A State of Grace Pt. 06

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Hello, and welcome to Part 6! My editor, the amazing Gungurl_300blk, has asked me to include a brief disclaimer, so here you go: Every character in this work that participates in sexual activity is 18 years of age, or older. Also, please remember we’re talking about fictional characters, and fictional sex, in what is, after all, a work of total fiction. Still, she (my editor) must be appeased, lest she stop being my editor. So, hopefully having accomplished my goal of appeasement, may I present part 6 of “A State of Grace!” – CM


I’d had a fitful night, just tossing and turning for hours. So, when the voice of Miss Oreza, my protective officer (she disliked the term ‘bodyguard’), sounded in my ear, I was understandably grouchy about it.

“Miss Richmond, wake up, please!” she said.

“Grrrr, it took me forever to get to sleep, leave me alone!” I said, rolling over and pulling the thin hospital blanket tighter around my shoulders.

“Miss Richmond,” she insisted, shaking me gently, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t let you sleep any longer! Mr. Richmond will be discharged in just a few hours. Your parents are on the way to see you. You need to get up!”

“Alright, alright, I’m getting up!” I growled.

I slowly rolled onto my other side and stood up from what the hospital staff jokingly called a ‘cot.’ While it was certainly better than sleeping on the floor – especially in a hospital! – it was lightyears away from anything I’d call comfortable.

“Oh, excuse me…” came Miss Oreza’s voice. She sounded embarrassed. “I’ll step back outside. Sorry!”

It took my groggy mind a moment to realize the cause for her discomfiture. I was wearing only a pair of thong panties and a loose-fitting T-shirt. I was used to sleeping nude, which was a no-no in the hospital! I’d decided that this was a reasonable compromise. While I was perfectly comfortable in my own skin, I’d clearly given my protective officer cause to blush.

“Don’t be sorry, Miss Oreza,” I said, calmly. “I sometimes forget that not everyone shares my casual attitude about nudity. If I offended you, let me be the one to apologize.”

“Ha!” she laughed. I turned to face her and saw her shake her head in mirth. “Miss Richmond, I did two tours in the US Marines before I joined this company. Most people lose their body issues during the first week of boot camp! Besides, you are really pretty! You should see some of the folks I’ve watched over!”

Miss Oreza shuddered dramatically at the memory.

“Not pleasant viewing! Unlike you!”

“Well, thank you, Miss Oreza, that’s nice of you to say,” I replied, smiling. “Please, call me Grace, if you don’t mind. When you call me Miss Richmond, I sometimes wonder who you’re talking to.”

“Of course, Grace,” she replied. “In that case, feel free to call me Carmen.”

“Carmen,” I repeated. “That’s a pretty name. Is it Spanish?”

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “My family came from Brazil, where they speak Portuguese, not Spanish.”

“Brazil, really? I’ve never been there. Do you miss it?” I asked.

“No, not in the least!” Carmen said, firmly. “Of course, I was very young when we left. Maybe if I’d lived there longer, I’d feel differently. I don’t know. But, I lived in the favela, and my memories of that place aren’t good ones.”

“The ‘favela?'”

“A great big slum. Think of it as the ghetto, if that helps,” Carmen said. “I was assaulted at a very young age -“

Her gestures and body language told me exactly what kind of ‘assault’ she had endured. I shuddered in sympathy.

“I was rescued by a US Marine who was on vacation at the time. When my family came to America, I knew I wanted to join the Marines. I wanted to learn to take care of myself, and part of me wanted to be a real hero, just like the man that saved me.”

“Wow,” I said, impressed.

“After I left the Corps, I drifted for a while. I found civilian life a little hard to return to. Then, Miss Edwards hired me for Edwards and Edwards. This is the first job I’ve had since my discharge that lets me feel like I’m making a difference.”

I couldn’t help being curious. I’d never met a female Marine before. I grabbed a couple of towels, stripped off what little clothing I had on, and stepped into the bathroom.

“Why did you get out of the Corps?” I asked her.

“It’s complicated, but a big part of the reason was the toll it was taking on my body,” she replied. “Especially my knees!”

“I can’t imagine what that must have been like,” I said, as I turned on the water in the shower and waited for it to warm up. “Hopefully they took it easier on you since you’re a wo-”

Carmen’s laughter cut me off.

“What?” I asked, turning around to face her again. This time, she didn’t look away from my naked form.

“Grace, honey, the Marines didn’t water down the training or the requirements for me, or any of the other female recruits! We passed the same tests and met the same standard as the men, or we washed out!” she said, kadıköy escort shaking her head.

