Ben allowed me to sleep late the next morning. When I awoke he was sitting in the kitchen with my Mom chatting while drinking coffee. I was surprised to discover Ben was washing my clothes for me. When I commented on it he replied, "Get used to it Darling, I'll be doing your chores and caring for you after your treatments start. I don't want you doing anything, but focusing on getting well."
I thanked him and hugged him tightly. It was then that my cell phone rang. I answered it when I saw it was my neurologist's office. He informed me that he'd talked to the surgeon and managed to secure an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. I thanked him and hung up. Unfortunately that would be mean we'd have to get a flight for that evening or night. I told Ben the situation and he told me not to worry about it, he'd take care of it. He took his phone and disappeared from the room for a while.
I asked my Mom what she thought of Ben. "He seems like a nice guy Annie, but don't you think your relationship is going a bit fast?" She replied.
"What do you mean?"
"You barely know each other and he's already talking about being together for life."
"Oh, I don't think he really means that. He's an actor Mom, he's just being dramatic. He was really surprised to learn about my cancer diagnosis and then when I said I had no one back home but my roommate who works long hours...he's just really compassionate and doesn't want me to be alone. Frankly, I don't want to go through this alone either."
"You could always come back home. There are doctors here to treat you. I get lonely with your Father gone now."
"I know you do Mom, but I have a job in Tampa with health insurance and can't afford to lose either. You can come out to visit as often and for as long as you want. I thought you had your clubs, friends, and Aunt Rita to keep you occupied?"
"I do Darling, but you're my only child, you're sick and you need your Mother."
I hugged her tight as we both began to cry some. "I know Mama, but cancer isn't something chicken soup and hot tea will help much. I'll be fine and Ben will take care of me. I know it seems to be happening so quickly, but I feel deeply connected to him and he loves me. I really believe that."
"I hope he does Darling. I wish I could afford to move to Tampa and be closer to you."
"You own this house and I know you couldn't afford another mortgage on your retirement and Daddy's benefits. You'd get sick of apartments quickly too; you always said you hated the idea of strangers being right on the other side of your walls. Besides, it's too humid and rains too much in Florida for your taste."
She chuckled slightly. "You know me too well, Annie."
"When the doctor schedules my surgery, I'll call you and you can come out then and stay with us for a couple of weeks. Then afterward, I'll Skype you a few times a week so you can actually see that I'm fine. Have you learned to use that feature on your phone yet?"
"Oh, I've used it a few times. Your cousins showed me how; I just hope I can remember what they did."
"Let me see your phone and I'll show you again. I'll even write down instructions for you."
She got out her smartphone and I started showing her how to use the Skype feature. Ben returned not long after we started and informed me we had a five o'clock flight to Tampa. "It's about a five hour flight. Will your roommate be able to pick us up at the airport or do I need to reserve a car?"
"I'll call him and let him know, it shouldn't be a problem."
I saw a strange expression flash across Ben's face that I couldn't quite read. Was it jealousy? He composed himself quickly and replied, "You never said your roommate is a man."
"I didn't? I could have sworn I mentioned Brad by name. We've known each other since we were five years old. He, Kathy and I were inseparable when we were kids. People used to jokingly call us 'The Three Musketeers.' He's like a brother to me."
He smiled, but it seemed like a tight, controlled smile. "Oh, he's one of those types of friends. I'm glad you have had someone like that in your life. Of course, now you have me and I'm more than just your friend."
I smiled and replied, "Yes indeed you are. I love you Darling. I'm going to go call Brad now."
He kissed me quickly and said, "Don't be long Darling, I'll miss you too much."
I laughed as I got up from my chair, "Oh Ben, it's just a phone call, it won't take long."
I went off to the guest room so I could call Brad. He was at work, but had some time to talk before a meeting. I told him about the doctor's appointment the next day and the flight tonight. He assured me it would be no problem to pick me up at the airport. I told him that I wouldn't be alone.
