THE BRASS RING
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers see part one.
Thanks to my beta reader Joanne.
As Always this is for Heather.
Jamie rubbed her throbbing temple as she hid in the break room. The ER was a mess that night. When she entered it looked as if all hell had broken loose. Burn treatment wasn’t her specialty and thankfully the more severe cases had been directed to Mass General since they were affiliated with the Shriners Hospital. Still some victims slipped through. The last patient’s injuries had been devastating. Jamie knew that there was nothing she or anyone else could do for the man. She did the best she could. Leaning over the unrecognizable man, she could smell his burnt flesh. “I’m going to make you more comfortable,” she told him in a soothing tone. She needed help and she knew it. Jamie was a talented doctor but she was in over her head with this patient. “I’m going to get some help,” she told him as she reached out to touch him. She pulled her hand away, knowing the slightest touch would only serve to inflict more pain. That’s when she heard it. “Don’t,” he managed to choke out.
Jamie’s green eyes blinked in disbelief as she fought back the tears. It wasn’t often when she was faced with the knowledge that it would be more humane to simply allow a patient to go. Jamie struggled with her emotions, knowing that he was in unbearable pain and his chances of survival were very slim. His body had been burned so badly that Jamie was surprised that he was still alive. Simon, the intern assigned to her, just looked at her, thinking that she had the answers. Stella, the nurse assisting them, gave her a sad knowing glance.
Jamie paused before giving Simon instructions. “Where are you going?” Simon asked in a panicked tone.
“Simon, there’s something you need to learn. Never be afraid of asking for help,” Jamie said firmly. “I’m not qualified to treat this man. He shouldn’t have been sent here.”
Jamie sought out help, finally snagging Dr. Lustrum. The elderly surgeon agreed that there was nothing that could be done. Jamie did everything by procedure from that point on. Thankfully the patient passed away quickly. They did what they could to save his life even though they knew it was impossible.
Jamie sat in the break room nursing a cup of coffee when Simon entered in a somber mood. He sat down at the table across from her. “You knew, didn’t you?” Simon asked her in an absent tone.
“Yes,” she replied in a weary voice. “Simon, there was nothing that could be done. We’re not God.”
“He wanted to die, didn’t he?” Simon continued.
Jamie bit her bottom lip, knowing it was the first time the young man had seen death close up. “Yes,” Jamie confirmed. “We still need to do everything we can.”
“I was relieved when he died,” Simon choked out. “I shouldn’t have been.”
“Simon,” Jamie began carefully as she reached out and squeezed his hand, “Mr. Barstow was in a lot of pain. There was nothing left to his body. Every breath he took was an agonizing hell for him. Don’t be ashamed for feeling better that he finally found peace.” As Jamie spoke the words, she wished that she could convince herself not to feel the same sense of guilt.
“Things are quieting down,” Simon said softly as he began to caress her hand. “They should be letting us go soon. Did you want to get a drink or something?”
Jamie smiled slightly as she slowly pulled her hand away. ‘Oh, this boy needs to pay more attention to the gossip around this place,’ she thought with a slight degree of amusement. “No thanks. I have someone waiting for me,” she explained, hoping that he would get the message. It wasn’t the first time the young man had shown an interest in her. Jamie had been trying to convey to him that she wasn’t interested for some time now.
Thankfully Stella entered the break room. “Mrs. Barstow is here,” the older nurse informed her in a dejected tone.
“Thanks,” Jamie said in a heavy tone as she stood.
“Do you want me to go with you?” Simon volunteered.
“No, why don’t you relax for a few?” Jamie said as she stepped out of the room with Stella following her closely.
“You know that boy has a crush on you, don’t you?” Stella teased her.
“I know.” Jamie grimaced. “I just keep hoping he’ll get over it. Jesus, didn’t anyone tell him I’m a big dyke?”
“I know I did.” Stella snorted in amusement. “He didn’t believe me. “
Jamie rolled her eyes in disgust as she made her way to the waiting room to face Mrs. Barstow. She braced herself for the worst part of her job.
After she did everything she could to comfort Mrs. Barstow, she was informed that she could finally leave. She didn’t argue; she headed off to collect her belongings. She just wanted to go home and see CC. She smiled as she thought about the dark-haired woman. As she tossed her lab coat into the laundry, Simon entered.
“I guess we’re free,” he said shyly.
Jamie simply nodded as she pulled on her black leather car coat, not bothering to change out of her scrubs. She wanted to go home and take a long hot shower and forget this night had ever happened. She wasn’t in the mood for Simon’s schoolboy crush.
