Feisty Francesca

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#72 Christopher’s chance at happiness

Author’s note:

Just a few more chapters before I’m wrapping up Francesca’s story. I’ve got a few more curveballs and then it’s time fot the happily ever after...

After this book, you can either read "Twisted Thomas" or "Caring Christopher". Doesn't matter which one you choose to read first.

This chapter in Franny’s story is kind of a nudge to Chris’ story, so this is a hint of what his book will be about... Hope you enjoy!

***

Joshua’s friends aren’t what I thought they’d be. In my head, accountants are lame, I guess. I figured they’d be these boring guys in suits, wearing black-rimmed glasses and their hair slicked back with too much gel. Which is stupid, since Joshua isn’t like that at all, and he’s a junior accountant as well. Just like Josh, the five guys and two girls he introduces me to at lunch don’t look like they work at a big accounting firm. They’re all very different for each other, and they seem like a rowdy, fun bunch.

I already knew that there were two girls in the group, and I was a little worried that they would be these sexy leggy blondes that would turn Joshua’s head and make him forget all about me, but they are just normal girls. Lovely, sweet, normal girls. They are very pretty, but I’m not worried he’s going to pick one of them over me within the next few months, I realize while I chat to them. They keep telling me that Joshua talks about me all the time, and that they think we’re cute together, so it’s hard to hate them, even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.

I feel like such a grown-up sitting here with my long-distance boyfriend, talking to girls he’s friends with, not a jealous bone in my body.

The guys are nice as well. One of them is from London originally, born and raised, and he offers to take us for a scenic walk, insisting that Joshua doesn’t know any good spots.

“Hey, I’m basically a local!” Josh insists, his arm around my shoulders while he chats to his friends.

“Sure, Joshie boy,” Ethan says, rolling his eyes. “A true local. Especially the way you keep walking into traffic because you look the wrong way. And when you try to pay for stuff with dollars. That screams local.”

I laugh along with the others, and soon we’re all making fun of Josh. He takes it like a champ, smiling at me the whole time. I love seeing him like this, all free and at ease. He loves it here, I can tell. It was the right move for him to come here, even though we miss each other. I was worried these past weeks, but now that we’re together and I’ve met his friends, I feel like it was stupid to ever think that we might break up just because we have to be long-distance for a while.

We love each other. We trust each other. And our communication has always been great. We can do this. If anyone can, it’s us.

***

“Come on, Fran, get your head out of your ass!”

I look up from my guitar and scowl at Yord. “Shut the fuck up, asshole.”

“Hey, that’s my boyfriend!” Marcia scolds me. “I know he’s an asshole, but only I’m allowed to call him that!”

“I’m not an asshole, I’m only saying that Fran sucks,” Yord says, hitting the drums hard in frustration. “I wish Joshua was still here. He’s so much better than you.”

He’s not wrong. I’m good at singing and I’m alright on the guitar, but I’m nowhere near Joshua’s level. We’re practicing new covers, and it’s taking us a lot longer without Josh here. He’s been gone for three months now, and no matter how hard I try to fill the hole he left in the band, me playing the guitar just isn’t the same as Josh rocking out the way only he can.

“Look, I hate to say it, but I think we need to find a replacement,” Yord says with a grunt. “We’ve got that gig in Shaughna’s club in a month, and the rate we’re going, we’re going to suck ass. We’ll be booed off stage.”
“I know,” I agree with a sigh. “I just… It’ll be weird to have someone else where Josh used to be.”

“I get it,” Marcia says, getting up from behind her keyboard to hug me. “We miss him too. What if we try to get him here that night? It’s on a Saturday, so if he can fly over for the weekend…”

“We talked about this, babe,” Yord says from behind us. “I’d love that, but it’s not just about being there the night of the gig. He needs to practice with us too. We can’t just magically play together without any practice.”

“We could videocall?” I propose, feeling stupid for not thinking of that before. “Maybe he can practice with us on his nights off, online, you know? And then he can fly in for the gig!”

Yord looks excited now. “That might work. Okay, I’m going to call him right now!”

Twenty minutes later, we’ve got Yord’s laptop set up, Joshua’s happy face appearing on the screen, his guitar strapped to his chest. He’s in sweats and a wrinkled shirt, obviously ready to go to bed. It’s five hours later there, so I’s pretty damn late for him, and he’s got work in the morning. Poor Josh. He blows me a kiss and winks, and I all but melt into a puddle.

