Episode 30 ~ Amy’s Last Ditch Effort
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Can’t wait until Saturday.
He stared at the text, his light mood suddenly crashing. Of course, he had to deal with this. He hadn’t forgotten, well over the last 10 hours or so he had completely forgotten but it had been weighing on him up until then. Poor Amy. Her little plan had backfired. He knew it would but he had been hoping that a little distance would make her realize that she was better off without him and that in some way, she deserved better. He was not going to let this affect how things moved ahead with Carrie. Which meant Saturday was too late. Before he talked himself out of it, he dialed Amy’s number. She picked up on the second ring.
“Hi,” she said, sounding cautious but happy to hear his voice.
“Hey, I just got your text,” he began. “You still at work?”
“I am. I’m hoping to head for the door in a few minutes. Um, Nate?”
“Okay, good. Did you have a good night? I was hoping you’d meet me…for coffee…now.”
Her heart leaped and she willed herself to talk and breath slowly.
“Okay, um, can I have a few minutes to shower and clean up a little?” She wanted to look pretty for him Showing up with her tattered, 16-hour braid with an oil slick on her face was not how she wanted to do this.
“Yeah, if you want to. Though, whatever, you know I don’t care.” He assured.
“I’ll be really fast,” she said much too eagerly and then more carefully, “Where do you want me to meet you?”
“Why don’t I grab us some coffee while I wait, I’ll meet you out front. You still take your coffee the same way?” he asked.
“Nothing has changed, Nate.” She replied, hopefully.
Well, that was not exactly accurate but he tried to keep things light, for now. “Okay, a cup of milk, 9 sugars and 2 cc's of coffee.” He was making fun of her. He didn’t know if that was smart or not but he wanted to get out of this with as little fallout as possible, for both of them.
“See,” she teased back, “nothing has changed, you’re still not funny.”
“Alright,” he surrendered, “I’ll see you in about 20?”
“Okay! ” she agreed and then hung up so she could quickly do something about her appearance. She would brush her teeth in the shower and hopefully steam the bends from the braids out. No time to actually wash and style her hair so she’d pull it on top in a messy topknot like the Fashion Week models did. She hadn’t slept all night. Actually, she hadn’t slept well in weeks so her make-up was priority. Within 20 minutes, she was tapping her foot, waiting impatiently for the elevator. She wanted to run for the door when she got off the elevator but she managed to cool her jets. He was already standing there, waiting for her at their usual exit still wearing the pants and shirt from the night before and had the jacket slung through his arm. He held two coffees and extended one to her as she approached.
“Good morning.,”he smiled. He was his usual pleasant self but he was really hard to read.
“Hi, good morning.,” she beamed, determined to hold on to her good mood and the hope that she and Nate were finally going to get back on track. “Walk of shame? ” she accused though the tone of her voice made it very clear that she was teasing. Nate was not the one-night-stand, walk of shame sort of guy.
“Huh? ” he said, confused.
“You’re still wearing your clothes from last night. Must have been some after-party.”
“Oh, that.” He laughed, with no apparent guilt that she could detect. That was good.
“It was, actually,” he said, still giving her no read on his frame of mind. “Let’s take a walk.”
The hospital had a very large campus with plenty of corners and breezeways to duck into and so they walked until Nate chose a quiet spot with a bench.
“Thanks for meeting me. How was your night? ” he finally began. Now he seemed nervous and her heart sank a little.
“It was fine, not real busy.,” she jittered. He noticed.
“I feel like, we did this wrong and maybe we owe it to ourselves to do this better. I think we both said some things…”
“God, Nate, I’m so sorry.,” she started. Amy really was still so embarrassed by how she’d acted at the restaurant. She needed him to believe that it would never happen again.
“I know me too. I know we are supposed to be taking a break. Taking time to figure out, figure out what we want.” Nate kept his voice steady.
“I know what I want! ” Amy interrupted.
Sadly, Nate replied, “So do I.”
“That night got so out of hand, I let it get out of hand,” she was willing to take responsibility for all of it. “I didn’t mean what I said.”
“But, you did.,” he argued. She took a breath and tried to interrupt but he put his hand up. She quieted and he continued. “And you should say what you mean. You want to get married and…”
“No,” she blurted. “That’s not… I don’t need that. The only thing I want is for us to just be right again. I don’t, I don’t need that.” Her eyes were welling up with tears. He was going to let her go, let everything slip away and it was her fault.
“Please listen to me.,” his voice was steady, gentle. Of course, he would be nice about, say the right thing and come out of this the good guy. “Amy, I care about you and I want so much for you. Including a guy who will marry you because the thought of life without you is unbearable. That, Amy, is the least you should accept.” He closed his eyes and took a breath, “But that’s not me.,” he finally whispered.
