“Again, you’re changing the subject.” I point at her.
“So are you,” she tells me when I turn to walk away, flipping her the bird. “Night, hooker.” I walk upstairs to her laughter. I tried hard to hide the fucking hickey that has yet to fade, but when she walked into the bathroom yesterday while I was getting out of the shower, it was hard. I pick up my phone when I see I have a friend request, this time from Corrine. I accept it, then browse her Facebook page to see what she has on there. Pictures from the camping trip this weekend are at the top of her page.
I see she tagged me in one of the pictures, the one with me and Gabe tied together at the wrist. My eyes glare at him as he tried to get me to go his way instead of the right way. The caption was “When Crystal wanted to kill Dr. Walker,” and she tagged him.
I laugh at the picture but don’t comment on it. When I walk in the next day, I see that Dr. Walker Sr. is back.
“We should go bowling,” Olivia says. “Now, that is team bonding.”
“I love bowling,” Emma says.
“I want to go bowling,” Ava says next.
“Oh, Dr. Walker, we are planning a bowling night,” Corrine tells him when he comes to the nurses’ station.
“Bowling, I can do,” he says, and we all roll our eyes. “I can.”
“Good morning, everyone.” Dr. Walker Sr. walks in. “I saw the pictures from the retreat, and it looked like a great time. We have some news. We will be adding a pediatrician to the roster. Dr. Alan Holmes will be joining us. He will be here on Thursday.”
The buzzer tells us that our first patient arrived, so we all get up. “Crystal, you’re with me today.” He smiles at me. “Let’s see what all the fuss is about,” he jokes, and I nod, making sure I am on my game today.
We work side by side the whole day with him asking my opinion and nodding when I’m right, which is ninety percent of the time. The other ten, when he explains why I was wrong, he does it with patience and kindness. When I finally leave that night, it’s with a big old smile.
I get home, and Hailey is in the kitchen making pasta. “I had the best day at work,” I tell her, sitting down at the table.
“Really?” she says, stirring the pasta. “I have to say I was nervous when you moved out here with me. I thought for sure you would hate it and leave me.”
I smile. “Nah, but I am surprised I’m not bored.” I grab an apple from the fruit bowl. “Today, I worked with Dr. Walker Sr., and I actually learned stuff. It was a great day.”
“We are going bowling on Friday. I told them I was bringing my plus one.” I wiggle my eyebrows at her. “It’ll be fun.”
“But I won’t know anyone, and it’s going to be weird. You guys will have your code words, and I’ll be sitting there like a loner.”
“We don’t have code words, idiot.” I shake my head when she places a plate in front of me. “Besides, you need to go out and have fun.”
“Okay, fine,” she says when she sits down, “but the minute I feel weird, I’m leaving.”
“I promise you that I will make sure you don’t feel weird.” During the rest of the dinner, we discuss our plans this weekend about maybe going into town. When I get to work the next day, I see that I’m working with Dr. Walker Sr.
“I get it now,” he says to me when I’m filling out a chart after the patient leaves. “Why everyone loves working with you.”
I smile at him, turning my head back again. “Thank you. It means a lot coming from you,” I tell him, and we go back to work. The next day I come in and I’m excited to be working with Mrs. Dr. Walker.
“I’m excited,” she says, walking into the examine room. “My husband has done nothing but brag about you this whole week.”
I laugh because he has been openly telling all his patients about me.
I work side by side with her all day. She very much has a soft approach to all her patients, who are mainly women. “You really have a touch with patients,” she says, washing her hands after her patient leaves. “Mrs. Naya hates every single one of the nurses here. Refuses to even talk to them, but you.” She shakes her hands, grabbing a paper towel. “You buttered her up and she told you her whole life story.”
“It’s nothing,” I tell her.
“It’s something.” She leans her hip to the counter. “When Laura and Bethany left, this place was meek and dire. It was like we lived under a dark cloud, ready to pour down on us. Lightning and thunder,” she says. “Now it’s like a ray of sunshine, people are smiling, well, not Gabe, he’s been touchy this week.”