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Today - Saturday evening:
She sat alone in her small apartment, the radio softly playing in the background as she waited for him to call. He had said that he would, and hoping against hope, overlooking her past experiences, Caroline waited. She wanted his promise to be true, not just a convenient fiction that he had used to paper over an awkward reaction. He had learned the truth about her the previous night - had seen it with his own eyes. She remembered her own pain on seeing the look of shock on his face. Caroline had to admit that he had recovered well - had been the perfect gentleman in fact - but she KNEW what was likely to happen now. She had lived through this kind of thing too many times before to still have any illusions that it would not matter.
Still, she waited for his call; even though she did not really expect it to come.
"What did I ever do to deserve this?" Caroline thought bitterly. It was not as if she was an evil person. She had tried to live her life like most people do - not expecting very much, either good or bad - just trying to get by with some small measure of comfort and happiness. She had struggled in school, working her butt off to get the same grades her older sister had found so easy to achieve. Not that she had been stupid; she had just needed to work much harder than her sister to succeed. But if she had not been blessed with the brains in her family, she had been blessed with the looks. While her sister had only had a few boyfriends in high school and college, Caroline had seemed to have a new one every week. She had never been without a date for the weekend and had her choice of escorts when the prom came around. But now life had turned out so ironically - her sister Fran ending up the one that had become happily married. Caroline had just never worried about ending up alone - had felt no pressure to chase after a serious relationship. She had always thought that there would be plenty of time to find that one special person and settle down - had in fact once thought that she had found just such a companion. Too bad that fate had made other plans for her.
Now she was thirty-one and never-married. Nor did she feel that she was ever likely to wed. Caroline had learned too late that a person only gets so many chances in life, and she feared that she had used all of hers up. So now she was sitting at home, alone on a Saturday night, waiting for a phone call that might never come, and thinking about the man that she was ready to once more risk her heart for, despite all the disappointment and pain she had felt whenever she had previously allowed herself to care about a man. She dreamed that maybe this time things would be different. The romantic part of her still wanted to believe. She clung to that. What else could she do?
Several months ago, before Christmas:
His name was Brandon Knight and she had first met him at the Christmas party for the real estate company where she was a junior partner. He had caught Caroline by surprise. She had just broken up with her boyfriend, for the same reasons that she had broken up with the half-dozen boyfriends before him, and had not yet been seeking another relationship. But as fate would have it, her friend and co-worker Gloria had been in the same boat - between boyfriends - and had brought Brandon, her brother, along as an escort.
Gloria had seen Caroline standing off by herself in the corner and, waving to her, headed over to talk, dragging her brother in her wake.
"Caroline... What on earth are you doing hiding over here? You are being absolutely anti-social."
"Sorry, Gloria. I was feeling out of place amidst all the couples. As you can see, I am unfortunately without male companionship at the moment."
"Tell me about it," Gloria responded, taking a swallow from the highball in her hand. "Between boyfriends? That's the story of my life. Why is a good man so hard to find? Just look at me - I'm stuck with my brother here," she said, gesturing to the man beside her. Gloria gave Caroline a sly smile and continued, "Maybe I could lend him to you. He's not much, but he might do in a pinch."
"Thank you for your enthusiastic endorsement, Sis," Brandon said with a laugh. "Instead of offering me such halfhearted praise, why don't you introduce me to this lovely lady?"
"Oh, sorry. Brandon, this is Caroline Foster, just about the only junior partner in this place worth a damn," Gloria proclaimed, the alcohol having loosened her tongue a bit too much.
Caroline glanced around to see if anyone had overheard Gloria's remarks. A quick scan indicated that no one had. Gloria might have been indiscreet, but fortunately she had not been loud. Still, Caroline was embarrassed by her comment.
Brandon stepped in to ease the awkwardness. "So you're Caroline. It's so nice to meet you at last. My sister has mentioned your name in several of our conversations."
