Kyle Daniels stood with his arms folded as his friend Mitch Keller looked around Kyle’s new dorm room with a mixture of awe and envy. Kyle had a two-bedroom suite with a common room nearly bigger than the school’s dining hall. Mitch shook his head in disbelief, “How? How did you get such a fabulous room, Kyle?”
Kyle grinned and shrugged. “Some people just know how to live.”
“No, really,” Mitch said. “I mean, your bathroom is the size of my whole suite. Even the seniors don’t live like this and you’re just a lowly junior.”
“I seized an opportunity,” Kyle explained proudly. “You remember that list where you could sign up to share a room with a disabled student and help him out? Well, the room comes with the deal.”
“That’s your secret?” Mitch didn’t seem impressed at all. “You have to play nursemaid to some gimp all year? Good fucking deal.”
“Hey, are you seeing this room?”
“It’s not worth it,” Mitch decided. “Besides, my new roomie’s got an ass to die for...”
“Sounds great,” Kyle muttered. As much as he enjoyed Mitch’s friendship, he hated hearing about his love life. Kyle had never had a gay friend before and it made him very uncomfortable when Mitch commented on the physical attributes of other men.
There was a noise from behind the closed door of the bedroom. Both Mitch and Kyle looked up sharply. “There’s your new gimpy pal now,” Mitch whispered.
As the door to the room swung open, Kyle had his first misgivings about his decision. Mitch was right—it was no fun playing nursemaid. And Kyle had no idea who this guy was. He didn’t want to ruin his junior year of college.
The knot in Kyle’s stomach tightened further when he laid eyes on his new roommate. The guy was Kyle’s age with light brown hair and scared eyes. He sat in a wheelchair with his legs motionless in the footrests. “Uh, hey,” the guy said.
“Hey,” Kyle said. He cleared his throat. “Uh... I’m Kyle Daniels.”
“I’m Jordan Grant,” he said, holding out his hand to Kyle. Kyle took Jordan’s hand and gave it a weak shake.
“Mitch Keller,” Mitch said, practically grabbing Jordan’s hand. “So good to meet you.”
Kyle frowned at Mitch’s response to Jordan. What the hell was that all about? Mitch was only that friendly when...
“Grant, huh?” Kyle said. “No relation to Kirsten Grant?”
“She’s my cousin,” Jordan said.
Kyle nearly choked. This guy was the cousin of the fabulously rich and beautiful Kirsten Grant? “First cousin?”
“That’s right,” Jordan frowned. “Why? What’s wrong? Are you and Kirsten...?”
“No!” Kyle yelped. He cleared his throat again, embarrassed by his own reaction. “I mean, you don’t look much like Kirsten, that’s all.”
“I beg to differ,” Mitch spoke up, gazing at Jordan. “You and Kirsten both have the most amazing brown eyes.” Mitch winked when he said that.
Kyle groaned. He was beginning to see where this was going. “Excuse us,” he said to Jordan as he grabbed Mitch by the arm and pulled him clear out of the suite. Kyle shut the door behind him so Jordan couldn’t hear them. “Jesus Christ, Mitch! Are you fucking hitting on him?”
“Sorry,” Mitch grinned sheepishly. “It just isn’t often I meet a boy that cute.”
“He’s a gimp, remember?”
“But he’s a very cute gimp.”
“Worse, he’s Kirsten’s cousin!”
“Ho hum,” Mitch said. “I’m not the one with a boner for Kirsten. No, don’t try to deny it, Kyle.”
“Just stay away from my roommate, will ya?” Kyle sighed.
“Don’t worry,” Mitch said. “You see that cross around his neck? I try to avoid the Jesus boys as much as possible.”
Cross around his neck? Kyle hadn’t noticed that, but if Mitch said it was there, then it was there. So Jordan was a religious nut too? Great. This year was turning out to be a freakin’ nightmare.
Kyle found Kirsten Grant’s room in the next door—a large suite that put his own accessible abode to shame. That was what money and connections did for you, Kyle supposed. When Kyle reached her room, he found Kirsten sitting on a large, fluffy couch, painting her nails, as one of the her maids from back home unpacked her luggage.
Kyle stood in front of Kirsten’s unguarded doorway, staring for a few minutes, trying to work up the nerve to walk inside. Kirsten looked incredible, as usual—totally unapproachable, even for a player like Kyle. Kirsten was the only woman he’d ever met who intimidated him this way.
