Karen walked into the nurse’s lounge, removed her lab jacket, and sighed. It had been a long and stressful day. She enjoyed her job as an operating room nurse, but because of the recent nursing shortage, her increased workload was pushing her stress level to the breaking point. She was quickly reaching burnout. And because of this, her social life had rapidly deteriorated. It seems all I do is work, eat, and sleep, she thought. There is more to life than this.
“Do you have plans for the weekend?” Beth asked. Karen was so wrapped up in her thoughts she didn’t hear Beth enter the lounge. Beth could be a poster child for type A personality. She was twenty-one, petite, with short cropped fiery red hair. She bounced from one activity to another seemingly never satisfied. To Beth, there was always a crisis. Nothing was ever simple. Karen was convinced Beth would be on some form of mood altering drug and something for high blood pressure before she reached thirty.
“I don’t have any specific plans,” Karen said, as she opened her locker and retrieved her clothes. “Why do you ask?”
Beth was pacing back and forth. She would never stand still and make eye contact during a conversation. This irritated Karen.
“Well, I’m having sort of a crisis,” Beth said.
Oh no, here it comes, Karen thought. She wanted to say, “Beth you ARE a crisis,” but instead asked, “what kind of crisis?”
“Well, you know my boyfriend, Rick? Anyway, he thought he was going to have to work this weekend, but it turns out his boss wants him to work next weekend, and I’m scheduled to be on call this weekend instead of the next . . .”
“You want to switch call, right?” Karen interjected.
Beth was removing her name tag and shuffling papers in her locker. Without turning to face Karen she said, “Yes, if that’s okay with you? I don’t want to mess up any plans you may have.”
“I guess I can,” Karen said. “Let me check and see if mom can watch Kali for me, okay? Can I let you know later this afternoon?”
Still fumbling in her locker, Beth said, “Can you call your mom now? I really need to know as soon as possible.”
“I’m sure it will be fine, Beth. Go ahead and make your plans.”
“That’s great. Thank you. I’ll pay you back sometime for this favor.”
Yeah, I’ll bet, Karen thought.
Beth quickly changed her clothes and was ready to scurry out the door when she turned to Karen. “Oh, by the way, guess what surgeon is on call this weekend?”
“Who?” Karen asked.
“Skyler,” Beth said, drawing the name out for emphasis.
“You mean Dr. Randall?”
“The very same,” Beth said with a smile. “So even if you get called in, you can at least be working with a hunk.” Dr. Skyler Randall was one of the newest surgeons to join the medical staff. He was thirty-two and fresh out of his residency. Being single, he was the most talked about, and sought after bachelors in the hospital. Karen had to admit upon meting him for the first time she was struck by his appearance. He was tall, tanned, with dark brown eyes, and short black hair that looked good either combed or uncombed. He was one of those men who got a second, and even a third glance from women in public.
“Besides,” Beth went on, “I think he likes you.”
Karen felt herself blush. “I’m sure he’s much too busy to be interested in me.”
“Are you kidding? You’re a doll. You’re what, 5'7" or 5'8?” I know you couldn’t weigh more than an ounce over 130lbs. You have gorgeous blond hair, and bright green eyes, and a set of boobs I’d die for. Of course he notices you.”
“I’m not sure if I’m ready to start another relationship,” Karen said.
Beth turned back from the door. “Karen, it’s been over a year since your divorce. You need to get back in circulation. Jim sure didn’t waste any time, did he?”
Karen frowned and turned back toward her locker.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Beth said. “I shouldn’t have brought him up. He’s a creep for ever leaving you and Kali. I mean, how can you leave your own five-year-old child?”
“I don’t know,” Karen said, biting her lower lip.
Beth patted Karen on the shoulder and said, “I need to get going. Thanks again for trading call.”
“It’s no problem,” Karen said, without turning around.
After Beth had gone, Karen walked around the corner to the lavatory. She removed her scrub clothes, and took stock of herself in the mirror. True, for thirty-one, she still had a youthful figure. She had no stretch marks and no signs of cellulite. Was Beth serious? Had she seen Dr. Randall watching her? I doubt it, she thought. It was 4:15pm and time to pick up Kali from her parent’s house.