"Really?" Caroline responded. "Only good things, I hope."
Gloria jumped back into the conversation, "Now that wouldn't be much fun, would it?" She then looked up at her sibling, who stood almost a full head taller than she and continued, "Anyway Caroline, this is my brother Brandon. He's the baby of the family."
Brandon shook his head, laughing again. "Jesus, Gloria. Will you ever stop pulling rank on me?" He turned back to Caroline with a smile and explained, "We're fraternal twins. Gloria is a whole sixteen minutes older than I am."
"That's what makes me the big sister," she gloated.
"Big pain-in-the-ass is more like it," Brandon proclaimed, teasingly.
"Well!" exclaimed Gloria, mock indignation filling her voice. "I do not have to put up with this... this abuse."
"So don't. Caroline and I will manage just fine by ourselves."
Gloria's sly smirk returned to her face. "Are you trying to tell me something, Brandon?"
"Take a hint, Sis. I'd like to talk to the lady."
"O.K. by me," she replied. "Just don't get too involved. You're MY escort, remember?" Gloria then rose up on tiptoes and gave her brother a peck on the cheek. "I'll see you later."
"Just go easy on the drinking," Brandon admonished her. "I WILL get pissed if you throw up in my car."
"Spoilsport!" she laughed, poking Brandon in the ribs and then bouncing off to rejoin the party.
"Well," Caroline stammered, "That was... different. Now I know what a fly on the wall feels like."
"Don't let it bother you. My sister and I banter like this all the time." He lowered his voice level to a near-whisper. "Gloria is really sweet, but I do have to remind her not to drink too much. She has very little tolerance for alcohol. I wouldn't want her saying something she shouldn't."
"Like that remark about me?"
"Like that. Although from what Gloria has told me about you, I suspect she was only telling the truth."
Caroline blushed, feeling like a schoolgirl in the presence of the male talking with her.
"So tell me," Caroline demanded, "What has Gloria told you about me?"
Several months ago, after Christmas:
Caroline and Brandon had hit it off immediately. She shocked herself by giving him her phone number before the party ended. She was usually not impulsive like that, particularly where men were concerned.
He called her two weeks later, right after Christmas. She was running a bath when the phone started ringing. Pulling her robe tightly around herself, she entered her small bedroom and picked up the receiver.
A male voice responded, "Hi. Is Caroline Foster there?"
"This is she. Can I help you?"
"This is Brandon Knight. I hope you remember me. We met at your office Christmas party."
Caroline perked up immediately. "Gloria's brother?"
"The same." There was a slight hesitation. "Ah... look, I've been meaning to call you, but I thought you'd be busy for the holidays. I know this is last minute, but my sister said you don't currently have a boyfriend and I was wondering if you might possibly be free for New Year's Eve? That is, if you don't already have plans."
She smiled to herself at his request. She had made plans all right - like getting into bed early, and maybe indulging in a little white wine before turning out the lights. She had not even planned on staying up until midnight to see the New Year in.
"So what if it is last minute?" she thought. She had found herself attracted to this man. Now he said he wanted to spend New Year's Eve with her. She knew she should be coy - a woman should not let herself appear to be too eager. But Caroline didn't care.
"I'd love to join you for New Year's Eve," she responded brightly. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, Gloria and I had reservations at Benton's, until she and her boyfriend got back together. Did she tell you? They made up on Christmas Eve. So now they've made other plans and I was going to have to cancel if you hadn't agreed to accompany me."
"Don't you dare!" Caroline exclaimed.
Benton's was only the best, most exclusive restaurant in the area - so fancy she had never even set foot inside. She had heard about it, though. The serving floor was reputed to be huge, with white linen covered tables accented with cut flowers, no matter what the season. The dining area surrounded a real dance floor, complete with orchestra stand. Every cook on the staff was imported directly from France. Every morsel of food from the most complex entree down to the breadsticks was prepared on the premises. More importantly, Benton's was famous for their New Year's Eve blowouts. For that one night, everything was served buffet-style - if you can imagine a gourmet buffet - with an open bar and, come midnight, as much premium French champagne as the patrons could drink.
