However Long It Lasts!
Carl admired the lovely flower garden bordering the front door to her house. He knew she had lost her sight in an accident a few years earlier and wondered if she had planted the flowers before the accident. He also wondered who maintained them. The house was small and neat and on a side street just a fifteen-minute drive from his own.
A young woman Carl judged to be about twenty years old, answered his knock. He thought she might be a college student from the look of her - jeans, T-shirt, sneakers - blonde ponytail - freshly scrubbed face - no makeup.
"Hi, I'm Dana," she smiled at him. "You must be Carl. Come on in."
He smiled at the pretty young woman and followed her through the house and into the kitchen. Pirco was sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter, drinking coffee. The Rotts were at her feet. Both dogs stood to acknowledge him with a sniff, then dropped back to a down position.
"Mr. Davidson?" Pirco smiled in his direction. "Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee? Dana makes the best coffee."
"Good morning, PJ." He touched her shoulder lightly then bent down to scratch Ivan's head and to give Emma Rose a quick scratch behind an ear. "I'd love a cup. And we agreed you're going to call me Carl, remember?"
She nodded but stuck her tongue out in his direction. "Yes sir!"
Carl chuckled, squeezing her shoulder.
Later, at Davidson's walking trail:
Carl helped her out of the car, then released the dogs. Ivan and Emma Rose dashed out of the car, eager to sniff new territory, but stayed close by, both sets of eyes on Pirco.
"Go," she called to the dogs, a command that meant they could leave her side but be in calling range. They ran ahead of her, eager to stretch their legs.
Pirco handed one end of a light rubber bracelet tether to Carl, the other end attached to her wrist. "This is easier than holding onto your elbow, Carl. We'll have a little space between us so we don't trip on each other's feet.
Carl examined the bracelet, secured it to his wrist and suggested they walk a while before starting their jog. Ivan and Emma Rose raced around them, both keeping an eye on their mistress.
He described the walking trail as they made their way through the familiar path behind his home. He pointed out trees and bushes and a pair of nesting birds, describing everything he saw. He told her how patches of the sky were more visible in places and almost obscure in others. PJ smiled as she walked. His words were very descriptive and she felt as if she could see it all.
Once they started jogging, Carl let her set the pace. He was surprised that she didn't hesitate to run and she kept a steady even gait. He gently pulled on the tether that connected them to guide her as the path changed direction. The dogs ran along side her from time to time, happy to be off leash and able to stop and sniff as they went along.
"Carl! This is wonderful," she exclaimed, filling her lungs. "I love to run."
He watched her, enjoying her pleasure and knew if she'd let him, he'd take her running on a regular basis. She was easy to talk to and very easy to look at. Her body was trim and well formed and she was round in all the right places. Her running shorts weren't too short but he got a frank look at her very long and shapely legs. Her long-sleeved T-shirt was form fitting, leaving little to his imagination.
It had been a while since Pirco was able to run so freely. She ran like the wind, lapping up the miles. They were just a few minutes from his house when she went crashing to her knees.
Carl was instantly at her side, pushing the dogs back and stooping down to pick her up. "Are you all right? PJ?"
She didn't respond. The fall had knocked the wind out of her lungs. Carl acted on reflex. He covered her mouth with his and gave her his breath until her hand haltingly touched his face.
"Oh," she exhaled slowly, her breath soft on his face. Startled that his lips were so close, her words were stuttered. "That... that was... that was very nice."
Carl smiled at the color rising on her face. Lord, she's sweet. And her mouth... so soft, so sweet. He knew he wanted to kiss her and wondered how long he'd have to wait to touch those lips again.
Ivan was behind her, sniffing her neck, and trying to lick her face. Emma Rose was trying to shoulder Carl out of the way to get to her mistress. Both dogs were whining.
"It's okay, I'm all right," she spoke softly to them. "Down Ivan. Emmero, down." Both dogs immediately responded to her command, although Ivan sniffed her back, edging as close to her as he could.
Turning to Carl, she reached for his face again. "I must have tripped on something."
"Are you okay? I see you have a scraped knee. We'll clean it up when we get to my house."
"I'm really okay. I'm getting used to tripping and falling and bumping into things. It's okay, really."
He cupped her cheek, looking for signs of pain. "You sure?" he asked, his voice expressing his concern.
"Yes," she whispered. "But it's times like this when I wish..."
"When you wish what, PJ?" he asked softly.
"When I wish I could see," she whispered.
Carl sat behind her, stretched his long legs out and pulled her into a loose embrace. "I wish you could, too, PJ. I wish you could, too." He held her for a while, gently rubbing her back, comforting her, making sure she was okay. Though, if asked, he couldn't have said if he was doing it for her benefit or for his.
