The applause doesn’t stop for about ten minutes. You bow again and again, until Dr. Elwig finally comes to your rescue and shushes his colleagues.
“I think at this stage Dr. Leary already understood your unanimous admiration and support towards her proposal, and I think we can skip voting.” You – hopefully discreetly – breathe out in relief. And the slip of his tongue wasn’t that unpleasant. ‘Dr. Leary’ indeed has a nice ring to it.
“We should, on the other hand,” Elwig continues, “Keep on fawning over Dr. Leary during the reception at six.” The crowd cheers. “And right now I’m stealing our guest for lunch and abundant complimenting.”
You smile to him and loop your arm through his.
“What cuisine, Miss Leary?” Yikes, this deja-vu was brutal.
“Italian would be lovely, and it is Wren, Dr. Elwig.”
The mushroom ravioli are wonderful, and you are really enjoying the conversation. Dr. Elwig has this manner of speaking that you always found endlessly annoying in others, but it somehow works for him. He always sounds as if he is making fun of you, but on the other hand, his humour is so respectful and so often self-deprecating that you can’t help but like him. At this moment you almost spit your water when he’s telling you how he walked on his daughter and her suitor – his word, not yours – in a compromising position. You have seen her photos. She is one of the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. Luscious black waves and unbelievable blue eyes. She also looks like a very fair and kind person. Ah, envy is a bitch!
“No father should ever see this, Wren, you have to believe me.” You are coughing and laughing. He continues, shaking his head, “And I am a medical scientist, bodies do not frighten me.” You are pressing a napkin to your lips. “He is a nice chap, and I would never say anything, but I was just hoping for something different.” He’s momentarily serious.
“I’m afraid, Dr. Elwig, no one will be good enough.” You smile to him.
“Yes, but twenty year difference worries a father, Wren. Wouldn’t your father mind you dating a man so significantly older than you?”
“Hard to tell, Dr. Elwig, I have never known him. But I can see how it can be troublesome for you. The difference in life experience, the potentiality of her becoming too dependant on him, dissolving in him, not being enough for him, her growth hindered by his dominance…” You realize what you are saying and bite your tongue.
He’s giving you a thoughtful long stare.
“You seem to have given it a lot of thought, Wren.” No shit, Sherlock. “And thank you for reassuring me. I feel so much better now!” His sense humour is back.
“Always welcome.” You bite your lip and giggle. “If you ever lack a cheerful outlook at life, feel free to contact me.” He’s laughing now.
“And if you are ever in search for a new project to participate in, feel free to contact me.” Did he just say what you think he said?
“I still haven’t experienced you spa facilities, Dr. Elwig. After them I might be persuaded to come back here some time soon.”
“You are very welcome to stay here now, if that is your wish.” He smiles humorously but you get the message.
When Thea comes back into your room, she finds you jumping on the bed in your underwear with Lady Gaga blaring full scale. Alright, it is your iPod after all.
“I’m beautiful in my way, ‘Cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way!“
She squeaks in delight and joins you. Rhythm pumps through your blood, adrenaline throbbing in your temples, and life is glorious!
“A different lover is not a sin, Believe capital H-I-M (Hey hey hey), I love my life, I love this record, and Mi amore vole fe yah!“
You are both singing at the top of your lungs, your arms above your heads, hips swaying, faces lifted to the ceiling.
The song ends, and you fall on the bed laughing and swinging your feet in the air. You are both breathing heavily, and Thea turns her face to you.
“Do I gather the presentation went well?” You don’t answer, a giant triumphant grin on your face. “You are a goddess, Wren! You are!”
You hug her and feel tears in your eyes. “I love you, Thea.”
“OK, don’t get all mushy on me.” Thea’s voice is suspiciously choked too.
You sit up and wipe your eyes.
“Right…” You clear your throat. “Would you do me the honour and accompany me shopping, lady Thea? I have a reception at six and a wild desire to spend a shitload of money. I’ll buy and wear anything you suggest”. She squeaks and throw her arms around your neck.
“I’ll make a queen out of you, Wren!”
“Knock yourself out.”
Thea delivers. The elegant carolina blue wrap dress and a pair of new pumps make you feel so good! OK, maybe a wee bit of girly stuff is not that bad. You give up your glasses for the evening and let Thea put some makeup on. You are predicting you have a few hours before your poor eyes start tearing and you are overwhelmed with desire to claw the contacts from over your irises.
You twirl before the mirror, and Thea claps.
“The Queen of Biochem!” she announces. You lift your finger pointedly and smugly.
“Queen Regnant! None of that manky testerone in my Kingdom!”
“You show them, Wren!”
Showing them becomes a problem when you walk into the lift and stare into John’s eyes. You have to give him the credit, his eyes never leave your face. There are more people in the elevator and he politely nods.
The reception is on the ground floor of the hotel, so you don’t have anything to conceal your admittedly titillating outfit.
He’s dressed in a soft cashmere sweater and jeans. There is a jacket in his hand. He is clearly not going to the reception.
“Congratulations on your success, Wren. You deserve every second of it.” His voice is warm.
It’s the ground floor, and everyone leaves the lift. You are turning to go to the reception hall when his soft voice stops you.
“Wren.” You turn around and look in his eyes. “I have a very unpleasant feeling that it becomes repetitive, but I wanted to say I’m sorry. I have misjudged you again. I seem to do only that.” He actually looks uncomfortable. Good.
“You do, don’t you?”
“Way to reassure a bloke, Wren,” he grumbles and looks adorably grumpy. Did you just use the words ‘adorably grumpy’ in regards to Dr. John Thorington in your head?!
“You will recover, Dr. Thorington. Your unwavering self-assurance and narcissistic egoism will make you feel better in no time.” He lowers his head, and you see a smile fluttering in the corners of his lips.
“I deserved that too.”
He tilts his head and looks at you. Then he stretches his hand towards you. That is a very bad idea. Physical contact with him tends to do things to you, Wren.
That was the old Wren, this Queen of Biochem can reign some stupid hormones. You place your fingers in his hand. Bugger.
He squeezes your fingers.
“Will you have dinner with me, Wren?”
“No.” Hah! He is smiling like a big cat.
“Let me rephrase it…” He lowers his head, lifts your hand to his lips, and kisses your knuckles, “Will you go on a date with me, Wren?”
Wrennie and (perhaps) her new man will come back in Cut Through the Heart, the third story in Dr. T Series.