Chapter 22 - Insinuations & Investigations
They stood in the doorway. Chuck had silently moved sideways and out of the way leaving them facing the small woman with the furious look.
“What are you doing here?” Tom asked as she stood fuming in front of him, “How did you find us?”
“I’m not stupid! And it’s not rocket science,” she glared at him, “Find Chuck, find her, find you.”
“But why Cathy? Why are you here?” He asked again.
“It’s Catherine! It’s never been Cathy. I can’t believe you Tom Layton,” she threw her hands up, “After everything I’ve done for you. Do you realise what you’re done?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Everyone is talking about you two. My nurses are all over the place. I can’t get them to do anything. The board is asking questions and even the patients are uneasy. You’ve made my life a living hell.”
“Yes, but,” Tom still couldn’t understand why she was here.
“Stop this now,” she looked at him, ignoring Jill, with a serious look on her face, “You’ve had your fun, now it’s time to do some damage control before this spiral’s out of control.”
“I’m sorry Cathy, but this isn’t anything to do with you,” he frowned.
“It’s Catherine,” She growled, “Can’t you, at least, get that right?”
“Catherine,” he exhaled, “What’s between Jill and me, isn’t up for discussion. I’m sorry that it’s making your job difficult but that doesn’t give you the right to demand anything from me.”
“Why can’t you see it?” Catherine shook her head, “She’s unstable. She’s a patient. She’s tricked you into making a fool of yourself. Why can’t you see what she’s doing?”
“Me?” Jill questioned, “What I’m doing? What are you implying?”
“Catherine, that’s enough,” Tom growled, “I won’t have you talk about Jill like that.”
“Tom, I’m begging you,” Catherine pleaded, “She’s a patient and you’re crossing a line.”
“That’s my business,” Tom’s glared at the woman in front of him, “And who to date is nothing to do with you.”
“You’re dating her? You’re not denying it? That’s your answer?” She looked surprised, “I knew you had no control when it came to the nursing staff, but a patient? I thought you’d see through what she was doing.”
“I’m not going to say it again,” Tom interrupted her.
“Alright,” she took a step backwards and dropped her eyes from him looking towards the elevation, “I warned you Tom, after that thing with Helen, I warned you not to do this again. I told you what would happen. I honestly thought that you’d come to your senses, one day.”
“Are you threatening Tom?” Jill asked.
“Catherine,” it was Chuck who spoke, “What are you talking about?”
“No, this isn’t a threat,” she said in a tired voice as she turned to Chuck, “Sorry Chuck. I really like you, you’re a nice guy, but I can’t stop this. It’s too late for that.”
“Stop what? Tell me what you’ve done?” Chuck reached out and took her arm.
“Me? This is his doing,” she shook her head while freeing her arm from his grip, “He’s only got himself to blame. The board’s investigation has already started. If he had done the right thing and walked away from this mess, then I might not have testified. But that doesn’t look to be the case.”
“The investigation?” Jill asked.
“The board are going to investigate his conduct, and when they find he’s been sleeping with you they’ll have no choice but to take his licence to practice medicine,” Catherine turned towards the elevations but then stopped and looked back to Jill, “When he loses everything, it will be your fault. You’ve done this to him. I hope you can live with yourself.”
“Me?” Jill looked sat there stunned but Catherine had already turned and walked away.
“I’m sorry,” Tom muttered, “I wouldn’t have expected that from Catherine. Are you alright?”
“It’s not just her,” Jill shook her head, “The whole hospital is thinking it. She just said it to our faces instead of whispering behind our backs.”
“All the more reason to get you out of here,” Tom muttered but didn’t say anything else when she shot him a warning look.
“I’m ready to go back to my room,” she frowned, “Is Derek coming to see me this afternoon?”
“He was planning on it,” Chuck muttered as he walked behind Tom, “But something’s come up and he can’t make it. He said he’d drop in tomorrow morning instead.”
They travelled in silence after that. Jill knew that Catherine didn’t know the whole story so was only reacting to what she thought was the truth. She knew that from the evidence that was available, Catherine was right to say what she said. She was trying to protect Tom from losing his job.
But was she right? Was what they were doing was wrong? Everyone knew it was against all the rules for a Doctor to date a patient. Jill felt the worry gnaw at her. Technically she was still a patient and he was a doctor. She might be cured from her amnesia, but did that make having sex with him alright? Had he just thrown away his career? Was she as guilty as Catherine claimed?
The room was empty when she dropped herself on the side of the bed. She put her phone on the side table as she looked up to find him looking down at her. He seemed troubled as well, which didn’t help her. Was he regretting it?
“Did we do the right thing?” She whispered to him when Chuck moved to the door.
“What do you mean?” he looked confused.
“Are we in trouble? Did we do the right thing? What’s going to happen now?”
“I’ll get you the morning-after-pill,” he smiled, “You don’t have to worry about anything. Even if you are pregnant, I’ll look after you.”
“What?” she hit him in the arm with her fist, “I’m not worried about pregnancy. I had the injection. Birth control is the least of my worries.”
