Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Callie stood in the shower a little longer and let the jets ease her tired body. She smiled as she wrung out the last of the water from her hair and killed the water pressure. She was finally home with her family when it mattered. She'd had nights like this before, more than she could count actually but it came with the territory but sometimes the odd case snuck up and was hard to shake. It all part of being human and she knew that. She wrapped herself in a towel, slathered on some body butter and padded back into their bedroom. The faint sounds of her children’s laughter and the hum of video games whistled up the stairs. She had a few minutes before she needed to be downstairs so she curled up in her towel on the bed, closed her eyes and dug her toes into the bed.
She was back in the Operating room trying desperately to save her, the machines shrieked behind her as she desperately tried to stop the bleed plugging more gauze into the open cut. There was just so much blood. She looked up at the girl lying helplessly at her mercy, her sunny blond hair peeking from the surgical cap and her eyes opened.
"Stella--God! NO!" She leaned over the girl's body to try and stop the bleeding; god anything but the blood soaked through her gown and covered her hands. She screamed and someone grabbed her wrists and was shaking her.
"Callie-you're dreaming wake up."
Her eyes burst open to find her husband's staring right back at her with his hands locked around her wrists. "Oh god." She panted letting the breath of air out as he let go and wrapped his arms around her.
She nodded as she clawed the ribbed cotton at his chest. "Yeah I am now. Thank you."
He kissed the top of her head. "This one got to you huh?"
She curled in tight and wrapped herself around him while she let the terror dissolve in his arms. "Yeah." His hands soothed her back gently and she settled into him.
"The kids are otherwise occupied for at least twenty minutes as they started one of those marathon Olympic sports games...you still need me?" He whispered against her ear as he pushed her down against the pillows.
She smiled up at him and cupped his cheek. "I'll always need you."
He held up his finger. "Hold that thought." He jumped off the bed and closed their bedroom door and quietly turned the key. He crawled back onto their Californian king and peeled off his top. "Can't have just one of us being naked now can we?"
She giggled and raked her fingers through her husband's soft silver chest hair. "Mmm no, you're always catching me in a towel too." Their noses bumped and he kissed her slowly the heat between them starting a slow burn along her skin.
"Yes, such a shame." She arched into him as he kissed down the long line of her neck nudging the towel away. When her husband's lips were on her skin nothing else mattered for those few moments. Her eyes fluttered as he kissed across her shoulder and down teh soft curve of her breast. He still had the ability to make her go giddy like a teenager under his touch even after all these years. His hand moved and cupped the other breast, his thumb found her hardened nipple. She groaned and stretched out under him as his tongue flicked over her tip sending shocks right down to the tips of her toes.
"Oh god." He kissed her hard, his mouth moved over her jaw below the sensitive skin beneath her ear. She was drowning, but she wanted to sink to the bottom of this pool of warmth and love.
One hand smoothed down over her belly and she purred as he found the sensitive spot between her thighs. His tongue on hers mimicked the slow circles his thumb drew causing her to shudder. She could feel his erection press against her thigh so she shifted her hand and cupped him. Her heart raced and her breath caught. She gave into the safe and sensual feel of him and the raw emotion that still on her surface. All she cared about was him and the taste of him only drove her higher. She clutched his shoulder, tipped back her head and cried out as the orgasm punched through her.
His hot mouth covered hers and she popped open the top of his fly. She dipped her hand inside and curled her fingers around his shaft, licking the bottom of his lip as she did so. He braced his hands on either side of her and closed his eyes as her thumb drew deliberate circles around the tip of him.
She smirked. "Well it is Christmas after all."
His eyes popped open in but then they narrowed as he pushed her hair back. "You my love are evil."
She grinned and kissed his nose before she flipped him on his back. "And you my love still have your jeans on." She tugged them off and then straddled him, his cock bumped against her ass. He growled as she raked her nails through his downy chest hair. He reached up and cupped her chin and smiled. Those eyes could say so much without words sometimes or maybe it was just she was used to staring into them from time to time for the last twenty years.
