[(1) “Seeing Beauty” story logo, left]
[I will illustrate my stories with my dream cast: Richard Armitage as Keith Erickson, Mandy Moore as Lily Sherman, Matthew Perry as Brock, David Schwimmer as Jack, and Matt LeBlanc as Sam; the late Jessica Tandy as Hazel, and Leelee Sobieski as Mercedes. etc.]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Seeing Beauty” is a nontraditional romantic love story set amidst contemporary times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes or other sauciness (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: Their initial homework from Pastor Nels for their pre-wedding marriage counseling has them share with each other their reasons for loving and wanting to marry each other. It is a very poignant moment for them. And they look forward to blending their lives together when Lily moves in with Keith.
Chapter 23: Moving Day for Lily, Saturday, May 2nd
Keith’s third and final week of private rehab flew by. And although he returned home to his apartment on Friday night—with Lily joining him as they joyously made love for the first time as newly cohabiting fiancés—it is not until Saturday, May 2nd that they will do the remainder of moving in Lily’s possessions. She is bringing most of her clothes and class materials and her cherished mementos for now. They’ll then take their time sifting through her furniture and other items to decide what she will bring to the apartment, store to save for later, or to sell or to give away. Even though Lily has done some packing already this week, moving is a daunting task. So first they have some breakfast—courtesy of Keith.
Keith: Keith calls to Lily from their kitchen. “Lily Darling, I’ve started the coffee. Shall I get out the coffee cake, too?”
Lily: “Yes please. I’m just finishing putting on my make up.” She replies to him from their bathroom.
Keith sets out the coffeecake package. Then he pulls down two plates from the cabinet along with two coffee mugs. He places two forks for them to eat their coffeecakes with on the counter. Keith feels very comfortable in being able to navigate his kitchen since the rehab folks helped he and Lily reorganize it more simply.
Lily walks out of their bedroom in her moving day work outfit of a lightweight long sleeved pullover blouse over a jeans skirt. You see, Lily never wears pants—too hippy—and she always has her arms covered to hide the weight she’s lost there. She smiles as she walks over to where Keith is in their kitchen.
Keith: “Hello Lily Darling. We’ve got coffee! And I made it myself!” Keith is clearly pleased with himself for making their breakfast—even though no cooking was involved.
Lily: “The coffee smells wonderful.” She gives Keith an encouraging hug and kisses his cheek. “We’ll need the boost of energy if we’re to try to get as much of my stuff over here today as we can. Even with the movers helping us, there’s still all of the packing and unpacking to do.”
Keith: Caressing Lily’s curves he says. Lily Darling, you almost seem like you’re wasting away. Don’t over do it on the weight loss. You need to keep your nutrition up for the surgery in two weeks so that you’ll heal properly.” Keith nuzzles her neck.
Lily: “I know.” She sighs with his loving attentions. “But, I’m not really denying myself any food. I think it’s just all of the moving around with my packing up the boxes at my apartment that has given me a workout this week.” Then, Lily lays her head on Keith’s shoulder and becomes very quiet.
Keith: “Lily Darling, what’s wrong? Even I can tell by your silence that you’re worried about something.”
Lily: “It’s just … it’s just my skin reduction surgery coming up in two weeks. It’s scary to think that they’re going to be cutting me up and putting me back together–like my body was a dress pattern. I just hope everything goes well with my healing from it. And the doctors said that though they’ll try to hide most of my scars in natural folds—like in my bikini line—it will take time for the scars to fade completely.”
Keith: “I know what you mean. Surgery is scary. I still have a few scars myself.” He knocks on his head. “But, I’m sure the doctors will take every precaution to make sure that you’ll be okay. But if you don’t feel comfortable with having the surgery now, you can just back out of it.
Lily: “Keith, I have to have the surgery! My weight loss is so pronounced now. There’s no going back.”
Keith: “I know that you think that you have to have it now—so you can wear your pretty dress for our wedding in June.” He teases her impishly as he caresses her cheek and she smiles. “But Lily, you will still look beautiful on our wedding day with or without your surgery. You’ll always be beautiful to me.” He kisses her adoringly.
