“Hey Emm are you going to Dr. Samuels St. Valentines party?”
“Doesn’t anybody here have anything else to do other than go to parties?” Emm asked Jackie, one of the shift nurses.
Jackie pursed her lips and continued walking. “I guess that’s a no for you, right?” Emm didn’t reply. When it came to work, she was all business and people knew better that to pester her with trivialities. Emm reached the medical bay and immediately met Dr. Samuels. “So can we expect you at the party?”
Emm looked at him in disbelief. “Aren’t you in the middle of rebuilding your house from that awful Halloween fire?”
“Well, there’s still some work going on, but most of the house is done and there’s no reason why we can’t use it.”
Emm shook her head. “I don’t know if I’ll go, Samuels. I’ll let you know.”
“Okay. Mary Anne said she was coming.”
Emm didn’t respond. Her friend Mary Anne went to every single party, whether she was invited or not, especially if she was in pursuit of some guy. Somehow, she’d always find someone to get her into the party. That had been the case with the Halloween party when she practically forced Emm to go so that she could meet the hot guy of the moment. However, that particular night, Mary Anne did not achieve her objective and instead it was Emm who got lucky and met Casey.
After a long workday, Emm arrived home, tossed her briefcase on the kitchen table, took off her shoes, and slumped on the sofa. Just about then her cell phone rang. She smiled when she picked it up and saw the name on the screen. It was Casey. “Hi sweetie, how was your day?”
“Awful.” Casey responded in her usual tone, which always made Emm smile. “I spent all afternoon with that client who does not seem to be able to make up his mind as to what he wants. It’s really not him but his wife who is giving me a hard time. She can’t decide what size kitchen she wants or bedrooms, whether she wants northern or southern exposure, stairs or no stairs. The woman is a lunatic. She was even looking at the trajectory of the sun and talking about the equinox and the solstice and the yin and the yang thing. She drove me nuts and now I have a headache. I also have a pain in my foot that is killing me. I think I have an ingrown toenail. Do you suppose the headache is related to the ingrown toe nail?”
Emm laughed. “Why don’t you just get here, and let me take a look at it.”
“Thanks babe, I don’t know what I would do without you. I guess I’d be at the doctor every single day.”
Emm laughed again. As things were, Casey was actually at the doctors every day. Just like most people, Casey had trouble understanding that as a nurse practitioner, Emm, was the equivalent of a doctor. Without Casey knowing it, Emm was taking care of each and every one of her ailments every time there was a new one which was almost every day.
Immediately after they met, Emm knew that Casey was a hypochondriac an adorable and silly hypochondriac. Like all hypochondriacs, Casey was symptomatic of anything that could probably affect her. However, Emm found treating Casey incredibly fun. There was something very genuine about Casey that Emm liked. Maybe it was her complete frankness and lack of reservation when talking to her that created a relaxed fun atmosphere that Emm simply enjoyed. Even when Casey was upset, and worried, Emm found her adorable.
Emm never disregarded her symptoms, as most people did, and always gave Casey her full attention. Sometimes that was enough to take care of any problem. Other times, when necessary, Emm treated the symptoms with some sort of medication which often times was just a placebo, or some sort of home remedy like hot or cold compresses, a massage, or a recommendation to get some rest. But invariably as a result of any treatment administered by Emm, Casey always felt better.
“Just get over here quick, I’m going to make some dinner for us, how about some spaghetti and meatballs?”
“Awesome. I’ll bring some of that Italian bread you like.”
Headache and toenail forgotten, Casey headed for her car. “Hey, Casey, I’m throwing a St. Valentines party, make sure and show up!” One of her agent friends said, as Casey exited the office.
“Yeah, yeah” Don’t hold your breath.” St. Valentines party, ha! I hope Emm is not into that kind of shit! She found her car and drove wondering if Emm would be into the St. Valentine hype and whether she would be required to comply with all the customary symbolism of flowers and chocolate gifting. “Nah, I’m sure Emm is not into that nonsense.” But she resigned herself to the thought that if Emm was into the St. Valentine ritual, she’d have to comply.
The minute she walked through the door, Casey was smiling. “Smells great in here I’m salivating already. Is it ready?”
“Yes.” Emm kissed her as she took the bread and the wine from Casey’s hands. “What happened to the bread?” The baguette was missing a chunk.
“I was hungry and the traffic was bad.” She attempted to hold Emm to kiss her, but Emm had already walked away leaving Casey with the need for contact.
“I better get to that spaghetti before you fill up with bread.”
Casey followed Emm looking out for the food, and still wanting to kiss her. “Umm, that smells delicious.” Casey came close, held her from behind and kissed her.
