as she put it on. Then she straddled him again, lifting herself briefly and then settling back down with him penetrating her. He closed his eyes and let out a low moan. Star tilted her head. "I thought you said you couldn't feel nothin'."
Jeff opened his eyes. "I can't. But let's pretend, okay?"
"No problem, sugar," Star shrugged. She slowly began to swivel her hips. "Does this feel good, baby?"
Jeff smiled wide. "It feels so good. It feels really sexy."
"Yeah, sexy," Star agreed, running her fingernails lightly up the flaccid muscles of his abdomen and chest. He groaned again as Star sped up the pace. She watched his eyes dart from her breasts to her face to her slender thighs to the place where their bodies joined. Impulsively, she reached out and grabbed his hands, locked in stiff beige braces, and placed them on either of her breasts. Jeff's eyes bulged.
"That is so hot."
"Yeah. Your boobs. They're so...soft?" Jeff hesitated slightly. Star nodded, encouraging him. "And warm," he added.
Suddenly Star stopped her rocking motion and looked down. Jeff frowned. "What? Did I say something wrong?"
"What." Jeff's voice was hard.
"I think you had an accident."
"Fuck," Jeff cursed. Star watched as tears filled his eyes. "Just--I need--you can get Sean. He can--he'll help me--ah, fuck." He squeezed his eyes shut against the tears.
Star reached out and touched his cheek. "Hey," she whispered. When he didn't open his eyes, she said it louder. "Hey." He looked at her. "I seen worse."
"I don't believe you."
"I don't lie. 'Member I'm a good Catholic girl?" She smiled. Jeff just clenched his jaw and closed his eyes once more. He heard her rise from the bed and go into the bathroom. A few moments later she came back into the room. When Jeff reopened his eyes, she was in the middle of cleaning him up.
"Don't," he said. "Don't do that. You don't have to do that. Sean can help me."
"Baby, no thirty year old guy wants his kid brother wiping his ass the night he loses his virginity," she replied matter-of-factly.
Jeff stared at her in disbelief. "This isn't part of your job."
Star shrugged. "My job is to make you happy for the--" She searched the room for a clock, finding one finally on the wall behind her, directly across from the bed. She began again: "My job is to make you happy for the next twenty minutes."
Jeff was quiet while Star used the wet wipes she'd found in the bathroom to clean him. She lifted his now-flaccid penis up and wiped around the base. Then she carefully rolled him onto his side to get the rest of the mess. Finally, she jimmied the sheet off the bed in steps, moving him back and forth. She wasn't an expert, but she found a way. When she was done, she took the soiled sheets back into the bathroom and dumped them in the tub. She washed her hands and pulled on her clothes, which she'd ditched there two hours earlier. Re-entering the room, she walked back to him, drew the comforter up over his still-naked body, and kissed his forehead.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
"How about you just tip me extra nice and promise to hire me again soon and we call it even?"
Jeff smiled. "I think I can agree to those terms."