Three Years Later
“Heads up, folks. There’s been a five-car collision on the Long Island Expressway. The air ambulance is transporting three adults and one minor with varying degrees of injuries, including blunt head trauma. Let’s be ready!”
Adrenaline rushes through my veins as the head of nursing at Long Island Med announces a major event that our ER team needs to prep for. While I care about each and every patient that visits the emergency room on a daily basis, there’s something about working with patients who need critical, urgent care that reminds me of why I do what I do and why I love it so much.
“It’s astounding to me how there are so many more accidents this time of the year,” my coworker, Charlotte, says as she types some patient notes into the computer.
“Yeah,” I agree. “Christmas was my favorite holiday until I started working as a nurse.”
“It’s sad, really. People are in a frenzy for weeks over one damn day in December. I bet you that accident was caused by someone speeding to the damn mall to buy the same gloves they bought for their father last year.”
I don’t care to dwell in the low-energy space that Charlotte often likes to wallow in, but she’s not lying. While I love being there for people when they’re most vulnerable, it’s hard to see the increase in patients during the holiday season. The time of year when I think people should be at their happiest is really a time, at least at our hospital, when suicide attempts increase, drug use escalates, and more vehicle accidents occur.
I hate it.
It’s such a downer.
As we wait for the trauma patients to arrive, I continue to help people with non-critical issues who have been waiting for care for a long time. They are just as important.
“Hello, Mr. Simpson,” I say, greeting an older man with a beard colored more salt than pepper and sunken eyes.
“So you’re having chest pains today? Is that right?”
“Okay, I’m going to order an EKG and some bloodwork and we’ll see what’s going on. On a scale of one to ten, what does your pain feel like? Are you having it now?”
“The pain comes and goes, especially when I exert any sort of energy, but on a scale of–“
“Mr. Simpson?” I touch him carefully on the shoulder as he clenches his chest. “Are you having some pain now?”
“Yes,” he answers, fighting back some tears. “It’s an eight.”
“Is there anyone with you today, Mr. Simpson?” I ask hurriedly. “Any family waiting outside in the car, possibly?”
“No, there’s only me. My wife passed two years ago, and the kids used to come home for Christmas, but they have busy lives now.”
I try not to tear up. It’s actually one of the most difficult things about what I do. It’s hard being empathetic to patients without becoming a blubbering mess. Nobody really taught us this part of nursing in college.
The human part.
“Okay, let’s get you in bed and we’ll run the EKG right now. We’ll take care of you, Mr. Simpson. Don’t worry.”
“Okay,” he breathes heavily as he tries relaxing. “I think the pain is subsiding now.”
I’d usually pass this kind of testing off to the triage nurse, but there’s something about Mr. Simpson that reminds me of my own grandpa when he was alive, so I rush to find an EKG machine and run the test myself.
The ER is busy today, and I take a minute to find an available machine, which is one issue about this hospital. We’re totally understaffed in all departments and since Covid, we’re also having trouble getting many of the supplies we need. It’s a supply chain issue that many hospitals across the country are facing, but when it impacts your workplace, it always feels unfair. Thankfully, I love what I do, and would do it under any circumstances.
My cell phone vibrates inside the pocket of my scrubs, but I don’t have time to answer it. I need to find this machine asap. It’s possible that Mr. Simpson is having a heart attack, which would quickly bump him up to a critical classification.
“Do you have an EKG available, Carla?” I ask one of my coworkers.
“Um, yes, Vita is just finishing up. Give me ten seconds.”
While I’m waiting, I check my phone and see that it was a text from Freak. He never texts me when I’m on a shift, so I figure it must be important and read it.
Freak: I’m going to pick you up after work. We’re going out for dinner.
Me: I drove here.
Freak: We’ll turn back around and pick up the car afterward.
Me: Uh, okay.
Freak: Love ya.
I’m not trying to be paranoid, but my gorgeous boyfriend never texts me in the middle of my workday and especially with the words love ya.
Something is up.
After my shift is over, I’m exhausted. It turns out that Mr. Simpson was indeed having a heart attack and needed immediate surgery and the accident was bigger than first reported. We had eight critical patients enter the ER and sadly we lost one, a mother of three.
My heart feels heavy whenever we lose a patient, especially when they die in the hospital alone. When we lost Nana, at least we could surround her bedside, hold her hand, and tell her how much we loved her. This woman died alone on a cold operating table.
