Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 50
“Please excuse that interruption,” says Lance, as he picks his pen back up from the desk where he had left it. “You are most definitely a very important patient of Dr. Davis’, and we just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Now it’s my turn to say “of course” like a robot, as I stand around awkwardly.
“Okay, we’ll just wrap up with some squats,” Lance says, and I obediently bend down to begin.
“I’m so glad that our program has the chance to work with you, and with Dr. Davis,” Lance says, as he clicks the meter to count each of my squats. “It’s a fine opportunity for the facility, and I’m sure it’s helped Dr. Davis with the sale of his technology.”
“The sale of his…?”
I want to stop squatting, but I don’t want to give Lance any reason to think I can’t continue, so I go on, perplexed.
I had known that Dr. Davis was trying to sell his technology and get his stocks to go public, but I thought I would be among the first to know when it actually happened. In fact, Dr. Davis had promised me some of the stock funds, for working for him.
“Oh yes, the whole office is abuzz, because the sale of Davis Technologies made the news. Now the program will have even more money, to help more service members like you.”
“That’s good,” I say, as the meter clicks one more time and Lance says, “All right, that’s good. That’s definitely the required amount in the minimum amount of time.”
“So am I free to go?” I ask him.
“You are. I’ll see you soon, and it was nice working with you.”
I’m not even going to ask what my report to Dr. Davis will look like. I’ve learned to just rely on Dr. Davis to tell me.
“Thanks,” I say, as I head out.
The more I try to make sense of everything, the less I can. I look around, wondering if Dr. Davis is still here, but I don’t see him. I’ll have to catch up with him later at his office, and ask about the sale of his company. Maybe he just hasn’t had time to tell me yet.
And I can’t help looking around to see if Whitney is anywhere in sight. She’s not, and I can’t decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
She’s listened to me about not calling me anymore, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s tenacious when it comes to challenging Dr. Davis— or me, I guess— but not about anything else. And I guess it’s for the best.
That woman was bad news. I just wish my head could convince my heart of that fact.
As soon as Lance’s session with Harlow ends, I head to his office. I couldn’t help but see them working in there together, and I’m jealous.
It’s supposed to be me in there working with Harlow, for both professional and personal reasons. The fact that it’s not is enough to drive me mad, but I have to hold it together for at least a little longer, until I can manage to get to the bottom of this mystery.
I watch Harlow walk out of the building and I can’t believe he didn’t see me. But then again, I’m sure he did and just doesn’t want to talk to me. He’s already warned me not to try to talk to him, so I don’t.
I’m beginning to realize we’re over. I don’t know what exactly happened or why, but I can’t wait around hoping it will change. I’m now focused on figuring out what exactly Dr. Davis is doing, since that obviously doesn’t include helping service members like the one I’d met outside his office.
“Lance!” I whisper, loudly, as I enter his office and shut the door behind me. “I need your help.”
“Oh my god, girl,” he exclaims, rolling his eyes. “What now ? Don’t you even want to know how my session with your heartthrob went?”
“ Former heartthrob,” I correct him. “And I guess. Sure, why not? How’d it go?”
“Very strangely. I put him through all the tests you already did, thinking maybe you’d missed something. Accidentally, of course.”
He raises his eyebrows, as if to infer he’s not trying to accuse me of inflating the numbers for Harlow’s sake.
“But of course, it all checked out. You’re right, he easily passed all of those silly tests. But then, lo and behold, who should appear but His Majesty the Royal Doctor Davis himself.”
“Really? At your session with Harlow?”
I hadn’t seen Dr. Davis at the facility. I wonder if he’s still around.
“Don’t worry, he didn’t stick around long. Only long enough to tell me I don’t know how to do my job. He told me to skip over my own assessments, and to concentrate on things that Harlow needs work on.”
“The extension in his left leg?” I guess. “Tightness in the quad and flexibility in the hip?”
“You got it,” Lance nods. “Of course, I know you already know all of that. You wrote him an individualized program that makes total sense. But Dr. Davis was stressing all of these problem areas as if they meant that Harlow couldn’t walk or something.”
“Does he think you’re dumb?”
“Well, I soon found out he doesn’t care what I am, as long as I go along with what he wants.”
“ Really ?”
I can’t believe it. Lance has already seen evil Dr. Davis in action. He’s definitely on my side.
“Uh huh. Called me out into the hall and told me he’s sure I know what happened with you , and how the last thing anyone needs is a repeat of that .”
“So he threatened you?”
“Pretty much. And the problem is, girl, that we’re dead to rights. I know he’s full of shit, he knows he’s full of shit, but he knows I value my job too much to call him out on it without anything to back me up.”
“Well, I have a plan to fix that,” I assure him. “I just need your help. I need to access to Dr. Davis’ files.”
“What? Whitney, how can I…?”
“No one will know you gave them to me. And if they somehow find out, just say that during the course of our training we were looking at all possible candidates and assessing the work they need done and how we can help them…”
“Whitney, this isn’t exactly on the up and up.”
