Chapter 130

“I'm stuffed!” Emily exclaimed as she finished her coffee. “I think I need to go on another bike ride to burn off what I just ate!”

“Did you have any plans for the rest of the day?” Randy asked.

“Nothing apart from my usual Sunday stuff lately.”

“What do you do on Sundays?”

Emily grinned. “I stock up on magazines and sit out by the pool at my apartment.”

“So, then would this be a good time to tell you I have my own pool?”

“You do? Perfect! I can sit by your pool and not have to ignore all the teenagers that come down.”

“We can stop by your place and pick up your swimsuit and magazines on the way if you like. Then maybe I could cook you some dinner and watch a movie?”

“That sounds fabulous! Wait...can you cook?”

Randy laughed. “I'm no gourmet chef or anything but I can make a few good things.”

“Ok. Then it still sounds fabulous.”

“Whew! It's going to be a hot day today!” Randy said as they walked out to the parking log.

“Perfect pool weather though.”

Randy turned on the air conditioner full blast once they got in the car and headed to Emily's apartment.

“You can come up if you want, I'll only be a few minutes. I want to turn my air conditioner on too while I'm up there.”

Randy turned off the car and followed her up the steps to her door.

“This seems like a quiet complex.” he said as she unlocked the door.

“It's pretty nice. A lot of students live here but there are also a lot of families. Would you like the grand tour?”

“Sure!”

“Well you're in the living room. Through here is the kitchen and dinning room. Pretend you can't see the dirty dishes on the counter. I usually clean on Sunday mornings but someone has been keeping me busy!” Emily said as she led him down the hall.

“Bathroom on your right, my bedroom on the left and that's all she wrote!”

“It's nice.” Randy said, peeking in her bathroom.

“It's tiny, but it works for me.”

“So how come the piano player has no piano?”

“You're pretty observant, aren't you?” Emily asked, surprised he would even think of that.

“That's usually what I get paid for.”

“Well, pianos are expensive plus I don't have much room for them. I thought about getting a small keyboard but I knew I wouldn't like it. I think when my lease is up next Spring I'll get a bigger place and maybe then I'll get one.” Emily said. “Alright, give me a few minutes to freshen up and get my stuff and I'll be ready.” she said.

“Ok.” Randy said, walking back towards the living room.

Emily washed up and made sure she didn't need to shave anything before grabbing her swim suit, magazines and clothes to change into. When she came out she found Randy in the kitchen washing her dishes.

“You didn't have to do that!” she said, very touched by his gesture.

“I know, I just wanted to help you out!” he said, putting the last plate in the drying rack.

“Well...thanks!” Emily said. “I owe you one!”

“Nah, you gave up your dish washing and pool time for me. We're even.”

“Well, I'm still getting pool time, I just have to be more careful what I read around you.”

“Why's that?”

“Well, I don't think it's considered acceptable to bring your trashy romance novels to read on your first pool date.”

Randy laughed. “You're right. That's more like, what, fourth date reading material?

“At least!”

“See I've always wondered what those authors tell their dates they do for a living. Do they admit they write smut, or do they pretend to do something else?”

“Did you just say smut?”

“I learned it from my sister.” Randy said, taking Emily's bag for her. “Are you all set?”

“Yep.”

Twenty minutes later they were pulling up to Randy's house. It was a modest sized one story ranch home with a lot of trees and shrubs in the front yard.

“Wow! I like your house.” Emily said as they walked up to the door.

“Thanks. I just moved in six months ago so and I'm finally done with all the painting and remodeling I did.” he said as he held the door open for her.

“I'll give you a quick tour and show you where you can change.” Randy showed her living room, study, dining room and large open kitchen before heading down the back hall. “This is my guest room and right across from it is the guest bathroom. You can use either one to change in. My room is the one at the end but uh...you can't see it yet because my clothes are all over the place and the bed isn't made.”

Emily laughed. “How is it the rest of your house is clean but your bedroom is a mess?”

“Her name is Suzie and she's the best housekeeper ever but I told her she didn't have to clean my bedroom. For some reason, it just seemed weird to have someone make my bed and put away my underwear, you know?”

“I do know! I always had a stipulation as a nanny that I'd make sure to help the kids pick up after themselves but I was not a housekeeper or a cook. Sometimes people expect the nanny to do everything and while there are some who do, I am not one of them.”

“Think you can find your way out to the pool?” he asked.

“I'm pretty sure I remember.” Emily said as she went into the guest room to change.

“Alright, I'll meet you out there!”

Randy was already out moving some pool chairs when Emily came outside.

“So, do you have a gardener to take care of all these flowers?” Emily asked, admiring all the flowers in the garden and in pots around the pool area.

“Kind of. I did all the planting and landscaping myself but I have someone help me maintain it.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, there's this 15 year old boy down the street. I pay him to mow the lawn and water the plants for me during the week. He does a good job.”

