This story has been knocking around in my head for a while now. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it. As always your votes and comments mean a lot to me, so don't forget to leave them.
There is a LOT of buildup before the sex comes, so if you want quick relief, this story probably won't do it for you.
A shout of thanks to my copy editor estragon, my plot editor SamanthaYvonne and my beta readers KatieTay and persorosa.
A very special vote of thanks goes to GoodyGoodyTwoShoes for her creative input in this story.
"If you truly want something, the universe will conspire to give it to you."
The twin engine Learjet 60 broke below the clouds. Karen Carmichael sat all alone, surveying the cityscape of New York outside her window. The crimson hue from the setting sun illuminated the backdrop of the towering skyscrapers, creating a surreal effect. The sun shone in through the oval window on Karen's face. A teardrop glistened on her cheek. Up there, in a bubble above the city, in her private jet, she had never felt more alone.
All that she loved, all that ever mattered to her was hanging by a tiny thread. One that could snap at any moment.
Every second that passed seemed like an eternity to her. The plane circled around to JFK and gradually descended. She impatiently patted the board with her fingertips.
"Not long now. I am coming. Just hang in there."
She got up and stood anxiously by the door even as the plane landed. The steward seemed surprised by her uncharacteristic fidgeting. Hardly had the plane taxied to a halt in front of the hangar, when she burst out the door. A chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce drew up and she bounded into the back seat.
"Clinton Memorial, fast."
The chauffeur nodded and sped through traffic. Karen hid her tears as best she could, but it was impossible. They just kept flowing in a steady stream as she raced toward her brother Adrian.
The streets, the hospital entrance, the stairs, the corridors were just dim obstacles as she raced to her brother's ward. She bumped into nurses and orderlies along the way, but did not even slow down.
Not now, not when every second was precious.
Finally, she strode past the sliding glass doors into the ward. Her right palm involuntarily went to her mouth as she surveyed the scene before her.
Her brother. Her love. Her life. The handsome, charming and charismatic Adrian Carmichael lay still, various tubes and drips in his arms. There was a nasal cannula strapped across his face, pumping drugs into him.
Karen approached him with some trepidation. She reached out her fingers and gently touched his hand. Instinctively, he seemed to know who she was. Without opening his eyes, he held her fingers and smiled.
She could not resist whimpering as she fought to hold back the tears now welling in her eyes. He opened his eyes a sliver and his smile grew wider.
"Nice to see you too," he said, in a weak voice.
Drawing up a chair, she sat down beside him. She never let go of his hand. He continued.
"Undifferentiated neoplasmoma. Fancy term eh? Turns out that's what's going to kill me."
"Hush! Don't even think that. You are not going to die."
Her tone was as firm as her resolve. Her brother was a survivor. In her heart she knew he would fight past this. Sadly, the exponentially multiplying cancerous cells inside him knew different. Even he knew it was too late.
"Karen. The doctors said it is in Stage 4. It has spread from my lungs to the surrounding tissue as well. It's too late."
"Then we will see a different doctor," she said, with a desperate earnestness in her tone.
"I have already seen the five best oncologists in the state. They have all said the same thing. My chances are next to none."
She clasped her hands over her ears and rushed out of the room, inadvertently bumping into a doctor.
"Mrs Carmichael, I presume."
"I am very sorry for your brother... or husband, whichever way you look at it."
He walked out of her view. There was a melee of reporters, each looking for an inside scoop, an inside take on the state of the billionaire Adrian Carmichael. Seeing the throng, she hastily retreated back into the ward. She was in no mood to deal with the press now. Especially since it wasn't their first time being in the media spotlight.
Adrian's skin had become pale, but he still looked like the man Karen fell in love with a decade back. He still had those piercing eyes and that jet black hair.
"Come here. Sit down beside me. I've wanted to talk to you for so long."
She went around and sat beside him. He held her hand weakly and smiled. Finally, the wall broke. All those pent up tears burst, a waterfall of pain and anger. She gripped his hand with both palms and cried into it. Her tears flowed down his forearm and onto the bed. He tried to stop her tears, but he was too weak to lift his hand.
