May 30, 2013
So you heard about Alice’s Civil War inspired renewal ceremony. I love Alice dearly, but I’m really tired of all of these weddings! Just a lot of work. Maybe I’m just being grumpy because of the week I’ve had at work, but I just wanted some peace and quiet. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve hired the new staff and at first everything seemed to be going well. But then—and I can’t really put my finger on it—things have been a bit off kilter.
We have a ski party coming up at the hospital, organized by Charlotte, our honor student from TX. She really does love to ski! She’s such a sweetheart. She has started dating a resident from the Gastroenterology Department and they make a very cute couple.
Melanie from Vancouver has just told us recently that she is expecting, so we had a bit of a luncheon for her. Unfortunately the food we ordered must have not agreed with her because she started feeling a bit sick afterwards; thankfully Ashley was there to give her something for her stomach and she felt better soon after. You never know when you order from these restaurants if things will be fresh. I, of course, made an excuse that I already ate followed by a joke about watching my figure, so no one really pushed me to eat anything.
This ski party is for everyone working at the hospital, especially doctors and nurses. We are all encouraged to bring our family members and so I’m bringing Esme, Jacob, and Nessie. Keith, Leah, Bella, Edward, Amy, Peter, Corin, and Seth will be going on a “hiking date” that same day. That’s a nice way of saying hiking and hunting. Emmett and Rose were just going to hang out at the house; they didn’t feel like going. Alice and Jasper would still be in Sweden at this point as they’ve extended their trip. Rogue and Alexander, though both avid skiers, have to travel to Montana to check on some Watchers there, and Michelle and her parents don’t ski so they are sitting this one out.
It’ll give the new staff members a chance to meet our family members and vice versa. Charlotte’s putting it together with the help of Ashley and Betsy. There will be food and racing and just good-natured fun. I’m very much looking forward to it. Besides, Jacob could eat for 3 people!
We had a very strange run in with one of the nurses, Ashley, when I accompanied Esme to the grocery store to load up on food for our family. We were both in the vegetable section as Esme was looking for the ripest of tomatoes when I had a feeling that someone was watching me. I looked in that general direction and saw Ashley standing there with her little cart full of groceries. I couldn’t quite place the look on her face, but when our eyes met she smiled and walked right over.
“Hi Dr. Cullen! How are you?”she asked with enthusiasm.
“Oh—hello Ashley. I’m fine thanks, and yourself?” I said politely.
“Oh well . . . you know . . . shopping,” she giggled, then looked over at Esme, who was watching us with interest; she looked her up and down with a very measuring eye. Esme noticed but continued smiling. “This must be your wife,” she said.
“Yes, it is. Esme darling, please meet one of our new nurses. This is Ashley from Los Angeles,” I said as Esme walked over smiling and extended her hand which Ashley shook. Something was off about Esme’s face when they shook hands, but I didn’t have an opportunity to ask.
“Welcome Ashley. It’s a pleasure meeting you,” Esme said softly.
“It’s nice to meet you too. Dr. Cullen has told me so much about you,” Ashley told her, no longer smiling. I had no idea what passed between them but I was dying to find out.
“Well ladies, I’d love for you to get to know each other more but Esme and I really have to get home. We have a family to feed; besides there will be plenty of time at the ski party,” I said smoothly.
“Oh . . . you’re coming.” It wasn’t a question but more of a statement. Realizing that we were looking at her with startled expressions, Ashley shook her head and continued. “That’s wonderful! It’ll be great to spend more time with you and your family.” She flashed a bright smile.
“Well only my wife, niece and her boyfriend are coming. Everyone else has other plans for that day,” I said. Esme nodded in agreement, gathering the rest of her groceries.
We said our goodbyes to Ashley and walked to the register to pay and leave. Using the self-payment counter, we got what we wanted and left without incident. After loading everything into the back of Esme’s Mercedes SUV, we drove away, but not before glancing at the rear view mirror to see Ashley watching us. It felt weird. Maybe this is what Alice meant when she said we’ll hire a weird new nurse. She was definitely not acting normal. Who knew what her deal was? At least now I could ask Esme what the hell happened in that store.
