“Hi, Nonnie, it’s Nicole. Listen, I’ve…” Nicole fell silent as she searched for the right words. Saying yes to an extra shift had been so easy, but now she felt sick at the thought of disappointing Nonnie.
“You’re calling to cancel.” Nonnie sounded like she couldn’t believe it and Nicole wondered what she had done to make Nonnie believe in her so much.
“I’ll be stuck at the hospital until 8 tonight. I was asked to cover the shift of a colleague.”
“Was it necessary?”
Nicole didn’t even have to think about it.
“Yes,” she said without a moment’s hesitation. “We can’t be without a surgeon at the hospital, not even for a few hours.”
“Okay.” Nonnie sounded determined. “Have you slept?”
“Yes.” Nicole felt warmth spread through her chest at Nonnie’s concern. “I just woke up and have been sleeping since two this morning. I would have called sooner but I got home in the middle of the night and -”
“Don’t worry, there is no need to explain.” Nonnie chucked. “If there’s something I understand it’s your dedication to your job.”
“How is the leg?”
“Aching and keeping me from work.” Nonnie sighed. “The understudy is taking over my role for the next three weeks and then we’ll see.”
“Don’t be. Anthony is deliriously happy to have his mom home during the evenings. But I do miss it.” Nonnie was quiet for a moment. “Listen, I still have a baby-sitter for the night. Want to grab a bite to eat when you get off from work? I could grab some take-away and head to your place around nine?”
“I’m going to be tired.” Nicole didn’t mean to sound negative; the thought of seeing Nonnie after her shift was tantalizing but there was the risk that she would be tired. And grumpy.
“I want to make sure you eat.” Nonnie laughed. “That sounds stupid. But it’s true. Sorry.” She might have apologized but there was nothing apologetic about her tone. Her sincerity was a breath of fresh air and Nicole felt herself clutching the phone harder.
“Do you now?” Nicole wondered if Nonnie could hear the smile in her voice.
“Yes, doctor. So what do you say? Chinese?”
“I’ll be home around ten to nine.”
“I’ll be there.”
* * *
Some days everything that could go wrong, went wrong, and Nicole arrived home at five to nine feeling slightly tired but still looking forward to seeing Nonnie something immensely. Despite leaving the hospital later than she had planned, she cycled home fast and threw herself into the shower.
She walked through her living room, barefoot in jeans and towelling her wet hair when the doorbell rang. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest and she couldn’t stop the smile that came to her lips.
She opened the door and her smile grew even wider.