Fourth and Goal
For disclaimers: See Part 1
Rock looked out the window at the early morning sun and sighed. Well kiddo, this is the first day of the rest of your life. Will you still be a football player after you complete your therapy, or will you be a has-been? Will Caitlin be able to help you walk again? She smiled at the very thought of Caitlin. I wonder what she’s doing. Her smile broadened.
Johnnie stopped just shy of Rock’s hospital room door. I know that look, Squirt. A wistful smile crossed her lips. That’s the look you have when you’re thinking about the woman you love. I pray to the Great Spirit that you and Caitlin will live long, healthy lives and share the love that Alma and I had. She walked into Rock’s room and made her presence known by clearing her throat.
“Hey Gram,” Rock said. “How are you feeling this morning?”
Johnnie walked over to her granddaughter’s bed and gave her a kiss on her forehead. “I’m kicking, but not high.”
Rock chuckled. “Oh Gram, you and your country sayings.”
“You know, when I was a young police officer the other officers used to call me Big Country,” she said as she took a seat.
“Seems like I remember you telling me that, Gram,” Rock replied and looked her grandmother over carefully. “Seriously, are you ok? You look tired.”
“I’m fine, Squirt. I just didn’t sleep too soundly last night.” She paused. “All the excitement of today had my mind reeling.”
“I know what you mean. I’m really dreading the press conference,” Rock admitted.
“It’ll be ok, Squirt,” she assured her. “If you want, we can skip it all together. I never liked the press anyway.”
Rock scratched her head and for a fleeting moment considered skipping out on meeting with the press. “I better go through with it, Gram. The fans have been extremely generous with their well-wishes and everything; I’d hate not being able to thank them.”
“Too bad Spencer won’t be here to discuss with the press his handiwork. It’s a good thing young Dr. Davis agreed to fill in for him,” Johnnie said. “I really like him.”
Rock nodded in agreement. “I’m thinking about asking if he can take me on as a full time patient.”
A look of concern washed over Johnnie’s features. “What do you mean, Squirt?”
“What I meant was whenever I need an orthopedist, Gram,” she rushed.
Dr. Davis walked into Rock’s room. “Good morning, ladies.”
“Good morning, Doc,” Johnnie responded. “We were just talking about you. Are you ready for your big debut?”
He stuck his hands in his lab coat’s pockets and sighed. “I’m not going to be at the press conference.”
“Why not?” Rock asked.
“It seems the hospital administrator felt that the hospital would be better served if the chief of orthopedics handled the press conference, so Dr. Andrews will be conducting the interviews.”
“Over my dead and rotting corpse!” Johnnie yelled and walked out of Rock’s room.
“Where is she going?” Dr. Davis asked.
Rock chuckled. “Most likely down to the administrator’s office.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “Gram gets a woody whenever she gets the chance to stick it to Andrews. She hates him with a passion.”
Davis visibly shuddered. “I would hate to be on her bad side.”
Caitlin looked at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and was horrified. One side of her head looked as if a camel had licked it, and the other side looked as if she had been electrocuted. Her eyes were red-rimmed from lack of sleep. What did you think you’d look like with only two hours of sleep? If Rock could see you now she’d probably run away screaming. She smiled and turned on the shower spray and let it run for a while so the water temperature would be to her liking. I wonder if she’s a morning person. “Why are you thinking about Rock?” she asked aloud. Could it be because you have a thing for her? “Absolutely not! That wouldn’t be ethical.”
Any further discussion with herself was halted by the phone ringing. “Hello,” Caitlin answered hastily.
“Good morning to you, too, Mary Sunshine,” Milli teased. “Are you excited?”
Caitlin rolled her eyes. “About what? It’s just another day.”
“Bullshit,” Milli replied. “I bet you didn’t get an hour’s sleep last night.”
“Ha ha, shows how much you know. I got two hours sleep.” Caitlin cringed and silently cursed herself for taking her friend’s bait.
You are so gullible, Cait. “Two hours sleep over just another day?”
“Did you call just to torture me, or did you want something?”
“Well, being the good friend that I am, I thought I would bring bagels over and we could have breakfast together.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait and have dinner, instead? That way you’ll get all the juicy details.”
