The Substitute(2)

By: Lindsay Delagair

She pulled slightly away and gave him a puzzled look in the semi-darkness.

“I mean it, Baby. Do you really trust me?”

“Of course I do. Why?”

“We are going to have a family someday.”

She laid her head back down on his bare muscled chest, kissing his skin. “We can adopt, but we don’t need kids to make us happy.”

“I don’t mean adoption. I’m talking about you getting pregnant.”

“We can’t,” she said, too tired at this point to even pull back to look at him.

“We can’t, but you can.”

“If you’re talking about a sperm bank, I don’t….”

“No,” he said with a small laugh. “All I want you to say to me right now is that you believe me and you trust me—no matter what happens. I’ve got to know that you trust me enough to understand that it’s all going to work out. Do you believe me, Jen; do you trust me to be right?”

She sighed. This riddle was more than she could comprehend in her exhaustion. “I believe you and trust you. But you’ve got to believe something for me.”

“What’s that?” He whispered, pulling her in tighter.

“They say belief is 90% of the cure. You’ve got to believe you’re going to be cancer-free after this.”

This time he was the one to pull away, but then he rolled his body over hers and softly brushed her hair back with his fingertips. “Baby, I’m going to be fine. We’re going to have a long and happy life together—with a family. But, on the bright side, you can get off the pill now.” Then he gave a weak smile. “You know tonight is probably going to be the last night I’m going to feel like doing this for a while. I want to love you tonight, Jen. Actually, I take that back, I need to make love to you tonight.”

The kiss was as soft and tender as the first time their lips had ever touched. The storm outside had simmered to a lullaby as they enjoyed their night together.


It had been six months since the surgery and subsequent radiation treatments. Doctor Horner happily informed them that Andy was in complete remission.

“I know in my profession it’s frowned upon to make this kind of statement, but as far as I can tell, Andy, you’re cured. This doesn’t mean you can start skipping appointments or anything, but take a breath and relax.”

“That is exactly what we’re planning on doing, Doc,” Andy stated with a smile. “We’re going tubing this weekend with some friends on the Itchetucknee River.” Then he paused and put his hand out. “Thank you for everything.”

The next morning, Jen donned her bikini and slathered on her suntan oil as Andy gathered the big tubes and tied them to the roof of their little green Soul.

“So,” she asked as she carried their packed cooler out to the car. “Who is this new girl that Gabriel found?”

“If you promise not to get judgmental, I’ll tell you,” he said with a little snicker.

She put the cooler in the back hatch and then put her hands on her hips. “Please don’t tell me she’s a hooker.” She had known Gabe as long as she had known Andy. They’d all attended the same high school and Gabe, although a stunning specimen of manhood, had a penchant for wild women. That was the only thing that saved her from making the wrong choice when it came down between the two of them. Andy was sweet, handsome and totally interested in her. Gabe (although he was interested in her, too) chased after every girl that would smile at him (and practically every girl smiled at Gabe).

“No, she’s not a hooker,” he said with a little mock indignation. “She’s a stripper.”

“Ah crap! You’re kidding, right? He isn’t really bringing a stripper to go tubing with us, is he?”

“It isn’t really that bad, Honey. She works for one of those services that you call when you want to embarrass the hell out of someone for their birthday or bachelor’s party. You know what kind of stripper I’m talking about; she doesn’t work like at Club Risqué or anything.” He was laughing harder. “She’s a—a—clean stripper.”