Complete (Incomplete)(5)

By: Lindy Zart



If he knew about the crap I get from people, he would try to end it. I know him well enough to know that, though sometimes I wonder how well I really did know him. I miss the boy I used to consider my best friend. I miss his smiles, his scent, his warmth, the way he looked at me. But he is gone now, and I helped push him away.

“Your patient just got here,” Regina says. “He’s new, filling out paperwork.”

I nod absently, wanting this day over.

“He’s really cute. Look. Look.” She jabs a finger toward the reception area.

I crane my head around the corner and spot a short, wiry guy with dark hair. His head is lowered as his hand jerks across the paper with a pen in hurried, impatient strokes.

“I can’t see his face. And he’s wearing a mint green and pink striped shirt.”

“I know. He is so confident to wear a shirt like that. I love guys with such self-assurance.”

“Maybe he’s just clueless.”

The man looks up and zeroes in on me, like he somehow heard what I said. I freeze with recognition, blowing out a noisy breath when a gleam enters his eyes and a smile curves his lips.

“Hi, Ben,” I greet weakly.

“Lily!” he exclaims, jumping to his feet. Expensive cologne wraps around me at the same times his arms do, squeezing me hard once before releasing. “I heard you worked here, but I wasn’t sure. How’ve you been?”

I hate this question, especially from him. Does he really, truly want to know how I’ve been? I have lots of responses to that question, all pathetic—honest—but pathetic answers. I could even offer him multiple choice answers. I don’t think people should be allowed to ask this question unless they want all the sad, sorry, gritty details. He knows me; he knows Grayson. How does he think I’ve been?

The silence has drawn out too long and he’s watching me with a quizzical expression on his tanned features. Regina is too, widening and narrowing her eyes at me from behind him. Judging by the repeated head twitching she is also doing in his direction, I think maybe she wants me to introduce them.

“Oh, you know.”

He waits for me to say more and when it is apparent I am not going to, he frowns slightly, but quickly covers it up with another smile. “Yep. I know. So, you’re a hygienist? I wouldn’t have pictured you doing that. I thought you were going to be a shrink or something.”

“Guidance counselor,” I correct. “I changed my mind. I'm at the front desk mainly, working on insurances and patient information, but once in a while I have to assist—”

“Whoa.” Ben holds up his hands, palms out. “I don’t need all the details. Just tell me where to go and what to do so we can get this over with. I really hope I don't have any cavities. You know how I am about needles.” He shudders.

Although rude and signature Ben, I’m glad he stopped me, because otherwise, I would have continued to blabber on indefinitely. I do that when I’m nervous and I am exceptionally nervous at the moment. What is he doing here? He moved to California not long after Grayson. Ben draws up the cover art for Thrush’s CDs and other promotional stuff, so he is probably around my ex-boyfriend on a fairly regular basis.

I snatch the clipboard from him and quickly scan it. “Did you fill everything out?”

“I think so.”

I hand it back. “Great. I’ll come get you in a minute.”

The smile falters. “All right.”

“This is Regina. Regina, this is Ben. She can double check your information and help you if you have any questions about anything.” I leave the pair, ignoring the curious expression on Ben’s face and the simpering one on Regina’s.

I feel a little bad about my brusque manner, but not enough to rescue Ben from Regina. He and I have a shared history; a history I do not want to think about. Just seeing him spun me back about two years to the happiest and most horrible time of my life. It’s funny how the two extremes can coincide, but in me, they do.

Two years ago I had a perfect love—not a perfect relationship, but a perfect love. I would give anything to have it back. Maybe then the aching hole inside my chest would heal.

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