Milli laughed. “Oh, we’re having dinner together. I just want to make sure you eat something.” She took on a more serious tone. “I know how you get when you’re nervous.”
“Well, you have a key so use it. I’ll be in the shower.” Caitlin paused. “Don’t forget the cream cheese like you did the last time, either.”
Milli sighed. “Yes dear.”
Johnnie strode purposefully into the administrator’s outer office.
“Good morning,” his receptionist replied.
Johnnie ignored her and continued toward the inner office.
“Wait, you can’t go in there, ma’am,” the young woman said as she stood in front of the door.
“Lady, if you know like I know, you will get your narrow ass out of my way,” Johnnie warned.
The door opened and an agitated man stood behind the receptionist. “What in the world is going on out here?” he demanded.
“This woman tried to barge in, Mr. Hargrove,” she informed him, looking at the tall woman with disdain.
Recognizing the angry woman he dismissed his receptionist. “It’s ok, Amy.” He paused while Amy went back to her desk. “Come in, Ms. Green. What seems to be the problem?”
Johnnie walked into the office and slammed the door shut. “Don’t play ignorant with me. I heard all about the scheme that weasel Andrews cooked up. He just had to have his grubby little fingers in this press conference.”
“Ms. Green, please calm down. I approached Dr. Andrews about filling in for Dr. Taylor, not the other way around. After all, he does head the orthopedics department.”
“What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” she demanded. “He wasn’t even on the surgical team.”
“I’m this hospital’s administrator, Ms. Green, and my decision is final,” he told her as calmly as he could. “Dr. Davis can be at the press conference because he was on the surgical team, but Dr. Andrews will be running it. Now if that’s all, I have work that I need to get to.” He picked up his pen and started writing.
Johnnie arched an incensed eyebrow. “You just bet on the wrong horse, Hargrove. Andrews is a putz and this will blow up in your faces.” She turned to leave but stopped. “Mark my words, Andrews will fuck this up and your precious Chief of Orthopedics will look like the bumbling idiot he truly is. Why do you think he was booted off my granddaughter’s case?”
Hargrove stopped writing and looked up at her. “Dr. Andrews assured me that it was a personal vendetta that you have against him.”
Johnnie laughed sarcastically. “Well, he’s partly right. I guess he failed to mention that it was because he botched what was supposed to be a simple operation.”
“What are you talking about?”
She gripped the handle of her cane tightly; her constant reminder of Dr. Andrews’ incompetence. “Doesn’t matter. It’s probably water under the bridge as far as he’s concerned.”
Hargrove rubbed his right temple. The ramblings of an old woman. “Good day, Ms. Green.”
“Whatever,” Johnnie said as she left the office.
Caitlin walked into the rehab center and immediately noticed the hustle and bustle of the cleaning staff. What in the world is going on here? She nearly ran into administrator van Roekel as she turned the corner near her office. “Ooops... sorry, Mr. V.,” she said as she reached out to grasp the man’s arm. Why are you here so early? You don’t usually get here until 11.
“It’s ok, O’Hara,” he said in an unusually cheerful tone. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” she replied. “What’s going on? Why is the cleaning staff moving at light speed?”
He laughed. “You of all people should know what today is.”
“Yes, I know that Ms. Rockwell is being transferred here today.” She looked around here. “But what’s with all the spit and polish?”
He took her arm and continued to walk briskly toward her office. “Do you realize the publicity this facility will garner with such a high profile patient?”
“Mr. V., I don’t think that she will expect to be treated different from any other patient,” Caitlin said. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think that she will be making public which facility she will be receiving her therapy.” What is it with you and your big mouth today? Don’t let him know that you’ve seeing Rock, idiot. “At least that’s what her grandmother has told me.” Good save.
“Sweet, naïve Caitlin,” he said, patting her shoulder. “We are the top facility in the state, with a well trained staff. Where else would she come but here?” I know this, and the press knows this as well. I’m sure we will get even more notoriety with the Rockwell woman here. “I trust that you will remember what we discussed a few weeks ago, O’Hara.”
