"I, Amanda Claire Stephenson, do solemnly swear, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
There was some polite applause. The Army Surgeon General reached out to shake Amanda's hand for the cameras. The promotion ceremony was smaller than the last time she had been visited by the Army's bigwigs. Of course, this was merely a formality before her pending retirement. And it was less likely to make the news.
She forced a smile for the three-star general who stepped back for the next part of the ceremony. Her husband came forward and the smile turned genuine. Brent's hair had a little more grey, but he was still as handsome as the day they met. Twenty-one years in the airborne tends to keep people in shape.
He was dressed in a nice suit; to her, he looked so odd out of uniform, but then again, he had been a civilian for the past two years, having given up his military career to care for her.
With practised efficiency, he bent over and removed the oak leaves from her shoulder epaulets, then replaced them with silver eagles.
"Congratulations, Colonel Stephenson," the general said.
"Thank you, sir," she replied, her gaze never leaving her husband. He returned her loving smile. All of the military personnel there saluted, then broke into a chorus of congratulatory greetings. There was punch and refreshments, all generously supplied by the cafeteria at Walter Reed. The others at the ceremony were just like her: wounded war vets in rehabilitation before being medically discharged.
Mandy wheeled herself over to the food and fixed herself a plate of cookies and pretzels, never far from the watchful eyes of her husband. She made some small talk with a few of the officers, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines she had gotten to know through physical therapy. She was almost done and within a week, she would retire from the Army and Brent would take her home to whatever their lives held next.
She only wished she was more than a broken down soldier and a wife who couldn't satisfy her husband anymore.
They met at West Point twenty-seven years before. They were both plebes. He was there to escape the poverty of rural Georgia. She was from a military family, and given her aptitudes and personal drive, a service academy appointment was all but a given.
Born Amanda Claire Thomas, she could trace her family back to English settlers in the 1740s. Her ancestors had served in every American conflict beginning with the French and Indian War through her service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her younger brother was CO of SEAL Team Five and a handful of other relatives were scattered throughout the services.
Amanda's forefathers had fought at Saratoga and Yorktown; they fled Washington, DC ahead of the British and captured New Orleans. They stormed the walls of Chapultepec, laid siege to Petersburg and followed J.E.B. Stuart on a ride around the Union Army—twice. One of her great-great-great-great aunts had even disguised herself as a man and marched to the sea with General Sherman.
She had distant cousins who were Indian fighters. Others put down the Philippine insurgency and occupied St. Petersburg after the Bolshevik Revolution. She could name uncles who jumped into Sicily and died at Tarawa. Her grandfather was an aide to Admiral Nimitz and her father was a Marine Sergeant Major. Despite his ribbing about joining the Army, her father beamed with pride when he pinned her lieutenant's bars on after her West Point graduation.
From their plebe year on, Amanda and Brent were inseparable. It was love at first sight. Army life was tough on them, though. After receiving their commissions, they married and were immediately sent to different sides of the world. She went to medical school and he went to South Korea.
In the twenty-one years they were in the service concurrently, they never had a full calendar year together. Between staff assignments, training schools, overseas deployments and graduate schools, they spent more time apart than together. Yet their love and devotion never wavered. They knew what they were getting into from Day One, and the distance between them made the time they had together that much more precious.
Brent was a regimental commander in the 82nd Airborne when the accident happened. She was in Afghanistan setting up a field hospital. While on a routine transport mission, the Black Hawk she was on got hit by one of the Stinger missiles given to the Mujahedeen by the CIA to use against the Soviets. The chopper crashed and her back was broken. Her left arm mangled. After being medevaced to Germany, both legs had to be amputated below the knees due to a staph infection, and she was paralysed from the chest down.
Her husband hopped on a plane to Ramstein Air Base and never left her side. When told that her rehab would take years, he filed his retirement papers and left the Army so he could care for Amanda—despite her protestations. He waited on her hand and foot as she endured over twenty surgeries to treat her wounds and rebuild her shattered body.
