Disclaimer: Characters are all mine. I am no doctor, nor do I have any knowledge about armies. So, mistakes in either field are all mine. Written in response to the Athenaeum's Autumn Romance contest.
Robin de Leeuw enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her face. Despite the fact that Autumn was already well on its way and trees had all colors imaginable, it was still warm enough to spend some time outside.
She rolled her chair towards a bench in the back of the park. After all her time here, she'd soon found out that the back of the park was the best place to relax and enjoy nature without too many yelling kids running around.
That's what she loved doing. Whenever Robin was home she would go for a run every morning, but even when she was on a mission she would manage to get a run in every now and then. Unfortunately, during her last mission she was sent to Oruzgan, a province of Afghanistan . During that mission her life had changed forever.
A roadside bomb had taken the lives of two of her mates and she herself had been badly injured. Shrapnel of the IED had embedded itself in her lower back, both her legs had been broken in several places, a severe concussion, and bumps and scratches all over her body.
After emergency surgery at the field hospital situated at Kamp Holland. When she had been stable enough to travel, Robin was flown to The Netherlands where she spent several weeks in a military hospital. After a month in that hospital, completely healed from her concussion, broken legs as good as new, and all bruises and scratches faded, it became clear that the damage to her legs and nerves seemed more severe than initially thought. The doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her. She would have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Robin, however, didn't want to give up. She made arrangements to go to England . To a therapy center that had great results in treating cases like Robin's. About fifty percent of the people who came there that were told they would never walk again, did end up back on their feet after intensive training for months at the center.
She had lived at the center for about four months, and unfortunately in those months there had been no real progress. So she still sat in her wheelchair. Robin looked around the park. Things looked different from her new eye level. She saw so much more than before. Or was that because before she hadn't really been looking? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Excuse me,” a voice said.
Robin opened one eye and peeked into the direction the voice had come from. As she saw a blonde-haired woman standing next to her she quickly opened both eyes. “Yes?”
“Do you mind if I sit here? I wanted to do some reading, and saw it was nice and quiet over here,” the young woman said as she held up a book.
“Go ahead,” Robin said.
“Thanks,” the woman smiled. “I'm Michelle, by the way.”
“Robin,” the dark-haired woman said. She looked away, wondering why her heart skipped a beat when she heard the woman's name. As Robin heard a page being turned she knew the woman was reading and so dared to cast a glance into her direction.
Next to her sat a beautiful, blonde-haired woman. A sweet, soft face, with expressive green eyes which were now going over word after word, sentence after sentence, page after page. Then Robin's eyes landed on her lips, lovely, kissable lips. The dark-haired woman was surprised by her own train of thoughts. Wait, did I really?
At that moment Michelle looked up. “Sorry?”
Shit , Robin thought. Did I say that out loud? “I…Eh, I wondered what book you were reading.” She had to stop herself from rolling her eyes at the stupid question she asked. The book's title was rather obviously printed in big bold letters on the cover.
“ World Without End ,” Michelle said as she held up the book for Robin to inspect. “It's a historical novel.”
“Nice. What time period?” Robin asked as she read the author's name and thought it somewhere rang a bell.
“Interesting, my favorite time in history,” Robin started. “I just finished an Arthurian novel.”
“You like to read?” Michelle put the book down in her lap and looked at Robin. Green eyes stared intently at the dark-haired woman.
Robin was surprised at the captivating effect the eyes had on her. “I have my moments,” she said in a flirty tone. What am I doing?
An hour later, Michelle hadn't done much reading, but the two women had discovered that they had lots in common. They talked about all kinds of things…About books, about the park, about the nice Autumn weather.
Michelle pushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear as she looked shyly at Robin.“You probably get this a lot but,” the blonde started.
Here we go again , Robin thought. The ever-occurring question of how I ended up in this thing. She plucked at the fabric of her seat, preparing herself to answer.
“Would you maybe go out for a coffee sometime?”
“What?” Robin stared at Michelle incredulously. “Are you kidding me?”
When that seemed to be the only thing Robin said as a reply to her question, Michelle reached for her bag. “Sorry, I didn't mean to…I thought you were…Never mind,” Michelle said as she got up in a hurry. but was stopped by Robin's hand on her arm.
“Now wait a minute,” Robin started as she tried to get hold of Michelle's arm, but unfortunately she was faster than Robin and managed to get away before the dark-haired woman could explain.
She let out a big sigh. This wasn't how she envisioned this to end. She'd thought that the two of them had lots in common and that Michelle made for an interesting conversational partner, if nothing else.
Robin checked her watch and then released the brakes on her wheelchair as she noticed the time. In an hour her therapist, Ben, would be there to help her with her exercises. After the months she spent living at the center, Robin had decided that she wanted to continue the therapy, but from the comfort of the place that she now called home.
