Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.

If you like them, feel free to let me know about it at Jeaninehemail-public@yahoo.com if you don’t, please don’t be mean.

Warnings: This story will depict relationships between women. If that bothers you, I’m sorry for your narrow-minded approach but please leave now and come back when you come out. If it is illegal for you to view this type of story due to age or location then please come back when you age or move. There will at times be somewhat graphic descriptions of medical events, nothing too graphic but not for those who faint at the mention of an IV. With that said, I hope you enjoy!

I’d like to thank Vic and Trish, the two people that encouraged me to put this out to let others decide its fate.

Also, for Sue, the reason I want to do my best is to be the woman you deserve-I’m always on call for you!

Chapter Ten

I had agreed to work a few extra shifts until the Cap and I could rework the schedule. We had to fill the shifts left open by Spike’s time off request. The Cap and everyone else were told that Spike was taking time off for family reasons. Pauly’s therapist, Dr. Cooper, was able to take her on as a patient for three sessions a week. Spike asked me to go to her first session with her, and after the meeting, we decided that she would stay with me for a few weeks. She just needed some support to get started on her treatment. She also gave the doctor permission to talk to me, since I was the closest thing to family that she had left. I would be able to see how Spike was acting while she stayed with me, and it might give the doctor clues about how to guide the treatments.

Surprisingly, Spike admitted to knowing for quite some time that things were wrong but she had been to afraid to let anyone in enough to help her. She described nightmares, bursts of anger or tears, not being able to turn off the playback in her head of various calls, and feeling as if she were in a downward spiral. She seemed ready to face things, but she was nervous about being vulnerable. She told me that she felt safer staying with me. She knew that I had her back and would watch out for her. I was determined not to let her down.


A few weeks into Spike’s treatment, I called home to let her know that I was on my way home after my double shift, and to find out if we needed anything. She didn’t answer so I figured she was out back or out somewhere. I called Caty to say hello, but went right to voice mail.

When I got home, Spike’s car was in the driveway. I went in the front door, dropping my gear bag by the laundry room on my way up stairs. I just needed a shower and my bed. As I started to shed my uniform, I looked out the back window and saw her. She was sitting curled up in fetal position under a tree at the edge of my property, next to the fence. I ran downstairs in my socks, uniform pants, and sports bra, and hit the back door at a full run.

I slid to the ground as got close to her, and my first instinct was to ensure that she was breathing. As I reached out to touch her shoulder, I heard the sobbing that seemed to come from an almost impossibly deep place within her. I didn’t know what was going on but I could hear her crying escalate. I reacted to her primal wailing. I took her in my arms and tried to soothe her as I would a crying infant. We sat like that, rocking, for at least an hour, until she cried herself out. I helped her into the house and tucked her in on the couch. Spike was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

I called Cait, and this time, I reached her. She greeted me with, “Hey baby! How was the long shift? Did you get any sleep?”

“It was fine, mostly quiet. I didn’t sleep a lot but that was more because Gina snores. I have a problem here though that I need your input on.”

“What’s wrong? Something with Kristy?”

“Yeah, I came home and she was curled up outside, crying like she had lost her partner of fifty years. It took me an hour to get her to cry it out and calm down. She’s asleep on the couch now. Should I call the doctor about it?”

“I don’t know, maybe it would be a good idea. She might want to see her, or at least talk to her about it.”

“Okay, I’ll give her a call. Are you coming over? I really want to see you baby.”

“Of course, I was packing some of my stuff up to bring over. Just some more clothes, some music, and some books.”

“Great, I’ll see you soon, be safe baby. I love you!”

“I love you too Chloe. Go take care of Kristy until I get there.”

As soon as I hung up, I dialed the number written on the notepad next to the phone. I was surprised to hear someone answer at seven in the evening, and I was more surprised when the voice identified herself as the doctor. Quickly, I recapped what had happened and waited for her instructions.

