I was lounging on my couch when shortly after six o’clock my doorbell buzzed. At my apartment door I saw Matt on the camera with a bag in his hand.
I quickly answered through the speaker, “Hi Matt, come on up!”
Matt unknowingly smiled into the camera and pushed the main entrance door open as I buzzed him in. I stood at my apartment door waiting for him.
Down the hall he soon stepped out of the elevator and with a friendly smile he approached, “Shay, hey!”
I was on my knee scooter and he looked me up and down, “It’s so good to see you but my gosh Shay, I’m so sorry about what happened to you.”
I smiled shyly, “I’m okay again - somewhat. Come on in.”
Matt walked into the apartment and I caught a whiff of Chinese take-out mixed in with Matt’s masculine cologne. He walked straight to the kitchen and set the plastic bag on the breakfast bar.
I had closed the door and now joined him in the kitchen. He stood there and looked so full of life, so healthy, and so attractive. His hair was slightly ruffled on his head but he now ran his hand through it and it fell into place again. He was dressed in work attire, a fashionable cut suit with a colorful buttoned shirt under the trendy jacket. On his feet he wore grey leather dress shoes. He looked completely perfect.
His blue eyes flickered friendly and he now stepped closer and looked at me again with a warm expression. “How are you, Shay?”
I lowered my eyes momentarily, then looked back up at him, “I’m better again. I know I still look like a mess and it hurts a bit but I’m okay.”
I had slipped a wide headband around my forehead so my head injury was covered and at the same time the headband held my hair back.
He scanned my face, “So you injured your head, right?”
“Yeah, it’s underneath the headband. I didn’t want to shock you too much.”
I laughed softly and Matt smiled, “Shay, really - you didn’t have to worry about that.”
“I didn’t really but it does look dumb and I’m embarrassed about it.”
He shook his head, “And you don’t have to be embarrassed about that either. You had an accident.”
I tried to distract from this, “Well, so you brought dinner?”
Matt grabbed the plastic bag and undid the lose knot on it, “Yeah, I hope you’ll like my choices. I got it from “Golden Dragon”.”
I knew the restaurant well as we had been there several times in the past for social events at work, usually lunches for a holiday or birthdays of employees.
“Awesome, what can I get you to drink? I have water, soda, wine, juice, no beer unfortunately. I’ll have wine myself.”
Matt smiled, “Then I’ll have that too.”
I acknowledged, “Doesn’t really go with Chinese but I’m in the mood for it.”
Soon we sat at my dining table with several open boxes of Chinese food, two plates and two glasses of wine. Matt had taken his jacket off and it was hanging over the back rest of the chair. He had unbuttoned two buttons on his shirt and had rolled up the sleeves to his forearms. With the buttons undone I caught a glimpse of his chest hair. His shirt was snug fitting and I could make out very clearly his muscular upper body.
Matt held up his glass, “I’m happy to see you Shay, and this is to quick recovery for you.”
I tapped his glass and smiled, “To quick recovery.”
We drank from our glasses and while Matt started to put some food on our plates he asked, “So what had happened exactly? You slipped and fell?”
I quickly tried to remember how much I had told Matt about my accident and I nodded, “Yeah.”
Matt wanted more, “Where did that happen? I mean I know you said you were on your way home, right? Last Thursday?”
“Yeah, I got off my bus a station early because I wanted to stop at the grocery store and as I walked along the sidewalk I slipped. It was raining so hard. I was kind of hurrying and I was wearing my high heel boots. I totally busted my butt and hit my head on the pavement. There were people and they helped me right away and called an ambulance and stuff.”
I thought my story sounded very believable and in a way that is how it had happened anyways.
Matt seemed satisfied with my details, “Wow, I’m glad someone was there when it happened.”
“Me too. I was kind of in shock I guess.”
“Yeah, you should definitely take all the time you need away from work. You got some sick days saved up, don’t you?”
I nodded, “I do. I’ll probably take this week at least and then go back on Monday.”
We ate and we talked about work and Halloween. I didn’t miss Matt’s glances at me. They weren’t glances of just a friend; they were glances that indicated a different interest.
