Karen left the school tired and a little angry- she had left her umbrella at home again and it was raining again for the fourth consecutive day.
Once more she was obliged to leave her portfolio at White River School. There was no way she was going to risk getting it drenched because she would have a lot of work to repeat if that happened.
Turning up her collar, she ducked her head and with a sigh walked into the torrent. Her pace was brisk and she was focused on reaching her destination, mentally making a note of all the things she would have to do before her next class.
There was the marking scheme to take care of and the theoretical outline for the senior citizens’ lesson. Once she finished those two things, she would be able to search for models for her advanced class. Those interviews would take a while all on their own!
These were the thoughts going through her head as she made her way away from the school. The sun was setting behind the grey clouds that had decided to grace the moment with heavy precipitation and Karen probably wasn’t the only person cursing the change of weather as other people rushed across the street from their offices to their cars.
Jay couldn’t have cared less about the meteorological course of the evening. He loved the rain. He had no lovely memories of rainy days about which to wistfully reminisce and that was just fine with him. In fact, it rather suited his mood, this weather.
He watched the motion outside his car- people running back and forth, some with umbrellas and raincoats, some without. The traffic light before him was red and cars passed in front of his, but he only paid them minimal attention. Only a silver sports car caught his eye as it crossed.
“Late amber,” he muttered, as the traffic lights turned green for him soon after. He stepped on the gas just as a flash of white and orange entered his field of vision.
Jay cursed braked and acknowledged the sound of metal on metal behind him- and the mild thud against the front of his truck- all at the same time.
Before he could even get to the form huddled on the pavement in front of his massive vehicle, someone grabbed his jacket.
Automatically, he tensed, sensing the aggression behind the action.
Turning around he came face to face with a stout guy with thin hair and a ready sneer.
“Hey pal,” the balding man hollered, shaking his jacket a little. “Did you forget how to-?”
Before the belligerent fellow could go any further, Jay fished out a business card and said, “Call me tomorrow and we’ll work out the insurance-” his lip turned up slightly in contempt before he added, “pal.”
Clearly unaffected by the pelting rain hitting his face, the owner of the Ram kept on towards the still form now surrounded by a few concerned onlookers. The shorter, much balder man realised he had no choice but to get back in his car and drive off. No one would pay attention to him with an injured person on the scene.
Karen tried to assure the sweet old man that the umbrella was the last thing she needed. She didn’t get very far before another man crouched beside him and asked, “Are you alright?”
“She looks alright,” the old man supplied, “but she hasn’t moved since you hit her.”
Startled, Karen looked up with a bit more interest at the driver who had caused her predicament.
She managed to note that he was the absolute embodiment of the phrase ‘worth the trouble’. My goodness, she thought, he’s gorgeous! At least he’s good looking... strong facial features, impressive physical proportions, beautifully tailored clothing and-
For some reason, Karen couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say out loud. She knew her eyes were wide open and while her mind was appraising him rather justly, her tongue and brain were on strike. She quickly looked away, afraid he may be able to read something in her expression.
“Can you try to get up from the ground?” the handsome, blue-eyed stranger asked kindly, putting a hand at her elbow.
“Yes,” she said, taking in the slight accent. Letting him support her a little, Karen made to get up and lifted her hands off the ground where they had caught her fall minutes ago.
Almost immediately, Karen cried out in pain. The older of the two gentlemen winced involuntarily as he saw the bones in her right hand were clearly broken. Umbrella and rain forgotten, he looked on as the man with the British accent helped the girl up with a steadying hand.
Within a few moments, the small crowd had dispersed and Karen was huddled in the front seat of the truck which had startled her as she dashed blindly across the street.
Jay headed towards the hospital, which was a mere two blocks away, luckily.
“What’s your name?”
“M- Karen,” she stammered.
Jay was convinced she was in shock but it was hard to tell as she kept her eyes downcast. Parking in front of the Emergency Unit, Jay opened the car door for her and locked the truck before guiding her through the doors.
