Peppermint & Lavender
Mari began to settle in and started to snuggle with Locke when he reluctantly stopped her.
“Mari, would you mind if I removed my leg?”
Mari turned towards him, “Of course, I don’t mind, why would I? It is your house, of course, you should feel comfy!”
Locke ruffled his hair as he nervously replied, “I just can’t help myself, Mari, it is still weird to me that you are so comfortable with me as I am. I still can’t help but feel a little self-conscious about it. Even around family, aside from the occasional swim, I seldom take off my leg around them. There is a part of me that still feels like it is somehow wrong, like I don’t feel normal. That is why I feel like I have to ask you, because if you didn’t feel comfortable, I wouldn’t feel comfortable, and I just need that extra bit of reassurance from you, I guess.”
Mari leaned over and gave him a big hug. “Sweet-pea, I want you to feel comfortable inside and out. If asking me first makes you feel better, so be it. I am going to tell you, though, that the answer to that question will always be yes. Yes, you can take your leg off it if it makes you feel comfortable. I …”Mari stopped mid-sentence. It really, is very soon to say this, should I say it? Locke did say that he was in this for a serious relationship, as am I. So if I say it and it doesn’t work, well then, better to know now.
Locke looked at her worriedly, unsure of what she meant to say next. He prodded her “I??”
Mari looked down, pulled herself together and continued. “ I want you to feel comfortable, I want you to know I will always be comfortable around you, no matter what because,” she took a deep breath, “I love you.”
Locke looked at Mari’s face. He saw the love in her eyes and he saw the uncertainty that was there because they both knew she took a very bold step in using the “L” word. He knew, though, that it was right because he too loved her very much. “Mari, I love you, for loving me.” He leaned over to hug her, and maybe, just maybe, there was a tear in the corner of his eye, because he was sure that he’d never find someone who could truly accept him as he was, or at least no one would be able to convince him that they had accepted him 100% with the love that Mari had for him.
After the big moment of “I love you.” to one another, they sat there cuddled in silence. It was a moment they weren’t quite ready to break. After some time, Mari realized that she would have to be the one to interrupt, because, well nature called. She needed a restroom break.
I don’t want to go to the restroom and ruin this moment, of course, it would just be my luck. That I would HAVE to use the restroom. Well, I can’t sit here and do the “pee-pee dance” or squirm as the case would be, that would NOT be attractive. Well, buttercup, life isn’t a romance movie, I’m a human being and these things happen, so I’ve got to suck it up and excuse myself to the restroom. “Locke?” Mari gently called out.
“Yes, sweet-pea?” he replied.
Mari sighed. “I hate to kill the moment, but I have got to go to the restroom, do you mind if I excuse myself for a moment?”
Locke chuckled, “Not at all darling, in fact, I probably should go for a run myself before I settle in and get too comfortable and have Murphy’s law kick in and end up having to go at an inopportune moment!”
So they both took care of business, with Mari returning first. She grabbed a couple of drinks and placed them on the coffee table and then curled up on the couch. Locke returned shortly thereafter, removed his leg and liner and proceeded to get comfortable as well. Mari readjusted and leaned up against him. Locke looked nervous about Marisol leaning up against him. Again, he knew she said she wasn’t freaked out, but it was still going to be a while before he could rest easy with the idea that she really was okay. Mari could sense that he was uncomfortable, so she rubbed his left knee and looked up with a smile to reassure him that it was okay.
“So, Mari, what are we watching?”
“Wayne’s World, I haven’t watched it in ages and thought it’d be fun to watch.”
Locke replied “Oh wow! I haven’t watched that in eons! This will be fun, good pick!”
They watched together, snuggling throughout the movie. Along with snuggling, they kind of treated it like a quote-along as well, headbanging during that famous headbanging scene and throwing out the miscellaneous “We’re not worthy” and “Not!” throughout the movie. As time passed, however, Locke noticed that Mari was drifting in and out of sleep. He had a decision to make. Should he just tuck her in and let her sleep? It was a school night, so he realized that it might not be a good idea to do that without checking if she was okay sleeping there for the night. People will talk, and he didn’t want people making assumptions about his darling, sweet-pea! He decided that the best course of action would be to gently wake her up and see if she wanted to stay there or he could take her home and pick her up in the morning if needed.
“Mari…Wake up sweet-pea…Mari?”
Mari groggily turned over, bleary eyed and asked, “Oh Locke, what time is it?”
“It is just after midnight. I hope it isn’t too forward, but did you just want to spend the night and get up a little extra early? Honestly, you seem a little too sleepy to be driving right now and I’d worry about you.”
“Ugh imas Stee hrnw.”
“Uh, Mari, I think you’re falling asleep again there, sweetheart.”
“Oh. Yeah, I’ll stay here.” she turned over.
“Mari, would you like to join me in my bed, you would be much more comfortable. If you want I can leave the bed to you and I’ll sleep in the guest room.”
Mari sat up and hugged him as he stood on his crutches in front of her.
“In your room.With you.”
