The touching started something tingling inside her that quickly became a rush of emotions she just wasn't equipped to deal with. She watched his body with a detached fascination, the damp cloth leaving a glistening trail across his muscles as she moved it down his chest to his stomach. When she reached his waist, she noticed him becoming erect; it was impossible to ignore under the flimsy hospital garment. Then she did something so foreign to her character, that before tonight she would have sworn it was impossible. On an impulse, she found herself moving the cloth lower, using her free hand to pull his gown and blanket out of the way so she could touch him.
The fabric grazed his sensitive skin along with the tips of her fingers. Her skin brushing against his warm flesh caused a surge to run through her body, making her to lose what was left of her will. Jeff spoke, almost breaking the spell she seemed to be under, but she told him to be still, unable to bring herself to stop touching him. The wall that normally protected her was nowhere in sight. The only thing she could think about was trying to bring him pleasure.
Jeff had given up trying to understand what was going on. Sarah's touches felt so amazing that he pushed everything else out of his mind. There was an unexpected consequence to his condition. Without being able to see what was going on, he found that her every touch seemed far more intense than normal.
He could feel her leisurely dragging the rag up and down the underside of his shaft. The fingers of her other hand slowly stroked a spot on his chest. She moved the wet cloth down and let it travel lower, then back again. His hips came off the bed as the pleasure was almost more than he could take.
"You better not move too much or you'll pull out your stitches. I'd like to see you explain that to the doctor."
He heard her softly chuckle at the idea of that meeting. Although the thought was amusing, he couldn't concentrate on anything except her delicate touches. He felt her fingernail softly trail around the head of his penis. It was an unusual sensation. He couldn't remember a woman touching him quite like that. There was an awkward, almost innocent quality to her caresses.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" Jeff asked, suddenly afraid that if she went too far, it could push her away again. "I don't want you to . . . oh shit," he groaned, as he felt her warm breath.
It caused him to break out in goose bumps and he grabbed the edges of the bed. She continued teasing him, making the experience even more erotic. He kept flexing his fingers, balling his hands into fists anticipating her mouth touching him. For what seemed like an eternity, he felt like he was undergoing sort of wonderful torture, his body desperate to find release.
When the touch finally came, it was so soft and quick, he thought he imagined it. He held his breath, afraid he might miss it a second time, trying to almost will it to happen again. When it did, he couldn't remember ever feeling that aroused. It was soft, leaving a wet feeling on his shaft. She started dragging her tongue up the length like he was a Popsicle.
"Oh Sarah," he moaned, "that feels so good."
His hips lifted slightly off the bed, and she took his reaction as encouragement, beginning to make small biting motions up and down the underside. When she reached the tip, she tentatively took it in her mouth, sliding down an inch or two, then grabbing the base with one hand. Jeff put his hands on her shoulders, resisting the urge to pull down, instead stroking softly.
He began to move a hand up her neck when she reached out and stopped him. "Uh, uh," she mumbled, returning his hand to the bed.
He took the hint and let her continue what she was doing. It seemed like her confidence was growing because she was becoming more aggressive. Her hand began stroking him and she moved her mouth down a little further. She let his cock fall from her lips and returned to the earlier technique of licking and biting his shaft. Her mouth moved up and down the entire length, letting her tongue dart out, touching every inch of the underside of his erection.
The sensation was too much for him and Jeff cried out, "Sarah, I'm cumming."
She continued the same motions, pushing her mouth harder against him. Jeff closed his mouth tightly to avoid yelling as he came, feeling his cum shoot onto his chest. His body jerked hard, followed by trembling that seemed to go on forever. As his breathing settled into a regular rhythm, he felt the cloth she was using move across his chest. He assumed Sarah was cleaning him up. With a last, deliberate lick that drew another shudder from him, she moved up his body, kissing him lightly on the lips.
She laid down against him, with her head on his shoulder. They sat together silently for a short time. Finally Jeff couldn't take the uncomfortable silence.
"Sarah," he spoke softly, "That was wonderful. I just don't understand what happened. You said...well, you know," he trailed off, unable to find words to express his feelings.
