“Care to share with the class, Claire?”
I jumped, shoving my phone back into my pocket. I had not realized I wasn't alone. I looked up to find Geillis staring at me, hand on her hip and one eyebrow quirked to the ceiling.
“You’ve been smiling at that phone like whoever is on the other end is about to give ye a million pounds and the best lay of your life, or ye just really like your reflection.”
I barked out a forced laugh, sounding slightly hysterical. “Oh, it’s…” I waved a hand around nonchalantly, “nothing. Just uh, something…funny” I trailed off.
Jesus H. Clearly a side career as an actress was not in my future.
“Uh huh”, Geillis responded. After an awkward pause, while I stood there opening and closing a patient’s chart repeatedly, she spoke again. “Well? I could use a laugh... or a sedative.”
It had been an absolute circus in the OR that afternoon and more than once I had turned to a colleague to mouth, “what the fuck?”
Geillis was a well-respected, albeit a bit unconventional (her colorful language in the OR just accepted by staff who knew her) Cardiologist. She worked her ass off to get where she was and I admired her resilience.
Apparently I was still sporting the deer in headlights look. She laughed and touched my arm, squeezing lightly. “It’s ok, hen. I’ve never seen ye like this. It’s disgusting and adorable. Enjoy it. Someone might as well.”
Geillis’s current outlook on relationships was less than sparkling. Her marriage had quickly dissolved when she came home to find her husband in a rather bendy situation in bed with his secretary. (“Are ye FUCKING serious?” she yelled into the phone, “The secretary? You’ve GOT to be kidding! My life is a goddamn walking cliche, Claire!”) Needless to say, her appreciation for the male species was short in quantity.
I finally looked her in the eye, giving her a half-smile. The “I’m sorry, I know it’s still painful, even though you’re trying like hell to pretend it’s not” type.
She nodded softly then the same eyebrow raised again, quickly changing the heavy vibe, and I couldn’t ignore her prying any longer. I laughed and chewed on my bottom lip, heat creeping up the back of my neck.
“Jamie wants to meet for a quick drink after I’m off.”
“Oh does he? First date this weekend and the man couldna hold off seeing ye before? That is disgusting.”
An overhead page of “Doctor Duncan to OR six” abruptly ended our conversation, but before she left Geillis leaned over and kissed my cheek whispering “Have fun!”
Jamie and I had been texting constantly for the last couple of weeks. We hardly knew each other, but agreed there was something there. So I agreed to give him my number the night we met, after his niece had been admitted from my A&E, surgery for a fractured humerus scheduled for the next morning. I insisted we step outside the building to exchange numbers. For some stupid reason that made me feel less like I was behaving inappropriately with a patient. Even though he technically wasn’t the patient.
My days started with coffee and his good morning texts, usually followed by some sort of goofy meme that genuinely made me laugh. Lunch break texts, where he asked about my day and what I was having for lunch as if he genuinely cared to know, or pretending to be interested in a surgery case he knew nothing about.
I’d ask the same about his days and our messages turned into novels. One afternoon I picked up my phone to find a WhatsApp voice memo from him and my heart sped up to a bounding pace. I had a meeting, like now, and I couldn’t listen to his message until afterwards. That hour felt like the longest of my life. Painfully slow. I was completely distracted and had to be asked questions twice. It was ridiculous. Get it together, Beauchamp.
I almost sprinted out of the room once the meeting was over, but stopped myself so not to appear completely insane, and made my way to the women’s locker room. I thanked whatever gods were listening that no one was in there.
His deep burr flowed from my phone’s speaker and my immediate reaction was a warmth spreading throughout every inch of my body, and I do mean every inch.
I was in trouble.
He asked me to text him when I arrived at the pub. My often unpredictable schedule made it difficult to plan things down to a time and Jamie only lived a few blocks away from where we agreed to meet. Before leaving the hospital I quickly changed into a casual, floral summer dress.
A combination of nerves and anticipation caused my hands to slightly shake. I had not seen him in the flesh since his niece was discharged and the mountains of flirtatious texts had done nothing to quell my infatuation with him. Oh no. It was much worse, and I was not used to this.
