It was around five in the morning when Mark fell asleep again and he didn’t wake up until Ranger finally jumped up onto his bed and started biting his nose. Mark opened his eyes sleepily and when he remembered the night before he quickly looked at his phone and saw the time was after nine. He moved his hands to his crotch and felt the saturated briefs. Ranger meowed and bit his nose again trying to relay to his owner how hungry he was.
“Yeah, yeah, good morning man.”
Mark yawned and listened for a moment for any noises.He pushed himself up in the bed and glanced to his door, it was still shut enough where Chiara couldn’t see him get out of his bed.
He leaned over some, pulled his TiLite all the way to the bed, and transferred into it, yawning again in the process. He made it to his bathroom and closed and locked the door behind himself. He had to get out of the briefs, they were wet like after most nights. His bladder retracted with spasms sometimes and with that there was always a chance for urine to leak. He managed to pull the briefs off his privates and he balled them up and threw them in the closed trash can in his bathroom. He then used a wet wipe to somewhat wipe himself off before he sleepily pulled out a new catheter and emptied his bladder all the way. He was going to get in the shower after he fed Ranger.
He washed his hands and ran his wet fingers through his ruffled hair, then splashed some cold water in his face to wake up somewhat.
Ranger was following him everywhere and meowed loudly now. Mark sat in his wheelchair without a shirt and only in socks and sweat pants. He put his hands to the rims and pushed out into the hallway. At the end of the hallway he saw Chiara in the kitchen. She still wore his clothes. He was thrown off momentarily remembering she was in his apartment and he felt the nervousness come up again on how to approach her.
He slowly rolled up in the hallway and she now looked up and toward him.Her hair was hanging wild around her head, strands of it still falling into her face and she said softly, “Good morning.”
Chiara was also nervous seeing Mark roll into the kitchen. He didn’t wear a shirt and she got the full view of his upper body. She was stunned in a way. He obviously had some strength and it showed in his defined arm muscles with well-developed biceps, triceps and his chest with distinct pectorals. His chest and arms were covered in several larger tattoos and she saw a soft fluff of hair on his chest and down by his belly button disappearing under the waistband of his lounge pants.
She quickly moved her eyes from him as he stopped right there in front of her and he said somewhat sleepy, “Good morning.”Mark didn’t mind her seeing him like this, he wanted her to be impressed and he wanted her to see that he was indeed strong.
Chiara had moved her eyes away from him and now said softly, “I’m sorry if I woke you up. I tried to be quiet.”“You didn’t wake me up, Ranger came in. I guess he slept with you all night.”
She smiled from behind her hair, “He did and I enjoyed it so much.”
“Yeah, he must really like you.”
“I think he’s hungry but I didn’t want to go through the cabinets to find the cat food. I saw his bowls were empty, I gave him fresh water already.
“Thanks. Here, I show you where his food is.”
Mark wheeled into the kitchen and opened the pantry door where he had all his food, beverages, and really everything else he used for cooking or eating.The cat food was also in there and just as he grabbed a can of food Chiara asked softly, “May I do it?”
Mark looked at her and smiled, “Yeah, sure.”
Chiara grabbed the food bowl from the floor and Mark handed her a small spoon, “Here, I use this one for the cat food.”
Chiara pulled the lid of the can and as she spooned the food into the bowl, Ranger was rubbing around her legs, meowing, and Mark explained, “He gets a can of wet food in the morning and usually I give him a couple of dry kibbles in the later afternoon or evening.”Chiara nodded, “Okay.”
She really seemed to enjoy the task of getting Ranger’s food and once she was done, she set it down and was talking to the cat in a loving tone, “Here you go buddy. There’s your breakfast.”
Mark watched quietly as she adhered to the task and once Chiara had the bowl on the floor, she looked at Mark and he smiled at her.
She seemed embarrassed, “I’m sorry I’m just taking over your cat.”
“It’s no problem. He likes you and if Ranger gives his okay, I’m okay.”
Mark still smiled at her and she smiled now, “I had cats when I grew up and I like them. I just haven’t had one in a long time.”
“Feel free to spoil him all you want.”
Ranger got busy eating and Chiara washed off the spoon and rinsed out the can.
Mark watched for a moment and showed her where to put the can in his recyclable trash.
Chiara then turned around and leaned on the counter.He looked up at her, “Did you sleep all right?”
