Jamie sat in the kitchen alone, eating a plate of the fruit salad that had been left on the kitchen table. He was thinking about the proof of a key lemma that he needed for his thesis. Funny how the lemmas were sometimes harder to prove than the theorem itself.
Jamie knew that right now he was batting zero with Abby and he wasn’t at all surprised. The problem was, he wasn’t sure if he cared. Abby was gorgeous, that much was a fact, but he didn’t think that she was the sort of girl he was looking for. He was looking for a girl with great intelligence, even if that intelligence wasn’t necessarily mathematical.
Before his accident, many girls flirted with Jamie. But none of those girls had been very intelligent—if he ever tried to talk to them, they usually realized they had nothing in common. And now that he was missing his legs, girls hardly ever flirted with him and he figured it was just as well. That wasn’t the sort of attention he wanted anyway.
Jamie was nearly finished with his salad when he saw Abby’s curvaceous figure stroll into the kitchen. He smiled politely at her, “Hi Abby.”
Abby stared at him in mock confusion. “Who are you?”
“I’m Jamie,” he said, playing along. He held out his hand to her. “Nice to meet you.”
“Jamie,” she said, walking over to the refrigerator, “do you drink beer?”
“Sure I do,” he said, “after all, I’m half Irish.”
Abby laughed as she plunked a Sam Adams down in front of him. “You have one day left to win me over, Jamie,” she said, “if that’s what you’d like to do…which I suspect it isn’t.” She smiled. “Don’t you at least want the money?”
“What for?” Jamie shrugged.
“Dunno,” Abby said, “maybe so I could have a night of passion with a hot half-Asian guy.”
Jamie smiled at her. Abby was a nice girl, she really was. “I get this feeling I’ve already blown it with you. I’m not great with women.”
“I’m not looking for a ladies’ man,” Abby said earnestly.
“But still,” Jamie said, “I don’t think I’m what you’re looking for.”
Abby fingered her own bottle of beer contemplatively. “Jamie, I remember you told me that you feel like your life is better now than it was when you could walk.”
Jamie shrugged. “Something like that, sure.”
“Is that really true? Or is that just something you say?”
Jamie studied Abby’s face, trying to figure out what sort of answer she was looking for. He didn’t just “say” things… Jamie always meant what he said. People always thought he was odd when he made statements like that, but it was the truth. Jamie liked being in a wheelchair. In a lot of ways, it was liberating. Society expects people to act a certain way, but being in the chair allowed Jamie certain exceptions to everyday obligations. It allowed him to focus on math, rather than the social obligations that sometimes take over peoples’ lives.
“I guess sometimes it’s a pain,” Jamie finally said. “Like I can’t drive a regular car anymore. And I can’t get up stairs. I wish I could still do those things.” He also supposed that if he weren’t in the wheelchair, he would have gotten laid by now. Being a 25 year old virgin wasn’t exactly something Jamie was proud of, but he wasn’t willing to seek out a random girl to correct this situation. Before his injury, he had several opportunities to have sex, but he had turned them down to wait for something better. He was vaguely worried that he might reach thirty years old and still be a virgin.
Abby shook her head. “You’re a loner, aren’t you?”
“Well, sort of.”
“Don’t you want to meet the right woman someday?”
“Of course I do,” Jamie told her. “But… I’m not in a big hurry to meet her, like everyone else seems to be. I’ve got a lot going on right now and I really…don’t want to waste my time with someone who’d be happier with someone else. Whoever that woman is, she’s got to be perfect for me.”
Abby raised her eyebrows. “What if the perfect woman for you doesn’t want a guy with no legs?”
Jamie stared at Abby. Strangely enough, this wasn’t something he had considered. He had always assumed that if he finally met a woman who he connected with, she would feel the same way about him that he felt about her. He looked down at the stumps of his legs, wrapped in his empty pants. His stumps weren’t attractive—he in fact noticed that people often avoided looking at them.
Abby put her hand on top of his. “Jamie,” she said, “I think this is the first time I’ve seen you show any emotion in the last four days. I was beginning to wonder if you weren’t some sort of machine.”
“Nah,” Jamie said, trying to smile. “I’m real, believe it or not.”
“The answer to the question I asked,” she said, “is that the perfect woman for you will love you with or without legs.” She smiled, “It’s so simple, your brilliant mathematical brain couldn’t even think of it.”
