I watch her from the desk as she baths in the evening sun outside, leaning against the balustrade of our balcony with her back towards me. The orange sun leaves golden flecks in her hair that is moving in the wind. A gush of air blows into the living room, ballooning out the white curtain and shielding her from my view. The weather forecast has foretold heavy summer rain towards the end of this day and I have a feeling that the first drops are going to fall soon.
“Still working?” She asks, her fingers trailing along my shoulder blades, from right to left, fading from sharp outlines where I can pinpoint every finger to blurry. I did not notice her coming inside again, heaving turned my attention back to the screen and I am glad I did not flinch as I still sometimes do when someone sneaks up on me, which has grown so easy to do since I find it already difficult to concentrate on one task alone.
“Finishing touches,” I answer. “I have a meeting with marketing tomorrow and still have not made up my mind about the color concept for the ads. What do you say?”
She leans over my shoulder, her hair tickles the right side of my neck and a faint fruity sweet scent that I do not manage to place is carried to me. “I like that one,” she says, pointing to the second example that got sent to me by the designers. “I think it is more… serious. Yeah. More classical. It is real art. It should look like that.”
I lean back, trying to see it with her eyes. I liked the other example more because it will certainly stand out, in a way we are promoting something that is experimental and different. But she is right. It is more than that.
I lift my hand off the mouse and squeeze hers that is lying on my shoulder. “Thanks. That’s a good point.”
Her laughter is bright in my ears. “You’re welcome. Strawberry?”
I nod and she pops one of the tiny wild strawberries that grow on our balcony in my mouth and places the sad rest on the table.
“They are amazing, aren’t they?” She asks as she pads away, probably towards the kitchen to wash her hands. I am pretty sure these are the last ones for this season. Our balcony is tiny compared to the garden I owned before and with the wild strawberries, tomatoes, salad and a few herbs that I grow in pots already at its limit. Living is expensive in the capital, even with her income and the bit that I own combined we just could not afford a garden.
I write down a few notes and switch off the computer. “Cait?”
“Hm?” Cait’s head appears around the corner to the kitchen.
“I’ve got something for you.” I open a drawer on my desk, wrapping my hand around the small box inside.
“What is it?” She grins and steps closer. Her pale cheeks are still rosy from the wind outside and her hair wild. I swallow as I look up at her. She is beautiful in a natural, rough way.
“I…” I push off the desk into standing, give my left leg a few seconds to catch up before I turn around to her. “I wanted you to have this.”
Her eyes grow wide and hastily I add “It’s not what you think… I mean… It’s… I thought you might like to wear it to the opening night, you know?”
She takes the box out of my offering hands with shaking fingers and gasps when she lifts the lid. “Jacob! It’s beautiful…” The one small stone glitters in the strangely low pre-rain light as she lets the necklace glide over her hands.
“I think it would look perfect on you.” I whisper, take a lurching step towards her and put my good hand on her shoulder. My thumb caresses the delicate curve of her collarbone.
She smiles sadly. “Oh Jacob… it’s wonderful… but… I cannot take it.”
She shakes her head. “It’s… it’s got to be very expensive…” she says. “I might lose it or… it’s too much.” She goes to storing the necklace back into the small box.
I gently stop her hand, cupping her fingers with mine. “I cannot give it back. In fact… I thought I had lost it until I found it when I went through my things on moving out.”
She blinks at me.
“It’s been my mothers’.”
Her eyes suddenly grow shiny.
“Please, Cait?” I can see she is thinking of what I told her about my mother's illness and her early death and that my father never really stopped mourning, causing us to drift apart over the years. On my mother's tenth death-day we spoke the last time, and for the first time in all those years since I had moved out. Only months later he died himself, of cancer.
Cait swallows and her fingers open, letting the necklace glide in my hand. “Okay...” she breathes and turns, holding her hair up with her hands, exposing her neck.
I place the necklace over her right shoulder and she takes one end, leading it around the front to meet the one that I hold in the back, and I fit the small clasp into the tiny ring. She turns back around and smiles at me warily. “What do you say?” It is as if she is asking for permission.