Lily: “Thank you for that, my love. But, I want to be beautiful for you–in front of everyone. … So, that they know that you didn’t make a mistake in marrying me.” She says tearfully. Now Lily has shared her deepest fear with Keith. That they still won’t be accepted as a couple if she isn’t considered pretty enough for the handsome Keith.
Keith: “Oh my Darling Lily, you are beautiful—now, this minute, this second. I may be legally blind, but I see you in all of your loveliness. In your caring eyes that always show their love for me.” He kisses each of her eyes. “In your apple cheeks that blush each time I kiss you.” He kisses each of her blushing cheeks. “In your sweet smile with words of love that encourage me daily.” He kisses her lips sweetly. “In your long silky hair that swishes invitingly when you walk.” He gently caresses her hair. “In your graceful neck and shoulders that bears the burden of caring for others.” He kisses each one. “In your arms outstretched to love and caress me.” He guides her arms to his shoulders as he wraps his arms around her waist. “In your full round soft breasts that I lose my heart in every time we make love.” He kisses her breasts adoringly. “In your womanly hips that mold yourself to me in our lovemaking and that will one day bear our children.” He caresses her there as well. “But these beauties are nothing compared with your heart, my love.” He kisses her there. “You gave your time and your caring to me when I needed you most–you gave me support and encouragement to help me to find my way back. But most of all Lily, you have given me a reason to live again—with your love and with you by my side. And with you Lily, I have found a happier life that I had not thought possible—even before my accident. I see you my Darling Lily, and all of your beauty fills me with joy and thankfulness … that you chose me.” The blind Keith gazes soulfully into Lily’s teary eyes.
Lily: “Oh Keith, my love.” Tears are streaming down Lily’s face.
Keith dips Lily and they kiss for a very long time, sweetly, tenderly, lovingly, adoringly, and passionately. And then, they return to their bedroom and make love again this morning as true lovers in love do—heart and mind and body and soul. Breakfast can wait, moving can wait, love can never wait.
Later in the day, Keith and Lily do get most of her clothing and personal items moved over to his– now their—apartment, after supervising the movers. Keith and Lily are one step closer to being together forever.
To be continued with Chapter 24
Chapter 24: Lily and Keith’s first Pre-Wedding Marriage Counseling Session on Sunday May 3rd
After Keith and Lily share their vows they had written with Pastor Nels, he gives them another homework assignment to do during their pre-wedding marriage counseling session. They must each identify and discuss what their top priority is for their lifestyle, their family and children, and their relaxation and leisure activities. So, they each take a few minutes to think about it, then they come back with Pastor Nels facilitating the discussion.
Pastor Nels: “Now as I said, I am here to facilitate, not dictate your discussions. So, I encourage you to be as honest as you possibly can be with each other. Let’s discuss the lifestyle issue first. What did you each come up with? Keith, you first.”
Keith: “Well Pastor Nels, we already have a comfortable home together.” Lily blushes at Keith’s admission that she and he are living together. “I just hope that we can always be happy by living within our means. So, many people get caught up in credit card and loan debt. And that’s something that I’ve really tried to avoid. But I’ve been blessed in my career and I’ve saved as much as I can.”
Pastor Nels: “And you Lily?”
Lily: Lily winces a bit sheepishly. “Wellll, I do have some credit card debt and a loan on my car. And, of course, I’ve had to take out a personal loan for my upcoming surgery. My teacher’s salary doesn’t give me much of buffer to save up for life’s essentials. So, I’ve never even thought about luxuries like vacations to destinations that require a plane trip. But, I’m happy and content with that. And, I’m not a big jewelry or expensive clothes person either. My engagement ring from you, Keith, is the nicest piece of jewelry that I have.” She looks down at her engagement ring on her left hand as the diamond sparkles from the overhead lighting–still in awe that she is engaged to the love of her life and they are soon to be married.