She nodded and answered, “I did. I’m sorry I just fell asleep on you last night.”
Mark waved his hand, “Don’t worry about it. You were tired and cold, so it’s understandable.”
They were quiet for a moment and Mark then asked, “Would you like some coffee?”
“That would be great.”
Mark showed her the Keurig and he felt how Chiara closely watched him as he was explaining how to work the machine. The first cup was running through and Mark let Chiara have it. She took the mug and explained that she drank her coffee black. Another coffee ran through for Mark and he grabbed it from the machine. He used regular milk in his coffee. They both held the mugs in their hands and Mark smiled at Chiara, holding up his mug to her, “Cheers.”Chiara gently tapped his mug with hers.
Chiara was carefully drinking from her mug and Mark clearly saw the bruise around her eye and also the busted lip.
He scanned her face for a moment and asked, “How’s your eye and your lip?”With that she seemed to be reminded for a moment about the injuries in her face and she quickly let some strands of hair fall into her face some more, saying softly, “It’s okay. I’ve had it worse.”
When Mark heard this, he was reminded of the reason he wanted Chiara with him initially.
He bit his lip but kept scanning her face, asking cautiously, “So I assume it was something that happened regularly?”
Chiara didn’t answer but took another sip from her mug.
She then said, “I wanted to make you breakfast but didn’t want to snoop around in your cabinets.”
Mark realized she had changed the subject and it was a sign for him to not ask any more about her injuries.
Chiara glanced at him, “I can make something if you show me where everything is. I like to make omelets, pancakes or can make whatever you like. I actually like to cook.”Mark smiled, “Really?”
“I eat out a lot, probably not the healthiest way of living.”
Chiara now met his eyes and said softly, “Let me make you breakfast Mark.”
He smirked, “If you insist.”
And she laughed softly and he enjoyed so much hearing her laugh.
Mark basically gave her a run down of all the groceries and items he had and everything in the pantry, the refrigerator and the cabinets.Chiara seemed excited as he showed her and she said, “I will whip up a nice breakfast for us.”
“That sounds awesome.”
She smiled at him and Mark stated, “Maybe I take a shower while you do that.”
“Yeah, go ahead. I’ll get things going here.”
Mark nodded and put his hands to his rims, “All right. I’ll try to hurry up.”
“Take however long you need.”
Mark looked at her once more and they smiled at each other and then he wheeled down the hallway and Chiara kept her eyes on him until he disappeared in his bedroom.
Mark tried to hurry up some in the bathroom but he could only go so fast with everything. He wasn’t going to try for a bowel movement just yet and since he had just catheterized he soon sat on his shower chair, letting the water run over him.
It still seemed surreal to him that Chiara was out there in his kitchen making breakfast. It made him happy though. He pondered about how he could get her some clothes and decided after breakfast he would go over to his neighbors and see if he could borough something from them.
After almost an hour he wheeled back out to Chiara. He was now dressed in sweat pants, socks and a plain T-Shirt.As he came into the kitchen, he smelled food and Chiara was just setting the table with plates and silverware.
He remarked, “It smells good.”
She walked by him into the kitchen and he saw a smile brush over her face. She brought out a stack of pancakes from the oven, she had two omelets in a pan and strips of bacon on a plate.
She carried everything to the table and said in passing, “You can go up to the table. I’ll bring everything.”
He nodded and rolled over to his spot. The table was set with napkins, plates, silverware, condiments and even two glasses with Orange Juice.
She then brought a fresh mug of coffee for Mark and set it in front of him, “Here you go.”
She hurried back to the kitchen and brought over the omelet and bacon and pushed one omelet on Mark’s plate and one on hers, then on each plate three strips of bacon.
Mark just watched her do all those things and he couldn’t help smile at her enthusiasm.
Chiara then sat down next to him and she glanced up at him shyly, “Well, I hope you’re hungry and that you’ll like it.”“I haven’t had a homemade breakfast like this in a long time. I usually just eat cereal in the morning.”
She smiled and explained, “I only did cheese omelet because I couldn’t find any veggies in your fridge.”
Mark laughed softly, “Yeah, I don’t eat a lot of veggies.”
He looked at the table again and then up at Chiara.
She met his blue eyes on her and he said, “Thanks so much for this Chiara. I really appreciate it.”
