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His prayers had been answered. Not in any way he'd expected. The woman in front of him didn't look quite real. She didn't look like a whore, either. He wondered if he had died and this was a ghost or an angel. But she felt real enough when she pressed her hand up against his lips.
She felt real and cool to the touch.
"Well, you're alive and breathing here. Wherever here is. But you're not alive by much," he heard her say. "This hospital can't be what it looks like it is--my God. What an awful place."
"Yes, ma'am," he whispered.
Her hand touched his face again and he shut his eyes. He could smell perfume and clean skin. Her touch was soft and gentle against his feverish skin. Everything about this dream-woman felt good.
He opened his eyes again. She might feel good, but she looked a little odd. Her brown hair was cut shorter than he'd ever seen a woman's cut before, and she was wearing some baggy things that looked almost like short pants. Women didn't wear pants, so they couldn't be. Her shirt was tight against her body and he could see her breasts. High, pear-shaped breasts that looked like they could fit in his hand. He could see long, white legs.
In fact, now that he thought about it, she didn't look odd. She looked perfect.
"You're in bad shape, mister. But I guess you know that."
"Yes'm," he croaked out between parched lips. "Water?"
"You're thirsty, too. Of course. And there isn't any to be had that I can see." She sighed. "I suppose any water that is around here is crawling with bugs."
"Yes'm. Most likely." It hurt to talk, but he wanted her to stay with him. If they talked, she wouldn't vanish.
She looked down andhissed.
"I don't believe this. I have my glass. I wish I hadn't drunk all the tea, but at least I brought along some ice. I hope it won't make you sick. I suppose you can't feel much sicker than you are now--"
His eyes had shut after the effort of talking. He tried to concentrate on what she was saying, but the words swirled around him, sometimes clear, sometimes not. Then he felt something cold and wet on his tongue.
Frozen water. Ice melting against the heat in his mouth.
She was an angel. She had to be. No one else could conjure up ice in this hell.
He let it slide against his tongue and puddle away.
"Try just one ice chip," she gently whispered. "We'll see how that goes. If that works, we can try another."
He opened his mouth and moved his head, blindly looking for more.
"Soon. I promise. There's more."
Her hand stroked him again. Her voice sounded odd, but the ice and the hand felt just right.
The second time she gave him ice, her arm slid under his head and she leaned closer to put the chip against his mouth. He felt her fingers against his lips. Then he felt her breasts up against his chest.
Thank you, Lord. That might not be all he wanted, but that might be all he could handle for now.
If she stayed, he'd be willing to live a little longer.
"Were you hurt anywhere but your leg?"
"No'm. Got a fever, though."
"Let's hope it's nothing contagious. By the way, my name is Nell. Eleanor, actually. But call me Nell."
"And you? Since we're getting so cozy here, don't you think you could tell me your name?"
He felt her hands undoing the button at his waistband. His breath caught when he felt her fingers probing the pants fly.
"How do these things come undone, anyhow?"
Her fingers found the covered panel at last. She tugged at the first button.
"This is harder than it looks."
He believed her.
One button, two, three, the fourth ... Then she began to push the pants down.
Oh, yes. Thank you, Lord. He was feeling weak as a baby, but if the Lord was providing this, then maybe the Lord would give him the strength to do what he'd been wanting to do, to grant him his one last wish.
"What's with these underpants? How does anyone get out of these things?" She unbuttoned the fastening halfway down his muslin drawers.
He still couldn't open his eyes, but he could feel his penis stiffening. No. He wasn't dead. With his pants opened, he knew she could see what was happening to him. He couldn't hide his arousal.