Give It Away: Reprise

byJakeRivers©

I went up, took a shower and put on the clean clothes I'd brought with me. I dressed up nice for Jerry and went in to see him again. God, how could I have lived away from this man for four months? I was on pins and needles after just a few hours.

I arrived at the hospital around six. Jerry looked much better. His color was good and he didn't seem as groggy from the drugs. I walked over to him and gave him a kiss like I was his wife - which I was. He didn't complain about it so I figured he was okay with it.

He told me about his talk with Joe.

"His idea was that I teach part time at the KU Criminal Justice Department in Lawrence. With the disability retirement, money won't be a problem and I always liked it there. After all, that's where I met you."

He looked a little happy and sad both at that recollection.

"Anyway I think it a great idea. I don't see myself sitting behind a desk. And, Cindy, you remember how much I like to write. Since you left," I winced at that, "I've written several stories. I called the school and I can start taking Creative Writing courses. I really want to do that. I thought I'd be feeling terrible about not being a cop ... but I guess I'd done enough of that and got it out of my system. I'm sure I wouldn't be feeling this way if my knee hadn't been messed up.

"Will I miss it? Sure! It's a great bunch of guys -- when you have watched each other's back it forms a special bond. I won't miss working all hours of the day and night. It will be hard for me to get used to not being there for people that need help."

"With the things I've learned on the job I think I can help some guys stay alive by teaching them what really works -- like how to raid a meth lab." he finished, laughing.

"That sounds wonderful, honey."

He didn't react to the honey bit. What he said made a lot of sense and I started thinking about what I wanted to do. I had an idea but I didn't say anything to Jerry until I had it all worked out.

I sat on the edge of the bed again -- with a longer dress this time. God, I hoped I hadn't been too obvious yesterday; wearing that skirt so short that it would ride up my leg when I sat on the bed.

I was holding his hand while I was talking to him and he was absently turning the ring around on my finger. He realized what he was doing and looked at me kind of funny.

"Cindy, I just couldn't give it away. This ring was made for you. No one else could ever wear it."

I noticed a single tear hanging at the edge of his eye.

"I would want you to have it no matter what happened with us. Cindy, it's okay, but I have to know, why did you put it on?"

Here it was, our entire life together, right her, right now!

"Jerry, I know I told you to give it away ... could I ... Jerry could I ask you to give it back to me?"

I turned my head, looking at the twilight filtering through the shades. I couldn't look at him. If he asked me to take the ring off, I'd die!

I felt him put his hand up and touch my face.

Quietly, he said, "Yes, it's okay with me, Cindy."

We were both emotionally saturated so we talked of practical things: picking him up from the hospital, the nurses and their rotation, what he wanted to eat -- all that stuff that actually makes life work.

When I left I gave him a kiss that turned kind of steamy.

I stopped and did all the shopping on the way back to Jerry's -- dammit, our house. I put everything away and decided I didn't want to go to my place for the night. Tomorrow I would go over there and pick up some stuff I would need. I ate a small salad and took a long hot bath, then put my pajamas on.

I wandered around the house touching the mementos I had so harshly walked away from. There was a paperweight from our honeymoon. We had a nice dinner at a small place in an alley in Chinatown. We both had the Peking duck and it was almost mesmerizing it was so good. Afterwards we were walking in and out of the little shops and, while I was looking at some scarves, Jerry had purchased this, well, hideous paperweight of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was painted some indescribable color between gold and red. When I came out of the bathroom that night in my peignoir, I saw it on my pillow along with the chocolate of the night from the hotel. It was just so ... ugly that I broke out laughing. Jerry laughed too and we rolled around on the bed tickling each other. That turned into the sweetest, most meaningful love we had made. It was such a wonderful memory.

My eyes were leaking a little as I walked into the living room. I sat on the sofa and looked at that special picture Jerry had taken of me. He had captured a piece of my soul as no professional photographer ever could. That picture, radiant with the best that God and nature could provide, had meant so much to us. The beauty of the bay, the breaking waves shattering the glow of the setting sun into so many millions of fragments -- it was all there in front of me and in my memories.

