Just Friends, Part Two

As promised, here’s Part Two of Rachel’s story…

Micah
His greatest concern was Joy.

“You okay?,” he said, looking over at her and laying a hand on her leg reassuringly as soon as the car hit them from behind.

Joy had her seatbelt on, like always.  She was something of a seatbelt Nazi with everyone who got in the car, and Micah was grateful for it now.  Her hands still held onto the book she was reading.  A children’s classic.  One of those that librarians would recommend, of course. 

He had smiled to see her with it when he picked her up that morning and she’d climbed in next to him, put her pink purse by her feet, and leaned over to kiss his cheek, her lips still a little sticky with maple syrup.

He was pretty sure no brother had ever loved his sister as much as he loved Joy.

“Joy,” he said softly, as she looked up at him with wide eyes.  “Are you okay?”

“Micah,” she whispered.  “Was that my fault?”

And like that, he was transported back to elementary school, his last year there, Joy’s first.  She had been walking with her small kindergarten class from the building reserved just for students like her to the cafeteria, and she’d seen Micah on his way to PE.  She didn’t dare leave the straight line she was walking so quietly and orderly while the students around her wandered and chattered louder than most children their age… but she couldn’t stop herself from grinning at him, waving, and whispering, in a very loud whisper, “I love you, Micah!” 

“That your girlfriend, Micah?,” some idiot whose name Micah couldn’t even recall had asked.

“That’s my sister,” Micah had said.  Then, in a loud whisper of his own, “I love you, too, Joy.”

“You’ve got a sister in special ed?,” the kid kept on.  “Hey, did you hear that?  Micah’s sister is a ret—“

And he didn’t get the word out of his mouth before Micah, who had always been a calm, mild-mannered, and polite child, stopped every word with his fist, knocking a couple of the kid’s teeth loose in the process.  Joy hadn’t missed the scene, as the PE teachers came out to drag him off the nameless boy, and as he’d been marched to the principal’s office.  His parents were called, and when they’d picked him up that evening and sat him down in the kitchen for a talk, he’d told them why he’d done it, that he’d do it again, and that he wasn’t sorry at all.

Their father had patted him on the back without a word, their mother had wiped her eyes and gone to their room, and Joy… five year old Joy had come into the kitchen with her favorite teddy bear in her arms and tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Micah,” she’d sobbed, “was that my fault?”

Goodness, no.  Not then, not since, and surely not now, sitting there in all that traffic. 

“No,” he said.  “No.  It was –“ He looked in his rearview mirror at the young woman now climbing out of her car.  “It was herfault.”  He glanced over at Joy. “You sit tight, okay?”

“I’m going to be late to work,” she said.

“No, you won’t,” he said.  “And even if you are, I’ll go in and explain things, okay?”

She nodded, biting her lip. 

She’d gotten the job through the center she attended most week days, for adults with Down’s.  The local library had offered her the position after the teachers had recommended her for just exactly the filing and shelving work she’d be doing, based on how methodical and analytical she was.  Micah had celebrated the job with great enthusiasm, telling her he’d always pegged her for the quiet, shy librarian type, ever since she was a little girl and would spend hours letting him read her stories.  She’d been working at the library since her eighteenth birthday, three years ago, and she took great pride in the work she did.

He was so proud of her… and so aware of how important being on time was to her.

“It’ll just take a minute for me to get this lady’s insurance information.  Wait for me, and –“

The lady was already at his window, tapping.

He rolled it down with a bit of a grimace, having hoped to meet her outside and spare Joy the drama, and…

… hello.

The statuesque brunette who stood outside his truck didn’t seem to realize that she was probably stopping traffic both coming and going with the way she was leaning over like that, up next to his truck, all of her beautiful curves on display as she threw her long hair over her shoulder and batted her eyes at him.  Not in a flirty way.  Just in a freakishly yet totally natural, beautiful way.

“I’m sosorry!  Are you okay?”