Mandy chided him for giving up a promising career, but he would hear none of it.
"Four stars are worthless to me without you," he told her. And that was that. Brent could be a hard-headed son-of-a-bitch sometimes. He was on the fast track to general and gave it up without thinking twice.
And deep down she was grateful that he was willing to sacrifice so much for her. She felt guilty because she could no longer care for herself; early on, he had to do everything for her. He drove her to and from the hospital. He cooked for and fed her. He made her do the exercises at home. Some days she hated him for pushing her as hard as he ran his regiment, but she knew she needed him. She needed his focus. His drive.
Yet she also knew there was an emptiness in their lives. They hadn't made love in almost three years. She couldn't. She had very little feeling or movement from her chest down. The skin grafts and pins in her bones sometimes made even simple things like holding hands painful. Never mind having sex.
Brent never complained. He never mentioned it. She knew that sometimes he surfed for porn on the computer when she wasn't around. When out in public, his eyes wandered. And she couldn't blame him. At her request, he masturbated for her. She would stroke his cock to orgasm and when she felt up to it, even gave him blow jobs, but it wasn't the same.
She was never going to fully be his wife again. And both of them knew it.
One of the things the Army does, especially for decorated heroes, is promote them on the way out the door. Even with his abrupt departure from the service, Brent was given his brigadier's star on the eve of his retirement, and her promotion to bird colonel was the same gesture. It let them draw retirement pay at the higher grade and put them up a peg or two when they went looking for post-Army jobs.
Senior officers are valuable commodities in the private sector. In the two years of his retirement, Brent had done some consulting for the military, defense contractors, and a couple of think tanks. He found work as a talking head on CNN. Even before her retirement, Amanda was receiving offers to go on the lecture circuit, guest professorships and requests for her memoirs.
When they left Walter Reed, Brent took her back to the apartment they had occupied since returning from Germany. Most of the things were already packed up. The next week was a blur. There was a formal retirement ceremony, then she was discharged and they moved back to her family's house.
Over the next couple of months, they settled in. Once she got the hang of things, Mandy could get around quite easily. The master bedroom was on the main floor. They widened the doorways and modified the bathroom for her convenience.
Before discharge, both had been rated by the VA and she began drawing her compensation claim the day she got out. Brent's rating was considerably lower, but then again he was still a whole man. They had put a sizeable amount of money away while they were married and when combined with their pensions, they were doing well for two people at the reasonably young age of forty-five.
She went to physical therapy. He jogged and worked out a lot. They made a joint appearance on Oprah. They spoke to returning troops about adjusting to civilian life and visited with other wounded vets.
Their anniversary was approaching and Mandy was determined to do something special for her husband. He deserved nothing less.
Each night, she parked her wheelchair next to the bed. He would lift her gently and set her on her pillows.
"I love you," he told her before laying his head down next to hers. She usually slept on her back, although sometimes she would roll on to her side. Every morning, she would wake up, Brent's arm draped over her. As the first rays of dawn broke, he would stir. She went to the bathroom and he went for his morning run.
When he came back, he would take a quick shower and then make them breakfast.
They had settled into a nice routine. There was something regimental about Army life and it extended into their retirement as well.
Her physical therapy had progressed to the point where she could maneuver her wheelchair around without constantly turning to the left. She wasn't completely self-sufficient, but she was getting there. Brent was re-modeling the kitchen with lower countertops and drawers. Before the chopper crash, Amanda was a strong-willed, independent woman, and becoming a paraplegic wasn't about to slow her down. Her body just needed a little more time.
"I made dinner reservations for next Thursday," Mandy told Brent one afternoon. She winked at her husband. "Don't plan on going to work on Friday."
"Yes, ma'am," he bent over to kiss her. He gently caressed her face. She sighed inwardly, once again wondering why he had been stuck with an invalid for a wife.