“You’re kidding!” I protested. “That’s not fair!”

“It’s perfectly fair,” she shot back. “Equality is equality, after all. And what could be fairer than requiring all recruits, no matter what they have between their legs, to pass the exact same tests and standards? Rather than treat women as substandard, or not as good as a man, they made me live UP to their standards! When I felt like I couldn’t do it, there was always a D.I. there telling me I could, and I WOULD! Or else! They forged me like a blacksmith forges iron. They literally made me what I am! Yes, it was hard, but if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!”

“Oh,” I said, slowly. “I didn’t think of it like that.”

I stepped into the shower and closed my eyes as the warm water soaked into my hair. After a moment of basking in the welcome warmth, I grabbed the body wash and shampoo and got down to business. I noticed Carmen watching me as I washed up. She wasn’t leering at me, just watching, although I’m pretty sure there was a little admiration in her gaze.

“You really are in excellent shape, Grace,” Carmen remarked.

“Thanks!” I said, looking over at her.

I finished washing and rinsing off, then I did a quick critical inspection of myself. My underarms were good to go, but my legs and pubic region needed some attention, I decided. I quickly lathered some shaving gel where it was needed and did some quick work with the razor. Then I shut off the faucet and stepped carefully out of the shower enclosure. I wrapped one towel around me and started drying my hair with another. I can’t stand the noise of hair dryers, and it didn’t matter, as I no longer owned one, anyway. When I’d dried my hair as best I could, I started drying my body.

“Grace, do you mind if I -” Carmen held up one hand and gestured at my torso.

“I don’t mind,” I said, laying the towel over the sink.

“Thanks,” she said and wrapped her strong, calloused hand around my forearm. She squeezed gently, then moved her hand to my upper arm, feeling my bicep. Next, she squeezed my shoulder and pressed her hand against my back, over my shoulder blade. Finally, she dropped her hand to my waist and tried to pinch the flesh there. She rubbed her hand over my belly, feeling my firm abdominals, then stepped back and gave me a sharp nod of approval.

“Excellent muscle tone,” she said. “What’s your routine?”

“Mainly bicycling and moderate strength training, but I also spend a lot of time on the treadmill,” I replied. “I would like to take up one of the martial arts, like Tae Kwon Do, or something similar, but I haven’t done that yet,” I replied.

Carmen nodded her head and smiled. “You might also consider something like Tai Chi, or Yoga. Neither of those qualifies as martial arts, of course, but they will help you keep your flexibility, and keep you limber.”

I surveyed my protective officer surreptitiously as I applied some moisturizer to my skin. Carmen was tall, around 5’11” I guessed. She’d removed the jacket of her pants suit, revealing a very cut physique.

“May I?” I asked her, holding out a hand towards her.

“Sure!” she replied. “It’s only fair.”

I stretched out my hand and squeezed her arm, much as she’d done to me.

“Wow,” I whispered, feeling the rock-hard muscle tissue beneath her copper-colored skin. Carmen was really buff, although I suppose that fact shouldn’t surprise me, given her background.

I ran my hand over her flat belly and was really impressed with the strength of her core.

“Carmen, you’re a real hard body!” I said, grinning at her. “I would kill to have a flat belly like yours!”

Carmen grinned ruefully at me. “Why? You have a lovely, lithe, sensual figure, Grace! Don’t wish that away! You’re in great shape! You aren’t fat, and you’re not a skinny mini! You have good strength and a wonderful shape. For myself, I’ve always wanted bigger breasts.”

She ran her hands beneath her modest bosom and sighed.

“I’d love to have a pair like yours,” she said, wistfully. “Oh well, they’d just get in the way while I’m wearing body armor. And with my luck, if I had bigger tits, they’d probably just smack me in the face when I’m running the obstacle course.”

I couldn’t help laughing at the mental image that thought provoked. Carmen laughed too. Then she glanced at her watch.

“Oh, you’d better hurry,” she said.

I hurriedly finished with the moisturizer and brushed my hair. Thank goodness I’d gotten a trim! Finally finished, I left the small bathroom and started digging for clothes from my daypack, which was now 90% of what I owned. Since the house had burned down, I didn’t have much clothing left, so a couple days ago, Crystal had driven me back to the park to get my Jeep. Then, we went to the mall. I didn’t spend a lot, but I got enough üsküdar escort underwear and outfits to last me a few days.

“Okay,” I said softly, looking at my reflection in the mirror.

“Better than okay, Grace,” Carmen said. “You look great!”

