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.
Warnings: No violence, sorry. This does involve a look at loving relationships between women. If this is not your style, you are under 18, or if this is not legal where you live: Either don’t read it, don’t get caught reading it, or forget you ever saw this stuff.
For those who think lesbianism is wrong -sorry, perhaps one day after we cure stuff like cancer and AIDS we’ll work on stupidity-until then, don’t read and don’t flame.
Sex: Of course-not in all sections but it does happen now and again.
Sue: Always for you!
Anything I missed? Fill in the blanks or email me.
All comments, questions, suggestions and nice stuff are LOVED!
It was almost three weeks since Jay’s second surgery, and in another week she had to go back to Fox Chase for her radiation set up. She would also have a meeting with the chemotherapy doctor. Since Sharon and Riley were coming over, Jay and Bailey had decided to cook a bit of an elaborate dinner while Jay was able to enjoy it. Jay decided to make a glazed corned beef, while Bailey had chosen to make bubble and squeak, a more English dish, but also a popular Irish dish. They were also steaming asparagus with a little lemon, parsley and white wine just before they sat down, but it was all prepped and ready to go.
Jay started by boiling the corned beef until it was relatively tender, close to three hours, then putting it in a roasting pan where she scored the fatty top in a diamond pattern. She had already mixed up the glaze using a small can of frozen orange juice, still partially frozen, some ground mustard, brown sugar and a little cider vinegar. She brushed this on the meat, all over, and made sure to work it into the scored pattern before putting it in the over for a couple of hours. Every half hour or so, she would pull it out far enough to re-glaze it with the remaining mixture until it was done. When she served it, she would slice it across the grain and it would fall into tender slices of succulent meat.
While the meat simmered, Jay and Bailey tidied up the condo. As they worked, Jay was reminded yet again, of how lucky she felt to have Bailey back in her life. Just as she was about to say something, Bailey came over to her and gave her a hug.
“What was that for?” asked Jay.
“I was watching as you dusted and I had one of those surreal moments. I just couldn’t believe that we’re actually living together, doing things like a regular couple, after all we went through before. I feel blessed to have you in my life Jay, and I wanted to let you know that.”
“Baby, you have to remember, we are a regular couple. Well, as regular as two absolutely weird people can be, and we’re both lucky. We lost some time, but we’re together now and that is all that matters. I love you baby.” Jay pulled her close for a kiss, reveling in the feel of Bailey’s body as it molded to her own. Bailey swatted Jay’s bottom as they broke apart to continue their chores
Jay relaxed while Bailey took care of her part of the meal. She had scrubbed and baked several russet potatoes until they were soft in the center while the corned beef had boiled. Next, she cut them open and scooped out the innards. This was a shortcut to making spectacular mashed potatoes. Typically, bubble and squeak was a leftover dish, consisting of mashed potatoes with cabbage added to extend the potatoes for another day. She started by making the mashed potatoes with a little butter and cream, and then she added some roasted garlic, salt and white pepper. She sliced up some green cabbage and sautéed it in extra virgin olive oil, and added some thinly sliced onions. When it was soft and translucent she mixed it into the potatoes, and instead of frying it as was traditional, she put it in a casserole to bake. Normally the frying was what made the “Squeak” as the cabbage cooked, but she was willing to forgo that for the ease of treating it as a casserole.
“The Bubble and Squeak is all prepped. I’ll put it in the oven when you pull out the meat to rest.”
“Great, I cleared off the table, want to help me set it?” asked Jay.
They set the table together and chose some light music, mostly some Bonnie Raitt and Ella Fitzgerald for the cd changer. After making sure things were relatively picked up they changed their clothes, and then sat down to relax and cuddle until someone showed up. When the bell rang, Bailey went to answer the door. She came back with a smiling Riley who was carrying a mile high apple pie and a block of Irish cheddar cheese.
“I thought I’d handle dessert tonight. I hope you don’t mind, but I do know how you love apple pie with cheddar.” It was something Jay and Bailey had grown up with, heating up a slice of pie and melting a small amount of cheddar over it, mixing the sweet of the pie with the sharpness of the cheddar. Jay grinned at her, and rose to give her a quick hug as Bailey relieved her of her burden and her jacket. She brought her into the living room and motioned for her to sit down and get comfortable.
