The vehicle he pushes me to takes me off guard, “a minivan? Aren’t you a bit young to be driving a minivan?” Ethan opens up the passenger door and helps me to a standing position. I am getting more comfortable with standing, but I’m not completely sturdy and it wears me out quickly. He stands right behind me and helps me get into the seat.
“Well, my Hummer and Porshe are both in the shop, so I had to drive this today.”
“Really?” I ask, dumbfounded that he would have two expensive vehicles.
Ethan bursts out laughing and his dimple that I’ve grown fond of appears. “No, not really. I bought this off of my mom real cheap. It runs good and gets me from point A to point B. I don’t need a flashy car.”
His statement takes me aback. Most young guys … well, what I can remember from my high school and college years, were that guys like it supercharged and the more horsepower the better.
“I don’t need to impress anyone. Not while I have all these good looks.” He winks at me, and it’s me laughing now.
“Of course, that will do it for sure.”
Ethan grabs the seatbelt and pulls it over me. “So you think I’m good looking huh?”
My heart quickens at his seductive tone. The belt clicks into place, but he lingers so closely. I swallow hard. “Yes … umm, you’re a very attractive younger gentleman.”
“We’re not that far apart in age you know,” he says, sliding back and out of the door.
He hums his white minivan to life, before turning to look at me. “Do you want to do something before I take you home?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, it’s beautiful outside which is uncanny for this time of year, and I think we should take advantage of it.”
“I … uh, I don’t know.” I stutter.
“Oh come on. It’s good therapy. I know a perfect place.”
I should contest this for so many reasons, but he’s right. It is a beautiful day for May, and who wants to be cooped up inside for the rest of the day? Plus, I don’t think I want Ethan to drop me off yet. I like being around him. “Okay.” I agree.
He pulls up in a parking lot that I know well—the local park. “I thought we could go for a little walk.”
“We? You mean you walk, and I’ll take a nice stroll.” Memories of Carrie and I joking about a nice long spin comes to my mind. His smile is so warm with a perfect amount of mischief behind it. I wonder what he has planned.
The park is not overly crowded, since its eleven o’clock on a Wednesday morning. A few people mill about, enjoying the balmy sixty-five degrees. We weave around the park for a while and then Ethan stops at a grassy area, “your turn.”
I have no clue what he’s talking about.
“Time to stretch your legs.”
“I don’t think I am strong enough for that,” I answer nervously.
Ethan leans so close to my face, “trust me.”
Wheelchair locked, foot rest flipped up to the side, he grabs my hands and helps me stand. The ground is uneven, and I lose my footing. Instinctively, I wrap my arm around his neck to catch myself. He grips his hands around my waist tightly, steadying me. I thought my heart was pounding from fear of falling, but in actuality it’s pounding because of the proximity of Ethan’s body to mine. He shows no indication of loosening his grip. Instead, he reaches for my right arm, lightly grabbing hold of it and then he brings it up and over his other shoulder. Once my arm is in place, he wraps his arm around my waist. Silence falls between us as I stare up into his blue eyes. My body is buzzing. “Ethan,” I whisper.
“Sshh,” and before I can say anything he leans forward and presses his lips to mine. They are perfectly smooth and supple as he moves against me. I can feel his tongue searching for an entrance and my lips respond with a little hesitation. I slowly open to him letting the sensation engulf me as he explores my mouth. No awkward movements—our tongues just dancing together in perfect synchronization. My body attuned to every inch of him; his fingers digging into my back, pulling me into him, his hips pressed into my abdomen. My body is deprived and feels so greedy. I want this.
He pulls away for a split second—just long enough for me to get one gasp of air. Then our lips are sealed again with our hearts pounding against each others chests.
“Damn Nikki, I want you. His words instantly send a surge of warmth moistening my panties. But no matter how good he makes me feel in this moment, in the back of my mind warning bells are ringing loudly. I still think this might be wrong. There is such a big age difference. What would my kids think?
“Ethan wait.” His face is flushed and laden with confusion.
“What’s wrong?” he breathes heavily.
“It seems wrong … I’m your patient.”
He nods in understanding, “I can tell them I can’t work with you and your treatment.” I can see that he thinks there is an easy solution, but that’s the least of my worries. How can I tell him what is really bothering me?
“There’s more isn’t there? Nikki, please tell me … are you married?”
I look down at my ring, kicking myself for not taking it off, “No, yes … but…”
“Nikki, tell me. Please … I have wanted you ever since the very first day I saw you.” Now I’m the one confused. “I saw Laura working with you, and I requested to be your therapist. I wanted to meet you—get to know you.”
“You did what?”
“I needed to meet you.”
This tidbit of information has my brain whirling in circles. I can’t believe he had actually requested to work with me. “But Ethan, I’m so much older than you.”
