Falling For You
'I don't know but
I think I maybe
Falling for you
Dropping so quickly
Maybe I should
Keep this to myself'
I needed caffeine. Badly. I was functioning on two hours of sleep and worst of all, I had to take care of a fundraiser that the Foundation was sponsoring. It wasn't the fact that I had to do this that had me upset. It was who I was working with: Doctor Reid Oliver.
Based on what I've heard, Henry had donated his inheritance to adding a neurology unit to the hospital, but it wasn't enough for funding. That's funny, considering how Maddie always told me of how attached her brother was to money. But everyone could turn over a new leaf every once in a while. I guess he suddenly found being a philanthropist appealing.
As I entered Java, memories lingered among the smell of coffee beans. I remember when Noah used to be behind that counter, smiling at me, handing me my favorite kind of coffee. Without him there, Java had lost it's warm feeling. Frowning, I placed my order and tapped my fingers on the counter.
"Golly, look whose here." I turned to see Doctor Oliver seated at a table across from me. Something inside of me jumped and I couldn't stop myself from jumping.
"Small world, huh?"
"Try small town. I guess it's too cramped here to escape you."
Was I really that bad?
"Here's your coffee."
"Thanks." I exchanged my cash for my coffee, all the while pondering how I should approach him. It felt awkward to act like nothing happened between us. But we had no choice but to work together whether we liked it or not. Might as well try to break the ice and loosen the tension.
So I sat down across from him.
What I hated the most at that moment was how hot I felt my face getting. I tugged at the collar of my sit in a pathetic attempt to catch a draft of cool air, only to fail. It peeved me how nervous I was around him. "So what made you decide to stay in Oakdale? Did you get the raise you wanted?" I asked. Although I was snaring at him, I was genuinely curious. At first, all he ever seemed to talk about was how adamant he was in returning to Dallas.
"I figured I wouldn't put Katie's efforts to convince Hank to fork up his money to waste. Besides, it would be a crime for me to leave the doctors here - who claimed to have gotten a medical degree - uneducated. Might as well tend to their brains while I'm stuck here."
"I don't get it."
He scoffed. "Really? I thought you had it all figured out."
"You couldn't wait to get out of here before and now - completely out of the blue - you're going to stay."
"My flight's keep getting postponed."
"I know, but there's no stopping you now."
He chuckled. The sound was dulcet, though it was out of his own personal amusement. "Are you that eager to get me out of here, Mr. Snyder? Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you the one who blackmailed me here out of personal grievances?"
I hated to admit it, but…"Well yeah…I was just wondering. That's all." I replied. And I still was left with no answer. No surprise there. It's been happening a lot lately.
But then that led me to wonder about something else. "How different is Dallas anyway?"
He raised a skeptic eyebrow. My stomach felt like a washing machine. I dismissed it as my being hungry. I had yet to eat breakfast and I was famished.
"There are high quality restaurants around every corner. Back home, they wouldn't be caught dead with the crap served here. It's spacious and on top of that, everybody knows how to mind their own business and there are less distractions…"
"That sounds nice." It must've been onerous adjusting to the sudden changes I coerced in his life. If he wasn't so egotistical, I think I would've felt guilty.
"It's way better than here, that's for sure. Aren't you happy you could add me to your buddy group?"
I actually smiled. "You're doing it again."
He blinked as he took a sip of his coffee. "Doing what?"
"You get deep and then you try to play it off like you're apathetic about telling me anything."
"And you evade questions."
"What do you want; an autobiography?"
"Look, we are working together. I thought that we might as well make the best of it."
At the moment, I wanted the feeling to be mutual. That confused me more than anything. What will it accomplish? Would it really amount to anything? It's not like we're friends…If we were, he'd talk to me like he talks to my Aunt. Briefly reflecting on it, I found it intriguing how kind he could be. Who would've thought?
I wondered what made me different.
"Fair enough. How about you start answering to me?" The almighty Doctor Reid Oliver wanted to know about me. What an honor. Really.
"Sure, ask away."
"How are you taking the break up? Did you go crying to the whole town about it yet? I'm sure it made the news already."
He was trying to sound offending, but I knew better. That was just his way of showing that he was concerned. It was how his pattern of speech worked.
