Feisty Francesca

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#10 Time to stop pining

Autor’s note:

I don’t live in the USA and I don’t work in healthcare, so I honestly have no idea if everything I come up with for my stories is even remotely accurate. I do my research only and ask my boyfriend questions (he knows a lot more about the US than I do), but I know I will surely mess up.

With Caroline and Shaughna I felt more confident writing about their jobs, but with Annabel it was a lot harder. And now I was stupid enough to make my main character a nurse, so I spent a lot of time looking up tiny little details instead of writing.

I will try to keep things as realistic as possible, and please feel free to point out things that aren’t realistic! But... also know that I am more concerned with my plot and making my characters feel like real people than with making my whole story realistic when it comes to medicine and stuff.

Anyway, just had to say that before we dive into a chapter of Fran at work that will surely have things in it that aren’t completely realistic.

Sorry! Hope you enjoy it anyway.

***

When I finally wake up after hours and hours of blissful sleep, I realize that I only woke up because my phone is ringing. I grunt when I see it’s the hospital. I contemplate not picking up, but it’s my job. I can’t just ignore my duties.

“Thank fuck,” I hear Leonard say. I hate that I still recognize his voice this easily. “I need you here, right now.”

“No,” I say, yawning. “First of all, you should greet me properly instead of cursing when I pick up. I was asleep. Lenny. You have no idea what I’ve been through the past 24 hours.”

“There’s a horrible flu going around and three nurses called in sick this morning, on top of the ones that were already out.” He sounds agitated. “The administrator already called you twice, but you didn’t pick up, so I figured I’d try myself.”

I pull my phone away from my ear and realize he’s right. I must have slept right through those calls. Then I realize that even though we broke up ages ago, he’s probably still one of my preferred contacts who can reach me even when my phone is on silent. Fuck me being too lazy to delete his number from that goddamn list.

“You’re not the boss of me,” I tell him, sounding petty even to my own ears.

“Fran, this is not about you and me. I get that you hate me, but your patients need you right now. Robert managed to get Candice to come into the ER, but I’ve got no one to cover the ICU. Please tell me you can come in.” He’s almost begging. “I get that you won’t do it for me, but do it for the patients. The hospital. Do it for Dr. Tennille. You like her, right?”

“Fine,” I grunt, getting out of bed. It’s 7 am, right when my shift would have started hadn’t it been my day off. I’ve slept long enough by now, but I still feel sleep deprived. “Give me an hour.”

“You live two blocks from the hospital,” Leonard says, sounding annoyed. “Get over here. You don’t need an hour.”

“Fuck you,” I spit out, wanting to strangle him through the phone. “I just agreed to come in on my day off. I’m not even on call. I don’t even work in the fucking ICU anymore, Lenny. You should be kissing my ass right now, not telling me off for not showing up the second you decide you need me.”

“Fine,” he says, sighing. “I know. Okay. Take your time.” He hangs up before I can say anything else and I swear I feel like throwing my phone through the room. I hate him.

***

Half an hour later, I’m already in my scrubs. Yeah, I know I said an hour, but I can’t just take a long hot shower and make myself eggs when I know that the hospital is understaffed. I love my job. The fact that I hate Dr. Leonard Schwartz isn’t something patients should suffer for. I rush to the elevator and get out on the third floor, running to the ICU.

“Thank God,” Lenny says the moment he sees me. “Okay. I managed to get someone else to come in as well, so we’ve got things covered here. You’re needed in Nephrology.”

“What?” I grunt out. “I’ve never even worked there! You called me to work in the ICU, not Nephrology!”

He shrugs. “You’re here now. Who cares where you work?”

“I care!” I yell, making two visitors walking past look up in surprise. I plaster a professional smile on my face and smile at them. “Lenny,” I whisper, agitated. “I’m not trained for Nephrology. I’ve never worked in that unit before. You can’t just throw an ER nurse into a different unit. It’s one thing to ask me to help out in the ICU, since I used to work here. I know how things work. I was trained by you. I’m good, but even I can’t just fill in for a nurse in Nephrology without any kind of training. I might fuck up.”

