I was awakened not by my alarm going off but by Police sirens outside on the main road. It was a noise I heard all too often in Metairie. I slowly rolled over to look at my clock radio on the bedside table and saw it was eight thirty. The sun was already bright outside and I also heard morning traffic and birds chirping. Shane laid next to me unchanged, still on his back, his mouth slightly open but breathing softly. Quietly I scrambled out of the bed and went to my bathroom. I only took a quick shower to wake up and when I came into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around my body Shane shifted some in the bed and blinked at me, mumbling my name.I tiptoed over to his side of the bed and sat on the edge of it, “Hey sleepyhead!”
He turned his face to me and I kissed him on the cheek, “Good Morning.”
He smiled weakly, “Morning! What time is it?”
He then pushed himself up somewhat quickly and I saw him look down to his shorts. He seemed to be relieved some and I didn’t know what this was about.
“Are you all right?”
“I need to get into the bathroom.”
I moved away from him and moved his crutches closer to him. He grabbed them and quite quickly was out of bed and pulled himself up. I watched him move slowly to the bathroom tough but I realized he was somehow anxious to get there.
He pushed the door closed behind him with his body and I wondered what was going on.
His backpack was still in the bathroom so I hoped that was all he needed.
While Shane was in the bathroom I set on coffee. It took him a while in the bathroom and I set the table for breakfast when eventually he came out and he made his way back to the bedroom. I could see again how it was difficult for him to move around on only his crutches. I came into the bedroom just as he let himself down on the bed. He looked at me with a shy smile.
I sat down next to him, “Hey, everything all right?”
“Yeah…could you do me a favor and get my clothes and backpack from the bathroom? I couldn’t bring the stuff with me.”
I got up and fetched his jeans, socks, boxers, and backpack from the bathroom, bringing everything to him.
Shane had pulled himself up all the way on the bed propped up against the headboard, “I need to get dressed and into my braces. It’s getting difficult to keep walking around without them.”
“Do you need my help?”
“Could you get them from the living room?”
I walked out to the living room and picked up the braces from where we had left them the night before. They were not light and I carried them into the bedroom and dropped them on the bed next to Shane.
He had already pulled his shorts off and was just in the process to finish up with his boxers.
I watched him as he grabbed his jeans. He pulled his legs up with his hands, angled them in front of his body, and somewhat adjusted them to get his jeans on. I was so turned on just seeing the way he did that and how he had to keep positioning his legs, which seemingly had a life of their own, falling from one side to the other. He was focused on the task and seemed a little agitated in between as his legs were not cooperating.
Once he had his jeans pulled up, zipped and buttoned he arranged his left brace next to his leg and opened all the cuffs, laying them over to the side. He then lifted his leg into the brace.He eventually looked up at me and asked, “Do you think you can help me get my socks on my feet and into the boot?”
Enthusiastically I walked over to the bed and took his foot in my hands to wriggle the sock over it. I then slid the boot onto his foot, at the same time shifting the brace upward some.
I was about to lace his boot up but he stopped me, “Let me strap the brace on first.”
Just when he was about to start I touched his hand and said lowly, “Let me do it.”
I felt embarrassed but the longing to strap the brace on his leg was so strong and as for a moment he looked at me curiously he then nodded, “Okay, go for it.”
Shane picked and pulled on his jeans a little to straighten the pants leg, “I have to try to keep them kind of straight so they don’t wrinkle too much under the brace.”
His jeans were done and he ordered, “Just buckle the cuffs now, they’re all in the fourth hole, snug fitting on my leg. Start from the bottom.”
The brace was just lying under his leg, the straps still unbuckled.
I felt my breathing quicken as I started on his calves and worked my way up. My fingers were trembling as I was focused on the task and I was utterly turned on by doing this. Once I was done with the first brace and I had finished buckling the cuff around his upper thigh, closest to his crotch, he stopped me and held my hand down on the leather cuff.
I couldn’t look at him, my heart was racing in my chest and he remarked, “Your hands are shaky.”
