Chapter 7 – part 1

Dr. Mark Steele was normally a very patient man with his young assistant. Naomi was bright, enthusiastic, better educated than most of her people, and she knew or was related to almost everyone on half the islands, which made her an asset. When he burst out of room three in an obvious rage, Naomi was shocked.

“Naomi! Why didn’t you complete Ms Haller’s chart? She told you she was allergic. I almost gave her a shot of penicillin!” Mark ran his fingers through his dark hair, pacing.

“I’m sorry, Dr. Steele, I guess when she started going on about the arm restraint and being claustrophobic, I got distracted. It won’t happen again,” Naomi explained, contritely.

“Claustrophobic?! Oh, Christ!” and he was off again, charging back into room three.

Daniel looked at the doctor’s back. “Is he like that often?”

“No. Normally he’s really pleasant, easy going. Everyone on the islands likes Dr. Steele, you know that. I’ve messed up a lot worse and it’s hardly phased him. There must be something about his Haller woman that upsets him.”

Mark entered Jayme’s room at a slow run, thinking he’d have a frantic woman on his hands, trying to get out of the restrain he’d left her in. All he saw was the back of her head, again, and that low hum coming from her direction.

He stopped just short of bumping into the exam table. “Ms. Haller? Are you alright? Naomi just told me about your claustrophobia. I’d never have left you in restraints if I’d known. I’m sorry.”

“Jayme.”

“What?”

“My name is Jayme. And just get my arm free before I do lose control, and start to scream.” Her voice was incredibly calm, there was no way she was on the verge of panic, he thought, and then he saw her eyes and the terror hidden beneath the greenness. He moved quickly to free her.

“You have remarkable control. I don’t think I would have lasted under those conditions,” he admitted, trying to lighten the stress building in the air. After a moments thought, he went on, “does it have to do with the humming I heard when I came in? Your control, I mean.”

“Yes. It’s a … an Oriental form of meditation.” She almost said a Martial Art.

“Tai Chi or Tae Kwon Do?”

Jayme slowly moved her drug fogged head to look up at him. He surprised her, he’s informed, that’s refreshing, she made a mental note. “Actually, it’s both. Being able to slip into a different ‘mind mode’, has saved me on many different occasions,” she explained.

“You’ll have to tell me about them sometime. For now, I want you to spend the night here with me.” Her eyes widened. ”Well, not with me, just here at the clinic. Where I can watch you,” he stammered, embarrassed, because what he had thought, was that he really would like her to spend the night with him, in his arms, in his bed. He flushed at his private thoughts, then went on, “There’s a separate room with several beds for patients. Rarely, but occasionally, I need to keep someone over night for observation. You can stay there. Naomi will be in shortly to help me get you showered.” Again Jayme widened her eyes. “In your bathing suit of course,” he quickly added.. “You need to get all the saltwater off of you before I can finish bandaging your arm.” Jayme had to smile at how flustered he seemed to be around her. “Then Naomi will help you change,” he muttered as he walked out the door, realizing he’d forgotten to tell his assistant that Jayme was staying and he’d need her assistance.

Once back in the outer office, Dr. Steele noticed Daniel for the first time. He knew Daniel was one of the finest dive masters in the islands, and was surprised to see him there.

“Daniel! What can I do for you?”

“Hi, Doc. How is Jayme doing?” Daniel stood and approached the reception desk.

“She’s with you?” Mark quizzed, a sudden surge of jealousy rearing up, then realized Jayme had said she was diving when she got hooked. “Was she on one of your charters when this happened?”

Daniel sighed, “yeah… we were at Horseshoe Wall and some idiot dropped a line on us in spite of the dive flags! If I find out who…………….” he let the threat hang… “She ok, doc? She’s a very special person, and an exceptional diver. I feel really bad about this.”

Dr. Steele took this all in, saying only “there was no deeply severe or lasting damage, though she won’t be doing anything for a while, much less diving. She took 40 stitches in her arm. She really was very lucky. I’ll send my bill to the dive shop.”

Daniel grinned, “No problem Doc”, knowing there would never be a bill sent.

“You might as well go back home, Daniel. She’s having a ..minor reaction.. to the pain killer, so I’m going to keep her overnight for observation, “ Mark added. “Naomi, come with me please. Ms. Haller will be staying overnight. She‘s going to need help showering all the salt off before I can dress her wound. I‘ll help you.” When Naomi raised her eyebrows ever so slightly at him, he added “she’s in her bathing suit! For Pete’s sake! What is it with these women? I am a doctor, you know,” Mark finished, half to himself, walking ahead of her. Naomi had to stifle a smile as she turned and gave Daniel a parting wink.