“Thanks Rye, that was sweet of you. We actually got some French Vanilla Ice cream for dessert, so that goes well with the pie, if any heathens want it that way.”
Rye grinned back, knowing she was the heathen in question. “Hey, you know me! I don’t turn down quality ice cream. So, what’s this about a fourth tonight? You guys aren’t playing matchmaker, are you?” She mock glared at both of them as Bailey reentered the room carrying beers for all of them.
“Actually, we really aren’t Rye. I invited my boss Sharon over. It feels like she’s been trying to help us out and get a little closer, but she isn’t sure how to do it. She’s been out of circulation for a while since she’s been playing it straight at work for so long.”
Rye sat up a little straighter when Jay said this, and Bailey gave her a look.
“Is it alright with you Rye? We didn’t think to ask you first.” Bailey wondered if something had happened when they ran into each other at the hospital.
“Uh, nope, it’s totally cool. If she’s helping you two out then she’s good people as far as I’m concerned.”
Bailey went to baste the meat for the last time and left the other two talking about some video game. Just as she left the kitchen, the doorbell rang again.
Bailey went to get the door and Riley suddenly jumped up and said something about the rest room as she dashed out. Jay, a bit startled, simply sat there for a second before getting up and going into the hallway to greet Sharon. Jay took Sharon’s coat and hung it up, and then took her into the living room while Bailey went to get her a drink. Jay was a little uncomfortable having Sharon in her home, but she had invited her and made the best of it. Bailey came in and handed Sharon her drink, she had opted for a beer as well, and sat down next to Jay on the couch. Bailey was just starting to say something when Riley came back in the room.
Jay was surprised to see Riley’s hair down, she was sure it had been in a ponytail when she arrived. She looked closer at Riley, was that lip-gloss?
Jay was about to tease her, but as if Bailey had read her mind, she said, “Jay, can you help me in the kitchen for a minute?”
“I can help if you need it Bailey,” offered Riley.
“Why don’t you just keep Sharon company while we finish things in the kitchen. We won’t be very long. Thanks Rye!”
Bailey tugged Jay towards the kitchen, leaving the two other women in the living room. Jay grumbled at her, “What was that for? Did you see Rye? What was with the lip gloss?”
Bailey looked at her in disbelief. “Are you really that dense Jay? Riley likes Sharon. And, from the way Sharon kept adjusting her collar and smoothing her hair, I think she likes Riley too. Why didn’t you tell me they met at the hospital?”
“I don’t know, because I was in pain and on medication? It just never occurred to me.” Jay shrugged and turned towards the oven to pull the beef out and slide in the casserole Bailey had prepared.
Riley palms were sweating a little as she grabbed her beer, and sat down on the corner of the couch closest to the leather chair that Sharon sat in. She wasn’t sure how to start a conversation but thankfully, Sharon took care of that for her.
“So, I’m told you’re a golf pro? And you were on the tour? That must have been amazing.”
Riley was surprised that Sharon would have enough interest in her, to find anything out about her. “Uh, yeah, I mean yes, I played on the LPGA circuit for a while, but I wasn’t in the top rankings by any means. I work up at the same club that Jay and her parents belong to in Bucks. That’s how we met actually.”
Sharon nodded and smiled. “Do you give private lessons?” Suddenly flustered, as she realized that that could have come across as a serious flirtation, Sharon blushed and said, “I mean um, for golf, is it group or private lessons. I’ve been thinking of taking up the game, but I’ll need some lessons to get started.
Riley blushed also, “Sure, I mean, we offer group and private lessons at the club; we can do special groups if you put your own together or general sessions. The private lessons are good too of course.” Riley stopped, she knew she was babbling like a brook, and couldn’t seem to help herself.
Sharon took a sip of her beer to cool down; she suddenly felt a little warm. “Great, maybe I’ll get the information from you and join. I live sort of between the city and Jay’s folks.”
Riley nodded and smiled, “That would be great, I’d be happy to show you around any time. We do stay open during the off season but it’s a lot quieter then of course.”
“So, you just moved back here not too long ago? May I ask why?”
“I wanted to spend more time with my family. I felt like I was missing out more than I was gaining by being on tour. It isn’t as if I was a top player or anything. I was middle of the pack most of the time. Nothing spectacular but not a washout either. What about you? Are you close with your family?”