I nod because I cannot speak. The small diamond glitters on her fair skin, just below where her collarbones meet, shortly above where her chest dips into her cleavage. I had feared it would remind me painfully of my mother, the reason why I had locked the necklace away until I forgot about it, but that is not the case. It is more of a dim memory that I cannot seem to catch fully and Cait is the one shining above it.
Cait hugs me, burying her face in my shoulder before emerging again. “Thank you,” she mumbles.
“I thought you should be presentable when I show you off at the ballet,” I jest weakly.
She dabs a tear away and winks at me. “That’s all? No gorgeous dress or anything?”
I hug her tighter with my right arm around her back, the left leaning lightly against her upper arm. Sometimes I wish I could hug her properly, but as it seems this is not going to happen. I experience still some minor improvements from time to time, a little bit of feeling coming back, mostly in the form of pins and needles sensations in my fingers or the underside of my underarm, a slightly wider range of motion on some days. Tiny details that make my neurologist and my physiotherapist squeal in delight, but barely catch my attention. It is not as if I will ever get my left side back for real, not as it has been.
I dip my head until our foreheads touch. “You know my personal preferences regarding that…”
She giggles and pinches me in the side, a dim pressure on the left somewhere on the height between my shoulder and my navel. “Nope. Not happening.”
I place kisses along her neck, goosebumps rising where my lips leave. “Mmmh… No, you are right. I think that sight should be reserved for me?”
Her head lifts and she grins at me, her cheeks flushing slightly red. “That’s so ancient. But… I like it.”
“Do you?” I murmur, bury my right hand in her hair, and gently kiss her forehead. “Is it my right, even?”
Her eyes flash. “I would not go that far, Mister!” But her lips twitch into a smile.
My thumb follows the line of her eyebrow and I kiss her nose. “Then I might have to ask…” I pull her closer against me with my right arm tucked around her waist.
She bows her head and I slowly move the knuckles of my curled left hand between us and under her chin to tilt it up again. Her pupils are blown and dark. “Do you want me? Now?”
“Yes…” she breathes and stands on tiptoes to kiss my lips. She fists her hand into my shirt and walks backward to the couch, the one we have bought together and one of the few furniture that we moved with us, and I follow her, stumbling and lurching, clinging to her shoulder while trying not to lose the connection to her sweet lips.
Our first time had been still at my former house, after everything was moved out. That day Cait was at the ranch to say goodbye to Chardonnay one last time. From now on the horse would be cared for by her friend from the stable since Cait will have no time for that in the capital. Cait came over in the late afternoon, she brought take-away food from our favorite Indian restaurant and we sat on the soft carpet on the floor of the completely empty main room, me with my back braced against the wall and precariously balancing the food container in my lap, trying to keep it from tipping over with my left fist while I used the fork with my right. I caught her watching from the corners of her eyes and started to feel annoyed.
“You realize that this is kind of sexy, right?” she mumbled when she noticed I had seen her, not looking at me anymore but staring into her own food container.
I scowled at her. “You are kidding, aren’t you?”
She blushed adorably. “No! I’m… I’m sorry…. Forget it.”
I stared down at the food that smelled wonderfully, my stomach signaling me that it wants more, trying to figure out how I feel about all that. We had not engaged in anything more physical than kisses at that point and I had not made up my mind about the whole devotee thing yet. “Sorry… it’s…” I started. “Maybe you could-”
Cait stood up and resettled down on the floor at the wall next to me, grabbing my food container and keeping it upright and tucking hers between her knees at the same time. “Time for retaliation,” she simply announced, smirking, and tugged at her thin blouse to expose a little bit more of cleavage.
My eyebrows shot up in my head but I said nothing, trying to eat without goggling over to her. I could honestly not tell anymore how the food tasted. All I could think of was her warm body next to mine, her scent wafting over to me, flowery and fresh, her left leg touching my right, naked for most parts down from where her hot pants ended, her hand very near my groin area and the way her chest moved when she breathed and whatever was beneath her blouse. I knew what she was trying to do, that she was attempting to give me a sense of how she felt, and I think I was starting to get it. I was also starting to feel very turned on.
“You are sweating,” she said and stacked the now empty containers at her side.
“Spicy food,” I mumbled but that was captured quite effectively by her kissing me.