After we were done eating, we cleared the table and got comfortable in the living room with some more wine. Matt sat on the armchair and I had settled on the couch. We were quiet for a moment but Matt’s eyes were on me.
He put his right foot over his left knee and smiled, “Well, I’m looking forward to see you at work again whenever you come back.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to go back. I don’t like very much sitting at home like this but I don’t want to face clients looking like this.”
Matt smiled, “The headband looks very nice though. You could wear that when you come back.”
I lowered my eyes and laughed softly, “Thanks Matt.”
We fell into an awkward silence. I was thinking about what I could say to him. I knew Matt still had feelings for me and now I reconsidered how possibly it hadn’t been a good idea for me to let him come over. He was so handsome right there in my living room and I couldn’t understand myself.
I had my cell phone next to me and discreetly glanced at it but Matt didn’t miss it and asked hesitantly, “Have you been on any dates lately?”
I quickly looked up and just as quickly shook my head, “No.”
Matt tilted his head, obviously realizing my swift answer.
He nodded, “Me neither. I had a few Tinder dates but nothing came of it. It’s true what they say about Tinder.”
He laughed shyly but he looked so beautiful.
I remarked with a smile, “You’re such a catch though, Matt. I can’t believe the right woman hasn’t come along yet.”
He took his glass and held it, swirling the wine in it, then looking up at me, “She has come along but she doesn’t want me.”
His eyes were bright and blue on me. I couldn’t stand his gaze and lowered my eyes.
I didn’t reply and Matt took a sip from his glass, then looked at me again.
I met his eyes and he smiled warmly, asking, “Still no chance for me then?”
In my mind I thought about my day and what I had done and where I had been and who I had been looking for. If Matt would have even known the slightest bit about what I had been up to, he would declare me crazy.
I didn’t answer and instead I lowered my eyes again and debated if I should confide in Matt. I couldn’t bring it over myself.
Matt kept his gaze on me. He shifted and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
He slightly shook his head and then looked up at me with a serious expression, “What can I do Shay?”
I had dreaded this question and this situation once again.
I held the wine glass in my trembling hands and tried to think of my reply.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and when I didn’t answer, Matt said, “I’m sorry Shay. I know I shouldn’t have brought this up again. I don’t want to pressure you but I can’t help how I feel.”
I shook my head and Matt seemed slightly distressed now and explained, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to…I don’t want to put you in this situation. I was just glad that you were okay with me visiting tonight. Just tell me one thing, is there someone else in your life whom you want to be with? If that is the case, I will back off and never ask again.”
I now felt horrible and sad for Matt. He sat there and his eyes weren’t flickering of joy but he now looked nervous.
Just as I was about to answer, my door bell buzzed and I jumped at the noise, even slinging the wine in the glass slightly. Matt was startled too and looked over toward the door.
I set my glass on the table and scrambled from the couch. I wasn’t expecting anyone and Chad would have called or texted if he would have come over. It was now almost nine o’clock.
Matt offered, “Do you want me to get it?”
I quickly answered, “No, it’s fine. I got it.”
I set my knee on the scooter and rolled over to the door. Matt stayed on the arm chair looking after me with a curious expression.
At the door I turned the camera on to see who was down there before I pressed the door opener. I was shocked to see Jordan down there in front of the building entrance. His hoodie was pulled into his face and he didn’t look into the camera. I could see he had his backpack on the wheelchair handles.
As stunned as I was, I was also relieved to see him. I turned around and saw Matt still sitting there. I didn’t know what to do. With the camera on I also heard the rain through the speaker pounding on the sidewalk outside my apartment building. It had started raining hard again throughout the afternoon and evening. On the camera I could clearly see how wet Jordan was.
I spoke softly into the speaker, “Jordan?”
He now looked up seemingly searching for the camera and answered, “Yes, it’s me.”
I glanced at Matt once more and I knew I had to just deal with this situation now. I couldn’t turn Jordan away. Matt shifted on the couch and his expression was curious.
He asked, “Is it your brother?”
I turned off the speaker momentarily and with a trembling voice I answered, “No, it’s someone else.”