“Was there any sign that she tried to injure herself? Did she say anything to you or did she just cry?”

“Umm, I didn’t see any marks on her skin and I don’t think she tried…wait a second while I check something!” I ran to the bathroom upstairs and checked the medicine cabinet. It was just as I left it, no missing medications. I went into the room Spike was staying in and checked the dresser. Her one bottle of medication was intact, no more than a couple missing from it. I grabbed the phone up when I got back down the stairs and let the doctor know what I found.

“Did she say anything to indicate what set this off?”

“No, she didn’t say anything at all. She just cried as if she had lost a part of her soul. I didn’t know what to do so I held her, rocked her, and brought her inside to sleep when she wore out. What should I do now?”

There was a moment of total silence. I wondered if the phone had disconnected until she finally said, “I think the best thing to do is let her sleep. When she wakes up, don’t bring it up, she will feel embarrassed if she remembers you taking care of her. Act as normally as possible and give her some space. Thank you for letting me know what happened. Believe it or not, this means she is starting to feel things that she needs to feel.”

“So, in a way, this is a good thing?” I was incredulous. I had no idea how curling up under a tree to cry one’s heart out was a good thing. So much for my medical knowledge, I thought.

“Yes it is. I am sure it was scary for you to find her like that, but it is something she needed to do. It might happen again, but it might not. This isn’t an exact science, so I can’t tell you exactly what to expect. I’m sorry. Listen to your instincts; they have served you well so far.”

I thanked her and we hung up. I checked on Spike one more time then went upstairs to finish stripping and take a quick shower. I was just getting dressed when I heard noises from downstairs. Before I could finish dressing, the bedroom door eased open and Caty entered. She came right over to me and gave me the long hug I desperately needed.

“Are you okay honey? What did the doctor have to say?” Caty stepped back a bit to look at me but kept her hands on my arms.

“I’m still freaked out. I mean, Spike has always been so strong, but today it was like she didn’t even know who I was, or where she was. The doc thinks it is the result of some stuff from their sessions. If this is what the sessions do to her, how can that be helpful?”

I knew, I really knew that Caty would understand what I was saying. I didn’t know how much I could take of seeing my mentor in this crumpled state.

“Caty, I really don’t understand. She was functioning just fine a few weeks ago. I mean, she might not have slept much and she was a little grumpy, but she still had it together. Today she couldn’t stop crying until she went to sleep? How is this helping her?”

Caty stepped back into me and wrapped her arms around my waist. “Baby, you know that sometimes the cure seems worse than the illness at first. Wasn’t it you that pointed out that Coumadin, the drug that saved the lives of so many people with blood clot problems, is a derivative of rat poison? You loved the irony at the time.”

“Yeah, I know you’re right. It was just so weird. I don’t usually get scared on calls anymore, but I was terrified that I would mess up when we were out there earlier. I wanted to grab the phone and call for back up. I couldn’t call a rig, because everyone would have known about her problems through the grapevine.”

I felt Caty squeeze me tighter and I let myself relax into her embrace. She felt safe and warm. She felt like home should feel. I wasn’t sure what I would do when Spike woke up, but at least I knew Caty would be there with me to deal with it.

“You did a great job with her, honey. She obviously has some things she needs to deal with and crying is cathartic. I hope that she feels better when she wakes up.” She stood and smiled at me. “So, you want to help me bring some bags up here?”

Grinning, I remembered that Spike’s pain was not my own. My life was headed in a very positive direction. The woman I loved was moving in with me! “You bet baby! Let me finish getting dressed and I’ll come down stairs. Can you just check on Spike while I finish up?”

She nodded, “Of course, I’ll meet you downstairs. I have a few kitchen things to tuck away too.”

