Chapter 127

AJ had just come home from a night of clubbing with some buddies of his and had to admit that he didn't have that much fun. Sure, there were beautiful ladies everywhere and he could have had his pick of them, he just wasn't interested. He'd been unable to stop thinking about Emily. He wanted to, he really did. He wanted to move on but every time he tried, he found that he just wasn't interested. And tonight it was worse than ever. For some reason he felt this nagging feeling to talk to her. He didn't have enough nerve to call her, he didn't even know if her number would still be the same. He decided to try the safe approach and send her a short and friendly yet awkward e-mail.

Hey Emily!

I know this must seem very strange and out of the blue but

I was thinking about you tonight and wondered how you were

doing. I hope you're well. Everything is great here.

AJ

He closed his eyes and groaned as he hit the send button.

“I really hope I don't regret this in the morning.” he muttered as he went to bed.


Emily was still smiling when she got home that night. She could still feel his kiss on her cheek and every time she pictured his handsome face she felt her stomach jump. Maybe things were looking up for her after all!

She changed into her pajamas and turned on her laptop to check her e-mail. She'd been keeping correspondence with Baylee lately. He'd tell Brian or Leighanne what to type, sometimes he typed things himself and she'd write back to him. As angry as she had been with Brian, she could never hold anything against Baylee and often missed him greatly.

Her computer beeped an error message at her. “System Failure” it read right before the whole thing went dead.

“What the fuck?” she exclaimed, trying to restart it. When it wouldn't even power on she checked to make sure the power supply was plugged in, which it of course was.

“Oh great! The thing's less than a year old and it's already crapped all over itself!” she huffed, slamming the lid shut.

Emily was woken up early the next morning to her cell phone ringing.

“Huh?” she grumbled into the phone, squinting at the clock to see that it was only 7:30.

“Uh...is this Emily?”

“Yeah.” she yawned.

She heard a slight chuckle over the phone. “Hey, it's Randy Brown. I'm sorry I woke you! I thought maybe you'd be getting ready for work or something.”

It took her a second to figure out who Randy Brown was but as soon as she did she was instantly awake.

“Oh hey!” she said, sitting up. “That's ok, it's actually my one weekend off a month. Otherwise I would have been! Are you getting ready for work?”

“Actually I'm already here. We start early on Saturdays in hopes of getting out at 2 when we close.”

“You have to work every Saturday?”

“No, there's three of us. We take turns. Listen, go back to sleep, I'll call you later.” he said, feeling guilty for waking her and a bit embarrassed that he couldn't wait longer to call her. In fact he wanted to call her at 5 when he woke up but thought better of it.

“No, it's ok. I'll go back to sleep later. So are you like, keeping all your patients waiting while you're on the phone?”

“Kind of. I had to grab something from my office and saw your card sitting on my desk so I thought I'd give you a call and see if you wanted to go to dinner tonight?” he cringed as he waited for her reply. The truth was, he'd been waiting all morning to call her and was worried if he didn't do it he wouldn't be able to concentrate on his patients.

“You know, I'd really love to but....”

“It's ok, I understand. It was worth a shot!” he interrupted her.

“No, that's not it! It's just that I have to work at the bar tonight.” she explained.

“Oh! Thank God, I thought for a second you were going to tell me you don't eat dinner or something!”

She laughed. “Don't worry, I enjoy all three meals.”

“What time are you off?”

“On Saturdays I'm done at 9 and they have someone else play after me.”

“Well how about a late dinner then? I can pick you up there.”

“Yeah, that'd be great! I'll see you then!” she said, trying not to sound too excited.

“Ok! See you then. Bye Emily!”

Emily was so giddy she couldn't go back to sleep. It was times like these that she really wished she had friends to talk to so she could call them up and share the excitement of Randy calling her and the confusion of whether or not she was ready to be over AJ. She sighed as she picked up the phone and dialed the closest thing to a friend she had. Leighanne.

“Emily! You're up early!” she said when she picked up the phone.

“Yeah, I just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I figured Baylee would be up and I wanted to let him know that my computer crashed last night and I won't be able to check my e-mail until I get it fixed.”

“Oh, ok I'll tell him. I hate it when my computer breaks!”

“I know. What a pain!”

There was an awkward silence between the two of them. Emily had talked to Leighanne a few times but never about anything significant since she'd moved out.

“Em, is everything ok?” Leighanne finally asked.

Emily sighed. “Yeah, I guess, it's just....I kind of need a friend to talk to about something but I'm worried that you'll be a bit...closed minded for lack of a better word, about it.”

