Not hearing from Kieran, Erin had almost given up on him and it hurt her. Thoughts of guilt and shame had been racing through her mind over the weekend. It was the guilt of having messed up what had not even begun yet and the shame of experiencing some kind of strange attraction to Kieran and his disability. She couldn’t believe that she had told him the things she did. She felt like a freak for having certain feelings pertaining to Kieran’s paraplegia. Thoughts of needing to go see a doctor had crossed her mind. In her mind she was not normal and she had hurt Kieran badly in the process of her own mental issues. When the message reached her phone she was lying in a restless nightmarish sleep, her phone off in the kitchen.It was over coffee and a bagel at the breakfast bar in her kitchen the next morning when she turned on her phone. The girls were getting ready in their bathroom when she saw there was a message from Kieran. Her heart beat quickly as she opened the message with a trembling finger.
Reading over it caused her eyes to tear up, partly for joy and relief but partly because she read a desperation in the message. Apparently Kieran wasn’t doing well and she felt her heart beat into her neck as she replied:
Kieran, I’m so happy to get your message. Right now I’m crying as I read over it. Of course I want to see you again and yes, we need to talk. Hopefully it will help us. I can’t stop thinking of you. This weekend and thinking I would possibly not see you again was probably the worst experience of my life. I can’t even describe how your message makes me feel now. Let me know when and where you want to meet. Can’t wait to see you. Erin
Now Kieran was sleeping when the message arrived in his Inbox. After his nightly ordeal around 2:30 a.m. he had finally fallen asleep. At 6:30 that morning when Erin was sending off the message to him, he was fighting everlasting demons in his dreams.
Chloe came into the kitchen, and kissed her mom on the cheek, “Good Morning mom.”
“Good Morning sweetie.”
Chloe realized her mom a bit off, “Are you still tired?”
Erin stared at the phone and then at her daughter, “I got a message from Kieran.”
Chloe wanted to see the message but Erin didn’t let her and instead explained, “He wants to see me again and wants to talk about things. He writes that he’s sorry.”
Chloe hugged her mom from behind, “Mom, this is good news, right? I mean you want to see him again, right?”
“Yes of course.”
Chloe had kept her mother somewhat updated on Kieran over the weekend just from Ashleigh telling her about Kieran’s rough weekend when he was sick with the Migraine.
Chloe was happy for her mom, “I wonder if Ash knows?”
Even though she didn’t really want the girls to interfere with Kieran’s and her situation she knew Ashleigh had been angry at her uncle and Chloe and her had kept in touch about Kieran and her.
“I want you girls to leave Kieran alone, okay. I know Ashleigh was disappointed at the whole deal but you ladies need to leave this up to me and him, please.”
Chloe knew her mother meant it and replied, “Okay, okay, we won’t get too much into it.”
She laughed a little and then added, “I’m just so happy he wants to see you again mom. I really hope things work out.”
Erin nodded and pulled her daughter close, “I hope so too.”
Chloe hugged her mom tight from behind again, “I have to get ready to go.”
“Yes, you do.”
At work Erin kept checking her phone all morning until finally around noon she got the reply from Kieran:
Thank you Erin. I want to see you soon. How about tonight?
Erin tapped on the reply button:
Yes, tonight is good. What time?
His reply came:
I can pick you up at seven.
The messaging ended and it was decided that Kieran would pick Erin up at 7 o’clock that night.
Erin felt her fingers still tremble from typing. She was nervous but couldn’t wait to see Kieran again.
Kieran spent a few hours at the YMCA for his work out and range of motion exercises. He had been neglecting the range of motion exercises lately with the nightly ordeals having cost him lots of energy. He was exhausted after his work out but also mentally reenergized. For the time of lifting weights and pushing his working muscles to the extreme he was able to forget about the thoughts racing through his mind.
Sitting in the accessible shower stall in the men’s locker room he enjoyed the water running over his body and thought about seeing Erin that night.
The kids were home already when he got home and as he came wheeling into the house. Ashleigh was lounging on the couch in the living room with her eyes on her phone, texting.
Kieran wanted to talk to her and dropped his sports bag in the hallway, then wheeled into the living room right up to the couch. Ashleigh looked up for a second and then back at her phone without saying anything. He was somewhat nervous as Ashleigh just showed him the cold shoulder.
He cleared his throat and asked cautiously, “Ash, can I talk to you?”
She didn’t look at him but shrugged her shoulders pretending not to care.
Kieran decided to just talk, “Ash, I know you are mad at me but I wanted to let you know I’m going to meet Erin again tonight.”
Now he got her attention as Ashleigh looked over at him with a serious expression but again didn’t say anything.
Kieran looked down at his hands in his lap and then back up. Ashleigh had moved her eyes to her phone again.
“I know I probably screwed up with Erin and I hope I can fix things again. I’ve been having a rough couple of days and I probably need to get my ass kicked or something but it’s tough for me if you are ticked off at me, Ash. Maybe when I feel better I can tell you what’s going on with me. Ash, in this family I always felt that you get me and I don’t like it when we don’t talk or hang out…”
Kieran stopped talking and just watched his niece for a moment.
She eventually turned her eyes to him and he looked straight at her, “I’m really sorry, Ash.”
Ashleigh put her phone down and started lowly, “I was so happy when you asked Chloe’s mom out because she is really nice and I want you to be happy with someone.”
Kieran nodded and said lowly, “I know that and…”
Ashleigh cut him off, “When I found out that on Friday you had just left Chloe’s mom and then Chloe texted me how sad her mom was and that she cried I was so disappointed and angry with you. Why did you do that to her?”
Kieran pressed his lips together, nodding and breathing through his nose, then tried to explain, “I know now that I was wrong to just leave and it’s my fault but there are some things I need to clarify with Erin and it’s really nothing I can tell you or anyone else. It’s between me and Erin. I’ve been dealing with lots of stuff on my mind and I haven’t been out with anyone in a long time so I probably just screwed up. Erin is great and she’s beautiful. That’s why I need to try to make things right again with her. I’m sorry I made you angry and I really hope you can let this go Ash. I will meet with Erin tonight and I hope she can forgive me too.”
Ashleigh looked at Kieran and sat up to get closer to him. He wheeled his chair right up to the couch. Ashleigh got up and leaned over giving Kieran a tight hug and mumbling, “I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to have someone and I think Chloe’s mom is perfect for you.”
