Imperfect, page 1
Table of Contents
Imperfect Copyright 2017 by Kelly Moore. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Cover design and photography by Addendum Designs http://addendumdesigns.com/shop/ Interior formatting by Two Broke Authors https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=two%20broke%20authors%20book%20formatting
Edited by Caleb Mauer
* * *
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locals is entirely coincidental.
Also by Kelly Moore
About the Author
“Here is the final piece of paperwork that needs to be signed by the three of you.” Our highly-paid attorney slides the paper across his mahogany desk.
“MTA Crisis Division. I don’t know about the two of you, but I’ve waited a long time to get this business going. The three of us, Manning, Thatcher, and Adams; three medical comrades taking on chaos.” I sign my name and hand the pen to Aedon. Her pink fingernails make contact with my skin as she takes it from me.
“More like the three amigos trying to get themselves killed.” She gives me a girly smirk, handing the pen to Wren.
“I feel like I’m signing my soul over to the devil.” Wren scribbles an illegible name.
“Lucifer… hmmm... what do you think?” I ask, turning back to our attorney. “Could we change my name while we’re here? Go from Ashe Manning to just Lucifer, no last name? Lucifer, plain and simple. It would make paperwork a lot quicker to sign.” Aedon rolls her eyes at me. Wren ignores me as usual.
Standing, I straighten the wrinkles out of my expensive black slacks and throw on my jacket. “Look, we all agreed that I would own 40% of the stock. You two are equal partners.”
Aedon stands and straightens my tie. “That means we own a combined 60% and we can overrule you if you piss us off.” She smacks my cheek. Wren lets out a low chuckle.
Several years ago, during medical school, I would have smacked her ass for her sassy mouth and then fucked her. We grew apart and she moved on. I can’t say that I blame her. I am a bit of a pain in the ass. We’ve managed to stay friends and now are business partners. I need her, but I don’t want her to know that. She’s always had a way of keeping me in line.
“I’ll see the two of you at the restaurant tonight to celebrate. You can give me the list of people on your team over dinner.” I open the door for them.
“So much for a celebration, Ashe. Sounds like a working dinner to me.” Aedon talks while she walks in front of me. I can’t help but watch the sexy sway of her hips in her red pencil skirt. I remember that ass of hers well.
“Stop looking at my ass, Ashe.” She hits the elevator button without turning around. Secretly, I know she loves my eyes on her.
“That’s called harassment man. You need to keep that shit in check or she might be suing her new boss.” Wren stands beside me tucking his hands in his pockets with a smug grin on his face.
We get into the elevator and I push the down button. “Did you hire a secretary?” I cut my gaze toward Aedon.
She tosses her long, blonde hair over her shoulder. “I did. I think you’re really going to like him.”
Squaring my body to her, I cock an eye. “Him?”
She puts her hand in my face. “Don’t try to intimidate me with your cocky green-eyed look. I know you. A female secretary would only be asking for trouble. Until you learn to keep that in your pants,” she says, pointing at my crotch, “you get a male secretary.”
“I don’t know, Aedon. I met him. I’m pretty sure he was gay. He might get the hots for Lucifer.” Wren adds, and they burst out laughing.
The elevator door tings. “Ha-ha, you two are hilarious. I think you both need to remember who will be signing your paychecks.” We walk out into the marble-clad foyer. Aedon’s matching red heels click as she walks. I have a limo waiting on us, but the two of them insist on walking home. Neither one of them own cars. They claim it’s too much trouble in New York City. They are both highly sought-after physicians, yet they insist on taking cabs and riding the subway. Aedon’s specialty is thoracic surgery, Wren’s is a general surgeon, and I’m a neurosurgeon with several patented procedures pending.
“Are you sure you don’t want a ride?” I open the limo door, holding my hand out.
“We’re good. We’ll see you at the restaurant.”
My slacks slide right across fine leather seats. The first thing I do is pour myself a glass of whiskey. The limo driver inches out into traffic. At this pace, it’s going to take an hour to drive crosstown to my apartment. I loosen the tie that Aedon had her hands on just moments ago. It takes me back to our college days. She was the hottest medical student I’d ever seen. When we first met, I wasn’t cocky like I am now. I remember fumbling over my words the first time I asked her out. I felt like I won a prize at the county fair when she said yes.