I watched her head for the stairs, then quickly grabbed department sweats and pulled them on to go with the old medic t-shirt that I had cut the sleeves from years ago. I padded down the stairs and stopped when I heard soft voices coming from the living room. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but I wanted to know what they were talking about. I flipped a mental coin and decided that knowing was better than wondering. I could barely make out Cait’s voice, so I edged down a couple more steps.

“— you know what happened? Did you remember something?”

I didn’t catch the first part but I was in a better position, so I settled down to listen.

“I don’t know Cait. It was as if the whole world was closing in on me in a dark storm cloud. I couldn’t escape it, but I could hear through it, all those voices calling out for help. I couldn’t bear it, so I ran. I don’t really remember much else until I woke up a few minutes ago.”

Spike’s voice sounded raw, she had cried herself hoarse. I didn’t know what she was talking about exactly, but I guessed that it had something to do with how she ended up outside.

“So, did something in today’s session spark it? Is there anything you need, something I can do for you?” I could hear Cait’s voice catch as she asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t remember anything specific that might have triggered this, but what do I know? Scoop, run, stick, and shock. That’s my knowledge,” she said bitterly. “But thanks, I think I’m good for now. The sleep seems to have helped.”

I chose that moment to stand up and make some noise as I finished coming down the stairs. I didn’t want Spike to figure out that I had been listening, but I would talk to Cait about it later that night. I saw Cait sitting on the edge of the couch with Spike but I just grabbed the bags Cait had left by the stairs and took them back up to what was becoming our bedroom. We had agreed to go slowly with the move since Spike was staying with me. Besides, Cait had to decide if she was going to rent out her house, or sell it.

I tossed her bags on the bed and debated about if I should go back downstairs. The truth was, I was afraid to face Spike after her breakdown. I didn’t know how to act but I knew I couldn’t stay upstairs forever. I headed back down the stairs and went to the kitchen. I watched as Cait put things away, moving around some stuff to make room for her gadgets. She turned around to get something out of a box and saw me standing there, watching her.

“How long have you been there?” she asked.

“Not long, I was just enjoying the sights,” I grinned at her.

“Uh huh, why don’t you give me a hand unloading this box instead of standing there ogling me. I don’t know if you have any special stuff you don’t want displaced.”

I gave her a somewhat credible leer before laughing at myself. “I don’t really care. I figure it will all end up moved around eventually. For now, I’ll just search until I find what I need. I’ll still give you a hand though. The faster we get this done, the sooner I get to talk to you upstairs.”

We worked together and quickly emptied the box. I put it back in Cait’s car, so she could use it to move more stuff over. A box at a time was slow, but eventually we would officially be living under one roof full time. As I passed by the living room doorway, I noticed that Spike had vacated the couch. Her car was still outside so I assumed she had gone upstairs to bed.

As I met Cait in the hallway, I asked her, “Do you know if Spike went up to bed? She isn’t in the living room and I didn’t know if I should check on her or not.”

“I think she’s doing okay now. I’d say just leave her alone until morning and we’ll see how she is then. For now, let’s go up to bed. I have more unpacking to do and we haven’t seen each other in a couple of days.”

We went upstairs, staying quiet until I shut the door to the master bedroom.

Cait leaned into me, “I’ve missed you. I’m so glad you’re home tonight.”

I sighed, “Yeah, me too. I hate these doubles, but the extra money is good and it covers for Spike. I kind of feel it is the only way I have to really show my support, you know?”

“Oh honey, she’s fully away of your support. I know you need to take action to feel as if you’re helping, but sometimes, just sitting there and listening is all the support someone needs.”

“I know, it just doesn’t seem like much to me.”

“You need to be easier on yourself Chloe. You’re working yourself so hard, then coming home and trying to help your friend. Plus, we are still getting used to being a couple, we’re moving in together, we have to figure out what to do with my house, and we haven’t even told anyone about the move yet. Your mentor is going through some really hard things right now and all you want to do is help her. There is a lot of stuff right now, be patient honey. It will all work out and I’m here to help you through it.”