Jamie looked at Abby in a new light. Maybe she was more intelligent than he gave her credit for. And she was certainly very beautiful…
Jamie shook his head. There was no point in letting himself get interested in Abby. True, she had to pick one of the four of them, but no matter who she picked, he couldn’t believe it would wind up being a lasting relationship.
Lynn Reynolds paused outside the room assigned to Harrison Burke and Ethan Saunders, and knocked softly. She heard Ethan’s voice: “Come in!”
Ethan and Harrison were both in the room and the television was on as usual. Ethan was sitting on the edge of his bed, buttoning up his shirt. His legs were wrapped in thick braces and his crutches were leaning against the bed. “Hi, Lynn!” Ethan said cheerfully.
“Looks like you’re going out,” Lynn commented.
“Nah, Noel asked me if I wanted to join him for a game of pool, then we’re going with Jamie to get dinner.”
“That sounds like fun,” Lynn said.
Ethan smiled. “Yeah, we’ve been having a lot of fun.” He glanced over at Harrison, who was lying on his bed, the covers over his body. “Well, most of us, at least. Would you like to join us, Lynn?”
Lynn shook her head. “Wish I could, but I have to get Harry ready for tonight.”
“Oh,” Ethan said, “do you need any help?”
Lynn smiled. That Ethan was such a sweetie, always offering to help with everything. Someday he was going to make someone a very lucky woman. “No, you go ahead.”
“Okay, if you’re sure,” Ethan said. He grabbed his crutches and pushed off the bed, locking his braces in place. He pulled his legs along in the direction of the door. “Bye, Lynn. Bye, Harry.”
When Ethan left, Lynn found herself alone in the room with Harrison. His dark eyes rested on her. “Sorry to be a bother,” he said gruffly.
Lynn couldn’t help but feel a little breathless when Harrison’s eyes met hers. She thought that Harrison was probably the most attractive man she had ever met. His face was so ruggedly handsome, especially now with the stubble on his chin. She imagined that before his injury, he probably had a fairly muscular body, but now she could see his bare arms were without any muscle tone whatsoever, thin and limp. Lynn was always a sucker for a nice bod, but somehow Harrison’s body was even more attractive without the muscles.
Of the four men, Harrison was the only one who made Lynn’s stomach do flip-flops. Yet they were all very attractive in their own way. Ethan was such a sweetheart, very considerate and very cute. The best thing about Jamie was that he seemed to have absolutely no idea how good looking he was, with his slightly slanted eyes and dark hair contrasting with his relatively light skin. And Noel—he was Lynn’s favorite in many ways. His bright red hair and youthful face made him seem like the boy next door, so the surprising words that came out of his mouth made him seem strangely sexy. That and the fact that Abby had remarked to Lynn that he was “absolutely incredible in bed.”
Lynn cleared her throat and tried to concentrate on the task at hand. “Where’s Steve?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Harrison said, “I can’t keep track of him.”
Lynn clucked her tongue. “Harry, you’re not going to make this easy for me, are you?”
“I’m just going to lie here like I always do,” Harrison said. “By the way, did we figure out what we’re going to do about me eating? Are we going to play the famous disappearing food trick again?”
“I don’t think Abby will let us.” Lynn smiled. “How would you feel about her feeding you again?”
“Somebody has to,” Harrison said indifferently.
As Lynn gazed at him, she wondered what it must be like to not even be able to feed himself. It must have been so difficult for an independent guy like Harry. She wanted to reach out and hug him, but she knew that would be unprofessional. Even worse if she kissed him.
“I’m used to it,” Harrison said, answering the question she had not asked.
“Huh?” Lynn said innocently.
“I’m used to people having to take care of me,” Harrison said quietly. “It’s been over two years now. It’s hard at first, but…it’s really not all that big a deal anymore. These are the cards I was dealt and there’s nothing I can do to change it.”
Lynn looked deep into Harrison’s eyes and wished she could believe him. But all she could see was a man who desperately wanted his body back.
It took over five hours to get Harrison ready for his date with Abby. They wheeled him out to the dinner table and he sat in his chair, waiting for her to arrive. This meal was a deception—the audience would see Harrison and Abby chatting, but it would be a realistic depiction of what a real date would be like for him. Not that he had been on any real dates in the last two years.