“Well, neither is what Dr. Davis is doing! And my purpose is to find out why and stop him, whereas he wants to keep screwing over patients, for his own selfish gain. I know, without a doubt, that for some reason he’s super attached to Harlow, yet he’s likely screwing him over as much as any other patient. I just need to prove it.”
“Whitney, I want to be clear.” Lance crosses his arms in front of his chest. “I’ll do my best to help you, and I will get you access to those documents in a way that will damn sure cover my own butt.”
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you,” I say, hugging him and beaming ear to ear. “I promise you I won’t—”
“Keep listening, you creep,” Lance laughs, peeling me off of him.
Then his serious expression returns. “Let me be clear here. You are spearheading this investigation, on your own, and if you find out anything, you can never trace it back to me. I know you’re this idealist with a crush— or former crush, or whatever you want to call it— on Harlow, but this is my job, and my life.”
I nod— I get it— but Lance keeps talking.
“I love working here and I’m not happy about whatever Dr. Davis has up his sleeve but I’m also not going to jeopardize my career. As your friend and supervisor I actually have to caution you to think about what’s best for yourself here, too. What will you do if Dr. Davis does strike back, and it costs you your internship?”
“Oh that’s okay,” I say, with a shrug, and a smile that I hope looks mysterious. “I already put in my application to medical school. I just need a letter of recommendation, from you.”
“Really?” he asks, a proud look spreading across his face despite his best efforts to hide it. “I thought you were too chicken shit for that.”
“Changed my mind.”
With the help of a certain former crush .
“Well I’d best get started on writing it,” he says, “while
When I get to Dr. Davis’ office, he’s waiting to talk to me, but apparently not about what I was hoping he’d want to talk to me about— the fact that Davis Technologies is going public.
“Harlow, there’s a patient waiting in Conference Room C for you to talk to,” he says. “He’s post-surgery and will be moving on to physical therapy soon.”
“Oh really?” My ears perk up upon hearing some good news for once. “That’s great.”
“Yeah, he’s a great guy. Reminds me of you. I think you’ll find you have a lot in common.”
“And what about Jesse Morrow?” I ask, remembering his eager, hopeful eyes.
“Jesse Morrow? What about him?”
Dr. Davis seems annoyed and in a hurry to have me talk with the new guy.
“How did his surgery go? Is his mask off yet? Is he headed to PT yet?”
“Harlow, it’s really a breach of patient confidentiality for me to tell you every detail about every patient’s medical treatment. But if you must know, his surgery went fine but he isn’t a candidate for further treatment.”
I feel heartbroken for the guy. He had been so hopeful.
“Because he’s not strong enough. Not all the guys can cut it, and you know that. I have to be selective about who I can help, and a lot of it depends on who can help themselves.”
What a weird way to put it , I think. Especially after he sends me to talk to so many of them, and promises the world to them.
But I don’t have time to dwell on it, because Dr. Davis says, “Go on. The patient’s waiting.”
I shrug and head over to the conference room.
“Hello,” I say, shaking hands with the man. “I’m Harlow Bradford.”
“Harlow, I know. But it’s so nice to meet you in person. I’m Alex Crenshaw. Marine. Or at least I was, and I’m trying to be again.”
“I know the feeling,” I tell him, wondering about the status of my recertification to become an active SEAL again.
Whitney may have slowed things down, but now that I’m back up and running with Lance, I’m curious as to what the recommendation will be as far as a timeline goes.
“You look like you’re recovering well,” I say, as I note his rosy complexion and the fact that he looks healthy overall.
“I know. And you never would have thought it four months ago, after my accident. I sure didn’t think I would have come this far. But Dr. Davis has been great, and he’s been saying that physical therapy will only continue to help. He told me you’ve been having success with it?”
Not exactly , I think.
But I say, “It does seem to be helping. I’m really amazed with your progress though already.”
“I know. Dr. Davis showed me a video that was filmed of me right after my accident, and I can’t even write my name.”
“Ha, sounds familiar. He shows that awful video of me every time he drags me to a conference.”
“I’ve heard about those,” Alex says. “In fact, Dr. Davis said that we’ll both be at the next one.”
I’m not exactly jealous— in fact, it will be nice to have some company on stage, and not be the only monkey performing for the crowd. But I’m hoping that by the time there’s another conference, I’ll be back with my unit and out from under Dr. Davis’ shadow.
Sure, he’s helped me a lot, but how long does he want me to repay him by being in his dog and pony show, especially now that there’s another pony to take my place?
“Yeah, I guess there’s one coming up next week. For the sale of Davis Technologies.”
“I’d heard that happened,” I tell him, but I don’t add, but not from Dr. Davis. Funny that he should tell you and not me.
“Our appearance fee is going to jump up even higher than what he was paying you,” Alex says. “Which is pretty sweet, considering I’m not getting my usual hazard pay or deployment pay or anything.”
