Mason Ch. 11bykalamazoo707©
Toni watched Mason walk away still in shock by the kiss on the cheek. There was nothing even remotely erotic about it but it felt nice. Toni closed the door, locked it and set the alarm before checking on Jamie, he was lying on his side sound asleep. Toni stood by his bed and watched him for a few minutes before going to her own room. She had been in the process of packing her personal belongings and decided to see how much more she could get done before morning. Her goal was to stay up as late as she could, take Jamie over to her parents and then she would sleep during the day in preparation for her shift that night.
As she packed, she found a box that was full of cards from James. She almost put them away and decided to read them. Most of them were typical James, cards that he thought were funny and were meant to make her laugh or smile. A few of them were serious and flowery revealing the romantic that he kept hidden except for special occasions.
Toni found herself teary eyed but not overly sad and to her, that meant progress. That she could laugh again and work again all indicated that she was healing. She put the cards back in the box and put them in her suitcase, she couldn't bring herself to throw them away. Her thoughts went to Mason; she wondered how his wife or significant other had died and how long ago she passed.
She didn't think that it was that long ago but maybe she was wrong. At any rate, she didn't know him well enough to ask. Toni packed until three before deciding to call it a night, she was tired and the first night of work after being off for a couple could be rough.
Mason drove home in a good mood; Toni hadn't slapped him when he kissed her cheek although to be fair, he hadn't given her a chance to react. He wondered how she would act around him at work which led to another issue, Joyce. He had no doubt that the hospital wires were burning up and that by the time he and Toni got to work, the rumor mill would have them married with a baby on the way.
When he got home, Mason turned on his laptop to see what was happening over the weekend that Toni and Jamie would enjoy. There was another ball game but he didn't think that Toni would enjoy it although Jamie would. The problem was finding activities that had evening hours. After searching for almost an hour, he came up with miniature golf, a movie or a kiddie arcade. He decided to present the choices to Toni and let her choose what they were going to do, he had no real preference.
It was still relatively early and he was almost sure that Ethan was still up, now would be a good time to find out how he told Katrina that he was a vampire. While he knew the story of how they met, he had never heard how he broke the news to her. Ethan answered on the first ring.
"How's the dating thing going?" Ethan asked.
"Slowly." Mason replied. "How are Katrina and the girls?"
"They're all good, we're in the process of trying to decide whether to home school the girls or not. I think that they need to go to school but Katrina isn't so sure." Ethan said.
"There are pros and cons to both." Mason said. "What are Katrina's concerns?"
"I think that most of it has to do with her own experiences but you didn't call to help me figure out the education plans for the girls, so what's up?" Ethan asked.
"How did you tell Katrina that you were a vampire?" Mason asked not beating around the bush.
"Are things that far along?" Ethan asked surprised.
"No but I just want to be ready."
"Good idea, as you know, I didn't have that luxury." Ethan said. "I had to just spit it out because I was leaving to see Eustace. Needless to say, she didn't take it too well."
Mason was silent for several minutes before he spoke, "I'm not sure of how Toni will react."
"But you have the opportunity of getting to know her before you tell her." Ethan said.
"True." Mason conceded, "I suppose I'll know when the time is right to tell her."
"I think that most of our mates already know on some level that we're different but they don't know in what way. Just take your time and do as you always told me....."
"I know, follow her lead." Mason finished for him
Mason could hear the girls calling for Ethan in the background.
"I'll let you go; I can hear that you're being paged." Mason said.
"No problem, I'll talk to you soon." Ethan said and hung up.
Mason sat at the table for a long time after talking to Ethan; sometime soon, he was going to take Toni out without Jamie. They had to start spending time together and if they were seen outside of the hospital, then so be it but he was going to have a talk with Joyce about her contributions to the rumor mill when he saw her next.
Toni had just gotten back from taking Jamie to her parent's house when the phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and groaned she really wasn't in the mood to talk to Gina but decided to get it over with.
"Morning Gina." She said politely.
"Morning Toni." Gina replied but didn't say anything else.
"Did you want something?" Toni asked.
"Yes, I was wondering about that disc that you mentioned. I would like to see it."