“Dr. Jameson, are you sure you don’t want to get a bite to eat or something?” he persisted, his big brown eyes staring at her hopefully.
“Yes,” Jamie said firmly.
“Well, how about some other time?” he suggested.
Jamie bit back the groan as she calmed herself quickly. “Simon, you know that as your supervisor I can’t really socialize with you,” the blonde doctor stated firmly.
“I know it’s discouraged but it isn’t really against the rules,” the young man persisted.
“Simon,” Jamie spat out in a harsher tone than she had intended. “I’m seeing someone,” she added in a gentler tone, hoping to finally discourage him. She wasn’t up for the whole long pointless talk about her sexual orientation. Thankfully Simon simply nodded and began to change.
Jamie blew out a sigh of relief as she stepped into the corridor. She paused for a moment thinking about what she had said to Simon. For the first time in years she was seeing someone . . . or was she? Jamie felt the persistent throbbing start to build up in her already aching head. ‘Oh great! Now I have to deal with the whole what-did-last- night-mean thing?’ As Jamie stepped outside, the sunlight caught her off guard. It was midmorning. Jamie simply wanted to wash away the smell of her patients and wrap herself up in CC’s arms.
As she fished her car keys out of her pocket, she wondered if CC would take her into her arms. Just as she clasped her keys tightly, she saw the familiar and very welcome sight of CC approaching her.
“Hi,” CC greeted her brightly.
“Hi yourself,” Jamie said with a smile, fighting the urge to wrap her arms around CC’s body. “Still on duty?” Jamie asked, taking notice of CC’s badge hanging around her neck.
“Yeah,” CC groaned. “You all done?”
“Yes,” Jamie said with a nod. “I’m just heading home.” Jamie could feel her stomach flutter and her palms start to sweat as she debated what she should say or do.
The two women stood in the parking lot in an awkward silence. Each seemingly wanted to say something yet neither spoke. “I need to get back to it,” CC finally mumbled as she scrunched up her face.
“Right,” Jamie managed to mutter in response as she kicked the gravel on the ground. “I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah, see you,” CC responded absently before walking off towards the hospital entrance.
Jamie was kicking herself as she shuffled off to her car. “See you later,” she muttered as she climbed into her car. “Could I be any lamer? Why didn’t I just ask her what time she was going to be off duty?” Jamie rested her head on her steering wheel, wishing the throbbing in her head would cease. “Invite her over for breakfast?” She groaned, completely disgusted with her inability to simply talk to CC.
Jamie eased her head up. “Okay,” she calmed herself. “I know I want to start dating her again. Now all I have to do is find out what she wants. So I’ll just sit her down and talk to her. Then I’ll jump her bones.”
It was mid-afternoon by the time CC returned home. She was beyond exhausted. She had spent all night and the entire morning collecting statements. An hour ago the report came back from the fire marshal. It wasn’t arson. The fire was started due to faulty wiring. All of those hours had been a complete waste of time. She could have been snuggled up with Jamie. They could have finished what they had started the night before. Now she was emotionally and physically spent and she had to be back at work in a few hours.
CC yawned as she stretched her tired limbs. The townhouse was quiet. Emma was still with Brad and Stevie went out with friends. Her younger sibling was going to crash in town. She was happy that Stevie finally had some time to herself. CC thoughts quickly turned to Jamie. The blonde doctor was probably catching up on some sleep.
CC dragged herself off to take a long hot shower. Exhausted she climbed into bed after setting the alarm to wake her in four hours. “Sleep, I need sleep,” the policewoman whimpered as her mind kept drifting back to the night before. Making love to Jamie had been incredible. That was the problem. CC had made love to her. Unlike their last encounter, this wasn’t about sex. CC rolled over, annoyed once again as her inner voice reminded her that their drunken encounter hadn’t been about sex either. Not for her.
“Now what do I do?” She growled in frustration as she punched her pillow. “I could barely speak to her when I saw her earlier. What if it was just a fling for her? She isn’t the sweet naïve girl I left behind all those years ago. ‘I’ll see you later’ she said. What the hell does that mean?” CC sat up and stared at the telephone lying next to her bedside. “I can’t call her; I don’t have her phone number,” she reasoned. “I could just go over there,” she suggested. “No, if she wanted to see me she would have said something. She’s probably sleeping anyway.”