I could hear the clanging of the bells protecting the sailors of the sea from the shoals of death. The lovely dinner, spoiled by my stupidity over the wine -- who had I been? What awful demon had possessed my very soul? And I had told Jerry to just give the picture away?

What had I done to my Jerry? Oh, God, help me in my hour of need!

THE SWEET FOREVER -- JERRY'S STORY

With a rush my life changed directions almost too fast to stay up with. Cindy brought me home and worked everything out with the nurses. This was a side of Cindy I'd never seen before. When I needed her she was there -- maybe pulled to me by some atavistic instinct, I don't know.

Sometimes the pain made me grouchy and I wanted to be alone. Cindy disappeared ... but she was still there. I was doing some minimal therapy with the nurses but the hard part would be after the next, and hopefully final, operation.

Several times when I was feeling lonely in those darks hours of the night -- Cindy would be lying in bed next to me, watching with serious, wide-open eyes. Other nights I'd be remembering her "just give it away" crap and I'd wake up in the dark hours alone.

She had moved the picture to my office and put a night light under it. Those nights I would wake up in pain, almost hating her, I would gaze on her beauty -- and I knew she was there for the taking if I wanted her.

Was she different? I had to confess that she was. It wasn't so much that she just rolled over and did whatever I said. If she felt I was doing the wrong thing for my health she would light into me ... but with a good humor, a little smirk of a smile lifting up the corners of her mouth. But when I was taking care of myself she was the sweetest possible person.

The strangest thing started happening. I was falling in love. Not with the Cindy who had walked out on me. There was this new persona and I was falling in love with her. It was the most bittersweet, scary, happy feeling.

She would come to me in the early dawn to make sure my needs were taken care of. Some mornings as she straightened my bedclothes her robe would fall open and I would see those magnificent breasts peeking out. I never understood why her nipples would be so prominent -- unless she was feeling chilled. But when she touched me I felt only fire. Strange, that.

Everything passes; everything changes. I went in for the second surgery and it went much better than expected. The doctor told me the therapy would be the hardest thing I'd ever done. It was.

Cindy was there every step of the way, cajoling me, caressing me, and pushing me. I couldn't have done it without her.

After the second operation I didn't need the at home nurses. Cindy could do everything I needed. She was working less and less -- I have to confess I never questioned it. I was still sleeping downstairs. Cindy was sleeping in the master bedroom upstairs. I was walking with only a slight limp but I was walking. However, I couldn't go up and down the stairs without great difficulty. The doctor had told me I might not ever be able to do that without a great effort.

One night I felt Cindy slide into bed with me. I was half asleep and I think she was completely asleep before I realized that she had nothing on. With a sudden overwhelming lust I started caressing her; I couldn't pull her close enough. It had been over four months since we had made love and our coupling was almost desperate with our mutual need.

The next morning she was gone when I awoke. Was it a dream? No, the damp spots on the sheets were proof enough.

A couple of days later I heard back from KU with an offer to teach one class on evidence procedures to start in the spring semester. Even though it was October by then they said I could sign up for a directed studies course in Creative Writing with one of the professors in the English department. I would meet with her once a week and she would review what I had done and make suggestions.

Cindy said she would get the house ready to put on the market - I was committed to getting on with my life and moving to Lawrence. I drove over that weekend to look for a place to live and familiarize myself with the city again. I stopped by the school to meet the people in the department and to introduce myself to my prof for the Creative Writing class.

I wanted to put some roots down and I wanted some land. I found a small farm about ten miles north of Lawrence; it was about sixty acres. The house wasn't so hot -- it was two bedrooms with one bath - but the barn was new and everything was well maintained.

I settled in, buying what I needed and cleaning the place up. Cindy had found a buyer for the house so I called a moving company to pack and move everything. It dawned on me of a sudden that she wasn't here! I know, that sounds pretty stupid. Of course I knew she wasn't with me but I had been so busy I hadn't really thought about it.

I called her at our old house but the phone had been disconnected. I tried the number at her townhouse but that had been disconnected also. In a bit of a panic now, I called the company she had been working for. Her partner was out on a customer call but the receptionist - she sounded like she was new - said that Cindy didn't work there anymore and she had no forwarding number.