“The family has requested that I not handle Ms. Rockwell with kid gloves,” she happily informed him. “They warned me about how difficult Ms. Rockwell can be at times and told me to use any means necessary to get her to respond to therapy, so they insist that Attila make an appearance if need be.” She stepped into the office that she shared with the other therapists. “Now if you will excuse me, I need to go over Ms. Rockwell’s care plan.” She quickly closed the door so she wouldn’t have to listen to another one of van Roekel’s lectures on the virtue of keeping Attila on a short leash.
“Sweet goddess,” Caitlin whispered, leaning her head against the door.
“My sentiments exactly,” Bluto said.
Caitlin nearly screamed because she was caught unawares that her friend was in the office. “You scared ten years off my life, Bluto!”
“Sorry, Shorty,” he said as he handed her a cup of coffee. “Mr. V is really hyped up about Ms. Rockwell coming today.”
Caitlin laughed. “Indeed he is. I haven’t seen him so beside himself since the governor’s daughter was here last year.”
“So, are you ready for your first celebrity patient?” he asked.
“Not you too, Bluto,” she groaned. “What is it with people and celebrities? Milli was all over me this morning about that very thing.”
“How is my future wife?” Bluto asked, acting like a love struck teenager.
“As big a pain in the ass as ever.”
Bluto shifted from one foot to the other. “She still dating that asshole attorney?”
“You mean Josh?” Bluto nodded. “Nope, she ended it about a week ago.” Caitlin paused. “When are you gonna ask her out?”
Bluto blushed. “Oh, I dunno. She might not like me, you know?”
“And why not?” Caitlin asked just a little bit too harshly. “Sorry, but you have got to stop putting yourself down like that, Bluto. You are a wonderful man with a lot to offer.”
“I know, Shorty, but she’s a big time attorney,” he paused and held out his arms, “and I’m just a PT.”
“Milli isn’t like that. She wouldn’t be my friend is she was a snob.” She walked over to her friend and poked him in his chest. “You’d better ask her out.”
“Yes, mother,” he said, rubbing the poked pectoral.
Caitlin smiled. “Good, now take a look at my care plan for Rock and let me know what you think.”
“Ooh, Rock is it?” Bluto teased.
“Well, isn’t that what you called her?” she asked, placing her hands on her hips.
“Uh, no. I called her Ms. Rockwell.” He smiled. “I know you got a thing for tall dark and gorgeous, and it’s ok.”
“I do not have…”
Bluto held up his hand to stop the mini tirade that was about to happen. “Shorty, it’s ok. I know you would never do anything you thought was inappropriate. I was just teasing you. Now come on and show me your plan of helping all the football fans get their favorite player back.”
Mike Sloan came in from his morning run and went to the kitchen to get his usual quart of juice. While in the kitchen he turned on the television to the NFL channel.
‘Stay tuned to the NFL channel where we will have the press conference of Valeria Rockwell’s release from Carolina’s Medical Center.’
Oh, this should be interesting. Mike took a seat at the breakfast nook and waited for the press conference to begin.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the press, my name is Dr. Clayton Andrews,” he stated proudly. “I am here on behalf of Carolina’s Medical Center to give you the details of Valeria Rockwell’s surgery and following that will be Ms. Rockwell to make a statement and answer questions. Alright, let’s begin.”
Johnnie stood off to the right and behind Rock’s wheelchair. Next to her were Nadina, who stood directly behind Rock, and then Michael. Just behind them were JB and Coach McNamara.
Rock could hear the strain of the wood as her grandmother gripped the handle of her cane. She knew that Johnnie was very angry because Andrews was being his usual arrogant self. “Gram,” she whispered over her shoulder.
Johnnie leaned in close to Rock’s ear. “What is it, Squirt? Are you in pain or something?”
“No,” she said quietly, “but the handle of your cane is screaming for mercy.” She paused. “It’s gonna be ok, Gram.”
“Smartass,” Johnnie whispered and kissed Rock on the cheek. When she straightened herself, she felt Nadina’s smaller hand slip into her wrinkled one.
“She’s right, Mama,” Nadina said. “Just relax and don’t let that little man get to you.”