The apartment she had found was wheelchair friendly and there was space enough for her to change one of the spare bedrooms into an exercise room. So, for three weeks now, Ben had come to her house twice a week. Chances of walking again were close to zero percent, but Robin decided the therapy couldn't do any more harm and so, Ben had created a schedule for her that would help her get back in shape, strengthen her upper body, and give the unused muscles of her legs a workout.
Just as she was about to roll off, Robin noticed the book lying on the bench. It was the book Michelle had started out reading when she'd first sat down next to the dark-haired woman. She looked into the direction Michelle had left, hoping to catch a glimpse of where she was going. But the only thing she saw was a woman walking her dog.
Robin picked it up and saw the book was well-read, the broken spine the tell-tale sign. Turning it to the front cover she was greeted by an unfamiliar name and title, the picture on it, though, got her imagination going.
Robin unlocked the door to her apartment and wasn't surprised to hear music coming from her exercise room. She had become good friends with Ben during her time at the center and now they were doing the therapy at Robins place she'd given him a key. The last few weeks Ben had come an hour early, either to have a chat with Robin, or, whenever she wasn't home yet, he would do some exercising himself. Robin had spared no expense when she had asked Ben to select all the apparatuses she would need and had told him straight away that if he wanted to make use of them to go ahead.
“Ben?” she called out loudly, hoping he would hear her over the blaring stereo. But only when she rolled into the room did Ben notice her.
“Hey Lion,” he said, using the nickname he had given her in her first week at the center. Combining her last name with the way she had fought bravely each day, working hard on getting better again—on walking again—it was obvious why he gave her that name. “Hope you don't mind me doing some training,” he said as he reached for a towel and slung it round his neck.
“I told you that you could use it whenever you wanted. Why else would I've given you a key?” Robin smirked. They had this conversation practically every time.
“Let me get ready okay?” she asked and received a nod from the broad-shouldered man.
It had taken several weeks but Robin had mastered undressing and dressing herself without any help. And so, after about twenty minute she returned to the room, finding Ben relaxing in the big chair they'd put in a corner of the room.
“How's Jerry?” Robin asked, still grinning about the name Ben had given to his new puppy, a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Ben and Jerry, what a couple they make.
“I took him with me this weekend to Dan's place and he seems to enjoy it there. And I'm sure you know who got all of Dan's attention,” Ben said with a huff. “It sure wasn't me! Little furry traitor, completely ignoring his daddy.”
“Aw come on big guy. He's just a puppy. It's what they do... Everything new is just so interesting.”
“Yeah yeah,” Ben replied with a wave of his hand. “Alright, what do you want to start with today? Upper or lower body?”
“Lower, if you don't mind,” Robin said.
“No problem. Come on then.” He helped the dark-haired woman out of her wheelchair and onto a sport bench. He first started slowly stretching her legs, trying to loosen up all the muscles in Robins legs that hadn't been used for a while. As he was working on this he looked up and asked, “Good day today?”
It was his standard question but the answer he got differed each time.
“I think so,” Robin replied as a small smile settled on her lips and a faraway look came to her eyes.
Ben raised an eyebrow. “Why don't you tell me about her?” he asked.
Robin shook her head coming out of her reverie. “Huh what? How do you...” She trailed off as she saw the smirk on Ben's face.
“Just a guess,” he replied with a shrug as he started on her other leg. “But it's that dreamy kissy-faced look that gave it all away.”
“Shut up,” Robin muttered. She could feel all the heat gather in her cheeks. “I do not have that look on my face. I'm sure my face isn't even capable of looking like that.”
“Uhuh,” Ben started. “And I am the King of England .”
“Queen would be more apt,” Robin retorted. That earned her a poke in the ribs. “Ouch. Okay, okay. I met someone at the park. We had a nice talk, that's all.”
“Sure it is,” Ben replied.
“Oh, and she forgot her book when she left in a hurry.”
“And how did that happen?”
Robin looked down at her lap. “I thought she was going to ask me about my wheels but she asked me something completely different…I wasn't expecting that.”
“Did you answer her?” Ben asked, already sensing what the question had been about.
Robin shook her head. “I was so surprised I...”
“Forgot to tell her ‘yes I'd like to',” Ben finished for her.
“Yeah,” Robin said with a rueful smile on her lips.
“But you've got her book,” Ben stated rather than asked.
Robin nodded as Ben helped her to the special cycling machine. He helped her into one of the seats and then sat down in the one next to hers. “All buckled up?” he asked.
“Almost,” the dark-haired woman replied as she fastened the last strap across her left foot. “Ready.”
“Okay, fifteen minutes today,” Ben said as he started pedaling, Robin's legs moving in sync with his thanks to the ingenuity of this system.
“Slave driver.” Robin smiled at her friend and therapist.
Ignoring Robin's comment Ben said, “So, what are you going to do with the book?”
She shrugged. “I don't know.”
“Do you know where she lives?”
