Oh, if he only knew.
It takes everything I have not to burst out laughing at his seemingly innocent question, and then I mentally catalog some of my more colourful answers.
Well, I can assemble an AK-47 in under a minute.
I can rip out a man’s trachea with my bare hands.
I once stopped an assassination attempt by seducing a member of the British royal family – and no, I won’t tell which one.
I can throw a knife better than any circus stunt performer.
I’m a secret agent.
I’m a ghost.
I decide that these probably aren’t suitable answers, and so try for something a little less innocuous.
“Um…” I rack my brain, trying to think of something that is not Leukos-related. “I’m not that interesting.”
“Anything,” he says with a warm smile.
“My second toes are longer than my big toes,” I say, and immediately want to slap my head in frustration.
A million things I could have said, and I said THAT?
I’m hopeless. HOPELESS.
He laughs, his cheek dimpling in the most perfect way imaginable. “They say that is a sign of intelligence, actually. Come to think of it, my toes are the same way. We must be a pair of geniuses, I think. Step aside, Einstein.”
“All right,” I shoot back, giggling. “Your turn to dazzle me with something brilliant and fascinating.”
He thinks for a moment, and then speaks. “I’ve never read the Harry Potter books.”
I gasp in mock horror, and then lay into him on the travesty he has just revealed. For the next hour, we trade witticisms and silly factoids – sometimes about ourselves, sometimes about random trivia we both have stored in our brains – we’re like a Trivial Pursuit team just waiting to happen. I refill our tea mugs again and again, and find the companionship and closeness of being curled up on the sofa near him comforting – not nerve wracking as I thought afraid it might be.
Connor is warm and funny, but obviously a deeply thinking man brimming with intelligence and is someone who thinks before he speaks – a good trait in a doctor, I would think. I bet his patients adore him…
Every couple of hours, he stops what we are saying so that he can turn into “Dr. Cross”, giving me an examination of my pupils, my reflexes, my concentration and my balance. He assures me that my concussion is coming along nicely, and with no other ill effects at the moment, which is comforting. I still need monitoring for another half day, though, he insists despite my protests.
Especially since I have to fly to Bogota, Columbia tomorrow. Probably should be fit and ready for that.
I catch myself yawning slightly, and glance at the clock above the mantle. Nearly midnight. Connor follows my eyesight, and yawns himself behind his hand. “You must be tired. I can…”
My eyes meet his, but I say nothing, my heart pounding in my chest.
Caught in the crossfire of a shootout in Thailand, and my heart rate is fine. A cute boy eyeing me on my sofa turns my heart into a bongo drum. Go figure.
“Maybe I should…” He tries again, but gets no further. “Emme…”
I shrug slightly. “You don’t have to go yet, as long as you don’t mind me yawning occasionally.”
“Did you plan to have someone stay with you tonight?” He asks, almost embarrassed. “I mean, not that it’s my business, but if not, I could…”
I shake my head. “No babysitters hired, I’m afraid. Do you want to…” I lick my dry lips. “Do you want to stay here? At least for a little while longer? If you want?”
He blushes adorably. “Yes. I mean, I can. I mean, I should. I’m your doctor.”
I take a deep breath, willing my confidence to rise to the top. “I’m not suggesting we strip down and swing from chandeliers, but you could stay. Keep an eye on my brain damage and all. I mean, it’s late, and you’re already here, and you’ve done a pretty good job of keeping me awake so far…”
He smiles, and my fear and embarrassment fade. “You sure?”
I nod. “Yeah. I… I’ve liked having you here tonight. You’re easy to talk to. And for a doctor, not even that scary.”
“Gosh, thanks,” he says, and I laugh. “If you’re sure, then yes, I’ll stay. I can sleep on the couch, or…”
“Actually, how about if you try and keep me awake a while longer. I have a funny feeling you have a lot more to say.”
“About what?” he asks.
I grin. “About everything.”
And he does just that. When I last glanced at the clock, it was almost three o’clock in the morning, and we were both still talking a mile a minute, nibbling on biscuits and sharing the cushions on the couch.
The funny thing is, though, I don’t remember falling asleep.
But we must have.
Because I’m looking at the clock now, and it’s nearly five thirty, and Connor is breathing heavily beside me.
We are both prone on the couch, and somehow we’ve managed to share the same real estate, my body curled up against his, his arms warm around me, his breath ruffling my hair lightly.
This is… unexpected.
And unexpectedly nice, actually. No pressure, no pretending – just the trust and warmth of sharing the night with someone really, really kind.
Who, let’s face it, is so darn cute it hurts a little bit.
I close my eyes, a hint of a smile on my lips. It’s been a long time since someone has just held me, without it coming on the pretense of a mission.
I better not get used to this. Rule one of becoming a ghost: don’t become too entangled with anyone on “the outside”.
But we aren’t entangled – despite the position of our bodies at this moment – he’s just my doctor, and he takes his medical practice very seriously.
Having convinced myself that this is perfectly acceptable, I snuggle further against his chest, close my eyes, and fall back asleep.