“Thanks, Carmen,” I said, smiling at her.

“My love life would probably be a lot more exciting if I looked more like you,” she said.

I slipped on a pair of panties and then a short little denim skirt that Kevin loved to see me wear. I topped it off with a strapless bra and a loose-fitting V-neck pullover blouse and running shoes.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, Grace, most of the guys that I’m attracted to aren’t attracted to me.”

“Why not? You’re pretty! You’re in superb condition-“

“Yes, and that’s a big part of it,” Carmen said. “I’m almost six feet tall, I weigh a solid 180 pounds, and not much of that is fat! I can run a mile in less than 6 minutes while carrying a full load of armor, weapons, and ammo. Most of the guys I meet in clubs and bars – hell, even in the gym! – take one look at me and run the other direction. The ones that don’t run, only ask about my exercise program!” she huffed. “Most of the time, when someone hits on me, it’s another woman.”

“Are you bisexual?” I asked, curiously.

Carmen shrugged. “Well, I admit that I experimented some when I was a teenager, but I’d have to say no. I can admire a beautiful woman, but I’m not attracted to them. I’ve never looked at a pretty girl and thought about taking her home. Sexually speaking, I’m only interested in men.”

She looked at me with a guilty expression. “I’m not trying to say anything against women who are bisexual or lesbian, though! I meant no offense towards your cousin -“

“It’s okay, I didn’t take it that way, Carmen!” I assured her.

“Since we’ve crossed the sexual Rubicon, so to speak, I’d like to ask you about something, if you don’t mind talking about it.”

“What might that be?” I asked.

“Are you and your brother, uh, well, lovers?” she asked, haltingly.

“Yes, we are,” I said, not at all shy about admitting this to her. “I’ve loved Kevin all my life. I finally decided to admit to both myself, and to him, that the love I felt was more than just the love of a sibling. Once I did admit it, well…let’s just say that things heated up really quickly. He’s the most loving and wonderful man I’ve ever been with, and I’ll never give him up!”

“I’m an only child, so it’s even tougher for me to imagine than for some,” Carmen said, stroking her chin thoughtfully. “Still, he’s a very attractive young man, and no one could ever doubt his courage! He’d probably make an excellent Marine!”

“Back in November, I had an accident on our family farm. I fell into one of the irrigation ponds. I fell through the ice, and I would have drowned, or frozen to death if it weren’t for Kevin’s actions! After all, was said and done, my grandmother asked him why he’d done something so dangerous. He told her that he would rather die with me than live without me. I’ve never felt love like that before. And I love him just as fiercely,” I told her.

I noticed Carmen studying me from the corner of my eye. She didn’t look grossed out or anything. In fact, if I’d had to characterize her facial expression, I’d say she looked more jealous than anything else.

“Well, you can’t help who you fall in love with,” Carmen said, wrapping a friendly arm around my shoulders as we walked down the hall to Kevin’s room.

“So you don’t think we’re freaks?” I asked, shyly.

“No, I don’t think you’re freaks,” she replied. “It’s weird, yes, but you’re both consenting adults, and it couldn’t be more clear that you really do love each other! Besides, my job is to protect you, not to judge you! Frankly, I think you’re very brave, admitting this to me.”

“Well,” I admitted, “Our family already knows, and so does Crystal. While we don’t go shouting it to the rooftops, we haven’t really been hiding it. Well, not since January, anyway. Kevin is rather circumspect about it, but I see little reason to hide it. I mean, yes it is incest, but most of the laws against it apply to cases where minor children are involved, or there is evidence of abuse.”

“Yeah, that’s true as far as I know, as well,” Carmen replied.

We entered Kevin’s room a few moments later. I leaned over and kissed him tenderly. After our lips parted, he sighed in pleasure.

“That’s the way I want every single day to begin,” he said, looking deeply into my eyes. “I love you, Gracie!”

“I love you too, Kev,” I said.

I kissed him again, not lingering this time. Then I pulled a chair next to his bed and sat down. I held his hand as we waited for our parents to arrive. I wasn’t terribly surprised to see Crystal and Kayla were with them when they stepped into the room. Mom went to Kevin and immediately started fussing over him. Dad came to me first, wrapping me up in his arms.

“Oh, tuzla escort baby girl, thank God you’re okay!” he whispered fiercely in my ear as he held me. “I love you, princess!”

“I love you too, Daddy!” I said, hugging him back.

“When we were told about the house, we were so afraid you two were in it when it burned,” he admitted. His voice cracked a bit, betraying the depth of his emotion in a way his tone never could.