“Relax,” he says, putting a hand on my shoulder. “You’ll be taking vitals and running tests all day. Bloodwork, mostly. A lot of tests were scheduled today, and we don’t want to cancel on all those patients.” He hands me the iPad with my schedule on it. “I wouldn’t ask you to do something if I didn’t think you could handle it.”

“Fine,” I sigh, feeling a little better. “How long will my shift be?” I glance at the tablet and groan. “Twelve hours? Lenny, I’m already working three days this week and I’m on call two nights.”

“It’s not like I want to be here right now,” he tells me, crossing his arms over his chest. “Not that you care, but the baby isn’t doing well. Teddy is on bedrest right now, and I’m flipping the fuck out because she’s still got two more months to go before she’s due and I need to be with her, but I can’t, because I chose to become a goddamn surgeon and I’m on call every freaking second of every fucking day!” He’s breathing hard now, and turning red. I’ve never seen him like this.

“Hey…” I may hate him, but I don’t want his wife or his unborn baby to suffer. Hell, I don’t even want him to suffer. Not like this. “It’ll be okay. I’ll stop being a pain in your ass. I’m sure Teddy understands that your job is demanding.”

“Oh, she does,” he agrees, gritting his teeth. “She’s being so goddamn sweet, which makes it even harder to leave her in the morning and go to work. Her mother had to move in with us to take care of her. Her mother, Fran. I fucking hate that woman. When I get home after a long day, I’m now faced with that witch, and I can’t even complain to Teddy about it, because it’s my fault we even need her there. If I had a normal job, a less demanding one, I’d be able to take some time off to take care of her. Or at least get home sooner.”

“Lenny…” I step forward and wrap my arms around him. He needs a hug so badly I can’t refrain from comforting him. He loves his job, so for him to feel this guilty over leaving his wife… Things must be pretty bad for him at home.

“I’m sorry,” he says, squeezing me. “This is so fucked up. I shouldn’t be unloading all of this on you. You’ve always been so good to me, even when I was being a total dick to you. Hell, I’m always a dick to you.”

“Not always,” I say with a smile when I break away from him. “You were alright when we first met. Before I found out you were trying to date two girls at once.”

“I’m such a fucking screw-up.” He looks like he’s genuinely sorry. It’s the first time he’s ever shown me that he feels bad about what he did to me. “Thanks for being here today, Fran. Sorry for yelling at you over the phone. For switching you to a different unit. For… everything I put you through.”

His green eyes lock with mine and for the first time in two years, I remember why I liked him in the first place. Not a single part of me wants to be with him again, but I do remember how much fun we used to have when we went out. And how good he was in bed. He woke up with me in my apartment many times, making me breakfast while I played guitar or sang along to the radio. For the first time since he broke things off with me, I see a tiny part of the old Lenny, the one I could have fallen for if he hadn’t turned out be a lying cheating bastard.

“It’s okay,” I say, holding up my iPad. “I need to get going. Bloodwork awaits.”

As I walk away from him, I scroll through everything on my schedule, and my eyes go wide when I see who I need to tend to in two hours. The Johnsons. Oh God. Once again, I’m being forced to take care of Aston and his family. Great. By the looks of it, Aston and his brother Jaxon are getting tested to see if they’re a match for their father Theodore. That’s good news, at least. They’ve been wanting to donate a kidney to him for a long time now, but he never wanted to take them up on their offer. Good for them for finally convincing him.

I start my shirt by reporting to the head of the unit and asking the other nurses a few questions to make sure I’m not going to fuck up today. I wasn’t kidding when I told Leonard that I didn’t want to work in a unit I’ve never been in before. I’ve done a brief internship in Nephrology back in nursing school, but that was years ago. I was specifically trained for the ICU, and then for the ER when I switched, but never for the Nephrology unit. Thank God I’ll be mostly doing easy check-ups and blood work. That I can manage.

