Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance: The Bradford Brothers, page 11
I stand up, angrily pushing my chair against Dr. Davis’ desk. I have to go talk some sense into her.
“Look Harlow,” Dr. Davis says, clearing his throat. “I don’t know what’s going on with that girl but I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. You’ve been accusing me of holding you back but now her notes show that you’re not ready. So let’s just concentrate on going from here. You’re being re-assigned, and certainly another Physical Trainer will be able to give us some clarity. Some insight into this situation. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between what Ms. Reid— who is obviously goo- goo- ga- ga over you— thinks your abilities are, and what you think your abilities are. We’ll find out soon enough, and we can address this head- on.”
He’s right. Whitney must be telling me one thing— which I definitely think is the truth— and writing down another thing just to hold me back. She’s used to dating losers like Tony so maybe she was looking for a reason to keep me along longer. Maybe she doesn’t even want me to go back into the military because then I’ll have to go overseas.
Talking to her isn’t going to do any good. I really was sleeping with the enemy.
Now the events and outbursts the last time I saw Whitney were starting to add up. Dr. Davis must have found out how badly she reported that our sessions were going and started the process of switching me over to another physical therapist.
Whitney was probably shocked he’d taken action against her, and was sure I’d find out. That’s why she was so nervous, and had tried to call things off with me.
“All right,” I tell Dr. Davis, at a loss for anything better to say.
I guess he wins. Whitney wins. Everyone wins but me.
I storm out of his office, determined to never talk to Whitney again. I wish I never would have talked her into being with me in the first place.
I never should have fallen for her, no matter how cute her damn ass is.
Today is my dad’s birthday. And it’s also the day that Jesse Morrow, the airmen I met at the office, is having surgery. I feel that it’s fitting to swing by the hospital and honor Jesse’s request that I be there, before I honor my dad’s memory with my brothers.
I hope that things go well for Jesse, because otherwise it’s been a sad time for me. I can’t help but wish that Whitney was here by my side. Then I have to remind myself that she’s the enemy.
I tell the receptionist that I’m an employee of Dr. Davis’ and she lets me through to the surgery ward. Peering through the glass windows, I can see that Jesse is out of surgery, but just barely so. He looks groggy and is hooked up to machines.
I open the door and gently slip inside. Dr. Davis isn’t here.
“Hey there, buddy,” I say. “I brought you something.”
It’s just a get well soon card, with a gift certificate to Dion’s Pizza, for when he’s feeling up to it. But he just stares at me blankly, as if he doesn’t recognize me.
“I’m Harlow. We met recently?”
He mumbles something, but I don’t think he’s very coherent.
I turn around to an angry Dr. Davis, opening the door behind me.
“What are you doing here?”
“Jesse asked me to come,” I explain, incredulous at his outburst. “Remember? You were there?”
“But I never said that you could.” He looks angrier than I’ve ever seen him. “In fact, it’s a terrible idea.”
Dr. Davis shakes his head back and forth, as if at a loss for words.
Finally he says, “Well isn’t it obvious? This is a surgery site. You’re not even wearing a mask. You could contaminate it.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, feeling stupid. “But I just wanted to comfort him, because he was so scared.”
“He has no idea you’re even here,” Dr. Davis snaps. “He’s on morphine.”
His tone tells me that he thinks I’m an idiot. I peer again at Jesse’s bedside and notice all the IVs and tubes everywhere.
Of course it was useless to come. If anything I should have come prior to his surgery, to reassure him one last time.
“Well, is he going to be okay?” I ask.
“He’s fine, Harlow. Please, get out of here.”
“Will he be able to re- join his unit?”
“Harlow.” Dr. Davis lets out an exasperated sigh. “You know there’s no way to know that yet. It is far too early.”
“Okay. Well. Can you please let him know that I stopped by, and that I’ll be in touch?”
Dr. Davis nods impatiently as I realize I don’t have Jesse’s contact information. Something tells me this isn’t the right time to ask for it.
“Thanks. And I’ll just leave this card here for him.”
I place it on his bedside table, beside other cards, flowers and balloons that are on display. I’m glad to know Jesse has other people cheering him on through his surgery.
“Fine. I’ll see you later, Harlow,” Dr. Davis says, as he begins checking on Jesse’s medication.
“See you later.”
I walk back to the parking garage, trying to convince myself that I did everything I could to be here for Jesse. And also that there wasn’t something sinister about the way that Dr. Davis rushed me out of the room.
I’m embarrassed that I turned into a puddle of quivering mud when Dr. Davis was in my office, but I’m back to being determined not to let him get away with this. I don’t know what he’s trying to pull, but I’m not going to let it happen.
I just have to find a way to stop him that won’t jeopardize my job.
I’ve been trying to call Harlow, but his voicemail just picks up without his phone ever even ringing. He obviously has it turned off.
