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Click below for Chapter 1...
Click below for Chapter 1...
Traffic. I hate you. I really do. It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday night. WHY is everyone out tonight?
Julia was tired and frustrated as she thought about the scene in front of her. She leaned her cheek onto her hand that sat propped against the car window. She was in a traffic stand still on the highway, only moving forward a couple feet every few minutes. She yawned and shook her head, trying to clear the tiredness from her body. She was returning home to Denver from a five day trip, and wanted nothing more than to change out of her uniform dress, kick off her heels, take a warm shower, and be in her own bed, in the comfort of her own cozy home. This was the life of a flight attendant, though. Julia loved her job, but spending long hours on her feet in the air, dealing with people all day long, and sleeping in different hotels every night took its toll.
She straightened in her seat and flipped down the visor. She switched on an interior light in the car and took a look at herself in the mirror. Her wavy shoulder length auburn hair was thrown into a messy ponytail, and her makeup was fading. Her brown eyes looked tired as she reached up to wipe some smudged mascara away from under her long eyelashes. She was a few months shy of turning 30 and she examined the delicate skin around her eyes for any sign of wrinkles; thankfully she didn’t find any.
I look awesome. Just beautiful.
Julia raised an eyebrow and smirked as she flipped the mirror closed and returned the visor to its original position before switching off the interior light.
The 25 mile drive between Denver International Airport and her neighborhood was taking an usually long amount of time, and she didn’t have the patience for it. Julia leaned forward to reach for the stereo system and switched on the radio, stopping on a station and turning up the volume. She needed to wake up if she was going to get through this slow drive home. Tom Petty came blaring through her speakers as the traffic started to move.
Ten more miles. You can make it ten more miles.
Julia cracked the windows slightly to let the crisp September evening air into the car. She then straightened in her seat, and listened to the music. She was almost home.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! There’s no way he was safe on third. No way! That guy was out! No doubt about it.” The voice shouted above the crowd.
“He WAS safe. Come on, man!” Aaron countered with a laugh. “John, watch the replay….See? Look. Right there. Out.” Aaron gestured to the big screen TV in the sports bar with his beer bottle.
“Alright, well from that angle, yeah, I guess the call stands.” John smirked, took a pull from his beer and sat it on the table he and Aaron were at.
Aaron chuckled and took a drink. He and his buddy John were hanging out and watching the Rockies game at Riley’s, a local bar. They were rooting for opposite teams that night, Aaron pulling for the Rockies and John for the Diamondbacks. The Rockies were ahead by 2 in the 7th inning.
John checked the time on his cell phone. “Aw damn, I’ve got to get home. The wife wants me to help put the baby down tonight.”
Aaron nodded, “Alright, man. Good luck with that.” He said teasingly.
“D-backs are going to lose it anyway. Good game. Thanks for the round.” John reached for his beer and finished it, before standing up from the table.
“Yeah, good game. See you next week.” Aaron said. “Tell Amy I said hello, would you?”
“Absolutely.” John walked around the table and clapped Aaron on the shoulder. “Take it easy, Evans.”
Aaron watched as his friend left, and turned his attention back to the game. He leaned forward onto the table and watched as the Rockies beat the Diamondbacks 5-3. He decided to head home, and took one last drink from his beer, before turning towards the front door and leaving the bar.
Julia was nearing her house, which was a mere 6 blocks away. She seemed to be hitting every red light at each intersection she came to. She still had the music cranked up, and she sang about every other word to an old song by Fleetwood Mac to keep herself alert. She was stopped at a red light just outside of her neighborhood, which was adjacent to her favorite grocery store, and a little sports bar she frequented with friends. Julia looked over to the bar, which had a full parking lot.
God, I could go for one of those blue cheese bacon burgers from there right now.
Her stomach growled, as she looked up and the light turned green. She accelerated through the intersection. Julia barely caught a glimpse of the oncoming vehicle out of her peripheral vision before it slammed into the passenger side of her Toyota Prius. In an instant, she was slammed sideways, and hit her head on the driver’s side window. Glass shattered into her car from the passenger side window, and the airbags deployed. She gasped upon the impact, and immediately felt pain everywhere as the glass nicked her skin. The car spun several times as Julia held onto the steering wheel, until it slowed and came to a stop. Breathing heavy even though it was painful, Julia opened her eyes and could feel her hands shaking. She looked down to see blood on her arms and could feel something wet on the side of her head.
Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. What just happened? Am I alive? I think I’m still alive.
Soon, Julia could hear shouting coming from outside of the car but she could not make out what the voices were saying. She felt someone try to open her driver’s side door but it wouldn’t open.
“Ma’am, are you ok? Can you open the door?” A panicked woman’s voice said.
Julia turned her head to see the person the voice belonged to but she couldn’t focus enough to answer the question.
Can I open the door? Why do I have to open the door?
“Hey! Watch out! Move please. Excuse me.” A male voice was nearing the outside of her door.
She heard him talk again. “Call 9-1-1. Now. Tell them two vehicle crash, and there are injuries. Do it now.”
Julia leaned her head back against the headrest and wanted to close her eyes. Her head and thoughts felt fuzzy. She tried to steady her breathing to ease the pain in her side.
Oh god. My head hurts. My side hurts. Oh god.
“Hey!” A shout and a knock on the window brought Julia out of her fog. “I’m going to open your door, ok? Don’t move anymore.”
Julia could hear the same male voice, and she turned to see that the full airbag was blocking the window. She heard the door jiggling until it finally popped open.
“Ma’am, don’t move, ok?” The male voice instructed. His voice seemed to come from directly next to her. She felt the man reach inside the vehicle and touch something by the steering wheel.
“Ok...,” Disoriented, Julia managed a small response. She could barely keep her eyes open, and couldn’t focus on the man’s face.
She felt a hand reach for her wrist, and felt some pressure when fingers pressed against her skin.
“My name is Aaron, and I’m a doctor, ok? You’re going to be just fine.”
“My….my head….shit….,” Julia could barely lace the words together between breaths.
“Yeah, you’ve got quite a shiner there. You’ll be fine, though. What’s your name?” He said as he gently placed her wrist in her lap. He carefully brushed broken glass off of her dress with his hand.
“Julia…,” she said softly. She opened her eyes and turned her head slightly. She could make out in the dark that the man had hair sticking up every which way, and his face looked stern.
“Julia, the paramedics will be here in just a minute, alright? They’re going to get you to the hospital.” The man’s voice was calm.
“Ok...,” She said quietly. The man was right next to her, at almost eye level. He was leaning into the car, watching her closely, and she could tell his brow was furrowed.
Aaron. His name is Aaron. He’s a doctor.
Julia heard the sirens getting closer.
Ambulance. That’s an ambulance.
“Talk to me, Julia. Why the Prius?” He said, trying to make conversation, as he glanced over his shoulder.
“Because it’s cute…,” she said quietly.
“Cute, huh?” Aaron forced out a chuckle.
Julia tried to nod, but she couldn’t find the strength to. She suddenly felt so tired, and she closed her eyes.
“Wake up, Julia. Keep talking to me.” Aaron placed his hand on her forearm. “You can’t go to sleep yet, ok?”
Julia squeaked out a quiet response. “My head…”
“I know. But you’ve got to stay awake.” Aaron leaned closer. “Open your eyes, Julia.”
She did as she was told, and Aaron took a look at her pupils. Julia watched as his face blurred and she closed her eyes again.
The man glanced over his shoulder one more time. “The paramedics are here.” He gave her forearm a slight comforting squeeze. “They’ll take care of you, alright?”
Aaron backed away from her slowly, and the medics approached with a stretcher and equipment.
Julia opened her eyes slightly. “Uh huh…,” she said softly. She could make out a fuzzy figure rolling backward away from her as people rushed towards her open door. She could hear Aaron’s voice talking to the medics. She felt hands on her body, and thought she was being lifted. She closed her eyes again and felt a fog quickly approach.
“Thank you.” Julia whispered quietly before everything went black.
Julia’s eyes slowly flickered open to see that sunlight was streaming through horizontal blinds. She could feel that she was laying reclined back in a bed, on a firm mattress. Her vision slowly came into focus as she looked down to see there were white sheets and a light blue blanket pulled up around her waist. She heard a slow steady beeping, and turned her head slightly to see the noise coming from a machine next to her bed. The room smelled so clean; so sterile.
Ok, hospital. I am in a hospital. Oh my god, I am IN a hospital.
She breathed deeply, trying to calm herself, and immediately felt a faint stabbing pain in her side.
Ow. Oh, OW!
She raised her hands up from where they lay on her abdomen. Her left hand had an IV taped down on it, and the right had a grey plastic sensor clipped onto her forefinger.