"No." Toni said not offering a reason.
"But you said that you would show it to me." Gina said.
"I know I did and I've changed my mind. That disc was James' last gift to me and I don't have to show it to you or anyone else." Toni replied.
"I'm entitled to see..."
"You aren't entitled to anything." Toni interrupted. "You only want to see the disc because you think that I'm lying to you and to be honest, I could give a fuck whether you believe me or not. I want you to listen to me carefully because I'm not going to repeat myself. I loved James, I will always love James but he isn't here. He died and before he died he gave me one last gift, he gave me his blessing to love again if I chose to. I know that to you it would be a betrayal if I found someone else to spend my life with, but all that matters to me is that James would understand and would want me to be happy. Oh and one more thing, if you ever pull a stunt like you did last night in front of Jamie, I'll kick your ass."
Toni slammed the phone down now too agitated to sleep. She took a hot shower, climbed into bed and read until she fell asleep. She woke up around four to the smell of cooking food and Jamie lying on the bed looking at her.
"Gramma says supper is almost ready." he said.
"What time is it?" Toni asked.
"I dunno." Jamie said.
Toni looked at the clock; it was only four, why was her mother cooking so early? She had another hour to sleep. She crawled out of the bed, went into the bathroom closing the door behind her. Toni looked in the mirror and grimaced at the dark circles under her eyes, she had only been asleep for three hours when she was woken up. She turned on the shower and began to mentally prepare herself for a long night, she gave thought to skipping supper and sleeping for another two hours but that would mean that she would miss supper with Jamie and that was unacceptable.
She took her time letting the hot water wash away the rest of her sleepiness. Never one to get dressed for work before she had to, Toni threw on her sweats and went into the kitchen.
"Mom, why are you here so early?" Toni asked.
"I told you." Ben muttered.
"Oh shush already!" Barbara said scowling at him. "I thought that maybe I could make dinner without waking you up. We were in the area and instead of going all the way back home, we came here." she added.
Toni didn't quite believe her but let it go, she was up to something.
Mason was up and dressed two hours before he had to be at the hospital. He got the coffee ready to brew and packed a lunch for two. While he rested he decided to ignore the rumor mill, if people thought that he and Toni were a couple then so be it, it might even help in the long run and keep any other interested males away although he hadn't heard about anyone sniffing around her.
An hour later, he was sitting in the office waiting for Joyce, he had moved into another office the week before and was much happier not hearing Joyce's incessant chatter about who was doing what and with whom.
"Mason! What are you doing here?" Joyce asked. "Miss me?"
"No, but I do want to talk to you." he replied.
"Sounds serious." Joyce replied.
"It is, please sit down."
Joyce raised her eyebrows at Mason's tone but sat down.
"Joyce, I want you to stop spreading rumors about me and Toni." Mason said.
"Don't bother to deny it." Mason said cutting her off. "I heard the comments as I walked down the hall and the only place that the information could have come from was you. I don't care what they say about me but I do care when the gossip is about Toni."
"If there's nothing between you then why do you care so much?" Joyce asked defensively.
"Are you so bored with your own life that you have to interfere with the lives of others?" Mason asked ignoring her question. "I'm only going to say this once more, stop spreading rumors." he said and stood up to leave.
Mason went to his office knowing that the rumors wouldn't stop but he worried about Toni more than he should have, had he heard about the talk that she had with Kim or the way that she had dealt with Gina, he would have realized that she didn't need that kind of protection.
Toni parked and headed to the doctor's sleeping room that she would be using that night. She was grateful for her foresight in not scheduling her nights together. After tonight, she would off for almost a week and a half and she could hardly wait. She put the lunch for two that her mother packed in the fridge and laughed, Barbara was still trying to play match maker between her and Mason. After her talk with Gina that morning, Toni couldn't bring herself to be mad about it.
Toni put her stethoscope around her neck, checked her pockets to make sure that she had several pens and headed out to report. She was well aware of the looks and whispers as she passed by and assumed that Joyce had been at work. It frustrated her that adults acted like teenagers with the he said/ she said gossip but had decided it wasn't worth getting upset over, as long as there were institutions and people, there would be gossip and the rumor mills that would run nonstop.