Once dinner was finished, Karen played three games of chutes and ladders with Kali, watched two Barney videos with her, and tucked her safely in bed. Fixing a glass of wine, Karen leaned back on the sofa in the family room to relax. It was 8:30pm on Friday evening and she was exhausted. Her call wouldn’t begin until 7am the following morning. Refilling her wine glass, Karen ran water for a bubble bath, and thought again about Beth’s comments. Maybe she should seriously consider dating again. Honestly, between her hectic work schedule and taking care of Kali, little time was left for herself.
Reclining in the tub, Karen used her hands to swirl the hot bubbly water across her stomach and chest. Her nipples hardened in response. She lightly touched each nipple, savoring the sensation. She raised her right leg, using her hands to massage the tension from her calf and thigh muscles, repeating the same with her left leg. She stood and squeezed out a liberal portion of raspberry bath oil in her hand. Beginning with her neck, she rubbed the sweet-scented oil over each shoulder and then down each arm. Her dark pink nipples were extremely sensitive, and she involuntarily flinched as her fingers circled each one with the slippery oil. She put more of the oil in her hand and rubbed it along her stomach and legs. When her fingers reached the soft golden hair that formed a triangle between her legs, a low moan escaped her lips.
Karen was a very sexual person. Despite the many problems she and Jim had, which eventually led to their divorce, sex was not one of them. Honestly, the good sex was all she missed from her marriage. But she wasn’t the type of woman who would enjoy a one night stand, and she certainly wasn’t going to see Jim again just for sex, even if he wanted to, no way. She would see him and deal with him because of Kali, and that was all. And since she had not dated since her divorce, or been involved with anyone else, masturbation had been her outlet for times of sexual frustration.
Even though masturbation brought some temporary relief, it didn’t take the place of a lover talking to her, touching her, and being inside of her.
After bathing, Karen planned to relax in bed with a new novel she had purchased, but she was just too sleepy. As she drifted toward sleep she realized although Beth could be annoying, she had a good point. I’m going to let myself get involved again, Karen thought.
Karen awoke ten minutes before the alarm clock rang, and five minutes before Kali leaped into the bed with her.
“Can we go to the park today and feed the geese and ducks?”
Karen yawned. “Honey, mommy’s on call this weekend.”
Kali frowned. But just as suddenly she beamed, “Maybe daddy can take me?”
“Maybe he will” Karen knew Kali needed to spend more time with Jim, and this might be a good opportunity for them to have some father/daughter time. She would call Jim and see if Kali could spend the weekend with him.
“I’ll call daddy and see, okay?”
Kali jumped up and down on the bed. “Goody, goody,” she squealed.
Surprisingly Jim was at his apartment and answered on the second ring. After some coaxing and a little guilt tripping, Jim agreed to pick Kali up at 10:00 and keep her until Sunday afternoon. Kali was thrilled.
Even after a year, it was still awkward. Jim waited at the front door for Karen to get Kali’s suitcase.
“Have fun, and be careful. I love you,” Karen called as Kali climbed into the passenger seat.
“I love you too,” Kali said, as Jim closed the door.
Karen called her parents to let them know they wouldn’t have to be available to watch Kali in case she got called to the hospital.
Karen took her beeper and spent the afternoon shopping. She was surprised she hadn’t been called in.
At home she fixed a light dinner and was watching the classic movie channel when the phone rang. The hospital operator said Dr. Randall had scheduled an emergency appendectomy. Karen looked at her watch. It was 8:30pm.
Oddly, the operating room nurse’s lounge was dark when she arrived. Jill was the other nurse on call with her. She lived closer than Karen to the hospital and usually got there first. Changing into her scrubs, Karen walked into the operating room area and began turning on the lights. She was just about to pull the instrument packs needed for the surgery when a sound from one of the operating rooms startled her. “Jill? Is that you?”
Frightened, she was about to call for a security guard, when she heard a familiar voice. “Karen?”
“Dr. Randall, you scared me,” Karen said, blushing. “Am I late? I was just about to set up the instruments and visit the patient. Have you been waiting long? I haven’t seen Jill yet, but I’m sure she will be here any minute.”
Dr. Randall stepped from the darkened operating room into the hallway where Karen stood. “You don’t need to set up the instruments or visit the patient, because there isn’t a patient,” he said, smiling.
“I don’t understand,” Karen said.
“I made it up. I had them call you in because I wanted to spend some time with you, alone. Are you upset with me?”
“I’m not upset, just confused. If you wanted to spend some time with me alone, why didn’t you simply ask me out on a date? Why go to all this trouble?”
Dr. Randall shrugged, “I must confess I asked around about you first. I knew you were divorced, but I didn’t know if you were dating or involved with anyone.”