I nodded shyly but I couldn’t speak. He pressed my hand down some more and I felt the warm, smooth leather cuff strapped around his thigh. I was very nervous now and I almost wanted to pull my hand out from under his.
“Look at me Anna.”
I slowly moved my eyes up to him but I could barely look at him.
His dark eyes were on me, “You really enjoy doing this, don’t you?”
I couldn’t stand his gaze and looked away again but I nodded, my hand pressed onto his thigh cuff, and feeling sweaty and shaky as he kept his strong hand right on top of mine.
He said lowly, “It’s all right. I’m glad you like doing this for me. Does it feel good to you?”
I couldn’t speak, but I nodded again and I felt a distant quake go through my loins.
“Does it turn you on?”
I answered almost whispering, “Yes.”
I looked up at him for a moment and he smiled, “That’s a good thing for me Anna…I haven’t really been feeling too great about all of this, but you feeling this way is actually pretty awesome for me. You know, this has been anything but easy…no guy wants to be like this…”
I felt shy and awkward, and above all I felt very vulnerable all the sudden. I felt like somehow Shane’s condition made me weak and stupid and he had a strange way of control over me with this.
I pulled my hand out from under Shane’s grip and got up from the bed, “Maybe you should do the other one yourself…”
I almost ran out of the bedroom, I had to breathe. All the sudden strapping on Shane’s brace and him putting me on the spot like he did, made me feel more insecure than ever. Something about it was difficult for me to accept. Just like the evening before I had craved it so much but now that I had done this for him, I felt bad about myself.
I left him sitting on the bed, confused, “Anna, wait…what is it?”
I heard him call after me, “I’m sorry if I said or did something wrong…”
I couldn’t let these feelings about Shane’s braces and disability control me this way and for a moment I had felt so helpless and weak in front of him. I didn’t want to be like that, I couldn’t accept this, and I needed to keep a clear head.
I heard Shane move about on the bed and I heard him strap on the other brace but I walked away and went outside onto my balcony again. I looked out over the pool, a few people were down there already. I took some very deep breaths.
Eventually I heard Shane coming, his braces squeaking very lowly, and his crutches rattling softly as he moved through my living room and came to the balcony door, “Anna, what’s wrong? What did I do?”
I sat on the chair and there he was standing in the door frame, his braced legs right in my view.
I started with a trembling voice, “You know…your braces….I don’t need to touch them and I don’t need to put them on for you. As a matter of fact, from now on you can do it yourself, I won’t do it again.”
I didn’t know why I said what I said.
I heard my voice but didn’t know what caused me to react this way, “Just so you know, I’m not crazy or whatever….”
Shane came through the door, sat down on the chair across from me, and unlocked his braces. I didn’t look at him.
“Anna, I’m sorry I made you angry or something…I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like I did. It’s just…we talked about this last night.”
He took a deep breath and shook his head some and then added, “Do you know how much I hated these things up until now? How much I hated getting into them every fucking day and how much I hate not being able to walk anymore without them? Up until recently I hated being messed up like this. I have hated everything about my life lately…I thought yesterday I made it clear to you what a mess I’ve been…I want to be with you and I feel good being with you and around you because you don’t mind any of it.”
His voice was trembling, “Can you even imagine how good it makes me feel when I see the way you want to touch them, put them on my legs or last night in the bath…how you were okay with the way my legs are and everything else about my body. I…You make me feel like I’m…like I’m still a guy a girl wants…despite everything that is wrong with me.”
I slowly looked over at him and I felt my eyes get blurry.He spoke softly, “Anna, I’m totally cool with you being into this. You don’t have to feel weird or ashamed. I’m okay with it. If you want me in these things, I’m perfectly fine with it…it’s an enormous boost for my ego that you can find this somehow attractive.”
His eyes were on me and I felt a tear run down my cheek when I explained lowly, “That’s not the only reason I want to be with you though. I really want you to know that, Shane.”
