May 15th, 1998
The night traffic was fairly steady on I-94 as Scott Alexander switched to the passing lane to go around the Mercedes. His friend, Kyle Sloan, pushed the CD he’d just bought at the Dino Kartsonakis concert into the dashboard stereo.
“Shane should have come,” Kyle said. “He could have brought that girl.”
“We’d bring our dates on a group outing, wouldn’t we?” As Scott approached the Mercedes, it crossed the white line into his lane. He took his foot from the accelerator. The Mercedes veered back to the right, the driver apparently changing his mind. The truck behind him urged him forward with his high beam headlights. Scott hesitated. He didn’t trust the Mercedes. The truck flashed his high beams again. Since he needed to get in the right lane soon to exit into Ann Arbor, Scott pressed the accelerator to pass.
“I wouldn’t have decided not to go with a date, just because you and Shane wanted to go to the same place,” Kyle said. “Shane has to lighten up. It’s not like we’re going to steal his girl.”
“You don’t think that’s it, do you? Not after all these years….”
Metal crashed against metal. The wheel jerked from his grip. He hit first Kyle and then the car door. Everything spun, light and darkness flashing. He squeezed his eyes shut until the car slammed to a halt.
Scott took a few deep breaths. “Okay, Kyle?”
He turned his head to look at him. “Oh, Lord.”
Kyle’s head hung limply to the side, and blood ran over his face. The car door pushed in against him, and Kyle’s body lay half over the armrest.
“Oh God. Kyle! Kyle! You gotta wake up.” Scott touched his arm to wake him. It was warm, but he didn’t know if he was alive or not. “Kyle, come on. Quit joking.” He wasn’t joking. God, Lord, I need help.
Scott unfastened his seat belt and tried to open his door. It wouldn’t budge. He rammed it with his foot and pounded with his hands. Nothing. Kyle’s side of the car was slammed against the concrete median. He was trapped. He tried the power window, and surprisingly it came down. Cars zoomed by going in the opposite direction. Maybe he could squeeze himself out the window.
He looked back at Kyle. His face seemed almost skeletal in the oncoming lights. Then darkness again. Oh Lord, no. He can’t be dead. Scott tried to erase the image from his mind. “Kyle! Kyle, come on. Kyle, hang on, please.” He reached to hold his hand near Kyle’s face and was relieved to feel his breath, ever so slight, against his hand. “Thank you, Lord. Please, hold on, Kyle.”
He again looked out of the window at the passing traffic. No one was stopping. Did he need to do something? How could he leave Kyle? He tried to lift himself out the window, but nausea overwhelmed him. Surely someone had called the police already. He couldn’t leave Kyle alone. Not when he looked like he could die any second.
Scott closed his eyes. “Oh, God, Lord, please don’t let Kyle die. You know how much he means to me and Shane. You know, Lord. You know….” For some reason he heard his mother. Always let people know you care.
Scott opened his eyes. He’d never really let them know — Kyle or Shane — how much they meant to him. Oh, he’d always said little things, like his mom encouraged him to, but the big things? Guys didn’t really say they loved each other… “Kyle… Kyle, you’re the brother I never had. Kyle, I hope you can hear me. You and Shane are like brothers to me. We’re the three musketeers. We’re like Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.” He gave a nervous laugh. “You and Shane even bicker like Spock and McCoy.” His small laugh turned to a weak cry. “Oh, Kyle, come on. You can make it. You’re the doctor. What should I do? Come on. Help me with a little of that newfound knowledge. You should have at least taught me first aid. What do I do? Kyle… Oh, God, isn’t anyone coming?”
He heard it faintly at first. The siren. “Listen, Kyle. Listen. Don’t you hear them? The ambulance, the paramedics. They’ll help you. Hang on. Remember Anna is working on her chess game. She’s going to try to beat you. You don’t want to disappoint my little sister, do you? Only you can play well enough to toy her along so she thinks she’s got a chance.”