I then pressed the door opener and said into the speaker, “Come on up, Jordan.”
Matt got up from the arm chair and looked expectantly toward the foyer and where I was standing by the door. I was worried and nervous how this would turn out. As I stood by the door waiting for Jordan, my heart was racing and my body was trembling. Matt stood in my living room and I felt so very bad for him. I didn’t want to hurt Matt in this way but I couldn’t hide Jordan from my world forever and ignore how deeply I felt for him and how much I loved him. Sooner or later people would have to find out about Jordan.
Down the hall from my apartment the elevator doors opened and out came Jordan pushing the rims of his Quickie, sitting somewhat hunched over and now quickly rolling toward my apartment. He was obviously drenched from being out in the rain. His backpack was hanging on the handles of his Quickie. He glanced at me from beneath his hoodie. As he came closer, I stepped into the apartment and without any words he rolled into the foyer of my apartment. He came to an abrupt halt and spun his wheelchair into my direction. He hadn’t noticed Matt in the living room. Strands of Jordan’s hair were dripping from underneath the hoodie. Cold and moisture radiated from him.
Seemingly out of breath he started with a trembling voice, “Shay, I’m so sorry…sorry for what I’ve done.”
He pulled a small clear plastic bag from his hoodie pocket and shoved it toward me with visibly shaking hands.
I saw clearly it had the Oxycodone tablets in it and his eyes flickered nervously, “Here you go. I’m sorry and…”
He was shivering, his eyes were blood shot.
Before I could reply, he stammered breathless, “Charlie told me…he told me you were there…at the camp…I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Shay, please forgive me…I should’ve never done this. I love you Shay. Please forgive me.”
I was speechless but was trying to find a moment when I could let Jordan know that Matt was there in my apartment. Jordan was so fidgety and nervous and preoccupied with talking to me that he hadn’t taken notice of anything around us or Matt standing right there in the living room.
Jordan still held the plastic bag out to me, “Take it, I don’t want them. I should’ve never…taken them from you. I should’ve…have never done this…I’m so sorry Shay.”
He shoved the plastic bag toward me and I grabbed it from his ice-cold hand and right as I was going to say something, Matt came out of the living room. Jordan was startled as he realized this and pushed his hoodie off his head and his eyes darted into Matt’s direction. His dark hair was unkempt and messy on his head, wet strands of his bangs hung into his face.
Matt stood there and asked tensely, “Is everything all right Shay?”
Matt’s eyes moved to the plastic bag in my hand. Jordan was scanning Matt suspiciously with his dark nervous eyes.
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath, “Yes, everything is all right.”
Matt seemed concerned and looked at Jordan skeptically, “Are you sure?”
I explained with a shaky voice, “Jordan, this is Matt. He’s…he’s a coworker and friend of mine. He brought me dinner tonight.”
Jordan looked back at Matt with worried eyes. He was visibly shaking and still taking quick breaths. His hands were red and trembling in his lap. His dark bangs hung into his face; he looked a lot like at the Rite Aid store weeks earlier when we had first met. It was obvious he wasn’t well and Matt scanned Jordan just as suspicious.
I continued my introduction, “And Matt, this is Jordan.”
I paused and debated my next words, then admitted, “Jordan is my boyfriend.”
With that Jordan looked up at me and he moved his eyes from me to Matt, apparently waiting for Matt’s reaction. Matt stared at me in utter disbelief, I was waiting for his reaction as well.
Matt laughed a soft sarcastic laugh, “What do you mean Shay? This is a joke, isn’t it? Who is this guy?”
Jordan didn’t say anything and I stammered, “It’s…it’s not a joke. Jordan and I…are together. I love him.”
Obviously confused and in complete disbelief, Matt asked, “Shay, what are you talking about?”
I was waiting that any moment Jordan would say something but he sat quiet and only watched.
I shifted on the spot and swallowed the lump in my throat, “Jordan is my boyfriend. I love him.”
Matt looked at Jordan and back to me, “You’re kidding me…I mean…no way Shay. Are you insane? What on earth are you talking about?”
I took a deep breath, “It’s complicated but Jordan is with me. I love him and we’re together.”
