Amy stood, rocking back and forth on her heels, awkwardly picking at her nails while she waited for Nate to get off the phone with her. He was cautious enough to have a polite conversation so as not to rub anything in but it was always obvious. His dimple flashed more than usual, probably because his grin was toothier than usual…and still very, very cute. Sigh. Amy silently scolded herself. That kind of thinking only lead to hurt and despair and those things always seemed to lead to her bad behavior.
“I shouldn’t be long,” Nathan said. “Are you home already?”
“I just got here,” Carrie answered, balancing the tulips he’d set her at work while she opened her front door. “Oops!”
“Yeah, I’m, juggling flowers. This guy I’m kinda dating sent me the prettiest flowers to work today?”
“Smart guy,” Nathan teased.
“They really are pretty and everyone was swoony so…bonus points.”
“Good, I’m glad,” he replied, somewhat business-like.
“Oh, you’re not alone. I didn’t realize you were already in your meeting. I should talk dirty to you.”
“You could,” Nathan’s laughter echoed, “but you’re kinda bad at it.”
“I really am,” she giggled. “Hurry up. I’ll be here.”
He hung up and his attention returned to Amy. “I won’t keep you.,” he promised. “I’m sure you’ve got places to be.
She really, really didn’t but she nodded and sat down when he motioned for her to have a seat. “Thanks.”
“How are you?” he asked, stiffly but without anger.
“Fine,” she gulped, and quickly added, “Nate, what’s this…I mean, I’m sorry…Dr. Dor…”
“Stop.” he interrupted. “It’s just us. I feel gross when you call me that.” he pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes and sighed. “How did we get here?”
Amy shrugged, sadly. “I threw jewelry at you, you fell in love with someone else, I called her slut in an angry text message, you banished me to trauma, and here we are.”
His eyes darkened briefly and he repeated, “Here we are.”
“Sorry, I was kinda attempting to be funny.”
“It’s alright,” he assured her, shuffling some papers in his desk and handing a small stack to her. “Gavin dropped by with this today. They’re asking about you.”
Amy flipped quickly through the pages and looked back up at Nate. She was being courted, it seemed, by one of the top heart surgery programs in the country. “Do you want me to go?” she asked him, panicked.
“I honestly don’t know. What I do want is for you to make a smart career decision. I get the impression that this is not just an opportunity for consideration. You’re their top choice. It’s an excellent program but it’s also early. You might want to play this to your advantage and see who else comes calling.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Amy began. “Do you want me to go? Do you want me gone, Nate?” she braced for his answer.
A few weeks prior, he’d have rejoiced at the opportunity to get her out of his sight and so he surprised her and himself by shaking his head, “No. I don’t. If you do go, I don’t want you to leave for the wrong reasons. I don’t want you to leave because of me but I really don’t want you to stay because of me either.”
“I would…” she started, her voice catching. That had been her plan, though she’d never told him. She thought that she could get him to propose and stay on as his fellow. It had seemed so simple once.
“Amy, this was always going to happen. No matter what happened with you and me. You’re going to have to get matched somewhere.”
Amy looked down and thought for a long moment. Starting over somewhere, she knew, was the smart and healthy thing to do for herself. But she was terrified. She still believed that she was the surgeon that she was solely because of Nate.
Quietly, she whispered, “I had a plan, ya know. And I’m not good without a compass. I guess I always thought that you’d be around to tell me what to do next. I thought I’d stay on here, I thought we’d get married, and I’d stay on here and work with you, keep learning from you…”
“You know I couldn’t have shown that kind of favoritism.” he began and before he thought it through, he added, “It’d be easier now than it would have been when we were together.”
“So, are you saying that maybe I can stay?”
He rubbed his eyes again and shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know that you’d really want that and I’m really not sure it’s the best idea.”
“Because of her?” Amy asked, doing her best to remain calm. That girl was going to take everything.
“No,” Nate quickly responded, shaking his head. He offered nothing else.
“Do you want to marry her?” Amy ventured, knowing she was straying from the subject at hand and that she probably didn’t want the answer anyway.
“Let’s just stick to the topic.” Nate insisted.
“So yes, then?” Amy pushed.
“Amy, I’m not answering that. Look, I want you to know that I don’t regret anything. But, I do feel like I did you a disservice. We broke up and nothing bad happens to me. I still get to do my job. You got the raw end of the deal and more than your fair share of drama. Granted, much of it was self-inflicted but I’m still sorry.”
“Can I come back on your service?” Amy humbly asked.
Nate nodded, a warmth in his eyes she hadn’t seen in months. “I’d like to request that you keep your options open. If you want me to make calls or look into a fellowship program, let me know. I’ll help you land wherever you want. I’m not saying that staying here is off limits I’m just not sure it’s what’s best.”