Emily sat down on the pool chair and set her stack of magazines next to her. Randy scooted his chair almost right against hers and sat down.

“Did you put any sunscreen on?” he asked.

“Yeah, I put it on when I got changed.”

“Good, I wouldn't want you to fry out here!”

“So do you have time to use your pool much? I mean what's your schedule really like?”

“Not as much as I would like but I do get a fair amount of use out of it. I usually get to the office between 6:30 and 7 and most days I'm home by 6. I work every third Saturday and I'm on call the first weekend of every month for emergencies.”

“Well that's not too bad. Longs days though I'd think.”

“Well they go pretty quickly since you're always going from one patient to another and trying to keep up on paperwork in between.”

“Geez, how do you manage to do that?”

“I've learned that having a good staff makes all the difference.” he said. “If you have good nurses everything is so much easier.”

“I see.” Emily said, putting on her sun glasses.

“So that family you worked for seemed nice.” Randy said.

“Yeah, they're pretty good people. Baylee is a riot, isn't he?”

“Yeah. Very curious. So, why did you quit if you liked him so much?”

Emily sighed. In the back of her mind she'd been wondering what to tell Randy. If there was one thing she learned from being with AJ and what happened between her and Brian it was that she needed to start being more up front with people. She just wasn't sure now was the best time to bring all that up.

“Well, I guess it's like you said, dealing with the kids is the easy part. It's the parents that can be tough.” she said, hoping he would drop it. “Particularly the fathers.” she grumbled at the end.

“Yeah, I definitely could sense things get very awkward when he came over. Did he hit on you or something?”

“Brian? No, it was nothing like that.”

“Oh good. For a minute I thought maybe you two.....” he trailed off.

“You thought I had an affair with my married boss?” Emily asked, feeling a little insulted.

“Well, I mean not really but the thought did occur to me. It was just that as soon as he came over everyone got all tense and quiet.”

Emily sighed. “Yeah, I guess I can see your point. Look this is a really long story and it's a bit difficult for me to tell you. Are you sure you really want to know?”

“Only if you're comfortable telling me.” he said, gently.

“Well, you're really the first person outside of the people involved that I've told but I will tell you that the lesson I learned from it all was to learn how to tell these things to people instead of keeping it all to myself.”

“That's probably a very good lesson.” Randy said.

Emily took a deep breath and tried to figure out how to begin. “Did you ever hear about that article in the tabloid a few months ago about the pop star's nanny who shook her own baby and killed him?”

“Yeah, vaguely. I heard some of the nurses talking about it. Apparently she worked here in Atlanta.....” Randy trailed off. “That was you, wasn't it?” he asked, seeing the look on her face.

Emily really felt like she might throw up. “Yes but please promise you'll listen to what happened before you believe that!”

Randy sighed. “Emily, I'm a doctor. I know there are other causes of a brain bleed. And the fact that it was in a tabloid made me question it to begin with.”

Emily swallowed the huge lump in her throat. She was determined not to break down.

“It's partially true. Yes, I had a son and yes he died of a massive bleed in his brain. But not because I shook him. In fact, I never even got to take him home with me!”

Emily sat up and turned to face him and he did the same. Emily was looking down at her hands, trying to find the courage to talk to Randy about it.

“What happened?” Randy asked, gently as he grabbed her hand and held it.

“He was born with cancer. At first they thought he'd be able to fight it but he didn't respond to the chemo. The doctors told me there was an experimental drug but it had some heavy risks and they thought he was probably too weak to try it but I couldn't just give up on him, he was my baby! I begged them and finally they decided to try it. He was supposed to have three rounds but the first two didn't seem to be helping and he was so weak that they wanted to quit but I just couldn't. I made them give him the last round and that's what caused the brain bleed. I spent years blaming myself for it, thinking I was the one that killed him and sometimes I still feel guilty but I know he would have died anyway.”

“What was the name of the medicine?” Randy asked.

“I never could get it right but I always thought of it as vanilla chemo because the drug sounded like vanilla.”

“Was it vanilloquil?” he asked.

“Yes! Have you heard of it?”

He squeezed her hand again. “Unfortunately I have. It was pulled off the market two years ago. They should have never even thought of giving it to him, it was never even indicated for babies but unfortunately, your little boy wasn't the only one who died from it.”

Emily was shocked. “You mean this has happened a lot?”

Randy nodded.

“I had no idea! That's terrible!”

“I agree. That's why it got pulled.”

Emily sniffed and took a deep breath. “So anyway, after a few years I came down here and worked for Brian and Leighanne only I never told them I ever had a son. Then I started going out with a good friend of theirs and he eventually found out but I made him promise not to tell. Well, then the story was in the tabloid, presumably leaked by this asshole ex boss of mine that I had sent to jail for abusing his kids. You know he was the mayor! It was a huge scandal. Anyway, I think he was the one who did it and Brian found out and all he could confirm was the birth and death certificates and that it twas possible it was shaken baby. Since I had never mentioned ever having a baby he just kind of assumed it was true and things got a little ugly. I eventually told them the truth but only because the guy I was seeing made me. Then I quit. I could never work for them knowing they actually thought I was that kind of monster. Brian and I haven't really ever spoken since then. I thought I was past being so angry with him but I saw him today and realized I was still pissed.”