Johnnie looked down into her daughter’s face and smiled. “I’ll be good,” she whispered and then gave Nadina a kiss on the cheek as well.
“The process that was used in Ms. Rockwell’s surgery was part of a new procedure that’s been developed called Molecular Tissue Regeneration,” Dr. Andrews announced. “MTR is where part of an injured body part is taken and placed into a regenerator and from a molecular level,” he paused, “in layman’s terms re-grown.”
“How much of Ms. Rockwell’s tissue was used for this procedure?” one reporter asked.
Dr. Andrews was at a loss, so he looked down at his note cards hoping to find the answer. Dr. Davis saw him frantically searching the cards. In an act of kindness whispered “approximately 3 centimeters.”
“We took only a miniscule amount. It was approximately 3 centimeters,” he told them.
“How was the regenerated tissue re-attached to her spinal cord?” another reporter asked.
Andrews started sweating. He knew the answer was not in his notes and he hadn’t kept up with MTR technology in the medical journals. “By way of laser technology.”
A female reporter scoffed at his answer. “Don’t surgical lasers cut instead of connect?”
The other reporters began to react like sharks when there is blood in the water. They started pelting him with technical questions about the MTR and Rock’s surgery in detail. Johnnie stood back and grinned evilly at Andrews’ undoing. I warned Hargrove and in typical fashion old Andrews fails with flying colors.
“How can you not know about an operation that you performed?” a reporter demanded.
“Well, I didn’t perform the operation,” Andrews finally revealed.
“Then why are you talking to us?”
“Who performed the operation?”
Andrews sighed. “Dr. Spencer Taylor performed the MTR. He couldn’t be here so I was asked to fill in.”
Nadina looked up at her mother knowing full well she was about to blow. “Not one word, Mama,” she said through gritted teeth, giving her mother’s hand a squeeze.
Johnnie started to growl at her daughter, but could see that she meant business. She gave her an innocent smile. “I wasn’t gonna say one word.”
“Bullshit,” Rock snickered.
“I’ll deal with you later, Squirt. I haven’t forgotten that whupping I owe you.”
“Well, you should be able to tell us something since you were on the surgical team,” another reporter yelled.
“I wasn’t on the surgical team,” he reluctantly admitted.
Johnnie quickly turned to Nadina, her eyes pleading.
Nadina looked at the gleam in her mother’s eye and nodded her head in agreement.
“Dr. Davis was on the surgical team,” she said just loud enough for the reporters to hear.
“Where is this Dr. Davis?” some of them demanded, showing their displeasure at the ruse Dr. Andrews had put on.
Andrews turned and allowed Dr. Davis to come forward. Dr. Davis did and began to answer all the press’ questions. Once he was finished he stepped aside to allow Rock to make her statement.
JB pushed Rock’s wheelchair, followed by her family. The reporters applauded her for a few moments. She then raised her hand to quiet them.
“Thank you so much for your support. It’s meant so much to me during my recovery. All the cards and letters that I’ve received lifted my spirits at a very low point in my life and I’ll never forget the kindness that was shown to me.”
“Rock, how do you feel?”
She smiled. “I feel wonderful, and I’m looking forward to my rehab and getting back on the football field?”
“So you are returning once you can walk again?”
“Indeed I am,” she proudly said.
“How do you feel about Mike Sloan and the NFL’s suspension of him?”
Rock stiffened at the mention of Sloan’s name. She felt, JB’s hand gently grasp her shoulder. “Mike Sloan is a great football player. If the NFL felt that his actions warranted suspension, then who am I to argue?”
“Do you think his attack on you was personal?”
A memory of the night she spent with Miriam flashed through her mind. Hell yeah, it was personal. “You’re going to have to ask him. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a rehab center to get to.”
“Which center are you going to, Rock?”
Dr. Davis took over when JB turned Rock’s chair to take her to the waiting ambulance. “Ms. Rockwell has requested that the facility remain anonymous so that she will not be distracted from her therapy. Thank you all for your time.”