My face lights up though when I see Freak standing by his truck in the parking lot. He rarely comes by the hospital unless it’s for a scheduled Nighthawks press event because he doesn’t like to cause disruption. When New Yorkers see Jackson “Freak” Jennings in the waiting room of the hospital, pandemonium ensues. We’ve learned that the hard way since moving here after graduation.
“You lose someone?”
He pulls me into his warm body and hugs me. For a moment, I forget that I’m in a hospital parking lot and just fall into the familiar embrace of the man I love. Freak smells delicious and feels safe and I could stay in his arms forever.
“Maybe we get a drink before dinner and take the edge off?”
“Yeah,” I agree. “I could definitely use a glass of something.”
He opens the door for me and I climb into his black, shiny Chevy Tahoe. The large truck is perfect for his enormous frame, and it’s one thing he treated himself with after his signing bonus landed in his bank account.
Once inside the truck, behind tinted windows, we greet each other properly with a long kiss that feels part playful and passionate. But I’ve been in a relationship with Freak for over three years now, and while I can’t put my finger on it, something feels different. Maybe it’s exhaustion or that I haven’t eaten a thing since one o’clock, but suddenly I panic.
“What are you doing right now?” I ask, pulling away from him.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s going on with you?”
“Nothing, Teach,” he tries assuring me.
His body stiffens at the accusation, then suddenly relaxes.
“I’m not a liar, babe.” He grins as he pats my thigh with his free hand. “You, of all people, should know that.”
We continue to drive on the local service road instead of the main highway, and it just hits me. I didn’t even bother asking him where we were going. I’m wishing that I never agreed to this dinner. I rather just eat some soup, crawl into bed, and get a good night’s sleep.
“It’s Christmas Eve. Where are we having dinner that will not be packed with last-minute shoppers? I had a shit day and I’m not even dressed properly.”
“I don’t have a game to prepare for or play tomorrow and you love this time of year, so I made a plan.”
“That’s sweet but–“
Freak switches the radio to a station playing all Christmas music and turns up the heat, basically ignoring my protest.
“We’ve got about another fifteen minutes, Teach.” He clasps my left hand into his large right one. “Just lay back and take a catnap.”
When he gets like this, I know there’s no convincing him of anything. He’s determined to have dinner on one of the busiest nights of the year for no damn good reason, but it’s easier to just roll with it. Maybe my mood will shift once I take a brief snooze, as he suggested.
I wake up and realize that because of holiday traffic; it took us close to twenty-five minutes to arrive at our destination instead of fifteen, but I’m not as tired as I was earlier. Maybe a little nap was exactly what I needed.
“Where are we?” I ask as we park behind a large industrial-type building with no obvious signs or markings about what the structure actually is.
A slender woman with aviator glasses and a cool-looking black biker jacket greets us at a metal backdoor with a smile.
Who the hell is this hot little Penny woman?
Suddenly, I hate how tired I must look.
“Willow, this is Penny. She works in publicity for the team.”
“Oh, do you work for Sabrina Stevenson’s company?” I ask, remembering that the legendary quarterback, Saint Stevenson’s wife, still has close ties with the Nighthawks.
“No,” she stops herself from overtly giggling at me. “Mrs. Stevenson’s company handles finances for some players. I do publicity, but mostly social media stuff.”
“Oh,” I say feeling like the dumb girlfriend who knows nothing about her man’s team.
When Freak and I moved to New York, we hit the ground running. I immediately started working at the hospital and he dove into training camp. Because of that, I’m not the typical Nighthawk player girlfriend or wife who attends a lot of team social events, because establishing my career as a nurse was more important to me. So in some ways, I feel very disconnected from Freak’s life as a pro baller, and this interaction just substantiated my fears.
“You’re having dinner straight through this door here,” Penny offers. “Have a great night and Merry Christmas. I’ll be back later to lock up.”
If I didn’t love this man, I’d think he was setting me up for murder. What kind of dinner are we having in a building off the beaten path? There are barely any cars in the parking lot. What in the world is going on?
“This feels like a True Crimes setup,” I say, half joking.
“Actually, it’s more like a Hallmark Channel setup,” he replies with a smirk. “Follow me.”
“That setup would be in a small town inn. This is not that.”
Freak grabs my hand and leads me through another nondescript door and into a jaw-dropping universe.
There are lights.