“Yeah, yeah, you love each other,” Yord says, rolling his eyes. “We get it. Have all the phone sex you want later. Right now, we need to practice. No offence, dude, your girlfriend may have the voice of an angel, but it takes her forever to learn a new song on the guitar. She did come up with some awesome lyrics for a song, though. We just need to find the right cords and shit, and we’ll have our first original song.”

“Really?” Joshua looks into the camera with wide blue eyes, love swirling in them. “I’ve been writing on my nights off as well. I’ve got a tune, but no words.” He starts playing, the chords sounding beautiful even though the sound isn’t as good over the laptop as it would be if he was here in person. When he truly starts playing, I close my eyes and let the melody wash over me. Yord adds some drums right away, and I realize that somehow, Joshua and I have been writing the same song. My words fit into the melody perfectly.

“My bed feels empty without you, and I know you miss me too,” I start singing. “My hands ache to touch your face, to drag you back to our place… You’re an ocean away, and when we talk on the phone all there’s only one thing I can say… Tell me that you miss me. Tell me that you’re mine. Tell me that you want me. Give me a sign. Just a little sign, to show that while your body is across the ocean, your heart is still mine.”

We make it all the way through the song, and while it’s not perfect by any means, it’s pretty damn good. I open my eyes and look at the laptop, happy to see a look of pride on my boyfriend’s face.

“Fuck me, we’re awesome!” Yord yells, ruining the moment. “Okay, let’s try again, finetune things, add Marcia on the keyboard… Fuck, this is some good shit. If you two living apart is what we need to have you writing original songs, then I guess Joshua will just have to stay in London for the rest of his life.”

“Oh no,” Josh replies right away, shaking his head. “I love it here, but in nine months, I’m moving in with Franny. No doubt about it. And I’m never leaving again.”

“Damn right.” I smile and blow him a kiss. “Love you, baby.”

We spent another hour on the song, changing the lyrics a bit so they’ll fit Josh’s tune perfectly, and adding a few lines for Josh to sing, because our voices sound amazing together. The song is about us, obviously, so it makes sense to turn it into a duet. Marcia adds a few awesome notes that lift the whole thing to the next level, and by the end of band practice, we’re all feeling pretty damn good about ourselves.

We wave goodbye to Joshua, and head up to Yord’s loft for a few beers. Marcia and him are still going strong, and it’s obvious that he’s even trying to clean his apartment a little for her. It’s still messy, but not as dirty as it used to be. I can even sit on the couch without have to throw off dirty boxers or anything. We chill for a while, but then it’s time to go home so I can get some sleep before my shift starts in the morning.

***

Sometimes, being a pediatric nurse just sucks the life out of you. A father rushed into the ER with his son a few hours ago, and once they patched him up and stabilized him, he got moved to our wing, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure the kid feels safe and isn’t experiencing pain, but he’s not doing all that great, if I’m honest.

Christopher had the day off, but I called him when it became clear that we need the best surgeons in the department on this case. He just rushed in, and his hand lands on my shoulder as he steps up behind me, looking down on the scared 5-year-old boy in the bed in front of me. I just gave him some more painkillers, fluids, and antibiotics through his iv, but nothing seems to stop him from crying. His father is pacing up and down the room, looking worn.

“Hi Mr. Clark,” Chris says, extending his hand to the father. “I’m Dr. Davids. I’m the head of the pediatrics department and I’ll be taking your son into surgery in just a few moments.”

Edward Clark stops pacing just long enough to shake his hand. “The head, huh?” He pulls us to the side so his son can’t hear us. “Does that mean it’s even worse than I thought?” Mr. Clark eyes me nervously. “You called in the big guns, nurse Berger. Does Freddie need it?”

“Yes,” I say, not beating around the bush. “He does. And Dr. Davids is the biggest gun we have, so I made him come in on his day off. He’s the best there is. If anyone if going to make sure Freddie is okay, it’s him.”

The dad nods and clasps his hands together. “Freddie has been through so much already,” he says softly. “I’m his foster dad, you know, and his biological parents are drug addicts. He’s seen more than a 5-year-old ever should. More than anyone ever should. Please make sure he’s okay.”

“We’ll do anything we can to take of your son,” Christopher assures him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Nurse Berger will talk you through the whole surgery, while I will take your son to the OR. Is that okay?”

Edward Clark nods and thanks Chris. Nurse Jacob comes in to help Chris take Freddie into the OR. I sit down with the father to explain more about intussusception and what Chris will do in surgery. Intussusception mostly occurs in the first 18 months of a kid’s life, so Freddie needs surgery, while that may not have been necessary had he been younger. Basically, his bowel walls are pressing into each other, causing a blockage that had Freddie doubled over abdominal pain and caused him to vomit a lot, which led to him getting dehydrated.