He wrapped his arms around his niece and held her tight to him, mumbling into her long hair, “I know, I know that…I’m tired of being alone and I’m going to make it right with Erin. I need you to keep me in line but I can’t handle if you don’t talk to me. I love you Ash.”
“And I love you Uncle Kieran and I want you to fall in love with a woman.”
He nodded and he held her and it felt good to have his niece close to him again.
They let go of each other and Kieran asked Ashleigh about school and how things were going.
She shrugged her shoulders, “It’s all right I guess.”
She didn’t sound convinced and Kieran asked, “Only all right?”
“Yeah, there are so many kids and we have to do all those things for the classes. I already had homework every day. There are some older girls who are weird.”
“Weird girls? What do you mean?”
Ashleigh looked down, “I don’t know. They look at me weird and one said that my nail color is ugly.”
Kieran tilted his head, “Nail color?”
“Yeah, my toe nails.”
He moved his eyes down to Ashleigh’s bare feet. Her toe nails didn’t have any polish on them and Ashleigh explained, “I took it off today.”
“What color was it?”
Kieran smiled, “Sounds cool enough to me.”
He realized he didn’t really have any good comforting words for Ashleigh in these matters but all he could say, “Don’t worry about them, okay! You do what you like and you paint your toe nails blue if you want to. If they have a problem with it ignore it. It is none of their business.”
“I know, but it’s different in High School, everyone wants to look good and all that…”
“But in the process you need to stay true to yourself Ash and not let others influence or intimidate you in your decisions. You wear what you want and be yourself and nothing else, you hear me?”
Ashleigh nodded, “Yeah, it’ll be all right I guess.”
Kieran looked at his niece for a second and she smiled at him, “Thanks Uncle Kieran.”
“Just being here with us.”
Kieran nodded and held his arms out again, “Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, bring it in one more time.”
Ashleigh hugged her uncle once again and when they let go Kieran said, “I have to get ready now.”
“Yes, you do. Chloe texted that her mom is like totally nervous…”
He smiled, “Heck, I don’t know if it is a good thing that you and Chloe are all in our business….”
She laughed and he nodded at her, then wheeled away with a smile.
Since he had taken a shower at the YMCA he only changed his clothes from his shorts into his jeans and a fresh nice T-Shirt. He wasn’t really sure if the meeting with Erin was considered a date again since it had developed out of a strange situation and since they were meeting to talk about things.
He decided the T-Shirt would be good enough.
Carefully he slid his left foot into the sneaker, he still had to keep the ankle somewhat immobile. Even though he didn’t feel the pain at this moment he very much remembered the pain he felt during the night when all his sensations were there.
Right when he put his hands to his rims to leave out of his room his phone announced a text message from Erin:
Kieran, when you get here, don’t get out of the car. Just blow your horn and I will be right out. See you soon.
He typed his quick reply:
Okay, see you soon.
Fiona was in the kitchen when he came wheeling out.
He stopped and Fiona came closer, and leaned on the kitchen island counter, “You are meeting Erin again?”
He was waiting for Fiona questioning him but she didn’t and instead just said, “Well, have a good time then.”
Fiona smiled at him and when she didn’t say anything Kieran nodded, “See you later.”
He put his hands to his rims and wheeled over to the garage door and down the ramp into the garage.
He was nervous on his way to Erin’s house. It was another nice summer evening but it felt like a distant scent of fall was in the air already. He had his window down, his music turned up and kept looking at his speedometer trying not to go too fast through town. The exhaust of the Mustang was loud and every time he gave it gas it roared and showed off its power to all the cars around it.
When he pulled up to Erin’s house he saw her sitting on the steps in front of her door. She spotted him and waved, then came over to the car. She looked beautiful, dressed in a long summer skirt, sandals and a matching tank top. Strands of her long hair were held together by a clip in the back of her head and he saw earrings dangling from her ears. She had her sunglasses on her head and a tote bag over her shoulder. She smiled as she approached the car.
As Erin opened the door she greeted him, “Hey Kieran.”
The car war still running and Kieran looked over at her with a smile. He felt nervous and was contemplating how to greet her. He wasn’t sure if they were still on kissing terms or not.
“Hi Erin, it’s good to see you.”
When Erin was in and had the door closed she looked over at him and lowered her eyes shyly, then nervously stuttered, “I figured I wait outside…outside the house so you don’t have to get out and stuff.”
Kieran didn’t know what to do and if he should lean over and hug her or kiss her. Erin didn’t make a move either.
Erin was very nervous in Kieran’s presence and she felt the same way he did. She didn’t know if she should greet him more personal but decided not to.
Kieran asked, “Anywhere specific you want to go?”
“Have you eaten dinner?”
“I’m good but if you’re hungry we can go somewhere to eat.”
“I actually ate dinner with the girls. I wasn’t sure if this was a dinner…dinner …”
She really didn’t want to call it a date either and Kieran nodded, “Yeah, no problem. Let’s just grab a drink in a drive through and go somewhere quiet.”
Erin wondered what he meant with quiet and asked, “Do you have a place in mind?”
“I just don’t want to be inside a bar or restaurant with you.”
She thought for a moment, somewhat surprised but then suggested, “We could go down to the Marina and walk down there?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
“They sell snacks and drinks down there too.”
“Let’s do that then.”
Kieran knew exactly where Erin was talking about and put his car in gear, then drove off. He was still nervous and Erin didn’t help the situation by sitting quietly next to him.
She tried to think of something to say but she really didn’t know what was going to happen that night. She had no idea what Kieran wanted to talk about.
For a moment he glanced over to her and when she met his eyes they smiled at each other but didn’t say anything.
They arrived at the Marina Piers and Kieran found a disabled parking spot close to the waterfront. Erin got out of the car and stood over on the path while Kieran pulled out his Quickie from his back seat, attached the wheels and then transferred over into his chair. He realized that this time Erin didn’t even glance at him transferring out of the car but merely looked into the opposite direction toward the water. In a way he was relieved to not have an audience but a little he wondered how she seemed to not care as much as she did when they first met and back then had watched his transfer curiously and interested. She didn’t show the same interest this time.
