Neela's flight landed in Baton Rouge and she quickly got a cab. She still remembered Ray's address from seeing it on the package he sent her the night before. She finally got to Ray's and knocked on the door, no answer. She knocked again.
Still no answer. Neela started thinking the worst but she had to know for sure. She went back down and got another cab.
Neela: Where is the Rehabilitation Clinic?
Driver: About 10 minutes from here.
Neela: I need to get there now.
Driver: Yes, ma'am.
Neela was so scared something had happened to Ray. She kept thinking about how much she needed him, how much she couldn't live without him.They got to a stop light and Neela looked out the window and saw the clinic just ahead. She paid the cab driver.
Neela: Thank you.
She jumped out and started running towards the clinic. She got inside and tried to catch her breath. She walked up to the man behind the desk.
Neela: Excuse me Mr (she looks at the ID) Anderson?
Anderson: Yes? What can I do for you?
Neela: I'm looking for Dr. Barnett. I'm one of his friends.
Anderson: Floor 3.
Neela: Thank you.
Neela takes the elevator up to the 3rd floor. One of the nurses sees her and walks up to her.
Neela: I'm looking for Ray Barnett. Is he here?
Nurse: Um I don't know. I haven't seen him today, but I just got here about 20 minutes ago. He's all over the place so it's hard to catch him. I'll get the head nurse for you she might know.
Neela: Thank you.
She brings the head nurse back, a Mrs. Michelle Edwards.
Michelle: Hi, my name is Michelle I'm the head nurse. How can I help you?
Neela: I'm looking for Ray Barnett.
Michelle: He's not on today. He had a conference in Philadelphia, he'll be here the day after tomorrow.
Neela: No, no, he has to be here. Please, he has to be here!
Neela breaks down into uncontrollable tears.
Michelle: Ma'am it's ok, it's going to be ok.
Then, not really knowing what was going on but hearing voices being raised, someone came behind Neela.
Neela: He has to be ok! Let me go!
And then a firmiliar voice......
Neela's heart skipped a beat, she turns around and sees Ray standing there. She quickly throws her arms around him and starts breaking down into tears. Ray puts his arms around Neela, not really sure what's going on.
Ray: Neela, it's ok. Calm down. Sshhh.
Ray tries his best to calm Neela down as she tightens her arms around him, nearly cutting off his circulation.
Ray: What's wrong?
Neela: I was at work and found out the plane you were supposed to be on had crashed. You weren't answering your phone, I was so scared. I thought that.......
Neela couldn't even say it, she starts to cry again and puts her hands over her face. Ray pulls her back to him and wraps his arms around her. Letting her feel his comfort and warmth.
Ray: Sshh. It's ok. I'm ok.
He uses one hand to gently message her back and runs his fingers thru her hair with the other. After she calms down a little bit, he explains to her:
Ray: I was supposed to go but I got called into work at the last minute. I left my phone in my locker, I was going to call you on my break and tell you. I'm so sorry you went thru this Neela. How did you find me?
Neela: I remembered your address from the gift you sent me.
Ray: You went to my apartment?
Neela: Yes and when you weren't there, I told the cab driver to take me to the Rehabilitation Clinic.
She starts to tremble
He continues to hold her. Michelle and the other nurse are still standing there.
Michelle: Ray, I think you should take her back to your place so she can calm down.
Ray: My shift isn't over.
Michelle: Don't worry about that, just take care of her.
Ray: Ok thanks Michelle, I owe you.
Ray slowly leads Neela outside, not taking their arms off of each other the whole time. He guides her to his car, opens the door for her and gives her a lingering hug before she gets in to reassure her once again that he is ok. He drives them back to his apartment, helps her walk to the door and opens it. He leads Neela over to the couch and she sits down.
Ray: I can make you some tea.
Neela: Thank you.
As Neela sat on her and Ray's old couch, she reflected on the time they spent together back in their old apartment. Ray came back a few minutes later and handed her the tea and she gave him a little smile.
Ray: Careful. It's hot.
She takes a sip. He sits next to her on the couch.
