#46 Proud girlfriend
“Your wife?” James asks, sounding incredulous. “That was years ago!”
I step into the hallway and train my gaze on Leonard, who is in no shape to kick anyone’s ass, let alone James’. He’s shit-faced drunk, needing the doorframe to support himself. Guess he found out about James and Teddy even though neither of us told him, and he’s not dealing well with the knowledge.
I feel bad for the guy, even though he’s an asshole for sure. I haven’t talked to him lately, but Destiny told me that the baby was born, and it’s a healthy baby girl. Teddy let him back in the house, and they’re trying to work things out. Until now, apparently.
“You!” Leonard points at me, his whole body trembling. “You did this to me! You and your boyfriend! I don’t believe for even a second that it’s a coincidence you’re with the guy Teddy cheated on me with. You’re trying to ruin me!”
“Lenny, go home,” I tell him with a sigh. It’s no use explaining to Lenny that technically, Teddy cheated on James with Leonard, not the other way around. It doesn’t matter, that’s all water under the bridge by now. “You’re drunk. Sleep it off and talk to your wife.”
“She told me that he’s the best she’s ever had!” He points at James now, his breaths coming in faster than what’s good for him. “His dick is ruining my life.”
“Yeah, well, he’s got a great cock,” I can’t help myself from saying. “Go back to Teddy, Leonard.”
“I’m here to kick his ass.” He pushes himself up from the doorframe and raised his fists.
“He’s a cop,” I remind Lenny, almost amused at how he seems to think he’s got a chance at doing any harm to my muscular boyfriend. “He can throw your ass in jail if you so much as touch him.” I turn to James and squeeze his arm. “Do you still have Teddy’s number?”
He nods. “Want me to call her?”
“Yeah, tell her to have someone come get her drunk as a skunk husband.” I put a hand over one of Lenny’s fists, trying to calm him down. “How about you come in and have a glass of water?” I suggest, relieved to see he is reeling his anger back in. “James and I will get you a ride and make sure you get back to your wife and baby, okay?”
“Okay,” Lenny breathes, letting me lead him to the couch. He sits down with his head in his hands, and then he starts to cry. “I love her,” he says between sobs. “I still fucking love her so much.”
James is talking to Teddy now, his voice rushed as he explains what’s going on. He stays in the living room, not wanting to leave me alone with my drunk ex-boyfriend. Good man. I’m not scared of Lenny right now, but after that kiss in the doctor’s lounge I don’t want to be alone with him, especially not when he’s this out of it. With James by my side I feel safe, though. I always do.
“She loves you too,” James says when he hangs up the phone. “Her brother is coming to get you. She says you walked out in the middle of an argument, and that she’s been trying to get ahold of you ever since. Where’s your phone?”
Leonard shrugs. “Don’t remember.” He sniffles and wipes at his face with his sleeve. “I didn’t think my life would turn out like this,” he whispers to himself. “I just want Teddy, and our little girl.”
“What’s her name?” I ask, even though al already know it.
“Winnie,” he says with a small smile on his face. “She’s the most perfect baby ever.”
James and I talk to Leonard for a little while and make him drink some water. By the time Teddy’s brother shows up, he is calm enough to leave without causing more trouble.
“Well, that was intense,” James says when he closes the front door behind them.
“That’s a bit of an understatement,” I reply with a little smile. “Our exes are real pieces of work, aren’t they?”
“Guess I’m not that bad when you compare me to that idiot, huh?” James teases, his blue eyes twinkling.
I laugh at that, happy he can make jokes about our problems. “You’re not bad at all, James. We’ve all got issues. At least we’re working on ours.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask you…” He looks nervous now, and for a split second I think he’s going to ask me to marry him, but then he opens his mouth and it’s not that at all. I’ve just been worrying about that ever since finding out how quick he can move when the mood strikes him. “Do you still want to meet my parents when they come over for my birthday in a few days?”
“Sure,” I say immediately. “Will your sisters be there too?”
He nods. “I’ve told all of them about you, and they’re excited to meet you. Just so you know… I told them that you know.”
“About all of it. Desi dying, the proposals, me having gone through therapy after Teddy.”
“Oh wow.” I step into his reach so he can pull me in for a hug. “What did they say?”
“They’re happy I found someone who I can be honest with,” he answers, pressing a kiss to my forehead. “My mom also told me that she thinks I should go back to therapy so I’ll get some help to work through all of this. She thinks that I shouldn’t lean on you so much for support.”
“And how do you feel about that?” I think that’s a great idea, but I want to hear his thoughts on the matter before I share mine.
