Chapter 29. The GIft
A metamorphosis began to take place before my eyes. The week after Thanksgiving, Meg had the IV removed from her arm. In January, she’d have her teeth fixed, and she was disappointed that it couldn’t be done sooner. When I teased her that she was my goalie, Meg would shoot me one of those darting looks before I smirked, and she’d giggle the look away. The nightmares had lessened as the medication took effect, so we were sleeping better through the night for the most part.
The day the cast was removed, December 14th, Meg and I celebrated. I took her out to lunch and held that hand for almost the entire time. Dr. Jamison and Dr. Morris, her orthopedist, insisted that both piano playing and kneading dough would be good rehabilitation for her hands. Every night I was treated to a metamorphosis that began to take place before my eyes. The week after Thanksgiving, Meg had the IV removed from her arm. In January, she’d have her teeth fixed, and she was disappointed that it couldn’t be done sooner. When I teased her that she was my goalie, Meg would shoot me one of those darting looks before I smirked, and she’d giggle the look away. The nightmares had lessened as the medication took effect, so we were sleeping better through the night for the most part.
The day the cast was removed, December 14th, Meg and I celebrated. I took her out to lunch and held that hand for almost the entire time. Dr. Jamison and Dr. Morris, her orthopedist, insisted that both piano playing and kneading dough would be good rehabilitation for her hands. Every night I was treated to Bach chorales on the Steinway before she joined me on the couch to stare into the fireplace as logs crackled and sputtered in the flames.
Meg attended physical therapy twice a week and on those afternoons, she also saw Ruby, so she had three solid days a week in the office. I saw Ruby every Friday whether I wanted to or not. She dealt with me about Meg, and let me know that she was not in favor of our intimate relationship at such a vulnerable time for Megan. Ruby also voiced her opinions of Megan climbing into my bed in the middle of the night when she would have a nightmare, and that I allowed her the liberty of doing so.
At least Meg could stop the nightmares, terrors, flashbacks (whatever psycho-babble term Ruby used for it) by getting into my bed. She’d cuddle with me, and I didn’t even wake up. I would just roll over and wrap myself around her.
“That’s not appropriate behavior for an employer,” scoffed Ruby.
I really didn’t care what Ruby had to say. Meg was improving and I was getting sleep, so what was the big deal? “She’s more than an employee to me, you know that.”
“Then what is she to you? What is your intention with her, Alex? You need to clarify in your mind just what Megan is to you. Is she for real a prospect to be a Mrs. Corwynn or is she just another shag like Bianca?”
“Look, Ruby, my relationship with Megan is nothing like the relationship I had with Bianca. Meg needs me. Meg loves me, not my money, my fame, wealth, or those other external factors. She loves me.”
“You are her protector and savior, Alex. Can you become her lover? Will she let you?”
“Not yet. I don’t think she’s ready for that, do you?”
“If she truly loves you, if she trusts you, she will. If there’s a doubt in her mind, then no, Alex, she won’t be able to distinguish the two of you in the heat of the moment.”
That wasn’t very reassuring to me. We had a fifty-fifty chance of having sex without that monster popping into her memory and separating us from each other. I sat there speechless. Ruby knew she had my attention.
“Do you disagree or do you fear the reality of your relationship?” I sat there, unable to answer her and shrugged my shoulders, since I couldn’t make up my mind.
“Talk to me, Alex.”
“You’ve said more than I wanted to hear.”
“Do you love her, Alex?” Ruby asked, leaning forward in her chair.
“Yeah, I do, now, more than ever. I can’t imagine her feeling less than likewise.”
That night, Angie, Megan and I picked out the Christmas tree and tied it on top of my Range Rover. We had about four inches of snow on the ground and the wind chill was near zero, so the three of us moved quickly to get the tree inside the house. Earlier in the day, I had brought down the decorations while Meg pined away in the office. Our fundraiser did better than we ever expected. Meg was busy sending thank you cards, acknowledging the donations and putting them in the computer, and preparing the year-end statements for donors’ taxes.