Kieran had no idea that Erin was fighting to stay calm and collected and trying her hardest to avoid staring or even glance at him too long. Just hearing the sounds of the clicking when he attached the wheels to the Quickie and hearing the wheelchair hit the concrete made her heart beat race and thinking about Kieran transferring into his wheelchair right there turned her hands sweaty and her knees got weak.
He wheeled up next to her and she smiled nervously. He could tell she tried not to meet his eyes as she kept her eyes forward to the Marina and they didn’t speak as they made their way to the main path along the waterfront.
At the waterfront Kieran asked, “Which way do you want to go?”
“The snack bar is down there.” She pointed to the left.
“Okay, let’s go that way then.”
People were strolling along the path on this warm summer evening. The smell of the ocean water reached their noses. Seagulls sat on the fence along the water and flew over them, screeching loudly. Various boats and ships were anchored to the strong poles in the Marina, softly whipping on the waves. On board of some of the boats people were enjoying the evening on lawn chairs with drinks in their hands. The smell of someone grilling drifted through the air as well.
There was a short line at the snack bar.
Kieran turned to Erin, “Would you like something?”
Erin scanned the menu posted on the snack bar and decided, “Maybe a Cherry Limeade?”
“Anything else? Anything to eat?”
“No thanks, the drink will be enough.”
She stood next to him as they waited for their turn. When they reached the window Kieran had to look up some to the girl at the register and ordered.
He had to stretch his hand up to give her the money, the window was somewhat high and he felt a bit silly being so far down.
Erin beside him thought the same thing how the window to order was so high up and not very convenient for a person in a wheelchair. She felt bad for Kieran who was in the process of reaching up to get his change. For a moment his glance met hers and she knew he felt somewhat odd about the ordering and paying process of having to reach his hand so far up.
Kieran grabbed the Cherry Limeade for Erin from the girl in the window and then his Pepsi and a small bag of Chips. Just as he was about to set the Pepsi in between his thighs Erin reached over, “Here I got it.”
It was difficult for him to balance a cup or bottle between his thighs. It was possible but if he could avoid it he didn’t do it. He didn’t have a cup holder on his Quickie. It would have been an option but he felt it was corny and didn’t get one when he had ordered his chair while he was in rehab. Sometimes he considered still getting a cup holder.
The bag of Chips was on his lap and Erin left it there. He thanked Erin as she took his Pepsi and then he put his hands to his rims to get out of the way for the customers in line behind them.
Away from the snack bar Erin looked around, “Do you want to go over there to that table?”
There was a large covered Pavilion with two tables and benches under it.
Kieran nodded, “Yeah, good idea.”
Erin set his Pepsi on the table and he wheeled up to it. She sat down and looked out to the Marina while Kieran opened his bag of chips and drank from his Pepsi.
Erin was leaning with her back on the table, her legs stretched out in front of her, covered by the long skirt, her bare feet in flat sandals sticking out from under the skirt. She held her Cherry Limeade in her hand and looked out to the water and boats.
Kieran glanced over at her and his eyes travelled over her tanned and smooth looking shoulders down her arms. A variety of bracelets were dangling on her wrist, her hair was flowing softly in the warm breeze coming from the water. In the back of her head strands of hair were held together in a thin tail, holding back the rest of her hair, so it couldn’t fall into her face. He just looked at her for a moment as Erin was gazing out over the water and he realized once again how beautiful she was and he remembered that the way she looked had definitely attracted him when they had first met at the mall.
Now he was nervous and not sure how to start or what to say.
He cleared his throat and Erin finally looked over at him when he said with a still scratchy voice, “Thanks for meeting me Erin.”
Erin smiled at him, “Thanks for wanting to meet me again.”
There were so many things that needed to be said and talked about, but it almost seemed too overwhelming for Kieran to start talking about everything he wanted to say to Erin.
Erin looked down to her feet and said lowly, “I’m sorry Kieran.”
She shyly moved her eyes up to him and just looking into his green eyes she felt her heart beat fast and she saw Kieran take a deep breath before he said, “Erin, you don’t have anything to be sorry about.”
They were quiet again, unsure how to keep going and Kieran stated lowly, “You look very nice by the way.”
She smiled looking away again, “Thanks.”
Kieran put his hands to his rims and wheeled his chair closer to Erin and she nervously shifted, pulled her legs in and from the corners of her eyes she shyly glanced at the wheels of his chair with his hands on the rims. She felt her own hands tremble.
He moved his hands into his lap as he started again nervously, “Erin, I know this is weird…but…I came to realize that I wanted to see you again and I shouldn’t have stormed out the way I did at your house on Friday and also shouldn’t have said the things I said. I was just…I guess I was confused at some of the things you had said.”
Erin still didn’t look at him, he could tell she felt very nervous and he reached over and took her hand out of her lap. Her hand was cold in his despite the warm summer evening.
Holding her hand in his he said, “Erin…please look at me.”
She slowly moved her eyes up and met his gaze.
Kieran saw her eyes were shiny and he explained lowly, “I’m sorry I left you the way I did and I hope we can pick up again where we left off…” He paused and took a deep breath before he continued, “Erin, I…there is a whole shit load of stuff going on with me and I’m….I’m dealing with things right now that are beyond…beyond normal. I know I felt so good in your presence and I feel good right now being here with you. I really don’t know how to even begin…to explain to you what is going on. I just know that if anyone should know, it’s you. And about…about the things you said…at your house…they confused me but I want to know what you are talking about.”
He felt his voice crack and he swallowed before he continued, “Maybe there is stuff…going on with us but…but maybe you can help me figure things out…and I want to help you figure things out.”
When he looked at Erin he saw tears run over her face.
He squeezed her cold hand tighter and continued with a trembling voice, “Erin…the past couple of weeks things have been happening to me and it’s just getting too much and I’m scared. But I need someone to talk to and no matter what happened I can’t stop thinking about you and I wanted to be with you and when you showed interest in me I was…I was so happy. I just feel bad about you having to deal with me and everything that is going on but I don’t know what to do anymore…”
Now his voice faded out and he was taking quick breaths.
