I can't seem to shake this feeling of nervousness. I have done this hundreds of times before - new job, new faces, and new interactions. Perhaps Evan's visit from yesterday is still messing with my mind. If that's the case I should know better by now.
My heels click down the main hallway of the office. Everyone's eyes are trained on me and I wonder what they are thinking. I wonder if my outfit is appropriate. I try to go shopping as often as I can to stay up with the times and the current fashion.
Today I chose a fitting, knee-high length skirt, a ruffled white top, and black heels to match. I wore minimal makeup and tied my hair into a professional looking bun. I prefer for my hair to be down but when it's this long, I have a tendency to play with it. Nervous habit, what can I say?
The building is big and the first floor is styled in a modern way. The tiled floor is black and white with marble pillars coming up from the floor and touching the ceiling every hundred feet or so. There are twenty five cubicles on the first floor, and I'm only too relieved when I step onto the elevator, getting away from all the prying eyes. I hit the button that displays the number fifteen and feel my body ascending to the highest floor of the building.
Dr. Grace is waiting for me. She gives me the run-through of my tasks, my patients, their disorders, and her take on them. I listen quietly, nodding on occasion so she knows I'm listening. When she's done she hands me their charts and tells me that my first client will be here in ten minutes. She bristles from the room and leaves me to a large stack of files and quite a barren office.
So much for a warm welcome.
I know I won't have time to file all these away, so I take the pile and shove it under my desk. I look over the chart of my first client.
Name: Todd Ebony
DOB: 5/11/1982, 32 years
Prognosis: Currently taking medication 2x daily. If possible, appointments should be made daily.
Additional Notes: Must be given access to cell phone number of Psychiatrist in case of emergency during weekends. Episodes tend to flare up before work. Strong dependency and heavy attachment to time and people.
I glance up just as my first client, Todd, knocks at the door. I set his chart to the side and gesture for him to come inside. I extend a hand and offer up a warm but guarded smile.
"I'm your new therapist, Todd. My name is Stella."
His expression is blank, but his eyes scan my face, relaxing a degree when he's finished. He walks right past me and takes a chair, ignoring my hand completely.
"I don't like to touch people," he murmurs without further explanation.
Well, this is going to be quite a morning.
I walk to my car wondering how the day went by so fast and yet was so stressful. Work didn't used to be so mentally taxing a hundred years ago. Things were simpler then.
As I unlock my car, I notice a familiar face from across the lot. The person is smiling at me, his eyes bright and his smile masking some emotion I can't quite place. I raise a brow at him and he waves me over. A piece of me wants to just get in the car and leave. That's what I should do.
But I don't.
My feet whine in protest as I walk across the lot. They want to get out of these heels almost as badly as I want a stiff drink.
"Do you work here?" Evan asks when I'm only a few feet away from him.
I nod in response. He's leaning against a very expensive bike - a Harley, I believe. The color is so shiny and so bold the childish part of me wants to lean forward and touch it.
But I don't.
"You like motorcycles?" he asks, seeing that my attention is riveted on his fine piece of machinery.
"They're nice to look at, I guess."
But then again, so are you.
Evan smiles and pats his bike affectionately. His green eyes are tantalizing as they gaze back at me, his strong jaw a wonderful showcase to his heart stopping smile and his irresistible lips. Pulling my eyes away from his face, I glance down at his left hand. No ring.
Stella, don't you even think about it. Don't you dare.
Evan mounts his bike and holds out a helmet to me. "You wanna' take a ride?"
My face flushes at the thought of being so close to this man and my mind begins to swivel in all different directions.
"I - uhm…." Oh, what the hell. Why not? "Sure. I'll go."
Evan's smile widens as he thrusts the helmet into my hands. Not like I really need one of these. But I take it anyway and fasten it around my head and chin. It's a snug fit and very uncomfortable.
"That helmet suits you," Evan says as he puts on his own helmet.
I blush at his compliment and hoist myself onto the bike. My body screams at me to get closer to him, to wrap my arms around his waist and press my face against his back.
But I don't.
I keep a safe distance from him, allowing my hands to rest on his hips. They're so strong and lean and before I know it, little butterflies shake off the dust from years of hibernation and begin dancing around my stomach.
It's funny how living so long can make you feel dead.
As we cruise down the highway I begin to relax. The wind slaps at my skin, feeling warm and cool all at the same time. I forgot how exhilarating this could be. My eyes look out at the ocean, the sparkling blue water looking radiant under the sun's golden light.
Evan maneuvers the bike around a sharp turn and begins to slow the bike. His head tilts back and I hear him say, "So, you never did tell me your name."
I smile and lean forward. "It's Stella."
And as the last syllable leaves my lips, Evan's hold on the bike slackens. I feel the bike's tire catch on some gravel and my body becomes air born. Tears prick my eyes as my body prepares for the onslaught of pain that is soon to come. And just before I hit the pavement, I see Evan - his body landing a few feet ahead of mine - mangled and unmoving.