Locke balanced on one leg and one crutch and helped her up with one hand. She groggily got up and gently held on to him by his elbow staying out of the way of his busy hands. Locke looked over at her sleepy face with her half-closed eyes and saw her smiling, this warmed his heart greatly. They walked to his room together. She quickly settled in while he went to take care of business in the bathroom, cleaning his liner, putting it up to dry among other details. When he finished he hopped into bed and curled up with Marisol where they both began to sleep.
At about 3am, Locke sat bolt upright. Oh no, not now, please not now, let this pass. He was awakened by phantom limb pains, and not just a mildly uncomfortable pain like he tended to have more often these days when he had an episode. He awoke to a full blown, foot on fire, ankle being stuck with needles, toes being pulled with pliers kind of excruciating pain. Okay, gotta breathe. Just because the pain is big, doesn’t mean it has too last long. Please don’t let it last too long. Not least because I don’t want Mari to wake and see me this way. He grimaced and quietly groaned. He tried to just breathe and meditate on something else, willing it to go away. However, when he very quickly figured out that was not going to do the trick, he reached into his nightstand and took his prescription strength ibuprofen, two Tylenol and popped a tramadol for good measure, hoping to knock this pain out. He tried to lay back down, and breathe deeply, but he kept returning to a shallow pant that this pain seemed to make him do. Tears were starting to emerge from his eyes, against his wishes. He was trying so hard to keep his pain quiet and to himself, but he couldn’t help the yelps and groans that seemed to escape against his will. He silently clawed at the bed sheets with his fingers. If he had been alone he would have been shouting and groaning loudly in his pain, but he was trying so desperately to keep Mari out of it. She didn’t need to know this side of things yet. It was too soon. Okay, fine, even if it had happened after 10 years it still would have been too soon as far as Locke was concerned. He carefully turned over and desperately hoped that he wouldn’t wake her.
Mari stirred. Is Locke okay? She wondered as she remained still. Marisol had a pretty good idea of what was going on. She heard him fumble for pills and heard the quiet yelps and groans. She had a feeling that these would be much bigger if she had not been around. She stayed quiet, listening. If it seemed that things were settling down, then she wouldn’t let him know that she was awake. She waited for what seemed like an eternity, but what was, in reality, about 20 minutes, which is what she figured was long enough for any meds he had taken to kick in provide some relief. However, it seemed that this was not the case and that he still was in pain. “Locke, mi amor,” she whispered,”Are you okay?”
Locke sucked in a breath and answered somewhat shortly. “Yeah. I’m …” he sucked in another breath as he grimaced, “I’m fine. Really.”
“Locke, you’re not fine. I’ve been awake for a bit, hoping that things would settle down for you, but they haven’t. Tell me, what can I do. I promise I am not afraid to do anything to help you.”
“No, really.” Another pinched breath. “I’m okay.”
“No, you are not, give me some clue, or I’m just going to google myself an answer in 3…2…”
“OKAY. A hot compress. In bathroom. Microwave 30.” he spat out in pain.
Marisol, went to the bathroom, dug through a couple of drawers before finding the compress and she went to microwave it. She returned to find him lying on the floor with a pillow under his head.She went ahead and applied the compress at the end of his residual limb. Locke gently readjusted it and turned to Marisol offering a “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome Mr.Locke, but I’m not done with you yet. While we let that sit there, I am going to google a few things to see what else I can do to help you.”
Locke tried to object, but found that he was still in too much pain to object, so instead, he just nodded at her.
Mari googled and found out a few things, aside from the things they had already tried, she found that massaging the residual limb sometimes helped. “Locke, I know you are still in pain but have you tried to massage your limb yet?”
Locke grunted “No.”
“May I try?”
Locke gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. Mari was a bit fearful, quite certain that he was going to growl a fierce “NO.” but to her surprise, after he let out a groan, he softly said “Okay.”
Mari kissed him on the forehead and then told him. “I have some peppermint and lavender essential oils in my purse, I’m going to grab them and some olive oil from the kitchen so that I can use that to massage your leg.”
He silently nodded. Mari went and gathered those items and mixed it up and began to massage his limb gently. She started and worked her way down from the knee to the end of his limb which, when compared to his other leg, was about halfway down his calf. As she worked him gently she asked him if it was good or if he wanted her to use a little more pressure. He sucked in a breath and said “More pressure.” So she continued, massaging from the top down and as she increased the pressure, it seemed to calm him and if she wasn’t mistaken it seemed to be helping. She looked up at him and saw, for the first time in probably 30 minutes he didn’t have his eyes screwed tightly shut from the pain. So she continued and asked Locke “Better?” to which he replied with a sigh, “Yes.” She kept massaging until he interrupted her. “Mari. I’m sorry. If you want to go home now, I understand. I’m so sorry and I’m okay now.”
“Locke Glasgow.” Mari gently chastised him. “You have nothing to be sorry about and I am glad that I was able to help you. I am also not going home right now. There is no reason for me to go right now, and there is no reason for you to be embarrassed or ashamed. I told you once tonight that I love you and I mean it. I am not going anywhere because you had some pain that woke me up. Not going to happen.” Locke looked at her stunned. “Now, if you want to return the favor,” she began to purr, “There is still plenty of the Lavender and Peppermint olive oil mixture left and I’d have for it to go to waste, so if you are feeling better and up to it, a short little back massage would be fantastic.”