Tears ran down Erin’s cheeks and her lips were shivering when she tried to talk, “Kieran, I…I want to be with you and yes, we need to figure things out but I feel a connection between us that I have never felt with any other man before. There are things going on with me too and they scare me but I…” She cried now and swallowed before she continued with a tear filled voice, “But I hope you will understand and I hope we can be there for each other. I was so scared when you left…” She took a breath and tried to keep herself collected, “I was so scared that I messed everything up and I would never see you again.”
Kieran felt the nerves vibrating in her hands. Tears were streaming over her face. He let go off her hand and put his hands to his rims trying to wheel even closer to her and positioned his Quickie right in front of her, then took both her hands in his on his lap and leaning forward slightly he said lowly, “Erin?”
She looked up, her face moist with tears. She could barely stand looking at him sitting there in his Quickie right in front of her, holding her hands on his still thighs, his knees almost touching and his feet positioned right next to each other on the foot rest. She leaned over some and her knees touched his.
“Erin, I felt the same way…I knew I had messed up and I was scared just like you but now we are here and we are going to see each other again, a lot, and we are going to figure things out together, okay? The things that are going on with you and the things that are going on with me.”
Erin nodded, tears still running over her cheek. She felt Kieran’s warm hands around her cold hands and just then he slightly tugged on her hands and when she looked at him he asked lowly, “Do you want to sit on my lap?”
Her heart was racing, her body trembling with the thought of moving over onto Kieran’s lap and her hands cold and shaking. She nodded and Kieran pulled her some as she got up and moved her body over onto his, scrambling her legs over the side of the wheelchair. He pulled her onto him all the way and wrapped his arms around her waist and back. Erin moved up and actually buried her face in the crease of his neck and shoulder and she cried.
He held her and let his hands run up and down her back and he whispered, “Don’t cry anymore Erin. It’s going to be all right.”
She nodded without saying anything and he felt the moisture of her tears on his neck. For a few moments they just sat there and held each other. Kieran ran his hand through her hair down her back. He leaned back some and when Erin looked up at him he took her face in between his hands. His eyes were deeply green and for a few moments he got lost in Erin’s dark eyes until he pulled her face closer. He pressed his lips onto hers, and kissed her hard, and it felt so good for both of them. Erin pushed herself closer against him. She was thankful to be back in his arms.
When their lips unlocked they sat there still, holding each other as Erin’s tears subsided.
Kieran looked at her, “Are you okay?”
She nodded and as he wiped a strand of hair out of her face he said softly, “You are so beautiful Erin.”
She laughed lowly, “I probably look like a mess right now.”
“You are a beautiful mess.” They both laughed and Erin kissed him again.
They both drank from their Soda’s and Kieran held the bag of chips out to Erin and she declined, “I’m good, thanks.”
Kieran smiled, “More for me then.”
They looked out to the Marina and Erin asked, “Have you ever been on a boat?”
“No, actually not. You?”
“Yes, we used to have a boat and we would take it out. It was always fun.”
Kieran tilted his head, “We as in you and your ex?”
She nodded, “Yes.”
“Are you still talking to him?”
“Yes, but just for things that pertain to the girls. We share custody, he gets them every other weekend and we split the school breaks.”
Kieran nodded, “I guess Chloe and Ashleigh were pissed at me. Ash didn’t talk to me until today. She gave me the cold shoulder all weekend.”
“Yeah, Chloe wanted to kill you and me I guess.”
“Well, hopefully they will be happy now.”
“I hope so…”
Kieran pulled Erin to him again, “I am sure they will be.” He kissed her again.
For a moment they sat there until Erin asked carefully, “So what IS going on with you Kieran? Your last text scared me when you wrote “until it is too late”.”
Kieran took a deep breath and pondered how to respond, “There is a lot I guess…I don’t even know where to begin. You’ll think I’m crazy.”
Erin looked at him questioningly, “Kieran, I want to know though.”
He nodded, “And I want to tell you…” He stopped, then added, “Maybe not right now…”
Erin moved off his lap and sat down on the bench again.
“Whenever you want to talk about it, I’m ready. I hope it’ll be soon.”
Kieran nodded and with his hands he quickly lifted himself off his seat for a few seconds and a couple of times. At first Erin looked at him but then moved her eyes quickly.
He caught on to it and when he let himself down he watched her for a moment and explained, “I do this to keep from getting pressure sores.”
She looked up shyly but with a curiosity in her eyes.
“Since I sit all the time my skin can break on my butt, back or thighs. To prevent this I have to lift my body off the seat a couple of times during the day. Pressure sores can be a serious issue if not caught and treated on time.”
Erin listened to him interested but still seemed nervous. Kieran had tried to make her feel at ease explaining about his lifts and why he was doing this.
Now he was unsure if it had been the right thing to tell her this information, “I’m sorry Erin. This probably sounds weird to you. I just thought you may be wondering why…” When he looked up her eyes were on him and he felt silly having told her.
She finally spoke, “Kieran, no…it’s all right. Thanks for explaining…it’s very interesting to me. I didn’t know this.”
After a moment she added lowly, “I’m very interested in your disability and how you live your life with it.”
Her voice faded out and Kieran remembered some of the things she had said the night he stormed out and how it had confused him.
He didn’t know if he should say anything about that night and lowly stated, “Well, if you have any questions, you can ask me anything.”
Erin nodded and took Kieran’s hand now, “I think I will have questions and I hope you can understand if I don’t know about these things you are dealing with. I’m very interested though and I want to know everything.”
He nodded and still considered mentioning her comments from Friday night but he decided not to. He didn’t want to overshadow the moments with a difficult topic.
After a few moments Erin asked lowly, “You haven‘t really answered my question?”
Kieran looked at her and she added, “What did you mean when you wrote “until it is too late”?”
He looked out to the water and took a deep breath, then turned to her and said lowly, “Erin, I’m really glad we are here together now and I know there is still a lot of stuff we need to talk about but maybe not right now. I’m just happy you were willing to see me again and when the time is right I will tell you what is going on with me. Right now I guess I just want to enjoy the time with you.”
“But didn’t we meet to talk?”
“Yes, we did but now I just want to enjoy being with you. I have some questions for you too but I don’t want to ask right now, I want to just be with you.”
Erin took a breath and smiled at him, still holding his hand, “Okay, we should just enjoy the time together. It’s a nice evening.”
“You want to walk a little with me?”
“Yeah, let me finish my Soda.”
They both drank again and Kieran ate some more chips. When he held the bag out to Erin again she actually reached in and had a few chips.