Keith: He smiles at her mentioning her engagement ring. “Well, Lily, one thing we should do is to pay off your credit cards and loans so that we’re not incurring the interest on them. How much do you owe?” He asks, realizing that they haven’t talked about finances.
Lily: “My car is almost paid off. So, I only owe about $1500 on it. But, my credit card has a $5,000 limit and I’m at that. However, the surgery co-pay loan is the biggest—at about $25,000.” Lily looks at Keith, wondering if he will think she hasn’t been wise with her money.
Keith: “That’s not bad.” He says nonchalantly. “Anything else?”
Lily: “No, I paid off my student loans last year. You see, my Mom was sick when I was in college and I had to take over paying for my tuition and fees because the family monies went to pay for her care. But, I was lucky in that I received some tuition waivers.”
Keith: “Well Lily, you haven’t asked me what my finances and savings are, so I’ll tell you since they will become yours as well. I lived frugally early on in my career. And I have several pension and insurance funds set up and paid off for retirement at age fifty five. I’m thinking that in twenty years, I might want to change careers or travel and I wanted the financial flexibility to do that. I also have a couple hundred thousand dollars in long term investments. Of course, the insurance payoff for the accident covers my medical expenses and future surgeries that I might have. In addition from the accident, I have a two million dollar insurance pay off over ten years to help in case I need to re-career. And finally, I have about seventy five thousand dollars in liquid assets that we can use to pay off your debts, and to pay for our wedding and honeymoon. “
As Keith commandingly says all this, Lily can see the in charge person that Keith’s advertising executive career has made him.
Pastor Nels: “That sounds fine. If you have nothing else to discuss on this subject for now, let’s segue to family issues—children, child rearing, and extended families.”
Lily: “As I said Pastor Nels and Keith, I’m the youngest child by several years of my parents who passed away some time ago. My older brother and sister are at least ten years older than I am. I have some nieces and nephews whom I see occasionally, but we live in different parts of the country. I would hope that when Keith and I have children of our own, they might get a chance to know their cousins.”
Keith: “It’s great that you’re an Aunt, Lily. I’m the eldest in my family and my younger brother also hasn’t married—let alone had kids yet.” He rolls his eyes. “As you know, my parents are still living, but my Dad has not been well. I’ve often thought that if my parents might consider relocating here, then I could help them as they age and more health issues arise. It would also be nice to have them around for when our kids are little and growing up.” Lily smiles at the thought of their children having grandparents.
Pastor Nels: “And how many children do each of you want?”
Keith: Keith answers right away. “At least one of each—maybe two boys and two girls.” He smiles at Lily and she smiles back at him.
Lily: “I wouldn’t mind a houseful of kids. It was lonely growing up being so much younger than my siblings. They were in college by the time I was in third grade.”
Pastor: “And how do you two plan to navigate parenting and your careers?”
Lily: “With being a university teacher, my schedule is already very flexible. And the department office staff are great about accommodating the teaching scheduling needs of faculty who are parents now. So, I hope that they would extend that courtesy to me as well. And, the university’s insurance and benefits package helps to compensate a bit for the lower salaries. Though, I’ve always wanted to be the main influence in my children’s lives.”
Keith: “And Lily Darling, my savings will allow us to either hire an au pair to help out for us, or allow you to reduce your teaching load—if that is what you wish to do. And, if I do some telecommuting from home, I can be on diaper duty, too.”
Lily: “Ooh! Hidden talents for diapering. I’ll remember that Keith and hold you to it.” She laughs gleefully as she squeezes his hand.
Keith: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Keith laughs joyfully. “Absolutely!”
Pastor Nels: “Finally, we come to leisure activities. This includes entertaining and vacations and such.”
Lily: “I like swimming and bicycling and golf–mostly low impact activities because I have a touch of arthritis.”
Keith: “I didn’t realize that you had arthritis, Lily Darling. You didn’t tell me.” He pouts thinking that he might have been more gentle with Lily in their lovemaking if he had known.
Lily: “Yes, well, I don’t really broadcast it. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I just adapt where I can–and rest when I need to.” Lily smiles cheerfully at Keith, then at Pastor Nels–who nods at her compassionately.
