Chapter 1 - Nurse Rhymes
I almost cried when the alarm went off.
Now, I may sound like a cry baby, but I am justified in wanting to cry. I’d finished a double shift at the hospital and I got home at 5am, only for the alarm to go off an hour later. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep in. I needed to head back to the hospital for my monthly review.
Why they couldn’t do it while I was there for my shifts is beyond me.
Despite my grogginess, I managed to get up and out of bed without a hassle. I dragged myself around, and I could almost hear my late mother shouting at me for dragging my feet. I smiled to myself at the thought while picking out a clean set of scrubs.
I quickly showered and got ready to leave. With my hair in its signature messy ponytail, I headed to my kitchenette without bothering with makeup. I’m naturally tanned, so makeup isn’t always a necessity for me.
My apartment is small. It’s got one bedroom and one bathroom, but that’s only because I don’t need the space. I’m barely home, and it’s not like I can afford a bigger place anyway. Before my mum died, she had to have numerous operations that I ended up having to pay for. I’m actually still paying for them, and it’s quite the dig into my finances, so I keep spending to a minimum.
My cupboards and fridge were an indication of my point as I searched for something to eat. Finding food that’s gone bad is always wonderful; note the sarcasm. Annoyed with myself, I gave up on looking and just took my stuff, promising myself to get food either on the way to or at the hospital.
The sun was surprisingly bright, but then again, it is summer. It’s just kicked in fully, and judging from the lack of clothing I’d seen from a group of teenagers (despite it being 7am), it’s safe to say that this would be one hell of a hot summer.
Since I’d sold my car for what I didn’t know was my mum’s last operation, I was stuck either taking a cab or the bus to the hospital. I’d gotten used to the change pretty quickly, even though it was quite the adjustment. Going from driving yourself at any time that you want, to being restricted to scheduled bus times and cabs that don’t appear sometimes, can be quite stressful.
It was a cab day apparently as I was lucky enough to catch a cab just outside the apartment building. The driver even took the shortest route to the hospital. He said something about getting me there to save lives in time. I tipped him generously before heading into the building.
My first stop was the canteen, despite the sometimes suckish food that they sell. I settled for a fruit salad and yoghurt. One can never go wrong with such a booster. I added a granola bar and an energy drink, just to look like I was someone who was serious about my health.
That couldn’t be any more of a lie.
People tend to have this notion that nurses are healthy twenty four seven because they deal with sick people, so they know what to eat and what not to, but they also forget that we are just as human as anyone else.
I, for one, have an obsession with junk food. I also have an obsession with keeping fit, but that’s beside the point. My point here is that I like to eat whatever the hell my body feels like eating at that time. I just refuse to be stuck eating healthily because of what people perceive as my ‘responsibility’.
With my breakfast in hand, I headed to the nurse’s station, where the morning shift nurses looked like they were comfortably settled in. They looked surprised when I passed by them to head to the staff room. I needed to eat first before dealing with anything else.
My review was occurring at nine.
I was surprisingly not interrupted through my breakfast, and when I was done, I headed out to check the nurse’s station again. This time there were only two nurses who I’m familiar with. One of them is a woman, and the other a guy.
I smiled. “Good morning guys.”
“Hey Bev! What are you doing here? According to the chart you signed out like three hours ago,” Nikki asked me.
I sighed. “I have my review.”
“Man, that must be tough! You already worked the whole day yesterday, and now you have to work this morning too?” Fernando asked.
I nodded. “Pretty much.”
“Well, we’ll keep an eye out for you and help you where we can. You know we have to stick together,” Nikki said, adding a wink.
“Thanks! That would mean the world to me,” I said gratefully.
Fernando smirked. “Anything for the nicest nurse in the whole hospital.”
I couldn’t hide my blush if I tried. “Now you’re just flattering me.”
“Fernie, you should know that she’s modest by now,” a new voice joined us.
“Oh hey Rachel,” I greeted. She’s also one of the other nurses.
“Hey girl! How come you’re here?” she asked.
“Review,” I replied.
“Ooh, good luck with that,” she wished, hugging me.
“Thanks! I’d better go and check on my patients,” I said.
“Here’s your clipboard,” Nikki said as she handed it to me.
“Thanks!” I smiled before going off.
I luckily only had three patients that were under my care until twelve, when I would finally go home. I was only doing half a shift. I am an Intensive Care nurse, so my job is to make sure that my critically ill patients get optimal care and assistance with their illnesses and injuries.
It’s hard being a nurse when it comes to getting attached. I always try my hardest not to, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The hardest part is having to let go, or knowing that the patient isn’t going to make it, but having to put on a smile to keep them unaware.
