As if it’s all she needs to hear, Mandy’s quick to let sleep take her again, and I settle back in the chair I know is my bed for the night.
Like everything else in the building, it’s not exactly made for ‘bigger’ people, and my knees feel like they’re around my ears after a while.
But I don’t care.
I’m finally with her. This is actually happening, Foxx.
Thumbing through some magazines every time a nurse appears, so I don’t look like a complete nutcase perched right by Mandy, I’m blown away by how soundly she can sleep.
I’m a light sleeper, but if she can go this deep, I don’t mind either.
She can get her needed rest, and I can keep my eyes on her whenever I want without worrying about waking her up.
“You want some coffee?” one of the nurses finally asks. It’s clear I’m not budging, and nobody would dare ask a senior surgeon to leave a ward, no matter what time of day it is.
The thought of coffee turns my stomach, but when I think of what it’s done for me so far, glancing over at Mandy. I figure I owe the roasted bean a tip of my hat.
“Just some water, thanks,” I hear myself reply. The only coffee I ever would drink would be from my cream and sugar girl, Mandy.
The nurse disappears and reappears with some bottled water and a blanket without a word.
“It gets cold in here,” she cautions me. As if I didn’t know already.
I could say something, but I appreciate the gesture.
“Thanks… Say? Is the coffee shop downstairs still open?” I ask her.
“Yes, doctor,” she replies dutifully. “But I think they close soon. I was down there not long ago on my break. Looked like they were short-staffed. If you’re after something, I can get it for you?” she offers.
“Thanks, but I just need to speak to the manager. I’ll call her,” I inform the nurse, reaching for my phone and feeling half of my limbs have gone to sleep. I have to do some gymnastics to even get out of the chair to reach the damned thing.
A quick web search gives me the number, and after a couple of tries, Rose picks up.
I fill her in on Mandy’s situation, maybe making it out to sound more serious than it is.
Maybe just a little.
It sounds like Old Mrs. Peters has had a long day, and being down one employee isn’t what she needs to hear right now.
“Well, thanks for letting me know, Doctor. What a nice man you are,” she sighs. “I’ve been worried sick about that girl, just disappearing like that and then getting hit by a car… I feel somehow responsible.”
“Now, Rose, don’t talk like that,” I say gently. “That's why they call them accidents. And I’m sure Mandy doesn’t blame you for what happened.”
If anything, I should be thanking Rose. As weird as that sounds. Everything happens for a reason, and I just know it’s all gonna have a happy ending somehow.
She tells me how she missed her own appointment today once Mandy took off and then talks at length about how much she still has to do.
“I tell ya what,” I interrupt her. “One of the surgical staff was saying just yesterday that their son needed some part-time work. He’s worked in cafés all over Europe.”
I might be able to repay the favor after all.
“Oh, doctor. That would be…oh, but you couldn’t. I mean, I need someone starting tomorrow,” she gasps.
The emotion in her voice clinches the deal for me.
“I’ll see what I can do about tomorrow, but I’ll call them right after I hang up and get them to call you. How ‘bout that?” I ask.
About a thousand “thank you’s” later and a couple of texts, I call back just long enough to let Rose know she’ll have an extra pair of hands in the morning.
I know Mandy’s not going back either, so it’s the least I can do.
“Am I fired?” Mandy asks in a hoarse whisper, her eyes still filled with sleep as she sits up in her bed.
I berate myself for not having noticed she’d even woken up. I sit on the edge of her bed, and despite myself or the rules or whatever they wanna call it, I take her hand in mine again.
“I was just helping Mrs. Peters get someone else in while you’re….” I start to say, but I can tell there’s more on her mind than just her job once she squeezes my hand back.
I feel it trembling a little, but in a good way, and my own heart skips a beat as she looks up at me, fully awake now.
“Foxx?” she whispers.
“Mmmm?” I reply, trying to keep my mind and my pants front G-rated.
“Were you really gonna kiss me before? In the ER,” she asks, giving me a yearning look as I realize she might not always be asleep just because her eyes are closed.