I panic, but then remind myself to stay rational. I haven’t called him before, and for all I know he leaves his phone turned off at work during the day the way I usually do, and then checks it later. I leave him a voicemail but decide that even though it’s urgent, that’s about the best I can do right now.
So in the meantime, I go visit Lance.
“Hey there, Hot Shot,” he says, as I enter his office.
“Dr. Davis stopped by. He cleared up the little misunderstanding.”
What now? I have stopped even trying to understand what’s going on.
“Oh, you know, he just told us that you were concerned about working with Harlow and wanted to ensure he was getting the very best training possible.”
“I…” I start to say, but Lance doesn’t let me get a word in edgewide.
“I think it’s very professional of you, especially since I know what a raging girl- boner you have for him,” Lance continues. “Since you can’t trust your judgment, it’s best to pass him on. And I’m the one who has been assigned to work with him from now on. So thank you!”
“Lance. You don’t understand. Listen to me…”
My mind is racing, trying to figure out a way to make him believe me. I can’t just dump out all my information, as Lance might automatically head for Dr. Davis’ side of things.
Nor can I tell Lance all about my suspicions here, as it’s clearly Dr. Davis’ territory and I don’t even know what he’s up to. He seems to know an awful lot about Harlow, and me, and Harlow and me together. For all I know, he’s got spies, or some sophisticated surveillance system or something.
“I want to take you to lunch,” I tell him, knowing how much he loves lunch.
Sushi, to be exact. “To Sushi Heaven. To celebrate your newest patient. Congratulations.”
“Today?” he says, his hand over his mouth. “I need to check my schedule…”
“Clear your schedule,” I order.
“All right,” he says, not putting up much of a fight. “I can always make time for sushi.”
A couple hours later, Lance and I ar
“Lance, I need to talk to you about something really important.”
“And here I was thinking you were serious about simply celebrating with me,” Lance says, with a pout. But before I can feel too bad, he exchanges it for a smile. “Just kidding. I knew you wouldn’t be having sushi with me without an ulterior motive.”
“I like sushi but as you know, this definitely isn’t my favorite place,” I say, looking around at the smudged walls and a pile of used take- out containers stashed on the counter instead of in the trash for some reason. I’ve voiced my concerns about it to Lance before but for reasons that will probably forever remain a mystery to me, he continues to like to eat here.
“Well, thank you for at least giving me the rare pleasure of your company in this esteemed restaurant you consider a dump.”
“Lance, I didn’t voluntarily pass Harlow onto you,” I confess. “And Dr. Davis is saying that I think he isn’t making progress.”
Lance crinkles his nose but doesn’t say anything.
“You know that isn’t true, Lance. You came to one of our sessions.”
Thank goodness, I think, even though at the time I was less than happy about him showing up.
He slowly nods. “To be fair, though,” he says, with a shrug, “I only observed for a short amount of time, from a distance, and I only didn’t calculate his speed or anything like that. That was all you, girlfriend.”
“Lance. Listen to yourself. Do you really think I’d make that up? Lie about his progress? Why?”
He frowns but doesn’t say anything.
“You know I’m not that kind of person. And even if I was, why would I do it? What would my end game be?”
“To get in a few more one- on- one sessions with your secret crush?” Lance jokes.
“Very funny. And they’re obviously not so secret.”
“Okay,” Lance says, with a sigh. “I’m afraid to even go there with you. I don’t know what you’re getting at. Sure, I don’t think you’d lie or make stuff up. But I don’t think Dr. Davis would either. And that’s pretty much what you’re saying.”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
Lance looks at me in shock. But I figure this is one of those times when “go big or go home” applies. I can’t figure out any way to have this conversation with Lance except to accuse Dr. Davis of exactly what I think he’s doing.
“Look at this,” I say, producing a copy of my notes. “These were my notes after both sessions with Harlow. I made a copy.”
“To put in your ‘I love Harlow’ Album?” Lance asks. “That’s some level four stalker shit right there.”
“Very funny. I printed them out before I came to talk to you about Harlow’s progress, remember? And I also wanted to go over then with Dr. Davis. I couldn’t believe how good the results were, and I thought he should see them.”
“He has access to Harlow’s file,” Lance points out.
“Well I know that now,” I tell him. “But anyway. It’s a good thing I did print them out. Because now look at these.”
I show him the notes that Dr. Davis gave me earlier.
“These are notes that were doctored by Dr. Davis. Pun intended.”
Lance’s eyes widen as he sees the difference.
“See? I told you.”
“So he just… changed them? And he thinks he can get away with that? What exactly did he say?”
“He threatened me. Said to go along with it or he’ll have my job taken away.”
Lance’s eyes bug out even wider.
“He doesn’t know I have these original notes. But I’m not sure how it proves anything. He will just turn around and say I made these after the fact, out of spite against him once I was no longer allowed to work with Harlow or something. I mean, he is 100% certain that everyone here is so far up his ass that he can just do what he wants, and threaten who he wants, without consequence.”