"Don't cry. Please don't cry. You were always the strong one. Be strong for me now. Please."
Karen tried. She really did, but the tears would not stop. She clasped her hands around his head and gently sobbed into his neck. He whispered into her ear, soothingly, telling her over and over how much he loved her and would always love her.
She detached herself from him. When she took her fingers from his hair, a tuft of it came out. She looked at it with a horrified expression. Adrian smiled wistfully.
"That's the radiation. Talk about bad hair day."
Somehow Karen failed to see the intended humour. Her eyes focussed on each strand as she ran her beloved brother's locks through her fingers. Her grief seemed to be beyond tears as she surveyed the damage with her own eyes.
"Sit beside me please. Let's talk."
"Talk about what?" said Karen in a hollow voice, shocked out of emotion.
"Just talk. Talk about the fabulous times we shared rather than the present."
Adrian Carmichael never really had any idea about "love". He grew up the fortunate only son of billionaire industrialist Victor Carmichael. Victor had not been an ideal role model as far as family went. He flagrantly cheated on his wife (Adrian's mother) over and over again. She took the suffering with an unusual fortitude, silently caring for Adrian the way a single parent should.
Then one day, when he was fifteen, a man in a white coat informed him that she had small cell cancer in her lung. It was a rare undiagnosable variant that gave her a few weeks to live. He cried by her bedside all of that night, despite her feeble efforts to comfort him.
His father was tied up in a meeting on the top floor of his building so he could not be there. Adrian knew that, given the presence of the hot redhead from Accounting, he was quite literally "tied up".
For six weeks his mother lay in her bed while various maids and servants got her food. Adrian never once left her bedside and held her hand throughout. It was heartwrenching for him to watch her die, but he never left. Not once.
His father had an easier time dealing with the grief of losing his wife. Carmichael Industries had just taken over a large cosmetics chain, which had an almost exclusively female workforce. Many of them were beautiful and raring to get higher positions in the company hierarchy after restructuring. What better way to do that than suck up to (or suck off) your new boss?
So during the six week that Adrian spent holding his mother's hand and crying, Victor spent helping female executives and models "earn" their promotions. Of course, he was always thoughtful enough to text his son "How's mum doing?" once a day.
How sympathetic of him.
Another urgent meeting with the ravishingly hot COO of the cosmetics group meant that he had to skip his wife's funeral. It was an extremely regrettable inconvenience, he later admitted. The last rites over, Adrian's last human connection was lovingly buried six feet under the grass of Trinity Church cemetery.
Back home, the dynamic remained largely the same. Victor gone night after night to the most exclusive high-end comfort clubs around the world while Adrian shut himself off from the world in his room and studied. He did not make friends in his prep school. The headmaster considered calling his father to inform him about his reticence, but he was always otherwise engaged.
Then one day, a week after Adrian turned eighteen, his father dropped a bombshell.
Rather, he showed up at their manor with a middle-aged lady in a white dress and a daughter, proclaiming her his new wife. Her name was Alice Lane, socialite, heiress to less money than she wanted, and a constant on various tabloid covers.
Despite not having a medical degree, Adrian could count the number of surgeries that went into this merger of silicone and humanity. Breasts, nose, cheekbones, stomach, back and every other visible place (and perhaps some invisible ones) had been sculpted, re-engineered and realigned. She had a shrill laugh and a smile as fake as her tits.
Even as this amalgamation of greed and whorishness stepped through the front door, he knew he would hate her.
She for her part ignored his presence in the house. Her sights were firmly set on the vast wealth that she now thought she had acquired. Adrian was just another feature of the house, slightly more important than the Ming vase on the front mantelpiece but less so than the Venetian chandelier in the dining hall.
Later on though, he would thank his father and Alice for getting drunk and married in Atlantic City. Because of this unorthodox union, he met Alice's daughter, his step-sister, Karen Lane.
The doors to the ward opened and a surly doctor entered holding a clipboard. He shifted his glasses up his nose and glanced down the paperwork in front of him.
"Mr Carmichael, we will be taking you for your chemotherapy now," he said in a dry, professional tone, which betrayed no emotion.