“Well, we weren’t, but as it turned out, they had something just as fatal planned for us instead,” I replied. “Fortunately, Kevin was there with me, and he saved my life. Again. Then Hannah and Chris saved his!”

“Yes, your Mom and I have already thanked the West family profusely for what they’ve done,” he said, smiling against my cheek.

He released me after placing a gentle kiss on my forehead. Then, he joined Mom at Kevin’s bedside, reassuring himself that his son was okay. I sighed, wiped a stray tear out of my eye, and sat back down. As soon as I did, I was jumped by a curly-haired ten-year-old.

“Aunt Gracie!” she whimpered, burying her face between my breasts. “I was so scared that you and Uncle Kev were – were – DEAD!”

Kayla clung to me as tightly as her little arms could, and she sobbed softly. I put my arms around her and comforted her as best I could. The way her little body trembled with the force of her emotions really put my own heart in a wringer!

“Kayla, honey, your Uncle Kevin and I aren’t dead,” I reassured her. “Uncle Kevin did get shot, and he’s hurting, but he’s going to get better soon! You’ll see. I promise! And, your Mommy sent people to help watch over us!”

After what seemed like an eternity, Kayla’s sobs tapered off. It struck me like a sledgehammer at that moment, just how much this child loved me! I’d never really felt the true force of it before, but it was open and obvious to me now. This beautiful little creature loved me so much, that the thought of my death distressed her to the point of helpless sobs!

I rained gentle kisses on her head and face and hugged her tightly.

“I love you, Kayla! Please don’t cry, okay, honey?”

“Hey, what’s with the waterworks, little one?” Kevin asked.

I looked over to see that Mom and Dad had straightened and stepped back from the bed, giving Kevin a clear view of me and the little girl. His face was twisted in a look of concern. Kayla pulled her head up to look over at Kevin.

“Uncle Kev, I was really scared that you and Aunt Gracie were dead! I’m so happy to see you, that I guess I started crying. I’m sorry!”

Kevin grinned and stretched out his arms.

“C’mere, baby girl,” he said, tenderly.

Kayla stretched herself up so she could kiss my face, then she got down from my lap and carefully crawled onto the bed next to Kevin. When he took her into his powerful embrace, she finally stopped trembling.

“We’re gonna be okay, alright, Kayla? We’re gonna be okay! Don’t you worry about us!” he comforted her.

Kevin tenderly kissed the little girl’s face and wiped it free of tears.

“In fact, just seeing you, and feeling you hug me has made me feel a lot better, already!” Kevin declared as he hugged the child again.

“Really?” she asked, her eyes once more bright with merriment.

“Yes, really,” he replied, cautiously, probably wondering if he’d just walked into something.

“That’s good! That means I’ll have you all healed up in no time!” she replied with a giggle.

“Why do you say that, honey?”

“Should I tell him, Mommy?” she asked Crystal.

“Go ahead and tell him, Love!” Crystal said, smiling beatifically at her daughter.

“Well,” Kayla began, with unusual coyness. “You’re being released today, and you don’t have a house to live in anymore, and Mrs. West says you need to have someone to help take care of you for a few days until you can move better…so, you and Aunt Gracie are coming home to stay with me and Mommy for a while!”

“Oh, wow!” Kevin said, smiling at Kayla. “That is so incredibly sweet of you, but Aunt Gracie and I were planning to stay with our cousin Elizabeth and Fleur until we can find our own place.”

“But then who would take care of you?” Kayla insisted. “That’s my job! You took care of me when I was so terribly sick! It’s time for me to step up and help you!”

Crystal must have seen the confused looks on the faces of my parents because she hastened to explain.

“When Kayla was 4 years old,” Crystal began, “She needed to have her appendix removed. Unfortunately, the idiots at the clinic misdiagnosed the problem, and it ended up rupturing before they could perform the appendectomy. Kayla was deathly ill for a week and a half, with a raging fever, in spite of all the antibiotics they pumped into her. Kevin held her, rocked her, sang to her, and told her stories for days on end. I think he and Grace were there almost as much as I was!”

“I remember hearing your voice, Uncle Kev,” Kayla said, in a very serious tone. “I heard you in my fever dreams, and it sounded like my dad.”

“But Honey,” Crystal protested, “You’ve never heard – “

“I know, Mommy!” she replied. “You told me how I came into the world, remember? But I have had dreams of having a Daddy, and in my dreams, he sounds just like Uncle Kev!”

“Uh Oh,” I thought silently to myself.

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