Thursday, July 9, 2015

Skin and Scars Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Aaron turned away from Julia, and wheeled back through the front doors. He tried to steel himself until he was far enough into the hospital to start mentally kicking himself. He gave his wheels a few rough pushes, and crossed the lobby. He rounded a corner smoothly, and pushed through an exit door with both hands into a courtyard that led to the building his practice was in. Aaron came to a stop then, looking around to see if anyone was nearby. He was thankful no one was around.

“Evans, you’re an idiot.” He muttered to himself as he tilted his head back and shook it. He kept his hands on his wheel rims, gripping them hard. He was frustrated with himself, regretting immediately that he had urged Julia to call and make an appointment with him. That would mean there would be a chance for an actual physician patient relationship between them, and no chance for any other kind.

What were you thinking?

From the time he opened the door to Julia’s car at the scene of the crash, he felt something; it was a feeling he had not let himself feel in a very long time. The pull to her was almost instant. He had come to the scene not knowing what to expect or who was inside of the car. He was there as a medical professional to give some assistance to whoever was hurt. He was surprised to find the pretty young woman inside was so candid, and tried to be strong despite the circumstance. She was funny, too, attempting a joke about the car she drove which had actually made him laugh.

Aaron couldn’t help but check in on Julia the morning after the accident. He had a feeling of been drawn to her, and had to know if she was ok. He knew he had to push that feeling aside, though, and keep things professional. He slipped a few times, unconsciously seeming to flirt with her, which was so unlike him to do. She was an attractive girl, a wreck laying in that hospital bed, but still somehow pretty. She had been through quite an ordeal, and it had shown. He could tell she was a tough girl, though, and that she would make it just fine. He knew she could have been hurt much worse, and as a doctor, he was pleased to learn that she would be all right.

That morning, he found himself heading back to the hospital to check on Julia again. To his surprise, he found her there in the lobby and their conversation took flight. He was glad she looked better then, and not like she had the morning before. He thought she would recover quickly, and he could tell she had a fiery nature about her. He liked that there was an easy flow to their interaction; nothing felt forced or awkward. Most women he came across were weird about the chair. He didn’t get that impression from Julia, and if she was, she masked it well.

Aaron was a caring man. He enjoyed helping people, he was giving, and thoughtful. He gave no second thought to giving out his card and offering for Julia to make an appointment and come into his office until it was already over; he was acting on pure instinct. But now he was caught between being an ethically sound doctor and just being a regular guy. He was a physician, a good one who worked really hard to get where he was, and he couldn’t screw it all up over crossing a line that should never be crossed between doctors and patients if Julia were to come in. He had to make a choice; Julia could either be a new patient, or the girl who might turn his whole life upside down if he let her.
Aaron loosened his grip on the wheel rims, and rolled his neck, easing the tension that formed there. He took a deep breath, and then lifted himself off of the seat of the wheelchair for a moment, a routine he habitually performed through the day. He had to get his head on straight before getting back to work. Aaron pushed himself forward, leaving the moment of reflection behind as he made his way back to his building.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Julia spent the next couple of days at home. She did her best to rest between phone calls to car insurance companies, her own and that of the driver to hit her, and the airline she worked for. As much as she didn’t want to, she had to take medical leave from work, and it was a headache to jump through the hoops of the HR department. The demands of her job would not allow her to perform the duties fully with her cracked ribs, so she had agreed to take a few weeks off.

Thursday morning rolled around. Julia stood at her kitchen counter, and looked at the memo board that hung on the wall next to her pantry. There, under an Eiffel Tower shaped push-pin, was Aaron’s business card. She had been standing in the same spot, debating whether or not to call and make an appointment for a while. The card seemed to be staring back; mocking her. She couldn’t decide between calling, and setting an appointment for a checkup with him, or just letting the whole thing go. She was torn the more she thought about it.

She could decide to not make an appointment, and disappear, just taking the story of when the Hot Doc in the wheelchair came to her rescue at the scene of a car accident, or she could call and make one, which meant seeing Aaron again. She had been mulling the decision since the morning she left the hospital; changing her mind over and over. First, she was set on calling Aaron’s office, and getting an appointment to see the doctor, and now she wasn’t so sure. The more she had thought about it, the more she talked herself out of it. She had enough going on at the moment; she thought adding the prospect of having Aaron as her doctor might complicate her life even more, and she wasn’t sure she should do that.