She swallowed and nodded, “This is the least I can do for you.”
Mark kept his eyes on her still, “I’m really glad you’re here.”
She didn’t say anything to that and just nodded and lowered her eyes to her plate.
Mark was somewhat confused at her silence but he then turned to his plate as well and they started eating.They ate in silence for a few minutes and Mark tried to think of something to say but he still felt nervous in Chiara’s presence. His heart beat quickly at watching her and he had a difficult time acting confident around her. He still wasn’t sure how she felt about being there with him and he was tempted to ask her but he didn’t. Instead he quietly ate his breakfast and Chiara was also sitting there quietly eating.
Chiara tried to not be too obvious glancing at Mark but her eyes kept travelling to his wheelchair and how he sat there next to her. She looked up for a moment and Mark met her eyes with his. She looked away again, focusing on the pancake on her plate.Mark finished a bite and wiped his mouth with the napkin, “It’s very good.”
She only nodded with a shy glance up and Mark took a breath because again she didn’t say anything.
He then stopped and looked at her again and softly he started, “Chiara?”
She looked up at him and he realized once again her large, emerald green eyes, one with a bruise around it but looking at him nervously, “Yes?”
He set his silverware down, swallowed and stated, “I’m really glad you’re here with me and I hope you feel the same way about this.”
He wanted her to say something but she didn’t and he pressed his lips together and thought about his next words, stuttering, “I want you to know…”He stopped, took a breath and continued, “I just hope you know you made the right decision…when you…when you got in my car.”
She was slowly chewing on a bite and he felt his hands tremble hoping she would say something.
Mark took a deep breath, lowering his eyes and said nervously, “I wish you would talk to me about this.”
She now looked up at him, her eyes were glistening, “There’s nothing to talk about. Just about right now he’s probably looking for me.”
Mark hadn’t expected her to say something like this and he didn’t know what to say now.Chiara set her silverware down and when Mark looked at her again her eyes were on him still.
She then said softly, “Mark, what you’re doing is very courageous and I’m so thankful to you but you can’t expect me to be happy and carefree about this. It’s not a happy situation. It’s a very dangerous situation and I worry…”
She took a deep breath and then looked back at him, “I was hesitant because I’m worried…I’m very worried about how things will be.”
Mark swallowed, “We can talk to the police.”
Now her words were stern, “I will not go to the police and I won’t talk to them. If you want me to talk to the police I can’t stay here.”Mark now added quickly, “I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.”
Her tone changed, “Good.”
Mark wanted to tell her how glad he was that she was with him and that in his mind he saw her staying for a long time but it wasn’t the right time to say anything of that kind. He didn’t know how she even felt about him and he had to keep reminding himself that it was naïve of him to think that she could actually be interested in him past the fact that he got her out of a bad situation. She was right, this was not a carefree situation, this was a dangerous stunt on his end, having basically kidnapped her from her regular environment and taken her away from some very dangerous people who would possibly do anything to find her again.
He didn’t say anything else to her and just looked at his plate again. He wasn’t all the way hungry anymore now, instead he felt tense.
All the sudden Chiara’s hand moved over and she softly put her hand on his hand. He was surprised and he looked at their hands for a moment, then looked up at her and their eyes met.Her expression was sad and her hair was hanging over the side of her face as she said softly, “Mark, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time but I’m also the most scared I’ve been in a long time.”
He looked at her and took a deep breath. Feeling her soft, fragile hand on his hand had his mind racing.
It had been a long time since he had felt the gentle touch of a woman.
With another deep breath he then said, “I care about you and I want to keep you safe and help you.”
Chiara moved slightly closer to him across the table, “And I care about you and I appreciate what you have done for me already.”
Mark nodded, “I guess we will just figure it out somehow. I know you…you probably have your…have your doubts about me and with how things are with me but I want to help. I want to help you and I want you to know…that I can and I will do anything to keep you safe. It may not seem that I can do a lot but I can…I just want you to know that.”
He felt he was rambling on and he looked down at their hands and then looked back up at her, “I may be in this chair and not able to walk but I can still do stuff you know.”
She now said softly, “I know that and I know you are so very strong.”