“Ok. I promise I'll do my best to listen and be open.” Leighanne said, with a feeling that whatever it was would involve AJ. Brian and Leighanne didn't hear much from AJ these days. In fact, no one did. He showed up for all the meetings and studio work but that was about it. He didn't even act angry towards them. He just acted...shut down.

“Can you meet me for lunch?”

“Yeah, I can do that. Baylee has preschool today. How about Monica's at 12:30?” Leighanne suggested.

“I didn't know Baylee was going to preschool!”

“Well...you know...rather than hire someone else, we thought we'd put him there three days a week.” Leighanne said awkwardly.

“I think that's good!” Emily said. “And I'll see you at Monica's.”

“Ok, see you then Emily.!”

“Bye.”

Emily hung up the phone. Part of her wondered if she called Leighanne because she had a feeling Leighanne would want to discourage her from seeing Randy in hopes of things working out with AJ. Maybe in a way telling Leighanne she was moving on was a lot like telling AJ she was moving on. Maybe that was what she really needed to do.

Still unable to go back to sleep she decided to eat breakfast and get dressed. By the time she was dressed she realized that the malls had just opened and she would have plenty of time to go shopping for a new outfit for her date before she met up with Leighanne. It wasn't that she didn't have a decent outfit to wear, it was the fact that most of those outfits she had bought when she was with AJ to wear when she went out with him. She couldn't go on a first date wearing one of those.

She stopped at the Starbucks drive through on her way to her favorite department store, Von Maur in hopes that her favorite sales associate, Sally, was working today. Emily was in luck! Not only was Sally working, there was no one else in her department yet.

“I think I remember you!” Sally said when Emily said she could use some assistance picking out a few new outfits. “Didn't you come in last fall and buy a bunch of things to wear out with your new boyfriend? How's that going?”

“Umm...it's not, actually. We split up about four months ago. To be honest, tonight is my first date since him and I wanted to wear something new.”

“Oh I'm sorry! You're absolutely right, you deserve a few new things to wear to help you start fresh! So what's he like?”

“He's a very handsome pediatrician. Very handsome. Picture Hugh Grant in About A Boy and that's almost how good looking he is!”

“Wow!” Sally said. “You're pretty lucky! So I think we want to look for sexy meets sophisticated, don't you think?”

“Sure!” Emily said, following Sally around the floor, watching as she picked up a bunch of different things.

“This should get us started. Let's head into the fitting room.”

While Emily was trying things on Sally kept hunting through the store bringing her more clothes, shoes and accessories. “This might seem a bit awkward but were you interested in some new lingerie as well?” Sally asked as delicately as possible.

“I um...I haven't really thought about that.” Emily said, blushing slightly, not because she was embarrassed to be thinking about buying lingerie before her first date but because she was thinking about what it would be like to sleep with him. “I guess, why not get a few things? Here's hoping, at least, right?”

Sally laughed. “My thoughts exactly!”

A few hours later Emily had made her final decisions on five outfits, three pair of shoes, two pair of earrings, one necklace, one bracelet, one new purse, three pair of lace underwear with matching bras and two new, short, silk nightgowns.

“Now which should I wear tonight?” Emily asked, looking over her clothes.

“I think you should go with the black skirt we got. It hugs your rear very nicely and the slit up the side is subtle but very sexy. And then I think you should wear the dark purple, satin v-neck tank with the black lace trim, with the black bra and the silver earrings.” Sally suggested. “Do you have a black cardigan to bring along in case you get chilly?”

Emily nodded. “Yeah, I should have one somewhere.”

“So are you doing any more shopping today?” Sally asked as she rang up the purchase.

“I think I'm going to go to Pottery Barn and see what's new. I could use some candles and then I thought I'd go to Macy's, I hear they're having a huge sale on bedding and towels and then if I have time I think I'll get my nails done.”

“Well have fun and good luck tonight! You'll have to come back and let me know how things go. Hopefully you'll need some more new things for going out!” Sally winked.

“I hope so!” Emily said. “Thank you so much for your help!”

“My pleasure!” Sally said, handing Emily all her bags.


By the time she had finished all her shopping it was time to go meet Leighanne.

She saw Leighanne already had a table and walked over to join her. Leighanne stood up and gave her a hug when she got there.

“It's so good to see you!” she said. “We've really missed you.”

“Yeah, well, I've missed you guys too.” Emily admitted. “How have things been?”

“Pretty much the same. Everyone asks about you all the time.”

“Everyone?” Emily asked, raising an eyebrow.

Leighanne looked down. “Well, not everyone but I know he thinks about you.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just do.” Leighanne answered. “He hasn't been the same since you.”