Sharon felt a twinge of discomfort at talking about herself. She had spent so much of her life hiding her true self that it had become second nature. Something about the woman in front of her made her want to open up though, so she decided to try. “Actually, I’m the middle child out of three, but I’m the only one that stuck around the Philadelphia area. At first, I stayed because my parents were still here and I wanted to be here to look out for them. Then, I stayed because it was my home and I had started to advance in my career.”
Riley felt herself relaxing as Sharon talked. She enjoyed the sound of her voice as well as the fact that she was opening up. “Do they still live around here?”
Sharon shook her head. “They actually moved to Florida several years ago. They seem happy down there and my younger brother is close by in case they need help. I go down to visit about once a year, depending on things at the office.”
“Do they know you’re gay?”
Sharon smiled at that question, knowing that Riley knew of the closet she lived in a work. “Yes, they know. I think they knew before I did, to be honest. They have never had a problem with who I dated, unless they simply didn’t like her. My mother keeps trying to pair me up with the daughters of her Florida friends now. She seems to forget that I don’t live in Florida.”
Riley chuckled in appreciation, “My sister does the same thing to me. It was easier to avoid when I was on tour, but now, I find myself dodging blind dates set up by my sister. So, what do you like to do for fun?”
Sharon blinked at her, “Fun? I don’t know. I guess I garden when I can. I enjoy keeping my yard up when I can, but most of it is done by the landscaping service I hired. I pretty much work, come home, eat something, work out, and go to bed. I watch some TV or read if I have down time.”
Riley had to ask, even though she thought she knew the answer. “So, there’s no one special to spend your time with?”
Sharon smiled, but it seemed slightly sad to Riley. “No, there hasn’t been anyone in a very long time.”
Riley nodded, deciding not to push for more details, “Yeah, me either. Life on the tour was fun, but not conducive to long term relationships.
Sharon was amazed to find herself opening up to Riley. “It gets lonely sometimes, being so high up in the company. I have a lot of obligations. Most women feel slighted by the time I spend at work, but I enjoy what I do. My last girlfriend had major issues with my remaining in the closet at work. She felt it was dishonest and helped keep the community in minority status. Pointing out that the GLBT population is, numerically, a minority was apparently not the right way to go.”
Riley let out a chuckle, “Tell me you didn’t actually say that to her? No wonder you guys didn’t last!”
Sharon laughed as well, “Yeah well, I wasn’t too bright, but what I said was true. We are a minority and as long as the patriarchy is in charge, I’m not sure coming out in a conservative company such as the one we three work for is the sane move. The truth is, I’ve admired Jay for having the strength to do it. And Bailey, she’s been out her whole time with us too. They even managed to come out as a couple and so far, things have been just fine. I wish …”
Riley leaned forward, putting her hand on Sharon’s arm. “What do you wish?”
Sharon sighed, “Sometimes I wish it were different, that I was different. I’m lonely and as I get older, I recognize that the eligible pool of women shrinks. But, I won’t settle, I want what my parents have. They are best friends and partners in life. They’ve been together since high school and he still buys her flowers for no reason. She still bakes apple turnovers for him every Sunday morning. I want that, and failing that, I prefer to be alone. Anything else would feel like settling. But, enough of that, I’m rambling. I’m sorry.”
Riley put her hand back on Sharon’s arm and waited until Sharon was looking at her. “Never, ever apologize to me for sharing your feelings. If you need a friend to talk to, I’m happy to be here for you. I understand that not every employer is happy with diversity. Besides, who you date doesn’t have to be a matter for the workplace. As a high level manager, I expect it is hard to make friends at work without the appearance of favoritism. You can talk to me whenever you need to, just call.”
Just then, Jay and Bailey came back in the room announcing that dinner was ready.
“Dinner is served! Let’s get everyone to the table. More to drink for anyone before we sit down?” asked Bailey. After filling drink orders, Bailey joined everyone at the table and started passing food around. She gave Jay a meaningful look, and Jay shrugged, but asked Sharon how things were at the office.
“You can talk about it in front of Rye. She’s the best friend, I have outside of Bailey.”
Sharon looked up and then said, “It’s been pretty steady with no increase in comments. If anything, things seem to be calming down. I don’t suspect that will change until or unless, Bailey has to miss more work when you start treatments.”
Riley looked on, still confused how the three of them worked for such a company with such a conservative corporate culture. “So, is Bailey going to lose her position over this? I mean, can they really force her out just for taking care of Jay while she’s sick?”