"Are you ready?" Brent called from the bathroom. He came out a moment later, pausing for one last look in the mirror to make sure everything was polished and in its place.
Her eyes lingered on his well-built form. They were in their dress blues. The ribbons and badges were their military biography and both wore a chest full of medals.
"Just about," Amanda replied. It was her idea to dress up for dinner. Tonight was their twenty-third anniversary; each one was special since their twentieth had almost been their last.
She wheeled herself over to him. He leaned over so she could habitually straighten out his tie and he could steal one more kiss. Then he pushed her through the house before loading her into the car.
The drive to the restaurant was short. They talked about the usual things married couples discuss. Investments. Next weekend's schedule. His golf trip with some of their West Point classmates. Her appointment at the VA medical center.
Upon arrival, they were immediately greeted by the owners who had gotten to know the pair fairly well. One was a college professor and the other was his wife. Brent had been a guest lecturer in Alan's World War II class on a couple of occasions and he had invited her to speak to them as well, but she had declined.
Mandy was used to the stares that people gave her. On top of being legless, her left hand was missing the pinkie and ring fingers. Still, she felt very self-conscious. Her face had been spared injury or burns and her uniform bought her a respite from having to answer questions about how she had ended up as she was.
Alan led them through the restaurant. Brent pushed her wheelchair and the staff cleared a wide path for them. Off the back of the dining room was a newly-added banquet hall. Since opening a few years ago, the restaurant quickly established itself with an upscale cuisine at prices that wouldn't break anyone's bank. They catered many events and it was a popular spot for weddings, proms and parties.
The owners were known as proficient ballroom dancers and on Friday and Saturday nights hosted a seven-piece band that played as people dined. As part of being officers, Mandy and Brent were both used to attending formal parties and they could cut a rug with the best of them. At least before her chopper accident.
They were seated at a table near the dance floor. The lighting was low. Despite Mandy making the reservation, it seemed that Brent had done some secretive planning on his own.
She hoped his plans wouldn't conflict with her plans later.
No one brought them a menu. Soon after being seated, servers brought them a bottle of wine, some bread and an appetizer. When they were finished and the servers were clearing their plates, Alan came out from the back pushing what looked like a barstool on wheels.
It was a low-backed chair with armrests. Underneath a single support was a wheeled base. The seat was about waist high and could spin.
"Would you like to dance?" Brent asked as Mandy's eyes teared up. He only grinned.
Ever so gently, he lifted her out of her wheelchair and into the contraption. Alan held it steady as she got her bearings. It seemed sturdy enough. The room fell silent as the small crowd watched Amanda and Brent get situated.
She felt dizzy with exhilaration. And love.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Alan said from the stage. As he spoke, his wife Marissa came out and pinned a corsage on Mandy's lapel. "Please help me welcome a couple of true American heroes, General Brent and Colonel Amanda Stephenson."
There was some polite—and curious—applause.
"Both are graduates of West Point and just recently retired from the United States Army. General Stephenson is a career airborne officer, most recently having served as commander of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. His awards include the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Ranger tab, the Pathfinder badge, the Master Parachutists badge, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star with V device for valor." Alan paused and Brent waved politely. "Colonel Stephenson received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins and was commander of the 48th Combat Support Hospital in Khowst, Afghanistan. Her awards include the Combat Medical Badge, the Master Flight Surgeon Badge, the Purple Heart and the Parachutists Badge. Please help me in showing them our gratitude for their service to our country, and help them celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary!"
This time, the cheering and applause was louder and more enthusiastic. The band struck up a lively tune and Brent began wheeling Mandy around the dance floor.
At first, she was fearful of her chair tipping over, but it was balanced enough to stay upright. Besides, she knew Brent would always be there to catch her.
He did most of the dancing. Brent pushed her around in the chair, but as he did, she felt as if a small part of their lives was returning to normal. During the first dance, the floor was empty as people watched. When the second song started, Alan and Marissa joined them on the dance floor, and were soon followed by a few more couples.