Their stroll along the pier was mostly quiet. Erin glanced at Kieran pushing his rims and rolling along the pathway. He looked so good to her the way he moved in his wheelchair. She felt very drawn to him and was happy to be next to him now and that Kieran had come back to her. She would definitely have to do some explaining but she wasn’t even really sure what she would explain. Seeing him in his wheelchair, the way he maneuvered it, the way he sat in it, slightly hunched forward, his knees side by side with his feet on the single footrest, and the way he was focused on the task made her feel things she couldn’t explain. She wanted him that way, and she enjoyed seeing him that way and the thought of having to somehow explain to him that she was glad he was in a wheelchair was terrifying to her, especially after the night at her house when she blurted out things that just didn’t seem right.
Kieran was still dealing with a life altering situation and she for some odd reason had feelings of arousal and attraction to him and the paraplegia that kept him from ever walking again and would have him depend on the wheelchair for the rest of his life. It all felt so wrong to her and she didn’t know if she would ever be able to tell him how she really felt around him.
Kieran was pondering his own thoughts of everything that had happened lately, especially the nightly ordeals he went through and the mysterious stranger who had come into his life telling him that he had made a deal with him. He really didn’t know how to bring it all up but he knew he needed to tell Erin soon. He just didn’t want to darken this nice evening with all his strange happenings. He enjoyed just being close to Erin again. He glanced over at her, her hair and her long skirt flowing as she walked along light footed. He caught glances of her ankles strapped in the sandals, her skin looked smooth. The sun’s last rays brushed over her shoulders and her face, and giving her hair a glowing shine. Her perfume radiated over to him in the breeze.
After a while he stopped and whipped his chair toward her.
Erin stopped in her pace and looked at him questioningly.
“Let’s get down on the grass over there!”
Erin looked over Kieran’s shoulder to the meadow behind him. The grass looked perfect with some trees casting shade in the evening’s sunset.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m totally sure.”
Erin didn’t really know how Kieran would get down onto the grass but if he said he was going to be okay she had to believe him.
Kieran turned his Quickie around with a small wheelie and moved over to the grass. It was actually possible to push his wheelchair over the grass to a tree nearby. Erin basically followed his lead, not sure where and how far he wanted to go.
Close to the tree he didn’t wait around and while Erin found a good spot to sit down Kieran slid his body over to the edge of his seat. Erin watched in amazement how he pulled his legs up and his feet off the footrest, then leaning his upper body over with his arm stretched out and his fist bracing on the grass he let his body slide out of the wheelchair. She was a little worried about this but realized that it seemed to be the way Kieran got out of his wheelchair. He was on the ground and she couldn’t ignore the intense feelings between her legs, the skin on the inside of her thighs heating up as she watched him on the ground. She recalled the way she felt when she had witnessed the confrontation at the club and Kieran had been pulled out of his chair and thrown to the ground. As bad as she felt for him she couldn’t help feeling an intense arousal, making her loins ache for him.
She couldn’t keep her eyes off him as he pulled his body over to the tree and closer to her, his legs without any life dragging along with his body. Seeing the stillness of his legs made his disability once again more of a reality for her now. He sitting in the wheelchair was different, his legs usually sat nicely on the footrest like they could actually still do things. Now once again she saw how his legs were useless limbs, attached to him and needing to be dragged and pulled and pushed around without any life in them.
He was breathing somewhat heavy as he finally reached the spot next to her and the tree. He leaned on the tree's strong trunk and adjusted his legs until they laid in front of him, one stretched out and one leg somewhat bend but laying on the side. His jeans looked loose around his legs and when he was done he looked over at Erin who was still mesmerized by his movements.
Kieran smiled insecurely, “There, I’m sitting…sorry, it’s a bit of a hassle.”
Erin shook her head and moved closer to him, “Don’t worry about it. Are you comfortable enough?”
“Not yet.” Erin looked somewhat puzzled.
He added with a grin, “Come here!”
She moved even closer, her leg touching his, only the thin material of her skirt and his jeans in between. Just touching his leg though send shivers through her body. Kieran laid his arm around her and pulled her closer to him. She snuggled up and he lifted her face with his fingers and she looked up at him.
He smiled, “Everything just takes a little longer.”
She nodded quietly and he pulled her to his face and eventually their lips touched and they fell into a long kiss. Erin pushed her body against his and during the kiss she laid her left leg over his thighs and was excited to be close to him.
He stroked over her back with his hands and fingers, touching her bare shoulders sent chills up his arms. Her skin was warm and soft.
Kieran was happy to have Erin with him, she felt good for him. He had not experienced the body of a woman close to him in a long time, at least three years since his last encounter with a woman. It had only been a fling with a woman he had met in a bar and they had had some wild nights before he had to deploy and left for Afghanistan. There hadn’t been any feelings or anything, it had been purely sexual but it had been fun while it lasted. Back then he had still been able to perform in bed and always considered himself a good lover.
Real feelings for a woman had not happened since Amy though. She really had been the love of his life in his former life, the life of a healthy, strong young soldier who loved his job and believed it was his duty to ensure freedom for his country. He had always loved the Military, the camaraderie, the morale, the values, and the discipline but he knew it wouldn’t be the dream of a woman to have her man gone all the time and always having to live with the fear that something could happen to him. He was glad the relationship with Amy was over when it was because he would have not wanted to put her through all the trauma with him. Amy was a good memory of his former life, a very different life.
Now he had a new life as a different man and Erin was a new chapter in his new life. He wanted to turn the pages and he wanted to start fresh but it was hard. He knew he couldn’t do it alone and even though Fiona and the family had been there with him through some tough times, the addition of Erin in his life was a good thing. He couldn’t even imagine how he would decide between Erin or possibly walking again. How could he have been put in a situation like this? As Erin laid her head on his chest and listened to his heart beat he had his head leaned back on the tree and slowly let his fingers run through her hair thinking about this unbelievable proposition. Every time he was not in one of the strange situations his life seemed so normal and not very extraordinary. Just now being with Erin all the fear and the confusion of his nightly experiences and the appearance of the old man in his life seemed so far away and so unreal and inside he wished so much that all of it would somehow just stop.
Without moving her head Erin suddenly asked, “Do you sometimes wish you could walk again?”