She noticed a bunch of red marks on her hands and forearms, and remembered what happened then.
Car crash. I was in a car crash!
Her thoughts were becoming clearer, and she tried to remain calm as she thought back on the accident.
She remembered the impact, and the window shattering onto her, causing the tiny cuts.
Some asshole hit me! Oh, and my poor car. It’s probably trashed.
The beeping from the heart rate machine started to quicken as she remembered the crash.
What time is it? What day is it?! Oh my god, I have to get out of this bed. It’s hot in here.
Julia slowly adjusted her position in the bed to sit up straighter, even though her side protested. She carefully reached down to throw back the layers of bed linens off of her bottom half, and slowly drew her bare knees up closer to her chest.
I’m so sore. Everywhere. Holy shit, this hurts. Ugh, it’s so hot in here.
She reached for her right side where the dull pain radiated from. As she sat up, she suddenly felt a rush to her head which stopped her movements.
Ok, calm down. Breathe.
She sat still for a moment and tried to inhale slowly, as she worked through the unsteady feeling.
A female voice came from the entrance to the room.
“Hi, Julia. Take it easy, darlin’.”
Julia turned and watched a middle aged woman dressed in lavender scrubs walk towards her bed and
reach out to place a hand on her shoulder.
“I have to call work. Does my family know I’m here? Where’s my car?” Julia’s voice was scratchy as she spoke. Her mind was racing.
“Just breathe, honey.” The nurse patted her gently.
Julia steadied her breathing as best she could.
“That’s it…just slow down. We called the In Case of Emergency contact in your phone and told them that you’re here. We’re keeping them updated. And work can wait. It’ll be ok.” The nurse still held her shoulder as the beeping from the monitor evened out.
Julia cleared her throat quietly as she relaxed. “What hospital am I at?”
The nurse replied, “This is Mountain Crest, hon.”
Julia nodded slightly. “I was in a car accident…”
“Yes, last night.” The nurse confirmed.
“What time is it?” She asked.
The nurse turned her wrist to check her watch. “It’s 11:26 a.m. on Monday, the 7th.”
Julia nodded again.
Ok. You’re ok. Calm down.
The nurse drew her hand back from Julia’s shoulder. “Can I get you anything? Are you hungry? Thirsty?”
“Water….Can I….can I have some water?”
“Of course, honey. Here.” The nurse stepped to the side table and retrieved a pitcher and a plastic cup. She filled the cup and handed it to Julia.
“Thank you.” Julia took a sip and savored the cool liquid.
“How’s your pain? On a scale of one to ten….” The nurse reached up to the plastic bag filled with a clear solution hanging from the metal post.
“Umm…a six? A seven, maybe?” Julia took another sip of water.
“Well, you cracked a couple ribs, sweetheart.” The nurse adjusted the tubes leading from the bag to Julia’s IV. “And you’ve got some stiches in your head, too.”
“I do?!” Julia slowly reached up to the left side of her head where a slight ache came from.
“Yes, hon. You don’t want to touch it though.” The nurse advised.
Julia pulled her hand away from her head.
“I’ll help you lay back, ok? Just rest. We will get the other stuff figured out soon.” The nurse stepped forward and Julia let her guide her back onto the bed. The nurse pulled back the light blue blanket, and pulled only the white sheet up around Julia’s waist.
“Here, I’ll take that…” The nurse gestured to the cup of water that Julia still held. “It’ll be right here.” She pulled the small rolling table closer to the bedside and put the cup next to the pitcher.
“It’s almost lunch time. They’ll be around pretty soon with some food, ok?” The nurse said with a smile.
Julia nodded. “Thank you.”
“I’m Kim, and I’ll be back to check in on you in a little bit. Use this call button if you need anything.” The nurse pointed to a cord next to the bed.
A knocking sound came from the door just then, and the nurse turned to look in that direction.
“Hello, Stranger. How’ve you been?” She said with surprise towards the door, before turning back to
Julia. “I think you’ve got a visitor.”
Julia couldn’t see who the nurse was talking to from her position, but she heard a male voice respond.
A visitor? Who?
Julia thought the voice sounded vaguely familiar.
The nurse moved aside and Julia saw some movement near the door. She watched as a guy started approaching her bed, and was surprised to see that he was in a wheelchair. He was looking down as he deftly pushed himself forward two or three times to cross the length of the room before stopping smoothly next to her nurse.
“It’s been a while,” he said when he looked up. “How are you?”