Mandy held her husband close. She squealed with delight as he spun her around. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw their servers coming out of the kitchen. Brent must have seen them, too, because when the song ended, he wheeled her over to their table.
Setting her back in her wheelchair, Brent sat down. They had a full eight course meal, which was simply delightful. Neither of them had ordered a thing. Instead, food just showed up at their table and they ate it.
The pair talked and laughed. Some of the other patrons stopped by to thank them for their service and even asked for a picture or two.
Before dessert, Brent asked for one more dance.
"Did you make this?" she asked lovingly and patted the arms to her chair.
He only smiled. "No, honey, but the guys in the armoury at Fort Benning can be very creative."
"I like it," Mandy said. There were tears in her eyes. Even if she had been fitted with prosthetics, she would never dance again because of the paralysis. "Remind me to send them a thank you note."
When the tune ended, they returned to their seats and finished the meal. The restaurant's owners met them at the door and let them know that her "dancing chair" would be there whenever they wanted to use it.
"Thank you for a wonderful night," Mandy said as she wheeled herself out.
"You're very welcome, Colonel," Alan replied.
"Don't 'Colonel' me, Alan; you're a civilian," Mandy chided playfully.
"Then don't show up at my restaurant in uniform," he shot back before leaning over to kiss her on the cheek.
"Have a great anniversary," Marissa winked before giving both Brent and Amanda a hug.
"Oh, we will," Mandy gave her a secret smile.
Brent waited for the valet to return with their car. After helping her into the passenger's seat, he put the wheelchair in the back and got in.
The drive home was short. Amanda's stomach churned nervously. If the arrangements she had made had been carried out, her anniversary present to Brent would be waiting when they got home.
Sure enough, the lights in the house were on. Brent parked in the garage, then got out of the car. He wheeled her through the kitchen but stopped in his tracks in the doorway to the living room.
A young woman sat on the couch. She was tall and slender. A full head of auburn hair hung down past her shoulders. Her body seemed to flow seamlessly into her elegant cocktail dress.
She stood and waited expectantly for the couple.
"Happy anniversary, Brent," Amanda said quietly.
For the first time she could remember, he was struck speechless.
"My husband can be rather hard-headed sometimes," Amanda said.
The woman across from her smiled knowingly. She had been sent over by Marissa Gibson. Although Amanda and Brent had only been in town for a few months, they quickly came to like the Gibsons, who owned a well-established local Italian restaurant. Mandy had heard the rumours about Marissa, but it was the other woman who had initiated the conversation.
After some oblique references to Brent's need for "companionship", Elizabeth had shown up at Amanda's doorstep one day with a business card with Marissa's signature on the back. Brent was out playing golf.
"I'm not a front for my old madam," Marissa told her one day when they were in for lunch and Brent had stepped away with Alan. "But I can see that you two probably have some 'needs' that aren't being taken care of right now."
Mandy blushed. Partly out of embarrassment. Partly because it was true.
"I know a girl," Marissa said tentatively, "We used to work together sometimes. She's pretty and sweet. A consummate pro. She'll treat you both right. And she's very discreet."
It took another conversation or two, but Amanda finally agreed to a meeting.
Elizabeth was polite and straight-forward without being rude or abrupt. She was also a professional call girl.
The two hit it off immediately. They made some friendly conversation before the topic turned to business.
"I understand that you want someone to service your husband," Elizabeth said, sounding empathetic.
"Well, I certainly can't," Mandy said, the frustration evident in her voice.
"You'd be surprised what you can do with a little bit of practise," the other woman replied. "Will it be the three of us, or just me and him?"
"The two of you," Amanda said quickly. "We're going out for our anniversary, and then coming back here. You will be his present."
The conversation turned to money and after some negotiating, they settled on a price for Elizabeth's services.
"Oh, one more thing," the call girl started. "For any kind of penetration, he must wear a condom."
