Suzan didn’t go home that night. The next morning, when she awoke and Ellen presented her with a cup of steaming coffee—enhanced with real cream and a pinch of sugar just the way she liked it—Suzan checked her phone messages and found five calls and three texts from Davis. His messages went from concern to frustration and even a bit of anger when she hadn’t returned his calls. It wasn’t like Suzan to be so flighty, avoiding even the most pragmatic of responses let alone shirking her responsibilities.
She knew she should have given Davis a courtesy call last night to let him know her whereabouts, appease his anxiety and dissipate his worry. But last night with Ellen had been too lovely to care about his needs and wants. She lived from one moment to the next as she basked in Ellen’s warm, generous love. No one else mattered, and the world outside their luscious tulle and satin cocoon never existed. But now as she sipped her coffee, Suzan called Davis’ smart phone and got him on the second ring.
“Where have you been!” he asked with a high note of anxiety in his voice.
“I’m at Ellen’s house,” she stated simply, “with Ellen.”
“Couldn’t you have called to let me know? I thought something happened to you like a car accident. I wanted to call the hospitals, but I stopped short, hoping you would call and let me know your whereabouts and condition.”
“Nothing happened. I’m all in one piece. Ellen and I were talking and the time just got away from us...and that’s it.”
Davis paused for a moment to digest the news. “Oh. Are you planning to come home now?”
“Yes, to shower, change and go to work.”
“I don’t know, Davis.”
“We need to talk.”
“Yes, we do.” As Suzan ended the call, she sighed in bewilderment. What could she possibly say to him that would make any sense or at least ease his concern? Hi, honey, I slept with a woman last night and she’s by far the best lover I ever had.
She could hardly spring that startling bit of information on him, and she certainly didn’t want to hurt Davis any more than necessary. Hi, honey, I’m leaving you...not for another man but for another woman.
When she glanced up, Suzan found Ellen gazing at her perceptively. She looked lovely in a pale pink robe, her hair combed softly around her shoulders, her own cup of coffee in hand.
“I think you will know,” Ellen told her, “what to say to him when the time comes. It’s up to you now to make the next move.”
But what was the next move? Finishing her coffee, Suzan peeled back the covers and then rose from the bed, naked. At least she had slept well, long and deep while “spooning” with Ellen, her knees in the crook of Suzan’s and her arms wrapped tenderly around the doctor. They seemed a perfect fit.
“You’re right,” Suzan agreed as she picked up her clothes. She would be late for work if she didn’t hurry. “When the time comes I’ll know what to say and do.”
“In the meantime, I hope you will stay here with me.”
Suzan felt joy well up inside of her, joy and excitement. She paused in dressing and smiled. “Thank you. Your invitation means more to me than you know.”
Ellen laughed lightly. “Oh, I know, my dear, and I understand.”
For the next few days, Suzan spent every available, non-working moment with Ellen. When not making love, Ellen wanted to know more about Suzan and her avocation. As the doctor explained protein and enzyme manipulation as a means to prevent certain blood disorders and even cancer, Ellen listened intently and seemed to understand the more technical aspects even as Suzan tried to explain in layman’s terms about the workings of B lymphocyte cells and IgM antibodies. Ellen remained a rapt audience, keen on knowing all about the doctor’s work and life.
Besides her immediate family, no one else knew of Suzan’s own blood disorder, von Willebrand disease, a disorder where the body produced either too little protein or produced a protein that didn’t work, thus preventing the clotting of blood. All of her life Suzan had been treated with kid gloves, unable to play like normal children. Simple cuts and scrapes could cause excessive bleeding, and so she was rarely allowed to play outdoors with the neighborhood children. And when it came to any type of surgery, even having her tonsils taken out, she had to have a blood supply of Type B+ on hand in case of excessive bleeding.
When Ellen asked if the disease could be put into remission or even conquered, Suzan had to shake her head in the negative. “Not yet, but I’m trying. Of course, my von Willebrand disorder spurred me into becoming a doctor and a medical researcher. It’s not a common disease and it is inherited. One day though I hope to find the right balance that will eradicate not only my disorder but other disorders as well, like hemophilia and pernicious anemia. And on the other end, I want to rebalance the protein and enzyme productions that lead to blood clots.”
“You will,” Ellen told her with a reassuring smile. “You have the patience and tenacity to succeed. Perhaps, one day you will win the Nobel Prize.”
“You’re such an angel,” Suzan murmured, “for listening and understanding. I’ll do the same with your life story, although I know it will be much more exciting than my pitiable history.”
“Oh, I’m hardly glamorous and exciting.” Ellen laughed sweetly as she tenderly caressed Suzan’s head of soft curls.
“Let me be the judge of that.”
But when Suzan began to question her new lover about intimate details, Ellen merely smiled and told her she would know all soon enough. She did reveal one important detail: that her husband, Charles Lambert, had recently passed away in Europe. Curiously, Ellen displayed no visible signs of grief or despair at losing a partner she hadn’t been with for awhile.
“So you’ll be going there to make the arrangements?” Suzan asked in a soft, caring voice. “Will you ship his body back here for a funeral or memorial?”
Ellen donned a vague look. “No, it will be up to his people to take care of the necessities. There is nothing more I can do for him. As far as I know, Charles will be cremated.”
Suzan found her lover’s response somewhat puzzling. She recalled the day Charles Lambert had come to the office with such an incredible story about his rapid aging in a matter of hours. Ellen had skirted that subject when Suzan brought it up, as if she possessed only a peripheral idea of what Charles, her own husband, suffered from. But did she really known the truth?
Perhaps Suzan would find out in time, and come to know much more about her new lover. Until then, Ellen remained an enigma on so many levels. Her mysteriousness gave her double allure and certainly intrigued the doctor. Suzan figured this relationship would never become stale or static, but would continue to thrive on a high-wired level of excitement and pleasure.
The doctor hated to leave, but she couldn’t abandon reality all together, even though every minute without Ellen and her intoxicating kisses would seem like an eternity, a torturous span of slow-marching time until they could be together again. Is this what it’s like to be addicted, Suzan wondered, this insatiable craving for Ellen—Ellen Lambert, the only one who could quench her need and move her into a state of euphoria. But how could she explain the situation so it sounded reasonable to those around her?
She had reluctantly returned to work and gone back to the apartment to face Davis’ cool stares, terse pronouncements, and veiled insinuations. Even Vanda gave her curious and if not disapproving glances when she thought Suzan wasn’t looking. Somehow Vanda knew or at least suspected that her boss had been doing more than shopping or running errands during the time she took off on personal business. But Suzan felt it wasn’t a subject she wanted to discuss with her assistant, or insert between the lines of everyday conversation. She could even script the inevitable:
Assistant: “How was your weekend?
Boss: “Oh, fine, I spent it with my new lover, a woman.”
Dead silence as assistant becomes flabbergasted.
Perhaps Suzan had been too quick to jump into a totally different kind of relationship; but when Ellen asked if she would be willing to move in with her, Suzan didn’t hesitate to agree. It would be a life-changing and challenging experience, even a bit scary, but she felt ready to take the next step. Lunchtime couldn’t come soon enough. Suzan raced over to the fashion mall and bought herself a new batch of lingerie, soft and sexy and sure to please her new lover.
Whether an addiction or not, Suzan gladly embraced the idea of living with and loving Ellen Lambert. It just felt right.