“Why don’t you come in before people see you?” Kirsten said to him. She didn’t even look up from her nails.
Kirsten Grant: ridiculously beautiful and rich, not to mention the most diabolical and manipulative person he’d ever met. Kyle met Kirsten in a French literature last year and he was immediately mesmerized by her. After class one day, she humbly requested that he walk her home and he had eagerly obliged. He never got past first base during his two-week relationship with Kirsten, even though many other guys had slid into home plate. He could never understand why he of all people had been denied the goods, especially considering his otherwise universal success with girls.
“How was your summer?” Kyle asked casually, pulling up a chair.
“Short,” Kirsten replied.
Kyle glanced around. “Nice room. This all yours?”
“No, I have a roommate.” Kirsten blew on her nails. “A freshman. Elaine Tryston.”
“Tryston? You mean like... Tryston Hotels?”
Kirsten finally smiled. “The very same.”
Kyle cocked his brow. “Do I detect an evil glint in your eyes, Miss Grant?”
“It seems Elaine Tryston has had a very sheltered upbring,” Kirsten explained with a coy grin. “She went to an all-girls high school and she’s got these crazy ideas about no sex before marriage.”
“And that bothers you?”
“Nobody should be that chaste,” Kirsten snapped. “Elaine will be my protege. When I get done with her, she’ll be the premier slut of Manchester University.”
“So she’ll be taking your title then?”
“Hilarious,” Kirsten muttered. “So Kyle, what are you up to this semester? Feel like helping me corrupt an heiress? She’s quite cute, you know.”
“Nah, too easy,” Kyle said with a shrug. Girls like Elaine Tryston bored him and he didn’t feel being Kirsten’s puppet. “Besides, I’m going to be pretty busy with my new roommate Jordan. He just transferred here.”
It was worth everything to see the expression on Kirsten’s face. Her sly smile quickly changed to disgust. “Jordan is your roommate? Tell me you’re joking.”
“’Fraid not, sweetheart,” Kyle said. “You can imagine my surprise when he told me you two were so close.”
“Please,” Kirsten shook her head. “My whole life I’ve been saddled with looking after my poor crippled cousin. I thought college would finally be a break from that, but here he is. He’s so pathetic, isn’t he? He ought to just kill himself.”
“You always were the queen of compassion,” Kyle commented.
Kirsten’s mother breezed into the room in a puff of expensive perfume. Mrs. Grant looked around the suite with reluctant approval. “I suppose this will do,” she said. “Has Elaine shown up yet?”
“Not yet,” Kirsten replied innocently.
“Well, I’m sure she’ll be here shortly,” Mrs. Grant said as she smoothed her daughter’s hair. “Now Kirsten, I hope you’re going to help out Jordan. He doesn’t know anyone here and you know he had trouble making friends.”
“Of course,” Kirsten said, barely able to hide her distaste. “Kyle here is Jordan’s roommate, by the way.”
“Oh, are you?” Mrs. Grant said brightly. “How wonderful! Jordan is really such a sweet boy. Such a shame, him having that accident.”
“He fell out of a treehouse when he was nine,” Kirsten filled him in.
“He’s a paraplegic,” Mrs. Grant explained. “He can’t feel anything below the waist.”
Kirsten whispered in Kyle’s ear: “Even that.”
“And then that tragedy with his mother,” Mrs. Grant went on. “With Jordan suffering so much, she just couldn’t take it anymore and she... left them.”
“Perhaps it had more to do with Uncle Monty diddling the maid?” Kirsten suggested.
“Kirsten!” Mrs. Grant glared at her daughter. She sighed. “Still, what sort of woman abandons her ten year old crippled son?”
Kirsten rolled her eyes. “God, mother... don’t you have a charity dinner to go to or something?”
“I mean it, Kirsten,” Mrs. Grant said. “I want you to be a good friend to Jordan.”
“Fine, mother,” Kirsten agreed, rolling her eyes dramatically.
“That sounded earnest,” Kyle observed when Mrs. Grant was gone.
“I have more important things to worry about than my pathetic crippled cousin,” Kirsten said. “Little Elaine will be arriving soon. I expect her sexual awakening to take place in the immediate future.”
