They may not like it, so if they don’t I’ll change it, but the picture I’m using for this chapter is from shodair.org, which is an actual hospital (that’s still operating).
“Is this seat taken?”
The baritone voice came to her before the smell of his musk, but Val merely blinked, sat still and stared blankly down at the table. Before he spoke she had been thinking – maybe. But she had definitely been pushing her food around on her plate.
In all honesty, her sitting off by herself is what drew him to her table in the first place, especially since he hadn’t seen her since his last night walk.
Being in the more secure wing of the first floor didn’t help matters. He was able to freely move around during the day, about as free as this place would let him, but he still wasn’t able to leave his part of the wing. Only during lunch and dinner were all the first floor residents together and at that they separated themselves if the orderlies didn’t do it.
“If it is I can sit somewhere else.”
She didn’t recognize the voice, not at first, but then again she didn’t really talk to anyone here, only Jan, The Bitch and Dr. Thomas. She also hadn’t been thinking about much, just blanking her mind in preparation of her therapy session after lunch.
The owner of the voice stepped around the table from behind her and sat on one of the chairs opposite her. He was tall, or he was probably taller than her. He was darker than her too, and not overly muscular but taut arms emerged from the sleeves of the red and white striped shirt he was wearing.
Val remained passive and unresponsive but she watched him nonetheless. Krystal had taught her how to. He smelled really nice.
She blinked as he put his lunch tray on the table and sat.
In the time it took him to sit she finally moved her eyes and looked at him. The softest brown eyes she had ever seen before and a smile she figured he knew could stop traffic faced her; longish black hair styled in a way that she had never seen before caused her to stare longer than she would have liked.
“I’m going to take your sudden silence as awe and an invitation to sit.”
“Name’s Marcus … friends call me Marc.” He stuck out a hand, an attempt at an introductory handshake and kept it hovering close to her for a good three minutes.
He stared intently into those same blue eyes that were the first thing he noticed about her that night. Only right now they looked duller.
“Don’t leave me hangin’.”
Marcus, if that was what his name really was, looked down at her hand, then his and then turned those big brown eyes her way again. From her vantage point they took on a humorous air.
“Stop laughing at me.”
He lowered his hand. “Well if you weren’t so damned funny I might be able to control myself.” Marcus sighed. He thought it was a funny quip – she’s cute but she’s gonna be a hard one to break through to.
Jerk. “What do you want?”
“Well, to eat lunch for starters.” He started unpacking his utensils and placed the napkin on his lap, then started moving his food around and eating.
“Plenty of tables.”
“Mm … but not all of them have someone as cute as you sitting at them.” He took a drink.
Marcus put down his utensils and looked at her. “Yes, cute. Cute blue eyes, cute button nose, cute pouty lips.”
She raised an eyebrow.
She just sat staring at him, then through him. She had to get ready and he wasn’t helping. Maybe that’s what they wanted – for her to be unprepared. He probably works for them. Val put her utensils on her plate.
“Leaving already?” He was eating again, and watching her.
“I have to go get fucked with. Any other questions?”
“Sounds like fun. Think I can get in on that?”
She took a breath and let out a small spew of colorful metaphors, loud enough for only him to hear. “I don’t know who you are, don’t know who you think you are, don’t care, don’t want you near me again. There are plenty of whores here and sometimes Jimmy or whoever’s on staff will bring in some hookers. You want to fuck, talk to them, they can make all the arrangements!“
She stood up and he quickly shot out a hand and grabbed her by the wrist.
She let out a small yelp, tensed and tried to pull herself away without dropping or letting her try fly out of her hands.
Unfortunately, the yelp caught said Jimmy’s attention and he started moving in their direction.
Marcus stood up and motioned to Jimmy that all was ok. It didn’t stop the orderly from keeping his eyes on them and staying close.
Seeing he had little choice, he moved extremely close to her to the point where he was almost touching her forehead with his. Her eyes were wide with panic so he let her go slightly but moved his hand up her arm to her shoulder.
“Look, I’m sorry. I just want a friend here while I try to get better and you looked … nice. I get nervous I start crackin’ jokes, I don’t mean no harm.” His voice was soft and low and he kept her attention the entire time. “Can … we start over? I’m Marcus.”
She opened her mouth to respond but didn’t say anything, not at first.
He hadn’t planned on being this close to her and he definitely hadn’t wanted to scare her, but he felt her trembling as he held her shoulder. He could smell the fragrant spray she used and fought the urge to kiss her just to break the tension and maybe calm her down.
“Don’t do that.”
“What you’re planning. Don’t.”
“I’m just wanting a friend.”
“I belong to Krystal, I don’t get friends and I don’t get close. It would be best to leave me alone. Krystal gets pissed and you’ll wind up … like Jan or worse.”
She pulled away from him and hurried to drop her tray.
Jimmy turned his attention to another patient.
Marcus, meanwhile watched her the entire time, still feeling the fabric of her shirt on his hand, still smelling that spray around him.
Val stopped when she came to the door of the common room and looked at him. It was dumb, but he slowly raised and lowered his head and waved at her.
She watched him for another minute, then almost ran out to see the Bitch. Krystal would be extremely pissed tonight.
Marcus slowly sat down and made up his mind that he would see her again.