There are dozens or maybe hundreds of gold and red lights strung across the ceiling of the room, and my heart sings. I feel as if I’m almost a kid again, staring into the little colored beacons across the ceiling, and praying that Santa would make it to my house before I fell asleep. I was definitely one of those kids who wanted to catch Santa in the act.
I’m silent as Freak guides me slowly around the room so that I can appreciate the decor, his arm loose around my waist. In every corner, there’s a Christmas tree, each decorated differently with delicate glass balls, painted branches, and more lights, but each one sticks to the gold and red theme of the room.
Then he guides me to the center of the room. There is a dining table covered in a heavy red tablecloth and a beautiful white table set for two.
“There’s no one here but you and me. We won’t be interrupted for an autograph or a hospital emergency. It’s just us.”
Freak pulls out the chair for me and I sit, frankly amazed by the effort he must have gone through to make something like this happen.
“I’m speechless,” I say as I stare into his dancing hazel eyes.
“You like it?”
“Yes, I mean it’s amazing.”
“I thought I could do a little better than what the Tri-Gammas did when we were back in school.”
“You did good.”
He smiles proudly.
“So, um, did your friend Penny have anything to do with helping you with this?”
A large grin forms across his steel jaw.
“Are you jealous of Penny, Teach?”
Well, maybe a little.
Freak and I have been like two ships passing in the night lately. All the things I thought we’d do once we moved to New York seemed to be put off for later, once our real lives kicked in. I miss him.
“You two seem quite familiar with each other,” I tell him. “I mean, she helped you put this all together.”
“Right, for me.”
He leans in across the table.
I lean forward as well.
“A little further. I need you close so your tired little brain can absorb what I’m saying.”
“I’m leaning in as far as I can, Freak.” I sound annoyed.
“I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I probably spend more time talking to Penny at work than I do with you.”
I bend my head down, wanting to avoid his gaze. He can read me like a book, in bed and out of it.
“But understand this… I love you. You are it for me. There will never be another woman who could ever make me forget that, no matter how much time we spend together. Work is work and home is home. You’re my home, Willow. Never forget that shit.”
“I’m sorry. I must be tired. I’m being silly.”
“I love that you only act silly for me, babe.”
Suddenly a man dressed in all black rolls in a very large screen television on a base. It’s massive and I’m not entirely sure what it’s for.
“What’s this?” I asked, confused.
The man turns it on and there’s a Livestream playing; a Livestream to Radio City Music Hall. I almost scream when I recognize what I’m watching–The Annual Christmas Spectacular.
“It’s so crowded in Manhattan this time of year that I thought this would be an easier way for us to watch the show. We missed a little of it, but we’ll watch it while we have dinner. I ordered all of your favorite things. Best of all, there’s no bacon anywhere on the menu,” he laughs.
The man exits the room as I stand and walk around to the other side of the table, laying my palm against the side of his wonderful face.
“Don’t talk dirty to me yet, Teach. We haven’t even had our appetizers yet.”
I bend down and kiss him with deep intent. My tongue swirling inside his mouth, affirming my gratitude for this gesture of his love. He grabs my ass and strongly lifts me to straddle his lap.
“Wait,” I stop for a moment. “Is someone going to see us?”
“We’re just making out.”
“I know, but–”
“We’ve done worse in more public places, Teach.”
“Yeah, but we were in college then and now you’re a professional player with a reputation to manage.”
“I don’t think anyone is going to care that they caught me kissing my longtime girlfriend at a private dinner that I paid for. Now stop talking and let’s finish what we started.”
I chuckle quietly as I wrap my arms back around his neck, making sure to seat myself directly on top of the bulge poking through his jeans.
“Finish it like this?”
“That’s it, Teach. Ride me just like that until you come in your panties. Which ones do you have on today? The red lace ones?”
“The Christmas ones,” I moan as I rhythmically grind my core into him.
“Damn, with the reindeer?”
“I love those.”
I slide my hands behind him. One gripping the back of his neck and the other on the back of his head. I arch my back and grind my hips in a circular motion as I hold on to him for dear life.
“Fuck, baby, that feels so good.”
“Jackson–“ I moan, my orgasm chasing me down quickly because we haven’t been intimate in what feels like forever.
“Come for me, Willow.” He grabs my hips and pulls me down even harder onto his hard, distended bulge.
“I want you inside of me,” I beg him, knowing that once he is, all the frustration and sadness of today will just fall away. “I need it. I need you.”
