And that sends me into a frenzy.
My palms connect with his hard chest, and I slide them up to wrap around his neck. I’ve never touched Nathan so intimately. We’ve brushed arms or bumped fists while working, and I hugged him after his wife died. Never have I wrapped my arms around him because I wanted to feel close. Do I want that now? To feel close to this man? Or will another man do, and my reaction has to do with the fact I haven’t touched anyone in a long time?
A knock echoes against the wall, and the curtain whips back with a flourish. “Cami! What the hell happ–?
I push Nathan back and swipe at my lips. He leans back and tucks his hands into his pockets as if we weren’t just demonstrating a distinct form of mouth-to-mouth.
“Hey, Luce. Busy night?” I appreciate him taking control, because I struggle to find my voice.
And anything other than my vagina, which hogs my heart beat.
“Nathan.” Luce, formally Dr. Lucy Anderson, looks at the two of us quizzically. “Are you two together?”
word flies from my mouth. Nathan’s mouth tightens in disappointment, and Luce raises her eyebrows. I look to my lap as my face flushes with embarrassment.
“Not my business. I’m going to examine your foot and possibly send you down for an x-ray. Let’s see what it looks like first.”
She washes her hands and removes the splint Nathan applied earlier. The movement isn’t too bad until she reaches my shoe. As the tight pressure comes off, the pain in my foot roars to life, the dull throb turning into a sharp ache right around the ankle bone.
I lean back into the pillow as Luce cuts my sock off. The skin around my swollen ankle is colored a mottled deep purple and navy blue, and will probably continue spreading. Tomorrow the damage will look even worse.
Luce prods around. Gritting my teeth doesn’t stifle a soft whimper. Warmth covers my hand as Nathan picks it up from where it lies clenched on the bed and rubs soothing circles at the base of my palm.
“Relax. Breathe slow,” he murmurs. I close my eyes and focus on the feel of his thumb tracing the lines near my wrist.
“I definitely want an x-ray to be on the safe side. What else do you have going on? I see some superficial scrapes on your face.”
I use her question as an excuse to take my hand from Nathan. She barely glances at the scrapes and looks at me questioningly.
“Her back,” Nathan puts in. “I didn’t get a chance to check it before we got here. She forgot to mention it.”
Luce arches a brow. “Well, roll over then. Let’s see it.”
I roll onto my left hip, slipping one hand beneath the pillow to give me something to hold on to for the pain. “The shirt is sticking…” I trail off anxiously and close my eyes. Nathan slides to stand beside Luce.
Cool air hits my back and pebbles my skin as she lifts my shirt. The cotton tugs against the dried blood, and she grabs saline to wet the material. The solution itself doesn’t hurt, but soaking the cut burns. Half a minute later, she lifts the shirt up. Luce remains silent. Nathan, however, is not.
“Christ, Cami. You should have said something.”
“I mean, I did… eventually,” I grind out. The room spins, stealing my words. I close my eyes and block out the sensation of her digging around and cleaning my wounds.
“You won’t need stitches, but it’s going to take a while to heal. Not too deep, but it’s long.” She tapes down a gauze bandage. “When’s your next shift?” She asks as she washes her hands.
“Tomorrow starts a five-shift rotation.” I roll to my back.
She gives me a grimace from the computer where she’s logging orders. “There’s no way. I’m sorry. Hopefully, you have some sick time saved up. We’ll see what the x-ray says, and I’ll write a letter for you to give to H.R. The tech should be here in a minute to take you to radiology.”
“Thanks, Luce.” I mutter while calculating how much sick leave I have banked and how long it can last. I only ever took time off to care of Evelyn, and that happens less as she grows up. Even when she had her tonsils out at age eleven, I scheduled it during my off week and didn’t miss a day of work. I should have at least two weeks of paid time, if not more. The emergency fund in the bank will come in handy, but it would take me a long time to replenish if I use too much.
I groan and rub my temples, a headache lingering on the edge.
“Hey, you okay?”
“Yeah.” I exhale and tip my head back on the pillow. “The timing just sucks.”
Nathan frowns and his eyes turn sympathetic. “If you need anything, you let me know. I’m only a phone call away.”