Plain Jane


"Nah. It's like riding a bike. Trust me."

She just smiled and said, "Okay, I will—if you'll let me." She turned away and grabbed an appointment card and asked, "Can I make your next appointment for you six months from today at the same time?"

"Um...sure. If that doesn't work, I'll just give the office a call," he told her.

She grabbed a pen and wrote down his name and the date and time of the appointment. She handed it to him and said, "I added my phone number on the back...just in case. You know, if you ever wanted to call me for well...any reason at all."

Pierson thanked her, smiled, and said, "That's very thoughtful of you. I may just do that."

She handed him the card then leaned closer and said quietly, "You can text me anytime, too." She stuck the card in his shirt pocket in a way that said, "Yes, I'm openly flirting with you and I dare you to call me."

She sat his chart down at the billing desk and said, "Okay, Mr. Pierson. You have your card with your next appointment and other...important information on it and you don't owe anything today so..." She stopped mid-sentence and said, "Oh, speaking of cards, if you have yours with you, don't forget to leave one with Jessica on your way out."

He nodded to the girl in billing who hadn't said a word then smiled at Lindsay and said, "It was a pleasure meeting you. I guess I'll be seeing you again in six months then."

She smiled wickedly and said, "Or...whenever." She turned to walk away then looked over her shoulder and stuck her thumb near her ear and her pinky next to lips and mouthed the words, "Call me." Pierson smiled and ever-so quickly nodded.

As he turned to go back into the lobby, he saw Jessica shaking her head as though something had annoyed her but didn't give it any thought. He stopped on the way out, reached for his wallet and pulled out three of his business cards. "Lindsay said I could leave these with you. Is that okay?"

She stood up and took them and said, "Um, sure. That's just fine." She looked at them and said, "Oh, you're an architect. I'll have to give one of these to my parents."

"Are they thinking about building a new home?"

"As a matter of fact, they are. They've been talking about their 'dream home' for five years and they recently said they're finally ready to get started." She put of the cards in her purse and sat the other two in a tray with a handful of cards from other professionals.

He started to walk away and Jessica said quietly, "Mr. Pierson?"

He stopped and could tell she wanted to say something privately. She looked toward the back of the building then leaned closer to him, "This is really none of my business, but be very careful with anything Lindsay tells you, okay?"

He gave her a puzzled look so she moved closer to him again and said, "Let's just say she has the most amazing ability to spin the biggest tales imaginable out of thin air when she sees something she wants."

Another patient walked in and Jessica looked away from Pierson greeting the woman cheerfully with, "Hi, my name's...Jessica..." She glanced at Pierson and smiled slightly before telling the woman, "Welcome to Dr. McClain's office."

As he got into his car he couldn't help but wonder what she meant, and if it was really that important why she didn't just tell him directly what it was he needed to be careful about.

Two weeks went by before Pierson noticed the card in the pocket of the shirt he'd dropped into the hamper and left there after his visit to the dentist. He had a bad habit of letting things like go for a very long time and made another mental note to hire someone to take care of that stuff for him. He smiled when he thought about his lively conversation with the lovely Lindsay and sat the card on his dresser fully intending to give her a call. He showered, got dressed for work, and again forgot about the card.

Two weeks later, a couple who appeared to be in their mid-50s came in and introduced themselves. "We're looking for an architect to design our retirement home and we got your information from our daughter, Jessica."

Pierson had no idea about whom they were speaking but he heartily thanked them for stopping by and asked them to describe the home they wanted built. The husband explained neither of them was ready to retire yet, but two of their three children had left home so they wanted to sell their five-bedroom house and move into something smaller but just as nice.

"We still have one left at home, which isn't bad considering how many millennials are living with their parents these days," the husband said making small talk.

"She's our quiet one. The other two are very socially engaging, married, and our oldest already has a child on the way," the mother said proudly.

"Okay, so is one of the rooms for your stay-at-home daughter?" Pierson asked trying to get a feel for the design of the house.

"Oh, heavens no!" she mother quickly said.

"We're hoping she'll find someone and finally move out," the father added with a sense of urgency that made Pierson want to laugh.