I grew up dirt poor in a trailer park in Northern Georgia. The county fair was a splurge for my parents. She wasn’t the goldfish prize, she was the mac daddy, oversized stuffed animal prize. The first time I kissed her I thought my world would end. I saw stars and almost damn near passed out from holding my breath so long. I thought she would be it for me, but over time I managed to kill what love she did have for me. She pulled away as my ego grew to new heights. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my inflated ego was a symptom of a mental disorder. She tried to put some distance between us. I didn’t take the hint. I was obsessed with two things: Aedon and medicine, not necessarily in that order. My passion for medicine grew; her pas
Aedon is one of the most intelligent women I have ever met. All she wanted was my attention but I could only give it to her when it came to sex. We both had healthy appetites for one another. But during my highs, my sex drive was tenfold the norm for me. I needed it, like I needed air to breath. I would consume hours of her days making love to her. When my lows hit hard, I became distant, not interested in much of anything.
My mind became consumed by neurosciences as she slowly slipped away, unnoticed by me. One night during the second year of med school, I came home to our shared apartment and all of her things were gone. A note left on the bare countertop said she had found someone else, which I later learned wasn’t true. She figured my ego was so big by then that her finding another man would be the only excuse I would accept. She was right. I don’t think she ever knew how much I loved her.
What she didn’t realize was how much it would push me over the edge. That’s the year I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, living my life on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. By then I knew what was wrong with me from my studies, but admitting it was another thing. I was excelling in school, but had no social life once she left me. One night when I was scraping rock bottom, I called her and begged her to come back. She stayed on the phone with me for hours, but refused to change her mind. That’s the night I lost my mind and OD’d on prescription drugs. I very distinctly remember deciding that I didn’t want to live my life feeling out of control all the time. I’d go from feeling like I was flying to feeling totally worthless within hours. The highs, I liked. The lows, not so much.
If it wasn’t for Aedon, not only would I have died that night, I would have been kicked out of school. She had experienced enough of my lows by then to sense my desperation over the phone. She came over early in the morning and found me on the floor, where she performed CPR and brought me back from the brink of death. She stayed with me until the ambulance arrived and pumped my stomach.
She agreed to stay with me if I would get help. With my diagnosis, I started taking my meds on a daily basis. I felt stronger, but my mind wasn’t as clear so I had to delve deeper into my studies. I didn’t notice Aedon was not in love with me anymore. She was different, always cautiously watching me. We were nothing more than friends. I eventually came to my senses and let her go, even though I wanted nothing more than for her to be in my bed every night when I came home. We’ve remained friends all these years. I sometimes think she still feels responsible for me. I love her and I know she loves me, but she’s not in love with me. I’ve come to accept that. I want her in my life any way I can have her.
She and Wren went to the same high school in North Carolina. They have been friends for a lifetime. Sometimes when I catch him looking at her, I suspect he feels more for her than he’s willing to admit, at least to me. I know the two of them like to bust my chops, but we would all do anything for one another. Wren struggled to stay in school. He’s smart as a whip, but he wasn’t focused. I took him under my wing and we became roommates. He studied when I studied. He ate when I ate. He graduated third in our class, behind me and Aedon. Her GPA was one point higher than mine. Like I said, smart as fuck.
“We’re here, sir.” The driver is looking in the rearview mirror.
I don’t know how long he’s been waiting for me to get out, I’ve been completely lost in my thoughts for most of the ride. I nod and open the door. The doorman to my apartment building holds the door open.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Hi, Carl. How are the grandkids?”
“They are good, sir. Thank you for including them in your scholarship program. I’ve been spending my tips trying to keep the twins in college. Now, thanks to you, all their expenses are paid.”
“I’m glad I could help.” I place my hand firmly on his shoulder. “Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.”
“Thank you. You’ve done more than enough for me. I already can’t repay you for your kindness. You know you’re like a son to me.” His eyes get misty as his lip quivers.
“That means a lot to me.” I give his shoulder a pat and head through the door. Carl owned the small barber shop where I used to get my hair cut. He and I formed a bond over telling stories. He lost his business when his wife got sick. He took care of her full-time, so he had to close his doors. Once she died, I got him the job here. It isn’t much, but he’s very grateful. I like being able to keep an eye on him.