“Oh,” he rubbed his arm, “What then?”
“We had sex. I’m an Auditor, ethics is big for us, I can’t lie in an official investigation. I will have to tell the truth if they ask me,” she bit her lip, “Will you get in trouble?”
“Let me worry about that,” he put a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his and kissed her quickly, “I have no regrets, and neither should you. Don’t worry about what she said. Trust me, I’ll talk to Howard and deal with this investigation. Whatever happens, the main thing is that we are together.”
“But what if?” she started to say but he kissed her again silencing her.
“No regrets,” he smiled, “Go have a shower, I’ve got some things to take care of. I’ll be back later.”
She nodded and watched him walking out of the room. She didn’t like watching him leaving but she did need a shower and some personal time. Now that she could walk she didn’t need the nurses help to wash, so she headed for the room’s shared bathroom and locked the door before turning on the shower.
She stood in the cascading water for longer than necessary. She hoped he was right. She had to trust that he knew what he was talking about. This was his profession, his career, that was at risk. Surely, he wouldn’t have slept with her if there was any chance that he might be found guilty of misconduct?
She hoped that, but deep down she doubted that. He’d almost had sex with her after the operation, before he’d known the truth. That was when he still thought she had amnesia. She’d stopped him, but this time she didn’t stop him, she encouraged him. He had told her that it was safe, but was that just talk? If he lost his job because of her, she’d never forgive herself. It would make having a relationship with him impossible. Catherine was right, she’d not be able to live with herself.
The woman in the bed next to her was back when she came out of the bathroom. The television was on and the curtains were drawn. She didn’t bother greeting her or even acknowledging her. There was little point. Jill just settled into the bed and turned on her own television as she picked up her phone.
There were two texts. She opened the one from Derek first, skimming the words, it just told her what Chuck had already said. He was busy and needed to reschedule meeting with her until the morning.
The next one was from Tom. She pulled the blankets up and smiled as she clicked on it. But as she read, the smile slipped from her face. The text was short, and she could tell he had written it in a hurry.
Going into theatre, Mrs G. No time to explain. Love you, T
This wasn’t a scheduled operation. There must be a problem for him to be rushed back into theatre with Mrs Grant. It must be an emergency, otherwise he would have told her. There must be complications. She felt the sharp spike of panic, but there was nothing she could do.
The text was fifteen minutes old. He must have sent it while she was in the shower. There was a missed call too. Only one. There was no point ringing him back, he would be busy now preparing. Any interruptions would distract him. He needed to work.
She wrapped her arms around her knees as she drew them up to her chest. She hoped everything was alright.
“Doctor Layton is in surgery,” Chuck said as he edged around the door. “I’m about to do my hand over and go home, but you don’t need to worry. Stay where you are, I’ve assured him that you’re going to be safe. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be. It sounded pretty serious.”
“Oh,” Jill bit her lip, “Serious? Is she alright?”
“There was a lot of background noise when he rang,” Chuck frowned, “That’s all I can tell you. But Doctor Layton’s a good surgeon, I’m sure everything is going to be fine.”
“Thanks Chuck,” she pushed a smile onto her face, “Thanks for your help today, too.”
“All good,” Chuck smiled, “I’m off to see Stan before I leave tonight. He’s doing good. I’ll say hi from you both.”
She forced a smile onto her face and nodded as he left the room. Then she closed her eyes and concentrated on breathing. She was worried about Mrs Grant. She was worried about Tom, about his job, about him in theatre, and she missed him. She felt all this worry pulling her down and weighing heavily on her. She wished Tom was here. He would say the right things to reassure her. She missed him.
Shaking herself, she pushed that thought away. She wasn’t a selfish person, he was where he needed to be. She would survive without him. And she’d probably have to get used to this if they were going to be together. Once he went back to work he would be pulled away from her on a regular basis. He was a good surgeon and he had an important job to do. She would have to learn to share him.
It had been a long day. She was exhausted. She hoped he wasn’t too tired. She closed her eyes and knew that it wouldn’t be long before she was asleep. She wanted to wait up and be there when he came out of surgery, but realistically that wasn’t going to happen. He’d have to wake her when he came in. She hoped that he wouldn’t sleep in the chair but would climb into the bed with her and hold her.
She pulled her tray table up to her. They had left her meal on it. She had been planning on going to the garden with Tom tonight and eating out, but without him she might as well eat the hospital food. She lifted the cover and picked up the fork. She picked at the food. She was hungry but was too worried to eat. She poured a glass of water from the jug next to the bed while she ate and watched the television in an effort to distract herself.
She hadn’t finished her meal when her eyes started to blur. The room was swimming around her. She blinked but her vision didn’t improve. Each time she blinked she found it harder to open her eyes. She finally closed them and found that they wouldn’t open. Her whole body felt heavy. She tried to reach for the buzzer but nothing worked. Her hand flopped like a half dead fish and her fork landed on the floor. She opened her mouth but couldn’t make a sound. She wanted to panic but the darkness was too heavy.
She felt herself being pulled under by the current that was dragging her down.