As she watched him, biting her lip, blinking those gorgeous eyes… well, he felt better than okay.

He felt fan-freakin’-tastic, actually.

“Micah,” Joy prompted, as he continued staring at the fender-bender offender.

He blinked a couple of times himself.  “Yeah, I’m fine,” he managed.  “How about you?”

She breathed out.  “As fine as I can be after I just rear-ended you.”  Then she leaned down even further, looking across him to Joy.  “Sweetheart,” she said in a softer, even kinder voice, “are you okay?”

Joy nodded shyly, cradling her book to her chest.

“I’m a nurse,” the woman continued.  “Are you sure you’re okay?  Your neck feel okay?  Your shoulders?”

Joy swallowed. “I didn’t get hurt,” she said quietly.  “Thank you.”

Micah reached out to pat her hand again.  “Stay here, all right?”  She nodded as he motioned to the door, prompting the brunette to step back.

As soon as he was out, he moved to the back to inspect the damage. 

“I was on my phone,” the woman groaned, only a step behind him.  “I probably shouldn’t tell you that.  But I was on my phone.”

He bent down to look at his bumper.  No visible damage.

“You should probably stay off the phone while you’re driving, huh?,” he said.

“Couldn’t even really be called driving, could it?,” she said, as a few cars honked at them.  “I mean, we were hardly driving at all in this traffic.”

“Hope the text was worth it,” he said. 

“Wasn’t a text,” she said.  “I was looking up a gift registry for a dumb wedding I have to go to.  They asked for a universal remote.  A remote control!  I mean, he could have picked a lot better than that.  But I guess that goes without saying since he should have picked meinstead of her.”

Micah glanced up at her, his eyebrow raised.  “Okay.”

“Bad day,” she sighed.  “And I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”  Another car honked at her.  “And we need to get our cars out of the road.  I can get you my insurance information if you –“

“No need,” he said.  “I don’t see enough damage here to warrant it, honestly.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah,” he said.  “I’ve got to take my sister to work then get on to work myself.  So, see?  This is actually your lucky day.  No hike in insurance premiums.”

“And no ticket,” she sighed.  “Thanks.  And I’ll stay off the phone.  But wait a sec, okay?”

He waited while she ran back to her car and leaned in, prompting another few honks as she bent over and raised one dainty little foot up.  Even in scrubs and sneakers, she was still stopping traffic, and –

“Here,” she said, slipping him a card.  It was for a pediatric clinic and had the name Rachel Finn, RN splashed across the middle.  “If your sister has any problems, and I mean any problems, call me.”

“What about me?,” he asked, looking at her.

“What about you?,” she asked, making a face at him.

“I was in the accident, too,” he said, gesturing towards his neck.

“Oh, well,” she said, flustered.  “You, too, of course.  Or even your truck.  I just… just wanted to make sure your sister was okay, you know.”

Micah did know.  Not many people would have been as knowledgeable or as concerned about Joy as… well, as Rachel Finn was. 

It struck a chord with Micah.

“She’s healthy,” he said quietly.  “Wonderfully healthy.”

Rachel breathed out a sigh, relief in the sound.  “Good.  I’m glad.  I just… didn’t know.  And I would’ve felt awful if…”

If she had other health problems, problems that Micah couldn’t protect her from, just like he’d protected her from everything else her entire life.  But she didn’t.  All praise to God.  Even as Rachel glanced over at his truck, where Joy was turned around in her seat, watching them both, Micah’s heart sent out another thankful prayer that she was, as he’d said, wonderfully healthy.

“Well, thanks,” he said, giving Rachel a small wave.  “Drive safe, okay?”

“I will,” she said, turning back to her car without a second glance his way.   

He climbed in next to Joy again and looked over to her.  “See?  Going to get you to the library right on time, just like I said I would.”

But Joy wasn’t listening to him. “She seemed nice, Micah.”

Missed Part One?  Read it here, and be sure to come back next Monday for Part Three…

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