“Jesus. Your life could really be a soap opera, you know that? Randy laughed. Emily laughed and wiped the few tears from her eyes. “Believe me, I have often felt the same way.”

“So what happened between you and the guy you were seeing?”

“He basically told me it was time for me to stop trying to replace my son by raising other people's kids and move on and live my life. I wasn't ready to hear it at the time and I told him maybe I didn't want to have any more kids. I just couldn't bare the thought of going through that pain again and what it basically came down to was that he said just having me wasn't enough for him, he wanted more from his life.”

“Well that wasn't very nice!” Randy said.

Emily shook her head. “I think he was just trying to get me to wake up and stop living in the past which I just couldn't do then. But if it hadn't been for him, I never would have been able to tell you all of this to begin with.”

“So, are things really over between you two?” Randy asked with a bit of hesitation in his voice

Emily nodded. “I think they really are. I mean we haven't spoken in like, four months. I think too much happened.”

Emily could sense Randy relax a little. He pulled her into a hug.

“I'm so sorry you went through all of that. I can not imagine how difficult it must have been.”

“Which part, losing my son or being publicly humiliated by being called a baby killer?”

“All of it. Thank you for telling me though.” he kissed the top of her head.

“Bet you kind of wish it was as simple as me having an affair with my married boss, don't you?”

Randy laughed. “Not exactly.”

“So, please tell me you have some dramatic story as to why you're single and haven't been on a first date in forever!!” Emily said.

Randy thought for a moment. “You know, I do actually.” he said, seriously.

“You do?” Emily looked up at him.

“Yeah. You see, my last girlfriend dumped be because I wouldn't stop throwing her in the pool!” he said as he quickly stood up and grabbed her in his arms and made a beeline for the pool.

Emily screamed as he tossed her in the water but by the time she surfaced she was laughing hysterically.

“You're feeling pretty proud of yourself right now, aren't you?” she asked as she looked up at him.

“Yup.” he grinned.

“Well, don't just stand there, get in here!” Emily said.

Randy took off his t-shirt and dove into the water.


Chapter 131

Leighanne had just gotten off the phone with Kristin, filling her in on what happened this morning. Kristin was certainly on her side. AJ and Emily belonged together and this Randy guy was just getting in the way. In the end, they flipped a coin and Leighanne lost. She had to call AJ.

She waited until Brian went out with some friends and Baylee was tucked in bed for the night until she did it.

“Hey Leighanne, what's up?” AJ answered.

“Not too much right now. Are you busy?” she asked.

“Nope, I'm just sitting outside reading the paper. Why?”

“I need to talk to you.” Leighanne said, trying to keep her voice steady.

“You sound so serious, is everything ok?”

“We're all fine. This is about you and Emily.”

AJ was silent.

“Are you there?” she asked.

“I'm here.” he said. “But there is no me and Emily anymore.”

Leighanne sighed. “But there should be and you know it!”

“No, I don't really know that for sure.”

“Oh really? Then why did you e-mail her?” she asked.

“I knew Kevin wasn't really calling because he was bored!” AJ exclaimed. “So I e-mailed her. Big deal. I e-mail you sometimes, does that mean we're secretly in love?”

“You do not e-mail me!” Leighanne said. “Forwarding me funny porn ads does not count!”

“Look, I appreciate what you're trying to do but I think you just need to let things run their course. If Emily and I are meant to get back together it has to happen in its own time. Not yours. Besides, she never even responded to my e-mail!” he added.

“But you're wrong AJ. You're about to lose her for good and if you act now it's not too late but if you wait, it just might be.”

“What the hell are you talking about Leigh?” She sounded so cryptic.

“Look, just listen to me ok? Emily didn't get your e-mail. She called me the night before Kevin called you and she said her computer crashed.”

“Alright, so she didn't get it. It's not the end of the world, is it?”

“Emily called to ask me to lunch so she could talk to me about how confused she was feeling over this new guy she met.”

“She met someone?” AJ asked, his voice changing.

“Yes. He's a pediatrician, he's cute and very nice. Their first date was last night and we bumped into them having breakfast this morning at Fresh Fare.”

AJ was silent as he processed all of this.

“Look, she seems really happy with him AJ, so I'm letting you know that this could possibly be your last chance. Don't blow it.”

“Look, if she's happy with this doctor guy, I don't want to get in the way of that. I just want her to be happy. Maybe too much has happened.”

Leighanne groaned. “But you should get in the way! You're the one she's meant to be with!”

