Blythe giggled. "Well, I'm sorry as hell I have this problem, but I'm glad it's interesting for someone."
Paul chuckled. "I fully expect this to be written up in a medical journal one day."
"Just as long as they don't use my name."
Grinning, he went out. Elam tapped on the door a few minutes later.
"Not yet. The nurse I needed to talk to is on surgical leave—ironic, since she's head nurse on the floor. They took a message and someone will contact her, but it could be a few days."
"Thanks for trying," Blythe said, sighing.
Elam took her hand, resting it on her shoulder. "We'll figure this out," he promised. "Somehow." He shifted positions, coming around to face her, rather than talking from behind. "I really want to help you, Blythe. I wish I could do more."
"You've done so much already. You barely know me, but you've been so kind—" Tears dropped on their joined hands.
Don cleared his throat. "I'm gonna go get a coffee. Can I get you kids anything?"
"No, sir. Thank you," Elam replied.
"Something cold," Blythe replied.
"One something cold coming up," her father replied as he walked out the door.
Elam watched him close the door. "Your dad is pretty cool," he told Blythe. "He sure loves you a lot."
"He hasn't been giving you the Dad Treatment, has he?"
Elam chuckled. "Little bit. To be fair, he doesn't know me, and neither do you. I have only my dimples and sunny smile to recommend me."
"I dunno. You've got a few other things to recommend you."
Elam smirked, raising an eyebrow. "Do I wanna ask?"
Blythe rolled her eyes. "You have to know you're gorgeous."
"I do? Lucky me."
"And you're very sweet." She held up her hand as he protested. "I know, men don't want to be called sweet. Jason's told me that often enough, but it's true. And sweet is good. You're smart and funny—and going out of your way to help an almost total stranger with the weirdest problem ever."
"Actually, it's pretty cool."
"That's what Paul said. Am I a science experiment?" her tone turned petulant.
"Blythe, I thought you were great when you came in after your accident. Weirdness aside, I still think that. I want to get to know you better. I'd like to see where this goes. Wouldn't you?"
"My weirdness?" She frowned, pouting.
Elam took both her hands in his. His broad palmed, long fingered hands dwarfed hers. "I meant, something—between us. I'd like to find out where it goes. I like you, you're funny and smart and pretty—and have an incredibly bizarre problem."
Blythe burst out laughing. "I guess bizarre is in this season."
"Yeah, and it's sexy as hell," he replied. Elam leaned closer, holding her hand.
Blythe felt herself drawn toward him. Smiling, she gazed into his deep blue eyes. It had been far too long since a man took interest. And, to date, the only man to kiss her, other than family, had been Alec. His smiling face drifted before her, but she pushed the vision gently aside, waiting.
"I really wanna kiss you," Elam breathed.
"I really want you to," she replied.
His lips touched hers tentatively. They were full, soft and warm against hers. The light stubble of his beard rasped lightly against her cheek as she parted her lips. His tongue flickered into her mouth, for a brief moment, making hers tingle. A shiver went down her spine—a delightful, happy one. She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt like this. Had she ever? She kept wanting to compare him to Alec, the only other man she'd kissed. But Elam defied comparison. That was alright. Different was a good thing.
There was fumbling at the doorknob. Elam jumped back like he'd been shocked. Blythe pressed her lips together, remembering how his felt. Her father walked in with a tray of drinks and some cookies in a little paper bag. Blythe figured they probably looked disheveled and guilty, but she didn't care. Her father was far less likely to condemn her for moving on, than Jason or her mother, would be. If he noticed anything amiss, he said nothing. Instead, he handed out drinks and cookies.
"I know you said you didn't want anything, but I felt guilty not bringing something." He handed Elam a packet of cookies and a bottle of chocolate milk. The cookies were oatmeal raisin. "I hope that's okay. I wasn't sure what you'd like."
"It's perfect, Mr. Donovan. Happens to be my favorite."
Just like Alec. That was his after school snack all through school. In fact, whenever Blythe sent him care packages, she put in a tin of chocolate powder and made dozens of oatmeal cookies. Her expression must have changed with her train of thought. Elam took her hand, worry in his eyes.
"Just remembering." Someone I used to love.
"Here you go, sweetie." Her father handed her another chocolate milk, only her cookies had white chocolate chips.
©2022 Dellani Oakes