CC collapsed onto her bed in frustration. “Just take things slow, CC,” she chastised herself. “Of course, yesterday wasn’t exactly taking things slow, was it? I wish I hadn’t seen that lipstick on her collar. I’d feel a hell of a lot better about things.”
CC sighed heavily as she curled back up in an effort to get some sleep. She vowed that she would just take things with Jamie slowly. She needed to find out how Jamie truly felt about things. After all, Jamie lived next door. It wasn’t as if they wouldn’t see one another. CC listened to the empty sounds of silence. There was another matter she needed to direct her attention to and she didn’t want any interruptions. Smiling she slid her hand down her firm abdomen and began to touch herself. She’d been left feeling a little needy after her passionate encounter with Jamie had been interrupted.
A few hours later CC woke, still feeling irritable. Her mood had softened when she stepped into the living room and found Emma with Stevie. “Hey, peanut,” she called out.
“You look like hell,” Stevie commented with concern. “What did you and the nice neighbor lady do yesterday?”
“Nothing much,” CC lied as she retrieved her giggling niece from her sister. “I got called in on that fire. Turned out it wasn’t arson. But we had to work witness statements all night. I just got back a couple of hours ago.”
“I’m sorry, Sis. You must be wiped,” Stevie said with sincerity. “So what are you not telling me?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” CC scoffed. Something happened after Stevie became a mother. She seemed to possess this eerie sense of knowing when someone was lying to her.
“Right,” Stevie scoffed as she glared at her older sibling.
“I need to get ready for work,” CC responded coldly as she handed Emma back to Stevie. CC rushed off in an effort to escape.
“Caitlin,” Stevie said firmly.
There was something in her younger sibling’s tone that made her halt her movements. It frightened her. “It’s nothing,” CC lied once again as she shyly turned to face her sister. “I had a very nice day with Jamie.”
“And?” Stevie pried.
“We kind of slept together again,” CC mumbled.
“Have you lost your freakin’ mind?” Stevie scolded her. CC’s jaw dropped in surprise. “What does this mean? Are you two getting back together?”
“I don’t know,” CC answered her honestly. “What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that you’re still in love with her,” Stevie responded gently.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” CC flared as she stomped off.
CC’s anger continued as she showered and then dressed for work. She just wasn’t quite sure what she was so angry about. She grunted a terse goodbye to her sister and went out to her car. She noticed that Jamie’s was gone. She knew that Jamie had already left for the hospital. She made a mental note to stop in and see her when she got home. CC turned the key in the ignition and was greeted by an irritating click. “Come on. Not tonight,” she growled as she tried once again to start her car.
CC slammed the steering wheel, hurting her hand in the process. She muttered obscenities as she stomped back into her home. “Stevie, my car is dead again. Can I take yours?” she shouted.
“Go ahead,” Stevie called out from Emma’s room.
CC tossed her key ring onto the counter and snatched up her sister’s. “Today is going to suck. I just know it,” the irate policewoman grunted as she headed back out to the parking lot.
Jamie had caught up on some well-needed rest and then went to work. Her shift thankfully hadn’t been as stressful as the previous evening. She often found herself thinking about CC. She pondered what the night before had meant. Jamie was displeased with Simon. It appeared that their little talk had not lessened the young man’s crush. She decided that she could no longer handle him in a gentle manner. She had thought that their last conversation would have made things clear. She wasn’t available and not interested in breaking hospital policy.
“Dr. Fisher,” she said coldly as they stepped away from their patient. She had decided to start calling him by his last name, hoping the sudden change would make things clear to him. She handed him a box of latex gloves and a tube of KY gel. “You know what you have to do,” she instructed him firmly.
Jamie fought back the laughter, knowing that the task she had given him was every young doctor’s nightmare. Simon turned pale as he stared at the items she had handed him. He looked back at the overweight elderly man who was lying on his stomach groaning. “The patient is impacted,” Jamie said firmly. “You need to clear his . . .”
“But?” Simon squeaked out, his brown eyes pleading for help.
“Dr. Fisher,” Jamie repeated sternly. “This patient needs your help. Get to it and be gentle.” She patted his chest before turning him towards the suffering man.
“There has to be another way,” Simon pleaded. “I can’t just reach into his . . .”
“Rectum,” Jamie finished. “And clear it.”
Jamie gave Simon a cocky smirk before leaving him to tend to the patient. It was a cruel task but one that everyone had to endure at least once in their medical career.
“I can’t believe you’re doing that to him,” Stella chastised her as she stepped out into the corridor.