Kim turned to him. “I’m well, you?”
“Doing great,” he said with a sly smile.
Julia watched their interaction and then knew why his voice was so familiar.
That’s him! He helped me last night. This guy was at the accident.
Julia noticed that his blue-grey eyes were bright and clear, his nose straight, and his jawline prominent. He was attractive, even given the wheelchair, there was no doubt about it, and she suddenly felt very self-conscious.
She looked at him closely. He had short light brown hair, it was a little unruly and spiky, and the same hair she remembered seeing the night before.
Yeah, that’s him.
His face had a couple days’ worth of scruff on it. He wore a marine blue button up shirt that was tucked into tan pants. She noticed that his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, which revealed blond hair on his tanned forearms. She scanned further down, noticing the cognac colored belt he wore matched the shoes on his feet, which sat unmoving on a single footplate. His chair was a sleek black, and didn’t have arm rests. He had a stethoscope draped around his neck, and a badge clipped to the pocket of his shirt.
Julia thought back to the previous night, the events still fuzzy, and remembered that the man who helped her was right next to her while they waited for the ambulance. Then she remembered seeing the figure, who she thought was the same man, seem to roll backward away from her door as the paramedics arrived. She didn’t remember him ever standing up over her.
Wheelchair. Ok. Wow. My car crash hero is in a wheelchair. And he’s cute. Great, just great.
“Good to hear!” Kim reached out and gave the guy’s shoulder a friendly squeeze. “We barely get to see you around here anymore.” She then moved toward a white board on the wall at the end of the bed and scribbled down some notes with a dry erase marker.
“Yeah, I know,” the guy said with a small laugh. “Time rarely allows me to bug you guys down here as much.”
“Well, stop by more often. We almost forgot what you looked like.” Kim said as she backhanded his shoulder playfully. “I’ll be back, Julia. Get some rest.” She said with a smile. “And good to see you, Doc.” Kim moved toward the door to leave.
The guy smiled and nodded, and turned to look over his shoulder as Kim walked out. “You, too, Kim. See ya.”
Doc? Oh yeah! Didn’t he say he was a doctor?
While he was looking away, Julia focused in on the badge he wore, and strained her eyes to read it. The top read Mountain Crest Hospital. There was a small square photo of his face, and underneath it
read Dr. Aaron C. Evans, M.D.
Aaron. Aaron! That’s his name.
The guy pushed a couple inches closer to her bed, leaving his hands on his wheels on either side of
“Hello.” He said as he ran his eyes over her form inquisitively. “How are you feeling?”
Julia slowly straightened in the bed to sit more upright.
“I’m…feeling ok I suppose…,” she said with a forced smile as she met his eyes. The embarrassment of the situation was setting in; she was lying there in a hospital bed, in nothing but a thin gown, no bra, covered by a white sheet. She had no idea what she even looked like, she thought her hair was probably disgusting, and her face probably left much to be desired. She groaned inwardly at the thought of the state she was in.
“Do you remember me?” He asked as he glanced up at the monitors she was hooked up to.
“I do,” she nodded. “Aaron. You were there at the accident.” She reached down and adjusted the
sheet around her.
“I was, yeah. Good, you remember.” He gave her a reassuring nod and a smile, before backing up slightly and turning towards the end of her bed. He pushed forward several feet, and reached up onto the wall to retrieve a plastic clipboard with a stack of papers attached. He scanned the top document first before flipping through the next few pages.
Julia watched him as he read through the chart. “Are you, uh…my doctor?” She asked, watching his every action. He moved so confidently in the chair, like it wasn’t new to him.
Aaron stopped reading and looked up. “No, I’m not. But the guy who actually is in charge of your case is a good one. Don’t worry.” He said with a chuckle before placing the chart back in the holder on the wall.
Julia nodded understandingly.
Could I be any grosser right now? God, I must look like a mess.
Aaron pushed forward, and glided to a stop right next to the bedside. He leaned forward onto his knees with his forearms and brought his hands together.
He cleared his throat before speaking. “Well, bad news, Julia…”
Julia’s face fell as she listened. “What?”
Bad news?! WHAT? What the hell is wrong with me?
“I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it is….” He paused.
Say it. Just say it! Am I going to die?
“Tuna salad sandwich day for lunch.” He gave her a wry grin.
Julia exhaled, having prepared herself for actual bad news, then stifled a laugh, and reached for her side. “Ow, crap. Don’t make me laugh.”
