Lauren was never quite sure what she wanted to do with her life. But she knew one thing for certain, her days working at a supermarket were over. She was just sick of it, the long hours, the rude customers and the back stabbing co-workers. The coronavirus was the final nail in the coffin. It just wasn’t a job worth dying for and the weeks of stress had taken its toll.
Her mother was not impressed.
“What are you going to do now? And you with no education.”
But Laura didn’t care. After all, she was in her mid-thirties now, old enough to make her own decisions. There would be no change of heart.
The lack of education was something of a problem though. She had regretted leaving school early for quite some time, but there was little she could do about it now.
She had a plan, check the local papers each day and a few key websites. She was sure she would find something although she knew it might take some time. But the days, then weeks passed. This really wasn’t the kind of economy to be looking for a job in. No jobs were advertised most days. Eventually though, she saw something that piqued her interest.
Personal Assistant required for physically disabled man. No prior experience necessary. Please contact…
It wouldn’t have been the kind of job that she had thought about doing previously but she might as well look into it. After all, she had nothing to lose. Later that day she rang the contact number, trying to make sure to sound enthusiastic on the phone.
“Hello! I’m ringing about the job advertisement in the papers.”
An aged voice spoke back to her.
“Oh yes, it’s for my son you see. He needs assistance on Saturdays/Sundays, but sometimes during the week also. It would be private work for a number of hours each day. Ten euro per hour. If you are interested we’re looking for someone to start straight away.”
Laura was caught off guard and unsure what to say next.
“Yes, I can start straight away.”
There was a palpable sense of relief coming from the other side of the phone.
“Good! You can start this Saturday afternoon.”
He then gave her a complex set of directions, which she hastily tried to write down on a small piece of paper. Then, before she knew it it, he put down the phone.
For the next few days, she wondered if she was doing the right thing but in the end she decided that she might as well give it a try. Before she knew it Saturday had arrived and she was trying to follow the haphazard directions. The house was in a very rural location. The greenery made a nice change for Lauren, but she wished that there were people around to seek directions from. Eventually, she was pretty sure that she had located the correct house and she tried to steady her nerves as she parked in front of what was a large, imposing house. It had a beautiful, wooded area toward the front and Lauren found herself wondering what the back of it was like.
She had just managed to put on her mask, when an old man, probably in his seventies gingerly walked towards her car.
“This must be Lauren,” he said with a wide smile as she got out of the car.
In truth, she could barely get a word in as he showed her in through the front door.
James hadn’t expected to feel so down but he was. Martha had been one of the rocks that he had come to depend on. For five years, she had been by his side. Like clockwork, she had shown up each day and helped him with the little things. Ever since that faithful day, he had finally managed to make it home. But now she was gone to what he had to admit was a well deserved retirement.
Now, he had to get used to “new people” as his father called it.
There would be a new carer coming Saturday, he wasn’t to worry. All James knew was that it was another woman. Probably another old woman, he thought to himself.
Saturday arrived and if he hadn’t already known, he would have by his excited father. Talkative at the best of times, he had notched it up a gear. The poor woman better like to chat, he thought to himself as he heard the sound of a car pulling up.
By the time Lauren had finally managed to enter the house, she had already learned quite a lot about the man she would be looking after. His father had made sure of that. His name was James and he had been an engineer up till a few years previous when he had a massive stroke that left him partially paralyzed down his right side. He now needed assistance with basic things that the average person takes for granted.
But one thing Lauren had not expected was that he would be so handsome, with strong masculine features such as a square jaw with piercing blue eyes and a mop of un-brushed, disheveled black hair. He was shabbily dressed though with skin so pale that he must not have seen sunlight in months. The room had a stale, dusty smell.
They quickly exchanged pleasantries but he seemed somewhat shy and they didn’t make eye contact. It was the father who took charge of the conversation telling her what she was and was not expected to do. Some of her tasks were simple household chores whereas others involved James’ personal care. She was just about starting to feel confident when the father abruptly told her that he was now on the way out and would be back in a few hours. At least he was finished talking.
For a moment James was stunned. He had not expected her to be beautiful but she was with long, curly red hair covering her shoulders; a petite body with curves in all the right places. He wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing, but it was definitely going to be different.
James had never been good with women even prior to acquiring a disability. He had always put his studies and work first. This was something that he later regretted.
In truth what he did feel was somewhat intimidated. He tried to look away so that he could compose himself, hoping she wouldn’t notice his palm had become sweaty. His father took the pressure off for some minutes by going through what was expected of her. But all too quickly there was just the two of them.
In fairness, she did try to make conversation but James had no interest in soaps or what was going on in reality television. Fortunately, they found an easy co-existence where James would play his games till he needed her. Though she did seem fixated on opening windows.
He was nervous though the first time they had to get up close and personal. It was about two hours after she had first arrived. He couldn’t stand alone unaided and she had to provide support as he went to sit on a toilet seat. It was the closest that he had been to a woman around his own age in some time. Her hair brushed up against his face and he got a strong whiff of her perfume. He just about kept his mind on the job at hand.
After a few hours, his father returned and her time was up. She would be back in two days.
James couldn’t quite place the first moment or day it happened, just that it seemed to happen more often now. Looking at the clock to check how much longer it would be till she arrived or that feeling of sadness, even emptiness when she left again. She made him laugh and would cheer him up whenever he felt down. At times, he had to strongly resist asking her to stay. This hadn’t happened with his last Personal Assistant.