Emily looked away. “Well that doesn't mean he thinks about me.”

“Look, Emily, I promised Brian I'd at least ask you...” Leighanne stopped.

“Ask me what?”

“If you'd consider coming back to work with us again?” Leighanne looked a bit sheepish.

Emily smiled. “Sometimes I wish I could, but I honestly think AJ was right about one thing. It was time for me to move on and find my next step. I like what I'm doing.”

“I understand. It was worth a shot though!” Leighanne said, picking up her menu.

They made idle chit-chat until their food came.

“So, when are you going to tell me what you needed to talk about?” Leighanne asked.

Emily cleared her throat. “Well, I guess this is kind of awkward for me but you're the closest thing to a best friend I've got right now and I really could use an ear.”

“I'm listening.” Leighanne prompted.

“I met someone.”

Leighanne took a deep breath. “Ok. So tell me about it.”

“Well I was working at the bar last night and I stayed after my set to have a drink. It was really crowded because there was this pediatrician convention thing and this realllly hot guy sat down next to me and we ended up talking for like, three hours. Then he walked me to my car and we exchanged numbers. He called me from his office early this morning to ask me to dinner.”

“So what's the problem?” Leighanne asked, doing her best to keep her desires for Emily to get back with AJ at bay.

“The problem is I can't decide what I'm feeling. I mean I really like this guy. He's nice, funny, attractive, but what if I'm just using him to forget AJ? Or what if I'm ready to move on from AJ? Or what if I'm not? Up until I met Randy last night, I thought about AJ all the time. Now all I can think about is how Randy kissed my cheek last night. I mean how can I go from thinking about AJ all the time to dating?”

Leighanne sighed. “I think that's just the way dating goes. You're hung up on your last love until someone new enters your life. Besides, it's only one date. It's not like you're committing yourselves to a serious relationship already. Take your time and stop analyzing everything. Just go with your instincts here. Go out on your date tonight, have a good time and see what happens. See how you feel tomorrow morning. Either you'll have a great time or you'll discover that you keep wishing you were out with AJ.”

Emily thought for a moment. “You're right. I'm thinking way too much about this. It's just one date!”

“Exactly!” Leighanne said. “So, how cute is he?”

“Oh my gosh, he's so cute! You'd love him!”

“And he's from Atlanta?”

“Yeah. I think his practice is on the east side of town.”

“Oh really? What's his name again?”

“Dr. Randy Brown.”

“Oh I know who he is! We met with him when we were interviewing pediatricians before Baylee was born! I really liked him but his office was thirty minutes from our house. You're right...he is cute! Very Hugh Grant-ish.”

“That's exactly what I said!” Emily laughed.


Chapter 128

Leighanne called Kristin on her way home from lunch.

“So guess who I just had lunch with?”

“Umm..I don't know, Hugh Grant?” Kristin said, turning down the volume to Bridget Jones' Diary.

“Well, no but that's so funny you said that.” Leighanne said.

“Why?”

“Well I met up with Emily today at Monica's Cafe.”

“Really?” Kristin said, completely shutting off the movie.

“Yeah, it was kind of strange. She called me up this morning to tell me that she couldn't e-mail Baylee back because her computer crashed and then she kind of hesitated like she wanted to say something else and she said she really needed to talk to someone so we made plans to meet up for lunch.”

“Is everything ok? What's going on?”

“She met someone last night and she's going on a date with him tonight. She was feeling confused because she said up until last night she thought about AJ all the time and then she meets this new guy and suddenly she wants to start dating again and couldn't figure things out.”

“Oh wow! So what did you tell her? Did you tell her to just get over it and call AJ?”

Leighanne sighed. “No, I couldn't. I promised her I'd be an open-minded friend and to be honest, I think going on this date just might be what she needs.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, it'll go one of two ways. Either she has a great time and keeps seeing him or she'll realize she wishes she were out with AJ and maybe that'll be the push she needs to call him or go see him or something.”

“Well, for AJ's sake I hope it goes the second way.”

“Yeah, me too. But in the event that it doesn't go that way, I think it's time to put a little pressure on AJ.”

“Leighanne I don't think that'll work. You know AJ!”

“I know, so we just have to do it in ways that he doesn't realize.”

“And just how do we do that?”

“I need you to convince Kevin to call him up just to chat or something and have him very casually ask if he ever hears from her.”

“Leigh, come one, Kevin never likes to stick his nose in other people's business.” Kristin said.

“Maybe not but I have a feeling he'll be willing to do it for AJ and Emily.”

“Alright, I'll see what I can do. So what's this guy like that she met?”