Jayme had never before felt so, so out of control as she did right then. Here she was, on a remote island, in a strange country, physically maimed from a fish lure wielded by some idiot, mentally lame from an unsolicited sedative, waiting for someone to help her bathe, and preparing to spend the night under the same roof with a man she was frightened of. Frightened because she found him so blasted attractive. Every time he talked to her, she had to concentrate to keep from watching the way his lips moved, wondering how they would feel on hers. When she looked into his smoky gray eyes, she felt herself falling into them. This man could be trouble, with a capital T. Jayme pondered, her mind beginning to drift again. It was getting harder and harder to keep a steady train of thought. The sedative was getting a stronger hold on her consciousness. They would have to hurry if they wanted any co-operation out of her at all, she thought. With that, the door opened.

Getting Jayme out of her dive skins was the easy part, but it sure wasn’t easy on Dr. Steele’s imagination and wandering thoughts. She was all muscle and softness, a very alluring combination. Mark was very glad he wore loose clothing to work in! Jayme was starting to get very groggy, and once, while Naomi as soaping her hair, Jayme leaned against the shower wall and slid down into a seated position. Naomi had to call for Mark to help get her back up to get rinsed off. Finally, they were finished, the doctor and his assistant were almost as wet as Jayme.

“Help her into this and then we’ll get her into a bed”, Mark handed Naomi a thin hospital gown and then stepped around the curtain that separated the shower area from the beds in his tiny ward. A few moments later Naomi pushed the curtain aside to let Mark back in. Jayme was barely able to stand and was ready to slide again as Mark swept her up in his arms. Her head rested easily against his shoulder, and a jolt went thru his body with the contact. My god what is she doing to me, Mark thought, as he laid her gently on the hospital bed. Her drying hair fanned out on the pillow, like a halo around her head, and he had to stifle a groan at the desire the vision created in his body.

“Hand me the a BP cup, please, and then set up a Lidacane drip. I don’t think I’ll need the drip, but I want to be ready just in case.” The doctor worked silently, taking the near comatose Jayme’s blood pressure. Ninety over fifty he jotted down on her chart. Low, but not low enough to be alarmed about. He scanned over the stats on the chart. ‘BP is normally low, she says, well okay, lady, then 90/50 is good, considering’, his mind continued to talk to him. He moved deftly to bandage the wound on her left arm, protecting the pink stitches. Her tanned skin felt silken under his fingers, and Mark found himself mindlessly stroking her arm just to feel her, to touch her, to stay in contact with her.

Mark continued to check her blood pressure and listen to her heart rate, which was slow and steady and strong. Long after Naomi left, he was still sitting by Jayme’s side, watching her sleep. She is so beautiful, he thought, he reached out and brushed a stray lock of hair off her forehead. Her skin was cool and soft, so soft. He trailed his fingertips down her cheek, feeling her supple skin under his sensitive hands.

Her eyes fluttered open at his touch. Emerald pools, slightly out of focus. Her hand reached up and stroked his face, much in the same way he had done to her. Jayme smiled sleepily and dropped off once again, unaware of what she had just done.

Mark let out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding. For that moment, he was so overwhelmed with a sense of deja vue he felt dizzy. Then it hit him. ‘I’ve lost sleep over those emerald eyes before. I couldn’t get her out of my thoughts then, and now she’s back.’ Could this really be the same girl? Could this be the faceless one he’s been dreaming of? The one who’s been haunting his nights? Haunting his paintings?

Mark went into the hallway and through a door marked ‘private’. Although most of his patients thought the door led to his office, a few knew it led to his on site residence. He quickly stepped inside and flipped a light switch, flooding the darkened room with a false brightness. Heading for the little used closet in the spare bedroom, he left a trail of blazing lights. He tore frantically at the numerous items that had found their way into the deep space. At last he found what he was searching for.

He sat back, staring at the dozen half finished canvases that now cluttered the small room. He had begun the paintings five years ago, after he’d met a green eyed beauty in the clinic in Marsh Harbor. Her husband had been killed in a shark attack while scuba diving, just as Jayme said happened to her husband. Mark had signed the death certificate. The woman’s eyes had captivated him like none other had before or since. He had tried over and over again to paint her, so he could have her with him always, but he could see the eyes only, never the face. As he sat looking at the unfinished paintings now, he knew that woman five years ago had indeed been Jayme. Lovely, sleeping Jayme. Mark picked up a canvas, his easel and a box of oils.

Making his way back to the clinic’s ward, Mark felt obsessed. He worked all night by her bedside. She barely stirred. He mixed colors, getting just the right hues to match her hair, her skin, her lips. How he wanted to taste those lips! He could feel his need for her rising. He pushed the thoughts down and concentrated on the painting in front of him, never sleeping.