Then the grant apps that Meg filed were fulfilled. We broke 2 million before Christmas that year. That was reason alone to celebrate. We spent the evening decorating the tree, ordering a pizza around nine. By the time we were done hanging the pine garland wound in lights on the staircase, and got the tree up and decorated, the house looked great, and we were tired. At midnight, the three of us sat on the couch and I shut off the overhead lights so the only lights in the house were the Christmas tree lights. Sandwiched between my girls, I didn’t want to leave for any reason. In comparison to other Christmases, this one was special. I had Angie home with me, I had Megan alive and healthy, and most of all, we had each other.
No doubt this Christmas would stand out in my memory for years to come. When I kissed Angie on her forehead, I realized that she was asleep in the crook of my arm. With Meg’s head resting on the other arm, I wrapped my arm around her and cupped her opposite shoulder, moving her closer to me, so she leaned against my chest.
“Angie’s asleep,” I whispered.
“Fridays are busy days for her.”
“Oh?” I asked.
“She gets up at five, has an early honors art symposium at six-thirty. She eats breakfast and classes start at eight, has sculpting all afternoon, and then Brandon picks her up at school and brings her out here. Usually, she naps on my futon in the office, but today she nosed through your decoration boxes, too excited about putting up the tree with you tonight.”
“We had a great time tonight, didn’t we?”
“Yes, but I think Angie will sleep until noon tomorrow.”
“I ought to get Mike to carry her upstairs, but holding her feels so wonderful.”
“Then hold her. She’s only young once. You’re a great dad, Alex.”
“I’m new at this. Sometimes I think I’ve really screwed up with her.”
“Are you kidding? Angie adores you, and she knows you love her. Fridays may be busy for her, but she wouldn’t trade the fact that at the end of the day, she comes home to you.”
“Yeah.” I held them close to me and watched the lights twinkle between the branches. The white lights and gold ornaments looked more beautiful to me this year than ever before. Maybe I’m getting sentimental in old age or maybe this Christmas was more Christmas to me than the forty-some before. For the first time in almost fifteen years, I looked forward to it instead of dreading it.
“How about you? How do I do?” I asked, only because I had to know.
“What is this, your yearly evaluation?” she asked with a laugh.
“Answer the question.” My serious tone must have made her realize that I wasn’t joking. Megan became serious and leaned against the arm of the couch so she could look me in the eye. A gentle smile rose up her cheeks as her hand did to my chin, stroking my beard with her thumb.
“You’re wonderful Alex. You’ve gone from being my protector to my heart’s companion.”
“Explain that to me.”
“You were the first person in my life to truly love me. You’ve been teaching me how to love you, and that love isn’t what I thought it was.”
I drew her to me again and as Megan rested her head on my chest, I hugged her tightly and stroked Angie’s hair. We sat there in silence; the only sound was the crackling of the fire and the wind against the house.
“Do you love me?” I asked her.
“More than words can express.” My heart and breath must have signaled my relief to hear this, because she tilted her face in my direction, in almost a puzzled expression before setting it back to its original position.
“Can you try?”
“For you, sure,” Meg replied. As she leaned back again, she reached for my hand and held it within her dainty one, as her eyes met mine.
“I love you, Alex. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll lose you by leaning on your strength. Other guys would have thrown me away, but you just held me tighter. You could have gotten rid of me when Randy was stalking me, but you didn’t. You kept me. You bought property that you didn’t need, spending money that you shouldn’t have to keep me safe.”
“Do you feel indebted to me, as if you won’t let yourself love anyone else because of it?”
“Let me ask you this, do you still feel responsible for Randy getting me?”
“Right, we’ve moved past that, haven’t we?”
“Even the former?”
“But without you, I’d probably be dead by now. Are you asking me if I’m attached to you because of a debt that I feel I must repay?”
“Yes, but what I really need to know is do you want me?”
“I don’t feel as if I owe you anything more than my love and admiration. Do I want you? Does a bee make honey?”
“I love you, and yes, I do want you. You should have Mike take Angie up to bed.”
