May 21, 2017
The cab driver smiled at Doctor Allison Cameron as he lifted her bag and placed it carefully in the trunk. Shutting the trunk, he scurried to close the door as she climbed in. A sigh escaped her as she settled against the back seat. Taking such an early flight probably wasn’t the best idea. However, since the hospital was paying for the flight, beggars couldn’t be choosers. As it was, she had to pay for her stay at the hotel and all her expenses.
The cabbie got in, started the engine and pulled away from the curb, smiling at her in the rearview mirror as he maneuvered the cab between two cars. She grimaced slightly as car horns blared. The driver ignored the sound and sped forward narrowly missing another car as it attempted to pull away from the curb.
“Never thought I’d see you again, Jackie!” the driver grinned. “We had some good times, huh?”
Allison frowned at him. “I think you have me confused with someone else. My name isn’t Jackie.” And I’m not telling you what it is , she thought. She glanced down at his name and photo taped to the bottom of the plastic glass partition. Aaron Eston looked at her in confusion when she glanced back up at him.
“You sure you aren’t Jackie?” he asked as he watched her in the rearview mirror. “You sure do look like her.”
A car slowed in front of them.
“Please watch the road!” Allison implored as they sped up on the car stopped at a red light.
Aaron glanced at the car in front of them and stomped on the brakes causing her to slide forward and brace her hand on the back of the front seat. She shook her head and slid back.
Aaron looked back at her again. He shook his head. “Huh, I guess you aren’t her. Maybe it’s the hair.”
Allison lifted her hand to touch the ends of her hair. She was still getting used to it being shorter. The pale blonde strands barely touched her shoulders.
With Aaron’s attention on the San Francisco traffic, Allison looked out the window. She barely registered the scenery as it flashed past. Her mind kept going back five years. She could still see the black and gold urn that contained the cremains of her former boss, Doctor Gregory House. Five years later and the pain was still palpable. As the cab approached the Omni Hotel, she wondered again if attending this medical conference was a good idea. Signing up for it had been a spur of the moment decision, like cutting off all her hair. She looked up at the massive brick building and loneliness crept over her stealing all the warmth from her. She opened the cab door and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Even though the sun shone, the air was cool and she shivered. Maybe she would run into someone she knew while she was here. Paying Aaron, she watched as the hotel porter took her bag. Maybe , she thought as she followed the young woman carrying her bag into the lobby of the hotel.
Since she arrived a day early, Allison decided to take the walking tour the hotel offered. She had to rush to change her clothes but she made it to the lobby just in time to follow the last person out.
The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly. Allison bought a few souvenirs and took countless photos with her phone. There were two doctors from Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital on the tour. Allison learned that her ex-husband, Doctor Robert Chase, was the head of the Diagnostics Department and Doctor Eric Foreman was still Dean of Medicine. They reminisced about her time working with them and Doctor House in Diagnostics. They also spoke of Doctor James Wilson, House’s best friend, who died of cancer several months after House died in a warehouse fire. Allison also learned that Doctor Lisa Cuddy, the former Dean at PPTH, was now married and working at Mercy in Manhattan. Allison told them about her time as the head of the Emergency Department at Lake Forest Hospital. She enjoyed working at the smaller community hospital.
When they returned to the hotel, the three of them went their separate ways with promises to keep in touch. Allison knew they probably wouldn’t do more than exchange holiday cards but she was glad to hear about Robert and the others she worked with all those years ago.
Near the winding cherry wood and marble staircase, a table was set up with brochures for all the seminars. Allison looked over them and felt a jolt of shock. Doctor Eldon Chance was presenting a seminar on Neuropsychiatry. His photo was on the front of the brochure. With shaking hands, she picked it up and shoved it into the pocket of her jacket.
Once in her room, she locked the door and made her way to the bed. She sat down and pulled out the brochure. She smoothed the wrinkles from it and looked at the photo. It was House. His face was thinner, his hair was greyer and he was clean-shaven but it had to be him. Was he alive? She got out her phone and pulled up the list of seminars and signed up for Chance’s panel. She looked at the brochure again and ran her finger over the picture. She had to see him for herself. She’d know for sure, then.
It was late on Sunday night when Eldon Chance gave his car keys to the attendant at the Omni Hotel. He wasn’t presenting until Tuesday afternoon but he decided a few days at the hotel would be a welcome distraction. Some time alone, away from distractions, was what he needed. He walked into the hotel lobby and was halfway to the check-in counter when he saw her. His breath caught and his heart began to hammer in his chest. Her back was to him but he was certain it was her. The chin length blonde hair, the long legs, the slender waist and small but curvy ass. It was Jaclyn Blackstone. She was back in San Francisco. Slowly, he crossed the lobby until he stood behind her. He reached out and touched her shoulder. She turned and looked at him. Her eyes widened and all the color drained out of her face. Eldon released his breath. This wasn’t Jaclyn. She was beautiful and bore a strong resemblance to his former lover but it wasn’t her. He started to back away, apologizing as he did. The woman reached out and grasped his arm. Eldon frowned slightly at the tight grip of her small hand.