Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance: The Bradford Brothers, page 15
“But he knows he can’t continue this forever, or his gig will be up soon. He knows I’m on to him, although he thinks I’m easy enough to shake off his trail. He probably suspects that Lance has his reservations, although he knows that Lance values his job enough that he will keep his head down and do what he’s told. And he knows that sooner or later you’ll be on to him— sure, you could be a little more flexible and strong but, really, what is there to work on? You deserve to be back in the military.”
We stare at each other, as if silently asking each other what we should do now.
“I was thinking,” Whitney says, “that we can keep everything on the down low and wait until he recertifies you. Once you’re back with your unit, I can expose him. I don’t think he’d have the power to do anything against you at that time.”
I take a deep breath.
“It sounds so tempting,” I tell her. “But what kind of hypocrite would I be if I turned out to be the one who is afraid of risk, after lecturing my girlfriend about the very same thing?”
“Girlfriend. I like the sound of that.”
“Well, Boyfriend, don’t feel any pressure to make a decision just yet. At least we have the information, and we can decide what to do with it as the timing feels right.”
“No,” I tell her, decisively. “The timing does feel right. For everything. For you and me, and to shine the truth on Dr. Davis, who has been living in the shadows for too long, while forcing everyone else into his limelight. Let’s do this.”
“But what about your recertification?”
“Staying state- side wouldn’t be so bad,” I say, squeezing her hand. “Now that I have a reason to be here.”
I rush into Lance’s office, not bothering to worry about who sees or hears. Everything will come to light soon enough.
“Not you again,” he says, dead- panning. “I hope you brought sushi.”
“No, but I brought news.”
“Gossip? Out with it then.”
“Gossip about myself,” I laugh. “Harlow and I are together. Like, in a relationship.”
He looks at me skeptically.
“I know I’m expected to extend congratulations here, but I’m not sure this is the greatest idea…”
“I know. You think he’s a player and that it’s bad for my career. But you’ll just have to wait and see on the first argument, and I’m about to do something that will be even worse for the second argument.”
“Let me guess. It involves Dr. Davis?”
“Yes. Based on the documents I… acquired…”— I wink at him— “I know for sure he’s a bold- faced liar who changes the ‘facts’ to fit his preference. And also that he’s using people for his own advantage. But, listen, Lance, I really do appreciate your support thus far and I can promise you that I won’t do anything to drag you into the middle of this, or hurt your job here…”
“Whitney. No worries girl. It’s fine.”
“You can involve me however you want,” Lance says. “I mean, I’d prefer if you not reveal your sources of… information prior to this point… but I completely agree with you that Dr. Davis is a fraud. He thinks he can convince me to not see things I’ve seen with my own two eyes, just because he has power and sway here.”
I smile, proud of Lance, even though he’s my boss rather than the other way around.
“If you can take him down, great,” he continues. “Add me to a list of people who will back you up. I don’t know if it’s the best idea for you to let Mr. Bad Boy into your life but I do know he’s ready to be let back into the military, and as his physical therapist, it’s my job to advocate for him truthfully, and not be intimidated by his ridiculous referring doctor.”
“Thank you!” I say, rushing forward to hug him. “Thank you thank you thank you, Lance!”
“Geez, you’re welcome,” he says, playfully pushing me off of him. “Now get off of me before your crazy ex comes back and sees us and thinks he was right about us having an affair.”
“Oh my god, that was so lame,” I say. “I’m so glad I’m done with him.”
“Me too. I have to admit, McHunkerton is a big step up from McMoocherson, at least in the looks and motivation departments. Just don’t let him break your heart, or he’ll have to answer to me.”
“Yes sir,” I say, nodding in mock solemnness. “And thank you, Lance, for all you’ve done to help me here. I’ve learned so much. Thank you for your amazing letter of recommendation to medical school, too.”
“You weren’t supposed to read that,” he jokes. “You’ll get a big head. But you do deserve it.”
He’s right, I think, as I leave his office. I do deserve it, for once.
I can’t believe everything is finally falling into place. Now I just have to deal with Dr. Davis, which isn’t exactly something I’m looking forward to.
One Week Later
“I’m so nervous,” Whitney says, fanning herself with the folder full of evidence she’s brought to the meeting with the board.
“It’ll be fine,” I say, rubbing her back.
“So sorry I’m late,” says Riley, rushing through the door.
“Relax,” I tell her. “You’re not late. It hasn’t even started yet.”
I turn to introduce her to Whitney.
“This is Riley, my ever- so- punctual yet always- paranoid- about- being- late almost- sister- in- law.”
“Hi,” says Whitney, reaching out to shake her hand. “I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Well then give me a hug,” says Riley, enveloping her in a bear hug. “I’ve heard about you too.” She winks at me. “It’s not everyday that Jensen’s little brother gets a girlfriend.”
“Oooh, I love your ring,” says Whitney, reaching over to grab Riley’s hand and look at it more close up. “It’s so unique.”