"Of course," Mandy replied. She had just assumed that was the case. "Do people really go without one?"
Elizabeth shrugged and gave a mischievous smile. "Some do. The last time one of Laurie's girls let a client do her without a condom, she fell in love and left the business."
That was two weeks ago. Mandy and Elizabeth had made some last minute plans and worked out the details for this evening. And things were unfolding exactly as Amanda had anticipated.
Brent's jaw hung open.
"Good evening, General." Elizabeth walked seductively over to where the couple stood. "Colonel Stephenson."
"Who ... who are you?" Brent stammered.
"Honey, this is Elizabeth," Amanda said softly.
"You? ... You know her?"
"Of course I do, silly." There was a sadness in Mandy's smile. Sadness because she knew that it should have been her in the cocktail dress. It should have been her stepping into Brent's arms. Not Elizabeth. Not this surrogate. "I asked her to come over for tonight. She's ... she's here for you."
"Perhaps you would like a drink?" Elizabeth asked. Her voice was sultry, and smooth with practised grace.
"I think we all need one," Amanda said, her husband still at a loss for words.
Elizabeth turned and Mandy saw Brent's eyes linger on her slim waist and shapely rear end. She enviously watched the other girl lift a bottle of champagne out of the ice bucket and pour three glasses. Mandy wheeled herself over to her spot next to the couch. Brent sat down. Elizabeth took her place on his other side.
She was close enough to be intimate, but not smothering. Brent downed his entire glass in one gulp. Elizabeth and Mandy shared an amused glance.
"I want you to have the most memorable anniversary ever," Amanda broke the silence. "And Elizabeth is going to help us."
"What is she going to do?" Brent managed to mumble.
It took great effort, but Mandy winked at the other girl.
"You," Elizabeth said, a touch of laughter in her voice. Tentatively, she reached over and stroked Brent's hand. He unconsciously recoiled. The call girl didn't look offended or surprised.
Mandy had to take a deep breath. In any other time, she would have jumped up and throttled any other woman who dared to touch her husband in such a manner. But not tonight. Elizabeth was there at her invitation.
She was going to take Amanda's place in their marital bed. Not because that's what Mandy wanted. Because that's what her husband deserved. He had given up his career for her. He never left her side. He waited on her every need.
Even after seeing combat in Iraq and over three hundred jumps, he was still handsome and in great shape. When he talked to his old Army buddies, she could hear the dismay in his voice. She knew how much he missed it. The camaraderie. The excitement. She knew because she missed the Army as much as he did. Where her retirement had been forced by her injuries, he stepped away on his own. Immediately and without hesitation. She was determined not to let him regret it.
Amanda Stephenson knew that her husband missed the sexual part of their lives together. She missed it, too. Yet he never complained. He sucked it up and trudged on. And she was determined to repay him for everything he had given up. For one night at least.
"I ... I don't think that would be a good idea," Brent said, his eyes lingering on Elizabeth's body. Her dress was low-cut and accentuated her perfectly toned body. Her skin was soft and smooth. She could have been in Maxim or FHM. Instead, she was sitting on their couch in the living room.
"Elizabeth, why don't you get ready for us?" Mandy said, having anticipated this.
The other woman gave them a charming smile and she retreated into the master bedroom. Amanda and Brent watched her swaying hips.
"What the hell is going on?" Brent asked once the door had closed.
"I got her for you, honey," Mandy said, having played this conversation out in her head. After twenty-seven years together, she knew her husband better than anyone
"I don't want anyone but you."
"I know, Brent," she reached out and took his hands. "I know. And I love you for it. I love that you were willing to walk away from the Army for me. I love that you are there to take care of me, even when I don't think I need taking care of."
She paused and wheeled herself back. So Brent could see her broken body.
"Brent, we haven't made love in three years," she started, her voice shaking. "Do you remember the last time? It was in that bread and breakfast in Savannah. Right before I shipped out to Afghanistan. The sun was coming up ... we made love in that bed and again in the shower."
