After suffering a sleepless night on the couch, Marian had a semblance of a plan. Clearly, her parents were not viable sources of unbiased information. They were more concerned with being “cooperative.” Since she was an only child who had little contact with extended family, there was only one direction left to turn.
She got up as soon as Drake left the bedroom. She followed him into the bathroom and waived her hand when he hesitated to undress. He frowned and proceeded to relieve himself, brush his teeth and jump in the shower, her eyes glued to the cornflower yellow wall tiles.
“Drake I want to see my friends today. They must be worried. You should have called them.”
His laughed bounced off the shower’s walls. “Mara, I’m afraid you don’t have any.”
“Besides a few colleagues, who you see as competitors, and the other scientists and techs. who work with us, I am the only one who can stand you.”
She marched over the the shower and pulled open the curtain. “I’m in no mood for your nonsense. I know I have friends. What about Sherry?”
“Huh! Your old roommate? She bought me a hundred dollar blazer for taking you off her hands. Don’t you remember how hostile your living environment was?”
Marian stopped to pull a memory of Sherry from her bank. After a few moments she cringed.
Drake pulled the shower curtain closed flashing her a grin.
She refused to give up. “OK, what about….Jessica?”
“She called you her charity case on the 2nd floor of Bloomingdale’s. You socked her in the nose, and were escorted out by security. That happened right after we met. You must remember that.”
“No.” Marian had the sinking feeling he didn’t believe her. Because she did indeed remember cutting all ties with Jessica. She tried again.
“And Alex? What about him?”
The water stopped running and his arm snaked out from the curtain grabbing his towel.
As he emerged with the towel rapped around his waist, he replied, “Alex was in-love with you. Once we got married, you never heard from him again. I don’t think he could ever forgive you.”
“That makes two of us. However, I find it a little convenient that your competition disappeared at the same time as your victory.”
“So being tied to you is a victory, hah!”
He walked from the room and disappeared into his bedroom closet.
Marian would not be deterred from her mission. She followed him in.
“Fine, I have no friends. Take me to the lab then. Everyone will at least pretend to like me there.”
She had the strong sense that her staff was most likely loyal to Drake. Who wouldn’t be? He played his role so well. Even she had once fallen for his spell. But not again.
Pulling his arm through his sleeve he turned to her.
“Darling, I am not sure your ready for that yet,” his word were laced with honey.
“Oh, no you don’t. It’s not going to work. I’m going with or without your assistance.”
“Mara, I just think, maybe you should talk to someone about your experience and the memory loss. It’s a lot for anyone to cope with.”
She glared at him. “Then, let me discuss this with my staff.”
“I hoped we might be able to go see Dr. Reinsert. I’ve appraised him of the situation, but I trust you’d like to sort through the details with him yourself.” He tried to placate her with a smile.
It fell short.
“Are you suggesting I see a psychiatrist? Cause that’s not happening. For all I know, he’ll put me under hypnosis, and I’ll walk out of there in-love with you!”
She watched his eyes for any indication she’d hit close to the mark. His steely orbs didn’t flinch as he said,
Then they flashed to life as he said, “But really, Mara, would that be so bad?”
She puffed out some steam. “This could all be a case of mistaken identity. After all, you call me Mara, when I have never heard that name much less answered to it. Maybe I’m not who you think I am.” She smiled a satisfied smile.
He closed his eyes. “We should really go see Dr. Reinsert. He’s completely legitimate. We used to see him on a regular basis for couple’s therapy.”
“Drake, I am not crazy. Now, listen to your boss. If you don’t take me to the lab this instant, you are fired. I don’t care if that means I’m broke too. I’ll start taking my own salary.”
His eyes seemed to burst into blue flames. “You’ll fire me, huh. I’d like to see you try; especially once you realize just how much of our current project is dependent on me.”
“Take me to the lab and I may just get educated.”
His grin returned. “Fine by me. Get dressed.” He stopped to lean over her and sniff.
“On second thought, Marian, you’d better shower that stink off.”
She smiled a sweet smile. “Fine, make me breakfast, since you are still under my employ.”
With a wink she turned toward the bathroom. Drake gave his head a wild shake as to loosen mental cobwebs, before plodding to the kitchen.
They were sitting on the 1 train headed uptown. She knew from her days in the doctoral program that they would exit at 116th St. and Broadway, but she wasn’t sure to which building they were headed. She thought it over and took a guess.
“We’re going to the Shapiro building?”
His smile was genuine. “Yes, you remember our lab?”
“No, Drake, I just figured. We spent plenty of time there during our doctoral studies.”
He nodded. Then turned to face her.
“What is your last memory of me, the very last one?”
She was silent for several moments.
Taking a deep breath and leaving her eyes shut, she began, “I was speaking to Dr. Sloane just outside his office. You approached from the left, patted my backside, and when I turned to smack my attacker you had the nerve to wink at me before dashing away. I had never been more embarrassed. And Dr. Sloane’s comment was, ‘I didn’t know you were romantically involved with the soon to be Dr. Finch. An interesting match, you two.’ Considering the fact that I’d been avoiding you since our failed research project in Dr. Saunderson’s carbon capture and sequestration course, it was well, ironic. I could only imagine what else would circulate around the rumor mill after that.”
“Why didn’t you just tell him the truth. I was trying to piss you off. That was my way of wooing you.” A half-smile adorned his left cheek.
“What was the point. With so many of our colleagues shacking up, hooking up, and doing, um, other things together, I didn’t think he’d believe me.”
Marian took a deep breath before she continued.
“What sucked for you was that I’d already determined you were the biggest threat to me getting the NSMDS grant. Then you had to grab some tushy.”
Drake put a hand on her arm to get her attention. “This is our stop.” He got up and offered her his hand which she almost accepted. He retracted his offer and they walked out the subway door.
Marian stopped short. “Wait. Drake, what does everyone call me?”
“Dr. Finch.” He looked down in attempts to keep his face straight.
“Ok, they actually call you Dr. Marian. The rest of us are on a first name basis. You wanted to be cooperative, but felt you needed some level of respect. After a year or so, we all got used to it.”
She exhaled a breath. “What do you call me in there?”
“Usually, Marian or just Dr., which was also your idea.”
“Drake,” she almost squeaked.