He replied lowly, “I do know that…and for God’s sake I hope it’s not the only reason, but if it’s something you like about me, cool…I’m freaking happy about that. So be it.”
He reached his hand over to me, I put my hand in his and he pulled me over to him. I kneeled down in front of him, right in between his braced legs.He held my face in between his hands and looked at me with deep, dark eyes, “You make me feel really good Anna.”
Tears still ran over my cheeks and I started lowly, “I’m sorry…I’m just not used to this…these feelings I have about the way you are….I don’t know why it’s like that. I do like your leg braces a lot, I like them on you and you in them. It’s what caught my eye when I first saw you…but it didn’t feel right. Your disability does turn me on, but I like you for who you are.”
He leaned toward me, saying softly, “It’s all good baby…”
This was the first time he called me baby and I felt my heart beat racing, “Oh Shane…”
He kissed the hair on top of my head, “We’ll be all right. We’ll figure it all out. Right now it’s just all new for us…”
I nodded in agreement and we sat there looking at each other until I moved up and wrapped my arms around him. We held each other for a while.
Shane’s laces were still untied and once we let go of each other I tied them for him, while he was still sitting there on the chair.
I asked with a smile, “For what?”
“I don’t know, everything…”
His eyes were still on me and he touched my face, “Yesterday was special for me, you know? Being here with you felt so freaking good and I somehow can’t believe I actually got to stay the night.”
I smiled, “I’m very happy you stayed here with me.”
He then stuttered softly, “Anna….I think…I think I’m falling in love with you.”
My voice was gone, I couldn’t say anything to him. I had been so afraid he would say something like that, the three dreaded words that I really didn’t want to hear.
I touched his hand, “Shane, I care a lot about you….” I paused and took a deep breath, “I really do but I hope you can be patient with me. I have so many things on my mind right now. I need to sort everything out first.”
He nodded with his head down, and now I took his face in my hands, “Listen to me Shane. I’m here with you and that’s the only place I want to be at right now. I really enjoy having you here with me and everything that happened yesterday, it was wonderful and special.”
He finally looked up and his eyes had a sadness in them. I knew he had expected me to say the same thing to him but I couldn’t, not yet.
I moved my chair closer, “Shane, I really care about you and I want to hang out and be together when we can but I need more time, okay.”
He nodded and said lowly, “What I said is true, I can’t help what I’m starting to feel. I understand if you can’t say it back yet. As long as I can be with you I can wait for however long it takes.”
I smiled and stroked my hand over the side of his face, “You’re a stubborn boy, aren’t you?”
He laughed lowly, “I can be if it’s about something I really want.”
I moved closer to him again and he shifted forward some and we kissed.
We eventually went back inside and while Shane finished up in the bathroom I prepared breakfast.
After breakfast we headed out to get to Shane’s appointment. I gathered my purse and I held Shane’s backpack in my hand. As I locked the door he was looking down the stairs. I was so worried about him falling down.I stood next to him, “Are you able to get down?”
“I’ve no choice really.”
I wished so much there would have been something I could have done for him. I was sincerely concerned about him going down the stairs.
I said lowly, “I’m not going ahead of you this time. I’m going right in front though.”
I stepped down the first two steps and watched as Shane set his one crutch down on the first step, then shifted his whole body sideways and stiffly moved his one leg over and down onto the step, then following with the other crutch and the next leg. I stayed right in front of him and I saw the concentration on his face, I saw how his hands tightly gripped the crutch handles and how he had to move his legs down one step at a time held rigidly in his braces. It was definitely not easy and it worried me so much. He managed very slowly and carefully and as we reached the platform after the first set of stairs he took a deep breath and we took a break.
I said softly, “You’re doing good.”
He smiled as he was about to conquer the next flight of stairs.
I stayed right in front of Shane the whole way down and it took us about 15 minutes to get down all three floors until we finally reached the ground floor. At that point Shane was exhausted, I saw some sweat beads on his forehead and face, his bangs were slightly moist. The heat and humidity didn’t help his struggle to get downstairs.
