One Night Only by Samj Chapter 4

Republisher’s Note: We meet Danny and Michelle in the hospital the morning after a one-night stand.

One Night Only by Samj Chapter 4

The shock of meeting again so unexpectedly rendered both Danny and Michelle immobile, and so they simply stood there, locked together, staring into each other’s eyes without saying a word.

Michelle’s thoughts were racing much too quickly for her to pin one down. All her mind could do was babble repeatedly, Danny’s here, in my hospital. At the same time her pulse quickened and her body tingled, keenly aware that she was once again in the arms of the man who had brought her so much physical pleasure just hours before.

Danny’s body reacted in a similar fashion, the now familiar electricity coursing through his body and intensifying every sensation as he pulled her towards him, molding her body to his, trying to be as close to her as possible. Then, acting without thought, he brought his lips crashing down upon hers.

The few files she had managed to hold onto during their collision fell noisily to the floor as he started to walk her backwards toward the wall. Leaning against it for support, she wrapped her arms around his neck, one hand tangling in his curly hair while the other loosely held the empty styrofoam cup.

When Danny’s tongue boldly entered her mouth, however, she released her grip on the cup and it fell softly onto the linoleum, rolling down the hallway unnoticed by the pair of lovers.

As Danny intensified the kiss even more, Michelle became completely and utterly lost. The memories and images of the night before blended with the incredible present sensations until she could no longer tell what was a dream and what was reality. Quite frankly she didn’t care either, as long as she the feeling continued. The boldness she had discovered with him returned, and she rubbed the side of her knee up and down the side of his leg.

Danny captured her knee and held it firmly against his hip, bringing their bodies into even closer contact. The only part of his brain still able to function was trying desperately to figure out where they could be alone. Hell, this was a hospital, there had to be empty beds somewhere, right?

Suddenly a tinny voice blaring from the overhead speakers brought them crashing back to reality. “Code Blue, Room 427. Code Blue, Room 427.” Michelle pulled away abruptly, the back of her head banging against the wall in her haste.

Danny released her leg and stood there for a moment before placing his hands against the wall on either side of her head and bending down to place his mouth near her ear. “Do you have to go?” he managed to whisper between short, shallow breaths.

Michelle could only shake her head “no” as she moved her fingers lightly over her bruised lips. Finally recovering her powers of speech she replied, “427 isn’t on this floor.”

Silence fell between them and once again they were frozen in place. Michelle’s foot slipped on one of the files, reminding her of their presence and of the work she was supposed to be doing. She knocked one of Danny’s arms away and knelt on the floor, frantically gathering the files and scattered papers.

The spell broken, Danny crouched down to help her. Trying to alleviate the sudden tension between them he chuckled, “You know, we really have to stop meeting this way,” he stared pointedly at the light brown circle on her coat covering her right breast, “unless you have some sort of deal with the Dry Cleaner’s Union.”

Michelle brushed the stain absent-mindedly with her fingers. “No big deal,” she said as evenly as possible, “these coats usually see much, much worse.” She shoved papers into files blindly, refusing to raise her eyes to meet Danny’s.

Danny tried a different approach. “I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to see you this morning. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that you work here, and yet you told me you live in Springfield. That’s quite a commute.”

Michelle tucked her chin against her chest, continuing to avoid eye-contact. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I said I was from Springfield, not that I lived there now. I’m a second-year resident at the hospital.”

Danny could hear the chill in her voice, and it added to his confusion. What did she mean it was none of his business? What the hell had he done to her? He hadn’t exactly thrown her out of his suite; to the contrary, he’d asked her to stay.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to work so hard just to talk to a woman. And yet somehow he just couldn’t let it go. Third time’s a charm, right? He handed her a few more files, and when she lifted her head to accept them he flashed her his million-dollar smile. “So, Miss Second-Year Resident, whadda you say I buy you some breakfast?”

“No, thank you,” she responded coldly, tapping the files against the floor in a vain attempt to straighten them. She brushed a few stray curls out of her face and stood. “If you’ll excuse me….”

He stood as well, blocking her path down the hallway. “Well, okay, if you don’t want breakfast you can at least let me buy you another cup of coffee.” He dropped his voice lower and added conspiratorially, “I imagine you could use the caffeine.”

Michelle’s mouth opened in shock and then shut again so quickly her teeth clicked together. Careful to keep her voice quiet for fear of being overheard, she practically hissed, “How dare you?” Michelle couldn’t think of the words to express her outrage, so grasping the files with one hand she slapped him with the other.

