Knowing Adam had a break between classes at ten, Barry watched the big hand's sluggish progression around the clock face, dialing at precisely one minute past. Instead of excitement, he heard, "Cough, cough. Hewwo." Adam's nose and throat sounded packed with cotton.
"Adam? Are you all right?" He'd been fine the night before.
Cough, cough. Sniffle. "Yeah, it's jus' allergies." Achoo! "Florists have been swarming the place all morning, bringing deliveries. I'll be all right."
Voice scratchy and dry, it didn't sound like he'd be all right. Wait! Allergies! Oh, shit! "Errr... Are you allergic to all flowers, or certain ones?" Barry's hope held its breath. Barry, thinking that advisable, held his breath, too.
In the language of extreme stuffy-headedness, Adam responded, "I'm not really sure, so I avoid them all. Definitely grass, pine pollen, hay, and about a zillion other things set me off. It was hell growing up on a farm, let me tell you."
Told ya! his anxiety yelled at his captive conscience. "Soaps, shampoos?"
"There's a few kinds that don't bother me."
"What about the boys?" Barry asked, worried that hard decisions lay in his future.
"Cats are fine." Adam won additional points by adding, "If they weren't, I'd finally break down and see an allergist."
Recalling Adam's scentless shampoo, sitting on the shelf next to his "botanical extracts" enhanced bottle, Barry realized that he needed to stop the florist before they reached the university, adding to Adam's misery. "Ummm..." He searched for a way to end the call quickly.
Adam provided one. "I'm sorry, but there's a student waiting to see me. Can I call you back?"
Gusting a sigh of relief, Barry replied, "Yeah, sure. Talk to you later." He barely bit off saying, "Love you!" Too soon, too soon. You'll scare him off!
The moment he'd disconnected from Adam, Barry punched in the number for the florist, snapping his phone closed and trying again when, in his agitation, he misdialed the first time. He tapped his fingers against his desk as the phone rang once, twice, three times, four times... Answer the phone, damn it!