In the car he adjusted his legs in front of him, placed his crutches next to him by the door and leaned his head back taking a couple of deep breaths, “Shit, this stairwell is a killer….”
Once again I felt bad for living on the third floor and I contemplated about future visits of Shane to my apartment. I was just relieved he had made it all right and didn’t fall or anything. I had been very worried.
On our drive to Charity hospital we talked about the city. New Orleans had been my home for a long time now and I loved the city even though it was not an easy place to live in. The poverty levels were rising steadily and the crime rates did with that as well. I knew there were better places to live but somehow I felt like I was part of the city in some odd way, just like my brother had been part of the city for a long time, we somehow just belonged here. I belonged to the city’s nighttime creatures just like Jay had been and we had made our living not in the suburban ways but just a little bit different. I would have loved the picket fence house and children running around in the yard but it had not happened for me and I doubted it ever would. I lived a life outside the norm and so had Jay.
Shane commented, “I’ve always wanted to get away from this place, I have thought about it so many times but I just didn’t go through with it. Something forced me to stay here and at the same time I didn’t really know where to go and where it would be better for me. Now, all that is pretty much over anyways…”
He sounded like he was defeated and I stayed silent.
We got to Charity and I parked in my usual area. As we stood in the elevator I almost pushed the seventh floor.
Shane stopped me, “I’ve to go up to third.”
I nodded nervously, “Of course.”
I was so used to going up to the seventh floor and while we stood in the elevator my mind drifted off to Jay and I wanted so much to go up to the seventh floor and see him.
Shane must have sensed my thought process and asked lowly, “Are you all right?”
I was pulled out of my thoughts as my mind had been off in a different space, “Yeah…I’m all right.”
Shane kept his eyes on me until the elevator door opened and we got out on the third floor.
As I kept pace with Shane I asked, “How long is your appointment?”
“About 45 minutes to an hour. Do you want to stick around?”
“I may go upstairs and say Hi. So if I’m not out here when you’re done just come up to seventh floor.”
We reached the Physical Therapy reception and the girl behind the counter greeted Shane friendly, “Hey Shane, long time, no see.”
Shane smiled, “Hi Tasha, you weren’t here the last couple of times I was here.”
Tasha smiled, “I was on vacation.”
“Nice…Tasha, this is my girlfriend Anna.”
Tasha looked at me curiously but friendly, “Hi Anna, nice to meet you.”
I smiled at her, “Nice to meet you.”
She then turned to Shane again, “Are you the 12:45?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
She typed something into her computer and confirmed, “Yep, 12:45 for you Shane.”
Shane found a comfortable arm chair and let himself down slowly, his legs still stiff in the braces just sticking out in front of him. I sat down next to him. He didn’t unlock his braces this time but just had his legs stretched out in front of him.
He smiled at me, “Remember last week…when I was here.”
I shook my head, “Oh Lord, don’t remind me…I felt so stupid.”
He took my hand in his and kept his eyes on me with a smile, “I felt pretty damned good.”
We laughed lowly and he rubbed my hand with his thumb.
Eventually Tasha called Shane to the back, “Shane, Zach is ready for you.”
Shane pulled himself up and with a quick kiss he said, “I’ll see you in a bit.”
I nodded, “Yeah, I’ll probably go upstairs.”
“I’ll find you when I’m done.”
Then he positioned himself and walked off, slow and steady.
My heart was beating fast as I took the elevator up to the seventh floor. All I could think of was Jay and I felt so sad. Once I got out on the floor and approached the nurse’s station I was intercepted by Gloria with her deep but friendly voice, “Hey sugar. What are you doing here?”
She came around for a hug and she held me tightly to her chest for a few moments.
I mumbled into her hair, “I came to say “Hi”.”
“And I’m so happy about that sug’.”
Two other nurses came around and greeted me with hugs and I felt better.
Gloria led me to the sitting area and smiled at me, “Oh sugar, I’m so glad to see you. How are you?”
