In Between Shadows

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Chapter 17

He was almost asleep by the time Carrie finished the massage, and she washed her hands and climbed into bed beside him.

“Have I told you how much I adore you?” he muttered sleepily, holding her close.

She gave a short laugh, kissing him on his forehead. “A few times. Go to sleep, Brad. Tomorrow will be a hectic day. I hope it doesn’t rain because I intend taking you out into the grounds for some breathing exercises before we hit the gym.”

He lifted his chin, turning his head towards her. “Hmm, bossy I see. I thought I was the king around here?”

She brushed her fingers over his lips, smiling. “Yes, your majesty. You still hold that position!”

She bent her head to kiss him, but he drew away after a moment, and said softly, “Carrie, - if I tell you about my nightmare, promise not to laugh at me.”

Carrie blinked in surprise. She raised herself on one elbow and looked down at him. “I’ve already promised that I won’t! But you don’t have to tell me if it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you should try to sleep while you’re still relaxed.”

“No! I’ll lose my nerve if I don’t tell you now. It - it’s not really a big deal now anyway! You’re not too tired, are you?”

“I’m not tired. I’m listening, love.”

He swallowed. “It was - not being able to have an erection that scared me. You see, - it isn’t the first time this has happened. About a month before the car accident I - I couldn’t get it up either. I thought there was something wrong with me! That maybe I wasn’t a - a man after all. Barbara - had started making suggestions about - about a - a threesome! I was sickened by what she described - and I refused point blank to even consider it. But - but we - we still had sex a few times after that, so it wasn’t that that caused my sudden - impotence!”

He shuddered and started to tremble a little, and Carrie rubbed his chest gently, but she didn’t say anything. He took a deep breath, covering her hand with his own, and he tried to smile at her.

“I was too embarrassed to let her know that I - that I couldn’t get….” He shuddered again. “The truth was that I just didn’t want her anymore! So, I started making excuses not to see her, blamed it on my agent nagging me for my next book, or whatever lie I could come up with to not be alone with her. I even booked into a hotel in Cornwall for a couple of days, supposedly to get some work done on my manuscript. She was pretty angry, but she knew I liked to be alone when I wrote. Then - then I told her I had to practise for the recital, so apart from taking her for coffee a couple of times there was no time for us to - to… Oh God, Carrie, this is embarrassing! The thought of having sex with her again just made me nauseas.”

She tried not to smile, but her lips twitched. And he saw it.

“You said you wouldn’t laugh,” he accused.

“I’m not laughing. But why did it scare you?”

He swallowed again. “I don’t know. All the other guys wanted her! I should have been the happiest guy on the planet. But - she - she scared me to death! I was repulsed by some of the things she wanted to do and - and maybe I was scared that she would somehow make me marry her, and I’d be stuck with her for life! But that’s not what is causing the nightmares now. I couldn’t get an erection then, and I was ashamed about it. But I - I’ve never had that problem again until - until now! I’m scared that it’s happening again. It’s terrifying Carrie! I love you so much, but in my dreams, I lose you to this guy without a face, but with the biggest penis you’ve ever seen, and he could...”

Now she did laugh. She had tried her best to bite back the laughter bubbling up in her, but she failed miserably. And the more she tried to stop, the funnier it seemed. Definitely unprofessional for a psychologist!

He stared at her dumbfounded, then he also saw the funny side of what he’d said, and he burst into laughter too. “It - it’s not funny!” he tried to say.

“I’m so sorry, darling,” she mumbled as she sobered. “I know it’s not funny, - but…” Her face cracked again, and she bit hard on her lips to quell another round of laughter.

He kissed her forehead quickly, and chuckled. “I - I suppose it is a bit funny! And I’d rather have you laugh at me than Max!”

She took a deep breath to calm herself, then said seriously, “I’m not laughing at you, darling. It was the thing about the man with the big…” she bit her lip, inhaling again. “Brad, I don’t care what any other man looks like, or how well endowed he thinks he is, I DO NOT want anybody but you! You are NOT going to lose me to anyone else! How many times do I have to tell you that?”

His eyes flickered with amusement now. “I know. I’m sorry that my brain doesn’t seem to register that fact. I suppose I’ll always be afraid some guy will want to take you from me. In my dream, he’s ridiculing me for being feeble and pathetic, and I can’t even fight him. I’m stuck in the wheelchair, .and - and he has his arms around you. And all I can think about is that I can’t make love to you anymore and he can! It’s scary.”

Her eyes were shining with suppressed humour. “I’m sorry I laughed. That was unforgiveable of me. My college lecturer would have thrown me out of his class if I’d done that during one of his role-play lessons. That’s not what psychologists are allowed to do.” She ran the back of her hand down his cheek. “And now that you had an erection, now that we did make love, how are you feeling now?”

He smiled. “Definitely more relaxed. But that could be the massage. I - I couldn’t put much effort in to make love to you. My legs still don’t work. But - but it was - satisfying for you, wasn’t it?”

“You know it was! As always!” she said softly. “You’re a wonderful lover, Brad.”

A little frown suddenly marred her face, and she asked quietly, “The - things you did with Barbara that were repulsive to you, - have - have we ever done anything that you find repulsive?”

He blinked. “Nothing I do with you is repulsive!”

“Nothing?”

Nothing! I love you! I didn’t love her! Everything that you and I do together is perfect!” He grimaced, and added, “Just don’t ever mention a threesome! THAT is something I WON’T do!”

She grinned. “Neither will I, so you have no worries on that score.”

“Do you think I’ll ever get over this - obsession that I have with you?”

She snuggled in to him, yawning. “I hope not!”

He kissed her goodnight, and breathed deeply as he settled back with a smile on his lips and a peace in his heart that he had not felt for what seemed like forever. Perhaps God was not as far away as he had thought!

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