When I opened the door, I didn’t know what I expected to see. Maybe some malnourished metalhead with long black hair and face paint, but I was pleasantly surprised.
This guy had long hair, yes, but it was dirty blond, and he looked to be very muscular.
With his bulky build, he sat on the edge of the gurney, shirtless. His chest and arms were covered with tattoos—tattoos and dried blood that is.
“Hello, Mr. Chandler. My name is Cortney. I’m here to dress your hand.” I couldn’t help but admire this gruffly cute thing he had going for him. I bet he could be a real head turner when he wasn’t all disheveled.
I swallowed hard when he grinned at me. He had a great smile. His teeth were set in a perfect arch that was just crooked enough to show he hadn’t needed braces as a child.
Unlike me, who needed two rounds of them, with headgear.
“Well, aren’t you a pretty little nurse?” he said, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched me make my way across the room with a smile.
“Well, you’re not so pretty right now.” I smiled dryly as I set my stuff down on the overbed table and began to unpack it.
“Let me see your hand, Rocky.” I reached my hand out for his. When he placed his hand in mine, I felt so small. The guy’s hands were huge like the rest of his frame.
He was bigger than I originally thought. I attempted to sneak a peek up at his shirtless chest again. The ripples of muscle were huge. Yeah. He was a big guy. I found myself wondering if he was large everywhere.
Okay, breathe, Cortney, I mentally scolded myself. ~Get your head out of the gutter and concentrate on your job.~
His large hand was covered in blood, with no visible cuts or marks. I assumed that this blood wasn’t his but belonged to his unfortunate band member.
Poor guy, he probably never knew it was coming. Then again, the chart said that the other guy had started the fight.
“My name is Jason,” he corrected me.
Oh, I got it now, cute but stupid. Well, Jason, I’m sorry you can’t have both intelligence and good looks.
“I know,” I told him with a slow smile. “It was a joke.”
I met his eyes and felt my facade falter. His eyes were an amazing shade of deep brown. Like a warm, rich chocolate. They were beautiful.
“Oh, sorry.” He broke eye contact and looked around the room almost nervously.
“I’m still kind of in a bad mood right now,” he told me. “My mind’s in fifty different places. If I were more calm, I would have gotten it.”
“I can tell,” I said as I looked over his hand. There was a significant amount of swelling around the knuckle to his middle finger.
“Do I have to get it wrapped?” He gave me a heart-wrenching half smirk. The guy took care of himself, either that or he had a girlfriend that did.
“I’m a drummer, and our manager won’t be too happy if I can’t play,” he told me.
“You probably should have thought about that before you busted up your band member with your fist.” I eyed him. “I need to wrap it or it won’t heal correctly.”
“The shithead deserved it.” He rolled his eyes.
“Don’t you know that you’re supposed to knock them down first, then you can just kick them instead?” I joked. “Self-defense one-o-one.”
“Only Asher plays by those rules.” He examined me.
I felt as if I was under a spotlight, but instead of feeling awkward, it felt strangely nice. He wasn’t looking at me like I was a piece of meat, he was simply just watching me.
“And that is why I consistently see men in here.” I gave a chuckle.
“Fine.” A slow smile spread across his face. “You can wrap it as long as you leave the middle finger straight. That way I can tell everyone to fuck off with style.”
“Good”—I laughed—“because I have to wrap it like that.”
“And can you smile like that while you do it too?” he asked. “You have a pretty smile.”
“Do you flirt with all of the nurses?” I questioned. He was in a band. It wasn’t a surprise that he liked to schmooze the ladies. We saw his type around this part of LA a lot.
“Only the pretty ones.” He was trying to make eye contact with me, but I was avoiding it as I went about cleaning his hand in the soap bath and bandaging it.
“What’s your name again, pretty lady?” he asked.
“Cortney what?” He huffed.
“Cortney Doe.” I gave a half smile. I didn’t give out my last name. It was too dangerous.
“Thanks.” He gave me an exaggerated frown, and I couldn’t help but laugh again.
“I really like your laugh.” He smiled again; this time it was softer. “It’s carefree. It reminds me of someone.”
“Well, if she was anything like me in the slightest,” I joked, “then she was awesome.”
Was this guy comparing me to his ex-girlfriend? I was curious now. Would a girl like me ever date a guy like him? He was handsome enough, I’d give him that, but he was rough looking.
He could most likely be scary if pissed off. I think his friend in the other room was evidence of that.
“Hey, can you tell me something?” His eyebrows pressed together.
“That depends,” I told him, “what do you want to know?”
“Tell me that, whatever room Asher McGhee is in, he’s got an ugly nurse or at least a really bitchy one or someone who doesn’t know who we are.”
“The woman that is handling the floor with me today is in her fifties with three kids.” I smiled widely. “And I don’t even know who you are, so she definitely doesn’t either.”
“What kind of music do you listen to?” His brow creased.
“I’m mostly into rock, but I like anything aside from rap…and metal,” I pointedly teased, remembering what Ann had told me. “Too much yelling, I can’t understand what they’re saying.”
