I spent the next few days worrying that Bob knew. I mean, in the scheme of things it wasn’t such a big deal—we just kissed, that was all. But it was on a public bus. And Shane’s face had been in the newspaper a couple of times in the last week, so he was on the brink of being recognizable. I don’t know how I could have been so stupid.
Despite my worry, I was dying to ask Bob about the case. I mentioned it once, casually, over dinner. He shrugged and shook his head. “What does that mean?” I asked.
Bob took a bite of the meatloaf I had cooked. “It means I can’t discuss it with you.”
“But it’s bad?”
“I don’t get you, Judy,” Bob mused. “The guy cheated on you, right? Multiple times, from what you’ve told me. Aren’t you furious at him?”
“It’s been a long time, I guess,” I murmured. “He’s not a bad guy or anything. It just didn’t work out between us. And… he’s had a lot of bad luck.”
“No kidding,” Bob said. “You should see his medical records…”
“Well, I’m trying to work out a deal based on his medical needs,” Bob explained. “So I’ve got his charts from his initial hospitalization after he first got shot.”
“Judy, I can’t tell you that stuff. It’s confidential.”
I put my hand on his knee, the same way I had to convince him to take the case in the first place. “Oh come on, I’m your wife.”
“Well, I can’t give you any details,” Bob said, “but it sounds like he was hospitalized for a long time. Had blood clots, bed sores, kidney infections, pretty bad stuff. Sounds like he came close to dying more than once.”
Once again, I felt resentment that Shane never told me about his injury. I imagined what it would have been like to suddenly find out that he had been dead for a month or something like that. I imagined him lying in a hospital bed, sick and hurting, all alone. I was probably off on my honeymoon.
“He really wrecked his life,” Bob commented. “He’s clearly a smart guy, but he’s got really poor impulse control. Now he’s going to pay for it.”
I just looked at him, not saying anything. I didn’t trust myself to speak. I thought I might start crying.
“Oh right,” Bob laughed. “You still think he’s innocent, don’t you?”
Bob was in the shower when I heard the intercom ring. It was early Sunday morning and I was still in my housecoat, my hair stringy and damp from the shower, my eyes still puffy from sleep. I rapped on the shower door: “Bob, are we expecting someone?”
“Oh yeah,” Bob said, sticking his face out from behind the shower curtain as he rubbed soap from his eyes. “That’s probably Shane. I asked him to come by.”
“What?” I stared at him.
“I’ve got some news about the trial and I didn’t want to wait till tomorrow. Can you get the door?”
I was furious at Bob for not warning me. I buzzed Shane upstairs and quickly threw on a tank top and blue jeans. There wasn’t much I could do about my hair in one minute, but I managed to have time to put on a layer of lipstick. I hoped it didn’t look suspicious, considering I couldn’t remember the last time I had put on lipstick on a Sunday.
I ran to get the door. Despite everything, he seemed happy to see me. “Nice apartment,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Of course, you’d live on the top floor,” he said. “The top buttons in the elevator… not so easy to reach.”
I blushed, thinking about Shane struggling to reach the number for our apartment from his seated position. “Sorry,” I said.
It turned out that the elevator was not the only thing that wasn’t so wheelchair accessible. I could see Shane struggling to turn the wheels of his chair on our thick carpeting. “Your carpet is really white,” he commented with a sigh. “I’m sorry, I tried to clean my wheels off in the elevator.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said quickly.
I sat down on the couch, a few feet away from where Shane parked his chair. I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss on the bus and I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was thinking the same thing. “How are you?” I asked.
“Fine,” he replied. He was staring straight into my eyes. “How are you?”
Shane wheeled a little closer to me, but he was stopped by the barrier of the couch. He glanced in the direction of the bedroom, then took a deep breath and leaned forward. “Judy,” he whispered, “I can’t stop thinking about you. I know I shouldn’t say this and it’s wrong, but I’m in still love with you. And I know you feel the same—”
Shane stopped talking abruptly and looked up. Bob had entered the room. He was dressed casually in a polo shirt and slacks and if he had any idea what Shane had just said to me, his face didn’t show it. He smiled, “Glad you could come, Shane. I have some good news for you.”