Mandy wiped a tear away at the pleasant memory. Brent tried to smile.
"We'll never make love again." Her voice cracked. "Not like that. It's taken two years for me to be able to dress myself and get around in this goddam wheelchair. I can barely feel anything below my ribs and I can't move to walk, much less have sex."
"If I can't have you, I don't want anyone else," he said, tears in his own eyes.
Amanda steeled herself to say the words. "Brent, I want you to do this. I want this for you. You deserve it. I fell in love with you the moment we met. I knew we were going to be together forever ... But I know you miss being intimate. I do. I miss it because I'll never be that way with anyone again. But you ... but you can. And you should. I want you to do this."
"I ... I don't know if I can," he whispered.
She wheeled herself over to the couch. With great exertion, she lifted herself from the wheelchair to the spot next to her husband. She swatted his hands away when he tried to help her.
Cuddling up in his arms, Mandy lost herself to his strong embrace. She choked back the tears and knew he was doing the same.
"Brent, go to her," she whispered. "Elizabeth is everything I am not. At least for tonight."
"Mandy, I—" he started, but she put her finger over his lips to silence him.
"This is your only chance, sweetheart," she said. Her voice fell into its "command" mode. Both she and Brent could turn it on and off at will. It elicited an automatic response in soldiers that brokered no discussion, no argument. It was very useful when they needed to get people to do things they normally would not do, such as assault a machine gun nest or have sex with someone other than their spouse. "Tonight is your free pass. If you don't take her, you'll never get this chance again."
She saw the hesitation in his eyes.
"Go, Brent." He started to say something but she silenced him again. Her voice softened. "Go ... I love you."
Almost robotically, he stood. Amanda watched him approach the door to their bedroom. He lingered at the handle before finally pushing it open. She heard him draw in a sharp breath.
The soft glow of candlelight radiated out of the other room. His eyes locked in the direction of the bed. For an eternity, he stood there. Unmoving.
Go on, she coaxed him in her mind. Go to her.
He half turned, as if he were going to walk away. His posture indicated indecision. The house was silent save for the blood pounding through her veins.
Without a word, Brent stepped into the bedroom and closed the door. On the couch, Amanda started to weep. Cradling her head her hands, she choked back sobs.
What have I done? she asked over and over in her mind.
It's for the best, another part of her said. Brent shouldn't be stuck with a cripple for the rest of his life.
The minutes ticked by. She imagined what was going on. The other woman... the whore ... was undressing her husband. She was stripping for him. She was arousing him.
Her lithe body. Her pert breasts. Her flat belly. Her slender waist.
She was perfect.
Even Mandy had to admit that. Brent would be crazy not to want to fuck her. And she had enabled him.
Her self-pity and self-loathing was interrupted when she heard the bedroom door open. Her head shot around.
She started to protest as Brent crossed the room in a few swift, deliberate steps. Without warning, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. He was still in his dress uniform, his collar and tie untouched.
When they got to the door way, she saw the bedroom was filled with candles. Their soft glow bathed Elizabeth in an ethereal light.
The other woman was laying across the bed, the sheets pulled down. She, too, was dressed, her shapely leg showing through the slit of her dress.
"What are you doing, Brent?" Mandy asked.
"We're going to make love," he said simply.
"I can't," she whispered.
"I'll bet you can," Elizabeth said softly. With a feline grace, she rolled off the bed and stood.
Brent carried her across the bedroom and set her down in the chair next to the walk-in closet. He and Elizabeth shared a look then he retreated from the room, closing the door behind him.
"What are you doing?" Mandy asked Elizabeth, a little bit angry. "We had an arrangement to—"
"Your husband made me a counter-offer," the other woman replied simply. She began digging through the closet. Mandy could only sit there in stunned disbelief. A second later, she emerged holding a sheer nightgown. It had always been one of Brent's favourites. "Let's get you undressed."