“Oh, that's what was so weird about you saying Hugh Grant earlier. She met a pediatrician named Randy who looks just like Hugh Grant.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I met him before Baylee was born and he is good looking.”

“Wow! Well, if I had to pick between Hugh Grant and AJ, I think Hugh would win.” Kristin said, turning her movie back on.


AJ was just about to go meet his mom for dinner when his phone rang. He cursed and looked at his watch. He was already running late. He glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was Kevin calling. He answered it because Kevin rarely calls him and he thought something might be wrong.

“Hey Kev, what's up?”

“Not much man, I was just sitting around the house kind of bored and I hadn't heard from you for awhile so I thought I'd just call and see what's new with you.” Kevin said, walking out of earshot from Kristin. She was making him nervous with her hovering.

“Oh...well, everything is good here. Nothing new really. I was just about to go meet my mom for dinner.”

“Oh! Tell her I said hi, would you? How is she?”

“She's alright, just got back from a trip to Europe.”

“So nothing else new? Have you heard from Emily lately?” Kevin dared to ask.

AJ paused. “No, why?”

“Oh no reason. Just that no one's really heard much from her, we were wondering how she was doing.”

“I guess she's fine. I think she's still in contact with Baylee. You should ask him how she's doing.”

Kevin chuckled. “I'll do that!”

“Yeah, I actually e-mailed her just to see how she was last night but I haven't heard back yet.” AJ said, trying to sound as casual as possible. Truthfully, he'd been checking his e-mail every twenty minutes that day in hopes that he'd hear from her.

“Huh. Well I heard she's working two jobs, she's probably just busy.”

“Yeah, I'm sure that's it. Listen man, I'm running late I'll have to catch you later.” AJ said.

“Alright man, take care.” Kevin said.

“Well?” Kristin prompted as soon as Kevin hung up the phone.

Kevin smiled. “I did manage to get one small tidbit for you. He hasn't heard from her but he did fess up to sending her an e-mail last night but apparently she hasn't written back yet.”

Kristin kissed Kevin. “That's great! I have to go tell Leighanne!”


“Oh no! She can't check her e-mail, remember? She called to tell me her computer crashed! This isn't good!” Leighanne said.

“Well why can't we just tell him that?” Kristin asked.

“Because then he'll know something is up. I just wish there was a way to get his e-mail to her before she goes out on her date!” Leighanne said, biting her nail.

“Look, she'll get it fixed soon and then she'll get it. I don't think she'll be that committed to this doctor guy by then so we'll just have to play it out.” Kristin said.

“Yeah, I guess you're right. I'll try and keep in touch with her to see how things progress.” Leighanne said.

“Alright, but keep me posted!”

“I will.” she promised.


Emily wore her new date outfit to work and found that she was feeling very nervous and excited. It was hard for her to concentrate on her playing, especially because she kept playing love songs while she daydreamed. The bar was rather loud that night and she doubted many people could actually hear her playing anyway which was lucky because her playing was not quite that good.

At 8:30 she began to get even more nervous. Randy would be here soon to pick her up and she kept trying to keep and eye on the door but it was blocked by a big crowd of people. At 8:55 she couldn't stand it anymore and ended her set five minutes early. As she got up and headed to the bar area to look for him, she spotted him coming towards her.

“You look beautiful.” he said as he leaned down and kissed her cheek.

“Thanks.” Emily blushed. “Have you been here long?”

“Just a few minutes.” he said. Truthfully, he'd gotten there around 8:30 and sat in the corner to watch her play.

“So, where are we off to?”

“McDonalds.” Randy answered.

“Oh...well, ok.” Emily said, a bit thrown off.

Randy laughed. “I'm kidding. Have you ever been to Linguini's?”

“No, I haven't.”

“It's the best Italian I've ever had!” Randy said. “At least here in America.”

“Have you been to Italy before?”

Randy nodded “I went one spring break in college.”

“Geez the best spring break I ever took was to Gatlinburg.” Emily said.

“Oh you have to go to Italy sometime! It's incredible.”

Well maybe we'll go there together soon! Emily thought to herself.

Randy had parked his BMW right outside the door in the check-in zone. He opened the door for her and offered her his hand as she sat down in it. She watched him as he walked around the car. He looked even better tonight than he did last night. He was wearing black pants with a white button-up shirt, open at the color.

“So, how was work today?” Emily asked.

“Not too bad. Lots of colds and allergies today, a few sprains to treat. Anything exciting happen for you today?”

“Not really. I went shopping this morning, hit up some sales and then met a friend for lunch.”

