In my mind, the next few weeks pass by in a matter of minutes. I settle into my own groove at work and feel like I'm making tremendous progress with all of my patients. My weeknights and weekends are spent with Evan or Jeremy, Connie and Gavin joining us when they have the time.
Now that Jeremy and I have made our deal, the 'Evan issue' hasn't been discussed a single time. He neither questions me about Evan nor shows emphatic enthusiasm towards our relationship either. But that's the thing with "Angelic agreements." If Evan and I were to have sex, Jeremy would feel it. He'd know in an instant that I had broken the rules and there would be no denying it from my end.
Although I know I can't avoid the 'sex talk' with Evan forever, he's been the perfect gentleman these past few weeks. Admittedly, a few of our evenings have gotten pretty hot and steamy… But I always stop it before it gets too carried away and tell him the timing isn't right. Not once has he questioned me about it.
My heart tightens at the thought of one day losing him. I can't make Evan wait forever. After all, he's only human. He has desires and sexual needs like everyone else. But I'm realizing the more time I spend with him the more I'm becoming attached to him.
And then of course there's Jeremy. Even though I keep denying it, the two of us are forming a bond of our own. It's not friendship exactly; it's something more. But to try and put it into words sends me into a fit of confusion every single time. Instead of simply tolerating him…I look forward to seeing him at each day's end. And a piece of me is starting to wonder if one of the reasons I am keeping Evan around is because that'll mean I get to keep Jeremy around too….
"…and did I mention my nightmares are coming back?"
My knuckles have turned white from holding onto my pen so tightly. My notepad sits on my lap, the blank page staring back at me. I don't usually get distracted from my patients but today my mind seems to be in the clouds.
I give Todd a concerned look and pretend to take notes.
"Nightmares, hmm? Are you having any added stress or outside concerns lately?"
Todd shifts his weight in his chair and lets out an irritated sigh.
"I already told you doc, my life has been pretty good lately. Even my repetitive tendencies, as you call them, have cooled down some. But these nightmares are so vivid. It's like I'm there. And then I wake up and I'm just beside myself. I mean, I'm a man and don't get scared easily. But those nightmares scare me shitless."
I frown at his profanity and click my pen a few times. The last time Todd told me about his nightmare, he reiterated my trip to Hell. I still haven't figured that one out. But I haven't been to Hell in over a month so his nightmare couldn't possibly involve me. The realization peaks my curiosity.
"Todd, would you like to tell me about your nightmares? I don't know that I'm too practiced with dream interpretation, but perhaps I can find a pattern that might lead us as to why you're having them in the first place."
Todd lifts the heel of his foot and rapidly taps it against the tiled floor of my office. I know I'm making him anxious. I lean forward and give him a reassuring smile.
"You may as well tell me, Todd. I can't help you get better if you're not completely honest with me."
I don't force information out of my patients often. But Todd seems to be the exception that makes the rule. Todd nods his head and takes a few deep breaths. He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a small plastic bottle of Germ-X. He flips up the cap and douses his hands in it. A few drops dribble off his hand and splatter onto the arms of his chair. He doesn't seem to notice.
"Well. The dreams are different now. They're more involved I guess. My mind shows me all these horrible things. Like rape, murder, suicide….stuff like that. That's the normal part. But now there's this added element. I can't put my finger on who it is or what it is. All I can feel in my dreams are his emotions -"
"Yea I assume it's a him. Just by the way he thinks. He's not evil or bad though. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I think he's good. But he's struggling. And his emotions are so intense."
"Mhmm, what kind of emotions?" I ask, encouraging Todd to continue.
"I can't really tell. Like I said doc, I can't pinpoint what or who this guy is. But he's a damn mess. His emotions are always flopping around from anger, to sadness, to confusion, to love. It's weird."
I nod my head and takes notes.
"I know it sounds crazy, but for some reason I think he's an angel."
My pen freezes. I can feel my breathing pick up speed and my hands begin to quiver.
"And what makes you think that, Todd?"
My voice is shaky and I lower my pen so he won't notice my trembling hands.
"I dunno. Just a feeling I guess. But no matter what emotion he shows me, it's always directed towards this female. That's why I think it's a guy anyway."
My lips are pressed into a firm line and my mind is racing with the possibility that Jeremy is the one being channeled through Todd's dreams. I guess there's only one way to find out.
"Todd - are you able to tell which female all his emotions are being directed towards?"
Todd looks at me and shrugs his shoulders. "From what I can tell it's just some random girl. The only finite image I've seen of her is from a great distance. Like I'm looking at her from the sky. But I do know that she's not into him."
"Oh? And how do you know that?"
"Because he's showed me that she's falling in love with someone else."
My mouth hangs open and I snap it shut in a hurry. Maybe I'm getting too ahead of myself. But from the sounds of it, Todd is - in some way - channeling Jeremy.
"Will you do me a favor?" I ask Todd as I tuck the few notes I took into his file.
He douses his hands with Germ-X again before giving a nod.
"Next time you have a dream, the second you wake up I want you to write it down. Every detail you can remember I want you to put it into words. Can you do that for me?"
