Baseball Bride by Penny Wylder

1





Gillian





“How’s that?” I ask, as I massage the outer bicep muscle of Frank Rogers, my patient and the famed pitcher for the Vulcan’s.

It’s taken me years to get here, to the perfect place where I’m able to help people exactly the way I want to. Working with athletes was never in my original plan when I decided to become a physical therapist, but I quickly realized I had a knack for sports medicine after seeing my first few clients at the rehab facility I joined straight out of college.

Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is where I belong.

“It feels great, Gil, so much better than it was.” He smiles up at me, so I smile back, happy to know I’m helping. “Although, I am a little tight up here,” he says, reaching for the lower part of his neck.

“Here?” I ask, digging the pads of my fingers firmly into his neck muscle.

“Yes,” he groans, letting his head relax forward. “That’s it, right there.”

Working his muscle, I massage out the knot. I spend a few more minutes targeting the areas I know get the most abuse. He’s a pitcher. His upper arms and shoulders take a beating. When you throw ninety mile an hour fast balls regularly, the strain on your body is intense.

Washing my hands, I wipe them off with a towel, and start to clean up my therapy room. It’s been a year now that I’ve been part of Vulcan’s clinicians’ team, and I like to think that I’ve become an important part of their success. At least that’s what the players tell me. I can see myself working here for years more, and maybe eventually becoming the head clinician.

“I can’t thank you enough, Gil,” Frank says, pilling his shirt down over his head and smoothing down his hair. “Honestly, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to pitch tomorrow.”

“Happy to help,” I tell him as I walk around to my desk. “Now just follow my instructions for warming up tomorrow and you’ll be good to go. I’ll see you soon.”

I have just a few minutes before the next player comes in, so I quickly take out Frank’s file to update his treatment plan. It’s really important we keep detailed notes. All of the clinicians work as a team, and even though Frank refuses to see the other clinicians in the office, I still like to make sure everything is well documented.

“Knock, knock,” a voice says behind me as I finish up Frank’s notes and slip his file back into my cabinet. Lifting my head, I see Dr. Benson in the doorway with a smile. “Busy?” he asks as he takes a step in.

Sitting back in my chair, I hold the pen in my hand and roll it between my fingers. “No, I’ve got a few minutes before my next client. What’s going on?”

“I just saw Frank leave. He’s doing really great since he started therapy with you.”

“Yeah, he’s been following all my advice, and doing the exercises I gave him. He’s come along quicker than I would have thought he would with a bicep tear of that degree.”

“He has,” Dr. Benson agrees, strolling through the room casually. He looks at a few pictures on the wall, then lifts up a lavender and chamomile candle on the small shelf by the exam table and smells it before setting it back down. This habit of his, of walking into my exam room as if he owns it, really irks me. The man is my superior, but still, he has a way of reminding me of his status that feels aggressive and just creepy sometimes. “I’ve heard you know exactly how to touch him.” His eyes flirt up to mine, and he smirks.

Why is he looking at me like that?

Here we go again. I can feel it instantly and I’m uncomfortable. The look in his eyes and the sound in his voice isn’t coming off as professional at all. It’s borderline flirtatious, like he’s hitting on me. He’s the kind of man who likes to skate that line, but he is my boss, so I have to stay professional as long as he doesn’t go too far. I’ve really learned to grin and bear it. Actually, grit my teeth and try to ignore that awful feeling of my skin crawling, is more like it.

“I did graduate at the top of my class, so I’m very proud to know exactly how to treat him. And he’s appreciative for that. In fact, the whole team is.” Sitting up straight, I drop the pen into the cup holder and look up at him cautiously. “Is there something I can help you with, Dr. Benson?”

Deflect, deflect, deflect, and usually he just loses interest in this game and walks away. I don’t want to confront him because Dr. Benson is the man who hired me. Despite this occasional unprofessionalism, he’s always been fair, given me great opportunities, but he hasn’t crossed the line. Yet.