“Oh?” Shane’s eyes widened.
“Judy, maybe you can start up some coffee, huh?”
I nodded and went to the kitchen to get the coffee brewing. I couldn’t imagine what the good news was and I definitely wanted to hear it. I left the door to the kitchen open and as I bent down to grab the coffee tin from the cupboard, I glanced backward in the direction of the living room. I could see Shane’s eyes were on me. He was looking at my ass.
Even from all the way in the kitchen, I could hear Bob’s hissed words: “You like that, huh, McGrath?”
I froze, waiting to hear Shane’s reply. He laughed nervously and to my relief, Bob laughed too. Thank god Bob couldn’t imagine Shane being any kind of threat. Otherwise we’d have been so busted.
“So what’s the good news?” I asked as I came back into the living room, wiping my hands on my jeans.
“Is it okay if she hears?” Bob asked Shane.
Bob folded his arms proudly, “I worked out a deal for you with the D.A. A great deal. You won’t have to go to trial.”
Shane raised his eyebrows. “What’s the deal?”
“It’s a gift, really,” Bob said, “but we discussed your medical issues in detail. Your need for proper skin care, having to catheterize your bladder at regular intervals, et cetera.”
Shane turned red. He had never told me how he managed going to the bathroom and I guessed this wasn’t how he wanted me to find out. I wondered if Bob had said that on purpose, to embarrass him in front of me. To make him seem like less of a man.
“What’s the deal?” Shane repeated, speaking through his teeth.
“Three years in prison.”
Shane blinked his brown eyes behind his wire-rimmed spectacles. “Three years?”
“Three years is a gift, McGrath,” Bob said. “You understand the charges you’re facing, right? Embezzlement of a huge sum of money, attempted murder. If this goes to trial, they’re going to win, and you’re going to go away for a very long time. The judge isn’t going to care if you’re a paraplegic if you’ve got an attempted murder conviction.”
“Right,” he breathed, “it’s just that…” He looked down at his paralyzed legs. I could see that his hands were shaking.
“Take this deal, McGrath,” Bob said. “I’m telling you, if you don’t take the deal, you’re making a grave mistake.”
Shane looked over at me, “Judy, what do you think?”
I faced my husband. “Bob, you’re the best lawyer in the city. I know that if you represent Shane, you can win the case for him. I know it.”
“If I’m the best lawyer in the city, then you know I know what I’m talking about.” Bob shook his head. “Take the deal.”
Shane sighed and shifted his weight in his chair. “Can… can I think about it?”
Bob shrugged, “Sure, take a day. But the deal expires at 5PM tomorrow. Why don’t we meet at my office at three in the afternoon and we’ll discuss it, okay?”
Shane nodded. He had that defeated look again and it pained me to see it. I knew in my heart that he was going to end up taking the deal. I wasn’t going to see him again for the next three years.
On my first two dates with Shane, he didn’t kiss me. I could tell that he wanted to, but he was too shy and scared. In a way, it was cute, and I didn’t want to rush him, but I was getting impatient. I wanted him to kiss me already. I wanted to feel his soft lips press against mine and the heat of his body against my chest. But I was shy too and I wasn’t about to force the issue.
On our third date, he hesitated in front of my door after he had walked me home. I knew he was thinking about kissing me. He shifted from foot to foot, squeezing his hands together nervously. “I had a nice time tonight, Judy,” he said.
He ran a hand through his reddish brown hair. “So, um…”
I could tell he needed some encouragement, so I worked up my own nerve. “It’s okay, Shane,” I whispered. “Go ahead.”
A slow smile spread across his face. “Yeah?”
He pulled me close to him and lowered his lips onto mine. It was my first kiss. I fell in love with Shane McGrath that day. And I guess I never quite fell out of love.
