Recap of Chapter 12
Cassie and Matt are both miserable to be apart and Matt’s medical issue gets worse. Fortunately Abby comes to the rescue. They finally make peace after Cassie opens up confessing more about her special attraction to him.
For the next few weeks we couldn’t be happier. I guess we needed this development and honesty to each other to move on to a deeper relationship. Intimately speaking, if we are not sex addict we are more than contented. I masterized my cunilingual technique and it is easy to give Cassie what she likes. She also knows what parts of my body are the most sensitive to arouse me. I learned the good way to have orgasms without an erection and Cassie never asks for one. So what’s the point if I can’t feel it and if my girlfriend doesn’t complain? I know I am able to have them but only with a chemical stimulation, and I am afraid to renew the experiment. I tried once in rehab under close surveillance, but my body didn’t react well. Oh, I had a hard on for sure. It lasted more than four hours with very unpleasant side effects including a severe headache, over sweating, palpitations, and at that time it was just a test response. I had no interaction with a partner and I found this four-hour erection quite extreme. So you can understand I am not too thrilled about the idea of seeing my penis enlarged. I am more turned on by nibbling Cassie’s breasts and her, fondling my sensitive skin areas. Penetration is not a vital act in our love making and we both learnt to be very creative without it.
One night we are in bed, both unable to fall asleep after a cuddling session. Cassie is literally crushing my chest with her body while she is playing on my cheek’ scar with her fingers. Eventually I can lie on my back again. Thanks to Abby and Cassie’s care my pressure sore is almost healed, but I try to do as many up and down shiftings as I can in my wheelchair during the day. I take advantage of my rehab teaching classes to also do a lot of crutching at the center. Being alternatively on my sides wasn’t the most convenient position to be physically close, so I guess Cassie is catching up right now, which is totally fine with me. My biggest regret though is not being able to be on top from time to time. It is frustrating to lay in a submissive position, but as long as Cassie doesn’t see it that way, my honor is safe.
“Matt? What would you say if we go to my parents for Christmas, since we are not going to yours? They already asked me several times, but I didn’t give them any answer yet. I wanted to check with you first.”
She doesn’t speak about her folks a lot and as an only child I find it odd, but I never pushed her on the topic. I move her gently away from my compressed chest and raise my eyebrows, “Do you really want me to come with you? Do they know about me?”
“I won’t go without you and of course they know. How could I not talk about you? You are not a secret. You’ve been the most important person in my life for a few months now.”
“I don’t know Cass. You never mention them, as if they don’t exist, as though you are not close. Are they aware of my handicap? Is it alright for their daughter to live with someone in a wheelchair?”
“Yes, I told them and they want to meet you. We are close but…it’s complicated. They are too smothering. They always have been, and it was hard for them when I left for Chicago. They had me at their doorstep all my life, and they were very upset when I told them I was moving to another state. We didn’t talk for a while and recently my mom called crying to ask for some news. When I went to visit them for Thanksgiving we had a big fight again. They wanted me to come back home. I am twenty-five and I don’t want to go back and live with my parents. I tried to make them understand I need some air and I like the change, but they lectured me all day as if I was a ten-year-old child. ‘I won’t have a rent to pay, I could have my previous job back, and I am a southern girl not used to the cold which will make me sick all the time’. I didn’t mention to them that I was mainly scared to bump into my ex, and I left the next day of my arrival without even eat their turkey.”
“So, what you’re saying is that you spent Thanksgiving alone here in Chicago?”
“Yes, but I didn’t mind. I had to be on my own to clear my head, and I feel safer in this building.
“Cassie, you should have called me.”
“What for? You would have taken me with you to your parents? For a good deed?”
“No, because you are my girlfriend and it’s not right to spend a holiday alone.”
“But we weren’t officially together at that time.”
“So what? You’ve met my parents. Do you really think they would mind?”
“I hear you Matt. Your folks are awesome and I love them, but will you come with me to Florida… please?”
Her pleading eyes and her naked body pressed against mine are indeed a motivating argument, and I am also curious to meet her family. I grin, “Should I bring my bathing suit?”