My boss catches me right before I leave work and I stand at the door to wait for her. Her thick framed glasses have been replaced with contacts and I notice, for the first time, how pretty her eyes are. She's dressed more casually today, her normal business attire considerably altered by dark blue jeans, black knee-high boots and a frilly black top. She's a curvier woman but the outfit compliments her body type just right.
"You look nice, Grace," I say once she's reached me.
"Oh thank you Ms. Hill. Truth be told, I have a date tonight."
I see the tips of her cheeks turn a light pink at the admittance of her evening plans. I glance down at her ring finger and see that it's bare. I raise my brows in surprise. I'd always assumed she was married.
"Well, I'd stay with that outfit. It suits you," I say and open the door for her.
The warm sun beats down on me as soon as I step outside. There's not much of a breeze today and I decide that as soon as I get home I'm going for a swim. Grace continues to follow me to my car, her stride even with mine.
"Well thank you. I feel a bit silly I suppose. I haven't been on a first date in what feels like eons and I just don't want to mess it up."
I turn to Grace and for a second I see the awkward teenage girl inside of her. She looks back at me and smiles sheepishly.
"I don't want to bother you with my personal life Stella, I just - "
Grace pauses mid-sentence and her eyes widen as we approach my car. I follow her gaze and see a shirtless Jeremy leaning against my car door. What on earth is he doing here? Jeremy gives me a lopsided grin and offers up a wave. His golden hair shimmers in the sunlight and his blue eyes sparkle back at me. He pushes himself off my car and my eyes - of their own accord - travel down his muscular torso.
"Oh my…" I hear Grace whisper under her breath.
I don't know why, but the comment irritates me.
"Hello Stella," Jeremy says.
His eyes never leave my face and my sub conscious sticks up her nose in greedy satisfaction. Grace extends her hand and bats her eyelashes in a flirtatious manner.
"Hello there," she says sweetly. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Grace - Stella's boss."
Jeremy glances in her direction and gives her a friendly handshake.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Jeremy."
"Oh. So you're not the boyfriend?"
Jeremy's smile wanes and he glances at me before shaking his head no.
"No. I'm just the roommate."
Grace turns to me and the excitement on her face is nearly bursting at the seams.
"Stella! You never told me you had a roommate before. So Jeremy, are you new in town?"
Jeremy and I exchange a look and I suppress a giggle at her question. It seems to go unnoticed by Grace. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket and excuse myself from the conversation when I see it's Connie calling.
Grace's loud laughter fills my ears just as I pick up the call.
"Oh Stella thank God you picked up. What are you doing right now?"
"I'm just leaving work….why?"
"Gavin just got home from playing golf with Evan."
Connie sighs in frustration. She lowers her voice to an almost inaudible whisper. I can hear Gavin in the background and know that whatever she's about to tell me is supposed to be a secret.
"Well, Gavin said he and Evan did a lot of talking today and it all revolved around Y-O-U."
Connie spells out the word 'you' and I roll my eyes. Why do I all of a sudden feel like I'm fourteen again? I look behind me and see that Grace has moved in closer to Jeremy, her elbow resting against the side of my car. She is clearly flirting with him and as Jeremy smiles back at her I can't help but feel jealous. I shouldn't care that the two of them are getting along. Hell, if Grace started taking an interest in Jeremy maybe he'd lay off the 'Evan issue' a little bit more.
Grace throws her head back and laughs, playfully pushing Jeremy as she does so. Jeremy looks up at me and blushes, an innocent smile creeping onto his lips. I feel like I just got caught with my hand in the cookie jar so I look away and turn my attention back to Connie.
"…ok? Stella did you hear me?"
"Yes, I heard you."
"Ok, so are you free in the next couple of days to have lunch or something? The stuff Gavin told me is juic-cey. You're gonna flip!"
"Sure Connie that's fine. Just let me know when you're in town."
I hear Gavin's voice growing louder in the background. Connie rushes out a goodbye and disconnects from the phone call. I snap my phone closed and walk back to my car. Grace and Jeremy seem to be in deep conversation but as I approach, their voices taper off.
"Well, I better be going," Graces says with a big grin. "It was so nice meeting you, Jeremy. And I'm serious - come by the office anytime!"
Jeremy gives her a polite nod and starts walking to the passenger side of the car. Grace leans into me and when she sees Jeremy is out of ear shot she starts whispering into my ear.
"Is he single?"
I give a single nod.
"Is he straight?"
I jerk my head back at the question and frown. "Yes, Grace he's single. And yes, he's straight. Why? I thought you had a date tonight anyway."
I try not to sound irritated but my voice comes off short and cold. Graces gives me a pat on the shoulder and steals another glance at Jeremy.
"You're right. I was just curious. A girl has to keep her options open, right?"
"Sure," I murmur. "And hey, good luck on your date tonight."
I plaster a fake smile onto my face as Grace and I say our good-byes. When she leaves I slip into the car and Jeremy gives me a look that makes my heart skip a beat. I think back to Grace's flirtatious manner with him and can't wipe the scowl off my face. I hope her date goes well. Really well. Maybe then she'll keep her eyes off Jeremy….
….Not like I care of course.