Before she could even pull her hand back Danny grabbed her wrist and pulled her forcefully against his body, wrapping his other arm around her waist. “What the hell is your problem, Michelle? Huh?” Seeing the look of fear in her eyes, he released her wrist while keeping his grip on her waist. “Do you wanna tell me exactly what I did to deserve this kind of treatment?”

Why is he doing this? Michelle thought frantically. Why won’t he just leave me alone? In the clear light of morning she felt completely embarrassed by the decisions she had made and what she had done ~ all she wanted right now was forget that the night before had ever happened, but that was impossible while Danny held her in his arms. More importantly, she was furious with herself for allowing him to elicit those same responses from her in the hallway of the hospital where she worked. What if someone had seen them? What would they think? Not to mention that she was furious with Danny for putting her in this situation. What the hell was he doing in her hospital anyway?

I have to control my temper, she chanted. I have to control my anger. She took a deep breath. You have to control your lust, the voice taunted, and the words died on her tongue as she sputtered in response. Taking another deep breath she looked right into Danny’s eyes and tried to sound haughty. “I can’t believe you need me to explain this to you, Danny. I got the distinct impression last night that you already understood how it works.” Mustering all the confidence she could she continued, “It was a one-night stand ~ we met, we had sex, end of story. There is no morning after – no breakfast, no coffee, no phone calls. I don’t owe you anything.”

Now it was Danny’s turn to be shocked. He immediately released her waist and stood there staring as though he’d never seen her before. Where was the innocent woman he’d met the night before, the one who’d been shocked by many of his suggestions and surprised by many of her own reactions? How did she suddenly become this cold, jaded individual? Playing a hunch he pushed another wayward curl out of her face and whispered with a smirk, “You seem to know a lot about this, Michelle, considering I’d bet money it was your first one.”

Michelle could feel her resistance crumbling. Just the touch of his warm fingers on her face sent shockwaves through her entire body, and she still hadn’t really caught her breath from the kiss they shared moments before. But the sight of an orderly passing by with a cart reminded her of where she was – who she was – and so she squared her shoulders and said, “I hate to disappoint you, but you, Mr. Santos, are not the first man to take me to his bed.”

Danny’s smirk grew wider. “Oh I have no doubt of that, Miss Bauer,” he drawled. “Just as I have no doubt that I am the first man who’s ever taken you to his bed without a six month courtship,” he laid heavy emphasis on the archaic word, “and a declaration of undying love. It’s okay, you can admit it ~ I am your first one-night stand, aren’t I?” He raised one eyebrow and continued smirking at her. He had her number now, and in another minute he would have her as well.

But Michelle surprised him once again. She simply walked around him and down the hallway, throwing over her shoulder, “You can think whatever you damn well please, Danny. And stay the hell out of my hospital.”

Danny stomped his foot in a childish display of frustration and then stalked down the hallway toward the elevators. How the hell had he become the bad guy in all of this? The bad guy…had she found out who he was, what his family did? Was that why she had become so hostile to him? Then why hadn’t she thrown that back in his face? No, that probably wasn’t it. Whatever it was, he was going to get to the bottom of it ~ no one dismissed Danny Santos that way. No one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michelle paused outside the closed door of her first patient, trying to regain the composure she had lost during her confrontation with Danny. She thought that if she took one more deep breath she would hyperventilate, so instead she conjured up an image of her mother, Dr. Maureen Reardon Bauer, respected pediatrician and pillar of the community. Maureen always knew exactly what to do in any situation. Sure, Michelle thought, but when was she ever in a situation like this? Michelle shook her head, trying to rid herself of those troublesome thoughts. Plastering a smile on her face, she knocked lightly on the door and opened it upon hearing a robust, “come in.”

Michelle always made it a point to establish eye-contact with every patient when entering a room. A trick she’d learned from her father, she found it put the patient at ease and allowed her to establish something of a rapport right from the start. The smile this patient gave her was so warm, so genuine, that she returned it instinctively, the fake smile of a few seconds ago melting into a beautiful true smile.

“Why Father Santos, you’re looking well today,” she said in a cheery voice. “But the important question, of course, is how are you feeling? Waiting for his response, Michelle walked to the foot of the bed and took his chart from its resting place.

“I’m sorry, have we met?” he asked, a bit confused by her familiarity. “I’ve seen so many doctors in the past few days that it’s hard to keep track.”

She looked up from making notations on his chart. “I’m sorry, no, we haven’t met. You just happen to be something of a celebrity here, so I already knew who you were a Father.”