“Did you check the book for a possible name, address, phone number, anything?”
“Not yet…I do know her name, though.” The dreamy look returned to Robin's face.
Ben looked at her. “Girl you've got it bad.”
“No, I don't,” she muttered.
“Uh, yes you do,” Ben replied as he nudged her shoulder. “So what's her name?”
“Michelle,” Robin said sweetly.
“Well, let's hope we can find out some more about this mystery woman of yours.”
“ We ?” Robin raised an eyebrow. “I'm sure I can handle this on my own.”
“Aw come on. Give this old man a chance at some matchmaking.”
Robin snorted. She was Ben's senior by five years. “I know you just turned the big three-oh, but you're nowhere near ancient yet. Besides, Michelle and I just had a pleasant talk, that's all. Nothing more.”
Ben stopped pedaling and looked at Robin with an incredulous look in his eyes. “Nothing more? She asked you out on a date!”
“She only asked me out for a coffee sometime,” Robin said, her voice sounding as unconvincing as the look in her eyes.
“I thought it were only your legs not working…I didn't know your ears couldn't hear, your eyes couldn't see…and your heart can't feel anymore.”
Dark eyes flared with fire. “How dare you!” Robin wanted to get up, but no matter how much she willed her legs to cooperate, they wouldn't. She reached for the straps that held her feet in place and looked round for her chair. Unfortunately, Ben had parked it at the other side of the room.
She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. These were times she hated most. Times where she wanted to walk out of the room, but couldn't.
Ben placed his hand on Robin's shoulder. “I'm sorry, Lion. But I'm your friend. Or would you've rather had me lie to you?”
Robin looked down at her hands that were clasped tightly together, resting in her lap. “No.”
She looked up at Ben, unshed tears visible in her eyes. “I am just scared of losing more than I already have.”
“But what if you gain more?” her friend countered. “What if you find someone to share anything and everything with? I know Dan and I are having a go at finding that with each other. It's not like we've had nothing happen to us before, but that doesn't mean we shut out everyone else that is willing to try. We both lost a lot before, but we found so much more in each other.”
“But who would want-“
“Someone in a wheelchair?” Ben finished for her. “Well, from what you've told me I think Michelle sees there's so much more to you than that set of wheels of yours.”
“Hm.” Robin let out a deep breath as Ben walked round the cycling apparatus and crouched in front of the dark-haired woman. “Where's her book?” he asked.
“On my bed,” Robin said softly, avoiding Ben's eyes.
“Can I get it?”
Robin nodded. She watched her friend walk off and return within seconds, Michelle's book in his hands. “I've read this,” he said as he handed the book to his friend. “It's good.”
“Yeah?” Robin opened the book and leafed through the first couple of pages.
“Yes Ma'am,” he started. “Did she write something in it? An address? Phone number?”
“Nothing,” Robin said as she showed the empty pages at the front and back of the book. Then she noticed a piece of paper sticking out somewhere near the last quarter of pages of the novel.
She opened the book at the indicated page and took out the piece of paper. On it were written the words ‘The Coffee House” and several days and a times.
Ben looked at the piece of paper. “Did she tell you where she worked?”
“No,” Robin said. “I only know she studies history.”
“It looks like she also works a couple of hours a week at The Coffee House.”
Robin nodded. “Yeah.”
“You know, you could go there tomorrow. If this is her schedule for this week, she'll be there from ten in the morning till three in the afternoon,” Ben suggested. “You could just go over there, have a coffee, see if she's there and if she is, you give her back the book. If she's not, then we'll think of something else.”
“Don't worry, I'm sure this'll work.” Ben said as he wrapped his arm around Robin's shoulder. “Now how about we finish our exercises for today and then order a pizza and watch a movie?”
Robin nodded. “Thanks, Ben.”
The broad-shoulder man kissed her forehead. “No problemo, Lion.”
“Next in line, please,” Michelle said as she turned round and reached for another serving tray.
“Hi Michelle.” Robin rolled forward and couldn't stop a smile from curling her lips as she saw the blonde that had been on her mind ever since she left the park yesterday afternoon.
“Hey,” Michelle replied hesitantly as she spotted Robin at the other side of the counter.
“I can see you're busy,” Robin started as she nudged her head into the direction of the customers waiting in line. “But you forgot something at the park yesterday,” Robin continued as she reached for her bag.
Robin smiled as she looked up into the flushed face of Michelle. She held up the book. “Considering the state of it, I bet it's one of your favorites.”
Michelle nodded and smiled a shy smile. “Yeah.”
“You can say more than one syllable at a time, right?” Robin asked with a mischievous look on her face.
“I can,” Michelle replied as the blush on her face deepened.
Robin nodded. “I'm impressed,” she said with a smirk on her lips. Realizing she'd taken up a lot of time already and other customers were getting antsy, Robin continued, “I'd like a cappuccino, please.”