It turned out to be a rather busy night with Toni admitting three patients with chest pain, two drug overdoses, two hip fracture patients and one burst appendix. It was past three before she made it to the doctor's lounge carrying the lunch for two. She found herself disappointed when Mason wasn't there but settled down to eat and browse through a magazine that someone left on the table.
Mason came in just as she was packing up to leave.
"Busy night." he commented as he sat down.
"I know me too." Toni replied. "Thank goodness I'm off for the next several nights."
"You're moving Friday right?" Mason asked.
"Yep, the movers have pretty much packed everything except for the beds." Toni replied.
"How about I bring dinner?" Mason asked.
"You don't have to; we'll just order in Chinese or something." Toni replied.
"I really don't mind." Mason said. "And besides, we have to talk about Saturday night anyway." he added.
"About that..." Toni started.
"Are you reneging on our agreement?" Mason asked half serious and half kidding.
"No but after moving on Friday I don't know about doing anything on Saturday." Toni replied.
"Alright, what about Sunday night?" Mason asked.
Toni laughed, "You're going to hold me to that agreement aren't you?"
"I most certainly am." Mason replied with a smile.
"A deal is a deal so Sunday night it is. What were you thinking of doing?" Toni asked.
"Miniature golf or a movie if you prefer." Mason replied.
"Tell you what, I'll ask Jamie what he would like to do and I'll let you know." Toni replied as she finished packing up her lunch.
"Sounds good, I'll see you on Friday around five." Mason said.
Toni went back to the sleeping room hoping for a chance to catch a nap; she had just barely closed her eyes when her beeper went off. Toni moaned when she saw the number, Kim. She hadn't seen Kim since she had that talk with her and wouldn't have cared if she never had to talk to her again but this was work.
"Yes Kim." Toni said as pleasantly as she could.
"What?" Toni asked alarmed. "How much digoxin did she get? That's four times the dose ordered, what's her heart rate? 28? Shit! Ok, I'll be there and get her ready to be transferred to ICU and call cardiology and let him know."
Toni put on her shoes and rushed to the floor.
"Where's the chart?" she asked as soon as she arrived at the nurse's station.
She looked at the orders and saw a signature that she didn't recognize on the digoxin order.
"Kim, come over here a sec." she called.
"Whose signature is that?" Toni asked.
Kim peered at the signature, "I... I don't know who that is." she replied confused. "Let me take the chart, maybe someone else recognizes the writing...."
"CODE BLUE ROOM 352" blared over the intercom. Everyone scrambled except for Toni. She sat frozen as someone grabbed the crash cart and someone else began to gather supplies. Kim ran by and doubled back, "Dr. Jacobson?"
Toni shook herself and forced herself to focus, when she first ran into the room she thought it was James laying on the bed and hesitated but it was a woman. The Doctor in her took over and she began to call out orders until the emergency room doctor arrived and took over. She saw the nurse of the patient huddled in a corner trying to answer the questions that were being shouted out to her. Toni made her way to the petrified nurse and put a hand on her back.
"Take a breath." she said softly. "Now answer one question at a time."
The nurse nodded at Toni gratefully and pulled herself together.
After the code was over, Toni went and sat in an empty room and shook. She had hesitated, she lost precious seconds because she couldn't move and then more seconds because she saw James on the bed instead of the patient. Fortunately, the patient survived but still...
Toni went back to the sleeping room and prayed for no more calls, she tried to rest but couldn't. She couldn't get over the fact that she had hesitated, she heard a soft tap on the door and got up to answer it. Kim.
"What do you need Kim?" Toni asked tiredly.
"You left your stethoscope; I didn't want it to get lost. I know that Dr. Jacobson gave it to you." she added. Kim said holding out the stethoscope.
"Oh, thanks. You could have called." Toni said.
"I know but I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute." Kim said.
Toni hesitated and then stepped back leaving the door open.
"What did you want to talk about?" Toni asked.
Kim looked around as if to check if anyone else was there.
