I rose bleary-eyed at five am and went about my morning routine half-awake. As an assistant nurse, I have to be at work by six and these early mornings are killing me. If Hadley were ever awake this early, I’d only be communicating in grunts.
As usual, my disposition perked up once I arrived at the hospital. I truly love the work that I do here, even if I am a little anxious to advance. It seems like I’ve been an A.N. forever, but there’s just so much to learn.
Inside, I greeted the receptionist and got a rundown of the patients that were currently waiting to be seen before getting down to work. Dealing with fevers and runny noses may not be the glamorous idea most people have of the medical profession, but it’s mostly what I see.
There’s never even a moment to sit down. If I’m not examining a patient, I’m running labs. Shouldn’t there be techs to do this for me? I wondered for about the millionth time. I’d never admit this to anyone else, but most of the time the lab results seem like complete gibberish to me.
After treating my first patient, I quickly moved to my next and got her into X-Ray. I was right on the cusp of diagnosing her when my shift ended and I was forced to pass her on to the next person. That’s something that I absolutely hate. I am constantly being monitored for how many patients I diagnose and treat; when things like this happen, I don’t get any of the credit.
I came home and laid down on the couch for a nice nap. When I got up, I made myself a salad and was just sitting down to it when Hadley got home from work.
“Hi!” She said perkily as she came into the kitchen and started making eggs – one of the few things she could manage to do without burning the kitchen down. “How was work?”
“I treated this guy. He had the most disgusting rash – “
“Eugh! I don’t want to hear about rashes when I’m making food.” I couldn’t see her face, but I know she rolled her eyes at me. “You know, you spend all your time working or researching. All you ever make time for is to run to Camille’s whenever she calls.”
I bristled. Camille was my girlfriend, even if we never defined our relationship; I wasn’t just some well-trained puppy. “Excuse you.”
She waved her spatula around, dismissing my affront. “I didn’t mean it like that. We should go out today. It’s so nice. Let’s go to the park.”
“I don’t know why you want me to go. You’re just going to go watch the kids play.” Baby. Fever. Like, so bad it wasn’t even funny.
“I am not.” She sat down with her eggs. “We’re going.”
No argument from me would suffice. As soon as we’d both finished eating, Hads dragged me – almost bodily – from the house. As expected, within minutes of arriving at the park, she drifted over to the playground and settled down on a bench, dreamily watching the children play.
I was about to just go back home when an amused voice said, “Did you just get ditched?”
I turned to see a blond woman looking at me. I laughed a little. “Yeah, I guess I did.”
“My brother just ditched me too. He hauled me out here for a little ‘family bonding’ and ran off half an hour later because his girlfriend called.” She rolled her eyes. “She’s using him and he’s got no idea.”
“I’m sure he isn’t being used.” I hated to think of anyone being stuck in that kind of relationship.
The woman shrugged and offered me her hand. “I’m Octavia Casillas.”
“Shirley Hines. Nice to meet you.”
“You, too.” Her hand lingered in mine. “Really nice. I was actually kind of hoping that I’d catch you alone. I saw you arrive.”
“Oh,” I said with a slight flush. “I’m sorry, I have a girlfriend.”
“Oops!” Octavia laughed. “Wow, my bad. Who is the lucky girl?”
“Her name is Camille.” Saying her name brought a smile to my face. I was going to call her tonight, I decided. It had been too long – a week? Longer? – since we’d seen each other.
Octavia’s brows arched. “Camille Thoreau?”
I blinked in surprise. “Yes, actually. Do you know her?”
“We’ve met, but I don’t really know her well. We just kind of run in the same circles. You know how that is. I had no idea she was gay.”
“Oh, yeah, well, she must be. We’ve been together just shy of three years.”
We migrated to one of the benches and sat down. “Watcher! Two years? I’ve hardly ever made a relationship last two months.”
“Yeah,” I laughed, “It’s sort of casual, but we’re both really focused on our careers.”
She nodded. “I totally get that. So, what do you do?”
We ended up sitting on that bench for several hours and, when Hadley finally came over to head home, I felt like I’d just made a great new friend.
As I sat on the bench and watched Shirley leave, a plan formed in my head. I had learned a valuable piece of information today. The woman my brother, Huy, professed to be deeply in love with had been cheating on him for years. I’d never liked Camille. We’d only met on very rare occasions, but they had been enough for me to get a read on her. Camille thought she was better than us, better than her own position in life. She was cold and calculating, giving Huy just enough that he’d stick around for years. If I had to hear Huy say how great she was one more time, I was going to scream.
This – this was my chance. He’d never stay with her if he knew what a manipulative bitch she really was. But I couldn’t just tell him; he knew I didn’t like Camille. He would think I was lying and, of course, Camille would tell him as much if he confronted her. She had to be caught red-handed.
Or red-headed, as the case may be.