He heard her take a deep breath, knowing she wasn't sure what to say. Whether she was looking for the right words, or the right lie, he couldn't tell.
"Jeff, I don't know how to explain it. I wanted you to know how I really feel about you. I guess I got a little carried away. I hope you don't mind," she finished with a chuckle. She kissed him on the cheek, then pulled away.
Jeff couldn't see her smile, but he could tell it was there. "I guess that wasn't the worst surprise I've ever had."
He tried to sound jovial and confident, but couldn't shake his confusion. He had no idea where this left them and was afraid to ask. The last thing he wanted was to make things awkward again. They held each other quietly until she excused herself to go to the bathroom.
Slowly, he sat up while she was gone. His chest still hurt, but it was better. He leaned back and relaxed, trying to figure out his next move. He didn't want to say the words, even in his own head, but he knew exactly how he felt about her. She seemed to feel the same, but there was something wrong. Was she afraid this was some sort of Florence Nightingale crush? If that's what she thought it was, how did her actions make sense?
"I need to stop being a pussy and just be myself," he quietly scolded himself.
"What's that Jeff?" he heard her voice back in the room.
"I was just annoyed with myself because of putting you in that position yesterday. I'm sorry. I like you, but it wasn't fair for me to put you on the spot. I'm glad you came back tonight." He paused, then added with a smile, "Part of me is extremely glad." He hoped she'd take his jest as a sign that he wouldn't push the issue of them dating, at least for now.
"Well, I'm glad I came back too," she said, kissing him on the cheek. "Things are still complicated for me, but I wanted you to know I do care deeply for you. I just got a little carried away. I never imagined myself doing something like that," she continued, her tone betraying her sincere surprise.
There was an uncomfortable silence as they each tried to think of what to say next.
Jeff decided it would be best to take the pressure off of her. "How about if we just listen to the new album you got me?"
"That would be nice," she said gratefully.
His considerate gesture reminded her of just how special Jeff was. She thought he'd want to talk about things between them which frightened her, because she had no answers. Like always, he seemed to know exactly what she was thinking. There simply wasn't a frame of reference for her to deal with his insight and compassion.
She sat next to him and resisted the urge to hold his hand. They talked quietly about nothing for the rest of the night. When she left, she still wasn't sure if she did the right thing, but was happy about it anyway. She wondered if he'd ever understand just how nervous she had been.
"Hi Jeff, I was wondering if you'd like some company," an unfamiliar voice said, rousing him from his thoughts about what to say to Sarah today.
"Well, I guess," Jeff said cautiously. "Who are you?"
"My name is Don Williams. I'm a police officer. I was there the night you were in the fight."
"Are you the officer Paige told me about; the one who saved me?" he said hopefully.
"I don't know if saved is the right word," Don said humbly. "I was just in the right place at the right time."
"Paige told me that you held me together with your bare hands until the paramedics got there. I'd say saved is exactly the right word," Jeff said gratefully.
"Ok then, you're welcome," the policeman conceded. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right and see if there was anything you needed."
"Um," Jeff stammered, "I was wondering . . . about the fight in the alley, no one has talked to me about that yet. I was kind of nervous, is everything all right?"
"Jeez," Don said laughing, "you think anyone is looking to charge you for what happened? I've had friends asking me if the story was really true. You're a . . . "
"Hero, I know," Jeff interrupted, with frustration evident in his voice. "Seriously, if she had gotten hurt or worse, nobody would be calling me a hero, they'd be saying I was a stupid-assed vigilante. I'm lucky as hell things turned out as well as they did."
"I guess," came the reply. "I thought you showed a hell of a lot of guts going in there. Everybody knows you called 911 first and tried to talk your way out of it. Nobody thinks you were being a hot dog, if that's what you're worried about."
Jeff visibly relaxed and the two men slipped into an easy conversation. An hour later when Don announced he had to leave, Jeff felt disappointed. For the first time since the alley, he actually felt on even footing with someone. He was in awe of the stories Don had shared. There was little about being a policeman that Jeff had really understood.
When he stood up to go, Jeff asked, "So you're sure I'm not going to be in any trouble?"