The sirens got closer. Still the cars whipped by without hesitation. No one cared that Kyle was dying. “Oh, Lord, don’t let him die.”
He took Kyle’s hand because he didn’t know what else he could do to comfort him. “Don’t leave me, Kyle.”
The hand contracted slightly.
“Kyle! Kyle….” A police car pulled up in front of his car. “Kyle. Help is here. It’s going to be all right.”
Two officers emerged from the car. Scott tried to push himself as far out the window as he could. “Hey. Help! My friend needs help!” One officer came to him.
“Kyle’s hurt bad. He needs help. I can’t get out.”
“Calm down. A rescue crew is on the way. We’ll get you out.” His voice was steady, reassuring. He spoke as the other officer placed flares to keep traffic out of the lane beside them. He asked for his license, and Kyle’s name. “Does he have a license I can get his address from?”
“It’s in his back pocket. I… what if his back….”
“Don’t move him. Do you know his address?”
“Yeah. We’re roommates. Best friends. Shane is, too.”
“And he’s the one I should notify?”
The rescue crew arrived and pried open the car door, releasing Scott. A uniformed paramedic helped him to an ambulance while the others continued working to rescue Kyle.
“I’m fine,” Scott assured him, leaning against the ambulance. “Kyle needs….”
“Your friend is being helped. Let me examine you.” The paramedic checked his blood pressure, pulse, and looked into his eyes. “We’ll take you in for x-rays.”
“We’ll wait for him.”
The police officer came to ask about the accident now, and Scott struggled to focus. He remembered the Mercedes swerving and the truck with the flashing high beams. He felt sick again. “That guy must have been drunk, right? Why did I try to pass? Wasn’t anyone else hurt?” Scott looked up and down the road, and even with the police and ambulance lights, he saw no other smashed vehicles. “Where are they? Surely the Mercedes or the truck… they were so close. No one stopped. Even if they didn’t care, surely the accident number for insurance….”
“You didn’t get their license number?”
“No. I didn’t think the Mercedes would hit me. I was almost past him. The truck was behind me.”
The officer walked back to his car. Nausea welled up in Scott again, and the world seemed to tilt. The paramedic helped him into the ambulance to sit against the side wall. “Why didn’t they stop?” Scott repeated.
The young paramedic glanced over his shoulder. Everyone else was with Kyle. He faced Scott and shrugged. “My opinion? The Mercedes driver was at fault and knew it. He could have been drunk and wasn’t going to risk it if he could get away. The truck — he probably was driving illegally, jumped plates, no insurance, or no license. Happens all the time, and innocent people like you and your friend are hurt. But then opinions aren’t facts, and please don’t quote me to anyone.”
They brought Kyle on a stretcher, braced from his neck to his back, and placed him into the ambulance. The paramedics entered and continued work, inserting an IV into his left arm.
Scott felt the ambulance begin to move and closed his eyes. Lord, God, please let Kyle live. God, please…. The pounding in his head seemed to ebb and attack with the flow of the siren. He wished they’d turn the thing off.
“How are you doing?” the young paramedic asked him.
Scott opened his eyes. “I’m okay. How’s Kyle?”
“Holding his own. We’re almost there.”
When they reached the hospital, the back of the ambulance opened, and Kyle was taken away. Scott tried to follow, but almost fell. The paramedics helped him into a wheelchair. Once inside the hospital, an attendant took him to a curtained cubicle.
Scott sat on the edge of the bed, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. What were they doing? Where was Kyle? He couldn’t wait any longer.
Scott left the cubical. In the hall he grabbed the railing along the wall, standing still until the nausea passed. A man rushed past him but didn’t stop. Scott took a deep breath and continued along the wall until he made it to the waiting room.
People were scattered in the seats, most staring at the television. A young woman with a clipboard rushed by. Scott gripped her arm, stopping her. “Where’s Kyle?” he demanded, staring into her startled blue eyes. “How is he? What’s happening?” He barely registered her name on her tag. Ms. Edwards.
“Excuse me, Sir?”