“Well ain’t she special,” Mike growled. “You’ll have to ask him, she says. Bitch, you fucking know it was personal. You can’t fuck my wife and get away with it.” He drank the rest of his juice. “My wife. That whore took my kids away from me because of you, Rock. I hope you never walk again, you home wrecking slut.” In his rage he thought about all his misfortune and slammed the juice carafe against the wall.
Caitlin watched as the ambulance that carried Rock pulled around to the back of the facility. She had been pacing nervously as she awaited the arrival of her famous patient. Mr. Van Roekel’s flittering about didn’t help in soothing her nerves. Unable to keep herself still, she walked to the entrance of the facility to greet Rock’s grandmother and the rest of her family. Gram always seems to settle me down. She smiled as she watched Johnnie pull away from JB who was trying to help her from the car. She nearly doubled over with laughter as Johnnie attempted to chase him while swinging her cane at his buttocks. I can see where Rock gets her mischievous streak.
“Hello, Caitlin,” Nadina said as she held out her arms for the young woman.
Caitlin walked over to Rock’s mother and accepted her embrace. “Mrs. Rockwell, how are you?”
Nadina pulled from the embrace and frowned at Caitlin. Caitlin’s eyes cast shyly downward. “I’m sorry. I meant to say Nadina.”
“That’s better,” she said as she cupped Caitlin’s cheek. “Are you ready to take on the most stubborn woman in the state of North Carolina?” she jokingly asked and then suddenly remembered her mother and her antics. She looked out to see Johnnie still mock chasing JB. “Make that the second most stubborn woman. Excuse me, Caitlin.” Nadina walked over to the door and partially stepped through it. “Mama,” she yelled, “would you please stop chasing JB so he can help Michael bring in Vali’s things.”
JB wiggled his butt at Johnnie. “Ha ha, Gram, you can’t get me now,” he taunted.
Johnnie grinned evilly as she threw her cane at him like a javelin, hitting him hard on his right buttock.
“OW!” he yelped as he rubbed the offended body part.
“That’ll learn ya, durn ya,” Johnnie laughed. “Now bring me my stick, boy, so I can go sit down. My knee is killing me.”
“There ain’t nothing wrong with your knee, old woman,” JB muttered, still rubbing his buttock as he picked up her cane.
Johnnie’s eyebrow arched. “What did you say to me, boy?”
JB swallowed hard as he walked over to her. He forgot that Johnnie’s hearing was still sharp. “Nothing, Gram.”
“That’s just what I thought,” she said as she snatched her cane from him. “Now get those bags inside.”
“Yes’m,” he said quietly.
Nadina shook her head at her mother, knowing she enjoys every moment she gets to tease Rock and JB. She held the door open as Johnnie walked into the rehab facility. “Mama, why do you torture him so?”
Johnnie snorted. “Because it’s fun.” She looked at Caitlin and smiled. “Hey Smurfling, c’mere and give me a hug.”
Caitlin couldn’t resist hugging the elderly woman. She felt like Johnnie was the grandmother she never knew. For some odd reason, she always felt safe when she was with her. “Hi, Gram. How are you feeling?”
“I’m as fine as frog’s hair,” Johnnie said, quoting one of her favorite country sayings.
Caitlin giggled. “Frogs don’t have hair, Gram.”
Johnnie laughed as well. “Yeah they do. It’s just so fine that you can’t see it.” She added a little wink to Nadina.
The little reunion was interrupted by Mr. Van Roekel’s booming voice. “O’Hara, I’ve been looking all over for you. Why aren’t you at the patient reception area waiting for Ms. Rockwell to be processed?”
Nadina tensed at the tone he took with Caitlin knowing all too well that Johnnie wasn’t going to like it one bit. She looked at her mother and could see her straightening to her full height. Before she could say anything, Johnnie was moving in front of Caitlin.
“That’s because she was busy greeting us, you buffoon,” Johnnie angrily said. “Why would she be sitting around doing nothing when she was here making sure that we knew where my grandbaby was and what she was doing?”
Van Roekel nearly wet his pants when he realized that he was in the presence of Rock’s family. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Yes, you are very sorry,” Johnnie continued. “Do you always talk to your staff this way?”
“No, I was just worried about where O’Hara was.”
Johnnie moved closer to him. “Is she prone to disappear when she’s on duty?”