In a real panic I called Mary.

"I'm sorry, Jerry. I had lunch with her about a month ago, but she said she was moving to Lawrence with you!"

We chatted a bit but, really, I was stunned. It dawned on me I had never talked to her about moving to be here with me. I guess I just assumed she would ... but I had never exactly asked her. God, what had I done? There was no question I wanted her in my life, but ... what could I do now?

I worried about it, put out some feelers to try to track her down, but -- nothing!

Three days later I heard a car arriving with the dawn. I opened the door to the now frosty air and saw Cindy getting out of her car.

THE SWEET FOREVER -- CINDY'S STORY

That night with Jerry was the best sex Jerry and I had ever had. It was a warm night and I was lonely; I couldn't sleep. I slipped down the stairs and quietly went into the office -- Jerry's makeshift bedroom. We left the door open so I could hear him at night if he needed anything. It was too warm to leave my gown on so I pulled it off and slid into bed with him. He was asleep so I tried not to wake him. I was still half asleep and dropped off like a log.

When Jerry touched me, it was like getting hit by lightning. My skin became super sensitive and I was aroused instantly. Our mating was both fierce and passionate. We had such a need to be together it was incredible. I had the most powerful orgasm I'd ever had. We lay together, still coupled for a time ... then Jerry rolled over and started a gentle snoring immediately.

I lay there for the longest time, wide-awake, feeling sated. What did this mean for us? Was Jerry ready to let me back into his life? Could he forgive me for my sin of being stupid?

The next morning he seemed to be in a good mood but didn't say anything about the love we had made. Did it mean so little to him? I didn't want to be pushy because I was still on tenterhooks around him.

All of a sudden he was ready to move to Lawrence -- he got the offer from KU. He was the most excited he had been in years. Truth be told I think it was more about the writing course than the teaching he was going to do. He asked me to take care of the house and of course I said yes.

An offer came in pretty quickly so I didn't have too much to do. He still hadn't said anything about me moving with him so with a great deal of sadness I started getting on with my life. I'd already quit the teaching position and I was on a leave of absence from the partnership.

I stopped by and talked with Tony -- explained what was going on in my life. I knew it would leave him a bit in the lurch but he was very gracious about it.

"Sure, Cindy, I understand. Don't worry; I'll work it out. I hope everything works out for you, I really do."

He was a great guy to work with; I would miss him. He had the sweetest wife; she and I had become good friends.

I had figured out what I wanted to do. I made a number of phone calls and everything seemed okay. I drove over to Lawrence and filled out the paperwork. I was entering the new Ph.D. Program in Architecture at KU. I would be in the first class. I had enjoyed the teaching I had been doing and knew I wanted to make it my life's work. I was offered a graduate teaching position in the department so everything worked out okay.

I didn't want to go to Jerry until I knew he wanted me. I hated the thought of finding an apartment so I postponed looking, hoping that Jerry would call. I went back to put my house on the market. I used the same agent I had used for the other house.

"Cindy, I'm looking for a place for my son. He is going to UMKC and is getting married in the spring. If we can work out a price we can forgo the commission costs."

That sounded good to me so we set up a quick closing. Something came up and I had to go see the doctor. Damn! If Jerry doesn't call me ... oh, God, Jerry, call me!

Another week went by and I was fast running out of choices. I had to go to Jerry. If he turned me out I would have to find a place to live but I didn't - I really didn't want to do that. I was too proud to beg ... it had been me that caused all the problems in the first place. Regardless of how it turned out I was going ahead with my plans.

I would live in Lawrence and maybe someday I'd run across Jerry and - oh, Jerry! Don't give it away; give it back to me.

I couldn't sleep very well that night in the room I had taken at the hotel when things closed on my townhouse. I got up early and stopped for breakfast at a nice place I knew near Wyandotte High School. I lingered over my coffee until I felt like I had enough to stay awake for a week. It was only a forty-five minute drive to Lawrence and maybe another fifteen to find his house.

I pulled in front of this small house on a beautiful, if small, farm. I turned off the engine; sitting still and listening to the of the engine pinging as it quickly cooled in the frosty morning. I wasn't sure Jerry had woken or not.