Julia was thankful for the way he had helped her the night of the crash, and she appreciated him coming to check on her afterward. His thoughtfulness, his intelligence, his professional yet laid-back attitude, his ability to make her feel at ease, and his sense of humor did not go unnoticed. Those things, combined with the fact that she was undoubtedly attracted to and intrigued by the guy, made him cross her mind often. She admitted to herself that she felt a small spark of a connection during their brief exchanges, but she wasn’t sure the same was felt by him. The prospect of seeing Aaron again was appealing to Julia, despite the risk for complication.

Julia drummed her fingers on the counter.

Just call. Just get the card, dial the number, and call.

She stepped forward and ripped the business card from under the pin. She stared down at it, reading it over repeatedly.

Don’t call. Rip up the card. You don’t need this right now.

Julia turned and put the card onto the counter, pushing it away from her.

She tilted her head back, and stared up at the ceiling.

Why is this so difficult?!

She looked down again, and at the business card.

You’re being ridiculous. Again. You need to get checked out. When a cute doctor gives you his card, you use it. Call.

Suddenly, she reached forward and snatched it up once more.

Julia reached for her cell phone that also lay on the counter, and lifted it. She took a deep breath and swiped her phone to life. Her decision was made, she dialed the number to Aaron’s office, and heard a female voice answer.

“Hello, I need to make an appointment with Dr. Evans.” Julia spoke quickly.

“My name is Julia West.” She said, finding her confidence.

“No, I haven’t been into the office before.”

She paused. “He’s not taking any new patients? Uh, ok…?” Julia’s eyes narrowed.

What the hell?! He’s not taking any new patients?! He told me to call!

“Well, can I leave my name and phone number in case that changes? I kind of needed an appointment rather quickly.”

“It’s Julia West, 303-428-6712.”

“Ok, thanks.”

Seriously? What the hell? Why did I even call?!

Julia ended the call and tossed the phone onto the counter, feeling totally confused, and slightly defeated. She shook her head, and walked out of the kitchen.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Aaron looked up from his computer when he heard the knock at his door. He was sitting at his desk in his spacious office, making some notes in a few patient files.

“Dr. Evans? So, that Julia you mentioned called earlier to come in.” The receptionist stepped into the office, and handed Aaron a blue Post-It note across the desk.

He reached forward and took the small square piece of paper, looking down to read it. “Hey, thanks, Sara.”

The receptionist gave her boss a quick smile and left the room.

Aaron held the Post-It in his hand, Julia’s phone number staring back at him.

You have to clean this up, jackass. And do it quickly.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Later that same afternoon, Holly sat on the other end of Julia’s couch as they each ate from takeout boxes.

“She said he’s not taking any new patients?!” Holly stabbed her fork into the carton of rice and vegetables, irritated.

Julia nodded her head and shrugged. “That’s what she told me.”

“Well, that’s crazy. She must be new or something.” Holly sounded annoyed. “He asked you make an appointment!”

Julia nodded in agreement. “I. Know.” She took a bite of her food. “I don’t get it.” She stuck her fork in the box, and leaned over carefully to put it on the coffee table. “Whatever, though. I’m over it.”

No, you’re not.

“And you told her your name?” Holly stirred her food around, too preoccupied to actually eat it.

Yes. Julia West. Recovering from a car crash, and developing crushes on first responding doctors in wheelchairs who come to my rescue. That’s me.

“Yes, Hol. Still, nada. Nothing.” Julia shrugged again. She waved her hand, seeming to brush the situation off. “It’s fine. I’ll find another doctor.”

Not one nearly as handsome as Aaron.

Holly groaned and shook her head. “It’s not fine. It’s weird. Something’s not right.”

Julia shook her head. “Really, it’s fine. Maybe he’s really busy. I don’t need to be getting involved in anything with a guy right now anyway.”

Right. Therein lies the silver lining. Try to convince yourself that it’s a positive you can’t see him again.

Holly stabbed a piece of broccoli and beef and brought it to her mouth. “Ugh, and he seemed so promising.” She ate the bite the food quickly, then stood up from the couch, bringing her food containers with her, and walked towards the kitchen. “Is four o’clock too early to have a glass of wine?” She called out to Julia, a hint of mischief in her voice.

“Check the refrigerator. Bottom shelf. I think there might be some white left.” Julia said as she leaned back and adjusted the pillows behind her back. Her side still ached, although not as bad.

Yep. This is my life. Banged up, bruised, stitched up, aching, can’t even get an appointment with a cute doctor, and eating take out on my couch on a Thursday afternoon.

