Embracing the Unexpected

By: Ella Jade

Chapter 1

Parker Phillips hated Monday nights. The only saving grace was he had just one week left in the stupid six week court appointed anger management class. If he said he regretted his actions that led him here, he’d be lying. There was only one person in his life he would do this for. He couldn’t even think about the reason he was here. It made him sick.

The two hours seemed more like an eternity, and he was having a difficult time keeping his eyes opened. He was in the car before seven that morning, put in a full day at the office, had dinner with a client, and now was ending his day here. He’d much rather be at home, sitting in front of the fire with a brandy and a good book. One more week. He could do it.

He glanced down at his watch. Two minutes to nine, two minutes to go. When he looked back up, Dr. Cross was staring at him with those piercing blue eyes. Parker looked down at his notebook, feeling embarrassed he’d been caught checking the time, but even the doctor had to know Parker didn’t belong here.

“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for spending your evening with me,” he said. “I’ll see you back here next week and your time will be considered served.”

The rest of the class chuckled as people jumped up from their desks and darted for the door. Parker stood up, gathered his belongings, and reached for his suit jacket hanging neatly on the back of his chair.

“Mr. Phillips,” Dr. Cross called.

A few people looked at Parker on their way out and he wondered if any of them knew who he was. He doubted it, since he practiced corporate law and didn’t deal with many criminals, maybe a few white collar ones. Still, his face was usually in the newspapers and local magazines, so he tried to keep a low profile while he was here. He didn’t need all of Connecticut figuring out who he was and what he’d done.

“May I have a word with you?” Dr. Cross asked in a low tone. He hardly ever raised his voice and had a strange calming effect on the people he was preaching to.

Parker watched as the others exited the classroom, wishing he’d managed to get out before he called his name. He couldn’t imagine what the instructor would want from him. He attended the class each week, stayed the full amount of time, and minded his business. What else could he want?

“Is it important, Dr. Cross? I’ve had a busy day and I have a long ride home,” he answered, not wanting to spend any more time here than he had to.

“This won’t take long.” He smiled as he sat on the edge of the metal desk. “Have a seat.” He motioned with his hand for him to sit back down.

“I’ll stand, if you don’t mind.” Parker knew he was being difficult, but this whole scene put him in a foul mood and he wanted to go home.

“Whatever makes you comfortable.”

A brandy, fire, and a good book. That was what would make him comfortable. But it didn’t look like that was going to happen.

“How has the class been for you?”

“Fine. It served its purpose.”

“Really?” He crossed his legs at the ankles.

He was a striking man who had very good taste in designer clothes. Every time Dr. Cross stood in front of the class, he was extremely meticulous. His dirty blond hair hung longer than one would expect for a doctor of his caliber, but he was eclectic and that intrigued Parker. Not that he gave the doctor much thought during the week when he wasn’t in his presence, but he did find the man interesting. At least when he wasn’t going on about how one should control impulses and improve verbal communication skills.

“Was there something else?” Parker didn’t feel comfortable discussing the reason he was there in the first place, and he wanted out before he had to make excuses.

“I’m just curious to know if you’ve gotten anything out of this course.”

“Do you have a one-on-one session with all of the participants in the class?” Parker asked. “Or am I special?”

“Only the ones who don’t seem to participate at all,” he countered. “I think this might be the first time I’ve heard you speak in five weeks.”

“I see.” Parker glanced up at the wall on the clock, trying to prove a point. “Look, I’ve put my time in and I’ll be here next week. I’ve completed my obligation.”

“Have you?” Dr. Cross arched a brow at him.

“I’m sure we can appreciate we’re both busy men, so if there isn’t anything else, I’d like to go home. I have a rather early morning.”

“I can appreciate that.” He smiled and Parker noticed just how incredibly white his teeth were. He wondered how he didn’t notice that before. Then he wondered why the hell he cared how white the man’s teeth were. It shouldn’t have mattered.