We had kissed before but usually in a modest, chaste way. That night however it was different, her lips were different, sensual, sweet, my eyes flattered closed and she moaned in my mouth, her breath was hot and rapid in my face when she broke off and her hands slid over my heaving chest in simple adoration.
“Take that off?”
In the way she was forming a question rather than a command I knew that this would be a turning point and that she left it for me to decide what I wanted to do. I cringed at the thought of going down that road but knew that I was a coward. She had told me countless times that she loved not only me, but also my body, there was no reason to hide it, really. As she tugged tentatively at the hem of my T-shirt it still felt like a mistake as I tried to relax my shoulders and lifted my right arm a little to signal her to go ahead.
She shifted her position until she knelt over me, one knee on either side of me, leaning lightly against my drawn-in knees in her back. A little bit more pressure and my left would succumb, basically only holding up because of the friction of my socks on the deep carpet but she seemed to sense that and kept most of her weight off. She lifted my T-shirt up, pulled it over my head and my right arm, and carefully proceeded to extract my left. I watched her closely, watched her beautiful face for any sign of repulsion or shock, afraid it might prove that nothing she had ever told me was actually true, and out of a sudden hoping beyond hope that it was.
Her smile never faltered once and she never broke eye contact. I still remember the first time I had tried ripping clothes off me, the struggle I had encountered with that limb that remained stiff at my side, and I was glad she seemed more skillful and patient as I had been at that time, carefully leading the gathered-up fabric down and around my bent arm, guiding my fist through and barely touching my skin as far as I could tell.
The cloth was thrown on the floor and she kissed me lightly, lovingly, and I felt the strain dropping from me, felt myself going pliant against her and my heartbeat slow down from its panicked race. I could not suppress a wince however as her warm hands slowly wandered over my shoulders, to my bare chest, her fingertips finding the still pink lines on my skin. “I broke a few ribs,” I explained as I drew back from her lips and she circled a higher welt on my skin with a finger, frowning. “One of them burst through here. I have screws and plates in place on two.”
“Huh…” she said and leaned back. “Is there more I should know?”
I sighed and avoided her gaze, my insides knotting. “You really want to know? It’s not very beautiful…”
“All of you,” she said, her voice firm but kind. “Remember? I want to know. If… if you are okay with that, of course, otherwise… I completely understand if you don’t want to tell me.”
I nodded slowly. Exhaled through my nose. “Okay… Well… broke my jaw. It is kept together by wires. Broke my left cheekbone. They installed a plate. Fractured skull. Another plate.” My voice was distant while I tried not to let the memories of the attack that are still lodged somewhere in my brain wash over me.
She stared at me, her eyes so full of sadness I immediately regretted having told her. Compared to the head injury the others have been minor bothers that I was not even aware of most of the time since I was very much unconscious and later had other worries. “Say hello to the cyborg,” I tried to lighten up the mood.
She shook her head then, kissed my forehead, nose, cheeks with such care it made me shiver, her fingers tangling slightly in my hair, sending electric shocks running down my spine and nearly making me moan. Someone who knew where to look could find the ledge where the plate met bone at the right side of my head and looking closely enough one could see the fine scar across my cheek, mostly covered by stubble. I would show her, come time, I promised myself. Now I just wanted to revel in the incredible feeling of her slowly moving on top of me, her hips grinding against me while heat started to rush to my groin.
Her hands laid splayed over my chest. “And that?” Her voice was barely more than a whisper.
With hazy eyes I glanced down on her fingertips that rested on either side over my uneven collarbones.
“Broke the left one.” My stomach suddenly twisted thinking about the pain that had lasted for weeks and I looked back up at her smile and rosy cheeks, determined to make me forget about it.
Cait continued kissing lightly along each of my ribs, the rush of blood in my ears increasing as she neared the waistband of my pants. I twitched slightly as her fingertips bumped against the fabric and she broke off, one eyebrow lifted in question.
“Burst right kidney, lacerated liver,” I croaked. “Had the kidney removed. That's what the spare one is for, isn't it?” The last one had come out a little bit more bitter than intended.
She did not laugh and started opening my pants, her eyes on mine, pausing again.