I wish Noah's was that way…
Wait, am I honestly comparing them? They're about as alike as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
"If you must know, doctor, I go to bed and my eyes start to water. Now what do suggest I take to fix that?" I knew I was getting smart, but what did I care? It irritated me that he could be so callous to me about this. So callous yet nice at the same time…
I was surprised by how intently he stared at me after I asked. The intensity of his stare sent shivers up my arms. It was embarrassing. I honestly thought he sensed my reaction somehow so I rubbed at my upper arms as if to warm myself.
"You seem to have your head wrapped around the inane notion that you need Noah's love to keep living in your perfect little world. I suggest you get your head out of the clouds, Mr. Snyder, or you'll end up with nothing but hot air." With that, he got up, coffee in hand. Before leaving, he gave me a look that bordered somewhere between worry and anger.
Just what was that about?
At the Foundation meeting, I assigned certain people to hand out flyers. I decided that the fundraiser would be held at Metro. Dancing the night away would be well worth the pay. So I had one of my colleagues create the flyers and have make enough copies to hand out to the entire town. I picked a few people to accompany me to Old Town, and began distributing the news.
It touched my heart that everyone was willing to lend a hand. Adding on the neurology unit would benefit an abundance of people. Besides that, it felt nice to apart of Foundation activity again after all of the time I took off from it. For months, I have been preoccupied with ensuring Noah's recovery. I left the Foundation to Brian, who ameliorated several projects I had left unfinished. This earned him my immense gratitude. In addition, I made a promise to myself to try my best to stick by my Foundation.
Everything stopped…or I did, at least, when I saw Noah seated on a bench. I pretended not to know him and continued handing out my flyers. But he was too sharp to overlook my presence. "Luke?" He called. I couldn't ignored him any longer. My heart swelled and I was drawn to him like a magnet.
"Hey," was all I could say.
"What are you up to?"
"I'm just handing out flyers." I laughed uneasily, flapping the papers against my bare palm. My cheeks were too warm to have been graced by the touch of friendship.
"For the construction of the new wing, right?"
Now we were stating the obvious.
I couldn't stand being around him if I couldn't be with him. All it did was make me feel inadequate. I needed to get away. It hurt too much to try to feign a friendship so I told him. "Take care of yourself."
He grabbed at my arm and held me still. My heart leaped in my chest and that had my blood boiling. "Come on, Luke, I just want to talk."
That's all he wants to do? Be my friend? Noah dared to dream.
Impulsively, I tugged my arm from his grasp.
"Save it for someone else, Noah." I whispered, furiously before walking away.
By the time I was finished handing out the flyers, my stomach was in knots. I knew I had to eat, despite my declining appetite. So I went to go eat at Al's. There I found Casey, who I haven't seen in ages, staring plaintively at his menu. I approached him to see what was irking him.
"Long time, no see, Casey." I greeted. That snapped him out of it. He gave me a smile and enthusiastically shot up to give me a quick hug.
"Luke, man! How's it hanging?" He asked as we sat down across from one another.
I oscillated my hand, humming my displeasure and dismissing it just as fast. "How about you? Why do you look so down in the dumps?"
"You remember that Alison and I got engaged, right?"
I nodded, fervently. "Yeah, how could I forget after I made such a fuss to get the right tux for your wedding?"
"I'm sorry you had to waste your time." Casey huffed. "The wedding's been called off."
I couldn't believe my ears. Last I checked, they seemed secure. "What? What happened?"
"She cheated on me, that's what happened. You think it's all good and then your fiancée goes and sleeps with some crazed-up son of a bitch…and in a church, no less!" Angrily, he threw a ring on the table. "It took me forever to prove myself to her and I worked my ass off just to afford this ring. And this is how she repays me." Sighing, he put his face in his hands. I really felt for him. "I don't know how this could've happened. I wish it never did."
"Casey, what's done is done. All you could do now is hang in there. Who knows? Maybe she'll come around. Just give it some time."
He groaned, not at me so much as at his dilemma. "Can we not talk about this?"
"So…how's your love life going?"
"Noah and I broke up." I choked up when I said this. It made my heart feel beat-up to make it even more official.
Casey hissed. "I'm sorry to hear that, man."
"What can you do?" I shrugged. "I just need to keep myself busy and get my mind off of it." I wished it was that simple.
