Chapter Six: "It's on."
A full-length, black satin dress was laid in her bed.
"I can't possibly wear this!" Erin screamed on the phone, hurting the delicate ear of the woman from the other line. "It's... It's too beautiful, Lea."
"Isn't it?" The woman chuckled happily. "Thank God you called me before you went off to buy one. You do have horrible taste in dresses." She laughed. "But who would think you'd meet that man again," Lea sighed.
"Well, that's fate for you."
Erin stared at the pretty number beside her. As she touched it, it felt soft in her fingers. "I can't believe you sent me this. But is this new? I don't remember seeing this in your house before."
When Erin lived in Canada, she stayed for a few months in a small town an hour away from the city to do some research, and there she met a young couple named Owen and Lea Smith, who owned a small café where she frequented. Erin hated coffee before, but whenever Lea brews it herself, it tasted magical - so much so that she would come every day. Her husband, Owen, wasn't exactly good at brewing coffee, much less hot water - he sucked completely at it. But he does run a small clinic right next door where he busied himself treating people for free. She would also notice a few frequent visitors who would show up in the café. And just like the couple, they all looked breathtakingly beautiful.
Erin wondered why such a young couple would want to live a quiet life instead of living in the city, but Lea would only smile at her and say the same thing all the time.
"A peaceful life is a nice life, isn't it?"
As she thought of the memory, she shrieked in happiness. Not that Erin Grey doesn't wear dresses, she does - except she never finds the right fit for her. She always needed someone to come with her, or else it ends up as a disaster. Lea was, of course, her favorite. She can pick the best dresses for Erin, and her style was top-notch. Why couldn't she have been a fashion designer?
"You saved me here, Lea!" She said happily. "I really didn't have any time to get a dress. I've been so busy with everything that I just really want to go hide somewhere."
"Well," Lea said playfully, "You can always come visit here. My little Zaria misses you a lot."
"I'll come visit soon!" Erin replied, "I'll get Zaria the telescope that she wanted, she sure loves watching the stars after all. And maybe a cookbook for Owen too."
Erin hanged up, and quickly she grabbed the invitation sitting idly on her desk. "Greenwood Hospital, huh." Who would have thought that she would get the chance to be in that place again? It was different when she interviewed Derek before, because she went inside he conference room.
And in his office.
"Damn it," she groaned. Just thinking about him really makes her blood boil. And what happened last night...
Erin slapped herself.
"Get yourself together," she ordered herself. She breathed in, and then out.
Alright, tonight, it's on.
Ada Bishops stood in the side of the ship, amazed by entirety of it all. Her father was a businessman and often held his own cruise ship parties, but this particular event was no joke - it's the biggest ship she had ever been in. When she entered, she was led inside by a few men in black who welcomed her along with the other guests - many of them, she could recognize. Celebrities, big time business owners, politicians, and those famous in the field of medicine surrounded the deck wearing the most expensive, most glamorous suits, and dresses she had ever seen. Her eyes widened as she ached to interview these people, but tonight, she is a guest. Eric made sure she didn't have any form of recorder on her.
"No kidding, huh."
She turned around to see who made the comment, and found a seemingly- familiar face. Easily towering over her own height, the man wore a simple, sleek black suit - which she easily recognized as one of Brioni's creation, a famous Italian company specializing in men's clothing. His short black hair was combed to be prim and proper, and although he tried to ignore it, Ada could sense the few pair of eyes looking in their direction. However his eyes looked busy as he scanned through the area, and when he noticed her looking at him, he quickly turned to drink the glass of martini he was holding.
"You clean up nicely, Doctor Matthews," Ada said politely, "but you seem quite busy searching for someone."
"I am," he admitted. "Did Erin Grey know where the party is being held?"
Ada nodded. "I just spoke to her, and she said she'll be here in a few minutes."
"Is that so," Derek said flatly. He wanted to ask if she knew anything about the chief and how he got a hold of Erin, but the host of the party himself appeared right beside him.
"Ah, I'm glad you're here Matthews!" The Greenwood Hospital Chief greeted Derek with a boisterous laugh. Wilson Jacobs, fifty-three years old. He had been in charge of the hospital for a good twenty years, and not once had it had any problems. Garnering many prestigious awards in medicine, he could only hope for a successor to finally replace him, but could never anyone until he met Derek Matthews. Once a scared little brat in his eyes, the boy has changed fast in a matter of six fast years.
