Their life together finally, truly begins. Today.
|Chapter Five: The Next Morning
At 5:37 AM, Erick was awakened by a soft, sexy voice in his ear:
“Erick? Honey? Sweetheart?”
He opened his eyes to find himself staring into those deep brown pools of hers. “God, Brown Eyes, you’re really here! You mean last night wasn’t just a wonderful dream?” Erick asked, honestly. Part of him had been afraid it was just a dream.
“No, my Little Firework, it’s not a dream,” she said, smiling as she kissed him. She loved the idea that she'd given him such a pleasant, loving way to wake up. “Honey, I have to go to the bathroom.”
“No problem, my love,” he said as he climbed out of bed, walked around to her side and tenderly picked her up. “I just love holding you and carrying you around, “ he said lovingly as he walked the short distance to the adjacent bathroom.
“And I just love the feeling when you do,” she added as he carefully sat her on the toilet. “Honey?”
“Things like right now are the biggest reason I wanted you, and no one else to help me. I can’t imagine the embarrassment I’d feel at having to ask a stranger for help with something this personal. And any roommate I’d have would be a stranger at this point.”
“I know, honey. That’s the other reason I wanted you to come here.”
“Yeah. The second reason is that I want to do all this for you. To show you first hand how deeply I love you!” he said warmly as he leaned down and kissed her.
She reached out for the toilet paper. It unrolled OK, but she couldn’t tear it off with one hand. It kept unrolling as she’d pull. He tore it off for her. “I’ll tighten that up, honey. A tougher pull will make it easier to tear,” he said.
“Thanks, honey. All the little things we always take for granted. Now even going to the bathroom is a challenge. Okay, honey, I’m done.”
He heard the frustration and fear in her voice. He tenderly picked her up and held her close as he walked back to the bed. Gently laying her down, he said, “Turn on your side, honey. I want to hold you again after I lay down.”
“Thanks, honey. I need that right now.”
“I know,” he said as he laid down and embraced her. “I heard it in your voice.” She laid her head on his chest.
“I’m scared, Erick. Really scared. There. I finally said it. It feels good to get it out. Squeeze me, Erick. Please. As hard as you can. I need to feel your love and protection as much as I can.” He tightened his arms around her till he thought she wouldn’t be able to breathe. “Perfect. God that feels good, darling! Thank you. I know I sound like a wimp right now, but…”
“Now cut that out, darling!” he lovingly snapped. “You have a right to feel like a wimp for a while, my love. That’s just another reason why I’m here. To look after you, take care of you, spoil you, and just plain love you to death until you get your life back. And even when you do have it back, I’m not going anywhere. Because I love you. You’re stuck with me, baby, like it or not!” he laughed.
“Thanks, darling!” she laughed back. “I guess I just needed to hear you say it again. I LOVE YOU!”
“I’ll say it anytime you need, or just want to hear it, my love. You need only to ask, and you’ll hear it. As often as you choose. I love you, too, sweetheart, with all that I am.”
“I know, Erick, and your love means the world to me. It meant that much before the accident, and means even more to me now. Can you hold me like this till we go back to sleep? Please?”
“You bet, gorgeous!” he said lovingly, as he fought back the wonderful tears that her loving words just then had brought to his eyes.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” she cooed in his ear.
He opened his eyes to see her looking right at him, a wide smile of total love on her face, and an unbelievable sparkle of love and devotion in her eyes. “Darling,” he began, “I just woke up to the most beautiful and gorgeous sight on this earth: your loveliness and beauty. Please pinch me so I know you’re really here and that this is definitely not a dream!”
Crystal grinned. “I love you, Erick,” she said warmly as she leaned over and kissed him. “And I love sleeping in your arms like we did. Can we do that again tonight?” she asked, eagerly.
“Sure, honey, as long as you do what I already asked you to and pinch me,” he said deliberately.
“Are you serious?” she asked, surprised.
“Yes, I am serious, honey. Beauty like yours only comes from one place and it’s not this earth. Pinch me. I need to know you’re really here next to me. OUCH!”
“You said to do it, honey,.” she chuckled.
“Yes, I did, and I meant it, darling. It’s just so hard to believe we’re actually together,” he grinned as he hugged her. Before she could respond, he put his lips hard on hers and began their first deeply searching kiss of the day.
“God I love you, Erick!” she said tearfully.
“What’s wrong, honey?” he asked concerned.