I knew right then, this was the woman I had to spend the rest of my life with, no matter what. She understood things about me that I hadn’t recognized myself. “I don’t know how you do it, but I’m an incredibly glad that you understand me so well. You always seem to know what I need to hear.”

“Hey, it’s my job as your girlfriend. All part of the package.”

“Why don’t we get ready for bed? I’m beat and I have to go back in for a shift tomorrow afternoon.”

“I thought you had tomorrow off entirely? What happened?”

“It isn’t a full shift, only a few hours on a truck and then I’m doing some training for a new class of medics coming through. I should be home before you are tomorrow.”

We went about getting ready for bed, and then crawled into bed to cuddle. I was too tired to do much else, no matter what my mind said. It felt right to go to sleep with Cait in my arms, knowing she would be there the next morning when I woke up.


“Get the hoses out, we need water on that right now!”

The scene was crazy when we rolled up on it. A small barbecue grill placed too close to the house had gone up in flames and the house caught quickly. We pulled in right behind the engine and ladder trucks and picked a spot to run the medical command. I had Tony on crew with me, Pauly and Gina were out on another call, and a basic unit was on the way to the scene to handle the firefighter rehabilitation station.

“County, Medic Two Two Three has medical command on scene.”

“Copy Medic Two Two Three, command established 1344 hours. Switch to channel four.”

County, Medic Two Two Three, copy, switching to four.”

I switched over and reported to the Captain. “Fire Command, Medical Command, on Channel four, on location, any word on victims?”

“Medical from Fire, negative, so far it looks like everyone was out and away enough. I’ll let you know if we need anything other than rehab.”

“Fire, Medical, Copy that, standing by channel four.”

I looked over at Tony and was happily surprised to see that he had set up a full rehabilitation area already. I had to admit, he came back from his suspension as a stronger medic than he had been before his incident. He had matured rapidly after he dealt with his friend’s injuries.

“Good job Tony. When the BLS crew reports in, have them set up and you just keep an eye on things. I’ll be here if you need anything, but I’d like to see you run the rehab station.”

He grinned over at me, “Got it Donny, I’ll take care of it!”

I watched as he walked over to the BLS rig as they pulled in, bringing them up to speed and showing them where we were. They checked in with me via radio and then I watched as they set up just in time for the first wave of firefighters. Most of the crews were fine, but it was warm out so I was pleased to see Tony taking the time to talk to everyone and verify their mental status.

The fire was really burning now and it had spread to the roof before we even arrived. Now, it was licking around the whole building. I listened to the radio to figure out what plans of attack the firefighters were going to use.

“Fire command to all, just put water on it guys, no interior attacks. The roof is unstable.”

“Command, engine Two Two, copy, just water.”

“Medical Command, Fire Command.”

“Go ahead Fire.”

“Confirmed, no one interior, all residents are accounted for at this time.”

“Copy Fire Command.”

Well, that was good news! Now, all we had to do was treat the firefighters and hang back until the scene was under control. I walked back over to the rehab station to check in with Tony.

“Tony, you heard? Just the crews to treat.”

“Yeah, got it. We’re doing fine here.”

With nothing much to do, I decided to help out by taking vital signs and passing around sports drinks. We finally cleared the scene about four hours after we arrived. No injuries, no one transported, but the house was a total loss. Still, better that than losing even one person.

As we headed back to the station, I let Tony drive so I could finish my notes on the call.


“Yeah Tony? What’s up?”

“Thanks for letting me run the rehab today. I know the last time we were on a fire scene I kind of lost it …”

“Tony, don’t even think about it. We all have stuff that gets to us sometimes. It wasn’t the fire scene that got to you last time, it was that someone you consider family was trapped inside. I’m not going to judge you on one incident.”

“Thanks Donny. I just get worried that some of the guys are gonna watch me for another slip up, you know? I really love this job and I don’t want to mess up.”

