"Just a couple more days and you'll be out of here, honey," Dr. Gentemann tucked a wayward blonde strand behind one ear as she flipped through her clipboard, "You've made terrific progress, you must have a lot to live for."
"No," the pale young woman whispered, cracking a shadow of a smile, "Just life."
Dr. Gentemann nodded, "Well, whatever it is, it's working. Now we're going to let you out of the hospital for primary care, but you must remember to return immediately if there are any rebound effects," she paused, smiling encouragingly at her patient, "But you may not have any at all. You've been very strong throughout this ordeal."
Sara gave the young doctor as full a smile as she could manage, "Thank you Lindsay, for everything."
"Of course, Sara. Now, I'm going to let you get some rest," Dr. Gentemann picked herself up from the chair and left the room, closing the white plastic curtain around the bed behind her.
Sara ran one hand through the soft inch of blonde hair on her head and sighed. Chemo had been everything she'd remembered—absolute hell—but for some reason she'd allowed her mother and Amy to convince her into treatment. That had been over two years ago, and now she was finally done. She reached over to the ivory princess phone beside her bed, and dialed an old number she'd never forget. She cradled the phone next to her ear and waited.
The alarm clock was ringing. Nelson Moss sat up, waking as if from a nightmare, and looked momentarily confused at his huge apartment. His sheets were twisted around his body, and he stumbled out of bed, pulling on clothes as he went. His routine hadn't varied much in the past eight years, except for one month, he realized, as he walked around already adopting a brisk workforce pace and muttering slogans under his breath. One month, his mind raced back toward that November, That was two years ago, get a grip, Nelson. Think about the Texaco account, not Sara Deever. He stepped into the shower, telling himself this.
Finishing quickly, he stepped out and was pouring himself coffee when his cell phone started ringing. He picked it up, "Yeah?"
Sara took a deep breath and whispered to the man she hadn't spoken to in almost two years, "Hey…it's me."
"Sara! How have you been, babe? We've missed you so much over here!" The voice was excited and not at all bitter, unlike what she was anticipating, and she felt a small smile creep over her face.
"I'm doing really well, Chaz. I'm…they're…actually…" She held the phone away from her face for a couple of seconds, as a rush of unfamiliar emotions overcame her, "I'm going to be okay. They're letting me out in a couple of days. Chaz, I'm going to be okay."
"You're going to be okay? Sara, you're…what? Are you in the hospital?"
"Yes, Chaz, I am. Amy and Mom convinced me, and it took two years, but I'm going to be okay!"
She could hear Chaz shouting to someone to come over before he turned back to the phone, "Oh, Sara, I'm so happy for you! We still have your place open, if you'd like to come back…"
Sara nodded, even though she knew Chaz couldn't see her, "I'd like that. I'm going to stay with my family for a couple of weeks, but I'd like that. Oh…they're here, I should go."
"Alright, baby, hang in there. I love you."
"I love you too, Chaz."
"Nelson? Nelson! Nelson, can you hear me, Nelson?"
"Vince, talk to me."
"Texaco's thinking of backing out, you need to get down here right now. Michelin heard what we were doing with the Texaco account, though, and are thinking of revamping their mascot—can you believe that, Michelin, Nelson, insanity! I'm not sure about the paperwork there, remember that suit by B&B against them for breach of contract, though, so we'll have to look at that before agreeing to anything—on paper or in words, Nelson, remember that—now, I planned lunch for—"
"Whoa," Nelson cut him off abruptly, "Take a breath, Vince."
A pause, "Right, anyway I planned lunch for two with that girl I told you I knew, so that you can try—"
"A girl? Vince, I don't want any blind dates, I told you that."
"Man, you haven't gotten laid since you broke up with what's-her-face, I know you need something, man."
"Maybe I like it that way," Nelson could feel the bitter edge creep into his voice, "I'm too busy for a relationship."
"Right, dude, whatever. Let's hit a strip joint or something, man, you gotta be going crazy there."
"No," Nelson sighed, thinking to himself. Why not? It's not like she was ever coming back, she was probably already…No, he wouldn't think that, "I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on. Maybe, uh, next week?" He furrowed his brow, but realized that Vince wouldn't give up otherwise.
"Whatever you say, man. Alright, see you in ten."
Three Weeks Later
"Oh, Chaz, you haven't changed at all!"
"No, babe, but you have. Look at you, you're beautiful!"