I shrugged, breathing faster now and blinked to keep focused. “Dislocated my left kneecap, some cartilage damage. Well, I guess that hardly makes a difference. Besides that... nothing you don't already know. They focused more on my upper body and head, it seems. Don't know if I'm supposed to be glad about that.”
I noticed her wince at my sharp tone and quickly squeezed her hand reassuringly to encourage her to go on. I needed her to go on, pressure building within me with hot and bubbling desire, but anxiety grabbing my neck with cold fingers at the same time. What if she reconsidered? What if she discovered she did not like me the way she had thought she would? What if my body repelled her, what if she found it as disgusting as I? I did not think I could take it if she turned away from me now.
She slowly pulled my pants off, my left leg straightening with the pull, and removed the brace and sock on my left ankle. I remembered she had done that before and her movements were quick and sure. Her hands kept resting on my left thigh for some time until I tensed and she moved on. I have never bothered to take a too close look at my legs but I do not think they are a lot different from each other, the weak left one is not noticeably thinner than the right, in my opinion. But suddenly I was not so sure anymore.
What I had not mentioned to her was my worry that something else might not be ready for her. I could still get an erection but I had noticed a certain unreliability as to when I could and when I failed and also how hard I got and how long it lasted. I had never experienced anything remotely like that before, the ability to please a woman whenever I wanted a guarantee I never gave much thought to, and as Cait got up and settled in my lap once more, I could barely breathe from the suffocating fear that my dick could decide to opt out.
“Are you alright?” She asked, trailing a finger down the side of my face.
I nodded shakily and forced a smile. I think I already was partly hard, but would it last? Her lips settled on mine and I closed my eyes and concentrated on their impossible softness.
“Have you ever thought about revenge?” Her breath tickled my cheek.
Despite myself, I chuckled into the side of her neck. “Of course I have. Often enough. But the police would have simply laughed at me. Without evidence… no chance. And taking the matter in my own hands? Sure, I thought about it but where to start, where to end? I do not even know who the guys are that did this to me, least who gave the orders. I can only guess. And then… what can I do? Smack them across the head with my cane?”
She giggled. “Well, that’s an option.”
I shook my head mildly, smiling a little and felt already better. She was good at distracting me when my thoughts spiraled away. “Your turn,” I murmured, breathless, and reached out for her blouse. She raised her arms and I stripped the cloth off easily. Her white bra followed suit. I have been good at that even before and after almost a year of handling everything one-handed I have grown into a pro. I struggled more with her pants, unclothing someone else is very different from unclothing yourself, but with a little help of her I managed and she slipped out of her panties, kneeling naked over me.
I stared at her, awed, both of my hands suddenly frozen at my side.
“Aren’t you furious?” She asked, her voice low.
I blinked. “No…” I answered to my own surprise. I had not thought of this for quite a while. “Not anymore. There were times when I could think of nothing else than finding and exposing those monsters, doing unspeakable things to them, but… no… it wouldn’t change anything, not anymore.”
Cait’s face was full of sorrow and she reached out with her hand, her fingers settling against my cheek. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
I shook my head slowly, leaning into her touch. “It’s a good thing, Cait. These thoughts lead to nowhere. There is no point in more violence. I, of all people, should know that. I got a new job, new hobbies, I found friends, Vito…” My right hand hovered over the perfect curves of her hips, admiring her body as if it were a piece of art, forbidden from touching. “And I found you. You’re the most amazing thing that could have ever happened to me. Why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying,” she choked and pressed her lips on mine, hot tears falling on my cheeks. I stroke her back in soothing circles, clueless of what else to do because I did not know what I had done to make her cry. “I’m sorry,” I whispered when she leaned back again and angrily wiped the tears away.
“Don’t fucking say sorry ever again, Jacob Barnett,” she growled and pierced me with shimmering eyes. “You have nothing to be sorry for, nothing. Not you.”
As Cait’s eyes rested glued to mine, I witnessed first-hand how her breathing accelerated, her beautiful breasts starting to lift and lower with it, the restrained desire obvious in her. She waited for permission, waited like a curled spring, the fire eating away on her skin, making her blush and sweat. Hesitantly I placed my right hand on her thigh, her skin burning like a furnace. “I’m…” I broke of as she made an angry sound. “Uh… come here?”