Matt glanced at the bag in my hand, “He just gave you some tablets in a plastic baggie. What the hell are those Shay? What’s going on here?”
Right as I was about to say something, Jordan shifted and pushed his rims rolling next to me, looking at Matt and explaining calmly, “I took something from Shay that I shouldn’t have taken.”
Jordan paused, took a breath, and continued, “Yes, I do drugs, I shoot up, and I have no place. I live on the street and that’s where Shay met me.”
Matt stood there, looking on completely stunned. In a way I felt bad for him but sooner or later he would have found out.
Jordan then added, “Shay couldn’t go to work today because of me, she got hurt because of me.”
Now Matt looked at me and replied quickly and very tense, “What the fuck…did he do this to you, Shay?”
I think this was the first time I heard Matt use the “f” word.
I shook my head, “No, Jordan didn’t do this but he was there when it happened.”
Matt shook his head still confused, “I’m like…I’m without words Shay. I can’t believe this. What is going on with you? Why are…”
He stopped, apparently lost for words and questions.
I moved closer to him and gently touched his arm, “Matt, I’m so sorry. I know it’s…I don’t expect you to understand. I met Jordan by coincidence and something happened between us. It’s difficult and it’s complicated but yes, Jordan is my boyfriend. I love him, he’s in my life, and so far, only my brother and his fiancé know…now you also know and I would appreciate…”
I looked into Matt’s blue questioning eyes, “I would appreciate if you keep this to yourself for right now. It would mean a lot to me.”
Matt swallowed at my request and looked at Jordan again, then back at me, “Shay, I’m lost for words really. I just don’t understand.”
Tears had collected in my eyes, “I don’t expect you to understand, but I hope you’ll still be my friend and I’ll explain to you some other time.”
Matt shook his head, “I just…why…how are you with…”
I touched his arm again, “Don’t try to figure it out Matt. It is what it is. I know it’s hard to comprehend. Please trust me, I know what I’m doing. My head is clearer than ever.”
Matt just stared at me for a moment and without a word he then went back to the dining area and grabbed his jacket off the chair. As he came out, I tried to meet his eyes but he didn’t look at me.
I turned to Jordan, “Jordan, please give me a moment with my friend Matt.”
Jordan didn’t protest, didn’t argue, but put his hands to his rims and rolled into the living room. Matt was already at the door.
“Matt, please wait!”
I made my way over to him and stood there looking at him.
His bright blue eyes were on me and he shook his head with a disapproving expression, “Shay, what are you doing?”
I took a deep breath, my eyes were still wet with tears, “Matt, please…I know this seems completely whacked out, and in a way, it is, but Jordan is important to me.”
Matt glanced over my shoulder toward the living room where Jordan was by the window, and he shook his head and said lowly, “Shay, he is…I don’t even know what to say…he is…”
He pressed his lips together and then continued, “What are you thinking? It’s even…it’s completely insane I have to say this. What are you doing with this guy? Have you lost your mind Shay?”
I lowered my eyes and couldn’t stop a few tears from rolling over my cheek, then looked back up at him, “I know Matt, I know it’s crazy. I can’t even really believe it, but Jordan needs me and there are things about him that I need too.”
Another soft sarcastic laugh came from Matt, “Like what? Like what does he have that you need? Are you even hearing yourself talk? On top of everything, he apparently…I don’t even know…he can’t even walk or whatever…”
“Jordan is paraplegic and yes, and I know…I just don’t know what else to tell you. Please let me still have you in my life as a friend and maybe eventually you’ll understand. I’m so sorry that I can’t be the one for you Matt.”
Matt shook his head, “Because I have my life together and actually am a regular dude with a job, a car, an apartment - money if you will and just a…a freaking normal life and also walking on my two legs…Shay, I do not understand.”
He put his hand to the door knob and I pleaded, “Matt, please…I’m so sorry. I don’t want to lose you as a friend.”