Kieran lifted his head some, surprised at her question and wondering if it was a coincidence that he had just thought about all those things.
He thought for a moment and answered lowly, “Every day.”
Erin slowly lifted her head and looked at him.
His eyes were sad and she softly touched his face and stroked her fingers over his cheek, “I want to make it better for you.”
Kieran played with Erin’s long hair falling down on his chest and she added lowly, “I think I can make it better for you.”
“How do you intend to do that?” He let her hair curl around his pointing finger as he kept his green eyes on her.
Erin let her fingers run over his cheek and to the scar on his neck, “I think you are very hot Kieran and I’m so happy to be with you. I like everything about you…everything!”
He asked lowly, “Everything?”
Her voice was more of a hush, “Everything! Your sexy smile, your beautiful face, your amazing green eyes, your dark hair, your muscular body, your still legs, your strong hands and your wheelchair.”
She stopped right there almost like she was trying to get a reaction from him.
She got a reaction, “My wheelchair?”
“Yes, it is part of you and I happen to like it very much. You are the man I used to dream about Kieran.”
He was flattered by her compliments but also somewhat thrown off by the way she had mentioned his legs and his wheelchair and how she had included it in her description. He also remembered again the words she had said the night he left her house.
He swallowed and with a trembling voice he asked, “Are you glad I am like this?”
Erin seemed caught off guard, lowered her eyes for a moment and Kieran then lifted her chin up and added, “I remember you said something like this on Friday night.”
Erin didn’t know what to reply to this, she was worried it could cause problems again and she didn’t say anything.
Kieran moved his finger from under chin and repeated carefully, “You said you were glad I was paraplegic.”
Erin couldn’t look him in the eyes because she didn’t know how Kieran felt about this. She couldn’t bring a word over her lips. Her mouth all the sudden seemed dry and a knot formed in her throat.
Kieran sounded serious, “I was really surprised when you said that but I have a feeling this could actually be good for me. If you feel that way about me then I want to understand and I want you to be open and honest with me. If we are going to do this I think it is important for us to communicate about things. I can feel that it is kind of a big deal for you and I see the way you are looking at me and I want you to know that I am okay with it but I also want to know what it is and I want to understand. You tell me your secrets and I will tell you mine.”
Erin felt her heart pound like a drum inside her chest at Kieran’s conclusions and she was very nervous. He put his finger under her chin again and made her look at him when he said, “If you like me this way I want to make it good for you. But I want you to tell me what this is about. At first I was pissed off but I am starting to think that it is actually really cool in a way even though still hard to understand. I just want you to be honest with me; that is all I ask. You are beautiful Erin and you being into me because of my being paraplegic makes me feel good but also makes me wonder.”
Erin now cut him off but her voice had no strength when she said, “It’s not the only thing I’m into you for….I like you Kieran and I want to get to know all of you.”
“And I want to get to know all of you….” He smiled and added, “Like every part of your body and mind. I want to know what is going on in that beautiful head of yours.”
He made her even more nervous with his words but it also turned her on very much.
Kieran didn’t wait for any reply but pulled her close to his face and as she was right in front of him he whispered, “I’m not mad or anything but I want to know.”
Erin thought her heart was going to burst out of her chest and she didn’t have time to talk as Kieran pulled her to his face again and kissed her hard and demanding.
When he let go off her, she lowered her eyes and said lowly, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before and it scares me because it doesn’t seem right.”
Kieran pulled her closer and let his hands run over her hair, “I guess we both have some demons we are dealing with….” He let his words fade out and kept running his fingers over her hair.
Erin didn’t say anything and Kieran just pulled her to his body again and she rested her head on his shoulders and looked out over the grass and to the water.
Erin eventually asked lowly, “What are your demons?”
Kieran was looking out to the water too and laughed lowly in a sarcastic tone, “Too many to talk about right now.”
“Tell me about one then.”
He took a deep breath, “How about PTSD on top of being paralyzed?”
Erin didn’t move her head but just nodded and asked furthermore, “How bad?”
“Bad enough that I’m on medications and I still feel messed up lots of times.”
Now Erin sat up and looked at Kieran who met her eyes smiling at her.
He tugged some strands of her hair behind her ear and added, “Yeah, I’m not exactly stable but I have good and bad days.”
Erin asked lowly, “Did you have to kill people?”
He looked away and nodded but didn’t say anything.
Erin stroked her hand over his face, she felt the slight stubble of his facial hair. Her hand travelled down to his neck where the scar started and softly she let her fingers run over it to the collar of his T-Shirt where the scar disappeared under it.
He looked at her again and without words they just smiled at each other. Erin laid her head back on his shoulder and for a while they just sat there on the grass under the tree and they didn’t speak. Erin let her eyes scan over Kieran’s legs and over to his Quickie where she rested her eyes. The wheelchair almost seemed like the fifth wheel in a relationship, like the friend who lingered around even though the couple wanted to be alone. This friend though would never leave and would always be around no matter where they would be and how close they would get. She didn’t mind though, she was fine with it and she was actually glad about it.
They didn’t talk about any difficult topics anymore but changed their conversation to the kids and how school started for both Ashleigh and Chloe. Apparently Chloe had adjusted well in the first few days at school whereas Ashleigh was still struggling.
Kieran told Erin about what Ashleigh had told him and Erin replied, “I hope those girls will leave her alone. If not, Fiona and Tyler should definitely go to the school and address it.”
“Or I will go. I will make sure she is going to be all right.”
“I know you will.”
It was after nine o’clock when Kieran said, “I guess we should head on home.”
Erin sat up, “Yeah, I have to work tomorrow.”
“What time do you start?”
Kieran took Erin’s face in his hands again, and looked deeply into her eyes, “I’m really glad we got to spend some time together.”
With that they kissed again for a while. When they detached, Kieran pulled his wheelchair closer and Erin watched curiously but tried not to be so obvious.
He pulled the Quickie close and adjusted his legs in front of him on the ground, pulling them up and bending them at the knees, and keeping them from falling over to the side. Erin remembered how he had climbed back into his wheelchair at the bar and she didn’t ask him if he needed help because she had seen him manage and didn’t think he would accept help anyways.