“Thanks, Nate.” she meant it. “Are we…are we going to be able to be friends again?”
“Let’s start by being colleagues again, okay? We’ll see what happens. The way you acted was unacceptable and it stops.”
She nodded. “I’m so so sorry.”
“I know. There was no real harm done, not to me anyway but you’re better than that so keep it together and we won’t have any problems.”
“I promise.” she said, feeling a bit like a kid who’d just been taken off restriction.
“And take a little better care of yourself. I know you pretty well and you do some stupid shit when you’re upset.”
“I slept with Daniel.” she blurted, not really sure why.
“I know you did.” he replied quietly.
“He’s not as bad as you think.” Was she defending Daniel she wondered to herself or just defending her actions.
“Not my business.”
“Just once though I don’t remember it.”
“Amy, I don’t need to know this.” he started. “What do you mean you don’t remember?”
“Right after I saw that picture of you with her at the Donor Prom. I was feeling really sorry for myself and I went out and got myself plastered. He came and got me and took me home. And the next thing I remember is waking up with a massive headache.”
“But he’s not as bad as I think, huh? Taking advantage of a sad and drunk woman… hang on… I’ve seen you pretty shitfaced. I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t remember anything unless Dr. Dan just isn’t that impressive… which seems very possible.” he smirked.
She didn’t laugh. It was suddenly very hot in Nate’s office. “I guess I’d better go. I have one patient tonight and I’m hoping it stays that way. Poor girl was beaten, literally, with a blunt object and she’s a mess.”
“Oh my God! By who?”
“Dunno. She hasn’t woken up except to moan once or twice. I hope they catch the asshole though.” Amy said, quickly. “Gotta go.”
She bolted from Nate’s office and tore off down the hall to the elevator, in pursuit of Daniel before he left for the day, leaving Nate shaking his head wondering what had just happened.
“I still say you keep a low profile and wait for the Halstead’s to smoke her out. She stole actual money from them and probably quite a lot of it.” Carrie was just fresh from Pilates and cutting fresh mozzarella for a salad while she chatted on Messenger with Legacy. “If they can’t find her, then she can’t be found. What’s your next step going to be if she never turns up?”
“I don’t know, Carrie. It’s just one dress, I know that but it was your dress.” Legacy grumbled.
“It is just one dress and you’ll design more. She’s a hack who had to steal your work. The truth will find its way out. It usually does.” Carrie heard the familiar whine of her door latch turning and her heart leaped to her throat. “Nathan’s home. I mean here. He’s here, you know what I mean. Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Yep, say hi to Nate. Thanks for today, Care.”
“You got it!” The phone was still in her hand when he entered the kitchen. Carrie dropped her phone, rounded the kitchen counter and launched at him on his way into her apartment.
“Hi,” he laughed, catching her by the waist.
“Hi!” The sight of him stirred her insides not to mention how the sound of his rich “hi” caused a shiver to travel from the base of her spine, and instantly course through her limbs. She’d missed him. She’d kept herself busy but, still the tiniest bit sore, every step she’d made all day reminded her of where he’d been and what they had done.
Nathan squeezed her shoulders in his hands and bent down placing a soft kiss on her collarbone. “Mmm, you’re all salty. You just work out?”
She groaned, grabbing his hair and pulling his mouth to cover hers. “Uh huh,” she muttered, between kisses. “I need a shower….mmm… but figured you would….mmmnnn… too so… I waited. Figured… we’d… save…water…and shower….together.”
“How conscientious of you,”, nibbling her bottom lip.
Legacy turned on her shower to heat it up and left it to plug in her phone. A hot shower and leftovers were her big plans for the night and for once, that was perfectly fine with her. She was just making her way back to the bathroom when she heard a knock at the door. No one ever just showed up at her door without being buzzed in. It wasn’t a perfect system but rarely did anyone slip by the call box without first announcing their presence. Carrie and David were the only ones who had her code and she knew where Carrie was. David was en route back from his book tour but wasn’t due until the next day. She turned off the water and they knocked again. She knew better than the call out. If necessary she’d pretend not to be home. Padding quickly but as quietly as she could, Legacy reached her door and peered through the peephole to find two police officers, just as one knocked on her door a third time.
“Ms.Price, NYPD. Would you open the door please ma’am?”
This couldn’t be good. What could have happened that was so bad that not one but to cops showed up at her house. Carrie was fine. She’d talked to David earlier that day. The only other people the police would visit her about would be her family, her mom or day and maybe her step-siblings but that was unlikely. “Good evening, officers.” Legacy offered, slowly opening her door.