“Uhm, no she isn’t.” He started sweating profusely.
“Just so you know, we didn’t pick this rehab center because of you or your reputation. We came here because of her,” she said as she pointed her thumb in Caitlin’s direction. “She’s the best PT in this state and the best chance that my grandbaby has at getting back on her feet. So I would suggest that you learn how to talk to folk or you may start losing them. Maybe the therapists should look into opening their own rehab center. That way they won’t have to deal with the likes of you,” she added as she poked him in his chest.
He really began to sweat as the thought crossed his mind. With the credentials the PT staff has they would run this place out of business for sure if they left. I’d better try to straighten this out. “O’Hara, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell, it’s just that I’m concerned about the patient. We need to process her as quickly as possible so you can begin your evaluation.”
Caitlin knew he really didn’t mean any harm and that he was beside himself because of Rock’s celebrity status. “It’s ok, Mr. V.”
“Good, good,” he said, breathing a sigh of relief. He turned his attention back to Rock’s family. “I’ll get someone to help them with Ms. Rockwell’s luggage. In the meantime, if you’d like I could show you where her room is.” He looked at the still angry older woman and her smirking daughter.
“I think Ms. O’Hara can show us to my grandbaby’s room,” Johnnie said, not as much a suggestion but a demand.
“Very well,” van Roekel said, defeated. He walked back toward the patient processing area.
“Mama, why did you scare him like that?” Nadina asked, barely able to contain her snickers.
“Because it’s fun,” Johnnie answered, giving her a lopsided grin. She looked back at Caitlin. “Do you want me to go beat him up? I think I still got it in me to take him on.”
Caitlin laughed. “That’s ok, Gram,” she said, patting Johnnie’s hand as she took it into her own. “If you ladies would come with me, I’ll show you where Rock will be staying.
Miriam looked at herself in the mirror one last time, checking to make sure that she looked as gorgeous as possible. She wanted to remind Rock of what attracted her in the first place and hoped to cause a spark between them. The boys had already had their breakfast and were at the tutoring center at the hotel. She walked over to the plasma set to turn it off when she saw Rock’s press conference. She’s even more gorgeous now than she was that night we made love. Miriam turned up the volume and sat down. She smiled as she listened to Rock’s velvety voice. Shivers ran up and down her spine as she remembered that same voice whispering in her ear.
“Mike Sloan is a great football player. If the NFL felt that his actions warranted suspension, then who am I to argue?”
“Do you think that his attack on you was personal?”
“You’re going to have to ask him. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a rehab center to get to.”
“Rehab Center?” She gasped aloud. “She’s being moved to a rehab center? Why that old battle-axe…” Miriam stood abruptly and gathered her coat. She stopped suddenly when she realized she had no idea where Rock would be taken. Think, Miriam, think. After a moment of pacing, she ran over to the telephone and called the concierge. “Yes, hello, I was wondering if you could recommend a good rehab center. I’ve aggravated an old volleyball injury and I’m in desperate need of a deep tissue massage.” She paused and rubbed her forehead impatiently as she listened to the concierge. “No, I’m sure you have a wonderful masseuse on staff, but I’m in need of something a little more advanced. Someone who can handle sports injuries.” She listened intently and a smile formed on her face. “The Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation, is that the best in the city? Oh, the best in the state. Very well then, could you get me a car to take me to the center? Thank you.”
When Miriam hung up, she grinned wickedly. “All I have to do is get you to see that we have something special, Rock. Then I can not only leave Mike, but embarrass him as well.”
Johnnie paced back and forth in Rock’s room. It’s time to get this show on the road. I don’t know how much time I have before…
“Mama, will you please stop pacing,” Nadina begged, interrupting Johnnie’s thoughts. “You’re going to wear a groove into the floor.” She rolled her eyes at the glare she received from her mother and turned her attentions back to Rock. “Are you ok, darling? You’ve been awfully quiet since they got you settled.”
Rock shifted on the bed, grimacing in pain. “I’m ok, just a little pain in my back and thighs.”
“That’s to be expected, Rock,” Caitlin said from the doorway. “I took the liberty to ask your nurse to prepare your meds.”