He now sounded tense, “Well, I’m done with the friends thing Shay. I wanted more from you, I wanted you and I waited and I tried to show you that I can be the one for you. I thought I did every fucking thing right but apparently I can’t compete with a homeless dope head in a wheelchair. And if I find out that he did this to you or if he does anything to you at all, this guy will have the cops on his ass and get locked up in a heartbeat. I will make damn sure of it. I may not be able to have you for some fucking weird reason but if I find out that he hurt you, this guy is done.”
Matt turned the knob on the door and it opened.
I tried one last time, “Jordan didn’t do this to me. He would never hurt me. He loves me.”
Matt now laughed sarcastically, “No shit…he hit the freaking jack pot to milk you for everything you got. This is a big mistake Shay, a big mistake. I’ll see you around.”
Matt stepped out in the hallway and I cried watching him walk away and stepping in the elevator, seemingly walking out of my life.
I slowly closed the door behind me and stood there for a moment, trying to collect myself before I would have to face Jordan again.
Jordan was by the window looking out as I walked into the living room. I saw the back pack was on the floor by the couch. He spun his wheelchair around and looked at me from across the room.
I stood there and dropped the plastic baggie on the kitchen counter. Jordan lowered his eyes. His hands were still on the push rims of his wheelchair.
He looked up and explained with a trembling voice, “I’m so sorry Shay. I don’t know how you can forgive me but I swear I’ll never take anything from you again. It was wrong and I don’t want to lose you because of it. I need you so much. I love you more than my own life and I barely functioned when you didn’t reply to my messages or my phone call. I took the Oxy because I needed to find some money so I can get some dope and come back to you. I was planning to sell the tablets but then I realized what I had done and how wrong it was of me and I hated myself for it. I kept the tablets and tried to get money another way. I swear I didn’t touch the Oxy, all the pills are still there.”
He hung his head and just sat there. I slowly neared him and he looked up.
His eyes were glistening when he said, “I would understand if you want to call this whole thing off - us.”
I sat down on the coffee table and looked at him. He sat hunched over in his Quickie. I could clearly see that Jordan was wet from his head to his worn-out sneakers on the foot rest. He was shivering and his hands now in his lap were red and were shaking too. I wasn’t sure if he was shaking from the cold or from needing drugs though.
Softly I said, “I forgive you Jordan. I’m glad you’re here. I was very worried about you, that’s why I tried to find your tent.”
His eyes flickered nervously and he reprimanded me, “That was dangerous Shay. I couldn’t believe when Charlie told me you had been there. Don’t ever go there again, please.”
I lowered my eyes, “If I know where you’re at I don’t have a reason to go there again. I was so angry at you when I realized the tablets were gone, that’s why I didn’t want to talk to you or chat with you. I was angry but also sad, and then I was also worried when I didn’t hear from you anymore.”
Jordan nodded, “And I understand that you were angry. I’m so sorry, it’ll never happen again.”
I stood there and we were quiet for a moment until Jordan put his break on and patted his thigh, “Please!”
I made my way over to him and sat on his lap. Right away we wrapped our arms around each other and held on tightly. Jordan was wet and cold and moisture radiated from him. He kissed my hair and my cheek and I rested my head on his shoulder.
“You know Shay…I…you’re the first person really in my life who actually…who makes me feel like life is still good and when I took the Oxy and I was out there trying to find a buyer, I realized that what I was doing was so very wrong, to betray the only person I can trust in my life and the only person I really care about, the only person that can maybe help me. I didn’t want to mess up what we have and so I put the tablets back in my pocket.”
My head was resting on his shoulder and I whispered into his ear, “I was so worried about you. Charlie said you would be okay and somehow I believed him.”
Jordan nodded, “Charlie is a good friend, really my only friend out there. He knows me well. I trust him.”
I ran my hands through his wet hair, “You’re cold and wet.”
Jordan stated factually, “It is raining a lot.”
I kissed his cheek, “You should get out of those wet clothes, I’ll wash them. And maybe you could take a warm bath or shower.”
Jordan lowered his eyes, “I don’t know.”
We sat in an embrace for a few moments until Jordan asked, “So your friend Matt - that didn’t go over too well, did it?”
I sighed, “It didn’t, but there’s nothing I can do. Matt is a good friend and co-worker; we’ve known each other for about two years.”