"I'm sorry I'm so clumsy," she apologized. "You won't want to jog with me again."
"Oh no, you don't," he laughed. "You're not getting out of jogging so easily. I'm onto you," he teased, lightening the mood. "I'll be picking you up for another run tomorrow morning, EARLY!" He put a gentle finger on the tip of her nose. "And you'd better be ready or I'll drag you out in your pj's... PJ"!"
Pirco laughed. "Thank you, Carl."
At the Davidson residence:
Carl led Pirco up the steps to his porch and opened the door, giving the dogs free reign of his house. "Are you comfortable coming into my home, PJ? If you'd rather not..."
"It's all right, Carl. I..." She turned toward his voice. "Why do you ask?"
He put his hands on her shoulders. "I apologize. I feel like I already know you, but I don't want to be presumptuous either."
"Is this because I'm blind? Would you feel less presumptuous if I could see?"
"I wish you could see," he said. "And I'd be pleased if you would accept my hospitality."
"Thank you. I'd like that."
He settled her on a chair at the kitchen table while he set two bowls of water down for the dogs. "What would you like to drink, PJ?"
"What are you having?"
"Orange or grapefruit?"
He chuckled. "I could be having apple juice or grape juice."
"No," she grinned. "Too sweet for a bossy CEO. You have to be mean and ornery and..."
"Mean and ornery?" Impulsively, he cupped her chin. "How can I be mean and ornery in the presence of such sweetness?" he asked, pleased to see the color rising on her cheeks.
I *knew* this man was sweet the moment I met him. "Grapefruit juice, please," she smiled up at him, pleased with his comment. "And some ice, too."
"Grapefruit juice and ice coming right up."
Carl gave Pirco a chance to relax and feel comfortable in his home. Her dogs lay at her feet, cooled down from their run and refreshed.
"I think it's time to clean up this knee, PJ. Will you let me?"
"It's okay, Carl," she interrupted. "It's just a scraped knee. It can wait till I get home."
"Uh-uh," he disagreed. "It might get infected. I'm going to clean it."
Pirco smiled. "You really are a sweet man, aren't you?"
"Sweet?" he barked. "CEOs are not sweet, young woman!"
"I beg to differ," she looked in his direction. "I have it on good authority..."
"Who said I was sweet?" he demanded, lifting her chin.
"I did," she stated firmly. "And I know."
"What do you know, little one?" he murmured, kissing her forehead.
"I... I know you're sweet," she whispered again. "I just know. Will you kiss me?"
"Gladly," he whispered back, lifting her from the chair and into his arms.
She didn't expect his lips to be soft but they were and she couldn't get enough. It had been a long time since Pirco had been kissed. Carl was a good kisser. More important, he wanted to kiss her and she hugged that thought to treasure later when she was alone again.
"You're the sweet one," he murmured, rubbing his cheek against her face and kissing her again. "Your mouth is very sweet, PJ, very sweet." His lips moved to her forehead and the tip of her nose - her chin was next and he smiled when she shivered. The silky spots he kissed behind each ear were also sensitive. When he returned to her mouth, he gently slipped his tongue between her lips and PJ moaned softly, the sensation an erotic one.
He only stopped kissing her because Emma Rose sniffed his hand, making him chuckle.
"It's Emmero, isn't it?" she smiled. "She gets jealous if I pay attention to anyone other than Ivan or Dana."
"She'd better get used to me pretty damn quick," he growled. "I plan to keep kissing you... if you'll let me."
"I'll let you," she murmured, reaching up with both hands, finding his face and kissing him.
He wanted more but he needed to slow down. Reluctantly, he put her on her feet.
"Let's get this knee cleaned up." Taking her hand, he led her into the bathroom and she sat on the closed commode while he gently washed her knee. "Gonna wash it with Betadine," he told her.
He kneeled in front of her and propped her leg on his knee, rinsing it clean and then applying the antiseptic soap. He was gentle but even so, the scrapes were deeper than he realized and PJ inhaled sharply.
Instantly, both dogs crowded into the bathroom to see what was amiss. Ivan pushed his big nose against Carl's hand to sniff PJ's knee and Emma Rose growled low in her throat.
"Emmero!" PJ admonished her dog. "No!" The dog backed down immediately and sat behind Carl. "I'm sorry, Carl. Emmero is..."
"It's okay, darlin', she's just doing her job. She doesn't know me yet, so everything I do is suspect."
"Push them out and close the door," she suggested. "It's probably getting a little crowded in here."
"Almost done," he told her, drying her knee and applying a bandage.