Their eyes met and Mark thought of something else to say but instead they just looked at each other for a moment. His eyes scanned over her face and he debated if now there was a moment he could be more personal with her but Chiara then pulled her hand away from his and for a moment he glanced down at his hand that was now disconnected from her hand again and he swallowed because he felt the sting in his heart. She had moved her eyes from him and she had moved her hand from his again but he wanted to say something else. He didn’t want this moment to fade again so quickly.
He looked up at her and he saw her eyes were glistening.With a trembling voice he tried to assure her, “I want you to feel safe with me.”
She now smiled a weak smile, “I do feel safe with you Mark.”
He nodded, “Good, because if it’s up to me I won’t ever let him come near you again. Never!”
Her smile faded and she took a deep breath but she didn’t say anything else. Instead she turned to her food again.
Mark felt that she didn’t want to talk about this anymore. He also turned to his food again but he didn’t feel that hungry anymore. The interaction with Chiara had left him somewhat tense. Her hand on his had felt so good, so soft and so warm and he would have loved to instead just take her hand in his and keep it there but he knew he had no right to touch her in that way.
They finished eating and Chiara asked after a little while, “Would it be possible for me to take a shower after I cleaned up the kitchen and stuff?”
Mark nodded, “Yeah, of course. You can take one as soon as your done eating. I’ll clean up the kitchen.”
Mark nodded, “Yeah, of course. You can take one as soon as your done eating. I’ll clean up the kitchen.”
After they finished their breakfast, they cleared the table. Mark balanced the plates on his lap and Chiara grabbed the mugs and glasses.She was about to clean some of the dishes when Mark said, “I got this stuff. You cooked, I clean up.”
“I can clean up.”
Mark insisted, “No, I got this. Let me show you to my bathroom.”
Chiara followed him through the hallway into his bedroom and to the bathroom. Right away she saw all the signs of this bathroom’s accessibility for Mark. There was the shower bench in the open shower he could literally wheel into and only draw the shower curtain. The drain was lowered in the ground and the water could run down into it. There was no threshold or tub edge to get over.
There was a frame mounted around the toilet and Mark was able to wheel right up to the sink, even under it, there were no cabinet doors. Even the mirror was slightly slanted mounted on the wall so he could see himself good from the position of his wheelchair. Instead of a cabinet under the sink there was a bathroom shelf with towels and supplies on the wall next to it. Chiara also saw the box with all the packages and she quickly recognized the catheters Mark used for emptying his bladder.
Mark didn’t miss her curious observation of his bathroom while he turned to the shower, “So, you can just go in there. I don’t think the chair will be in the way too much.”He now laughed, “If you want you can sit down, I guess.”
Chiara smiled at him and he added, “The shower head is on a flexible hose and you can just take it off the wall mount and then let the water run over yourself.”
He then put his hands to his push rims, “I’ll get you a larger towel from my closet.”
Chiara looked around the bathroom and glanced at the bottles of shampoo, shower soap and all the items by the sink. This was only a man’s bathroom, there was no sign of any female presence.Mark came back with a towel on his lap and he handed it to her, “Here you go. You can just hang it on the bar there, next to mine. There are wash cloths if you need one.”
He pointed to a stack of wash clothes on the shelf.
He then wheeled over to a small plastic chest of drawers and pulled out a toothbrush still in the package, “Here’s a toothbrush. You can use my toothpaste there on the sink.”
Chiara took it from him and thanked him.
Mark then put his hands to his rims again, “Well, I’ll be outside in the kitchen. Call me if you need anything.”
“Thanks Mark. I really appreciate it.”
He wheeled out of the bathroom and thought about that she would be able to see his catheters and probably wonder what they were and now he wished he would have put them away. The container with the catheter packages next to his toilet was obvious and she wouldn’t miss it. He also wished he would have put away the box with Latex gloves, the vial with stool softener capsules, the lube, the enema packages under the sink and the items he used for triggering bowl movements. He hoped that Chiara wouldn’t really see any of those things. And he hoped very much she wouldn’t look into the trash can and see the used incontinence briefs and gloves. He wished so much he would have emptied the trash can. He had been living in his apartment by himself and had not had to worry about anyone seeing his stuff.
He took a deep breath now hissing over his lips, “Fucking shit.”
Now he wished he wouldn’t have allowed her to just go into his bathroom and take a shower, at least not before he would have put away all those items that made it so clear that he was broken. But he knew that there was no way he could have hidden away everything that pointed out so much how disabled he was. He could only hope she wouldn’t snoop around too much and just get into the shower and get it done.