I book flights in haste because she told me only three days ahead. My mom and dad already left for Europe, and Abby is spending a week at her best friend’s house. I am relieved because as I told my parents I would never leave her behind. I inform the rehabilitation center I will be absent for at least ten days, the time off Cassie has from work. After our little disagreement like every normal couple, we have been very close those past few weeks, and I feel confident and at ease with her as if we have known each other for ever. She met my parents who obviously approved of my choice and they seem to like each other. She gets along with my sister as well which is a very important fact for me. I don’t withhold anything from her and I never will, but I have something I didn’t share with her. Tonight, the Black Hawks are playing against the Maple Leaves of Toronto before the two-day Christmas break, and I planned on taking her to her first game before we leave to the Sunshine State. I will miss a few games but being with Cassie is the most important thing in my life, just before hockey from now on. I am eager and impatient to see her reaction in a couple of hours. I don’t know why I had a problem with that; maybe because my hockey career is associated with Melissa and a healthy body? I didn’t know Cassie in this prior life and it feels strange to take her with me in the bleachers, as any regular spectator now. She won’t ever see me play on the ice and that’s a big bummer for me. I want so much to convey my passion to Cassie that I fear to be disappointed if she doesn’t share the feeling. She already heard me speak about it a lot on the phone with my friends or my father. She also watched a few games on TV and seemed to be interested; asking me lots of relevant questions, but a live game is so much more captivating. I believe she could like it and I have to overcome this anxious apprehension.
Hockey is not as popular as football, baseball or basketball, but those who know the sport have heard of my name more than once. I have been ranked the best player of the league for four consecutive years, and was about to break a record when the accident occurred. However, I never played for fame or self esteem. I was on the rink for the excitement of the game, the speed on the ice, skating with my teammates and scoring goals. Oh, man I loved it! The atmosphere in the stadium, its electricity and the smell of the ice were boosting elements, since I was old enough to wear skates. Yes, ice has a special and captivating scent. I miss every bit of it.
It is really a surprise for Cassie and she is enthusiastic when we enter the Arena. I have a reserved handicapped spot just behind the bench of my team. I already came to a few games on my own and then with my dad since the accident. It took me a while but I couldn’t stay away from all this. It is a first with Cassie by my side though, and I feel a bit strange. The players are still in the locker-room but a few NHL executives, coaches, managers and sportscasters come to shake my hand and hug me. They look at Cassie with such a knowing grin or insistent stares, I have to introduce her. I am certain her name will be mentioned in the tomorrow’ sport reviews and I am not sure how she will react to that. Underneath her confident attitude hides a shy and humble personality.
The atmosphere is already heated with an excited and noisy audience. The jingles and the voices of the commentators are buzzing in the speakers while they welcome the two teams on the rink for the national anthem. Everybody rises and not being able to pay a tribute to my country standing up upsets me a great deal. I sit upright in my wheelchair and Cassie holds my hand. When the cantor leaves the rink to thunderous applause, half of the players return to their bench. When they spot me just behind, some of them give me the thumbs up and others a knuckle bump through the Plexiglas panel. Cassie and I are wearing my own number 10 Jerseys, and it feels really weird to wear it like any other onlooker. I notice a few other 10s on the back of nostalgic or faithful fans, and it warms my heart to discover I didn’t fell into oblivion yet. As soon as the game starts I become as fidgety as I can be. I move and shift in my chair like a hyperactive child, being my way to react to the course of the game with the excitement and the stress. My legs protest vehemently wondering what the fuss is all about. They didn’t like my daily range of motion for a start, but it’s not like they had a choice. This time they are trying hard to send me a new warning, but I have other concerns than dealing with spasms right now. Anyway, no one will notice being too focused on the rink.