“We all mess up man. It’s just a matter of learning from the mistakes we make. We pray that we don’t make any mistakes that cause harm, and we keep training to avoid future mistakes. They will happen though, and how we react to them, that is what defines us as good medics.”

He nodded and we rode back in silence. I thought about what it must be like to return to work after a suspension like his. Then I thought about Spike and her leave of absence. I wondered what it would be like for her to return to work, even though the reason she was out wasn’t known. I sighed, grateful that I had Cait to go home to, to talk to, and to comfort me.


“Medic Two Two Three, from County.”

“County, Medic Two Two Three, go ahead.”

“Medic Two Two Three, respond to Forty Six Christopher Street for a domestic dispute. PD on scene says one injured female.”

“Copy County, Medic Two Two Three responding Forty Six Christopher Street. Copy PD on scene.”

Tony flipped on the lights and sirens while I was still talking to dispatch. Since a domestic dispute could mean almost any kind of injury, I was going over basics in my head.

“Tony, it’s a female patient, so I’ll take crew chief duties. For now let’s just bring the basic bag, monitor, and oxygen until we see what we have.”

“Copy that Donny, you grab the bag, I’ll get the rest.”

“County, Medic Two Two Three, on location.”

I took a deep breath, grabbed the gear, and headed inside. I despise domestic calls, but I had a job to do. As always, I approached the door with caution, from the hinge side to allow a little more coverage if someone came out swinging or worse. The only thing that greeted me were soft whimpers and a police officer waving us inside.

“Glad to see you guys! We have a female Caucasian, mid thirties, with wounds to her arms, wrists, and hands. From what we know, she broke in here screaming about this being her house. There was only one-person home at the time, the residence’s owner. He’s the one that called it in. She was trying to look through the house more than attack him, so he grabbed a phone and left the house while she was upstairs. He said she came in through the window in the back, and he isn’t sure how she got all cut up, unless it was from the window.”

“Wonderful!” I did not love this call already. The last thing I needed was a psych patient on my rig. “Does our patient have a name?”

“The best I got out of her was “Chrissy,” but she looks familiar to me. I can’t place her but she’s all banged up and covered in mud. We have her in the back.”

We followed him through the house to a back room that could have been a family room or den. I looked for the patient and almost cried out when I saw her. Blood running down both arms, despite the clumsy bandages done by the police, her shaggy brown hair was in total disarray, and if I hadn’t known her for years, I might not have recognized her.

“Shit, Donny! It’s Spike! What the fuck happened?” Tony spoke before I could but we were asking the same questions.

I moved closer to her, slowly so I wouldn’t startle her. “Hey Kristy, it’s me, Chloe. What happened?” I set my bag down and started to open up one of the pockets to get some bandaging material out without looking away from her. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”

She looked up at me, with fear in her eyes. I heard whimpers from her, the same ones I had heard from the front door. “I don’t know what happened. Where am I? What’s going on Chloe?”

At least she knew me and I took it as a positive sign. “What can you tell me Kristy? When I left the house, you were eating breakfast with Cait. What do you remember after that?” I bandaged her cuts as I talked to her. Tony stayed back, getting information from the cops and making sure the homeowner was fine physically.

She shook her head, “I don’t know. I remember you leaving, then Cait left, and I did the dishes. I know I had an appointment with Doctor Cooper this afternoon. I think I went but I don’t know what else happened.” She stopped and seemed to try to gather herself. She leaned closer and whispered to me, “I don’t know what’s going on Chloe. I’m scared! What is wrong with me?”

“I don’t know buddy, but we’re gonna find out, okay? Let me talk to Tony and the cops, then we’ll get you out of here.” She nodded and sat quietly while she waited for us.

I walked over to the cop and the homeowner and asked for a minute of their time.
”Tony, can you go hang with her for a minute? I don’t want to leave her on her own just yet.” He nodded and sat near Spike, but not too close.