The one thing I’m really grateful for when it comes to my job, is that it helped me deal with my mother’s illness and with losing her. It was hard, but it was definitely easier thanks to my job. But then again, whether or not I have fully accepted her death is another story.
She only passed away three months ago after all.
“Hello dearie!” Mrs Oswald beamed when I entered the room. She’s been in intensive care for three days now after a heart surgery, but it’s not her first time being here, or being my patient.
“Hello Mrs Oswald. How are we feeling today?” I asked as I went around checking everything I needed to.
She laughed. “Oh, you know, lively and all.”
For a ninety five year old woman, she sure is full of life.
“Well that’s good to hear! It’s better than being depressed,” I pointed out with a wink.
“Oh no dearie! At my age, depression isn’t an option. Speaking of which, my grandson is flying in to see me today,” she chimed, looking rather devilish might I add.
“And how do you connect his flying in with depression?” I asked.
“I connect it with depression in that I told him to take my beautiful and depressed nurse out on a date and make sure that she laughs the whole night,” she explained. I froze momentarily, before playing it cool.
“I’m sure Kimberly isn’t depressed Mrs Oswald,” I smirked, remembering that Mrs Oswald was originally her patient.
“Oh please dearie, don’t be coy! That child looks like she fell into a batch of freshly manufactured makeup. It is your beauty that I spoke to my grandson about,” she admonished.
I gasped before laughing a little. “That’s not a nice thing to say.”
“It’s also true! Besides, with my grandson’s genes, combined with yours, I’ll be guaranteed the most beautiful great grandchildren,” she marvelled.
“Mrs Oswald, you already have sixteen great grandchildren,” I reminded.
She scowled, looking genuinely offended. “And they’re all ugly little things.”
“Again, not a nice thing to say,” I laughed.
She shrugged. “I’m too old to be telling lies.”
“Well, thank you Mrs Oswald, but I do not need to be taken out on a date. I am perfectly fine with the way that I am now,” I said politely.
“Well that’s a shame. You’re certainly as beautiful as my grandmother described, and I’m sure your company would’ve been just as endearing.”
When I turned to the door, my eyes widened a little. You don’t see guys like this guy every day. The man is built, with a strong jaw, defined cheekbones and chiselled features. He was wearing a tight black long sleeved shirt with dark fitted jeans and sneakers. His black hair looked like he’d run his hand through it a couple of times.
He looked like he fell out of a GQ magazine.
“Hey nana,” he greeted Mrs Oswald.
“You’ve rendered the poor child speechless Alex,” Mrs Oswald scolded.
He chuckled. “It’s not my fault.”
“Uh, you can’t be here,” I dumbly said when I’d come to my senses.
“Oh, I have a pass,” he informed as he showed me the tag.
I frowned. “How come?”
“I’m also here on business,” he bothered to notify.
“What business?” I questioned.
“Aren’t you rather nosy,” Mrs Oswald teased, making me blush.
“Nana, she’s just doing her job,” he scolded.
“Mhmm,” she giggled.
He turned back to me with a breathtaking smile. “I’m applying for the Cardiology opening.”
“Oh, as a nurse?” I stupidly asked. I didn’t expect the laugh that boomed in the room.
“No, not as a nurse. I think my size would scare the patients,” he taunted.
“True,” I found myself giggling.
“I’m applying for the Cardiologist position. I’m Dr Alex Oswald, and I believe you’re the lovely Beverly Rhymes,” he said with a million dollar smile.
I reached out to shake his hand. “Pleased to meet you Dr Oswald.”
“God no! Please, call me Alex,” he said as he shook my hand.
I nodded. “Alex it is!”
“So, how’s this young lady doing?” he asked tenderly after his grandmother. I almost cooed.
“She’s stable,” I replied with a smile.
“All thanks to my future daughter in law,” Mrs Oswald added.
“Nana,” Alex said in warning.
Mrs Oswald grinned. “What? Just because you’re not fighting for her, doesn’t mean I’m not going to.”
“You are one scary lady, and one would think that I’d be used to this by now,” I commented. I’ve known her for six months now.
Alex guffawed. “One never gets used to nana’s behaviour.”
“Look at the two of you bonding over family matters already,” she remarked.
“Everything seems to be ok with you, so I’ll come and check up on you before I leave ok?” I told her.
She laughed. “Diversion; I see what you did there, but fine. I will see you then.”
“Great! It was lovely meeting you again Alex,” I said before walking out of the room.
I didn’t expect to be called down the hall. Alex was running towards me, having caught the attention of basically everyone who was in the hallway. Being me, I obviously wanted to die of embarrassment but I kept my cool.
