All this time Andreas had been standing just on the outside of the tea room, listening to the conversation between Joan and Laelia, he felt like an absolute heel, he hadn’t looked at her file he had jumped to conclusions and he had been so rude, how was he going to fix things between him and his beautiful patient, if she was still his patient she was unlikely to ever speak to him again.
He had behind his desk with his face in his palms, cursing himself for his stupidity how could he ask a woman who had gone through 5 years of agony and heartache such an unfeeling such a crude question twice! What has gotten into me today? He asked himself quietly.
Decision made, he had to go speak to Joan and ask her help to sort out this stupid mess, it was partially her fault as well he felt stubbornly she had only brought Mrs Hart’s file in during the consultation so he hadn’t had his usual allotted time to peruse the file and find out all the facts, and like a simpleton, he had jumped to conclusions, the wrong conclusions as a matter of fact. Yes, I will beg Joan to help me apologize for my stupidity, she knows the girl of course, I’m not entirely sure how but I’m sure she would want to help after I told her what a total fool I had been, he pushed the chair all the way back glared at the door and took a leap that his receptionist would be the kind motherly lady he thought she was. I hope she is Andreas prayed quickly.
Reaching the door he took a last glance at the file with the big red letters In Vitro. Then he strode with purpose down the hall towards the reception area, not too sure when the next patients would be arriving but having the need to talk with his receptionist was greater than reading a few files he could get to in a few moments.
Looking around the reception area he was slightly confused as to where Joan was, her workspace was empty and there was no one around not even a walk-in patient without an appointment, then again it was early Saturday morning and not many people wanted to pass their Saturday in a doctor’s office, so that would explain the lack of patients but not the lack of Joan herself.
A moment later he heard Joan’s voice clucking all motherly from a room off to the side, she sounded all proud like an expecting grandmother would be, and knocked his sensibilities even further, was Joan the little spitfire’s mother?
He was definitely in for it, Joan was going to grill him over the coals and tell him in no uncertain terms that he was a horrible person to make such unfounded assumptions without knowing any of the facts, and he was going to have to agree with her because he knew it was true.
He took a step towards the door and stopped; Joan was saying something and he wanted to hear what it was. He moved slightly to the left so that he could remain unseen, it wasn’t that he wanted to eavesdrop exactly; he just wanted to hear how Joan was going to react.
“Sweetie, I know you have had it rough the last few years and now you are finally getting what you so desperately wanted with Paul, but couldn’t have until now, as your godmother I think it’s my duty to tell you that you need to now focus on yourself a bit more, take a break go for a relaxing weekend away come to terms with everything that has happened and relax a bit, now you are pregnant and with the baby on the way you just can’t be pushing yourself the way you have been since Paul passed away, you need to think of the baby and yourself. Put in some vacation time go to the cottage hell go to the beach do anything you can to relax and take some time for introspection and help that little baby come into a peaceful place with you as a relaxed mommy.”
Joan spoke very softly he thought she was trying to coax Laelia into doing just that, but why would anyone have to be persuaded into taking a vacation, especially a pregnant woman? This confused Andreas just a bit.
He waited for Laelia’s reply, and finally, he hear her affirm what Joan had been saying.
“I think you are right auntie Joan, I was thinking of handing in my resignation and maybe spending my time painting, drawing and reading there are so many wonderful books I have bought over the last few years but with each one I’ve put on the bookshelf and forgotten to read or just simply couldn’t find the time in my busy schedule. But you are right and I have been thinking about going on a semi-permanent holiday.”
Semi-permanent holiday how? This was even more confusing than everything else had been, how could she go on a permanent holiday, how would she pay for food, and baby clothes how would she pay for anything? Andreas was utterly appalled.
What did this girl, no woman even do for a living she was 34 years old and a widow to a husband who had cryopreserved his semen for a future baby that he wouldn’t ever see because he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer 5 years prior, so was the husband rich did she inherit loads of money? That would explain it, yes, that’s why she could go on a permanent vacation even if it sounded ridiculous to him.
He focused his thoughts back on their conversation.
“Yes my dear, what is it? Do you need me to do something for you?” Joan asked her.
“Yes auntie, I would like to schedule my next appointment, I’ll be booking it here even if the man is a pompous ass I still love seeing you every time I come in and it gives us an excuse to have a talk and a cup of tea together, my usual schedule doesn’t allow these little sit-downs.”
Relief flooded Andreas, she would be coming back, he would be seeing this spitfire redhead again, he could apologize the next time she came to the appointment, he didn’t have to interrupt Joan’s tea party with her goddaughter, no other patients had come into the reception area yet, they could sit peacefully and discuss baby bootees or whatever else they wanted for a while longer.