Holly searched the refrigerator. “You want a glass?”

“No, no…I’m good. I’m sure I can’t mix booze and these pain pills.” Julia said with a laugh. She heard Holly pull out of the bottle of wine, and fill a glass.

Oh my god, I could really use some of that.

“Hey, Jules, you’re getting a call. Your phone is vibrating on the counter.” Holly shouted.

Julia turned slowly toward the kitchen. “Who is it? Probably another insurance agent…”

“No name, just a number. Want me to answer? Tell them to quit calling you ten times a day?”

Julia laughed. “Yeah, sure. Answer it. Why not?”

Holly tapped the screen to answer the call.

“Hello?” She answered, and was met with a male voice.

“Who’s this?” She asked as she walked back to the living room, glass of wine in her hand.

Julia turned to see Holly coming into the room, and her eyes were wide. “Oh, ok. Hang on, please.”

Holly mouthed silently, “It’s Aaron!” She pointed a finger at the phone as she handed it to Julia.

WHAT?! Aaron?! There’s no way…

Julia shifted her position, sitting up straighter on the couch, and took the phone.

“This is Julia…,” she said, her voice clear, as she attempted to disguise her surprise.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Aaron sat at the desk in his office, his cell phone pressed to his ear.

“Julia, this is Aaron Evans. Do you have a minute?” He jiggled a pen between his fingers, a nervous habit he thought he had long gotten rid of.

She paused, almost for too long, before answering. “Yes, I guess so.”

He leaned forward onto the desk, pen still jiggling between his fingers. “I saw that you called earlier, to set up an appointment.”

“I did. Your receptionist said you weren’t taking any new patients…” Julia said flatly.

Aaron pulled the phone away, and took a deep breath. He felt uneasy, and anxious, which was uncharacteristic of him.

What is wrong with me? Just talk, man.

He went on. “Right, but, uh, I’ve gone ahead and referred you to another doctor here in this building, if that’s alright with you. She’s got a lot of years of experience under her belt. She’s a mentor of mine. She actually has an opening on Monday morning at ten thirty if you’re interested.”

Aaron listened intently for Julia to respond. “Um, ok. That’s fine. Sure.” Julia said from the other end of the line, her voice sounding a little like she was annoyed.

“Good. I’ll go ahead and set that up for you. She’s good. Her name is Sharon Andersen. She’s in suite 203, same building I’m in.” He dropped the pen onto the desk, and placed his hand over it, trying to focus.

“Ok. Thanks.” Julia said, her tone clipped.

Oh, grow a pair already, Evans. Just tell her. She’s probably thinking you’re a douchebag.

Aaron took another deep breath; he had already made up his mind, and he needed to get to the point. 

“Look, Julia, the truth is that I’m not going to be able to take you on as a patient. Being your doctor would be improper.”

“Improper?!” She blurted out. “I’m…confused here…” Julia let out a small, tentative laugh. “You gave me your card.”

Aaron could hear the annoyance in her voice, and knew he needed to make it right.

“I know, and I’m sorry. Here’s the thing…,” he paused.

No going back now. Just lay it out.

“I can’t see someone in a professional setting who I would rather see outside of a professional setting.” He said finally. “Do you know what I mean?” He reached up and scratched the back of his neck, hoping she understood his meaning.

Julia was quiet for a moment before responding. “I think so.”

“I apologize for, uh…,” he paused, his nerves getting the best of him for a moment. “For the 
confusion.”

“Yes, confusing is right.” Julia was quiet. “Wait, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Aaron switched the phone to his other ear.

Just say it. Hurry up.

“I’m saying that when you’re feeling up to it, I’d like to have lunch, or a drink, or dinner, or something.” He laid it all out, and hoped she wouldn’t be entirely offended.

“That’s what I thought you meant.” Julia said, a touch of sass coming back into her voice.

Aaron pushed back from the desk, and held the phone in place between his ear and shoulder. “Hey, if not, I understand. I realize this is insanely bad timing.” He chuckled, starting to feel more at ease again after getting the words out. He placed his hands on his wheels and shifted in the seat of his chair.

Say something, Julia. Talk to me.

“Well, I think that would be ok.” Julia said finally. “I’ve got a lot going right now, though, you know?”

“Right. Yes. I get it.” He leaned back in his chair as he spoke.

Aaron waited for her to speak, and heard nothing.

Good effort. You tried.