"Is Kathy coming down with you? I haven't seen her in nearly three years!"
"No, she was supposed to have gone back home yesterday evening. I texted her last night when we got to my Mom's house but she hasn't responded yet. She met someone there and they partied together and stuff, so she's probably sleeping it off today. I'm bringing home a guy. He's...well...he's my boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?! Since when does Annie Babe have a new boyfriend? I thought you weren't getting into relationships anymore?"
"We met at Comic-Con in Denver on Thursday and ended up spending the whole convention together. He's a wonderful man and you'll like him once you meet him."
Brad was silent for a few minutes. Finally I said, "Please, Bradley, don't be mad at me."
"I'm not mad at you; this just seems kind of sudden. You just met this guy and he's coming home with you. What's his name? What do you know about him?"
"We spent a lot of time getting to know each other over the weekend. If I tell you his name you have to swear to keep it to yourself. You can't tell anyone."
"That's a little strange there Annie; even for you."
"Promise me to keep quiet Brad!"
"Yeah ok, I will. Why is he top secret?"
"His name is Benedict Cumberbatch."
I then heard this weird sound like he'd been drinking something and suddenly sprayed it out. It was followed by some coughing as Brad moved the phone away so he wouldn't deafen me by the noise. When he finally came back on the line, he responded, in a somewhat strangled voice, "You're fucking kidding me?!"
"If you really thought that you wouldn't have just sprayed your latte across your desk. I hope you didn't get it on your computer screen this time. You know I wouldn't make something like that up."
"HOLY SHIT ANNIE! You're bringing home Benedict fucking Cumberbatch? The guy from Sherlock and Star Trek?!"
"Um, could you lower your voice please?"
"My office door is closed! I know you and Kathy went to that convention because y'all have crushes on those guys and were hoping for selfies. I didn't expect you to bring one of them home with you! What happened to that guy that plays Loki? I thought he was the one that got you all hot and bothered."
"I met Benedict first and...well...it just kind of happened. I thought we'd just have dinner together that night and it would be the end of it. I didn't expect to fall in love with him or him with me."
"In love?! After three days together?! Annie we've known each other for thirty years and you're still not in love with me!"
I sighed. Here we go again. "Brad, you know how I feel about you..."
He cut me off. "Yeah, I'm just your big brother." He then let out a big dramatic sigh before continuing, "Annie are you sure about this? He is an actor after all."
"Yes I'm sure. You don't know him like I do. You haven't even met him. Don't be so judgmental! He's a really nice man. You'll like him."
Brad let out another big dramatic sigh before saying, "Yeah, ok Annie, I'll give the guy a chance for your sake. I love you and just want you to be happy. So I should be at the airport for half past ten tonight?"
"Yes that should be fine. If there are delays I'll text you."
"Ok sweetheart. I have to get to a meeting in ten minutes. Take care of yourself Annie. Tell your Mom hello for me."
"Bradley, don't call me sweetheart. I'm not your girl!"
He let out a half-chuckle sigh, "Oh Annie, you'll always be the only girl for me. You should know that by now."
It was my turn to sigh dramatically; "Yes, Brad I do. You remind me of that fact often."
We then said our good-byes and hung up. I had my back to the door so I didn't realize it was open. I was startled to see Ben standing next to the doorframe when I turned around. "Is everything all right?" He questioned.
"Yes, everything is fine, you just startled me. I didn't hear you open the door."
"You were gone longer than I thought it should take to make airport pickup arrangements so I wanted to make certain you are all right."
I smiled, went to him and kissed his lips gently. "We were just talking a little bit too; that's all."
"Ah, I see. So what fact does he remind you of often?"
He had heard that? Was he outside the door, listening the whole time? I opened my mouth with every intention of telling him the honest truth; even I was shocked by what came out of my mouth: "Just that I don't slow down and take care of myself often enough. He was just saying that he wished I was going to get to relax for the rest of my vacation from work instead of having to deal with doctors and possibly more tests."