Sharon shrugged but looked troubled. “Unfortunately, she doesn’t qualify for Family Medical Leave Act. No one has ever pushed for it before and she could get separated for excessive absenteeism if someone wants to push it. Honestly, I’m part of the problem. If more of us would speak out at work, then maybe this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. I’m just afraid to admit anything now. Either way I’m perceived as a liar, instead of a private person.”
Jay spoke in her defense, “I’ve never heard you lie about dating someone or anything. You simply keep to yourself, you don’t discuss anything personal, and as far as I know you haven’t dated in years.”
Sharon nodded, “That’s true I suppose. Not a much better statement of who I’ve been though, is it?”
Riley spoke up, “We each have to live how we see fit. No one else has to live inside our skin after all. If this has been working for you, then that’s just how it is, to hell with anyone else. If you decide it no longer works, then you can change it.”
Sharon smiled at her gratefully, while Bailey chimed in, “We didn’t purposely try to change the corporate culture. It was only out of necessity’s sake that we said anything at all. It wasn’t about hiding so much as being discreet about dating my former boss.”
“I see your point,” said Riley, “I don’t go out of my way to discuss things with the club members or my co-workers, but if one asked me directly I wouldn’t change pronouns or names either.”
The women moved the conversation to other things, in the process finding out that they all enjoyed some of the same music, which prompted Jay to turn on the stereo. Riley got everyone laughing with stories of some of her golf students and LPGA players on tour. Bailey told stories about living through some nasty hurricanes in Florida, and Jay was telling them an anecdote about her and Bailey when they were growing up, when the telephone rang. Jay and Bailey looked at each other, and then Bailey got up to get the phone. While she was out of the room, Jay made use of the chance to ask Sharon.
“Seriously, have you heard anything that suggests she might have a hard time taking time off?” Sharon responded in the negative and Jay let it drop.
When Bailey came back she said, “It was your Dad, Jay. He’s going out of town and wanted to let us know he might not be back in time for dinner tomorrow night.” Jay nodded and mentioned that they had plans with her parents for tomorrow, before going back to her conversation with Riley about the last book they had both read.
After dessert, they went back into the living room to talk, and Bailey suggested they play a game. Riley laughed and said they couldn’t play Monopoly; she refused to play any money games with three bankers. They all laughed and decided she was right, so they chose a trivia game and played as they continued to talk. By the end of the evening, Jay was surprised at all the things she had learned about Sharon, and was genuinely glad to have invited her. Sharon announced that it was late, and she was tired from work so she was going to head out. Riley suddenly jumped up and said she was ready to go as well, so she might as well walk Sharon out. Bailey had to bite her lip to keep from laughing and Jay continued to look baffled by Riley’s behavior.
As they got ready for bed, Jay asked Bailey what was going on with Riley and she burst out laughing.
“Honey, sometimes you are so thick! I love you but, damn woman! Riley is into Sharon!”
“What? Riley’s into Sharon our boss? You’ve got to be kidding me, please tell me you’re kidding me?” pleaded Jay.
“Why? What’s the big deal if they like each other? Frankly, I think Sharon is mellowing since everything with us has been going on. Maybe they could be good for each other.”
Jay shrugged as she finished changing for bed, “I don’t know, maybe.” She sounded skeptical but she really did want Riley to be happy. If Sharon did it for her, then so be it. She stretched out in bed and waited for Bailey to finish getting ready. As soon as she came to bed, Jay snuggled up behind her and nuzzled her neck. “I love you, you know that right?”
“Of course Honey, I love you too! Are you okay?”
“I’m great! I just want to make sure that you know it every day.”
Bailey leaned back and gave her a kiss that showed Jay just how much she understood. They settled back in and snuggled as they drifted off to sleep.
Just over a week later, Jay was getting ready to go to her radiation set up appointment, and meet with Dr. Goldman again about her course of chemotherapy. Jay was driving up on her own today, and she was happy to be out and about. She had developed a case of cabin fever, and knew it would only get worse. Jay knew it wouldn’t be long before she might not be able to do any driving for a while. She listened to music on the way up, good and loud stuff that she listened to when she was younger, the Clash, The Ramones, and of course, the B-52’s. When she arrived, she decided she was ready to face this head on and she would give it her best effort.