“Kyle Sloan. We were in an accident. I think he’s dying.”
She shook her head. “I… I’ll check.”
Scott let go of her and turned toward the admittance counter. “Doesn’t anyone know anything?” His voice ended in an anguished cry, and the nausea threatened to overwhelm him again. He leaned against the nearest chair until it passed.
“Sir? Maybe you should sit. What’s your name?”
Scott focused on the chair. “Scott Alexander.”
“I’ll check for you. Please have a seat.” She disappeared through the doors Scott had come from.
The phone. He had to call Shane. No one was behind the desk. Scott grabbed the phone, pulling it up on the counter. He dialed home, hoping Shane was back from his date. It kept ringing. As it did, Scott felt as helpless as he had in the car. Nothing was going right. He hung up, leaning his head against the wall.
A hand rested on his shoulder. “Your friend is getting a CAT scan,” Ms. Edwards said softly. “And you need to get back to your bed to wait for x-rays.”
“Did he use this phone?” said a harsh voice. “Ms. Edwards, this phone is for official use. Visitors are to use the pay phones.”
Scott looked up to see a graying woman glaring at them. She snatched the phone and placed it behind the counter.
“It’s not her fault,” Scott had to clarify. He turned to the girl with the gentle voice. She could have yelled at him, but she hadn’t. “May I see him?”
“They’ll let us know when he’s ready. In the meantime, Mr. Alexander. Let’s get you back where you belong.”
“Ms. Edwards, I need you at the desk.”
An annoyed and harassed look flashed across Ms. Edwards features. Then she said, “Five people came into emergency during your break. I’ll be back as soon as I finish with them.” She turned her attention to Scott, motioning him toward the examining rooms.
When they reached the room he’d been in before, she indicated he sit on the examination table.
“I’m okay,” Scott protested. “It’s Kyle who was hurt.”
She studied him. “You were hurt also,” she said softly.
Scott shrugged. “If I feel it tomorrow, I’ll come back. I need to know about Kyle.”
“I’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything.” She left.
Scott was forced to wait. His nausea returned when he moved, so he tried to stay still. When he closed his eyes, he saw Kyle’s face highlighted by headlights and blood. “Oh, God, let him live.”
Ms. Edwards led Shane into the cubicle. He wore his gold wire-rim glasses instead of his contacts, and his rusty-blond hair was tousled. “Shane!” Practical, reliable, and fiercely loyal, Shane would make sure everything was in order. Scott could delegate that weight for now.
“Scott. Man, are you okay? The cops came and said you guys were in a bad way.”
“Kyle’s dying, Shane. He wasn’t moving.”
Shane took a deep breath. “Thought it was worse for him. They asked for Kyle’s folks’ number.”
“Shane….” The nausea stopped him again. That and it was hard to admit. “I’m scared,” he whispered. “He looked real bad.”
Shane stood steady. Scott’s nausea came again, and Shane rested his hand on Scott’s shoulder. “Careful.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “We gotta stay strong for Kyle.”
A doctor came in with Ms. Edwards. “Scott Alexander and Shane Lewis?” he asked. “You’re here with Kyle Sloan?”
“I talked to Kyle’s parents, and they’re on their way. They said they’ll meet you here. We’re going to operate. He’s got a sub-deral hematoma — swelling and bleeding in his skull. The faster we relieve the pressure and stop the bleeding, the better his chances to make a full recovery.”
“Yes. It’s always risky, but his chances without it are very slim. You may see him briefly before we take him in.” The doctor left.
Scott shifted off the bed, and the room seemed to tilt. He felt Shane’s hands on his back, steadying him.
“He needs a wheelchair, if possible,” Shane told Ms. Edwards.
“You’re falling all over the place.”
“Please, help me,” Scott begged, not caring how he sounded. He had to see that Kyle was still alive. “Please, Ms. Edwards.”
“I’ll get a wheelchair.” She slipped from the room and was back in a moment. She helped him into the chair, and then wheeled him to another room.
