Chapter 2--Aspen

1076 Words
It was just after lunch and the call light for Maggie’s room lit up. I wandered down the hallway to answer it. As I approached the door, I smelled something amazing. I have no idea who walked by, but his cologne was incredible. I was always more attracted to a man when they smelled good, and I preferred a woodsy, spicy scent. My last two ex-boyfriends never fully understood that, and wouldn’t even wear the cologne I purchased for them—even after I told them how it made me feel (stupid men). Fortunately, neither relationship had been that serious. We had fun for a few months and enjoyed each other’s company. The s*x was so-so and we mutually agreed to part ways rather than waste any more time in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, with the exception of my high school boyfriend, most of my relationships were not serious. My high school boyfriend had been my first ... everything. In retrospect, he was probably the "great love" that people describe. Even now, I found myself comparing the men I dated to that high school love. Things ended for us when we went to different colleges and couldn't make long-distance work--especially after my grandpa died. Last time I looked on social media, he was happily married on the opposite side of the country. I sighed, perhaps I had romanticized our relationship. Who finds their true love in high school when you barely know yourself? And then there was Sam, my most recent “ex,” if you could even classify him as an ex. We went on exactly two and a half dates before I told him to never call me again. Our third date was so bad, I walked out in the middle of it and made my co-worker and one of my besties, Thad, come get me. Sam was controlling, obsessive, and a little bit scary. In fact, I had to change my phone number because he kept harassing me. If I was being honest with myself, Sam was probably a big part of the reason I wasn’t sleeping well. He didn’t handle the “break-up” well at all. His behavior was extremely odd since we barely dated. In spite of that bump in the road, some part of me was holding out hope that my person existed and I could have a true partner in life and a relationship like my grandparents modeled. Someone who liked me for all my parts, and didn’t make me feel like I had to minimize the “spicy” parts of myself. I shook my head to clear my morose thoughts, having no idea from where those came. Taking another deep breath of the lingering woodsy cologne in the hallway, I put a smile on my face and walked into Maggie’s room. “How can I help Maggie?” I asked, logging into the computer, preparing to give her a few medications. “I’m afraid I helped my Grams to the bathroom and now she needs your assistance,” a deep voice startled me as I looked up from the computer. His head jerked up and his phone clattered to the floor as our eyes met—recognizing each other for the first time. It sounds cliché and completely preposterous, but I swear my heart stuttered and my breath caught in my chest when our eyes connected. I was flustered and bent over to pick up his phone that slid across the floor. This guy had the same idea and suddenly we were kneeling on the floor, noses almost touching. I swayed a bit (dare I say a swoon?), losing my balance. This devastatingly handsome man’s hands were around my waist preventing me from falling over. “Steady. Are you ok?” His voice was warm and a little husky. An involuntary shiver swept through me as he helped me stand. Completely overwhelmed by all the sensations in my body, this man’s hands stayed on my waist as I swayed a bit. I was clammy but warm; tingly but calm; heart racing but steady. I took a deep breath in an attempt to calm myself and realized he was the one wearing that incredible scent from the hallway. There was electricity sparking all around us—practically palpable in the air. I looked up and met his stunning dark green, almost black eyes (such a unique color) as I took a step back. His hands fell down to his sides, but he didn’t move and I couldn’t find the desire to move either. He was tall, but not that tall. I came up just under his chin. Tilting my head just a bit, I just stood in front of him, feeling … all these feelings … and just stared into his eyes. (Wow. So cliché.) It didn’t seem all that weird because he stared right back. “I … uh,” I swallowed and took a deep breath to regain my composure, “here’s your phone.” I extended my hand to give the phone back. “Thank you.” He stuck his hand out, “I’m Maverick Conway, Maggie’s grandson.” Slowly, I reached forward to shake his hand. As I did, all of those same sensations came back. What was happening?! My blood sugar must be low. I didn’t normally eat breakfast at work, just had my coffee. Perhaps I needed some water or something because it definitely wasn’t the male model in front of me causing this. Nope, no way was he the issue. Standing there, shaking his hand, I was mute. Finally, I remembered my name, “I’m Aspen, Maggie’s nurse. It’s nice to meet you.” “Aspen, the pleasure is all mine. Believe me.” “Wait. Maverick, like in the movie Top Gun?” He laughed and it was magical (so I’m already that girl), “Yep. My parents were big fans. You can call me Mav if you want.” “Presumptuous to think I want to call you anything, isn’t it?” I found my wit and sassed back. I was grinning like a fool and probably looked ridiculous, but he was as well. “I would never presume …” he started. Suddenly, I heard Maggie yell for some help and I remembered where I was. I winked at Maverick before turning around, heading into the bathroom to help Maggie finish cleaning up.
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