Cassie is caught up in the action too, and I try to answer her questions and give her brief explanations, between my shouting, cheering, ranting and cursing. During my thirteen months of absence, some former players have been replaced by new ones, but my closest friends are still members of the team, and I can see them turn their heads to me every occasion they have. They seem to look at me for advice, approval, mouthing words and signing at me through the glass as if I was still playing. The coach doesn’t miss any of our constant exchanges. I am a bit embarrassed, kind of like interfering in his job, but I feel so much in the right place, so much in my element. That’s where I belong. The game is tight with an even score of 2-2 three minutes before the end. The suspense is stressful and Cassie is crushing my hand. She is truly enjoying this, much to my biggest pleasure. One minute left... It looks like we are in for a twenty-minute overtime. The opposing team is in our camp ready to score, but the Toronto player misses his shot. The puck bounces off and is taken over by a Black Hawks player. He rushes to the other side of the rink followed by both teams in his wake, the defense men sticking to him like glue. Ten seconds left... He is fast but not in a good position to shoot. He passes the puck to a teammate who is centered. The striker aims at the goal and scores. 3-2! We win. The audience is frenzied, so am I and so is Cassie. She stands up cheering with the crowd, and I hit the glass hard with the palm of my hand to show the team my joy. Before going back to their lockers the players remind me with a sign to meet them at our favorite bar, for our unavoidable tradition after each game. Cassie and I get there first, giving them time to shower and change. It is a huge sports bar with giant TV screens, but one level above the street with stairs, and lots of them. Cassie shots me a baffled glance.
“Usually they haul me up, but there is a chair lift on the back. Go ahead and wait for me inside.”
Everyone knows me in the place. It has been our headquarters for many years. I patiently accept more hugs, handshakes and back patting, although since I’m in a wheelchair I find those signs of affection overwhelming. It is a simple demonstration of friendship and I know they mean well, but this physical contact bothers me now. I have a problem when people lean over me and touch my back or shoulders, unless it is my family or my very close friends.
The place is packed and we have to wait for a table as I can’t sit at the bar. While we wait Cassie stands by my side looking at me with glimmering eyes, “I understand why you like hockey so much. This is such an exciting atmosphere. For now on it is my favorite sport. I had a blast tonight. It’s so fast, so energetic, so captivating and addictive and …”
I laugh, “Whoa! Stop there and breathe.”
Suddenly she has watery eyes, “Matt, I didn’t realize up to what extent this career was important for you and how famous you were. I am so sorry you cannot play anymore. I wish I could have seen you out there.”
“Well, me too Cass, but fate has decided otherwise. Come here.”
I pull her to me for a kiss and gently wipe her tears with the tip of my fingers, “Please Baby; I don’t want you to be sad because of me. I’m not. We won tonight. Let’s celebrate. We are together and we leave on vacation in a couple of days. It should cheer you up. Show me a happy face or you are going to turn me into an embittered cripple.”
She forces a smile and kisses me back, “You are right. I’m sorry for bringing that up, but I couldn’t help myself imagining you skating on the ice. And please Matt, don’t ever call you like that again. You will never be a bitter person, plus you are a sexy para.”
I smirk, “A sexy para, huh? For real?”
“Yes, Mister. The sexiest according to me for sure.”
“Well, I kind of like my new identity, even if I think it’s a devotee’s point of view!”
From Cassie’s pout and embarrassed face I can see she doesn’t appreciate the comment.
“I’m just kidding Cass. It means a lot you can still see me as an attractive man in a wheelchair.”
She takes my hand in hers and smiles shyly. Then she whispers in my ear, “One thing I have to warn you about though; you are mine and only wheeler and as I am a possessive woman I don’t share.”
“That, you made it perfectly clear and I reckon we are on the same page. You are mine and only devotee, and I intend to keep that way as long as I live.”
However playfully and ironic both our tones are, our thoughts are deadly serious and meaningful. My eyes lock in hers. I can decipher love and passion, but most of all the chance to a promising future. The lump suddenly forming in my throat leaves me moved, suddenly speechless. I can see Cassie is having her moment of deep emotion as well, but before it turns into another tearful response, she breaks the awkward silence first, “Where are your friends? I can’t wait to see them without their uniforms.”