I leaned over and left a quick kiss on Meg’s lips. “Nah, I can do it, I’ll be right back,” I whispered then lifted Angie up so her head was on my shoulder. She was lighter than Megan, and for once, I was glad that I had been working out as much as I had. Anna had already turned down the beds, so I laid Angie down in hers, then removed her sneakers and tucked her in then kissed her good night. I was just outside of the door when I heard her ask, “Daddy?”
“Meg, she loves you. A whole lot. She makes you happy.”
“Good night, Daddy.”
“Good night, Angel,” I replied, and left to return to Megan. I found her still on the couch and covered with a throw blanket, staring at the tree.
“I haven’t shown you how much I love you, that’s why you had to ask, right?”
“Don’t be silly, you most certainly have. As much as you could, you have shown me, and I understand.”
“Not like I should.”
“Are you ready to go there?”
“Emotionally more than physically.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He damaged me. I didn’t want you to know.”
“What do you mean?”
“He ripped me, both orifices. I know they’re better. What I’m trying to say is that I’m afraid to try.”
“Okay, let’s get something straight. That sodomizing, anal sex, whatever they want to call it, I don’t do that. I have too many gay friends to even go there.”
Meg exhaled deeply as if relieved.
“How often did he do that to you?”
“Both times that he raped me.”
“I won’t ever do that to you, and there’s no way I’ll go there, not now or ever. I won’t ever hurt you intentionally, I promise you that, Megan. As far as I’m concerned, making love is only appropriate for loving touches. Do we understand each other?”
Meg nodded again with another deep sigh of relief.
“Talk to me.”
“Tell me what frightens you.”
“Yeah, I supposed so. I’m not him or any of the other lovers that used to force themselves on you and call it love. That’s not love, sweetheart. Love is mutual.”
“So what do we do when the flashbacks come?”
“We’ll deal with it. We’ll talk our way through it as we’ve always done.” I picked her up and set her on my lap, then turned her to face me. Meg kissed me then pulled back.
“What do we do with fear?”
“I’m not protected.”
“I’ll take care of it.”
“What are you sorry about now?” I asked with a laugh.
“The Pill. When I was in the hospital, they didn’t know, so I didn’t get it.”
“We can take care of that later.”
“If you say so.”
Meg kissed me on the forehead, then the nose, and then she devoured my mouth. We just sat there in front of the tree for a while, just kissing and petting until I pulled her turtleneck from her jeans as my hands took turns searching for a clasp on the back of the bra and found none. She giggled and reached in the front of her shirt and released the butterfly clasp so her breasts fell out into my hands. Meg’s quivering beneath my touch forced me to slow down, as I didn’t know if it was excitement or fear at first. I rubbed her nipples to hard nubs then moved my mouth to taste one, making her coo as I did so. Her hand combed through my hair as I tried to slow down and control myself when what I really wanted was to make love to her here in front of the Christmas tree, remove her jeans and have her straddle me here and now. But she needed me to go slow and easy.
I held her. She fumbled with the buttons on my shirt until I grabbed a hand and kissed its fingertips trying to relieve her frustration.
“Alex, will you take me upstairs, please?”
Meg gathered her shirt and bra and walked upstairs bare-chested. I loved watching her bosom bounce as she took each step. When we stopped at her door, she reached for my hand and led me to mine, then shut the door behind us.
“Are you sure?” I asked. She didn’t answer. Instead, she unbuttoned my shirt and teased my chest with her tongue as she opened each button. I think I had my answer. When she got to the bottom of my shirt and pulled it from my Levi’s, her trembling hand attempted to undo my jeans. With her hand in mine, I kissed her and flicked them open with the other. Before I knew it, we were both naked. Her hands rubbed up and down my hips, pulling my torso closer to hers. I looked over her shoulder at the snow falling outside in big white flakes. Everything would seem new in the morning and so would we. Once we made it to the bed, we’d never be able to go back to our flirtatious games again. Her lips teased my chest, as her sweet eyes tried to catch mine. Then she turned and saw the snow falling. Meg pressed her back against my front as I held her against me, massaging those luscious mounds that perked whenever I touched them.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked in a whisper.
“Like you, but you are more beautiful than a fresh winter’s morning.”
