Chapter 1: Bathtime
Audrey Lim knew he would be waiting for her outside of the hospital. She had never really thought about being his girlfriend until she had gotten sick with that respiratory virus. Sure, they had had that one-night stand the night before the quarantine, but they had both agreed that it couldn’t happen again for the sake of their friendship and their careers. But once she had discovered she was infected with that deadly virus, her entire thought process had changed. She wouldn’t have lived if it hadn’t been for Morgan’s ballsy idea of putting her on ECMO, but since she had, Lim knew she couldn’t be cautious anymore. She had tried her hardest to push him away; she knew he wanted more by the looks he gave her. He had even told her he’d wait to be able to drink bourbon with her again. She had sworn to herself she would never fall for someone again after her divorce to Kashal. But then he came along, and that one night came along, and that virus came along, and she realized she just couldn’t let him go. Her feelings for him were too deep to do so.
When she was wheeled out of the front entrance door, she stood and swung her black bag over her shoulder. Sure enough, he pulled up to the front entrance in his Tesla, looking around to make sure no one was watching as she got into the front seat next to him. She gave him a little smirk and he tried to hide his satisfaction, but he ended up grinning from ear to ear like a high school teenager. He drove away from the hospital towards his house and got a good ways away from the building before he turned to her and said, “It’s great to have you back, Audrey.”
Lim chuckled and shook her head, “I never left, you asshat; and you were in my room every day for the past week. I’m surprised Andrews isn’t already suspicious.”
Melendez chuckled, “I was worried about you, Audrey. You were pretty sick for a while there.”
“It’s not me you should have been worried about. Murphy was the one who was overwhelmed,” admitted Lim, “Though I heard he performed a successful emergency c-section while we were quarantined,” Melendez took Lim’s hand and squeezed it, “So what are our plans for tonight since I’m now virus free and all yours?”
“Well, I figure you probably want to spend your first night out of the hospital alone just the two of us, so I’ve been working on a couple little surprises for you,” he said, trying his hardest to keep his face neutral.
“Does it involve that thing we said shouldn’t happen again?” she asked knowingly.
Melendez shrugged, “Not necessarily. Though if what I have planned does lead to it, I won’t complain,” his facial impression implied that he was indeed hoping for what happened a few nights ago.
“You’re a horrible liar, you know that right?” she eyed him jokingly.
When they arrived home, Lim went to go to the front door before Melendez stopped her, “When we get inside, I want you to wait downstairs for a little bit while I get everything set up.”
Lim was confused, but nodded in agreement, “Okay.”
Melendez unlocked the front door and set his keys down on the little table right inside the living room. Lim set her bag down next to the table and went to take a seat on the couch, “Wait, here; I’ll call you up when I’m ready.”
Melendez went upstairs while Lim pondered on what he was planning. She sure as hell hoped he hadn’t stopped by some adult store and bought some sort of cheesy crotchless underwear or some sort of toy he wanted her to use. She was usually up for anything, but she was still fatigued from having been in the hospital for several days. She didn’t know if her best performance would come any time soon. She heard him puttering around upstairs, and it sounded like there was a herd of elephants with him, “Neil?” she called out to him.
“Just a few more minutes, Audrey,” he shouted.
Lim was tired of waiting, so she slowly made her way up the stairs, though Melendez wasn’t in his bedroom, “Neil, where are you?”
“In the bathroom; just hold on,” Melendez said firmly. Patience wasn’t exactly Lim’s strong suit, so she tried to barge into the bathroom, though it was locked, “I knew you’d try to come in, Lim; that’s why I locked it.”
Finally, Lim was tired of waiting, so she knocked loudly and shouted, “Neil, open the damn door.”
Melendez finally opened the door, but it wasn’t what Lim was expecting. The lights were off, the room only lit by the soft glow of several vanilla scented candles. The bathtub was filled with water and was brimming with bubbles, and there was a bottle of sparkling cider with two glasses already filled, “Neil,” she whispered softly.
“I know you had some quick showers while you were in the hospital, but I figured tonight what you’d really want would a nice long soak in the tub,” Melendez explained.
Lim did have to admit that a nice romantic bubble bath sounded wonderful. She was stiff from lying in a hospital bed and her chest was sore from having coughed so much for the first few days. She could use a good deep tissue massage and some rest and relaxation, “Will you be joining me, Dr. Melendez?” she asked hopefully.
He held up the cider and asked, “Why do you think there are two glasses? I figure it was safer to go with sparkling cider over champagne tonight since you still are recovering some.”
“That’s alright. I can drink alcoholic beverages soon,” she kissed him slowly, “Now we better get our asses in that tub before the water gets too cold.”
They both slowly undressed before sinking into the water, the warmth enveloping both of their abdomens and chests. Lim would be the first to admit that she wasn’t one to overly enjoy baths and that she much preferred showers, but somehow, being in the same tub with Melendez made the concept more enjoyable. She grabbed her glass of sparkling cider and clinked it with Melendez’s, “To beating a killer virus and showing whose boss.”
Melendez couldn’t help but laugh at her toast, “To the virus that brought us together, otherwise you’d still be denying that you like me.”
Lim sighed, but then smiled and nodded, “Probably.”
“Not probably, definitely,” Melendez said and laughed.
“Okay, definitely,” Lim leaned back against him, Melendez setting his glass down and absentmindedly rubbing her shoulders, “But I will admit, this is nice. Who knew you of all people could be Mr. Romantic?”
“I can be romantic when I want to be. I just reserve it all for the women in my life who I really want to impress. Just wait until you see all of the tricks I have up my sleeve,” Melendez continued to massage her shoulders.
“A little lower, Neil,” Lim instructed. Melendez moved his hands lower down her back between her shoulder blades, “Mm. Right there is where it’s really tense.”
Melendez grabbed the soap and lathered some on his hands before he continued, “Audrey, have you ever thought about doing something to release the tension in your muscles?”
“I do, most of the time, either with a run or at the gym. I’ve just been stuck in the hospital for five days and haven’t gotten the chance,” she informed, “But I have to admit, this method works too.”
“Good,” Melendez kissed the top of her head.
“Do you want me to return the favor?” she asked seductively, pulling out of his embrace and turning to face him.
Melendez didn’t answer verbally, but nodded, so Lim slathered on some soap and began to rub vigorously, attacking all of the knots, “Geez, Aud. I’m not that tense.”
“I’ve seen you in the operating room; you need this,” she asserted.
They both couldn’t help but laugh, “Believe me, I don’t think cardiothoracic surgery is as intense as trauma surgery.”
“Fair point. But being a surgeon in general is stressful,” she said, “Plus with the whole quarantine, I think everyone needs some much needed relaxation. I’m just glad I get to relax with you.”
“Me too,” said Melendez as he enveloped her once again, “I’m glad we finally have each other.”
“We had sex once, Neil, and to be honest, I’m not up for it tonight,” said Lim.
“I know, but we’ve agreed to move forward, even if it is in secret. I don’t know about you but I’ve wanted this to happen for a really long time,” he admitted.
Lim was silent for a long time, so Melendez was worried he had said the wrong thing. She finally answered, “I have too. Now, I admit this was really nice, but I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in a while. Nothing would make me happier than to snooze about twelve hours straight without interruptions.”
Melendez laughed and grabbed the towels. He stepped out of the tub and held out Lim’s for her, which she promptly accepted his embrace, “Okay, but on one condition. We do what we did the night before the quarantine sometime again soon.”
Lim tilted her head up and placed a kiss onto his lips, “It’s a deal.”
Chapter 2: Dinner Date
“Son of a bitch, where is the damn recipe!” Lim frantically searched her desk drawers and book shelves. She was off from work that day and she was planning to surprise Melendez with a special dinner that night, beef noodle soup from the old Lim family recipe, wine, and her famous double chocolate cake. Okay, the “famous” cake would be store-bought, but the soup would be homemade. That is, if she could ever find the recipe. She went upstairs and searched amongst some paperwork on her dresser and found the tattered piece of parchment, “Finally,” she whispered to herself. She knew this endeavor would involve a trip to the grocery store, so she gathered the items she needed and tossed them into her black bag, grabbed her car keys, and drove to the grocery store, dreading having to actually shop. Certainly grocery shopping was the type of shopping she hated the least (Laura had had to practically drag her kicking and screaming when they went prom dress shopping in high school because it involved two things Lim absolutely despised: dresses and shopping), but still, it was more of a necessary evil in her mind. She found the ingredients she needed and paid for them and then went by the liquor store to pick out a bottle of wine before heading back home.
Once she arrived back at her place, she prepared and mixed the ingredients for the beef noodle soup before putting it on the stove to simmer, cursing herself for not starting it earlier. She wanted everything to be perfect; not that she gave a crap about really changing herself to impress Melendez; she knew he liked her just the way she was. But she wanted to do something nice for him every once in a while since typical domestic duties weren’t exactly on her list of strong qualities. As it got closer to the time Melendez was supposed to arrive at her house, she went upstairs and changed into better looking jeans and a nicer top, brushed out her hair, and put on her make-up (which only ever consisted of mascara and lipstick). She lit some candles and put on some soft music, doing her best not to gag to herself the entire time. She knew it would pay off in the end. Lim was just setting everything out on the table when she heard a knock at the door. She smoothed out her blouse before she opened the door. She tried to smile cutely for Melendez, but it felt awkward on her part. He just raised his eyebrows at her and she sighed, “I was trying to be cute.”
He smiled and kissed her, “I know you were in your own little Lim way.”
He hung up his coat and walked towards the dining room. Lim said, “I made dinner. Or at least I tried.”
Melendez took a deep breath and said, “Well, it smells delicious. What are we having?”
“Beef noodle soup from my Ama’s recipe, wine, and chocolate cake. Though the chocolate cake is store-bought,” she admitted and chuckled.
“Well, I’m sure you did just fine,” said Melendez. They both sat down at the table and Lim poured the wine. Melendez held up his glass and toasted, “To us.”
Lim smiled and clinked her glass with his, “To us.”
They both took a sip and Melendez asked, “So how have you been feeling?”
Lim sighed and said, “I’ve been feeling better. Still a little run down sometimes. But I’ve been powering through at work. Knowing I get to spend my nights with you helps me get through the day,” she smiled.
“Well that’s good to hear,” Melendez said, “We were all worried about you,” Lim couldn’t help but feel her heart skip a beat, because she secretly knew he meant, ‘I was worried about you’, “This is really good. I didn’t know you were such a good cook,” he joked.
Lim glared at him a little and then smiled, “Well, I have to give my Ama credit. She’s the one who came up with the recipe. She passed it down to my mother who gave it to me when I married Kashal figuring I needed to brush up on my domestic skills,” Lim used air quotes for emphasis, “Boy was she wrong.”
Melendez couldn’t help but chuckle, “It’s what makes you unique though.”
Lim smiled at him; it was always so cute when he tried to comfort her, even though he damn well knew she wasn’t the typical girly woman. But she knew her tomboy nature was what Melendez liked about her so she wouldn’t ever change her personality. After dinner, they washed the dishes together and once they were finished, Lim laid a hand on Melendez’s shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Wait down here while I go change,” Melendez automatically began to wonder what kind of outfit Lim would be wearing when he looked at her later, because he knew by her tone that it wouldn’t be just any old outfit. He paced the living room when he heard Lim call out to him. He immediately ran upstairs and though Lim was in a silk black robe, Melendez just knew there was something sexy underneath it, “Wondering what’s underneath this robe?” she asked seductively.