He smiled somewhat skeptically. “A celebrity, huh?”

“Yes,” she answered, trying to fish out his file from the disorganized mess in her hands. “It isn’t every day we have a hero in our midst.” She finally located the correct folder, but bit her lip in frustration when she found that it was empty.

“I’m no hero,” he said seriously. “I did what needed to be done, what anyone would’ve done.”

She grabbed one loose sheet of paper and placed it on the top of the pile, then continued to dig for the rest of Ray’s information.

“No,” she disagreed just as seriously, “most people wouldn’t have done that. Most people wouldn’t have gotten involved at all.” She shook her head slightly, then brightened again. “And that is exactly what makes you a hero.”

“Well I’m certainly not comfortable with that title,” he asserted. “So, now that we’ve established who I am, I’m still very interested in knowing who you are.”

Michelle blushed in embarrassment that she’d forgotten to introduce herself twice. Very professional, huh? “Michelle. Michelle Bauer. I’m a second year resident, and I’m here to do a little follow-up with you.” She walked to the side of his bed and heldout her free hand, which he shook warmly and quickly. When she had use of it again, she went back to assembling his medical file. While focused on dragging out a sheet of paper from the middle of the pile without toppling the entire stack, she explained,”It looks like one of your tests came back with a red flag, and I’m here to make sure it’s nothing serious.” She placed the files on the nightstand next to the bed and removed the stethoscope from her neck.

“If you don’t mind my saying so, you seem a bit frazzled. Is everything okay?”

Michelle blushed again. How could she answer that? No, I was just ravished in the hallway by a guy I met last night in a bar? Sure, that would go over real well with a priest. She hesitated and then answered, “I’m fine, really.” She laughed lightly. “Some guy in the hallway mistook me for a tackling dummy, and I’m afraid these files weren’t able to protect themselves.”

“Some guy, huh? Did this guy happen to be tall, late-twenties, with dark curly hair?” Ray asked, laughing to himself.

Feeling a bit uneasy, Michelle played along. “Hmm, sounds about right. Someone you know?”

Ray noted her discomfort but chose not to question it. “Yeah my cousin, Danny,” he answered, laughing a bit more loudly.

Michelle flinched involuntarily at the sound of Danny’s name. Cousin, huh? She had been too distracted to make the connection between the two. Some detached corner of her mind wondered if Danny had told Father Santos about the night before, if he knew what she’d done, but fortunately the medical part of her brain was still in control and so she continued with her examination as she replied, “It could be. I didn’t catch a name. Does he typically tackle people in hallways?”

“Hmm, I wouldn’t say typically,” Ray joked, sitting forward so that Michelle could place the stethoscope on his back. “But the timing’s about right, he had just been in here visiting me a few minutes before you came in.”

At least that explained why Danny had been in the hospital in the first place. Just some dumb, blind coincidence. Except that Michelle didn’t believe in coincidences.

Michelle helped Ray sit back against the pillows and then placed the stethoscope on his chest. “Well,” she said in her best school marm voice,”next time you see him, be sure to tell him he needs to be more careful, especially in a hospital. I could’ve been an elderly patient walking with a cane, you know.”

Ray nodded obediently. “I’ll be sure to tell him. But I ought to warn you, he never listens to me.”

“How could he not?” Michelle asked in disbelief. “You’re a priest.”

“I’m well aware of that. So’s Danny. It never seems to make a difference.”

“Guess some people are just lost causes,” Michelle responded shortly.

Ray wondered just how much damage Danny had done in that hallway. Before he could ask another question, Michelle started to explain what the test results had shown and what still needed to be done…..

*****

As the door closed quietly behind Michelle, the pieces suddenly fell together and Ray realized that she was the girl Danny had been talking about. He couldn’t explain it, it was an intuition more than anything else, but he knew he was right.

His conscience immediately began to prick at him. Here was a young, intelligent, beautiful woman who obviously had no idea who Danny was or what Danny did for a living. Could he, as a priest, an advocate and protector of the innocent, allow her to remain ignorant of those facts? After all, he knew full well that Danny was a charmer ~as he himself had been before joining the priesthood ~ and that now that Danny knew Michelle lived in Chicago he would certainly pursue her. Could Ray in good conscience allow Danny to use Michelle and then discard her, as he did with all the women who came into his life? Or worse yet, could he stand by while Michelle unwittingly put her life in danger by becoming involved with the mob?

But it wasn’t quite that simple, of course. Ray loved Danny like a brother. And as his cousin, he owed him a duty of loyalty that outweighed his obligations to a complete stranger.