Nurse Pilot took one look at the small red head in the dirty white coat and knew something was wrong. Quickly she assessed the scene and turned her attention to the beautiful male specimen who was with the patient. He looked fine in more than one way, so Nurse Pilot decided to address him.
“Hello, sir, can I help you?”
“Yes, please,” he began, “I’m afraid she’s been hit by a car.”
“And who are you?” she asked, almost delighted by his accent.
Jay looked down at the nurse. “I’m the driver who hit her.”
“Ok, then. You can take a seat in the waiting room, if you’d like and we will deal with the patient from here.”
Pilot took Karen to an examination cubicle to make records on her chart, sent her for x-rays and notified the orthopaedic surgeon once she returned to her station.
Her petite patient had been quiet the whole time, so Nurse Pilot had given her something for the shock and had tried to reassure the shaken girl that she was going to be just fine. That had caused the girl’s eyes to water a bit, but she had also managed to thank the nurse for her help.
Back at the front desk, Pilot noticed that the handsome English-accented man was still waiting.
“Is there something I can do for you?” she asked.
He stood up. “Yes. Could you tell me how Karen is doing?”
“You know her?” the nurse asked, perplexed.
“Er- not really.” Pause. “Since I caused the inconvenience, I figured the least I can do is drive her home to her family after this.”
How sweet. Nurse Pilot didn’t think it was necessary to tell the man that procedure required her to ask the patient if there was anyone they could call and this girl had said no. She didn’t have a family to go home to.
But Ivy Pilot didn’t tell him this. All she said was, “She’s gone to get x-rays taken, then she’ll need a cast on her right hand. I’ll take you to see her when she’s done.”
Jay hesitated again as if he wanted to ask more, but thought better of it. He simply said, “Thank you.” then he went to sit down again.
It was another forty-five minutes before Nurse Pilot called across the lobby to Jay.
“Excuse me sir, you can see the lady now.”
She watched him stand and stretch his arms before walking easily toward the front desk, his slightly damp Burberry coat over one arm of his delicious charcoal suit. It fit him like a craftsman had created it for his frame and for no one else’s. That, Nurse Pilot decided, was how a tailored suit was meant to look.
Jay followed the friendly blonde nurse to a door down the hall from where he’d been sitting. He stopped when she paused in the frame and pointed inside.
“There she is.”
“Thank you very much.”
Jay smiled down at Ivy pilot as he passed her on his way to the bed where the Karen of it lay rather still.
Looking at her now, he could tell she was a very attractive woman. Despite the fact that she was wearing the typical hospital gown, her vividly coloured hair framed her face so that she almost seemed to glow. Her green eyes weren’t looking at him but he rather liked the way her thick dark lashes shielded them so prettily. Her facial features were an artist’s dream and she was dainty- no bigger, it seemed, than a life size doll might be. In that moment he regretted the incident that had happened. Not only because she was so lovely, but she seemed smaller and more delicate than the average person, meaning this must have caused her a greater amount of discomfort than it would for other people.
He wondered if she was always this subdued. He wanted to imagine her happy and vibrant, letting her hair spring with every happy step and glow to compliment every beautiful smile he believed she was capable of delivering to humanity.
Jay let his thoughts form themselves as he watched her silently, feeling regret for the accident seep into his system. Eventually, he spoke to attract her attention.
“Hello, Karen,” he said softly.
She turned her head and looked at him. She didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown either. “Hello. Thank you for driving me here.”
“It’s the least I could do after...” his voice trailed off as he gestured to her hand which was now in a plaster cast.
“It’s broken in two places and my other wrist is sprained,” she offered dully.
“I’m so sorry. Are you in school?” he asked, suddenly noticing the ace bandage on her other arm.
“Not really. I’m an art teacher.”
“Brilliant,” he said, more to himself than for her ears. He had gone and broken the instrument of her trade.
“What’s your full name?” he asked to fill the silence.
“Are you being kept overnight?”
She shook her head mutely.
“So, I can drive you home then?”
Karen Fox sent him a stricken glance and burst into tears.