Melendez nodded eagerly, “Fucking right I am,” he responded.
“Well, why don’t you come a little closer and see for yourself?” she grinned mischievously.
Melendez took small steps closer and closer to her, much shorter than his usual stride, but he wanted to tease Lim for as long as possible. He finally stood right in front of her and fiddled with the belt on her robe. His hands were shaking with anticipation, so it took him way longer than it should have, but the robe finally fell open, revealing what was underneath. She had on a black chemise to match the robe and it had some lace at the neckline. Melendez could already feel his pants getting tighter as he leaned his forehead against hers, “God you’re so fucking beautiful.”
“Neil, I told you already that you don’t have to say that garbage every time we have sex,” Lim mocked jokingly and began to kiss him hard.
“And I told you that I wouldn’t say anything that wasn’t true,” he emphasized and let his tongue slide against her lips, begging for entrance. She finally allowed it access inside and their tongues danced around each other in harmony, like synchronized swimmers in a pool, “You…are…so…beautiful,” he said against her lips. He felt Lim bite his bottom lip fairly hard, enough to draw blood, so he immediately pulled back, “OW! What the hell?”
“I told you to stop saying that,” she shrugged.
“Well forgive me if I think my girlfriend is pretty. And you better get used to me saying it,” he gave a cocky grin.
Lim shook her head and pulled him closer to her, “You’re such an ass,” she began to kiss him again.
“But I’m your ass,” he batted his eyebrows playfully.
“Just shut up and fuck me,” she demanded.
“I’m getting there,” he stated. She let the robe slide off of her shoulders and it fell to the floor. She was in nothing but the nightgown and Melendez had the feeling she had nothing on underneath that.
“Now let’s let that deer tattoo of yours have some face time, shall we?” she slowly unbuttoned his light blue dress shirt. She had seen it once or twice before, but her heart still skipped a beat every time she observed his muscles, “Damn, you are so sexy,” she groaned.
“Hey if I can’t call you beautiful, you can’t call me sexy,” he joked. He kissed her harder but it didn’t take long for him to start attacking other parts of her body. He kissed along her collarbone and sucked at the spot on her neck that turned her on big time (the spot he knew to avoid at the hospital or else they would end up having sex right there in the break room or some supply closet). Lim was starting to lose function in her legs, so she pulled Melendez over to her bed and pulled him on top of her. She unfastened the zipper on his pants and yanked off his pants and boxers as fast as she could; Melendez pulled the gown up over her head and he had been correct in his assumption about her not having any undergarments on underneath it. They were now both completely naked and they gave a few nervous chuckles. Neither one of them could get over how stunning the other was. Melendez ran his pointer finger along Lim’s clavicle, getting closer and closer to her breasts. He circled her nipples and areolas with his hands and his tongue as Lim tried to stimulate his penis, though she was having a bit of trouble reaching it from her position on the bed.
“Screw this,” she pushed him off of her and Melendez briefly thought he had done something she didn’t like until he felt that it was quite the opposite. He admitted it would take some getting used to with the fact that Lim was very dominant in the bedroom when it came to voicing her wants and needs, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Once she came up for air, she crawled further up and whispered in his ear, “Now, I want you to return the favor,” her breath was hot on his neck, but for some reason, he found it incredibly alluring.
He gave her a wicked look that caused a reaction that he definitely tasted when he dove down in between her legs. She climaxed quickly from the stimulation to her clit, but she wanted more. She pulled him on top of her, laughing to herself a little in the process, “You know, I think this is the first time in my life I’ve ever done missionary.”
Melendez smiled and stroked her cheek lovingly, “Well, I’m glad I’m the lucky man who gets to be your first,” he teased and they both couldn’t help but laugh, “Prepare for liftoff,” he said as he entered her, eliciting a moan of pleasure from him. He increased his pace and her cries of ecstasy grew louder. He felt himself come and he cried out her name; she shuttered in exhilaration as she felt him release himself inside of her since it almost always felt quite good to her. They kissed a few moments longer before Melendez finally flopped onto his back, the couple both taking, long satisfied breaths. They stayed silent other than their panting for a few moments before Lim broke it, “Damn, you’re good in bed.”
He laughed and said, “You’re not so bad yourself, Lim.”
She rolled over onto her side and kissed him, “We should do this more often to improve our skills.”
Melendez raised an eyebrow, “Are you saying you’re already ready for round two? It takes me at least thirty minutes to be ready again.”
Lim laughed and shook her head, “No I’m just saying with our busy schedules, we really should make more time for sex.”
He wrapped his arm around her and she snuggled against his chest, “Well, tell you what? How about we get a good night’s sleep and we can take a nice, long, romantic shower in the morning before work?”
“Mm. Sounds amazing, Dr. Melendez. Is that the course of treatment you’re prescribing?”
Melendez had to laugh at Lim’s cheesy medical innuendo. He kissed her temple and firmly stated, “Yes, it’s doctor’s orders.”
Chapter 3: Blissful Shower
Lim was the first one up the next morning, so she quietly got out of bed and went to go freshen up in the bathroom. What Lim didn’t know was that was Melendez was a light sleeper, so as soon as he heard Lim moving around the upstairs, he was up. Since neither one of them had bothered to get dressed from the night before hand, he was appreciating the view. Lim came back into the bedroom and smiled when she saw Melendez was awake, “Well, look who’s finally up?”
“Mm. You wore me out last night,” Melendez admitted.
“Well, you knew what you were signing up for when you agreed to date me,” Lim smirked.
Melendez laid down on his stomach, “And not that I regret saying yes, but you’re definitely difficult to keep up with,” he said jokingly. Lim grinned and began to kiss his shoulders, “Audrey….”
“Are you still up for that shower we talked about last night?” she groaned, running her pointer finger along his spine, causing goose bumps to appear.
Melendez could already feel the blood rushing down low at the prospect, “Don’t toy with me woman,” he moaned, still lying flat on the bed.
Lim straddled his behind and lied down on top of him, kissing the back of his neck, running her fingers through his dark brown hair, “So it’s working?” she asked coyly.
“Of course, it’s working,” said Melendez, “But unless you want me to buck you off of me like I’m some sort of horse, you need to move.”
“Off Audrey,” ordered Melendez. Lim frowned jokingly and shifted off of Melendez. She rolled to her side of the bed and Melendez sat up. He scooted closer to her and stroked her cheek, “Hmm. That’s better,” he groaned, “Now I can see your beautiful face.”
Lim ran her fingers over Melendez’s buck tattoo; she loved the fact that she was seeing it more and more lately, “Well, you are quite handsome yourself. Now, let’s go take that shower where it won’t matter if we both work up a sweat.”
They both got out of bed and Melendez followed Lim into the bathroom. She turned on the water and let it run for a few moments, testing to make sure it was the right temperature before she stepped in. Melendez followed her and closed the shower door. It was large enough to easily fit the two of them. Melendez watched as Lim let the water run down her body, her long brown hair plastering to her face and body in the cascade. Melendez knew they didn’t have long before they had to leave for work, so Melendez went straight to work pleasuring her. He stepped under the stream and began to massage her shoulders; she leaned against him while she reached behind her and swiftly grabbed his cock, which elicited a moan of pleasure from him. He moved his hands down the front of her chest, finding her breasts and circling her nipples. She started shuttering against him and he chuckled, “You know I haven’t even gotten to the good part and you’re already this excited?”
Lim turned around in his embrace, a feeling of arousal building in the pit of her stomach as she watched the water drench his abs and that buck tattoo she had learned to dearly love. She moved the hand on her breast down to her vulva, “We have to be at work soon; we better get this show on the road.”
Melendez made no hesitation as he played with her lips, her juices thoroughly soaking his fingers. He found her clit and began to brush up against it as she stroked his cock from the base to the tip, all while continuing their vigorous kissing, “We’re gonna be late,” Melendez said against her lips.
“So stop,” Lim mentioned, though she didn’t really want him to do so.
“Not until I get the job done,” said Melendez, grabbing her by the wrists and pinning her against the wall.
“Mm. A man who takes charge. I like it,” she said seductively.
He looked into her eyes for consent and she nodded her approval before he pushed into her, producing a loud cry of pleasure, “NEIL!”
He continued to increase the pace of his hips as her cries grew louder, if that was even possible. She dug her nails into the flesh of his chest, shoulders, and back to keep herself from collapsing. She felt him climax and release inside of her and he made sure to stimulate her clit a few more times before she came, yelling out his name once again as she did.
Soon, they were relaxed, both of them standing under the flowing torrent coming from above their heads. They took the time to actually wash their hair and bodies (but not without a little more sensuality). Lim turned off the water and they both stepped out. Lim quickly handed Melendez a towel and wrapped another one around her body before she started shivering. The pair dressed and Melendez started a pot of coffee before he poured them into two tumblers. Just as he went to leave, he turned to kiss Lim and said, “I’ll see you at work. I’ll try not to smile at you when I see you in the hall.”
Lim chuckled and planted another kiss to his lips, “Asshat.”
Chapter 4: Love
It was Saturday night and Melendez had decided to take Lim out on a nicer date tonight. Normally, they would just go to their favorite bar to watch whatever sports game was on, but tonight, he wanted to do something special. He wanted to tell her something that, quite honestly, he didn’t know if she felt the same way, but he was going to tell her anyways. He wore the blue dress shirt that she loved, the one he had been wearing the night they had first slept together. He put a suit coat on over it and grabbed his wallet and keys before he drove over to Lim’s house. When he arrived, he went up to the front door and knocked. Lim answered a few moments and she let him into the house. She was wearing black dress pants and a short-sleeved blouse almost the same shade of Melendez’s dress shirt, so she said, “Oh God, I have to go change.”
“Why?” Melendez asked and chuckled.
“Because our shirts are the same shade of blue,” Lim called from halfway up the stairs.
“So?” asked Melendez.
“Neil, we’ll look ridiculous!” she shouted.
Melendez followed her up the stairs and stood outside her closed bedroom door, “I think we’ll look cute,” he said and smirked.
Lim opened the door, now only dressed from the waist down and said, “Neil, we’re never going to be one of those couples who wear matching shirts. Understand?”
“Understood,” he nodded.
She reemerged a minute later, wearing the same blouse only it was plum colored, “If we were going Crowley’s like we normally do, I could just wear jeans and a t-shirt,” she scolded jokingly.
“And I’ve told you, we have to change up our dates that way we don’t get bored,” said Melendez lightly, “But no matter what you wear, you look beautiful,” Lim eyed him and Melendez waved his pointer finger at her, “I told you, I have the right to think my girlfriend is pretty.”
Lim huffed, “Alright, I’ll let you have that,” she pulled on her black leather jacket and grabbed her bag before she went towards Melendez’s car, “So where are you taking me tonight?”
“Well, since you admitted to me it’s been awhile since you’ve had good seafood, I thought we could try Scott’s Seafood downtown. Then we could go back to my place for a nice quiet evening,” he gave a seductive grin.