“No, please don’t say that.,” she pleaded. “Nate, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for how I acted. I was crazy but it’s just because I love you so much.”
“You were a little…intense but that’s not why this is happening.” He assured her. She had behaved badly but then everyone had that capacity. She deserved a little grace.
“Then why? ” she whined, the tears threatening to spill. “Is there someone else?”
“This isn’t about someone else. You need something, I don’t have. I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize it sooner.”
As calmly as she could muster, she uttered, ”You didn’t exactly answer my question.”
He made no reply. He’d told the truth. Carrie had nothing to do with this except perhaps the timing. He looked through the hole in the lid of his coffee as if the right answer, the one that would diffuse this whole thing, lay at the bottom of his cup. He waited just a second too long without a proper response.
“There is someone else!” she accused. “When? How? When could you have possibly met someone? Who is she?” she was yelling…at him…again.
“She’s… Amy, just stop.” Wrong answer.
“She’s? She’s, what, Nate.” Amy was bouncing from yelling to crying. She was on her feet, pacing.
“Ahhh,” Nate rubbed his forehead, “Not what I meant to say.”
“Oh, like hell, I don’t need this. I don’t need this! You tell me WHO…SHE…IS! Do I know her? You’re throwing away 4 years, 4 years, Nate. My, God, I’m so stupid, you’ve been fucking some whore behind my back, do our friends know? You, you…” she couldn’t finish a coherent thought. She hated him right now.
“Sit down.,” he bellowed. Nate never raised his voice.
She glared at him.
He glared back and through his teeth, he growled quietly, “I’m not fucking anyone.”
“If you’re not careful, you’re going to lose me forever.,” she seethed.
“Okay,’ he submitted, “I’m going to go.”
“No, wait, don’t leave! Please just don’t leave. Let me fix this! Let’s just, let’s just start all over. It’ll be like when we met. PLEASE! Tell me who she is.” She begged.
“No,” was his quiet, single reply.
“You can’t be this mean,” She’d quit yelling and sounded more wounded than angry.
“I’m trying,” he insisted, “to be as kind as I can and it’s pissing you off. What do you want me to do?”
“Just tell me the truth. You owe me that.” She ordered.
Nathan looked away, rubbing some imaginary sleep from his eye and sighed. “Okay, I met someone... yesterday. I can’t believe I’m telling you this. I might not even…”
“Oh, my God,” she moaned, eyeing his clothing again. “You didn’t go home last night. Oh, my God. How could you?”
“God, Amy, no. I talked to her, that’s all. I wouldn’t lie to you.” His gaze softened and his eyes were gentle. He desperately wanted this conversation over. He was tired, tired of working so hard and really tired of hurting Amy, and really, really tired of being her punching bag.
She snapped. “I hate you! I hate you so much.” It was as if she hadn’t heard him at all.
She lashed out. “Bring your new whore anywhere near me and I swear to God, I will…”
“Okay, we are done here.,” he got up to leave and she was still yelling.
“You’re going to be sorry about this.” and then, “Wait, don’t, Nate!”
He turned back and barreled toward her as if he were going to physically overpower her. He stopped short of her by an inch. It was enough to startle her and shut her up.
“I’m already sorry. I am devastated that you’ve been hurt this much.” She tried to interrupt. “Shut up! You are better than this and I am not going to sit here while you rake me over the coals for being honest. You have a career, now, on the line. If you can’t keep it together and figure out how to work with me, I can’t let you in my O.R. If I can’t let you in my O.R. you have to find another residency. Is that what you want?”
“Is that a threat?”
“No, Amy, God! Will you for once just assume that I mean it when I say that I want what’s best for you? I don’t want you to go. You are a gifted surgeon and I want you around for as long as I can have you, but not like this. Please, now I’m the one begging. Get it together. Do whatever it takes." He drew in a long breath. "I’ll be gone for a week. Long enough for you to get your ass back in there and remember what’s at stake. I’m going home.” And with that, he turned leaving her standing there. He felt awful. He’d have looked back but if she were crying, he’d have died a little, if she were pissed, he’d get pissed. He couldn’t relate to what she was going through but it was clearly very hard.
But she wasn’t crying and she was too stunned to be pissed. He’d never spoken to her like that, not as his girlfriend, not as his subordinate. This was a side of Dr. Dorough that she had not seen. She wished at that moment that she had invested in some other friendships. There had always been Nate and work. There wasn’t time for anything else. Now, she was nearly 30, single, with no close friends except their shared friends, and probably about to be replaced with a younger model who actually took the time to comb her hair. She wanted to stay mad or indignant but Nate was right. If all she had was her career, she’d better get it together. And she would, after some sleep.