Friday, February 13, 2015

Twist Of Fate Chapter 7

Recap of Chapter 6
As they become more intimate, Cassie meets Matt’ sister Abby while he meets Cassie’s ex- boyfriend, Jeffrey in a stormy encounter. Matt and Cassie have their first argument which leads to a cuddling session and their first night together.

I wake up in a haze. My watch’s alarm is beeping. It takes me a few seconds to process where I am. The bed is not at the right place, none of my medical supplies are on the nightstand, because it is neither my bed nor my nightstand and the room is pitch black. I am at Cassie’s and it is time to cath. I am doing it once in the middle of the night, but it isn’t very romantic for our first time to remind her my nightly routine. Her head is resting on the hollow of my shoulder and she has an arm across my chest. I don’t want to wake her up, but I can’t wait any longer. I try to be as discreet as I can, but she stirs and opens her sleepy eyes,
“Matt? What’s going on? Are you in pain?”
“No, I just have to go to the bathroom. Go back to sleep, I’ll be right back.”

I transfer to my chair and I see her watch me. It is really dark in her room because of the heavy shades, and I am not used to this. I have no blinds at all in my bedroom for two reasons; One being I like to see the city nightlights and the Marina from my bed, and secondly I want to see exactly where I go, when I need to get up in the middle of the night. The catheter I brought is in my pants’ pocket which are on the floor, almost under the bed. Cassie probably threw them there when she undressed me. Since I am paralyzed I learnt to be tidier and never leave things on the floor, but she couldn’t have guessed. I bend over to pick them up, yet my wheel is stepping on the fabric. I back up a little bit and bump into a chest of drawers which happens to hold some framed family photos. The picture falls noisily first on the dresser, then on the floor and brakes in tiny pieces. “Astie de câlice de tabernac!” As you already know, swear words come to me more naturally in French Canadian, especially when I’m really pissed off. This three words combination is really showing how I feel. Cassie is up in seconds. How about that for discretion!
“I’m sorry Cass. I can be so clumsy with that damn chair sometimes.”
I am so furious at myself. It is the middle of the night, I need my catheter, I woke her up and the carpet is full of broken glass.
“It’s ok Matt, it’s just a frame.”
She picks up my pants, searches my pockets, takes out the small sterile plastic bag and hands it to me. How did she know I took one with me, but first and foremost, how did she know what I was looking for? Did she guess? Anyhow, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal for her. I am staring stupidly at the mess I made on the floor holding my catheter in one hand.
“Go, I’ll clean this up.”
When I am doing my business in the bathroom I hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner. When I come back, it has been cleaned up, and she is back in bed waiting for me. She is incredible and the way she reacts makes me feel whole. At this very precise moment, my feelings for her go off the charts. Well, be honest with yourself Matt; you fell for her the minute you saw her, but you were afraid to admit it.
I am almost naked in my chair with just my boxers on, and her insistent stare follows me on my way to the bed. She doesn’t hide her particular interest for my legs and it makes me nervous again. They are skinny with bony knees and an embarrassment to look at. I transfer quickly and put the sheet over me abruptly. I am still upset by the whole incident and doubts suddenly creep up my mind. I am having a hard time figuring out why she is still interested in me when she witnesses all my issues. 

What can she find appealing about me? About a cripple who needs to program his trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night not to pee on himself, wet the bed like a two-year-old, or like a senile old man? Who can’t back up without braking things? How can she still be attracted to a man unable to make love like one? I haven’t been so depressed in a long time and the fact of not being in my element is making it worse. I feel like an outsider who doesn’t fit in. I want to go home and be left alone in my pared down apartment.
“Matt, what’s going on?”
I don’t answer and turn my head away.
“Matt, please talk to me. I hope it’s not because of this stupid frame thing, because I don’t need to be in a wheelchair to be very clumsy too.”
I look back at her ruefully, “Everything’s wrong with me. I should go back to my handicapped friendly place with my special bathroom, my grab bars, my accessible kitchen and my ‘rugfree’ floor. This whole plan was not a good idea after all. I’m hopeless and you deserve better. Do you really think I can be a decent lover stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life? I’m impotent, my career is ruined and I know nothing else than hockey. I’m supposed to be paralyzed but my two freaking legs are constantly challenging me with their spasms. I can’t lead a normal life, can’t be with a woman I cannot protect.”
I huff in dismay and close my eyes. I feel a hot breath close to my ear.
“Stop talking nonsense, you’re none of that. You’re a very handsome man and a more than decent lover. You’re not impotent in the way you think you are. We’ll test your abilities in the nearest future to prove you wrong. You protected me more than well against my stalker ex and you still can have a career. You seem to do miracles at the Center. You almost have a full time job and you could do something in that field. I saw how you work with people and they love you. You have a teaching gift with a lot of patience. I know you miss hockey, but you are still close with your team. You can support them and watch the games. I like you a lot and since day one, the minute I saw you I was attracted to you. I’m probably going to shock you but I need to say it. I want things to be clear and sincere between us. As you probably guessed by now, your wheelchair is a bonus for me. Don’t be mad at me, I can’t explain why, but I’m drawn to it. I like your legs too and the spasms are not a downside. You don’t have to be ashamed with me. I know you have issues and I know what they are. I don’t want you to hide your daily routine from me. I can handle it. I want to be there for you. I want to numb your pain, ease your spasms, and take care of you when you’re sick, but not as a carer or a nurse, as a girlfriend, a lover. Wouldn’t you do the same for me?”

