The ‘Q’ Factor
The lounge seemed different tonight; everyone was talking loud as if they were trying to talk over everyone who sat in the room. Lisa had something on her lap; so did Cindy. In fact everyone had something on their laps. She no longer wanted to show off her pillowcase; all she wanted to do was go home. She had a feeling her pillowcase wouldn't be like what they had to show. The doorbell went off again and the door then opened with Nick and his smiley face appearing out of nowhere. “Good evening all, how’s your day been?” Everyone mumbled they had days that couldn't go fast enough and then went back to their chatter among themselves. “Nick I’m making a coffee would you like me to make you one?” “Yes I would love a coffee please” Nick liked his coffee strong and with three sugars. Lidia wasn't sure why he had it so strong if he had to have so much sugar. Maybe she thought he should try milk with it as well. “Coming right up” Nick was a strange man; coming to a quilting group with all women. She had meant to ask him why he started a woman’s craft. Later tonight she would ask him. He told Lidia two weeks ago how he and his wife Sandy had divorced. He admitted he only ever thought of himself; leaving Sandy to have a better life was best for her. He explained how his co-workers felt he needed to learn more about how a woman ticked. They dared him to join a craft group where he would soon learn about women and their sensitive feelings. He felt they were being arrogant and wanted to prove them wrong. One day he searched through the paper and found an ad for this quilters group. He joined to show his work buddies they didn't know him at all back then; Nick hasn't stopped since. “Yeah,” said Nick “I realize now that I've been coming here for a year I didn't know women at all. I felt they whined and moaned because they could. Now, I know that a woman has special needs. If I had known this when married to Sandy; it would be different now”
The frown on his face showed Lidia he had become a man who cared about others when he made it clear he never used to care about anyone but himself. She noticed after three months of coming here she wasn't as shy as she used to be. She wondered what else this group had seen happen over their time together.
Cindy was always trying to find out more information about her mom. Lidia soon learned who the gossip was in the group. There always had to be one in every group. She made sure she didn't reveal too much to her whenever they were sitting next to each other. Cindy and Jack had been married for just over a year now. They've been trying to have a baby for six months; Lidia could see the strain on Cindy’s face each month since they met when she would share she was still not pregnant yet. Lidia thought she shouldn't rush trying to be a parent. Children are time-consuming; Lidia didn't feel Cindy was mature enough to have children at the moment. Amanda always intrigued Lidia with her daily appearance of jeans and a top no matter if it was raining outside or not. She often wondered why she would love wearing them all the time. She had mentioned one day that she would own her own restaurant one day. She once met Gordon Ramsey and found him abrupt with his comments both good and bad. She almost left cooking school because he told her if she couldn't cook scrambled eggs then she shouldn't consider being a chef. That day someone else had taken over her station. The sloppy mess Mr. Ramsey received in front of him had nothing to do with her. He wouldn't listen to her so she walked away to keep her head straight. Later she apologized to him and moved on in her life. Now she is thankful he had come in that night.
Here everyone was waiting to show off the work they had done over the last few months since Lidia had joined the group.
“Lidia, would you like to show us what you have completed since you arrived?”
“Oh, yes after you showed me how to cut the fabric and how to quilt by hand; I went home and slowly worked on this pillowcase. I did make a mistake in the cutting but still managed to save the pattern” Agnes liked to hear how Lidia worked this out on her own. Lifting the pillowcase up for everyone to see and hiding her face to save any embarrassment. “Why Lidia, you did well for your first project on your own.” She could tell this was Agnes and was thankful for her encouraging words. “Yes I agree” Cindy stated with fact in her voice. Everyone had done a brilliant job with their quilts. The night went well I was sure everyone enjoyed themselves. Nick was a bit quiet even though everyone tried to get him to talk to us. Maybe he was feeling lonely now that he knew he had something with his ex-wife. I know that I had felt good as I crawled into bed with a smile in my face.
Waking up early was never easy for Lisa; she hates morning and the thought of getting out of her warm bed. She was enjoying her job; she still hadn't met “mister right” she felt lonely waking up on her own. Crawling out of bed she could hear Ferret her budgie chirping away; he must be hungry. “Man” she thought “I hate mornings and I’m always so tired anymore; I must make sure I have more iron”. After breakfast of tofu and wheat toast she sat out on her balcony watching the sun begin to rise. She felt a sense of peace seeing the sunrise knowing it will do its job for the day. Now she had to go and do her job as well.
