Carolyn Thompson hadn't worn shorts since fifth grade.
At 28 she felt rather dense for being persuaded into a pair just for free parking and a ten dollar meal ticket. But it was worth it to escape a day of work. She looked down at the purple monstrosities. The shorts were the only ones in her size at the store. She had to stop off and buy a pair before coming to the Orthopedic clinic because she didn't own any. She was relieved that the clinic bathroom didn't have a full length mirror. Carolyn hated anyone to see her leg braces, even herself.
Staring staunchly ahead, she made it safely across the sparsely populated waiting room, fairly certain that no one had even noticed. She filled out the paperwork and received her token payment. The receptionist told her it would still be another ten or fifteen minutes. Carolyn went and took a seat in the corner, setting her oversized purse on the floor. She went to grab a magazine but found the man across the room was more interesting to look at than the latest 20-something starlet on a glossy page.
The man looked young, with shaggy blonde hair. Even under a light jacket she could tell he had a well-formed musculature, with very broad shoulders. He was leaning back in his seat, like he was bored, but his eyes were bright and his expression attentive. He was glancing around and Carolyn swore she could hear the wheels turning behind his eyes. He was cute. She instantly felt her body tense, ready for action. Dumb, she thought. He was probably waiting for his elderly mother to get out of a checkup for a hip replacement.
Still, she couldn't help enjoying the view, though the fact that he was looking around instead of reading a magazine or looking at his phone threatened they might make eye contact. To be safe, Carolyn kept glancing down to the beige carpeting. She brushed a lock of her honey hair behind her ear. Whenever she felt flirty she played with her hair. The lock fell back down. She twisted it slowly about her index finger and kept watch out of the corner of her eye.
The man shifted forward, tapping his fingertips on the armrests of the chair. He pressed his lips together in thought, nodded, and stood up. He walked across the room and Carolyn's heart did a summersault as he headed not for the bathroom, but straight over to her corner.
He sat down in the chair next to her, separated by an end table with magazines on it. He leaned in and smiled as he brushed the stack carelessly.
“Sorry. Nothing but Cosmo and Golf Digest on my end.”
Carolyn noticed he had two pointed front teeth, which gave his boyish face a more mature, wolf-like edge.
She couldn't help but smile herself, despite a diabolical heart rate. She remained cool.
“I thought all guys were interested in what Cosmo had to say.”
“Yeah, but we're not supposed to confess it, or read it in the doctor's office.”
“It's not fair, though, you get more insight to what women apparently want, but none of your gentlemen’s literature is ever in the doctor’s office or the supermarket.”
He raised a challenging eyebrow. “You're the only woman I've met who is upset that she can't get Playboy at the supermarket.”
Carolyn blushed but she remained confident.
“It might be just as confusing as Cosmo. Too bad men and women have to read about what they want in magazines instead of actually talking about it.”
“I just talked to you more about relationships than my last girlfriend. Ouch. Not a good pickup line.”
“I can't really think of a better one in an Orthopedic clinic,” Carolyn offered.
“How about... Are you here for the study?”
Carolyn’s forehead scrunched up.
“How did you know about that?”
“I'm uh... participating.”
He glanced down and Carolyn followed the dart of his gaze to the artificial leg that clamped at his knee. It was all she could do to not gasp – she had not noticed it.