(Click here to read Part 1 of the Driver)
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(Click here to read Part 3 of the Driver)
“I’d need you to stop working as an escort,” he said.
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. She opened her mouth to say something but she was overcome with laughter.
“I misled you,” she said. Arching a shaped eyebrow, she continued, “My mother was an escort. She wanted sexual freedom. You know breaking out of the whole good Catholic girl thing. I’m a doctor. A urologist.”
“I’m a little surprised my father didn’t tell you.”
“You’re in the company of men because you’re a urologist?”
Her eyes danced with merriment. She moved her fingers in front of her body.
“I spend my days with men’s genitals in my hands.”
“And you’d make more money if you didn’t spend Saturdays with your father?”
“It’s a big call night,” she said. “You’d be surprised how many weekend warriors injure themselves on Saturdays. Would you start a relationship with me if I was an escort?”
“Absolutely,” he said.
He fell silent, his mood shifting with her question. He opened his mouth, then shook his head.
“Are you offended? Because you deserved that.”
“You’re right. I do. And the name?”
“Sorry Grandma, but Lily is a whorish name. I figured it fit what you thought of me.”
“So you’re still….”
“Emily Lamberton, MD. Nice to meet you.”
In an effort to seal her humiliation of him, she held her hand out for him to shake.
“I think of you as Emmy.”
Her hand recoiled as if she had touched fire. The sound of his voice saying that name sent waves of warmth and terror through her. When she looked up at him, he was watching the mountains. Feeling her eyes, he turned to look at her.
“I’m not. You planned this all along.”
“Six months watching the back of your head. Yes, I wanted to make certain you got just what you deserved.”
His head went up and down in a curt nod.
“I remember going down,” Vince started. He let out a breath. “I remember going underwater, but that’s about it. I was mostly dead when they pulled me out. I don’t know why I survived. I just knew that I had to try to work things out with you. Escort? Doctor? Cannibal Chef? Lily? Emmy? Whatever. I had to try. I just wonder if there was ever a chance.”
Emmy squinted her eyes at him. She expected her plan to make her feel triumphant and superior. Hearing his simple and sincere words, she felt small and sad.
“I guess that sounds stupid.”
“What were your injuries?” she said.
She wanted to sound cynical and cold. When he flushed, she realized her words echoed with concern and caring. She cursed her lack of control.
“I don’t think anyone’s asked me that. Thanks.”
Standing he unbuttoned the top button of his pants then lifted his dress shirt.
“Oh my God,” she said. She didn’t bother to keep the horror from her voice.
“I was basically cut in two.” He pointed to the scars on his abdomen and back. “They fused my spine. That’s what gives me the most trouble now. I have a couple deep scars on my shoulder but basically I’m all right above and below the tear.”
“I don’t know what to say,” she said.
“Let me prove myself to you. Give me a chance to do what you asked.”
“You don’t even know me,” she said.
“I used to. I’d like to know you again,” he said.
Her silence ate at him. He watched fear, longing, and terrible hurt move across her face.
“Listen, I’ve pushed myself on you.” He tucked his shirt back into his pants. “If a relationship is impossible, I understand. I do. You need to make your own choice.”
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an ancient ring box. He slid the box across the table to her. She touched the box with her fingertips then looked up at him.
“Do you remember my Nana?” He smiled when she nodded. “She sent me her wedding ring just before she died. The note said: ‘There’s only one hand this ring belongs on.’ Like my heart, this ring is yours forever.”
Vince opened the sliding glass door. Forcing his legs to move, he walked across her apartment. Broken, he didn’t notice the concierge’s smug look when he staggered out of the elevator. As if by magic, he arrived at his car.
His mind screamed what his heart refused to believe.
He had lost her.
Loving her, and never knowing if it might work, was easier than knowing he had injured her beyond repair. He cursed himself for trying. Tapping the steering wheel, he wondered what to do now that his one reason for living was gone. He was almost to the highway when his cell phone rang.