“Hmmm,” says Lance, nodding his head. “I guess he’s right about that. Everyone swoons over him. I thought you were off base about your issues with him…”
“I thought that too. I was finally over it. I thought he had been lying about how far along Harlow had come. But then I realized he wasn’t lying. So I was fine with him, and feeling stupid. But now I find out he’s lying in the opposite direction. He wants us to think that Harlow hasn’t progressed as far as he has? That’s the part I can’t figure out. Why would he do that?”
Lance taps his fingers on the table, perplexed as well.
“Makes no sense to me either.”
Our waiter brings our sushi, and Lance seems to forget about his short- lived concern.
“A bigger question,” he says, “is what are you going to do about it? Or not do about it?”
“I… don’t know. I thought I would start by talking to you, and take it from there.”
“Bad idea,” he says, taking a bite and then saying “mmmm.” “Taking it anywhere, that is. Besides me.”
“Well, I can’t just let him get away with it!”
I’m so mad I don’t even feel like eating. Especially when I look back over at the pile of garbage. Where are Lance’s principles?
“Get away with what?” Lance shrugs. “You don’t really know what he’s doing, or why. You just know he doesn’t want you to stand in his way.”
“So what about you?” I ask him, accusingly.
“What about me?”
“You’re just going to be his little puppet? You’re going to change Harlow’s results or let Dr. Davis change them as he wishes, for whatever reason or whatever he’s trying to accomplish?”
The more I say, the angrier I get.
“Because you know that once he found out I’m not going to go along with what he wants, he got me out of the way, but how many other people can he do that to?” I continue. “He’s going to count on you to do things his way from the start, or he’ll surpass you for someone else. He might even threaten you too. And that’s part of why I felt compelled to tell you about all of this.”
“Well, thank you,” Lance says, “although I don’t feel too grateful. I just feel confused. I think we should just wait and see what happens. Let me assess Harlow and see what I think. Maybe there are areas that do need a more experienced eye. I haven’t exactly been watching you that closely.”
“Hey!” I protest.
“It’s a compliment. I know you know what you’re doing. But I don’t really know Harlow’s situation. So let me figure that out. And see what Dr. Davis does. Maybe you’re jumping to conclusions.”
I sit back in my chair and try to calm down. I glare at my sushi as if it’s my problem, while Lance scarfs his down like he hasn’t eaten in days. I suppose I’m so confused right now that there could be an answer I’m not seeing, but I doubt it. I know a threat when I hear one, and a threat is definitely what Dr. Davis delivered to me just hours ago.
“Just promise me you’ll remember what I said,” I tell Lance, in a last plea of desperation. “Don’t discount it, and don’t be blinded by Dr. Davis’ power.”
“All right,” Lance says, reluctantly. “I know you wouldn’t just pull this out of thin air. I’ll be on the look- out too. I just don’t want you to do anything you’ll regret. If you’re going to go after Dr. Davis, you’ll need a lot more clear- cut evidence than you just showed me right now.”
He’s right. At this point my print- outs mean nothing and it’s just Dr. Davis’ word against mine. I sigh.
“Thanks Lance. I really do appreciate you listening, and keeping an open mind.”
“So are you going to just let that perfectly good sushi sit there?” he asks. “Because if not, I have a plan for it…”
I shake my head and take a bite of it.
“This isn’t half bad,” I say, as I take another bite, not even realizing how hungry I must have been. Or else it just tastes really good.
“Now you see why I ignore the trash.”
Whitney’s been calling me, but I’ve been ignoring her.
I talk to my brother Ramsey instead, in his car on the way to our dad’s gravesite.
“Long time no talk,” he says. “How’ve things been?”
I want to say: Fantastic, and then awful.
But instead I just say, “Well you and Jensen were right. Especially Jensen. I’m telling you now so that you guys don’t get to lord it over me yourself.”
“That trip to paradise with the elusive physical therapy lady sure was short and sweet,” Ramsey laughs. “Did it end before you even got her in bed?”
He laughs again.
“Well, at least you got something for your trouble.”
“I don’t know how I could have been so wrong about her. The chemistry was perfect, the sex was out of this world, her body was banging…”
“It just seemed so right because you were focused on all the wrong things,” Ramsey says. “So did she get in trouble at work? For fraternizing with the feeble, wobbly patient who needs her help and her professional focus?”
“Not exactly. I don’t think they know about us at work, although they suspect.”
A memory pops into my mind, of the creepy way that Dr. Davis came to the dive bar after his award ceremony, when I was celebrating with my buddies.
Why does he always keep such close tabs on me? How much does he even know about me that I don’t know?
“So what happened?”
I pause as my phone vibrates in my pocket, letting me know I have an incoming call. I take it out to see who’s calling, although I already know.
Whitney again, of course.
I ignore her, again.
“You’ll never believe it, but she was purposefully holding me back. Blowing smoke up my ass, telling me I was doing great, but then turning around and telling Dr. Davis and everyone else how much work I still need to do.”