Pastor Nels: “What about vacations and entertaining? Lily?”
Lily: “I’ve mostly visited state parks and historic sites. And I like entertaining that is friendly and not too fussy. My mom always had lots of fine linens that I had to iron or silver to polish—most of which my siblings have now, ironically—so I’m not too keen on having to do all the work that fine entertaining requires. I like to focus more on the food and the friendships.”
Keith: “Well, running and skiing are out now for me, obviously.” He laughs and squeezes Lily’s hand clasped in his. “So, maybe I’ll join Lily. Though I don’t know if you want to trust a blind guy with a golf club.” They all laugh. “I have enjoyed several vacations over the years that involve plane rides to get there, but I’m willing to compromise on that point. And as for entertaining, I usually had that catered before. So, I will bow to Lily’s wishes in that regard.”
The marriage counseling session ends amiably and Lily and Keith are given more homework for next time.
To be continued with Chapter 25
Chapter 25 (R rated): Keith Returns to Work on Monday, May 4th
Wanting to be as independent as he can be, Keith takes a taxi to his first day back at work. Though, Lily almost feels like she’s sending their child off to his first day of school as she worries about how he will fare on his own. Keith is still on crutches and his vision is limited. So, he has arranged for Janet to meet him at the elevator and then he will walk with her back to their suite of offices so he doesn’t mow anyone down. And, the ladies Keith works with brought in some treats to celebrate his return. So, the first hour Keith is back in the office is just socializing as Keith learns to recognize his work colleagues by their voices and the height of their visual blobs. Keith also shares with them that he and Lily are engaged and that they’re all invited to their engagement party at their home this Saturday. Then, the second hour, Keith and Janet work alone in his office as she catches him up on current projects and clients. As Keith had said earlier, Janet was and is his right arm person. She will help him requisition what will essentially be a large plasma screen tv for his computer display in hopes of enlarging the visuals big enough for him to see them. They also cleared the clutter of objects off of his desk to leave just the essentials of a phone, his desk pad, nameplate, business cards, and a picture of Lily.
Then at lunchtime, Lily drops in to Keith’s office and she meets everyone before taking Keith out to lunch. Finally, Keith spends the afternoon in meetings with different creative teams batting around ideas for different client ad projects. Since Keith has long been the words and ideas guy as a mentor and Creative Director, he doesn’t have to draw graphics or be primarily visual in these planning meetings–other than to be verbally descriptive. It has been a good first day back for Keith. Keith feels that maybe he can still make valuable contributions to his colleagues and he feels energized to be back doing what he loves.
Lily teaches only daytime university classes this semester and they are winding down with final exams this week. So, she rushes home and starts dinner on Monday night, May 4th—Keith’s first day back to work–to wait for Keith to arrive home around 6:00pm by taxi. As Keith hobbles in their front door on his crutches, carrying his briefcase in one hand–more for effect than for him carrying anything in the brief case—Lily nearly pounces on him in warmly greeting him as he arrives home.
Lily: “Welcome home!” Lily joyously wraps her arms around Keith’s waist. “Did you have a good first day back at the office?”
Keith: “I did, surprisingly. I might actually be able to do this.” He says a bit astonished as he kisses her forehead. “How was your day?”
Lily: “I gave a final that I’ve already graded–and I finished the grading for my other classes.” She smiles proudly.
Keith: “Lily Darling, you sound like you’re really organized and detail oriented. Maybe I should hire you to work for me.”
Lily: “I think that might be a little too much togetherness, Mister.” They both laugh. “We need to be apart to miss each other during the day.” She kisses his cheek sweetly. “Besides, I would love to line up some of our students as interns for your company over the Summer.”
Keith: “I’ll think about that.” He smiles warmly. “Now, what I would really like is to take off this leg brace, shower, and then soak in the whirlpool. Do I have time before dinner or are we going out?”
Lily: “We’re eating in. I figured that you might be more tired your first day. So, we can just rest and relax tonight.”
