CLAY AND Cathy:
It had taken what felt like a long time, but Clay Whorley was finally settling into what he wanted for his life. It made him smile, as he looked back on the path that had led him to where he was.
He had bought a home for himself, and Baggins, his 'mutt'. It was bigger than the two of them ever needed but for Clay it was, in addition to being just home, a sign of the fact that he'd come a long way to get here.
Clay Whorley, at the age of 27, was a grand, grand physical specimen, most of the women who knew him agreed about that. He was an ex marine; was 6'1" tall and weighed a neat and trim 195 lbs. He kept himself fit by his workouts and his life style. That's one thing that he'd learned, especially from the Corps, staying fit was one of the keys to a better future all around.
He'd had a reputation, especially in high school for being wild but he knew himself well enough to also know that apart from sewing some of his 'wild oats', as the old phrase went, it was nothing very serious. Sure, his parents fretted but, where Clay was concerned, they were always kept calm by his lovely, lovely Aunt Catherine, 'Cathy' to Clay.
Catherine Wilford,, she always kept her own name, had been an orphan, whom his Mom and Dad had taken in. He always called her 'aunt' because it seemed appropriate to the two of them, after all, she was 12 years older than he. So, it had always been Aunt Catherine for Clay.
She was his grandest advocate and, for many years, confidant, a role that she fulfilled rather well.
It was, after all, Cathy that he spoke to, when he wanted to think over his plans for the future. By that point, his Dad had already died of a stroke and his Mom was not handling it well. He told Cathy that he would stay home with them but Cathy was adamant about his keeping on with his life's plans, a fact for which he was ever grateful to her.
She became, in those latter years, a companion for his Mom, though the time between the death of his Dad and his Mom's finally succumbing, was not all that long.
Cathy and Mom had ended up, by mutual agreement, reached by Cathy and Clay and his Mom, in a nice two bedroom apartment. They didn't want a big house to take care of any more.
All of this transpired as Clay was away and getting himself settled.
When he came out of the Corps, he had a path for his life and went after what he wanted right away. He dearly loved the life of physical activity that the Corps had provided and decided to capitalize on that. He spent a few years getting credentials and specializing in various methods of physical development.
Meanwhile, the money that he'd been left by his Mom and Dad, that money had indeed been shared between him and Cathy, though she'd disagreed at the time, he was adamant about the sharing, allowed him, along with a friend from the Corps to invest in their own kind of gym. They made it a specialty place for physical development, and Clay was one of their first and premier personal trainers. The gym itself was fairly small but the specialization allowed it to do rather well.
One of the pluses was that it was located only about an hour and a half away from where Cathy and his Mom had been living.
The death of his Mom had been really hard on Cathy. She and Clay were together for the funeral, and making the decisions. It was then that the decision about splitting the money that his Mom had left was taken by the two of them.
Cathy always remembered that conversation and how loving Clay had been.
"I won't hear of any other idea about this," he'd said to her.
"But, Clay," she came back at him, "It's your money; she was your Mom and it's not fair for me to walk off with what you're talking about."
"Absurd!" he'd answered. "Don't tell me that you weren't as much a daughter, as I was a son for those lovely people."
She got a wistful look on her face then: "Yes," she said, as her mind played back over all those former years, "They were so good to me, when I needed someplace and someone!"
She turned to him then and said: "And you have been the best and greatest brother that anyone could ever have or want!"
She threw her arms around him then and hugged him.
At that time, at that moment, Clay Whorley, simply pushed aside the thoughts that were racing through his mind about how great it felt to be holding his 'Aunt Cathy' in his arms, feeling her pressed against him, even innocently as it was.
He put his head back to look down on her smiling face, her eyes shining with tears: "So, it's settled!" he said. "We'll make this division of everything that we know is here."
"Yes," she said simply, "Thank you, honey! Clay, you're the grandest and most generous person that I know!"
He grinned at her and said: "Look who's talking now; the way that you've taken care of them, while I've been running around!"
"Running around my foot!" she said, "I wont' hear of that from you! You served in the Marine Corps and since then you've been studying and preparing and working toward your goal, and now that's in sight and how grand is that?"
He grinned at her: "What a great Aunt you are!"
She grinned back at him.
"Gonna kiss the Aunt now for being so nice and saying such great things," he said.
"Don't you dare, Clay Whorley!" she said, blushing for all she was worth.
It made him laugh and made him, also, more determined to plant a big kiss on her lips.
The kiss was quick and perfunctory but made him tingle and certainly had the same effect of Cathy, though neither of them acknowledged it at the time.
That's the way that it was finally settled between them, and the money distribution was taken care of. It gave Cathy a nice nest egg, as she went back to her nursing career full time. She'd taken some time off to tend to 'Mom', while Clay was busy with his own training and development.
Catherine Wilford settled down, after that, to a very pleasant lifestyle. She admitted, to herself and to Clay, when they talked, which they did frequently, that she missed the companionship of Mom especially.
It maybe should be said that at the age of 39, Cathy Wilford was a treat. She had auburn hair, that she kept fairly short. She wasn't a workout devotee like Clay but she did keep herself in shape, especially since, once she went back to work as an ER nurse, she was running a great deal of the time. She allowed time in front of the mirror to assess herself and was fairly pleased with what she saw. She was also critical about what she saw. She thought that she was running to much to fat. Of course, she was wrong. She had large and nicely formed breasts with very responsive nipples, and her rounded butt was anything but too fat. She just didn't really believe the truth about herself.
She'd never taken much time for romance. She was, she felt, romantic in her soul but her care for her erstwhile Mom and Dad, and her training left her precious little time to deal with the intricacies of dating and romance. An occasional fling were all that she allowed herself, and she tended to keep those at a minimum.
"Those two people were such a comfort and blessing in my life!" Cathy said to him on the phone one night.
"They were that grand!" he said.
"I just miss them so much, especially Mom," she continued, "It was as though we were more like girlfriends than Mom and daughter."
"That was special," he said softly.
"Yes, honey," she said, "It was!"
"How are your plans coming?" she asked then.
"Fabulously!" he said. "The gym is doing great; our approach to physical training and individual training is really paying off. I think that I'm going to go and buy a big house for me and Baggins, somewhere that we can ramble around in, like peas in a pod."
"What a grand idea!" she said enthusiastically, "For myself, this apartment is just the right size."
"Well," he answered, "When we get it arranged and settled, please come and visit me and Baggins."
"Will do, love!" she said, "Just keep me up to date on your plans."
They did discuss the plans for his new home frequently. She was the pal that he always wanted to share things with. It was that great a relationship for the two of them.
Once the house was bought and he and Baggins had settled into it and made it a home and comfortable, he spoke to her and she made plans to visit him there.
The plans were all made and the date was set for her to make her visit.
She never made the visit at that time. After work one day, at an intersection, three teens, with the family car of one of them, were joy riding. They ran a red light through an intersection with shouts and whoops and hit Cathy's car broad side.
Cathy's car was an older, tough Jeep that had been her 'Dad's and absorbed the impact well. At least she wasn't killed. Two of the teens in the other car where indeed killed, thrown from the car by the accident and killed when they landed.
Cathy had, however, sustained back injuries and ended in a hospital, where for the next 36 hours, she knew fairly nothing.
Clay was there, when she woke. He was also there to hold her hand, when the doctors told her about her spinal injuries, and that the only hope for her walking would be some radical spinal surgery.
After that, Clay held her, while she cried. He had taken time off from the gym and stayed with her for a number of days.
It was in the near future that arrangements were made for the surgery that she needed. Clay was there for that too, sill holding her hand.
.... There is more of this story ...