Episode 24 ~ You Owe Me a Drink

Nate is inconveniently called away just when it was getting good.

You Owe Me a Drink

“Is it me or is this line is taking forever? ”  Nate asked, not really in any hurry.

“People like their drink.  It’s fine with me.  Tips and everything are tallied at the end of the night.  I bet we’ve already raked in more than last year and the night is still young.”  Carrie said.  “Let’s ditch the drink idea and wander around.  We can always come back.”

“If we get in a real bind, I can sneak upstairs and steal a few juice boxes.” he teased.

“Ooh, can I have one of those pudding cups too?”  she stuck her hand on her hip and toyed with the charms on her bracelet.  He got a sense that he was looking at little Caroline, who had only to bat her eyes and get her way.

“Chocolate or tapioca? ” he asked seriously.

She made a little hissing sound as she drew a breath, pretending to contemplate.  “I don’t know.  Is this a trick question?”  She’d never had so much fun having a conversation about nothing before.

“No, not a trick, there is but one right answer. So think carefully.”  He gave her a stern face.

“Oh, I…hmm.  They’re both good.  But…I have to go with.   Tapioca?”

He gave her a non-committal look.  “I know,” she apologized, “but I stand by my answer.  I like the little, you know, little beads.” she said, pointing to her tongue and pretending to roll a tapioca pearl in her mouth.

Sweet Mother of Zeus  “Tapioca…is…correct.”  he nodded and she giggled at him.

“Thank, God.  You scared me, Nathan!”

The sound of his own name was like the bells of heaven.  She said, ‘Nay-THIN’, like it was a question.  No one called him Nathan, not even his parents.  He’d been Nate for as long as he could remember.  But Nay-THIN was working for him, very well.  He made a mental note to send his mother flowers for the brilliant choice and then allowed himself wonder how it would sound when he made love to her.   Right! What are the chances you’ll ever speak to her after tonight?

“Let’s go look at the silent auctions, see if there is anything I have to have.”

She took him by the hand and he willing followed.

They wandered around, looking at auction items.  She put her name on a few, not because she wanted them but to drive up the bids.  They stopped periodically to take photos with people who asked.  A few people, with scars matching Carrie’s insisted on posing, pointing to their scars.  She was gracious about it.  The truth was, she loved it.  She was looking at another auction when a woman pointed to the bracelet Carrie was wearing.

“Did you bid on the Green Ribbon charm?  I bet it would fit your bracelet.”  Nate hadn’t taken a good look at it but now that he did, he saw that it was made of blue and green beads, the colors of organ donation awareness.   There were words etched into it that he couldn’t see.  “No,” she said.  “My sister made this for me and she has one that matches exactly.  I wouldn’t change it for anything.”  The woman nodded and they continued walking.

“What does it say?” Nate questioned, motioning toward her bracelet.

“Oh,” she raised it up so he could see.  He held her delicate wrist in his hand and touched the words.  I live because I am loved.

“Wow, that’s sweet.”  he smiled.

“Yeah, it kind of describes us both but for different reasons.”

“Sounds like there is a story there.” he urged her to go on.

“There is,” she began but was interrupted by his phone making a buzzing sound.

‘Crap, Crap, Crap,” he grumbled, pulling his phone from the front inside pocket of his tux.  “I am off tonight so this is probably nothing, but I need to check,” and then mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” and then, annoyed,  “Hello, I’m on vacation.”  he paused listening and his end of the conversation was made up of short answers.  “No….no… it doesn’t sound like she has any risk factors…no, I’m downstairs but get a resident….damn it.  He looked at Carrie, meeting her eyes.  He hung up the phone sighing.

“I’m sorry.  I am on vacation but apparently there was some emergency and it’s all hands on deck up there.  Some kid was brought in with chest pains and there is no one available.  They knew I was down here so…”

She pouted, he noticed.

“It’s probably an anxiety attack but if I don’t go, it’ll turn out to be something a lot worse.  You have no idea how much I wish I could stay right here.”

“Me too,” she sounded disappointed, “but I understand.”

“Okay, well, I had a really good time talking to you, Caroline.  Really, really.”

“Me too,” she gazed up at him,  “And, it’s Carrie, by the way.  Everyone calls me Carrie.”

Man, this sucked.  “Okay, Carrie,” he dragged her name out, “I had a really amazing time.  Thanks for hanging out with me.  I better go”  He took her hand and gave it a quick squeeze before turning and walking towards to elevators.  He’d made it no more than 4 steps while she stood, watching him before he turned right back around and walked double-time back to her.  He sounded breathless, like he’d been running, though he’d only crossed about 8 feet.

“I don’t want to end up an old man with regrets, so I have to ask you, could I, maybe call you?  Get that drink, maybe?”

“Yes,” her eyes glittering, nibbling her bottom lip, again. It was becoming his favorite thing.

“Okay, Now I’m in a hurry!”  he pulled out his phone.  “What’s your number?  I’ll dial it now, so I can save it later.”

She gave it to him and he typed it in.  He listened to her voicemail.

“You’ve to reached Carrie.  I have a life.  Deal with it.  Leave a message.”

She’s was going to keep getting cuter.  He hung up.  “Okay, you have a missed call from me.  I have to run.  I’ll call you.  I’d love to see you.  If you change your mind, I, I still loved tonight.”   His phone pinged again.  “I know!”

“Go, she laughed, “you’re needed.  Call me.”  She watched him walk the entire way to the elevators before running to retrieve her phone from her clutch.  She’d left it with her other belongings behind the stage.  She pulled it out and quickly sent a text to the missed number.  She added a little heart emoji.  No, that was stupid, she deleted it, hesitated and then added a blue heart and green heart instead.  He’d get it, she hoped.

The elevators opened up on the 7th floor.  Dr. Dorough stepped out as his phone pinged again.

“I’m here,” he said irritated, to no one at all.  And then saw that it had been a text, not a page.

He floated right past Amy Craythorne with a dreamy look on his face, never looking up from his phone.

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