Our lips crashed together and she moaned into my mouth while I sunk my hand into her hair. I had unleashed a storm, I realized, she was all over me, her breath hot, her tongue possessive. She squirmed in my lap, desperate for more, her body arching towards mine, trying to close the distance, her hands wandering over my chest, stroking, squeezing, her fingernails scratching at my skin. I was glad she did not, as I had secretly feared, focus on my left arm that was tucked to my chest more or less unresponsive, but seemed to evenly distribute her attention to all of my body parts.
She took my right hand, leading my fingers between her thighs and gasped as they met the moist between her legs. Her deep voice sent shivers down my entire body. “Jacob, I want you. Now.”
I tried to take off my shorts but it prove difficult with her sitting on top of me, my left leg too weak to hold us up.
“Cait...” She reacted at once, took her weight off me and stripped my shorts down. I was relieved to see that my dick had decided to play along and according to the content purr, Cait was happy as well.
It had been a very long time since I had made love to a woman, I realized, as she positioned herself over me. There had been a time in the hospital when I thought I would never touch a woman again, that no one would want to be with me, that maybe I would not survive or not be physically able to ever have sex again. As Cait panted over me, motionless now - her cheeks flushed, her eyes fixed on mine - I felt endlessly grateful for being so damn lucky.
“Jacob, please, please...” she whined, her body trembling. “Please… I don’t think-“
“Yes,” I gasped, giving permission readily. “Fuck, yes,” and I tried desperately to thrust up into her, my hips trembling in search for her heat.
She lowered herself onto me slowly, her eyes on mine. As her wonderful moist heat encircled me, a hitched moan escaped my lips and she let out a small, surprised cry, strands of hair matted to her glistening face, her eyelashes fluttering and her mouth falling slightly open with her lips red and raw. She grabbed my shoulders, burying fingernails into the skin so hard I felt it equally on both sides, and started to move her hips. First slowly, full of care, with her eyes closed and her groans low and vibrating in my stomach, then gradually growing faster, her back arching, my grunts mixing into her high-pitched moans. My cock slid along her inner walls and every time she took me deep I gasped from the heavenly feeling, afraid I might black out at the sheer pleasure of it and anxious I would come soon, much too early, like a schoolboy.
“I was so fucking scared... when you were gone... I thought I would never see you again,” Cait panted, capturing my lips again before I could answer. “I thought I had lost you... I would never have forgiven myself that.”
She increased her pace, the air growing hot around us, not letting me catch my breath, her hips snapping faster and faster, thrusting harder. My back burned from the pressure she was enforcing onto it and from bumping into the wall every time but the pain was welcome for once, keeping me an inch from the edge. I was desperate to feel her everywhere, my back arching towards her, my left leg trembling with the strain to keep my balance, my hips bucking to take her deeper. Mere attempts of my half-broken body, overridden quickly by her strength and determination.
“Jacob, shit, shit... Jacob!” Tiny sounds were falling from her lips, her head fell back, exposing her neck to me.
I shot out my right arm to brace myself on the floor and not tip over, and lost the connection to her and the ability to direct her thrusting hips, ready to give myself completely over to her. Her cries grew higher, desperate, her fingernails drawing blood on my skin, my arm started shaking and I knew I would not be able to hold up much longer. Then she suddenly bent over and pressed her lips onto mine.
My orgasm came to me like a blanket covering me, everything went a little distant with the bliss and I felt myself coming, my cock pulsing as I spilled into her, my own cry distant, holding even my breath as aftershocks rocked through my body and she gasped and then shuddered on top of me, having reached her peak as well.
My rapid heartbeat was loud in my ears as I came out of it and Cait carefully climbed off me, snuggling into my side with a wide smile on her face. We sat huddled together, hunched over, panting for air. I was only still sitting upright because of her to my left, the friction of sweaty skin between us while our breaths slowly calmed down with our bodies pressed against each other.