“So confident,” Kyle murmured.
“You doubt me?” Kirsten’s pretty eyes flashed.
“I just don’t think it’ll be quite so easy, even for the great Kirsten Grant.”
“Oh, really?” Kirsten said. “If you’re so sure, how about a little wager?”
Kyle felt slightly nervous about the devious look in Kirsten’s eyes. Kirsten didn’t seem like the kind of person who would make a bet she wasn’t sure she could win. “Go on.”
“I bet you Elaine’s lost her cherry by the end of the week.”
Kyle laughed. Now Kirsten had gone too far. “You’ll never do it. I’d even give you two weeks.”
“Fine, two weeks,” Kirsten agreed. “And if I win, I get that cute little car of yours.”
Kyle narrowed his eyes. “And if I win?”
Kirsten smiled sweetly and pushed her body against his. “I’ll give you something you’ve been pining for ever since I snubbed your grubby ass last year.”
Kyle felt Kirsten’s tight little body pressed against him and his pulse quickened. “Be more specific.”
“In short, Kyle dear: I’ll fuck your brains out.”
It took all his willpower to push away from her. All his willpower. “Come on, Kirsten. My car is a classic. Why should I go for a bet like that?”
Kirsten pursed her cherry red lips. “You can put it anywhere.”
Kyle gasped as Kirsten slid her hand over his crotch. “Okay, deal.”
When Kyle returned to his room, Jordan was sitting in the common room in his wheelchair with an older man in a suit standing over him with a concerned expression on his face. The man had similar coloring and facial features to Jordan and Kyle guessed that the man was most likely his father. As Kyle walked into the common room, the man strode forward and held out his hand. “Hi, you must be Kyle,” he said. “I’m Montgomery Grant, Jordan’s father.”
Kyle saw the crease between Mr. Grant’s eyebrows and remembered what Kirsten’s mother had said about Jordan’s mother abandoning the family. Mr. Grant must have raised Jordan by himself. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Grant,” Kyle said politely.
“So as I understand it, you’d be helping Jordan?” Mr. Grant asked.
“Uh, yeah...” Kyle felt very uneasy all of a sudden. He had no idea what he had signed up for.
“He needs a lot of help,” Mr. Grant said.
“Dad...” Jordan murmured, blushing slightly.
“Well, you do,” his father said. He turned back to Kyle, “Jordan usually has a nurse with him but the dean convinced us to do things this way. Frankly, I have my doubts.”
Kyle nodded. “Anything Jordan needs...”
“I’m glad to hear you say that,” Mr. Grant said. He rested his hands on Jordan’s slim shoulders. Despite the similarities in their faces, Jordan and his father were built completely differently. The father was a tall, muscular businessman, whereas Jordan was slim and lanky and seemed like he wouldn’t have been much above 5’9” even if he could have stood up. “Jordan needs help getting in and out of bed, as well as with dressing and bathing. He’ll also need you to go to the pharmacy for him at least once a month.”
Kyle swallowed hard. This was beginning to seem like a major obligation. How long would it take to help his roommate to get dressed every morning? And what if Jordan had an earlier class than he did? Would he have to wake up special to help Jordan out? It seemed like the answer was yes.
This was turning out to be a huge mistake, but it was too late to turn back now. Besides, there had to be some perks associated with living with Kirsten Grant’s cousin. “No problem,” Kyle said to Mr. Grant.
Mr. Grant smiled. “Good. I can see that my son is in capable hands.” He bent down to look Jordan in the eyes. “Jordan, I’m going to head out now. But if there’s anything you need, anything at all, you call home and we’ll get it to you immediately. You got it?”
Jordan nodded. “Thanks, Dad.”
Jordan’s face was bright red by the time his father had left the room. He couldn’t even look Kyle in the eyes anymore. “My dad treats me like I’m some kind of invalid,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Well, I guess I am.”
“No, you’re not,” Kyle protested.
“He used to treat me completely differently,” Jordan recalled. “When I was a kid, before I was... disabled. He used to take me to work with him all the time. I’m his only son so I was supposed to take over the business someday.”
“You’re not anymore?”
Jordan shook his head. “How would it look if the president of the company was in a wheelchair? It would look weak. I’ll own the company someday, with Kirsten of course, but I’ll never run it. Maybe she’ll run it, who knows?”