"All right. Then Benton's it is for New Year's Eve. Pick you up at eight?"
"That would be perfect," she confirmed.
They spent another five minutes on the phone while she gave him her address and they made small talk about his sister. When they were finally done, Caroline replaced the phone on its base, smiling inwardly to herself. This New Year's Eve she planned on having a lot more fun than just white wine and early to bed.
Several months ago, New Year's Eve:
New Year's Eve turned out to be a dream first date. The food was otherworldly and Caroline ate and drank more than she normally would have. She then practically made a spectacle of herself on the dance floor, throwing herself into the fast numbers, with Brandon matching her move-for-move. When the music changed to waltz tempo, he turned out to be a perfect gentleman, gracefully accepting her begging off from further dancing. He did not question her request to return to their table, and instead just spent the hours talking to her; really talking - a comfortable conversation between two people who respected each other's intelligence. By the end of the night, Caroline found herself really liking the man across the table from her.
Brandon remained ever the gentleman when he finally dropped Caroline at her door at three in the morning. By then she was more than a little intoxicated and had a case of hiccups, which, along with the champagne she had imbibed, had led to giggles. When she invited him in, he turned her down politely.
"You're sure you don't want to come in?" she said, giggling.
"Maybe next time, when I'm certain you know what you've doing."
"O.K. then," she replied, a hiccup breaking through, "But you've got to give me a goodnight kiss." She then leaned her head back, half-closing her eyes.
Brandon acceded to her request. Caroline felt a pair of lips cover hers gently, pressing softly against her mouth with an almost brotherly kiss. Then it was over. They completed their good nights and, as the door closed between them, Caroline realized that for the first time in months she had forgotten about herself and her problems. It was a good feeling. She stood in wonderment, trying to understand what it all might mean.
One month ago:
Their first date led to a second, and then a third and fourth. Soon they were together every weekend. Caroline could sense danger approaching. She had no problem picking up on the signs that she was falling for this man. Try as she may, she was unable to deny how attracted she was to Brandon, and began to feel her old fears returning.
"How the hell did he do this to me?" she wondered. She had carefully built up walls to avoid being placed in exactly such a position. There was just something about Brandon - about how he had just seemed to fit with her - that had allowed him to get around her defenses.
She told herself that if she didn't act soon she could really get hurt. She had been hurt too badly and too many times in the past, and knew she did not want a repeat of that pain. She would have to let Brandon know her secret - and soon - before she became too vulnerable.
Yesterday - Friday night:
He had been standing at her apartment door, returning her from their latest date, when Caroline had impulsively made her move. Brandon had kissed her goodnight - not the safe brotherly kiss he had first given her, but not exactly displaying the height of passion either. Caroline held him to herself and this time, instead of releasing him when the kiss was over, she continued holding on, her arms around him.
"I'd like to thank you for a wonderful time," she said, looking up into his eyes. "Would you like to come in for a nightcap?"
Like a true gentleman, Brandon replied, "Are you sure? It is a bit late."
"I insist," Caroline replied, smiling. "I am my own woman. I am not some high school girl whose parents are waiting inside. And you're overdue for sampling my bartending skills."
"Just one then," Brandon replied, returning her smile. He watched her unlock her door and followed her into her apartment, shutting the door after them. She hung their coats on the rack beside the door.
"Anything in particular I can interest you in?" she said, leading him into the kitchen and opening one of the small cabinets above the counter. "I have rum, gin, whiskey, some Scotch, and a bit of tequila. Plus some assorted mixers in the fridge."
"How about something simple - rum and Coke maybe?"
"You've got it. Sit down and make yourself comfortable."
