I smile slightly as I open my eyes, meeting a pair of inquisitive green ones only inches from my nose. “Hi,” I croak, and then clear my throat.
She smiles in return, a soft, shy smile. “Hi.”
As I finally come back to the land of the living, I realize we are tangled together on her sofa, my arms wrapped possessively around Emme’s back, her head, until only a moment ago, pillowed on my chest. Our arms and legs are jumbled together, but I find myself perfectly comfortable where I am.
I’m pretty sure we didn’t fall asleep this way, and find it interesting that only when I’m asleep am I brave enough to touch this girl. And considering the respectful distance she kept all night, maybe she is feeling the exact same way.
“I’m guessing we fell asleep,” I say, my voice rough with sleep. “Sorry about that. What time is it?”
I notice that Emme has made no effort to move away from the circle of my arms, which makes my heart zing a little. She lifts her head only a little to glance at the clock on a nearby desk.
“It’s almost nine, actually. You slept right through one of my check ups, Dr. Cross,” she says teasingly, and my lips curve into an answering smile.
“Based on all your past performances, I’d say you are out of the woods. No further swelling or complications that I can see. However, try not to get conked in the head for a few days, though. No sense in aggravating the situation.”
“Sage advice,” she teases. “I’ll pass on slamming my head into a wall for a few days, at least.”
She yawns, and then we both jump as her phone shrills on the nearby coffee table. She looks at me apologetically, and I release my grip on her, and she struggles to a sitting position, reaching for her Blackberry.
“Hello?” she says, sounding frustrated, but slightly eager at the same time. “Yes. Fine. I’m fine. Really. Sure. Yes, I can do that. What time do you need me there? No problem at all. Thanks for calling.” She rings off of the call, and then looks at me with a larger apology in her eyes. “I’m so sorry. It’s a… client. I’m going to have to jump in the shower and then head out for the day…”
I nod in understanding. “No worries. I should get going as well,” I say, standing and stretching, then searching the room for my running shoes, which I find kicked under a nearby chair. “Will you… can we…” I bite my lip in nervousness, paying particularly attention to my shoelaces instead of meeting her eyes. “Can I see you again? Maybe not as a medical professional this time?”
Her smile lights up the room when I dare to glance up. “I’d really like that. Yes.”
She walks me slowly to her front door, and then opens it for me. “Tonight?” I venture shyly before I lose my nerve. “I’m back on duty tomorrow morning at the hospital for a 36 hour shift, so…”
She shakes her head regretfully. “From the sounds of it, I have a funny feeling this client is going to need me to travel somewhere overnight. But… call me. Soon.” She says firmly, and we both trade slightly silly smiles with each other.
I nod, then, taking a deep breath, bend down from my 6’4” height to her 5’4” frame and brush my lips against her left cheek lightly. “Talk to you soon, Emme.”
She smiles, her cheeks pink, and then closes the door behind her.
I don’t even remember the walk home through the dull gray morning.