“I’m all right I guess.”
“You came to get Jay’s things?”
I had forgotten about Jay’s personal belonging that were still here and now I was glad because I actually had a reason to be here.
“Oh yeah, I can take those with me today.”
I talked with Gloria a little bit.
Gloria eventually got Jay’s things for me and when I took them with shaky hands she asked again, “Are you really okay?”
“I am Gloria. I’m hanging in there. My friends are there for me 100 %.”
We talked some more and I didn’t realize how time had gone by when Gloria glanced down the hall and I followed her eyes and saw Shane coming down the hallway toward us.
Gloria asked warmly, “Can I help you sir?”
I cut in, “Gloria, this is my…this is actually my boyfriend Shane.”
It sounded strange when I said “boyfriend”. Gloria looked slightly puzzled from me to Shane and then back, “Oh, I had no idea.”
She glanced at Shane’s legs and then got up and greeted him, “Hi Shane, nice to meet you.”
Shane smiled, “Hi, nice to meet you.”
I got up and explained, “Shane, this is Gloria, she was my brother’s nurse most of the time while he was here.”
He nodded but was focused on finding a good stance right there.
Gloria smiled at me, “Well, this little lady here never mentioned she had such a handsome boyfriend.”
She laughed and I added, “It’s still new. We actually just met here at Charity about a week ago.”
Gloria smiled, “Oh really? Well, well, well.”
She patted my back and Shane just stood there smiling.
Shortly after that we got ready to go and Gloria looked at Shane, “Well, Shane, it was nice meeting you. You know Anna is a special young lady.”
Shane nodded shyly, “I realize that. She’s very special to me for sure.”
Gloria smiled at us, “You guys come and see me again, okay.”
We hugged and soon we were heading to the elevator and I had Jay’s bag in my hand.
Shane glanced over at me, “You got that?”
“Yes, it’s just some of my brother’s stuff. I had forgotten about it.”
He nodded and I asked him, “How was your appointment?”
“Exhausting, kind of rough.”
That is all he said and we went back down to the garage and to my car.
Having been up on the seventh floor and now carrying some of Jay’s stuff had made me sad a little and I didn’t say much.
Once we were in my car, Shane looked over to me, “Anna, are you all right?”
I looked over to him and smiled with shiny eyes, “I guess. How about you?”
“I’m okay. Thanks for bringing me here. I know it must be strange for you and probably difficult to be here.”
I nodded shyly, “It is. There’s a new patient in Jay’s room already.”
My eyes filled with tears and Shane shifted in his seat and leaned over some, then took my hand into his, “Life isn’t easy for a lot of people.”
His voice was gentle when he said it and his hand felt warm around mine.
I looked up at him into his dark eyes, “How’s everything going to be for us?”
A tear rolled down my cheek and Shane pulled on my hand, “Come over here on my lap.”
I scrambled across the gear shift and sat on his lap, my legs stretched across the driver’s seat. I felt his braces under my legs and Shane wrapped his arms around my waist.
I started crying and Shane wiped my tears away with his fingers, “It’ll be all right, baby.”
He held me to him and I cried on his shoulders, “I miss Jay.”
He just let me cry and said lowly, “I know how you feel. I miss my brother too.”
We sat there, held each other, and I just cried.
As I finally let go off Shane he looked at me with his beautiful, dark eyes, “I’m here for you Anna.”
I nodded, “And I’m here for you.”
He smiled, “Good.”
I checked myself in the mirror and saw my make-up was smeared some, “I look like a mess.”
I laughed but pulled my purse over and looking into the mirror on the visor I fixed my make-up some.
Eventually we were on our way into downtown as we had decided to get some coffee. I slowly made my way toward my favorite coffee shop, a local place not far from the French Quarter.
The city was crowded with tourists flocking through the French Quarter. I told Shane I would drop him off outside the coffee shop and find a parking spot.