Caroline watched him nod his assent and return to the living room. She then set about her task, first mixing Brandon a stiff drink, adding almost two fingers of rum to the six ounce glass and filling it with cola. Then she made another for herself, a bit weaker than her companion's drink.
She was pleased when she re-entered the living room to see that he had chosen to sit at one end of the sofa. She gave him her best smile as she handed him his glass and then sat down next to him, sharing his half of the seat. She let him take a pull on his drink, then inquired, "Well, what do you think? Are my bartending skills any good?"
"You sure don't fool around," he responded, taking a second swallow. "It wouldn't take too many of these to lay a fellow out."
"Well, that isn't my intention. I'm hoping to keep you fully conscious. I WANT you to know what I'm doing to you."
Brandon's eyebrows rose at that statement, but he made no move to leave, took no action to dissuade her. A wordless agreement took place between them. They both knew it and, having agreed silently to continue, Brandon was able to relax. Their conversation turned light - a comfortable banter taking place as they worked on their drinks and discussed their evening.
Caroline was the first to finish her drink, placing her glass on the end table next to her. The moment had finally arrived. Caroline took the now almost-empty glass from Brandon's hand and placed it next to hers. She turned back to the man beside her and, leaning into him, kissed him open-mouthed, her tongue slipping through her lips to pass between his. He responded to her, kissing back, abandoning the gentlemanly type of kisses they had previously shared. His right hand slid up to the small of her back, pulling her closer. They broke from the kiss just long enough to take a breath, and then their lips became joined once more. This kiss was deeper and more impassioned, the heat between them rising as Brandon's hand moved from her back until his palm lightly cupped her left breast. Caroline offered no protest, and made no effort to remove his hand. Instead, she bit down lightly on his lower lip as their tongues flirted with each other. Finally she broke from him, and slipping to her knees before him, her fingers went to the buckle on the belt around his waist.
She unbuckled his belt, then unbuttoned the waistband of his pants and lowered his zipper. She slid both her hands under his buttocks, indicating that he should rise. He was quick to pick up on her prompting and raised his hips as she grasped his waistband and the elastic of his underwear, lowering his trousers and allowing his semi-rigid cock to spring free.
Brandon groaned softly as her lips slide over the head of his manhood. "Damn, that's good," he murmured to her as she commenced ministering to his cock. Her lips slid up and down the hardening organ, her tongue swirling over the sensitive head at the top of each bob of her head.
Caroline smiled at his reaction. She was an experienced oral lover, and was totally confident in her blowjob abilities. No matter what happened another day - no matter how badly any later encounter went - she knew that at least he would remember this night and how well she had done this. His hands once more sought her body, but she wasn't ready for that, and she deflected them by bringing her own hands up, encircling the base of his penis with her fingers. He was forced to settle for placing his hands on her shoulders and guiding her movements as she blew him.
A change in his responses - an involuntary matching of his thrusts into her accepting mouth with the rise and fall of her head - signaled the approach of Brandon's orgasm. Caroline read the signals of his impending release and responded to them, engulfing more of his shaft on each down-stroke until she was deep-throating him, her lips circling the base of his cock, her saliva dampening her fingers as they grasped him.
"Oh God, Caroline," he groaned. "I can't hold out much longer. I'm going to have to cum soon."
Caroline replied by sliding her lips back up his cock to just below the ridge at the bottom of his cockhead, running that sensitive area in and out of her lips and mouth, providing maximum sensation to him. That produced exactly the effect she sought. With a loud groan Brandon came, his first spray hitting the back of her tongue to be followed by several more as she continued her intense stimulation. She allowed some of his cum to leak from her mouth and down her chin, knowing that seeing the overflow of his semen had a powerful erotic effect on a man. As the bursts tapered off, she once more engulfed the majority of his cock, applying suction and swallowing his seed. When his orgasm was finally over, she looked up at him - just the tip of his cockhead between her cum-coated lips - with a smile on her face.
"I've been wanting to do this since almost our first date," she said. "I couldn't wait any longer."