"But I thought I was in the last stage, with no chance of recovery?"
"Yes, but we have to keep trying. No chance may be an exaggeration. According to our statistics, you have less than one percent chance. Slim, but still a chance."
Karen brightened up on hearing the last sentence. There was a thin ray of hope, something they would hold onto dearly.
"See, Adrian? You still have a chance," she said, forcing a smile.
"Yes. About the same chance I have of beating you in chess," he said as the orderlies shifted him into a wheelchair.
But Karen wasn't listening. If one man out of hundred could beat this disease, it was going to be Adrian. She knew it.
Eighteen year old Adrian was determined to ignore his father and his plastic wife. He had no family, he had no friends. He had no one. Hundreds of girls threw themselves at him. His chiselled body coupled with his brooding persona made him very popular. It did not hurt to be the son of a man who routinely figured in the Forbes' top 10 list either.
One day he sat in his library contemplating taking admission to Harvard Business School. His stellar record in academics, extra-curricular brilliance (and his father's influence) meant he would get in quite easily.
The mahogany doors creaked open, breaking him out of his reverie. He glanced over to see Karen recline into an armchair on the far side clutching two Vonneguts from the adjacent shelf. She idly twirled a strand of hair in her hand as she flipped open to her bookmark.
He considered going over to talk to his step-sister. Whereas her mother seemed unashamedly sycophantic to Victor, she kept her distance from the newlyweds. It made them friends in a strange way. The sun filtered in through the ornate window painting her flawless white skin with a red tinge. He gazed at her poetic beauty, enjoying the moment.
He gazed for an instant too long and her eyes lifted from her book and looked straight at his. She smiled in silent acknowledgement of his presence and returned to reading. Adrian blushed, but did not stop looking. Her hair was a beautiful shade of dark auburn. She had not tied it, instead letting it fall to her shoulders in silky tresses. Her sharp eyes were a picture of studied concentration as she turned a page. One of her dainty hands held a strand of hair and curled it around her finger.
They remained in that state, she blissfully oblivious to his gaze. He shook himself out of his trance and returned to his essay for Harvard. Four thousand eloquent words to try to impress someone were hard to type out. His topic was "The Importance of Competitive Environments in Modern Business". Quoting several business gurus and entrepreneurs, he was confident he had nailed it.
"It's too superficial."
The words took him by surprise. He turned around to see her right behind him, gazing over his shoulder to see what he had spent the best part of four days writing.
"Excuse me?" he asked, startled at her forwardness.
"This essay. It's too superficial. You just touch on several topics without going into it. Like this part where you quote Howard Hughes. You should then go onto to correlate it with a modern day management theory like Maslow's theory of needs. Then analyse it with a real example of a successful company. You just mention the quote in passing, like an afterthought."
Amazed by her insight, he made a mental note to make those changes. Turning his chair around he smiled at her. She returned his smile.
"I know you aren't too fond of your dad and my mother, and to tell the truth, I am not thrilled by their marriage either. Knowing Mom, the only thing that she cares about are money and exotic travel. It would be nice if I had someone to talk to in this house," she said in an earnest tone, adding, "I am not my mother."
The wheels in his head were turning furiously. Was this an insidious ploy on Alice's part to soften him? He looked up to see her gently biting her bottom lip, waiting for a reaction.
Taking a deep breath, he collected his words and spoke slowly.
"Sure. It would be nice to have someone to talk to. By the way, where did you learn all that?"
"Oh, I read stuff. A lot. I spent most of my childhood at home alone while my mother was on some exotic cruise or another with her latest rich fancy. Diplomats, producers, foreign royals - you name it and she has fucked them," she said, calmly, without batting her eyelids.
Adrian was stunned by her statement and the casual way in which she said it. He stared at her, at a loss for words. Karen put her hands on her hips, bent her head to the side and gave him a smirk.
"What? I just called a spade a spade. She's a bimbo, silicone slut who is currently fucking the brains out of Captain Viagra in Key West," she said, adding, "Captain Viagra is your dad by the way."