“I think I should make a call to my old therapist in the morning,” he says much to my relief. “Seeing Leonard just now… I’ve been that guy. So many times. Showing up at one of my ex-girlfriend’s houses to yell at them after they left me… I was never drunk, of course, but I was definitely that out of it. I hope we will work out in the long run, but if we don’t, I want to be able to deal with that. I don’t want to end up like Leonard Schwartz and stand in your apartment yelling and crying if we ever do break up.”
I tear up a little hearing him say that. He’s such a mature guy, a real man. Yes, he’s got issues, but I really think he can work through them, with or without me. I’m still hoping it will be with me by his side, but I honestly don’t know if we’re going to make that happen. We’re surely trying, though.
“I love you,” I tell him, feeling it in every bone in my body. “I really, really love you. And I’m so proud of you.”
We kiss for a moment, and then we head back to bed, talking about everything that has happened since we met, sharing our thoughts and feelings in a way we don’t always do. It feels so right tonight, and for a moment I truly believe that we’re going to make it. Sure, I’m attracted to Thomas and Joshua, and those feelings aren’t just going to disappear overnight, but I’m not in love with either of them. I’m in love with this beautiful man in bed with me.
I’m floating through the ER during my shift, even though it’s a brutal day with many injured people and even a little kid that was in a car accident. I’m just high on James and even the strain of my work won’t bring me down today. No one dies on my watch, and I feel like that’s a sign. I’m doing the right thing sticking with James, getting more serious with him.
James was able to go in to see his therapist the same day he called him, and he’s been going in daily the past few days. He’ll dial down to once a week soon, but he’s so eager to get a jump on becoming the best version of himself that he doesn’t want to waste a single second.
When I get asked by Dr. Martin to head to the Nephology unit for a few hours after my shift was supposed to end, I don’t even get mad. I was heading over there anyway to see how Aston is doing. He got approved for an organ swap to save Theodore, and he’s been texting me all day to ask questions about the surgery, even though his doctor and the nurses in the unit could answer those for him. I guess he just wants to hear from a friend that everything is going to be okay. I’m so happy for him that he has a chance to safe his father. I feel certain that they will both be fine. Aston is a healthy guy and the doctor on the case is excellent, as is his entire team. I just hope Annabel will be able to make it in time, because she hasn’t arrived yet. That’s the sucky thing about a long-distance relationships. You can’t just walk over to the other person’s apartment in a matter of minutes like I can do with James.
I change into clean shrubs and get myself a cup of coffee to get through the last hours of this night. James texts me to tell me his shift is going long too, and we talk for a few minutes, just sharing some experiences from our day. He sounds just as tired and happy as I do, and I smile while I walk through the hallways. I love him. I really do.
“Screw you!” I hear someone shouting when get closer to the unit. Her voice sounds familiar. “I’m walking in there whether you’re okay with it or not.”
“You can’t just go into my department without my permission!” a sharp voice bites back, and I hear footsteps.
I round the last corner and see nurse Debby blocking the hallway to the patient’s room, Caroline and Annabel standing in front of her.
“I swear I will hit you if you don’t move out of-”
“Anna?” I interrupt Annabel’s threat. “Debby? Caroline? What is going on?”
Annabel turns around with an angry look on her face, looking ready to punch someone. “Your bitchy colleague won’t let me in to see Aston.”
I give Debby a pointed look. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s is being mean to Aston’s fiancé. She’s still angry that he wasn’t interested in her, I guess. Or maybe she’s just being her normal bitchy self, I have no idea, and frankly I don’t care. “Debby, you know as well as I do that Dr. Gerhards told us to let her in if she showed up tonight. Aston has been trying to stay awake all night so he’d be awake when she gets here. He only drifted off an hour ago.”
“So we’re just supposed to ignore protocol?” Debby hisses. “We all know you’re in love with Aston and would do anything for him. You’ve been a pathetic mess for a year now. Get off the Aston express and join the rest of us in the real world.”
I roll my eyes. Of course Debby thinks that. It’s not like I confide in her about my life. I doubt she even knows I’ve had a boyfriend for three months now. “Shut up, Debby.” I give her a shove and motion for Annabel and Caroline to follow me down the hall. “Don’t mind Deb. She used to be one of Aston’s fuckbuddies a long time ago, before I even met him. She’s a little bitter that she’s not the one who got to tame the player.” I smile at Annabel, trying to show her that she has absolutely nothing to worry about. “Not everyone can be as cool as I am about the whole thing, you know,” I joke. “The lesser mortals tend to get jealous, mean and weird.”
Annabel doesn’t respond, so I just point her to Aston’s room and tell her to go right in. I’d like to see him too, but I get that she needs a moment alone with her man. Besides, I’ve got work to do. Those vitals won’t end up on the charts all by themselves, and the medicine won’t fly to the beds and into people’s mouth either. Time to go back to being nurse Berger instead of Francesca.