“Well that sounds a little more exciting than runny noses!”

“I suppose it is!” Emily laughed.

The restaurant was only a few minutes from the hotel. He helped her out of the car and put his arm around her waist as they walked inside.

God he smells good! she thought.

It was late enough that they only had to wait five minutes for their table. When they were seated, Randy pulled the chair out for Emily as she sat down.

“May I start you off with some drinks?” their waiter asked.

Randy looked at Emily. “Do you like white or red wine?”

“White.”

“Ok, we'd like a bottle of the house white wine please.” Randy ordered.

“Very well, sir.” the waiter said as he left the table.

“So, I'm just going to be upfront with you and tell you that I'm a little nervous.” Randy said.

“Why are you nervous?”

“I haven't been on a first date in a few years. I feel a little out of practice.”

Emily laughed. “Well, I haven't been on a first date in about a year but before that it had been quite awhile so I'd say we're both out of practice!”

“Oh! Well good then. We can be nervous idiots together!”

The waiter appeared with their bottle of wine and poured them each a glass.

“To us, surviving a first date together!” Randy toasted.

Emily laughed and took a sip of her wine.

“So are you from Atlanta originally?” she asked.

“No, actually I grew up in Chicago. I got into med school here and I've been here ever since! How about you?”

“I grew up on Ohio. I moved here last summer for a job but I liked it here a lot so I decided to stay.”

“Isn't it nice not to have to deal with the cold, snowy winters?” he asked.

“Oh God yes! I mean I like snow but only when you get a really big snow storm. But once it's all cleared up and you actually have to go out in it, then I don't like it.”

“So is all your family back in Ohio then?” he asked.

Emily cringed inwardly. “Just my mom. My dad died when I was 19 and my brother died about six months ago.” she said, looking down and playing with her napkin.

“Oh God, I'm sorry! What happened?”

“He was killed in the line of duty in Iraq.”

“He went out with his boots on, huh?”

Emily smiled. “He sure did! So, how about you? Is your family in Chicago?”

“My parents are. My brother is a cardiologist in New York and my sister is an OB/GYN in Indianapolis.”

“Wow. Your parents must be so disappointed in you guys!” Emily joked.

“My parents are both doctors, it's in our blood.” Randy smiled.

Emily and Randy chatted all through dinner and dessert. They asked all the basic getting to know you questions and Emily found herself hanging on to his every word. By the time they were sipping on their coffee he had reached across the table and grabbed her hand.

“Has anyone ever told you that your eyes have this beautiful sparkle in them?” he asked, softly.

“I might have heard that a time or two.” she smiled as she met his gaze and held it for a few minutes.

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat. “It looks like we're about to close this place down!” he gestured to the empty restaurant.

“Yeah, I guess we should get going before they kick us out.” Emily said, finally breaking her gaze.

Randy paid the bill and helped Emily up.

“Would you like to go for a walk?” Randy asked once they were outside.

“Sure!” Emily said, relived that their date was not ending yet after all!

Randy snaked his arm around her waist and led her down the city sidewalk. It was almost midnight but the Saturday nightlife in downtown Atlanta was still jumping and the street was lined with taxis. “We're actually not too far from the river if you'd like to head that way.”

“Sure! I've never been to this part of the city before.” Emily said, leaning into him a bit more.

They walked silently down to the river. Randy had led them to a little park that had a bike and walking path that ran right alone side the river and a bunch of benches that faced the water. He led her over to a bench and sat down, still keeping his arm around her.

“I didn't know this was here!” Emily said.

“Sometimes I ride my bike along this path on the weekends.” Randy said.

“You know, I haven't ridden a bike in years unless you count the exercise bike at the gym!” Emily replied.

“Well we'll have to get you back on one sometime!”

Randy turned and looked at her.

“Look, this might seem a little direct but I really like you. I know I'm not supposed to say things like that on a first date but I'm not getting any younger here so I guess I just wanted you to know.”

Emily took a deep breath. “Wow! That is direct, but I don't think that's a bad thing. To be honest, I really like you too but I can't make you any promises right now if that's what you're looking for.”

“No, I'm not looking for a promise. Just an honest chance to see where this might go.” he said, gently brushing her cheek with his knuckle.

“I can give you that.” she replied.

“Good.” Randy said softly.

He stared into her sparkly eyes for a moment before slowly leaning in to kiss her.

Emily was caught off guard but quickly lost herself in the moment of the kiss. It was perfect. Not too long, not too short. Very soft and tender.

When it was over, Emily was embarrassed to discover a couple watching them as they walked along the path.

