Angels and Guardians Pt. 08byphotodad©
Thanks to all who took the time to read this story. At first, I wasn't happy with this final part, but after rereading it, I think it ended as it should.
Please remember to vote!
The next couple of days were early release for the seniors, so Kim, Jasmine, and Jill would come and visit Ashley in the afternoons. Ashley's mom would usually be there as well, but the one person who could not be dragged outside the hospital doors was Joe. He would reluctantly leave to go to the cafeteria at Ashley's prodding, but only if her mom or other visitors were in her room. Even then, it was only for ten minutes to grab a styro container, load what he wanted, and bring it back with him to her room.
Joe noticed when talking to Ashley alone that she had changed. Her laughter and fun nature were still present, but he could tell that it was slightly reserved. Ashley's swings into self-doubt and depression were mostly gone, too. It was as if she were more in control of her emotions. Her mom commented that it was probably a result of the hormonal change, but Joe would later often reflect back to the day Sister Kate patiently withstood Ashley's final tantrum as the day she was permanently changed. Ashley never openly apologized to Joe for sending him out of her room, and he understood why. She really needed him out of the room, and he was standing in the way of her independence. Ashley entered the hospital as a confused, hurt girl. She left as an independent woman, with a determination to leave her mark on the world. The doubts he had about staying with her the rest of his life evaporated with her transformation. She kept all that made her lovable, and had tossed out the garbage that was annoying.
Returning home was bittersweet for Ashley. She was happy to be back in a familiar place and out of the hospital bed. However, she had to convince Joe to keep the meeting in Denver, so he was busy packing and preparing his notes for the sales pitch. Jill, Jasmine, and Kim had gone to Joe's the day before to get things ready for Ashley. So, Ashley was surprised when she was carried by Joe into the den to find one of the sofas covered with a sheet and blankets, and a tray with her prescriptions, the media remotes, and a bell. There was even a plastic pan near the sofa, just in case she needed it in an emergency. Ashley wanted to walk from the car, but Joe insisted on carrying her the whole way. Ashley fretted about Joe's bed, and the condition she left it when she fell ill. Joe told her that he had Cindy order a new mattress early in the week, and everything was cleaned up and taken care of.
The girls took turns watching over Ashley while Joe was gone, making her meals, helping her to the bathroom, and refilling her drinks. Since Kim had taken up residence at the house, she slept on another sofa next to Ashley during the night, even when Joe was there, so that she could be close by for any of Ashley's needs. Jasmine insisted to the others that she be the one to bathe Ashley. After school ended for the girls at 10 on Friday, they came by and said goodbye to Joe and Cindy and wished them well on the meeting.
Jasmine soon pushed Jill and Kim to take a break and go Christmas shopping while she would take care of Ashley. "Alright, Cinnabun," she said to Ashley after they were alone. "When did you last have a bath?"
Ashley thought for a bit. "Um, Sunday morning I took that shower with you."
Jasmine looked at her hard. "The nurses didn't wash you up?"
Jasmine was pissed. "I'll bet you feel pretty scummy right now! I can't believe they wouldn't do that!"
"I've had so much on my mind, I didn't think about that. Now that you mentioned it, yeah I feel kinda gross."
"Joe should have thought about it...ugh, I'm gonna get him when he gets back!"
"I can do it, Jasmine. Just help me to the bathroom upstairs."
"No fucking way. You might weigh only 95 pounds right now, but I can't trust myself to stop you from falling down those stairs. Besides, the doc wants you only to walk to the bathroom and right back. Just you sit tight."
Ashley groaned in frustration and sat back against the armrest of the sofa. Jasmine returned a bit later with a large bowl of soapy water, a couple of washcloths, a razor and shave gel, and some towels. "Alright, sweetie. Let's get you feeling better," Jasmine said as she put down the supplies.
She pulled the t-shirt off Ashley, trying hard to ignore the perfect set of twins staring at her. Next came the shorts, and she left Ashley's panties on for now. Grabbing the washcloth and dipping it in the water, she started with Ashley's face and worked her way down the front. As Jasmine gently swabbed her arms, something deep inside Ashley was reminded of the similar comfort her mom gave her during bath time when she was very little. Jasmine repeated the attention with the other arm and hand before dipping the cloth in the bowl and wringing it out. She washed Ashley's neck, paying attention to detail as she delicately traced the cloth around each line of her friend's ears. When the cloth traveled to her upper chest and started teasing her top ribs, Ashley sucked in a breath to try and keep her excitement in check. "Is it tickling?" Jasmine asked when she noticed.