After Bob told Shane about the “deal”, I was anxious all day. Usually Bob stayed up later than me doing work, but that night, I was the one who couldn’t sleep. I sat in the living room, flipping through channels while Bob snored in the bedroom. His snoring seemed louder lately. Maybe because he had been gaining weight.
I found an old photo album from college and started flipping through it. It may as well have been an album of Shane, because he was part of every experience I had in college. We were inseparable. My friend Claire predicted during freshman year that we would end up married, but she didn’t predict the divorce. She told me that I was so lucky, because Shane was the kind of guy who would never leave me, who would be there for me forever.
My cell phone started vibrating and I reached for it. “Judy?”
It was Shane’s voice.
“Yes, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“I need to talk to you,” he said. His voice was quavering.
“Do you want me to come over?”
“Can you do that?” He sounded surprised by my offer. “Would Bob be okay with that?”
“He sleeps like a rock,” I explained. “It’s okay. It sounds like… you need me.”
Shane took a moment to consider. “Okay. I mean, if you want to…”
“I want to.”
I hailed a cab and I was at his apartment in twenty minutes. The doorman gave me a bit of a funny look, which I guessed I deserved for showing up in the middle of the night. Not that I cared what the doorman thought.
Shane was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts for sleeping, and his hair was disheveled. He wasn’t wearing his glasses and his eyes looked bloodshot. This was the first time I had seen his bare legs and I was struck by how atrophied they looked. I could also see the bulge of his protruding gut through the fabric of his otherwise loose shirt. Shane caught me staring and his face turned a little red. “Sorry, I’ll go change,” he mumbled.
“No, don’t,” I said quickly, lowering myself onto his couch. “You’re fine.”
Shane gave me a long look. “I’m an idiot,” he finally concluded.
“What? No, you’re not. Why?”
“Because I actually believed that you and I might…” he blinked a few times and shook his head. “I’m going to take the deal. I’ve decided.”
“Are… are you sure?”
He nodded. “It’s the best thing. I’ll spend the three years in prison and then that will be the end of it. It’s not like my life is so great anyway.”
“Shane, don’t say that…”
“I’ve lost so much,” he murmured. “I lost you, then I lost half my body, now I’m losing my freedom. It… sucks.” He lifted his eyes to stare into mine. “The worst was losing you. I’ll never forgive myself for that.”
I couldn’t hold back another second. Fifteen years ago, Shane had made the first move. This time, I did. I pressed my lips onto his, throwing him slightly off balance. He grabbed the wheels of his chair for support with one hand and pulled me closer with his other hand. I felt his tongue eagerly exploring my mouth. Hungrily, like a man who hadn’t been close to a woman in a very long time.
We parted for a second to take a breath. “I don’t want you to do this because you feel sorry for me,” he said.
“Shane, you’re the love of my life,” I whispered.
His eyes filled with tears and he hugged me close to him. His arms were more solid, built up with muscles that hadn’t existed years ago. I slid off the couch onto his lap. His legs felt cool and firm. We kissed again, and then again. I couldn’t remember having made out this long since our first year of college, when we were still too timid to take our relationship to the next level. It was like we were starting fresh. It was a do-over.
As I sat on his lap, I waited to feel him grow hard beneath me. I remembered what he had said, about having trouble getting an erection, but somehow I thought I’d be able to do it for him.
Shane, reading my mind, spoke up: “I told you, I can’t get hard anymore.” His voice broke slightly: “We can’t have sex.”
“It’s okay,” I murmured, stroking his hair.
“No, it isn’t,” he sighed, his fists balled in frustration. “You don’t know how badly I want to fuck you, Judy. It’s all I’ve been able to think about since I saw you again.”
I slipped a hand under his shirt and traced a line up his chest. “As I recall,” I said, “there were other things you used to do for me that I liked just as much.”
A slow smile spread across Shane’s face, the same as the one he gave when I first gave him permission to kiss me. “Come here, you,” he said as he threw me off his lap onto the couch. I squealed as he slid his hands up the insides of my thighs, pushing my skirt up to reveal my black silk panties. I must have known this was going to happen. Or else why would I have worn my black silk panties?