She sure is a blunt woman but I appreciate her truthfulness. I would lie to say I am not a bit dumbfounded by her declarations though, but as she said I suspected she is unnaturally attracted to my wheelchair and my paralyzed legs, but I’m not mad at her. She made her point and I already had an enlightening conversation with Abby regarding this special attraction. If she still likes me after I showed tonight what the future with a paraplegic can be, I should be happy to have her by my side. 
I am still in deep thinking when I feel her soft hand caress my cheek and hear her anxious voice at the same time, “Matt, are you there? Did you listen to what I told you?”
“Yeah, I heard you. Thank you for your honesty and your support.” Then I hesitate, “Are you really turned on because of my wheelchair, or you like me a little bit, regardless?”
“Oh, silly fool! You know I do, and not just a little bit. It’s true I spotted your wheelchair first but it’s difficult to miss, then I came closer to you in the hallway and I was awestruck. I liked your sleepy eyes, your ruffled hair, your frown and angry look.”
I snort raising my eyebrows, “It doesn’t sound too attractive to me.”
“How about your broad shoulders, your sexy smile and your mesmerizing blue eyes?”
I grin, “That’s better.”
Then, my moment of distress fades away. She returns to the hollow of my shoulder and I pull her close to my chest. That’s how we fall back asleep until late in the morning.

When I wake up she is nowhere to be found. She left a note on her kitchen counter by a plate filled with pancakes, scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes,

Sorry Baby. We overslept and I’m late for work. I didn’t want to wake you up. Hope you’re hungry. Just put the plate in the microwave for one minute. Coffee should still be hot. Last night was amazing. Cass.