She leaned over him and planted a kiss square on his lips but then let it bleed out into something that went from sweet to hot in a second flat. All the day's dramas swirled inside her fuelled her lust, her need for him to put it all right again. She slid onto his cock and he reached for her breasts as she started to move above him. She tipped her head back and changed the angle and let him slide deeper as she rode him. Pleasure washed away the ache as she let go on top of him, lifting her arms up above her head and letting herself pour out. She moaned his name and let it burn through her, brighter than the Christmas star on the top of the tree. She flopped forward and opened her eyes, her cheek pressed into his chest as she caught her breath. He cupped her ass, drew her in close and rolled her onto her back. He sunk deeper and wrapped her legs around his waist.
"Callie." He whispered as he stroked a tear from her cheek.
She smiled, finally at peace and dug her her fingers into his shoulders. "More. I need more."
He growled and fused his mouth to hers, the sweat slid between them and his tongue into her mouth. The sweet dark taste of him healed her, like it always did. She groaned as he went deep, her fingers fisted up into his hair. The slick friction of her nipples against his chest hair was enough for her to ache for him. Sometimes it felt like it would never be enough. He arched above her and he let go which tipped her over the edge with him. Her hands slid over his shoulders and over the muscles in his back as he settled against her.
They enjoyed the few moments of peace in each other's arms before she sighed and patted his shoulder. "Do we really have to do Christmas?"
He lifted his head from her shoulder and grinned. "Hey, having this here was your idea not mine!"
She laughed. "What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. It'll be nice having the family around us."
"I'll get you to remind me of that at about eight o'clock when everybody's drunk on egg-nog and my father's telling us stories from when he was in the marines again. He kissed her softly and then popped himself up off her.
She rolled onto her side and watched him dress before she did the same. The tiny knock on the door came just as she tied the drawstring her Capri pants. "Busted." She whispered as she unlocked the door. Her two children were standing side by side looking as innocent as hell, they wanted something.
"Yes? Can we help?" She folded her arms and waited while Jon did the same.
Stella jabbed Caleb in the ribs. "You ask!"
He poked her back. "You never get in trouble."
Callie chuckled. "What do you two mischief makers want?" She ruffled her son's sandy blond hair. He'd be a dead ringer for her husband one of these days.
"We were wondered if we could make waffles."
Callie raised her brow and shot a glance at Jon. "Hmm."
Jon rubbed his chin. "I dunno."
"Pleaseeeeeeee we’ll help clean up afters." They both chimed.
She laughed and looked at her husband. They both shrugged and then nodded. She scooped up her son in a fireman's carry and he did the same with their daughter. "I guess so!"
They both shrieked as they were carried downstairs into their spacious farmer's kitchen where as a family they made breakfast together. Callie was pretty sure more batter ended up on the floor than the waffle iron but it was the perfect way to start their Christmas together. The way a family was meant to.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
She killed the ignition as she came to a rolling stop outside the garage. Snowflakes splattered on her windscreen as she gathered her things and took a moment. She was relieved to be home but at the same time scared. Scared that when she saw the three faces of the people she loved more than life she'd fall apart. It was over, she'd finished her shift and now she was free. It was bittersweet as all she could think about was that she got to come home and hang with her family, see the joy on her kids faces as they opened their presents while the Phillip's family were going home to silence and grief.
She blew out her breath and tightened her scarf for the trek to the back door. The snow was heavy and the sky grey with the odd brought spot where the sun was fighting desperately to pop through. She jumped as her cell vibrated and smiled when she read.
Are you coming in? Don't think we're coming to get ya. Way 2 cold. Upstairs. J. xx
It was the push she needed as her family were inside waiting. She popped the door open and ran across the backyard, snow crunching under her runners. She dumped her bag and keys, stripped off her layers and jogged upstairs. She crept around the corner of the door-frame where Jon was in bed flanked by Caleb and Stella unaware she was there. Jon was reading them a story but stopped mid-sentence as his eyes met hers over the book followed by their children's.