Shane scrambled out of my car with some difficulties and kept his eyes down as he made his way over to the side of the building to wait for me. I saw him in my rear view mirror as he leaned on the wall some. I ended up parking in a garage around the block and walked about five minutes until I got to where I had dropped Shane off. Definitely lots of tourists were out and about but I didn’t mind. New Orleans needed the tourists.
I found Shane still standing on the wall where I had dropped him off and I looked at him for a moment. He didn’t see me, he was watching people walk by. He stood out in the crowd standing there like this with his leg braces and holding on to his crutches.
He didn’t see me as I watched him from afar and my mind drifted off to what Shane’s life maybe had been like before his disability had slowed him way down. I really didn’t know much about him yet. I wondered what kind of guy he really had been or if he had always been like he was now. I felt there was more to him than what I knew so far. I stood there for a moment watching him and was surprised when Shane actually spotted me and threw me a questioning look.
He shrugged his shoulders and nodded at me to come over to him.
I walked over to him then and when I reached him he asked, “What were you doing over there?”
I shrugged my shoulders and smiled, “I just wanted to look at you for a moment.”
We made our way into the coffee shop and I spotted a table on the side by the open window, “You want to sit over there?”“Yeah, that’s fine.”
Shane made his way carefully between all the tables and chairs in the cafe, most of them occupied with guests. Some people were looking at him curiously. I knew he drew attention with his legs in the braces, it was not something people saw very often. The chances of seeing a person in a wheelchair were a lot higher than seeing someone like Shane who tried to still make his way on his two legs despite the paraplegia he dealt with. We made it to the table and sat down. Shane discreetly unlocked his braces under the table. We ordered coffee.
Shane reached over the table and held his hands out for me to put mine in his, “Do you feel better now?”
I nodded, “Yes, thank you. I used to come here with Jay at least once a week. We had coffee and breakfast usually. Jay always had this special coffee, a Hazelnut and Raspberry Latte.”
Shane just looked at me from under his bangs and he softly ran his thumbs over the back of my hands as he held my hands. The waitress brought the coffee, it was hot and smelled freshly brewed.
As we sat there, talking about Shane’s appointment a voice suddenly interrupted us, “Anna!”
I looked up and saw one of the regular guests from the club approaching me. Lance was a middle aged business men who came to the club at least three times a month. I had danced for him before. He was always respectful toward me and gracious in his tips.
I felt very nervous all the sudden and I saw Shane glance up at the stranger somewhat hostile. I pulled my hands from Shane’s hands.
Lance had reached our table and I smiled at him, “Hi Lance, how are you?”
He actually squatted down next to me, “Oh, I’m good sweetie. I missed you on Friday last week, you must’ve been off.”
Shane shifted some in his chair and as I quickly glanced over to him, I saw his eyes were dark and cool.
I answered, “I was off, tending to a family matter.”
Lance, who was a wealthy man in the city asked me, “When will you be at the club again?”
“Maybe next Friday. I took off for a few days but I’ll be back.”
He grinned, “I can’t wait Anna. You know you’re my favorite one.”
I smiled nervously and glanced at Shane again, who seemed very tense.
“Thank you Lance. I’ll see you again soon.”
“And, I’m looking forward to it. You take care now and have a good day. It was nice seeing you.”
He smiled at me, got up and glanced at Shane for a moment, probably wondering who he was.
We said Good Bye and he walked away.
I sighed and looked over at Shane.
He didn’t look at me, his hands were under the table now and I said lowly, “Shane?”
He moved his dark eyes to me and with a sarcasm to it he said lowly, “Sweetie?”
I kept my gaze on him, “Yes, that’s what he called me.”
Shane’s eyes flickered restless and he seemed tense.
I didn’t beat around the bush, “He’s a regular at the club and that’s how he knows me. That’s also how things are. I don’t see too many of the men from the club out in public but it just happened and it’s not really a big deal.”
I really didn’t know what else to tell Shane and he stated, “You didn’t even attempt to introduce me.”
I sounded tense now, “Introduce you?”