Lim grinned back, though there would be nothing quiet about it if they were performing properly. She grabbed his hand and said, “Maybe in the next few weekends, we can get away and go hiking in the Redwoods or something. Make a day out of it, it’ll be away from San Jose, so there would be less of a chance for people to see us.”
Melendez nodded in agreement, “Agreed. Maybe we can look into it,” the couple arrived at Scott’s Seafood and Melendez went up to the hostess and said, “Reservation for two under Neil Melendez.”
The hostess looked it up on the computer and smiled cheerfully, “Of course sir. Right this way,” she led them up to the sixth floor, which had a beautiful view of downtown San Jose. She handed them their menus and said, “Your waiter should be with you shortly.”
“Thank you,” said Lim and then looked at Melendez, “Neil, you really didn’t have to go to all of this trouble.”
“It’s no trouble at all. I told you that first night you were out of the hospital you’ll discover how romantic of a guy I am because I save it all for the women I love,” he slipped out and then his face fell. He hadn’t meant to say that until the end of the evening. Lim bolted her head up, “I mean…”
Lim took his hand and stopped his stuttering, “Well, I’m glad you do,” Melendez had no idea what she thought of his declaration. She was being way too casual about it. Maybe she didn’t love him back and she saw the relationship as nothing more than a friends with benefits situation. They ordered the Perrier Jouet champagne to complement their meals: cups of lobster bisque as a starter for the both of them, jambalaya for Lim, and a filet mignon for Melendez, “You take me to a seafood restaurant and you order steak?” she asked jokingly.
“Hey, you have your taco and beef noodle soup addiction, I have my steak addiction,” he joked back. They split a bread pudding for dessert and Melendez paid before he drove them back to his house. He opened the front door and put his keys in the bowl on the table in the living room before he stuck his hands in his pockets, “Listen Audrey, about what I said earlier…”
Lim shushed him and laid her hands on his shoulders, “Hey, it’s okay,” she said.
“But I told you…”
“I know. But I wanted to be in a private room before I told you how I feel,” she admitted.
Melendez nodded and asked, “So, how do you feel?”
Lim gave him a small smile, “Like this,” she leaned in and passionately kissed him. While he was enjoying every moment, Melendez still didn’t know how Lim felt deep down. Lim pulled back and asked, “Do you want me to show you how much I love you?”
Melendez raised his eyebrows and asked, “So?”
“Of course, I love you, you asshat. I just didn’t want to say it at the restaurant because then I would have wanted to clear the table and have you make love to me right then and there,” she answered, “But now that we’re in the privacy of your home, we are free to show how much we love each other,” Melendez groaned at the prospect. They had been together a little over a month and he still couldn’t get over how beautiful Audrey Lim was no matter what she was wearing (or not wearing). She grabbed his hand and led him up the stairs, shutting the door behind her and then giving him a seductive look, “Now where were we?”
“You were going to show me how much you love me,” answered Melendez.
“So I was,” said Lim, “So I was.”
Chapter 5: Getaway
Melendez closed the trunk of his Tesla as Lim buckled herself into the front passenger’s seat. Melendez got into the driver’s seat and leaned over to kiss Lim, “So do you think Andrews is suspicious about both of us taking off Thursday and Friday?” asked Lim with a mischievous grin.
“Does it matter at this point?” he smirked back.
Lim shook her head and kissed him once again, “I have everything I need sitting right next to me.”
“Good,” Melendez turned on the ignition, “Next stop, Sequoia National Park.”
“Mm. Four days of hiking, picnicking, stargazing, and…” she winked at him and he winked back, “I also packed some special outfits for this trip.”
Melendez shifted in his seat a little and Lim smiled proudly to herself knowing she was getting to him, “Don’t toy with me, woman.”
“Why am I already getting to you?” she asked seductively.
“Unless you want to make love right here in this Tesla, then you need to tone down the sexy talk,” Melendez warned, though Lim knew he wanted her to continue.
“It’s such a shame that you don’t want me to continue. We’re already in such a secret relationship and making out in a Tesla such as yours would only add to the thrill and recklessness. Kind of like if we were in high school.”
Melendez turned off the ignition and leaned over into the passenger’s seat, smashing his lips against hers, “To Hell with it. Check in isn’t until 3:00 anyways.”
They both continued their make-out session and Lim could feel her heart racing (in a good way). She had never thought she could love someone so much and certainly hadn’t ever thought that someone would be Neil Melendez. Honestly, if someone would have told her ten years ago she’d be in the front of a Tesla making out with him, she would have laughed in that person’s face. But now, things were different. Somehow over the years, they actually became best friends. Somehow over the years, she had actually managed to develop feelings for the cocky surgeon. And now, she had somehow fallen deeply in love with him. And the same had happened to him with her, “Neil,” she moaned his name.
They kissed a few more moments before she pushed him off, “What?” asked Melendez.
Lim smiled and said, “We should really get going. The sooner we get there, the sooner we’ll have a private cabin to ourselves out in the middle of nowhere. We can be as wild and as loud as we want.”
“Fair point,” Melendez quickly turned on the ignition again and pulled out of the driveway.
It was mid-afternoon by the time the couple arrived at Sequoia National Park. Melendez checked in the main registration building before they drove to their cabin. Melendez unlocked the front door and Lim walked inside, looking around the room, “I still can’t believe you managed to book the Honeymoon Cabin. We’re not even on a honeymoon,” she said.
“Well, we’re on our first getaway as a couple. That counts right?” asked Melendez.
“I’ll give you that,” she flopped onto the bed. Melendez put their bags down on the floor and put some things in the mini-fridge before he lied down next to her, to which Lim resumed their kiss from the driveway, “Audrey…”
“I promised you I’d be all yours once we got here, so fuck me you asshat!” she demanded.
“As you wish,” he said.
They kissed some more before Melendez briefly stopped and stroked her cheek, “Say it once; get it out of your system,” she teased.
“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
“Alright, that’s enough. Now let’s show that buck his natural habitat, shall we?” Lim asked and yanked off Melendez’s t-shirt, throwing it across the room. She gazed at his fit physique before she whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you too. Now if you don’t mind, I want to show you in some specific ways,” he grinned.
“Be my guest,” she said and sat up so he could remove her jacket and shirt, “You…are…so…damn…sexy,” she drew out each and every word.
“And I’m yours,” he confirmed.
“Yes. You are mine. All mine and mine alone,” she agreed. She had never thought about committing to one individual before now. Even when she married Kashal, she had really only married him because she had been old in regards to marriage by Taiwanese standards and her family had expected her to have a husband by the time she was thirty. So to be honest, she had married Kashal to shut up her family and society.
After her divorce, she had wanted nothing more than to move on and ask Neil out on a date. Then came those dreaded words, “I finally gained the courage to ask Jessica Preston out!” She didn’t think Melendez and Jessica were that serious. She always thought he was trying to gain rank at the hospital by being sweet on the founder’s granddaughter so Glassman would like him better. Whatever. She had gone through a six pack of cheap beer later that night.
Now, it was different though. Kashal and Jessica were both out of the picture. It was just her and Neil. Her Neil. As they got more and more into it, her dominant instincts began to take over her, so she flipped Melendez onto his back and ripped off his pants and underwear before getting to work. One thing Melendez found extremely attractive about Lim was her take charge attitude (it was annoying sometimes when they were butting heads at work, but in the bedroom, it meant she got the job done for both of them). Lim took her time savoring Melendez’s juices before she took her pants and underwear off and crawled on top of him, “Sit up on your elbows a little bit and I can make sure we climax at the same time,” she whispered in his ear.
Her deep, seductive voice made him get hard and he propped himself up on his elbows a little bit, “I’m going to hold you to that, Lim.”
She gave him a wicked grin before she began to grind her hips against him, going harder and faster as she went on. Melendez’s position was just perfect so that her clit would brush against him every time she moved her hips, “Damn Audrey. How did you come up with this idea?”
“What? You think you’re the only person who knows how to Google things on how to please their significant other,” she moaned as her orgasm continued to build, “Shit, you feel so good.”
“Same,” he groaned as he laid his hands on her hips to feel the motion. And Lim hadn’t been lying when she talked about being loud. It was a good thing no other cabins were around. He felt himself coming as well and felt himself release inside of her as he cried out her name, though Lim’s loud ‘FUCK’ also told him she had climaxed as well. A few moments later, both Melendez and Lim’s arms gave out, so Melendez collapsed flat on his back with Lim falling on top of him, both of them panting and sweating and breathing hard. Finally, out of the blue, Melendez said, “I didn’t know you knew your stuff that well.”
Lim chuckled and laid her head against his chest, “Just like you said you’re full of surprises for the women you love, I’ll be full of surprises for the man I love,” she leaned up and kissed him.
“Well, that you were,” Melendez kissed the top of her head.
“Told you I’d do a good job and that it would be better sex than your Tesla in your driveway,” Lim gave a huge grin and glanced at the time, “Well, we should start getting ready to head over to one of the restaurants for dinner. I don’t know about you but I worked up an appetite.”
Melendez observed her a little while longer as he watched Lim pull on her jeans and t-shirt before he said, “As long as you promise to do that again when we get back.”
She zipped her jeans and sat down on the bed next to him. She gave him a long kiss, before she said, “Abso-fucking-lutely.”
Chapter 6: Hiking
“Come on, old man! Can’t you go any faster?” Lim called behind her.
“Hey, I’m not that much older than you! I’m only a little less than six months older than you,” Melendez scolded jokingly as he caught up to her, “And you made me carry all of the stuff for our picnic when you know damn well you’re perfectly capable of doing so yourself.”
“Maybe so,” agreed Lim, “But you might as well put those muscles of yours to good use,” she smirked and kissed him.
Melendez kissed her back but whispered, “Later.”
Lim pulled back disappointingly and said, “Alright, but I expect you to keep your promise,” they both continued walking along the trail, “What did you pack for lunch anyways?”
Melendez gave his cocky smile and said, “You’ll see.”
Lim chuckled and grabbed Melendez’s hand, “Why do you always insist on trying to be so mysterious?”
“Don’t all ladies like a man of mystery?” asked Melendez.
Lim stopped and tilted her head, “Maybe. Now let’s keep going. I want to be able to see that waterfall.”
They kept walking hand in hand. It felt nice to be able to show some intimacy without fear of being caught. Being in a secret relationship certainly did have its disadvantages. Melendez had often wanted to ask Lim how long she planned on staying in hiding. If they were actually going to pursue a long-term relationship, they couldn’t keep it a secret forever. He never pressured her though. He figured the quickest way to get dumped would be to force her to go public with the relationship and he didn’t want to ruin what they already had going.
Once they finally reached the waterfall, they both couldn’t help but gaze at it in awe, “It’s so beautiful,” Lim said as she walked over to the falls.
“Well, I have double the beauty right in front of me,” Melendez admitted.
“Neil,” Lim scolded lightly, “You’re laying on the compliments a little thick today, aren’t you?”
“Hardly, when it’s the truth,” Melendez came up beside her, wrapped his arm around her, and kissed her temple.
Lim stayed silent for a while before she said, “It reminds me of the first time my father took me to see the Taroko Gorge when I was five. Josh and I insisted on racing to the gorge and my little legs could barely keep up with him,” she chuckled at the memory.