"Mommy!" They both flew out of each side of the bed and made a beeline for her. She crouched at their level and held her arms out, the last thing she saw before she engulfed them both was her daughter's baby blue eyes sparkling brighter than all the joy in the world. She closed her eyes and sucked them in, the smell of their apple conditioner overwhelming her. Tears spilled from her eyes as she held them tighter.
"Mommy, you're holding hard!"
She buried her face into Stella's hair. "I know baby." They wriggled and squealed as she covered them in kisses.
"Mommy why are you crying? What's wrong?" Caleb asked as he ran his pinkie down her cheek.
She forced the smile, let them go and used the back of her hand to wipe away the tears. "Happy tears darlin'. Mommy's just glad she's home now."
Stella, god bless her daughter always had this sixth sense. "Did you fix the girl like me?"
The lump grew in her throat and she met Jon's gaze from the bed, he nodded. She stroked her daughter’s sunny blond hair and tapped her on the nose. "No honey, she was badly hurt and not even mommy could save her. She's gone to heaven for Christmas." She didn't lie to her kids and Jon didn't condone it either.
Her daughters face screwed up. "I hope they have presents there." She said thoughtfully.
Callie laughed and kissed the top of her head. "Lots and lots. I promise."
Jon stepped out of bed and pulled on his robe. "Why don't you two go downstairs and me and mommy will be there in a few minutes, and we can see if Santa brought us anything?"
Stella folded her arms indignantly. "Of course he did, why wouldn't he?"
Callie bit her lip as Jon shrugged. "I dunno, maybe you weren't good enough. Guess you'll find out when you get downstairs."
Both of her children's eyes widened before they stampeded down the stairs fighting who would get there first. Callie stood up and Jon simply stood in front of her with his arms wide open. "Rough night?"
She nodded as the room blurred and he wrapped himself around her as she fell apart. "I lost her. She laid her cheek on his shoulder as he tightened his grip around her as the sobs came.
"I'm sorry baby. God, I don't even know what to say. I can't even imagine..."
She shook her head and buried her face into his neck. "You're here. That's all I need." She closed her eyes and let her husband's arms wash away some of the weight off her shoulders. "That's all I've ever need." She murmured into his skin as she clutched the lapel of his robe between her fingers. She scraped her teeth over his chin and fused herself to his mouth. The aching inside her bubbled a she pushed him back up against their closet.
"Callie--whoa..." he cupped her cheek and kissed her softly but she wanted more. She needed more. If she could just touch him, if he could put his hands on her it would even herself out. She unravelled the ties of his robe and opened it. He grabbed her hands and stepped back. "Cal...The kids could come back in." She knew he was right but the desperation inside of her to be skin to skin was spilling over. She linked her hands through his and pulled him close.
She wasn't one to beg but god, she needed him like she needed air right now. "I need you but we have to wait." She hated she was so vulnerable but if one person that she could be around, it was him. She hung onto him and sighed. She needed her kids too and she couldn't let them wait, this was their day. She re-tied the robe and smoothed it down. "
He tilted her chin to meet his mouth and kissed her swiftly, dragging her in close. The kiss went from sweet to hot as she rose on her tip toes. Her fingers tunnelled through his hair as she changed the angle letting her tongue slide into his mouth. They groaned in unison as their lips parted but their foreheads pressed together.
"I'll find the moment. I promise." He kissed her nose and dragged her in for another bear hug and she sighed as she became grounded again. He always found the way no one else could and that's what they were always to each other.
"I love you." She patted his heart and he smiled until the corner of his eyes crinkled.
"Right back at you. Now c'mon it's Christmas!" He scooped her up in his arms and carried her down the stairs to cheers from their not so patiently waiting children.
He carried his wife down the stairs and Caleb and Stella waited for them. He settled her onto her feet and nodded towards the kitchen. "You take the kids and get settled in front of the tree. I'll get the coffee and croissants."
"God yes, please." She kissed his cheek as she led the kids away and he watched them all pile onto the couch on top of her. He had no idea what she was going through as he couldn't even pretend what it was like to lose a patient, let alone a kid on Christmas in her hospital. He'd known it was bad when he'd heard the car pull in as she didn't come bounding in like she usually did off a long shift pleased to see the kids and him. The fire in her eyes was gone as well, the one that rarely went out even with the longest days she had in the OR.