Walking in to the cancer center, she went to the main desk to find out where her appointment with Dr. Goldman would take place. After getting directions, she headed over to Area B, a nice waiting room with a gas fireplace and some armchairs near it to relax in during the wait. She settled in with a book after checking in and waited for her name to be called.
When she heard Michelle, Dr. Goldman’s nurse calling her name she went over and they went through the usual check of weight and vitals. After the nurse was done with her questions, she left the room and came back several minutes later with Dr. Goldman and one of his residents.
“Feeling okay after your surgery?” he asked as he checked the area of the scar for himself and then listened to Jay’s lungs and heart. She was waiting nervously for him to get to the part of their visit to do with the chemo. She had read up on it a lot in the past month and was frightened of the side effects.
“Jay, what we’ve decided on is this, if you agree. Three days of chemotherapy, then three weeks off between rounds. We’ll use Cisplatin and Thiophosphoamide, I’ve prepared handouts for you on both medications, and I will warn you now, it’s a heavy hitting dose of each. This is an aggressive cancer and since it was in two lymph nodes, I want to go after it as hard as we can now.”
Jay tried to absorb the information, grateful for the handouts to give Bailey later. She glanced through them, saw all the side effects, and wondered which of them she would have.
“I’m going to have a port put in so that we won’t have to start IV’s on you each time. The number of IV’s would increase venous scarring, and I’ve found it is much easier on the patient to go with the port. I was thinking this Thursday for the port placement, if you can get a ride. It is implanted while you are under twilight anesthesia. Not quite out of it entirely, but out enough that you probably won’t realize what is going on. Obviously, we can’t have you drive home after that, but it is done as an outpatient.”
Feeling almost numb as this point, Jay simply nodded. Her face slightly more pale than usual, and her mouth a thin line, as she struggled to keep from crying. Dr. Goldman asked her if she understood everything so far and she nodded.
He continued, “You won’t get both medicines each day of treatment, the Thiophosphoamide is only done once per round, as it’s very strong stuff. The Cisplatin is going to go in each of the three days, so your first treatment of each round will be the longest of the week. Does a Wednesday through Friday schedule work for you? That way your partner will be home over the weekend with you when you will be at your weakest.”
Again, Jay nodded mutely and waited for him to continue.
“Jay, I’m not going to lie to you. We really only have one chance to beat this kind of cancer. If it does reoccur, especially if it travels before it comes back, then we have lost. We can continue to treat it, but we won’t get a cure. This is the only chance for a full cure. That is why I want to go with this course of treatment. Do you have questions?”
Jay looked up at him with tears in her eyes, but all she said was, “No, I understand about the medications and side effects. I’ve read up on the treatments and on port use, so I’m ready. I’m terrified, but I’m ready. I think the fear of the unknown is my worst problem with this right now. I hate being sick though. I’ll get something for that won’t I?”
Dr. Goldman nodded and tried to reassure her, “Of course, we have medicine we’ll prescribe. Jay, by acting as quickly as you did, you gave yourself the best chance of successful treatment. Now, we’re going to do our part to give you the happy outcome we all hope for with your case. I wish I had a guarantee I could make, but it doesn’t exist. I’ll have Michelle walk you through the infusion room so you can meet some of the nurses and learn the way it all works. Then she’ll get you set up for the appointment to get the port placed. I’m planning on starting next Wednesday for your first round of treatment.”
“That soon? But I thought I would have radiation first?”
He shook his head, “We’re going to start the same week. By doubling up on the treatments, we hope to basically beat the cancer into submission.” Jay agreed and left the room with Michelle.
After the tour with Michelle, Jay headed to the basement of the cancer center. She stepped off the elevator into a small alcove, with a reception desk off to her left. Hanging on the wall was a ship’s bell, so she went to read the plaque beneath it.
It said, “Ring when your treatment is over.”
“You like it? We thought it was a nice take on the Naval tradition of ringing an officer off the ship when they retired or left the service of a particular ship.” The woman speaking was dressed in scrubs and had a clipboard under one arm.
“Uh yeah. Isn’t it tempting fate though? Kind of like challenging the cancer to come back?” asked Jay.
“Some look at it that way, some look at it as the prize to strive for during treatments. It might be a small goal but baby steps get you to the finish line just as surely as sprinting.” She smiled and held out her hand, “I’m Janie, one of the radiology techs down here. Are you here for treatment or set up?”