He was about to turn around when Laelia said something that caught him by surprise.
“He has the most amazing eyes doesn’t he?” He heard as her hand smacked down over her mouth.
“I mean Dr Papadopoulos has blue eyes, sky blue eyes the clearest I have ever seen.”
Joan was giggling, why was Joan giggling that wasn’t a thing he associated with the old woman working the front desk she had looked so demure and stuffy, but he was starting to realise all his assumptions had been totally wrong today, every single one.
“Yes Laelia, Dr Papadopoulos has blue eyes and yes they are very nice eyes, why do you mention them, sweetheart?”
“Oh! No reason auntie, no reason at all.” Laelia was aghast why had she mentioned his eyes, why had she been thinking about his eyes, actually she had been thinking about the entire man, with his tall frame and wide-set shoulders those fingers that had touched her chin and sent a crackle of electricity up into her brain to make it numb and had tongue-tied her for seconds if not minutes. What was wrong with me she thought suddenly, and gave her head a little shake.
“Well you know, I can always ask the good Doctor over for dinner tomorrow night and you could come by as well.” Joan hinted at Laelia with an eyebrow raised in question.
“It is Sunday tomorrow after all and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind his elderly receptionist inviting him to a home-cooked meal and some company seeing that he just arrived in South Africa this week and is eating fast foods while his house is being renovated, did I tell you he is staying at a seedy little inn just off the main road, it was the only place with available rooms this close to the new year.”
Laelia stared at her aunt.
“You want to invite him for dinner? On Sunday night, but why, I’m sure he wouldn’t come, I mean I’m sure he has better things to do than to listen to an old woman and her goddaughter speak about baby stuff and so on. Not that I’m saying I would come if you invited him and he said yes.” Laelia threw in quickly she sounded nervous to his ears, I wonder why.
Was Joan giggling again? Of course, he would go, if Joan invited him, he had been living in a cramped room in a shoddy inn with horrible plumbing and the food was horrendous, he was getting quite tired of eating take away burgers at the local fast food joint, even if he had only been forcing the tasteless burgers and fries down since last Sunday, has it been a week already?
Yes he answered himself he had been eating cholesterol-inducing fast food and sleeping uncomfortably for almost a week now, must be one of the reasons his radar was so, of course, today and he made a fool of himself.
Why else would he want to go have dinner at Joan’s house definitely not to listen to an old woman bandy on about this and that, and surely not because of the prospect of the spitfire being there, he assured himself? He listened with bated breath.
“Yes Auntie Joan, even if the end of the world was here I wouldn’t miss you’re cooking for anything, you are by far my favourite cook and my favourite auntie.” She gave Joan a perky smile and giggled softly.
“That’s settled then I shall ask the Doctor if he would like to join us for an early dinner tomorrow evening, and I’ll make sure to mention Malva pudding and homemade custard.” Laelia’s eyes went wide at what was on offer for dessert. “That’s so unfair he has been here a week and he gets malva pudding offered to him, I have to beg for weeks before you relent and then only do you make a small pudding just enough for the two of us, there is never an extra helping to take home and nibble on afterwards.” She mumbled.
Laughing now Joan said that’s because if I always said yes you would never leave and we would have to roll you out in a wheelbarrow.
Laelia huffed but was laughing now as well. Andreas was startled, she had the most amazing laugh, like water rushing over pebbles he could listen to her for hours with her beautiful voice and pebbled laughter, what was wrong with him today, everything was strangely off, it was this little spitfire who had befuddled his brain in one moment and addled his senses.
“This is perfect.” He heard Joan say, the sound of her voice coming closer. Was she coming towards the door?
Oh! He had to move she shouldn’t catch him listening in on their conversation which would be very awkward indeed. He looked around still no patients so he turned and bolted for his consulting room door as quickly as his long legs could carry him.
He grabbed the handle and pushed it, he was in the room in a flash and he closed the door as quietly as possible, stood for a moment to catch his breath then walked to his desk, grabbed his chair again and folded his legs under the desk.
He reached across and picked up Laelia’s file, there were some case notes inside and her whole life history well everything concerning her husband’s passing and her In Vitro treatments. Andreas sat back to study everything he could about the redhead that had thrown him such a curve ball.
As Joan walked out of the tea room she caught sight of Dr Papadopoulos’s legs scrambling into his consultation room and heard the soft click of his door, she was smiling to herself, she had known he was outside the tea room door, she was used to all the sounds in the Dr Offices and there were no other patients for the next hour so she could hear the rustle of his pants and the soft scuff of his Expensive Italian loafers on the tiles, yes she had known he was standing there listening.
She also knew that he would act all surprised at the Sunday dinner invitation and also that he would accept.