Forgetting all about her pain Rock sat up further in the bed, grinning like she had just won the lottery. “Don’t just stand there, c’mon in.”
Caitlin turned on her patient PDA and walked into the room. “Are you settled in? Is there anything you need?” She immediately blushed when she realized what she had asked.
Yep, I need you to jump in bed next to me. Rock felt the warmth of her full blown blush creep up her neck at her thought. “I’m ok.” You are such a perv.
Johnnie shook her head at them. This is gonna be a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve never seen Squirt so bashful. Guess I’ll have to give these two a little push. “It looks like the Smurfling has to do some work. Maybe we should leave these two alone.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Caitlin said, looking like a deer caught in headlights.
Nadina caught the hint. “I could use a cup of coffee, and we can find out where Michael and JB wandered off to.” She stood up and her mother grasped her hand.
“Now, Squirt, make sure you cooperate and don’t give Caitlin a hard time,” Johnnie warned. “You think you hurt now; imagine what it would feel like having a nice long switch on that ass of yours.”
“Gram!” Rock yelled, totally embarrassed. “I know how to behave.”
Johnnie’s teasing eased Caitlin’s nerves just a bit. She watched as mother and daughter left the room, closing the door behind them. Her attention then turned back to her patient. You can do this. She’s just another patient, she reminded herself.
I wonder is she as nervous as I am? Rock studied Caitlin. She doesn’t seem to be rattled at all. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part that she could even be interested in me.
“The nurse will be in here after I finish my evaluation and go over my care plan with you. That is if the pain isn’t too bad,” Caitlin softly said. She noticed the tiny beads of perspiration on Rock’s upper lip and fought against herself to wipe them away. “What kind of pain are you experiencing?”
“I guess you could describe it more like muscle cramps and spasms more than actual pain.”
“Where are these cramps located?”
Rock threw back her bedcovers, revealing long, tanned legs spilling from the pair of Panthers team shorts she wore. She sat up and pointed toward her lower back, just below the incision and then to the backs of her upper thighs.
Caitlin drew in a breath when she got a close look at Rock’s well muscled thighs and legs. Oh, goddess, please help me. She admired the contrast the white shorts had against Rock’s dark legs. “You may be able to get by with a massage. I know athletes don’t particularly care for pain killers since they are so addictive.” Her hand shook as she placed the PDA on the bedside table. “Turn over,” she ordered, trying to mask the quiver in her voice.
Rock lowered the bed and rolled over to her side and then to her stomach with Caitlin’s help. Her breathing increased when Caitlin’s hands brushed up against her sides and pulled her shirt up to the middle of her back.
Caitlin’s hands shook as soon as her fingers came in contact with Rock’s unusually warm skin. Oh my, she must have a fever. Her concern for Rock’s well being had taken over and all thoughts other than helping her patient flew out the window. I hope there isn’t any infection coming. She examined the site of surgery and noticed that the artificial skin was about two shades lighter than Rock’s natural tone, but admired the near perfect match of the pores. The more she prodded, the more tense the muscles in Rock’s back became. “Am I hurting you, Rock?”
“No, no, I’m ok. It’s just the spasms,” she lied.
“They shouldn’t last too long, Rock. The nerve receptors that connect to your lower extremities are actually receiving messages from your brain again,” Caitlin said as she began to massage Rock’s lower back. Oh, goddess, her skin feels wonderful. File that away for later; you have a job to do. “That is a very good thing.”
Oh, man, her hands are so soft. Rock noticed Caitlin added more pressure. And incredibly strong. “Why do you say that?” Rock asked, resisting the urge to moan.
“Well, now we know that your body is accepting the regenerated spinal tissue,” she explained as her hands rubbed well developed back muscles. “Although it’s a perfect DNA match, there are still some synthetic components integrated.” Caitlin’s hands began to move lower, massaging Rock’s buttocks. Her behind isn’t the granite I thought it would be. File that away for later, too.
If she squeezes my ass much longer I’m gonna cum. I can feel those hands pulling me closer as I…STOP IT! She’s working. Rock tensed when Caitlin’s hands moved to her thighs. Cotton candy, rainbows, fluffy clouds, babies, bubble gum…
“Rock, you’re going to have to turn over so I can get to your quads,” Caitlin said.