“Thanks,” says Riley. “It was Jensen’s mom’s— and Harlow’s too of course. Their dad passed it down to whoever would become the first Bradford boy to get engaged.”
“He probably didn’t think any of us would ever get it,” I laugh.
No pressure or anything, I think.
Leave it to Jensen to get engaged right before my new girlfriend meets his new fiancé.
“Well congratulations,” Whitney says. “When’s the wedding?”
“We don’t know yet,” Riley says. “The whole engagement just happened so fast.”
“Well, there’s plenty of time to plan,” Whitney says diplomatically. “And I really appreciate you showing up to help us with this meeting.”
“Any time,” Riley says. “There’s nothing I like better than taking on the military on behalf of one of its members.”
She laughs, but it’s true. Most of her practice these days revolves around representing service members.
“I think the meeting should start any minute now—” Whitney says, looking at her watch. But then someone else breaks through the doors, without knocking.
“Dr. Davis,” I say, somewhat out of shock, but mostly to clue Riley in. “Nice to see you.”
“Don’t give me pleasant formalities when you’re trying to screw me over,” Dr. Davis says, his eyes practically bulging out of his head. “Just because you’re mad I didn’t pay you the money from the sale of my technology… yet.”
I just look at him, giving him more rope to hang himself with instead of cutting him off.
“Little did you know it’s because I was planning to give you sizeable stock options when the sale goes public,” he says. “It was supposed to be a surprise, but obviously you couldn’t wait to find out the good news. You just jumped to the worst conclusions about me and you’re trying to trash my good name as revenge for what you think is owed you. Although, really, Harlow, we can still work this out. I can still give you the stock options I’d always planned to g
“No thanks,” I say, with a shrug.
This isn’t about money to me. This is about justice.
“And if you think this has anything to do with your recertification,” he says, now inches from my face. “It’s not. I was going to wait until the press conference next week to inform you of this exciting news, too, but, you’ve been cleared to go back with your unit. All of our hard work has paid off. So now you know, thanks to your impatience. And really there’s no need for us to hold this meeting at all today.”
“Yes there is,” I say, but Riley puts a gentle hand on my arm.
“Harlow, why don’t you let me do the talking?” she says. “Dr. Davis, I’m Riley Morrell, a lawyer who is representing Harlow and Whitney in today’s proceedings. Nice to meet you.”
“Whitney, huh?” Dr. Davis says, throwing an angry glance at her. “This is all her doing. She’s had it against me from the start. But she’s got nothing on me. You should advise your client to call this whole thing off. She’s going to look like a fool in that room.”
“Dr. Davis, there’s no need for anger,” Riley says. “I’m sure it will all be worked out at the board meeting. And my clients have no interest in trying to settle things beforehand. In fact, there’s nothing to be settled. My clients want nothing from you. No monetary payment, no certification. They only want the truth to come to light. If you’re right that the truth is in your favor, then you have nothing to be angry about.”
Well done, Riley, I think, wishing I could applaud her little speech.
But hearing that he can’t buy or certify me off has only made Dr. Davis angrier.
“I’m warning you to leave this here,” Dr. Davis says. “You don’t know my standing in the military community, or what I’m capable of…”
There’s a knock on the door, and when Riley opens it, a board member greets her.
“If everyone is ready,” he says, “It’s time to begin the board meeting.”
“We are still talking…” Dr. Davis begins.
“No we’re not,” I say, cutting him off. “Riley has said all that needs to be said, and quite perfectly, if I may add.”
I look at her, and she winks at me. Then I take Whitney’s hand and squeeze it.
“All right,” says the board member, “Right this way, please. If you’re ready.”
We follow him to a conference room, while I think: for whatever comes next.
Once we are seated in the conference room, I do my best to look confident instead of nervous. I try to keep my gaze centered on Harlow, where I find quiet strength. The board members introduce themselves and state that we are on the record, and then Harlow, Riley and I introduce ourselves, followed by a very angry- looking Dr. Davis.
“We are here today at the request of Harlow Bradford,” begins the President of the Board. “And he brings with him his lawyer, Riley Morrell, as well as a Ms. Whitney Reid, who is… or was… his physical therapist at Piñon Physical Therapy.”
“She’s just an intern,” Dr. Davis butts in. “And a scorned one at that. She was fired as Harlow’s trainer, for gross incompetence and ineptitude. I move that we not allow her to talk, because she obviously has a very biased motive. This meeting shouldn't even be happening.”
“Objection…” Riley begins, but the President waves a hand at her.
“Dr. Davis, we ask that you please wait to turn to speak. The Board will acknowledge you when it wishes to hear from you. This is not a formal hearing, and, Ms. Morrell, thank you but no objections are needed.”
Riley nods and says, “Yes sir.”
But Dr. Davis just sits there fuming, obviously mad that he was rebuffed by the Board. He always thinks he has so much power, but apparently it doesn’t extend quite as far as he would like it to.
“Harlow, would you please go ahead and let the Board know why you requested this meeting?”