He poured two big mugs of coffee, topped hers up with her favourite Christmas creamer and carried the tray into the living area where the buzz of need-to-open-it-now was humming.
"You're a life-saver." Callie accepted her mug and sat cross-legged on the couch as the kids circled the tree like a couple of sharks. He snagged a croissant and grabbed the Santa hat off the large mantel. It was a tradition, head of the household dished out the presents, like it had been in his own childhood. "Ok let's see what we have here..." He picked up a large gaily wrapped blue and silver present. "To Uncle Matt... Nope, he's not here." He picked a smaller red shiny one. "To Grandma Richards...nope she's not here either. Man, I hope there are some for us under here."
He heard his wife chuckle behind him as his two children stared in shock as he picked up yet another one for Callie's sister and brother-in-law.
"Jon..." Callie said with a warning tone, he didn't have to look at her to know she was hiding a smile behind her coffee cup.
He stood up and scratched his head. "Are you sure you guys have been good, I can't see any for you?"
"Dad! What about this one?" Stella pointed excitedly to a big square box donned with a green bow.
He leaned in and squinted. "To Sally....wow, who is Sally?"
She tugged the sleeve of his robe. "DAD! It says Stella silly."
He looked again and grinned. "Oh so it does! Look at that!" He conceded and slid it his daughters way along with a matching sized one her brother's way. And so it began. Boxes, parcels, ribbons and paper went flying as his wife snapped pictures of their kids demolishing their presents. Dolls, accessories for the dolls, cars, a new game centre and various other holiday candy and trinkets littered the floor.
"Well hell is there anything else left under there?" he joked as he flopped down next to his wife and their piles.
"Nope I don't think so. Well done Santa... here's a little something for you." She handed him a slim line sliver wrapped box. He leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. "The gold one you might wanna open first." He winked nodding to her pile.
Jon opened the box which he recognized to be to be from Kenneth Cole. He popped off the lid and smiled at the classy chunky silver watch with a blue metallic face and platinum settings. “This is gorgeous Cal." He flipped it onto his wrist but stopped as the back caught his eye. Engraved perfectly were the words. "Time Stops when I'm with you." He closed his eyes and stamped down the lump in his throat. He met her gaze, which he wasn't surprised was shining with tears. "This is absolutely perfect. Absolutely us." He cupped her cheek and kissed her slowly until a round of ewws echoed from their children.
He strapped his watch on and waited as his wife unwrapped her box. She gasped as she popped open the ring box. "You like?"
"God Jon!" He'd had the eternity ring made. A platinum band with diamonds embedded in the band the entire way around it was smooth so was easy for her to wear at work and not too chunky. She slid it on her fingers and held it up. "It's stunning, so many diamonds...hell Jon..."
He winked. "I figured you just ought to know that you're not getting rid of me now. Ever."
She smiled through her tears, "damn. There goes that idea then. This is perfect. Best husband ever, god this is breath taking. It's so sparkly." Jon grinned. Woman and their rings, Callie wasn't traditionally a heavy jewellery kind of woman but the pieces he did buy her always counted and he was right on the money. Of course he'd also spoiled her with her favourite perfume and a selection of lingerie’s for his benefit too.
She slid up onto his lap and hooked her arms around his neck and they watched their kids play happily with their new toys in a simple moment before it got crazy again.
"I so need a shower."
"You should have a sleep babe, you must be exhausted."
She shrugged. "I'm good. I'd rather be here than asleep."
He kissed her forehead and patted her ass. "Go and have a shower now while we have a few hours and I'll set up the game centre and then maybe...just maybe..." his mouth found her ear. “I can find that moment I promised you while our kids are entertained."
Her eyebrow lifted and her pretty face finally had a true smile on it. "Well with an offer like that..." She slipped off his knee and ruffled her kids hair leaving him to assemble the game centre because oh yeah, he loved setting up new technology. Not. But hell, it was Christmas and his family was at home and they were safe. And that's all that mattered.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
03:59am Christmas Morning.
