#1 Nurses don’t wear latex
INFO (chapter starts right after the info!)
The Sweet Caroline series consists of many books. All books can be read as stand-alones, but they work best as a series. At the start of each book, I always tell my readers which book would be wise to read first to understand the past of the characters.
The series can be split into two separate series: the first generation & the next generation. The next generation is about character that were kids in the books about the first generation.
FIRST GENERATION: 1. Sweet Caroline // 2. Slutty Shaughna // 3. Eager Annabel // 4. Feisty Francesca // 5. Twisted Thomas // 6. Chef Quiroz // 7. Caring Christopher
NEXT GENERATION: 1. Blooming Rose // 2. Jealous Jagger // 3. Needy Nia // 4. Guarded Marcus // 5. Charming Creed // 6. Thompson Twins
You can read this as a stand-alone story, but if you’re going to read my other stories as well, you might want to start with “Sweet Caroline”. This is the fourth story in the series.
Falling in love – that’s all Francesca ever wanted. Finally, she did, only end up heartbroken. Every guy she meets seems to be someone’s sloppy seconds anyway, or unwilling to commit. Franny is ready to give up. Maybe all men will ever want her for is sex. Maybe she just has to be okay with that.
Watching the only man she ever loved fall for someone else is hard enough, but being forced to watch him fawn over her… To watch him propose, get his new love pregnant, become a father… Francesca hates her life. She hates it. Sure, she’s got a fulfilling job as a nurse, and she’s got a great apartment with a hot neighbor who’s more than willing to get her through lonely nights, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.
Somehow, Francesca always seems to attract the wrong kind of guys. Ones who don’t do commitment, who are too young, too old, guys who cheat and lie or are just wrong. She’s determined to either find the right one or to just give up on love altogether. Will she find what she’s looking for? Is love even something you can search for, or does it sneak up on you when you least expect it? Franny is hellbent on finding out.
#1 Nurses don’t wear latex
His eyes travel up and down my body, a frown appearing on his face. “You don’t look like a nurse,” he says, his gaze settling on my boobs. Damn me for wearing a low-cut top today.
“What does a nurse look like?” I ask Sven, giving him the benefit of the doubt. Surely he’s not going to say something douchy. We only met ten minutes ago, after all. We were both standing in line to get a coffee and now we’re sitting at a table together. I’m already starting to regret agreeing to let him pay for my cappuccino and sitting down with him. Sure, he’s cute, but he hasn’t looked up from my neckline for a full minute now.
“I don’t know,” he says, his eyes finally spanning back up to my face. “Purple hair and a nose ring isn’t exactly what I imagine a nurse looking like.” He grins. “Or well, not a nurse in a hospital. You look more like porn nurse, actually.”
Okay, so he is going to say something douchy. Great. Just great.
“Got one of those white latex outfits?” he asks, making things even worse. I really know how to pick them.
“Thanks for the coffee,” I say, standing up with my to-go cup in my hand. “I need to go save some lives now. And no, I don’t do that in latex. I’m also not going to blow you in the bathroom if that’s what you were hoping for. You’re a douche.”
He doesn’t even seem fazed by my dismissal. “Okay, see you around, Francesca.”
“I highly doubt it,” I shoot back, my patience all gone now. I was having an okay morning until this guy started chatting me up. I should have known I’m not going to meet prince charming at six in the morning at the coffee shop across from my apartment. At least it’s only a short walk to the hospital. I’m in no mood for more crap today.
My phone buzzes and I groan when I see it’s Dshawn, asking me if I’m still joining him and some other friends for cocktails tonight. He asked me yesterday already, so this is just a reminder, really. He’s planning a surprise for his girlfriend, Shaughna, who happens to be one of my best friends. He knows I can’t say no. She’s been going through some emotional stuff lately with trauma of her abusive ex resurfacing, so I can’t exactly tell Dshawn that I’m not up for drinks tonight. Honestly, I just want to go to bed early and maybe read one of those godawful romance novels I love so much. That’s all I’m up for tonight. But well… drinks it is, I guess.
“Hey Fran,” Dr. Hardin says when I walk into the ER after changing into my purple scrubs. They’re the exact same shade as my purple highlights – which isn’t a coincidence, of course. He frowns when he sees that I’m wearing a silver nose ring today, but he doesn’t say anything. He tried to tell me off for wearing one a few months ago, and I made sure he’ll never do that again. One of the many reasons I love working here is that I can be myself, including dyed hair and piercings. I just don’t feel like me with bland blonde hair and nothing sparkly in my nose or ears.
“Hi Robert,” I greet back, grabbing a tablet to see what’s been going on so far. I scroll through the list of things I need to do before getting down and dirty in the ER, and I groan when I see that I’m not in the ER all day. I have to switch to the ICU in the middle of my 12-hour shift. Fuck me. I hate the ICU, because one of my exes runs that department and he’s a dick.
“Robert?” I ask, holding up my tablet. “Why am I needed in the ICU?”
“Short staffed,” he says with a shrug. “They actually need two nurses today, but I can only spare one, so I’m giving them you, since you’re the only one who seems to be able to do the work of two people on your own.”
“Thanks, but that means that if I stay and you send someone else, you’re not really missing anyone, right…?” I ask, batting my lashes at him. “Come on, Robert, you know I hate the ICU.”
“Look, you used to work there before you got transferred here, so you’re the obvious choice.” Robert knows that I can’t say no, not to him. He can make my life a living hell if I piss him off, since he can switch my work schedule anytime he wants to.