Jordan remarked, “He likes you a lot more than a friend.”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t want anything else but friendship with him.”
“He seems like a guy who has his life together though.”
I took a deep breath, “He does, he has a great life but it’s not what I want.”
Softly Jordan remarked, “He’s right, you know? About me and you.”
I looked at Jordan and he added, “That he can’t understand how you are with me.”
I replied softly, “I don’t know what to tell him. We’re together and I love you.”
I ran my fingers through Jordan’s hair and he then said, “I want to get clean Shay. I really do. I want to get away from the stuff so I can be the kind of guy you deserve, someone who has their life together.”
I nodded, “And when you’re ready I’ll be there with you through it.”
Jordan swallowed and nodded, “I want it soon.”
When I looked at Jordan I did see worry in his eyes and he added softly, “I’m really scared though.”
I wisped a few strands of long dark bangs from his eyes, “I know, but if you decide to do it, I’ll be there, Chad will be there, Amber…you have people now who believe in you and want you to get better. I want nothing more than for you to be well and for us to be together.”
Jordan nodded shyly, “I want that too.”
We looked at each other for a few moments until I asked him, “Are you going to stay here for tonight?”
“If you let me.”
I smiled, “Of course.”
He cleared his throat before he said, “I brought a few hits so I can stay.”
We looked at each other and I stroked my hand over his cold and wet cheek and looked into his dark eyes.
Jordan cleared hit throat again, “I’ll never betray you like this. I love you and if I mess up what we have I won’t be able to forgive myself. I really want to get better again. I know I can’t do it alone; I need you so much Shay.”
I ran my fingers over the side of his face, looking at him and feeling so much for him, “And I need you and we will make it work somehow.”
Jordan nodded and took a deep breath.
His eyes were fixed on my face and he said softly, “I wish I could kiss you.”
I had read up on the Hepatitis C infection Jordan dealt with and now neared his face, “You can.”
He tilted his head and started, “But the Hep C…”
I cut him off and held my hand on the side of his cold face, “It’s not contagious with kissing.”
Jordan visibly swallowed the lump in his throat and opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out.
He asked hesitantly, “Are you sure?”
I nodded and smiled, “I am.”
His eyes glistened and he smiled nervously as I neared his face with mine.
Before I could get any closer, he asked again, soft and nervous, “Are you really sure? I don’t want you to get sick.”
My eyes filled with tears and I answered again, “I am totally sure.”
Jordan pressed his lips together nervously.
I shifted on his lap and moved my face closer, whispering, “You can relax, we are okay. I want to kiss.”
He took a deep breath and exhaled nervously, “Okay.”
I now closed in on his face and Jordan’s hand was on the back of my head. He had to stretch his face toward me as I sat slightly higher but hesitantly our lips then touched and I pushed myself to Jordan wrapping my hands around the back of his neck.
Jordan’s lips were cold but quickly the cold was replaced by the warmth between us and our tongues touching and encircling. I felt my hearbeat quicken at our kissing and I felt so much for Jordan I wanted to melt into him and get him warm with the heat he ignited inside of me.
I wanted him to be warm and dry and well and with my kisses I longed to make him feel the heat I had inside of me when it came to him.
Our kiss lasted seemingly for an eternity as our tongues played with each other inside our mouths. Jordan had his hand on the back of my head and I felt the heat between my thighs as I sat on his lap, his cold, trembling, and paralyzed legs under my thighs and I wanted him so much.
I wanted all of him and I wanted him just the way he was and I was sure Jordan felt the same way about me. We kissed and held each other as we forgot about the world around us. I imagined us together and Jordan well and healthy and all these good things but I knew we were still a long way from having a good and carefree life. Until then we had to make it work somehow. I hoped that what it was about Jordan that had struck me so much and the love we had would be enough to sustain us until things would get better for him. I would be there for him when he needed me and I would help him when he was ready.
We let our kiss fade and we looked at each other.
Jordan’s eyes were glistening with tears but they didn’t come out.
I stroked my hand over the side of his face, “I love you.”
He nodded and lowered his eyes, then looked back up at me with a sigh, “I love you too Shay.”