My Forbidden Doctor - Stephanie Brother
"I can't tell if this is the place..." Mumbling to myself, I reached to rub my head as I rocked back on my heels. There was just something maze-like about professional buildings. Just looking at the sign listing all the rooms and practices was disorientating, and the headache that'd plagued me for the better part of two days intensified.
Beige walls seemed to stretch on forever when I poked my head around the corner. I grimaced lightly, turning my bleary gaze back to the board mounted on the wall. The elevator pinged shrilly, and my frustration tinged with embarrassment that anyone would see me struggling to read a sign.
My allergies were so bad today, and why wouldn't they be? Allergy season was just picking up, and I hadn't left my house all winter. Rhode Island winters were great, long, and cold, but Spring always came too fast and hit me square in the sinuses.
"Do you need help?"
The deep baritone wrapped around my brain smoothly, and I swung my achy eyes to the left. Glimmering, brown eyes met mine even as I blinked dumbly until my clogged brainwaves caught up to his words.
"Oh, yeah. I'm looking for..." Trailing off to dig in my purse, I pulled out my wallet and the card inside to squint at it. I couldn't have felt more stupid, but the man that'd gotten off the elevator didn't seem at all in a hurry. Pushing my glasses up didn't help any, and I gnawed on my inner cheek. "I'm so sorry. My allergies are really bad today."
"No problem. Take your time. I'm in no rush to go upstairs. What are you allergic to? If you don't mind my asking?"
His voice is really deep. The thought zipped through my mind like lightning, and I glanced up through my glasses. Actually, he looks a little anxious.
"Um— pretty much all tree pollen. I didn't have allergies growing up, but I went to New York City once and just... spontaneously developed it. They say it's not that uncommon. Spring is the worst. I've lived a couple places, and this is the best overall for my allergies and asthma."
Surprise was clear on his face as he raised his brows, and leaned a shoulder on the wall to draw my eyes down. Wrapped in a nice, black jacket over a dark blue button down, he crossed his ankles at the bottom of starched, creaseless work pants. Flames licked up my neck when he smiled knowingly, and some of the anxiety dulled in his eyes.
"Does that mean you're looking for the third floor?"
Nodding hastily, I stuck my card back in my wallet, and my wallet disappeared into my purse. He punched the elevator button, and the reflective doors slid open almost immediately.
"Oh— thank you." I slipped past him and into the elevator, and a belated realization hit me only when the doors slid shut. "I'm Mel. Thank you for helping me..."
"Carl." Holding out his hand for me, Carl smiled warmly.
Goosebumps swept up my arm under my light sweater. His palm was warm, dry, muscular, but his grip wasn't overly tight or overbearing. He had a handshake my high school career advisor would gush about.
"You've lived here a while? I only just moved here two months ago for a new job."
"Yeah, a few years."
Suddenly, Carl's expression tightened when the elevator jostled to a stop. We were so close that I could tell he was holding his breath, and curiosity got the better of me.
"Are you afraid of the doctors or something?"
"Ah— just this particular one, actually." He had to audacity to blush at his own confession.
Arching a brow quizzically, I rolled my lips between my teeth to hide my small smile.
"For some reason, she's directing her crazy at me."
"I can see why—" Blurting out the observation before I could stop myself, I clenched my teeth hard.
Carl barked a small laugh, less uncomfortable but still wavering while he reached to run his fingers through his mahogany curls. Craning his neck as the elevator doors opened, he gestured me out first, and tingles raced up and down my legs.
"Yeah, well... I'd rather not be the pretty face on Netflix's next episode of Murder Files."
My own nervous laugh escaped me, but Carl shook his head a little before casting me a slight frown.
"I've turned her down, but she's very persistent..."
"Well, she's your coworker, right? Isn't there rules or something against dating a coworker?" Granted, I'd never held a traditional job, but there were plenty of stories on the