"So you're doing that fundraiser thing, right?"
"No offense to you, but don't you think it's weird?" He crossed his arms and made a sour face. "That Oliver dude comes into town and just so happens to convince my grandfather to make a new wing just for him. The nerve of that guy…Just yesterday, he was sneering at me about cleaning up the floor. He said I had a low IQ just for being a janitor and said something about me not being able to tell the difference between dirty and clean floors."
I dryly laughed. "That's Doctor Reid Oliver for you." That's when my beeper went off. I dug into my pocket to retrieve it. My other duty to Grimaldi Shipping was staring me right in the face. "Damn it." I muttered, shoving the beeper back into my jacket pocket before standing. "Looks like I'll be getting take-out."
"I got to go. I'll catch up with you later."
"OK, good luck, man!"
It's too bad Lady Luck barely had any time to spend with me.
Running this company was a burden. Although, I've lost all respect of Damian, I couldn't just leave Grimaldi Shipping hanging by a thread. I had a responsibility there.
It's annoying how they all look at me; like I'm some amateur who thought he was a big hot shot. The wannabe replacement of the leader they really wanted to lead them; and that was Damian. The father, who I missed…I tried to ignore that nagging feeling as best as I could while I worked.
One man decided to bail on me so Gregor sent the packages he was assigned to me, personally. It was a bundle or women and men's clothing that were yet to be packed. Is this somebody's idea of mocking me?
I thought I might as well try to remedy my situation through conversation since Gregor decided to stay. "So who's the package for? Do you know?" I asked. He looked like he was jolted awake.
"A married couple. The left behind some clothes when they left on their honeymoon to Malta. So their parents are shipping them out."
"I see…Have you ever been to Malta before?"
"Yes, the islands there are beautiful. The weather is hardly cold. And there's lots to do like windsurfing, sailing…windsurfing…It's really fun there."
I didn't want to embarrass him by pointing out the fact that he said windsurfing twice and that he sounded like un unsuccessful travel agent.
At least he was excited enough for the both of us about this conversation.
"He's still your father."
Whoa, where did that come from?
I know Dr. Oliver was right in saying that and it did make me feel better for still caring about Damian. But I can't be thinking about Dr. Oliver of all people. I can't let him invade my head. As much as I tried, his voice kept coming back like a boomerang.
As I worked, I felt Gregor's eyes on me. "I'm here if you need any assistance." He said. To me, it sounded more like 'I'll baby-sit you and make sure you aren't bullied by the big boys.'
"You don't have to be here, you know."
"I'm sorry, but Damian insisted that I keep an eye on you."
"You talked to him?"
Gregor nodded. "He's really worried about you."
Joy. A guilt trip. By some corrupt means, he got Gregor here to break me down until I came running back to him. I just huffed in reply because it wasn't going to work with me. There was no use wasting my breath on this. What pestered me more than Damian, was the fact that I aspired to trust him like I had just a few months back. Even though I knew it couldn't happen. Not after all he did to Aunt Meg, my mother, and my whole family.
Just then, the phone rang. "Hello?" I answered.
"Hey there, Luke, sorry to bother you." It was Brian.
"No, no. It's ok. What's up?"
"I thought I'd tell you the good news. The party is all ready for tonight. Your mother made a broadcast about the gathering on WOAK and people are more than ready to make a contribution. Plus, we've considered your idea on donating extra money to Health Care. The team is in love with the idea. Good work."
I gasped, happily. That was a relief. One less thing to worry about. "You too. Man, that's great! Thank you so much, Brian. I owe you one."
"Don't mention it. You don't owe me anything. It's enough to be on board for this fundraiser. I'll see you at the party."
I was doing the right thing. So why was the reminder of the party worrying me? Oh, right. Dr. Oliver will be there, armed with a whole round of smart-aleck remarks. I better remember to bring my bullet proof vest.
"May I come in?"
There goes his voice again. It was annoying…But as much as it bugged me, it actually my day bearable, if only by a little bit; as much as I hate to admit it.
Sighing, I recomposed myself before I stepped into my house.
"How can you keep this from us?" My mom asked. She sounded furious. The victim of her anger was Molly, who whatever the case may be, had it coming.
"I was just trying to help." Molly replied, weakly.