Sara giggled, running her hand through her healthily growing hair, which was about two inches long now, "It won't be long before it's back to normal," her voice turned serious, "Really, though, I'm glad you hadn't forgotten about me."
"Oh, Sara, Sara, Sara. Nobody could ever forget you," Chaz paused, tipping his drink down his throat, "There are others, you know," his blue eyes grew darker, "Who haven't forgotten you."
Sara stared at her champagne, swirling it around in the cup. "That was a long time ago, Chaz."
"Sara, he loved you. You aren't even going to see him?"
"I was thinking about it, maybe in the next week, or so."
"I think he'd like that."
"But that's not fair to him, Chaz!" She turned to him, and Chaz could see the pain flashing through her eyes, "He doesn't deserve to have me running in there and messing up his life again. I can't…do that to him. I can't ask him to give up everything for me…again."
"Oh, baby," Chaz reached an arm around her and pulled her close, "Then don't ask him to give up anything. Offer to give him everything."
"You think so?"
"He gave up everything for you, Sara, and you left him. Now it might just be your turn."
Sara snuggled into Chaz's embrace, "Maybe, Chaz. Maybe."
Nelson stared at the beautiful brunette in front of him. Her hands were running over his chest, and she was giving him a sultry, secretive smile. He couldn't even begin to comprehend how completely uninterested he was. He could see Vince out of the corner of his eye, sitting on one of his chairs—yes, they were in his apartment, how Vince had ever talked him into this, he couldn't remember—with a blonde of equal…proportions of that of the girl currently trying to seduce him. He put one of his hands over hers, and lightly pried it off his thin frame, "Nothing personal," he muttered, "I'm just not in the mood."
The girl didn't speak, she simply looked affronted and offended. She marched over to Vince and blondie, whispering angrily in blondie's ear. Vince stood up, throwing a disgusted glare at Nelson, "Well, Nelson, since you don't seem to be in the mood," he paused to kiss each girl on the cheek, "I'm going to take these two gorgeous women to my place."
Nelson stood, hurrying them to the door. As he ushered them out of his apartment, Vince poked his head back around the door, "You have a lot of explaining to do tomorrow, Nelson." Nelson shrugged, and closed the door in his face. He leaned back against the door and stood there, gazing at the astonishing city view he had. His huge apartment, his expensive clothes, his hi-technology toys. Everything.
"C'mon, please don't phone him, I just…I want it to be a surprise!" Sara pleaded with the doorman, who gave her a slightly reproachful look.
"Alright," his voice was gruff, "But that's only because I know you know him."
Sara smiled gratefully, and adjusted the scarf on her head as the sliding glass doors opened before her. She reached into her bag and pulled on a pair of large, dark sunglasses (very 50's movie star, she decided), as the elevator doors opened. She stepped inside, and the elevator-man politely asked what floor, "Seventh," she replied.
They stood in what Sara believed to be a tense silence for a couple of minutes as the elevator made its way up the floors. She nodded graciously at the elevator-man as she stepped off, and onto plush red carpeting.
A man, one she recognized as one of Nelson's coworkers, actually, came flying out of the apartment at the end of the hall, his arms around two buxom women—one blonde and one brunette. All three of them were giggling and tripping over their feet, as though drunk. Sara walked resolutely past them, to the apartment they'd come barreling out of—the apartment she knew was Nelson's. She vaguely heard the man snicker to one of the women, "Maybe Nelson will be getting some tonight." She smiled to herself, maybe.
Holding her breath, she rapped twice on the door, and waited.
Nelson was still slumped against the door when he felt someone rap twice on it. He sighed, probably Vince forgot to remind me of that meeting tomorrow, he thought to himself, taking his time to turn and unlock the door. He opened it, and stared at the woman in front of him.
Sara, still wearing her sunglasses, blinked up at him. The man who'd been the reason (though she'd resolutely refused to admit it to herself) she'd kept fighting the cancer. She couldn't tell what he was feeling, his eyes looked dark and hollow, and his face drawn tight with concerns and business. She cleared her throat, but could only let out a breathy whisper, "Hi."
Nelson blinked down at the woman in front of him. She was petite, and possibly pretty, wearing a light silk scarf over her hair and large, dark sunglasses. Honestly, he had no idea who she was, so he made up his mind that she must be something Vince had sent up to his room, "Whatever it is you're selling, I'm not interested, sorry." He moved to close the door, but she pushed one delicate hand against it, keeping it open with surprising force.