"Those guys were human trash with a long record. If you hadn't stepped in, everyone knows that girl was going to have something horrible happen to her. Trust me, you don't have anything to worry about."
When Don left, Jeff realized he felt much more at ease about things. At the same time, he knew there was something that had been bothering him for a while. His talk with Don had brought into focus exactly why it had been upsetting him. The problem now was figuring out if there was anything he could do to change it.
Jeff was deep in thought. Sarah had been there a little more than an hour, but he wasn't in a good mood despite her presence. "Are you okay?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said honestly. "It's just one of those days. I'm not sure why, but I've been trying to sort things out."
"What sort of things?" Sarah asked nervously.
"Don't worry," he said, trying to reassure her. "It's about me." He thought carefully before continuing. "Sarah, why don't you ever talk about what happened in the alley?"
Sarah was caught off guard. She stammered a reply, "I . . . I just thought you'd talk about it if you wanted to."
"Okay, let's say I want to. Do you buy into all this 'hero' nonsense?"
"What you did for Paige was the most unselfish thing I've ever seen," she said firmly. "You were lucky to come out of it alive. If that's not being a hero, I don't know what is."
"I want to say something, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea." He paused, trying to collect his thoughts, "I don't think I'm a hero and in some ways I'm ashamed of myself." When he was greeted with shocked silence, Jeff continued.
"Firemen run into burning buildings, the police protect people daily, soldiers risk their lives. That doesn't even count the people who take care of the sick, feed the hungry," he paused, looking frustrated. "You know what I mean."
Sarah had no idea where he was going with this. "So what are you saying, you have to save people a lot to be special?"
Jeff shook his head. "No, I'm saying people are defined by their actions." He paused, trying to collect his thoughts. "Sarah, do you believe in redemption?"
"Sure, don't you?"
"I don't know. I'm thirty and barely have anything to show for it. I haven't done any of the things I wanted to when I was growing up. Now I'm so up to my ears in bills that I'm just trying to make it to the next paycheck. I get a chance to help somebody one time and everybody's kissing my ass like I cured cancer. Anybody would have done the same thing. I was just in the right place at the right time."
Sarah was indignant, "No they wouldn't have done the same thing!" Jeff was surprised to hear her voice breaking and could tell she was beginning to cry. The intensity of her reaction caught him off guard.
"If you haven't done enough in your life up to now, then change it when you get out of here. Don't you ever let me hear you put down what you did for Paige. Did you ever think maybe you were in that alley for a reason?"
Jeff was sorry she was upset and didn't want to antagonize her, but he also couldn't let it go. "What, you mean some 'master plan'? Come on, do you really buy that? Why would I get to wipe away a whole life of mediocrity with one good deed?"
She touched his face gently, trying to soften her tone. "What about that deed? Have you considered that she could have died if you hadn't helped her? You want redemption, try thinking about her life after that if she had survived." She paused and Jeff could hear a quiet sob.
"Nobody's saying you get a free pass for life because of what happened, but you damn well better believe we are all grateful for what you did. You know, I've been here getting to know you for a month and you are a very good person. I'm not sure why you doubt yourself, but I don't."
Jeff sat quietly, trying to absorb what she said. Sarah was the only person who told him what she thought without trying to soften it. He respected her opinion highly. "Maybe you're right, but it's just so overwhelming. I'm really happy she's all right and I don't regret anything I did. I just feel like the media, your family, the hospital staff . . . it's just so much to deal with. How many times can you listen to someone say thank you or tell you how wonderful you are before you just don't know what to say back?"
Sarah didn't know what else to say. The doctor warned them that Jeff could feel overwhelmed. Now that she listened to his concerns, she understood him a little better than before, and it made her feelings for him even stronger. Knowing the way he felt made it even harder on her, considering what she would have to do. Luckily it was time for her to go. She didn't know how to keep herself together another minute.
She kissed him on the cheek again and told him that he worried too much. It would be a couple more days until the bandages came off and then he'd feel more like himself. She quickly got out before she lost it altogether.