“Yeah?” I replied, fighting my blush.
“My grandmother’s right you know? I gave up too easily. So, I’d like to ask you out on a date,” he said.
“Oh! Go ahead,” I giggled.
“Beverly Rhymes, would you do me the honour of going on a date with me?” he asked.
“Is it to cure my depression?” I joked.
“You don’t seem depressed to me, so no. It will just be you and I getting to know each other,” he chuckled.
“I’d like that,” I admitted. I hadn’t been out on a date in a while, and I knew Nellie would freak out.
Nellie is my best friend.
“Great! Will seven o’clock be fine?” he asked.
“Seven will be perfect,” I nodded.
We exchanged numbers before he went back to Mrs Oswald, while I got back to my job. I went to visit my other two patients, who are both young males. I was trying my hardest to stay awake and aware of my surroundings, but I was just so tired.
“How are you holding up love?” Fernando asked me.
“I’m almost ready to just pass out,” I confessed with a heavy sigh.
“Just three more hours love! Dr Dickson is here for your review,” he alerted me.
“Thanks!” I smiled before heading towards the office.
Dr Howard Dickson is an intimidating man to most, but I’m on his good side, so I’m never worried about reviews. We sat and went over the review for twenty minutes while he kept his game face on, and I mine.
“Well Miss Rhymes, after six years of service to the hospital, you’re still its best nurse. It’s always a pleasure having you around. How have you been?” he asked. This was now an off the record conversation.
“I’m doing great thanks! I’ve been set up for a date this evening by Mrs Oswald,” I laughed as I updated.
“That woman,” he sighed. He and her are actually friends.
“It’s no worries! I actually accepted,” I smiled.
He smirked. “So, which grandson is so honoured to be in your presence?”
“Alex. I’m not sure if you know him or not,” I replied.
“He’s the one who’s a Cardiologist. If I’m not mistaken, he’s applying to be the resident Cardiologist of this very hospital. I guess an office romance is on the cards ay?” he joked.
I blushed. “I wouldn’t look that far off into the future. We all know how I can be.”
“And you will find a man who will love you for all that you are in a heartbeat,” he said endearingly.
“You don’t believe that it could be Alex?” I asked curiously.
He winked. “I believe that whoever it is will be one hell of a lucky man.”
This man has been like a father figure to me from the moment I arrived in this hospital. He and his wife adopted my mother and I into their family, with their twin sons taking me in as their little sister as well. They also helped me a great deal with losing my mother, but I refuse to have them help me financially.
“Oh stop,” I pleaded.
“It’s true, but of course the man would have to pass the Dickson family’s test,” he said seriously.
I nodded. “Without a doubt!”
“Good! Demi said to tell you that she expects you there on Friday night,” he said in frustration.
I laughed. “She’s really going big for this hey?”
“Oh, you have no idea! The boys already feel like strangling her,” he chuckled.
“I can imagine! They wouldn’t want to make a big deal about turning thirty. If I’m not mistaken, they referred to it as the age that females panic. Men just take it as it comes,” I relayed.
“It’s pretty much true, but alas, my wife doesn’t see things that way,” he replied.
“I have a feeling I may just be summoned to help even before the day,” I realized.
He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose. “If that’s the case, then you can take the day off on Friday. She would want to kidnap you for the entire day.”
“Oh joy,” I whined.
“Cheer up sport! We all suffer as a family,” he said as he stood up. I followed suit.
“I didn’t even ask to be in this family,” I joked.
“Tough cookies! I didn’t ask to have two troublesome sons, and yet I’ve lived with it for thirty years. Why do you think I recruited you? You’re the perfect daughter that makes me forget that I ever had sons,” he jested.
“Never, and I truly mean never, let them hear you say that,” I laughed along.
“Never,” he said dramatically, making me laugh.
“I guess I’ll see you on Friday then?” I smiled.
He hugged me before kissing my forehead. “You can bet on it sport!”
The rest of my shift was relatively smooth, and I even ended up having lunch with Fernando and Nikki before visiting Mrs Oswald one last time. When it was one o’clock, I was ready to just disappear from the hospital and into my bed. I was so exhausted.
“Whoa there,” Alex steadied me when I swayed.
“Sorry,” I apologized, undoubtedly red in the face.
“It’s ok! I heard you basically worked a triple shift. That sounds hectic,” he commented.
I yawned. “You have no idea! I feel like sleeping for the next week.”
“How about we reschedule that date?” he offered.
I bit my lip. “You don’t mind?”
“I just had my interview and it looks like I’m a shoe in for the position. I’m going nowhere,” he said confidently.
I found myself hugging him. “Oh wow, congratulations.”