The few times I’d recently attempted to venture out into the dating world had been mediocre at best and the past relationships I might call long term had ended on a blank note. No animosity, just quiet disconnection from each other, until the day came when we’d make mutual decisions to call it quits. It had been ok. I didn’t feel anything from it. I’d never been dependent on a man, or anyone for that matter.
This, with Jamie, was not usual. It was different. I couldn’t explain it and it was throwing me for a loop.
Jamie returned my text with an “on my way” and I sat fidgeting in my seat, drumming my short-but-neatly manicured nails on the bar. The door opened and a large group filed in. Damnit. I looked down to check my phone and in doing so failed to realize the man I was waiting for had walked in behind the group, unnoticed.
I looked up and there he was, spotting me immediately. He grinned and waved in my direction.
I had stalked his social media on occasion that week, but clearly wasn’t prepared for the real thing. Dressed in a button up shirt, sleeves rolled to his elbows, and khakis, he was ridiculously sexy.
And standing right in front of me.
“Hello, again” he said softly.
He leaned over to kiss my cheek (God, he smelled good) and I could have sworn there was a pause in which he debated aiming for my lips.
I would have let him.
“Should we get a table?” he asked.
We ordered drinks and found ourselves at a small table near the back of the pub. I asked about his niece.
“Och, she’ll be fine. Milkin’ the entire thing for all it’s worth” he said, laughing. “How was yer day?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Laughing once more, that thousand watt smile lighting his face, he nodded. “I wouldna ask if I didna want to know.”
I launched into a description of the chaos of my shift and he responded in all the right ways, expressing sympathy over my exhausted state. “Weel, it sounds like ye needed this then.” He lifted his glass and I followed, clinking them together in agreement.
We continued to talk about anything and everything, our jobs, the new dog he had just adopted the week before. It was easy. Effortless. Laughter and conversation flowing freely between us.
Every so often Jamie would lose his train of thought and just stare at me for the smallest of moments, before remembering himself. Underneath the table, I stroked my knee. I had to do something with my fingers before they ended up navigating themselves towards him. My hands felt grabby and I wanted to touch the slight stubble on his cheek, among other things.
“And so anyway, I-“
“God. Can I kiss ye?”
He interrupted me mid-sentence, his face void of anything but desperation. Without missing a beat I answered.
He was already halfway across the small table as soon as the word left my mouth.
The urgency I expected to feel from the kiss didn’t come. He placed his lips over mine and stilled, like he had been waiting for this and was in no rush to continue. One large hand rested on the side of my neck and he pulled my bottom lip between his, teeth scraping gently. After a moment he backed away slightly, only to immediately return to my mouth to give my top lip the same attention. My hand that had been fighting to touch him, found its way to his cheek and I pushed back against his mouth with a gentle pressure.
Our lips continued to slide between each other’s with gradually increasing intensity, my hand now snaking its way into his hair, his hand on my neck inching its way down lower and lower. When I felt the tip of his tongue brush mine I remembered we were in a very public place, in a room full of people, and brain function returned.
Apparently it had for him, as well. We both simultaneously backed away, glancing around the room to see if we’d gained an audience.
“Christ, I’m sorry! I didna mean to...that.”
His face was flushed. He ran a hand through his hair and let out a nervous exhalation, looking anywhere but at me. I reached across and gently placed a hand over his free one still resting on the table. That blue eyed gaze returned to my own.
“Jamie. You’re fine.”
Fine. An utterly inadequate description of that kiss.
It was perfect.
“I’ve wanted to do that since I saw ye walk into the room that night at the hospital.”
I glanced down, our fingers now laced together, and laughed softly. I had some information of my own to offer him.
“Me too, Jamie.”
We sat there grinning at each other like idiots.
Jesus H, Beauchamp. You are in so much trouble.
’Cause you give me something
That makes me scared, alright,
This could be nothing
But I'm willing to give it a try,
Please give me something
‘Cause someday I might know my heart