He pulled my panties down my thighs, off my legs, and flung them over the side of the couch. He remained in his wheelchair as he eagerly dipped his head into my pussy. I could still see his eyes as he watched my face, examining my reaction. I hadn’t been eaten out in such a long time, I had forgotten how amazing it was. Bob wasn’t into that kind of thing and looked horrified when I asked.
I climaxed within minutes, grabbing a handful of Shane’s reddish hair as my back arched and I cried out. He raised his head and wiped lips with the back of his hand as he grinned at me proudly. “Good?”
I nodded breathlessly.
He continued to stroke my thigh gently and I watched him, wondering what I could do for him. I had always just given him a blow job or we had sex. There was nothing I could think to do that didn’t involve his penis. I reached out to take his hand, “I want to pleasure you too.”
He shook his head. “It’s okay, Judy.”
“No, there must be something,” I insisted. I sat up and slipped my hand under his shirt, stroking his abdomen.
“It’s okay, really.”
“Can you feel this?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “Nothing below the nipples. T4, they told me.”
I crawled up his chest with my fingers until I reach his left nipple. I circled it gently with the tip of my finger. “Can you feel this?”
He nodded and swallowed.
I continued to circle his nipple as he moaned and shifted in his chair. He seemed to be pretty into it, but when I tried to take off his shirt, he stopped me. “It’s okay,” he said again. “Let’s just… leave the shirt on.”
I squinted at him. “What? Why? Come on, I know you’re enjoying this.”
“Yeah, but…” he took a breath, “things don’t look so good under there. My abdominal muscles are totally gone.”
“Seriously, I look like a 60 year old drunk,” he said.
“Shane, look at me.” I touched his cheek with my hand. “I don’t care. I don’t care what your chest looks like, I still think you’re hot. Okay?” He hesitated and I added: “It’s not like you weren’t scrawny as hell back in college.”
That got a small smile. He reluctantly consented to allow me to lift his shirt over his head. He wasn’t lying about the beer belly. The white skin of his gut protruded and hung over the band of his shorts. It wasn’t exactly the chest of a Calvin Klein underwear model.
“I know,” he said, turning red. “But there’s nothing I can do about it. I mean, there are no muscles there so even if I do crunches, I still— ”
“Shut-up,” I said.
I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his nipple as he leaned back in his chair and moaned. I got creative, the same way I did with oral sex years ago, drawing patterns with my tongue, figuring out what could make him moan the loudest. All of a sudden, his breathing quickened and he dug his fingers into the skin of my back. Then he went limp.
I lifted my head to look at him. “Shane?”
He wiped a layer of sweat off his brow. “Holy shit, I think that was my first orgasm in three years.”
Despite having comforted him earlier, he still insisted on putting his shirt back on. I guess it was sweet that he cared so much what I thought of his chest.
I glanced at the clock on the table. “I can’t stay, Shane. It’s getting late and I don’t want Bob to know I was gone.”
He nodded. “I’m going to take the deal, Judy.”
I stared at him. “You… you are?”
“Yes.” He sounded very sure of himself. “I can’t risk going to jail for twenty years. Bob’s right—that deal is a gift and I’d be an idiot to turn it down.”
“But three years of jail…?”
He swallowed hard. “Yeah, I know. It’s not going to be great. But I’ll get through it somehow. Better than the alternative.”
I hated to admit that he might be right. Shane’s luck hadn’t been great and I could see him ending up with a very long jail sentence.
“I’m not even going to ask you to wait for me,” he said. “I mean, I know this was a one time thing. You’re married, for christ’s sake. Bob’s a good man.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just kept my mouth shut. Part of me could imagine leaving Bob for Shane. But if I even imagined the look on Bob’s face when I told him, I felt ill. I couldn’t leave my husband, even for the man I loved.
“I better go,” I said.
To be continued...