“Nothing, darling. These are tears of joy. Just like you it’s going to take me a little time to believe we’re really together for good. But we are, and I thank God for that. You have no idea how very much I need you, darling. How very, very much I love you, and want you, and how grateful I am to you for all your love, and caring, and just for being here for me. God - I need words I just can’t find,” she finished, laughing. They laughed together as they both remembered the song she had just quoted. Erick had sent her the words, via email, to the Statler Brothers’ What’s On My Mind the year before, saying it described how hard it was for him to find words to tell her how much he loved her. Now had been her turn with that romantic dilemma.
”OK, honey. Our day officially begins,” he said. Do you want to take a bath or shower? Or do you want to do that tonight?”
“I prefer a shower. But… how can I?”
“When you’re ready, I’ll show you.”
“And I know you have a way to do it, too, honey,” she laughed. “You’ve thought of everything so far, so I know you’ve got that figured out.”
“Great. Can I call mom and dad first?”
“Sure, honey. I’ll get you the phone.” He brought her the cordless.
“God. It feels funny dialing with this hand. I haven’t done it that much yet. And it feels funny dialing a ‘1’ and the area code to call my own home. Hi, dad, it’s Crystal. Yeah, I’m here, safe and sound. Yes, he’s right here, dad. He hasn’t left my side for one minute since I arrived real early this morning. He’s spoiling me rotten and I’m loving it. Sure - hold on. Erick, dad wants to talk to you,” she said as she handed him the phone.
“Hi, Erick. I just want to say thanks again for being there for Crystal. Yes, I knew it would work with you two before she left here, but I haven’t heard that kind of laughter and peace of mind in her voice since before the accident. You’re definitely the man she needs, and I have my own proof of that in her voice. I just wanted you to know that. Thanks, Erick. You have no idea how great this makes me feel.”
“No problem, Al. All I’m doing is loving her the way she deserves to be loved. You and your wife raised a very special girl, and I’m proud, very proud, that she has agreed to marry me. She’s not the only lucky one in this room.”
“Well, I’d say that makes it unanimous, then,” he said, chuckling. “Pass the phone to Crystal, will you? Her mom wants to talk to her for a minute.
“Sure. Honey, your mom wants to talk to you.”
“Mom? Yes, I am now. I couldn’t be happier. Erick’s spoiling me rotten and I’m eating it up. He’s made it obvious in many ways how much he loves me, mom, and he shows no signs of ever stopping,” she laughed.
Loud enough for her mom to hear, Erick shouted, “I’m never going to stop, darling. I love you far too much to stop!”
“See what I mean, mom? Right. Um… sure, mom, go ahead. Ask.” Crystal glanced at Erick with a twinkle in her eye. “Yes, mom, we did make love last night. He gave me the choice, and I made the decision. I needed to do it, mom. Not for him to show he loves me; I know that he does, very much. But… for me… to know, inside, for myself, that I’m still that attractive to him, especially without my limbs, that he wanted to do it. I needed to know for myself that he still wants me in that way, mom. Thanks for understanding. Oh, yeah! It was wonderful!” Crystal blushed. “He made me feel so good I won’t worry about how attractive I am to him, especially sexually, any more. In fact, I still can’t believe how wonderful it was! Right, mom. We’ll talk to you later. We’ve got to get moving. I love you, too. Pass that to dad, will you? Thanks! Bye!”
“Well, honey, I think I know, but are your parents satisfied with the way I’m looking after their little girl?” Erick smiled.
“You bet they are, darling. Very satisfied. That’s what dad wanted to say to you, wasn’t it? That’s what he told me.”
“Sure was, honey. But I was wondering about your mom. She… asked you if we… made love. I heard your answer. Was she thinking anything negative there?”
“She was wondering because she had wanted us to wait till our wedding night like we’d planned. But when I explained why I had to do it, she fully understood. She’s as happy as dad now about your taking care of me and how good you’ve made me feel.”
“Great,” he said, smiling. “I want to stay on their good side.”
“You have nothing to worry about there, darling. Um… can I get that shower now, honey?”
“Sure, honey. Hey - we didn’t even think about bringing the suitcases in from the truck,” Erick laughed. “Your matched PJ’s were in the truck all night. Not that you would have used them,” he laughed again.
Crystal leaned over and kissed him, then got a big “I know something you don’t know” grin on her face. “Honey, when you promised, three years ago, to undress me every night we figured I probably wouldn’t need the PJ’s, right?”
“Right, at least most of the time.”