"Oh...you will get more time to relax once I'm there to help you. You just need someone to take care of you. Your illness will likely force you to slow down some as well."
"Yes, all of that is very true."
I kissed his lips again and then moved to go out the door. He took my hand and followed me back to the kitchen. I had no idea why I lied to him. Why was I hiding how Brad feels about me? It was a one sided childhood crush that he'd had for years. I didn't love him that way. He was like a brother to me and I didn't want a romantic relationship with him. Besides, as soon as we grew up and had college looming before us, he chose a university in Florida and left me. It was true that he'd tried to get me to go with him, but I was afraid of leaving home and going somewhere completely new. Trying new things had made me uncomfortable when I was young; I'd become more adventurous as I'd grown older. Despite our separation with only occasional visits, Brad was still the first to open his home and his life to me when I desperately needed someone.
I had suffered with headaches for over six months when my doctor started prescribing Percocet to relieve it; nothing else worked. Every few months, my prescription had to be strengthened until I was finally at the highest dose he could prescribe to me. By then I was addicted because I took more than I should have. I started going to other doctors around Albuquerque and even further away to get prescriptions for Percocet or Vicodin. I never got more than three or four prescriptions before they refused to give me more. It stopped my headaches and made me feel so much better when I was on them. I wasn't even aware of how stoned I often was. I also had friends who used illegal drugs which I make the mistake of trying once. I went to work stoned and my boss realized I was; he confronted me and I was so out of it that I admitted it willingly. I was fired on the spot.
The same mutual friends who had brought Robert and me together notified him of my addiction to painkillers; at least that was always what I suspected, though no one admitted it. He contacted child protective services and within forty-eight hours of losing my job, I'd lost my four year old son. They turned my baby over to the father who'd abandoned him when he was a newborn baby. The man who told me after two weeks of fatherhood, he couldn't handle it and left us. He was now responsible for my son. I didn't know where to go. Kathy was temporarily living with her Mom in a small apartment since she had recently left a bad relationship. I couldn't go home to my parents; my Dad was very sick and enough of a burden on my Mom. Although she never said anything at the time, I was certain my Mother knew about my addiction. I was so embarrassed to turn out to be such a disappointment to my parents. I ended up with two weeks to get out of my apartment since I could no longer pay the rent. Out of sheer desperation I had called Brad and told him what had happened. He never once hesitated to take me in. He flew to Albuquerque the very next day, rented a moving truck, loaded up all of my stuff and drove me to Tampa. We sold all of my furniture since I had no use for it and wasn't that attached to it anyway. He even helped me to find treatment to get over my addiction. I would ask him often in the beginning why he was being so generous to me and he always replied, "I love you Annie; time and distance has never changed that."
I would tell him that I didn't love him that way. He would shrug and say, "Maybe you'll change your mind someday."
I just didn't feel that way for him though and I could never make him understand that.
Ben and I arrived back in the kitchen. Mom asked us if we'd like to go out to lunch. I smiled, "Is it Don Julio's?"
"Of course! I would only take my daughter to her favorite restaurant."
I laughed and hugged her. "Sure Mom, it sounds great! Let us get ready first. I desperately need a shower."
"OK, you two get ready and I'll do the same."
She went off to her room to get changed and whatever else she would do to make herself presentable, as she was fond of calling it. Ben asked me what kind of restaurant we were going to. I replied, "It is southwest Mexican type food. It's a local business that has been here since I was a kid. It's always been my favorite place to eat out. We always went at least once a month when I was growing up. It is family owned still; I went to school with the kids that grew up to take over the business. They have great food and even better margaritas. You'll like it!"
"If it your favorite restaurant, I'm sure I'll love it." He kissed me then.
I went off to get a shower while he went to the laundry room to get clean clothes for me. By the time I got out of the shower, he had everything neatly repacked in my suitcase. He then went to take a quick shower. An hour later, we left the house with Mom to have lunch at my favorite local restaurant.