"Stop ... Elizabeth ... don't—" Mandy stammered.
"Brent won't make love to me," Elizabeth said. "Unless you're with us. He loves you more than life itself. He's happy being able to finally spend time with you. Oh, he misses the sex, but he's willing to never have anyone else again if it means keeping you."
Amanda started to say something but the words failed her.
"I think it's very sweet," Elizabeth smiled, unbuttoning Mandy's uniform. "I wish that one day I could find a guy who will think the same thing about me."
"I can't," Mandy said again. "I can't make love."
"Only as long as you believe that," the other woman said, a hint of reproach in her voice. Moving quickly, she didn't give Mandy the opportunity to protest or react. She simply stripped her down. Elizabeth finished undressing Amanda and slipped the nightgown over her head. Her head swimming, Mandy blindly did as Elizabeth directed.
"My body ... I can't feel anything," Amanda whispered.
"Well ... not much," she frowned. "The helicopter crash broke my back. I've got a little bit of movement ... and some feeling ... but it's like everything from my ribcage down had a big shot of Novocain."
"But you can feel something?"
"Not a lot."
"We'll that's better than nothing," Elizabeth said and she sat down next to her. "Amanda ... you have a rare gift: A man who would give his life for you. And you can have an active and satisfying sex life. It's just going to take some practice."
"How can you know that?"
"Do you think you're the only paraplegic in the world?" she said with a slight laugh. "One of my best clients is a man who got hit by a car when he was ten years old. He's fantastic in bed, even if he can't move his hips. He's had to get better at everything else. And so will you."
"What are you going to do?" Amanda asked softly. Fearfully.
"We ... Brent and I ... are going to make love," Elizabeth replied gently. "We're going to make love to you."
"I'm not a lesbian," Mandy blurted out.
"Neither am I." The other woman gave her an amused smile. "When was the last time you made love to your husband?"
Mandy swallowed hard. "Four months before the accident ... Almost three years ago."
"Why haven't you had sex since then?" Elizabeth asked.
"Because I can't."
"That's a crock of shit, Amanda, and you know it. What's the real reason?"
"How can he want me?" Mandy whispered. "Look at me, Elizabeth ... How can he want this?"
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around Mandy and held her as she sobbed. It was one of those hard, cleansing cries. Amanda had never allowed herself one before and here she was, in the arms of a call girl, bawling like a baby.
"Amanda, you need to trust me," Elizabeth said after a few minutes. "Your husband thinks you're the most beautiful woman in the world. You can't go back to your lives before ... but that doesn't mean you have to give up everything, either. I won't do anything you don't want, but you have to give me a chance. Do you understand?"
After a second, Mandy nodded her head. Her breathing was under control.
"Good," Elizabeth reached out, wiped Mandy's tears away and gave her a comforting hug. "Now let me go get your husband."
As Amanda sat in the chair, she watched the beautiful woman cross the room, open the bedroom door, and step out for a second. Mandy heard her talking to Brent, then they both returned to her.
Her husband gently picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bed. He set her down in the middle, her head resting on the pillows. Elizabeth slipped into the bed next to her. Together, they watched Brent undressing in the soft light.
"He's so handsome, isn't he?" Elizabeth whispered.
"Yes, he is," Amanda's eyes never left her husband.
"So strong ... so manly," the other woman purred. "He's a wonderful lover, isn't he?"
"Yes." Mandy's voice was so low, she was hardly sure she had said anything. As if hypnotised, she watched her husband hang up both of their uniforms. His stomach was flat, his arms and legs rippling with muscles kept toned by hours upon hours of physical conditioning. He was built like a distance runner, the typical physique of Airborne soldiers. He was used to carrying 70 pounds of gear—before the parachute—and jumping out of planes. Even after leaving the Army, he kept up his training regimen and had the body of a man twenty years younger.
"What's your favourite thing that he does?"
"I love it when he eats me out," Mandy whispered. "Oh, god, Elizabeth! He's fantastic!"