“Is this a good number to call you at?” Julia asked, and he breathed a small sigh of relief.

He smiled again, and shook his head. “Yes, it’s my cell phone.”

Julia cleared her voice. “Ok. Well, thanks for…you know…clearing that whole…thing…up.” She let 
out a small laugh.

“Again, my apologies…” Aaron ran a hand through his hair as he spoke.

“Don’t sweat it. Talk to you later.” Julia said quickly.

“Alright, Julia. Take care.” He pulled the phone away and ended the call.

She didn’t completely shoot you down, Evans. That went better than expected.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Julia dropped her cell phone in her lap, and turned to Holly who had been sitting on the other end of the couch, sipping her wine during the conversation with Aaron.

What. The. Hell.

“WHAT just happened?!” Holly said, unable to keep quiet any longer.

“Well…,” Julia paused, trying to sort out what took place as well. “I think he said he can’t treat me, because he might to take me for a drink or dinner or something.” Julia shook her hand, seeming to be stunned. “I mean, yeah, that’s what he said.”

True. The Hot Doc just asked you on a date, and you didn’t accept. At least, not right away. What is wrong with you?!

Holly took a big swig from her wine glass, and put her hand up, with her palm facing towards Julia. “Ok. Stop. He called you back, and said, ‘No, sorry, I changed my mind. I can’t be your doctor, but would you like to go on a date instead?’”

Julia nodded. “Yes, essentially.” She said with a small laugh, as she thought back on what Aaron said. She was flattered, but also felt kind of stupid for calling earlier just to be let down. It made sense to her now, though, but she found herself feeling slightly annoyed with the situation.

Holly laughed, too, and scooted back onto the couch, getting more comfortable. “And you said, ‘I’ll call you.’ Way to play it, Jules.” She paraphrased as she raised her wine glass, and nodded, congratulating her friend.

“I’m not playing anything. I meant it.” Julia smirked. “This really isn’t the greatest time for me,” she said as she gestured to her appearance, and pointed to her head.

What might you be getting yourself into, Jules?

“Oh, stop. Now you’re just trying to talk yourself out of it.” Holly said as she cocked her head and raised an eyebrow. “He’s making it clear that he’s interested in you. You have to call him.”

Yes, he IS making that very clear. And here I was thinking I was making all of this up.

“Fine. Maybe I’ll call him.” Julia eased herself forward, and swung her legs off of the couch. She stood up slowly and headed toward the kitchen.

Holly stood too and followed her friend. “Good, because, let’s be real, here, Jules.” Holly said coolly. “I’m sure you can make time in your busy schedule to go on a date with the Hot Doc.” She said, 
clearly teasing her best friend.

Julia laughed and shook her head. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

She then went to the counter, and retrieved Aaron’s business card from where it still lay. She lifted it up to the memo board, and poked the Eiffel Tower push pin back into it, deciding to keep it around.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

The following Monday morning rolled around and Julia found herself in the lobby of Dr. Sharon Andersen’s practice, waiting to be taken back to the exam room for her checkup appointment. The office was only a few doors down from where Aaron’s practice was, and she couldn’t help but let her mind wander to thinking about him. He was probably in his office then, working. Julia hadn’t called him. Yet, at least.

The receptionist behind the desk had been nice and friendly as she gave Julia a stack of paperwork to fill out. As she waited to be called after completing all the necessary new patient documents and insurance information, Julia looked around the lobby; there were several windows overlooking the grounds of the medical center, and a large coffee table was in the middle of the spacious room that held magazines, and a few books. On the walls were several large matted and framed black and white landscape photographs, which Julia recognized as being different parts of Colorado. From her sitting position, Julia could easily see that at the bottom right corner of each photograph were the letters A and E and a year, which piqued her interest.

A and E? Aaron Evans? Maybe he took those photos…No. Probably just a coincidence.

“Julia?” A female voice startled Julia and she looked up quickly.

“Yes!” She closed the magazine in her lap and leaned forward to replace in on the coffee table before standing up.

“I’ll take you on back now,” the nurse gestured over her shoulder.

Julia followed her down a hallway, passing four rooms along the way, one with a door closed. The nurse led her into an exam room.

“Dr. Andersen will be right in.” The nurse smiled and put a file folder on the countertop next to the sink before leaving, and closing the door behind her.

Julia stood and looked around the room. The window had vertical blinds hanging from it, and there were more landscape black and white framed photographs on the walls, all featuring the A and E at the bottom corner. The room had both an exam table, which stood pretty high, and also a regular chair in against the wall.