We sat huddled like that without speaking for almost an hour and nearly fell asleep on the floor. Instead, Cait got up at some point, offered her hand to help me up as well and we took advantage of the sheltered position of the house on the hillside and took a very slow and staggering walk around the garden in the low light of the summer evening, naked as we were, taking in the heavy scent of the flowers that still hung around in the mild air, our hands locked tight as I mostly relied on her to keep me upright on the sloping ground. Without the brace my left foot would not lift high enough and it got caught even in the short trimmed grass a few times, causing me to stumble, but with Cait at my side I was not afraid of falling.
We laid down on the grass and kissed while the night fell and the lights of the city below us grew brighter, and eventually I started exploring her body, kissing it, stroking it, her fair skin glowing in the moonlight, my hand dark on it in contrast. She did not make a sound until I had entered her with my fingers and she gasped and her hips bucked, meeting me, and her exhilarating breath was puffing warmth over my face, her head lying in the crook of my left shoulder, only a dim pressure to me.
“Jacob… Jacob…“ Her whispered voice was high and broken and arousal washed over me again, making me moan into her ear. She came just like that, a few moments later, biting in my shoulder, while her hips grew erratic and then still again, her body going soft against me and heaving with breaths.
I broke the silence first. “You don' need to be afraid ever again,” I whispered into her hair. “I promise.”
There have been times when I wanted to die. The first days at hospital after waking up, when I had just started to grasp the extent of the consequences my actions had had, after I had learned that my unborn child had died, when I held the divorce papers in my hand… These have been moments when I thought I simply would not survive the crushing guilt, the knowledge that I had destroyed the world for all of us. Or the times when I struggled with the simplest of words that were on the tip of my tongue but never came out or if they did were garbled to the point of incomprehensibility, when days drifted past in a drug-induced haze and the chaos of my brain trying to reorder itself or when I fought against tears when the nurses tried to stretch my left arm, the pain in my broken collarbone and my ribs shooting through the roof with the tiniest of movement and they told me that I would never regain any function and live in pain for the rest of my life if they did not resume and succeed in reducing spasticity. Then it had just seemed easier to not prolong a life I did not consider worth living anymore.
I got catapulted back into reality as Cait’s fingers closed around my half-filled cock and I gasped involuntarily as she started to coax it back to fullness. I wanted to tell her to stop, that it might not, would probably not work, but she squeezed the base and tugged harder and I felt something lurch in my stomach and closed my mouth again, stunned. Her eyes rested on mine, the stars in the sky bright behind her as her hand moved faster, her wrist flicking upwards in a blur, sweat pearling on her forehead and I clenched my teeth against the painful burn and the overwhelming desire.
“C… Cait?” I screwed my eyes shut. I needed her to make this fast but I did not know how to tell her.
Her breath was hot in my face. “Mmmh... Jacob?”
“Cait, I…” Frustration made my teeth grind against each other. Why were words so difficult?
She stopped and it was as if she had ripped my heart out. The night air was cold around my exposed cock.
I could have cried and my eyes flew open, locking with hers. “No, Cait, I need to… please…” My voice unknown to myself. Please, go on. Whatever you do, don't stop. But the words got stuck before they reached my lips. “Please…”
She smiled and seemed to understand nonetheless, nodded and her fingers closed tighter around my throbbing cock. She dragged her thumb over the oversensitive slit, agonizingly slow. I let out a long whine, my body trembling and writhing under her, the fingers of my right hand burying into the soft ground, tugging at a handful of grass.
“Come on, Jacob,” she urged and slowly her hand started moving again, her breasts heaved as she increased pace one last notch, their curves perfect and soft. “I know you can do it.”
I cried out at that and came spilling hotly over her hand, my hips stuttering upwards into the sky, and although the stream broke off quickly my body continued to convulse a few more seconds longer, the pleasure cursing through it as Cait wrung the last drops from me with sure tugs of her hand.
“I love you.”
I blinked and turned my head to look at Cait hovering over me, her fingers entangled with the stiff ones of my left hand that was pressed to my chest unusually tight. I had not even noticed her spreading and stretching the fingers until she was able to put hers in between although it must have hurt, as it always does when they are moved out of their frozen position.
“And I believe you,” she added, her eyes huge and dark in her face full of shadows against the moon. “Because I trust you.”
I tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and pulled her closer. I inhaled. “I love you, too.”
--> Chapter 19
--> Chapter 19