They stopped before the bed, and Scott stood with the help of the others, still not stable. “Kyle!”
“Oh, God,” moaned Shane.
Kyle’s head was wrapped with white bandages. A neck brace held his head immobile, and a ventilator was in his mouth. Other wires and monitors that only Kyle could have identified surrounded him. Scott reached for Kyle’s hand. He hardly felt the two beside him, keeping him steady. The only thing he could do was pray. Nothing else. And he did. When he could pray no more he continued standing with his head bowed.
Hesitantly Shane began praying. Praying out loud had always been a bit harder for Shane, Scott knew, but he haltingly begged God to spare their friend’s life.
Scott was about to open his eyes when he heard a third prayer. Ms. Edwards was praying for Kyle, for his parents, for Scott and Shane. She didn’t even know them! When she finished, Scott said, “Thank you, Lord, for your grace. In Jesus name.” He opened his eyes and studied Kyle once more.
“We better get out of here so they can take him into surgery,” Shane said roughly. He helped Scott back into the wheelchair. Ms. Edwards led them to the examination room.
“Wait!” She was gone.
Shane looked after her also. “Who is she?”
“A nurse or aide or something. I wanted to thank her.”
Shane turned his attention back to Scott. “Hey. You lie down and rest, okay? Don’t need both of you laid up.”
Scott was too weak to protest, and now he ached all over. He lay down on the examination table and pulled the pillow under his head.
Shane stayed with him, except when Scott was in x-ray. After x-rays he was taken back to the examination room to wait for the results.
“Got Kyle’s things,” Shane said, coming back into the room. He held a plastic bag.
“He has to make it.”
“Yeah,” Shane agreed.
Scott closed his eyes and waited.
The doctor came in. “The x-rays look good. But you’re pretty bruised. Probably a lot of muscle tears that’ll just take time to heal. Here are a couple prescriptions for pain. Go home and take it easy over the weekend.”
A male nurse-aide insisted that he be put in the wheelchair and taken to the doors of the hospital. Scott was momentarily disoriented, until they were outside, waiting for Shane to bring around his car. “Kyle! I can’t leave!”
The aide didn’t move. “I’m sure everything will be fine. You have to go home.”
“You don’t even know Kyle’s dying!” Scott accused.
The aide hadn’t, Scott could see, but he didn’t take him back inside.
Shane pulled up in his Corsica. “Shane! What about Kyle?”
Shane placed his finger to his mouth.
“Scott, get in the car.”
When the man was gone, Shane said, “Scott, you don’t want a fight. Now let’s drive around and go in through the Taubman Center. Got your keys?”
Scott relaxed. “Yeah.”
Shane pulled into the parking ramp. Then he made Scott wait while he retrieved a wheelchair from the building. Scott wanted to protest, but he knew he’d never make it as weak as he now felt. One of the pills they’d given him must be affecting him.
They went into the building, past the office where Scott worked as the new temporary middle manager and continued into the hospital. Then they went upstairs to the waiting room where Kyle’s surgeon had told them to wait.
The room was lit with only one small lamp, and Scott stretched out on a couch. Shane sat in a chair near him. Neither spoke, but it helped to know Shane was near.
He drifted to sleep once. He spun and slammed next to Kyle, and then he saw Kyle’s face, white and red and ghoulish. He awoke with a start.
“Okay?” Shane asked.
“Yeah. Just… a repeat performance.”
“He’ll be okay.”
They didn’t speak again until the surgeon came in. Kyle had made it through surgery, and now it would just take time. In ICU Kyle didn’t look any better than he had before surgery. He still didn’t move or respond.
In the ICU waiting room Shane asked, “Think we should go home and rest?”
“Not until his parents get here.”
“Then let’s try to get some sleep.” They turned out the lights of the waiting room and each took a couch.