“If that's true, then it'll happen and nothing you or I do can make it happen any quicker.

“That's not true! You could go talk to her. You can tell you still love her.”

“I'm not so sure of that anymore.” he said quietly.

“Well I am! We all are!”

“Look, Leigh, I really appreciate what you're trying to do here but I'm sorry, I just can't do what you think is best all the time. I just don't think it's the right thing to do to go talk to her. Not now, anyway.”

Leighanne sighed again. “Fine. Whatever. But don't come crying to me when you finally wake up and realize it's too late.”

AJ chuckled. “I won't. Hey does Brian know you called me?”

“No....” Leighanne hesitated.

“Well, I won't tell him.” AJ said.

“Thanks.”

“Look, what happened between Emily and I is very complicated. More complicated than you can know ok? So let's just leave this one up to the big man up in the sky and see what happens?”

“Alright, fine.” Leighanne said. “Listen, keep in touch, will you? We kind of miss having you here!”

“I will.” AJ said before he hung up.

He sat outside for a long time after talking to Leighanne. He imagined she was back on the phone talking to Kristin and planning their next move. He was trying to decide how he felt knowing Emily was moving on. His first instinct was jealousy. But why should he be jealous? He was the one who left her. He'd decided awhile ago that leaving her was right thing to do. He was at peace with it. So why should he care who she dates? He decided it was always tough to hear that an ex was moving on. Everyone always secretly wished that all their old lovers spent the rest of their lives missing them. So Emily was over him. No big deal. Maybe it was about time he met someone too. He picked up his phone and was about to call his buddies to go out looking for women but decided he'd move on another day. Tonight, he'd stay home.

Emily found herself feeling very relieved to have told Randy her biggest secrets. She was touched by his reactions and could tell he was working hard to make sure she remained cheerful. Emily eventually got out of the pool and lie down on her chair with a magazine while Randy decided to swim some laps. Emily was unable to focus on her magazine because she couldn't take her eyes off Randy as he expertly swam across the pool.

“See something you like?” he asked after he climbed out of the pool.

“Huh?”

“Well, you've been on the same page for like, the last fifteen minutes. It must be really interesting.” he said with a slight smile on his face.

“Very interesting.” Emily said, blushing as she knew she'd been busted watching him.

Randy sat down next to her and picked up a medical journal and opened it up. Emily watched him out the corner of her eye but made sure to turn pages every so often.

“Stop staring at me, you're making it too hard to concentrate!” he said, eventually.

“What? I'm not staring at you!” she said, trying her best to sound genuine.

“Uh-huh.”

“Like you haven't been watching me?”

“I never said I wasn't. I'm a guy. You're a very beautiful woman wearing a bikini. Of course I've been looking at you.”

“So you can look but I can't?”

“You didn't even know I was watching you!” he said.

“How do you know?”

“I just do.” he said, still looking down at his journal.

“Well maybe if you'd put a shirt on or something I wouldn't have to stare.”

“Ah...so it's the shirtless thing that got you.” he joked.

“Maybe.”

Emily flipped over onto her stomach and faced away from him. It was the only way she wouldn't stare at him. She wasn't even aware she'd fallen asleep until she woke up.

“Hey sleepyhead!” Emily opened her eyes and saw Randy was crouched down in front of her.

“Hi.” she said, yawning.

“I was going to go inside and start dinner if you're hungry.”

“Yeah, dinner sounds great.” she said.

“Ok. You can keep napping if you want, I'll come and get you when it's ready.”

“Thanks.” she mumbled, already half asleep.

Randy smiled as he got up.

About a half hour later Emily woke up to the smell of grilling steak. She sat up and stretched, surprised that she'd slept so long. She wrapped a towel around her waist and walked up to the deck.

“Hey!” she said as he flipped the steaks.

“Hi!” he said, closing the lid on the grill. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, I'm sorry for falling asleep on you!”

“Don't be, I got a chance to catch up on some of my reading.” he said. “Here, have a seat.” he said, gesturing to the table and chairs in the corner of the deck. “Would you like something to drink?”

“I'd love some water!” she said. “But I can get it!”

“Don't be silly! I'll get it for you, wait here!”

He appeared a minute later with her water and a big bowl of salad. The steaks were done in a few minutes and he produced two baked potatoes from the grill as well.

“This is fantastic!” she said. “Thank you!”

Emily and Randy enjoyed a relaxed dinner together. They talked and joked together all through dessert, which was cookie dough ice cream.

“So, do you feel like watching a movie or are you going to fall asleep again?” he teased.

“Well I guess that depends on the movie. If you make me watch something like Lord of the Rings, I'll fall asleep but if it's something I like, I'll probably stay awake.”

“Have you seen Casino Royale before?” he asked.

“No I haven't but I remember wanting to when I saw the previews for it. Do you have it?”

“Yeah, I just bought it the other day.” he said. “Just let me clear the table and we'll go start it.”