Callie walked the lonely corridors, her clipboard tucked under her hand and a latte laced with a gingerbread kick in the other. The Christmas lights in the ward twinkled brightly in the dimmed lights and over the beeps and whirrs of machines, the gentle hum of John Lennon's 'So this is Christmas' was floating from the nurse's station. Four more hours, four more blessed hours and she was free to walk outta here. Since her husband's conjugal visit, she'd received text messages from him and a few picture messages as he prepared the house for Christmas. The one of their children burrowed asleep deep in their bed hit the spot though, it had been the only way that Jon had got them to agree to some form of sleep. God, three more hours and fifty eight minutes seemed endless.
She'd just had the one surgery over-night, an emergency appendicitis. Cassidy's condition hadn't been all that great. She'd been holding with fluctuations in blood pressure and her heart rate had been declining. All of those things were normal after a massive surgery but Callie was being extra cautious in monitoring her. Cassidy's parents had stayed overnight and Callie had made sure the nurses kept them warm and fed as what a crappy way to spend Christmas. She checked her watch and as she was due for a break she slipped into the patients lounge nearby and sank into one of the arm chairs. The marrow in her bones throbbed from a long long week, hell a long year.
She was ready to trade in her stethoscope and thermometer for sand and surf. That was after she'd pulled off one of the biggest Christmas dinners in quite awhile. She'd had some of it prepared early between shifts. The rest of it was being catered and would arrive Christmas morning but she refused to hire any help to serve it. They deserved to be with their families on the day.
She flipped the lid off her latte and licked off the foam on the inside. Thank you god for a Starbucks on hospital premises and she was one of their most loyal customers. She snapped off her beeper as her hip vibrated and hauled herself out of the chair and down the corridor to ICU. Hospitals weren't for running but she took a safe bet at four am in the morning she wouldn't collide into anyone. She busted through the doors of ICU and into Cassidy's room where nurses bustled around while her heart monitor screamed.
She tugged her stethoscope from her neck and plugged it into her ears. Her heart rate had taken a serious hike and her blood pressure was dropping faster than survivors on the titanic.
"She was fine, then she jolted and her readings went out the window."
Callie frowned as she quickly felt around her tiny abdomen. "Dammit, I think she's bleeding. Prep the OR and call Donovan in for me. We've got no time to lose."
The doors to her room swung open and Cassidy's parents stood, their faces white as sheets.
Callie gave her a quick injection to steady her heart and headed to the parents. "Mr and Mrs Philips, I'm going to need you to wait in the waiting area. I'm taking her back into the Operating room. I'm a hundred per cent certain she's bleeding in her upper abdomen so I'm going to need to go back in."
"But-she was ok just a minute ago...I don't-god!"
Callie took her hands in hers. "I know, she was but believe me the best thing you can do right now is to let us do our very best for your daughter. I promise you I will." She squeezed them and Mrs Philips managed a small smile beneath teary eyes.
"I know. Thank you Dr Richards. We'll wait."
"It's ok. Nurse, can you make sure they have coffee and a quiet place to wait?" Callie waved her to take care of them while they prepped Cassidy for surgery quickly. Callie needed to scrub up as soon as possible so she slipped out to the OR. To her relief Donovan was already in there scrubbing.
"Oh thank god. She's bleeding, I'm hoping it's not coming from her liver or we are in serious trouble if it's all the way up in her abdomen. Callie snapped on a hat and mask and cranked the water on.
"Got you. You did some repair in there right? What's the plan?"
"We cut from up down, I don't want to rupture the bleed going the other way. It'll be carnage otherwise." She blew out her breath as she centred herself. Right now all that mattered, all that was in her head was that little girl's body and how the hell she was going to fix it. She'd done it before and she'd do it again. She was fitted with her overhead light and glasses and went for her scalpel immediately. She made an incision and her worst fears were confirmed when her water blue surgical gown bloomed with red splotches.
An hour later Callie stood soaked in blood and the piercing sound of death was the only sound in the room.
