By Susan Sebrell
“The movie was actually better,” Jason opened with to break the ice.
“I’m sorry, I noticed the book you’re reading, the movie was better. Hi, I’m Jason; I’d shake your hand but…” He looked back at the bag hanging on the hook.
She nodded in understanding. “Chloe. I agree, I saw it twice but thanks for the info.”
She stared at him for a few seconds then asked him, “Weren’t you here last year?”
He smiled warmly, “Indeed you did, I was hoping to come up with a good opening line but you left before I could think of one.”
“I’m glad you did this time.”
The nurse came over to unhook them and offered juice and cookies before they left.
“May I escort you to the snack area?” He offered his arm.
She gathered her belongings and stood up, ”you may,” she took his arm as they walked to the snack area and sat down.
As they opened their juice cartons, she asked, “So are you from around here?” She took a small sip.
“I was, I mean am...” he took a long sip.
She caught a look, “don’t stop now, what’s your story? What can I do to help?”
He took a breath, she took his hand. “It’s my son, he’s up in the ‘ped ‘cancer wing.”
“Oh, no!” I am so sorry! I didn’t know! How is he doing?”
“Kyle, he’s six, he had his second bone marrow transplant, we’re hoping this one takes. We are waiting on results; I was driving them crazy with my hovering. His mother and her husband are with him now. I was told to take a break.” He slowly took a bite of a cookie.
“Some break. Giving back, the hard way, I say. I know it will be a success this time. Have faith.” She took a sip and added, “in fact I know faith works, I got my call today, I am cancer-free myself, first time in a year.” She finished her juice, “Jason, do you have a good support system? Is your employer backing you, good insurance? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“I see you do know all the hard questions, I am happy for you,” He held onto her hand and she let him. “I have to admit insurance could do more, my parents have been my rock. I had to sell my home and move back home to pay the medical bills, but Kyle is my everything, I will do anything for him.”
They continued to talk like old friends until the nurse told them they had to close the room.
“Please, let me take you out to eat, a proper dinner before you need to get back to Kyle. I know a place where they have the juiciest ribs with this incredible barbeque sauce. It’s just across the street, you won’t be far from your son, I promise.”
“You don’t have to do that. Besides, I know that place – we’d never get in; reservations are booked months in advanced!”
She smiled warmly and picked up her coat, he took it and helped her put it on; she pulled her hair out, “Thanks and I know the chef. Come on,“ she encouraged him.
“Fine, you win, just let me check in, excuse me.” After he texted his ex and got a reply: no doctor, son sleeping. he put phone away. “Let’s go.”
As soon as they walked in, several servers came over to Chloe and embraced her, laughing and crying. “We heard the news! We’re SO happy for you!”
“Okay, who told?” Chloe asked looking at each as they pointed towards the kitchen.
Jason asked, “What? Your dad works here?”
“Actually, we both do,” she winked at him. “Come on, I’ll introduce you.” She pulled him along before her employees could give her the fifth degree on the handsome man on her arm.
As soon as they entered the kitchen, “There’s my healthy baby girl! Come here and give daddy a big hug, princess!” She ran to him.
Suddenly Jason’s cell rang and he excused himself as Chloe and her dad hugged it out.
He walked over to them smiling and tears forming in his eyes, “It worked! He’s going to be fine!”
“That’s the BEST Valentine’s gift! You have your son back! I am so happy for you!”
They hugged then they gazed into each other’s eyes as their hearts raced.