Hello everyone! So here we are, the third part of this trio of simultaneous storylines - that's right BOGO Baby, A Year in the Life and this one all take place on the same timeline. It might be confusing but there will be clues along the way to help you keep track, namely crossover moments from AYitL. Enjoy!
It had been a crazy few days and Alexis Castle was more than a little excited for the promise of sleep. She'd lucked out that her mother - and she did indeed think of Beckett as her mother - hadn't had the baby until a week after she was home. It was impossible for her to imagine the discomfort and impatience she'd been feeling towards the end. The unspoiled happiness on Beckett's face as she'd awoken to see her sitting beside her hospital bed told Alexis that it had been well worth the wait to have such an adorable little brother
Now that her baby brother RJ was here safe and sound, the young woman was ready to sleep until Mardi Gras so while her parents rested in their own bed across the hall Alexis followed their example by tucking into bed with Twigs the giraffe and some hot cider while listening to The Third Man on her DVD player. She was warmed and cozy asleep when her cellphone rang, waking her with a start. She looked at the caller ID and wondered who the hell she knew with a two-one-two number that wasn't in her contact list. Picking up, she cleared the sleep from her throat.
'Hello, is this Alexis?'
'May I ask who's calling?'
'It's Shane Weaver, I work with Lanie Parrish-Robbins at the medical examiner's office. Detective Ryan mentioned to me he gave my contact information and that I might have some insights on life at Princeton.'
Alexis sat up, much more alert now. She'd gapped out and completely forgotten she'd called and left him a message, mentioning Ryan's name as her source for his number. The last thing she wanted the first time he talked to her was to sound juvenile as she awoke from her afternoon siesta.
'Right, Shane hello, Ryan gave me your contact info if I had any questions.'
'I thought you might like to get together and talk, get the inside track from an alumni. Is tomorrow afternoon okay with you?'
'Sure. You know Three-Thirty Tea Time on West Fourteenth?'
'Yeah, I'll see you there around one.'
'Bye.' Alexis hung up, and for a moment just stared at her phone. There was no way that should have felt like he was asking me out, she told herself. He's way too old for me, even if he has those pretty blue eyes. No, no, it's just a graduate of Princeton who works in a field I might pursue as my specialty being nice to a first-year med student.
So why did she suddenly feel like she was back in high school all over again?
She swung her feet to the floor, just as she heard the knock on her bedroom door and her father's voice on the other side. 'Alexis, are you awake?'
'Yeah, just. Come on in.'
The door opened, and Castle came in, smiled at her. 'I'm going to order from Francesca's for dinner tonight, what are you in the mood for?'
'Buffalo chicken salad on ciabatta, fries with extra ranch dressing and a Greek salad on the side, no black olives,' she replied in an instant; Francesca's was hers and Beckett's favourite jack-of-all-trades take-out place and they pretty much made whatever the customer could dream up.
'Hey, Dad, um, Shane Weaver called me back, he said he'd like to meet with me to talk about going to Princeton.'
'Oh that's a great idea, get some advice from a grad first-hand. Can't beat that.'
'I'm meeting him tomorrow around one, so if you need me call.'
'Okay, great. I hope it goes well.'
The following afternoon, Alexis walked down West Fourteenth and felt butterflies skip in her stomach with each step. She knew there was no reason to be nervous, she'd met him before, but that had been when she was a peripheral extension of her father. This was the two of them meeting as colleagues of sorts, a seasoned professional offering advice to a novice. And there was still that funny little feeling in her gut that had stayed with her since she'd talked to him the day before.
She walked into the coffee shop, and felt her girlish heart flutter a little when she saw Doctor Shane Weaver sitting in a window seat, fiddling with his Blackberry. The man was a looker no question, almost like he could pass as Dave Robbins' cousin or half-brother, even though their heritage was totally different; Dave was one-hundred percent Italian while Shane was half Dutch-half Israeli. When he looked up, the flutter Alexis tried to temper with a stern talking-to ramped up full force as he saw her and smiled so his eyes crinkled at the corners.
'Alexis, hi, good to see you again,' he said, smiling at her while he tried to shake off the feeling like he'd been hit by a thunderbolt at the sight of her. He'd remembered her as a slightly shy but friendly and studious teen; he hadn't anticipated seeing the elegant young lady in front of him with so much wordliness in her soft blue eyes. He gestured to the waitress as Alexis removed her coat and gloves, sat down across from him.