“Okay,” I sigh, knowing that there’s nothing I can say to change his mind. It’s not like I can tell him that I don’t want to work with my ex, since not many people know that I used to date Dr. Leonard Schwartz. He’s ten years older than I am, a hot shot surgeon, and everyone holds him in high regard. Little do they know that he used me to cheat on his girlfriend, who he never told me about. He didn’t break things off until he got engaged to her. And now they’re expecting a baby. I hate him.
I get through the morning just fine, rushing around to tend to patients coming into the ER. This whole place is an organized mess and I love it. I love the adrenaline rush when I have to jump right into reanimating someone, or starting a blood transfusion for a guy who almost died in a car crash, or even something like accessing how bad a wound is before deciding to dive in myself or send a patient to another floor where they can be tended to by nurses and doctors who aren’t getting new patients rolling in every other minute, bleeding out. I even like the more basic stuff, like doing sutures or taking notes when a patient tells me about their history when it comes to health stuff.
The switch to the ICU later that day is intense. There’s a huge difference between making split decisions about patients you hardly know and walking around with a meticulous plan, analyzing all the patients and talking through the best way to care for them with the doctors. I’m much more suited for the ER, but I did work in the ICU before begging every other department I could find to allow me to make a career move. I didn’t even stop to think if I’d like being an ER nurse. I was so happy I could get away from Leonard fucking Schwartz that I just jumped right into training and didn’t even consider if it would be a good fit for me. Luckily, it is.
But it’s not my dream. I figured out where I’d love to work even more last year, and it’s been hard to let go of that idea. The pediatrics ward is calling my name, but I’ve already applied there twice and they don’t want me. The head of pediatric surgery, Dr. Massenheimer, absolutely hates me. I don’t know why – maybe because I don’t look professional, or because I’m loud, or maybe just because I’m a woman. There are more male nurses in his department than in any other wing of the hospital, which is weird, especially since there are many nurses who’d love to work there.
“Nurse Berger,” Leonard says the moment I walk in, nodding at me in greeting. Of course, his eyes are on my boobs and not on my face. Asshole. “You’ll be in the cardiac ICU today, with me. Thank you for filling in, we’ve been short staffed all month.”
“It’s not like Dr. Martin gave me much of a choice,” I bite out, not willing to be nice to him when I don’t need to be. What’s he going to do? Fire me? He knows as well as I do that I did him a favor by not telling his wife about what happened between us. What he allowed to happen without ever telling me that he wasn’t a free man. I’m polite when there are patients around, or visitors, but not when it’s just us. No way.
“Always charming, Fran,” he says, dropping the Nurse Berger act and giving me his patented smirk. As much as I hate him, I still think he’s hot. That sexy smirk is what got me hooked in the first place. His green eyes, dark brown hair and the scruff on his angular face are a few other reasons. I never loved him, we didn’t date long enough for me to truly fall for him, but I know that if he hadn’t ended things when he did, I might have ended up way more heartbroken.
As heartbroken as I am over Aston right now, maybe. The mere thought of Aston has me on the verge of tears. Finally, I fall in love with someone, and he’s not interested. I hate my love life. I really do.
Leonard gets me up to speed on my duties today before heading into surgery. I check the notes the nurse before me left and make my rounds to check on the vitals of my patients for today. I chat to family members of the patients, hook up a few IVs and do some other routine stuff. It’s a slow day, which is always a good thing in the ICU. And I guess it’s not a slow day, not really. I’m just so used to the drama of the ER by now, running around in a professional frenzy, that it’s hard to feel at ease in this completely different environment. It’s hard to imagine me working here every single day, but I did. And I liked it, but not as much as I like the ER. And nowhere near as much as I’d love working in the pediatric ward for sure.
I don’t even realize I didn’t have time to eat yet until I finally get a break and I trip over… well, over nothing, really. I trip over my own feet and get lightheaded as I grab the wall. With a sigh, I make my way to the refrigerator in the doctors’ lounge, and flop down on the couch with my salad and a cup of coffee. Technically, this isn’t a place where nurses typically hang out, but like I said, what is Leonard going to do? Fire me? I don’t think so.
“Hey Fran,” Dr. Tennille says, smiling down at me while she pours herself a cup of coffee. She’s Leonard’s right-hand man – or well, woman – and she’s one of the only people who knows about my past with him. She’s on my side, always has been, and she was a really good friend to me back when everything went to shit and I basically had to flee the ICU to be able to work somewhere without feeling uncomfortable all the time. She’s the one who talked me up to Dr. Martin and helped me get my job as an ER nurse.
“Destiny,” I reply with a smile. “How are you doing?”
She sighs and sits down across from me, using her spoon to mix her yoghurt and fruit in a large bowl. “I don’t know. I’m a little off today. I got my period again.”
“Oh,” I say, not sure what to do with that. “Yeah, bleeding sucks.”
“Ted and I are trying to get pregnant,” she explains in a quiet tone, looking down at her spoon. Okay, wow, she must really need someone to talk to, since we’re not that close. Sure, she’s my friend, but more like a work friend than a tell-me-all-your-secrets friend.
“Then bleeding sucks even more,” I say. I’m not good in situations like these. With patients, I can manage to be supportive and sweet and professional, but when it comes to people I actually know – friends, colleagues, family members – it’s different. I get a little flustered sometimes.
“Yes,” Destiny agrees with a grunt. “It really, really sucks.”
We eat our food in silence and I get another cup of coffee before filling up my water bottle and heading out the door to get back to the ICU. On the way there, I see a familiar figure walking ahead of me, one that never fails to make my heart skip a beat, not matter how hard I try to get over him.
“Aston,” I call out, plastering a smile on my face as he turns around. “Hey!”