Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unexpected 2


-Chapter 2-
Since it was a work night Meaghan and Bryan had called it a night well before midnight. Meaghan had an appointment with a client at 9 the following morning and Bryan had to be at work at 8. Against Meaghan’s protests Bryan had insisted on paying. “I asked you to join me, so I’m paying,” he’d said firmly as he handed his credit card over to the waitress.  He’d followed Meaghan to her car and waited until she backed out of the parking space before he headed back to his car that was parked in a handicapped space closer to the bar they’d met in.

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As soon as Meaghan entered her apartment in Georgetown she flopped down on the couch, dug her iPhone out of her handbag and called Kelly. She answered the call on the third ring.

“Meaghan! How was he?”

“Hi Kel,” Meaghan greeted her best friend with a laugh.

“Come on Megs, spill it!”

“He’s great. We ended up eating dinner at Mr. Xiu’s and I have to admit this is the best first date I’ve been on for a while.”

“Really? What did I tell ya’? Speed dating isn’t such a bad idea.”

“Hopefully I won’t have to do that again. Bryan and I are going out again on Saturday.”

“Oh my gosh! Megs that’s amazing!!! What does he do for a living?”

“He’s a doctor, oncology fellow at Georgetown University Hospital.”

“Wow! Good looks and a doctor? You really scored!”

Meaghan laughed. She decided to not mention Bryan’s disability to Kelly. She had a tendency to be judgmental and Meaghan was pretty sure she’d tell her to dump Bryan before they’d even been on their second date if she knew he was in a wheelchair.

“I guess I did. Anyway, it’s late and tomorrow’s a workday. We should both get some sleep, right?”

“Yep! I should’ve been in bed already, but I had a feeling you’d call me. Have fun on Saturday and I expect you to tell me all the details.”

“I know you do,” Meaghan laughed and ended the call.  

She quickly got ready for bed and curled up under the covers. She was just about to drift off to sleep when her cell phone warbled on the nightstand. It was a text from Bryan; “Thanks for a wonderful first date. Sweet dreams :) Bryan”
She smiled as she replied; “Can’t wait to see you again. Tonight was great. Sleep well. Meaghan :)”

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The following two days Meaghan was busy at work, but she struggled to focus on her work. Her thoughts kept drifting to her dinner with Bryan. Saturday couldn’t come fast enough.  Thursday morning she had a meeting a couple of blocks from his workplace and when the meeting ended earlier than anticipated she impulsively sent him a text message; “Hey Bryan. Just finished a meeting not far from GUH and I’m hungry. Would you like to join me for lunch? Meaghan”
She didn’t even know if he was at work or if it was his lunch hour, or if he was working a night or afternoon shift, but she was itching to see him again and crossed her fingers as she hit ‘send’. A couple of minutes later her phone beeped with a reply.
“Is this fate or what? I was just about to head to the cafeteria for lunch (yes, I know the cafeteria sounds lame, but I can’t leave the hospital right now). Join me?”
Meaghan sent a quick reply and they agreed to meet at outside the cafeteria. She quickly surveyed her appearance; she was wearing a dark grey tailored suit with a black top, her hair was pulled into her signature sleek ponytail and she was wearing horn-rimmed glasses instead of contacts. Se smiled to herself; Bryan was about to meet the ‘real’ Meaghan Barnes instead of the elementary-school-teacher version of her.

Ten minutes later she was waiting outside the cafeteria at Georgetown University Hospital and a smile spread across her face as Bryan came out of the elevator and wheeled toward her.  He was wearing light blue scrubs, with a white, long-sleeved jersey under the top, he had a stethoscope draped around his neck and a pair of protective goggles hanging from the V-neck of his scrub top. His feet were clad in the same sneakers he’d been wearing to the speed dating session. She noticed the dark shadow on his jaw and the slightly mussed appearance of his hair indicated that he’d probably worked a long shift. As he came up to her she bent down and gave him a quick hug.

“So…,” he said with a slightly teasing tone. “This is the real Meaghan Barnes?”

“Yes Dr. Norfleet, it is. Do you approve?”

“Very much so. You seem much more comfortable in these clothes.”

“Really?” Meaghan asked with surprise lacing her voice.

“Yep! Sorry about my somewhat scruffy appearance,” he said apologetically as he grabbed the push rims on his wheelchair and suspended himself from the seat for a few seconds before he dropped back down. Meaghan noticed he looked self-conscious.