'I ordered a pot of Earl Grey and some shortbread, I hope that's okay,' he ventured and Alexis nodded.
'I lived in England for four years, Earl Grey was as common as water.'
'Congratulations on your acceptance, that's quite an honour.'
'Thank you, I'm so inside out about it, sometimes I can't believe it's real.'
'Trust me once you get into classes, it will sink in.' Shane leaned back at the waitress brought the tea pot, cups and the plate of biscuits. 'Do you know what residence you're in yet?' he asked as he poured for them both, a gentlemanly gesture.
'Ironside House, it's the only on-campus residence for first-year medical students this year.'
'Then as a former resident of Ironside, my first piece of advice is to invest in a bar fridge and get the biggest meal plan they offer. The cafeteria there is outstanding.'
'Oh yeah, it's a real kitchen, not like an over-sized high-school cafe. Plus, they run an after-hours sandwich and fast-food shop, and there will be times when you have zero time to cook and you'll stock up on fresh sandwiches and leftover pizza for survival.' Shane thought back to when he'd been a newbie in town and was thrilled he had someone to pass his experience down to. 'Also, if it's still open, Pizzaro's is the best place for pizza and pasta, they love when they medical students are back in town, they made a fortune off of us.'
Alexis laughed, stirred sugar and lemon into her tea. 'Tell me about it, there was this little shoppe in Bloomsbury I'd take the underground to once a week, and I'd buy like ten cornish pasties, then put them in the freezer so I'd have someting to snack on when I was studying.'
'Tell me about it, for two weeks when I was studying for midterms in second year, I lived on strawberry shakes, spinach salad and pizza-pops.' Shane watched her smile and felt something come alive in his belly, a most unanticipated sensation. He tried to remind himself that she was only twenty-two, hardly more than a baby, and yet the warm feeling inside at seeing that sight was unlike anything else he'd ever felt with a woman. 'My roommate, he was even worse; his stress foods were microwave burritos and fruit-punch Gatorade.'
'That's brutal. I lucked out, I had a French roommate going to culinary school in London, and she'd do her homework by feeding us.'
'My first roommate when I moved to New York, he was training to be a pastry chef, which didn't help my sweet-tooth, but having things on hand like hand-made eclairs for the rookies who come in for their first body was definitely a way to win points with the NYPD.'
'I'll say. My dad bought the Homicide floor of the Twelfth an espresso maker as his thank-you for their hospitality to him.' Alexis had no idea where this ability to talk to him like an equal was coming from, but whatever magic had made her butterflies disappear had her propping her chin on her fist and grinning. 'Did any of your roommate's talent rub off on you?'
'Oh yes. I make a mean grilled cheese,' he teased her, and when she laughed again, Shane felt his heartbeat a little more quickly once again, and he had a sudden urge to hold her hand. 'Actually, I do make a few things pretty well. My father's recipe for split-pea soup got me through two bouts of homesickness, one nasty sinus infection and too many panic attacks to count. I'll have to show you how to make it some-time.'
Before Shane could open his mouth and offer an invitation for such an activity the following evening, his work communicator went off. 'I'm sorry, I have to go, I'm on-call today.'
'Oh sure, well, you have my number if you have any other tidbits to offer.'
'Would you like to get some dinner tomorrow night?' Shane blurted out. He saw the surprise in her face, then the flushed pride. 'We didn't really wind up talking about what I thought we would, and I'm off tomorrow, no fear of interruptions.'
As Alexis had inherited her father's poker face, she was able to mask her utter surprise. Even more surprising, she found herself answered, 'Sure. What did you have in mind?'
'You know Spice Island on the Lower East Side? It's a great Thai place, best noodle-bowls in the city.'
'I know the place you mean. Around seven?'
Shane tossed a few bills on the table to pay for the tea and cookies, and left; the moment he hit the street to hail a taxi to the morgue, he let his face split into the mile-wide excited grin he'd didn't realize he'd been holding in. Alexis Castle, he mused, how about that?
Had he been able to see the lady currently occupying his thoughts, he would have caught her doing a happy little wiggling dance-walk all the way to the subway station.