"You don't hear me complaining," he said, his face still flushed. "Now it's your turn. Come up here where I can touch you."
Her response was not what he was expecting.
"I think we should wait," she said. Then she lowered he head a bit and continued, "We need to talk. It's important. There is a lot you don't know about me."
He chuckled, "Don't be silly. I'm dying to make love to you. What kind of secrets could you possibly have?"
Caroline realized that she had been fooled by his always gentlemanly manners. She had but to look at him - at his still present erection - to see that she had seriously misjudged his staying power. She had initiated this encounter. Could she deny him now?.
She surrendered to the inevitable. "If you don't want to wait, at least let me change first. Please? I need to do this my way."
"Whatever you want," Brandon replied, thrown by her request. "Take as much time as you need."
"Thank you," she responded. "You'll understand everything when I get back."
Rising from her knees, she went to her bedroom, Brandon's eyes following her as she exited the room and closed the bedroom door. He leaned back on the sofa feeling totally confused. He was strongly attracted to Caroline - strongly aroused by the thought of making love to her. Now that the moment had arrived, he suddenly found himself unable to comprehend the events taking place around him. She was obviously willing, having initiated the blowjob he had just received. Why was she so nervous?
"Damn! That sure could have been handled better!" Caroline thought as she latched the door behind her. Her self-criticism continued, "I should have waited until I'd told him - until after he knew. What will he do now when he finds out?"
Caroline felt trapped. All she had wanted to do was give him a blowjob - to show him she was still a sexual being. She had let her desire cloud her better judgment. Now he wanted more from her. "I should have foreseen that," she told herself. He wanted it all. And Caroline knew she would give him what he desired. It was too late to back out now. She had committed herself.
She began removing her clothing. First was her skirt, followed by the high-necked white sweater. Then she sat on the end of her bed and removed her shoes. She stood back up and, hooking her thumbs under the elastic at her waist, slid her pantyhose down her shapely legs. She stepped out of them, kicking them to the side. She wore just one remaining article of clothing. She could see herself in her vanity mirror as she unhooked the back of the hated padded bra and threw it on the bed. She shuddered slightly at her reflected image and, retrieving the heavy terry robe hanging in her closet, covered herself.
The moment of truth had arrived, coming much sooner than she was prepared for. Caroline steeled herself and, taking hold of the doorknob before her, reentered her living room.
Caroline found Brandon still sitting at the end of the sofa, his underwear and trousers where she had left them, just below his knees. She smiled slightly. At least he had not left, although there was no guarantee that he didn't regard her as a madwoman. She stood before him, her arms folded across her chest.
"Well, I'm back," she said, tentatively.
"So I see."
"Would you mind doing me a big favor?" she said, trying to delay the inevitable. "I'm really nervous about this. Could you undress first?"
He looked at her, perplexed, then shrugged and said, "Sure. No problem."
Brandon watched her mouth a silent "Thank you" as he began disrobing before her. He removed his shoes and socks, followed by his underwear and trousers. Moving on, he unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt and the buttons down the shirt's front. He removed the shirt, tossing it into the opposite corner of the sofa. Then removing his undershirt, he casually leaned back in his seat, nude before her, awaiting her inspection.
"O.K. I'm done. Now it's your turn."
Caroline tensed, her nervousness showing. "I have to warn you. I'm not what you might be expecting. I hope you'll try to understand."
"Well, I'm trying," he said, his confusion growing. "What could possibly be such a big concern?"
"You don't understand," she replied, breaking eye contact with him.
"How should I do this?" she wondered, her memories of past attempts with other men providing no guidance. All of those attempts had ended in disaster. Finally, saying a silent prayer of "Please God... " and throwing caution to the wind, she told Brandon, "Maybe it would be best if I just show you."
