“So how have things been going with you guys?” Lauren asked as she sat down.
“Pretty good.” Sam replied curling up in a chair. “The nightmares have stayed away and AJ’s really trying to help me let go of some things. It’s tough though knowing that Ryan could be anywhere.”
“He hasn’t been back has he?”
Sam shook her head. “No, but I know Ryan, he won’t go away until he has what he wants.”
She turned her head toward the TV, signaling that the conversation was over. Both women were quiet while Sam flipped through the menu trying to find something to watch. An old episode of Mercy came up and she selected it. Lauren watched as Sam’s eyes filled up and it hit her how hard it must be for her to give up something she loved.
“You miss nursing don’t you?”
Sam nodded and wiped a tear away from her eye. “It’s what I enjoyed doing.”
And then Ryan happened, Lauren thought. “What made you interested in it?”
Sam took a deep breath. “My brother Sean was born with Down’s syndrome and I always went with my parents to his appointments. I watched the doctors meet with my parents to discuss any issues that were happening but I really liked watching the nurses with him. They were the ones to give him lollipops and soothe him when my parents were out of the room. The nurses there were so attentive and loving; it made me think that I might like being a nurse.”
“That sounds very admirable. So you always wanted to do it?”
Sam shrugged her shoulders. “No.”
“Why?” Lauren asked as she shifted position on the couch. “It seems like you loved it.”
“My parents and my brother were killed in a car accident on their way home from an appointment. No matter what the doctors or nurses did, they couldn’t save them and I got really jaded about it. Why would I want to be someone that couldn’t save my family?”
The tears started to fall down lightly and Lauren could see them glistening on her face.
“What changed your mind?”
Sam’s hand slid across her face. “I grew up and I realized that they really tried everything they could and it wasn’t their fault. I also spent a lot of time taking care of my grandmother when she had a stroke. I had help from visiting nurses and I saw how hard they worked, how much they cared about their patients. When my grandmother passed, I was kind of lost for a little while until I decided to fill out an application for nursing school.”
Lauren got up and grabbed a box of tissues. She took a seat on the arm of the chair and rubbed Sam’s back as she let out some of the emotions she’d been holding back. She was still crying when the boys made their way into the room and AJ raced to her side, kneeling down in front of her.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
“Nothing.” Lauren replied. “We were just talking.”
“About what?” AJ demanded as he glared at Lauren. “It can’t be nothing if she’s crying!”
“Ease up J.” Nick said, putting a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “I’m sure it’s…”
“Don’t say nothing because it’s obviously something!”
AJ had stood up and looked at Lauren again. The whole situation was tense and it wasn’t going to end up on a positive note if no one did anything. Sam wiped her eyes and stood up, pulling on AJ’s arm.
“It really wasn’t anything, we were just talking about me growing up.”
“You were crying.” he answered angrily and turned back to Lauren. “Why did you have to start talking about her past?”
Nick was growing agitated with AJ and the two of them started arguing. Lauren, who hated confrontation as much as Sam, left the room, which aggravated Nick even more. Sam didn’t know what to do so she finally stepped in between them and put her hands on AJ’s chest.
“I’m fine.” she pleaded with him. “Please don’t argue with each other.”
“But you were crying…”
Sam finally put her hands on his face and forced him to look at her.
“I’m fine baby. It’s nothing, I promise.”
AJ stopped short when he heard her call him baby. She didn’t seem to even realize she said it but it unnerved him enough to quiet down. They’d talked a thousand times but she never called him anything affectionate. While Sam stood there trying to calm AJ down, Nick left to check on Lauren.
“You need to go apologize.” Sam said, snapping AJ back into the moment. “You lashed out at Lauren for no reason. She didn’t do anything wrong.”
AJ hung his head because he knew she was right. He got upset every time he saw Sam cry and he blamed anyone around for making it happen. Feeling apologetic, he left to talk to Nick and Lauren.
Sam settled back onto the chair and waited for the friends to work things out. She didn’t want to get any more involved because she knew her presence wouldn’t help. It was also a chance to collect herself and pretend that she didn’t just call AJ baby. The word had just slipped out and she wasn’t sure why she’d used that term. She never referred to him by anything but AJ and she hoped that this didn’t mess up anything between them.
The three made their way back into the living room and seemed to have smoothed everything over. Nick and Lauren understood why AJ had reacted the way he did but they told him that he needed to keep his feelings in check because it wasn’t good for anyone.
They said their goodbyes and AJ asked Sam if she would mind going to bed alone.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“I’m fine.” he answered with a faint smile. “There’s just some stuff I need to finish up in the studio. Will you be ok by yourself for a little bit?”
Sam nodded and hugged him quickly. She hated going to bed alone now but she realized that he needed some space. Hoping this wasn’t going to last, she crawled into bed and pretended to be asleep by the time AJ made it up an hour later.