"How was Hawaii, sir?" Derek asked him as he handed him a glass of martini.
"Ah, it was too hot. The wife enjoyed the spa inside the hotel rather than the beach outside. Never again," he shook his head. Afterwards he noticed the woman beside him, and the old man lightened up. "Ah, Miss Ada Bishops. It is nice to meet you."
"You as well, sir. My father had been aching to see you again."
As they talked, the chief looked around the deck in curiosity. "And where exactly is this Royal Dane alumni you spoke of on the phone? The one you want to include in the project?"
"Ah!" Ada smiled as she looked far, and as the party turned around, there she was - struggling to stand with her eyes wide open. "Erin, come here!"
As she walked forward, Derek couldn't keep his eyes off her. She wore a long, black satin dress that fit her like a glove, her shoulders showing and her long brown hair tied in a simple bun. She was simply beautiful, he thought. He wanted to look at her more, but afterwards he realized that the boat was moving. When he looked at her face, her blue eyes were starting to get bigger, so much that it was about to pop out.
"Shit," he thought. I knew it.
The woman didn't know the party was held in a ship. And if there's one thing Erin Grey is afraid of, that's being in a ship. She hates big bodies of water. How the hell did she not read the invitation properly?
Miraculously enough, she made her way beside Ada, and as she took a big breath in.
"This is Erin Grey, the girl I was telling you about. She had countless articles relating to surgical procedures and evolutions of neurology trials when she was in Canada. I knew you wanted me for the job, but I assure you, this girl will do miracles in the project."
The chief introduced himself, and held her hand. "That's amazing for someone who used to do freelance. Tell me girl, where did you learn all that?"
"...My mother taught to me about them when she did medical journals for other hospitals before. Everything she said sunk in, and even I would find myself researching about them. I found it quite interesting when I was young, and before I knew it I was doing them myself."
"Ah," the chief nodded, happy with her response, until he noticed the man beside him standing quietly like a rock. "That's right, Miss Grey. You must not have met him yet. This young man right here is Derek Matthews, in charge of General Surgery. It's a good thing you're both here tonight. You two will be working closely together from now on, after all."
Derek felt a cold breeze pass them by. What the hell was he supposed to do now?
"Erin... Erin Grey." She held her hand out, smiling. "Pleasure."
"Of course," he replied just as pleasantly, "But the pleasure's all mine." When they held hands, only Derek could feel the hard squeeze being given to him by the smiling devil he was holding hands with. Afterwards she let go, and he could seriously feel a bone or two broken from the gruesome handshake.
"Handsome, isn't he?" The chief teased. "But you better watch out, Miss Grey. This man, no matter how great he is in his work, has never been in any relationships." He sighed. "Even my own granddaughter wasn't a match for him. But I do believe hearing that he had been dating someone once... Ah, what was her name-?"
"Dance!" Ada interrupted just in time, when she heard a sweet melody echoing from the small orchestra in the main deck, gathering the couples from the crowd. "Ah, we must dance."
Derek cleared his throat, relief from the interruption. "Well then, may I have your hand for this dance, Miss Bishops?"
"Actually, "the chief smiled at his company, "why don't we let you dance with Miss Grey while I get the pleasure of dancing with Miss Ada here? It seems the two of you need to do some warming up with each other while we catch up ourselves."
"Certainly," Ada smiled, giving her hand to the chief in courtesy. "I must tell you about my father's travels." The two departed, leaving Erin alone with Derek.
"Well, we're already here." Derek held his hand out. "Shall we?"
At first she hesitated, but as soon as she saw the chief glancing in their direction, she immediately pushed herself to grab a hold of his hand and soon they entered the dance floor.
Derek grabbed her waist with his right hand, while his left held her right. They moved slowly, spinning when everyone else did. Erin didn't speak, but merely stared at him in annoyance. This made him chuckle.
"You sure are doing well, aren't you?" He whispered. "You look good too."
"Same to you, Doctor Matthews," she responded nonchalantly, like a robot.
"That man who entered your apartment last time, who was he?" Derek couldn't help but ask. The lights have dimmed, and those in the dance floor have gotten much closer - a quiet, intimate atmosphere that made the two quite wary.
"He didn't introduce himself to you?" She asked him as they moved. He could feel her hands getting hotter.