Melendez glanced over at her when she brought up her father. She had never really talked about him before now. She had only discussed her mother and brother. He took a deep breath and said, “I remember camping in RVs at Big Bend National Park with my entire family. At least fifteen or so of us shoved in two, maybe three, RVs.”
“How did that go?” asked Lim curiously.
“Oh we all tried to kill each other, but I guess that’s what happens when all of the boys are in one RV and all of the girls are in another,” admitted Melendez, “Let’s just say my primo, Enrique, and I did not get along well when we were kids. Always told me I was too sure of myself.”
“You? Too sure of yourself?” asked Lim sarcastically, “Never!”
“Funny,” said Melendez, “Let’s go find one of the picnic areas. I don’t know about you but I’m starving.”
They snapped a few pictures of the waterfalls and Lim followed her boyfriend, “You’re always hungry.”
They soon arrived at one of the picnic grounds and Melendez spread out the blanket. He opened the cooler and said, “Lunch is served."
Lim glanced inside the cooler and found two peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches, two bags of salt and vinegar chips, and two Sprites, “Did you really recreate the lunch I ate every day as a resident?”
“You bet I did,” Melendez said proudly.
Lim chuckled and took a bite of her sandwich, “I didn’t even know you paid attention to me that much. Unless it was to try to gain something on me.”
“I noticed a lot of things about you,” he commented, “The way you had a laser sharp focus in the operating room, how you would read the latest comic book or Harry Potter book in the break room during your lunch hour, how I had the game of guessing which comic book character you would have on your t-shirt that day, and how you loved me competing with you even though you refused to show it because it made you do better.”
Lim fiddled with the edge of the blanket. She didn’t quite know how to respond, so she asked, “So if you took that much notice of me, why didn’t you ask me out?”
Melendez sighed and took a sip of his soda, “I don’t know,” he admitted, “Because you scared me.”
“I scared you,” she raised an eyebrow.
“You were smart. You aced every surgery you were thrown into. You still rode a motorcycle even after treating a motorcycle crash victim. You carried yourself with poise. How was some young kid from San Antonio supposed to land a girl like you?” Melendez asked.
Lim scooted closer to him, “I don’t know. How did you?” Melendez didn’t know how to answer the question because he wasn’t quite sure how he did get her to agree to date him. They threw away their trash and packed everything up before going back to their car, spending the rest of the afternoon planning their next few days before they headed to dinner. They ordered a few beers and their meals before they stayed silent. Lim finally broke the silence, “You were wearing black dress pants, a light yellow dress shirt, your lab coat, and that cocky grin of yours.”
“I’m sorry?” asked Melendez.
“When I first saw you: that’s what you were wearing. They claim if you truly love someone, then you remember what they were wearing when you first laid eyes on them. You were schmoozing with every other resident and surgeon in the conference room. You were so damn sure of yourself and I was just this resident who rode what was collectively known as a donorcycle, who didn’t know the difference between a French braid and a fish tale braid, and was branded as the weird one. I never thought confident man like you would ever want to date a tomboy like me.”
Melendez laughed, “Yes, that may all be true, but it was your uniqueness that made me drawn to you. I don’t want you to ever change.”
“Good. Because if you did, I’d dump your sorry ass right here, right now and find a man who’d take me as I am.”
Melendez squeezed her hand and said, “Well, lucky for you, you don’t have to look far.”
Chapter 7: Maybe
Just a note: this chapter begins right after the bar scene in 2x17 Breakdown
Melendez wasn’t quite sure whether he and Lim had decided to go public with their relationship or not. She still seemed hesitant about it and he understood why completely. Her divorce had been hard on her and he knew that’s why she had never committed to a relationship ever since then. Melendez finished the last of his wine and they both ordered another glass, Lim talking about how great it was to see Laura again, “She’s been so busy with Everly and I’ve been so busy with work, we haven’t had time to see each other,” said Lim.
“I know. With our work schedules, we’ve barely had time to see each other, especially because we have to do it in secret,” said Melendez, “Ever since we got back from that weekend at Sequoia, we’ve been together, what, once?”
“If you have to think about it, it’s been too long,” commented Lim.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Melendez sighed as he took a swig of his wine. After they finished their glasses, they went out to his Tesla to drive back to Melendez’s house. When they arrived at his house, they changed into their pajamas and Melendez turned on a basketball game, though Lim had other plans for that night. As the hour wore on, Lim scooted closer and closer to Melendez until she was practically lying on top of him. He finally looked over at her and asked, “Is there a reason why you suddenly want to be a cuddle bunny?”
“Come on, Neil. You already admitted it’s been awhile since we’ve had sex,” Lim began to kiss him, “And we both have had a rough couple of weeks.”
Melendez did have to admit, ever since Dr. Jackson Han had taken over as Chief of Surgery at St. Bonaventure, work hadn’t been pleasant. They both were almost wishing Andrews had remained Chief of Surgery. Melendez quickly turned off the TV and kissed her some more, running his fingers through her long brown locks. Lim started to take over, but he was already getting used to her dominance in the bedroom. And of course with Lim being Lim, she had quickly discovered all of the ways to tease him and drive him nuts until she was ready for the real thing, so she was already running her forefinger along his collar bone and sucking at his neck. As they continued to kiss and caresses each other, they both couldn’t help but think about their conversation from earlier that evening. Melendez was ready to go public with their relationship and commit to it. He honestly didn’t give a damn what anyone at work thought about him and Lim as a couple because he loved this woman so much! Whenever they were together, there was a special spark between them unlike anything he had felt before in his lifetime. But if Lim wasn’t ready, they couldn’t go public. He didn’t want to lose her by forcing her to step out of her comfort zone too quickly and if she was content with keeping their relationship a secret for now, then he was satisfied, “I love you so much,” he whispered against her lips.
“I love you too,” she whispered back. Lim was also having a conversation with herself in her head as she did her usual in regards to the sex. Why was she so scared to go public with their relationship? She had nearly had a panic attack when she had thought Shaun had seen them until it finally occurred to her that it probably wouldn’t have registered for him. Her relationship with Melendez was more than just pure sex at this point; they did genuinely love each other. She wasn’t planning on leaving him. And if it hadn’t been for this stupid investigation, they probably would have started out public. So why was she so uncomfortable with the idea now? Was she really that terrified that everything she felt for Melendez was all fake like it had been with Kashal? They had known each other for years; she knew the type of person he was. Or did she? It’s not like she had ever been this close to him, sharing every single detail about her personal life and allowing herself to be somewhat vulnerable around him. What if she committed to the relationship and completely opened up to him only to find out that Neil wasn’t the man she thought he was? No way, was she going to allow herself to get hurt again!
They were finished in no time; they were starting to learn what pleasured the other person, so the sex was quickly becoming more efficient. Lim was quiet, which wasn’t unusual for after doing the deed, but Melendez noticed it was more of an uncomfortable silence between them, so he asked, “Hey, are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just thinking about our conversation earlier,” Lim answered, “About going public with our relationship.”
“Oh,” Melendez acknowledged.
“Listen, I know you really want to go public with our relationship, and I understand that. I do too, just not right yet,” said Lim leaning up on her elbow. Melendez did the same so he could see her face to face, “I know we’re at a good place right now, but the honeymoon phase will end and we need to know if we’re good together outside of…you know…sex and make-out sessions,” she whispered.
Melendez grabbed her hand and said, “I mean, I think we’re good at communicating, we have fun together, and we’re good friends. If those aren’t good foundations of a relationship, then I don’t know what is.”
Lim gave Melendez a look of skepticism and said, “Neil, relationships involve a lot more than being friends and being good in bed together. We don’t really even know what went wrong in our last relationships. We should probably discuss that before we even think about going public so we can avoid the same mistakes again.”
“Alright then, you can go first,” said Melendez, lying back down next to her.
Lim took a deep breath and said, “Well, I worked long hours and Kashal and I didn’t really get to see each other a lot. He told me to stop working so much and commit to the marriage and since he refused to realize how important my job is to me, we couldn’t make it work. We drifted apart due to the distance, so we divorced. You?”
“Jessica didn’t want kids. I tried to agree not to have children but she could tell how much I want them, so she dumped me,” said Melendez bluntly.
“Oh,” said Lim in surprise. She thought work would’ve also been the downfall of Melendez’s relationship, not children, “I’m surprised you both didn’t discuss that topic before you got engaged.”
“We did once, shortly before I proposed. She said she’d think about it. I guess when she thought about it, her decision became no kids ever,” said Melendez.
Lim braced herself for the question she assumed Melendez was going to ask next, but she was surprised when he stayed silent, “You’re not going to ask me about wanting kids?”
“Do you want me to?” Melendez half-questioned and half-chuckled.
“I just assumed you would,” she admitted.
“Alright, well, do you want kids?” asked Melendez curiously.
Lim had to think about her response for a few moments before she said, “I never really thought about it before. I wanted to be settled into my career before I considered starting a family. Then, when Kashal and I divorced, I toyed with whether or not I really wanted kids. But seeing Laura with Everly these past few days and these past few weeks…” Lim trailed off before she continued, “It makes me want to be a mom someday. Not right now, but maybe in the next few years. I mean, I was never in a committed relationship before now and I was never with a man whom I could see being a good father to my future child. Not until I started dating you.”
Melendez was surprised, but kissed her, “Well, I don’t think it would be a good idea to add a baby to the mix right now, especially with us still being in the closet,” said Melendez and Lim nodded in understanding, “But it does give us something to think about in the future.”
Lim’s heart skipped a beat when Melendez said ‘the future’. She could never imagine a future with any other man she had been with, not even Kashal. But Neil was a different story. She rolled over to go to sleep before she said, “Maybe we should talk to Andrews about us tomorrow. What do you think?”
Melendez sighed and said, “Maybe.”
Chapter 8: Bowling
“Come on, Lim, you really think bowling is a good date idea?” asked Melendez incredulously.
“You got any other ideas?” asked Lim curiously, “You’ve specifically stated we need to make sure we don’t get into a rut of ‘dinner and a movie’ and ‘Netflix and chill’ dates,” she straddled his lap and began to kiss him.
“But bowling?” asked Melendez.
“It’s something different, it gives us a chance to compete against each other, which is something you’ve loved doing since the moment we met, it’ll keep us entertained, and maybe, just maybe, the change of pace will be more…thrilling,” she ran her pointer finger along his collar bone.
Melendez kissed her and asked, “How is it that you know exactly what gets to me?”
“It’s my little secret,” she smirked at him, “Maybe we can grab an early dinner before we go to the bowling alley.”
Melendez nodded and said, “How about we make this interesting? We bowl and the winner gets to choose the position and toys for…you know, tonight,” Melendez batted his eyebrows playfully.
Lim snickered and said, “Well, since your special talent is turning everything into a competition between us, I’d say you have yourself a deal, Dr. Melendez,” she shook his hand and smirked.
“Okay, what’s up with that smirk on your face?” asked Melendez, gesturing to her facial expression.
Lim stood and said, “You’ll see.”
After their early dinner, the couple arrived at the bowling alley, Melendez gabbing about his med school days when he bowled with his classmates, “I’ll have you know that I was the best bowler out of the entire group from Duke,” he boasted proudly.
“Mmhm,” nodded Lim as she paid for the rental shoes, “Did you want anything else to eat?”
“We just ate a half hour ago,” Melendez raised an eyebrow, “But those tacos looked good.”