She asked me to meet them several times and they were eager to meet her as well, but I guess I was uncomfortable with the idea, afraid of their kinky comments and inappropriate remarks. After all we are men and our outings are rarely deprived of witty banter about womankind. I just hope they will behave like gentlemen tonight. They always were respectful with Melissa, even if I know now they didn’t appreciate her particularly. They never said anything about her but they stood by me when we broke up, approving my decision. She wasn’t really supporting my hockey career, always fearing of potential injuries and not into my post-game reunions with my friends or my constant trips. I was nonetheless depressed being single again to face a long and painful recovery and they stuck by my side to help me recover from this fateful ordeal. If they tried to be cheerful and emotionally helpful, I know it was a big blow for them too. They hopelessly wished for a miracle that needless to say never happened. Last time we met they were dumbstruck. They recently came to see me before practice at the Rehab center and I was on my crutches.
“Hey Matt! You’re back in your wheelchair. You know, since your surprise at our last meetup we got used to see you tall again.”
“You’re not the only one, guys.”
I smile and wink at Cassie who got her enthusiasm back.
“Sorry to disappoint, but there is not a slight chance I could stay up more than a minute among this wild crowd. I am not even sure I can park my wheelchair somewhere without crushing a few feet.”
“Let us handle this and don’t worry. It’s our place, we’ll make room.”
They jump at the first free table available on the back and sign at us vigorously. After I swerve and skirt through the place trying to dodge people, and after a dozen of irritated ‘excuse us’ from Cassie, we finally join them. We have to squeeze because the table sits only four. They already removed a chair so I can slip mine under the table, then Cassie sits on my lap. The rest of them manage to find space. Now I can properly introduce my girlfriend for the first time, “Cass, meet my friends and ex-teammates: Greg… Rob... Jarrod… Jonathan and Henrik. The others have impatient wives and girlfriends waiting for them at home, but we will definitely see them another time.”
They all shake her hand timidly, and I hold back a laugh, but not a lopsided smile. It is so funny to find them somewhat uptight for once. Unluckily it doesn’t last long. Questions start to fill out the air, enlivening our side of the bar. Everyone is talking at the same time.
“Man! We haven’t seen you for a while. We were afraid you were sick. You’ve turned down all our invitations.”
“Nah, I just have been busy.”
I wasn’t going to elaborate on my butt issue.
“Yeah, we can see that. You have your hands full!”
I roll my eyes and chuckle because I realize my arms are surrounding Cassie’s waist in a possessive embrace, “Greg, you bugged me for weeks to meet Cassandra and all you do is try embarrassing us now?”
“Sorry Matt. It’s a way of telling you that you made a very good choice and we are happy for you.”
He is literally staring, nodding approvingly at Cassie.
“So what’s your plan for the New Year Captain?”
The simple mention of my previous status makes me frown nervously, but I don’t have the heart to correct him, “We are flying to Miami.”
“Wow! I could use some sun and naps on the beach with a few cocktails….”
“…I will patronize all the clubs in South Beach looking for a nice Cuban girl…”
“…I will chill out on a ship deck to the Bahamas…”
“…And I will swim naked at night in the ocean!”
“Well guys, your plans seem all attractive and we might carry out some of them, but Cassie is introducing me to her parents, so it’s going to be mainly a family gathering.”
“So… it’s official man. Cassandra is the one?”
“Didn’t you figure it out by yourselves?”
“Of course we did! You only have eyes for each other with your hands entwined like they are glued.”
I snort and we keep on chatting and laughing loudly at funny, but also heavy jokes. We have some beers and the conversation inevitably steers toward hockey. Cassie is the only girl among sport buddies and after a while I am afraid she is getting bored or embarrassed by our specific topic. I am also concerned about our male outspokenness and kinky humor, but she doesn’t seem shocked or upset by our somewhat crude chats. She even jokes around and participates in making relevant remarks, asking questions and commenting on tonight’s game. Smart girl! That’s the right tactic to be accepted as a distinguished member of our gang.
“Hey, Matt, how come you never brought her along earlier? She is a great supporter.”
“Yes, she is and I can promise you will see her often from now on.” I squeeze Cassie’s thigh cheekily under the table.
