The Stubborn Suitor

By: Alexa Wilder

In the bathroom, she splashed water onto her pale face. She had a fair complexion at the best of times, but at the moment she looked as white and pasty as a ghost. Her green eyes were red-rimmed and swollen, and there were red blotches all over her skin.

Cami knew that she couldn’t go back to work like this. The ER was stressful enough, with patients often scared and in pain. It was the job of the nurses to be calm and confident—not looking like a zombie that just rose from the grave.

Retrieving her makeup bag from her locker, Cami reapplied her foundation and a little blush to make her look a little more alive. She practiced her smile for a minute before heading back out into the emergency room.

“Took you long enough,” Ashley replied as Cami leaned over the computer to clock back in.

“Sorry,” Cami said, offering an apologetic smile.

Ashley squinted and studied Cami’s face, her large amber eyes growing worried.

“Are you okay?” she asked after a moment.

“Yeah,” Cami replied, as confidently as she was able. It obviously didn’t convince Ashley, who just raised an eyebrow, so Cami continued. “Just dealing with the ex. You know how it is.”

“Don’t I ever,” Ashley replied, shaking her head. Cami knew that Ashley had gone through a painful divorce herself, just last year. “But if you really are okay, I’m gonna head out on my break. The burn victim in room five will need more morphine soon. They can’t take him up to surgery for another hour, so we’re just easing his pain for now. Other than that, everything is pretty quiet.”

“Thanks, Ashley,” Cami muttered, examining the charts. “No, you go take your break. I’ll be fine here. God knows, you deserve it!”

Ashley nodded and headed off as Cami grabbed the burn victim’s chart and headed into his room.

Cami tried hard to push the conversation with Ken—and all that it entailed—out of her mind as she began to check the patient’s vital signs. But she couldn’t stop thinking about the “what ifs.”

What if Ken did get primary custody of Madison? What if he and Natalie raised her to be part of their perfect little cookie cutter family? What if she wasn’t able to tuck Madison in every night and tell her she loved her? What if Natalie was doing that instead?

Cami blinked tears out of her eyes yet again and tried to focus on administering the shot of morphine to the patient via the IV, but her hands were shaking so badly that she had to step back for a moment and take a deep breath. Once she’d calmed down a little, Cami realized that she’d almost forgotten to scan the patient’s wristband, so she moved towards the bed to do so before administering the drug. She scanned the band, then the morphine she was about to administer, only to receive a shrill beep from the machine. Something wasn’t right.

Looking down, Cami began to study the patient’s wristband, then his chart. Suddenly, her blood ran cold, heavy with a realization. This was not the patient she was supposed to administer the morphine to. She’d almost administered an extremely strong narcotic to the wrong person. This patient’s chart stated that he was already on a similar medication. A second dose could have been extremely dangerous.

Cami felt sick—even sicker than she had been after her conversation with Ken. This was a rookie mistake—one she’d never made before. In fact, not even rookies made this mistake. The entire point of scanning all patient wristbands and all meds was to make sure something like this never happened. And yet, she had been so preoccupied that she’d almost done so. Had her hands not been shaking so badly that she’d had to take a moment, she could have potentially killed a patient.

That thought sent her dashing to the employee restroom, where she began retching up the protein bar she’d eaten for lunch. After a few minutes, she finally took a few deep breaths. She reminded herself that it was the stress and anxiety that had almost caused her to make such a mistake, and that if she didn’t calm down now, there was a chance she might actually make such a mistake again.

Cami couldn’t help but wish that her best friend, Maggie Emerson, was working.

When Maggie had first started as an emergency room nurse last year, Cami hadn’t thought they’d get along. In fact, when she’d learned that Maggie’s father was on the hospital’s board of trustees, she’d assumed Maggie had only been given a position because of that fact. Maggie was from a wealthy family similar to Ken’s, and Cami had expected the woman to be just as irresponsible and self-involved as her ex-husband.

In the beginning, Cami had had trouble understanding why Maggie was even working as a nurse—with the money her family had, she probably didn’t have to work at all.

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