Abby entered the room looking stunning in a short skirt and low cut blouse. Harrison had to swallow hard when he saw her. God, she was pretty. He wanted to reach out and touch her, but of course he knew that would be impossible. Abby sat down opposite from him at the table.
She smiled, “Hi.”
“Hi, Abby,” he said shyly.
“Harry…” she hesitated. “Do you prefer Harry or Harrison?”
“Everybody calls me Harry,” he said. “My friends, my parents, everybody’s been calling me that as long as I can remember.”
“But what do you prefer?”
Harrison smiled. “I guess I prefer Harrison.”
“Then why don’t you say so?” Abby said, shaking her head.
“It’s just a name,” Harrison said.
“But it’s your name,” Abby said. She leaned forward, “Hey, how hungry are you?”
“Because I was thinking we might do something a little different. Do you like Jacuzzis?”
Harrison couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re kidding, right?”
Abby shook her head. “I’m very serious, Harrison. Come on, don’t you want to get close to me?”
“From what I’ve heard, I wouldn’t be the only one,” Harrison remarked.
“What?” Abby frowned.
“Come off it. Everybody knows about you and Noel.”
Abby crossed her arms. “Look, what happened between me and Noel already happened. Tonight I want to be with you. If you don’t want to be with me, just say the word and we’ll call it quits.”
Harrison looked down at his arm resting in his lap. How the hell was he going to get into a Jacuzzi without drowning? Then again, you only live once. “Let’s go for it,” he said.
Abby: “What do you think? Is it too hot?”
Harrison: “Uh, I wouldn’t know.”
Abby: “Oh. Yeah. Sorry.”
Harrison: “It’s okay.”
Abby: “So is this your first Jacuzzi as a quad?”
Harrison: “What do you think?”
Abby: “Heh, do you like it?”
Harrison: “It’s definitely… really nice.”
Abby: “Well, it’s nice sharing a Jacuzzi with you.”
Harrison watched his arms floating in the water. It had been an ordeal to get him set up to go into the water. They changed him into boxers, but they had to be long enough to hide his legbag, which they didn’t want to capture on film for obvious reasons. If he went into the water by himself, he might sink, so they attached a floating device around his chest to keep him afloat. It actually worked rather well, keeping his shoulders above water and the rest of him under. His arms, left to their own devices, tended to float slightly in the water, staying just below the surface.
It was somewhat exhilarating to be in the water. He used to like to swim and he often found that he missed it. Back in rehab, the paraplegics and amputees used to go into the swimming pool nearly every day, but it was off limit to quads like Harrison. A few times, they would wheel Harrison out by the pool for a change of scenery, but he could never go inside. Even now, he felt a little nervous being in the water, knowing there was nothing he could do if he started sinking, but he was confident somebody would help him if that ever happened.
Abby was wearing a tiny bikini. She was sitting next to him in the Jacuzzi, her body nearly touching his, but not quite. In the old days, it would have been enough to give him a huge hard-on, but he hadn’t had one of those in two years.
“It’s nice sharing a Jacuzzi with you too,” Harrison said. He saw Abby’s hand resting on her thigh under the water. He wished he could put his hand on top of hers, instead of watching it float lifelessly under the water.
“I’ve been fantasizing about this all week,” Abby said softly.
“You’re just saying that…” Harrison said, looking away. He looked down at his arms again. His left arm was floating slowly toward Abby. As they both watched, his arm collided with her knee. “Sorry,” he said, blushing slightly, although there was nothing he could do to pull his arm away.
Abby took his hand and placed it firmly on her knee. “There, that’s better,” she said. She put her fingers on his chin and turned his face towards her. “Harrison, you should look at me.”
“Okay,” he breathed.
“Do you want to kiss me?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then why don’t you?”
Why? Because this was all a game. Whether or not she slept with Noel or was sharing a hot tub with Harrison, he knew that none of them would be her first choice. If there were an able-bodied guy around, none of them would even be in the running. “Do you really want me to kiss you?”
Instead of answering his question, Abby leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. He felt her tongue sliding into his mouth and he felt a tingling sensation in his chest. God, he had missed this.
She moved on top of him, so that she was straddling him. He had been in this position before and had always taken the opportunity to run his hands all over the girl’s chest and back. But now he could only stare up at her helplessly as she sat on top of him.