“That’s what I thought,” Lim smiled and kissed him, “Any drinks with it?”
“Just a Coke for me,” he said.
Lim nodded and went to get in line at the snack bar, though she couldn’t help but think that the boy who was a couple customers in front of her and the voice was familiar when he ordered two hot dogs and two sodas. Lim approached the counter and said, “Four tacos, one medium Coke, and a medium Sprite,” she placed the order and went over to the pick-up area. Her eyes couldn’t help but follow the one boy whom she seemed to recognize. And then she realized where she knew him from: the St. Bonaventure emergency room! Sure enough, Kellan Park was at one of the lanes at the other end of the alley with Park, “Dammit,” Lim whispered to herself.
“Order for Audrey!” one of the counter people called.
Lim grabbed the tray with the food and drinks and found Melendez warming up his bowling arm, though when she sat down at one of the chairs, he couldn’t help but notice the look on her face, “What’s wrong, Aud? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he chuckled.
“Park is here with his kid. I thought I recognized him when he was in front of me in line and then I realized I know him from the quarantine. He was stuck in the ER with me,” said Lim, doing her best to hide.
Melendez glanced over towards the other side of the room and immediately recognized their resident, “So?” he asked.
“Shouldn’t we eat and then go find another bowling alley?” asked Lim, taking a bite of her taco.
“Why? We can’t pretend we’re here as friends instead of as a couple?” asked Melendez.
Lim sighed, “Fine. But no kissing, no handholding, no pet names…”
“No pet names is already on your list of rules,” he reminded her jokingly.
“Fine,” Lim snapped at him, “Let’s just bowl.”
“Okay, I’ll start then,” said Melendez, though he promptly threw a gutter ball on his first try. Lim snickered a little and Melendez pointed a finger at her, “Hey, it’s been awhile since I’ve been bowling. That was my warm-up throw,” he chastised jokingly. His next throw, he knocked down only two pins.
“Was that also a warm-up throw doctor?” Lim teased.
“Well, Dr. Lim, show me how it’s done if you’re so confident in yourself,” said Melendez. When Lim immediately threw a strike, Melendez took a deep breath and said, “Okay, that was a lucky throw.”
Lim threw another strike and turned around to face him, “Was that a lucky throw too?” she asked.
“Well, the first frame was my warm-up frame. Now it’s time to get serious,” he said. As the evening wore on and Lim threw more strikes and spares while Melendez was lucky if he knocked over about five pins, he quickly realized that the secret Lim had been hiding from him was that she was somehow an expert bowler. At the end of the night, Lim’s score was 150 while Melendez had barely cracked 25 points. Lim proudly and arrogantly strutted over to him, “How did you? When did you? Where did you?” he stuttered.
“Well, I guess I get to choose everything tonight, Oh Great Bowler Neil,” Lim smiled triumphantly.
“Seriously, I can’t even go bowling with you without getting beat?” asked Melendez incredulously. Lim chuckled and Melendez continued, “So this is why you suggested bowling?” asked Melendez knowingly.
“I promise our next date you can pick something you’re good at,” said Lim, “Now we better head home.”
They were just about to leave the bowling alley when they heard a voice behind them, “Dr. Melendez, Dr. Lim?”
They both stopped dead in their tracks and sharply turned, “Dr. Park,” Melendez answered politely.
“I didn’t know you both bowled together?” said Park.
“Oh yeah, we bowl together all the time, just as friends,” Melendez lied.
“Yeah, it’s not like this was a date or anything; we just got tired of always drinking bourbon together,” Lim embellished.
They were both hoping Park bought the lie, though he hesitated to speak for a few moments. When he started speaking again, they both breathed a sigh of relief, “Well, I promised Mia I wouldn’t keep Kellan out too late, so I better go find him. I’ll see you both at work on Monday.”
“You too, Dr. Park,” said Lim. Melendez and Lim looked at each other and started laughing a little.
“Well, that was a close one,” said Melendez, as they got ready for the night.
“Yeah, it was,” admitted Lim.
Melendez came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, “But I have to admit, almost getting caught was kind of thrilling. Almost like I was a teenager again.”
Lim groaned and turned to face him, “It was thrilling. But let’s try not to let it happen again,” she ran her hands under his pajama shirt and began to caress his abdomen, “Now if I remember correctly, we had a bet going that I won fair and square.”
Melendez groaned as well and laid his forehead against hers, “I do have one request for tonight.”
“And what’s that, Dr. Melendez?”
“Make it memorable,” he whispered in her ear.
Chapter 9: Jealousy
This chapter takes place in 1x06 Not Fake when Lim, Melendez, Jessica, Glassman, and Nurse Farrar are discussing Melendez and Jessica's wedding plans (or lack of wedding plans). The following is then her thoughts and feelings. I just thought it would be a good idea to include chapters like this since Lim admitted she's had feelings for Melendez for a long time. ;)
Lim saw Jessica Preston come into the emergency room. It was the graveyard shift and all of the doctors and nurses were on-call in the emergency room due to a mass casualty bus crash. Lim didn’t really know why she wasn’t a fan of Jessica: she was good at her job, she was intelligent, she was pleasant enough to be around, and she seemed to make Neil really happy. But there was something about Jessica Preston that she just didn’t like. Lim did her best not to roll her eyes in front of everyone when Melendez and Jessica kissed in front of her and a few other doctors. She decided to just put on a pleasant face and act casually. Lim leaned against the nurses’ station next to Nurse Farrar and across from Dr. Glassman, “So when’s the big day?” Lim asked politely, though her voice came out higher than her usual register. Jeez, where did that tone come from?
“Oh, we haven’t set it yet,” Jessica answered.
“Seriously?” Lim thought to herself, “You both have been engaged for like, two years. Maybe they’re looking at a certain venue,” she figured, “Where’s it gonna be?”
“We’ll figure it out. Maybe a beach somewhere,” Jessica said.
Nurse Farrar seemed satisfied with the response, but Lim did her best to politely smile and nod, “Sure. Like the Melendez family will agree to any place outside of a Catholic church.”
Melendez glanced over at Lim and like they were in sync, he immediately turned to Jessica and said, “We should talk about this later.”
“What? I like beaches. You got any other ideas?” Jessica asked Melendez.
“My family likes churches,” Melendez admitted.
Lim looked down towards the desk, doing her best to not give a smug smile, “I knew it.”
“We should talk about this later,” Jessica said.
“Yeah, you probably should.”
Lim hadn’t even been aware of Glassman’s facial expressions during the entire conversation, so when he spoke, he startled her a little, “Dr. Lim, I think one of your yellows is about to turn red.”
Lim looked up and no alarms were going off nor was anyone shouting for a doctor, but she left the station with the closest patient walking by it. She couldn’t be around Melendez and Jessica and their incessant wedding talk anymore. At this point, they might as well go to the court house or elope or something and just get the ripping her heart out part over with. Wait a minute? Ripping her heart out? Lim didn’t care if Melendez was marrying another woman. It was his life and he was allowed to marry whomever he pleased. Once Lim found out that this random patient was on her way to visit her husband in a triage room a few feet down from hers, she went to the break room to grab a bite to eat before the next wave of patients arrived in the ER. She grabbed a granola bar and poured herself another mug of coffee to keep herself functionally awake. Lim was so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she didn’t even notice Dr. Glassman come into the break room. She finally glanced towards the door to see who it was and smiled a little, “How are you doing, Dr. Glassman? I know it’s been awhile since you’ve been on the front lines.”
“I’m managing. Though if you could pour me another mug of coffee, I’d really appreciate it,” said Glassman. Lim chuckled a little a poured another glass of coffee. She handed it to her superior and he said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, sir,” said Lim. They both sat down on one of the couches and they drank their beverages in comfortable silence before Lim asked, “Sir, is there a reason you inadvertently sent me away with a patient not assigned to my care?”
Glassman took another sip of his coffee and answered, “Well, I had to defuse that situation in the ER somehow. I could’ve cut that tension between you and Jessica with a scalpel.”
“Oh,” Lim uttered, “I’m sorry. I was just curious about their wedding. Now with all due respect, sir, may we change the subject?”
Glassman nodded and said, “I notice you’re on the schedule every day next week.”
“Mmhm,” Lim nodded mutely.
“Don’t need a day off to do anything?” asked Glassman curiously.
Lim shrugged, “All my chores have been done recently, I don’t have to run any errands, and I don’t have anything else to do. Ever since Neil and Jessica got serious, we haven’t hung out as much.”
Glassman chuckled to himself. Lim had too much pride and honor to admit it, but he knew deep down what was bothering her and it had nothing to do with the lack of sleep or the fact that they were dealing with a mass casualty (she had loved being in the ER since day one of her residency), “You miss spending time with him, don’t you?” Lim looked over at Glassman confusingly, “Dr. Melendez, I mean?”
Lim took a bite of her granola bar and said, “No, why would I?”
“Because in my own professional observation, I think whenever Jessica is around, you have the little green-eyed monster on your shoulder,” Glassman admitted stoically.
Lim nearly choked on her granola bar and then snickered a little at Glassman’s observation. She adamantly shook her head and said, “N-no, that’s not it. I’m not jealous of Jessica.”
“Dr. Lim, I’ve known you for over ten years now and I know your friendship with Dr. Melendez has been one of the few consistencies in your life. And now that he and Jessica are engaged, you miss spending time with him,” said Glassman.
“If by friendship you mean competing with me and occasionally going out to grab a drink, then not really,” Lim said.
“You know I just call it like I see it, Dr. Lim. Now we have patients to save,” Glassman patted her shoulder and left the room.
As the night progressed, Lim became too busy to remember any conversations she had had (with Jessica or Glassman). When morning finally arrived, she went to the locker room to change. She ran into Melendez on her way out of the room, “Hey,” he smiled at her.
“Hi Neil,” she answered.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other. We’ve both been so busy with work and personal matters,” said Melendez.
“Like planning your wedding with Jessica? A wedding that you can’t agree on a single aspect of it?” thought Lim, “I’m sure the wedding planning is taking up a lot of your time,” Lim responded politely.
“Yeah, it’s actually because Jess and I have both been busy with work. We really need to start cracking down on the wedding planning,” admitted Melendez.
“Before your relationship self-destructs. Oh for God’s sake, Audrey, you sound like a petty teenager,” she chastised herself, “I didn’t have a big one when I married Kashal, but I can only imagine how much work it involves.”
“You’re not kidding,” he chuckled. Lim went to leave the hospital when Melendez asked, “Hey Aud, did you want to grab brunch or something?”
Lim turned around and asked, “Isn’t Jessica still here?”
“No, she went home to get some sleep and she has to work. It would just be you and me,” Melendez clarified.
It was what she craved right now: alone time with her best friend. But she was too exhausted to think about anything other than a shower and sleep. Or maybe there were other reasons, but she knew she couldn’t be alone with him right now, “Not today, Neil. Maybe take a rain check for next week?”
“Okay then,” said Melendez, “See you tomorrow, Aud.”