“Thanks! So, let’s reschedule to tomorrow night?” he suggested.
“Can’t! Night shift,” I replied.
“Thursday night?” he offered.
“Perfect,” I agreed.
He flashed that adorable smile. “Do you need a lift home now? That way I know where to pick you up from on Thursday.”
He has a dimple.
“Sure,” I blushed for no reason whatsoever.
It was a relief to know that conversation between he and I actually flowed smoothly. We didn’t have to force anything and it had been a while since I’d laughed that much, which amazed me because the ride in his very expensive car, to my apartment, was only twenty minutes long.
“I guess I’ll see you then,” he smiled.
“I guess I’ll see you then,” I blushed.
My poor cheeks man, my poor cheeks.
I headed up to my apartment and decided to just sleep. I didn’t have to be in at the hospital until the following night’s shift, so I was set until then. I took off my scrubs, changed into my pyjamas and said sayonara to the day.
I woke up the next day at four in the afternoon. My shift was only starting at six, so I had plenty of time to get ready. I decided to call Nellie, knowing very well that she was already mad at me.
“WOMAN! I CALLED YOU LIKE FOUR TIMES YESTERDAY!”
Apparently calling someone four times is a big deal to Nellie.
I heaved a sigh. “Sorry! I was recuperating from a hectic two and a half shift.”
“Two and a half shift? I could hit you! You know I hate it when you stress yourself like this,” she scolded.
“I know,” I whined.
“No! Whining isn’t going to get you off the hook this time missy! That was so irresponsible of you,” she continued.
“I just, I didn’t want to be home,” I admitted.
“Then get a hobby,” she replied, causing me to laugh.
“This isn’t funny Beverly. Your fatigue could cost someone their lives,” she said. I knew she was dead serious from her use of my full name.
“Ok, I’m sorry. I promise I won’t do it again,” I said.
“You bet your ass you won’t!” she huffed.
“I have happy news though,” I attempted to sweeten.
“I’m listening,” she responded.
“I have a date tomorrow night,” I informed, only to be met by silence.
“OH MY GOD! WITH WHO?” she basically screamed into the phone.
“Calm down! It’s with this guy named Alex. He’s the grandson to one of my patients, and he’s applying to be the resident Cardiologist at the hospital,” I informed.
“Ooh, a doctor,” she giggled.
I laughed. “Yes, a doctor.”
“Is he hot? Wait, never mind. He must be hot since he broke your three year spell,” she said excitedly.
Ok, so maybe saying I hadn’t been out dating in a while was a bit of an understatement.
“I know, but I couldn’t say no. He’s so attractive and it’s so easy to hold a conversation with him,” I replied.
“Are you taking him as your date to the twins’ party?” she asked.
I sniggered. “We just met yesterday. Can I at least wait for the date to go first?”
“Ok fine!” she mumbled.
“How are things at your super secretive job?” I asked.
“They’re great I guess,” she replied.
Nellie got this job of hers two years ago, except she’s signed an NDA that prohibits her from sharing the name of her employer, and basically her life there. She’s a live in helper to the person, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that it’s someone pretty wealthy. I don’t even know where she lives. I know the area, but I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint which mansion it is.
“You guess? What’s up?” I asked.
“Ag, it’s just this new chef that was brought in. He’s so hot Bev. I just want to strip him down and do him,” she complained.
I had to keep from laughing at her frustration. “Then why don’t you?”
“Besides the fact that it’s against the rules of my contract, he doesn’t even notice me. He knows who I am and all, but all he cares about is the food he makes. He’s so passionate about his job. Argh!” she huffed.
“I’m sorry Nell! I really wish I could help,” I giggled.
“No, you’re just enjoying this,” she said knowingly.
I full on laughed. “Oh, so much.”
“You’re a horrible best friend! I don’t know why I’m still friends with you!” she murmured.
“Because dearest Nellie, there’s no one who knows you better than I do,” I replied.
And it’s true!
Nellie and I have been best friends our whole lives. Our mums were best friends from childhood as well, and that just passed onto us. We promised each other that the tradition would pass on to our children as well.
“I sometimes wish that wasn’t true,” she said dramatically.
“No you don’t. You love me too much,” I said proudly.
She sighed heavily. “So unfortunate.”
“Well screw you then,” I murmured, making her laugh.
“So, what’s this guy’s name by the way?” I asked.
“Geronimo,” she replied.
“Geronimo? What the hell were his parents thinking?” I questioned.
“I don’t care! He’s too hot for me to give a damn about his weird name,” she replied.
“Oh, so you do think it’s a weird name?” I pointed out.
“So, I guess I’ll see you on Friday night?” she said.
Classic Nellie diversion!