Still not making eye contact with him, looking at the floor in front of his feet, she fumbled with the belt of the terry robe protecting her. Slipping it off her shoulders with both hands, she allowed it to fall to the floor around her feet. She stood before him naked, exposed, her secret revealed to his unprepared eyes.
Throughout high school and college she had been so proud of her body. She had exercised regularly. She had watched her diet. Her reward had been a five-foot seven-inch figure that had never failed to turn men's heads. "If Brandon could only have seen me then!" she thought. Instead, she stood before him, the proud thrust of her left breast mocking her. Surgical scars marked her loss, her right nipple off-center and displaced downward slightly, out of line with its unmarred companion. Only that and loosened flesh remained to mark where her right breast had once been, before the mastectomy that had taken it. Caroline had survived her cancer, but not intact - not as a whole woman.
She finally looked up to gauge his reaction, fearing what she would find in his expression, and found all her fears confirmed. Shock was plain on Brandon's face. He was unable to keep his eyes off the scarred flesh that marked her missing breast. Finally, she saw him brace himself, and stood impassively as he came to her and enfolded her in his arms.
"It's O.K., Caroline," he said, his arms encircling her. "It doesn't matter." He loosened his hold on her and sought her mouth with his lips.
But Caroline knew that it did matter. He had managed to recover well, but the mood in the room had changed in the moment when he first beheld her misshapen body. He was holding her, but his grip was tentative and awkward. Still, he was trying. He would do what was expected of him. He caressed the skin of her back as he kissed her, his hands sliding up and down her naked flesh.
Only Caroline could not avoid noticing that his hands never moved toward her chest or nipples.
Brandon managed to maneuver her around and backed her to the sofa, where he sat her down and, pressing back on her shoulders, leaned her against the cushions. He knelt at her feet and, spreading her knees with his hands, placed his head between her legs and began kissing her inner thighs. Finally, getting down to the job at hand, he snaked his tongue between the lips of her pussy.
Caroline let out an agonized groan. It was so long since she had last had sex. She responded strongly, driven by the desire she felt toward the man whose mouth feasted between her legs. She grasped his head and pulled him into her vagina, steering his tongue into the most secret recesses of her being as her lust built toward its inevitable release.
"Oh God! Eat me. Don't stop. Make me cum. I need to cum so bad!"
Brandon redoubled his efforts, his fingers opening her pussy lips as she spread her legs wider for him. He ran his tongue from the base of her vulva to her pubic hair, rasping his tongue's surface across her clitoris on each upstroke until she suddenly tensed, clutching him with her thighs as a spasm shook her body, her juices on Brandon's tongue marking her orgasm. Several more spasms racked her body before she relaxed, her release over.
Brandon slipped from between her legs and sat next to her on the sofa. Once more he kissed her softly on the mouth. She responded by sliding her hand up his thigh until her fingers circled his erection. She then moved herself over him, straddling him while he held her waist, guiding her as she directed his cock between her pussy lips and into her awaiting vagina. She slid down its rigid length, a moan rising from deep in her throat.
She began to ride him slowly, ascending and descending on the cock impaling her, almost its entire length slipping in and out of her tight wetness. Brandon's eyes widened as a frenzy began to overtake her. Caroline became a banshee as she rode him, her juices foaming around his cock as she drove herself and him toward orgasm. There was nothing he could do but lay back and let the pressure in his groin built toward its release.
"Oh Jesus, I'm going to cum again, Caroline. I can't hold back."
"Oh please, Brandon! Cum in me. I want it so bad. If only just this once, I want to feel you cum in me."
They exploded together. She could feel him stiffen and fill her with his sperm as he repeatedly came within her vaginal walls. Her own climax overtook her and she let loose with a high-pitched wail as she joined her partner. She clung to him as she came, hanging on for dear life as their release peaked, then tapered down and faded. They remained like that until Brandon lost his erection and slipped out of her flooded pussy, their combined juices leaking from her vagina and down over his pubic hair.