“I am aware that today is your day off,” the butler said. “However, Madam Lamberton has requested your services. Will you make an exception?”
“She will meet you outside her building in a half hour. Is your vehicle clean?”
Driving to her building, his mind screamed that she only wanted to play games with him. But his pounding heart whispered a different story. Seeing her waiting for him at the door, he jumped from the car to open the back door of his BMW sedan. She pushed the back door closed and opened the front passenger door.
“Where to?” Vince asked turning the car on.
“I’d like you to escort me shopping.”
“Cherry Creek?” he said.
“Yes. Is this your car?”
“Yes,” he said. “For the record, I have a real job. I work two twenty-four hour shifts. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I drive for your father on my days off.”
“Great. You can afford to buy me a few pairs of shoes,” she said.
They fell into an easy rhythm. But she was always the easiest person in the world to be around. And Vince was a perfect gentleman. From shop to shop, he waited, ogled her choices, paid the bill and carried the packages. Like old friends, they chatted about nothing.
Emmy noticed other women making eyes at Vince. Wondering what he would do, she left him alone for a while. She watched him receive no less than four telephone numbers. After smiling, nodding, then making certain the women were gone, he tossed the numbers in the trash.
Leaning against the dressing room wall, she tried on the idea that he was sincere.
Nodding at herself in the mirror, she knew what she wanted.
They were about a block from her building when she said, “Ok.”
“Ok?” He asked pulling into the drive.
“You can prove yourself to me,” she said. “But the physical stuff? I was just….”
“When you’re ready.”
“Would you like help with your packages?” He asked.
She shook her head. Now that this wasn’t a game, she was terrified.
He carried the packages to the concierge then watched her hips sway to the elevator.
Their eyes caught for a brief moment before she stepped inside.
Listing her requirements in his head, he nodded.
He was not going to blow this chance.
Six weeks later
Lost in thought, Emmy turned into the park where Amelia’s team was playing soccer.
Emmy would see Vince tonight.
Twice a week, she waited outside her building. And twice a week, he swept her off her feet. Delectable dinners gave way to lingering trips to the art museum, quiet coffee shops or anywhere they could talk. One night, they rambled through Capital Hill Used Books. Emmy smiled. She hadn’t laughed as much in… well, twelve years.
At his suggestion, they picked topics for each date. His eyes never left her face when she explained medical school last Tuesday. She surprised herself by crying when he detailed the rigors of Navy S.E.A.L training. His lips brushed her tears away.
Tucked on his lap, with his arms around her, her life made perfect sense. They kissed, cuddled, laughed and cried. But her terror of being abandoned kept them from making love.
“When you’re ready.”
Emmy beamed. She was more than ready and still very frightened.
Checking her make-up in the rear view mirror, she nodded to herself. It was time for Amelia to meet her father. Carrying her lawn chair, she fell in step with another mother.
“Have you met the new coach?” The mother asked.
“No, I didn’t realize they had a new coach,” Emmy said.
“Amelia hasn’t said anything? My daughter won’t stop talking about him. He’s a great coach. Really good with the girls. And gorgeous,” the mother laughed. “Hell, I might divorce Jake just to take that man around the block.”
Emmy smiled. Her mind was too caught up in her own dilemma to worry about a new soccer coach. Setting her chair near the midline of the soccer field, she went to find her little girl. She found Amelia standing in a circle with her teammates. The team was focused on the coach, who was kneeling to talk to them.
Standing next to Amelia’s back, Emmy rehearsed what she would say. ‘Honey, when we’re done today I’d like you to meet someone’. No. I’ll tell her when I drop her off at Papa’s house. ‘You know that guy who drives for Grandpapa?’ No. ‘How would you feel about meeting your father?’ No.
“Ok Daddy,” Amelia said.
The final segment of the Driver will be available next Friday at Miss-Britt.com
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