Is he teasing me? Seriously?
Aaron chuckled and leaned back in his chair, placing his hands on his wheel rims once more. “Hey, it got you to smile. That’s the first step to recovery.”
Julia shifted in the bed slowly. “So, you are a doctor, though?” She looked him up and down once more, wondering about the wheelchair.
“I am indeed. The stethoscope really does work.” He jiggled the device that lay draped around his neck.
“And, your numbers look good. Blood pressure is a little low, but your pulse is strong. I think you’ll survive.” He smiled.
“Well, that’s good to hear…,” Julia nodded.
“I’m a family physician in the next building over.” With that, he gestured with his head in that direction.
“Oh, nice…,” Julia said as she started to reach for the bedside table.
Aaron wheeled closer to her. “What do you need?” He asked.
She kept reaching. “The water…”
“I’ll get it.” He said as he grabbed the pitcher and topped off the cup with fresh water. He handed her the cup, and she took it slowly.
“Thank you…,” she said before taking a drink.
He nodded. “You really should take it easy. You cracked 3 ribs.”
“Yeah, I heard.” She winced a little when she went to shift again.
“Plus, there are those stitches in the side of your head. You have a small concussion.” He pointed to his own head, indicating where they were on hers.
She nodded slowly as she sipped her water.
Aaron reached a hand up to his cheek and scratched his face. “Rumor has it that when you woke up after they brought you in, that you mumbled something about hurting the nurse if she shaved your head to stitch you up. Which is amazing, really, because you had enough clarity to threaten the staff.” He laughed and shook his head.
Julia almost spit her water back into the cup. “Oh my god, I said that? Ah, jeez. Wow.” She was becoming even more embarrassed.
Aaron smiled. “That’s what I heard anyway…” He settled back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. His shirt pulled a little bit, revealing a white t-shirt under his button up.
Julia took another drink of water, and tried not to stare at him.
Good grief, he is really good looking. Stop it, Julia. STOP IT. You’re lying in a hospital with stitches
in your head. And, uh, the wheelchair? Just stop it.
A comfortable silence filled the room for a moment before Julia thought to speak.
“So, uh…you know…thank you for… last night…,” she managed to get all the words out as best she could.
Can you even speak? Stop. Being. Awkward. And thank him properly.
If she could reach up and slap herself, she would have.
“No thanks necessary.” Aaron said, downplaying his actions. “Right place, right time is all.”
“No, really. I mean it, thank you.” She was clearer then, getting her point across.
“Well, I didn’t do much, but you’re welcome.” He shrugged.
“Do you know anything about the person who hit me?” She asked quietly.
Aaron’s face sobered. “They were intoxicated, ran the red light, t-boned you right in the middle of the intersection.” He reached up and scratched his face once more. “It was brutal. I was coming out of a bar right there across the street, and watched it.”
He must have been at Riley’s bar.
Julia thought back to the crash and closed her eyes. The events she remembered flashed through her
mind. The deafening sound of metal crunching, brakes squealing, the shattering of the window, the pop of the air bags deploying, the feeling of a hundred pin pricks on her skin. She was so thankful at that moment to be alive.
“Are they ok?” She dared to ask.
“Yes, she is. She got arrested after she got patched up here last night.”
Stupid drunk driver. Figures.
They were both silent then, until Julia opened her eyes to find Aaron watching her, a pensive look on his face.
He looked away quickly, and uncrossed his arms. “Alright, well, I had gap in between patients so I thought I’d check on you.” He placed his hands on his wheels.
Julia gave a slight smile. “Thanks again.”
“Your doctor should be by on rounds pretty soon. They’ll probably keep you here one more night, though.” Julia noticed that he shifted in his chair as he spoke, and lifted himself off of the seat for a moment. She took note of the fact that his legs didn’t move, they just followed the upward motion of his body before he settled in the seat again.
Julia looked away, feeling uncomfortable after watching him, and then down at the water cup in her hands. “Ok.” She nodded.
Aaron reversed a couple feet in the chair. “But really…it’s tuna salad sandwich day. And it is not the greatest.” He gave her another wry grin while spinning around. “You’ve been warned.” He said over
his shoulder with a laugh as he pushed through the open door and left.
Julia smiled, before setting aside the water cup carefully. She settled back against the bed, and closed her eyes, feeling exhausted.
Ugh, I need a shower.
Stay tuned for the next installment!