I know what it’s like to be poor, and now that I’ve made enough money it makes me feel good to help out others who have been where I was. That’s what MTA Crisis Division is all about, helping people. The three of us have given up our busy practices to lend our expertise and helping hands during crises such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. The business idea grew out of 9/11.
The government funded our program, which sets up teams of doctors and nurses to be flown in to take care of the patients in the field where we triage and operate in tents. In our downtime, we see patients that have been recommended to us - those patients that can’t be diagnosed or helped by their top-notch providers. All three of us are so specialized that we are sought out by other physicians all over the world. We all wanted to do more than help just the elite that could afford us. I came up with the idea and applied for the government funding. Aedon and Wren jumped on board, both feeling like they were not satisfied in their practices.
Tonight we finish up any last-minute issues and wait for a disaster to happen. Oh, and I will also be meeting my new gay male secretary. I laugh to myself, thinking about Aedon hiring him to protect me.
The penthouse is dark except for the skyline of New York City lights shining through the glass wall of my apartment. All the colored lights from the city bounce off the glass, casting colors inside. I love this view. I only wish I had someone to share it with.
My phone buzzes in my pocket. Her big brown eyes light up my phone.
“You know we were teasing you, right? We are both looking forward to working with you.”
My heart aches knowing that she still really cares about me, but doesn’t want me. “I know, Thatcher, I’m a big boy. I can handle a little razzing.”
“Okay, but I was serious about the secretary. I know you’re a big flirt and you love a pretty woman.”
Yes, I do, but she happens to be on the other end of this phone. “Thanks for looking out for me.” I make my way to my pill box to pop my daily medication.
“We will meet you at the restaurant. No need to send your fancy limo.”
I stretch out on my Italian leather sofa. “What did you really call for, Aedon?”
“I wanted to make sure you were all right?”
“You mean, you wanted to make sure I didn’t skip my meds after I got word my brother died.” I lay my arm over my eyes.
“Yeah, I know you two weren’t close and he had suffered from cancer for a while, but it can still get to you. You act all big and macho, but underneath there is a sensitive man.”
“Don’t you go telling anyone that,” I chuckle. “I don’t know if anyone would believe you anyway.” I can hear her fidget on the other end of the phone.
“As long as you’re okay,” she whispers.
“I’m good, doll. I’ll see you at the restaurant.” I hang up and go into my office to finish going through a few outstanding emails. My brother’s obituary is still open on my desktop. He and I grew apart when I went off to college. He felt like I left him behind. He was always in some sort of trouble growing up and I was a geek. I always had my nose stuck in a book. I would spend hours at the library reading and teaching myself how to use the computer. My grades were so good I received a full scholarship to Boston University. Medical school was all on my dime. After I finished my residency, I opened a practice right away and paid off my student loans within four years.
My brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little under a
My parents have taken care of him the last couple months. I flew out to see him right before he died. They are grief stricken, but know that he’s no longer in pain. My first lump sum of money I made was used to get my parents out of that trailer park. Mom had worked as a waitress when we were growing up and Dad was in and out of construction jobs. He injured his back and quit working completely by the time we were teenagers. They now live in a nice retirement community.
My phone dings with the reminder of our dinner reservations. I down the rest of my whiskey and head for my closet. I throw on a fresh white button-down dress shirt with a black dinner jacket. My spirits lift when I think about my plans for the future and how many lives will be saved with the development of the MTA Crisis Division.
“You look handsome in your sports jacket.” Aedon greets me at our table with a kiss on the cheek. She brushes the lipstick off with the tips of her fingers. Wren stands, shaking my hand. The curls of his long dark hair lay across the collar of his freshly-pressed, light grey shirt. His piercing blue eyes cut to Aedon.
“Did I miss something?”
“No, I’m just surprised we beat you here.” Wren sits down across from me.
Aedon’s all-white dress is very classy. It’s cut high around the neck, with short capped sleeves, and it hugs nicely around her curves. Wren slips in behind her before she sits, pushing her chair in for her. Almost as soon as she sits, she stands again.
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