She was perfect. After a long day of tolerating imperfections, suffering fools, and staring death in the eye, Dr. Perry Cox was more than happy to have a shoulder to lean on. Not that he had many people that he could count on. In fact, he could count on one finger, not including his shrink, the people that he honestly confided in. And that person was Carla.

Perry did not know why he found it so easy to open up to her, nor did he stop to think about it. He simply talked to her when he had something on his mind. And more importantly, he listened. Of course, most of the time he ignored her advice. That was part of his self-sabotage that had become second nature to him. The important thing was, however, that when Carla spoke he did listen. Usually when people spoke he filtered the talk into two categories: garden variety brand of useless and plain old pile of crap. Not Carla. She spoke with purpose, no matter who she was talking to. She might go off on a tangent at times, but she could convince anyone, even Perry, that what she was saying was valid.

She was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He did not want to get on her bad side. When he angered her-which he did frequently- she let him know it. There was no mistaking that temper of hers, which would come out in the form of a verbal barrage of Spanish bullets. No one else could make him feel like a scolded child, but she could. When he disappointed her he walked away with a sinking feeling in his gut. He had no choice but to walk away without making eye contact and he knew that she hated that.

The worst part was seeing her with Ghandi. The hand holding, the hugs, and the way he lifted her off the ground. Carla was happy, and that should have made Perry happy too. That's what all of the crappy love songs on the radio would say. But it did not make him feel any better. It made him feel worse knowing that he had his chance with her but for whatever reason Carla decided that things felt right with Christopher Turk. The surgeon could offer her something more than Perry could, and that tore him up. She had her chance for a happy-ever-after, and that's something he couldn't begrudge her. But for every missed kiss, for every missed dinner, for every missed dance, Perry consoled himself. He knew that he would have eventually messed up that relationship the way he messed up the rest of them. At least he could be Carla's friend. And that was something he would not give up, no matter how badly his demons fought him.

Instead he would have to watch her and let go. He would let go of his feelings, let go of the love he had for her. Let go of the way he allowed himself to feel for another human being. Return to the isolation that he'd grown so used to for most of his life. He could do that, and she would never know. He was good at pretending. After all, she had no clue as to the depth of his feelings for her. And now she would never know.