Before we leave I need to pay a visit to the restroom since I had a couple of beers to celebrate our victory. Being an athlete usually keeps you away from booze, especially before a game, but I never was a heavy drinker anyway. Nevertheless, since I am in that chair, I noticed I can’t hold my liquor as good as before. That’s another downside of being paraplegic, yet I know my limits. My body is less resistant and more sensitive to any substance abuse. I mostly have a more down-to-earth concern which is significant in my case. Lots of liquid ingestion could lead to an embarrassing situation I don’t wish to anyone. ‘Leak’ became a word I deeply hate and I try to avoid it in my daily vocabulary as long as I can. I’ve managed pretty well so far, but it is still one of my main ‘para complexes’. In fact I should even call it fear to be more accurate.
Tabernac! To top it all off the handicapped stall is out of order. I try to use a regular stall predicting quite rightly my wheelchair won’t make it through the door; another pet peeve on the wheelers’ list. I roll back to our table and sign at Greg as discreetly as possible. With Ted, he is the one who saw me in the worst situation at the hospital, so I won’t feel too bad to ask him what I have in mind.
“Hey, I’m sorry man but I need a favor.”
When he follows me to the restroom and sees the sign on the largest stall, he understands right away what my problem is. Thoughtfully, he locks the main entrance to give us some privacy.
“How do we do this Matt?”
“I have to sit on the toilet bowl to pull out my stuff.”
“Ok. Let me help you out.”
He swiftly lifts me out of my chair in front of a regular stall and sets me on the throne. Emotionally, I still have a hard time to be carried in someone’s arms and a surge of stress makes me sweat. My wheelchair is out of reach now, so are my medical supplies.
“Can you hand me my backpack?”
He removes it from the back of the wheelchair, passes it to me and shyly turns around. I appreciate the gesture, although I don’t mind him watching. As sport athletes we shower together and are not the reserved type in the locker-room. I remove a catheter from the sterile pouch and can take care of my business. I am glad I do because it takes me a while to empty my full bladder. After Greg helped me back in my chair, I’m a bit out of breath and my legs start shaking badly.
“Are you ok Matt?”
Without looking up I mumble, “Yeah, I am fine. They just don’t agree I had a few toasts with my buddies, that’s all.”
Spasm attacks are always disturbing and scary for the outsiders. Trying to stop the jiggling, I situate my legs straight and rearrange my feet on the footplate.
I eventually look up at my still concerned friend, “Thanks, I appreciate this.”
“Don’t mention it. That’s what friends are for. We’ll do anything for our captain.”
This word again. A wave of emotion engulfs me without warning. I can’t talk. I just squeeze his forearm and wheels toward the exit in slow motion.
It’s time to go. They haul me down the stairs with my wheelchair and we shake hands and knuckle-bump. Cassie is entitled to a special treatment with hugs and kisses but I have to temper my Swedish friend’s enthusiasm.
“Hey! Take it easy Henrik. She is already taken. I am the boyfriend just in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Sorry man. I guess I had too much to drink. Sorry Cassie.”
‘You are forgiven. Good night guys.”
I feel bad for him because I heard he recently broke up with his Swedish girlfriend who couldn’t deal with their long distance relationship anymore. I guess this is one of the reasons he had too much to drink tonight. Seeing us in love and happy together must have twisted the knife.
Once again I let Cassie drive us home, not too confident of my physical and mental state. My legs didn’t stop their harassing agitation since I left the restroom. If I know now it doesn’t bother Cassie, it disturbs me excessively tonight. As much as I am happy she could share the good time with me, I have the unpleasant feeling this upsetting episode of spasms will spoil the mood. I try hard to ignore it biting my lower lip.
“Did you enjoy the evening Cass?”
“The game was awesome Matt. I am so glad you took me. I liked your friends too.”
“Yeah. I think they liked you back. I hope not too much! You made quite an impression over there. You’re part of our gang now. You deserve my admiration and the right and the honor to wear this Jersey.”
No need to say I’ll remove it with pleasure though, as soon as we hit the bedroom!