Emily stood up and started picking up the plates.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I'm helping you!”

“You don't have to help me, you're the guest!”

“Well you did my dishes, now I'm helping you with yours.”

“If you insist.”

“I insist.” she said, walking into the house.

Once they had the dishes done Emily went to go change out of her bathing suit while Randy got the movie ready. When she came back he was sitting on the middle of the couch. She sat down on his left side and snuggled up against him almost automatically when she felt his arm go around her shoulder.

About halfway through the movie he started gently stroking her arm and she got the feeling he wasn't watching the movie anymore. She turned to look at him and found him watching her with a slight smile on his face.

Her heart began to pound as she smiled back at him and he slowly leaned towards her and kissed her. Emily had kind of expected it to be a short kiss and she was caught off guard when he wrapped both arms around her and pulled her closer as his kiss intensified. She moaned softly as his tongue parted her lips and explored her mouth. He had this wonderful way of kissing her that was so soft and gentle yet so packed full of passion. It only made her crave more. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he slowly leaned them down on the couch and positioned them so they were laying on their sides. His hands were rubbing all over her back as his kiss intensified even more. Emily felt herself get totally lost in the moment as her head began to swim and her body started to tingle.

Emily had forgotten how great it was just to make out with someone. It had been awhile since she'd had sex, not since before she quit working for Brian. She definitely missed sex but she couldn't believe how good just kissing could be.

She was beginning to get sweaty from the heat of his body as well as the heat from his slow, deep kisses. Suddenly, she was pulled from her hot haze.

“Somethings beeping.” she mumbled into his mouth.

“I don't hear anything.” he said, returning to kissing her.

Then he stopped. “Shit.” he mumbled, sitting up.

“What is it?” she asked, trying to sit up without falling off the couch.

“My beeper.”

“Are you on call?”

“No.” he said, sounding rather irritated.

Emily leaned back against the couch and caught her breath. Her lips felt swollen and she could smell his cologne on her.

Randy picked up the phone and dialed. “Hi, this is Dr. Brown, I was just paged.” he said, sounding very official.

Emily chuckled to herself wondering how many times this must happen to doctors as Randy went into his office. She managed to watch the last ten minutes of the movie while he was on the phone.

“Sorry about that.” he said, coming back in. “One of my patients was admitted to the hospital.”

“Oh no! Is everything ok?”

“Yeah they just needed to check something in his history.”

“Well, you missed the end of the movie but that's ok, it wasn't that great of ending.”

“That's ok, I'm sure I'll watch it again another time.”

“What time is it, anyway?” Emily asked.

“It's almost eleven.”

“I should probably get home. I have to work in the morning.” Emily said.

“Yeah, me too!” he said, helping her up off the couch.

Emily went to get her things and Randy drove her home and, of course, walked her to her door when they got there.

“I had a really nice day.” she said, turning back to face him after she unlocked her door.

“Me too.” he said, brushing a piece of hair from her face.

“So are you...pretty busy all week?” she asked, wondering how long she'd have to wait to see him again.

“I'm sure I could squeeze you in tomorrow night, say around 7 for dinner?” he said, jokingly.

“7 will be fine.” she said. “Go home and get some rest!”

“Ok. Goodnight Emily.” he said before giving her a quick kiss.

“Oh and hey,” she called when he was at the top of the steps. “If you have trouble concentrating tomorrow morning, don't be afraid to call and wake me up, I have to get up early anyway!” she said, winking at him.

Randy laughed. “Ok.” he said as he walked down the steps wondering how she knew that's why he called her so early.

Emily was surprised she was able to sleep that night. All she could think about was Randy, shirtless and kissing her. She wondered what it would feel like to be able to run her hands all over his back.

Randy went home and took a cold shower before bed.


AJ was still sitting on his deck at eleven that night when his phone rang again. This time, it was Brian.

“Hey Brian.”

“Hi AJ, I was just calling to see how you were doing.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I know my wife called you today to tell you what's going on.”

“She told you?”

Brian laughed. “No, I just know my wife. I figured she picked up the phone as soon as I left the house this evening.”

AJ laughed. “I'm ok.” he said.

“Are you sure? You don't really sound it.”

AJ sighed. “Give it to me straight man. I think your wife is playing games with my head. Did she really look happy?”

“Yeah. She did.” Brian said. “But that doesn't mean it's going to be serious or anything.”

“Emily's not one to take dating lightly.”

“You're right about that.” Brian agreed. “Look, I think I need to apologize to you.”

“For what?”

“I feel like this is all my fault. If I had never believed that shit about her, she'd still be working here and you two would probably still be together.”

“Brian, I appreciate the apology, I really do, but that isn't why we broke up.”

“It's not?” Brian sounded surprised.

“No. Look, that might have brought things to a head a little early but what went down between her and I was boiling for a long time.”

“So what happened then?”