Scott, Shane, and Kyle were as close as brothers — closer Scott sometimes suspected than Kyle was to his real brother, Ian, who was six years younger. The three of them had shared an apartment since their freshman year of college. Now Kyle had just received his medical degree and Scott his MBA, but they planned to continue on together for a while, saving for the future. But what would the future hold now? Kyle couldn’t die yet. They hadn’t even had time to celebrate Kyle’s promotion to internship and a real paycheck from the hospital. He just couldn’t die.
Scott didn’t sleep much, and when another family invaded the waiting room near dawn, he quit trying.
At eight thirty Kyle’s parents, Jerry and Fran, and his brother, Ian, joined them. Ian looked a lot like Kyle, but his hair was a shade lighter than Kyle’s rich brown. Kyle had worn his hair casually parted in the middle, but Ian’s was cut long on top hanging over shaved sides.
Jerry and Fran hugged Scott and Shane. Then they were allowed to go in to see Kyle for a few minutes.
When they came back out Fran sobbed against Jerry. Jerry’s face was wet also, and Scott’s heart ached. If only he could do something — anything — to help, but he couldn’t. He glanced at Ian. Ian glared at Scott. It was as if Kyle himself was accusing him.
Shane gave Kyle’s keys to his parents so they could stay at the apartment. At nine visiting hours began, and his parents went in to see Kyle again. Since only two at a time were supposed to go in, one would come out, and Ian would go in. Then another went in.
When Jerry came out a second time, Shane said, “Hey, can Scott and I go in next. I have to get him home. He’s really banged up.”
Jerry hesitated. “It’s family only.”
“We’re his family, too,” Shane said, his voice rising, “for the last seven and a half years.”
If Scott had felt better he would have tried to intervene — smooth over the situation. Jerry had hit Shane’s sensitive spot.
“Yeah, I guess you are,” Jerry conceded. “I’ll talk to the head nurse.” He left.
“Talk to the head nurse?” Shane paced back to the couch Scott sat on. “We’ve been with him all damn night, and we’re not allowed in now?” He paced until Jerry returned.
“You were already cleared. As soon as Fran and Ian come out, you can go in.”
“Thanks,” Scott said.
When Ian emerged from ICU, he glared again as Scott and Shane passed him. Scott chalked it up as concern and lack of sleep. Ian really wasn’t glaring, was he? Scott just wished he didn’t look so much like Kyle.
Kyle was the same as he’d been right after surgery. He didn’t respond to their greetings or squeeze his hand when Scott gripped his. After fifteen minutes, Shane led Scott out of ICU and took him home to sleep.
When he awoke that the afternoon Scott called their pastor, Joseph Prescott from Covenant Community Church. He promised to come up to the hospital. That evening Shane and Scott went back to see Kyle and still nothing had changed.
Scott couldn’t move without pain, but he tried not to let it show. He would heal; Kyle might not.
They went to church Sunday, and then went immediately back to the hospital. Scott spent most of the time half asleep in the waiting room, but he took his turn to stand by Kyle’s side and hold his hand, wishing he would grip it just once to let him know he’d be okay.
Monday morning Scott and Shane sat across from each other at the small kitchen table, each with their coffee. Scott’s back, neck and shoulders still ached, and he dreaded the day of interviews and meetings. “You call me if anything changes,” Shane said.
“You are going to keep checking on him?”
“Of course I will.”
Shane’s voice lowered. “What are we gonna do if he never gets better?”
“What do you mean if….”
“Sshhh.” Shane waved his hand and then pointed toward the living room where Kyle’s parents were sleeping on the fold out couch.
“He’s going to get better,” Scott whispered.
“What if….” Shane pointed to his head. “He can’t work.”
Scott hadn’t wanted to talk about this yet, but Shane wouldn’t let it drop. He gripped Shane’s arm. “I was driving, Shane.” He still whispered, and he couldn’t have admitted that in anything but a whisper. “I noticed the guy was drunk, but I ignored it. Whatever it takes, I’m there for him. I’ll pay his share if it’s a problem for you.”
Shane shook his head. “It’s not a problem. Just his parents are talking about taking him home if… when he gets out. We gotta do what’s best for him. If here is best, I’m with you all the way.”