The next night, Jeff waited impatiently for five o'clock. He wanted to apologize for his sour mood the previous day. An unexpected voice startled him. "Hi Jeff, how are you feeling?"
"Paige? What are you doing here?" He realized how insensitive that sounded and quickly corrected himself. "I mean it's great to talk to you. It's been almost a week, but I . . . "
"Don't worry, I know what you mean," Paige said with a sad smile. "Sarah wasn't feeling well so she asked me to make sure you were okay."
Jeff tried to hide his disappointment, not wanting to hurt her feelings. "Well, I am glad you're here. You can answer a question that's been bothering me for weeks." He paused for effect. "Did you really have a crush on the guy who ran the roller coaster?" He heard her outraged laugh and felt her punch him in the leg.
They hung out together for the rest of the night. Jeff remembered Sarah's take on his situation and let Paige spoil him. He could tell it made her feel good and there was no reason for him to feel bad about enjoying her attention. He really did adore her. She was a sweet kid. He thought about Sarah's comment about what Paige's life would have been like if he hadn't been there and shuddered. He couldn't imagine someone like her having to deal with that kind of pain.
At the end of the evening, Paige got ready to leave. Jeff didn't want to put her in the middle of anything, but had a bad feeling. "Paige, are you all going to be here tomorrow when they take the bandages off?"
She understood precisely what he was asking and tried to sound hopeful. "If I can help it, everyone is going to be here." She felt terrible for not telling him more, but she was afraid if she interfered it would make everything worse. Sarah was so stubborn . . .
"All right Jeff, I don't want you to get too excited one way or another. The tests show that most of the affected area has healed which is very encouraging, but it's possible you'll have limited vision or might not be able to focus correctly for some time. It doesn't mean anything. This is just the first part of the healing process. Are you ready?"
Jeff indicated he was, and felt the doctor proceeding. He kept his eyes closed and felt the bandages being removed. When the doctor told him to open his eyes, he did so, cautiously. At first, the light was so bright, he couldn't focus at all. There was a stab of fear, but he held it together, remembering the doctor's warning. Soon his eyes adjusted and he tentatively looked around the room.
It was a little fuzzy, but he saw his sister, the doctor and Paige, who looked even more beautiful than he remembered from his quick glance in the alley. "Well?" the young woman said nervously.
"Wow, Sarah wasn't kidding. You really are beautiful."
Paige gave an excited squeal and threw herself into his arms, crying freely. Jeff was tempted to tell her it hurt like hell to have her crash into his chest, but he couldn't bring himself to spoil the moment. As he looked around the room, he saw her father, a distinguished looking gray-haired gentleman of about fifty. Although he was older, he was in remarkable shape. Jeff thought that he looked like the kind of man who was fully capable of watching out for two daughters. He noticed that Steven was hugging Katy. The only thing missing was Sarah.
"She's not really sick, is she?" Jeff asked, already knowing the answer.
Paige couldn't look him in the eye. She had argued with Sarah for hours, but to no avail. Her sister was intractable. "No, she wouldn't come. I'm sorry Jeff, I tried everything but she wouldn't budge."
Jeff was despondent, "I just don't understand. I thought she...I mean how could I have been so wrong?"
Paige looked at her father with frustration. Ignoring a warning glance she shocked Jeff. "She does like you, maybe it's even more than that."
Jeff was confused and more than a little frustrated. "Then why isn't she here? What the hell is going on?"
Katy looked to Paige, then to Steven and said, "Look, he's my brother. If you don't tell him then I'm going to. This isn't fair."
Steven appeared to be having a terrible argument within himself. He looked at Katy, then at Jeff and finally made up his mind. "She didn't want you to see her," he said quietly. Jeff looked like that answer made him more upset than before, so he continued. "Look son, we all were hoping she'd tell you herself. None of us were trying to hide it from you, but it's such a difficult situation."
Jeff started to really get upset as the tap dance continued. "Steven, you're obviously going to have to tell me, so just do it. This guessing game is just making it worse."
When he saw the man cringe, Jeff regretted his words. This was obviously very serious and incredibly difficult for him to talk about. No matter what frustration he was feeling, there was no need to make this harder for him.