Keith: “Thank you Lily Darling! Hhhh! You read my mind! Care to join me in the whirlpool?” His eyes twinkle as he raises his eyebrows up and down suggestively.
Lily: Lily’s eyes widen. She and Keith have a very loving and sensuous relationship. But all this is new to her, so she feels a little shy with each new lovemaking tryst they have. Of course, this newness for Lily only further excites Keith as her lover. “Oh yes, Keith my love.”
Keith and Lily first remove their clothing in their bedroom—slowly and sensuously as they help each other out of their clothes. They walk into their bathroom and Lily puts her long hair up in a twist so that it doesn’t get wet. They start filling the whirlpool tub and pour in some bath crystals. Then Keith and Lily step into the large shower enclosure and rub body wash all over each other—their ardor and arousal increasing as the soap bubbles caress their bodies, and as they kiss and caress each others’ bodies. Lily and Keith rinse themselves off, step out of the shower, and then they step in to the warm pulsating waters of their whirlpool tub. Keith gingerly sits down and lies back against the tub wall and Lily sits on top of him, facing him—joining their bodies together again, and again, and again, and again. They kiss and caress and move their bodies in loving and lustful ways as their sensual needs become pleasures fulfilled as their bodies tremble with the blissful ecstasies that they have given to and shared with each other. Lily lays forward onto Keith’s chest, with her head on his shoulder. They lay like this for some time in the soothing warm water, delighting in each others’ tenderness. After some time passes, they arise from the whirlpool tub and rinse and dry themselves off. Then, they tumble into bed naked to kiss and cuddle some more.
Lily: Looking stricken, something suddenly occurs to Lily. “Oh no!”
Keith: Laughing, he says. “Ha ha ha! That’s not the usual reaction you give me after we make love my Darling Lily.” He teases her.
Lily: “It’s not that, Keith.” She says shyly and kisses him sweetly. “Making love with you is always wonderful. … It’s just that, …” Then she whispers into his ear, even though no one is around to over hear them. “… we forgot to use a condom.” She pulls back and looks at him sheepishly with her lips pursing into a cute pout.
Keith: “Ha ha ha! That’s a relief! I thought that I might be slipping, or something in the romance department.” He says amusingly.
Lily: “Never!” She leans forward and they kiss adoringly.
Keith: “Hmmm. Lily Darling, is it your fertile period? Are you worried that you might become pregnant?”
Lily: “Keith, not having a lover until you, I haven’t needed to even think about what my fertile period might be. I think we’re okay. But, we shouldn’t forget again—that is, until we’re married and we want to start our family.” She states rather primly for a naked lady still embracing her naked lover lying in bed with her.
Keith: “Hmmm. And tell me Lily Darling, how did you like making love with me … au natural?” He seductively asks of her. Of course he prefers not wearing a constricting condom. And since they are in a committed relationship–and to be married next month–he will get his wish soon enough.
Lily: Blushing profusely, Lily says sweetly as she kisses Keith’s cheek and whispers in his ear. “Very nice.”
Lily and Keith continue to kiss and cuddle for a little while before rising and putting their jammies on to eat their dinners and cuddle in front of the fire place for a relaxing evening at home. Then, before they drift off to sleep this night, Keith and Lily make love again, sweetly, tenderly, lovingly, adoringly, and passionately—and with a condom, just in case.
To be continued with Chapter 26
(1) The “Seeing Beauty” story logo is a composite of:
a) Image representing Keith Erickson is that of British actor Richard Armitage as Lucas North in the BBC’s Spooks (2008 – 2010), series 8 promo, pix 15 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/slides/series8-15.html
b) Image representing Lily Sherman is that of American actress Mandy Moore and was found at http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Mandy-Moore-mandy-moore-661788_1024_768.jpg ; NB: I chose Ms. Moore to represent this character not because she is fat or chubby–far from it–but because she has a fresh faced innocence and sincerity that reflects the goodness of this character. Any pre weight loss Lily images could be handled with makeup and costuming.
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