Ray sighed and reached for his cell phone. He would need a little help on this one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny sat in the hospital cafeteria staring at probably the most unappetizing meal he’d ever seen…and he’d even refused the server’s kind offer of lime jello. But the coffee was decent, and he imagined that was all anyone ~ the staff who worked incredibly long hours, the families waiting and praying for good news ~ really cared about.

Unable to eat the mess before him, he pushed the tray to his left and looked impatiently at his watch. Only thirty minutes since the last time he had done so, he noted in frustration. Michelle’s shift wouldn’t be over for several more hours. That was okay, he would wait ~ he wasn’t about to let Michelle get away that easily.

At first the desk nurse had curtly informed him that the residents’ schedules were confidential and that she couldn’t tell him when Dr. Bauer would be done for the day. When Danny continued to insist that he needed to speak to Dr. Bauer the nurse’s head had snapped up in anger, a sharp warning on her tongue…that had died away the moment she looked at Danny. Immediately her entire demeanor had softened, and she had graciously offered to photocopy Michelle’s schedule for him. Normally Danny would worry about whether the cooperation came about because of his patented “puppy dog” look or from recognition of his name and “family connections,” but at the moment his only concern was getting some answers from Michelle, and he didn’t care how he had to go about it.

His anger at Michelle’s attitude in the hallway had increased ten-fold after he read her schedule. Her shift had started at nine, which meant that she hadn’t been completely honest when she tore out of his hotel suite at 5:30. He couldn’t figure out why all of that bothered him so much, how she had managed to get so far under his skin so fast. He didn’t know if what he was feeling was lust, or love, or just pure frustration, but no one treated Danny Santos like he was inconsequential, and he was going to make damn sure Michelle knew that.

Danny was too agitated to sit and wait for Michelle. His blood boiling, he was just about to go have the helpful desk nurse page her so that he could give her a piece of his mind when he spotted Jimmy entering the crowded cafeteria, Danny’s briefcase in his left hand. Hey, Danny’s inner-business-voice said, maybe now you can get some important work done.

Before he could follow that train of thought, Danny noticed the look of concern on Jimmy’s face. “Whoa, wait a minute, why aren’t you on Ray’s door? What happened? Is he okay?”

“Calm down, Danny, sheesh. He’s fine, that cute little blonde doctor made him promise to get some sleep, and I can’t imagine anyone saying no to her.”

Danny decided to ignore Jimmy’s comments about Michelle. “So you figured you could just wander away while he slept?” he asked, his voice rising in outrage.

“No, Danny, I didn’t,” Jimmy said evenly, knowing he couldn’t lose his temper with his boss. “Paulo brought your briefcase from the hotel, and a message that he didn’t want to give you himself. He’s watching the door, and I’m making the deliveries.”

Danny exhaled slowly, knowing that his anger was with Michelle, not Jimmy. He took the briefcase from Jimmy’s hand and put it on the table next to the uneaten cafeteria food. “Okay, so what’s the message?”

Jimmy hesitated. “Um, your mother’s in town, Danny, and she wants to see you, but she can’t seem to track you down.”

Damn! Danny felt the panic welling up inside of him. Now was the absolute worst time for his mother to be in Chicago. Months and months of meticulous planning, and one word from her would shoot the entire deal to hell.

Does she already know? Is that why she’s here? How do I find out without giving myself away? Danny sat down heavily on the cold metal chair and, resting his elbows on his knees, cradled his head in his hands.

Danny’s actions left Jimmy feeling more than a bit disconcerted. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Danny so shaken. He cleared his throat, waiting for an order, a sign that Danny was still in control of the situation.

Danny took a deep breath and stood up. The panic was gone and the calm, cool Danny had returned. “Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. Leave Paulo on Ray’s door, I think he can handle it. I want you to do some investigating, find out who my mother and Bernard have been talking to, what they know about the deal. Be very careful. I don’t want them finding out anything they don’t know from you. Are we clear?”

“You got it, Danny,” Jimmy replied, the relief evident in his voice. “What are you gonna do?”

“I’m gonna call my mother from the car and find out where she wants to meet. I’ll tell her about Ray and maybe that’ll distract her a little. Maybe she’ll even want to see him. I don’t know. But whatever’s going on, I’m not going to hide from her.”

With that Danny grabbed the briefcase and walked purposefully out of the cafeteria, any thoughts of Michelle pushed to the far recesses of his mind as he formulated a way to keep his mother in the dark and to send her back to Springfield as soon as possible.

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