Chapter 13 - Disappointed
He woke up in the chair again. He must have fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of the second movie. It didn’t surprise him, but he was disappointed, not because the movies were worth seeing but because he’d been enjoying watching her and her expressions as the plots unfolded. It was clear that she’d seen these movies many times before, but her face still showed her emotions. It was captivating.
He stretched and headed for the doctor’s lounge to shower and freshen up while she did the same. Afterward he spent some time in the publication library and going over the scans in Mrs Grant’s file. It was after ten when he returned. Doctor Peters was just leaving her room.
“Tom,” Doctor Peters stopped in the hall, “I hear that you’re checking up on me?”
“Yeah, I’ve been looking at Mrs Grant’s file, sorry about that,” Tom rubbed the back of his head, “I should have asked first.”
“All good, I’ve got nothing to hide,” Howard laughed, “Did you find anything?”
“The prognosis is accurate,” Tom frowned, “But I’ve read about a technique, it’s not usually applied to cases like this one, but I’m curious. It might be possible to extract the tumour. But it’s all theoretical, I’ve got more research to do before I bring anything to you.”
“That sounds interesting,” Howard nodded, “You know where to find me when you’re ready to discuss it.”
Tom turned to the door when he heard Howard swear. Doctor Peters wasn’t the type of man to use profanities, so Tom automatically looked up and found his Father coming out of the elevator and heading in his direction.
“Sorry Tom,” Howard turned and walked in the opposite direction with long purposeful strides.
“Howard,” Doctor Layton Senior called after then retreating man. But Doctor Peters was already turning the corner.
Tom wished he’d run too. His Father had his disappointed face on and this was the last thing he needed. He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself as he waited in the hall watching his Father approach.
“Tom, it’s about time we had a chat,” his Father’s face had more lines on it than he remembered, “Is this girl that you’re making a fool of yourself over?”
Before he could answer or try to defuse the situation, Richard Layton was looking into her room. Tom moved to block the way, but they were now directly outside the room.
“Police?” he turned to Chuck who nodded just enough to confirm Richard’s suspicion, “Then this must be the girl in question? What’s so special about her? I was expecting her to be some sort of fashion model? What’s got you acting so irrationally?”
“Please leave,” Tom stood blocking the doorway, “This is none of your business.”
“None of my business?” The elderly man looked at him with his steel grey unamused eyes, “We share the same last name, son. When you act like a juvenile teenager then that reflects badly on me.”
“Is that all you are worried about? Your reputation?”
“Of course, I’m worried about that,” he shot back, “I’ve worked too hard to have my name dragged down along with yours.”
“It’s not like that,” Tom meet his glare, “It’s nothing like that.”
“I thought you’d have more common sense that this,” he shook his head, “I’m surprised at you. I expected better from you.”
“I’m a grown man,” Tom growled back, “I don’t need your approval.”
“Yes, that’s true, but it seems you need my judgement,” Richard scoffed, “Throwing your career away over a girl you hardly know and a girl who was your patient.”
“You think I’m in a relationship with Jill?” Tom looked at him surprised, he thought he was being told-off for fighting in the hospital.
“You should know better,” His father continued without answering him, “I’m disappointed in you, both professionally and personally.”
“Well, that’s hardly a news flash,” Tom laughed with cold disregard, “But let me say this clearly, I’m not in a relationship with her.”
“Relationship? No, you usually aren’t though are you,” His father scoffed, “I’ve ignored your philandering because I thought you’d grow out of it. But this, this is ridiculous Tom. If you must fuck around boy, do it with someone who won’t fuck your career up at the same time.”
“Thank-you for those words of wisdom,” Tom jaw was tight as he glared at his father
“When this comes before the board, there’s nothing I can do for you,” Richard Layton continued, “You are a grown man and I won’t go down with you just because you can’t keep it in your pants. I’ve worked too hard to have this scandal tar me. As your Father, I suggest that you end this foolishness now.”
“As my Father?” Tom coughed a sneered laugh, “When have you ever been my Father?”
“I’ve done my best to instil a sense of right and wrong into you,” Richard shot back.
“Really? Was that during or after the twelve years I spent at boarding school without a visit from you? Was it during or after the summer holidays I spend at camps, left in the nurses station for twelve hours at a time, or just deserted alone at home? You’re not a Father, you don’t have the right to call yourself that. You’re nothing more than a sperm donor.”
“Tom,” Richard Laytons voice was rough, “That’s uncalled for.”
“Uncalled for? Overdue, more like it,” Tom flashed, “I haven’t sent Mom in five years and, in the last twenty years, I’ve seen her for less than twenty-four hours in total. And you both think you have the right to lecture me?”
“When you act like a five-year-old then, naturally I’m going to,” Richard started.
“Maybe you should get your facts straight before you start accusing me,” Tom interrupted, “I am not sleeping with Jill. She is my friend. I am not in that type of relationship with her. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“But you were in her room after hours,” his father wasn’t backing down, “The whole hospital is talking about it.”
