Chapter 5.1 - Getting Out
I went to storage and picked new scrubs in his size. I grabbed a couple of special items from the new packs, knowing he could use a little pick me up right now. I made it back to the restroom and knocked on the door. Another nurse made his way out and I nodded to him shyly. I went inside and tapped on the stall. “Ziggy, are you ready?”
I walked back in and he seemed in better spirits, though still exhausted. He was still sitting, as instructed, covering himself with the front of his shirt.
“I brought you the same pants but I thought you might like this shirt, too.” I held up the soft, long-sleeved Henley. His smile reappeared as he watched me. “And I brought you some real contraband: underwear. I don’t want to be too presumptuous, but you seemed like a boxer-brief kind of guy to me.” I held up the Calvin Kleins and he laughed.
“Where did you steal those from?”
“I can’t tell you that, you’ll be an accomplice,” I said, pretending not to watch as he pulled his shirt off over his head.
“You’re the best,” he smiled when I handed him the shirt.
I focused on unwrapping the underwear, waiting until I see him covering himself once more in my peripheral. I held the underwear out to him and he placed his feet in the holes. He slid them up to his knees and then we did the same with the pants.
“Can you stand?”
He nodded. I helped him up. He leaned on the grab bar and pulled the briefs up to his hips, but looked dismayed at the pants near his feet. I crouched down, pulled them up, and tied them around his hips. “Ready to take a few steps?”
“I can walk. I’m fine,” he insisted. I chose to believe him only because he was still smiling.
I hovered as we walked out of the stall. He looked in the mirror on our short walk to the counter. We smiled as we washed our hands together. He splashed water onto his face and ran his wet fingers through his hair. I couldn’t tear my eyes from him. He was intriguing. Flawed, yes. Incredibly flawed. But he wasn’t a bad guy. I liked him. Maybe a bit too much.
He dried his face and his eyes found mine in the mirror. “I need to check your incision again.”
He turned and lifted the bottom of his shirt. My hands slid over his smooth skin around his bandage. The muscles beneath flexed beneath my touch tickled around the taped edges. It was still in place with no visible bleeding. His hand lowered and slid over mine. I pulled away. “Looks good,” I said. “We should get you back.”
I pulled the chair out of the stall and held my hand out to him. He leaned toward me rather than the chair. I instinctively wrapped my arms around him to stop his fall, and ended up my with back against the partition. When we stilled, I looked up at him with worry. His expression was not what I expected.
He looked at me longingly with hooded eyes. My breathing shallowed.
He placed a hand at the top of the partition and ran his other along my cheek to my jaw. His lips hovered over mine for a breath before he leaned in and made contact.
His kiss was dominating and demanding. I couldn’t keep myself from kissing him back. He used the hand at my jaw to coax my mouth open more and slipped in his tongue, running it smoothly over mine before claiming my lips once more. As we kissed, his fingertips trailed slowly from my chin, down my neck, and over the center of my chest. His hand came to rest at the base of my ribs and his lips slowly parted from mine.
I expected him to continue, but he didn’t. I opened my eyes and I found him staring down at me with an accomplished smile. All he did was kiss me, but it felt like so much more. I was nearly panting, specific parts of my body aching with the desire for more. I realized my hands were gripping his hips and I removed them quickly.
“Sorry,” he whispered, but it was disingenuous. “That probably wasn’t the most appropriate way to say thank you.”
“I-it’s okay,” I stammered. It wasn’t okay. I just kissed a patient. Like, really kissed a patient.
He grinned as he lowered himself into the chair. I moved behind the wheelchair and hid my burning blush all the way back to our floor.
The hospital was crazy the rest of the day. A swath of new patients on top of a scheduling shortage. Buzzing around like bees was a convenient way to conceal my guilt and keep myself from admitting what happened to Theresa. She would know if she took one look at me, but she didn’t have the time to.
Twenty minutes before shift change, I went to Ziggy’s room to check on him. I walked in and found him in his street clothes, jewelry and all, packing up his bag. “You’re leaving?”
“Yeah,” he said, placing a hat over his ruffled hair. “I need a little bit of freedom before I come back here to die.”
“You aren’t going to die, Ziggy.”
He grinned at me, but it faded quickly. “I’m gonna throw a huge party to celebrate. You should come. Put on some makeup, let your hair down for once.” I laughed. “I’m serious. I want you to be there,” he insisted.
A red flag went off in my head but I still wanted to support him. “Can I bring a friend?”
He smirked. “I don’t care if you bring twenty friends. As long as you show up.”
“But can I bring twenty-one?” I joked, trying to distract from his obvious solicitation.
He chuckled and ran a hand down my arm. “Bring your own beer if it’s more than twenty.” He leaned forward and kissed my cheek. His lips lingered a bit too long. So many red flags. “I’ll text you the details.”
He walked out slowly, hiding a hesitant limp beneath his swagger. He waved to the nurses as he walked toward the lobby, his pants hanging a little too low from his narrow hips. He looked back at me and smiled when he caught my eyes.
I cannot go to that party.