Cautiously, I approached. "What's going on?"
"Luke." My mom came up to me, urgently. Clearly she was in distress so I gave her a brief embrace. "Have you seen Faith?"
I didn't like where this was going. "No, why? Did she run away?"
"Afraid so." My father answered. "It turns out she was expelled from school from smoking pot."
I could've swore my eyeballs would fall out of their eye sockets.
All I knew was that she was taking prescription pills, but I had no idea she got expelled for pot. "I'll go look for her." I was about to leave when my mother stopped me.
"No, leave that to me and your father. You have a party to attend. Give a ground-breaking speech for me, all right, baby?"
"Sure, let me know when you find her."
She nodded and left with my father.
Molly walked over to me and handed me a few hundred dollars. "I would've attended, but I need to stay here just in case Faith comes back." Knowing Faith, I highly doubted that she would. But I knew what Molly was doing was out of good intention.
Besides, maybe mom and dad will works things out away from Molly; who proved to be another obstacle in their relationship. Naïve, I know. All I want is an iota, at the very least, of normalcy back in my life. I guess that's too much to hope for.
"Thanks." I mumbled, fiddling with the bills in thought. "Hey…" Attentively, she looked at me. "Just…how serious are you about my father?"
"Very. I love your father very much."
I was sorry I even asked. What good did love ever do if all it did was crush everything into bits?
For my parents, it sent them on a rollercoaster ride, picking up several people along the way, causing more twists and turns.
For Noah and I…let's just say all the break ups and bad times were ancient history as far as I was concerned.
I can't be with someone who can't commit himself wholeheartedly to me. I can't be doing all the work. It hurt too much.
"The two of you broke up?"
Reid's voice. Again.
When have I ever been on a first name basis with him? He's just a doctor to me.
And no, I'm not denying myself any kind of truth.
"Is something wrong?" She asked.
Stupid question. Everything was wrong. Here I am with my dad's rebound girl, having just found out my sister - who had just decided to try drugs - was missing. On top of that, the love of my life wants to be friends and I've been thinking about his doctor all day long.
Life is just dandy, isn't it?
"No. I need to get ready." I excused myself to take a shower.
As the host, I had to make sure everything was in order and arrive early. Consulting the staff, I felt drained. Definitely not in the party mood. When I finished assuring the stability of the oncoming festivites, I plopped down in a seat. Glancing at the clock, I saw that I had less than twenty minutes to look alive. I groaned, massaging my tired eyes.
I needed more time. It never seemed like I had enough of it. For anything.
"Don't you think it's rude to fall asleep at your own party?" I heard Dr. Oliver ask.
"What are you doing here so early?"
"Avoiding the stampede of animals that will come through that door once the clock strikes eight."
"Oh…" That made sense, but how I felt around him didn't…
"What's got you so tired? Can't sleep without your blankie?"
I scoffed and then I actually smirked. "I've been running around all day, doing a million things. So excuse me for being exhausted."
"That teaches you not to take on more than you can handle." No smart-aleck remark was attached, which took me by surprise. Looking at him, I saw that he was concerned.
When did his eyes ever get so blue?
"Yeah, I've got Grimaldi Shipping on top of the Foundation to tend to. It's tiring but it's worth it."
"That's a brilliant way to drop dead of stress. Wasn't Bad Dad the leader of the shipping company?"
I nodded. "He left it in my hands before he was arrested."
"I'm sure you're popular, being the boss' rich son."
"Let's just say it feels like being in high school all over again." Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing that brought me nostalgia. Why did it feel like I was crushing on Kevin again? Oh yeah. It's probably because he has zero interest in me and….that I shouldn't be feeling this way towards him of all people.
"I must say seeing a grown man act like an idiot never fails to annoy me. Hank was hell-bent on convincing Katie to stay home."
"To my dismay. He made plans with his girlfriend on purpose. So she has no choice but to look after the kid."
"Then why are you here?"
"Mr. Snyder, I'm apart of this whole money operation too, mostly because I'm the one who made up the design of the wing. So my presence is required here, seeing as how this town hasn't ever seen genius the way my patients in Dallas do." A know-it-all statement but it made me laugh nonetheless. Nice to know he can have such a great sense of humor about it.