“Is that what this is about? My age … your age. It’s just a number, Nikki. I’m pretty sure there is something electric here. Don’t push me away because of a little age difference.”
“It doesn’t bother you?”
“Hell no, it doesn’t bother me. You’re unbelievably attractive, and I am sure once I get to know you better, I’ll find out how amazing you are on the inside as well.”
“I have a son almost your age,” I blurt out.
He shakes his head in frustration. “Don’t you understand that I don’t care? I just want to get to know you.”
I feel horrible. I hate seeing the pain in his eyes, and that dimple gone. How can I get over the hang-up of our age gap? Can I let go and just have fun with him or will the constant fact of me being older get in the middle?
“Nikki,” Ethan’s voice is so soft. He raises one of his hands and gently traces the pad of his thumb over my cheek. The gesture makes my body sing. It’s been so long since I have been touched this way. My eyes close and I relish in the feeling. When he stops, I hesitantly open my eyes only to meet his staring down into mine. “Just get to know me. That is all I’m asking for.” There is a mixture of hope and pain in his blue eyes.
Is he really asking that much? All he’s asking for is for me to get to know him. It’s not like he is asking to move in and raise my children with me. I stare deeply into his steel eyes, hypnotized. I wish I could stop time and hold onto this moment. One thing is for sure; I’ve been under the impression that my future has already passed me by, but right now … I see that it may still be ahead of me. I can’t verbally commit, but I nod my head once, indicating I will try.
Immediately, his lips crash down on mine. This time, there is no uncertainty to let him in. I welcome him, my tongue meeting his just as eagerly as his. Both of us pull desperately at each other—I’m starving for him.
“Damn Nikki!” we both gasp for air, “You’re so beautiful.”
It’s amazing how those three words make me feel. It’s as if I have been hooked up to my own personal helium tank—I’m weightless. I let my hand dip down over his chest and over his abdomen. I’ve never seen him without a shirt on, but I have a good idea how hard his stomach is after seeing his wet shirt clinging to his body. I feel the muscles hiding under his shirt.
“Why would you want me?” I ask it before I can stop myself.
“Why wouldn’t I?” His voice matter-of-fact, as if I am blind and can’t see the beauty he can. “The second I see you …” his face reddens with embarrassment while he shakes his head no—smiling.
“What? Tell me.”
“Every time I see you … I get rock hard.”
“Oh,” now I’m the one blushing. His confession catches me off guard.
“… but besides my body just telling me it wants you—there’s more. I can feel it. There is something underneath. A woman that is strong, independent and I believe in you … us.”
He must see something in me that I’m not seeing or feeling. Me strong and independent, yeah right. It’s more the opposite … weak, broken and tore down. That’s miles away from independent and strong. It’s only been the last couple of days that I have even been able to get to the bathroom on my own.
My leg wobbles, feeling tired, and I almost go down. Ethan’s quick movements keep me upright. “Here, let’s sit you back down. I relax a bit sitting down with a little more space between us. I look up to see him smiling brightly down at me. That dimple is going to be the death of me. “How about I get you home?”
I agree—even though I’m enjoying his company—I need some time to think about this whole new revelation.
Ethan, like a gentleman pushes me up to my sister’s front door. That awkward moment … what do I do next, hits me. I look around nervously. I don’t think that I am ready to explain to anyone who Ethan is … not yet.
“Are you okay here?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Well …” he leans down and gives me a quick peck on my cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow beautiful.” His words are so full of promise. The door flies open before I am able to reply to him. Joe stands there with the door wide open.
Ethan’s face shifts from easy-go to tense in a nanosecond. The whole atmosphere just plummeted. I look between Joe and Ethan, both of them fiercely eyeing one another.
Needing to calm the fire building in front of me, I shakily say, “Ethan, this is my sister’s husband—Joe.” I see Ethan’s face visibly relax a little and Joe reaches out and shakes his hand.
“Thanks man for bringing her home. My wife has been freaking out.”
“It was my pleasure.” Ethan gives me a quirky glance, and I notice Joe’s eyebrows lift in amusement. Not ready for Joe to start in with his jokes, I try to hint subtly to Ethan that he needs to go.
“Yeah, thanks for the ride. I’m sure you have loads of better things to be doing, and I better let my sister know that she doesn’t have to call the Cavalry.” I don’t want to come across as pushy, but for selfish reasons I don’t think I am ready to be judged by my family.
“Umm … yeah,” Ethan runs his hands through the top of his hair tousling it more. “I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around the hospital.” He winks and takes off towards his minivan.
Joe shuts the door and starts pushing me into the living room. “Going after the youngin’s now?”
“No!” I snap. “He works at the hospital and saw me waiting and offered to give me a ride.”
“Oh shut up.” I roll my eyes.
“You know sis … you always have been a super crappy liar.”