January 26, 2011
Storyline: New Beginnings
…Continued from Chapter 7
Leah woke up the next morning feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. The sun streaming through her bedroom window was bright and warm, and it reminded her of what she'd committed to the night before – she was going to find herself again, be a new version of herself.
Throwing all of Sam's things in the fire the night before had been therapeutic… definitely more than she had anticipated. When Zafrina had given her the idea, she had initially rejected it, but the pile of burnt ash that sat in the bottom of her fireplace after she'd watched the pages crinkle and melt were a tangible memory she wouldn't soon forget.
With a small smile playing at her lips, she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. The cool floor against her bare feet sent a shiver up her spine, and she quickly made her way to the bathroom. After a hot, steamy shower, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her cheeks were pink, even against her tanned olive skin, and her eyes, always dark, were bright and full of light. She knew she felt different on the inside, but she certainly hadn't imagined she'd see any change on the outside. With a broad cheesy grin, she grabbed the tube of toothpaste, twisted off the cap, and gave it a big hearty squeeze. The white and red paste oozed onto her pink, Hello Kitty toothbrush, and with another quick glance in the mirror, she brushed her teeth.
As she moved the brush up and down and across her pearly whites, she thought about the day ahead of her, and despite the grueling hours she'd likely have to put in at the doctor's office, her mood remained happy and carefree.
An hour later, Leah breezed through the heavy office door and called out her good morning. Jessica, the front desk receptionist, Tanya and Maria, two of her fellow nurses, and Bella, her best friend and office physician's assistant, all turned with their mouths hanging open and stared after her as she walked by. They all looked at each other in confusion, their mouths still gaping like fish, when Leah walked back into the room carrying a stack of files.
"Um, Leah," Tanya asked, her voice candy sweet and high pitched. The little girls loved her best, because she could make all kinds of fairy princess voices.
Leah looked up and smiled. "Yes?"
"What the hell is going on with you? Did you get laid or something?"
Leah laughed, her eyes twinkling. "What? I can't be in a good mood without getting laid?"
"Well," Jessica interjected, "you haven't really been in a good mood in a while…"
Maria, Bella, and Tanya all jerked their heads toward her and glared, the looks on their faces all murderous. If that comment ruined Leah's good mood, Bella was absolutely going to kill her.
A look of sadness flashed across Leah's face but was instantly replaced with a smile. "That's true. I haven't been happy in a while, but… well, I've decided to make some changes, and I just feel like a new person."
With a few blank stares from Jessica and Tanya and huge smiles from Maria and Bella, Leah grabbed her pile of patient folders and got to work. There's no doubt they would appreciate a more low key and friendly attitude from her, especially since her snarky bitchiness for the last God only knew how many months had taken its toll on them.
The next few days passed easily. Leah found herself enjoying her job for the first time in a long time, taking the time to reconnect with each patient and to ensure their concerns were heard and their needs met. It felt good to actually listen for once, to not have her mind cluttered with memories of Sam and what could have been. Things that would typically have put her in a foul mood seemed to have no effect on her – even when a baby threw up on her and a when she was on vaccine duty and dealing with screaming kids. It really was like she was a new person.
Each night she'd gone home to find herself relishing the space that was just hers. She decided to start practicing yoga again, to refocus on some of her passions - things she'd neglected or given up because of Sam – like cooking and baking, and even writing a little bit. She found herself feeling perfectly content to just be, and it felt good.
Friday dawned bright and early, much like each morning that week had, and Leah jumped up, pulled on her yoga pants and spent the next forty-five minutes bending and stretching, contorting and twisting in ways she had forgotten she could move.
A quick shower and her usual prep left Leah with just enough time to stop at the coffee shop just around the corner from her house before she had to head to work. She hadn't been there recently, but she decided to treat herself to a large Earl Grey tea and three mini vanilla bean scones. They were her weakness; just the thought of the crumbly texture and sweet layer of icing that coated the top had her mouth watering.
She walked inside and waited in line. Slowly, it moved forward as Leah dug through her purse looking for her rewards card, and without realizing it, she was in front of the counter.
"Good morning," a voice called to her. It was smooth and rich and velvety, and unlike any voice she'd ever heard.
Her head snapped up and in her surprise, her bag fell to ground, all the contents spilling the ground.
"Shit!" she muttered under her breath and bent down to pick it up. She scrambled to get the tampons that had scattered across the floor and the tube of lip gloss that had rolled under the edge of the counter. As she leaned forward, her head bumped against the hard wood paneling as someone bumped into her.
"Damn, I'm so sorry," the same smooth voice said as fingers grabbed her arm to help her stand up. As soon as his slightly work roughened fingers wrapped around the tender skin of her bare upper arm, Leah felt a surge of something course through her. It was hot, almost like white heat, and left her feeling tingly all over. Instinctively, she pulled her arm toward her, and he immediately released it, mumbling another apology.
"Oh, it's um," she paused, her mouth unable to form words as she looked into the most intense green eyes she'd ever seen. They were rich and deep, just like his voice, and green like emeralds. A quick inventory of his face left her no less tongue-tied. He had a messy mop of brownish hair that stood up in casual disarray, an long, thin nose, what promised to be very soft lips, and a jaw… sharp, angular, with a hint of scruff… that was made for licking. As her eyes trailed downward, she noticed he was tall – very tall – lanky but still muscular – God help her – and had an apron wrapped around his waist. The surge she felt at his touch had turned into a swoopy feeling in her stomach, the kind of feeling that one gets when stepping off a ledge unexpectedly.
"It's um, okay. You just caught me off guard," Leah finally said, finishing her sentence and feeling her heart start to race.
He smiled at her, and her stomach dropped a little more at the way his whole face lit up and green eyes shined.
"I'm Edward," he said finally, holding out his hand. She stared down at it, and with a feeling of trepidation, wrapped her fingers around it. The jolt returned, but she was prepared and squeezed his fingers lightly in acknowledgement, all the while wondering if he felt it too. "What can I get for you this morning. It's on the house," he said with another panty melting smile and a gentle squeeze to match hers as he let go of her hand and walked back around the counter.
"That's not necessary," she quickly offered. But he insisted and after a little more prodding, she finally ordered her tea and scones.
As he handed her the bag and the steaming hot cup of tea, he smiled. "Have a great day…"
"Leah. Leah Clearwater."
"It was nice talking to you, Leah. I hope I'll see you again soon," he said with a hint of hopefulness in his voice.
A shy smile spread across her face as she turned to go. With a backward glance to see that he was still looking at her, she vowed to make a visit to the coffee shop a regular part of her daily routine.