Scott released his arm and gripped his hand. Then they both prayed silently, as the three of them often would as a group. Afterward he rose and put his cup in the sink.
Shane finished the last of his coffee and then grabbed his suit jacket. They walked downstairs to Shane’s car. “Check on your car today.”
“It’s totaled. Even if it’s not, I don’t want it.” He got into the passenger seat and buckled himself in.
“You’re not going to let this stop you from driving, are you?”
Scott leaned back against the seat. “Wish I could, but I know better than that. Just wish I could put it off until I wasn’t so stiff. I’ll call the insurance company and see when they’ll cut me a check.”
“It’s not just your car. It’s Kyle’s hospital bill they’ve got to foot.”
“You’re right. I’ll take care of it.”
Shane left him at the back entrance to the hospital, near the hotel section. It was too early to see Kyle, but he decided to go in anyway, walking through the doors of ICU as if he had a right to. No one stopped him.
A white coated man stood beside Kyle’s bed. His hands were in his jacket pockets, and his balding head with the black ring of hair was bowed ever so slightly to look at Kyle’s face. Other than that he stood stiff and straight.
Scott approached slowly, afraid of being ordered out. He hoped his business suit made him appear to belong.
Kyle looked the same as he had when they left the night before. The third day and nothing seemed to have changed. “He’s going to make it, isn’t he?” he asked quietly.
“He’s got to.” Then the man lifted his head and turned to look at Scott. “He’s doing better than yesterday.”
Scott read his name tag. Dr. B. Thorton. A different doctor had attended Kyle over the weekend. Scott decided to let him know a little about how special Kyle was. “He’s going to be a heart surgeon. Dr. Ratini came in yesterday. He’s been mentoring him because Kyle was the best in his class. He just graduated last week. He’s an intern here.”
Kyle’s mentor, Dr. Ratini, was a heart surgeon and an instructor at the hospital. Kyle’s parents had been especially pleased by the visit, but Dr. Ratini’s candid admission that there was a good chance Kyle’s career was over before it started, had sobered them. Then Dr. Ratini assured them that everything would be done to make sure Kyle had the best chance to reach his full potential.
Dr. Thorton turned back to stare at Kyle. Then his eyes squeezed shut, and the muscles around his jaw tightened. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes, turned, and walked away.
Scott wondered if Dr. Thorton was another of Kyle’s instructors. He didn’t remember Kyle talking about him.
Scott took Kyle’s hand. “Wish I could sleep all day. Better get up soon, cause it’s your turn for dishes this week.”
Kyle didn’t respond.
“Please wake up, Kyle. I’ll take your turn at dishes for the next five years if you do.” Scott leaned closer. “I’m serious, Kyle. I’ll do anything to help; you just got to let me know what you need done. Don’t give up here.”
“Sir, visiting hours aren’t for another hour and a half. You’ll have to leave,” said the nurse. He laid a set of sheets on the chair and then motioned toward the door to make his point.
“Be back later, Kyle.” He left ICU.
Scott walked through the hospital to the connecting Taubman Center, going into the data processing section of facilities. He’d been made the temporary manager almost three weeks ago, and he was still trying to sort out the mess of the last manager and make sure his section of the electronic monster was ready for the year 2000. It was a promotion and a very responsible position for someone who had just completed his MBA. He wanted to do the best job he could, but he was getting behind. His secretary had quit without warning last Wednesday and personnel had yet to send a replacement.
He looked at his calendar. “Meeting at 8:30 with the programming team.” Clipped to the page was a Dilbert cartoon. Another dumb manager joke. This time the comic showed the manager believing the etch-a-sketch the programming team had given him was his laptop computer. Scott didn’t know which of the two programmers or four support persons left the cartoons. He had decided when the first appeared the day after his arrival in the office to take it in good humor, posting each on the bulletin board in the outer office. Unfortunately it was obvious that all of the people he was supposed to direct appeared to believe he was only a manager because he couldn’t do anything else.