The traffic was slower than normal; turned out to be an accident earlier. Lisa knew she would be late for work. Her boss hated late workers but what could she do? It was out of her hands. Thirty minutes late she finally stepped into the office. “I’m sorry I’m late Mr. Weakly; there was an accident on the freeway”
“Yes Miss Adams I heard the report on the radio; can you work a bit harder this morning to catch up, I have that report due in today that has to be on my desk in an hour”
The morning dragged for Lisa as she worked hard to get the report completed for Mr. Weakly. She managed to get it completed within an hour and a half and then had a much-needed hot green tea with her muesli muffin. She was hoping to get to the cafe’ for lunch today. She normally eats lunch at her desk but forgot to make something this morning. The cafe’ next door has a warm feeling any time she would come in to buy some water or get a hot tea to go. She didn't like the idea of having lunch alone in the cafe’ but she didn't know anyone at work. She liked keeping to herself most of the time.
The cafe’ seemed busier than usual Lisa thought as she stood in line so she could give her order. People were talking among themselves. The three women working behind the counter were busy. “Excuse me miss, May I take your order” The voice shook her out of her thoughts of dancing in the moonlight with some stranger (I wish) she thought. “Could I have a wheat bread sandwich with chicken, lettuce and tomato hold the Mayonnaise please. Could I have a hot green tea as well thank you” Once her order was ready Lisa searched for somewhere to sit and enjoy her lunch but the place was busy. She felt a tap on her shoulder as she turned she saw a man looking down at her. “Would you care to join me?" She could feel her cheeks turning red that a handsome stranger would offer her a seat. “Yes thank you that would be lovely”
The stranger pulled the seat in for her and placed his hand out before her. Lisa sat slowly down on the chair unsure she had made the right decision.
“Let me introduce myself, my name is Ben Hicks” “Hello Hello Mr. Hicks my name is Cindy Adams,” “Please Cindy call me Ben”
“The cafe’ seems a popular place today” “Yes, I don’t normally come here for lunch, I forgot to make my lunch today so I had to have something to eat”
“I’m glad you forgot your lunch, otherwise I would have never met you”
Lisa noticed he had jet-black hair and dark-brown eyes. He had a smile that made her feel excited. She didn't know what that meant but she liked how it felt. He had a strong handshake plus he had a voice that sounded strong.
“Where do you work Ben?” “I work next door at the lawyers firm I’m one of the newer lawyers there”. “What I work there as well I've never seen you where do you hide yourself”
Ben's laugh made her heart race. “I started there last week; so our paths hadn't crossed until today” “How do you like it so far”? Lisa hoped she hadn't asked the wrong question with not knowing Ben at all.
“I have to say that I love it. Was the best move I have ever made and now meeting you made it even better” Lisa felt her cheeks turn a bright red from his compliment she didn't know what to say next. “Thank you Mr. Hicks I mean Ben” “I think your tea is getting cold maybe we should have our lunch”
The conversation with Ben made her laugh a lot while enjoying their food. “Oh look at the time Ben I need to go back to work” “Yes I’m afraid it’s time for me as well to head back, let me walk you”. Back in the office Ben walked her to her desk. “I like your space you have here” he said trying to find a way to ask her out “Thank you, it does the job” Lisa felt awkward not knowing what to say next. “Listen Lisa, Can I take you out for dinner Friday night?”
“I don’t know Ben we have only just met.”
“I know, what a good way to get to know each other. Have dinner with me and if you don’t enjoy yourself then we don’t have to go out again I think we would have a good time”
Lisa hesitated only because she had always wanted to meet “mister right” could he be the one?
“Yes I will go out with you, thank you for the invite now I need to go back to work before I lose my job” Again they laughed at the same time. “So do I”
Ben took her hand and gently kissed her making her flushed and hot all over. “What a pleasure to have met you Miss Adams: until we meet again.” He stepped back with that warm smile Lisa couldn't help but smile. “Until we meet again Mr. Hicks; goodbye”. Lisa felt like all the air in her lungs had escaped her. “What just happened” she asked herself. She couldn't wait until Friday and what will her friends say in the group next Tuesday! Once her heart stopped racing from all the excitement, Lisa completed her day with faster speed and musical sound in her voice.