“Set-up I guess. Where do I go?”
“I’ll show you, I’m heading that way with this chart.”
As they walked deeper into the facility, Janie showed Jay around and dropped her off in the waiting area for set-up. After showing her where to change her shirt for a gown, Janie left her alone in the waiting area.
Again, waiting in the chairs, she became self-conscious of her scars. Thankfully, no one was around her and her discomfort eased. Damn, she thought to herself, I’m sitting in cancer center worried about my scars! There are people much more disfigured than I am. What the hell am I thinking? Shaking off her wave of self-pity, Jay waited until a tech came back for her and brought her into the simulation room.
“Jay, I’m Dylan, one of the techs that will help you through your radiation treatment. If you have any questions during your setup or treatment, make sure to ask us. Now, are you ready to get started?
Jay nodded, too afraid to speak lest she lose her breakfast. Dylan introduced the other techs and then directed Jay towards a low table that was covered by a thin sheet.
“When you arrive for treatments, you will change as you did today and wait in the main room that you passed on your way back here. Once we call you, you’ll enter a room set up much like this one and we’ll help get you settled on the table. Can you get up on your own”
“Yeah, I got it. Is this going to hurt?” Jay heard the tremor in her voice and did her best to vanquish her fears.
Dylan looked at her with his brown eyes filled with understanding. “Jay, I promise, nothing we do today will cause you pain. Eventually, the radiation will create some skin irritation and pain, but the treatments themselves won’t hurt. I’ll talk you through every step before we do it and that way you won’t have any surprises, okay?”
Grateful for his understanding, Jay nodded and let him position her on the table. She watched and listened as the techs discussed the treatment set up. She didn’t understand the terms they used as they talked about rads, lateral positioning, and dosage periods. It was all background noise. All she heard was the white noise in her head that appeared to block out her normal interface with the world around her.
“Jay, here’s what we need to do first. Because of the location we are dosing, we need to pinpoint the center of our beam on a very specific point on your neck. To do that, Wendy will hold your head and adjust it as we direct.”
Jay looked up and found a woman that she assumed was Wendy, smiling down at her gently. “What should I do?”
“Absolutely nothing,” said Wendy. “Just relax as well as you can and let me have total control of your head and neck. We need to make some alignment marks with a pen to guide us during treatments.”
“Won’t it wash off?” queried Jay.
“After we verify our markings, we will have to inject a small amount of a blue dye under your skin. It will be a tiny tattoo in three locations. I’ll do it slowly, so it won’t hurt much.” Wendy gave her a reassuring smile. She seemed like somebody’s grandmother and Jay felt safe with her.
Jay closed her eyes and felt Wendy take control of her head. The techs asked her to slide up, then to her right a bit. Wendy kept a sure and steady grip on her as she positioned Jay’s neck and head. Jay focused on the radio she heard playing in the background and tried to find her meditative place, a small green meadow on the edge of some wooded land. Running through the woods was a small creek and Jay felt herself walking on the banks of the creek as she meditated her mind away from the harsh reality that held her body captive.
Faintly, Jay heard Dylan’s voice, “Jay? Are you ready Jay?”
“Huh?” Jay opened her eyes, surprised to find that the tattoos had already been applied. Dylan was asking her if she was ready for the next stage. “I’m sorry, I must have drifted. What’s next?”
“We’re going to make a mold of your face to ensure that you are in the right position for the entire length of your treatments. It is made of plastic netting that will be clamped down to keep your head in position. We’ll apply it to your face now and it will feel a bit warm and damp. It hardens quickly, so we don’t have much time to work. Ready?”
“Go for it!” Jay rested her head back into the steady hands of Wendy.
The techs repositioned her, checking her tattoo dots with guide beams that came from the machine positioned behind and above her. When everyone was happy, Dylan brought over the plastic net and laid it over Jay’s face and head. He molded it to her lips, nose, and eyes, before smoothing the rest of it down and around her head. It cooled and hardened within minutes. Dylan lifted it off her and marked it with her name.
“Now I’m going to have you lay back down and we’ll position you using the mask to speed up alignment. Put your neck into the white tray so that the top of your neck is on the edge.”
Jay did and felt as the tray cradled her neck and head, putting them into a similar position to the one that Wendy’s hands had held her in minutes earlier.