We had a long leisurely lunch and spent plenty of time talking about my childhood. Ben was eager to hear stories about me as a child and my Mother was only too happy to share. Some of them I found rather embarrassing, but Ben thought it was adorable.
Fortunately we had brought along our suitcases since it was soon time to go to the airport if we were to get through airport security. We all loaded back into my Mom's car and she drove us to the airport. She parked at the curb and got out to kiss me good-bye while Ben got our bags out of the trunk. After kissing my forehead she held me tightly as if she feared letting go. I had to reassure her I would be fine and well taken care of. When she finally let go, Ben promised to look after me and make certain I stayed in touch as much as possible. He took my hand and led me into the airport, away from my Mother. I could feel myself tear up as I allowed Ben to lead me through the airport.
We made it through security and went off to wait in the VIP lounge until our flight. Ben tried to carry on a conversation about our visit with my Mom, but I eventually tuned him out; I wasn't in the mood for idle chatter. I was despondent about leaving my Mom, my illness and so many fears that were maniacally swirling around in my distraught mind. Ben finally picked up on my melancholy mood, ceased his attempts at conversation and simply moved closer to wrap his arms around me and hold me tightly against his warm body. Our flight ended up being delayed by nearly an hour due to weather. I texted Brad to tell him we would be late. He responded by telling me to text again when we boarded so he'd have a better idea of when to be at the airport. I soon nodded off, lying against Ben's chest until at last our flight was called.
I waited until the plane actually took off before I texted Brad to tell him we were in the air. It would end up being nearly midnight by the time we would get home. The flight was completely uneventful to the point that I fell asleep again about an hour after takeoff and didn't wake up until twenty minutes before we landed. It seemed like in no time at all we were off the plane had our bags and were heading outside to meet Brad. Ben was grateful it was late and not busy at the airport. He didn't want to draw attention to us. Brad arrived not long after we were at the curb. He got out of his black BMW X5 to open the back for our bags. He then gave me a quick hug and asked how I was feeling.
"I'm fine, just tired," I replied before I proceeded to introduce him to Ben.
They greeted each other and shook hands briefly, but they both seemed to glare at the other with controlled resentment. I then moved to the front passenger door to get in the vehicle. Ben got in behind me while Brad walked around the back to the driver's side to get behind the wheel. No one even attempted to make small talk, so the twenty minute drive to Brad's house was filled with awkward silence. I was too tired to attempt to alleviate anyone's fears about the other, so I just remained quiet.
We soon arrived home. Ben allowed Brad to get our bags out of the bag since it was his vehicle, but Ben grabbed him to follow me inside. It was a rather nice two-story house with three large bedrooms and two bathrooms all on the second floor. The first floor had a half-bath.
"If it's just the same to you two, I'm going on to bed. I have to get up early in the morning for work," Brad stated upon entering the house behind Ben. "I only have one guest room that Annie is currently occupying. The third one I use for a sort of home office, but there is a sofa in there that pulls out to make a bed."
"Thank you, but that won't be necessary. I'll be sleeping with Annie," Ben replied curtly.
Brad just stared at him for a moment before replying, "Ah, I see. I guess it's a good thing I went with the queen sized bed." He then turned and went up the stairs to his own room.
I turned off the downstairs lights and went up as well; Ben followed me to my room. After closing the door and putting down the bags, Ben said, "I get the feeling your roommate doesn't like me."
I turned on the lamp beside my bed and was beginning to undress to put on my pajamas. I snorted and responded, "I get the impression that feeling is mutual."
Ben had been undressing as well so he was nearly naked when he stopped, shrugged and gave me an innocent smile. "I don't really know him. However, I sensed hostility from the moment that you introduced us. Is there something about your relationship with him you're not telling me?"
I sighed and said, "He still has a bit of a crush on me after all these years. I've made it clear to him that I'm not romantically interested in him many times over the years. We've known each other for so long I feel like he's my brother and it would be... awkward to say the least. You have nothing to worry about Ben. I love you and only you."