“Yes, certainly,” Harlow says, and begins to stand up.
“You may remain seated,” the President says with a kind smile.
“Okay. Sure. As you know, I was involved in a near- fatal accident when my rescue helicopter was shot down and caught on fire. Dr. Davis was extremely helpful in my recovery. He provided state- of- the- art facial reconstructive surgery that restored my face to where it was just as good as new, or even better.”
The board members nod, understandably perplexed at why Harlow requested a meeting, if only to sing Dr. Davis’ praise. But I look at him and feel a wave of love and pride wash over me. How nice of him to give Dr. Davis the credit he deserves.
“But, I have since learned that Dr. Davis has done things that were less than noble, with a less than unselfish agenda,” Harlow continues.
Now, he looks so sure of himself that I just want him to take me right here on the table in front of everyone. Even as he’s speaking out against his enemy— whom he had thought was a close ally— he remains so cool and calm. I can’t believe that’s my boyfriend.
“I began to have my suspicions when I felt I was back at full fitness and Dr. Davis agreed, yet claimed that the military would not yet let me go back to active duty.”
The board members look surprised to hear this, and Dr. Davis grumbles something unintelligible under his breath, but Harlow presses forward.
“Still, he seemed to be my biggest supporter, and I trusted him. So I followed his recommendations and started physical therapy at Piñon Physical Therapy. My physical therapist, Ms. Reid, agreed that I was ready to be back with my unit. Yet, as she can further demonstrate, not only did Dr. Davis refuse to listen to her recommendation, but he also punished her for making it. In fact, since she has the best first- hand knowledge of that situation, and actual evidence, I will let her take over from here, if that’s all right with the Board?”
“Certainly,” the President says, with a shrug, after looking around at all the other bewildered board members.
“Again, I am vehemently protesting allowing this inexperienced, biased intern to speak against me…” Dr. Davis attempts to interrupt.
“Dr. Davis, that’s enough. If you insist on these outbursts we will have no choice but to evict you from the proceedings and we will hear the evidence without giving you a chance to respond.”
Dr. Davis doesn’t say anything further.
I clear my throat and look at Harlow, who nods and smiles at me.
“I was assigned to work with Harlow, and it immediately became clear to me that he was fit for service,” I begin. “He passed all his initial tests, and was excelling at exercises that even some of our most advanced patients can’t do. I reported Harlow’s status to my boss, Lance Williams, who came to observe part of a session in which I worked with Harlow.”
I look around, and most of the faces are full of receptiveness and attention, except of course Dr. Davis’. I continue.
“Mr. Williams agreed that Harlow was performing fantastically. I came up with a plan to address exercises for the few areas in which Harlow needed further help, but overall I felt his treatment should be shortened and that he should be able to get back to work. I called Dr. Davis and left him a voicemail with my opinions, and asked if he wished to discuss Harlow’s case further with me.”
I sneak a glance at Dr. Davis, who is glaring at me and shaking his head. But I continue.
“At that time I was removed as Harlow’s physical therapist, and replaced by my boss, Mr. Williams. I have a statement from Mr. Williams, backing up my testimony, and he is willing to speak to the Board if necessary.”
Dr. Davis bores a hole through my eyes, and I can tell he’s very upset with Lance. I hope my decision to out Dr. Davis doesn’t backfire and cost Lance his job, but at this point there’s no turning back. And Lance had told me he was on board, thank goodness.
“Dr. Davis told me that the reason I was being replaced as Harlow’s physical therapist was that Harlow needed much more help than I could provide, and that he was
I passed both the original and altered print- outs of the notes to the Board members.
“Objection!” Dr. Davis says, standing up. “I’ve never seen these alleged notes and I don’t know what she’s referring to.”
I pass Dr. Davis a copy and say, “You gave me a copy of the notes I supposedly entered. These are the notes and charts I had actually entered.”
The board members look shocked as they review the two different versions, and they talk quietly amongst themselves, with words I can’t hear.
“Dr. Davis also recommended that Harlow not be certified for service yet,” I announced, handing the Board— and Dr. Davis— copies of more documents. “He claimed that Harlow needed more work. At the same time, however, he was telling Harlow that he had certified him for service, but that the Board required further Harlow to undergo further treatment.”
The President and several other members of the Board audibly gasp.
I nod my head and say, “You can let Harlow tell you more about that part.”
“Where did you get this?” Dr. Davis demands.
“From Harlow’s file,” I say, which is true.
I don’t want to say that Lance gave me the documents, and I don’t think I need to. Harlow had consulted with Riley before setting up this meeting, and had explained to me Riley’s reasoning, that she was prepared to argue if necessary.
As Harlow’s physical therapist, I had access to his file, and if Dr. Davis had given me all the documents in his file, I would have seen these. In order to fight this premise, Dr. Davis would have to admit that he had kept hidden relevant information from Harlow’s file. There was really no way around it for Dr. Davis.
At this point, Riley stands up. Once she has my attention, she sits back down, and I let her take over.