"Not that we don't love her dearly, mind you. It's just that she's almost 27 and rarely even goes out these days." The mom paused then said, "She's actually quite pretty when she's not dressed for work at a dentist's office. You might like her, Mr. Pierson," she said noted his left ring finger was bare.

Pierson smiled politely and shifted the conversation back to the house. After another hour of discussion, they agreed to hire him and he said he'd start working on the blueprints right away.

Three months later, the couple and the county approved his plans and Pierson headed out to the job site to meet with the construction crew. He'd worked with them many times before, but even so, he still liked getting the lay of the land and making sure the GM knew his vision for the house before any work was done.

It was early and he was a little surprised to see the couple that hired him already on site and talking with the GM. There was also a younger woman standing next to them and although Pierson couldn't see more than the side of her face, she looked vaguely familiar to him.

He walked up and waited for a pause to be acknowledged then shook hands with everyone before looking at the young woman. "Mr. Pierson, this is our daughter, Jessica. The one we told you still lives at home with us."

Her father gently nudged his daughter as he said the word 'still' and she said, "Thanks, dad. I really appreciate that."

"You look familiar he said," smiling at her. "Where do I know you from?"

"Dr. McClain's office. I'm the receptionist. Or at least I was," she said.

"Right!" Pierson remembered her now and he also recalled her warning about Lindsay. "Was?" he asked her.

"She got herself fired," her father said butting into the conversation.

"No. I did not get fired, Daddy. I quit."

"Okay, fine. But you created such a stink, what other choice did you have?" he said with a hint of disgust in his voice. "Now you don't even have a job."

She looked at Pierson and said, "I really didn't have a choice. Somebody had to tell Dr. McClain what his very married hygienist with the two-year old daughter was saying and doing with his patients."

Pierson couldn't help but notice how different she looked when she wasn't wearing her hair straight and a plain white blouse. Her longer hair was nicely styled this chilly morning and she was wearing a very flattering gray sweater and black pencil skirt with heels. A touch of makeup made her face look a lot more attractive than he'd remembered. He wasn't quite sure why she was this dressed up to look at a plot of dirt if she wasn't going to work, but he wasn't complaining. She actually looked rather nice. Nice enough to change his mind about possibly trying to hook up with her.

Rather quietly he told her, "Listen, I need to talk to the GM for a few minutes, but I'm free after that. I was wondering if maybe I could buy you a cup of coffee. I'll take you home after, of course."

Jessica was clearly very surprised by his offer as she blushed again slightly. "Um, that sounds nice," she told him innocently unsuspecting of what he might be thinking. She let her mother know what she was doing and Pierson saw her mom's mouth open wide as she leaned over to look at him. Obviously, the news had made her mother very happy.

Jessica's parents thanked the GM for his time, shook hands with Pierson again, then told their daughter they'd see her at home making sure to let her know there was no need to hurry back. Her mother smiled at Pierson again with a kind of hopeful look in her eyes.

He spent the next few minutes discussing the plans with the GM, then turned to Jessica and asked if she was ready to go.

"Wow," she said as he opened the car door for her. "This is very nice. I've never ridden in a Bentley before."

Being single and very well off, Pierson enjoyed the finer things in life and a nice car was one of them. He drove a light blue, two-door 2016 Bentley Continental GT V8 S that sold for just under two-hundred grand. "My other car is a Toyota Corolla," he quipped and Jessica laughed politely as he started it up and pulled away.

"Is Starbucks okay?" he asked.

"Where else would one have coffee in Seattle?" she replied only partially joking about the ubiquitous coffee chain's franchise locations.

"Do you want to go inside or would you prefer to sit and talk in the car?" he asked when they pulled in. He pointed to a drive-through window as he spoke.

"Maybe we should go inside. I'd be afraid of spilling something on this gorgeous leather," she said not joking at all.

"It's just stuff," he said. "Besides, it's a little more private in here and something tells me privacy might be in order if we're going to be talking about a certain dental hygienist." He smiled at her and pulled up to the window.

"What would you like, Jessica?" he asked after ordering a plain black coffee.

"That sound good for me, too," she said.

"No cream or sugar?" he asked just be sure.

"No thank you. I prefer it black."

