Nathan sighed and dropped his head into his hands, massaging his temples where Carrie’s fingers had been before they’d been interrupted. He was weary from his day and only partially from the lack of sleep. The last thing he wanted was a fight with Carrie, especially since there was nothing to argue over. They’d never had a disagreement of any kind and he wondered to himself what she was like in an argument. She didn’t strike him as the hot-headed type like Amy had been but also knew, from experience, that he was no better when he was preoccupied with work and sleep deprived. Leaving, he thought, might be the best option. They could sleep on it and things would look better in the morning.
Nathan stood, contemplating whether he should tell her he was leaving or just leave her a note. You chicken shit, he thought to himself, as suddenly something his dad had told him rang in his mind. Growing up, his parents rarely fought but on the few occasions they had, they had been doozies. His mother would rant in a mixture of English and Spanish and though Sean Dorough wasn’t the type of man to raise his voice, if and when he did, the windows would rattle.
One night, though Nathan didn’t recall what the argument had been about, they yelled and screamed until dad had stormed out slamming the door. Ethan had run up to his room crying. Their dad came back no less than 10 minutes later with flowers and suddenly the whole thing was over.
When their parents tucked them in bed that night, Nathan asked them about the fight. Sean told them that sometimes people who loved each other fought because they had something worth fighting for.
Carrie turned the steaming water to cool and let it rush over her face. What had just happened? She was not afraid of a fight. She’d had plenty with David and come to near blows with Legacy over the years. Why did this feel different? It felt scary. What if he left? Turning the cold water back to warm she stood still, trying to hear through the trickling water. Either he had finished his call, was talking very quietly, or… a knot formed in the pit of Carrie’s stomach… Nathan had left. The sick feeling worsened as guilt crept in.
Nathan hadn’t told her much about the child he was treating. Telling her too much was against the rules. She wondered if that was hard for him. Dating Amy, he’d have been able to talk it out because she’d already know. All Carrie knew was that she was very sick, had had a transplant, and that in the 7 years Nathan had been her doctor, he had become understandably attached.
Knock, knock, knock. Nathan wrapped his knuckles against the bathroom door. “Carrie?” he asked softly, not waiting for a reply. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah,” she sighed with momentary relief. That relief quickly became dread once again, terrified that they were going have an ugly fight and that thought was devastating. Please, she thought. I don’t want this.
The door creaked open, steam billowing from the bathroom into her bedroom and dissipated around him. Through the frosted shower door, Carrie could see his only silhouette but not his expression. Reluctantly, she turned the water off, pushing the door open just enough to reach out her hand.
“Would you hand me my towel?” she squeaked.
He instead, took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. “No.”
Flinging the door wide open, Nathan stepped up to the shower as close as possible without actually stepping in. She shivered from the sudden rush of air on her skin or perhaps from the look in his eyes. They were warm and apologetic but there was a glint of something else.
Wordlessly, and with eyes locked on hers, he stripped naked, stepped in and turned the water back on, filling the shower once again with steam. Nathan had desperately wanted to spend a quiet evening, losing himself in her. Things hadn’t gone quite as planned. He hoped they wouldn’t continue an argument but if a fight was brewing, he would face it with no armor, literally.
She looked at him, an uncertainty in her expression and he realized that she was waiting for him to say something. He opened his mouth as if to say something but when no words came, she launched at him, consuming his mouth in a deep, possessive kiss.
“I don’t want to fight,” she gasped between kisses.
“I don’t want to fight,” he agreed, resting his forehead against hers, allowing the hot water to run down his neck. “I’m sorry…”
“No, I’m sorry. I… I didn’t know it was so bad…”
“I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”
“I’m not upset that you snapped. I was upset that she heard you snap. What if she tries to use it against us?”
“She won’t and it doesn’t matter if she tries. I’ll set it right,” he promised.
“No, you don’t have to. I let her bother me and It’s stupid. My ex was sitting in my apartment having coffee this morning and I’m getting twitchy over a phone call.” she pouted. “It’s no different.”
Nathan said nothing and pulled her closer so that her head was trapped under his chin. It was different. He had slept with Amy and he knew that made it different. “You know there’s only you, right?”
“I know. It’s not that. I just… with her you’d have been able to go home and talk about it. You can’t with me because you’re not allowed.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t. We weren’t like that. She’s a resident and works 80 hour weeks and I’d have shut myself in my office and if we did talk about things, we’d work the problem. Our relationship was, or at least it became, an extension of our work.”
“Did you ever fight?”
“Baby, we’re going to fight. It’s inevitable we’ll be fine. Please don’t be afraid to fight with me.”
“Who said I was afraid? And you didn’t answer my question”
He raised his eyebrows and gave her a knowing look. “No, we didn’t. She yelled at me a lot but I rarely fought back.”
“Wasn’t worth it.,” he smiled, sucking her mouth into another slow, wet kiss, murmuring. “Can we talk about something else, please?”
Alright, hit me!” Melanie demanded.
She and Amy were seated in the darkest corner of a little burrito place near Amy’s apartment. The plan had been to go for drinks but realizing how hungry they both were after a long day, they’d opted instead for food. Starving, Melanie had put away nearly half of a very overstuffed burrito while Amy barely picked at a taco salad.
“Hit you?” Amy laughed sleepily.
“What’s it going to be tonight. You’re buying so I’m down for whatever. Are we weeping pathetically or plotting to get him back? We haven’t done ‘that girl is a whore’ in a while.” Melanie was laughing at her friend’s expense but she meant it in jest. Yes, she was tired of Amy’s obsession with the handsome Dr. Dorough but if she were honest, she’d been there.
“Am I that bad?” Amy cringed.
“Sometimes,” Melanie smiled, sheepishly. “It’s okay though. My belly is full, I have a beer, you’re paying, so what’s it gonna be?”
“I want to get over him,” Amy stated.
“Whoa!,” Melanie whistled. “And mic drop!”