“Coming right up,” Michelle said, relief tangible in her voice as she turned to the coffee machines and started to prepare the hot drink.
“When's your break?” Robin asked as she eyed the blonde's backside.
Michelle quickly glanced at the clock on the nearby wall. “In an hour.” She turned round, placed the cappuccino on the tray and smiled at the dark-haired woman. “Anything else I can get you?”
“Join me in an hour?” Robin said as she held up the book again. “And you'll get this back.”
“Is this some kind of blackmailing trick?” Michelle asked, eyebrow raised in question. “Drop by in an hour or your precious book won't see the light of day anymore?”
Robin could clearly tell what the look on her face was wordlessly conveying: Two can play this game. Ignoring the blonde's question, Robin asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“It's on the house,” Michelle replied.
The big smile Robin was met with sent butterflies fluttering not only through her stomach, but through her entire body. “Thank you.”
As Robin reached for the tray Michelle looked a bit worried. “You need any help with that?” she asked.
“Nope, thanks,” Robin said then flashed her a confident smile. She placed the small tray in her lap and carefully started to turn her wheelchair round. “I've got it. I'll be sitting at the window at the back,” she threw across her shoulder as she rolled off.
“Okay,” she heard Michelle say as she turned the corner.
Robin was staring out the window, looking at passersby walking past, most of them busy to get wherever they needed to be. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry today. Well, Robin thought, when aren't they …
Before her accident her days went by in a hurry. Always busy with something or another. But now…now Robin took the time to enjoy every day –even though her days weren't the same as before.
In a way she missed her life before ‘the happening', as Robin always referred to it, but on the other hand she got a lot back in life which she had lost before, because of her busy lifestyle. No time for family, no time for friends. No time for someone special…
Hm, as if there will be a special someone now… Robin reasoned as she stared at the reflection in the window of herself in her wheelchair. So that's why you're here, waiting an hour to talk with someone and give her the book back , her inner voice countered.
Just as the dark-haired woman was about to reprimand her own thoughts she saw Michelle walking her way.
“Here, it's the ransom,” Michelle said as she placed a cup in front of Robin. “Now give me my book back.”
“Please sit,” Robin said.
“We're not supposed to have our breaks at the front,” Michelle replied as she unfastened her apron and glanced over to the front door.
“Why do you think I'm sitting all the way over here?” Robin replied as she reached for the cup.
“Okay, couple of minutes then.” Michelle sat down opposite the dark-haired woman. She cast a quick glance over her shoulder to the front, and, satisfied she couldn't see the counter (and so her manager wouldn't be able to see her), she looked back at Robin.
Robin swirled the hot liquid and then took a tentative sip. Her taste buds were pleasantly surprised by a mixture of coffee, chocolate and mint flavor. “Mmm, nice.” She took another sip. “What is this?”
“One of my own special ransom chocolate creations.” Michelle smiled as she saw the contented look on Robin's face.
“Here you go,” Robin said as she placed the book in front of her on the table.
“Thanks. I hadn't even realized I'd left it at the park.”
Robin looked down at the cup, her hands curled round the warm cup. “Yeah, well, you left in such a hurry,” she said as she looked up through her bangs.
“Yeah, about that,” Michelle interrupted. “I'm really sorry…Just forget what I said okay?”
“It's not that,” Robin said as she shook her head. She looked up and locked eyes with the blonde. “I wasn't expecting that question. I thought you were...” she started, took a deep breath, then continued in a ramble, “I thought you were going to ask me about my wheelchair, I wasn't expecting you asking me out on a date…And you were right.”
“Right?” asked Michelle, an eyebrow raised as she didn't quite follow Robin.
The dark-haired woman nodded as she raised the cup to her lips again.
Michelle stared at her with a questioning look on her face, but slowly it dawned on her what Robin meant. “So will you go out with me then?” she blurted out.
“I'd love to.” Robin said after she gulped down some more of the very addictive drink.
“How did you know I worked here?” Michelle asked.
“I wasn't sure. But when I found your bookmark a friend of mine suggested to check here. He thought it was your schedule.”
“Yep.” Michelle nodded as she opened her book. “I'm glad you came looking for me.”
“Me too,” Robin said softly.
Michelle looked up and smiled at the dark-haired woman. Robin unabashedly stared at her. This scrutiny made her blush and look down at her hands that were still occupied with the book. “I should've put my name and phone number in here.”
“Your name I know, your number I'd like,” Robin replied.
“Smooth, Robin. Very smooth,” Michelle said as she chuckled. She took a paper napkin from the table and wrote down her number on it, then handed it to Robin.
“Thank you,” the dark-haired woman said, suddenly sounding rather shy.
“You're not from around here, are you?”
“No, I'm not.” Robin replied as she raised the delicious brew to her lips again. “I'm from The Netherlands. I've been living here for several months now.”
