Burl drove Andrea back to the Motel 6.
"Could you walk me in please?" Andrea requested when he pulled into the parking lot. "I get a little nervous at night when there aren't a lot of people around."
Burl knew it was because she was assaulted by Commander Cole at night in an empty Reserve Center building.
"Of course," he said, parking the car in a parking space.
"Could you come into the room for a minute please?" Andrea asked when they got to her door. "I always feels safer when somebody else enters first."
Burl took the magnetic card key from her and he opened the door, turning on the lights and stepping into the room to make sure it was safe. "All clear," he announced.
"Thanks," Andrea said, entering the room and closing the door behind her. "The shame, pain and fear still haunts me sometimes," she explained.
"You okay?" Burl asked with concern.
"I don't know," Andrea admitted with a sigh, walking into the room, kicking off her sneakers and taking a seat at the end of one of the double beds. "I'm so confused half the time."
"You've been through a lot lately," Burl said, taking a seat in the arm chair in the corner of the room, a few feet from where she was sitting
"Do you think I did the right thing?" She asked. "Telling my story publicly?"
"Yes," Burl answered quickly.
"The rational part of my brain agrees with you but sometimes I wonder if I only made things worse by talking to those reporters."
"Only Cole is responsible for any of this," Burl told her.
"I've been crying a lot lately," she confessed. "Thinking about all of this."
"Maybe its cathartic," Burl said hopefully.
"I don't know," She replied. "It mostly just hurts, both emotionally and spiritually."
"I wish none of this ever happened to you," Burl remarked.
"Could I ask a favor?" Andrea wanted to know.
"Could you stay the night?" She asked awkwardly.
"No sex," she said. "I know it's supposed to be healthy and good and wonderful and all that when it's with the right person but ever since I had sex when I didn't want it I've kind of felt that no sex at all was the better choice."
"Is that one of the reasons why your marriage felt apart?"
"It wasn't always like that," Andrea said. "But the last few years, yeah."
"All I know is that your body belongs to you and you have a right to decide what is right for you," Burl determined.
"However and whenever I experience sex I want it to be okay and valid whenever that may be," Andrea said. "I thought I was over all this but then all the Me Too started and then my sister made a decision for me and there I was talking to those reporters and going on television and Gene is telling me he wants out and people are telling me I'm a lying fraud..."
"You did the right thing," Burl assured her.
"Will you stay?" She asked hopefully. "Just hold me?"
"Yes," Burl answered.
"Thanks," She said with appreciation.
Andrea got off the bed, gathered some of her belongings from her suitcase, and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Burl stripped down to his skivvies and climbed under the covers of one of the beds. Andrea emerged from the bathroom after a while wearing a long yellow Naval Air Station South Weymouth tee-shirt and not much else. She slipped into the bed and cuddled against Burl.
"This is nice, "she said. "I feel safe with you."
"Good," he said with understanding. "I respect your boundaries."
She burst into tears and he held her through the night.
Andrea was still in his arms when they awoke in the morning.
"You okay?" Burl asked.
"Yeah," she said with a smile. "I now have a pleasant memory of my sexuality."
"What are you going to do?" He asked.
"Maybe I should just go back," Andrea sighed. "I'm probably too much work. For you."
"You'll always have my sympathy, understanding and patience," Burl assured her. "I will always be your collaborating witness."
She smiled, rolled out of bed and went to use the bathroom. Burl pondered what he should do now – get dressed and leave? Get dressed and wait for her to decide what to do next? Stay in bed and wait for her to decide what to do next?
Andrea emerged from the bathroom after a while, still in the yellow Navy tee shirt. Burl took his turn in the bathroom, figuring his cue would come when he came out – if Andrea was dressed then the decision was half-made for him.
He was still in his skivvies as he came out of the bathroom and as he stepped around the corner into the room he was nearly knocked over by Andrea who practically leaped into his arms as she planted a kiss on his mouth.
They ended up on – and in the bed. She was a good lover despite all her concerns, issues, and pains. They immersed themselves in the moment as if they had gone back in time to when they knew each other before, only she wasn't married and Commander Cole wasn't the Commanding Officer. It was like a dream (come true).
For Burl and his racing heart, it was one of the most converting moments of his life. Her kisses and her touches renewed his hope and convictions.
"I wasn't sure if I could arouse or be aroused," Andrea admitted as they lay in the bed naked together, holding each other.
"You aroused me," Burl assured her.
"And you definitely aroused me," She giggled.
"Well, that's good news," he grinned.
"You know, even if I had planned every moment of this – which I didn't – and even if I knew how it was all going to end, I still wouldn't have believed it," Andrea admitted. "That was pretty intense."
"We both had the same desires and hopes," Burl said.
"Did you ever think this would happen?"
"I'm glad it did," he answered. "I hope I can be the type of person you want to be with."
"You always have been," she said.
"Is this what life could be like for us?"
"I'm still full of fear and doubts," Andrea admitted.
"What could be worse than what you've already been through?"
"You found the courage to come here," Burl told her. "Now you are in control of your own destiny. Everything that happened to you was the catalyst for this moment."
"I've never felt happier,"
"So what happens now?"
"I can't keep living the way I've been living," Andrea replied. "I know a lot more now than before. I feel lucky for the second chance." She looked into his eyes as they lay together. "Would you want me to stay?"
"Having you here would make me more contented than I could ever imagine," Burl answered.
"I'll still have bad days," she warned.
"But you'll have more good ones," Burl predicted.
"Me too," he said, giving her a hug. "We can be scared together."
"I haven't had somebody to be scared with together in a very long time," Andrea confessed.
"That's what collaboration is all about," Burl said.