So she just observed shyly as he hoisted his body up into the wheelchair and roughly plopped into the seat, his legs scrambled and twisted in front of him. He then pulled his legs up with his hands and placed his feet carefully on the footrest, then adjusting his knees once more aligning them next to each other.
When he glanced up from under his bangs he met Erin’s curious eyes. She looked away quickly but he knew she had watched his every move and he was glad he had made it somewhat all right and had not been too clumsy. Not always he managed to get up in his chair at the first try.
He put his hands to his rims and pushed his chair over the grass, a little rough but he made it to the path and Erin came up too. She smiled at him as he waited for her on the path.
In a way she didn’t really want to go home yet but she felt Kieran didn’t want to take their meeting much further for the evening. They had reconciled and they had kissed and connected. They had talked and touched on some not so easy topics but they had not gone too far to end up in stressful conversations. They could have those conversations in bits and pieces in future meetings.
Now she walked next to him, adjusting her pace to his wheeling. He didn’t push his rims too hard and somewhat relaxed rolled along the path, a few pedestrians getting out of their way or smiling at them as they passed. The sun had set behind the hills and now just a warm breeze was still flowing but the sunlight was gone.
Erin could see Kieran’s biceps flex under his T-Shirt when he pushed his rims and here and there she glanced over at him without him realizing.
Just when they almost arrived at the parking lot Erin ran into a coworker and her husband who spotted he at the same time, “Hey Erin, how are you?”
Right away their eyes moved to Kieran next to Erin.
Erin smiled, “Hey Amanda, I am good. Enjoying this nice evening.”
Erin knew Amanda’s husband and they greeted each other.
Amanda replied, “So you had the same idea like us. It is very nice still. We have to enjoy it before the nights get cooler again.”
Erin looked from Amanda and her husband to Kieran, “Amanda, this is Kieran, my boyfriend.”
Amanda seemed just a little surprised but smiled at Kieran and reached her hand out, “Hi Kieran, nice to meet you.”
Kieran greeted them with a handshake and Erin then added, “Yeah, we are heading home now. Got to get up tomorrow.”
Amanda laughed, “Tell me about it.”
“Well, I will see you at work then. Have a good night.”
“You have a good night too. See you tomorrow.”
Amanda glanced at Kieran once more and smiled, then she walked off with her husband.
Kieran didn’t say anything but had not missed his introduction. Erin had thought for a few seconds before she had said the word “boyfriend” but really she didn’t know what else Kieran would be for her. They had come so close and they had reconciled and connected again intimately and she felt there was no other explanation than Kieran being her boyfriend now.
At the car Kieran wheeled over to the passenger side and unlocked the car, then opened the door for Erin and when she looked at him funny he smiled, “Just let me have the moment.”
It was easy enough now since he was still in his Quickie and he wanted to do this for Erin. She thanked him and got in. He then closed the door and wheeled around to the other side.
Erin watched as he transferred into his seat and she felt her hands get sweaty. Everything Kieran did excited her and he didn’t miss her glances at him but he didn’t say anything.
She saw him take the wheels off his wheelchair and then placed everything in the back seat, careful not to hit Erin with the frame or wheels. She actually leaned away some so Kieran had enough room to stash everything in the backseat.
As they were heading for Erin’s house Kieran asked lowly, “I overheard you introducing me as your boyfriend a while ago.”
Erin looked over at him and he met her eyes smiling. She wasn’t sure how he felt about that expression when it came to him.
She didn’t have a chance to say anything when Kieran added with a smile, “I’m cool with it.”
Erin laughed lowly, “Good, I’m glad and yes, that is how I feel and I hope it’s all right for you.”
He nodded turning his eyes back to the road, “It’s very all right for me.”
Erin moved her hand over and slid it under his hand controls, then letting her hand rest on his thigh.
Kieran didn’t feel any of it but he saw her hand on his thigh and he looked at her again smiling.
At the house Erin didn’t get out right away but turned to face Kieran and leaned over some, “I really had a good time Kieran. I’m so glad we got to spend this evening together and I hope it will be the beginning of a good thing. We have lots of things to talk about still but I’m very excited to get to know you even better. I care a lot about you Kieran."
Kieran shifted some to face her and took her hand in his, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand, “I had a good time too. Thanks for giving me another shot.”
“Thanks for giving me another shot.”
They leaned in on each other, Erin leaning over a bit further than Kieran toward her as he was dealing with his balance.
They kissed for a few moments and when they let go Kieran asked, “When can I see you again?”
Erin thought for a moment, “Well, tomorrow night Ciara has gymnastics. Maybe on Wednesday or we can just talk on the phone or text.”
“Yeah, let’s just see what the week brings but I do want to see you latest on Friday.”
“Definitely Friday if not before.”
They kissed again and eventually Erin got out of the car, leaned in once more and smiled at him, “Bye Kieran.”
“Bye girlfriend. Good Night.”
They laughed and Erin shut the door and walked up to her house.
Kieran watched as she went into the house. He started the Mustang with a revving engine and made his way out of Erin’s neighborhood with a smile on his face.
When he got home and wheeled into the house he didn’t just get by to his room without Ashleigh stopping him in the hallway, “How was it?”
She peeked out of her room, already in her pajamas, her head phones around her neck.
“It was very good.”
“Are you like “together” now?”
“Yes, we are together.”
Ashleigh leaned down and hugged Kieran, “I’m so happy again.”
When she stood up she said, “Don’t do anything stupid anymore! If you are going to act stupid again I am going to be sooo mad at you.”
“Well, we don’t want that, do we?”
Ashleigh smiled, “Nah, but I just want you to be happy.”
Kieran looked down, “I know that…thanks for being so concerned about my happiness.”
Ashleigh squatted down leaning on her door frame, “I just get scared when you are sad. When we first picked you up in Vancouver and you were so sad it was hard for mom, dad, and for us. I wanted you to be better again and I wanted you to be happy and sometimes mom cried and said she didn’t know if it was the right thing to do to have you live with us. Then dad had to console her and then she was better again. I wanted nothing more than for you to be happy again and be the way you used to be…”
Her words faded out and Kieran realized once again that his presence in the family had impacted Ashleigh more than he knew.
He nodded and replied, “Well, I’m not the way I used to be but I think I am on the right track to be happy again.”
Ashleigh nodded and smiled, “I love you Uncle Kieran.”