***

Two hours later, I knock on the door to Theodore’s room, a fake smile plastered onto my face. I step in and greet the Johnsons, surprised to see Annabel in there too. Is she already meeting the parents? In the hospital? That’s intense.

“Hey,” I say, trying to sound way happier than I feel. “I’m here to get Jaxon and Aston for their tests.”

“Fanny!” Jaxon’s girlfriend Brittany throws herself at me, hugging me tightly. We met in the ER a few times before, and we ended up having coffee in the middle of the night a few times after my shift, while she was waiting for Jaxon to go home with her. She’s a great girl, but I didn’t think we knew each other well enough to get a hug like this. I need it, though, so I hold on a little longer than needed. “So good to see you!” Brittany tells me with a huge smile.

My smile might have been fake when I came in, but it sure is real now. Aston’s mother Lesly asks me how I’m doing and I tell her I’m great, even though that’s a lie. I’m okay. Not great.

“How are you doing, Theo?” I ask Aston’s father, walking over to his bed. “Your chart looks like shit, but you look handsome as ever.”

Theodore laughs, but ends up coughing. “Thanks, dear.” He motions for me to give him a hug and I oblige with a smile. The Johnsons are huggers, that much I’ve figured out over the past months of getting to know them down in the ER those times they had to rush Theodore in.

“Is your hair a different color?” Jaxon asks, putting an arm around his girlfriend while I check Theodore’s vitals.

“Yeah, I had the highlights redone a few weeks ago,” I tell him, surprised he noticed. “A little bluer. They used to be darker, more purple.”

“It’s nice,” Brittany says, eyeing my hair with a small smile. “I like it. Although I think pink would suit you even better.”

“Yes,” Theodore agrees, touching my hair softly. “Pink would suit you.”

I’m starting to get a little uncomfortable with all those eyes on me. Annabel is standing to the side with Aston, her attention on me. Aston isn’t looking at me, though, he completely captivated by his girlfriend. From the look on his face, I would guess he’s no longer scared of his feelings for her. They look very much in love. And nervous – well, Annabel does. She looks like she might puke.

“We should go,” I say to Jaxon and Aston. “I volunteered to take your blood samples and everything else we’ll need, so if you’ll just follow me…”

Okay, I didn’t volunteer, but they don’t need to know that. They’re surely going to ask me what I’m doing here, since they know I normally work in the ER, and I don’t want to get into a long-ass explanation involving Lenny. Aston knows what Leonard did, and I don’t feel like watching him get angry. He looks so ecstatic right now. Even if I’m not the reason he’s glowing with love, I’m still happy for him. He deserves to be with someone who makes him so blissful.

“Blood samples?” Theodore asks, sounding surprised and annoyed. He pushes himself up, groaning from the effort that takes him. “I told you I don’t want you to get tested!”

“Dad,” Jaxon says, “we’ve talked about this. I know you don’t want us to donate a kidney, but we’ve got a right to at least get tested to see if we could if you’d let us.”

“No!” Theodore bellows, sounding every part the commanding father he used to be before he got ill. “No. I won’t stand for it. No tests!”

“Dad, no offence,” Aston bites out, “but that’s not your call. We’re doing this. Right now.”

I open the door and step into the hallway, waiting for the two brothers to join me. When they do, I walk them to the small examination room down the hall where I can draw some blood needed for the tests. I hear Theo yelling after them to come back, but Aston and Jaxon follow me with concise steps, not looking back once.

“Bad morning?” I ask them while I motion for them to sit down while I get the needle ready.

“Great morning, actually, up until now,” Aston says with a grunt.

I want to ask him what made his morning to great so far, but I have a feeling it has something to with how loved-up him and Annabel looked just now, and I really don’t want to hear about their love life. Or sex life. Or anything involving the two of them, really. I’m okay with them dating, but I didn’t suddenly fall out of love with him in one single day.

