I'll Be Seeing You, page 1
I’ll Be Seeing You
By A.P. Hallmark
Copyright © A.P. Hallmark 2016
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Cover Artist: Jada D’Lee
Editor: Lisa Calell - The Watson Literary Agency
This book was published thanks to free support and training from:
There are two women who have been with me during this process. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Krisztina Farkas, I truly don’t know what I would do without you. Words can’t express my gratitude to you for always being there. When my brain quits; you never do
Cintia Figueiredo, you’ve been with me for years now and I can’t tell you how valuable you are to me. I look forward to many more-thank you for your perseverance.
I hate running late.
After a hurried shower, I shave and fumble with my tie as I dash downstairs. Rushing out the door, I make it on time to an early morning appointment.
Today’s consultation concerns a seven-year-old boy struck blind at the age of three after a violent fall from the tree house his father built for him. The accident occurred when the little boy stood on the guardrail that broke free under his weight. After his fall through the branches of the tree, he hit the ground head first and has been blind ever since. The father harbors deep blame and guilt, but sadly, that won’t change what's happened.
Following months of recuperating and therapy, the boy is now in the care of The Davis Institute. After hours of review over little Jimmy's medical records, I fear there’s nothing we can do for him. Telling this to his parents is the part of my job I hate the most.
My meeting with Jimmy's parents, James and Susan Peterson, is not as bad as expected. Susan’s in a better mindset than James regarding their son’s prognosis, and I refer them to our learning center. Jimmy is already adapted to his blindness, and will do quite well under the care of the center.
After checking my watch, it’s two hours before my next appointment. Returning to my office, I hang up my lab coat, and trade it for my suit jacket.
"Krista, I'm going out. You know the drill," I shout over my shoulder, slipping my arm into the sleeve of my coat.
"I know the drill, Doctor, but do you? Do you have your phone on you?" she yells at me down the hall.
"Shit!" I mutter under my breath. Running back down the hall to my office, I pull my cell out of my lab coat and run back toward the elevator, waving my thanks at Krista.
Once outside, I take a deep breath of fresh air, feeling the sun on my face. That’s a rarity in this part of the country and it feels good. This time of year, the time between summer and fall, is one of my favorites. Nearly every morning, as an escape, I walk the few short blocks to the small café on the corner. The architecture of the red brick building with painted green trim has a brownstone feel about it that makes you feel at home.
Looking into the large window of the café, she’s sitting in her usual spot; two tables to the left of the front door. It's a small table for two, and as usual, her guide dog is lying at her feet. Standing on the opposite side of the street, I look straight into the window and watch her.
The first time I walked into the café and saw her sitting there, she was reading in Braille. Her delicate fingers quickly skimmed over the pages; she’s a fast reader. At times, she would come to a humorous part of the story and grin. Once, she laughed. It was a charming giggle and now having heard it, I want to hear it again.
So, what started out as a daily need for a double espresso macchiato was soon replaced by my desire to see her. Sitting across the room, pretending to read a newspaper, or file notes when I have them, I watch her. She recognizes her guide dog periodically, or stops to feel the rays of sun shining on her face that beam through the window. My favorite is when she listens in on someone's conversation.
What really surprised me was my reaction when a longhaired college student-type approached her one morning. Protectively, I tensed up, but her dog immediately became alert and growled at the intruder. It made me chuckle when it scared the guy so bad that he left in a hurry. I got a kick out of the smirk she had on her face as she rewarded her dog with some love.
Today, however, she’s facing the window and looking up toward the sun, smiling. Running my hands through my hair, I force my eyes away from her.
Today's the day, I repeat to myself. Today I’m going to speak to her.
Opening the door, I glance over at her and her head slowly turns in my direction. She also takes a slow, deep inhaling breath.
"Hello, Dr. Davis, the usual?" Myra asks, causing me to jump at the sudden sound of her voice.
"Good morning, Myra. Yes, please, the usual," I reply looking behind me, afraid she’ll leave before I get the nerve to say something to her.
This is it, Davis, time to man up.
After paying for my coffee, I walk toward her, taking note of her dog first as I don't particularly want him biting me today. Surprisingly, he does nothing but sniff my shoes.
"Excuse me, Miss?" I finally say to her. With the exception of the slight tilt of her head, she doesn’t move.
"May I approach your dog? He’s very handsome and very well trained. If I may be permitted, I have a treat for him." I dig in my pocket for the treat I’ve carried for the last several weeks while trying to get up the nerve to speak to her.
"I don't give him treats," she replies. Her voice takes me by surprise. It's very feminine.
"Oh. Well, then. I'm sorry to intrude." Feeling dismissed, I continue to linger at her table, trying to think of something, anything, to say to her. When nothing comes to mind, I turn to leave.
"But I can make an exception since you asked so kindly." My head snaps back around to look at her, and she’s smiling and, good Lord, her face changes completely. If she couldn't get any more beautiful, she does when she smiles.
