Warm sunrays bounce off my shoulders. The wide, goofy grin Sean gives me makes my heart swell. I look around. We’re alone in the grass clearing and I know exactly what he’s thinking. That twinkle in his eyes, the swagger in his step, Sean reaches around me and plants light kisses starting on my cheek tracing down my neck. I love the way he makes me feel. Everything is perfect as he begins to make sweet love to me in the field. I moan in pleasure, the groans getting louder and louder.
I fling my eyes open—the noises aren’t coming from me. Pitch black clouds … no not clouds, crows, thousands and thousands of black crows circle above us. Their wings are beating against the wind—loud ear wrenching squawks reverberating in the air. I watch in horror as they spin faster. The birds no longer distinguishable, as they form a funnel cloud heading straight down—toward us. Sean is oblivious … smiling down happily at me, and then—he’s gone. Wisped away by the tornado of birds–I’m left unscathed—lying flat on my back, alone.
I wake with a start. My heart is hammering against my chest. My room is dark and as I come back to complete consciousness, the horror of nothingness settles in again. I’m still alone. My children—besides Ben—still live in the home I raised them in with their father, Sean, and … his new girlfriend. I miss my life—painfully. I want my happy home back. For another night, I cry myself back to sleep.
“Really? You want me to fix your hair?”
I glare at my sister, “yes please. I just need a little help. After all, I did get this new hairdo. I guess I should at least do something with it.” I’m not exactly sure why I am going through the steps to fancy myself up today. I mean really what are the chances of Ethan being my therapist again today? However, it wouldn’t hurt to make myself look a little human anyway. No matter what, I decide to exchange the nasty ugly brown swimsuit from the hospital and replace it with my favorite two-piece turquoise suit.
I almost feel giddy on the car ride to the hospital. The nightmare is stowed away in the back of my mind for now. I’m not going to think about that right now.
“You seem different today.” Heather says as we wait for the nurse at the desk.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not quite sure, but definitely different.”
I don’t tell her in the back of my mind that … I’m hoping I have a twenty-seven-year-old hottie—I get to drool over for the next hour. With everything I have going on, I’ll keep that little thought of heaven to myself. Thankfully she doesn’t pry.
Miss Young Cheery is the nurse to come and get me from the front desk. “Are you ready?” I nod.
“I’ll see you in an hour, Nikki.” I feel bad for Heather as I watch her turn to leave. All this extra running around for me has to be throwing off her whole schedule.
I listen to Tiffany babble about the amazing night out she had with her girlfriends and how her headache is finally going away. “Super cute swimming suit.” That at least gets a smile out of me. I look around a little too anxiously while she wheels me to my normal spot on the edge of the pool.
I inhale sharply—there he is; His sandy blonde hair, his sculpted physique wearing lime green and orange swim trunks. I feel like a school girl.
“Nikki!” Hearing his enthusiasm saying my name ignites hope. I hope he’s just as excited to see me as I am him.
Thankfully, Tiffany doesn’t linger too long, and Ethan sets off to help me into the harness. I feel helpless, and I wish I could do more to help out. “Nice swimming suit. The color is umm… nice on you.” Accidently, he brushes his hand on my leg, or maybe it wasn’t an accident. Sparks hum to life, even to the parts of me that feel dead. My arm jumps in response to his touch. “Well, that’s a good sign.” A moment of awkwardness looms in the air, “How about we get this started?”
“Yeah… great!” I sound too eager, but I can’t seem to control my emotions—antsy. Discriminately, my eyes dance over his well-toned body during our session. I feel like I’m browsing a Candy Shoppe, and right now he might be my favorite flavor. “What do you do for fun?” I ask nervously.
Oh my god that dimple … he smiles warmly at me and his steel blue eyes hypnotize me. “I like to hike and bike. I enjoy the outdoors.”
Sean never did like the outdoors much. I grew up camping, hunting, fishing, and enjoying outdoor activities, but I could never get him to do much other than to play video games and watch TV. I had always found it strange living in the northwest that he had no outdoor interests. I guess it was probably because he had come from Illinois. He was raised with a completely different up-bringing.
“It shows.” My tongue moves at its own accord revealing I’ve noticed how good he looks.
He just smiles. “I also enjoy kicking back at home, maybe watch a good movie or read a good book.”
“You like to read?”
“Yes, I read a lot.”
I didn’t take him as a reader, but the more I learn there seems to be a lot more to him than just his good looks. Ethan works around me and grabs both of my wrists—my backside to his front side. He outstretches both of our arms perpendicular to my body and begins to slowly make small circles slightly above the water. If he only took one step forward my body would be pressed against his. My focus is no longer on the movements of my arms. I can only imagine him closer against me as I feel the electricity crackling in the air around us.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” The question seems so personal, yet, sensual. That might have something to do with the proximity of our bodies. I close my eyes getting lost in that fact when he whispers softly in my ear, “Do you want to tell me about it?”
“About?” I breathe out heavy. He has to be able to tell what he is doing to my libido right now. Wish granted—he steps closer. My body is now soaring … heat slithering through my veins like burning hot lava.
I’m not sure what to tell him. My head is buzzing with conflicting emotions. I don’t think that I should mention Sean. Call me crazy, but I’m sure the last thing that Ethan wants to hear is about my marriage drama. He moves to lift my arms above my head like a slow motion jumping jack, and I feel him press against me. In this moment, I know I am affecting him too.
“I was in a car accident.” I blurt out, trying to say something—anything—to distract me. I look around to see if people are watching us. I wonder what they would think seeing me with a much younger guy wrapped up so close to me. Would it disgust them?
“Just you, or were there other people involved?”
That stings. I hate that I am still here while Lance is gone. I breathe out hard not realizing I had been holding my breath.
“My friend was driving … he was killed.”
“I’m so sorry,” he says while bringing my hands back down to the water. For some reason though, I feel like he really is sincere when he tells me he’s sorry.
“I don’t remember much. I was in a coma for a couple of months.”
“I’m thankful,” he says, confusing me.
“I’m thankful that you survived and that I have the pleasure to work with you.”
Goosebumps erupt from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. This kid has seriously got my panties in a bunch. I try to push the bumps away before he notices. I ponder how wrong it is for me to be eyeballing Ethan. If he were my son I would probably be chastising him to find someone his own age—not that anything is going on between Ethan and I. Right now, I’m just enjoying the view.
Our hour session flew by way too quickly. I can’t seem to get the feeling of his body pressed to mine out of my head. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions, I just met this guy, and I can’t seem to get him out of my head. The old Nikki would never sit and think about another man like this. I have got to get my head on straight.
Heather is late, and I wish she would show up. I hate sitting here in a wheelchair looking hopeless. An attractive brunette with a pair of tight skinny jeans and a silky chiffon top keeps looking at me disgusted. She glances at her watch periodically and keeps tapping her toes. I feel as impatient as her, but I don’t think even I can pull off her perma-scowl.
“It’s about time.” She snaps to someone coming up behind me. It amuses me how full of herself she is. If she only had a clue how quick it could all change in just a blink of an eye.
A pair of blue jeans brushes past me, “Sorry I was with a patient. I was trying to hurry.” My mouth drops when Ethan kisses the brunette’s cheek. “I really did try to hurry.” A lump in my throat closes off my airway. See Nikki … he has a hot, tight, young girlfriend. You’re just a patient, my subconscious yells at me. I turn my head, not wanting to be a spectator, and when I look up they’re both gone.