“Don’t worry about it. You wear those scrubs well,” Meaghan said with a laugh. “Well, shall we get something to eat?”

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Meaghan followed Bryan trough the cafeteria line; he got a foot long hoagie with a load of toppings, a bag of chips and an iced tea and she got a Caesar salad and a bottle of water. Much to her dismay Bryan insisted on paying.

“I asked you to have lunch with me, so I should be paying,” she protested as Bryan handed over his employee ID badge and the cashier swiped it on the register and handed it back to him.

“I’m not about to let you pay for hospital cafeteria food,” Bryan said with a grimace as he placed the badge back in the holder that was hanging from the breast pocket on his scrub top. Meaghan put both of their food on one tray and grabbed it. She followed Bryan to a table by the windows and sat down. Bryan settled in across from her and eagerly grabbed his hoagie and ripped the wrapper open, causing Meaghan to laugh.

“Hungry?” she asked as she added the dressing to her Caesar salad.

“Starving! I’ve been at work since last night and I’ve only eaten a couple of power bars. It’s been a busy night and with two doctors home sick I’ve been attending to twice as many patients as I normally do. It’s crazy.”

“Wow, when do you get off?”

“At four, at least that’s what I hope. Then I only have an evening shift on Friday and I’m off for three days.”

“Long weekend?”

“Yeah, but then I’m working seven days straight, starting Tuesday, so…” he shrugged and then he suspended himself in the air for a few seconds before he dropped back down into the seat of his wheelchair. He noticed Meaghan’s curiosity and looked at her.

“It’s called a weight shift, I have to do them every fifteen minutes or so. Helps circulation in my legs and prevents me from getting sores. Our body wasn’t created to spend the majority of time sitting.”

“Oh, I didn’t think about that,” Meaghan said with a blush, before she turned her focus back to the salad bowl in front of her. Bryan turned his attention back to his meal and they ate in a slightly awkward silence. Just as Bryan wiped his mouth with a napkin his beeper went off and he grabbed it.

“Sorry to leave in a haste, but I’ve got to respond to this.”

“No problem. I’ll see you Saturday?”

“Definitely! I’m looking forward to it.”

“Me too,” Bryan said with a wide smile before he turned and wheeled out of the cafeteria.

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Saturday afternoon Meaghan was fussing about what to wear for her third date with Bryan. After careful consideration she landed on a black pencil skirt topped with a white tailored shirt and a black cardigan. She pulled her hair back in a ponytail and applied a light makeup. Just as she slipped into her black Manolo Blahnik stilettos the doorbell rang. She hurried to the front door and opened it. Bryan was sitting in his wheelchair with a bouquet of red roses in his lap. He was even more handsome than Meaghan remembered and he’d obviously put more effort into his appearance than he’d done at the speed dating session. He was wearing dark gray dress slacks and a black tailored shirt that showed off what appeared to be a very toned upper body. His hair appeared to more tame and he wasn’t sporting a five-o-clock shadow on his jaw.

“Hey Bryan, good to see you again,” Meaghan exclaimed as she leaned down to hug him. “Did you manage to catch up on some sleep?”

“Good to see you too. These are for you,” he said as he handed her the roses. “You look great by the way, I definitely prefer this over dresses that looks like my grandmother's curtains. And yes, I’ve caught up on my sleep. Slept for almost 12 hours straight actually.”

“Don’t let Kelly hear you talk that way about her clothes,” Meaghan chuckled. “Um, why don’t you come in for a second while I put these in a vase?”

“Sure,” Bryan said with a smile. Meaghan stepped aside to let him enter her apartment. As Bryan wheeled past her she was grateful that she lived in a recently refurbished building that was fairly accessible.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” he commented when they entered the large living area with floor to ceiling windows on one wall.

“Thanks,” Meaghan said as she walked over to the open plan kitchen.  She quickly grabbed an appropriate vase from a cabinet and watched Bryan make his way around the room, occasionally pausing to study something closer. After she’d put the roses in the vase she placed them in the center of her kitchen island and turned to Bryan who had completed his exploration of her living room.

“Ready?” he asked. “We should get going, we’ve got a reservation at seven.”

Meaghan grabbed her clutch and after locking her apartment she followed Bryan to his car; a fairly new black Audi sedan. He opened the front passenger door for her and then wheeled around the car to the driver’s door while she settled in. She tried not to stare as he transferred from his wheelchair to the drivers seat and then positioned his legs with his hands. It was evident to her that he couldn’t move them at all.  After he got himself settled he made quick work of disassembling his wheelchair and placed it in the back seat.