Her grin got even wider. “I took you at your promise to undress me every night, my love. I didn’t even bring the matched PJ’s! I’m… um… sleeping naked with you for as long as you’ll let me,” she said, still grinning.
“You do realize that you could, and likely will, be sleeping naked next to me for the rest of your life, don’t you?” he said, grinning back.
“There’s nothing I’d like more, sweetheart! Now. How about that shower you promised me, darling?”
“Coming right up, my love!” Erick jumped from the bed, grabbed an old belt of his from the closet and turned toward the door. “I need to do one little thing before I take you in there, darling. Be right back.”
“What’s the belt for, Erick?” Crystal asked curiously.
“You’ll see, my love,” he called as he looped the belt over the shower curtain rod between two of the rings near the center of the curtain and fastened it securely in a loop. He came back to the bedroom and tenderly picked her up. “Your shower awaits, Princess!”
“I’m going to really enjoy this, honey. I’ve had to settle for baths the last three weeks. Can we take our time? Please?” she pleaded.
The anticipation and joy in her eyes and voice were obvious. “Sure, honey. We’ve got plenty of time.” Erick walked up to the tub and carefully stood her on the mat. “Grab the belt with your hand, honey. That will let you stand and enjoy the hot water while your fiancé spoils you by bathing you personally, and thoroughly,” he grinned as he got into the tub with her.
“God, you really are going to bathe me, aren’t you?” she asked, surprised.
“Of course I am, darling. How else can you get a shower?” he asked, smiling at her. “Besides - this way I can spoil you some more,” he said, grinning widely. He adjusted the water temperature. “OK, honey, here it comes. Enjoy, my love!” He flipped the lever and watched her face light up as the hot water flowed over her body.
“This feels great, Erick! Thank you!”
“You are truly welcome, darling! It’s an old cliché, but it’s true: ‘There’s nothing too good for my Crystal’. Turn around, honey, and get your hair wet so I can wash it,” Erick said, picking up the shampoo from the windowsill.
“You know, honey, we can get my hair cut if it will make it easier for you. It takes a long time to wash it with it this long,” she said as he began. “Mom and I talked about it before the accident. And since the accident I’ve had to do too many other things to get to it. But I also knew, once we decided I should come here, that I’d better leave it alone since I never sent that picture I promised you. What do you think we should do?”
“Darling, since I’m the one who’ll be washing it from now on, I vote we leave it just the way it is,“ he said. “It would be a royal shame to cut this beautiful hair, your Highness!” Erick said, smiling.
“Are you sure, honey? With it reaching below my waist, it takes about ten minutes just to wash my hair. But, if you like it that well, since you are the one doing the work, and you’re willing to, we can leave it. I do like the way it looks.”
“Thank you, honey.” Erick knew his relief showed. “I just love the way you look with this hair. We don’t have to let it get any longer, but we’re not going to shorten it. Deal?”
“Turn around and I’ll rinse it, honey.”
After rinsing her hair, Erick picked up the washcloth and soap and got ready to wash the rest of her. He tenderly began at her neck, softly running the hot, soapy cloth over her shoulders, then her arm.
“Erick, how are you going to rinse my arm off?” she asked, curiously.
“You’ll see, darling,” he teased.
“I figured that!” she laughed. “I’m just curious, honey.”
“Once I’ve washed you, we’ll rinse everything else off, then I’ll hold you so you can let go of the belt and put that arm under the water, honey.”
“Gotcha, darling!” she smiled.
Erick tenderly ran that hot, soapy cloth over her right breast, making a point of washing all of it, even underneath, lightly massaging it in the process.
“Oh, Erick, this feels wonderful! Is this the way you’re going to bathe me every day?” Crystal asked, eagerly.
“Yeup. Until you get to the point where you can do it yourself once again, honey. And… I’ll still do it then if you really want me to,” he said, the love obvious in his voice.
“I may just take you up on that, sweetheart! I love the way this feels! Honey, you know you really are going to spoil me, don’t you?” she laughed.
“Good,” he said lovingly as he moved the cloth to her left breast.
“Ooohh,” she moaned.
“Spoiling you is just what your man has in mind, sweetheart. For a lifetime,” Erick grinned as he moved the cloth from her stomach down to her womanhood.
“Oooohh,” she moaned again, as he shaped the hot, soapy cloth to her womanhood with his hand and washed her tenderly. “For a lifetime?” she asked, the sound of total contentment filling her words.
“Yes, darling, for a lifetime,” he said lovingly.
“I’m holding you to that, honey,” she cooed as he moved to her leg with the cloth.
