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Chapter 8 - It Came Inside a Tupperware Clear

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Chapter 8 

THIS ENTIRE affair seemed more pleasant after Dr. Alexeev agreed to let me go on the Nigeria trip. She told me I might have to pay for the airfare myself out of my stipend because her grant didn't cover a trip with two people.

I was so ecstatic didn't even argue or point out that I was about to deliver a billion-dollar company into her lap. I couldn't believe Dr. Alexeev could entertain for even a second that I was interested in money. I was a conservationist; I didn't believe in empty material consumption. I was only after knowledge and the treasures of the mind.

After work, I stopped by my parents' house and packed a Tupperware of leftovers to bring to the hospital with me. As always, since it was a Friday night, my parents were out at probably pickling their livers with vodka cocktails at the newest Greek restaurant in town. I filled a bowl with the grossest things I could find in my mother's frig. That included a spoonful of olives, some dried figs out of a bag, a scoop of week-old mac and cheese, all over a bed of romaine lettuce.

Looking at the sad excuse for a meal, I hoped come Christmas time; Maxwell Weston would be ready to divorce me. It would be easier if he dumped me than if I had to dump him. He was, after all, a sick dude with amnesia and a broken leg.

It was almost nine o'clock by the time I got to the hospital. As I took the elevator up to the top floor, an intoxicated couple entered and made out with each other. I tried not to show how uncomfortable I was. Contrary to Dr. Alexeev's opinion of me, I had a boyfriend once, a long time ago.

Peter was an engineering student at Harvard, who I dated for about two weeks. He told his friends it was for six months. I'm pretty sure I left him after the third date. Anyway, he still texted me, and we talked over Facebook a lot; in fact, I was supposed to go to a birthday party of a mutual friend that Saturday, and he was supposed to bring the tortillas chip counterpart to my store-bought guacamole. I remembered how it felt to kiss Peter, how he nearly suffocated me with his giant tongue, and how I struggled to swallow a mouthful of his slimy saliva afterward. After an experience like that, I decided I must not be into men. I sure as hell didn't want any more male body parts or fluids in me after a kiss like that.

I never kissed anyone else since, and I had no desire ever to do it again.

As I walked into Maxwell's room, I was momentarily taken back by what I saw. Maxwell had brushed his hair, and he was out of his hospital gown. He was wearing a black t-shirt now, and he had slipped some sweat pants over his cast.

He looked handsome now, like he was an actual man who could be photographed on the cover of GQ's business section and not some basket case. He raised his eyebrows when he saw me. Oops! I suddenly realized I forgot to change into my skanky clothes. I was wearing a hoodie and some jeans.

"I brought you some food," I snapped as I dropped the Tupperware on his bedside table. "It's not much, but I had to work late."

"This is perfect," Maxwell exclaimed as he opened the gruesome pile of leftovers. He immediately began examining the contents with a hospital spork like I had handed him a bowl full of diamonds. "Mac and cheese is my favorite."

"Of course. . . .I knew that" I retorted with only a hint of sarcasm. "I'm your wife."

That was a lie. I had no idea.

"You don't have to work tomorrow, do you?"

I shook my head before I realized he was asking that because he wanted me to stay with him all day.

Stupid!

"Good," Maxwell said with a hint of a pleased smile. "The physical therapist is coming back. He said he wanted to talk to the two of us when we were together about my recovery. I can't wait to go home."

Oh great, just great, I thought to myself. Not only do I have to talk to Maxwell, but there was also a doctor coming to teach me how to nurse him back to health. This was not what I signed up for when I became a graduate student.

"Wanna watch some TV?" I interrupted. I was trying to avoid the conversation regarding when he could go home. To what home was he going? I hoped to his home. My one-bedroom studio was no place for a man to walk around on crutches.

"I've been watching TV all day," he complained. "I don't think I can stand another second of Judge Judy. Why don't you tell me a story instead? It might help me jog my memory. What did we do after our wedding in Vegas? Did we go on a honeymoon? Did we ever talk about children?"

"We went on a honeymoon to the Bahamas," I said. "You couldn't get away from work. As for children, no — you never brought it up."

"I don't think I remember the Bahamas," Maxwell replied with a hint of embarrassment. "Did I enjoy it?"

"Well, we were alone for all of it. You complained you were bored, and if you had to take one more Instagram picture of me, you would feed yourself to one of those feral beach pigs. Then again, in retrospect, I suppose there was a discernable lack of luxury sports car street races on that island."

Maxwell laughed sheepishly at that.

"You're not like the other girls I know. You talk like you're very smart," he said. "Where did you go to school?"

"Nowhere you would have heard of," I blurted out. Dammit. I needed to stop letting my guard down. "I mean, I didn't go to college. My parents couldn't afford it. They needed me to chip in. I dropped out of high school."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Why are you, sorry?" I demanded. "School is a waste of time!"

"Hey, I can't agree more. I dropped out of Oxford business school after my parents died."

"Why did you do that? Drugs?"

"I don't know. I couldn't focus. I guess you can say I was depressed." He glanced up at me and I see confusion written all over his handsome face. "We never talked about this before? I must have been such a jerk."

"You were busy with your friends and work."

"I'll spend more time with you from now on. Today, while you were gone, I spent some time thinking about what happened on that highway. I think my depression might have been a big part of it. I always get into a sump this time of the year; I got reckless."

"It's okay," I said and patted his hand. "You're alive, and you've learned your lesson. That's what matters. You need to make better friends than this Bobby fellow."

"Maybe you're right. Though, as you know, Bobby was there for me, when I needed him. Thinking back now, I don't know why I relied on him so much. I never got along with all the annoying kids at Oxford. I like working with my hands, being with real people," Maxwell said as he reached for me again. He wrapped his hand around my knee. He looked just a little disappointed I didn't offer him my hand. "I like it that you work. Most of my friends have wives that go from Soul Cycle to the damned spa and the charity galas. They never have any interesting stories."

"Well, I have a passion for something other than what's inside your pants, Mr. Weston."

He laughed at that. "Speaking of my pants, aren't these great? I got them delivered through Postmates. After I tried out that app, I realized I can get practically anything delivered there. Even so, I would still rather be anywhere else but here."

"Yeah, we'll get you home by Christmas. Promise."

"Christmas," Maxwell said with a sigh. He leaned back in the bed and seemed to disappear back into his memories. "Yeah, home by Christmas." Although he smiled at me, I could tell there was a mournful edge to his voice. I kept forgetting that this was a hard time of the year for him.

"I am your home now," I told him. "No more dumb stunts, no more acting out."

"Yeah," he said with a smirk. "Yeah, you are, Scar."

He leaned in and kissed me. 


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