Romina returns after the time it would take to blend every single dessert in the entire dinner hall. She places the glass on the table and comes around to me, businesslike, hooks her arms under my shoulders to pull me upright, tightens the strap over my chest and puts my right hand next to the joystick again, like she does countless times a day. Her face is carefully guarded while she works with me, then, without a word, she sits on Lauren’s abandoned place, looks from me to Lauren and finally moves the glass with the dessert over to me with a questioning quirk of her eyebrows.
I’m so terribly grateful that Romina doesn’t speak what I’m almost definitely sure is on her mind that I nod and let Lauren assist me finishing dessert. Under normal circumstances I’d never have allowed it. There are only a few of my friends I feel comfortable enough with letting them feed me and none of them are women I’m emotionally drawn to. Definitely none of them have just nearly made me orgasm in public.
Or I them.
Strange enough I end up enjoying it. Lauren’s eyes never leave mine as she holds the glass up and the straw in between my lips, moving it quickly with the unpredictable jerks my head does from time to time, preventing the blended ice from spilling. I study her still slightly pink face with the freckles standing out more now, her red lips curved into a small smile, and none of us speak for the entire long time it takes for me to drain the glass.
It doesn’t escape my attention that Romina scrutinizes Lauren while she assists me, sitting with her arms crossed, as if waiting for Lauren to make a mistake.
The rest of the evening is almost over by the time I’m finished. Most people are about to leave when Lauren removes the straw from my lips and places the empty glass on the table and I know it’s more than time for Romina and me to head out as well. With that a myriad of thoughts come back that I’ve ignored successfully until now.
What will happen tomorrow? The conference is a big one and we might not necessarily cross ways again. But I don’t want it to be over, I notice. Not now. Never, if possible.
I know we’re not there, yet, though. Not by a long shot.
That’s when I realize I need to propose a second date to Lauren, or better, a proper date for starters. Lauren has seen a lot of me already and to put it lightly: she didn’t seem completely taken aback by all of it, right? That’s something. Or was it just a one-time adventure for her, a little fun with the guy in the wheelchair? Am I reading more into this than there is, perhaps? And even if Lauren is interested… can we really make this work, with us probably being a couple of flight hours apart? It wouldn’t be my first long-distance relationship, but I never had to make the first move so short after the initial encounter. Usually I take my time getting to know people, or better, giving people time getting to know me. Most often we start out online, with long conversations. That’s where my forte is: in the written word and long breaks between messages. When this goes promising we meet in person, in neutral places like a park where I can steer the powerchair myself. And only when that works out do we transition to something much more intimate, like a dinner.
Never do we jump all these stages and arrive at where we are now within just a few hours. That’s insane.
And at the same time the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.
I need to get Lauren’s contact data, at least. I want so much more but I need to start with the basics.
By this point I’m so worked up, though, I can’t bring myself to ask for Lauren’s number in front of Romina. What if Lauren is not interested in seeing me again? What if this was but a nice evening for her, and nothing more? What if I get rejected? At least I want to be rejected when I’m alone, without an audience, even if it’s only Romina and I barely have any secrets from her.
I want to have this secret.
When we’re just exiting the dining hall and I’m still desperately trying to figure out how to get to speak to Lauren alone, the situation is taken out of my hands, luckily.
“I thought about going to an art exhibition tomorrow afternoon, before my flight goes” Lauren says, offhandedly as if it just occurred to her. “My roommate suggested it. I thought you’d maybe like to join me?”
She looks at me and then at Romina, her hands gripping the strap of her bag.
First I can’t believe my luck but then reality crashes in. I’m not sure if we’ll have time for that tomorrow, because although my flight is later than Lauren’s, Romina and I will probably have to be earlier at the airport than her. Getting me into an airplane, along with all the check-ups and the physical process itself, is a never ending story.
I’m about to voice my concern when Romina jumps in. “Why not?” she says to my utter surprise. Usually she’s the first to advocate for plenty of time at the airport. Mainly because it rests on her shoulders to get me ready for flying on time. “You two could take a taxi from the hotel, I’ll get everything ready and we can all meet at the airport.”
I stupidly blink at Romina, disbelieving. I’ve never heard her suggesting I go out on my own with a practical stranger. Romina and I come as a package. Even my closest friends have had to go through an almost year-long vetting process to get that kind of clearance from her.
“Yes, excellent idea,” Lauren says, smiling almost shyly at Romina.
Romina’s hand trails along the armrest of my wheelchair. “You’ll need to know a few things.” She fixates Lauren as if attempting to x-ray her.
Lauren straightens under the gaze and nods. “I guess so. If you'll show me...”
Romina remains silent and then, after a while, says: “Sure.”
I watch the two women standing opposite to each other, then turning to look at me in unison and wait for my decision, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed something. There’s a minute of silence and I’m not even really sure what I want to say, overwhelmed by the newfound possibilities and unsuccessful in getting behind what has just happened, but when I look at Lauren there’s no doubt about what I want. Even if it’s just a few more hours of it.
My right hand is stiff and uncooperative and Romina and Lauren end up waiting some extended time for me to access the talker. Finally, I manage to convince my knuckle to connect with the field on the screen.
‘Okay,’ says the computer voice.
Later I’m lying in bed, freshly showered and naked except for my boxer shorts. By now it’s really well into the night but I prefer sticking to my routine.
Romina is rubbing lotion into my skin because it tends to get dry very fast, in every climate. She’s wedged a rubber foam pillow under my knees and a smaller one partly under the left side of my back to make lying on my back more comfortable for me. I can’t lie stretched out because my muscles will not allow my legs to straighten completely and my spine is crooked from years of gravity and spasms pulling at it in different directions.