"Emma Rose!" PJ warned.
The dog gave a short yelp but left the bathroom.
"How did you know she was creeping up on me?" Carl asked, astonished at her sixth sense.
"I can distinguish some shades of light and dark, so if the light is right, I can make out some shapes as well. I saw a dark shape by your side, that's how I knew."
"So you can see my shape?" he asked gently.
"Most of the time, yes," she smiled at him.
"That's why your eyes seem focused on the right person when you're talking. Any chance you'll be able to...?"
"No, probably not," she whispered. "That's probably all I'm going to ever be able to see.
"I'm sorry, PJ. I didn't mean to..."
"It's okay. But if you want details, you'll have to kiss me again," she teased.
"With pleasure," he murmured, picking her up and carrying her to the living room couch where he held her on his lap and kissed her enough times that they momentarily forgot what they were talking about.
She told him about the automobile accident that stole her sight three years earlier. Her parents had been killed instantly along with the driver of the semi-truck that had crossed the median strip and plowed into them. Pirco had been in the backseat when it happened and sustained a broken arm and leg, several broken ribs and a collapsed lung. When she woke in the hospital several days later, she couldn't see.
The doctors said the optic nerves were intact - they weren't severed, but her chances of seeing again were slim. They gave her a long and complicated explanation, most of which she didn't understand. The bottom line was they didn't give her any hope.
"I had to give up my dream of being a concert violinist," she told him. "I still play with the Washington DC Symphony, but only when Maestro Pastrich is conducting. He lets me sit in front of the first chair and guides me with his hand. When the symphony has guest conductors, I sit out."
"You play without reading the music?"
"Yes, I play by ear but when you're in a symphony, your musical instrument is just one of many. You have to follow the conductor's lead no matter how well you know the notes."
"Will you play for me, sometime?"
"Of course," she smiled mischievously. "Do you like rap?"
He hugged her and nipped her earlobe, making her laugh. "I like jazz and the blues, but mostly," he murmured, kissing her eyelids. "I like you."
"I like you, too," she admitted, her hands seeking his mouth again, her lips following. She leaned in to kiss him when she felt a cold nose poking into her back.
"Emma Rose..." The dog whined at PJ's tone. "You have such bad timing."
"Will you have dinner with me, tonight?" he asked later.
"I... I better not."
"Why not? You don't like my company or I need to give you more kisses before you agree to be seen with me in public?"
She laughed softly as she assured him she loved his company. "I haven't eaten out since... well, I can't see what I'm eating and I'm afraid I'll make a horrible mess and embarrass you and you'll be the one sorry you took me out in public and..."
"You won't embarrass me." His words were soft and his palm on her cheek so gentle, PJ felt tears fill her eyes.
"You should know that I can't eat meat unless you cut it. I need a bib just like a child. I..."
"Have you skipped certain kinds of foods since you lost your sight, even when you're home?"
"Tell me what you like to eat."
"I like pasta and Chinese takeout and I..."
"And I used to love to dance."
"I like bananas but if they have brown spots, I don't want to eat them and... and I like little baskets of rose petals in my dresser drawers and tea bags should always be fresh. I usually eat Power bars for lunch because they're not messy. I adore chocolate but I could drip some on my chin and I wouldn't know and people would think I'm a slob and... and I think you should take me home now and forget we ever met."
The silence that followed made both dogs nervous and they rose to their feet to lean against PJ and to comfort her. Carl was stunned at her words and reflexively tightened his hold on her.
"I'll take you home if you want to leave," he said in a quietly controlled tone. "But I can never forget we met and for the record, I will take you over my knee if you ever say anything like that again. Don't even think it!" he admonished.
"Why would you want to be with me? I can't do what sighted people do. I'll..."
"Did you want that spanking now?"
"I mean it. Why would you...?"
He didn't answer. He set her on the couch and taking both dogs by their collars, pulled them away from their mistress and locked them in another room.
"What... what did you do?" she asked with genuine concern.
"Put your other eyes in another room. You're stuck with me now. Did you want to keep talking in the same vein?" he asked as he sat back on the couch and resettled her in his lap.
"Carl... listen. I..."
"No, PJ, you listen. I like you. I like your company. I want to be with you more and more. Your lack of vision is an adjustment in our relationship, but just an adjustment. It's not going to rule the way we live our lives and if you think it is, I might as well give you that spanking now. Let me into your life, PJ." His voice dropped to a whisper. "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. Give me a chance. Give us a chance."
He took her hand and placed it on his chest. "Feel that?" he asked. "That's my heart and that's you knocking. That's what you do to me."
"One day at a time?" she asked.
"One day at a time," he agreed.