The Stubborn SuitorBy: Alexa Wilder
How wrong had she been. Cami quickly realized that her assumptions were completely unfounded. Maggie was the most warm, caring person she’d ever met. Despite not having to work for a living—or even simply being able to take up a position in her family’s company—Maggie had chosen to become a nurse because she wanted to help people.
She also had a wicked sense of humor—a trait that quickly endeared her to Cami. They took to spending their breaks together, then hanging out outside of work. Between marriage, work, and motherhood, Cami hadn’t had time to develop any close friendships in the last few years. Maggie quickly became her best friend. On weekends when Madison was with Ken, the two would go out on the town or simply chill at home with a bottle of wine, bitching about men, or the inability to find clothing that properly fit their voluptuous bodies.
Maggie had a way of understanding Cami like no one else ever had. She could always calm Cami down and make her laugh. But, unfortunately, she was off today—when Cami needed her the most.
Once she was no longer dry heaving, Cami headed into the locker room and texted Maggie to see if they could hang out later that evening. She really needed to see her best friend, but it wasn’t just that. With the Emerson family’s wealth and connections, perhaps she would be able to recommend a good (affordable) lawyer, or at least offer tips on how to work the system.
After Cami put her phone away, she spent a few minutes alone in the locker room, breathing deeply and trying to calm down. It wasn’t until she was completely focused and sure that she wouldn’t make any more mistakes that she headed back out to the ER—ready to administer morphine to the correct patient.
Cami was disappointed when, after her shift, she was finally able to read the reply text from Maggie.
Sorry CamiBear, can’t tonight. Have some boring family dinner that I’m required to sit through. Call you after!
Cami cringed at the awful nickname. At least she’d convinced Maggie not to use it at work—the last thing she needed was the entire emergency room calling her CamiBear. Maggie started calling her that after she decided that Cami looked like a huggable teddy-bear. Cute? Yes. Professional? Not so much. Swallowing her disappointment, Cami carefully typed out a response.
No worries. Need to spend some time with the little monster anyway. Call me later. I have something I really need to talk to you about.
Cami wasn’t lying; she really did need to spend some quality time with Madison. After all of the fears that had been stampeding through her head all afternoon, she wanted nothing more than to hold her daughter, to kiss her and tell her how much she loved her.
Being Madison’s mother was what gave her life meaning. Yes, Cami enjoyed her job at the hospital and she loved helping people. She loved her time relaxing with Maggie and she really did hope to someday meet a man she could spend the rest of her life with. But all of those things paled in comparison to the joy and meaning Cami found in being a mother. With the threat of having that taken away from her, she wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed with her “little monster” and read bedtime stories until they both fell asleep.
Unfortunately, one thing Cami was not in the mood for was dealing with her mother. She loved her mom dearly; the woman had raised Cami alone after her father had left when Cami was ten. And she was eternally grateful now that her mother provided free childcare four days a week while Cami worked. She knew her mother loved her and only wanted the best for her, but sometimes that desire for the “best” could come off as judgmental or condescending.
Yet there wasn’t much Cami could do to avoid her mom this evening. She had to pick up her daughter, after all.
Cami parked and slowly climbed the stairs to her mother’s second-story apartment. She used her own key to let herself in and was surprised to find the place uncharacteristically quiet. Usually, Madison would greet Cami at the door with shrieks of “Mommy!!!” before throwing herself into her arms.
The only sound to greet her now was the gentle hum of the air conditioning as Cami made her way into the apartment. The old, worn leather sofa was empty, as was the rocking chair. The room was dark and abandoned. It reminded Cami of the countless nights she’d spent alone in the apartment as a child while her mother worked. Very little had changed in this place over the last two decades, besides some added portraits of Madison on the walls, and a newish flat-screen TV.
She wandered into the kitchen, where she found her mother at the table, a cup of tea in her hand as she flipped through a gossip magazine. She looked tired, with her gray hair pulled back in a messy bun, loose tendrils falling in front of her drooping eyelids. She looked up as Cami entered the room, offering her daughter a loving but weak smile.