“Look, our relationship just reached one of those points where it was jump or walk away. She was too scared to jump and I pushed her too hard. It was just time to walk away.” AJ tried to explain.

“So, you still love her then.” Brian said.

“Maybe but that doesn't mean things can work out, does it? I mean, I can love her all I want but until she's ready to let go of the past so she can have a future it'll never work. And who knows, maybe she couldn't jump because I'm not the right one for her to jump with.”

Brian thought for a moment. “Well, now you know where you stand on things though, right? I mean, hearing that she's moved on didn't change anything about how you feel?”

“Maybe it did for a bit but I still think ultimately this is for the best. After all that she's been through lately, she deserves to be happy.”

“Maybe so.” Brian agreed. “Look, I just wanted to make sure Leigh didn't send you on a head trip or anything.”

“Not too much. But you're right. At least now I know where I stand on things.”

“Well, I don't think Leighanne's going to like where you stand very much but I think she'll come around eventually.”

“Your wife is passionate if nothing else.” AJ laughed.


Chapter 132

Emily got up at 6 the next morning and seriously considered calling Randy on his cell phone but thought better of it. She told herself that if she hadn't heard anything by lunchtime she'd call and leave him a message on his office voice mail so she didn't bother him at work.

She kept her cell phone on vibrate in her pocket while she was at work and when her sales associate Megan came in she noticed right away.

“Emily, you're glowing! Did you have sex this weekend?”

All the girls in Emily's store were very close and they all knew each other's relationships but Megan was always the most forward of the small staff.

“No, I didn't have sex......” Emily smiled as she trailed off.

“Oh tell me!” Megan said.

“Well, I may have met someone at the bar on Friday night.”

Megan squealed in delight. “What's he like?”

“He's a pediatrician and he is absolutely gorgeous!”

“So did you go on a date with him yet?”

“I've actually been on two dates already!”

“Get out!” Megan said. “Where'd he take you?”

“Well, on Saturday night he picked me up at work and took me to Linguini's for dinner. We talked so long that we closed the place down so then we went for a walk down to the river and hung out down there for a bit before we left. Then yesterday morning he picked me up at 8 and we went for an early bike ride and then to breakfast at Fresh Fare. Then we went swimming at his house and he cooked me dinner while I fell asleep by the pool.”

“What'd he cook?”

“He grilled some steaks and served it with baked potato and salad.”

“Ok good, then what'd you do?”

Emily blushed. “We went inside and watched a movie.”

Megan started laughing. “Yeah right, you didn't watch the movie!”

Emily smiled at her.

“You need to keep this guy so we can have a pool party at his house!” Megan said. “And definitely bring him in when I'm working so I can see him.”

“I'm not going to bring him in so you can gawk at him! Besides, you're married!”

“Yeah I'm married not blind! I can still appreciate a good piece of art when I see one!”

“We'll see.”

“I'll make you a bet. If I sell twenty bottles of hand cream today, you have to bring him in tomorrow night when I'm working.”

Emily thought about that. Sales were so down that twenty bottles of hand cream would be very helpful but the mall was so dead lately that she doubted it was possible.

“Deal.” Emily agreed.

Little did she know, when Megan was determined to do something, she found a way to do it. Emily was shocked to see that Megan had sold not twenty but twenty-five bottles by the end of your shift.

“Why can't you sell that way every day?” Emily asked.

“Well if you bring your boy toy in more often I just might.” Megan said as she clocked out.

Around noon, Emily fished his card out of her purse and dialed the number for his office.

“Glenview Pediatrics.” a woman answered.

“Hi, could you please put me through to Dr. Brown's voice mail?” she asked, suddenly feeling a bit nervous

“Are you a patient?”

“No, I'm a...personal friend of his.”

“Oh ok, hold on honey.” the woman said as she patched Emily through.

“Hi, you have reached Dr. Brown. Please leave a message with your telephone number and I'll return your call as soon as I can.” his greeting said.

“Hi Randy, it's Emily. I'm on my lunch break and I thought I'd just call to say hi. I didn't want to bother you or anything so I just thought I'd leave a message. I hope you're having a good day and I'll talk to you later.”

She cringed as she hung up. “God, I sounded so stupid!” she said to herself.

Her phone rang at about 5:15 as she was on her way home.

“Hello?”

“Hey Emily, it's Randy.”

“Hey Randy, how are you?”

“I'm swamped, actually. Listen, I'm really sorry but I don't think I can make it to dinner tonight. One of our doctors called in sick and I had to cover her patients as well as mine and I have paperwork stacked up as a result. I'm really sorry.” he said, sounded truly apologetic.

“Hey don't worry about it! It's not like you could help it, anyway, Why don't I bring something over to your office later?”

“You don't have to do that. I'll just grab something whenever I go home.”

“Well you should eat something. It'll help keep your strength up for all your charting you have to do.”

“Alright, if you're sure it's no trouble.” he said.