Suddenly, two firm hands lift me up and plop me down on our beautifully set table. Some dishes clank and I think a fork falls to the floor.
Freak fumbles with his belt but unzips himself rather quickly. A large, veined dick with a slight bend to it is staring right at me. Waiting for me to devour it with either my mouth or my pussy.
It doesn’t seem to care which one, so I decide.
I hop off the table and crawl under it on my hands and knees. This is what Freak does to me. He makes me want to do the most unspeakable things in the oddest places.
I slide my hands up his jeans and lower my mouth onto his dick. Sliding my lips down easy, but sucking hard as I slide my head back up.
“Fuck, Willow!” He slams his fist against the table.
I’m so focused on what I’m doing that it doesn’t even bother me when I notice a server about to enter the room with what I imagine is our first course and abruptly do an about-face. His reaction makes me laugh and I can’t help but do it with Freak’s dick inside of my mouth.
“I’m going to come, babe. Stop all the laughing shit. I’m going to come right in your damn mouth.”
I laugh some more.
I can’t help myself.
And you know what? After the day, the week, and the month I’ve had… it feels damn good to laugh.
Freak grabs my hair at the roots. “Oh, you want to keep playing those giggly games?” He asks with a dirty edge to his voice. “Get up and ride me correctly this time.”
I lick the tip of his dick with a flat tongue for good measure, slide my scrub pants down, then climb on top of his lap. As I slowly lower myself on him, he grips me by the hips and slams them down until he’s balls deep.
“Ride,” he orders.
The sudden fullness makes my eyes practically roll to the back of my head.
“You like this cock?” He growls.
“It’s a dick, not a cock,” I correct him, reminding him of a running joke between us about what the appropriate name for a penis should be.
“It’s whatever I say it is.”
He holds my hips down and thrusts his up.
“I know, right?” He laughs sinisterly. “It feels so good. We should be fucking every day.”
We really should.
“This pussy missed me.”
“This pussy only wants me inside it.”
I ride him faster as my orgasm winds along my spine again.
“This pussy wants forever with me,” he grunts.
“Yes!!!” I scream as my orgasm racks my entire body. “Forever.”
His release is violent but quieter than mine. I can feel his body contract as he burrows his head into the side of my neck, relishing the pleasure.
“Shit, that felt good,” he says against my skin.
“Yeah, it did.” I smile.
“Which is why I’m going to give your pussy what it so desperately wants.”
“I think you just did,” I laugh flippantly as I flop further into his arms.
Freak holds me close with one arm but uses his other to reach back into his jacket, which is hanging on the back of his chair.
I watch with wide eyes as he pulls out a Tiffany blue box from his inside pocket and there’s no mistaking what it is.
Even my ovaries recognize what must be in a Tiffany blue box.
And they’re dancing with delight.
“Willow, I want forever with you, and your pussy, of course. It’s got to be a package deal.” He smiles. “Will you marry me?”
I lean back and take the box from his hands. When I open it, I audibly gasp. It’s the most obnoxiously large princess-cut diamond ring I’ve ever seen and while I was always one of those girls who said I didn’t want a big or gaudy engagement ring, I clearly never saw a flawless Tiffany diamond before. I fucking love it.
“It’s breathtaking, Freak.”
Tears well in my eyes as he wraps his hand around the base of my neck, pulling me closer.
“Is that a yes, Teach?”
“Yes,” I whisper. “Of course.”
We kiss each other slowly this time as if we’re sealing a contract.
As we sit quietly in each other’s arms for a moment, I can’t help but notice the Rockettes taking the stage on the television screen out of the corner of my eye.
“Fix your clothes and watch your show, babe,” Freak says with a chuckle as he zips up. “I’ll text the servers and let them know we’re finally ready for dinner.”
“Then after the show, and after we eat, you can spread me out on this table for dessert,” I say in a naughty tone.
“Is that so?” He bites his lip in anticipation.
“Yeah, my newly betrothed pussy demands it.”
He excitedly slams the table with his palm.
“And whatever she wants, she will always get.”
“Any night she wants it?”
“You’re talking really dirty to me now, Teach. I should have put a ring on your finger a long time ago. Married pussy is greedy.”
This time it comes deep from my gut, reminding me that no matter what life throws at me at work, or what challenges Freak may face on the field, we always have each other and we always will.
He is my home.
And I am his.
© Lisa Lang Blakeney