Neela: Yes. Thank you.
Ray: You're welcome. I'm sorry you were so scared but I am really glad you're here.
Neela: Me too.
Ray: How are you?
Neela: I'm better.
Ray: Good, you were scaring me. I didn't know what to do.
She looks at him
Neela: I thought it was happening all over again Ray. I kept thinking about how it was with Michael and how I couldn't go thru that again. I had already lost you once, I couldn't take it if I lost you again. You're my best friend.
Ray: Trust me, you won't ever have to worry about that.
Neela: I need you Ray. I need you in my life.
Ray: I need you too, and I will always be there for you Neela.
Neela: When you and I moved in together, and we started to get feelings for each other, I felt so guilty. I was married and had feelings for another man. And then when he died, I was so sure it was because of my feelings for you. I had to push you away, I didn't want to but I had to at least stay faithful even if all I wanted was to be with you.
Neela: Please let me finish. (she starts to cry again) Then when you got hurt, I was so sure it was because of me, because of our feelings for each other. I thought everything was my fault. Michael dying, you getting hurt; I blamed myself. I didn't want to hurt you again, that's why I let you go at the hospital and on Halloween. When I thought you were dead, it made me realize that I can't live without you. I want to be with you. I have always wanted to be with you.
Ray: I have always had feelings for you. I felt bad about that because you were married. I didn't want to feel that way but I couldn't help it. And then when Michael died, I just wanted to be there for you. Yes I wanted to be with you too, but I just wanted to help you thru it. When you pushed me away, I didn't understand. I thought it was because you didn't feel the same way and that hurt. Then I realized the reason you were pushing me away was because you felt the same way. I know after the accident I said things to you that I shouldn't have. I'm sorry. It wasn't you Neela, I had just gone thru something very traumatic but I never blamed you. None of it was your fault. Michael dying and me getting hurt had nothing to do with you. Even though I was hurt, I never stopped caring about you and nothing that's happened has ever changed my feelings for you. What you did do was make me want to be a better man. When I was laying in that hospital bed, thinking of you and everything we went thru together is one of the things that helped me walk again. You make me strong.
Neela: Ray......I love you.
Ray: I love you too.
Neela is still crying when she leans in and kisses Ray on the lips who is also a little teary himself. He returns the kiss. The kiss starts out tender and slow at first and then gradually starts to grow faster and more passionate. Ray places his forehead against Neela's and looks deeply into her eyes as the two of them try to catch their breath. Neela stands up, grabs Ray's hand and leads him into the bedroom. She and him are at the foot of the bed when she slowly begins to unbutton his shirt. She removes it and places tender kisses on his chest. Ray lifts his hands and puts them on her waist, then kisses her softly and slowly raises her shirt over her head. Then he pulls her close to him and places his lips on hers. He then moves his lips to her neck and starts giving her warm, soft kisses down to her shoulder and lowers her bra strap. Neela pulls her head back and lets out a loud moan as Ray's kisses grow faster. Ray then moves his lips back to Neela's mouth, the kiss becomes very intense and passionate and both started to breathe very heavily. Then Ray and Neela fall back onto the bed.
After her and Ray are done making love, they lay in bed holding each other and Ray lovingly kisses her forehead.
Ray: So what now?
Neela: County isn't in my future. I was offered the job at Duke and I was planning on going there. I even told Banfield that I was going to be leaving County. I want us to be together, so if you don't want to go there I'll understand. (She looks up at him) I can be a doctor in Louisiana or in North Carolina, it doesn't matter where we are. I just know that I love you and I want to be with you.
Ray: I love you so much Neela. I know how much you want that job at Duke, and I think it would be best if we went somewhere new and made a fresh start. What do you think.....roomie?
Neela and Ray smile lovingly at each other and then Neela nods.
Neela: Yes, I'll move in with you Ray....again.
Ray chuckled softly and ever so gently kissed her on the lips. He pulls her closer to him, and Neela closes her eyes and smiles as Ray runs his fingers thru her hair and kisses her hand.
Told you I had a lot of ground to cover. There will be a Chapter 4.