Am I really awake or is it my imagination playing tricks on me; Baby? Amazing?
I should be happy but I don’t think it is such a memorable night for her. It is amazing for me though and I am dying for another intimate time to make it up to her. I eat breakfast with mixed feelings afraid this recent turn of events is too good to be true.
                                                                       ****
Today is a big day for me. I’m going to buy a car. No more sports cars, no more speeding, no more show off. I just need a safe and comfortable car to fit in my long legs and my chair easily. Next time I go to my parents I want to surprise them driving on my own and introduce Cassandra officially, even if I bet Abby already got a kick out of mentioning her. For the last time I take a cab which drops me off at the Mercedes dealership. I’m a bit nervous about driving with hand controls for the first time. I ordered a dark blue E450 Mercedes hoping Cassie will like it. For sure she knows nothing about cars, but I want her to enjoy a nice one and be able to drive it herself.
It’s already equipped with the Minox hand controls system, and I test drive it for a couple of blocks accompanied by a rather anxious salesman. It feels really weird to drive without my feet, but I adapt very quickly and I feel my passenger relax. He’s a young guy obviously new in the field and we start a casual conversation about cars. From his enthusiasm I assume he likes the subject and becomes less reserved, “You know I think I have seen you before. Your face looks familiar but I…”
“Yeah, the wheelchair is a bit confusing. I was known without it.”
He looks at me puzzled, “Were you in a car accident, if I may ask?”
“No.” 
My terse answer made him uncomfortable. He apologizes, “I’m sorry for being tactless.”
I feel bad for him and it isn’t a secret of state to tell him the truth.
“I was a hockey player and got injured during a game.”
Now he looks stunned and excited at the same time, “I knew I saw you before. I knew it! You are Matthew Vincent, captain of the Black Hawks.”
“Was, but yes it’s me.” I smile at his sudden eagerness.
“Wow! I can’t believe I sold my first car to you.”
“Well, I’m glad I’m your first client.”
“Can I have an autograph? My first customer is a famous hockey player. My friends are not going to believe that. You’ll be my lucky charm.”
I’ve heard this one before, but I find it funny to be turned into some kind of mascot. The last autograph I signed was for Tim which I did with pleasure. As for the other ones I did it begrudgingly but putting on a good show. I can do it again if it still pleases a fan to have the signature of a fallen hockey star.
“Sure.”
“I’m so sorry for what happened to you. My friends and I were dying to kick this son of a bitch’s ass.”
I assume he is talking about Yuri Wasylov, but I don’t make any comments not wishing to spark another controversy.
“It’s the past. I’m ok now and ready to drive to pick up my girlfriend from work.”
He takes out a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and asks me to write my name on it,
“I am Jewish and it’s a custom to sign a bill for good luck. I’m going to hang it on my office wall. Usually it is when you open your own business, but I guess I can change the rules a little bit.”
He is a nice friendly guy and after chatting a bit more about hockey and cars we shake hands, and I leave behind the steering wheel of my new car to surprise Cassie.
                                                                  ****
I have a hard time finding a place to park, and I’m not too thrilled of being on the opposite side of the parking lot. I spotted a few free handicapped spots by the entrance, but I don’t have the blue sign yet and I’m not sure if I’ll ever apply for one. I change my mind when I have to wheel myself all around the building in the cold to access the main entrance. My hands are freezing because I forgot my gloves in the car, and I noticed I became much more sensitive to the cold since I am wheelchair bound.
It is a medical center on ten floors. At least there is a wide ramp and automatic doors which lead me to the lobby.
“Hi, can you please tell me where the pediatricians’ level is?”
The girl at the reception desk looks at me startled. I know what she is thinking, ‘This guy is too old to be a patient there’, or is she admiring my broad shoulders? Don’t flatter yourself Matt. I opt for the steel frame on wheels I’m sitting in.
“Sixth floor.”
I sense her eyes behind my back when I roll to the elevator; same reaction further up, 
“I’m here for the speech therapist.”
“Which one, we have two?”
“Yes, sorry. Miss Cassandra Miller.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No just tell her my name, Matthew Vincent.”
“Are you a patient?”
“No I’m not.”
I want to ask her, “Do I sound like I have a speech impairment on top of being paralyzed?” But I keep it to myself.
“I’m sorry Sir, but you cannot show up here without a scheduled session. You’ll have to call the office and come back.”
Tabernac! This is getting annoying. At least she could be friendly and not take this superior and bossy tone with me. I’m a laid-back polite guy, but when I have to deal with self-righteousness I can be nasty too.
“I know she is busy but I also know it’s her last appointment of the day. I came to pick her up, and I just want you to let her know I’m here. Can you do that?”
I try to lower my voice at the end of the sentence realizing I am being usually edgy.
“I’ll let her know. Go and have a sit over there.”
“As you can see I’m already seated. It’s on wheels but it is a chair.”