I thought for a moment then added, “This has nothing to do with you Shane and it also doesn’t change the way I feel about you but yes, I work at the club and I meet men and I can tell you that this is the way it’ll go down.”
Shane looked at me with dark, piercing eyes, “It has nothing to do with me then?”
I couldn’t tell him anything other than the truth, “No, you don’t have anything to do with my job. This guy doesn’t care about you or who you are, it’s of no importance to him. He’s merely interested in me and can care less who you are as long as he sees me at the club again and gets his private dance like he always does.”
My voice trembled now and I saw Shane breathing quickly and he looked down, shaking his head. I didn’t say anything else.
Shane took out money from the back pocket of his jeans and threw it on the table. I watched as he pulled up on his crutches and locked his braces.
Without looking at me he said, “I’ll be outside. If you want I can catch a bus from here out to Kenner.”
I was shocked at his reaction, “Shane, why are you acting like this?”
He walked away, I didn’t look after him but I heard his crutches on the ground as he made his way out to the sidewalk again.
I got a to-go cup for my coffee, thanked the waitress and left.
Shane had slowly made his way over to some steps leading up to a door on the building and I saw him reposition his stance. I knew this was the first time he had been confronted with the reality of my job but now I was worried about his reaction. If he already had a problem with this, how would he handle the rest of my job?
He sat down on a wall next to the stairs and I watched as he unlocked his braces to bend his legs and he held his crutches upright in front of him, his head still down staring at the pavement.
I walked over to him, “Shane?”
He looked up and his expression was sad. I set my coffee cup on the wall. Without protest Shane let me take the crutches from him and I leaned them next to him on the wall.
He placed his hands next to himself on the wall, holding his balance.
I sat down next to him, “Remember what you said when I first told you about my job?”
He didn’t say anything and kept his eyes down.
I continued softly, “You said, it didn’t matter what I do as long as you knew I cared for you.”
He still didn’t speak and I added, “Shane, I do care about you so much and I care about what we have. My job has nothing to do with us. I have this job and I need this job. It’s my income, it’s how I make a living and for right now that’s not going to change. You’re so much more to me than any guy I see at the club. But you have to be strong for me. You have to accept this or I don’t know if we can make it work otherwise.”
Shane didn’t say anything, he played with the brace cuffs on his thighs, and his hands were shaky.
I was frustrated, “Shane, if you want I can take you to your friend’s house now?”
That’s when he looked up at me, but still didn’t say anything.
I sounded tense, “You said something like me needing to talk to you because if I don’t you don’t know how to act. You’re doing the same thing to me right now Shane. You’re not talking to me. Maybe we just need to go.”
I picked up my coffee cup, “I’m getting my car. Stand over there and be ready to get in when I come by.”
I started to walk away and I heard him lock his braces and I heard the crutches on the ground. I left Shane behind and went to get my car and my eyes filled with tears.
When I came around again, he was standing where I had told him to be and he got into my car. We didn’t talk. Shane stared out the window and I tried to keep my tears in.
I was angry, “So what’s the deal Shane?”
He shifted in the seat, “What are you talking about?”
“I want to know what we’re going to do about this situation. Are you going to be able to handle it or not? I work as a dancer in a very busy high end club. I’m pretty good at it too and it makes good money, it makes damn good money. I need to live, Shane, because I’m on my own. You can talk to me again when you have a job and a life established for yourself. You have nothing to do with what I do at my job. We just met, Shane…and I was blown away by you and all the things you said about how you feel for me and how we can do this and how much we care about each other. You threw the three little words around already but now at this little incident you act like…you don’t even talk to me. I don’t have the energy for this. I’ll take you to your friend’s house and on Saturday you should probably just go back to Morgan City. Just in case you maybe were considering it, I’m not going to let you move in with me. I probably shouldn’t have even let it get this far.”
At this point I was crying and my voice had become loud. Shane sat next to me and I saw him press his lips together and I saw his chest move up and down quickly.
I screamed at him, “Shane, look at me!”
That shocked him and he looked over at me.
