Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Crush - Chapter 4

Julie
I focus on getting the final pallet unpacked as quickly as possible so I can take my lunch break.  Skipping breakfast was definitely a bad idea.  Especially since I didn’t take the time to stop for coffee on my way to work this morning.  My stomach growls audibly to confirm my thoughts as I cut another box of merchandise open.   Paying attention to my surroundings isn’t high on my list of priorities.   If a customer needs help they’ll have to ask for it. 
A few minutes later a somewhat familiar, deep baritone catches my attention.
“Excuse me.”
I turn away from the shelf I’m restocking and my eyes land on a good-looking guy in a wheelchair.  He’s about my age, probably a little older than me, and exceptionally handsome in my opinion.  Dark brown hair and hazel eyes, chiseled jaw, prominent eyebrows and a straight nose.  He's also dressed well; dark jeans, black down jacket, a grey wool scarf and he has leather gloves on his hands.  The wheelchair clearly a permanent thing.  It’s similar to my cousin’s chair; compact with a rigid dark grey frame, wheels with black spokes and push rims and his leather boot clad feet rest on a single footplate.
“Yes? How may I help you, Sir?”
“Um... I’m looking for Julie or Aaron. Can you point me in the right direction?”
Oh. My. Gosh! I recognize that voice. It’s Ben. His looks are just as hot as his voice is.  Definitely not the nerdy guy I figured he’d be.
“Ben?”  As soon his name escapes my lips followed by an audible gasp I feel like an idiot and a blush starts creeping up my cheeks. Not surprisingly an annoyed look appears on Ben’s face.  He probably thinks I gasped because he’s in a wheelchair.  I know Jason, my cousin, gets that a lot when he meets people that doesn’t know about his chair for the first time and it drives him crazy.
“Guilty as charged,” he replies, sounding exasperated and annoyed.  Before I can respond he carries on.  “Well, since your voice sounds familiar I’m guessing you’re Julie?”
I nod, before I say meekly; “Yes. That’s me.  I’m sorry, I was just surprised....”
“This is exactly why I prefer to work from home,” Ben cuts me off before I can finish my not-so-well-thought-out apology.  Well, I’m almost relieved, because what would I say? I was surprised you’re hot, not that you’re in a wheelchair?  “Anyway, I don’t have all day so if you don’t mind I’d like to get to work on the register that’s giving you trouble.”
“Right…” I say, I feel my cheeks go even redder.  “Follow me.”  Crap! This isn’t going well at all.  All the friendliness from our calls have vanished and Ben is clearly annoyed and apparently he can’t get out of here soon enough. This was not how I imagined meeting him would be like.  But then I didn’t expect him to be that good looking.  Or in a wheelchair, obviously.  Before I can let my mind wander any further we arrive by the faulty register. 
I’m sure it doesn’t help Ben’s mood that it’s a bit of a tight squeeze for him to get through the passage between the counter and a pallet, but he manages.  I stand to the side and watch as he takes off his backpack and sets it down on the floor by his feet before he unzips his jacket, takes it off and puts it on the counter next to the register with his scarf and gloves.
Under the jacket, he’s wearing a navy-blue sweater with a plaid button down shirt under it, the sweater is tight enough to show off what appears to be a very toned torso. I'm not surprised, I've seen Jason shirtless a few times and his upper body is in way better shape than it ever was before he crashed his bike.  I'm sure it's the same thing with Ben.  Ok, Julie, the guy hates you, no reason to think about what his body looks like. Stop it right now. 
Ben
Epic fail!  That is the only way to describe how this is turning out.  I know I kind of overreacted back there, but reactions like Julie’s drives me crazy. I hate that people are shocked and gawk at me like I’m a freak because I’m sitting in a goddamn wheelchair.   I’m still not comfortable with my situation and stuff like that makes me wonder if I’ll ever be. 
I try my best to focus on the task I’m here to perform, but after a few minutes I haven’t made much progress and I know I need to check out the wiring of the register that’s not working, to see if a damaged cable is the culprit. 
Unfortunately, the cables are tucked away in a back corner under the counter and even if I bend all the way down I can’t reach them. That is unless I get out of my chair and sit on the floor.  Which is not gonna happen. I can manage floor-to-chair transfers, but I struggle a with them.  Not something I’m ready to do in public.
I realize I’ll have to ask Julie for help.  If she’s still here, that is.  She’s been silent since I started working, but I haven’t heard her walking away.  But I’ve been focused on my work and the noise level here is relatively high, so I may have missed it.
I release the brakes on my chair, grab the push rims, roll back a little and then turn around to where I last saw Julie.  I’m relieved when I see she’s still standing there, looking as uncomfortable as I feel. It looks like she’s trying to keep herself busy with straightening up a display.  This is awkward.  Very awkward.
Julie
Ben works in silence for a few minutes, to my disappointment it doesn’t look like he’s having any more success of bringing the register back to life than Aaron and I have had.  The screen is still pitch black.  Damn.
“Um, Julie?” Ben’s baritone voice slightly startles me, as I’ve been lost in my own thoughts while he’s been working.
“Yes,” I reply, while I try to stay cool. Ben has turned away from the counter and he looks a bit friendlier than he did a few minutes ago.  He actually looks a little nervous, he’s rubbing his hands on his jean clad thighs.  “Need anything?”
“Yeah…uh… I need to check some wiring under here,” he gestures in the direction of the counter, “but I can’t reach the cables. They’re all the way in the back corner.”  His cheeks redden again, but not from annoyance this time.  He’s clearly insecure about asking me for help. 
Right, so he basically needs me to get down on the floor and crawl under the counter.  Well, since we got off to a rocky start I grab this opportunity to make amends eagerly.   “Sure. Just tell me what you need me to look for.”  I walk toward the counter and Ben rolls a little further away from it to give me some space.  I get down on my knees and after moving a box filled with receipt paper rolls and the trash can out if the way I have a good view of the cables.  Except it’s hard to see anything because it’s not much light under here.
“Ben?”
“Yeah?”
“You wouldn’t happen to have a flashlight?  It’s kinda dark under here.”
“Crap, no. Didn’t think I’d need one.” He’s quiet for a moment before he speaks again. “Can you just use your phone?” 
“No, it’s in my locker, we’re not allowed to have our personal phones on us on the shop floor.”
“Ah, right.  Okay, you can use mine.” 
I move backwards slightly and turn toward Ben. He rolls up to me and hands me his iPhone, the flashlight is already on.  “Thanks.”  I turn my attention to the cables and see that a couple of them looks really miscolored, almost like they’ve caught on fire or something like that.  I tell Ben, who asks me to snap a photo.  I snap a couple and crawl backwards and stand up.
“My knees need a break,” I say as I hand Ben his phone.

Ben looks self-conscious again.  “I would have crawled under there myself if, I could. Just wanted to make that clear,” he states, before he turns his attention to his phone and the photos I took.

...to be continued....

8 comments:

  1. I would have told him he looks way hotter than he sounded over the phone -- better than an apology! ;)

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    1. Well...🤫 You'll just have to wait and see what happens in the final chapter...😇

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  2. Love it...thank u
    could i hope for a loooooonger chapter next time?

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  3. Thanks for posting, I think this would be a great start for a long story, but ok, as long as the last chapter will be satisfying, it's ok. Thanks!

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  4. Nooooooooo! Only one more chapter? I think there's at least 3 more to go... ;D Loving this chapter btw!

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  5. Happy to see this and have to add, that I also feel like there are many more chapters here than just one mode!

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  6. Too short! And only one more to go? You're killing me... I want more. But if that means younstart another story... Merry Christmas!
    Tc

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