He laughed gently at this statement. At fifty-two, Victor Carmichael was the poster boy for rich sleaze-bag, addicted to Viagra and whores.
"True enough," said Adrian, with a mirthful overtone to his voice.
"Anyway, I will be returning to college this fall so I guess we will be spending more time here preparing together," she said with an air of genuine pleasure.."I would like to get to know my enigmatic step-brother some more."
And they would get to know each other a lot more.
Karen sat absent-mindedly patting her fingers on the bedside table. Soon enough, they wheeled him back in and laid him on the bed. The doctor came, attached the chemotherapy bag to his arm and reattached the rest of his tubes.
As soon as the doctor left, she was there by his bedside.
"How are you feeling?"
"As good as one can feel with an extreme dose of chemicals coursing through him," he said, in a low voice. "The fever will start in an hour or so and it will get worse from there. Much worse."
"I will be right here to take care of you. Don't you dare forget that. You're going to make it," she said, almost willing herself to believe her words.
He curled on his side, facing her. Another lock of his hair fell out. She placed it back on his head, patting it down. His lips were wrinkled, but he still managed to smile at her while she leant over and gently caressed his cheek. Her finger made a long stroke from his neck to the edge of his scalp. Her hand gently brushed his lips, feeling each crease caused by the chemo.
"Karen," he whimpered, trembling with the beginnings of fever.
"Yes, dear," she said, putting her head on the pillow and facing him.
"I-I-I'm scared, Karen."
"Shh..." she said, putting her finger on his lips. "I'm right here."
"Hold me please."
"Of course," she said, tearfully wrapping her arms around the pitifully weak form. She moved her hand back and looked at him in shock.
"You're burning up. That is a very high fever."
He didn't respond. His eyelids fluttered.
"Adrian?" she asked warily.
He let out a pitiful moan and rolled over to his front. His face was flushed and sweat formed on his brow. There was a raging fever inside him.
"Doctor! Nurse! Anybody!" she screamed hysterically.
A doctor and two nurses frantically rushed into the room. One of them checked his temperature off a screen while the nurses began rummaging on the shelf for an anti-pyretic to cool the fever. The nurse injected it into his arm while the other one held him down. Then, they gave him a sedative to calm him for some time.
He flopped onto his side, softly groaning into his pillow as the sedatives took effect. His fever would take some time to go. Karen waited for him to close his eyes before she placed his fingers in her palm and gently squeezed them.
Even in his medicated sleep, he smiled. Her touch had a special quality.
Adrian's new and improved essay blew away the recruiter from Harvard. He got a full scholarship to do his undergrad from there. Neither of his parents cared.
He and Karen started spending more time together in the library. It became their personal sanctuary, surrounded by a fortress of books. They discussed the merits and demerits of art forms, political ideologies and even their favourite football teams.
It was the perfect arrangement really; they never bothered their parents and the parents returned the favour.
One day they were together amidst all their books when she saw him looking a little too eagerly at one of his magazines.
"What're you reading?"
Without even shifting his eyes from the magazine, he said, "Hustler."
"Oh I see," she said softly. "Any girls to your taste?"
Putting on his best fake look of concentration, he carefully observed the girl on the page in front of him. Tilting his head from side to side, he tried to rate her beauty. He went to the next picture and tried to do the same, but it didn't do anything for him. Certainly the exposed bodies tickled his teenage libido, but there was something missing.
Too like a Russian diva.
After idly flipping through the pages for sometime, he looked up to see what Karen was doing. His eyes locked in on her form across the room and his heart skipped a beat. She was in the middle of untying her hair. Her eyes were closed as those lovely auburn tresses fell over her shoulder. She shook her head from side to side spreading them evenly over her back, but one strand came over the front of her face, over her left eye. She gently tucked it back behind her ear.
The best girl in his magazine would come a poor second to the gorgeous form that unfurled itself in front of him. He had always been aware of her beauty, but right then, it was all he could see. His eyes were momentarily blind to all else. It was as if Time itself had stopped to admire her.
Smoothing her hair out, she noticed his stare out of the corner of her eye. Grinning, she said in a cocky voice, "Guess that answers my last question."