“Dr. Brown is that you?” the woman asked, stopping.

Randy stood up quickly. “Hi Mrs. Bower, Mr. Bower.” Emily stood up beside him.

“Beautiful night out, isn't it?” Mr. Bower asked.

“Sure is!” Randy agreed.

“Well, we won't keep you, you're clearly very um...busy at the moment!” Mrs. Bower said, glaring at Emily. “We'll see you next month for Kaiden's appointment.

“Alright, see you then!” Randy said.

“Well, that was awkward!” he said when they were out of earshot.

“Yeah, I don't think she liked me too much! Did you see the way she looked at me?”

“What can I say? All the mommies love me!”

Emily laughed. “I bet you get hit on all day long, don't you?”

Randy blushed. “I have absolutely no comment!”

They started walking back toward the restaurant, arms around each other.

“So would it be too weird if I asked you to go out again tomorrow?” he asked.

“I don't know, you're the guy. Aren't you supposed to wait like, two days after a first date before you call the girl back? That what everyone else does.”

“Well, if you really want to I could do that.”

“I suppose it's ok this once to break the Guys Rules of Dating. Did you have something in mind for tomorrow?”

“Actually, I thought maybe you'd like to go for a bike ride in the morning before it gets too hot. Then maybe we could go to brunch.”

“Well, that sounds great but there is just this one thing...”

“What's that?”

“I don't have a bike!” Emily said.

“Oh! Well, that's ok I think. I actually have two bikes so you can ride one of mine.”

“Why do you have two bikes?” she asked.

“I just bought a new one last month and I haven't sold my old one yet.”

“Ok, that sounds like fun!”

They had arrived back at the restaurant and Randy helped her into his car.

“I had a great time tonight.” Emily said.

“Me too.”

“So what time are we going biking tomorrow?”

“Is 8 too early for you? It'll be a Sunday so there won't be any traffic on the roads and it won't be hot yet either.”

“That's fine. We're riding our bikes on busy roads?” Emily was suddenly weary of this whole idea.

“Just for a few minutes. The bike path runs along the road but just barely until it gets back into the park area.”

“Ok. I think I can handle that much. Just don't forget how long it's been since I've ridden a bike!”

“Would you like me to put some training wheels on it for you?” he winked at her.

“Very funny.”

They had arrived back at the hotel and Emily directed him to the fifth floor of the parking garage where she had parked her car. Randy parked beside it and got out to walk her to her car.

“Thank you for dinner. Honestly, I haven't had this much fun in months!” she said, suddenly feeling those nervous and excited butterflies in her stomach again in hopes that he might kiss her goodnight.

“You're welcome. I had a really great time too. And hey, I'll see you again in like, 7 hours!” he said.

“Well,” Emily said after a moment of silence. “I should get going.” she started to open her door.

Randy grabbed her hand and turned her back to face him. “I know I said it's been awhile since I've been on a first date but there is one rather important thing I do remember.”

“Oh yeah? What's that?”

“The goodnight kiss.” he whispered as he bent down to give her a soft kiss. Emily could practically sense him wanting to deepen his kiss but sensed he held back for the sake of being a gentleman. It was that feeling that only left her wanting to kiss him even more.

Emily cleared her throat when he pulled away. “Well...I uh...you remembered very well!”

Randy laughed as he opened her car door for her. “Goodnight, Emily.”

“Goodnight.” Emily smiled at him as she shut the door.


Chapter 129

As Emily was getting dressed the next morning she realized that none of her new outfits were suitable for a bike ride. She wished she had Sally's phone number so she could call her and ask her what kind of outfit to wear. She dug through her closet until she settled on pink capri exercise pants and a white fitted t-shirt. She put her hair up and applied a little bit of makeup to hide the circles under her eyes from being up late the last two nights.

Just as she was ready her doorbell rang.

“I thought doctors were always late!” she said as she opened the door.

“We are but we're almost always on time for our first appointment of the day!” Randy said, leaning down and kissing her cheek.

Emily grabbed her things and locked her door as they left. Randy had put a bike rack on the back of his car with two bikes on it.

“You know, my last bike had streamers on it.” Emily commented as Randy helped her in the car as always.

“You know I was this close to putting streamers on this morning but I thought you wouldn't like them!” he teased.

The bike trail was only about fifteen minutes from Emily's apartment. There were only a few cars parked in the lot. Randy expertly got the bikes down from the rack and helped Emily get the seat at the right height for her.

“Are you ok?” Randy asked as he watched Emily slowly climb on her bike.

“I think so!” Emily said, finding her balance.

“Ready?”