He grinned and came over to kiss me. I was in nothing but my panties and had every intention of putting on pajamas and going to bed when he turned me toward the bed and backed me up to the edge of it. I pushed away from him and said, "Not tonight Ben."
"Why not Darling? You slept so much on the plane that you couldn't possibly be too tired. Is your head hurting again?"
"No I feel fine. I just think I would feel kind of...well...strange having sex with you down the hall from Brad."
I climbed into bed wearing nothing but my panties while Ben stood there staring incredulously at me. "I do not intend on going six months or longer without making love to you," he finally responded.
"We don't have to do that. He leaves for work early in the morning and is gone for most of the day. I work from home except for one, sometimes two, days a week so I'll be here. We can do it when he's gone."
Ben turned off the lamp and got into bed next to me. I couldn't be certain, but I thought he'd removed his underwear first. "We haven't had sex since Sunday," he stated pointedly.
"I'm aware of that. What's your point?"
"My point is that I want you right now," he replied before moving over me to kiss me lustfully.
I soon pushed him back and said, "Ben, I said not tonight."
I couldn't quite read the expression in his eyes because it was so dark in the room. I didn't miss the callous quality in his voice when he replied, "Am I your Master or not?"
"Oh, Ben, I'm not in the mood for sex games."
He quickly moved to grab my wrists and pin them to bed on either side of my head while he moved to straddle me. "It's not a game. You're mine and I want sex. Now."
He then moved to position his left leg between mine and force them apart. He settled between them and I soon felt him slide inside of me. He began thrusting at a moderate pace. After a few seconds he said, "Come on baby, you know you love the feeling of me inside of you."
I had been a bit frightened by the way he took me so forcefully at first, but I couldn't help it; it did feel good. In a way, taking me that way was kind of erotic. I shifted my legs and wrapped them around his waist. He chuckled low and sexy before whispering in my ear, "That's my girl. I knew you'd surrender to me. You can't resist having my big cock shoved up inside your tight hole, now can you?"
"No, I can't," I muttered.
"That's my good girl," he cooed in my ear before he began pumping into me faster.
It felt so amazing that it was getting harder to hold back my moans of pleasure. He could tell by the subtle noises I was making that I was trying desperately to restrain myself. He let go of my wrists then and lifted himself up some to grab the cross bar at the top of my brass bedframe so he could brace himself in such a manner that his penetration was even deeper. His thrusting increased to a near frantic speed. I couldn't hold back anymore and began to moan louder. My peak was getting closer and he began to coax me saying, "Come for me baby. Come for your Master."
It wasn't long until I did come and so hard that it was almost painful. I couldn't help screaming his name. He laughed then said, "That's my good girl, coming so hard for her Master. Now it's my turn."
I then felt his arms under my back, lifting me up as he sat back on his butt. He held me tightly to him as he continued to fuck me, at a slightly slower pace. It seemed like several minutes passed before he finally grabbed my ass and held my pelvis down on his groin while he unloaded into me with a loud animalistic groan. He then slowed his movement and soon released me as he collapsed back onto the bed. I lost my balance and tumbled on top of him. He just held me close while his breathing slowed down. Finally, he kissed my forehead and said, "That was the best we've had yet Darling."
I struggled slightly to sit up and move off of him. I turned and laid my head down on my pillow. I was still breathing hard with my heart racing; my pelvis was also still quivering from the intense orgasms I'd just experienced. He shifted positions to lie down next to me and put his arm around me. "Was it as good for you as it sounded, my love?"
I managed to say, "Yes, it was wonderful."
He sighed contentedly and pulled me close to his body. I could tell that he fell asleep moments later. I was certain Brad had heard us making love. As I began to slowly drift off, I wondered if that was Ben's intention all along. Was he trying to make Brad jealous or just make it clear that he was my lover? Before I could decide how I felt about the situation, I drifted off into a deep sleep.