That one makes her lose her composure. She blushes and picks up the phone,
“Cassandra, I have a Mr.…Vincent here…Oh, ok I’ll tell him.”
“She will be with you in five minutes. She has to finish her session first.”
“Thank you very much.” I insist on ‘very’ a little bit wryly.
For the next five minutes I am in for a complete once-over. She is a middle-aged woman in her fifties, ironically not bad looking; rather overweight but I find nothing wrong with that. In fact I even have to reluctantly admit her figure reminds me of my mom’s a little bit, less the severe look and the unfriendly attitude, evidently. I feel sorry for her children if she has any. In return of her inspection I am sadistically glad to unsettle her. I shift position several times lifting my butt off my seat to warm my body up. Then, as my hands are still cold, I rub them on my thighs making an irritating friction sound on my jeans.
“Sorry, but it’s cold outside and I stupidly forgot my gloves.”
She nods silently and looks away.
“Matt! What are you doing here? I’m so glad you came.”
Cassie is almost running to me. She takes my face between her hands and gives me a long and passionate kiss on the lips right in the middle of the waiting room. When I can breathe again from the unexpected but nice welcome, I can tell her,
“I have a surprise for you; actually two if you don’t mind not going home right away.”
She definitely looks surprised but in a positive way, “Of course not, as long as I am with you. Let me grab my things and we can go.”
I forgot all about the unpleasant secretary and Cassie’s last patient, a teenage boy who passes by us saying with a strong stuttering, “Bye…Missss Mi…ller.”
“See you next week Nathan. You did good today and I told you to call me Cassie.”
“Ok…see you …next…we…eek Ca…ssie.”
“Matt, come with me. I’ll show you where I work.”
She stops by the receptionist, “Judith, this is Matthew Vincent, my boyfriend, so next time you will know he’s here for me.”
“I am sorry but I have orders. It is my job to screen and direct people, and he didn’t say he knew you…intimately.”
She looks troubled and sorry at the same time, but she is talking to Cassandra without looking at me, like a lot of people do when I’m with someone, and it pisses me off even more.
“Well Judith, now you know, and I am not so difficult to remember, with my hardware and all.”
I say it to her face with sarcasm and follow Cassie in the hallway with a crooked smile. Since I am in a wheelchair I have to admit I can be mean and hurtful, but only to people who are condescending or belittle me. When we are in Cassie’s office she looks at me puzzled, “What was that over there?”
“Just a personal issue, don’t worry. It’s all settled.”
“Did something happen before I came?”
“Forget about it it’s nothing. I’m just a bit touchy when people talk about me as if I’m not there.”
“She is a good assistant but I know she can be blunt and arrogant. We had a few complaints, so I need to know if she was disrespectful.”
I already put the incident behind me and don’t want to cause the woman any trouble. I am not that mean,
“No I overreacted that’s all. Come here.”
I close the door behind me and pull her on my lap.
“How about I take you out for dinner?”
“Sounds good to me Mr. Vincent, I’m starving.”
“So this is where you spend those long hours helping people, Miss Miller.”
I’m looking around the room. It is spacious and bright, furnished with a comfortable four seater sofa and two armchairs on a thick brown rug, one of the obsessive fears of wheelers I’ll try to avoid. There is a big window facing the city and I automatically notice Cassie put the desk, her back to it, so she can only see the door and the walls covered with book shelves. It is only on the sixth floor but high enough for someone with the fear of heights. Everyone has his own agenda. The shelves are loaded with novels, educational magazines, children’s tales for all ages and medical revues. On one corner there is some kind of small playground with toys and games, even a mini fridge and some cookie jars on it. It is a pleasant room which fits Cassie perfectly.
“I’m glad I came. Now I can picture you on your working site. We’re even!”
She puts her arms around my neck and starts planting little kisses along my cheek, the scarred one, my jaw, and when she reaches my ear I have to stop her. The knot in the pit of my stomach and a light spasm in my left leg tell me it’s not a good time neither a good place for cuddles. My cold hands are now hot, reaching under her sweater for her waist, and my self control is subjected to a tremendous ordeal.
“Please Cassie, if you keep on doing this for an extra second I can no longer be responsible for my actions.”
I hear a giggle in my ear, the one she is still kissing. Even the sound of her laugh is sexy and addictive.
“I missed you so much today.”
“I did too. I was lost alone in your bed this morning, but seriously, let’s go have something to eat or I might eat you up here in your office.”
I regret my too daring proposition but the idea seems to arouse her.
“Promises, promises…”
It is my turn to chuckle. We get out in the cold which reminds me abruptly I’m bare hands, and I can’t even put them in my coat pockets. I push powerfully on my freezing rims heading to the other side of the parking lot.
“Matt, where are you going? My car is right over there.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. Is it safe to leave it here overnight?”
“Yes I have an employee permit on the dashboard, but why?”
“Come with me. I have something to show you. I’ll drop you off at work tomorrow.”