“Yep.” Emily said as she followed Randy down the path.

Emily hated to admit how nervous she was to be on a bike. She had spent hours riding her bike around the neighborhood when she was a kid. When did she become such a chicken? It took about fifteen minutes for her to start to feel at ease and once she did she rode up to ride next to Randy.

“Do you bike on this trail often?”

“Maybe every few weeks. I have a few trails I like to ride. This one is my favorite though.”

“I can see why!” Emily said as she looked over at the still river. “Lots to look at!”

“Just wait until we get into the woods. That's the best part. Once I went out real early in the morning and I saw a deer standing right in the middle of the path!”

“Cool! Did it run away or did you have to go around it?”

“It ran away but not until I was about ten yards away from it.”

They rode in silence for a few more minutes before he spoke again.

“So what did you mean when you said you were trying to figure out life's next step?” he asked.

Emily thought for a moment. “Well, I think I only became a nanny because it was something to do. I enjoyed it but I always knew it wasn't what I was meant to spend my life doing. So I quit. Now I work my two jobs because I have to pay rent and I guess I didn't think it would take me this long to figure out what it is I'm supposed to be doing.”

“What did you do before you were a nanny?”

“I taught piano lessons.”

“You didn't like that?”

“Not really. As much as I like playing I found teaching to be very frustrating. It's very hard to find students who actually want to learn. Mostly the parents think it would be cool and the kids like it until they realize that they have to practice.”

“And there wasn't anything else you ever wanted to be?” he asked.

“Well, when I was in elementary school I swore I was going to be a doctor. Then in high school I realized that I totally suck at science but I thought maybe I could be a nurse.”

“Why didn't you?”

“Because I listened to what everyone else thought I should do. My parents thought that it would be a waste of my musical talent to not pursue it. I think I also lost confidence in myself. I wasn't sure I'd be able to hack nursing school. And then I decided that I didn't really care because what I wanted most of all was to be a wife and a mother. But clearly, that hasn't worked out so well for me either.”

“I'm sure you'll get your dream someday, Emily. But have you ever considered going back to nursing school in the meantime?”

“Go back to school? I'd be like the oldest person there!”

“Why not? There are plenty of jobs in nursing. You can do it in two years even.”

“Well, I guess it's something to think about.” Emily agreed.

“That's all I'm saying!” Randy said.

“What about you? Did you always want to be a doctor?”

“I guess. I mean there's a lot of doctors in my family, it was like being anything else wasn't an option. But I never really minded that because I did want to be a doctor.”

“So how did you end up a pediatrician?”

“Kids were the only patents I found tolerable.”

“Did you consider any other specialties?”

“I thought about family medicine but when I did an internship at a big family practice I discovered that it was more old people with arthritis than it was families.”

Emily laughed. “Be careful, one day you'll be the one with arthritis!”

“Never! That's years away! There'll be a cure by then for sure!”

Emily and Randy chatted on and off as they rode for the next two hours until they ended up back in the parking lot.

Emily hoped off her bike and stretched her legs while Randy fastened the bikes back onto the bike rack.

“So how was your first time back on a bike?” he asked.

“Surprisingly fun!”

“Surprisingly?”

“Well, you know, I was afraid I might fall down or something and look really dumb.”

Randy laughed. “Well, I'm certainly glad that didn't happen. You look cute today, by the way.”

Emily blushed. “Thanks. I wasn't really sure what to wear for a biking date.”

“You choose very well.” he said, taking in her figure. “Are you ready for brunch?”

“I'm starving actually!”

“Perfect! There's a cute little cafe near Ambleside Hills. Have you ever been over there?”

“Actually, the family I used to work for lives in that neighborhood.”

“Really? You must have worked for some elite clients! Isn't the neighborhood gated?”

“Yeah. It's not as big of a nuisance as it sounds though. Once the gate guards get to know you it's no big deal.”

“Well then maybe you know the restaurant. Have you ever eaten in Fresh Fare?”

“I've been there a time or two.” Actually, it was one of AJ's favorite breakfast places. They went there whenever he had visited her at Brian's.

Randy held Emily's hand as he drove the ten minutes to the restaurant.

“I'm starving!” Emily commented as she caught a whiff of bacon outside.

“Me too!”

There was already a bit of a wait for a table but it didn't appear too bad as they walked in the door.

“How many are in your party sir?” the hostess asked.

“Two please.”

“It'll probably be about ten minutes.”

“Great, thanks!” Randy said.

They walked over towards the benches to wait.

“Emily, is that you?” a female voice asked.

Emily turned around. Oh God....

“Leighanne! What are you doing here?”