“Your English is excellent,” Michelle stated.
The dark-haired woman took the last gulp of special coffee, then replied, “Thanks. It was one of my favorite subjects in school.” Robin placed the now empty cup on the table. “So, you never told me how old you are,” she said as she placed her elbows on the table, folded her hands and rested her head on top of her hands.
Michelle leaned forward and mimicked Robin's pose. “So, you never asked me how old I am.”
“You have a point there. But you know you can tell me. I'm sure I'll beat your score,” Robin said as smiled reassuringly. She guessed Michelle was in her late twenties, so with her own thirty-five she didn't mind asking the woman her age.
As Michelle remained quiet besides a stifled chuckle, Robin raised an eyebrow. “You want to take a guess?” Robin asked.
Michelle smiled. “Sure. You're…” She thought for a bit as she gave the other woman a once-over. “Thirty-three.”
Robin's lips turned up into a smirk. “Thank you, very nice of you. You're close, though.” She started folding up the napkin with Michelle's number on it. “Add two and you're there.”
“I'm sure you're also going to give it a try now,” Michelle said she watched the reverend folding that Robin was doing. An amused look settled on her face. The same once-over she had given Robin was now returned by the dark-haired woman.
“Twenty-eight, twenty-nine…Maybe just thirty?” As Robin caught the glint in Michelle's eyes she gulped and added, “I'm digging my own grave, aren't I?”
“If you must know, I just turned twenty-five,” Michelle replied as she looked down shyly.
“Okay,” Robin said slowly as she nodded. She hadn't expected ten years difference between the two of them. The way they could talk about anything and everything, the easy banter between the two of them, they just really clicked, and age didn't have anything to do with that.
Michelle looked at her watch. Even though she'd said she'd be here for a few minutes, she'd spent her complete break talking with Robin. “I'm really sorry,” she said as she stood up and put her apron back on. “Break's over.”
Robin nodded. “I'd better get going, too.” She released her brakes and started off to the door, Michelle walking with her.
Just as Robin was about to roll through the door, Michelle called her back.
“Yes?” the dark-haired woman said as she turn round.
“Would you like to go to the cinema with me this Thursday evening?”
Robin calculated. It was Tuesday now, noon to be precise, so that would mean about fifty-two hours till she'd see the lovely blonde again. “I'd like that.”
“Great.” Michelle smiled. That same smile was also etched onto Robin's face. “Great,” she whispered back. Michelle's boss then called out and the blonde turned back to face him. “Be right there.” Robin heard her say. “Call me tomorrow afternoon and we'll sort out the details,” she said quickly then started off towards the counter.
“Will do,” Robin called after her, then turned and left.
“You sneaky bastard,” Ben slapped her shoulder. “So you like 'em young, eh?”
Robin blushed. “I didn't know she was that young. Doesn't matter though. I like her.”
“I was just kidding, Lion,” Ben started. “I'm really proud of you for putting yourself out there like that. So, you did you call her already?”
“Yeah,” Robin said, the dreamy look that nowadays seemed ever-present fixed onto her face.
Robin chuckled. Ben seemed to love this meddling in her love life –if you could call it that. “We're meeting up at the cinema tomorrow at eight. There's this new Disney Pixar screening…Supposed to be a good one. So, we're going to check that out.”
“And you call this sharing details with your best friend?”
“What more is there to tell?” Robin raised an eyebrow. “We haven't been on a real date yet.”
“Then I expect loads of them when we're training tomorrow,” Ben quipped as he helped Robin into the seat of the cycling machine.
As the taxi dropped her off at the cinema, Robin noticed that Michelle was already there. She checked her watch, knowing that she wasn't late, in fact she was there ten minutes early.
After she was helped into her chair, she paid the driver, thanked him and rolled off into the direction of the blonde. “And here I thought I was early,” she said as she stopped behind Michelle.
The blonde turned round and smiled. “Hey. Not good to be late on your first date.”
“True,” Robin agreed, then said, “Let's go inside.”
Michelle walked along with her. “So you're sure this is going to be a good one?” Robin said as she pointed at a poster of the movie they were about to watch.
“Can you name a Disney Pixar that isn't good?”
“Well…” Robin started. “No, I can't,” she finished after several minutes of thinking about the blonde's question.
After getting their tickets, they got some refreshments and, as Robin called it, the mandatory bag of popcorn. As they entered the theater it looked that there weren't going to be many others watching the movie that night –there were only four other people sitting there already, and it was about ten minutes before the movie would start.
“You still sure this is a good one?” Robin quipped as she put the brakes on her chair.
Michelle plopped down in the chair next to her and poked out her tongue. “Very funny.”
“Very mature,” Robin retorted with a wink.
“You just wait and see. You'll thank me later.” Michelle said as she grabbed a handful of popcorn.