She would normally take a long ride on her bike if she was overly upset or angry about something, but she knew she would get into a crash if she did so today, so she rode straight home. She didn’t know why she had gotten so defensive with Dr. Glassman earlier that morning about Melendez and Jessica. It had seemed that Dr. Glassman had been implying that she liked Neil romantically. Which wasn’t true. At all. Not even a little. She didn’t have feelings for Neil. After her divorce, she became a keep it casual and non-committed type of gal and he was much more of an all-in, committed, and serious type of guy. Plus they were like brother and sister and teased each other as such. They would never work. Period. Not that she wanted to try. But even if she did, she couldn’t, because he was engaged to Jessica. Fucking Jessica. Why did she and their fellow residents think it was a good idea for Neil to flirt with the founder’s granddaughter? Not that it would’ve mattered. She had been married at the time anyways. After taking a shower, Lim immediately fell into bed, though she had a tough time falling asleep despite the chaos of her shift. She was still too worried about what Neil was doing at the moment.
Chapter 10: Bet
Lim saw him come into the ER and she couldn’t help but feel her heart skip a beat. She knew his relationship with Jessica Preston was over. Finally. It took them long enough to figure out what everyone else could see (or at least she could). They were terrible for each other. Jessica was so focused on her career and never really seemed all that interested in marriage or family life to be honest. But it didn’t matter anymore. Neil and Jessica’s relationship was over. Though Lim wasn’t quite sure why she was so thrilled. She supposed it was because she didn’t want to see her best friend get hurt any further. Shortly after Melendez came into the ER, Shaun, Claire, Jared, and another blonde doctor came to join them, “Okay, everyone I’d like to introduce you all to Dr. Morgan Reznick. Dr. Reznick was orphaned once Dr. Coyle transferred, so she’ll be joining our team,” said Melendez.
Claire shook Morgan’s hand and smiled, “Hi, I’m Claire. Nice to meet you.”
The blonde resident smiled politely and turned to Jared, “Are you the autistic one?” she asked bluntly.
Jared sighed and answered, “No.”
“That’s me,” answered Shaun, “Dr. Shaun Murphy,” Morgan went to shake his hand, but Shaun pulled back.
Suddenly, Lim thought of a way to get Melendez’s attention, “Get his attention? Come on, Audrey, it’s not like you’re interested in dating him. He just broke up with his fiancée,” but Lim couldn’t stop herself from saying, “We have two pretty straightforward cases here. Nice level playing field for an eager group.”
Melendez rolled his eyes and shook his head. He knew exactly the direction Lim was headed, “Not interested…”
“Competition can foster teamwork which can lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of residents’ strengths and weaknesses and improve patient care,” Lim continued her explanation, ignoring Melendez.
“You’re playing the same game Glassman had us do when we were interns. Not interested,” Melendez said firmly.
“Boy am I getting to him!” Lim thought proudly. She grabbed one of the clipboards out of Melendez’s hand and said, “Winning team gets first dibs on assisting on all surgeries next week.”
“In!” all of the residents responded simultaneously.
“Out,” said Melendez.
“Oh, so you’re going to play hard to get. I see, Neil,” she thought. She motioned for all of the residents to line up and smiled, “I pick the boy genius.”
Shaun didn’t move at first until Jared motioned for him to join Lim, “That’s you,” he said.
Lim smiled at Shaun who slowly joined her side. She glanced over at Melendez, pretending like he wasn’t interested in competing with her when he clearly was. He had never passed up an opportunity to try to one up her. She finally glared at him and he sighed in defeat, “Dr. Browne,” he called her over to him.
“Kalu,” Lim said.
“Dr. Reznick,” Melendez called the name of the only remaining resident.
“Thanks. I’m looking forward to it,” Morgan said as she took the clipboard from Melendez.
“Thank you,” Jared said as Lim handed him the other clipboard. The residents went to their respective triage rooms.
Lim glanced over at Melendez and smiled. He was so into this whole competition even though he was doing his best not to show it, “Same stakes as last time?” she asked coyly.
“Absolutely,” he responded and walked away from her.
Lim tried to stop it, but she couldn’t help but gain a small smile, “I’ve got you under my control now, Neil. Oh Audrey, stop it! Just like he’s not interested in competing, you’re not interested in screwing or doing else with him. Not at all. You don’t care about seeing those toned muscles underneath his scrubs and dress shirts. You don’t care about knowing what that tattoo you see on his neck and peeking out from under his clothes is. You don’t give a damn about squeezing that fine ass. Oh stop it, Audrey, enough fantasizing about someone you could care less about. You have a patient to take care of.”
As the day wore on, Lim was having a harder and harder time with their patient. Quinn was a transgender girl and Shaun was having a difficult time digesting the concept of what being transgender meant. It also didn’t help that Quinn’s parents and grandmother had differing opinions about Quinn removing both of her testicles and transitioning before the age of eighteen. Finally Jared was able to figure out a solution, so Lim had the family complete their patient satisfaction surveys. She met up with Melendez and compared scores and his team had won fair and square. He gave her his famous smug smile that for some reason she had yet to figure out gave her butterflies in her stomach and made her knees buckle. She walked over to the four residents, “Well, patient satisfaction survey scores are in and it was very close,” said Lim.
“Not really. She’s being kind,” Melendez boasted.
“Oh Neil. You and your arrogance. It’s honestly kind of cute,” Lim thought, “Congratulations go to Dr. Reznick and Dr. Browne,” she smiled at the two women.
“Yes,” Morgan cheered softly.
“Thank you,” said Claire.
“Congratulations,” Shaun said politely.
“Thank you, Shaun. Claire and I make a nice team,” Morgan glanced over at Claire.
All of their residents walked away as Melendez turned towards her, his smug smile returning to his face. Lim craned her neck to the side a little bit as he said, “To the victor belong the spoils. Pay up,” he motioned.
Lim could feel her heart beating a little faster as she pulled a $1 bill out of her lab coat pocket. She then realized she was craning her neck, “Straighten you neck, Audrey,” she bolted her head up, “Oh, humility was never your strong suit,” she smiled and handed him the money.
He looked down at the crisp bill, folded it, and stuck it in his inside jacket pocket. “Thank you, Mortimer.”
Lim giggled a little and smiled, “Hmm. Don’t spend it all in one place,” she smirked and batted her eyelashes a little, “Jeez, Audrey. Quit blinking so much! And where the Hell did that giggle come from?”
“Spend it? I’m gonna frame it,” Melendez smiled satisfied.
Melendez walked away and Lim couldn’t help but smile to herself as she headed towards the locker room, “I’m sure you will, Neil.”
Lim changed into her normal clothes and she couldn’t help but have an extra spring in her step, so much to the point that Claire couldn’t help but notice the sudden change in her superior, “Dr. Lim?”
Lim came out of her trance a little startled, but changed her smile to a less idiotic one and acknowledged Claire, “Dr. Browne. Nice job today.”
“Thank you,” Claire said, “Are you alright, Dr. Lim? You seem pretty happy for someone whose team just lost a competition.”
“What?” asked Lim and then realized the lovesick idiot smile was plastered on her face yet again, “Oh,” she composed herself, “The point is all four of you learned something new today and exhibited great teamwork.”
“Yeah,” Claire said in a strange tone, “Have a good night, Dr. Lim.”
“You too, Dr. Browne,” said Lim. She headed out to her Ducati and rode home, reheating some leftover spaghetti for dinner. As she crawled into bed, she couldn’t help but feel satisfied that her plan had worked. Neil had noticed her, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Audrey. You could care less if Neil notices you in that manner. You do NOT like him that way. You don’t want to get him alone with you and screw him senseless. Your legs don’t feel like jelly every time he gives you that cocky (yet adorable) grin of his. You weren’t flirting with him just a few hours ago. You had some dirt in your eyes and you were so happy to see him so happy. You’re not going to act like a teenager who’s ogling her high school crush the next time you see him because you don’t have a crush on him! This wasn’t a ‘notice me, Neil’ or a ‘come hither, Neil’ bet. This was to help the residents and to compete with your best friend like you always have. Period. He’s an asshole anyways. A handsome, adorable asshole, but an asshole none the less,” Lim turned out the light to go to sleep, “But the charity gala is next week if you want to give this whole flirting thing another shot because he is so damn fine.”
Chapter 11: Gala
Lim checked her appearance in her bathroom mirror one last time and she barely recognized herself. Good. Since it was a fancy charity gala and she had to impress a bunch of pretentious rich people, she couldn’t look like she had just gotten back from a long ride on her Ducati. So here she was, wearing a long black dress and high heels (she was hoping she wouldn’t trip in them before the night was out), her hair was down and curled, and she had applied make-up (thankfully without making herself look like a clown). Lim placed a few necessities in her black clutch, grabbed her car keys (as cool as it would be to arrive at the gala on her Ducati, there was no way she’d be able to ride it in and still look presentable for Neil, err, the donors; she didn’t care what Neil thought of her looks), and hopped into her car. She drove over to the hospital and went to the ballroom where there was already a sizable number of people talking, laughing, drinking, and dancing. She went over to the open bar and ordered a glass of bourbon before looking around the room for him. First she found that new resident, Dr. Park, and Dr. Morgan Reznick. She saw Allegra and Andrews before her eyes finally landed on him. She had to do nearly everything to prevent herself from dropping her glass and spilling it everywhere. Standing at one of the tables, Melendez was in a black tuxedo drinking bourbon. Damn did he look great in that tuxedo, “Good God, Audrey; it’s not like you haven’t seen Neil in a tuxedo for ten charity galas now,” she thought. She sauntered over to the table and leaned on the other side of it, “Hey stranger,” she smiled.
Melendez looked up at her and smiled back, “Hey Audrey,” he answered, but hesitated to continue with the conversation. Once a year, he had the opportunity to see Audrey Lim wear a dress and make-up, but he could never get over how stunning she was, “Wow, Audrey, you look...”
“What’s the problem? Cat got your tongue, Neil?” she smirked and sipped her bourbon.
Melendez shook his head, “No. I just forget how beautiful you are. Black has always suited you, even if it is usually in the form of a leather jacket.”
Audrey giggled a little and ran her hand through her hair, “And you always look great in a tuxedo,” she looked him up and down, then looked into his eyes and smiled, “Seriously Neil, have you always looked this sexy in a tux?”
Melendez took a sip of his drink and asked, “So has everything been going well with your patient?”
Lim used her pointer finger to make a few circles around the rim of her glass and nodded, “Yes, Dr. Murphy was able to figure out a solution.”
“Of course he did. He’s the boy genius as you so lovingly call him,” said Melendez and they both laughed.
Lim leaned further onto the table and asked, “How about you? Have you been feeling okay ever since…?” Lim trailed off mid-sentence.
Melendez sighed, but nodded, “It’s getting better. I’m past the stage where I’m eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s and watching chick flicks on a continual loop,” he joked and they both couldn’t help but laugh, Lim laughing a little harder than she usually did at his corny jokes.
Lim composed herself and said, “But in all seriousness, the first few weeks and months are the hardest, but eventually, you move on. I know how heartbreaking it is when a relationship you thought was going to be life-long dissolves, so if you ever need to grab a drink and talk, I’m here for you,” Lim uttered softly, leaning further across the table, twirling her hair a little.
Melendez’s face softened and he smiled, “Thank you, Aud. That means a lot. I know you weren’t Jess’s biggest fan.”
Lim snorted a little, though what Melendez had said was 100% true, “No, I was fine with Jessica. I mean…look Neil, can we talk about something else? Literally anything else?”