"No," Ashley answered a bit shaky. "I'm trying to think of this professionally. But my body wants to get horny."
Jasmine smiled at her. "I know, Little Bit. I'm trying to keep this business only, but I know what you mean."
She washed Ashley's torso, keeping the wet cloth above the bandage pad adhered to the lower belly. The only parts in the area left untouched were Ashley's breasts. Both girls' pulses quickened when Jasmine started at the mounds' base and worked upward. After she plopped the cloth into the bowl, Jasmine bent down and licked Ashley's nipples with her flattened tongue. Ashley's breath caught.
"Oh my God! What are you doing?" Ashley breathed.
"Tongue bath. I couldn't resist." Jasmine grinned at her and both girls broke out in giggles.
Jasmine finished Ashley's upper half with a kiss on each pink circle. Next she delicately worked to remove the bandage, telling Ashley that it was about time to change it anyway. She finally freed the waterproof tape from the soft skin and lifted the pad up and away. Jasmine was not as prepared for the sight as she thought she was, and let a quiet "Oh my God" escape from her lips. Ashley bent forward and looked down. Her face twisted into a silent 'eek' when she saw what marred the tight palette just above her hips. Jasmine felt a tear fall from each eye as she thought about what the long wound meant to Ashley.
"Joe's right, it looks just like a zipper," Jasmine said.
"Yeah, it does."
"Does it hurt?"
Ashley sighed. "Sometimes, if I move a certain way, my skin will pull at the staples."
Jasmine poised a finger just above. "Can I touch?"
It was a harsh feeling, the hard, rough staples holding together such smooth, perfect, soft skin underlined by the top edge of Ashley's low cut white panties. "You'll never want to wear a two-piece swimsuit again."
"Yeah, I was thinking about that today. But, what's done is done."
"When Joe changes the pad, doesn't he try to clean off this iodine?"
"No, they said not to get the incision wet, so I think he just swaps out the bandage."
Jasmine shook her head. "I'm not just going to get him when he gets back...I'm gonna kill him!" she exclaimed while she retrieved a fresh cloth and wrung it out well.
"Jazz, he's just following instructions."
She used a very light touch to dab away the light orange stain highlighting the staples. "Even so, he shouldn't let you sit like this."
Ashley groaned in frustration. "Okay. Well, let's get past that," she said a bit irritably.
"Are you cold?"
"A bit chilled, and that water you keep wringing out is making me have to pee. Besides, Joe is doing what he can. He and Cindy were meeting every morning in the hospital about company stuff. Please forgive him if he doesn't think of some things that you do."
Jasmine shook her head to rid it of her disappointment in Joe. She moved on to sponge down Ashley's stubbly legs. She washed one foot, then as she was washing the other, she noticed a small wet spot on Ashley's panties between her legs. "I didn't know you had a foot fetish," she said. "Or, did you just..."
Ashley turned red. "My feet are ticklish, but feeling that warm water made me go a little." The spot grew in size. "Oh damn. Hurry up, Jazz. I can't hold as much as I used to."
Jasmine dropped the cloth in the bowl and grabbed a towel to start drying Ashley's legs. "Alright, let me get you dried off, so you don't slip on the way to the bathroom." She dried the water off the feet, and helped Ashley up, supporting her on the way to the half bath next to the kitchen. When Ashley was done, Jasmine told her to leave the panties in the bathroom and that she'd wash them later. When they returned to the sofa, Jasmine gently sponged off Ashley's privates.
Next, Jasmine grabbed the shave gel and told Ashley to put her arm above her head. Ashley was embarrassed by her ungroomed state and protested, saying she could do that. Jasmine insisted that she do it. She didn't want Ashley twisting and turning more than necessary, possibly making scarring worse. Ashley relented and relaxed as Jasmine applied the gel under her arm and carefully shaved her. It was repeated for the other side, and then Jasmine moved to work on the legs. She started below Ashley's left knee, lathering it up then using long light strokes to erase the stubble. The procedure was repeated with the other side. Ashley closed her eyes when Jasmine lathered up her thighs. She inhaled sharply when Jasmine accidentally brushed her clit with the back of her knuckle.
"I'm sorry," Jasmine apologized. "Ooh, but you're wet!" She traced her index finger up and down Ashley's swollen folds.