“Turn around, honey.”
“OK,” she said, already doing so.
He refreshed the cloth, then ran it from her neck down her back, down to her waist and hips, then to her bottom. Using a finger to press in on the cloth, he made sure he got her washed between those lovely cheeks of her bottom.
“Oohhh!” She jumped a little as he slid that finger. “That feels funny, Erick. But since I can’t bend over, I suppose that was the easiest way, huh?”
“Yeup, and the most fun, too,” he teased.
“Oh, you!” she said, playfully shocked. “It’s a good thing for you I’ve only got one arm right now, honey. I’d poke you with an elbow for that, but the only one I have is busy at the moment,” she laughed.
“Thanks, darling,” he laughed back as he finished washing her leg. “Okay, beautiful, turn around again. I need to rinse where I just washed.” He knew that would get an answer. He was smiling already.
“Including there, right?” she laughed.
“Yeup.” He rinsed her off, then took the cloth, dripping with fresh hot water, and used that finger again, to get the soap out of the same spot.
“Ooohh,“ she moaned. “That’s sure a different feeling, honey, but I kinda like it,” she said. “Makes for a special kind of intimate feeling between lovers, don’t you think?”
He looked up and saw a naughty look in her eye. “Yeup, I do, darling.” He smiled warmly at her. “Okay, honey, he said as he embraced her from behind. “Don’t move your foot, but let go of the belt and rinse your arm off.”
“Got it, honey,” she said as she gripped the belt again after doing so.
He turned off the water.
“God that felt good, darling!” Thank you ever so much,” she said lovingly.
“We’re not done yet, Angel!” he said warmly. “I still need to dry you off, you know! That can be fun, too!” he teased as he pulled the towel from the towel bar on the wall.
“True,” she said, in a tone that showed she was just as eager for more spoiling as he was to give it to her. “Erick?”
“Yes, honey?” He could tell a bit of serious tone in her voice.
“Um… does it bother you that you never got to see me with both legs? I… mean… you love the way my legs look in those pictures I sent you right before the accident, and…”
“Sure it would have been nice, honey, I can’t deny that. But ‘bother me’? No, honey. Not compared to what’s really important for us. You still have one beautiful leg for me to enjoy looking at, and the important thing is that you are alive, safe and sound, and we’re finally together,” he said tenderly as he dried her hair.
“Thanks, Erick. I was kinda worried about that.”
He kissed her, passionately. “Now, sweetheart, are you still worried about it?” he said, smiling warmly.
“No, honey. Not now, thanks to you,” she smiled back.
“After things calm down, honey, I’ll fix this up so you can at least get out of the tub and dry yourself off. That will start letting you feel more self-sufficient again,” he said lovingly.
“Yes, that would be wonderful, honey, but I won’t complain in the meantime. I love how gentle you are with my body. I… actually got turned on with your touch,” she blushed. “But how are you going to be able to fix it up that way?”
He squeezed her. “Thanks for letting me know I was that gentle with you, honey. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. Because you’re so important to me that I can’t bear to see you hurt. Especially by my touch. I love you,” he said as he kissed the back of her neck.
“I love you, too, sweetheart. And these extra intimate times we get to have with you taking care of me can only keep adding to our love, don’t you think?”
“I couldn’t agree more, honey. Now. To answer your other question, what I’ll do is put a non-skid mat on the floor by the tub, with a slightly rough surface on the top of it, too, so you can’t slip. Then I’ll put a bar in the wall that is a comfortable height for you. You hold onto the bar, then jump over the side of the tub, still holding the bar for balance. And I’ll put a chair with a waterproof covering on it right here. You swing around, sit in the chair, grab your towel and dry yourself off.”
“God, Erick, you have thought of everything, haven’t you, you big goof?” she said as those tears of love started to well in her eyes again.
“Honey,” he began as he embraced her again, “it wouldn’t be fair, or honest to say I’ve already thought of everything, but what I have done, and will continue to do is try to think of everything I can, before it’s needed to rebuild your life and your independence. I love you, Crystal!”
“I love you, too, Erick,” she said warmly, “and I’m so very glad that you… can love me the way you do.”
“You’re still very scared, aren’t you, darling?” he asked as he gently held her close.
“Yes, honey, I am. I’m terrified. And so glad I have you to turn to for help, and love that I don’t have to be afraid of what you think of me, or all the special help I need. I love you, Erick, and I need you so very much.” She laid her head on his chest, the towel still around her.
