Later on in the day, Joel was transferred out of the ICU. Once he was on the floors, physical therapy came by to help him get into a wheelchair. It was one of the hospital’s spare wheelchairs and a lot more clunky than his own, but it was a great feeling just to be out of bed. They helped him dress himself in some sweatpants and a T-shirt, which was a welcome change from the hospital gown he had been wearing.
He convinced the nurses to disconnect his IV and he was able to wheel around the floor a little bit. He even went downstairs in the elevator and sat out in the sun in the area that was set aside for patients to smoke. Joel wasn’t the only one in a wheelchair down there.
He thought a lot about Kyra and everything that had happened over the last few days. He knew that he had never stopped loving Kyra since their break-up six years ago. But he also knew that they were two very different people now. They weren’t two surgery residents making out in the on call room. She was a busy surgeon and he was an internist in a wheelchair. It was dumb to think they could recapture what they used to have.
Maybe you shouldn’t think about it so much. Maybe you should just wait and see what happens.
When Joel returned to his room, Kyra was sitting in a chair in the room, reading the newspaper. She smiled when she saw him. “Hi,” she said. “Got out early from work.”
He wheeled towards her and when he was close enough, she leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. He felt his heart flutter in his chest as she wrapped her arms around his neck and drew him closer. She sat down on his lap. “So when are you getting out of this dump?” she asked.
“Maybe tomorrow,” he replied, gazing back into her blue eyes.
She kissed him again and he saw her hand going up his shirt. He pulled away from her.
“Kyra,” he said, “I think we’re moving too fast.”
She blinked. “Too fast?”
“I mean, it’s been a really long time since we were last together,” he pointed out. “Maybe we shouldn’t be jumping into things...”
Kyra’s eyes narrowed. She stood up and brushed herself off. “Joel, I’m fucking sick of playing games,” she announced. “I want an answer right now: do you want me? Yes or no?”
Joel looked up at Kyra’s slender body, her perfectly chiseled features, her dark blonde hair and the blue eyes he had seen staring at him across an operating table so many times. She was still as beautiful as the day they had first entered the hospital as nervous surgery interns. “You know I do,” he said.
Kyra smiled and ran her right index finger slowly down his chest. “You’re not hooked up to any heart monitors, are you?”
Joel shook his head, his mouth too dry to speak. She slid her hand up his shirt and he could see the outline of her fingers running over his gut. He couldn’t feel her touch, but he suddenly started to feel self-conscious again that she might be turned off by his soft abdomen.
Joel remembered the first time he and Kyra had ever had sex, how he had been slightly anxious about failing to please her, yet too overtaken with lust to care. Back then, sex wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t have sex that frequently due to his work hours, but he had enough of it that he felt at least somewhat confident of himself.
But now sex was just as distant a memory as walking. He had no confidence that his body wouldn’t betray him in some way and that Kyra would leave feeling wholly unsatisfied.
Somehow, she sensed his apprehension. She pulled her hand out from under his shirt and touched his face with both her hands. “It’s okay, Joel,” she said. “I know you’re not perfect. Neither am I. I don’t care if you’ve got a beer gut or if you can’t get it up as easily as you used to.” She took a deep breath: “There’s something I should tell you.”
Joel frowned. A thousand thoughts ran through his head of what her confession might be. Was she still married to Paul? Still in love with him?
“I’m getting fired,” she said. It was the last thing he had expected her to say. “The incident with that Brewster woman was the last straw. It’s not official yet, I guess. I’m on unpaid leave for now, but I think it’s just a matter of time before they let me go. And I deserve it. I’ve been a fucking mess lately.” She shook her head. “I blamed everyone else for it, but it was my fault. I left the fucking towel in her abdomen. A towel. How could I let that happen? How could I be so goddamn careless? What happened to me, Joel? I used to be so…”
A tear slipped down Kyra’s cheek and Joel realized that he had never seen her cry before. It was a vulnerable side of her that was new to him. Every emotion he had ever felt for her rushed back to him all at once: the lust he had felt when he had first watched her from afar, the love he had felt when he had planned to propose, and even the hurt he had felt when he found out she was marrying another man.
“I love you, Kyra,” he said. His voice broke in the middle of the declaration, but he kept his eyes on her face.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and smiled through her tears. “I love you, Joel.”
She kissed him with more tenderness than he had ever felt from her before. She wasn’t the same person she had been six years ago. She had experienced pain and it had changed her, the same way it had changed him. The passion he felt right now dwarfed anything he had ever experienced in the past.
Kyra sat on his lap, which was difficult considering how long her legs were. Her hands were under his shirt again, caressing his chest as she kissed him. He felt her fingers circling his nipples and he gasped, pulling her closer to him. She lifted his shirt up and he realized she was trying to remove it. He did his best to help her, but his elbows kept getting in the way. It was awkward. Finally, he said, “I’ll do it, okay?”
Kyra obediently backed off, and Joel used his fists to pull the shirt over his head. Once his chest was exposed, he felt himself feeling self-conscious again, especially when he saw how Kyra was staring at him. “Well?” he said. “I’m a quad, what do you want?”
“You’re sexier now than you ever were back then,” she whispered.
She pulled her own blouse over her head and unhooked her bra. Joel swallowed hard when he laid eyes on her familiar breasts. There were small, but pert and perfect, just like they always had been. He reached out his hand and grazed the edge of her left breast. “I can’t feel you up like I used to,” he joked.