“So Kirsten is good enough, but you’re not?” Kyle almost laughed. It was amusing to think of Kirsten running a huge company.
“You don’t understand,” Jordan said. “As far as my family and our business is concerned, I don’t exist. After he knew for sure that I was never going to walk again, he kept me out of the public eye as much as he could. I don’t think most of his business correspondents even know he has a son. They certainly don’t know I’m a paraplegic.”
“How could he hide something like that?” Kyle asked.
“It’s not too hard.” Jordan smiled wryly. “When he had one of his dinners at our house, I was always carried upstairs before it started. If anyone asked about me, I was away at school.”
Kyle shook his head. What Jordan was describing sounded terrible. No wonder Kirsten was the way she was, coming from that sort of family. “So do you really need help with all those things your father said?”
Jordan’s face flushed. “Well, yeah, sort of. I mean, my father’s theory is that I’ll always have money and I’ll always be able to hire nurses, so I never really need to be independent. So I never learned to do a lot of those things myself.” He paused. “But I’ve been trying to do more by myself recently. I mean, it was one thing when I was ten, but I’m twenty years old now and I ought to be able to dress myself.”
“Well, I think that’s a good idea,” Kyle said, slightly relieved. “But what did you do in the college you transferred from? Did you have a nurse there too?”
“No, I... I wasn’t at another college,” Jordan explained. “I’ve been homeschooled ever since my accident. I came here to finish up so I’d get a diploma from a real university.”
Kyle wondered what it must have been like for Jordan, never experiencing a school environment, never having the chance to socialize with kids his own again. No wonder he was so shy. It must have been terrifying to be in a real university after living like that for so long. “Are you nervous?” Kyle asked him.
“Not really,” Jordan replied. “The classes don’t seem too hard. I’m just here to focus on learning, you know?”
Kyle had never seen anyone who seemed more scared in his life. What a liar, Kyle thought. I can see how he and Kirsten are related.
At around ten that night, Jordan wheeled into Kyle’s room. “Kyle, would you mind helping me into bed?” he asked.
Kyle had been surfing the internet on his computer. He stood up, “No problem.”
They went into Jordan’s room and he locked the brakes on his chair by the bed. Jordan looked up at Kyle a little awkwardly. “How do you usually do this?” Kyle asked.
“If you just grab me under my legs and my back, it shouldn’t be too difficult,” Jordan said. “I’m not that heavy.”
Kyle bent down and grabbed his roommate so that he was craddling him in his arms. He lowered him gently onto the bed. Jordan grabbed onto the headboard to pull himself up on the bed. “Thanks, Kyle,” he said.
“Does your dad usually help you with that?” Kyle asked.
“My dad?” Jordan laughed. “No way. My mom used to help me before... she helped me the first year. But now I’ve got nurses who do all that stuff for me usually. But like I said, I want to start doing it myself now. I don’t want to be dependent for the rest of my life. Starting tomorrow...”
Kyle looked down at Jordan’s legs. “Do you need help getting your pants off too?”
“Yeah, I do,” Jordan said, blushing.
As Jordan struggled with his shirt, Kyle pulled his pants off his legs. Kyle had a hard time not gasping when he saw Jordan’s legs. They were so devoid of muscle that Kyle could see the bones. His knees looked enormous. It was strange to know that Jordan couldn’t feel him touching the skin.
Kyle had a hard time understanding how Jordan could have lived like this for so many years. The teenage years are a time of rebellion... not a time to have a nursemaid to help you just to get in and out of bed.
“I’ve been practicing,” Jordan spoke up. “I’ve been getting ready myself in the morning for the last few weeks, because I knew I’d have to over here.”
“I’ll help you if you need it,” Kyle offered.
“I can’t depend on you for everything,” Jordan said. “You’ve got your own stuff going on.”
“True,” Kyle said, feeling somewhat relieved. He didn’t mind helping Jordan every once in a while, but he didn’t want to have to do everything for him. Luckily, Jordan was letting him off the hook.
Jordan got ready by himself the next morning, and he was up and dressed by the time Kyle stumbled out of his bedroom. God knows how long it had taken him. Jordan spent the morning unpacking, but then in the afternoon, the roommates watched stupid sit-coms on the TV Kyle brought for the common room. Kyle didn’t think Jordan would agree to watch with him after that line about how he had to “focus on learning”, so he was pleased when Jordan put down the box he was unpacking and wheeled into the common room.