“Everyone has to do an extraction at least once,” Jamie said with a feigned innocence.
“Uh huh.” Stella chuckled. “And the fact that he probably won’t feel very romantic after having his hand up that guy’s backside has nothing to do with it?” Stella accused her.
“Heavens to Betsy,” Jamie gasped as she sauntered over to the nurse’s station. “The thought never occurred to me.”
“What’s going on?” Evaline inquired with interest.
“Dr. Jameson is having Fisher do an extraction.” Stella scowled.
“Ugh,” Evaline groaned in disgust. “Nothing like pulling crap out of someone to start your night off. I swear, you doctors love torturing the youngsters. You do know that boy has a thing for you?”
“Yes,” Jamie groaned. “I tried being nice. I tried explaining things to him. I even told him firmly that I wasn’t interested. He just keeps looking at me with sad puppy dog eyes.”
“Did you tell him that you’re gay?” Evaline pried.
“Not yet.” Jamie groaned in frustration. “I thought that maybe he’d get the hint. Heck, even if I was straight he’s not someone I’d be interested in. Why is it that some guys just don’t get it?”
“Speaking of your love life,” Evaline continued merrily.
“Were we?” Jamie scoffed as she rolled her eyes.
“I just couldn’t help noticing that you’ve been a little too chirper lately,” Evaline explained, her curiosity clearly evident.
“Maybe I’m just happy to see you,” Jamie teased.
“Right,” Evaline scoffed. “Out with it.”
“Out with what?” Jamie responded nervously.
“I saw you with that cop you were treating,” Evaline taunted her. “There’s something going on with the two of you, isn’t there?”
“Actually, she’s my ex,” Jamie explained quickly, hoping to put an end to the conversation.
“And?” Stella pushed.
“And nothing,” Jamie responded with a blush. “I need to check on Fisher,” she blurted out quickly.
The rest of Jamie’s shift was uneventful. Simon seemed less amorous after performing an extraction. Jamie gathered her gear together and headed out to her car. She yawned as she started her car. “I wonder if CC’s home yet?” she pondered hopefully.
When Jamie pulled into the parking lot at home, she smiled when she spotted CC’s car. Oddly Stevie’s minivan seemed to be missing. Jamie parked her car quickly and bounced out into the parking lot. Her joy quickly vanished when she noticed that all of the lights at CC’s townhouse were out. Jamie frowned, knowing that her plans to spend some quality time with CC had just gone up in smoke. “Rats,” she groaned as she headed into her own home.
After tossing and turning all night long, Jamie finally managed to sleep for a couple of hours. The blonde doctor’s mind was spinning. She tried to sort out what had happened between her and CC. Her mind hummed constantly, wondering if the sexual encounter meant anything or if it was simply a case of their hormones getting the better of them.
Jamie shuffled down the staircase, sneaking a quick peek out her front window. She smiled when she spotted CC’s car still there. Stevie’s minivan was once again noticeably absent. “Good, maybe I can have a chat with CC without Stevie being there.” She grimaced slightly when she saw the contractor’s truck parked in the lot.
Jamie returned upstairs and took a quick shower. She dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt covered with her favorite charcoal gray sweater. She quickly blew her short blonde hair dry. She inspected her appearance in the mirror one last time before heading downstairs. She was bare foot. She smiled as she went out onto her deck. She had purposely chosen not to wear a bra or underwear. She felt slightly silly at the secret desire that things might progress between her and CC.
Jamie climbed over the railing and noticed that the sliding door was open, allowing the breeze to flow into CC’s living room through the screen door. Shyly she lifted her hand to knock on the metal frame of the screen door. Her movement halted suddenly when she heard an unfamiliar voice moaning from with inside. “Yes . . . oh baby, that feels so good.” Jamie’s heart sank as she listened to the sounds of pleasure emanating from the strange woman. Jamie felt sick as the bile rose in her throat. Quickly she went back over the railing that separated their decks. Jamie dashed inside and ran into the downstairs bathroom. Her body rocked violently as she released the contents of her stomach.
Jamie was curled up in front of the toilet, her head resting against the wall. “Why did I trust her again?” she choked out as her head throbbed violently. All she could think of was CC making love to another woman just on the other side of the wall she was leaning against. She blinked back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. “It was too soon,” she chastised herself. “I went from hating her to falling for her all over again in less than a day. I’m a fool,” she finally concluded.
send comments to email@example.com
for updates, previews & the wednesday afternoon series join my egroup at