Chiara didn’t snoop around, instead she saw very clearly everything that Mark dealt with when it came to his bathroom and toilet routines but she didn’t feel repulsion or disgust. She knew about all those things and instead of turning her away from Mark, she felt even more intrigued and more curious. She was able to take a hot shower and used Mark’s shower gel and shampoo, recognizing the scent from just being close to him.
With her eyes closed, she held the washcloth to her face and took in the masculine smell and she wondered how Mark’s skin smelled and she imagined her face close to him, and her mouth on his lips and skin. And for a few moments she was lost in thoughts and she saw Mark in front of her inner eye and she saw herself so much closer to him. She saw her mouth all over his body and as she sat on his shower chair, she ran her hands over her legs and in between her thighs and imagined how her hands would run over Mark’s lifeless legs, how her hands would run over his back and how she would explore his body with her hands and with her mouth. And she imagined how his hands would run all over her body and how safe she would feel with him when he would wrap his strong arms around her and pull her close to him.
She slowly opened her eyes and her tears were mixed with the water and she looked down on herself, her pale skin with soft freckles in some areas, the scars of cigarettes put out on her skin and the bruises of recent abuse and she covered her pubes with her hand because she didn’t want to see it and be reminded of the filth she had been exposed to for so long.
And her soft weeping turned into silent crying, the ratio of tears to water increasing, and the physical pain of the water touching the small wounds on her body was taken over by the intense pain she felt in her heart.
And her soft weeping turned into silent crying, the ratio of tears to water increasing, and the physical pain of the water touching the small wounds on her body was taken over by the intense pain she felt in her heart.
And the longing to call out to Mark was so intense, the longing to be held by him and being able to cry onto his shoulders. The longing was so strong to fall into this man’s arms, sit on his lap while he sat there in his wheelchair and wrap her arms around his neck and just let him hold her while she cried it all out. She wanted her broken body close to his broken body and she tried very hard to not break out in sobs while sitting in Mark’s shower.
And her mind drifted to a boy from a long time ago, her first love. It had been then when it had been awakened in her, the longing to be the girl with the boy in the wheelchair, the boy who couldn’t walk. And she had indeed been the girl with the boy in the wheelchair for a long while and she had thought it would be the forever kind of love. She had thought that she would be the only girl who would want to be with the boy in the wheelchair, the boy who used to walk and then after the summer didn’t anymore. She had known him walking and she had loved him even more when he didn’t walk anymore. She had then learned that there were other girls who wanted to be with the boy in the wheelchair just as much as she wanted to be and the boy also realized that and he moved on and had left Chiara behind to fall into the hands of a boy who could walk and would do many awful things to her.
Chiara couldn’t stop her tears from flowing and she kept running water over her face and all the sudden she heard Mark’s voice outside, “Chiara?”She swallowed her tears and tried to sound confident, “Yes?”
Mark called out to her, “I’m going over to a neighbor’s really quick, I’ll be right back. It’ll only be about twenty minutes or so. Are you okay?”And she swallowed more tears, “Yes, I’m okay.”
Mark was in his bedroom and now slipped his sneakers on his feet without tying the laces. He quickly slipped his hoodie over his head and then wheeled out of his apartment and down the sidewalk along other people’s apartments. The neighbors he wanted to visit lived on the other side of the building, also in accessible apartment.
He rang the doorbell, and Mikala, the youngest daughter of a family with four girls opened the door, “Mark, hey!”“Morning Mikala. How are you?”
Mark had known the family since he had moved in, they had moved in shortly before him about the same time two years earlier. The four girls between the ages of 12 and 18 shared the three bedroom apartment with their mother who had Multiple Sclerosis and their father who was almost blind. The family lived of Welfare but never missed an opportunity to invite Mark over for dinner on a weekend or when there was a family event.
Mikala didn’t even think twice about letting Mark in.
Mark rolled into the apartment and Mikala’s mom Lori stood there in a robe holding on to her walker, “Mark, sweetie. What brings you here? Come on in.”
The other three girls were sitting in the kitchen over breakfast. A TV was playing a sitcom and everyone greeted Mark. He had always been able to come and go as he pleased with the family. Their door was always open.The second youngest daughter, Andrea, asked, “You want to eat breakfast with us Mark?”