“Uh huh, sure,” Robin muttered as she stared at the screen, watching the previews. Suddenly a piece of popcorn hit the side of her head. “Hey!”
“Is for horses,” Michelle whispered.
“I'll get you for that,” Robin whispered back.
“Bring it on,” Michelle said. Robin could see the big grin that settled on the blonde's lips, then turned back to the big screen as the movie started.
“I really had a nice time tonight,” Michelle said as she sat down on the steps in front of her apartment.
“So did I,” Robin said, a smile seemingly permanently fixed onto her lips. “That movie was fun. Thank you for suggesting it.”
“Thank you for taking me there,” Michelle replied with a shy smile of her own. “Would you like to come inside for a drink or something?”
“No thanks. I've got an important appointment tomorrow morning,” Robin started. The look on Michelle's face was one of a woman feeling she was being let down softly. “I'm meeting with a coach from the center who's helping me find a new job,” Robin added to clarify.
The reassured look she saw on Michelle's face did her good. It surely seemed the feelings she had for the younger woman were returned.
“Could you please hold out your arms?” Robin asked.
“Sure,” Michelle replied a little hesitatingly, not sure what the dark-haired woman wanted to do.
“Thanks,” Robin said as she took hold of Michelle's wrists. She slowly pulled herself up and out of her chair, turned a bit to the side, then let herself drop next to Michelle.
Though it was cold out, it fortunately was dry. There were no clouds in the sky and stars were shining brightly. Moonlight lit Michelle's face. “You're so beautiful,” Robin said as she admired the blonde's face, her hand reaching up and cupping Michelle's cheek.
Michelle's eyes closed at the touch, her own hand coming up to cover Robin's. “I really like you,” Robin, she practically whispered. She shyly looked up into Robins eyes. “A lot.”
Robin smiled as she let her thumb trace Michelle's bottom lip. She leaned closer and as her breath caressed Michelle's lips Robin whispered back, “I like you, too.” She then claimed the blonde's lips in a soft, unhurried kiss, her hand migrating to the back of Michelle's head where it ran through silky strands of hair.
“Thank you for tonight,” Robin said softly.
“You're welcome,” Michelle said as she opened her eyes and rested her head on Robin's shoulder.
Robin took her hand and entwined their fingers. “Can I call you tomorrow?” she asked.
“Please do,” Michelle replied. “Are you sure you don't want to come inside?”
Robin merely nodded as she tried to keep control of her raging hormones.
“Well, then I'd better go in. It's getting way too cold out here.” Michelle stood up, held out her hands again and helped Robin back into her wheelchair.
“Thanks.” Robin held on to Michelle's hand, pulled her down and gave her another chaste kiss. “Talk to you to tomorrow.”
“Good luck with your job hunting!” Michelle said as she walked backwards to her apartment building, not taking her eyes off the dark-haired woman. With one last wave she disappeared into the building.
Robin smiled, turned her chair round and headed for home. This had been a great evening. She was glad that Michelle felt the same way about this, about them. Robin finally dared to admit that Ben had been right. She had been closed off, not allowing anyone to get even remotely close to her heart.
But Michelle had held the key...
Robin was chopping up some vegetables as Ben leaned against the kitchen counter. “So it's serious business, eh? I mean this is your, what, fifth date already?”
Robin nodded. “Yeah. I've never felt like this before, Ben.”
“Like I'm alive,” Robin started. “Not even before the happening have I ever felt like this.”
Ben plopped a piece of carrot into his mouth as he looked at his friend. “You look better than ever, Lion. I want to meet her.”
“You will. She'll be here in an hour and a half. Do you want to stay for dinner?”
“Nah, I don't want to intrude,” he replied as he reached for another piece of carrot but was slapped across the hand by Robin.
“That's the correct answer, Ben. Otherwise I would have had to come up with something else to get rid of you,” Robin said with a smirk as she held up her chef's knife for close inspection.
“Now, now. Put that thing away before you commit Benicide,” he started, holding up both hands in defense. “Listen, why don't you let me finish this cooking and you get ready for that woman of yours?”
“Thanks Ben,” she said as she put the knife down washed her hands then rolled off towards her bedroom. Robin knew how to cook a nice dinner, but she had soon learned that if Ben offered to cook, she should take the offer with both hands. That guy could even turn an old crust of bread into a culinary delight!
“You can thank me later by sharing all the details!” Ben called after her.
She took a nice shower, taking her time to enjoy the warm water cascading down her muscles that were still a bit sore of the earlier workout they'd gotten. She dressed in her favorite jeans, a white tank top and a black button down shirt, sprayed on some of her favorite perfume, then checked herself once more in the mirror as she raked a hand through her unruly hair. Time for a haircut , she thought. Then she remembered how Michelle had loved playing with her hair. Or maybe not…yet.
“I'm already whipped,” she muttered to herself.
“You still clean up nicely,” Ben said from the doorway.