"That’s good, because you should have seen the look on his face when you said no. He rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at you." There’s her laugh.
"Conrad, are you talking to strangers again? We've talked about this. No Sophie for you tonight." She bends down to pet her beautiful German shepherd.
"Sophie?" I ask, setting my coffee on her table.
"Sophie is Conrad's girlfriend. When he's bad, his punishment is that he doesn't get any girl time," she explains with a grin.
"No girl time? Well, Conrad, that's serious stuff right there. I'm sorry I messed up your love life, pal," I say, stooping down to give him the treat and chuckling when he devours it, barely even chewing.
"You take care of your Mistress, you hear?" I say before standing back up and looking at her. She faces my direction, still smiling.
"I'm sure he'd say 'thank you'. I rarely treat him when he’s working." She bends down to give him two firm pats on his side and he rewards her with a lick on her arm.
"Well, thanks for allowing me to meet him. Enjoy your morning, I hope I haven’t disturbed you." Feeling at a loss for words, again I turn to leave.
"What? You meet my dog but not me?" she asks, looking genuinely surprised.
"Of course, how rude of me, I'm Matthew. Dr. Matthew Davis," I say, introducing myself. A look of recognitio
"Ah, Dr. Davis. I have heard of you. Joy Johnson," she says as I take her extended hand and grudgingly refrain from running my thumb over the softness.
"Is that a good thing?"
"Well, you do good things, so meeting you is quite an honor. Please, would you care to join me for a bit? Do you have time?"
Her eyes are captivating. Out of all the years of looking into people's eyes, I have never seen the color of hers before. It's indescribable. They are golden brown with a hint of gold flake in the irises, and sometimes when the sun hits them just right, it reflects off the specks, and they shine like tiny gold nuggets. They are so bright and vivid, yet so … blind.
"Yes, I have time. Thank you," I reply. "You come here a lot — do you live close by?" I ask, trying to make small talk but inwardly scold myself for getting too personal.
"Yes, not far," she replies, sitting back in her chair. "You have an addiction then?"
"I'm afraid so. What started out as the need to take a break from the clinic has recently become an addiction," I explain, taking advantage of her blindness by openly staring at her.
"You're staring at me, doctor," she deadpans.
Wait ... what? How the hell did she know that?
"Yes," I reply sheepishly.
"You aren't assessing me, are you?"
"No!" I say shocked. "I can't help but stare into your eyes. They’re such an unusual and beautiful color. I'm sorry; I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable."
"I get it a lot," she replies, turning her head away from me.
"Well, in all fairness, one can't help but be drawn to them," I say, taking a sip of my coffee. "Have you been blind all your life?"
"No, only since I was twelve. I was in a car accident that killed both my parents," she explains sadly. "My grandmother said that the color of my eyes changed from chocolate brown once I went blind. She said the gold came several years after my blindness. She said that they became more beautiful, but of course I think she may be biased." She smiles at the memory.
"I'm sorry, Joy. You paid the ultimate price in losing both your parents and your sight."
“I miss them every day,” she says, reaching for her coffee.
Thinking it would be wise to change the subject, I ask how long she’s had Conrad.
"Five years. Kelly, my first dog, passed away, and then after Conrad graduated, he became my guide. He's the best. He's not only my eyes, but he's a fierce protector as well. Aren't you, baby?" she says lovingly, reaching down to run her fingers through his coat.
"He likes you," she says, breaking the spell again as I stare at her.
"Really? What makes you say that?"
"He's relaxed. If he thought you were a threat, he wouldn't be laying there, that's for sure."
Joy lifts her cup to her lips, taking several small sips, before we sit through a comfortable silence that allows me to observe her more closely. Her hair is shoulder length and dark blonde. It looks downy soft — and I want to touch it.
"So you make people see again?" she asks abruptly, throwing me off with the change of subject.
"Yes, if possible," I answer honestly. "It is one of my biggest pleasures in life — hearing my patient tell me how handsome I am when I take the bandages off." She sweetly giggles and my body reacts.
"I have heard that you are quite handsome, Doctor. The ladies gossip about you when you come in here." She teases, making me blush. I never blush.
"Yes, I have heard this," I say, rolling my eyes. "My twin sister reminds me … repeatedly."
"You’re a twin? How fortunate for you. I’m an only child." I think about her losing her parents, and with no siblings, she must have been very lonely.
"Surely your husband keeps you company," I prompt, making a sad attempt to gather information about her. I’m suddenly ashamed for making her feel so uncomfortable and smack my forehead with the absurdity of the question.
"I have no husband, no boyfriend and no children. Is there anything else you want to know about me, Doctor?" she answers, a knowing grin on her face.
"Hey, you could be married with children. It's a perfectly honest … and nosey question." Feeling utterly foolish and sounding like I'm in high school rather than a successful surgeon. What is it about her that turns a socially secure man into mush just at the sight of her?