"You gonna call it?" Donovan asked.
She nodded and looked at the overhead clock, the one she always dreaded to look at. "Time of death. 5.15am." She tore off her gown, stormed into the scrub room and sucked the air out of her lungs. There was just so much blood, so much irreversible damage. It was a wonder that she survived as long as she did, but hell. Parents had just lost their little girl on Christmas morning. It was how the cards fell sometimes and she'd been in this industry long enough to know that. You win some, you lose some.
And sometimes when you lost them, once and awhile one would sneak up and bite you on the ass. She thanked all her team with a small smile that resembled the ones her husband gave when he was doing interviews. Wished them all a merry Christmas and instead of escaping to go and fall apart she had to do the worst part of this job next. Tell the parents.
"You did the best Callie. Sorry we couldn't save her." Donovan patted her shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
She managed a small smile. "I know, it's just really bad timing. No surgeon in the world could have fixed that girl. God she was a mess-" Her stomach rolled and a flash of her own six year old daughter swinging in her arms wavered her for just a second.
She held up her hand. "I'm ok--just overtired."
He chuckled. "I know and now we get to go home. Did you want me to come and see the parents with you?"
"No. I'll be fine. I need to do it."
Donovan nodded, "call me if you need me. Merry Christmas Callie." He kissed her on the cheek as he shook his hands and reached for the towels.
"You too, have a lovely day with your family." She waited until she heard the swish of the exit door and she was alone. The silence was sobering. No machines pulsed, no nurses hustled and bustled scurrying around after doctor's orders. Nothing.
The truth was she was overtired so it was bleeding into her emotions that she always locked away when she lost a patient. It's what she was taught to do, to be strong but empathetic not attach herself. She gripped the edge of the scrubbing tub and closed her eyes. God, she was six years old. What would she do if someone told that her and Jon's little girl was gone? She tried to stop her arms from shaking but the nausea rolled right through her. Goodbye Ma Bongiovi's soup.
She splashed some water on her face and pulled herself together. She needed to tell the family, they'd suffered long enough. She checked herself over and waltzed out into the corridor and down to the waiting area. Mr and Mrs Philips sat huddled in the corner of the waiting room. Alone. She briefly smiled as they stood with all the hope and expectation in their eyes shining brighter than the lights on the Christmas tree in the foyer.
"Dr Richards? Please tell us everything is ok."
Tears pinched at her eyes but she held her ground. She couldn't lose it for them; they'd lost so much more than she had. She shook her head. "I'm so sorry. We did everything we could."
Those words, so often spoken within these walls were never enough. Nothing ever was.
Mrs Philips shrieked and her husband bundled her in closer, his face stained with loss.
She proceeded to tell them the watered down medical reasons their daughter died, even though Callie knew whatever she was would be just white noise to them.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"God, my baby. She was only just a baby..." The sobs echoed through the morning that was about to break, about to give so many people a sense of happiness, hope and family. But not for Mr and Mrs Phillips.
Callie clasped her hands as they hugged, cried and ripped her own heart out. Life wasn't fair and this was one of these rare moments she wished she was anywhere else but standing here in this hospital.
Mrs Philips briefly moved from her husband and nodded, wiping her cheeks. "There is something."
Callie's wall of steel crumbled as the lady wrapped her arms around her neck and hugged her tight. Tears tracked down her cheeks as she hugged her back. It wasn't protocol in any instance but she took it. "I'm so sorry. I truly am," she whispered into her ear.
They stood back and Mrs Philips rubbed her arms. "You've been amazing Dr Richards. Thank you so much. Can we see our daughter?"
Callie nodded recomposing herself. "Of course, if you don't mind waiting just a little longer she'll be ready in a few moments."
Callie explained what to do next and who to talk to once they figured out the funeral details and dismissed herself. Her heart was heavy and her head was pounding. She closed the door behind herself in her call room and sank down on the bed for a moment. It burned inside her like it had never burned before. She needed to go home, she needed her family, she needed to hold her baby girl and never ever let her go.
She needed Jon.