Sara blinked behind her sunglasses, he doesn't recognize me, she realized. Well, of course not, Sara, you're wearing a scarf and sunglasses.
She pulled her sunglasses off, tucking them into her bag. A look of disbelief crossed Nelson's handsome features, but he shook his head, trying to clear his mind of that possibility.
"Could I come in? Just for a couple of minutes." She whispered, "Please?"
Nelson looked confused, but nodded, opening the door wider to allow her access. She nodded gratefully, and turned on the lights as she stepped into the apartment, "Nelson."
"I'm sorry, who are you?"
"Nelson, I…" Sara faltered, unsure of what to tell him. Dare she tell him she was Sara Deever? She glanced at the clock on the kitchen counter, watching the seconds tick by.
Click. Click. Click.
The minute hand moved, and Nelson glanced at it as well. Twelve AM, and she smiled ironically, "It's November." She whispered.
She looked at him, and his eyes met hers in surprised shock, "No…" He whispered, "…Sara?"
Sara could feel a tear slide down her cheek, and she momentarily wished she'd left her sunglasses on. Not responding to his question, she continued, at a slightly higher volume than a whisper, "Nelson…two years ago…you gave up everything. And…I left. And…that wasn't fair of me, at all, I know…I know…I'm sorry. So sorry." Her words were coming out, disjointed and tear-ridden, but she couldn't stop or she knew she'd never start up again, "And I…I know you loved me. I know I love you. Not loved, but love…but it's been two years, and I know you've probably moved on with your life…I don't…I don't want to make you give up everything again. I just…I just wanted to let you know that…I…I love you…and…I just wanted to see you. I love you."
Nelson was staring. He couldn't help it, but he was gawking, and he wasn't sure exactly what she had said. He wanted to touch her, feel her, feel if it was her…but he was afraid of messing up the apparition standing in his apartment. He stood there, rigid, as she started to walk toward him.
When she had closed the small distance between their bodies, she tentatively reached her arms around him…and gave him a hug. He stayed rigid, and she pulled back slightly, choking on her words, "Nelson, I…I wish you the best. I love…I love you." She leaned up and kissed him softly on the lips, and turned away, finally letting the tears fall freely. He didn't want her, but what had she expected? He didn't deserve to be put through hell, all over again. She gave him a weak smile, "I guess I won't be seeing you around. Good…luck with your life." She turned to open the door.
As soon as she had pulled it open it slammed shut. She turned, surprised, to see Nelson hovering over her, one arm outstretched above her head, bracing himself on the closed door. His voice was ragged, "No," he whispered, "You're not leaving."
She stared at him in wonder as he leaned over her, pulling her bag from her hands and setting it gently on the floor. He pushed her scarf off her head and ran a large hand over the two inches of downy blonde hair there, "You…went back."
She nodded, "My mother and sister convinced me."
He wrapped one muscular arm around her waist and dragged her against him, burying his face in her neck, "You…got treatment."
She nodded again, pressed against his solid form, "I was released three weeks ago."
He pulled back and held her away from him, "You were released?"
"I was released."
"It's gone. I'm…cured."
"Oh…god." Nelson whispered, dragging her to him once more. He pressed his lips against hers fervently, his hands roaming over her body, "Oh, god. Sara…oh, god."
Sara whimpered, unable to speak against the pressure of his kisses, and the movements of his hands. Nelson felt himself grin through the tears he knew were sliding down his cheeks, "Now you have no excuse, Sara, no excuse. I love you. I love you, Sara Deaver. Be my wife."
She could only nod into his shoulder, and he grinned back, still buried in her neck. They were both crying, a mix of joy and relief, and they clung to each other tightly.
"I love you, Sara Deever, god, I love you."
"I love you too, Nelson. I love you too."
"So, you have some explaining to do, Nelson Moss, as to why you were so 'uninterested' last night. I pulled a lot of strings to get those girls."
A harsh voice filtered through the apartment, and Sara rolled over in bed.
"Who are yo—is that your excuse, Nelson? She's your reason?"
"I'm his fiancée."
"I…I guess that is a good reason. Nelson! God, I don't want to watch you two go at it, why didn't you tell me you were getting married!"
Nelson ignored him, and continued to kiss Sara from behind.
"Uh...I'll…tell them you're sick."
Nelson smiled, and finally replied to Vince, "Thanks," he muttered, lying back down, and pulling Sara with him.