"What about you? Is there a husband, boyfriend or children?" She smiles and lifts her teacup to her perfectly shaped lips. I watch her pink tongue touch the rim of her cup as it meets her lips and smirk.
"No,” I say through a laugh. I can’t help but smile when she bursts into a fit of giggles. Running my finger over the rim of my coffee cup, I sit back and enjoy hearing the musical sound of it. She also blushes easily, and it looks beautiful on her.
"So, Miss Johnson. What is it you do for a living?" I watch her face change from relaxed and happy to more serious now.
"I work at Radiant Audio," she answers, sitting up in her chair. “I narrate books to audio feed," she explains.
Suddenly recognizing her voice, and realizing I actually have a few novels that she may have narrated.
"I do a lot of my work from home. That's where my equipment is. Other than myself, Radiant doesn't have blind employees, and don’t have the equipment to translate text to Braille, and I do, so I narrate from there."
"Fascinating," I whisper.
I find myself staring at her again, fantasizing.
"You're staring again, Doctor." Bringing me out of my reverie, I grin wondering how she does that.
"How do you know that I am staring at you, Miss Johnson? I could be checking out the lady behind the cash register."
"Wrong, Dr. Davis," she challenges, leaning in across the table. "I know this because you are thirty-something, and Myra is in her sixties." We both grin at her assessment, and I find that I don’t want this moment to end.
"You got me there. I've let my guard down, Joy. I failed to realize how sharp and in tune the blind are to their senses. Senses that a sighted person takes for granted." I lean in and smile at her, with a quick touch and gentle squeeze of her hand that she moved toward me.
"Unfortunately, I need to go. Thank you for allowing me to visit with you. It was a pleasure meeting you and Conrad," I say getting up, keeping my eyes on hers. Her smile quickly disappears. Is she disappointed I’m leaving?
"You as well, Doctor. Will you be here tomorrow?" she asks, looking straight at the zipper of my trousers. If she could only see what her eyes are aimed at.
I feel a sensual twitch.
"Yes," I reply, as I discreetly slide my business card close to her hand.
"Will you stop by and say hello?"
I stand back and watch her chest rise and fall, her breathing becoming somewhat shallow. She’s nervous.
"Yes,” I say. “Yes, I’ll stop by to say hello." Taking her hand, noting how small it is in mine.
"Until tomorrow then," she says, taking my hand in hers, giving it a slight shake.
Slowly, albeit reluctantly, I pull my hand away from the warmth of hers and walk toward the door, my eyes remaining on her as I open it. Standing outside the café, fearful she will sense that I’m watching her, she finds my business card. Cradling it in the palm of her hand, she gently grazes her fingertips over it, and reads my contact information provided in Braille. My heart warms when she lifts it to her face, inhaling the scent of it. When she glances my way and smiles while still running her fingers over the card, I find myself smiling back at her. She can't see me, but she knows I'm here.
Leaving the café, thoughts of her remain on my mind. It must have been written all over my face because as I walk down the marbled corridor, my assistant’s eyes are on me from the moment I step off the elevator until the door of my office door closes behind me.
"Krista, can you come in here, please?" I call her through the phone's intercom.
"Yes, Doctor." There’s a fake professi
"Okay, you can stop now," I say grinning back at her. "I want to order some flowers. Some really smell good kind of flowers. What kind would you say have the best fragrance?" I ask her, folding my hands upon the desk.
"Well, roses smell good," she suggests.
"No, not roses, those are too predictable. I want something more, for someone … say … blind," I mumble quietly, hiding behind a paper I scavenged off my desk.
"What? What did you say? For someone what?" she asks, leaning forward directing her ear toward me. I raise my brow at her and decide to bite the bullet.
"For someone that's blind, okay? I want to send a woman, who is blind, some fragrant flowers. There. Satisfied?" Sitting back in my chair, I fold my arms across my chest and challenge her.
She stands up straight, pretending to be taking notes.
"Well, well, well. Is she a patient? Do I know her? Who is she?" Krista scribbles on her note pad.
"No, no, and I'm not telling. Are you going to help me or not?" I ask, continuing to glare at her.
"Honeysuckle," she says confidently as she walks out the door.
"Honeysuckle? My mom grew that under our bedroom windows. I remember that. It smelled so good in the summer," I mutter out loud.
"Krista?" I call over the intercom again.
"Earth Muffin Florist has them. They will have all your floral needs as they cater to the unusual." She’s a mind reader, I tell you.
"Thanks. Hey, Krista?"
"I just emailed you the number."
How does she do that?
"Thanks." Shaking my head in wonder, I open my email to get the number and make the call.
"Good morning. Earth Muffin Florists, how can I help you?" the friendly woman answers.
"I would like to order some Honeysuckle for delivery, please," I say, sitting back all smug, like I do this every day, nodding my head in accomplishment.