Mark smiled, “Actually I already had breakfast. Thanks though. I’m here to ask you guys something or maybe a favor I guess.”
Lori moved over to the living room and very slowly let herself down on the couch, “What’s going on?”
Mikala sat down next to her mom and they both looked at Mark. Now Maya, the oldest of the four girls joined her mom and sister in the living room, looking at Mark expectant.He started, “So, I have a thing…I have a favor to ask of you ladies. I have a friend at my place right now. She comes from a bad situation at home and I kind of let her stay with me for right now.”
He couldn’t tell the family about what Chiara’s situation really was.
“She is…her boyfriend is kind of an ass and she asked me for help. I brought her to my place but she basically has no clothes with her and nothing. She only brought what she had on herself. She is wearing some of my clothes at the moment but I wanted to see if there is a chance that maybe you ladies would let her borough some clothes for the time being. She doesn’t have any money on her either and so I’m kind of trying to figure out what to do. Her boyfriend doesn’t know where she is and so we most likely won’t be going shopping around here anytime soon.”
Maya asked, “What has her boyfriend done to her?”Mark still had his hands on his push rims and he took a deep breath, “He beats her and stuff. I’m trying to help her get away from him.”
Andrea came over and joined them, “What’s her size?”
Mark smiled and looked up at the girl, “I’m not all the way sure. She is probably as tall as Maya and about Maya’s size.”
Maya said, “Yeah, I can get some things together for her. It’s no problem. She can try the stuff on and see if it fits.”
Mark nodded, “I would really appreciate it. I can take it to her and if it doesn’t fit I’ll bring it back.”
Maya nodded, “Yeah, what do you think she likes to wear?”
Mark shrugged his shoulders, he had never seen Chiara in regular clothes, “I really don’t know. Whatever you guys wear I guess.”
Maya smiled, “I’ll get some clothes together.”
Her youngest sister Mikala joined her and they walked away into the back of the apartment.
Lori, the mom of the girls now looked at Mark, “It sounds like the girl is in trouble and it may be a bit dangerous.”Mark sighed, “Yeah, it is kind of and she’s in trouble but I want to help her get away from him. She’s scared of him.”
Lori tilted her head, “Maybe you should go to the police and get a restraining order against the guy?”
Mark nodded again, “Yeah, maybe. Right now, she’s still too scared to talk to the police and so she’s just going to stay with me for a while.”
He was hoping the women wouldn’t ask too much more about Chiara, he couldn’t tell them the real story about her but he knew they only meant well and were concerned.
Lori asked if Mark wanted a cup of coffee while they waited for Maya to put together some clothes. Mark declined. He asked about her husband and Lori told him he was out with his brother.
Maya came from the back hallway with a large bag, “Here you go. I put some stuff together and if it doesn’t fit you can just can bring it back and we find something else for her. If it fits, don’t worry about bringing it back. I don’t need the clothes right now. I also put a pair of flip flops and a pair of house shoes in there.”She came over with the bag and Mark smiled, “Awesome.”
He took the bag and set it on his lap.
Maya asked, “Can you get it to your place though?”
“Yeah, I got it. It’s not that I have far to go.”
He looked at the women, “I really appreciate it.”
Lori looked at Mark wearily, “If you need help with anything, let us know. Or if you need anything else for her, you know where we’re at.”
Mark nodded with Lori’s eyes on him, “I will. Thanks Lori. I appreciate it.”
When Mark came into his apartment Chiara wasn’t in the living room yet. He still heard her in the bathroom. The bathroom vent was still humming and he heard water run.
He pushed his chair to his bedroom again and called out to her, “Chiara, I’m back.”She opened the bathroom door and peeked her head around, “Okay.”
She quickly glanced to the bag on Mark’s lap and he said, “I’m going to set this right here on the chair, it’s from my neighbors. There are some women clothes in there and I hope they’ll fit you. One of their daughters is about your size. I’m not sure what she put in there but I thought I’ll try to get some clothes for you. Of course, we can go shopping too and get whatever you need.”
Chiara now opened the door some more and Mark saw she only had the bath towel wrapped around herself. He tried not to stare at her too much but couldn’t help notice her bare shoulders and feet.
“That’s so nice of you Mark. I’ll look at it and see if it fits.”He nodded and stuttered, “Yeah. And I mean it. We can go shopping…or whatever…if you need stuff. We can go somewhere else and…and not around here. Maybe down South to the Outlet or something.”