“Oh yeah,” I tell him. “Performance fee.”
What performance fee? I’ve never been paid one before.
I want to ask him more questions— which is funny, since I’m supposed to be the one answering his questions— when, as if on cue, Dr. Davis enters the room.
“How are my two favorite patients hitting it off?” he asks, with a smile on his face so fake he could have just painted it on.
“Great,” says Alex, smiling broadly. “I’m really looking forward to working more with Harlow.”
“We can discuss that later,” says Dr. Davis, and it’s funny how visibly uncomfortable he looks. “The point of this meeting was for you to ask Harlow any questions you might have, about your progress, or your treatment, or anything else.”
“Oh.” Alex shrugs, good-naturedly. “I don’t really have any questions. It’s all coming together quite well, and I’ll be back with the Marines in no time.”
He really does remind me of me. Confident, self-assured, and naïve to think that he can actually get back to his unit soon.
I sigh as I realize what a revelation I’ve just had about myself.
And suddenly, all I want to do is see Whitney. I was going to ask Dr. Davis about the business deal, and appearance fee, but I have a feeling it’s useless.
Maybe he was planning to tell me soon— maybe it’s some big surprise— or maybe that’s just part of my continual delusion. It’s not like I’ll find out the truth from Dr. Davis even if I do ask him. He’s obviously pretty good at hiding the big picture from me.
“I agree,” I tell Alex. “You’ve got this all under control. Congratulations on your progress. And now, I have somewhere I need to be.”
Dr. Davis calls after me, but it’s my turn to be in charge.
I need to go find Whitney.
I don’t believe that Whitney was lying about my physical therapy progress. I can’t believe I ever did.
There has to be some other explanation. I can still hear her attempted warning— “I don’t think Dr. Davis is who he seems to be”— and I wish I would have listened harder.
I hope she’ll still give me the chance.
I’m in my office with the door locked, armed with evidence. Thanks to Lance, I have access to many of Dr. Davis’ files, and I’ve been reviewing them for two days now. I definitely see a pattern that makes Dr. Davis looks shady as fuck.
But worse, it paints a pretty bleak picture for Harlow. It’s not that he knew Dr. Davis was doing anything wrong, but, quite the opposite, he got caught up as a victim in Dr. Davis’ scheme.
I was all set to turn Dr. Davis in at Pi ñ on, and maybe somehow to the military itself, and I still want to. I know I’ll lose my internship, but I don’t care.
Too late (as far as he and I are concerned, anyway), I’ve realized that Harlow was right when he said I always play it safe and never take any risks. This time, I want to live on the edge and expose a selfish man to the world, and consequences to my professional life be damned, especially since I’ve decided to pursue what I really want to do anyway.
But now I just worry about any consequences this could have on Harlow. I know he and I are over for good, and it’s not about wanting to save a hopeless relationship.
Sure, I still wish we could be together but I also know that’s just not going to happen. The reason I hesitate to do anything now is that I don’t want to jeopardize Harlow’s career, or otherwise interfere in his life.
I slump back into my office chair, feeling defeated. I can’t believe I have damaging information on Dr. Davis that I’m not sure I want to use.
There’s suddenly a loud knocking— which sounds more like pounding— on my door.
“Just a minute,” I say, logging off my password-protected computer.
I’m hoping it’s Lance, instead of Dr. Davis or anyone else who has come to yell at me.
He comes into my office and closes and locks the door, so quickly that I think I might be dreaming everything.
I can’t think of a single other thing to say, except for his name.
He kisses me, and without thinking twice I kiss him back.
He pushes me up against my office door, his kisses urgent and strong.
“I’m so sorry.”
“What happened?” I ask him, when I can finally catch my breath.
“I just… woke up. I was so stupid. I understand if you’re disgusted with me. Done with me. But I needed to come tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“That I love you.”
He picks me up and kisses me while I wrap my legs around him.
Okay, now I’m convinced this really is a dream.
He carries me over to my desk and lays me on top of it.
“Wait,” I say, pushing his chest.
I want him inside me so bad, but I’m mad at him.
“Oh, my God,” he says, caressing me in his arms and kissing my head before continuing. “I’m sorry. I forgot that was the part I meant to say first. I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you enough. Didn’t believe you. I was so stupid.”
“You hurt me,” I tell him, opening up to him in a way I’ve never done with anyone. I can tell he’s sincere in his apology but I need him to know the damage he’s caused, so he’ll never do it again. “You wouldn’t answer my calls. You ignored me. You chose…”
“I chose a conman over you,” he says, squeezing me tighter. “I’m so sorry, Whitney. So very sorry.”
A tear forms in his eye, and drops down onto the desk.
“Oh, my God, Harlow,” I say, hugging him back.
He is definitely sorry.
I wipe the tear out of his eye while he shrugs it off.
“I’m fine,” he says. “Not crying. Not getting too worked up. I just feel really bad, is all. I feel like a piece of shit for what I did to you.”