“Do you hear that?” Carrie murmured.
“Hmm,” Nathan jolted, having drifted off to sleep in her lap. His day had been hellish and combined with the sleepless night he’d spent retrieving Legacy from the police station he had every intention of staying right where he was, with his head in Carrie’s lap, her fingers gently tangling in his hair.
“Mm, don’t hear anything,” he grunted softly.
“Me either,” she hummed. “It’s perfect.”
Nathan nodded, not bothering to open his eyes. “Keep doing that, please,” he coaxed, nudging his head like a cat that wanted to be pet. Carrie obliged, dragging her short, manicured nails through his hair, sending him drifting once more.
He yawned deeply and realized that she had been talking to him and he had tuned her out.
“… with David to his signing. They won’t be back until afternoon sometime so we won’t have any interruptions… are you alright?”
“Uh huh,” he lied,” Just exhausted.” Well, it was partially true. He was extremely tired but he wasn’t exactly alright. He’d spent the better part of his day fretting over Lauren’s condition, going over and over old medical journals, new medical journals, pretty much anything he could get his hands on that might spark something in his brain. There was nothing he could do now for her but wait. Dr. Nathan Dorough was good at many things. Passively sitting in a holding pattern was not one of them.
His phone rang and he grumbled, “ugh…what?” Flinging his arm to the coffee table, he patted around to retrieve it. Carrie momentarily removed her fingers from his thick hair, retrieving the phone.
“Amy?,” she frowned, catching a glimpse of the caller ID. “So much for no interruptions.”
Expressionless, Nathan slowly sat and responded with a non-committal, “I have to take this.”
Carrie had never seen him so grumpy though she didn’t blame him. He seemed more exhausted than usual and she felt responsible.
“Hello,” His voice was gravely.
“Nate…uh… Dr. Dor…” Amy stammered.
“What is it?,” He was curt.
“I’m sorry to bother you…”
“It’s fine,” he yawned again looking up at Carrie for the first time in an hour. She was scrunching her face in disapproval, not that he blamed her. Reaching for her hand, he returned to his phone call, anxious to return to their quiet, uneventful evening.
“Do you know someone named Richard?” Amy asked.
Carrie looked on, her concern growing.
“She said ‘Richard’ or at least I’m pretty sure that what she said.” Amy insisted.
Out of context, Nathan had no idea what Amy was talking about.
“You’re not making any sense or my brain is really that fried. Where are you?”
“I’m at work still,” Amy admitted.
“Go home, Dr. Craythorne,” he sounded irritated but then made a concerted effort to soften his tone. “I can’t have you on my service tomorrow if you’re not rested.”
“I know and I know I said I wanted back on cardio and I really, really do but I have to see this through. Please?” She just couldn’t let this one go.
“I understand,” he replied.
“Your…friend?” Amy asked with an unintended bite in her tone. “is your friend named Richard?”
“I don’t know anyone named Richard and I asked you to keep me out of this.” he reminded her.
Amy ignored him and continued. Someone knew Amanda. She was asking for Richard and Amy was determined to find him. “She whimpered, ‘Richard.’ in her sleep and I need to find him. You’re the only one who…”
“Hang on,” he growled and then to Carrie, “Where’s Legacy?”
She wrinkled her nose and gave him a confused look.
“Sorry, her friend… Amanda, she came into our E.D. last night. She’s… she’s…
” He rubbed his forehead, “she’s Amy patient.”
“What!” Carrie stood. “Nathan, why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I can’t get involved. Legacy knows. I text her earlier but I have to stay out of it, now. Please understand.” He was calm but his voice was raised. “Where’s Legacy?”
“I told you already. She went with David overnight to Morgantown. Weren’t you listening?” She heard her tone and wanted to take it back but she was tired too and not exercising the best reason. He was talking to Amy again and it annoyed her so much more than she wanted it to.
Nathan snapped back, “I’m running on 3 hours of sleep, Caroline, and I have a 9-year-old dying on me, so forgive me, please, for not prioritizing your friend’s crisis. I forgot.”
Wounded by his exasperated tone, Carrie turned on her heel and split down the down the hall to the bathroom. A moment later, Nathan heard the sounds of water running and the shower door slam. Great!
“Nate?” Amy asked, bringing him back to the moment.
“I can’t help you, Amy. Call the police. That’s all I can tell you. I have to go.” He hung up leaving Amy staring silently at her phone.’
Amy tucked a blanket around Amanda; an unnecessary gesture but it felt better than doing nothing. Stepping into the hall to call the officer in charge of Amanda’s case, she spotted Melanie leaving for the night. She flagged her down while she stood on hold with the police station.
“Hey, I didn’t know you were here tonight.” Melanie remarked.
“Not supposed to be. Hey, come have a drink with me if you’re off.”
“I am off. You okay? Gimme 10 and I’ll meet you. I’m starving.” Melanie rattled.
“Okay, but don’t be mad. I need to talk about Nate.”
“Fine by me. That means you’re buying.” Melanie gave her a playful punch in the arm.