Karen smiled. “Well, what did your detective work uncover?”
“I discovered you weren’t dating, in fact, as far as anyone knew, you haven’t dated since your divorce over a year ago. That’s why I chose to do it this way. I guess in some ways I’m like a high school kid. I was afraid you would turn me down. This way, I was sure to at least get to spend a few minutes alone with you. I know it’s a sneaky and underhanded way to go about it, and I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, and I will understand if you want to leave right now and never speak to me again unless it pertains to work.”
Karen thought a moment before answering. “I’m not angry. Actually I’m flattered. But I must agree, it certainly is an unusual way of going about a date.”
“I know,” he said.
“Dr. Randall, I . . . “
”My name’s Skyler. It’s okay for you to call me that, at least while we are away from work.”
“Okay . . . Skyler. Where do we go from here?” Karen watched him. He seemed somehow different, less assured of himself. He was an excellent surgeon, confident with his treatment of patients. And yet, here he stood before her, a tall handsome man, obviously nervous and at a loss for words. Then she realized . . . he was shy with women! There was a momentary silence before Karen said, “May I ask you a question?”
“Have you ever been married?”
Before Karen could ask another question, Skyler said, “ I want to explain something, okay?”
Skyler walked over to the surgical scheduling desk and sat down. He motioned for Karen to join him.
“I’m sure you find it odd that I am thirty-two and never been married or engaged,” he began. “To be honest, I’ve never been very good at . . . relating to women in an emotional sense.”
Karen looked puzzled. “Are you saying you’re . . .?”
“No, I’m not gay.” Skyler said, smiling. “I guess I’m just not very good in the romance department.”
“Haven’t you ever had a girlfriend?” Karen asked. As soon as she asked this, she saw a pained expression cross his face.
“I was very close to a girl in college. We were both preparing for medical school. We spent hours together talking, studying, going to parties. We were very close.”
“What happened? Did you break up?” Karen asked.
When Skyler looked up at her, his eyes were red.
“A drunk driver crossed the center line. She was on her way home for break our senior year. It was a head on collision. She was in a coma for a week before she died.”
“I’m so sorry,” Karen said. “What was her name?”
“Amanda,” Skyler said, slowly.
“You loved her,” Karen said, taking his hand.
“Very much,” he said, and began to openly sob. Karen put her arms around Skyler and he cried against her neck for a long time. When the tears began to slow, he pulled away and looked at her.
“I’m sorry. It happened more than ten years ago and I still can’t seem to get past it. I shouldn’t be burdening you with this,” he said, wiping his eyes.
Karen took his hand again. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. You lost someone you loved dearly. It’s painful. You need to talk about it.” Karen felt her eyes burning.
“I’ve never talked about this with anyone before. Sure, I got condolences from my family and friends, but I’ve never been able to really share the pain about it until now, with you. I guess you’ve lost some respect for me, huh?”
“No, not at all,” Karen said. “I hate men who act so macho as if nothing ever affects them emotionally. To me, a man who is able to express his deepest feelings is both masculine and sexy.”
“Really?” Skyler asked.
“Really” Karen said, and kissed his forehead.
“Would you like to get some coffee?” Skyler asked.
“I’d love some, but please, not the hospital cafeteria,” she said, laughing.
“So, I’m not the only one who gets tired of this place,” Skyler said, and he was laughing.
“If you want, we can change our clothes and go to my house. I can make some fresh coffee, and cut both of us a big slice of peach pie I baked yesterday. Besides, it will be quiet there and we can talk.”
“I’ll meet you in the parking lot,” he said.
“You have a nice home,” Skyler said, as he followed her into the kitchen and watched her measure out the coffee. He pointed to the pictures attached by small magnetic clips to the refrigerator door. “Is that your daughter?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s Kali,” she said.
“She’s beautiful. How old is she?”
“She will be six next month”
Skyler leaned closer to get a better look. “She has her mother’s gorgeous green eyes.”
“Thank you” Karen said.
“Where is she now?” he asked.
“She’s spending the night with her father.”
“I see” he said.
Karen poured the coffee and heated the peach pie in the microwave. They spent the next two hours talking about family, work, her divorce, and life in general. For the first time in years, Karen felt an emotional kinship with a person of the opposite sex. Even though she loved Jim at one time, she never felt completely at ease with him. With Jim, she always seemed to either say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing. He would pout and sulk, and make her feel as though she had somehow disappointed him and couldn’t live up to his expectations. Unlike Jim, Skyler was genuinely interested in her thoughts and opinions. He was neither judgmental nor condescending. Karen was seeing a new side of Dr. Skyler Randall. More than just a competent surgeon, he was handsome, caring, and sensitive. A man, Karen thought, with whom she could easily love.