Ashley gripped the edge of the sofa with white knuckles. "Yes," she hissed. "I can't help it. What you've been doing to me for the last hour has me so horny." She grabbed Jasmine's hand and pulled it away. Jasmine looked puzzled and Ashley said to her, "I want you to keep going, but I'm not allowed any sex for 8 weeks. The contractions might pull something loose."
Jasmine nodded, grabbed the razor, and finished her work with Ashley's legs. She took a cloth and wiped down her handiwork, pleased that it glided smoothly over her skin. Ashley's eyes shot open when she felt Jasmine apply the gel between her legs. "I said, I can't have sex!" she pouted.
"I know, I'm just going to trim you up. You know you'll feel better."
Ashley sat back and opened her legs wide. Jasmine got so close, Ashley could feel the warm breath wisping over her sensitive parts. Jasmine tediously turned the razor this way and that, using tiny strokes and taking care that she did not nick Ashley's sensitive parts nearby. She rinsed when she was done, and held a small mirror up, so Ashley could see the finished product. The area was completely free of any hair or stubble. A small, trimmed red landing strip pointed the way to her treasure. Ashley trailed a hand to feel herself and was thrilled with its smoothness. While she played lightly, she noticed Jasmine squirming.
"Go ahead. I know you want to touch yourself. I don't mind you looking at me while you get off."
Jasmine opened her jeans and plunged a hand inside her panties. She grunted huskily as her hand worked furiously to bring relief. "Keep your legs open and touch your clit...yes, just like that. Ohmygod, that is soo hot!" she croaked. On her knees between Ashley's legs, Jasmine couldn't resist sucking on Ashley's inner thigh dangerously close to Ashley's own hand.
Ashley gasped, "That feels so good, Jazz....ugh...but, I'm not supposed to cum...oh...oh fuck it!" She put her hand behind Jasmine's head and guided it to her. "A little cum won't hurt."
Jasmine licked Ashley's slit, reveling in the tangy sweet moisture that was dribbling out. The taste of Ashley drove her over the edge, making her climax into her hand and grunting with abandon into Ashley's clit. Ashley started moving her hips against Jasmine's mouth. Jasmine backed off after coming down from her high. "Are you sure?" she asked.
"No...but I want to anyway," Ashley answered. She guided Jasmine back to her and let her lick lightly for a bit. A small wave of pleasure signaled that Ashley was close, but the staples bit into her. "OW!" Ashley exclaimed, pushing Jasmine away. "Damn it!" She plopped her head back against the sofa.
Jasmine scrambled up next to Ashley, petting her face. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean to hurt you."
Ashley shook her head. "It's not your fault." She slapped the sofa seat. "Fuck! I wanted to cum so bad!"
Jasmine planted soft kisses on Ashley's cheek. "I know, baby. You'll be able to later on. Everything's gotta heal first, I guess." She got up and redressed the incision then helped Ashley get into a fresh set of clothes. As Jasmine gathered the towels, sheets, and laundry, Joe called Ashley in between flights to check on her.
"Hey baby!" he greeted.
"Hi, sweetheart," she replied.
"Nothing...well, actually I'm really frustrated. You know, the whole 8 week thing."
"Ah...Um, sorry I can't help with that."
"You're not alone, are you?" Ashley asked.
"No, Cindy's next to me. We're on a one hour layover, so it's just as easy to wait here at the gate."
"Yeah, actually. If I were keeping the company, I wouldn't worry. But I'm not, so..."
"You're doing this for them, instead of you, right?"
"Exactly. Wish you were here...you know, to keep me calm."
"You'll be fine, I'm sure. Let me know when you land in Denver?"
"You bet. Love you lots, baby!"
"I love you more!" With that, they hung up.
Joe put his phone in its holster, looking off into nowhere. Cindy asked what he was thinking about, and he told her that talking with Ashley brought something up in his head. "I don't know why I thought of this, because it didn't actually come up. Anyway, what's the best way to announce the IPO?"
Cindy thought about this, weighing out the possibilities aloud to Joe. He responded to each suggestion by dismissing it and the reason why. "Well, if you don't want fanfare, why not just tell the employees?"
"Yeah, but how do we get it out in the open without throwing a parade or do a talk show waltz?"
Cindy smiled. "A quarter million computer-savy nerds who get their hands on an internal email that announces their popular company's IPO...gee how will the world know? You don't think Facebook or Twitter will light up within 30 seconds of you sending that out?"
