Every time Brody went to the hospital, he was promptly turned away citing Rachel needed her rest. Those thirty days had been bothersome. Cloughda periodically kept him abreast with Rachel’s progress. He’d often asked the head nurse to inform Rachel that he’d stopped by. The following week he received a call just after ending his lecture. It was Cloughda telling him to stop by the hospital. Worry clawed at his mind as there was no explanation given. Driving gave him plenty of time to extinguish his building anxiety. He repeated to himself that everything was going to be just fine. Reaching in his glove compartment, he pulled out a CD by New Celeste. They never failed to quell the storm inside his heart and mind.
The forty-five minute drive brought him to a rest in the hospital parking lot. Staring out through the windshield, he eyed the building wishing for Rachel’s suffering to cease. Resting his head against the steering wheel, he inhaled and exhaled a few unsteady breathes. He did this every time he went to visit her. He wanted her to see that he was calm and collected on the surface even though he was chipping away emotionally on the inside. Emerging from his car, he jogged up to the hospital entrance and went inside.
“Mr. McGregor, it’s good to see you again.”
“You too Ms. McKenna. I received a call from the head nurse saying that I should by by.”
“I was well informed. Ms. Blough was moved to the second floor, here’s her room number.”
“Why was she moved?”
“I dinnae know.”
“Alright, thanks then.”
“Dinnae forget to sign the Visitor’s Log.”
“Aye, forgot about that.” After signing, he pushed away from the desk and nodded his thanks again. Mulling over using the elevator, he opted to take the stairs one level up. Truth was, he was nervous to see Rachel. It had been well over a month with zero contact with her. He felt like he was going on his first date ever and didn’t want to disappoint his date with his failing nerves. His legs felt weighed down, like lead with each step her took. Opening the door to the second floor, he searched around for Rachel’s room but found Cloughda exiting from another patient’s room.
“McGregor! I see you made it.”
“Aye. I just finished with my classes. How is Rachel?”
“Go down to the end of this hall, turn the corner, she’ll be two rooms down.”
“You’re not going to tell me?”
“I assumed ye wanted to see her for yourself.” she winked and trotted away.
She waved and disappeared around the corner. Brody took strides down the hall only to stand pasted at the door. Nervousness flip flopped in his gut and he felt slightly lightheaded. Heat emanated from his body causing him to peel off his black leather jacket. Sweat glistened this throat and beaded up around his upper lip. He shook his head thinking how crazy it was for him to be reacting this way. One would think he was going to propose. Backing away from her door, he briskly stalked a short distance back and forth down the hall. He was so lost in trying to stay his nerves that he hadn’t seen Rachel open the door, watching him paced back and forth.
“What are you doing Brody?”
He froze mid stride, then turned walking back slowly.
“Rachel, how are you?” he asked, hands shoved in his pants pocket.
“I think I should be asking you. Did you miss your workout for the day?”
“You’re jogging up and down the hall.”
“Oh?” she laughed out loud. “Is ‘oh’ all you have to say?”
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard her laugh. Hearing that brought worry to a halt.
“You don’t want to know.”
“Come on in and tell me about it.”
Snatching up his jacket, he walked inside, noticing the room was painted an eye jarring white and the trim around the room was a golden brown. She also has a window to gaze out of and her bed looked bigger.
“You look like you’re living in comfort here.”
“It’s nice. Make yourself comfortable.”
He sat in the chair furthest away from the bed and it didn’t go without notice. “What’s wrong?”
“I may be sick but I’m not contagious.”
“You know I don’t think that.”
“I don’t know what you’re thinking. Perhaps, your girlfriend will find us and make you pay?” She snickered and climbed back into bed.
“That’s not funny Rachel.”
“You won’t ever have to worry about her. I broke things off with her.”
“I’m actually sorry to know that.”
“Don’t be, it was inevitable.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No. But can you tell me why you were moved?”
“Smooth segue Don Juan. I wanted a room with a window, so I was moved.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“How do you feel?”
“I feel pretty good. I’m keeping food down.”
“Good!” he twiddled his thumbs as he stared at her. “So…do you like animals?”
“Uh, yeah, why?”
“I have a puppy. Maybe you’d like to spend some time with him. I haven’t name it yet. Maybe you’d like to do the honors when you get out of here?”
“I’d love to. You should have brought him. I kind of get special privileges.”
“I can see.”
“The hospital can’t say no to the extremely sick.” she chuckled and pulled a small laugh from his throat.
“I miss you, a lot.” he abruptly stated.
Caught off guard, Rachel repeatedly blinked and scratched her head. “Uh, I miss you too.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to spill my guts like that.”
“It’s alright. At least someone is thinking about me.”
“I’ve always thought about you, you’re not an easy person to forget.”
“It’s safe to say I’ve made an imprint in your life.”
“You have no idea.”
“So, tell me about work?”
“It’s work, more or less the same.”
Twisting her lips in a thoughtful expression, she tapped an index finger to her lower lip. “Cloughda told me you almost lost your job.” Brody’s eyes widen and a slight embarrassment flood his conscience. “You didn’t actually think you could hide that from me did you?”
“I did, actually. You don’t need anymore stress in your life right now.”
“You could’ve let me decide that, Brody.”
“I’m only looking out for you.”
“I wish I could say I was angry with you, but we all have things we keep from people.”
“Are you keeping something from me?”
“Yes. I’ve been keeping a lot from you.”
“What’ve you been hiding?”
“I’m not ready to tell you just yet.”
“I’m just waiting is all. What I can tell you is that you can stay here overnight if you want. I got the doctor’s approval.”
Brody grinned wide thinking everything about this woman kept him surprised and on his toes. “I’ll stay.”