Thursday, December 26, 2013

Redeeming the Amazon Release Day


Most come to The Beaudelaire Hotel a select few times a year merely to indulge in sexual fantasy, but the stakes are higher for Karen Freeman and Paul Beaudelaire this New Year’s weekend. Karen is nine years post-op from a double mastectomy, and her vain ex-husband hadn’t agreed with her decision to remove her remaining good breast or to eschew reconstruction. In the end, that decision cost her. She lost her marriage, but she’s certain the move has prolonged her life.

Returning to a normal dating and sex life has been difficult. She hasn’t made love fully unclothed since the demise of her marriage, and her most significant relationship occurred right after her surgery. When she was still recuperating, she had an affair of the heart with a Marine amputee who’d also been her Ph.D. classmate.

Paul Beaudelaire once led a charmed life as a ladies’ man who had his pick of women in the upper echelons of New Orleans society. He’d been satisfied to continue in that vein, until a Marine recruiter wooed him from LSU with tales of valor, courage, and commitment. His career in the corps cut short by the loss of his left leg, Paul returned to New Orleans with the best prosthesis Johns Hopkins orthopedics experts could fit him with. The problem was, he’d left his heart in Baltimore with a beautiful former model, whose crippled marriage was the only deterrent to his waning honor. Will this fantasy weekend at his Uncle Henri's hotel give him a second chance with his contemporary Amazon, or will her fear of rejection be a barrier to their reconnection?


“What just happened? We were in a good place until all of a sudden, we weren’t.”
She shrugged like a gawky, inexperienced teen, afraid to go all the way with the boy she liked she wasn’t sure would still like her in the morning. He hated that the cancer had done this to her. Robbed her of her confidence.
“Karen, I would never hurt you.”
She smiled. He’d been going for intimacy, for sincerity, but apparently his heartfelt declaration struck her as funny.
“You know I won’t take advantage if you let me in,” he said, giving her a glimpse of his own vulnerability. This was as much about him as it was about her. Then he realized this statement was innuendo-laden as well, when her grin broadened.
“Exactly how do I know this?”
He would not let a moment of levity steal the inroads he was determined to make. “Because you know I’ve been where you are, even though on the surface it looks like I’ve dealt with and overcome all my issues with body image. Will you take a chance and go places with me intimately that you haven’t with anyone else?” He hoped like hell she could trust him. She hadn’t backed out when she found out he was her partner for the weekend, so there had to be something to her acceptance.
“How cunning. You knew the one thing—the only thing—that makes living inside our imperfections so difficult. I’m not surprised you get it.”
She smiled that same smile he saw in his fantasies. The one that says more than her words. She squinted, and laugh lines seemed to appear from nowhere. There was no guile or arrogance in it, just the tentative smile of a woman who was once very self-assured and was again trying it on for size.
It was that smile Paul had responded to first, before he’d discovered other interesting things as he’d continued to watch her. The way she walked with such grace, one might believe she was floating. The way she saw through bullshit as if she had a built in meter for it. Even his. The intensity with which she viewed life was even atypical, a study in contradictions for one who’d stared death in the face and made it back down.
“If we do this your way, I’ll have one rule.”
Desperation made him reckless. “Anything.”
“The lights must be off.”
“Except that…” He stood and paced. “Karen, we’re supposed to leave our inhibitions at the door.”
“Okay. Suppose I were to blindfold you instead?”
He stopped in his tracks and smiled involuntarily. “That sounds promising, but if we get any kinkier than that, we might have to change floors.”
“Let’s just get the mechanics down now, shall we?”
“That doesn’t sound particularly sexy.”
Her expression challenged him. “I’m going to make you rue that statement before this weekend is over.”

“Game on,” he said.
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