Karen placed the empty cups and dessert plates in the dishwasher. Skyler followed her into the kitchen.
“Yes?” she said, looking up.
“This is the first time I’ve spent any amount of time with a woman without thinking about, or comparing her to Amanda.”
“Oh” was all Karen could manage to say.
Skyler went on, “What I’m trying to say is, I know I have to move on and love again. And I know I’ve been wrong to expect women I meet to be Amanda, or live up to her memory. But it’s different with you. I don’t want or expect you to be Amanda. I’m attracted to you as you are, not how she was.”
“Oh Skyler,” Karen said, feeling tears forming in her eyes.
He put his arms around her and pulled her close. His embrace made her feel warm and secure. She felt needed and desired. He gently lifted her chin to look into his eyes. Slowly, he lowered his lips to meet hers. It was a soft and gentle kiss. Karen put her arms around his shoulders and pulled him closer for the second kiss. This kiss longer, more deliberate. She felt lightheaded, her heart rate increase. This was how it was supposed to be, how it was supposed to feel.
Without any words, Karen pulled away, and taking Skyler’s hand, led him down the long hallway toward her bedroom. Stepping inside, they embraced again. Their kisses were now long and passionate. The combination of her desire to please Skyler and her undeniable lust for sex was overpowering, almost intoxicating.
Still kissing, she felt his fingers release the first two buttons on her blouse. Skyler felt her momentary hesitation. “Is it okay? Should I stop?” he asked.
“No, it’s okay,” she said, smiling. “It’s . . . just been a long time for me.”
Pulling her face close to his he whispered, “It has for me too.”
Never taking her eyes from his, Karen finished unbuttoning and removing her blouse. She could see the desire in his eyes as she reached behind and unhooked the light-blue bra that barely concealed the outline of her swollen nipples. He pulled her close and kissed her again. She unbuttoned his shirt as he gently ran his tongue first along her neck, and then to her ears. His breath was coming in shallow pants, and she could feel his arousal hard against her stomach.
“You’re driving me crazy,” he panted in her ear. “I want you so much.”
“I want you too, Skyler,” she whispered, as she ran her hands over his naked chest and arms. Stepping away she said, “I’ll be right back.” She went to her closet and returned with a sweet-scented red candle. After lighting it and placing it on her night stand, she closed her bedroom door and turned off the overhead light. Skyler watched as she reclined on her bed. Seeing her lying there in the flickering light and shadows cast by the candle was extremely erotic.
“I’m ready,” she said softly, as she reached her hands toward him.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, as he moved above her. He kissed her again, first on her forehead, then again on her lips. He ran his tongue along her neck and ears. Karen ran her hands through his hair encouraging him lower. She sighed as he took her nipple in his mouth and sucked gently. His fingers traced a path along her calf and thigh. Instinctively she opened her legs. As his tongue moved from one nipple to the other, she took his hand and guided it to the warm, and now moist area between her legs.
“Oh . . . yes” she moaned, as he began to massage her. When he unsnapped and unzipped her slacks, she arched her hips allowing him to easily slide them off. Covered only by her sheer white panties, Karen felt Skyler’s tongue as it moved away from her nipples, and slide slowly down her stomach. As she drew her legs up and apart, Skyler slid further down on the bed, and placing his hands on her waist, pulled her close to him. She could feel his warm breath against the soaked crotch of her panties, as he teasingly licked along the inner part of her thighs. The sight of her wet panties, with a few soft blond strands of hair protruding from the side, and the musky smell of her arousal, was more than Skyler could stand.
“Yes . . . that’s it,” Karen moaned, as he moved his tongue along the wet fabric, tasting her. As the warmth, pressure, and speed of his tongue increased, Karen felt as though she were on a slowly ascending roller coaster. Closer and closer, she could feel herself approaching the crest. Then, when he pulled the fabric of her panties aside, and worked his lips and tongue along her wet slit and her rigid clit, she toppled over the crest and shuddered, arching her back in a powerful orgasm, causing her muscles to contract in pure ecstacy. Wave after wave of pleasure rolled through her until she thought she would lose consciousness.