Emm smiled, turned and handed her a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. “Go on. Sit down and eat, it’s going to get cold.” Just when Casey had taken her first bite, she stopped chewing when she heard Emm talk. “Dr. Samuels is having a St. Valentines party.”
Casey looked up like a deer caught in the headlights. “Do we have to go?”
Emm laughed out loud.
“What’s so funny?” Casey asked.
“You should have seen your face. No we don’t have to go. I was just telling you because I find it unbelievable that the guy, who practically lost his house to a fire on account of a Halloween party, is already throwing another one. I mean, they are still working on the house and there he is having another party. Don’t people learn anything?
“I know. Some people just live for that kind of crap.” Casey continued eating, much more relaxed now that there was no St. Valentines pressure. “One of the agents in my office also invited me to a party another one of those people who lives for that kind of stuff. Don’t you get tired of people inviting you to all that nonsense?”
“Yes, and of all the red decorations and everyone trying to sell chocolate, flowers, or cards it’s all very commercialized.”
“Yeah, you have no idea how glad I am that you feel that way too. I’ve always felt an incredible pressure during those stupid manmade holidays. By the way, Emm, these meatballs are heavenly.”
“Thanks. I’m glad you like them. You know what we should do?”
“We should get out of town for the St. Valentines weekend. That way no one will pester us with any party proposals. I can already hear Mary Anne pushing me to go to Samuels’.”
“Oh, please! No Mary Anne! Let’s get away. It’s a great idea. Do you want me to find a place to go?”
“Sure, you are the real estate agent.”
That night at home, Casey was already online looking for a remote place where they could perhaps go hiking. Emm liked to hike and had all the gear. Maybe a place where she could fish. She liked to fish and Emm had expressed interest in learning.
It didn’t take her long to find the perfect place, a hunting lodge in the mountains. There’d be plenty of hiking and fishing available there. The next thing to do was to call Emm and to get all the gear ready. Emm was excited when she heard Casey’s planned adventure for the weekend. There was even a photography hike scheduled to a nearby waterfall.
Because St. Valentines was on Saturday, they thought to get an early start on the weekend by leaving late on Friday morning. All work arrangements were made and they drove off in Casey’s Jeep Wrangler which was allegedly suited for any mountain adventure. As it happened, leaving the city took longer than expected. Traffic was just not predictable around the big cities anymore. It was already dusk and they had still not arrived to their destination. It didn’t help that it had begun to rain. “Are you sure that we are on the right road?” Emm asked a bit concerned noticing that the road ahead was getting narrower.
“Well, it’s what the GPS says.” Casey responded with a crease between her brows indicating some worry.
“Oh God! Cas, look out!” Emm yelled when she saw a huge boulder rolling down the side of the mountain.
Emm’s call was to no avail. Casey saw the huge chunk of rock as well, but could not do anything to avoid it. Had she veered anywhere they would have gone down the ravine or crashed against the side of the mountain. There was simply no way to avoid it and the rock slammed into the Jeep.
“Dear God! Emm are you alright?” Her first instinct was to put an arm out for Emm to stop her from any forward motion even though they were both secured on their seats by the seat belts.
“Yes, you?” Emm was rattled, but she too put out her arm to hold on to Casey.
“Okay, okay. I’m okay, scared shitless, but okay. Let me go out there and look at the damage.” Casey exited the vehicle on her side and Emm did the same on hers. Out front they contemplated the huge rock in the middle of the narrow path and the Jeep crashed into it.
“As good as ever, I once dressed as the Bionic Woman for Halloween and since then I can see in the dark.”
Casey smiled adoring, as always, Emm’s sense of humor. “Good, I think that’s a great skill, but just in case, I packed a couple of flashlights. Let me get them.”
“The GPS says that we are not far from the lodge.” Emm said from the door of the car.
Just then, they heard roaring engine noises. And shortly after, saw a gigantic pick-up truck with raised wheels pull up in front of them on the other side of the boulder. A huge, bearded man stepped out from the truck.
“Good evening ladies, I reckon you might need some rescuing.” The man could have very well, been seven feet tall and 300 pounds heavy.
Casey, froze and immediately prepared by reaching for her gun which she had in the trunk. Casey was a certified NRA member and duly licensed gun enthusiast. She also knew how to use her toys, as she called them, having had plenty of training.
Emm remained by the Jeep’s door wide-eyed. Casey, protectively, came over to Emm’s side of the car and stood next to her. “Stay put. I’m carrying.” Casey had to smile when she saw Emm’s gorgeous golden brown eyes open as wide as she had ever seen them. Emm was not able to utter a word.
“Mr. Stolys, the lodge’s owner, sent me to pick you up. He saw the boulder run down the hill and since he was expecting you he asked me to come and check if there was anyone on the road. So, why don’t I just grab your bags and I’ll bring you up. In the morning, we’ll send a tractor to remove the boulder and bring your car up.”