“It's really no trouble. How do I get there?”

Randy gave her directions to the clinic and told her how to find the back door that was right next to his office that he'd leave unlocked for her.

“Oh and Emily?” he said just before she hung up.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for the message earlier.” he said.

“You're welcome.” she smiled.

Emily went home to freshen up and change into some jeans and a pink strappy tank top. The hot July sun was still blazing in the evening and the thermometer in her car said it was 98 degrees. Randy had said he'd eat pretty much anything but since it was so hot out just the thought of greasy take-out food was nauseating so she settled on subs and salad.

She discovered his office was very close to his house when she passed the turn towards his neighborhood. She drove about five more minutes and found the brick office building he had described and drove around to the back and parked next to his car. She walked inside and found his office right where he said it would be. He hadn't heard her come in and she found him sitting at his desk behind a mountain of charts. His collar was undone and his sleeves had been rolled up. He had his fingertips on his head as he wrote some notes with his other hand. Emily knocked softly.

“Come on in!” he said, looking up and smiling at her. “You look great!” he said, admiring her figure.

“Thanks.” Emily said. “You know, you're not looking half bad yourself there!”

“You think? I thought you preferred me shirtless?” he teased.

Emily flushed. “Well, the sexy dress clothes work pretty well too.”

Randy started clearing off his desk to make room for dinner.

“I hope you like subs.” she said. “It's so hot out I didn't feel like eating anything greasy.”

“That sounds great. Thanks for doing this. I'm actually starving. I hardly had a chance to eat anything for lunch.”

“It was no trouble. I would have just gone home and eaten by myself anyway so at least this way I get some company.”

“You know, you were the talk of the office today.” he said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. Margie, she was the one who answers the phone, told everyone that I had a female 'personal friend' call to leave me a message. They're all dying to know if I've got a new girlfriend.”

Emily laughed. “What did you tell them?”

“I didn't tell them anything. It's much more fun to torture them. Plus, they gossip way too much. Every time they know I've been on a date it's all they talk about for days.”

“What, the other doctors don't give them anything to talk about?”

“They're all married women with children, most of whom are grown. Not much excitement there.”

They ate their dinner and talked, mostly about Emily's adventures in dealing with crazy customers at the mall.

“So he really asked you if the massage oil was safe for internal use?”

“Yes! I didn't know what to say, I was so shocked.”

“What did you tell him.?”

“I said that our products have only been tested for external use and that I could not recommend it for that purpose.”

Randy laughed. “Did he buy it?”

“Yes!”

Emily collected the trash from their dinner and threw it in the garbage.

Randy stood up and stretched his arms before leaning back against the front of his desk.

“What is it with cute doctors always doing that sexy doctor lean thing?”

“Huh?”

“You know, where you stand there looking all sexy as you cross your arms and lean against a desk or a counter....” Emily explained.

“Oh, well they teach us that in med school when we take our 'How To Be A Sexy Doctor' course. I did excellent in it, by the way.” he said, placing his hands on Emily's waist.

“I bet you did.” she said, wrapping her arms around him. “You were probably the best student in your class, right?”

“Mmm-hmm.” he said, looking down into her eyes.

Emily's heart began to flutter as she felt his thumbs gently rub her waist. This time it was she who initiated the kiss. She stood up on her tip-toes and wrapped her arms around his neck as she kissed him. His response was immediate and intense. He pulled her up against him and quickly deepened the kiss.

Emily felt like her knees might not support her anymore as she leaned against him. He slipped his hands under her tank top and as soon as she felt his strong hands on her skin she lost all control. He picked her up and sat her down on the side of his desk. While she was kissing him she undid his shirt and pushed it off of him. She slid her hands underneath his white t-shirt and found that his skin was hot and sweaty with desire. He broke their kiss long enough to pull Emily's tank top over her head and his knuckles slightly grazed over her breast. With lightening speed they were out of their pants and he leaned her back down on the desk.

It was hot, it was dirty, it was incredible. It took Emily several minutes to come down from her high as she sat up and put her clothes back on.

“I have been wanting to do that ever since I saw you at the bar.” he said, kissing her neck. “Of course, this isn't how I envisioned it going.” he admitted.

Emily chuckled. “Me neither but I'm sure as hell glad it happened.” she said, trying to comb her hair with her fingers. “I really should let you get back to work now.” she said as she glanced at his huge stack of paperwork on the floor.

“You think I'm going to ever be able to sit at this desk and think about work?” he grinned.

“Guess you'll just have to sit on the floor from now on.” she smiled.

“I'll walk you to your car.” he said

“Hey, do you have plans tomorrow night?” she asked before she climbed in her car.

“No, tomorrow should be less busy for me too. Did you want to do something?”

“I thought maybe I'd take you out for a change.” she said.

“Ok. That'd be nice.”

“I'll call tomorrow with the details.” she said.