“I was retrieving my phone, which I left in her room,” Tom breathed out, “Of course the hospital is talking about it, but that doesn’t make the rumours correct. I wasn’t in her bed. I already had a room in the doctor’s dorm. I was protecting my friend, I know that you will find that hard to accept, but it’s the truth.”
“You’re friend?” Richard glanced over Tom’s shoulder at the girl in the room, “Are you sure about that? If she’s just a friend, then why are you still sleeping with her?”
“I’m not sleeping with her,” he breathed out annoyed at having to announce this to the world yet again, “I’m her friend and I’m sleeping in the chair because she was just assaulted. I’m not an idiot. If you don’t believe me then maybe you should ask our chaperones? She had 24hour police protection and Mrs Grant is in the bed right next door.”
“Just a friend? Are you sure about that?” his Father wasn’t looking as confident, “Then why did you transferred her to Doctor Peters?”
“Yes, of course, I’m sure,” Tom huffed in frustration, “I transferred her to Doctor Peters because I wasn’t impartial. I couldn’t be a good doctor and a good friend at the same time, so I did the responsible thing and transferred her. I want to help her recovery as her friend not her doctor.”
“I see,” Richard frowned, “You’re not having sex with her?”
“No,” Tom huffed, “Do you need me to say it again?”
“Well, that’s good then,” Doctor Richard Layton frowned, “The hospital board are going to ask questions but if this is platonic relationship then there should be nothing to worry about.”
“We are just friends,” Tom emphasised, “Let them ask their questions, I have nothing to hide.”
“Good, good,” His father now looked uncomfortable as he turned away, “Well, that’s all I came to say.”
“Great chat, Dad,” Tom sneered, “We should do this more often.”
Doctor Richard Layton didn’t stop as he walked away. Tom didn’t care enough to stop him. His father had crossed a line. Previous lectures had been deserved. He had taken them from him without comment, knowing that he had earnt the rebuke. This was different. He was angry that his father had accused him of that without waiting for his side of the story. His father had assumed that he was guilty and had been willing to throw him to the wolves. It was clear that the man was trying to save himself at the expense of his son. That was disappointing.
He stood there unsure of what to do. He was angry, embarrassed and hurt all at the same time. Part of him wanted to head for the gym and take out all these emotions on a boxing-bag. But he couldn’t leave. He might want to hit something but over-and-above that he needed to see her.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and walked into her room dropping into the chair. She was sitting in the bed pretending to watch television. Her eyes were moist and he could tell that she’d heard the entire conversation.
“Sorry about that,” he jutted his head towards the door, “That’s my Father’s style of parenting.”
“You should go,” she mumbled.
“What?” he narrowed his eyes at her, “I’m not leaving. Ignore him.”
“Is it true? Is the whole hospital saying that? Do they all think we are sleeping together?”
“I don’t care,” he moved so that he was sitting on the edge of her bed looking her in the face, “I don’t care what anyone says. I only care what you say. They are only rumours.”
“But your job? He said that you were risking your career?”
“No,” Tom shook his head, “I’m within my rights. They might ask questions, but I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Ashamed of?” she blinked as she said the words like she didn’t understand their meaning, “But they are going to investigate you?”
“Probably,” he shrugged, “Once they find out we are only friends it won’t lead to anything. They have no reason to reprimand me. This probably won’t even lead to a note on my file.”
“I think you should still leave,” she looked away.
“You’re not getting rid of me that easily,” he lifted an eyebrow, “I have a week.”
“Less than that now,” she glanced at him.
“Correct, no more arguments,” he picked up the list of physio exercises that he’d placed on the tray table before he’d left earlier, “And, right now, we have exercises to do.”
“No,” she shook her head, “I can’t. Not now.”
He was about to argue with her but then she noticed the look on her face. She was upset. He sighed. He wasn’t exactly sure why she was upset but assumed that it was because she was worried about his career. He wished she could trust him enough to know that this wasn’t going to deter him. But she clearly wasn’t ready to accept that.
“Later then,” He nodded. They would do the exercises when she wasn’t so agitated.
“About that,” she looked away from him, “I have plans for tonight.”
“Plans? What are we doing?”
“We,” she paused, “We aren’t doing anything. I have plans that don’t involve you.”
“You do?” he narrowed his eyes as he looked at her face then at the phone that was still in her hands, “What sort of plans?”
“That’s none of your business,” she wasn’t looking at him, “I need you to leave my room by 4pm so that I can get ready.”
“Ready for what?” he shot back.
“That’s none,” she started to say.
“Ready for what?” he cut over her repeating his words with more force, “I have a right to know.”
“Just because you saved my life that doesn’t mean we are married,” she growled back then dropped her face away from him and closed her eyes adding in a softer voice, “Friends, you said that you wanted to be friends with me.”
“Yes, that’s right,” he said confused.
“Then, as my friend, be happy for me,” she shot back, “I have a date with Derek tonight.”