“Thanks,” Robin replied sarcastically. “Shouldn't you be keeping an eye on dinner?”
“It's in the oven, ready in half an hour,” Ben said. Then there came a knock at the door. “That should be her, want me to-” he said as he started to turn around and head for the door.
Robin quickly rolled past him, pushing him back into the direction of the living room. “I'll get it myself.”
She opened the door and smiled at the beautiful blonde that stood at the other side. “Hey,” Robin greeted.
Michelle leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Robin's lips. “Hi. I brought along some wine.” She held out the bottle to Robin. “Nice,” the dark-haired woman said as she inspected the label.
Instead of rolling aside to let the younger woman enter, Robin took her hand and swiftly pulled Michelle onto her lap, immediately claiming her lips in a slow, exploring kiss. It wasn't until the sound of someone clearing their throat came from behind them that they came up for air.
“Before you start eating one another,” Ben started. “I just wanted to let you know that dinner will be ready in about fifteen minutes.”
Michelle blushed and hid her face on the shoulder of Robin, who immediately wrapped her arms around the other woman. Robin tried to glare evilly at Ben, whose smirk only broadened. She squeezed Michelle's arm softly then turned her chair and rolled the both of them to the living room.
Michelle stood up and shook hands with Ben. “Nice to finally meet you,” the broad-shouldered man started. “Lion here has been talking about you all the time.”
It was Robin's turn to blush. “Did not.”
As she saw Michelle raise an eyebrow and turn her lips into an amused smile, she added, “ Not all the time."
“You go get us some glasses,” Ben said as he grabbed the bottle of wine out of Robin's hands and guided Michelle to sit down on the couch.
Robin eyed him curiously, wondering what he was up to. As she roller into the kitchen she heard Ben and Michelle laugh loudly.
At least they seem to like each other.
She grabbed three glasses and a corkscrew, then headed back into the living room where she just heard Ben tell Michelle one of her embarrassing stories that had happened to her at the center.
“And just as she was about to…”
“If you want to leave this place in one piece, I suggest you stop talking, Mister B.” Robin growled.
“Aw, come on. It's such a funny story!”
Robin blushed. She had been so embarrassed that afternoon Ben had been talking about. The doctors had told her that her feeling in her legs would probably be lost forever. However, they hadn't mentioned anything about her…sexual center.
Too embarrassed to really ask about it, Robin decided that it was easily found out and had started to slowly stroke herself and was happy and relieved to find out there was nothing wrong with her in that field. As she was about to climax…Ben had walked in.
With her being so close to her first orgasm in months, she didn't notice her therapist had entered the room.
“Are you alright?” Ben asked.
“Yes,” Robin hissed, completely lost in her own fantasy.
Suddenly it dawned upon the man what was happening. “Okay,” he started. “I'll come back in ten minutes. You think you're done by then?”
At that point an orgasm coursed through Robin's body. Suddenly, she realized someone was talking to her and her eyes popped open widely. “I wasn't…” she trailed off as she quickly pulled her hand away from her still throbbing center.
“Sure you weren't,” the broad-shouldered man replied. “And I'm the King of England .”
Robin's face was as close to fire-engine red as it had ever been. “Don't worry,” Ben started. “You don't have any equipment that interests me. And about what you were doing under that blanket of yours…Well, who hasn't? So, you ready for some training or are you too tired of the exercising you just had?”
Robin had made Ben swear he would never ever tell that story to anyone. She locked eyes with her best friend. “Don't you dare, or I will tell Dan about your…” She wriggled her eyebrows evilly. She didn't even know what to tell Dan…But it was always worth a shot.
“Okay, okay,” Ben said. “I'll stop.” Then he leaned closer to Michelle and whispered to her, “We'll finish this another time. It was nice to meet you, Michelle.”
“Likewise.” Michelle smiled at the man.
“You're not staying for a glass?” Robin asked as she held up the wine bottle.
“Nah, I'd better go,” he said as he stood up from the couch.
Robin let him out, and as he stepped outside he turned back to the dark-haired woman. “She's a beauty, Lion. Fight for her.”
“Even if it's me I have to fight?” Robin asked, needing her friend's wisdom.
Ben nodded. “Even if it's you yourself that you have to fight.”
“No problemo, Lion,” the broad-shouldered man said before leaning down and placing a kiss on her cheek. “See you tomorrow.”
Dinner was wonderful. The pasta dish Ben had made smelled marvelous and both of the women couldn't wait to eat their fill. Conversation had been interesting as well. Michelle was close to getting her Master's degree and Robin had two job interviews coming up soon.
Robin started to wonder why Michelle never asked about her wheelchair, and why she was in it. Despite her earlier hesitation to talk about the happening, to Robin it mattered a lot that Michelle knew what had happened to her. It was part of her, and it had shaped her into the person she was now.
Robin reached for the bottle of wine and poured some more in both their glasses. “Why have you never asked about my wheelchair?”
