Chapter 11 – Not a cure
Steven returned half an hour later, his hands full of brochures and notes on all the activities in and around town. He knocked on the door out of politeness, waited a little, but heard nothing so he used his key card and got in. The room was empty, but Jessica’s luggage were opened and placed on the luggage rack. Steven noticed that the door to the bathroom was still closed, so he sat down on the bed and opened the TV. Zapping to CNN, he watched as a Vietnamese was being interviewed live from Saigon. At the bottom of the screen, the scrolling message read First US ambassador to Ho Chi Minh City since the fall of Saigon in 1975. Then, the images changed to show a Pegasus rocket launching into space. This time, the text read Pegasus rocket carries the remains of 24 people into space in the first space burial, among them Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek. At that, Steven felt sad; Star Trek had always given him hope that the future would be better.
Finally, the bathroom door unlocked and Jessica got out, wearing a white hotel bathrobe, contrasting beautifully with her chocolate skin. Imagining that she was likely naked underneath had aroused him. The fact that she was twelve years older had no effect on Junior, which was now standing at attention. His thought went to Stephanie and that was the reason for his lack of sexual interest toward Jessica, he was sure, at least consciously. Steven had crossed his legs and moved the brochures in front of him.
“If you want, I can leave and let you get dressed,” offered Steven, getting up from the bed, keeping the brochures in front of him.
“Please don’t,” answered Jessica, a hint of nervousness in her voice. “What you need to do is tell me what your friend did to feel better. I have the feeling that you have something to do with it because you have been helping me a lot since we’ve met. I have not felt that good with anyone since I was attacked.”
“Get dressed and we can discuss it later,” urged Steven, feeling a little nervous now and trying to somehow escape the situation. “We can discuss it over dinner tonight.”
“No, you have made me wait for three days on the train and now it is time for you to stop skating and start scoring,” Jessica said as she closed her eyes, realizing her slip of tongue. “Sorry, that’s not how I meant it. But I still want, I mean, I would like you to tell me now, please.”
The statement had done nothing to help and Junior was now ready to leap out of his jeans. Steven looked at her, his nervousness slowly replaced by desire at last, but he couldn’t. He just wished she could get dressed and that they could have that conversation in a public place. He thought of Stephanie and how he couldn’t do that to her. But that wasn’t going to happen. She already had rearranged the pillows and sat on the bed, Indian style again, while motioning for him to sit in front of her.
He sat down, leaving some distance between them. He looked at her for a few seconds, trying to decide if he should invent something else instead. It worked before. He remembered the day of his Catholic Confirmation, when the priest asked if he had any sins to confess. Saying no would have looked suspicious or even pretentious, but the sins he had committed were more like small crimes that were best left untold, especially to a guy who probably did not know what a Commodore 64 was anyway. The priest said that he needed to recite three Hail Marys and not to do it again. He quickly said “To hell with Mary”, and that was the last time he entered a church.
Today, the stakes were higher than lying to an old dude. Let’s jump in, shall we? he thought.
“First, I want you to know that it worked for my friend, but it doesn’t mean it would work for you, nor does it mean that I can help you like I have helped my friend Myriam,” explained Steven, his renewed nervousness making him search for words. “That’s not medically proven. It just helped her, likely because she was the one who proposed it. She was ready in her mind for it. I just happened to be there for her that day.”
“I understand. So you think that by the way I have reacted to your touch in the train, it means that I’m not ready?”
He had not thought that far and what he really wanted to say was that it was a beautiful day outside, but he didn’t want to disrespect her and continued. “I’m not a professional and I’m not qualified to help anyone in this manner. You have to understand that I have never proposed my help to you like that,” explained Steven, now sweating. A drop had just left his armpit and he felt more were going to follow if the conversation continued in that direction.
“What if I wanted you to help me? Is there any reasons why you wouldn’t do it?” Jessica asked.
“You told me that you were a lawyer and that is very apparent to me now,” Steven answered. “But that’s not a witness interrogation.”
She tried to grab his hand, but he sat too far and she couldn’t reach it, so she moved closer. The movements made her bathrobe open a little. Steven was aware of it, but didn’t look down. “I have read about it. I also have seen a therapist for months and I know that it works for some people, and I have known what you did since the minute you made the statement to me,” Jessica persisted, determined. “I feel very secure with you, more than I have with anyone else. I may not get the chance to meet someone like that anytime soon.”
“So you think that my friend Myriam felt better after sleeping with me?” asked Steven.
“You said she did, when we were on the train,” snapped Jessica
“We didn’t have sex the night she asked. But after she started dating a few men, who all dumped her because she was unwilling to sleep with them, shall we say, in a timely fashion. She ended up inviting me for dinner and that was when it happened.”
“I totally understand her,” acknowledged Jessica, nodding in approval. “And I want that too. Tonight I’m treating you to dinner and then if you are willing, we are going to sleep together,” she added, assuming that no single man in their right mind would say no to cuddling and ultimately, sex.
Steven thought of Stephanie again for an instant. “The day is young and we have about twenty places we can visit. Let’s take it one step at a time,” he offered, in a final attempt at changing the subject.
“Sure, but first let’s relax here for an hour or so. I want the healing to start now.”