Just that churned my gut. Noah had a good sense of humor too…It's been over a week since we broke up and it still hurt so bad.
"Offended? Don't worry, I have enough brain for the both of us." He said us…That made me think of how much I loved having him close to me. It made me wonder if he felt this weird attraction too…
That's when people started coming in. I shot up, our conversation bringing a spring to my step. The music began to play and I had an urge to dance. It was better than moping around and being a cruddy host.
"You have enough brains to dance?" I can't believe I asked that…Dancing didn't seem his style. Aside from that, I sounded interested in a person who just so happens to hate my guts.
He shrugged and accompanied me on the dance floor. I was shocked by this and his lack of obnoxious things to say that I nearly tripped over my own feet. It felt like I was brought back to where we were before. So close yet so far. "Nice moves, doc." I grinned, at a loss for something better to say.
"Don't try to charm me by making exaggerated compliments." He replied. I could've sworn that he was blushing. It was too dark to tell.
"OK, do you want the truth?"
"I could care less."
'Then why are you talking to me and dancing beside me?' I wanted to ask, but I was too scared to.
"You're a much better doctor than a dancer."
"I guess I better get on those dance lessons since they seem to matter all of a sudden."
"Look at it this way, you'll be more well-rounded if you do."
He actually chuckled. My knees buckled like they used to whenever I saw Noah. It felt nice to have that feeling back, but I couldn't help but feel like it was misplaced.
I wasn't supposed to be here flirting with my ex's doctor. I was supposed to be grieving my lost love. Then again, when have I ever done anything I was supposed to do?
I was about to go up to make my speech when my mother called. One look at the caller ID and I was outside to get more reception. "Did you find her?" I asked.
"No, but she left her cell phone here and I saw a text from this boy named Gabriel." She informed, worry lacing her every word. "I think he's the one who's been giving her drugs. Please get a hold of her. The text says to meet him behind Metro for a fix. I called the police and they're headed over there right now."
"OK." With that, I hung up and began looking around. I suspected my mom didn't want Faith to be arrested for being an accessory. I didn't want that either, but I had no idea how to prevent it.
"What's the problem?" Reid asked, stepping outside. "Calling a cab to bail on your own party?"
"It's my sister. She's doing drugs." It was a vague explanation but there wasn't enough time for a long story. My top priority was finding Faith.
"Nice family you got. I'm sure reunions are just full of surprises."
"You don't have to follow me, you know."
"Got no choice. It looks like you managed to rope me into your issues once again, Mr. Snyder."
Reaching the dumpsters, I saw Faith with a tall boy around her age. That must be Gabriel. "Faith!" I called, rushing up to her. Dazed, she turned to me. My heart staggered along with my legs.
Faith was high.
"Who's that?" Gabriel asked. His eyes were bloodshot and his body was rigid enough to signify caution.
"My brother…older brother…Luke…"
Suddenly, he grabbed Faith and held a gun to her head. I gasped, instinctively stepping forward. Reid held me back, maintaining a cool composure. That kept me grounded.
"Let her go." I growled.
"Now why would I do a stupid thing like that?" He retorted, grinning wickedly.
So many remarks swirled in my mind. But I held my tongue for Faith's sake.
Lucky for us, the cops arrived to detain him. Unfortunately, they took Faith with them. My little sister was going to be arrested. The little sister that had changed so much when she came back from boarding school. It stung. It hurt. I couldn't protect her from making the same mistake I made; allowing an addiction to dictate your life.
Worst of all, I knew Noah wasn't there to comfort me.
"Go back to the party. I'll be right there." I couldn't recognize my own voice. I sounded like a drone.
"I believe I've made this clear. Don't order me around like I'm your servant."
I had no energy to fight back. I was too upset. I sat down on the small steps attached to the back door. The metal was cold on my back.
That's when the unspeakable happened.
Reid sat down beside me and hooked an arm around my shoulders. My heart was just about ready to abandon ship when he looked me in the eyes. Again, I was brought back into a world where anything was possible. That drew me closer to his lips. The next thing I know we're kissing.
It was too good to be true.
"Money never fails to corrupt." He murmured.
This was too good to even be happening.
I was falling…for a man who I thought hated me.
I had already fallen for a man who didn't want me.
To make that mistake again would just…kill me. So I did the only thing I could do. I ran.