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“You’re right on time.” When she saw that he looked doubtful she pointed at the antique clock on the wall. “Literally.”
“Okay. So what do I do now? Start on the packet of forms? He shifted creakily from one foot to the other.
Hope turned the wattage on her smile down a little to put him more at ease. If this man relaxed enough, he’d fall asleep. She’d bet that he didn’t even know that he was exhausted.
“I explained that my fee is in cash when I spoke to your assistant, didn’t I? There are no forms.”
“I asked Paul to send my medical records to you. Did you get them?” Do you want them, he wanted to add, but didn’t. Maybe she really didn’t know what she was doing.
“Yes, I received a thick envelope full of records. I read them over. I saw that you’ve been having these headaches for over a year now. That must be very frustrating for you.” Hope heard her great grandmother’s voice whisper the word “tension” in her ear.
“It’s beyond frustrating. I’ve tried everything.”
She asked a question that the file hadn’t answered for her. “Massage?”
His jaw dropped. If she thought that some silly hour of rubbing was going to fix headaches that the best specialist in the area couldn’t solve, he’d better get out of there with his $100 in his pocket right now.
“I’ll take that as a no. Would you like a cup of tea? I think it will be illuminating for you. Do you have the full hour to spend that we scheduled?” Great Grandmother Willow chuckled in her head. She knew just which tea it was that Hope had in mind.
“Yes. I don’t need to leave early.” He looked curiously around the comfortable kitchen she led him into. There was a padded breakfast nook tucked into the corner. Complete with unusual, dainty teacups and saucers already on the table.
“Your records don’t show any history of allergies. Is that still true?” She wove relaxation into her voice, sending it to the terrific stress she felt pulsing off of his shoulders.
“No, none.” Nathan covered his yawn with his hand, apologizing for being so drowsy all of a sudden.”
“And how about medications. I see that you’re only taking pain medication when you have a headache?”
“I tried a few other things but a pain pill is the only one I’ve stayed with. I only take it when I’m desperate.”
Hope moved in for the big test. She held four charming pottery jars with lids on her tray along with the pot of hot water. She ventured a guess that he would be asleep within 10 minutes of drinking the herbs she thought he would choose. She would lay him down there on the pad and cover him with a blanket while the herbs worked their magic.
“Smell these, Nathan. Tell me what you think of them.” Hope pushed the small jars toward him.
“Okay,” he agreed, feeling more confident knowing that she seemed to have read the records he had sent over. He took the lid off the first jar, wrinkled his nose and pushed it away.
“Not that one.” Hope laughed gently.
Nathan made a random grab for the last of the four jars, passing over the other two. Oddly, he wanted to grip the smooth jar in his hands and press it to his chest.
Hope stored that in her superb memory in case he ever came to her with love life issues.
He took the third jar, sniffed at the herbs inside, and felt better immediately. “I like this one.”
“Lovely choice.” Hope began to steep the tea for him, choosing a different blend for herself. “It will be ready in a few minutes. Would you like some bread to go with your tea?” She pulled a basket off of the counter, showing him the choices inside the cloth napkin.
“Sure.” Who could resist fresh muffins and bread? He knew he couldn’t. “So, where did you learn about herbs?” He moaned when the rosemary bread melted in his mouth and filled him with its tasty aroma.
“Various courses, family remedies, and healers. Mostly family remedies, passed down from many generations ago.” There’s a good girl, her Great Grandmother approved of her respect for the traditions they had refined over the years. Still were refining in some ways. The world does change and yet it doesn’t, really.
Nathan finished his bread and swigged his tea. Arms stretched over his head, he nearly jumped when Hope placed her soft hand on his shoulder. His eyes drooped, then he lost the battle with his eyelids, and they closed.