The door to the house opened and Jerry stood there, a bewildered look on his face. He didn't look happy but I had to do this. I wanted to start the engine and drive away to ... somewhere -- maybe San Francisco.

Jerry came out and waited while I got out of the car. I walked into the house -- determined now. He was either going to be ecstatically happy or royally pissed off.

I poked around, you know, opening cupboards, peeking into closets. The small house was really crowded with too much furniture. Jerry had just let them place everything anywhere. The master bedroom didn't interest me ... well, it did but all I really needed was a bed and Jerry.

I spent about five minutes looking at the smaller bedroom. Jerry was following me around like a lost puppy. I think he was genuinely confused. Looking at this, visualizing -- doing what architects do without knowing they are even doing it, I decided it would do.

I walked to the small dinette table and sat down.

"Jerry, aren't you going to offer me a cup of coffee? And, by the way, that room," I pointed to the smaller bedroom, "Will do fine for the baby's room. Do you think you could fix me some toast? My stomach is a bit upset. Oh, gawd, excuse me for a minute!"

After getting rid of my breakfast I felt better. I lingered in the tiny bathroom, washing my face, staring in the mirror -- I even lifted my shirt to see if the baby showed. No, not yet, but soon. I felt giddy. I felt sad. I was ecstatic. Please, Jerry, forgive me. Let me back in your life. I'll make you happy -- I really will. Will it be a boy ... a girl? I wonder what Jerry wants. Jerry ... just love me!

GIVE IT BACK -- JERRY'S STORY

Wow! Cindy was in the bathroom, retching pitifully -- validating what I'd thought she'd sad. That strange and mysterious word that generates so much love and ... did she really say baby?

She came out of the bathroom, a wan smile on her face.

"Jerry, never mind about the coffee. If you want this baby though you had better get started on that toast. You have about five minutes and then you are toast!"

She said that as she sat down at the small table off the kitchen.

"Cindy, what ... when? Ohmigod! Did you say baby? Where did you come from? I tried to call you, I really did. What ... "

She stood up, pushing the chair away from the table.

A tad sternly, she spoke, "Jerry. Focus. Toast! Baby. Now!"

With a sudden wild laugh she ran to me, throwing herself at me, almost knocking me down.

With sudden tears she buried her face in my chest. With a very real pain in her voice she mumbled into my robe, "Jerry, oh, Jerry, love me. Don't make me leave. You never called. You just left and didn't say you wanted me with you. I didn't know what to do. And the doctor told me what I already knew. I'm so sorry, so very sorry for the awful things I did to you. Let me at least stay until the baby is born ..."

With that she slipped to the floor, moaning. I was scared. I easily picked her up -- when had she lost all that weight? -- and carried her into the bedroom. I wet a washcloth and wiped her face. She was still crying in a fetal position. I lay down and snuggled up to her; my arms holding her close.

I whispered in her ear, "It's okay baby. You don't have to leave. You never have to leave. Are you really pregnant? But ... I'm sorry. I just assumed ... I ... I've always loved you."

As her breathing slowed and she fell asleep, I quietly added, "And I always will!

~~~~~~

We remarried several months later at the church in Overland Park we had attended. Her family came from Limon and all of our friends here including all the men and women I worked with at the Sheriff's Department also attended.

~~~~~~

On a warm summer evening I carried little Annie in my arms, Cindy holding my arm possessively as we walked from our cabin in Mesa Verde to the restaurant for dinner.

I'd asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Jamaica for vacation.

With a firm voice she answered, "No. You have to get started on that novel. You can't put it off forever. So we are going to Mesa Verde."

This was in a tone that brooked no nonsense.

Thirty miles south of where we were it was probably at least thirty degrees warmer. I wasn't sure exactly but the lodge was probably at around the seven thousand feet elevation.

We were both worn out. We been walking and driving around all day. I'd carry the baby around in the baby backpack until my knee started making me limp then Cindy would take over. The first time I tried to tell her I was okay but instead of arguing she just took the baby carrier off my shoulders and asked me to help her put it on.

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