“You’ve still got a mouth, haven’t you?”
She moved closer to him so that her breasts were level with his face. He lowered his lips onto her nipple as Kyra threw her head back and moaned. He felt a distinct warm tingling in his chest that he knew meant that he was getting hard. He was surprised, since his brain and his penis were disconnected, but then he looked down and saw Kyra’s hand on his crotch.
He abandoned all his fears about maintaining an erection and wetting himself, and just lost himself in Kyra’s breasts. Although he couldn’t feel her touching him, he did feel the warm tingling intensify and spread up his neck and to the back of his skull. Kyra pushed his head closer to her breasts with her free hand and when he looked up at her, he could see she was biting her lip hard. Finally, he felt a burst of warmth erupt in the parts of his body he could feel and he was forced to abandon Kyra’s breasts as he leaned forward and shut his eyes tightly, riding the waves of sensation.
His chest and face were soaked with sweat, so Kyra went to the bathroom to moisten a cool washcloth. She ran the cloth all over his bare chest, down the length of his arms, and over his paralyzed hands. He watched her cleaning his hands and saw the way she touched his fingers. “They’re stiff,” she commented. “Can you move them at all?”
He shook his head. “Only my thumb,” he said. He demonstrated for her the movements he was able to do. “Maybe four out of five strength. Maybe a little less.”
“Can you jerk off?” she asked.
He had to laugh at that, “Yeah, I can. But it isn’t easy and I don’t do it much. It doesn’t feel quite the way it used to.”
“And how about fucking?” she said.
“I haven’t done that in a very, very long time,” he admitted. “I would have liked to do it right now…”
“You weren’t hard enough till the very end, right before you came,” Kyra told him. She winked, “I really had to work at it.”
“I’ll work at it too,” he promised. “I swear to god, I’m going to fuck you again, Kyra.”
“You’re worth waiting for,” she said.
Joel stared at Kyra’s pale face, her dark blonde hair outlining her sharp curves and softening them. She was so fucking beautiful. He didn’t understand quite why Kyra loved him, but he knew when he looked into her eyes that she did with all her heart. He had waited a long time to be with her too, and for the first time in six years, he felt lucky.
Ann found Cody waiting in line for food in the cafeteria at around 1PM, having missed the noon conference buffet as usual. Ann watched Cody pursing her lips as she carefully decided between the chicken and the lasagna, and realized how much she was going to miss her. Cody had been a great friend to her this past month.
Before Cody could place her order, Ann tapped her on the shoulder. Cody whirled around and her eyes lit up when she saw who was behind her. “Ann!” she exclaimed. “Where were you this morning? What happened?”
Ann thought she had already cried out every tear in her body, but the concerned look on Cody’s face brought on a fresh wave. Cody abandoned her empty tray and took Ann by the arm to lead her out of the cafeteria. Cody took her down the hallway to an empty stairwell that was rarely used.
“Ann, what’s going on?” Cody asked gently.
Ann wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and collapsed onto the staircase. “I’ve been expelled.”
“Expelled?” Cody’s eyes widened. “What? Why?”
Ann looked down at her knees. “Well, I failed my board exam.”
She knew that Cody wouldn’t accept this as an explanation, but for a moment she hoped the lie would be enough to earn some sympathy. But she could already see Cody’s brow furrowing. “They can’t expel you for that! I mean, you might have to take some time off, but they can’t expel you.” Cody shook her head. “That’s total bullshit. I mean, you’ve been great this month. I’d be happy to write you a letter if you need me to. And I know Dr. Dergan will write you a letter as soon as he gets out of the hospital.”
“He already did,” Ann replied.
Cody’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t understand. Did he… write you a bad letter? Dr. Dergan wouldn’t do that to you.”
“No, it’s not that…” Ann sighed. “He wrote me a great letter. It’s just that…”
Ann wished Cody would put it together already, but she didn’t. It was just too unbelievable, she supposed. “I don’t understand,” Cody said.
Ann lowered her voice, “Dr. Dergan and I… we were… well, you know…”
It took Cody a second to process the information. As she realized what Ann was saying, Cody’s jaw went slack and her eyes widened. “Holy… are you telling me that you and Dr. Dergan… hooked up?”
Ann nodded, flinching as she waited for Cody’s response.
“Oh my god…” A tiny smile played along Cody’s lips. “You and Dr. Dergan. Wow. I can’t say I’m not a little bit jealous.”
Despite everything, Ann managed a small smile herself.
“How was he in bed?” Cody whispered, that tiny smile still present. “He’s so sexy, isn’t he?”
“Oh yes,” Ann sighed. “We were only together a couple of times, but he was always very concerned with me, with making sure that I was satisfied.”
“Is he a good kisser?”
She nodded vigorously. “Very good.”
“Wow,” Cody breathed. “You are so lucky.”
Ann shook her head. “No, I’m not. Dr. Howard found out about it and that’s why I’m getting expelled.”
“Does Dr. Dergan know you’ve been expelled?”
“I don’t think so,” Ann said. “But what’s the difference?”
“He would never let you get expelled,” Cody said. “You know how he is… he’d stick up for you if he knew you were in trouble. I mean, this is the rest of your career we’re talking about…”
Ann believed that Joel would stick up for her, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted him to. Joel was the most brilliant doctor on the faculty and she didn’t want him to sacrifice his career for hers. She was just a bumbling med student and she’d never be half the doctor he was. She didn’t want to give him the choice of picking her career over his.
To be continued...