"His name was Gary, and he claimed that he was going to be your fiancé."
At this point Erin suddenly tripped on her dress, and Derek caught hold of her in time. "Careful," he warned.
Quickly she got up, and she grabbed his hand to resume their dancing.
"Then why else are you asking if you already know?" She got closer, her lips inches from his ear. "You can't be the only one who gets to be with someone else." The music ended, and the lights turned back on. She let go, walking away from him as if she had just won a war.
Eric Larson was a man of many traits. His looks, takes after his British mother and German Father, were considered 'godly,' and 'completely unnatural for a man.'
Since he was a child, he was praised for having a pretty face. Short golden locks that would shame any woman he knew, and those big sapphire eyes that could calm anyone who sees them. He remembered having flocks of girls vying his attention from middle school to high school, and even college was no different.
Well, one difference anyway.
Midterms were coming up, and just like every college student - nobody had time to look after their appearance. His blonde hair had gotten longer, almost reaching the nape of his neck. He didn't have the ability to grow a beard or a mustache, and he was the only one who had a smooth face for a man.
As he sat in one of the libraries study tables, he felt a strong aching from his stomach, and the pain started throbbing so much so that he dropped from his seat. Now, there wasn't a lot of people that time as it was very early in the morning, but hell he felt like dying. He realized that he hadn't eaten in two days from studying so hard.
Suddenly a girl walked up to him, grabbing him up. Petite, with long chestnut-colored hair and a pair of green eyes like his, she had on her a worried face as she held him.
"Thank you," he said. This seems to be the first time he met her in person. Ada Bishops, one of the Journalism students known for her beauty and high academic scores. She certainly is pretty.
"Here," she handed him a small, square-shaped pouch. "I know the feeling of getting 'it' at such crucial times. This should help you until then." She walked away after saying her goodbye, and Eric was left dumbfounded.
"Don't tell me she..."
When he opened it, he found two Kit-Kat bars along with some pain reliever. And of course - a maxi pad.
Ada Bishops thought he was a woman struggling of menstrual cramps in the middle of exams.
Eric could still remember having mixed feeling of life, and after that event he never allowed his hair to get any longer than the top of his neck, and he started wearing glasses to hide his face. He worked out, breaking free from the slender figure he had before. Life has a funny way of doing things, as he soon realized that he was assigned at the same agency as Ada three years later. She doesn't seem to realize that they've met before, and Eric Larson was thankful for that.
Who would want the woman he likes to think of him as a girl?
It was ten-thirty in the evening, and some of the crowd had gathered inside to hear the chief speak about his new projects, including the Greenwood Hospital Medical Journal launching next month. Erin was able to talk to few of her new coworkers, but afterwards she left the hall to go outside, where she hid herself.
"I'm going to die soon," she thought as she held her head. Motion sickness was, to say, the second most horrible thing in her life. Derek comes first, of course. But how could a cruise ship have the same name as the private orchard park where a lot of high-profiled parties are held? When the taxi dropped her off at the dock, she wanted to run away. However, she was already being approached by the people from Denzel, congratulating her for getting an awesome offer. She went in with them, where she spotted Ada. Well, you know what happened next.
She crouched down under the small corner of the back of the ship, praying that the party would be over, but as she can see, they're in the middle of the ocean right now.
Suddenly she noticed a figure in front of her. The man was laughing so hard she wanted to punch him in the face.
"Why do you keep following me?" She complained, and she quickly stood up.
"I really didn't think anybody would be here, but here you are." Derek tilted his head in amusement. "How you holding up?
"You..." she wanted to say more, but then she felt the ship rock and her face went blue. Quickly she covered her mouth with both her hands. She will never live it down if she throws up now - especially in front of him.
Derek wanted to bully her more, but seeing that she was on the verge of collapsing, he stopped. Instead he took something out of his pockets. He walked forward, he grabbed her hands away from her mouth and popped a tablet in her mouth, which she unconsciously swallowed. Erin's eyes widened.
"You... that..." she groaned. Whatever he plopped in her mouth tasted bitter.
"For motion sickness," he explained. "It should work in a few minutes." He turned around. "Don't fall in the water. I hate getting wet." He walked away, waving his hand from the back.
"STUUUUUUPID!" She yelled from the top of her lungs, but he didn't look back. After all, he couldn't let her see the big, stupid smile that won't be wiped away from his face for the entire night.