Need Someone

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 2 - Skin Deep

Ziggy moaned. I leaned him back to make sure he could breathe without issue. “Mr. Ziegler?”

His eyes fluttered as he looked up at me. His brows furrowed with confusion and with a groggy voice asked, “You trying to pull a move on me or did I pass out again?”

“You passed out.”

He cursed under his breath. When he made a move to sit up, I stopped him. “Try not to move,” I said. He resigned with a sigh. I gently tilted his head to the side and found the pulse at his neck. It was slow. His face tensed again. “Are you hurting again?”

“Yeah. Everywhere.”

It made no sense. He was perfectly fine two minutes before. It was no wonder they thought he was a medical mystery. I was starting to as well.

Theresa rushed into the room with another nurse. She took one look at me and frowned. “Don’t tell me you let him stand on his own.”

“Fine, I won’t tell you,” I said. She didn’t find that funny. She leaned down with a huff and helped lift Ziggy off me and back onto the gurney.

“I’m so sorry,” he said apologetically. It sounded genuine, not forced or formal like it did when someone apologized out of expectation. “Don’t know when I became so high maintenance.” Maybe he was a nice guy when he wasn’t busy hitting on someone.

“Do us a favor and stop trying to stand on your own,” Theresa scolded him like a mother.

“Yes ma’am,” Ziggy said with a coy smile. He turned to me and his expression grew serious. “I didn’t hurt you did I?” he asked me quietly.

I rubbed my undoubtedly bruised hip out of his view. “No, don’t worry. Just listen to Nurse Diaz so we don’t get in any more trouble, okay?”

He smiled. “Okay.”

Later in the day, I began our shift change checks with Theresa. We went from one decadent private room to the next, and all the patients seemed to have the same theme: ready to go home. The rounds went by quickly.

Our last stop was Mr. Ziegler, who we learned would not be leaving for the foreseeable future due to the morning’s incident. Though he was a bit crass, I could appreciate his playful yet inappropriate sense of humor. If I could figure out ways to relate to him, it would make it easier to get him to divulge more nuanced information that could aid in his diagnosis and care. That was the ultimate goal.

Theresa tapped on his door and we went in. He sat cross-legged on his bed with the tray rolled in front of him. He stared at his laptop through thick-framed glasses, nodding his head to the music coming from his designer headphones. “Good evening, Mr. Ziegler,” Theresa greeted him, but he didn’t respond.

I walked over and leaned into his view. He looked up and removed his headphones. “Hi. Sorry.”

“We’re here to do our final check before you turn in.”

“Cool.” He pushed his tray away and turned to us.

“Any fainting spells, dizziness, or lightheadedness today?” Theresa asked as she logged into the computer.

“No, just the one time,” he said. He seemed like he was telling the truth.

I listened to the music coming through the headphones at his neck and recognize the song. “You like Misterwives?” I asked.

He looked intrigued. “Maybe. What of it?” he said with a smirk.

“Indie pop?” I chuckled. “Look at the hipster calling the hipster, hipster.”

He laughed as Theresa placed the blood pressure cuff on his arm. I glanced over at his computer screen and saw the image of a beautiful woman staring off into the distance, an artistic mix of dirt and oil on her face. The sepia tone looked apocalyptic but added focus to her flawless skin and dramatic eyelashes. I found myself staring at it.

“See something you like?” he asked.

“Is that yours?”

“The woman or the shot?” He gave me a cheeky smile. “Yes, it’s my work. Mascara ad.”

“I’m impressed.”

Theresa took off the cuff and began entering his information on the touchscreen. “Does it make you want eyelashes like hers?” he asked me.

I look back at the picture. “Among other things, yes.” I took out the thermometer and ran it across his forehead and cheek, then showed it to Theresa. He continued to smirk.

“I’ll let you in on a secret.” He leaned over and held down a couple of keys. The imaged changed to a full-color version of the shot, the woman’s skin still beautiful, but with noticeable, human imperfections, and about 15 layers of mascara. When he let go of the keys, the artistic version returned. The difference was dramatic. “Photoshop is a powerful tool, but it is a tool.” He looked me in the eyes. “You are a natural beauty, Sabine. You should respect that. Don’t let my industry convince you otherwise,” he said in his even, genuine way. My cheeks warmed.

“What about me?” Theresa joined in. She looked at him in her usual, unenthusiastic scowl.

He flashed his megawatt smile. “Yes, you too. Especially you, Theresa.”

I sat on my sofa that night, surrounded by the boxes Rebecca would eventually use to pack. Until then, she would leave them in the living room to upset me with the clutter and the reminder that she was leaving me.

She was my oldest friend. We had known each other since high school, had been roommates since college, but that would be changing in two months. Newly engaged, she and her fiancé, Todd, wasted no time making plans and buying a house. Though she was a bit cold and detached at times, I was already mourning the loss of her company.

It would be the first time I had lived alone. That probably wasn’t something people in their late twenties should be able to say, but student loans and the rising cost of living didn’t leave me with many options.

On Instagram, I finalized the hashtags to go with the picture of the fancy meal from the semi-famous restaurant where we had just finish eating and watched the likes trickle in. I felt curious and decided to look up Mr. Ziegler’s account, expecting one million “Ziggy” profiles to pop up. To my surprise, his face popped up on one of the top verified accounts. I clicked on it.

“Holy shit,” I said to myself when I saw his profile. His posts were mainly final images of magazine spreads, one of which I recognized from a Vogue shoot with a young up-and-coming actress I follow. He rarely posted a picture of himself, but in most, he was holding a camera. There was one amazing shot of him behind the scenes at some sort of shoot at an elephant sanctuary. In another, he was lying on his back on the wet ground taking a low-angle shot of a model standing in the wind, her luxurious couture gown floating around her. His profile was amazing.

“What’s that?” Rebecca asked over my shoulder.

“This is my new patient. He said he was a fashion photographer or something so I was curious.” I scrolled carefully through the images as I passed week forty-five.

“Is that him?” she asked when I passed a picture of him holding his camera on his shoulder, squinting as he looked into the distance, a dramatic orange sunset behind him.

“Yeah.” I continued to scroll. “He’s really talented.”

“You mean really hot.” She leaned over my shoulder, scrolled down, and tapped the follow button. “There. I helped.”

“He has over sixty thousand followers. I doubt he’ll even notice.”

“Well, it can’t hurt.” She started to unpin her long, blonde locks from her top knot. “You gotta get good dick where you can, girl. That man gives some good dick, I can tell.”

I nearly snorted. “Okay, dick-tective,” I laughed her off. “Didn’t you just give up all dicks but one for the rest of your life?”

“Yeah, because Todd gives amazing dick. Why do you think I’m marrying him?”

That cracked me up. I laughed until I was in tears, and she looked like she never made a joke. I would miss her deadpan delivery of her unsolicited, yet well-intentioned judgment.

“You know, we should probably start talking about your Maid of Honor duties.” Rebecca was a serious planner. She had a two-year plan that had details by the week. I could never live like that. Nothing in my life had ever gone according to plan.

I sighed. “I have a long day tomorrow. Can we talk about this . . . never?” I joked. I stood to go to bed.

“You can be sarcastic all you want, but you’ll still have to do it eventually.”

“Of course. I am but your humble servant, Your Majesty,” I said with a curtsy. She threw a pillow at me and laughed.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.