Cindy felt eager again, Jack and Cindy wanted a baby so much. As each month passed and still no baby on the way, she felt herself sink into a sadness that only other married couples would understand. Jack and Cindy loved being married almost two years now. She hoped that when she went to see the nurse this morning the pregnancy test would show up positive this time. Standing in the kitchen she made a coffee and sat outside hoping, dreaming of what their child or children would look like. Our daughter she thought will have long blonde hair and blue eyes. I would dress her in dresses and put her hair into pigtails. I would take her out for lunches and to the zoo as well. I would have Jack teach her the piano since he plays so well. We would love her with all we have inside us and make her happy. If we have a boy, Jack would teach him baseball and take him to McDonald’s for lunch. They would go fishing and get all smelly from the fish. I know Jack would love him with all he has inside as well. Dreams are free; this dream was one that needed to come true Cindy thought as she whispered “if only”.
Nick hated being alone now that he saw how much of a jerk he was to Sandy. He wondered if he called here would she listen to him. As he sat in his office at home he couldn't help but wonder this on a daily bases since he met the women at the quilters group. He thanked his co-workers after he had been going to the group for six months. He told them it was the best choice he made and told them they should try a craft as well. They laughed at him; they couldn't see themselves making anything other than buildings! He knew they were losing out on something special so he decided to leave the subject, for now anyway.
The office was getting warm as the afternoon sun drifted in past the drawn curtains. Nick gazed out the window and saw the cane chair that was Sandy’s favorite place to sit while she painted the trees or flowers or whatever her heart desired on the day. His heart sank as he realized she had such a talent that he never complimented her on. If any man could be a pig he knew he had been one. He jumped as the phone began to ring. He reached for the phone not knowing who was on the other end.
“I’m looking for a Mr. Camp, is he available to speak to please”
“Speaking, may I help you?” “Yes Mr. Camp, I’m sorry to give you this news, this is County General Hospital calling. Ms Collins arrived by ambulance this morning after being in a car accident. She mentioned your name can you come quickly to the hospital?”
Nick felt his heart stop beating and a lump form in his throat. What if he never got another chance to tell her he was sorry? “Yes, I will be there in fifteen minutes please how is she is she seriously hurt?”
“Mr. Camp she’s seriously hurt from a truck that went through the lights and hit her from side on. Her seat belt kept her from flying out the side window. You need to get here as soon as you can” “I’ll be right there”.......
Agnes knew that she had to keep going. She didn't want to end her life as an old woman in a rest home when she got older, MUCH older. She pulled herself out of bed , Cesar was barking away wanting to go out and take care of his business. He wouldn't wait long so she jumped up and raced downstairs. “Here we go again Cesar, why can’t you learn some much needed patience? Out you go”
The door slammed shut from a gust of wind as Agnes walked into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. The doctors told her she should cut back but coffee in the morning makes the day run smoother she thought. She had finished the quilt top she started 5 months ago and was ready to place the batting and backing to it so she could quilt it and then bind it. The next quilt show was in three weeks so she knew she needed to start working soon. Agnes jumped as she heard the phone. “Hello Agnes Ward speaking” “Agnes it’s Nick here, I need your help. Sandy’s in hospital in critical condition can you come to County General?”
“Oh Nick I will be there shortly; how bad is she”? “She has some broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. She broke her right arm and leg; a truck who failed to stop at the lights hit her car. The doctors said she has been so traumatized by the accident the shock may kill her” “Nick calm down I will be there soon”. Grabbing her keys of the mantelpiece Agnes rushed toward the door then she realized that if everyone could be there for Nick and Sandy then this might help him through this with so much support. Soon Agnes had called everyone and she was on her way. Everyone dropped what they were doing to help support Nick.
When Agnes arrived everyone was sitting with Nick who looked exhausted. Agnes took hold of him and hugged him with all she had hoping this would help him. “Nick any word on how she is?” “She is still in surgery; they have to remove her spleen. The doctors said she will be in surgery for another hour or so.” We’re all here for you Nick You need to keep strong For Sandy’s sake.” “Hey Lidia how are you holding up? Your looking a bit pale” Lidia was in shock, Memories of her mom came flashing back to her as she sat in the same hospital waiting room that she had when she was thirteen. Her hands were shaking and her heart was racing but she wanted to be there for Nick.