Locke grinned.” Alright sweet-pea, one give me a few more minutes to recover and then we’ll see about a return massage.” They curled up together and before either of them knew it, they had fallen back to sleep. Locke awoke to Mari’s alarm, and he realized that she was sound asleep. Hmmm… He thought I do still owe her a massage for last night, maybe this will be a nice gentle way to wake her up. Fortunately, it was not a day he had to get to work early, so he could afford to spend a little time on giving his sweet Mari a little TLC this morning.He began by hitting the snooze on her phone and then started the massage with a gentle little kiss on the back of her neck. He used some of the oil from last night and began gently massaging her back with a few kisses thrown in for good measure. “Marisol.” He whispered. “Mariiii, time to wake up sweet-pea!” He continued with the massage for a bit longer. “Mari, I know I owe you a good massage, but I think it is time for you to wake up hun, you have to get ready for school.”
Mari suddenly turned over, pulled her hair back, rubbed her eyes for a moment and let out a sigh, “Arrrrgh. I am not a morning person.” She turned over a moment and covered her head, before realizing that Locke might think it was his fault. She uncovered her head, turned to him, gave him a sweet little kiss on the lips and said “I’m sorry hun, this has absolutely nothing to do with you and last night. I set my alarm with a thousand alarms before I actually have to get moving because I fight the mornings every morning. The only difference between today and any other morning is that normally, my masseuse has a tail, four legs, and claws. This morning I was awakened by you, and that has made an otherwise annoying morning delightful.”
Locke suddenly looked concerned as he realized that she didn’t plan to stay the night and he certainly didn’t have any spare clothes for her beyond a pair of sweatpants and t-shirts that wouldn’t exactly be professional wear. “Mari, do you need to leave so that you can get dressed at home? I would hate for you to run late…”
Mari chuckled. “Fortunately, Mr.Locke, I am prepared for anything. Years of teaching has taught me to keep an extra change of clothes or two from top to bottom in my car, along with emergency toiletries and make-up, you never know when a kid might throw up on you, forcing you to have to change everything. You need not worry about your fair maiden having to do the walk of shame at your nephew’s preschool. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll run out to the car and grab my things.”
Locke smiled, he couldn’t believe how prepared Mari was. He had not yet put on his leg yet, so he made his way to the kitchen on his crutches and began to prepare breakfast, he pulled out the homemade salsa, eggs, tortillas, and bacon. As he was cracking eggs and cooking bacon for breakfast tacos, Mari walked back in.
“Locke, which bathroom would you prefer me using yours or the guest bathroom?”
Locke panicked momentarily. He wasn’t ready for her to see his shower stool and his liners drying on their stands along with other things like that, but he didn’t want her to feel put out. He wanted to let her into his world completely, but he just hadn’t prepared himself for this quite yet. “Mari, I think the guest room would probably be best, I’ve got a bit of a mess in my bathroom this morning that I need to clean up.”
Mari simply responded, “Okay, no worries, thanks!” and bounded off to the guest bathroom. Mari got ready in record time, of course with the promise of a hot, fresh, home cooked breakfast waiting for her in the kitchen, that was ample motivation to get things moving at a brisk pace. Mari walked into the kitchen and hugged Locke from behind and declared, “This looks absolutely delicious, you are spoiling me!”
Locke turned and kissed her, responding “No, it is me, who has been spoiled. I am so sorry you had to deal with…” he sighed as he gestured down toward his leg, “…this. I wish I could promise you that it would never happen again, but I can’t make that promise. I do promise to always be thankful for everything that you do for me. Thank you for being there for me last night, thank you for helping me with the warm compress and thank you for massaging my leg when I was in such pain.Thank you for helping me getting past my pride and accepting your help.” He held her in a warm embrace, crutches hanging loosely on his arms, until he announced, “Tick-tock goes the clock, another moment passes! We better eat our tacos before they get cold and you run out of time, missy!”
Mari made a couple of tacos with corn tortillas. She was a happy camper because not everyone has corn tortillas out for breakfast tacos. She put some fresh salsa and a little pico de gallo on her taco and enjoyed every bite! “Thank you so much, Locke, I am glad to see we are both fans of corn tortillas for breakfast tacos, I mean I like flour tortillas too, but there is just something about corn tortillas that I love!
Locke let out a chuckle, “ I had no idea you were so passionate about corn tortillas, I guess I’ll have to make a mental note there.”
Mari walked up to him, rubbed his back and whispered in his ear “I’m passionate about many things.”
That sent a deep shiver down Locke’s spine and he responded with a very passionate kiss. After a time, he murmured “I see.”
Mari’s alarm went off, and they looked at each other. They did not want to part, but time moves on at an unforgiving pace when you just want time to stop. Mari gathered her things and as she was about to exit the front door she turned to Locke. “Thanks for dessert,Locke, here’s one more for the road.” They kissed for a bit longer until they had no choice but to part company for the day was moving on, with or without them.