Domino Effect

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Chapter Four

“You did laundry today.” It wasn’t a question that Sam posed. She was staring at Bailey with a look of skepticism.

“You look surprised,” Bailey noted.

“You never do laundry,” Sam said.

They were sitting at a small booth in the diner, waiting on their orders. Bailey glanced out the window next to them. They were just a few blocks from the center of town, yet there wasn’t any foot traffic down their end. Bailey turned back to Sam.

“I do laundry when it’s necessary,” she added.

Sam shook her head. “I’ve seen you wear the same scrubs for a week straight, even when there’re stained.”

“I’m not that dirty.”

“At least you don’t smell.”

Bailey cracked a smile. “Thanks,” she said.

The waitress came around then and placed their plates in front of them. “Anything else I can get you?” she asked.

Bailey shook her head and looked to Sam for agreeance. Sam shook her head as well. The waitress departed, and Bailey looked at the burger and fries she’d ordered. Even after working out as hard as she had this morning and running around doing errands, she suddenly didn’t feel very hungry. Sam, meanwhile, was chomping away happily on the shaved steak grinder she’d gotten.

“So what do you think will happen with the burn guy?” she asked through a mouthful of food.

Bailey glanced at her. “Whatcha mean?”

“Well,” Sam swallowed her food, “I was there again this morning and no one had visited him since he came in. The sign-in sheet’s still clear next to his room.”

Bailey shrugged as she took a bite of her burger. Talking about work was something all the nurses did at lunch; they swapped stories of blood and bile and it never hindered their appetites. “You had another shift this morning?” she asked.

Sam nodded, sipping on her soda. “I need all the extra shifts I can take, remember?” she reminded Bailey. “I’m surprised Mathews let you have the day off today.”

“I have the weekend off,” Bailey replied a little smugly.

“No way!” Sam said indignantly. She looked out the window, glaring the tiniest amount. “But you haven’t had a day off in, what…a year?” she added in a calmer voice.

Bailey nodded. She took another bite of her burger and chased it with a fry. The Americans were good with one thing, if not many: their burgers. Bailey took another bite to confirm it. Yep, she decided, Americans could cook good burgers. It was something her father had always commented on, and now it was just habit to think of their conversations whenever she had a burger.

“Hey, did you hear me?”

Sam’s voice brought Bailey’s attention back to her. “What, sorry?” Bailey had been silently warring between the realization that she herself has been an American since she was seven and that she was determined to keep her British accent, even if she hadn’t visited England in over ten years.

“I said that your mom called me earlier,” Sam repeated. She looked a little concerned. “She said she was worried about you.”

“She didn’t mention she’d do that,” Bailey replied. The hint of a frown pulled her eyebrows down.

Sam took a long sip from her drink, the worry all but gone in her face. “She said you sounded funny on the phone.”

Bailey rolled her eyes. “Great,” she said, “Mum’s checking up on me.” She’d have to talk to her about that later.

“I told her you were fine.”

“Because I am.”

Bailey knew that Sam knew why her mum was checking up on her, but thankfully, Sam didn’t press the issue. Bailey was definitely grateful for that, even if she was a bit bent towards both her and her mother at the moment.

“Good,” said Sam, stretching in her seat. Her plate was basically empty now. “Now that that’s dealt with, we can talk about Mathews.”

Bailey choked a little on her water. Sam was never one for anything touchy-feely, unless it had something to do with her husband. And Bailey was used to high-speed topic switches like this. But she wasn’t used to this subject. “Whatcha mean, let’s talk about Mathews?” she asked cautiously. “What’s there to talk about?”

Sam leaned forward in her seat, and Bailey didn’t miss the eager look in her friend’s blue eyes. “Come on, Bailey! He’s always checking up on you. And he’s single,” she said, smiling with a waggle to her eyebrows.

Bailey laughed. “What’s that got to—?” She stopped and stared. “Oh, that.” Bailey narrowed her eyes at Sam.

“Yes, that! Caught on fast, this time! Finally,” Sam muttered. “What did you think I meant?”

Bailey had thought that Sam was going to bring up the fact that Mathews had picked her over Sam to help out with a once-in-a-lifetime procedure. But this, Bailey had not expected. She had thought Sam had asked her to lunch to have a talk. She knew that Sam was more qualified to have done that procedure. She also knew that Sam was trying to make nursing a full-time career, and Bailey was only going to be working until her contract was up. Or, at least, that’s what Sam thought at present.

“Nothing,” Bailey said. Maybe Sam had already gotten over that. It didn’t do well to bring it up, in any case, so Bailey kept silent.

“Didn’t you say just last week that you were sick of being single?” Sam asked.

Bailey nodded but at the same time thought, Because you’re always flaunting your husband everywhere, yeah. She instead replied with, “You’re always trying to invite me to the clubs in Burlington, but I never have anyone to go with,” deciding that the least aggressive out of the two was best.

“Why can’t you go out with anyone from work?”

“We’re not supposed to.”

“I met Dane there.”

“And you married him. It’s a different story with things like that.”

“But—” Just then the waitress came to their table and Sam handed her a twenty without asking Bailey if she wanted help with the bill. Sam smiled at her and continued in a small whisper once the waitress had gone, “But Mathews likes you, Bailey. If you start something—”

“I can’t start something!”

“—maybe it will end up like me and Dane,” she finished, ignoring Bailey’s protests. “That way, it’ll be allowed.”

“I don’t see your loophole,” Bailey argued.

Sam simply gaped. She could be a little dramatic, but that’s why Bailey liked her. Sam made the boring days in the hospital worth something.

“Look,” Bailey sighed as she stood and straightened her dress. “I have things to do today and I’ll think it over, a’right?” She watched Sam stand and place a five on the table for a tip.

Bailey walked forward and hugged Sam. “I promise I will,” she whispered.

They separated and made their way out of the diner. Bailey waved goodbye as Sam got into her car and drove away, shouting through the window, “It’ll do you good to get some, you know!”

Bailey smirked. She really didn’t care if anyone in town knew she wasn’t getting banged, and Sam had chosen a time of day to shout it out to the world when there wasn’t anyone around to hear it. Sam drove away, and Bailey started to make her way up the road to the center of town. There were some things that she could do to occupy her for the rest of the day, but there was something else she needed to do first.

She was going to ask her father for advice.

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