“Guys, here’s the thing. This is actually one of my co-workers. She’s been going through a tough time and doesn’t really know what she was doing here. She is under a doctor’s care and this could be a reaction to medication she just started. Was there any damage here other than the scare and the window?”

The homeowner shook his head. “Actually, she didn’t even break the window. It was open. She gave me a good scare, but that’s all really.” He turned to the cop, “I don’t want to press charges. Just make sure she gets the help she needs, okay? I hate to see veterans of any service go through tough times.”

I thanked him and the officer, then walked over to Spike and Tony. “Hey, Kristy, do you think you can walk out to the rig? I think we should get you in to have the doc check you out. This could be a med reaction.”

Kristy nodded up at me and stood on shaky legs. I grabbed her around the waist and gave her some support as we walked her out to the rig. Tony grabbed the gear, slinging the bag over his shoulder, the oxygen cylinder in one hand, and monitor in the other. Kristy stopped as we got to the rig.

“I don’t know if I can get in there. Do I have to?”

She looked at me with a plea in her blue eyes, but I had no choice. “Kristy, I won’t strap you down, just sit on the bench seat with me and we’ll talk after I call the doc. I promise, I won’t make you ride on the litter.”

She nodded and stepped up and inside the rig, sitting on the bench where she usually sat when she was working. Tony looked at me as he handed me the gear with a question in his eyes but he refrained from comments and questions for the time being. I wondered what the hell to do as I loaded the gear and got settled in my seat. I called in to the ER to let them know we were coming before I called Doctor Cooper. I let Kristy talk to her and let her know when we got close to the ER.

After hanging up the phone, Kristy looked at me with fear in her eyes. “She said she wants me to stay here until she can get here to talk to me. I don’t want everyone knowing I freaked out Chloe! You gotta help me out.”

I didn’t know how, but I knew I would try. When Tony came around the back of the rig, after parking, he opened the doors and I motioned him inside. “Tony, here’s the deal on this call. No one needs to know about it. Spike started taking a new antihistamine and it looks like she had a severe reaction to it. I don’t want to see it affect her job since she’s on leave anyway. We clear?”

“Yeah Donny, no problem. You can bet I’m not planning on saying anything. Talk about a breach of patient confidentiality!”

He looked over at Spike and in a move that surprised me, he knelt before her. “It’s gonna be fine Spike. As soon as that med clears your system, everything will be fine. Whatever is going on, the docs will get you fixed up and you’ll be back to normal.”

She nodded, thanked him, and we all got out of the rig. We walked in to the ER, stopping at the nurses’ station to find out what room they wanted us to put Kristy in. After getting a room assignment, I sent Tony out to look for extra gear and keep an ear on the radio while I waited to give report. Kristy sat on the examination bed, waiting. I didn’t know what to say so I worked on my report and figured out what to say when nurse came in.

After a couple of minutes, one of the nurses I knew came in to take my report. She raised an eyebrow at me when she saw Kristy sitting there, but kept quiet. “Robin, I have thirty seven year old Caucasian female with an altered mental status at the scene. Currently she is conscious, alert, and oriented to person, place, and time. She was unaware of traveling to and arriving at the scene but was able to recognize me when I spoke to her. There is no evidence of any serious injuries, no known allergies, and one new medication, Zoloft 50mg, once a day. Her doctor is on her way in to see her, ETA of fifteen minutes.”

Robin nodded as she took notes and then she signed my chart to acknowledge the  transfer of medical care to the ER. I stood there, not wanting to leave, but not really wanting to stay either. Robin went to Kristy started taking vitals and talking softly to her.

“So, you missed me so much while you’ve been out from work that you contrived a way to visit me Spike? You could have just called or stopped in you know.”

Spike actually chuckled at Robin and I felt some hope. ‘Well, I was hoping you’d baked some of your cookies, got any back in the kitchen?”