"Umm, I know that you don't like me much and that's ok but it's also the reason why I picked you to talk to." Kim said. "It's about that dig order, I figured out who wrote it and....the same person has made other mistakes."
"Who are you talking about?" Toni asked.
Kim hesitated and then said "Dr. Myers."
Toni hesitated and then asked, "What kind of mistakes are you talking about?"
"Tonight was the worst one but last week, he ordered a beta blocker for someone who was allergic to them, but that wasn't the problem. When the nurse called him, he yelled at her and told her to just give the damned pill. A couple of weeks ago, he discontinued lasix for a congestive heart failure patient without ordering another water pill to replace it and then got mad at the nurse when she called him about it.
I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to say it, I think that he's on something, drinking or maybe both but the changes started about a month after Dr. Jacobson died. At first it was just little things, nothing serious but it's been getting worse and now that you're back..... As far as the thing tonight, the nurse, the one that was so scared? She questioned the dose several times and got yelled at each time. She finally told Dr. Myers that she wasn't going to give it and that if he wanted the patient to have that much dig then he had to come give it himself or change the order. A little while later, he came up to the floor, asked for the med and pushed it himself."
Toni was sick. Kim was an opportunist but she wasn't a liar and she was a good nurse. The fact that she came to her spoke volumes.
"Do you have documentation to prove what you're telling me?" Toni asked.
"I made copies of each order and even turned them in to the floor manager but nothing happened. As far as the other nurses are concerned, I told them to chart their asses off. I can only hope that they did but I can't swear to it and I made an extra set of copies of the orders and of all of the charting that I myself did. A couple of the other nurses are here tonight, I'll ask if they charted any of their conversations with Dr. Myers."
After Kim left, Toni tried to lie down again but questions plagued her. Should she talk to Tom first or should she just go to the Director of Medical services? What if James really didn't have to die? In the end, she decided to talk to Tom; he had been a friend and deserved the benefit of the doubt. She took out her cell phone and went to her call list to be sure that she still had the number; she would try to call him before she left for home.
****** Mason wondered it there was a full moon or something; all of the patients were restless with some of them requiring extra medications. It had been a long night and he missed his lunch time with Toni and like her he was grateful that he was off for several days after this shift, he would be at work for a couple of shifts that she was off but he was hoping that by that time, they would have progressed to talking on the phone.
There was another thing that he had decided, once they were officially a couple, he was leaving the hospital maybe even before that. Working here had done what it was meant to do and that was to get close to Toni, so there was no real reason to stay except for the lunches together. Joyce steered clear of him for the first four hours of their shift, partly because they were busy and partly because she knew that he was irritated with her. It wasn't until one when she tapped on his office door.
"Hey look, I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. My mouth does tend to run away from me but I promise to keep you and Toni out of anything that I say."
Mason hesitated and then spoke.
"Why say anything about anyone? This isn't high school and we're certainly not teenagers."
"You're right but rumor mills have been in existence for as long as people had the ability to talk but your point is well taken. Again, I apologize." Joyce said as she stood up to leave.
"Apology accepted." Mason said and watched her leave knowing that she wouldn't be able to help herself.
The rest of the shift passed quietly for Toni. The patient that was sent to the ICU was stable and would probably be transferred back to the floor in a day or two. Toni took out her cell phone and called Tom Myers.
"Hey Tom, this is Toni Jacobson, where are you? Oh, ok, can we meet for a cup of coffee? Great! See you then."
Toni hung up and was packing up her things when Kim stuck her head in the door.
"Dr. Jacobson? I have those copies for you."
"Thanks Kim and thanks for coming to me, I'm sure that it wasn't an easy decision to make." Toni said taking the folder from Kim.
Kim gave her a small smile and walked away feeling proud that she had done something right.
Toni sat in the coffee shop and waited for Tom to show up. As she waited, she read through the papers that Kim had given her; they were organized chronologically making it possible for Toni to see the gradual changes in Tom's orders. Even the handwriting had deteriorated to the point where it looked nothing like the neat evenly signed orders of three years ago. Toni read the nurses notes and then rechecked the orders, Kim was right; the decline began soon after James died and then seemed to escalate when she came back to the hospital to work.