Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 53
He informed me that there was a lot of surprise and confusion on Riley’s part before she picked up on what he meant. She’s a quick study, that Riley. And I’m very grateful to have her on Team Take Down Dr. Davis.
“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.
Then Riley says, “Apparently, it happened to two of the Bradford Brothers at about the same time,” and then winks at us.
She reaches over and holds onto Whitney’s left hand.
“I like your ring too, by the way.”
Whitney laughs and holds up the cubic zirconia in the light. It is a pretty ring, for a fake one. But no where near as nice as the one I plan to get her when we get engaged for real.
“Well, thank you. And congratulations,” Whitney says. “When’s the wedding?”
“We don’t know yet,” Riley says. “The whole engagement just happened so fast.”
“I can certainly relate,” Whitney responds, and we all laugh. “And that makes sense that you don’t know the date yet. Neither do we.” She winks at me. “But, there’s plenty of time to plan. 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 give you…”
“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, my fake fiancé, from whom I always find very real 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 Pi ñ on 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 your 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.
Finally, he thinks of something and stands up.
“Actually, it’s necessary that I bring up another conflict of interest so that the Board can look into matters of actual import.”
“Dr. Davis,” one of the Board members says, but he waves them off impatiently and keeps going.
“Whitney Reid is having an inappropriate sexual relationship with this patient of hers,” Dr. Davis declares. “And that’s clearly against the rules around here.”
There’s an audible gasp among the Board members, and I’m so glad that Harlow had anticipated this and prepared for it.
He clears his throat and then says, “If I may address that allegation, please.”
“Well… yes sir, go ahead,” says the Board chair person, obviously unsure of how to handle this unique situation. “We haven’t formally started yet, but, we take such matters as important and as a primary matter, perhaps we should hear the, uh, explanation for this.”
“Of course,” Harlow says. He smiles at me. “Whitney here is my fiancé. Since we are engaged, there is nothing that goes against policy.”
I smile and wave at them, dangling my left hand for them to see. They smile back at me, and one of the female Board member winks at me approvingly.
We’ve got this in the bag , I think.
“Objection!” shouts Dr. Davis. “They’re
Takes one to know one, I think.
“They just practically met,” Dr. Davis says. “How could this even be possible?”
“Well,” Harlow volunteers. “It’s quite possible. I feel head over heels in love with Whitney the moment I laid eyes on her, which happened to be at the conference where you were being presented with the award. Unlike everyone else who had fallen for your scheme, Whitney maintained her own independent judgment and she saw right through you. She’s smart, brave, competent. A kind soul, an amazing physical therapist, and, well, we needn’t go into other things about her that I personally think makes her so great.”
The Board members laugh and the same one who had just winked at me winks again, and nods towards Harlow as if to say, good catch .
But I’m just thinking awwww . Everything he just said about me was so cute. Riley looks at me and smiles, as if giving me and our real relationship her approval.
“But suffice it to say that even though I haven’t known Whitney for too long, I know for sure that I want to spend the rest of my life with her,” Harlow continues, causing my heart to beat even faster. “Everyone who knows me knows I have only ever been committed to the United States Navy and my fellow SEALs. I don’t take relationships lightly. When I go in, I go with my whole heart and soul. And I have plunged head first into this relationship with Whitney, which I intend to see through to the end.”
“Bravo!” Ms. Winker says, standing up and applauding.
The rest of the Board members look at her curiously, and she says, “Oh, oops, excuse my enthusiasm,” and sits back down. “It’s just rare to see such true love these days.”
I smile at Harlow, and he smiles back. Then the chairman of the Board continues, while Dr. Davis grumbles since his objections were overruled and there’s nothing he can do about it.
“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 am a Navy SEAL and 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 again, but Harlow presses forward.
“Still, Dr. Davis seemed to be my biggest supporter, and I trusted him. So I followed his recommendations and started physical therapy at Pi ñ on 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 very behind in terms of physical fitness. As you can see, Dr. Davis changed the notes I had originally placed in Harlow’s file, with notes of his own, while adding my signature.”
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 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.
“I have subpoenaed
Riley had also come up with this work-around, to get Lance off the hook for giving me access to any patient files.
“And here is a print- out of the results, which Ms. Reid has been nice enough to illustrate. If the Board cares to review the files of Dr. Davis itself, I have them all available. As you can see from this highlighted print-out, Dr. Davis quickly gave up on all but a few select patients, namely, Harlow and two others, who were also in various units of the Special Forces. Dr. Davis doctored videos to make it look like those three had started out far more disadvantaged than they actually had…”
Riley begins playing the video on the large projector screen. I assume that most of the Board members had seen the edited footage at Dr. Davis’ various presentations, and they sit with their mouths open as they watched the unedited version. After it finishes playing, Riley explains how Dr. Davis had taken credit for physical advances and mental prowess he had had nothing to do with, and how he had strung Harlow along for his own purposes until now.
When she’s finished, silence fills the room. Not even Dr. Davis dares to speak.
Finally, the Board president clears his throat.
“Dr. Davis, it’s your turn now, to address these allegations.”
Dr. Davis stands up and pounds his fist on the conference room table.
“I have already said that this intern is biased. Not only is she new and incompetent but she is also carrying on an inappropriate, unethical relationship with the patient, no matter how much they pretend to be engaged. It’s a farce, I tell you, a farce!”
I look over at Riley but her expression is unphased, set in stone. She had been prepared for this and has no response, since it was already addressed. And the Board members were rolling their eyes, as if to say, this again?
Riley had assured me that it isn’t a problem, as I am no longer Harlow’s physical therapist. Luckily, things don’t even get that far, however, because the Board President glances sharply at Dr. Davis and clears his throat again.
“But what about these allegations that were just presented?” the chairman asks. “On their face they look pretty damning, no matter what the relationship between Harlow and Ms. Reid. Which, as they’ve already explained, is appropriate because they say they’re engaged, and who are we to question that? What do you have to counter the substance of their allegations?”