“I'm sure Margie will be looking forward to hearing from you.”

Emily laughed. “I'll bet she will! Shall I tell her that you'd like to have your desk cleaned?” she winked.

“She'd never believe you even if you did tell her.” he laughed.


That night Emily lie in bed thinking about what happened. She'd never been so casual about sex before in her life. It was kind of implied that they weren't seeing other people but she didn't actually know that to be a fact. She was very thankful that she'd decided to remain on the pill even after she and AJ split up. The sex with Randy had been amazing. Certainly better than her first time with AJ. But Randy and AJ weren't really comparable in that area. Both were great but they were so different. Yet she enjoyed both of them. While it had been pretty kinky of them to have sex right there on his desk, he had still been very gentle. She suspected he never got too kinky in the rougher sense. But then again, sometimes she really enjoyed the rougher times with AJ. She closed her eyes and decided to try and re-live the moment as she fell asleep but as she thought about it, something was nagging at her. She couldn't put her finger on it though. She really liked Randy and she was so happy with him. He was nice, settled, thoughtful, but there was still something nagging at her. Something still didn't feel quite right.

“He's not AJ!” she said in the morning, sitting upright. “That's what it is!”

That nagging feeling she'd had the night before was now very clear to her. Randy wasn't AJ. Plain and simple. But what did that mean, exactly? Emily sat down at her desk to think about it. The way she saw it, it meant one of two things. Either she was just adjusting to the fact that AJ was gone and Randy was different, or it meant that she still loved AJ deep down inside. And she knew that as long as she loved AJ, things with Randy could never go anywhere so she needed to figure this out pronto.

She had picked up her laptop from the repair shop the night before, after she saw Randy. She turned it on and opened up her picture files. She went through all the pictures she had of AJ and remembered all the times they had together. They shared a lot of good memories. Maybe that's what was bugging her. She had a history with AJ and with Randy she was starting something not only new but completely different. She was different now.

She sighed and decided to check her e-mail. She's promised that she'd write to Baylee as soon as she could. She deleted her plethora of junk mail and was shocked to see that she had not one but two e-mails from AJ. There was one he had written over the weekend just to say hi and see how she was doing but it was the second one he had sent early Monday morning.

Emily,

This might seem awkward but I felt it was something I needed to say

to you. Maybe it's a part of the whole closure thing, I don't know.

Anyway, I heard that you were seeing someone new (three guesses as to

who told me that....) and I wanted you to know that I'm happy for you. I'm

happy that you're moving on with your life and have found someone to

make you happy. That's all I've ever really wanted for you. I think we made the right decision to end things. Sometimes you just gotta know when to walk away, right? Too bad Brian and Leighanne don't know that.I know it might seem weird now but someday in the future I really hope we can be friends. No pressure, just whenever you're ready I'll be here as a

friend to you.

AJ



Emily really didn't know what to make of all that. He was glad she was moving on? It was the right decision to walk away? Well, at least she now had her answer about things with AJ. They were most definitely over. If she had thought she still had feelings for AJ, she quickly let them go as his e-mail only confirmed what she already knew. He was glad things had ended and didn't at all seem interested in getting her back.

She took a deep breath and shut down her computer. She wasn't ready to write him back. He'd hurt her a lot when he walked out on her. Now it was time to do just what he'd said he wanted for her. Be happy. So instead of dwelling on it, she called Randy's cell phone just to wish him good morning.

“Good morning!” he greeted when he answered.

“You sound awfully chipper for six in the morning!” she said.

“Hmm, I wonder why that might be?”

“You're not siting at your desk again, are you?” she taunted.

Randy laughed. “No, I was just about to leave my house. I'm sitting on my couch though, does that count?”

“Sure!” Emily said. “As long as you're shirtless.”

“No, sorry. I'm all dressed today.”

“You know, you could have at least let me think you were!”

“Oh. You're absolutely right! Yes, I'm shirtless and I'm doing my sexy doctor lean thing against the counter.”

Emily laughed. “That's much better!”

“So how are you?” he asked, almost sounding hesitant.

“I'm fine, why, are you ok?” she asked.

“I'm great, I was just worried that you um, you know might feel a bit awkward after last night?” he cringed.

“Awkward? No. I mean, it probably wasn't the smartest thing I've done all week but I certainly don't regret it if that's what you're asking. Why, do you?” she asked, suddenly worried that he thought sleeping with her had been a mistake.

“No, not at all.” he said quickly. “I just...you know...I didn't want you think it was something casual that I do on a regular basis.”

“No, I mean I don't either...I mean you're the only one right now....” she trailed off.

“You know I'm not seeing other women, right?”

“I do now.” she said, suddenly feeling very relieved. “Oh and me neither by the way.” she added.

“So, I mean, do we need to talk about this more later or are you good?” he asked.

“No, I'm good. How about you?”

“I'm still great!” he said, sounding relieved.

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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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