With a start, I realize that the last time we slept together was six months ago. Six months. Fucking hell. I’ve been hung up on him for that long, even after he told me very clearly that it’s never going to happen. I’m pathetic.

“Are you okay?” I ask Jaxon, who is looking frightened by the sight of the needle I’m holding. “Oh, right, you’re scared of blood,” I realize, remembering how he fainted in the ER the first time they brought Theodore in and he saw a guy being brought in with a fork jammed into his arm, blood spurting from the wound.

“Yeah,” Jaxon says, sounding a little unsure. “Just do it.”

“Wuss,” Aston says, rolling his eyes. “Do me first, Franny.” He gives me his arm and I find the artery with ease, drawing a little blood and labeling the sample. I put a small bandage on his arm, lingering a little longer than needed.

“Your turn,” I tell Jaxon, a little scared he might throw up any second now. “Are you’re sure you are up for this?”

He pushes his longer dark hair out of his face and give me a wan smile. “Just do it.”

I take his arm and find the right point to enter the needle, making sure I will only need to break the skin once. I don’t think he’ll keep from puking if I need to try a second time. The moment I’m done and his small puncture wound is hidden beneath the bandage, Jaxon lets out a shaky breath.

“You are such a pussy,” Aston tells his younger brother. “How are you ever going to manage being in the room when Brittany has a kid?”

“That’s years from now,” Jaxon says, looking scared at the thought. “I’m sure I will be over this by then.”

“You’re 26,” Aston says, laughing. “You should be over it already, dipshit.”

“Many men are afraid of needles and blood,” I assure Jaxon. “I see this kind of thing happening all the time.”

“Yeah,” Jaxon says, giving Aston an angry look. “Besides, I’m not sure you’ll be all calm and collected when Annabel has your kid. Right, bro?”

To my surprise, Aston smiles at that. “We’ll see about that. I bet I will be much calmer when Anna’s giving birth than you will be with Britty.”

What the fuck? He wants kids? With Annabel? What the fuck is happening right now?

“Okay, I need to get back to my other patients,” I say, getting up. I don’t think I can keep this smile plastered onto my face for longer than a minute, and I don’t want them to see me break. “You’ll know the results in a few days.”

“Thanks, Fran.” Aston gives me a hug and then he grabs Jaxon by his shirt and pulls him into the hallway, calling him a wuss again.

The rest of my shift goes by in a haze. I don’t mess up, but I’m also not the attentive nurse I normally am. That comment about Aston and Annabel having kids may have been a joke, but it hit close to home for me. Aston didn’t even look scared by the thought of having a kid with her. I didn’t even know he wanted kids.

And then it hits me. I don’t know those things about him because we never talked about that. I don’t think he knows that I want kids either. I never told him, even though I’m in love with him. We never discussed any of the things you talk about when you’re in a relationship. What we had… it was just sex. Not a relationship.

Six months is long enough to pine after a guy that never wanted me in the first place, I decide. I’m done wanting Aston to be mine. It may take a few more weeks to truly feel like I am over him, but I need to stop this self-destructive behavior right now.

I’m going to put myself out there again. Find hot guys in the club. Go on the apps. Date new guys.

Oh fuck. Dating.

I had a lunch date today.

That realization doesn’t hit me until my shift is almost over at 7 pm and I’m headed to my locker where I left my phone. I pull it out to see I have five missed calls from James and a bunch of texts. None of them are angry ones, though. It seems he’s just worried about me.

“Hey,” he says when he picks up after the first ring. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I got pulled into work,” I explain. “Sorry, I totally spaced on our date. I’ve been so busy. Do you want to reschedule?”

“When do you get off?” he asks, not sounding annoyed with me at all.

“Right now.”

“Have you had dinner yet?”

“Erm… no?”

“Great. I’ll pick you up in half an hour. I’m taking you out for dinner.”

Before I can reply, he already hung up on me. Guess I’ve got a date to get ready for. This day is full of surprises.

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