“So…” Romina says and takes my left hand into hers. I try relaxing because I know what’s coming but I also fear it’s pretty fruitless. “That girl…” Romina massages my palm, gently coaxing my fingers to come out of forming a fist. It hurts but it’s not unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. “You like her, huh?”
“Mmmmh…” I try not to give away if I’m confirming or denying her thoughts, evading Romina’s inquiring gaze.
Romina slowly pulls at my left hand, massaging my bent arm with her free hand at the same time. “You like her a lot even, I’d say.”
I can hear the grin in her voice and I know she’s enjoying this. My teeth give a squeaking sound as I clench my jaw a bit harder than intended.
Sometimes I debate if I should get a new aide, someone who’s not as damn curious as Romina. Someone who knows their bounds better. Alas, I’m pretty sure there’s no one better than Romina in the entire world and I don’t really think about ever replacing her. Only sometimes I wish she’d be a little less… nosy.
Romina applies lotion onto the skin of my left arm before snatching the brace from the nearby table. It will keep my arm somewhat straight during the night, to avoid that it becomes completely immobile one day. Not that it would make a huge difference for me since it barely has any function as it is. But I guess it has something to do with hygiene and being able to clean the crease of my elbow.
Yes, a very appetizing topic, I know. I can tell many of that sort.
“She likes you, too.”
My head swivels around to look at Romina so fast I might’ve pulled a muscle. Not really, though. I think it would be impossible for me to do that by voluntary movement. Involuntary movement is on another page, however. I literally managed to fracture my shin once while sitting, just by crashing it into the edge of a nearby wall with heavy spasms. My bones are rather brittle though, so that might’ve played a role as well.
I scowl as Romina grins at me triumphantly. “Come off it,” I drawl. “That’s not true.” Yes, Lauren likes something about me. Doesn’t mean she likes me. But still…
I couldn’t stop thinking about that in the last hour. Lauren is definitely into me, somehow. I still didn’t manage to get behind the reason why exactly, but something about my body or how my body moves must be arousing to her. That much I was able to figure out. It still doesn’t make the least bit of sense to me but strange enough I feel like I don’t necessarily need to find sense in it. It’s definitely the first time in my life that something like this has happened to me, that I’m able to turn a woman on with just my voice or a gesture of my hand. In fact, when I’m being honest, it’s probably the first time in my life that I’ve been successful in turning a woman on at all, not just making her interested in me or like me. I don’t really have problems with the latter, although there are certain obstacles to navigate, but I guess it’s kind of obvious I struggle with the first. Apart from trying to lie still during intercourse there isn't much I can do, neither before nor during or after, and most often I’m not even really successful in doing just that. I must admit it feels amazing, having such power for a change, this gift to make someone enjoy a moment, truly. And I’ve decided that it feels just too damn good to keep thinking about the reasons behind it.
But it still doesn’t mean that I’m more to Lauren than just some guy.
Romina shrugs. “I tell you,” she says. She’s finished stretching my arm so that it fits into the brace. The brace is a pretty bulky and ugly construction, with sturdy metal bars keeping it in a locked position and two large flaps that go around my upper and lower arm and can be fastened with Velcro tape. Well, it’s only for use during the night and no one except for Romina and my other aides will see it, so I don’t care how it looks.
“She’s pretty,” Romina says. She’s managed to sort my feet and wiggles my shorts up between my clenched legs until they reach my hips. Then she slips my arms through the opening of my sleep shirt and pulls it over my head. She removes the smaller pillow under my back to roll me onto the side. “And your type.”
“Mmmmh…” I reply.
“You got to admit to that at least,” Romina teases.
“Hungh...” I nod into the pillow, my mouth a bit obstructed by it. Romina flattens it so that I can breathe and pulls my shorts over my ass and the shirt down my back.
“Did you—” Romina starts.
“Romina!” I warn her. This is really none of her business. Of course, I’m sure she has noticed the dried precome in my protective underwear. But talking about it really goes too far.
Romina turns me onto my back again, sighing. “Sorry,” she says, but she rather looks sorry because she didn’t manage to wiggle anything out of me, not so much sorry for overstepping professional boundaries. She adjusts the pillow under my knees, secures the ones around me, pulls the light blanket up to my chest and places my arms outside as I prefer it. “Do you need anything else?”
I shake my head.
“Good. Just call me if there’s anything.” Romina sets up the baby monitor on the bedside table.
Yes, I have a baby monitor.
It means that I can sleep in my own room and don’t have to share one with my aides. If you can’t appreciate the awesomeness of that you’re probably a very lucky person.
“Good night,” I tell Romina.
Romina gets up and is about to leave the room when she stops, hand already on the door handle. “Seriously…” she says. “Did she—?”
“Romina!” I can’t prevent blushing though as I think back at Lauren’s lips parting in pleasure.
Romina gasps and the wide, triumphant grin is obvious in her voice. “Oh! Oh my god, Patrick, that’s amazing!” I don’t exactly know how much Romina knows about my success with pleasing women in bed, but it must go much deeper than I thought it was. Definitely much deeper than I’d prefer it to be.
I try looking at her but it’s hard for me to keep my head up or even remotely sit up without any grab bars installed at the bed. I have them at home, but of course accessibility of hotel rooms only goes so far. I can be lucky that my electric wheelchair fits through all relevant doors. “Romina, I swear…”
Romina laughs and I can see her waving a hand. “Good night, Patrick. Sweeeet dreams.”
If I could I’d throw something at her. But as it is I just glare at the ceiling, hoping she can see it from the door and try my best not to smile.