The women looked at each other not knowing what to do. “We might as well, Cas. What are we going to do? Spend the night here at the risk of other rocks falling and maybe landing on top of the car and maybe hurt us?”
Now it was Casey who was wide-eyed. “Emm, I can’t believe that you want us to get in that truck with that man! Look at him! He looks like he could tear us apart with one blow!” Casey whispered in Emm’s ear in an outraged sort of tone.
“You and your imagination. That poor man, has gone out of his way to help us and here you are thinking the worst of him. And aren’t you armed anyways?”
Casey looked at her in almost shock. “Yes. I’m armed, but I didn’t expect to be killing anyone this weekend! Plus my carpal tunnel is acting up and I don’t know if I would even be able to pull that trigger.”
“Well, don’t you worry about having to kill anyone I don’t think you’ll have to, and when we get up to the lodge, I’d like to take a look at your hand. I wouldn’t want anything happening to those wonderful fingers of yours. I’ll massage them all night if I have to.”
Casey’s mind immediately went to imagining Emm’s massage and her hands doing what they liked to do best to Emm. By the time Casey came back to reality, Emm was telling the bearded man which bags to get and giving him directions as to how to handle them. The man followed Emm’s instructions blindly, almost afraid of doing something wrong.
“Come on, Cas. Let’s get in this nice gentleman’s truck so that he can take us to the lodge.”
“Dear God. Dead, we are gonna show up dead in some ditch tomorrow.” Casey said groaning.
“No we won’t. Come on have faith in human kind, baby.”
The truck engine roared as they went up the hill splattering mud everywhere. Casey looked back to her Jeep hoping that her insurance payments were up to date. “Don’t you worry, miss, your Jeep will be up at the lodge in the morning all nice and clean.” Yeah right! I’m sure tomorrow it will be parts at the nearest junkyard.
When they arrived at the lodge, a heavy, bold man wearing round glasses was waiting for them on the porch. “Good day, good day! I am so very glad that you are fine. Please accept my apologies for this great disaster. I am in shame. We will make it up to you and hopefully you will forgive us and come back again.” The bold man said in English heavily marked by a European accent. He sounded as if the thought of their inconvenience was causing him excruciating pain. “This is my fault I should not have opened this place for business yet. I should have waited until the roads were paved and the mountain lined with a cement wall like the wall Donald wants to build on the Mexican border. I have no excuse for my mistake. I am surprised that you are not yelling at me, or throwing things at me.”
Faced with such drama, Emm and Casey looked at each other wondering what to do. Sure it was an inconvenience, but it was more of an accident than a purposefully premeditated happening. They couldn’t say that it was alright because it wasn’t, but it was nothing to feel so dreadfully guilty about.
“I will pay for the repair of your car and have it cleaned and brought here for you by
Neither of them thought that such a thing would be possible considering the damage to the Jeep and the weather, but if he was going to pay for it, they could always have the bearded man take them to the nearest town to rent a car there to drive back.
“We must get you dry and feed you now.”
“Mr. Stolys, Mr. Stolys!” A heavy woman in an apron showed up followed by two younger women also wearing aprons.
“What is it Yadka?”
“The roof in the kitchen has fallen and the meal is ruined.” Yadka wailed amidst tears in her heavy Russian accent. Emm and Casey followed everyone inside to witness the disaster. The kitchen ceiling had collapsed when a huge tree fell on it. The room was totally destroyed and the huge trunk of the tree lay across the room while rain poured in as if by buckets. Everything was soaked.
“Oh no! Heavenly God send a lightning bolt from the heavens and strike me dead right now!”
Emm walked to them. “It’s okay, it’s okay. We are all fine. Don’t you worry.” Emm tried to calm the women down. “Is anyone hurt?”
“No, but what could be worse that my Casserole being ruined? And now I have no food for you.” The crying woman replied.” I spent three hours making my Casserole and now I have nothing. All my ingredients were the best.”
Looking at the damage, Casey couldn’t believe that the woman was worried about her Casserole and about feeding them. “The roof can be fixed.” The ever-practical Casey was already assessing the damage and possible costs of repairs.
“I have a few granola bars in my backpack. I’m sure we can manage.” Emm said in a comforting tone. Emm’s suggestion, rather than calming the women produced even more tears. “ No, no, no! That will not do. I will start another Casserole now.” Emm couldn’t possibly imagine how the woman could even think of cooking anything in what was left to of the kitchen.
“Girls, girls, bring umbrellas!” Yadka yelled and the younger women ran out of the room. When they returned, they had huge umbrellas with them and immediately went to cover Yadka with the umbrellas as she climbed over the tree in an attempt to get to her pots and pans……..
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