That day still haunts her to she can’t think of anything else. It was raining that day when dad had a phone call from the hospital telling him that his wife, my mother had been in a car accident. The rain had blurred her vision as she was trying to turn a corner a tanker didn't see her car. The car received the full force of the impact which made the car turn in three complete circles. She died instantly from the impact. Lidia hadn't told anybody at the group what had happened. They would show sympathy until they hear the rest of the story.
Lidia felt the tears welling up inside she knew exactly how Nick feels right now. She prayed he wouldn't have to see her in the morgue as her father did.
“Yeah Agnes I’m all right I just need some fresh air, if you will excuse me Nick I will be right back.” Cindy had her hand on Nick’s shoulder and noticed how Lidia was acting strange and then walked out of the waiting room. She wondered what was going on. She wanted to rush after her to see if she would finally tell her what she was hiding. Cindy knew she was hiding something; but so was Cindy. “Nick Lidia has stepped for a minute” She whispered in his ear; “She will be right back”. To Nick however all he could think about was Sandy and how if she makes it out of this he was going to win his wife back whatever it took he would win her back.
Lisa was sitting on the couch wondering what she could do to help Nick. She had made him a coffee and brought him a chocolate muffin. She found it hard to keep her thoughts on him after her night with Ben had gone so well. She started to drift away in her thoughts as she could smell his cologne on her blouse she wore. The night was magical; Ben was such a gentlemen buying her tulips for the date (her boss told him she often had tulips on her desk). He opened all the doors for her and would kiss her hand every chance that got. They had a reservation at Paris’ the nicest French restaurant in town. They laughed and shared their past with each other. Ben had lived close by all his life with his mom and dad and two younger sisters. Studied at Harvard University; he wanted only the best education money could buy for his future and for his future wife he knew he would meet one day. With the twinkle in his eye Lisa wondered if he felt maybe she was that person. As the night grew to a close and she ate more than she should have, she didn't want the night to end. Ben offered to take her home when she was ready so she took this opportunity to ask if a walk along the park might be something special.
She enjoyed his touch and his smile. As they walked through the park he slowly took hold of her hand and lightly kissed it as he looked up at her with a warm passionate desire. She knew that this night had to carry on at her place.
The smile on her face showed Nick that she was somewhere and not in the waiting room any more. He could tell there was someone special in her life. Only someone in love could look as she did with this glowing light all over her. He hoped that whoever stole her heart would treat her better than he did Sandy. Nothing was worse than realizing this too late.
Lisa didn't mean to be dreaming of Ben she had no idea Nick was watching her. He wasn't the only one either; Cindy was staring at her wondering what secret she wasn't sharing. So too was Agnes and Amanda; no-one had seen her smile like that before. Within her thoughts again Lisa saw how Ben held her at her door. How he lightly kissed her soft lips at first and then couldn't help himself. He passionately looked into her eyes lifted her head and kissed her with such a heated passion she thought her knees would give out on her. Once the long heated kiss was over she whispered in his ear; “Come in for a nightcap, I don’t want this night to end just yet” He smiled and agreed as she opened the door and quietly shut it behind her. The next morning he kissed her before leaving saying this was only the beginning of something special. Lisa heard a noise that was like a bang that woke her out of her dream. A nurse had dropped a tray at the nurse’s station. Then Lisa noticed the doctor was talking to Nick, everyone was standing around him listening to what the doctor was saying....
“Mr Camp Ms Collins your ex-wife has come out of surgery. She has had some major broken bones but as long as she can stay stable for the next twenty-four hours she should be fine. But of course the next twenty-four hours are the most important time for her. She needs your support to give her more to live for; can you do this Mr Camp?” Nick was numb and in shock he was so relieved he didn't hear everything he said. Once the doctor said she should be he started to plan what he would do to win her back, the first step was to be by her side until she is well again.
Agnes held Nick firmly as he was lead down the hallway to see his soon to be wife AGAIN. He was nervous and shaking he knew he was thankful for Agnes and the groups support. He must tell them later how much he loves them.
Sandy looked weak but alive, Nick walked up to the bed and touched her soft skin something he never noticed before today. She’s a beautiful woman with her soft brown hair flowing past her shoulders even in hospital he couldn't take his eyes off her. The tears were welling up as he bent over her bed and whispered he loved her and told her he would never leave her side again. He took a hold of her hand and squeezed it firmly in his. Her hand moved slightly in his, He knew then he had not yet lost her for good. He couldn't stop the tears and wept for hours as she lie there beginning to mend her broken body.