My Only - Alex & Jamie (Crossroads #3)

By: Melanie Shawn

Chapter One

Coffee. Food. Sleep. Sex.

Her body ached for all four of those things…not necessarily in that order.

Jamie Miller closed her eyes and leaned her head against the cold, stainless steel wall of the elevator. A ding sounded, penetrating through her foggy-headed state and indicating that she had arrived at her intended floor. The doors opened and Jamie stepped out onto the linoleum hallway. She walked briskly down the corridor towards the cafeteria.

Coffee and food. Those were going to be the only two things on her mental list of physical needs that she would be able to satisfy in the immediate future. Sleep…maybe later. She might be able to get in a few hours, before her first shift at The Grill tomorrow afternoon. Sex…not likely. She sighed to herself. She hadn’t been able to scratch that particular itch for so long, that it was too depressing to think about.

She inhaled deeply, breathing in through her nose. The smell of antiseptic hit her nostrils and she instantly felt more alert. Yes! She was four hours into her third consecutive sixteen-hour shift, or “double” as the hospital staff referred to them, and she needed all the help she could get to perk herself up.

Most people hated the smell of hospitals, but Jamie had always loved the distinctive aroma. To her, hospitals were clean and safe places where people were taken care of, and the fragrant odor of disinfectant represented that safety. Part of the reason she had always wanted to go into nursing was because she couldn’t think of any better place to spend her days than inside the safe, clean walls of a hospital.

As a teen she had volunteered as a candy striper at Grace Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She had only been required to spend twenty hours per week ‘on duty,’ but more weeks than not she was there closer to forty hours. She just loved helping people! Whether it was just being in the room to provide moral support while a patient nervously awaited surgery, distracting them with board games and chit-chat to keep their minds off of the pain they were in afterward. Even just silently keeping them company while they recovered from whatever illness had landed them there – Jamie didn’t care, she loved it all.

Hospitals never depressed her or gave her the heebie-jeebies, as they did for some people. Nope, from the first time an asthma attack had sent her to the emergency room at four years old, she had felt more at home, and more safe, lying in that hospital bed in the E.R. than she ever had in the small one bedroom apartment she grew up in.

The automatic doors slid open and she stepped into the brightly-lit cafeteria. She glanced around the room to see if she recognized any of the staff that she had met over the last few days. She didn’t. She sighed as relief coursed through her. She wouldn’t want anyone to think she was rude, or intentionally ignoring them, but she could seriously use a few minutes to herself.

She had only been in Harper’s Crossing for a little over a week. Everyone she had met so far had been friendly, in that ‘small town’ kind of way. People here seemed to genuinely care about one another. This was exactly the kind of place Jamie had always dreamed of living in as a kid.

After securing the nursing position at Harper’s Crossing Community Hospital a little over a month ago, she had asked her Aunt Hazel if she might be able to pick up a few waitressing shifts at Gerard’s Diner. Jamie thought it was a no-brainer since Hazel had worked there for over two decades and was the manager. Initially, Aunt Hazel said it would be “no problem.”

But, a scant few weeks later when Jamie had arrived at Harper’s Crossing, her aunt had suggested she apply at The Grill, a restaurant and bar overlooking the Riverwalk. Jamie hadn’t questioned the about-face. Her feelings hadn’t even been hurt. She had learned early on in her life that people rarely kept their word, and she never depended on anyone. Talk was cheap, actions were what counted – and selfless actions were rare in this world, so why get your hopes up?

It wasn’t that she was bitter. Jamie was grateful for what kindnesses she received from others. It was just that she didn’t expect people to come through if they said they would. If they did? Great. If not? Still fine. Jamie knew that, when it came to people she could depend on, she was best off if she kept that list real small. As in…one name. Her own.