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Twenty minutes later Bryan pulled into a handicapped parking space outside an Italian restaurant in downtown DC.

“I hope you like Italian food,” he said as he turned off the ignition.

“I love it,” Meaghan assured him as she unbuckled her seatbelt and got out of the car. She walked around to the drivers seat and for the second time that evening tried not to stare as Bryan assembled his wheelchair and transferred to it. Sheesh Megs, if you’re serious about dating this guy you’ve got to get over the damn wheelchair thing.

“Well, follow me,” Bryan said as he locked his car and turned toward the entrance of the restaurant. Meaghan walked behind him and observed as he confidently approached the hostess.

“Norfleet, reservation for two.”

The hostess seemed a bit flustered at first, but quickly pulled herself together.

“Follow me sir,” she said as she grabbed two menus and walked ahead of them to a table tucked away in a corner. She placed the menus on the table and removed one of the chairs before she walked away. Meaghan took a seat and Bryan settled in across from her.

“This place is lovely,” Meaghan said as she picked up her menu.

“Their spinach and feta stuffed pasta is fantastic. My favorite is that with their creamy tomato sauce with garlic, chili and white wine.”

“That sounds divine. I think I’ll have that.”

As on cue a waitress appeared and took their orders. Within moments she returned with their drinks; a glass of white wine for Meaghan and a alcohol free beer for Bryan.

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“Did you always want to be a doctor?”

“Well, I did like to play ‘Operation’ as a kid,” Bryan chuckled, and then he got more serious. “I guess on some level I always wanted to be a doctor and it’s sort of a family tradition.”

“Oh?”

“Dad’s a doctor, so was my grandfather and great grandfather too. There was no pressure to follow in their footsteps though. My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to make our own choices.”

“You come from a big family?”

“Yeah. Apart from my older brother Josh, whom you met the other night, I have a younger sister and brother. I’m the only doctor though. Josh’s a lawyer, my sister’s an actress and my youngest brother is in college, studying computer science. He’s the nerd of the family. What about you? Always wanted to be an architect?”

“Not really. Growing up I was determined on making a living off my passion for horses. I dreamed of being a professional rider.”

“You’re horse buff?”

“Nah, not since high school. I go riding with Kelly from time to time though, her family owns a big horsefarm.”

“So what made you decide to become an architect?”

“My senior trip sort of triggered it. I went on a round trip in Europe and the architecture over there really blew me away. I’d been interested in art history for a while and after the trip to Europe was eager to learn more about architectural history as well.  I ended up studying architecture in college and went into a masters program after I finished my undergraduate studies.”

“Do you mainly work with residential properties?”

“Yeah, a lot of refurbishments actually. My two main projects right now are major refurbishments of Georgetown townhouses. We’re actually putting on an expansion on one of them.”

“Oh, I didn’t think that was allowed. A buddy of mine applied to put an expansion on his townhouse a while back and was denied. Something about preservation codes.”

“There are ways to get around them, you just need an architect that knows how.”

Bryan laughed. “Well, I’ll tell him to get in touch with you if he decides to try again.”

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When Meaghan let herself in to her apartment after Bryan had dropped her off it was well past midnight. After dinner they’d gone to a bar not far from the restaurant for drinks.  She was amazed at how easily the conversation flowed between them and it how many similar interests they had. The only thing that bothered her was that they were dancing around the big elephant in the room; Bryan’s disability. She didn’t want to pry and he didn’t exactly seem eager to talk about it. Part of her didn’t really care about it; he was a nice, easygoing guy and she liked him a lot, disability or no disability, but she was aware that depending on a wheelchair was only a part of how it affected his life. After their lunch date she’d done some searches online and she wondered how much of what she’d found out applied to Bryan. She hoped he’d open up to her more when he got to know her better; she’d leave it up to him to decide what and when he wanted to share. 

7 comments:

  1. Thanks man! Great chapter, and i really like both the characters.

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  2. Enjoying this very much- thank you for posting!

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  3. Another good chapter! More more!

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  4. Absolutely love this story! Can't wait for the next chapter.

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  5. Just dreamy...yummm

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  6. This is marvelous! The characters are exciting and original. I can't wait to see what happens next. Your language skills are excellent, too. Thanks.

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  7. I absolutely love this. I can hardly wait to see more.

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