“Of course,” they both finished their drinks, “Would you like another? My treat.”
“Sure,” she smiled and ran her fingers through her hair again. As Melendez went to the bar, Lim had to practically mentally smack herself, “Good Lord Audrey, this man just got dumped by his fiancée! Have a little sympathy. You know what the dissolution of a relationship is like. Quit doing all of these gestures that make it seem like all you care about is fucking him!” Melendez returned with two bourbons and Lim smiled, “Thank you.”
Melendez held up his glass, “To surviving yet another charity gala together.”
Lim laughed again, they clinked their glasses, and they each took a sip before Lim set it down on the table. She leaned her head on her left hand on the table again and smiled, “So with March Madness coming up…” she stopped when she noticed Glassman come by their table. He didn’t say anything, but instead, patted Melendez on his back before walking away.
Melendez turned to Lim and asked, “What was that all about?”
“I have no idea,” Lim admitted, “Now about March Madness, since the NCAA Tournament is coming up, I was wondering if you wanted to make a little bet on whether Stanford or Duke will get further in the tournament? Maybe try to relive those glory days for you.”
“Hey, I at least got to see my team win a tournament while I was there plus multiple times since then while your team hasn’t won since 1942,” reminded Melendez.
Lim rolled her eyes, “Don’t remind me.”
They finished off the last of their bourbon and Melendez asked, “So did you want to dance?”
Lim scowled at Melendez jokingly and answered, “Neil, if I’m drunk enough to dance, then I wouldn’t be sober enough to drive home.”
“I take it the answer is no then?”
“Right,” Lim affirmed, “Besides, we should probably schmooze with some of these rich people if we want to keep our jobs.”
“True,” said Melendez and they went their separate ways. At the end of the night, they both decided to leave around the same time, so Melendez handed Lim her coat and said, “Well, even if these galas are unbearable, being with you made it a little better. And you look beautiful, Audrey. I mean it,” he said.
Lim smiled brightly, chuckled to herself, squirmed a little, and ran her hand through her hair once again, “And you do look amazing in that tux. Maybe St. Bonaventure should hold fancy galas more often.”
They both bust out laughing and Melendez turned to leave, “See you on Monday, Aud.”
“You too,” she said. She went outside and noticed Shaun standing there, so she smiled and asked, “Dr. Murphy, are you enjoying yourself tonight?”
Shaun turned to Lim and shook his head, “No.”
Lim chuckled a little and said, “That’s okay, Murphy. None of us like these galas. Have a good night.”
Lim started to walk away when Shaun asked, “Dr. Lim?” Lim turned to face him, “Why were you flirting with Dr. Melendez all night?”
Lim’s eyes widened briefly and then she shook her head adamantly, “No I wasn’t,” she said in amusement.
“Yes, you were,” Shaun affirmed.
“No, I wasn’t Shaun,” she said firmly.
“Yes, you were. You performed the flirting trifecta numerous times throughout the event. Claire told me the flirting trifecta consists of the pretentious giggle, the squirm, and the hair sweep. You did all three many times tonight,” Shaun explained.
“Dr. Murphy, Dr. Melendez and I are just friends,” clarified Lim.
“I know. But you were still flirting with him. Subconsciously, you know he’s available for sexual activity now that Jessica Preston and he have ended their engagement. In addition to the flirting trifecta, you also stood up straight and arched your back a lot, emphasizing your chest and other features,” explained Shaun bluntly.
Clearly, Shaun wasn’t going to let this topic go, so Lim grabbed her keys and said, “I’ll see you on Monday, Murphy.”
When Lim arrived home, she changed out of her dress and into sweatpants and a t-shirt before she went back downstairs to unwind, though she couldn’t help but think back to what Shaun had asked her, “Dr. Lim, why were you flirting with Dr. Melendez all night?” Quite frankly, she hadn’t even been aware that she had been “flirting” with Neil (which she hadn’t been. Shaun had just misread everything). She had just wanted to be a supportive friend and show he could move on from Jessica. Sure, it was nice of him to compliment her about how beautiful she looked (not that she cared and it hadn’t made her feel a little giddy) and it was also nice of him to buy her a drink. But they were friends and friends did nice things for each other. Her mind reeled over the events of the night more and more and soon it hit her! She HAD been flirting with Neil! But why? Just because he was now available? Sure, she was a little more carefree and adventurous in her sex life than he was and she had moved on from Kashal a long time ago, but she didn’t want to hurt him. Any “feelings” she currently had towards Melendez were probably either empathy or the fact that it had been awhile since her last, um, romp in the sheets. It would be wrong on her part to lead Melendez on only to use him for sexual pleasure and then stomp on his heart (similar to how Jessica had not long ago). It’s not like she had feelings for him. The idea of allowing him anywhere near her in that manner grossed her out a little. Or maybe it excited her and turned her on. She didn’t know what to think anymore. She didn’t know what it felt like to love someone given the fact that all of these same feelings she had right now had also felt real when she was married to Kashal and they weren’t. Nope, they weren’t real for Neil either. She hoped. Maybe. But even if she did have feelings for him, she knew he didn’t like her back. Probably. But there was a small part of her that still hoped he liked her.
Chapter 12: Valentine's Day
Lim usually hated Valentine’s Day. All of the cheesy greeting cards, the flowers, the chocolates, the sheer amount of red and pink decorations in store displays, and all of the gushy couples going on and on about how much they loved each other in person and on social media. Barf. Thankfully, she had to work today so there was no way she’d be forced to partake in any traditional Valentine’s Day activities. Melendez was off today, but he couldn’t attempt to try to send roses or a box chocolates to the hospital since no one knew they were dating. And even if people did know about them, he probably wouldn’t try all of that mushy romantic garbage anyways if he valued his life. Naturally, Lim had to cover the ER that day and Shaun and Claire were the residents under her command for this shift as Park had flown to Phoenix to be with Mia for Valentine’s Day and Morgan was out sick (or so she claimed). Their first patient was a man who had fallen off a ladder fixing the roof, but he had only a few broken ribs. The next patient that came in was drug overdose victim and the last patient of the morning a woman who needed her spleen removed as a result of a car accident. Lim, Shaun, and Claire scrubbed into surgery and Lim let Shaun and Claire split duties in regards to the spleen removal. Suddenly, Shaun asked out of the blue, “Dr. Lim, Dr. Browne, are you both doing anything for Valentine’s Day?”
Lim glanced up at Shaun, suddenly a little nervous for herself, “Does Murphy know about me and Neil?” she wondered. Lim shook her head and answered, “No, I don’t have a significant other, Murphy.”
“You don’t have to have a significant other. You could go out with friends or you could go drinking alone,” stated Shaun, “Lea is going to dinner with her boyfriend, Jake,” Shaun announced.
“Well, all I plan to do tonight is drink a bottle of wine and watch chick flick movies,” said Claire.
Lim honestly wasn’t quite sure what she’d be doing tonight. She had made Melendez promise not to take her to some overpriced restaurant (also usually overcrowded on Valentine’s Day). She figured it would involve obligatory Valentine’s Day sex and that’s about it (not that the sex wasn’t good. Damn, was Neil terrific in the sheets). But then again, she knew Neil: he always had some sort of strange surprise up his sleeve.
After the surgery was complete, Lim made her final rounds before changing and getting ready to go home for the day. She hadn’t bothered to get Melendez anything for Valentine’s Day, but as she left the hospital, she began to think that maybe she should have gotten him something to show she cared about him in more ways than just a convenient sex partner. She stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few packs of peanut M&M’s for him. Lame, but it got the job done.
She arrived at Melendez’s apartment and knocked on the door. He answered a few moments later and she tossed him the candy, “Those are for you.”
“Uh, thanks?” he half-acknowledged and half-questioned.
“I didn’t get you anything, but then I figured I’d look like a shitty girlfriend if I showed up to your place empty-handed on Valentine’s Day,” she elaborated.
Melendez chuckled and kissed her, “That’s alright. It’s the thought that counts.”
“So what are we doing tonight? The usual date of grabbing a burger and then coming back here and having sex afterwards?” asked Lim, “I might even let you be on top tonight as my Valentine’s Day gift to you.”
“Actually, I was thinking about staying in tonight,” said Melendez. He didn’t even know how Lim hadn’t noticed that his apartment reeked.
Then, the odor hit Lim. Growing up in Taiwan, she had grown accustomed to the aroma coming from the street markets, but the smell was easily distinguishable to her. She grinned from ear to ear and passionately kissed Melendez, “You didn’t?”
“I did. I managed to get a good stinky tofu recipe from the internet. This stuff smells awful by the way,” he mentioned.
“Trust me, it tastes better than it smells,” she laughed and grabbed his hand, dragging him over to the sofa.
She snuggled next to him and Melendez kissed her temple, “It should be done in about ten minutes.”
Lim nodded and absentmindedly ran her pointer finger over his chest, “So what else were you think for tonight?” she asked.
“Well, I figure after dinner, we could watch a movie and since you hate every chick flick on the planet…”
“Not every chick flick; just most of them,” emphasized Lim.
“Anyways, I figured we could watch both of your presents tonight,” said Melendez, handing her two wrapped gifts.
Lim tore off the wrapping paper and smiled when she saw both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, “I love it! Thank you,” she smiled and kissed his cheek.
“You’re welcome,” he answered. The timer went off and Melendez looked over at Lim, “Well, I get to see if I can ever trust you when it comes to making food choices for me again.”
Despite the strong smell, Melendez did have to admit that stinky tofu tasted pretty good (though he wasn’t sure he would ever get used to the smell). After dinner, they spent the rest of the evening watching both movies, though the second movie had barely ended before Lim was straddling Melendez’s lap. She ran her pointer finger over his collar bone and began to kiss him, “So what do you say doctor? Ready to have a little fun tonight?”
Melendez groaned and said, “With you by my side, I’m always ready for an adventure,” he kissed her harder, “Even if it’s just a journey up to the bedroom,” he scooped her into his arms and Lim laughed as he carried her upstairs. He laid her down on the bed and crawled on top of her, gently stroking her cheek. While both surgeons were pretty tough at work, it was moments like this moment that they longed for and their gentleness and compassion came out. Nobody was around them and they could let their guards down around each other. They both thought they had known love beforehand, but they truly hadn’t. No relationship they had been in compared to being with each other, “I love you, Audrey,” Melendez whispered.
“Then show me,” Lim smiled. She rolled on top of him and resumed the passionate kiss from downstairs. Whenever she kissed Neil, she felt a certain electric sensation course through her body and even more so whenever she knew they were about to have sex. No, at this point, it wasn’t just pure sex. They would make love. Fervent, infinite, and abundant love.
Normally, Lim had never given a crap about Valentine’s Day, but somehow knowing it was (supposedly) the most romantic day of the year made the love making even more special. Somehow, she wanted to show Neil more than ever how much she loved him, especially because that had had to hide their feelings from each other for so long. There was something truly magical between them whenever they were around each other, even if it was in a non-romantic way. But now that they had each other, it was a different story. Lim could feel Melendez nipping at her neck, the same spot that really turned her on (and the same spot in which she had forbid him from kissing when they weren’t alone in private), “You…are…so…beautiful,” Melendez drew out each and every word. He gazed up into her brown eyes and smiled, “And you’re mine.”