“Jay, we’re clipping the mask over your head and face now. It won’t hurt, but it will feel snug. Just slide your face a bit so that the mask fits and your chin tucks into the position we molded.”
Jay complied and tucked her hands underneath her body to keep them out of the way. Finally, everyone was happy. Dylan stood over her, “We’re going to take a series of pictures that will mimic the path of the radiation treatment. We’re able to see you on camera and hear you via speaker. If, during treatment you ever need to stop, we’ll hear you.”
Jay, locked by her mask to the table, could even smile at his concern. “Thanks Dylan, I’m fine,” came out muffled but understandable.
Dylan and the other techs left the room. Jay closed her eyes and returned to her mediation, doing her best to block out the noise of the machine and the thoughts of what it was preparing to do.
After the test pictures were run, Dylan came back in and unclamped her from the table. “You can sit up and relax for a minute Jay. We’re sending the pictures to Dr. Zach for approval.”
Just then, Dr. Zach came in, and Jay realized he wanted to verify things himself, in person. At least he cares, she thought to herself, while allowing the techs to line her up and clamp her down once more. After the go ahead from Dr. Zach, he gave her a few encouraging words and promised to see her next week. That was it, Jay was free to change her clothes and go home.
“We’ll see you next week Jay. Enjoy your weekend and try not to worry about this too much. I promise, we’ll take good care you!”
As Jay left, she felt better knowing that she was in caring hands.
Bailey was struggling to maintain her composure at work. She had a new lender on the phone, trying to decipher a credit report on a customer before decisioning a loan application. Unfortunately, the new lender was not looking closely enough at the details, and Bailey was developing a headache as the person on the phone tried to convince her it was a good risk. As she looked through the report on her screen, she just shook her head, while she tried to give some gentle reminders of the traits and numbers to look for when judging an application. Finally, after another few minutes, she told the rookie lender to revisit the binder from loan classes and get back to her on why the loan was declined. She marked it as such in her computer before closing out of it. The open door policy that allowed branch lenders access to her was a good thing, usually. Today, she just couldn’t take much more. Resting her head back against her chair, she stretched and tried to loosen her neck and shoulders.
Bailey decided to go for a cup of tea in the kitchen before tackling her next series of reports. She was a little behind after spending the previous day teaching a loan class to some new customer service representatives from various branches. While waiting for the tea to steep, she leaned against the counter and let her mind drift a bit. The reality was, that her head and heart were with Jay right now. She knew how hard things were on her lover, but she didn’t know what to do to alleviate any of the stress for either of them.
Bailey was terrified of all that Jay would have to endure while still knowing that she might still lose the bigger battle. Sighing, she turned to remove her tea bag and added some sugar to her tea. Knowing what the problem was didn’t help her solve it, and it was keeping her distracted from her work.
Bailey sighed and headed back to her office with her tea. As she passed Sharon’s office, she heard her name called.
“Bailey, can you come in here a minute please?”
Bailey stuck her head in the door and asked, “You wanted to see me? Should I grab any files?”
“No, just come on in and shut the door.”
Bailey complied and sat in one of the chairs. Sharon came around the desk, an unusual move for her, and sat down next to Bailey.
“How are you doing Bailey? I’m getting the feeling that you might need some help.”
Bailey grimaced a bit and refrained from the sarcastic comments that leapt to mind. “I’m doing well, all things considered, but thanks for asking.”
Sharon looked closely at Bailey, easily reading the stress in her face. “Listen, I can help out with some more of the work load, and I’m going to bring in two of our more experienced branch level lenders to help out for now. Once we go over some things, they can help manage some of the lower limit decisions for a few branches each. It’s actually something I was hoping to do anyway, and right now we could use the help.”
“That’s not a bad idea, so the chain will shift to include them before a call to the main office?”
“Exactly, we’ll call it “Experienced Lender Level,” and include a slight raise for completing the new program. They will accept the leadership role for up to five branches depending on the volume.”
“Sounds like a good plan.” Bailey started to get a little more enthused as she realized that the extra help would be in place just in time for her to be able to help more with Jay’s transportation for treatments, and to care for her around the house. They talked a bit more about the program and agreed to get started with it the following week.
Sharon gave Bailey a quick look and said in a soft voice, “Thanks again for having me over the other night; I had a lot of fun. Please remember, if you two need anything, let me know. I really do want to help out if I can.” Bailey thanked her and left for her own office and the pile of work waiting.
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