I cried and I pleaded, “Shane, say something!”
I almost couldn’t drive anymore.
He shook his head and his voice was shaky when he softly said, “I meant what I said, Anna…”
He stopped, swallowed and tried again, “I meant everything I said….everything.”
He leaned his head back on the head rest and looked up at the roof of the car, trying to keep control of his emotions. I saw him swallow and take quick breaths.
I wanted to stop, I didn’t want to drive anymore. We were on the Interstate now heading out to Kenner. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do or say to him.
Under tears I said, “You have to tell me which exit to take when we get to Kenner.”
I could barely hear him, “The airport exit.”
My tears were streaming down my face now and as soon as I had exited the Interstate the first chance I had I pulled over in an empty lot, which didn’t look very safe but I just couldn’t drive anymore.
I turned off the car and with my hands still holding the steering wheel I cried.
When I finally looked over to Shane I saw his eyes were shiny and his voice was a whisper, “Anna…I don’t know what to do without you.”
He now grabbed my hand and this time his hand felt cold and damp and I felt it tremble around my hand.
He swallowed, “I meant everything I said…”
He looked at me and his eyes were full of desperation, “I need you Anna…and I’m sorry…I’m sorry I acted like a complete idiot back there.”
He took another breath, “It’s just….I don’t know why this is happening so fast…but I do love you.”
He stopped again and I now climbed over the gear shift again and sat on his lap. I hugged him and he held me tightly to him and I cried for the second time that day.
I said lowly, “Shane, we can’t be like this…We can’t break down like this. This is not good.”
Shane said with a trembling voice, “I don’t know…I know we just met and all but it’s like I’ve been looking for you my whole life and now you’re here….and you have this job and I’m all fucked up. All this stuff that happened in our lives recently….If I have to go back to Morgan City this weekend…what will happen to us? I can’t even imagine not having you around…I’m going crazy thinking about not being able to hold you. I’m not very strong right now, I know that…”
He apparently swallowed a knot in his throat, barely able to talk, “But I know I have to be strong for you…I have to deal with what you do for a living and not be an ass about it. I’ve no right to tell you what to do but it drives me crazy knowing that I have nothing to offer you. I have no money, I can’t drive, I have no car, I can’t even fucking walk right and I hate myself for being in such a fucked up position right now because I know you deserve better. I just don’t know if I can make it without you.”
We held each other and I was overwhelmed with his words and his emotions and it scared me more than ever to let my feelings for him go.
I said lowly, “You’re strong enough and you’ll be okay in Morgan City.”
He shook his head, “Don’t say that.” He pulled me closer to him again.
For a while we just sat there until we had somewhat calmed down.
I said to him, “Why don’t we get your stuff from your friend’s house? You come stay with me until you have to go back to Morgan City this weekend?”
He nodded but he didn’t say anything else. His head rested on my chest and I felt heat escape from him. The windows in my car were fogged up now from our emotions and our talking and it was getting very humid in the car.
I moved away from Shane and looked at him, his eyes were shiny.
He kept his eyes on me and said again, “I meant what I said. I love you Anna.”
I couldn’t say it back to him but we kissed a long and deep kiss. I felt I did love him too but I was scared to let my emotions for him go all the way, because I was terrified to lose him again. Everything we had seemed so very fragile and we would have to be strong to keep our relationship going. I had a feeling it would hurt and it would be hard and I didn’t know if we had the strength to make it. We were both dealing with things in our life and even though Shane was like from another world to me and I was drawn to him in any possible way it also felt like he could slip away from me so easily. I didn’t know if we could succeed. I didn’t want to make it through another broken heart, it had happened too many times before. At least back then I had Jay to help me through the heartache but now my brother wasn’t here anymore and I would have to deal with anything coming my way on my own.
We kissed again and eventually I slipped off Shane’s lap and back into the driver’s seat. I turned on the car, blasted the window defrost with all the mugginess on the inside. We waited a moment until my windshield was clear and then we took off toward Shane’s friend’s house.