"I'll bet he is," the other woman ran her fingers down Mandy's shoulder, her fingernails dragging across her skin. A chill ran through Amanda's body. Her whole body. "And call me Liz."
"Okay." Neither of the women had taken their eyes off of Brent.
"What else do you like?"
"I like it when he does me hard," Mandy breathed. "From behind. He's like an animal sometimes ... he just fucks and fucks and fucks..."
"Does he pull your hair?"
"Yes ... and when he cums, his fingers dig into my ass and he rams it into me..." Amanda became aroused at the memory, her nipples crinkled up. Her heart began to race, her palms began to sweat.
"No, don't take those off," Elizabeth called as Brent started to push his boxers over his hips. "Put a robe on."
He turned and took in a sharp breath when he saw the two women laying in the bed. Amanda was on her back, her chest rising and falling in shortened breaths. Elizabeth lay beside his wife, her hands running absently up and down the other woman's body.
"Come over here, Brent," Liz said gently. "That's it ... lay down next to us."
Amanda was in the middle. Brent reached out and their fingers intertwined. Liz took her other hand and put it on his neck.
The couple caressed each other gently. Both were oblivious to the other woman in their bed except when she subtly nudged one of them into action. They kissed hungrily, their passion for each other slowly re-awakening.
Their love was never in doubt. Neither had ever questioned that.
Mandy's hands went to Brent's shoulders and she pushed his robe down. Her fingertips brushed his weathered skin. Her fingertips, as sensitive as ever, traced the curves of his muscular arms and broad shoulders.
He cupped her face with his hands, his lips never leaving hers. Elizabeth pulled Amanda's hair back, giving Brent a good look at his wife's beautiful eyes. His gaze was soft and loving. But deep down, his eyes burned with a renewed fire and hunger.
Time seemed to stand still for Brent and Amanda. In the flickering candlelight, they only had eyes for each other. They kissed again and again.
Without missing a beat or seeming to intrude, Elizabeth undressed each of them. They broke their lips only to pull Mandy's gown over her head. The call girl kept them touching and moving and never let Mandy feel self-conscious about her missing legs or mangled hand.
"Touch him," Elizabeth whispered in Amanda's ear.
Brent moaned as his wife began to stroke his cock to a full erection. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.
Amanda jumped slightly when she felt an extra pair of hands cup her breasts. She let out a surprised yelp when Liz pinched her nipples.
"I guess someone likes that," Elizabeth blew in Brent's ear. "Your turn."
"Oh, god, Brent," Mandy moaned. Her head fell back into the pillows as Brent and Liz touched her all over. From her breasts up, she had full sensation. Her skin crawled and goosebumps ran the lengths of her arms.
She had to bite her lip to keep from screaming as two mouths enveloped her breasts at the same time. Amanda's hands ran through both her lovers's hair as she pulled their faces to her chest.
The tingling started at the base of her neck and Mandy swore it went all the way down to her toes.
Finally, Liz pulled back as Brent kissed his way into the valley of Amanda's chest.
"Do you feel that, Amanda?" Elizabeth asked. "Do you feel how close your husband is to you?"
"Yes," she moaned softly.
"Can you feel this? Can you feel me touching you?"
"A little," Amanda said softly.
"Watch me, Brent," Liz instructed. "Watch me rub her there ... and then watch her face. You'll know when you hit the right spot."
"But she can't feel it ... can you, honey?"
"Yes." A tear rolled out of the corner of her eye. "I can feel it. Not like before ... But I can feel her touching me."
"You just have to work a little harder and take it a little slower," Elizabeth said gently. "You try ... Go on ... Touch your wife, Brent."
Amanda closed her eyes as ripples of pleasure started in between her legs. Before, she would have been screaming like a banshee as hard as Brent was pressing against her, but it was a start.
A cold jolt between her legs brought her back to the present.
Elizabeth was squirting some lube onto her pussy.