Michelle leaned back into her chair and watched the older woman intently before answering with a question of her own. “Does it matter?”
“That I'm in a wheelchair? No. What happened to me? Yes.” Robin replied quietly.
“I don't see your wheelchair when I look at you,” Michelle started. “I see a strong woman, fighting for life. I see a beautiful, caring woman, a woman…” Michelle made sure she had Robin's full attention before she continued. “A woman I could love.”
Robin started at the blonde, amazed by the words she just heard Michelle utter. After several minutes of silence, Robin finally spoke up and started relating what happened about a year ago. “I was in the army. Sent to Afghanistan . We were out on patrol when a roadside bomb destroyed our car. Two of my mates died, I had severe injuries.”
The dark-haired woman took a deep breath before she continued. “I never thought that I would be good enough for someone. Who would want me? I can't even walk. I'm stuck in this wheelchair.” A single tear trailed down her cheek as she closed her eyes, not being able to look into the intent green eyes of Michelle.
“But then there was you. You never once asked about my chair. I wanted to be good enough for you.”
“You are,” Michelle said as she reached across the table and covered Robin's hand with her own. “Like I said before, there is more to you than your chair.”
“Thank you.” Robin softly squeezed the blonde's hand. “Let's eat before Ben's master piece gets cold.”
Michelle raised an eyebrow. “I thought you made this?”
“I did,” Robin started. “Help, that is.” The dark-haired woman had the grace to blush.
Michelle chuckled, soon followed by Robin herself.
Half an hour later, most of the pasta had disappeared. After clearing away the plates Robin rolled to where Michelle was sitting at the dining table. The flickering lights of the candles cast a warm glow over the blonde's angelic face and made her green eyes stand out even more.
The older woman took her hand and pulled her onto her lap. Immediately, Michelle wrapped her arms around Robin's neck and started playing with the short hairs at the nape of her neck. Robin started to slowly caress the blonde's back. “Thanks for the lovely dinner,” she heard Michelle whisper into her ear before soft lips nipped at her ear lobe.
A shiver ran through her body, starting at her lobe and trailing all the way down to her center. Robin growled softly. “You're welcome,” she managed to throw out forcedly.
Michelle cupped the back of Robin's head, leaned in and claimed her lips in a demanding kiss. When they both were breathless, she leaned back and locked eyes. “How about some dessert?” the blonde asked.
Robin's defenses melted at seeing those green bedroom eyes focused on her. “Yes,” she whispered, then rolled the two of them into the direction of her bedroom.
One year later…
Robin de Leeuw was at her favorite park again. It was a nicely warm day and she was sitting in her favorite spot at the back of the park, Autumn was back and everything around her was slowly turning into Technicolor again.
After all her time here, the back of the park was still the best spot. Still not many yelling kids running around.
That's what she had loved. But after more than a year of therapy and no progress whatsoever in getting back onto her feet again, Robin had decided it had been enough. Enough training, enough hoping. Enough.
There was so much more in her life now that brought her happiness. A month ago she had decided that the exercising she was still doing together with Ben should stop. She had grieved about never walking again, grieved for several weeks. But fortunately she hadn't had to do this alone. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Excuse me,” a voice said.
Robin kept her eyes closed and replied, “Yes?”
“Do you mind if I sit here?” a familiar voice asked.
“Go ahead,” Robin said, still not looking at the person talking to her. She noticed someone getting on to her lap and snuggling in for a quick hug, resting their head underneath Robin's chin. Her nose filled with the lovely flowery scent of her lover's shampoo.
Robin finally opened her eyes and smiled at the blonde. “Hey lovely lady.”
“I brought the ransom along, Ma'am,” Michelle said as she held up a cup for Robin to take.
“Thanks,” Robin said.
“Now give me back my book you evil woman,” Michelle started as she reached behind Robin's back, feeling the book hidden between Robin's body and the back of her chair.
“You've read that thing a dozen times already,” Robin said as she wriggled as Michelle started a tickling assault to get her book. “Why not read something else?”
“I've read your body more than a dozen times as well,” Michelle countered. “Should I also start reading another body too?”
Robin growled, attacked Michelle's lips and nipped her bottom lip. “Okay, okay. You win. Here's your book.” She handed over the thick novel and sat back in her wheelchair, and took a sip of the special choc-mint coffee Michelle had brought along for her.
“How about this time I let you actually do some reading?” Robin said as she wrapped an arm round Michelle's waist.
“Why do you think I brought that coffee along?”
Robin started to laugh and was soon joined by Michelle.
“I'm glad we met here last year,” Robin said.
Michelle turned a bit and locked eyes with the dark-haired woman. “So am I.” The younger woman leaned in and kissed Robin slowly. “I love you, Robin de Leeuw.”
“Ik hou ook van jou, Michelle Knight.”
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