An awkward silence hung between them. They finally broke it, saying all the expected things to each other - about how good it had been and how they had both wanted it, but Caroline was able to read between the lines. Always the gentleman, Brandon had done what he had to do, but during all their intimacies, from the point when he had first seen her nude, he never touched even her single intact breast. He had done his duty, but she knew that he wouldn't be staying the night.
"I'll call you tomorrow," he said as he was putting his clothing back on.
"I'll be waiting," Caroline responded, knowing that at least she was telling the truth. She now sat in a separate chair, her terry robe wrapped tightly around her once more as she struggled to keep up a brave front. She was now ashamed of herself; ashamed that she had willingly - even desperately - accepted what she could only describe to herself as a "pity fuck". She had not been able to help herself. It had been such a long time and she had wanted Brandon so much. She had wanted to believe that this time the fairy tale might come true.
But it seemed that Cinderella's carriage had returned to being a pumpkin once again.
She saw Brandon to the door. He removed his coat from the rack and donned it, then politely kissed her good night before exiting, returning to the platonic, brotherly type of kiss he had given her at the end of their first date. It was not the kind of kiss she longed for from a lover. She heard the soft click of the latch as he exited, pulling the door shut behind him.
Slipping the safety chain into place, Caroline turned slowly from the closed door and headed toward the bathroom, feeling defeated. She needed to bathe - she could feel the mixture of Brandon's semen and her own orgasmic fluids running down her inner thighs. She started the shower, adjusting the temperature to near-scalding. Slipping off her robe, she entered the shower and begun soaping her body - soaping her one breast and the empty space on her chest where it's twin had once been. A sob racked her body and tears begun running down her creeks, mingling with the water from the showerhead above her.
Today - Saturday evening:
Time passed, the minutes ticking away, and still the phone refused to ring. Caroline could feel her hopes fading and the darkness closing in on her. She had thought Brandon might be different. She had hoped...
Several years ago:
She did not always feel like this, even at the beginning, when she first learned of her disease. She had maintained her spirits during those trying early days.
It had been Tom, her live-in boyfriend, who first discovered the lump. She was taking her morning shower before going to work when she became aware of his presence in the bathroom. She smiled to herself as she watched the indistinct figure on the other side of the shower door remove the pajama bottoms that were his only clothing. He then approached the shower and cracked it open, slipping in behind her as he closed the door.
Caroline squealed when he surrounded her with him arms and, pulling her body back against his, pressed the smooth wet skin of her buttocks and back into the hairy flesh of his chest and abdomen. She felt his pubic hair tickling the crack of her ass and his flaccid penis nestling into the space between her ass cheeks.
"Cut that out, Tom. You're going to make me late for work."
"So don't go," he replied. "It's not fair that you have to work on Saturday. None of the other people in your office do."
"None of those other people are going to be the first female junior partner in the firm's history. I am. Now let me finish my hair."
"I'll help you," he replied, moving his hands up to her head to caress her tresses as the shampoo foam ran down her shoulders and over her back and up-thrust breasts. She giggled as his fingers followed the stream of suds down along the side of her neck and around to her front. His slippery hands kneaded the flesh of her breasts, causing her to sigh softly as he rolled her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers.
"I told you, we don't have time for this."
"Mmmmm," he replied, nuzzling her neck. His fingers continued sliding over her soapy tits, massaging the yielding flesh.
She sensed the change in his caress before she actually felt it. He stopped rolling her nipples, the fingers of his right hand pressing more intently into the lower curve of her right mammary.
"Damn!" he exclaimed, "I thought I felt something."
Caroline tensed as she felt his fingers pressing into her, searching the flesh just above where her breast met her chest wall. His fingers zeroed in - pressing into a single spot - almost pinching the skin beneath his fingers.
"Caroline, give me your hand," he commanded softly, all playfulness gone from his voice.
Nervously, she obeyed him. She held her right hand out for him to take. His masculine hand covered her smaller feminine one, guiding it as he moved her fingertips to her chest and across the slick undersurface of her right breast, his fingers pressing hers into the flesh beneath.