“Nah, the trees, in the morning, before it warms and they drip with the melting snow, they are more beautiful than me.”
“Not in my book,” I said. I picked her up and carried her to my bed. I laid her down in the midst of one of my large down pillows and watched her head sink into it. My lips traveled up one of her arms to her shoulder, then crossed at her neck and down the other arm to her fingers.
As I loomed over her, I attacked her lips before tasting every bit of her neck. Her hands teased my hair as I moved lower to a breast. At first, I made her giggle as I suckled it. When I realized that I was tickling her, I looked up at her face just to see her laugh. Ever since the wires were removed, if Meg was giggling or laughing, I had to see it for myself.
Still so new, I remembered when she was in intensive care, and how we never expected her to live let alone laugh ever again. She noticed that I had stopped.
“Alex, what?” she asked.
Lowering myself so our skin touched again, I replied, “Nothing, I was just enjoying you.”
“You’re silly. I love you, Alex.”
“I love you too, Meg.” As I grounded my hips against hers, testing for her reaction, I was surprised when her hands pulled my ass closer to her, and she didn’t seem fearful to my touch. But when I connected us, she gasped, so I stopped.
“No, I’m good, love,” she replied and kissed me passionately, concentrating on my lips as I remained still for her. She moaned as I moved within her.
Rocking gently within her at first, I waited until she signaled that she wanted more. Her lips attacked my shoulders as her hands held tightly to my back, moving down to my ass to quicken my pace. I wanted to flip her over, and when I signaled my intent, it was as if her back was glued to the mattress, and her face turned away from me. At that moment, I feared a flashback.
“What is it?” I asked, cupping her shoulders so she’d look at me again.
“My . . . my back,” she replied.
“Does it hurt?”
“No, I don’t want you to see it.”
“Hush, now, the lights are off. I can’t see it. I can only feel you. Come, trust me. Trust that I love you and know what your back looks like and I do not find it revolting. It’s not as bad as you think. It’s healed rather well.”
“Yes, it is.”
She turned her face away, ignoring me. I kissed her neck, nibbled on her earlobe until she giggled, and moved gently within her to remind her of my presence.
“Let me love you,” I whispered, “c’mon, Meg, roll over.”
Meg turned over and drew herself up on all fours, but I collapsed her legs and made her lie on the mattress first. My lips brushed over her scarred back while my hands caressed it, making my satisfaction wait. She needed to know how cherished she was in my arms, that what Davenport did to her didn’t ruin her, and that I loved her, regardless of what he wanted to accomplish by mutilating her. A gentle gasp and sniff escaped her.
“Hush, don’t cry. Am I hurting you?”
“No, you love me. You . . . you really do, don’t you?”
I kissed her a bit longer and then lifted her hips to meet mine. When I inserted, she went forward to avoid it.
“A little,” she said with a sigh.
“Easy,” I said, teasing her snatch with my fingertips. I heard her giggle then calm again. When I reinserted this time, she sighed as I moved, and the faster I went the more she moaned. Loving the feeling of her beneath me, her round ass perked up at me, her delicious body attached to mine, in sync with my need for her. As I drove us to climax, Meg purred my name as I thrust deeply into her.
Her hands wrenched my pillow as she tightened her walls and milked me dry and we both fell exhausted on the bed. I lay on top of her and nibbled on her neck some more. Soon, Megan wiggled out from underneath me and rushed into the bathroom.
“Oh shit!” I exclaimed, realizing of all times to forget a condom that this was it. Megan didn’t seem alarmed when she returned with a soapy washcloth and towel. She shrugged her shoulders when I said that I forgot the condom. With a smile on her face and a giggle escaping her lips, she washed and dried my now flaccid cock before kissing its head then covering me with the blankets. When she returned to the bed, Meg cuddled in my arms.
“I’m so sorry, I forgot.”
“It’s all right.”
“Are you mad?”
“No, I’d consider it an honor to bear your child.”
“Yeah?” I asked, surprised by this response.
“Yeah,” she replied, and then kissed my chest where her head rested.
“That’s not something you need right now.”
“Maybe, maybe not.”