"Wow. A woman after my own heart," he said as he ordered a second cup then passing it over to her.

He found a quiet place to park and opened the lid, took a sip, and said, "So what's going on?"

"First of all, thank you for the coffee, Mr. Pierson and..."

"I'd like it if you'd call me Dean," he said interrupting with a smile. "Sorry. Please go on."

"Well, I'm well aware it's none of my business, but the reason I quit is because I finally said something to Nick about Lindsay. That started a firestorm and since Dr. McClain had no idea any of that was going on, I looked like the bad guy. Lindsay, of course, claimed I was making all of this up and the other girls took her side. The pressure got so high I finally just quit."

He raise his eyebrows as he took another sip and waited for a more in-depth explanation.

"When she cleaned your teeth, did you notice she wasn't wearing her wedding ring?"

Pierson had to think for a moment. "Yeah, I did notice, but she's separated from her husband so I guess I could see that going either way, right?"

"Except that she's not separated from him. In fact, Nick is positively head over heels in love with her and yet she flirts with every good-looking guy who comes in. No, wait. She doesn't flirt, she hits on them—hard. She sits there and just makes up these stories out of whole cloth about how he abandoned her or how he's so jealous she can't stand it and had to leave or anything that comes to mind. Occasionally, she turns on the tears and claims he abuses her. Then she lets the guy know she's open to going out or having an affair and since she's made her husband out to be this horrible person, a lot of guys don't consider that to be cheating. I've lost track of how many guys she's cheated on Nick with. Oh, and they have a beautiful little girl she claims doesn't exist. I just couldn't take it anymore."

"Wow," Pierson said setting his coffee in a cup holder. "I'm glad you said something. I just found the card she gave me—with her number on it—the other day and I was going to call her and see if she wanted to get together."

"Well, she might actually be single pretty soon. Nick was devastated when he found out, but he loves her so much he's still trying to make it work. Lindsay's just the kind of woman who's so attractive she thinks she's entitled to any man she wants. And the truth is, she gets almost all of them."

Jessica sipped her coffee and said, "I used to wish I was as beautiful as girls like her, but as I got older I realized how empty and superficial their lives often are. Sure, there are really gorgeous people who marry, stay faithful, and are very happy, but beauty is its own form of power and some people shouldn't be trusted with it." She looked over at Pierson and said, "Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to start philosophizing. I can really get on a roll sometimes."

Pierson felt like he'd just taken a shot to the heart. Jessica was talking about Lindsay and yet she'd just described him to a tee. No, he wasn't married so he wasn't hurting anyone but himself, but... No, even that wasn't true. He'd slept with a quite a few married women who'd thrown themselves at him so he couldn't even make that claim. Sure, he'd never sought out a married woman, but that was really a distinction without a difference when he ended up in bed with another man's wife.

"With great power comes great responsibility?" he offered not sure if he was trying to participate in the conversation or help soothe his wounded ego.

"Exactly!" Jessica said perking up and smiling. "The world tends to come to the very wealthy, the very powerful, and the very good looking. Think of all the good they could do if they used that kind of power for the right reasons."

"I'm not sure attractive people can do a lot of good by virtue of being good looking," he offered again trying to make himself feel less guilty. Guilty. That was a word he'd never once used to describe himself. He just lived his life and let the chips fall where they may. Now he was wondering how many of those flying chips had put out someone's eye...or worse.

"Okay, maybe not to the same extent a billionaire could help, but that person could at least avoid hurting other people the way Lindsay does. I don't think she's evil, I think she's afraid."

"Afraid?" he asked. "What is it she's afraid of?"

"Growing old. Losing her 'power'. Feeling unwanted and therefore unloved." She looked back over at him and said, "Everyone's looks fade. Some of us don't have a lot of them to begin with, but they eventually fade for everyone. It seems like the more beautiful someone is, the more they fear losing something they can't possibly hold on to. I mean, just look at the movie stars who have one cosmetic surgery after the other to try and look younger. That's their business, but what's wrong with looking your age? If you're the right kind of person, you'll always be beautiful, right?" Jessica stopped talking and said, "I'm doing it again, aren't I?"