“Basically, Dr. Davids is going to do a keyhole surgery, making just a tiny incision into his abdomen to gently squeeze the bowel, getting it back in the right position, no longer folded in on itself, allowing the blood flow to go back to normal.” I put a hand on Mr. Clark’s knee, trying to assure him it’ll be fine. “Dr. David will remove parts of the bowel where tissue died. If we’re lucky, that’ll only be very small part. There’s a small chance that Dr. Davids will need to make a larger incision if the bowel needs to be removed, which is why I called him in. He can do this in his sleep, so if things go south, he’s the one you want to operate on your kid.”

I explain the risks of the surgery to him, but make sure to assure him that his son is in good hands and that the odds are in Freddie’s favor. I’ve seen this before, but never quite this bad, so I’m secretly praying for Chris to be able to fix this the way he did all those other times. He truly is a superstar, so if anyone can, it’s him.

“What is Freddie like?” I ask Edward Clark, hoping to take his mind off the surgery. My shift will be over soon, so I’ve got some time to hang around and talk to him. “You said he’s your foster kid, right? When did he come to live with you and your wife?”

He smiles wryly. “Everyone always assumes I’ve got a wife, but I’m a single dad, actually. Freddie is my third foster kid. The first went back to his parents after two years when they got their shit together, and the second was a teenager who’s now 19 and living on his own, but he still comes over for dinner on the weekend. And now there’s Freddie, the youngest kid I’ve taken care of so far. He’s such a sweet happy kid, especially considering the hellhole he came from.”

“I didn’t even know you could be a foster parent on your own,” I say, surprised. “I guess that’s very narrow-minded of me. I’m sorry. That amazing, though, that you do that, all on your own.”

He shrugs. “I’m a social worker and I felt like I could do more, you know? My brother and his wife have two kids of their own and they always have one or two foster kids running around as well, so I inquired with the agency and it turned out I could get a license as well. Why wait to find a girl to marry before taking care of kids? I can do that on my own.”

I nod, and my mind wanders to Chris. Maybe… maybe I should mention this to him. I know he’d love to have kids, but fact is he’s 44 and single, so maybe this would be something he’d be interested in. He’d be a great father figure for any kid, whether that be his own baby, a stepchild or a foster kid.

The next hour, I have Edward Clark tell me everything about being a foster parent, and he shows me some websites that might be useful. It takes his mind off Freddie’s surgery, and I have a feeling this might be the thing that will finally make Christopher happy.

“Surgery went well,” Chris says when he walks in with Jacob, both of them smiling. “It looked worse than it was, and he’ll be up and running in just a few days.”

Edwards gets up and shakes their hands. “Thank you, doctors.”

Jacob takes him to see his son, and I motion for Christopher to sit down next to me. He gives me a curious look, and I hand him my phone, where the page about single dads becoming foster parents is still open.

“What?” he asks, frowning.
“I know I’m overstepping as a nurse, but as your friend…” I shrug. “I’ll text you the websites I found. And maybe you should talk to Edward Clark. If I’m being rude, just ignore me, but honestly, Chris…” I put a hand over his and squeeze. “You should be a father. One hundred percent. Maybe you should stop waiting for the right woman to come along and just go for it on your own.”

He stares at the screen of my phone and shakes his head. “I… I didn’t even think of that. I never thought… I mean… I’m single. I’m a doctor, working 50 to 60 hours a week. I can’t just…” He trails off, scrolling down. “It says here are guys with jobs like mine who foster kids… lawyers, doctors, business owners…”

“Just think about it,” I tell him. “Talk to Edward. He’s a really cool guy, and only one year younger than you. And maybe you could get a nanny or something, to be there when you’re not.”

Chris nods, looking starstruck. “Maybe…”

We sit there for twenty more minutes while he keeps reading more and more about this. “Erm… Chris…?” I say after a while. “I’ve been working longer than I should, and I’d love to home and get some sleep, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure,” he says, nodding. “Go home, Fran.”

I smile. “I wasn’t asking for permission. It’s just that you’ve still got my phone.”

“Oh!” He laughs and hands it back to me. “Thanks for sticking around and talking to the dad. Surgery is always scary for parents, and with him being a single foster dad…” Chris shakes his head. “That must be rough, to rush a kid in here when you’ve only just started taking care of him and want to give him a better life, and you’re on your own…”

“Yes,” I agree, “but he also told me loves it and he should have gotten his license years before he did. So maybe… I don’t know. Talk to him, think about it.”

Chris nods. “I think I will.”

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