“I know you do, darling, and the very fact that you do need me does nothing but warm my heart, and double the love that I feel for you. Please try to remember that when you’re frightened, honey, no matter where you are. Understand?” he said softly, caressing her as he spoke.
“Yes, darling, I do. And I will. I love you!”
He squeezed her one more time. “Let’s get you dressed, sweetheart. We’ve got to get things arranged at UK today. You start tomorrow.”
“I know. I’m eager, but anxious and scared, too. Does that make any sense?” she laughed.
“Yeup, it does, honey.” He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom, laying her on the bed. “Relax, honey. Dream about our future, and our kids for a while, while I get my shower and get dressed. I have to get your cases from the truck before we’ll have any clothes for you to wear, “ he laughed.
In a short while he’d shaved, showered, dressed and retrieved her suitcases. “Okay, gorgeous. Time for you to start moving toward a normal life again.” He smiled as he put the cases on the bed and helped her sit up. “Get the clothes out that you want to wear today, and we’ll put the others away tonight. While you’re doing that we’d better decide about lunch. It’s a little late for breakfast. Can you handle eating out, you think?”
“Well, um… yeah, I’ll just have to be careful what I choose to eat. Like it can’t be a sandwich that takes two hands to hold it together.”
“Well, honey, I know you’re scared, and nervous, but I think too that you want to, and should live as normal a life as possible. Right?”
“So don’t let your limitation control what you eat. You don’t have a dietary or other medical restriction. If it’s something that takes two hands, I’ll hold it for you till we figure a way around the problem. I know you might feel embarrassed if we do that eating out, at least for a while, but it’s better than giving in to your limitation, don’t you think?” He smiled warmly and watched for her reaction.
“Yeah, you’re right, Erick. I have to start dealing with this, so I might as well do it with the food for starters. You pick the place and we’ll get through it together.. I’m sure glad you’re here for me, darling!”
She’d chosen her clothes by then and set them aside. “Okay, my love,” he said as he picked up her panties. “Let’s get this show on the road. We’ll work on a better way, dear, but for now, lay down and lift your leg.” When she did, he slipped the panties on. She raised her hips without him saying a word. “See? You’re catching on all by yourself,” he said, grinning.
“Yeah, I am, aren’t I?” she laughed. “That feels good, too.”
“It should, honey. It shows things won’t be as hard for you to master as you thought.”
“Right, but… god I’m glad you’re the one helping me, honey.”
He heard the serious edge that time. Again. “Why, love? What are you thinking of now?”
“My… periods. I thought of it when you put the panties on. I’ll even need your help with my… protection. I’d be really embarrassed to have to ask a stranger for help with that.”
He sat down next to her and took her in his arms. “Honey, I’ll be here to help you with anything and everything you need or just want me to help with. No questions, no hesitation. Those vows we’re going to take together say ‘in sickness and in health’, and ‘till death do us part’, and I believe in every word of them. Whatever you need honey, you’ll get. For a lifetime. Because I love you. “ By the time he’d finished, her emotional side had her crying her eyes out for joy. He squeezed her.
“Tighter, honey.” A few minutes later she’d gotten things back under control. “Thanks, Erick. I… needed to hear that. And believe me - I’ll be taking you up on it a lot.” She tried cracking a smile.
“Sweetheart, you better take me up on it. I’d be very disappointed if I lost any chance to spoil my wife with all the love I feel for her.”
She smiled warmly as she sniffled and wiped her eyes. “Thanks, darling! Don’t worry - you’ll have plenty of chances to spoil me. I like it when you do. Now let’s get this show on the road,” she laughed, picking up his phrase.
“You’ve got it, honey!” he said enthusiastically as he helped her sit up then picked up her bra.
“Think you can do this?” she laughed. “You’ve never had to wear one.”
“No, I haven’t, but I saw Ellen do it enough times before she died, smarty!” he shot back, laughing with her. “Let your husband show you what he’s learned.” Putting it around her upside down, he fastened the hooks then turned it around so the cups were in front. Then he pulled it up so the cups were over her breasts and slid the shoulder straps into place. “See?” he said, smiling.
“Geez, Erick you do pay attention to details, don’t you?” she laughed. “You’ll need to shift my breasts a little though, honey. They’re…”
“I know,” he said as he reached up and moved them into better position in the cups.
“The skirt and sweater should be easy.”
Once they had her dressed, he carried her to the living room and sat her in the wheelchair. “Lunch awaits, beautiful!” he said as they headed to the door.