Lim couldn’t help but chuckle and kissed him, “Yes, for some strange reason not known to man, I’m all yours,” they both laughed and Melendez flipped Lim onto her back, “Neil,” she scolded jokingly.
“I know, I know; you hate missionary, but just trust me tonight,” he said.
Lim nodded and said, “Okay.”
Melendez spent a little time at her breasts, though he was starting to learn what really got Lim going. He went back to sucking at that spot on her neck and he could feel her arching her back underneath him, “Perfect,” he thought. His hand drifted down and he brushed two fingers against her, causing her to shutter. He could feel how wet she was already, so he slid those fingers in and out of her. He heard her moaning in pleasure and she uttered, “Oh God that feels so good.”
“Good,” Melendez nodded.
Lim slowly reached down and squeezed him, which causes a moan from him. He stopped his motion and got out of bed. She looked up at him, “Why the hell did you stop?”
“Calm down; let me explain,” he reassured her, grabbing something out of a paper bag, “I know it’s sometimes harder for you to climax and you’ve fantasized about using help, so I stopped by a store a few days ago and…” he slowly pulled out the vibrator.
Lim kissed him some more and whispered, “We’ll test it together. After all, it is Valentine’s Day.”
The vibration against her clit sent Lim into absolute ecstasy (along with a little more help from Melendez, of course) and Melendez admitted it felt pretty good for him too. Once they were done, Lim and Melendez could barely catch their breaths it was so good. Lim rolled onto her right side and said, “Man, that was so fucking good,” she said proudly and kissed him.
“Good,” Melendez laughed, “Because I have one more surprise for you,” Lim raised her eyebrows as Melendez pulled a small box out of his nightstand drawer, to which Lim gained a look of horror, “Relax Lim, I’m not proposing. And even if I was, it would be in a much more romantic setting than in bed.”
“Good,” she sighed in relief, “Because we’re not for marriage yet.”
Melendez smiled and handed Lim the small box, “Open it,” he said.
Lim swiftly opened the box, but all she found inside was a key. It took her a minute to figure out the significance, “Neil, are you asking me to…move in with you?”
“No. Or not yet anyways,” he said and winked, “But, I think it’s time you have a key to my apartment.”
Lim couldn’t help but feel her heart skip a beat. She quickly jumped out of bed and did her best to find the item in her black bag in the dark, “Dammit, where is the son of a bitch?” Melendez heard her curse, followed by a string of what he assumed were Mandarin curse words.
“Audrey, is everything okay?” he asked in concern.
Lim hopped back into bed and said, “Yes, everything’s fine. Give me your hand,” she ordered. Neil held out his hand she placed something in his palm. When she moved her hand away, he noticed a key: a key to her apartment. She looked into his eyes and smiled, “Great minds think alike.”
Chapter 13: Admission
Lim saw Melendez heading towards her hospital room and she knew he was thoroughly impressed that she was already working. But she also knew what he was coming to discuss: their night before the quarantine, “Look at you! Already back at work,” said Melendez impressively.
“It’s either that or watch the news and I’d rather be back on ECMO with a rusty cannula,” Lim joked. Melendez came up beside Lim’s bed, “Here we go,” Lim thought to herself.
“Anything you need?” asked Melendez eagerly.
“Thanks, but not necessary,” said Lim in a stone cold manner. She was trying to give Melendez the hint that she didn’t want to be his girlfriend. She wasn’t falling for him hard. Not at all.
“You sure? Magazines, a book,” Melendez listed and then his face lit up, “Maple bacon donut?”
Lim knew that Melendez was clearly trying to show his interest in her by bringing up her favorite flavor of donut, “Laying it on a little thick with the wannabe boyfriend mentality, aren’t you, Neil?” she thought. She looked up at him and said, “Yeah, you don’t have to play supportive friend just because we slept together,” she said quietly.
“I’m not playing; I’m being nice,” he emphasized, “Which I’ve done for people I haven’t slept with many times in my life.”
“No doubt,” said Lim, though she had a little trouble believing it, “But until we did, you were always more interested in competing than supporting. And that’s how I prefer it,” she looked him dead in the eyes, hoping he would take the hint.
“Okay,” Melendez said slowly, absorbing her words, “I’m not sure that’s true or fair,” he said, knowing she was hiding something from him.
“I’m also exhausted, unshowered, and constipated, so if you could shut the door on your way out, I’d really appreciate it,” said Lim, indicating to Melendez that she was through talking to him, at least for now.
Melendez looked a little ticked, but he quipped, “Will do.”
Lim watched him silently leave the room, grateful that she didn’t have to discuss her feelings for him any further at least for now. Wait a minute? Feelings for Melendez? She’d been over that with herself 1,000 times before and she most certainly did not have feelings for Neil. The sex had been casual as she had told him. If they pursued a relationship, it would complicate things at work and could potentially ruin their friendship. She pushed the thoughts out of her as she finished up the medical report she was working on and then decided to take a nap since she was actually telling the truth when she had told Melendez she was exhausted. She woke up again a couple hours later when one of the nurses came into her room to do vital checks.
Shortly after the nurse left, Melendez came back into the room and asked, “Feeling any better?”
“Actually, I am,” she said happily, “Nothing like a good BM to turn a frown upside down,” she said a little too jovially for the topic of discussion.
Melendez came further into the room and stopped at the foot of the bed, “I’ve been thinking about what you said this morning. About how competitive I always am. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get.”
“All I was trying to say was…” Lim began, but Melendez interrupted her.
“I have been nothing but professional with you. And for the record, you’re the one who invited me out for drinks, you’re the one who wanted to go back to my apartment, and now you’re the one who’s acting differently just because we had sex!” Melendez shouted.
“You need to project more. Use your diaphragm if you really want the entire hospital to hear you,” Lim answered sarcastically, sincerely hoping no one had heard Melendez.
“Definitely won’t go out of my way to be nice to you again,” said Melendez and walked out of the room.
Lim huffed a little as she watched Melendez’s retreating form, “What an ass. That just confirmed why I don’t want to date him,” she thought to herself. Never mind the fact that he had been checking up on her every hour or two, never mind the fact that he clearly wanted to see her well. Never mind any of that. There was no way she was getting into a serious relationship again! He probably felt like he owed her something because they had had sex together. She just couldn’t risk getting attached to someone again and end up having everything she felt towards him be fake.
Felt towards Melendez? Why was she even thinking about being with him? Sure, they were friends, and she loved being his friend, but she didn’t want to be more than friends. Oh for Heaven’s sake! She needed to quit lying to herself. She did want to be more than friends with Melendez and she had been harboring and then suppressing feelings for him for quite a while now. She just had been holding back in regards to telling him. She knew part of the reason was the fact that he had been with Jessica for some of the time they had known each other. Also the fact that, as tough as she appeared to be on the outside, deep down she was frightened to get involved with someone again. The fact that she had romantic feelings for her best friend made matters even more complicated.
But if it was one thing that had changed over the past few days (besides the fact that she was obviously more aware of her attraction to Melendez), it was that she felt like she needed to take bigger risks in life. If it hadn’t been for Morgan, she could very well be dead right now and it wouldn’t matter if she wanted to be with Melendez or not.
Melendez came into the room a few moments later with Andrews behind him for some reason. The news wasn’t good in the fact that they were both going to be investigated by the medical board and were facing possible license suspensions. Needless to say, they were both pissed. Melendez left to go to his office again and it wasn’t long before Lim found her bathrobe and her slipper socks. Her life had almost been taken from her and now her career was in jeopardy too. She couldn’t let Melendez get away. She had to tell him the truth. Somehow. She kind of had the feeling he knew she was hiding something from him.
She found her way to Melendez’s office and didn’t even bother to knock on the door. He looked over at her, but stayed silent, so she began the conversation, “I screwed up.”
“No, you did the right thing. We both did,” he comforted.
Lim knew he thought she meant the investigation, so she went straight to the point, “I wasn’t talking about this stupid investigation; I was talking about us,” she admitted. Melendez raised his eyebrows, like he was looking for an explanation. She looked down a little and took a deep breath, “Ever since my divorce I can’t help but think…” she stopped to compose her thoughts and find the right words, “No matter how real this feels, it’s…not,” she looked up at him and he stayed silent, so she knew he wanted her to continue, “Here goes nothing,” she thought, “I…have feelings for you. I have for a long time and it scares me,” she said honestly, because it did. It terrified her, but the heart wants what I wants, she supposed, “But I don’t want the night we spent together to be our last,” she finished quietly.
Melendez stayed silent briefly, so Lim had no idea what to think until Melendez said, “I feel the same way,” he smiled to break the tension between them, “But I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Especially now since we’re both going to be under a microscope.”
“Yeah, that is true,” Lim bit her lip as she thought about what Melendez had just said. Her eyes lit up and she smiled a little, “Of course, if for the time being, we just made sure Andrews and everyone else…doesn’t know?” she suggested.
Lim had rested her hand on the table and Melendez glanced down towards it. He glanced at her and slowly laid his right hand on the table and slid it closer towards her, their fingertips just barely touching, “Interesting idea,” he said intriguingly, not taking his eyes off of their almost entwined hands.
They both looked up at each other in synch, small smiles forming on both of their faces. Melendez’s look of adoration was clear and Lim couldn’t help but feel all giddy inside, though she didn’t show it outright. No further conversation was needed; they knew by the looks on each other’s faces that they had just made the mutual decision to go steady, even if it was in secret. After a few more moments of silence, Lim nodded towards Melendez and said, “Good night, Neil.”
“Good night, Audrey,” he answered back and Lim turned to go back to her hospital room.
Once she was away from Melendez’s office, she couldn’t help but give a small leap for joy. Her heart was racing, her palms were a little sweaty, and she had some butterflies in her stomach, but it was all in a good way. She was so lost in her own world that she had barely realized that Andrews had spoken to her, “Have a good night, Dr. Lim.”
“What?” she asked for clarification.
“I said ‘have a good night, Dr. Lim’,” he said again.
“Oh,” she got rid of the giddy grin on her face, “You too, sir,” she responded politely.
“I heard you’re getting out of here tomorrow. Good for you. I hope you make the most of it,” he said and walked towards the exit.
Lim had no idea whether Andrews was being polite or being snide, but she was too happy to care right now. She found her way back to her room and Petringa was there waiting to check her vitals, “Sorry Petringa, I was…taking a long walk around the hospital.”
“It’s not a problem. It’s good for you to walk,” said Petringa. Lim lied back down and Petringa took her vitals and hooked her up to some IV fluids just to keep her hydrated, “I’ll check on you in a few hours,” Petringa said and left the room.
Lim nodded. Lim was starting to fall asleep when she heard her phone buzz. She checked the text and it was from Melendez, “Is the coast clear?”
“Yes,” Lim texted back.
Melendez stopped by her room and said, “I just wanted to stop and tell you that I’m on my way home, but if you need me, call or text me and I’ll be here in a heartbeat.”
Lim nodded and said, “Well, the doctors and Andrews said I’ll probably be getting out of here tomorrow. I do need someone to take me home.”
Melendez didn’t say anything, but smiled and said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Audrey.”
“You too,” she answered and he left. Lim couldn’t help but fall asleep, fully satisfied, no longer scared about what would happen in the future. No matter, what happened, she had the feeling that the universe would work things out.