They swapped sarcastic comments during the show, but during the commercials Kyle couldn’t help but ask a few serious questions.
“So,” Kyle said, trying to sound casual, “are you really serious about that whole religion thing?”
“Well, you know what I mean...”
“I take it very seriously,” Jordan replied, fingering the cross on his neck.
Kyle nodded. “Hey, I respect that, man. But you must know that Kirsten isn’t very... I mean, I wouldn’t exactly call her a good Christian girl.”
Jordan stared in surprise. “What do you mean?”
Kyle’s face burned. He didn’t want to be the one to spoil Jordan’s impression of his cousin. “N-nothing,” he stammered. “I mean—”
Jordan laughed. “Don’t worry, Kyle. I know all about Kirsten’s escapades. I’ve known her all my life, after all.”
“And it doesn’t bother you?” Kyle let out a breath of relief.
Jordan lowered his eyes. “Some people are beyond saving.”
At three in the afternoon, Kirsten popped in with her new roomie, Elaine Tryston. Elaine was a petite redhead with freckles and a sweet smile. Kyle noticed Jordan checking her out.
“I just came by to deliver a package to Jordan from my mother,” Kirsten explained. She tossed a small box to Jordan who fumbled not to drop it.
“Aren’t you going to introduce your friend?” Kyle asked sweetly.
Kirsten pouted. “Fine. Elaine, this is Kyle and Jordan. Boys, this is Elaine. Stay away from her.”
Elaine laughed at what she mistakenly thought was a joke. Elaine’s eyes met Jordan’s. “You’re Kirsten’s cousin, right?”
“Yeah,” Jordan replied dumbly. His mouth was nearly hanging open.
Kirsten rolled her eyes. “You’ll have to excuse Jordan’s manners. He’s grown up isolated from the rest of humanity.”
The way Jordan took Kirsten’s comment in stride, Kyle could tell he was used to her giving him a hard time. “Would either of you girls like a beer?” Kyle offered.
Kirsten looked over at her virgin roommate and a light bulb lit up over her head. She smiled, “That’s not a bad idea, actually.”
Sweet little Elaine’s eyes widened, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never had beer before.”
“There’s nothing to it,” Kyle said, handing her an opened Sam Adams. “You just tilt back your head and the beer goes right in.”
Elaine reluctantly accepted it. Kyle tried to give Jordan a beer, but he refused. “I don’t really drink.”
“It’s because he’s incontinent,” Kirsten spoke up. “He’s afraid the beer will make him have an accident.”
Kyle could see that remark really got to Jordan. His face flushed and he shifted in his wheelchair. “Actually,” Jordan said, “in high school, I tried to raise money to prevent drunk driving in teenagers.”
“High school?” Kirsten snorted. “You never went to high school. Having daddy pay a few tutors to come to your mansion doesn’t count.”
Jordan went on as if Kirsten had not spoken. “So many people die and are injured in drunk driving accidents. I feel like I’d be a hypocrite if I went out and got drunk.”
“What’s the difference?” Kirsten shot back. “It’s not like you can drive anyway.” She laughed, “Except for one of those hand-controlled cripple-mobiles.”
Kyle always knew Kirsten was cruel, but he was shocked by the way she was treating her cousin. Kyle didn’t know Jordan that well, but nobody deserved to be spoken to that way. If she didn’t intimidate him so much, he would have taken her outside and told her exactly what he thought of her.
“You know,” Elaine said, putting down her beer, “I agree with you, Jordan. I don’t want to be contributing to a problem. I’m not going to drink either.”
“What?” Kirsten said, her eyes wide. Kyle smiled at the look on her face.
“I’m proud of you, Elaine,” Jordan said.
“Hold on a second,” Kirsten said to Elaine. “Is this really the sort of person you want to emulate?”
Kyle sat back on the couch, enjoying the entire interaction. Of course, this was his plan all along, from the second Kirsten had revealed her intentions toward Elaine. Jordan’s influence would counteract Kirsten’s and by the end of two weeks, Elaine Tryston would be just as chaste as when she started. This was working out even better than he had hoped.
To be continued....