“Ok,” Rock managed to whisper.
When Rock turned over, Caitlin got a good look at well chiseled abdominals. Sweet goddess, give me strength. She mentally slapped her hands to keep them from touching Rock. She started massaging Rock’s thighs, and was startled when she heard a deep moan. “Are you alright?”
“Huh?” Rock’s eyes opened quickly. Shit, she heard me moan. Don’t be a dork, just handle this. “Oh, sorry, it’s just that you give a wonderful massage.”
Caitlin smiled. “Thanks. I aim to please.” I hope she doesn’t feel my hands shaking. She moved closer to Rock’s crotch and got another moan from the prone woman. Help me get through this.
Rock slammed her eyes shut. Please, please, please don’t brush against my clit. You’ll feel how hard it is and run away screaming because I’m such a pervert and then Gram will kill me. She moaned again, unable to resist because Caitlin’s hands were magic.
Caitlin looked at Rock, seeing the look of pure pleasure as it washed across her patient’s face. Is that how she looks when she’s aroused? Does she moan like that while in the throes of passion? She knew she had to stop herself. “Alright, that’s it for right now,” she said, pulling the covers back over Rock’s legs.
No, no, don’t stop. Don’t ever stop touching me. “Ok, that feels much better. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, Rock.” Caitlin smiled. “We do have massage therapists here on staff if you need a deep tissue massage. I can take care of mild cramps and spasms.”
“Then you need to license those hands because you give wonderful massages.” You can give me one every night.
Caitlin blushed at the compliment. “Let’s go over your care plan so your family can come back and spend time with you. We have a busy afternoon ahead of us.”
Rock looked confused. “Busy? I thought we’d be starting tomorrow.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Caitlin asked and then grinned evilly. She turned on her PDA and began to list all the things that they would be doing.
Rock covered her ears. “La, la, la, la, la, la, la, I am not listening to you.”
“She loves that truck,” Nadina said.
“I can’t believe she still has it,” Michael added. “It needs to be in a museum.”
“Y’all better stop dissin’ my Navigator,” Johnnie warned. “I’ve had that SUV since before you were born, Nadina, and it hasn’t given me a bit of trouble.”
“Then why did you have the engine replaced with a hybrid?” Michael asked.
Johnnie arched an eyebrow. “That was because your wife had it out one night and decided she wanted to be helpful.”
“Alright, Mama, there’s no need to bring up the past,” Nadina quickly interrupted.
“Not this time, Little One,” Johnnie said as she held up her hand. She turned to Michael. “Seems your wife thought she would help me out by putting some oil treatment in the Navigator.”
“Well, what’s wrong with that?” Michael asked.
Johnnie laughed. “Nothing, it’s just where she put it that caused the problem.”
Nadina buried her head in her hands. “Mama, please?”
“Well, where did she put it?” JB asked.
“She put it in the gas tank.”
Laughter erupted and carried throughout the lobby.
“How in the world did she manage to do that?” Michael asked, doubled over with laughter. “Back then they had different nozzles than the gas treatments.”
“My little genius got a plastic knife and held the metal flap open and poured the entire can into the tank,” Johnnie revealed.
“Why is it so funny now?” Nadina pouted. “You grounded me for two months and wouldn’t let me drive for six.”
“Is that why you wouldn’t put gas in the car when we first got married?” Michael asked, wiping the tears from his eyes.
Nadina rolled her eyes at him, and the trio started laughing all over again.
They quieted down as a limo pulled up out front.
“Looks like that pencil pusher has a big shot coming to visit,” JB said.
They watched as the driver opened the door and a gorgeous brunette got out of the car.
“Oh shit,” Johnnie growled.
“What is it, Mama?” Nadina asked.
“Trouble,” Johnnie said as she watched Miriam Sloan walk toward the entrance.
I truly apologize for the extended lapse between updates. There was a family tragedy that took place and writing time was limited. I thank each of you for your patience and I hope that you continue to enjoy Fourth and Goal. Updates should now be coming regularly.