“I love you too.”
He held his fist out and she knuckle bumped him.
Fiona appeared in the hallway and smiled, “Looks like everyone is in perfect harmony here.”
Kieran looked at his sister with a grin, “Well, your kid here is pestering me constantly.”
Ashleigh stood up and protested with laughter, “Hey!!!!”
She softly punched Kieran on his upper arm.
Ashleigh said Good Night and went back into her room.
Fiona leaned on the wall, “Everything good with you and Erin?”
“Yes, everything is good. I’m just tired now.”
“Well, Good Night.”
Kieran said Good Night to his sister and eventually disappeared into his room. First he went into the bathroom to catheterize and was relieved to find his boxers and jeans still dry.
On his bed he changed into some incontinence briefs and his lounge pants, then turned on the TV. With his computer on his lap he looked through his emails, bank statements and ended up on his favorite Spinal Cord Injury site where he read over new threads and welcomed new members with motivating words.
It was around 10:30 when he got a text message from Erin:
I am going to sleep now. Had a great time with you. Miss you and will dream of you. Your gf Erin
Kieran smiled and sent her a short reply, then put his computer away and watched some TV.
Eventually he got tired and pushed his body down in his bed and adjusted his legs.
Lying in the darkness he thought of Erin and the evening with her. It had gone well and he was relieved she let him have another go and that they were able to talk a little. He still didn’t really know how Erin felt about his disability but he knew something about it was different. Apparently his disability stirred certain emotions in her and he didn’t know what to think about it all. He didn’t want to worry about it too much though because as long as it was something that attracted her to him he wanted to be all right with it.It was the exact time again, 12:48 when he was aroused from his sleep with strong spasms and pain travelling from his feet to his belly. His ankle still hurt and he sat up under the spasms and leaned on his bed and pushed his blanket over to watch the activity of his legs. The spasms awakened them once again and soon he felt all the sensation back in his body. This time he slid himself over on his bed and set his feet down on the floor. He had his Nike’s close by and quickly leaned down and grabbed them. He couldn’t grasp that he had actual balance control of his trunk and didn’t fall over when he leaned down to get the shoes.
Habitual he pulled his foot up on his knee and slipped first his right foot into the shoe, then did the same with his injured foot, carefully sliding it into the shoe and feeling the distant pain of the sprained ankle. He took his phone from his bedside table, let it drop into the pocket of his pants, and stood up, carefully and cautious. He looked down onto his Quickie and down the length of his legs to his feet. He felt his vision get blurry at the situation he just couldn’t understand.
Still feeling strange about standing freely, he pulled his crutches over and slid his arms into them and then made his way carefully toward his bathroom, one foot after the other. The sprained ankle hurt but he didn’t care, feeling actual pain didn’t bother him now and he made it into his bathroom and turned the light on. The first moment he was shocked at the image in the mirror, seeing himself standing tall and it felt like a dream once again. He stood there and stared at himself, his bare chest, arms in the crutches with his hands gripping the handles tight. His lounge pants hung loosely on him but he had an okay stance in his shoes.
Slowly he pulled his one arm out of the crutch and leaned it on the wall. He touched his belly with his hand and he felt all of it, when he rubbed over his skin around to his back. He pulled his phone out from the pocket of his lounge pants and found the camera and held it out and touched the button to take a picture. The picture came out and clearly showed him standing in his bathroom, his one arm in the crutch and the other hand holding the camera in front of him. He didn’t smile, instead looked seriously at his image and into his own shiny eyes.
He carefully pulled his other arm out of the crutch and leaned it on the counter. He lifted his arms over his head as to test again if he was actually free standing and he was indeed standing securely, a tear flowing out of his eye. He took another picture of himself, then a picture down his legs, showing them in the pants and his feet in his Nike’s. He slowly turned around and took a picture of his backside, holding the camera in an angle where his standing was visible.
When he looked at his phone it showed a time of 1:25 and he knew calculating in his head that his time was almost up. He took another quick picture and then slid his arms into is crutches again, gripping the handles and slowly made his way out of his bathroom. Just as he was half way to his bed, he felt all the sensation go away. His legs gave out as his knees just buckled under him, both feet losing their grounding on the floor and oddly twisting as he barely made it further. He was holding on to the crutches with all his strength, his dangling legs were just hanging on his torso once again and almost in a panic he tried to make the rest of the way to his bed, but ended up falling forward with half of his body landing on his bed and the rest hanging off the bed. His arms were twisted in the crutches and he slid them out breathing in gasps and cursing lowly, “Fucking shit!”
For a few moments he just laid there, halfway on his bed and processing the nightly mystery once again.
Since he had met up with Erin the evening before he had almost expected not to have to go through this again. Wasn’t the proposition something like his having to decide between Erin or having his legs back? He didn’t know what it was about and for a moment he hoped that maybe the old man had really only been some kind of vision in his imagination and not a real thing. Maybe he was going through some kind of miraculous recovery and would still be able to have Erin in his life and eventually walk next to her, holding her hand or lifting her off the ground and swinging her around, while kissing her. He smiled at the pictures of his imagination.
The walking and standing had felt so good though, it had felt amazing. Being able to feel the ground under this feet, the material of his lounge pants touch his skin or his hands touch his legs. Even the pain in his ankle felt good because it was a sign of life, a sign of his nerves working, his brain sending signals all the way down to his feet again. The sensations of arousal he could feel again, his manhood awakening and wanting to feel the intimate closeness of a woman made him feel so much longing.
He laid there with half of his body hanging off the bed. Slowly he slid his upper body off the bed and eventually sat on the floor, grabbing his legs and untwisting them. He just sat there and looked at his still legs, all sensation gone and no more feelings left. He rubbed with his hands over his thighs and he didn’t feel a thing and he laid his head back on his bed and stared at the ceiling.
He eventually pulled his feet up and took off his Nike’s. Turning his body around he attempted to pull himself up on his bed all the way. It was a bit of a struggle as he didn’t have anything to hold on. He had to move down toward the headboard and by holding the bedside table and then grabbing the headboard of his bed he pulled with all his strength to get his body back up on the bed. It wasn’t easy but he managed and fell on his pillow breathing hard. He was exhausted and soon fell into a restless sleep with strange dreams that woke him up a few times during the rest of the night.