I stood a minute more as they bantered then slipped out from the curtained room to find Tony. He was out by the rig, waiting for me to appear. He shifted from foot to foot as I approached, waiting until I reached him to ask questions.

“So, how is she? What was going on back there Donny?”

“I don’t know for sure Tony but it looks like a med reaction. Must be a bad allergy or something.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that from a med reaction before. Are you sure?”

“Well, I don’t know what else it could be and I’m not going to speculate. She’s on leave anyway and it isn’t our business.” I tried to look stern instead of worried as I spoke, hoping to convey the message that he should keep quiet about this call.

“I hear ya Donny, this is just between us. I’m just thinking that you and I should do something to help her if something is really wrong. No one else needs to know anything.”

I sighed. It wasn’t that I wasn’t glad of the offer of support for our friend, but it was another person and it wasn’t my call to let him in or not.

“Look, unless she comes back to work acting funny, or asks for our help, we have to assume that she’s fine. I’m not going to get worked up and I suggest we drop it. Let’s get going and get back to the station.”

He shrugged and took the keys from his pocket. As we settled into the front seats of the cab, he looked over at me one more time. “If you’re sure, then I’m with you Donny. If anything does come up that I can help with, please let me know. I can keep my mouth shut. Spike is the reason I was able to remain in our station house after I lost it at that fire. She stuck up for me and argued that the suspension was enough to get my attention. It was and I’m grateful for the help she’s given me. So, if anything is needed, I’m here. That’s all I needed to say…so, what’s for lunch?”

I grinned at his way of changing topics. Food is always a good way to distract me. “Lead on driver, whatever your pleasure today, but food sounds good.” I groaned, “and then I have the medic students coming in to base.”

Tony grinned but wisely kept silent.


“Thanks baby, I’ll see you at home later.”

I hung up the phone in my office and sat back in the desk chair to think. Cait had gone to the hospital to pick up Spike. Instead, she was told that the doctor was going to keep her overnight. She called me to fill me in and ask what I thought about it. The honest truth was that I had no idea what had happened earlier in the day and that worried me. The idea of my mentor running around without knowing where she was or how she got there was scary. All sorts of things could have happened and I was grateful the outcome had been as positive as it was.

A knock on the door startled me form my thoughts. “Come in,” I called.

A head of spiky blond hair poked through the partially open doorway as Pauly looked inside. “You busy?”

“Not really. I’m not feeling too productive right now. What’s up?” I motioned her inside and nodded at one of the chairs in front of the desk.

“I was wondering how things are going with Spike. I haven’t heard anything in a week or so and Cait hasn’t mentioned anything. Any idea when she’s coming back to work?”

“Umm, I guess she’s fine. I don’t know for sure. I’m spending an awful lot of time right here these days. Why?”

“Just worried I guess. I feel sort of responsible for her being gone.”

I nodded in understanding. I too, felt responsible, but I felt worse since I saw her on that call this morning. “You know, neither of us is actually the reason she’s not working here right now. It is a culmination of years of not taking care of herself properly. She sublimated her own needs to bury herself in the job. I don’t know why she did it, but the result wasn’t healthy. She made the choices that led her here and she made the choices that are leading her to help now.”

“Yeah, I know, but it is still hard to walk around and pretend that I don’t know why she isn’t here. Do you think I could stop by and see her sometime?” Pauly looked at me, waiting for an answer as I thought it over.

“Why don’t you let me talk to her about it and I’ll let you know when a good time to visit would be. I don’t want her to feel like we’re deciding things for her. Okay?”

“Yeah, thanks Donny! By the way, since Cait has been much happier these days, I asked her about it. I hope you don’t mind, but she told me about you two moving in together. I think it’s great! If you need any help, let me know.”

“Thanks Pauly, now get outta here so I can pretend to do some work.” I grinned at her. I was bashful about the personal turn the talk had taken, but glad that she approved.

Continued in Part 11

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