At first she felt nothing, then, as Tom slowly slid her fingers over her skin, she suddenly became aware of a hardness - a lump about a half-inch in diameter buried in the fatty tissue exposed to her touch.
"Did you feel it too?" he asked, concern filling his voice.
"Yes," she replied, her own voice wavering. "I can feel something inside me. What do you think it is?"
He tried to reassure her - to clam her fears. "I'm sure it's nothing serious. Probably just a cyst. My mother had one of those once. They're nothing."
She responded to his encouraging words and his strong arms around her. "Then you think it's O.K.? I don't have to worry about it?"
"I didn't say that," he replied, softly shaking his head. "I'm saying you shouldn't worry unnecessarily, that's all."
She tensed at his response. Finally she asked, "So what should I do?"
"I'd make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. You'll feel much better once you know it really is nothing."
She had made the appointment at his insistence. Looking back on it later, she would recognize that she had entered a state of denial. She took a day off from work, annoyed by the inconvenience. She entered Angel Memorial Hospital on Tom's arm, braced for her meeting with Danielle Marsh, her doctor. Dr. Marsh had previously examined Caroline in her office, carefully determining the size and extent of the lump and ordering a full set of mammograms. She now joined Caroline in the day surgical unit where she calmly and professionally explained the biopsy procedure as she preformed it, using a needle that looked the size of a soda straw to Caroline, who winced as she felt it penetrate the skin of her breast and traverse the underlying fatty tissue and milk glands until it was lodged in the lump. Then the biopsy needle retreated the way it had come, with Caroline feeling its entire journey despite the local anesthetic that dulled the sensation and the pain. The needle disappeared into the hands of a nurse, who carried it from the day surgical unit for its trip to the hospital's laboratory. Dr. Marsh told her that she would be able to give Caroline the results within only a few hours.
As Caroline tried to lie back in the recovery room, all her fears arose to confront her. Even when Tom joined her and held her close, she was unable to free her mind of the dark "what ifs" that filled it. Although she had hardly slept the night before, she was not able to relax. The not knowing was almost more than she could stand.
That afternoon she and her boyfriend were guided into a small consultation room on the first floor to receive the biopsy results. Tom remained at her side, holding her hand as they sat stiffly. An orderly entered the room and, ignoring both of them, mounted a pair of x-rays on the viewer and quietly exited the room.
Barely two minutes later Doctor Marsh entered the room but, instead of going to the chair behind the desk, she crossed directly to her patient and took both of Caroline's hands in her own.
"I'm sorry, Caroline. I'm afraid the news is not what we had hoped," she said as Caroline's heart began to sink. "The biopsy shows that you have a tumor."
"Is it cancer?" Caroline asked, her voice trembling.
The doctor had looked at her with sympathy. "The tumor is malignant. It is cancer."
"Oh, God!" she gasped softly, a tear starting to run down her cheek.
She felt Tom squeeze her hand in support.
"It IS cancer," the doctor continued, "But I want you to understand that you are a very lucky woman. We have managed to catch your cancer relatively early. With proper treatment, there is an excellent chance that you will have a complete recovery. If you had waited even a few more months your chances would not have been nearly as good."
"A complete recovery?" Caroline had echoed, as she grasped at the straw being placed before her.
"With the proper treatment. I must tell you that the form of cancer you have is quite aggressive. We will have to operate as soon as possible. I've already scheduled you for surgery next Thursday." The doctor continued, "You will need to check in overnight tonight so we can begin treatment. Until your surgery you will be given some rather unpleasant chemotherapy to minimize the tumor's growth rate. Then after the surgery there will be another twelve weeks of chemo to ensure that anything that might have spread is neutralized. With any luck, that will be that. You will require a follow-up checkup every six months for the next ten years, but I fully expect that you will beat this cancer."