"It's quite all right," Pierson told her. "You've given me a lot to think about, Jessica."

Suddenly Jessica realized he took her comments to mean people like him. "No! That's not what I meant at all, Mr. P...Dean. I wasn't even thinking about you. I swear. I just meant..."

Pierson smiled and told her, "It's okay. I didn't think you were but as they say, if the shoe fits..."

"Now I feel terrible," she said looking down at her feet. "You really are a nice looking man." She briefly glanced at him and said, "Gorgeous, in fact," before looking away. "I can't imagine you're like all those other people, though. You seem so nice and you're really friendly."

"I'm no saint, Jessica," he said perhaps again to mitigate his growing sense of guilt. He hated to admit it, but it was true and he found himself saying, "In fact, I'm pretty much exactly like the kind of person you described." He picked his coffee up and took another drink before saying, "I've been running from one hook up to another since I was in high school. I guess maybe I have been blessed with reasonably good looks and you're also right about how the world comes to...attractive people. My former best friend from school is average looking, at best, and he had to scrap and fight for every date while I had girls throwing themselves..." He stopped talking and looked at her. "That sounds very pretentious, doesn't it?"

"It sounds like the truth," she said as looked over at him and smiled. "I think you're a good man, Dean. You just might not have realized there's more to life than beautiful women and nice things."

Pierson made a quiet sort of snorting sound then said, "Such as?"

"Such Contentment. The satisfaction that comes from helping other people and putting someone else's needs ahead of your own. Things like that—for starters." She sheepishly glanced back over at him as she realized she was on the verge of pontificating again.

"What makes you happy, Jessica? What gives you a sense of contentment or satisfaction?"

"Lots of things," she said not sure if she should answer directly.

"Such as?" he asked forcing her hand.

"Would it possible for me to show you rather than just say a bunch of words?" she asked, her voice rising at the end of her question.

"Right now?" he asked.

"Anytime is okay with me, but right now would be perfect."

He looked down at his Rolex watch and said, "Um...okay. I actually have some free time now that this project is up and running." He started the Bentley and said, "Where to?"

"Go south on I-5 and turn onto 9th Avenue," she said.

He pulled out into traffic, found the on-ramp to the freeway, and headed south. Traffic was its normal snarl and this is when Pierson laughed about driving a car like the one he owned. He could creep along at 25mph in a Volkswagen Beetle as well as in a Bentley. He inched his way to the off-ramp on 9th and Jessica told him when and where to turn from there.

"We're going to a hospital?" he asked as they drove along the front of Harborview Medical Center.

"Yes, but not just the hospital," she said. "Pull in over there, okay?"

Pierson found a spot, parked the car, and went around to open Jessica's door. As he helped her out, he saw a sign over that wing of the hospital which read, "Burn Center" and a chill swept over him.

"We're going in there?" he asked nodding toward the building.

"If you can take it," she said without sounding accusatory or mean.

He closed her door, locked the car, and said, "Lead on."

When they got to the front desk, a woman in her mid-40s looked up and smiled when she saw them. "Jessica! It's so good to see you. How have you been?"

"No complaints," she said cheerfully. "Oh, this is my friend, Dean Pierson. Dean, this is Angie, one of the nurses who works in the burn unit."

"Hi, it's nice to meet you, Dean," she said unable not to notice how good looking he was.

"Can we go on back?" Jessica asked.

"Oh, sure. We have a a couple of children in the play room right now. There's a little girl there who'll be very glad to see you again."

"Do you come her often?" he asked as the walked down the shiny, tiled hall.

"As often as I can," she told him.

Pierson wasn't sure he wanted to do this as they stopped in front of a room with double doors. "You ready?" she asked.

"I guess so," he said quietly trying to look inside through the rectangular windows at eye level.

She opened the door and waited for Pierson to join her. Almost immediately, a little girl of about six called out, "Jessica!" and ran over to her.

Pierson felt sick to his stomach as he saw her heavily-scared face. The little girl was smiling a contorted smile as she ran to Jessica who bent down and hugged her. "Hi, sweetheart. You look so beautiful today! How are you feeling?"

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bykomrad1156© 16 comments/ 71969 views/ 88 favorites

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