 I am breathing hard. It is mid December, minus 27 degrees, and I am the one who told Cassie to be prepared for winter. What a stupid idiot! Chicago is the city where I spent my entire life. Cass is warmly dressed with a hooded padded jacket, fur-lined gloves and a woolen scarf. We walk around the building and she has to hurry to catch up with me. We finally arrive close to my car and I announce proudly, “Let me introduce you to my new purchase.”
She shows true astonishment and is excited for me, “Wow! That’s great Matt, you can drive now. I am so happy for you. It looks luxurious and I like the color.”
As she is taking her time to assess my new acquisition in details, my nose and my ears are burning from the cold,
“Thanks Cass, but let’s get in fast before we freeze to death.”
As I hurry and get closer to the left side I let out a curse, “Oh, Tabernac! Pas maintenant!” (Oh shit! Not now!)  
The car besides mine is parked too close to the driver side and I don’t have access to my door. Cassie understands right away and says, “Let me run back to the building. It’s a private parking only for doctors and patients. The security will make an announcement to find the driver.”
“Forget it, it’s too cold. You’re not going back there. I'll manage. I can reach the back door with my chair. Further it’s too narrow. You go first to open the driver’s door. When I’m ready you help me stand and I’ll be able to grasp the top of the door, hold on to it and I’ll get in.”
She doesn’t sound reassured by my plan of action, “How about if I sneak in and I back up the car to make space?”
“I thought about it Cassie but the car has hands control. I don’t think it’s safe for you and I don’t have time to teach you now.”
“Ok then, let’s do it.”
I push my wheelchair as far as the narrow passage let me do so without scratching both cars. Next thing on my list is definitely ask for a disabled permit. There is not a chance I put myself in such a predicament again. Cassie opens the door but it can only be half ajar. I push on my arms and slide as close as I can to the edge of my wheelchair without tumbling over. Then I try to reach forward for the top of the door, but I am missing a few inches and I’m not tall enough. “Cassie, do you think you can piggyback me?”
“Sure” She offers her back to me. I brace myself, put my hands on her shoulders and cling to them as hard as I can. She holds tight. I lift my whole body out of the chair. All my weight is now on her back and I am not proud of myself being in this demeaning situation. I quickly glance at my feet on the floor, but of course I don’t feel anything. With one hand I hardly grasp the door and with the other the roof top. With a twist of the waist I turned my back to the driver’s seat and I ungracefully plop down on it with a sigh of relief. I’m now slouched and crookedly seated and it takes me three attempts to readjust my position. We are both panting. I can’t even lift my legs with my freezing hands to get them inside. Cassie does it for me and closes the door. Then she takes my wheelchair apart and stores the pieces on the back seats. While she goes around the car I start it and put the heater at full blast. In a normal situation I would enjoy the sound of the powerful engine, the luxury interior, the smell of the new black leather seats, but I’m cold and exhausted by the unusual exertion. I let my head fall back on the headrest and try to catch my breath. I can’t believe I just did that. Stand up out of my chair clinging to Cassie’s shoulders. She joins me and slams her door. She exhales noisily and a small cloud of vapor comes out of her mouth.  I slowly turn my head to her still embarrassed by the incident. She looks anxiously at me  “Are you ok Matt?”
I nod in silence. I am not going to tell her I’m afraid of not being able to drive. My legs are shaking, I’m dead frozen, my hands sting and my fingers are numb. I see concern in her beautiful eyes. The cold turned them watery and sparkling. She sees me open and close my hands to reactivate the blood circulation. She removes her gloves and takes both my hands into hers to rub them until I can move them normally. That’s another thoughtful and natural gesture which makes me appreciate her more. Then I hear her say,
“Lean your seat backwards and back it up as much as you can.”
I give her a questioning look, but her determined attitude is an order. I do as she says. I’m almost lying flat on my back with my still shaky legs. She leans over almost to the floor to pull on my feet to stop the spasms.
“Oh Cassie, please you don’t have to do that.” I try to straighten her up but she pushes my hand, “Hush, I want to do it.”
From the outside the whole scene could look really disturbing, but there is nothing weird here. Fortunately no one can see us through the windows covered with condensation. When I recover from the cold and the contractions, I pull my dear rescuer in my arms and kiss her temple gently, “Sorry, it wasn’t the plan, and sorry you had to put up with this.”
“Don’t mention it and stop apologizing for nothing. I’m glad to be here to help and I like doing it. Are you feeling better to take me to dinner, or do we stop on the way home for takeout?”
“No way, we have a reservation and we are late. Let’s go.”

9 comments:

  1. Oh, wow, this just gets better and better! Thanks so much for the new installment of your fabulous story.

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  2. Oh, I loved this chapter, it was fantastic! You are a marvelous writer, some very devvy moments there and I very much enjoyed them! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to the next chapter to see how dinner goes!

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    1. Thank you lu5 for being so enthusiastic and highly praise my writing. I hope I will not disappoint you. I am a writer but I also happen to be a devotee, so posting this short story in this great blog allowed me to let go my dev feelings. I enjoyed it as much as you do reading it!

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  3. You are very welcome! I guess it is the teacher in me that feels the need to let you as the writer know that I'm very supportive of your work, especially since, I've mentioned before that I am not a writer. So glad that you are enjoying the writing experience as much as I have enjoyed reading it!

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  4. You have made friday my favorite day. I've read this chapter three times already! I'm in love with Matthew Vincent. Thank you so much for this wonderful story!

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  5. Well, you have made me a happy writer. Three times? Wow ! Hope you didn't find too many mistakes. Sorry you have to wait until next week to meet Matt again. Many thanks for liking the story and for your reviews.

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  6. Could you please not stop writing? I am totally in love. Read it twice and the third on its way ;)

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  7. I guess I have to start thinking about a new story pretty fast then ;)

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