When his mouth hung ajar, I laughed again.
“Ouch!” He jokingly cringed, grabbing his heart, and I laughed harder.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself with this banter. It was easier than it should have been with this guy.
“Well, you asked.” I shrugged and met his smile.
I felt a twinge there. I was taking a liking to this man. He seemed genuinely fun to be around, despite the circumstances.
“We used to do a lot of rock before we came to LA,” he explained. “We’re trying to be in-between right now, a little bit of rock and a little bit of metal, but not all of us are on board.
“Music is evolving, and most of us think we should too, except Asher. He just hates the fucking world, and metal is his way to express it.”
“Well, when you go rock, let me know, you may gain a fan.” I sighed.
“And you will be happy to know that not only will my coworker not know who your friend is but we are very short-staffed right now, and she’s on her eleventh hour of an insane day. She is not a happy woman right now.”
“Good. The shithead deserves it.” He gave another smirk. “Can she rough him up a little? I’ll give her some extra cash if she can drop him on his ass.”
“I think you did a pretty good job of roughing him up yourself.” I held his hand up for him to see the finished product.
“Now, it’ll take a bit for the cast to dry, so be good! No more busting people’s faces with your hands.”
He placed his arm in his lap and spoke while I cleaned up.
“He deserved it,” he told me. “He knows better than to mess with me. We’re putting another album together, and he’s been an ass for a long time now.”
“Just because someone is an ass, it doesn’t mean you should use them as a punching bag.” I smiled lightly, trying to turn the situation into a joke.
“If a guy you’d been seeing for, like, four years left you without a word or anything, what would you do?” he asked me.
I paused to think about it. What an odd question…
“What everyone else does, I guess”—I shrugged—“just consider what I may have done wrong, what they were going through at the time, and then, when I was ready, I would move on with my life.”
That’s what I had done. Although my relationship was nowhere near as long as four years. My circumstances were highly unusual, and now looking back on it, there was no real love between us.
“You look tired,” he said, attempting to change the subject. “Have you worked eleven hours too?”
“Longer.” I smiled softly, no need to go into detail.
“Are you going to finish up here soon?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for me tonight.” I turned to walk out, “Goodbye, Jason.”
“Goodbye, Cortney Doe.” I heard him chuckling as I closed the door.
When I walked out, I heard angry yelling coming from room 108. The door was open, and someone was not happy.
“Now that you’re conscious, are you ready to explain what the fuck happened this time?!” a male voice boomed.
“Nothing,” the deep, lethargic voice sounded.
“Ash, this shit just needs to fucking stop!” the first voice said. “You can’t fight with every fucking member of the band!”
“Get the fuck off my back.” The lethargic second voice was now clearer. “Look, I make the fucking music, they play it, just do what we hired you to fucking do.”
“I can’t do my fucking job if you guys can’t do yours!” the first voice sounded again.
I smiled widely, thinking about how this might please Jason. I didn’t know why, but somehow, I was on Team Jason. He just didn’t seem like the type of guy to fight without reason.
As I walked by the room, I had to take a peek in. You know, just to see what we were dealing with here.
There was a guy with shoulder-length blond hair, wearing a fitted gray suit.
He was standing near the gurney with his arms crossed, and I put together that he was the first one yelling.
Unlike Jason, the guy lying in the bed fit my stereotype of a heavy-metal guy. He was birdlike, being really tall and scary thin.
He was also covered in tattoos, but instead of Jason’s long blond hair, this guy’s hair was black and feathered with layers.
I could honestly see how Jason caused more damage. Jason was huge compared to that guy.
“Curious?” a warm voice sounded behind me.
“Oh.” I turned to see Jason towering over me, his huge frame blocking my view from anything else. “I was just walking by.”
I felt the heat rising in my cheeks as I turned and continued on my way.
“So, how’s the douchebag doing?” I heard Jason chime as he walked into room 108 and closed the door.
Three hours later, the band members and their cranky, asshole of a manager were long gone, and I was changing out, ready to go home and get some much-needed sleep.
That was when Ann sauntered into the locker room.
“Well, looks like someone has an admirer,” she clucked teasingly.
When I turned to look at her, she had a large, decadent floral bouquet filled with pearly whites and powdery pinks.
“What on earth is that?” I gawked at the beautiful, but ostentatious, arrangement.
“This would be flowers. They’re for you, darling.” She placed them on the bench. As I examined the fragrant beauty, she handed me a card.
“Where on earth would anyone find a floral shop open this late at night?” I said, turning to look at her again. “Who sent them?”
“Open the card and we’ll find out.” She smiled brightly at me.
I did as I was told, curious as to who would send me flowers. No one had ever sent me flowers. The card read:
Hopefully the next time we meet you won’t be working…
I blushed and handed the card to Ann. She cooed with delight as my face turned a bright shade of red.
“He is a good-looking guy, Cortney.” She sighed, fanning herself with the card. “He could do with a haircut, but those muscles and that smile? If I was thirty years younger…”