Chiara nodded, “Okay. Let me check out these clothes first.”
He nodded again and asked insecure, “Did you have everything you needed in the bathroom?”
“I did, I used your shower gel and shampoo. I hope that was okay.”
“Of course. We can buy you that stuff too so you don’t smell like me.” He tried to be funny and laughed embarrassed.
Chiara smiled, “I actually don’t mind smelling like you.”
Mark laughed again and at the same time thought about her comment.
He pushed his wheelchair out again and closed the bedroom behind himself so Chiara had privacy to get dressed.
In the kitchen he finished up the dishes and things from breakfast. He hoped that Maya’s clothes would fit Chiara and he also debated where they could go if she wanted to buy some stuff.
He didn’t really go shopping a whole lot. It was a task if he needed some clothes or something but it wasn’t something he enjoyed doing. There was a large mall not far from where he lived but it had been at least a year since he had been there last. He didn’t have a large variety of clothing, he usually wore jeans, a T-Shirt and a hoodie. He had never been a guy who liked to dress up or was into the latest fashion. He was very basic when it came to clothing.
He was folding the blanket on the couch in the living room when Chiara all the sudden appeared from the hallway. He looked up at her and she smiled shyly.
She was wearing a pair of black leggings and a green long sleeve shirt that went down to her thighs. On her feet she wore a pair of fluffy pink slippers. She had her arms wrapped around herself and glanced at him from under her hair.
Mark spun his chair around and looked at her. The green shirt with her red hair was mesmerizing and even though it was simple and her hair was still a little bit wet she looked beautiful and like a regular young woman. She still had her hair hanging somewhat over the side of her face with the bruised eye. She still seemed embarrassed about letting Mark fully see her eye. She glanced at him from under her hair and he just scanned her for a moment. She was beautiful.
Chiara pulled him out of his thoughts, saying softly, “So the clothes fit.”Mark shifted in his chair some and took a breath, stuttering, “Yeah…great. I was hoping they would. Maya…the girl…the daughter of my neighbor…she is the one…she put the stuff together and she said…if it doesn’t fit, we can bring it back…but I guess we don’t have to.”
Chiara shook her head, “No, we don’t.”
Mark swallowed and asked, “What all did she put in the bag?”
“We could get you some shoes if you want. Are you okay with the stuff though?”
Chiara nodded, “Yes, thank you so much for getting these. They must be very nice neighbors.”
“They are. They moved in about the same time I did. A family with four girls. The oldest, Maya, is eighteen. I got the clothes from her.”
Chiara laughed softly, “It’s nice to see that I can still fit in an eighteen-year old’s clothes. It’s been a while since I was eighteen.”Mark then realized he didn’t know how old Chiara was.
He said, “It can’t be that long ago.”
Chiara smiled, “It was ten years ago. I’m twenty-eight.”
“Okay, I’m thirty.”
The moment he had said it he looked down and laughed softly, then back up at her, “But you knew that since we met on my birthday.”Chiara laughed, “Yes, I did know that about you. That you were turning thirty that night.”
Mark turned serious and looked at her again, “Well, I’m glad the clothes fit and you look…you look nice.”
She walked over to the couch and sat down. Mark followed her with his eyes but didn’t know what to say. Chiara looked over to the window. It wasn’t raining that day but it was still gloomy and dark.
Ranger came into the living room and joined them, jumped up on the couch and crept around Chiara.She talked to him, “Hey sweetie, coming to get some lovins.”
Mark watched as she petted Ranger and he was kind of relieved about the cat being a topic he could always talk about, “I’m jealous.”
He smiled as Chiara looked up at him, “He basically ignores me and goes right up to you.”
Chiara laughed softly, “I’m sorry.”
Mark bit his lip, “I’m just kidding. I’m glad he likes you. Cats can be weird with strangers or unfamiliar situations.”
Chiara asked Mark where he got Ranger from and how long he has had him.
Mark told her the story and finished, “He’s good for me. He’s been my companion I guess.”
Chiara let her hand run over Ranger’s body and she looked up at Mark. He met her eyes and they smiled at each other. He was really stricken with her natural beauty and he longed so much that she would always be like this and be with him in regular clothes and live a regular life.