“Oh, you know, just having some breakfast after church. How about you?” she said, looking from Emily to Randy.

“Oh, I'm sorry. Leighanne this is Randy. Randy, this is Leighanne. I used to work for her and her husband, helping take care of their son Baylee. Is he here?”

“Yes, he went to the bathroom with Brian while we wait for our table. It's nice to meet you, Randy.” she said, shaking his hand.

“You too.” Randy said.

“MISS EMILY!” there was a scream as Emily was attacked at the knees.

“Baylee!!” Emily knelt down and gave him a big hug. “How are you? Look how big you're getting! Miss. Emily has missed you!”

“I missed you too Miss. Emily!” he said, laying his head on her shoulder.

Emily felt a few tears spring to her eyes as she held the little boy. She really did miss him.

“Mommy can I sit at Miss. Emily's table?” he asked.

“Oh Baylee, I don't think that would be such a good idea.” Leighanne said.

“Hey, it's ok with me if it's ok with Emily.” Randy interrupted.

“Are you sure?” Emily asked.

“Well, you know, I do like kids.”

Emily chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you do, don't you?”

“Honey, our table's ready.” Brian appeared. Then he did a double take. “Emily?”

“Hello Brian.” Emily said, suddenly feeling very awkward and tense.

“How...uh...how have you been?”

“Fine thanks.” she said, trying not to sound as bitter as she felt towards him. She had thought she was getting over her anger towards Brian but seeing him only proved that she wasn't.

“Honey, Baylee is going to sit with Emily and her friend Randy.” Leighanne said. “Just send him over to us if he's too much trouble.” Leighanne said, leading Brian. towards the waiting hostess. “And it was good to see you again.”

“Yeah, you too!” Emily said, holding Baylee's hand.

“Are you sure you don't mind him eating with us?” Emily asked.

“I don't mind a bit. Especially since seeing the expression on your face when you saw him. What kind of jerk would I be to not let you spend some time with him?”

Randy felt a tugging on his shorts. “Who are you?” Baylee asked.

“My name is Randy.” he said looking down at Baylee.

“Are you friends with Miss. Emily?”

“Yes I am. How about you? Are you friends with her too?”

“Yeah. But I think I've been friends with her longer than you have.” Baylee said.

Randy stifled a laugh. “Well then you're a very lucky boy!”

“Are you a singer?”

Emily was keeping her fingers crossed that Baylee wouldn't say anything about AJ.

“No, I'm a doctor.”

“Really? My mommy took me to the doctor yesterday cuz I hurt my foot. Wanna see?”

“Maybe you can show me later. I think it's time to go sit at our table!” Randy said.

“I don't like this Brian.” Leighanne said.

“What? Your pancakes? Send them back.”

“Not the pancakes, Emily and that guy!”

Brian sighed. “Why don't you like it?”

“He's....not AJ!”

“Well maybe it's just a harmless breakfast.”

“Their first date was last night and he's already buying her breakfast! I wonder if she slept with him last night! That'd explain why they're together so early in the morning.”

“Honey, look, let's try not to read too much into it, ok?”

“You're right, I'm sorry. Let's just enjoy our breakfast.”

Emily knew that Randy was probably good with kids, him being a pediatrician and all, but actually seeing him interact with them was a whole other story. He was very patient with all of Baylee's questions and stories and he honestly seemed to be enjoying himself. Emily and Randy were still drinking coffee when Leighanne came to get Baylee.

“It's time to go home so we can go swimming!”

“Ok Mom. Miss. Emily I gotta go now. Will you write to me on the computer when you get it fixed?”

“I promise, as soon as I can!” Emily said.

“Ok. Bye Dr. Randy!”

“Bye Baylee!”


Apparently, Baylee had become quite fond of Randy, much to Leighanne's dismay.

“Honey, did she look happy with him?” Brian asked.

Leighanne thought for a moment. “Actually yes. She looked very happy.”

“Isn't that important too?”

“Well, yes. I want Emily to be happy it's just...”

“You think she'd be happier with AJ.” Brian finished for her.

“Yes! Is that so wrong?”

“Look, we all wanted that to work out but I think it's time for you to let it go. They both seem to be moving on and Emily deserves the chance to be happy and she deserves to have friends who will be happy for her even if AJ isn't that one she's happy with.”

Leighanne was quiet for a moment. “You're right. I should be more supportive. She did seem quite happy.”

“Maybe she and AJ just weren't meant to end up together.” Brian said.

“Well, I think that's where you're wrong.” Leighanne said. “It just might take a little longer than we thought.”


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"Never Gone" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.

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