“Honey, what happened in the grocery store, with Ashley?” I asked her cautiously.
“Oh that. Yes, when we shook hands she all but tried to rearrange my knuckles. I knew people had firm handshakes but this was a little more than that. Of course when she tried that I put in just a tad of my own strength so she would understand; I’m not the type to back off.”
“Back off from what?” I asked puzzled.
“It’s a way to show dominance. I know men have that but some women do it too. Don’t be surprised if this one has a huge crush on you and will try to get you to leave me for her. The way she looked me up and down—she was measuring what I had that she didn’t or vice-versa. Some women are just like that.” She spoke matter-of-factly.
“What? That’s absurd! I would never even look at another woman that way! Has she lost her mind?” I said aghast.
Esme smiled, a soft but confident smile. “I know sweetheart. I know. I’m just telling you what happens between women sometimes, especially when both are interested in the same man. Or human women and men I suppose. Vampires seem to find mates and settle for eternity. I’m not a shrink but that’s how it happens.”
We sat silently in the car after that as I digested everything she said. This was not going to happen. I don’t care if the human woman looked like Marilyn Monroe and is a goddess incarnate; there is no one for me other than Esme!
And that’s where that subject ended.
I intended to sit down and have a little talk with Ashley when I got into the hospital, though I had no idea what to say really. As it turned out, I didn’t have to. As soon as I came in to work the following day, she was waiting for me. Her eyes were wide and pleading.
“Good morning Dr. Cullen. I wanted to apologize for my behavior at the store yesterday. It was inexcusable. I was incredibly rude to your wife and I’m so very sorry. I have no idea what came over me. I never act like that. Never! Please relay my sincerest apologies to your wife.” When she finished speaking, she looked at me wide-eyed.
I had to pause a second to gather my thoughts before speaking. “Thank you for coming to talk with me Ashley. I will relay your apology to Esme when I get home. I do not want an awkward working environment no matter what,” I assured her, and she quickly shook her head.
“Oh me neither. I was appalled at myself when I got home! I was tempted to call you and apologize, then I realized I didn’t have your number and didn’t want to make it seem weird.” She fidgeted with her scrubs as she spoke.
“All right Ashley. Apology accepted; I’m sure Esme will say the same. Clean slate,” I said with a smile. She sounded sincere and neither of us wanted the tension at work.
“Oh thank you. Thank you very much Dr. Cullen!” she said as a huge relieved smile broke out on her face.
After our talk we went about our rounds. She had some questions and Betsy was out with food poisoning, so she followed me on my rounds. Charlotte also joined to see how I did things. Charlotte usually seemed so much more cheerful than Ashley but today they matched each other with cheerfulness. They made even the sickest patients laugh. I felt like everything was back to normal; that Alice’s vision had come and gone and we handled it without a big incident.
After lunch, the two of them had their own charts and patients to see. We had one patient go into cardiac arrest suddenly, who didn’t seem to have issues with his heart and would have died if Ashley hadn’t been around the corner when his alarm went off. She got in there and resuscitated him. We all congratulated her. She was glowing. The patient was even smiling by the time I got there. When I asked what had happened he said he was sleeping when all of a sudden he felt a sharp pain in his chest and that’s the last thing he remembered until Ashley brought him back. She got there just in the nick of time. That’s pretty standard in a hospital, though; you never know what can happen to any patient and I was proud my team was so hands-on and didn’t freeze in an emergency. Which once again brought home that we had, indeed, hired a good crew.
A similar emergency happened in the NIC.U a few hours later and our trio of new nurses not only brought that baby from the brink of death but also had him walking around that same night!
When I got off work that night, I was looking forward to going home to my wonderful wife as well as the ski party the following evening. We had decided it would be much better to ski in the evening, as the snow was beautiful, glittery. Maybe I could even talk Rose into taking photos of us while we were skiing. In any case it was going to be a fun night. As I drove home, I was glad things worked out.
Unfortunately for me and everyone around me, this was just the opening salvo . . . the tip of the iceberg from hell.
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