Scott posted the comic strip and then glanced at the clock. He had time to call his insurance company. It took longer than he expected, making him late for the meeting. Then the meeting ran over. If only he had a secretary, he might see the top of his desk. He could only give so much work to the general office secretary, Elaine, who was technically for all the rest of his data processing team. He called Ms. Benchley in personnel.
“Patience, Mr. Alexander. I have two girls coming to interview. One at ten thirty and one at eleven.”
“It’s ten thirty now!”
“Then don’t keep her waiting,” Ms. Benchley said cheerfully and hung up.
Scott stalked to the outer office. Instantly he forgot about his problems, as Ms. Edwards, the pretty girl with the gentle voice from the emergency room, stood nervously near Elaine’s desk. “Is Kyle worse?” He took her arms. “It’s Kyle, isn’t it?”
She backed away. “Actually, Ms. Benchley sent me up for an interview with….” She shook her head and smiled. “Mr. Alexander. I didn’t realize you were the same man.” Her smile left. “Your friend is still serious then. I’m sorry. I’ve been praying for him.”
Scott led her back to his office. “He made it through surgery, but he’s still not aware of us when we visit.” He closed the door and motioned her to a chair. “I thought you were a nurse or something.”
“No. Just secretarial help.”
“Why the transfer?” He knew it was common as secretaries wanted more or less hours or more responsibility and pay, but he thought ER was higher on the pay scale than his office.
She sat in the chair he offered and waited until he was seated. “I guess it’s bad practice to admit this on an interview, but I have a bit of a personality conflict in ER. I think you noticed that.” She handed him her resume and application, which personnel usually sent ahead, but since he’d been so impatient, he didn’t have yet.
Scott looked at the top of her resume. “Kayleigh. I like that. You want to be a teacher?”
He took a minute to read over the papers. Kayleigh Edwards was young, not quite 21 according to her application. She didn’t plan to remain a secretary, and she probably didn’t have the skills someone older would bring to the job. He didn’t know his alternatives, but he’d seen her on the job. She had compassion; she cared about other people. Her resume stated that she’d worked through high school also, so she had more experience than some. She was now a junior at Eastern Michigan University.
After the resume, Scott studied the girl. Her dark brown hair was practically cut with a slight wave. Her blue eyes watched him intently. Her lips were full, but not pouty. She was not too thin, her body nicely rounded without excesses. Huggable, he thought, and then tried to refocus.
Could he work with her? Had he actually begged for her help Friday night? He had, and she’d given it. Scott realized this woman had seen him at his weakest but she wasn’t regarding him with pity or haughtiness.
“I want you.”
“You got the job,” Scott said quickly, to cover his blunder. “Can you start now?”
“First….” Scott outlined the stack of work on his desk. Then he took her to the outer office, introduced her to Elaine, and showed her which desk and computer were hers now. He was about to go back to his office but then stopped. “And Kayleigh?”
She looked up from the papers he’d given her.
“About Friday. Thanks for your help. Thanks for caring. I….” He glanced at Elaine. Just as well he cut it short. The gossip clearing house of the office didn’t need to know anything else. He focused on the work. “I know I threw a lot at you just now. Just ask if you have any questions.”
Scott went back to his office and called personnel to confirm his decision and tell Ms. Benchley he didn’t need to see the other girl. Then he tried to concentrate on his work, but found himself thinking more of Kayleigh. He wondered how much Kayleigh would tell Elaine about Friday night. Somehow he didn’t think she’d say much. He trusted her and that more than any skill she might have was why he hired her. Maybe after everything settled down they could have dinner and… Why in the world was he thinking of asking her out? He’d just made that a major code of ethics violation.
He looked through his notes to decide what had to be done before his afternoon meeting. Hopefully now there’d be someone in the office who didn’t think he was an idiot. Scott ordered himself to focus on his work. Soon he was able to forget Kayleigh, block out his aching muscles, and even that persistent bloody image of Kyle that would haunt him if he let his mind wander.
Go to Chapter 2
© 2014, 1998 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.