Well, you are at a doctor’s office. Get your ass on the table.

Julia put her purse in the chair in the corner, and stepped up onto the exam table. She waited patiently for a few minutes, until two knocks came from the other side of the door.

A tall and lithe middle-aged woman came into the room wearing a white coat over her black dress, which she paired with a pair of low rounded-toe heels. Her chin length blond hair was styled, and both her eyes and wide smile were sparkling.

“Hello, Julia. I’m Dr. Andersen. How are you today?” The doctor stuck her hand out, and Julia took it, accepting the handshake.

“I’m doing well, thanks.” She said with a smile. She immediately felt at ease and comfortable in the presence of Sharon Andersen, and silently thanked Aaron for referring her.

The exam went by quickly, but the doctor was efficient. She checked Julia’s nicks and cuts on her arms, examined the wound in her head, and felt around her cracked ribs for any other signs of injury. A lot of the bruising on Julia’s body had gone away, given that a week had passed. She was also feeling better and better every day, and she hadn’t felt like she needed the dosage of pain medication like she once did when the crash first happened. Dr. Andersen thought she was coming along just fine.

“So, I’d like to see you back here in two weeks. We can judge then if we can go ahead with the clearance for you to return to work. Sound good to you?” Sharon smiled as she reached a hand out and squeezed Julia’s shoulder gently.

Julia nodded, and slid off of the exam table. “Sounds great. Thank you.” She said with a grateful smile as she went to the chair to collect her belongings. She looked up at the framed photo right above the chair, and then turned to Dr. Andersen.

“These photos are beautiful.” She said as she gestured to the others on the wall.

“I just love them.” Dr. Andersen said with a small smile. “A physician, who’s a former student of mine, took them. He’s just a few doors down here on this floor.”

Dr. Andersen didn’t name Aaron; she mentioned him like Julia had no idea who he was. Julia thought she must not have known the situation.

A former student who’s also a doctor here took them. Ha. Fancy that.

Julia’s suspicions were true. Aaron must have taken the photos. She added that attribute to the list of others he possessed.

“Wow. They really are great.” She said softly, before turning toward the door.

The doctor collected Julia’s file and handed it to her. “The gals up front can set up your next appointment. Try to rest, Julia.” Dr. Andersen smiled again, and led Julia out of the exam room, before directing her down the hall to the lobby.

As she left Dr. Andersen’s office, Julia glanced over her shoulder down the long hall way at the doors leading to the other doctor’s offices, knowing that Aaron’s was one of them. She thought about him then. Despite her slight resistance, Julia couldn’t deny that she liked what she already knew about Aaron, and had the overwhelming urge to want to learn more. She decided she was ready to call him.
_________________________________________________________________________________

More to come! Stay tuned.

19 comments:

  1. I kept checking this weekend for an update lol. Glad to see you were able to post today. Thank you! I really like that you included his pov. I love that! Julia's interaction with her friend is hilarious. We over think and over analyze every comment that men make. Lol. I can't wait for the next update!

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    1. I couldn't agree more!

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    2. Thank you for reading! We sure do over analyze everything, don't we? Julia is no exception. : )

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  2. That was awesome. .. I am wait waiting for their date :-)

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  3. So glad to see an update! These characters are really drawing me in and I can't wait to see where this goes. Don't make us wait too long ;)

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    1. Many thanks for reading! I won't make you wait wait too long. Scout's honor. : )

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  4. I am loving this story so much and can't wait for their date! Agree with posters above - I hope we get to read it sooner than later!!

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  5. YES! Awesome chapter again, can't wait to read more!

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  6. Simply wonderful installment on your story. I sure hope she calls him soon! :-)

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  7. I love how he was nervous to ask her out! Exciting to read more interactions between Aaron and Julia. Also love Holly. A good best friend makes a great story!

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    1. Yes, he was nervous. Had to keep him real, you know? : )

      Thank you for reading.

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  8. I really like the way you describe the characters psychological state of mind. Well done! I also couldn't help to proudly notice your funny reference to the Eiffel Tower's pin :)

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    1. Thank you! I think it's fun to include a peek inside of their heads.

      Ah, yes the Eiffel Tower pin! I'm a fan of all things French...especially Paris. Beautiful city! Julia is a traveler. : )

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  9. Great story, it flows really smoothly and captures my undivided attention to see what will happen next, thank you for writing!

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    1. What a compliment! Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the story.

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