The more he thought about it, the more he knew not that something was wrong but different. His last Assistant never made him feel like this. Then one night they kissed. It was only a dream but it made him nervous around her the next day, especially when she leaned over him putting on the sling and some of her hair brushed against his ear. No, he had to put these feelings behind him. Even before his stroke he had never been good with women and now what chance would he have in a chair with slurred speech? Would she be impressed that he had reached a new level in one of his games? No, he didn’t think so, not even if he reached “God” status.
And he didn’t want to lose what he had or to make a fool of himself. Better to keep quiet and keep the status quo. Perhaps, unrequited love was the best he could hope for in any event.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, he’s just been quieter the last few days. A few days ago, I was going to put on his sling and I felt the atmosphere change abruptly. It was really weird.”
Lauren was chatting with her Mum. They talked about everything and she was the one person that she felt she could always depend on. It was late Saturday evening.
“Maybe, he likes you, like fancies you.”
“What?” she replied incredulously.
“Well, he is a man around your age and you are quite pretty. Look darling if you don’t feel the same way go easy on him. He doesn’t get out of that house much and the two of you get on well, he might be content with that.”
Lauren didn’t know what to say in response. Fortunately, she was now running late and had an excuse to leave, which she quickly took.
She was meeting her friends Suzie and Rose. Lauren hadn’t seen them in a while and had been looking forward to meeting them but now found herself restless as she sat down. Instead of concentrating on what they were saying, her mind became fixated on what her mother said.
Could he really be into her?
She loved spending time with him and didn’t want to lose that, not to mind a good paying job. He was handsome and more importantly intelligent, something she really liked in a man. It was his sense of humor she liked most though, he made her laugh at the banalities of life and she was always in good form leaving him. But surely it would be unprofessional for anything to happen between them? This wasn’t something she felt she could chat about on a night out with her friends, so mostly she stayed quiet.
“What’s wrong with ya?” Rose asked abruptly over the loud music, “barely a peep out of ya alnight?”
Lauren responded that she wasn’t feeling the best and that was kind of true. They told her to drink up, as if alcohol was always the best solution.
Then just as she was on her last pint, her phone buzzed telling her that she had received a text message. Her heart missed a beat. It was Stephen, the guy she had being having a “thing” with. She hadn’t heard from him for some time.
“Ah, not him again,” Rose exclaimed sensing her unease, “he’s only after an easy ride when your pissed.”
True, but she hadn’t had sex in a while. What would she do?
James wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Lauren seemed to be smiling that bit more at him recently and wearing a heavy scented perfume that drove him wild with arousal, although he tried his best not to show it. Instead of her just watching him playing video games, they would talk for hours. Well, mostly Lauren would talk, which was just as well as James would struggle even without his slight speech impediment. But he was an excellent listener, especially to her and that seemed to compensate.
They would discuss everything together and James now felt like he knew everything about her. She even told him about an ex boyfriend that recently contacted her.
“Yeah, imagine that texting me just as I’m about to go home. For you know what! No, that’s just not me anymore.”
James was somewhat stunned, mostly by the fact that a man would not realize what a gem she truly was.
“Oh, I just don’t know.”
James thought he should say something, anything.
“You deserve more,” he replied.
This raised a smile as she flicked her long, curly red hair.
“Why do you say that?”
James turned crimson and struggled to respond.
“Why don’t we watch a movie when I’m here tomorrow. You could download something off the internet.”
“Yyeah that’d be great,” replied James.
Lauren’s heart was beating ferociously as she got into her car. He definitely likes her, she was sure of it. But just not sure enough to kiss him. Not yet anyway. This film would be the opportunity. She would have to make the move but that was okay, it was the twenty-first century after all.
Every night now, he would enter her dreams and she would tell him how she truly felt. That he brightened her every day. That she loved everything about him.
Yes, it was now the time to do it for real.
James wasn’t quite sure what kind of movie to download to watch with Lauren. Maybe it should be something romantic but what if he was misreading her signals. It could get cringe worthy. But then again, if it was an action film it might be a golden opportunity missed. Oh, anything for a simple life. If only women would tell you what they wanted rather than being so cryptic.
Eventually, he made a decision. Now, he just had to hope that it was the right one.
Lauren had everything exactly the she way she had hoped for. Okay, she had no idea why he had selected “Jurassic Park III or whatever” as the film to watch, but she thought it best not to complain. She had decided to wear a low cut top for the occasion and she could instantly tell that the sight of her cleavage was having the desired effect.
Still, it had taken some tenacity to convince him to get out of his wheelchair and sit on the couch beside her, that she had hastily moved into position. He knew that he would struggle to sit straight and would start to lean sideways, exactly as was then happening.
“Maybe, it would be easier if I put my arm around you like this, see.”
His head rested against her bare shoulder. For a few minutes, they watched the movie. A volcano was blowing up in the film, but she cared not a jot. She flicked James’ ear and he turned towards her. For the first time, they peered into each other’s eyes. She leaned towards him and kissed him on the mouth, gently at first but when he responded, more aggressively. She felt his hands on her breasts. She thought about taking off her clothes, but decided that would be for next time. For twenty minutes, they kissed with hands wandering over their bodies before they realized that his father would be back soon.
“So, what happened at the end of the film?” James asked with a wide grin.
“Who cares?” Lauren laughed, “what made you pick that film anyway?”
“Are you kidding me? It’s romantic. See how those Tyrannosaurus were looking at each other.”
Lauren gave him a knowing kiss and told him she would pick the next one.