Joe grinned sheepishly. "I guess techies do love their gossip and speculation."
He sighed. "Okay, let's do it after the meeting tomorrow. Don't let me catch you being the one to leak it!"
"Aw, you're taking the fun out of my job," Cindy said and gave a fake pout that had them both chuckling.
"Speaking of taking fun out of a job..." Joe began. He asked for an update on the new target share price from the underwriter, where the road-show was this weekend, and other details.
Cindy answered all the questions professionally, but at the end she sounded concerned. "You know you won't be able to sell any of your personal shares until the end of July, right?"
"Yeah, I remember that from one of our first meetings over the phone. So?"
"Well, Carter is now debt-free thanks to your former trust, plus a lot of your personal money. Some of these IPO fees are really taking chunks from your accounts. Are you sure you don't want me to use some of Carter's funds to pay for this?"
"Yes...my decision, my payment."
"Well, by the time you graduate, I estimate that you'll have less than 10 million."
"I could not go to school and retire on that," he retorted.
"Maybe, but for that money to last 60 years or more on a comfortable lifestyle would be tough. I wouldn't count on football, either. You could get hurt on the first day of practice, then where would you be?"
"I know what I'm doing."
"Bullshit, Joe. You haven't seen half of what I've seen that goes on in the world. You're 18. You don't know what you're doing at all. Yes, the final decision is being made by you, but only after I and about 30 other people filter out all the crap to show you true possible outcomes."
"You're not so old, either, Cindy."
"And that's my point. You haven't seen half of my minuscule view. So, really...how much do you think you know?"
"A hell of a way to talk to your boss..." The sting of Cindy's hand crashing with his face surprised Joe to silence.
Cindy stared at him hard. She ignored the attention from passersby that her action garnered. "I'm not talking to you right now as your secretary. I'm warning you as a friend. Wake up! Don't be so high and mighty to think you have everything figured out. You better start thinking about what you have left. Believe me, the well CAN run dry."
Joe was seething at her slapping him, but it also grabbed his attention, and he heard every word she said. "I know wells can run dry," he began, but Cindy interrupted.
"You better believe it. In a snap it can be gone. Besides, the way you look at Ashley, and the way you talk about her with me, I hope you're keeping her in mind when you spend out this money like you are."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I think you know. Before you ask her to walk the many miles beside you into either heaven or hell, make sure you have a plan to be able to keep you both alive and to have shoes on your feet the whole way." Cindy knew by the way Joe grumped in his seat that she had gotten through to him. He wouldn't know exactly what he needed to do, but that was her whole point. Just getting Joe to think about what his world would be like without money would help him greatly in life.
After a short Lortab-induced nap, Ashley woke to find Jill and Kim to have returned from their shopping trip. She tried to find out what they got, but they stood firm in keeping their gifts secret. Ashley found a Harry Potter marathon on a cable station, and the four girls half watched, half chatted while eating dinner with Ashley in the den. About an hour after dinner was cleaned up and Ashley was changed into some pajamas, Joe called from his hotel room in Denver. Jill and Jasmine took the opportunity to head home. Kim retreated to the game room and worked the pool table alone to afford Ashley some privacy while she talked to her boyfriend.
The couple talked across the miles, each saying things they thought would give the other support. Joe said loving things to keep Ashley's spirits up in her recovery, and Ashley gave encouragement to keep Joe relaxed for his big meeting. The conversation lasted about 45 minutes before they started saying their goodnights, which took another 15. Before Ashley was about to end her call, Joe asked to talk to Kim.
"Why do you want to talk to her?"
"Ashley, don't get jealous now."
"I'm not...just curious."
"I just wanted to tell her that she's welcome to anything she wants in the house."
"You know I can do that just as well as you, Joe. Why do you really want to talk to her?"
Joe sighed, "Fine. I'd like to hear from an unbiased person how you're really doing."
Ashley's voice got chipper again. "Oh! That makes sense. Just say so next time. I love you. KIM!! JOE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT ME!"
Joe held his phone away from his ear with a grin. She really doesn't know her own voice, he thought. "I love you too, Ash. Have a good night."
"I hope you have a better one." Then Ashley blew a kiss through the phone.
While Kim said hello and made small talk in opening the conversation with Joe, she brought Ashley some water so she could take her pain pill for the night. Kim then went up to Ashley's room out of earshot.