Between Us: The Diaries of Love is a contemporary fiction online serial novel. It will be delivered through regular installments in its original raw, unedited state. Please feel free to comment and share what you think of it chapter by chapter. Who knows, your thoughts might help shape what happens next.
- two -
Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm
The odds should have been in Grant’s favor that this wouldn’t happen. It had been ten years.
The first year he could accept… possibly even the second or third, but not ten.
Ten years including two leap years. Plus four months – and after recalling the date he used when signing off on a patient’s chart a few hours ago – he knew it was another five days on top of that. He had gone 3,657 days without seeing her. What were the chances that this would be the day?
Grant had pretended he needed to return a phone call before locking himself upstairs in Tiffany’s bathroom where he pulled up the scientific calculator app on his cell. After everything, he needed to know how this happened – Michaela in the same state, living next door to his fiancée and seated across from him that evening had to be almost impossible.
Overwrought with emotion, he fumbled with the keyboard until he could remember the odds-ratio formula. But stopped to question what good that would do him now. Somehow he needed to pull himself together and go downstairs to continue the charade that Michaela was just as new of a face to him as she was to everyone else… except he knew her well.
It was how well he got to know her that got them in trouble in the first place and why they were no longer on each other’s radar… unless this reunion was anything but coincidental. Except Grant doubted that theory. Michaela was the one that left him with no reason to ever look for him again.
Feeling the sweat beading on his skin, he stopped to pull his shirt over his head before it started to stick to him. Grant stared at his reflection in the mirror while turning on the faucet. He then stuck his hand into the cool water and bent over the sink to douse his face. It was not enough.
After cupping both hands, he waited until the water overflowed from them before bathing his face in its coolness. That didn’t help either.
Grant reached for a hand towel to dry off when he remembered he forgot something crucial for his calculation. He and Tiffany fought Thursday evening, thus affecting the relative risks. A fight so bad that she ended up getting another doctor to cover for her first surgery Friday morning. Why she was so adamant about them having children in the future Grant still didn’t know, but the chances that Michaela appeared days after that particular argument made his throat burn and tighten from the bile pushing up in the wrong direction.
Playing with numbers didn’t help or make the feeling go away. No matter how he worked it, the odds of this happening were crazy. Except this wasn’t a far-fetched but still likely crazy such as a news reporter rattling off the odds for winning the largest Powerball jackpot in history (which happened to be one in 175,223,510) or patients rolling their eyes after telling them they had a fifty percent chance of getting cancer.
What was crazy (and ironic) was that Grant’s professional success was because he knew how to beat the odds.
He knew they were called odds for a reason, because of the unlikelihood that there was a chance – albeit however slight it might be – something could happen just once and he was able to determine the benefit (or harm) in moving forward. In most instances, he moved forward because he was skilled enough to counter the risks.
Glancing at his final calculation, Grant regretted not picking up a Powerball ticket because those odds were even more in his favor. And there was no way to beat whatever came with the risks of having Michaela back in his life, so he might as well take a shot at something that wouldn’t hurt as much if he ended up losing the prize in the end.
Tiffany was the consummate host. She didn’t fuss over place cards or make grand announcements that courses were changing. When it was time to eat, her eight guests migrated to various places… leaving only three empty seats for Michaela to choose from. Michaela observed how they all ate graciously and chattered about whatever kept the conversation flowing.
Michaela still felt uneasy because of Grant’s presence and couldn’t enjoy any of the company around her while in silent defense mode. The safest and most distant seat she could find was in front of the main centerpiece – the most prominent arrangement of white hydrangeas and strung pearls in Tiffany’s home – and willed herself to ignore when he looked her way. Ever so often she passed a platter, answered a question directed at her or smiled to appear appreciative, but deep down she felt her lies unraveling as if he could still see right through her.
Lies no one knew… things she said to keep him from the truth.
It was best for all that Grant had taken the seat at the end of the table. His friends didn’t need to identify the discomfort between her and Grant, because then they would want to know why. When he reached for his cell to look at it, Michaela exhaled as soon as he excused himself from the table halfway through the meal to answer the call. She felt like it was the first time she could breathe since he arrived.
Then Tiffany jumped into his seat as soon as he got up and Amber quickly followed her lead of playing musical chairs. Pretty soon, the ladies congregated around one end of the table, leaving the men to occupy the other half. The fellas didn’t mind at all. That’s where Tiffany had placed dessert – in front of them.
Michaela, seated between the two sexes, was suddenly forced to sit next to Grant when he returned to the table or boldly get up to sit further away.
Her luck. Again.
All she could do was sigh, keep her eyes trained on the hydrangea and Serena who was now seated across from her, and wait for the perfect opportunity to thank the hostess without interrupting dessert, and rush on home.
Serena tried to get Mason’s attention by tapping his thigh beneath the table, but Mason’s eyes were trained on Amber. Serena pinched him and he jumped, which made him drop his spoon into his bowl of Apple Brown Betty. Splattered syrup and diced apples landed on the table and his sleeve.
“What?” he snapped.
Serena leaned toward Mason to whisper into his ear. “You catch that?”
Serena quietly hushed him before nodding her head in Grant’s direction, pointing out how he was fixated on their new guest. “He’s been staring at her all night.”
“It’s like they know each other.”
“It’s possible. He’s a doctor.”
“Nah, this is different. He’s staring at her like he knows her.”
Serena shook her head, sighing. “Never mind.”
But Serena couldn’t ignore her gut. And while she was busy keeping tabs on Grant and Michaela, she missed her man get up to clean his shirt and that Amber followed close behind carelessly whispering her tips for ridding him of the little mess he had on his hands.
– to be continued. –