Room for More(4)

By: Beth Ehemann


“Shhh!” Lauren hissed at him. “What are you gonna do, Kacie?”

I took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “I don’t know. What can I do? If I request a hospital transfer now, either I’ll end up in a field I don’t want to be in or they could make me wait ‘til next semester to switch and finish my hours, which would delay my graduation. I’m stuck.”

“Do you want me to come home?”

“Yes,” I said sarcastically. “Please hop on a plane and travel halfway around the world because I ran into my ex-boyfriend. I love you, but no.”

“You know if you said yes, seriously, I would be on a plane in an hour,” she said softly.

“I know you would and I really do love you for it.”

“So… how did he look?”

“Lauren!”

“What?” she squealed defensively. “I didn’t mean, like, were you checking him out. I just meant it’s been a long time. How did he look?”

“I don’t know. The same. Older. He had a baseball hat on, so I couldn’t see much.”

“Kacie…”

“What?”

“I know you. There was a ‘but’ coming.”

She does know me well.

“God, Lauren… those eyes. Those big brown puppy dog eyes that both the girls got from him…” I sighed. “They haven’t changed one bit.”

“Do you miss him?” she asked slowly. “Any sparks?”

“Hell no!” I screeched, lowering my voice when I remembered Brody was just a couple rooms away. “Brody on his worst day is a thousand times better than Zach on his best day. It’s not about missing him; I was just caught off guard, that’s all.”

The bedroom door flew open, startling me, as Lucy came flying in. “Mom, can you make us eggs?” she whined. “Brody said he’d do it but we had to pay him a hundred dollars. We don’t have any money.”

I shook my head and laughed. “Sure, honey. Just one sec. All right, Lauren, I gotta get going. I’ve got some hungry hungry hippos and a blackmailing boyfriend on my hands. Plus, I have to work again today.”

“You do? Oh God.”

“Think positive, Lauren. Think positive.”

I didn’t know if I was reassuring her or me or both of us.

“Are you going to tell the girls?” she whispered into the phone.

“You know she can’t hear you, right?” I laughed, winking at Lucy who was sitting at the end of my bed, staring at me. “And the answer to that is a big fat no. I’m hoping he just goes away. Think it’s a possibility?”

“Um, no.”

Lauren and I said our good-byes and I followed Lucy out into the kitchen. The closer we got, the stronger the bacon smell got and all was right in the world again.

Brody was standing at the stove with his back to me. He had on a blue T-shirt that was just tight enough to accentuate his toned back and shoulders. Those same blue pajama pants he wore the first time I’d stayed at his house hung loosely from his hips. The memories of our first morning together made my cheeks flush. I walked up behind him, slid my arms under his, and wrapped them around his waist. I laid my head against his back and closed my eyes as the familiar smell of him calmed my nerves.

“Good morning.” A light chuckle mixed with his surprised tone.

“Don’t move. This is nice.” His back vibrated against my cheek as he laughed harder, squeezing my hands in his.

“Do you have to go to the hospital today?” he asked.

The knot in my stomach returned. I was dreading heading into my bedroom and putting my scrubs on. I was dreading driving up to work and seeing an ambulance parked outside. I was dreading seeing Maureen again, who probably thought I was a total flake after yesterday.

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“Why? Quit. Stay home with us. You don’t have to work. Who needs a degree these days anyway?”

“Not a chance, but you’re sweet.” I squeezed him tight one last time and turned around to the fridge.

“Why not? Do you ever want to be a stay-at-home mom?”

“I don’t know. After him, I swore to myself that I would never depend on a man again. It was embarrassing to move back home and rely on my mom to feed and take care of us.”