Domino Effect

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Chapter Fifteen

“Look, all I want to do is book this trip. I’ve had a long day at work and I can’t imagine that you’ve haven’t as well, so I apologize if I’m a little short.” Bailey had her cell up to her ear and listened for another few minutes as the travel agent tittered about expenses and not enough rooms in the hotel Bailey was looking into. The travel agent sounded young and pretty inexperienced, and trivial things like that usually never bothered Bailey. Tonight, though, little things—stupid things—seemed to set her off.

“A’right, well, I think I’ll think it over and get back to you,” Bailey said in clipped tones. She pressed the end button before the travel agent could get another word in.

Bailey had hoped that the drive home would been more relaxing than her last few minutes of work had been. Sadly, the traffic had been jammed from a minor accident down the main road for twenty minutes. It hadn’t been too horrible, Bailey noted as she plopped herself on her couch. It was just slow going. But she was trying to keep herself calm. There was no reason to be even a tiny bit angry that someone got in a wreck. Bailey breathed in deep. She ended up deciding that crawling down the road had actually done her some good: it had given her some time to think over all that was crammed in her brain.

Ace’s wife seemed to think that Bailey was competition. At least, that’s the way her side-eye made Bailey feel. She’d looked Bailey over like she was a piece of rotted meat. It was strange that the woman didn’t head in to see her husband, even after the visiting hours. If her husband had been that badly burned and appeared to be in a coma every time she visited, Bailey would without a doubt try to get in to see him. But this woman just didn’t.

Gemma Owens thought Bailey Brown was going to steal her husband. Bailey snorted in amusement. That was never going to happen. If there was one thing worse in the medical industry than having a relationship with a higher up, it was having a relationship with a patient. Bailey wasn’t interested. She thought he was attractive, yes, but she wasn’t going to go all bite-your-arm-off about him. Bailey actually laughed aloud at the thought.

She stood and walked over to the fridge. The provisions inside were heading on the low side again, but Bailey grabbed a piece of cheese from the drawer and shut the door; she’d go shopping Sunday, most likely. Munching contentedly, Bailey leaned back against her counter.

She had the realization that she needed a vacation right after Gemma had stopped and talked to her. Threatened her, more like, thought Bailey.

Bailey hadn’t been to her home country in over ten years. It seemed the best choice for a vacation, Bailey reasoned, since she knew at least some of the people there. She really didn’t have to book a hotel like she had been trying to a few minutes ago, but staying with relatives for a week or two… Bailey was never less fancied.

Bailey swallowed the last bit of cheese and reopened the fridge; she was hungrier than she thought. Bailey scanned the fridge. She could have a sandwich. She could have some stir-fried vegetables. Bailey’s stomach growled. She could have… Bailey looked next to her at the closed cabinet door. She could have cereal.

Cereal sounded like a good choice. Bailey closed the refrigerator, opened the cabinet, and pulled out the first box of cereal that met her hand. She poured milk into a bowl and dumped the cereal on top of it. It was something she had always done. Her father had started the habit in her.

What was Bailey thinking, trying to plan a trip without having any set-in-stone, paid vacation time? She put a hand to her head. She was crazy to think Mathews would let her keep her job if she pulled a stunt like that. If she left without notifying anyone at the hospital. Bailey was useful sometimes but they could teach other nurses to become psychologists, which Bailey basically was, if naturally.

Bailey would have to move. She wouldn’t be able to afford her apartment is she didn’t have a job. She’d have to move back with her mother; Bailey shuddered. That was definitely not going to happen. But she was worn out. Bailey had been warned about workplace burn-out. She didn’t think it was bad yet. Her head lifted off her hand. She wasn’t having panic attacks every day, she wasn’t avoiding Mathews like the plague (at least, not yet), and she was remembering to take showers regularly.

Her father would understand. He knew how much Bailey missed England. When he had been alive, Bailey never stopped talking about it, asking why she sounded different than the other kids at school. She knew he would have understood why she couldn’t visit his grave. Robert Brown had been a kind man.

Bailey smiled. She felt relieved that she could think freely about him now. His anniversary was always hard, but twenty years was a long time. Bailey’s father would understand because he lost his own father at a young age. Bailey walked, with her cereal clutched between her hands, to the couch. Grandpa had been the source of a lot of her father’s stories. He’d even said Bailey reminded him of his father on more than one occasion.

She felt a sudden surge of pride towards her late grandfather. It was he who’d influenced her to become a nurse (his memory, anyway). Grandpa had been an army doctor in Vietnam. His son Robert had always been fond of his father, even after his passing, and he jumped on the opportunity to give Bailey his blessing when she decided—aged five—that she wanted to go to “doctor school.”

The television was mutely showering Bailey in a glowing light. She balanced her bowl on her knees and picked up the remote. She hit the mute button and the currently-airing Big Bang Theory episode suddenly came to life.

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