Chapter 8

Mick told Lottie how much it hurt to be rejected and abandoned by Mallory. He spoke about how hard it was to lose the Serguci League in a flash and how much he missed playing baseball. He thought about where he might be with his life had none of this happened to him.

Lottie told him about her Navy experiences and about living in the Far East. Unlike three years ago when they had sex in the river after their first night out together, this time they got to know one another emotionally and spiritually before taking the next step. They both knew the sex could wait and that it would happen when they were ready.

Mick learned to let go of the grief he had been carrying and to stop mourning the loss of a relationship that wasn't going to last anyway. He realized that holding on to Mallory was a cruel form of self-punishment and pointless victimization. With Lottie, the conversations were smooth and free flowing. It was easy to forget about his disability because Lottie made him feel so alive again.

Lottie's medical training allowed her to be patient and understanding. She knew Mick's trips to the bathroom would take a little longer. She waited while he lifted himself out of the wheelchair and into a restaurant chair, movie seat, or car passenger seat. She didn't mind taking care of the wheelchair which was light and portable. Mick stopped worrying about what other people thought.

Their relationship progressed naturally and the sex happened just as intuitively when it felt right. It was a rainy Tuesday morning in mid-November. Lottie stopped by Mick's house as she often did when she had free time. His parents were at work and Julie was at school and Lottie found Mick lying on his bed listening to music. She kicked off her shoes and lay next to him, allowing the music to do the talking as they relaxed and allowed their bodies to merge into each other. Mick clasped her hand and held it tight, their fingers threaded together, connected. It felt good and it felt right.

"Do you want to go skinny dipping?" Lottie teased.

"Take off your clothes," Mick dared.

She laughed and did what he asked and then helped him out of his clothes, amazed at how damaged his body was – pot marks, burn marks, scars, sores. It wasn't anything she hadn't seen before but to see someone she loved so injured saddened her heart.

They made love that morning the same way they did their first time together on the river bank – Mick on his back with Lottie strewn out on top of him and it was as if nothing had changed between them. They were linked together and being able to touch one another and feel one another again was a gift.

"I told your sister we were meant to be together," Lottie told him after they had made love, lying together on his bed, the music still playing.

"You're the only one who was ever really close to me," Mick admitted. "I discovered that the day we ran into each other at Red's."

They played games with the chair, Mick spinning Lottie around the house naked with her in his lap – it was sexy and it was fun, their laughter filling the otherwise empty house and giving them both a rush of intimacy and freedom.

"I thought ending up in a wheelchair was a fate worse than death," Mick told her. "That I would never be loved again."

"Shh," Lottie said as she clung to him, naked in his arms and lap with the chair parked by the window to watch the following early December snow together. "You thought you were hit by a bolt of lightning but the truth is we were both really hit by a bolt of love," she said kissing him. "I love you."