I’m crossing a line.
I know it, Ian knows it, and by the looks of it, Linda and Mala do too. To be fair, the looks I get from them when I walk past their station are warranted. I’ve been in Jamie’s room four times in the last six hours when I know full well the drugs I gave her will keep her knocked out for closer to seven or eight.
I grab the iPad off the nurses’ station and don’t miss the raised eyebrows I get from Linda. I can’t blame them for being suspicious of my behavior. My shift just ended and I’ve been here for 42 hours. I should be heading home to get some shuteye.
“She’s still asleep,” Linda notes, nodding to where Jamie lies in her private room. A room I arranged for her.
“How’s she doing?” I stare at the vitals on the screen of the iPad so I don’t make eye contact.
“About the same as she was an hour ago.” This from Mala who is definitely not one to beat around the bush. I don’t blame her for being a little peeved. I never second guess them.
I have a ton of respect for these ladies. They really are the unsung heroes of the hospital. They don’t necessarily diagnose the patients, but are definitely the ones who heal them. They care, love and commiserate with the patients. They spend hours on their feet doing a thankless job so we doctors get all the glory.
“Thanks.” I walk into Jamie’s room knowing Mala and Linda are talking in furtive whispers. I also know that what they have to say won’t go further than the two of them. They are loyal to a fault.
When I’m disappointed that Jamie isn’t awake I have to bank the warning bells. Shit! This is bad, so very bad.
As she frowns and whimpers, those alarm bells scream louder because all I want to do is save her from the pain I know she’s going to wake up to. But I also know that despite all the drugs I can give her, it’s going to hurt like a bitch. I don’t want to think about how all the years of learning how to harden myself as a doctor have been whittled away by having Jamie in my care for such a short period of time. She stirs and turns her head and some of her hair falls in her face. My feet carry me to her bed of their own volition. Alright, I know that’s bullshit, but I go to Jamie regardless.
She’s beautiful. Even with blood clumped in her hair, she’s gorgeous. Linda wiped her face down earlier and cleaned up most of the blood, but we can’t do anything about her hair right now.
“How do you get into a wreck and still look so gorgeous?” I run the strands of her hair through my fingers and marvel at how soft it is despite everything she’s been through. I wonder what it smells like when it’s freshly washed—if she uses fruity shampoos or floral ones.
Get a grip, Marcus. You’re sounding and behaving like a creeper.
I allow the strands to fall to where the rest of her tresses fan the pillow.
“Who the fuck are you?”
I don’t startle even though I realize how bad it looks. Years of being a surgeon trains you to keep your composure. I turn to face the door. The frame is filled by a massive guy with a buzz cut and biceps that could crack a walnut. He does not look impressed. Holding out my hand I walk toward him and introduce myself. “I’m Dr. Dire. Jamie’s surgeon.”
The violence in his eyes tames somewhat as he realizes I’m not some crazy stalker. He shakes my hand. “Tank…Uh… I mean Chris.”
Yeah, they got this guy’s nickname right. “Pleased to meet you, Chris.”
“How’s my sister?”
I go into the extent of Jamie’s injuries and watch the guy so big he makes Dwayne Johnson look like a pip-squeak turn paler by the second.
“She’s going to be fine,” I say. “She’s just going to need a lot of physical therapy.”
I can’t tell if he’s reassured or not, but he walks to where I was moments before and tenderly brushes a few strands I missed away from her face.
I can see why he looked at me the way he did when he walked in. It’s a tender gesture, one reserved for people you have a deep connection with. He takes Jamie’s tiny hand in his gigantic paw and it’s a bit unnerving watching a guy who could probably crush your face with one hand handle his sister like she’s crystal.
She moans and her eyes flutter.
I swear his voice cracks.
“Chris, you made it.” Her tongue is dry and I want to give her some water, but I don’t want to intrude on their time.
“How are you feeling?”
I start backing away. It looks like this guy, who’s fit to be in a G.I. Joe movie, is about to cry and I don’t want to witness it. This moment is too private and I feel like a voyeur.
“I’m okay.” A line deepens between her eyes and somehow I don’t believe her.
“Are you in pain?” Chris asks.
“Just a touch.” Her heart rate is elevating and I doubt very much it’s just a touch.
I head toward the door. “I’m going to get the nurse to come give you something to take the edge off.”
“No,” she scowls and shifts on the bed. A sharp gasp follows and Chris lightly places a hand on her shoulder to still her. She takes a steadying breath. “No more drugs. I don’t wanna sleep.”
I walk back to her bed. “Jamie, the meds are wearing off. It’s better to keep your pain at a manageable level. Trust me, you’re going to want it.”
Chris turns his head toward me. “Give her the drugs.”
“Squeak, you’re not gonna be fuckin’ stubborn. Take the drugs.”
I swear if it weren’t for the pain, Jamie would reach out and grab Chris by the scruff of his neck. As small as she is and as colossal as he is, I bet she could bring her brother to his knees. “Chris, I’m not one of your marines you can boss around.”
He smiles and the guy looks less like a killer when he does. “That’s true, but I am your big brother.” He looks at me. “Give her the drugs.”
She winces. “Fine, give me your damn drugs.”