“You know,” Abby said, “this bikini top ties in the front…”
Harrison glanced over at the many television cameras that were still pointed at them. They were going to keep filming them no matter what. Harrison didn’t like the idea of being filmed during his first sexual experience since being paralyzed, but he knew this might be his only opportunity for a very long time. After all, a month ago, the idea of being in a hot tub with a beautiful woman seemed ridiculously out of his reach. It was now or never.
Harrison saw the strings at the line of her cleavage, tying her top together. Impulsively, he reached out with his mouth and tried to pull it open in one smooth motion. After gnawing at it for a few seconds, he realized this wasn’t going to work. Worse still, he might undo the loops, creating a double knot he could never get open with his mouth. No, he had to think about this.
Harrison leaned back and studied the knot as Abby patiently held her chest out to him. There were two strings hanging down from the knot—he thought if he could pull on one of them, the whole thing would come open. He leaned forward again and grabbed onto one of the strings with his teeth. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a tight enough hold and it came out as soon as he started pulling on it. Okay, try again. He took the string in his mouth again, this time making sure it was tightly clenched between his molars. Now when he pulled on it, he saw the knot pop open. He had done it!
To Harrison’s surprise, he heard a burst of applause from the crew that was filming them. He couldn’t suppress a bit of a smile.
“Good boy,” Abby said with a smile of her own. “Now you get your reward…”
She pressed her breast against his face. He eagerly took her nipple into his mouth, enjoying the taste of her soft flesh. He circled her nipple with his tongue as she moaned gratefully and ran her fingers through his hair. Are they still filming this? he wondered.
He saw her hand moving down toward his swim trunks and felt a moment of panic. He had his indwelling catheter in and he didn’t want her to feel that. He was pretty sure he couldn’t get an erection with the catheter in place and he figured he probably wouldn’t be able to get one anyway. “Abby, don’t,” he said, pulling away from her breast.
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Harrison, I…”
To his relief, she obeyed his request. She kept her hands on his upper body, which he couldn’t feel, but at least there was nothing up there to freak her out. He knew his toneless arms and chest were not attractive, but he couldn’t imagine what her reaction might be if she came across his catheter. He suspected Noel didn’t use an indwelling catheter—probably he just cathed himself every few hours.
He continued to lick Abby’s breasts and her neck and anything that came near his mouth. It was wonderful being close to a woman again—her skin tasted so soft and sweet. She rubbed against him, her fingers sliding from his shoulders into his dark hair. She bit his earlobe and he gasped slightly.
Her rubbing became more rhythmic and he knew she was working toward an orgasm. He hoped she would never come—it was in heaven feeling Abby’s flesh in his mouth and her soft hands touching his face. But eventually, she pressed hard against him and cried out slightly, then fell limp against his chest. “Oh, Harrison,” she murmured.
Harrison smiled to himself. What do you know? I made a girl climax.
She lifted her head. “Did you enjoy yourself?”
“That was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” Harrison replied earnestly. And it was. Even though he didn’t have an orgasm himself, it was empowering to be able to give a woman pleasure after believing that he would never be able to do so again. “I’ll never forget it,” he added.
“Well, maybe I’ll be able to refresh your memory,” Abby said, biting playfully on his ear.
Harrison laughed. “Okay, sure.”
“What? Are you saying you don’t believe me?”
Harrison smiled sadly. “Abby, I know you’re not going to pick me tomorrow. If I were you, I wouldn’t pick me. We had fun tonight, but you can’t have a relationship with a quad. It’s impossible.”
“Why is it impossible?”
“Look,” Harrison said, “I think you should pick one of the other guys. Pick Ethan or Jamie. Just don’t pick Noel—he’s a predator.”
Abby laughed. “You looking out for me?”
“I guess,” Harrison said. Back when he was a bartender, Harrison prided himself on stepping in early when he saw some guy hassling one of the women in the bar. He felt like part of his job was to protect them. But now he wasn’t in any condition to protect anyone, as Noel had proven to him the other day. “You’re a nice girl. You deserve to be with a really great guy. I know you’ve got to pick one of us tomorrow, but at least don’t pick someone who’s going to take advantage of you.”
Abby touched his cheek. “Harrison, you’re a great guy. And you’re a great catch for any girl, whether or not you win this competition. I wish you knew that.”
Harrison looked into Abby’s kind eyes. “I wish we met before…”
Abby kissed him gently on the lips. “Well, at least we met.”
Stay tuned for Abby's final choice...