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It Was More Than Just That Parking Space
Maggie Doyle was less than enthused about her transfer to County. She wasn't looking forward to starting over with yet another group of medical personnel. And she'd heard that County thrived on gossip. So on that first morning, she was glad to find a good parking space without driving around the overcrowded lot; it was one less thing to worry about.
Walking into the busy ER, she swiftly gave the dull, dingy room a quick once-over. The place was a dump, but with the recent budget cuts, she'd had no real choice but to accept the transfer. Maggie was still paying off her student loans, and staying in Chicago meant she could remain at her parents' place, contribute to the household, and still whittle down the stupendous amount of money left to be repaid. Sure, her proud father had insisted on giving her the little red convertible as a graduation gift, but her one real pleasure was driving the shiny car around town. Living with Mom and Dad wasn't exactly a chick magnet, but the car made up for that shortcoming. Besides, she was enough of an independent soul to enjoy her ability to just get up and go when the mood suited her. Maggie wasn't looking to settle down with any woman: not just yet. On top of the new job, she'd just about gotten over her firstand so far, only, committed relationship. The questions, the jealousy, the pressureno, now was the time to enjoy whatever social life she could manage to have, while working the grueling schedule of a resident in a busy city hospital. She was going over County's chart review process with Mark Greene, when a vaguely familiar voice intruded.
"Who took my parking space?"
Maggie turned to face Carol Hathaway, who was clearly furious. She'd known Carol slightly from high school, but they'd been a year or two apart and had no friends in common. She did recall that Hathaway had a reputation for being a bitch, and from the expression on the charge nurse's face, that hadn't changed. Another memory surfaced briefly before quickly disappearing, as Carol glowered at her, hands on hips. Unwilling to appear vulnerable, Maggie made her excuses. Before the conversation could continue, an ambulance pulled in, the glass doors slid open and Dr. Doyle spent the rest of her shift just trying to keep her head above water.
But unbidden memories of a certain day back in high school, an open locker, the sight of Carol undressing for gym, kept popping up in Maggie's mind, and no amount of gunshot wounds, broken legs, or drug overdoses could completely erase those vivid images. She was certain that Carol knew she'd been watching that little striptease, while pretending to clean out her locker. Maggie knew itand after Carol's latest baleful glares, so clearly aimed in her direction, she decided to do something about it. She'd wait for the opportunity to present itself. Obviously, Carol was aware that Maggie remembered it. She'd attempted some small talk about the old neighborhood and Maggie had answered politely, but just barely. She saw the contempt in Carol's eyes when she mentioned the car. Who the hell was she to judge? Maggie waited and watched, as John Carter tried his best to flirtbut hell, he wasn't staring at her with those bedroom eyes the way Carol Hathaway had done
The day grew grey and cold, and the ER gradually slowed down. It was sure to fill up again later, as a misty rain fell in the twilight. Any number of car accidents might jam the room later, but it was quiet enough now for Maggie to catch up on her charts, and she found a spot on the worn couch in the staff lounge. Leaning back, she popped the top from a soda can and gratefully drank half of its contents in one swallow. Immersed in the bureaucratic jargon required by County's accreditation watchdogs, she frowned, concentrating on the paperwork at hand.
A crackle of paper made her turn her head just in time to catch the chocolate bar hurtling towards her from the doorway. Carol stood clutching several more, the trace of an impish smile on her full lipsthe first sign of a smile Maggie had seen all day. She turned the candy over in her hands, trying not to smile back. Hathaway called out to Susan Lewis, over at the opposite end of the room. "M&Ms, or Milky Way?"
"Either, I'm actually going to grab a sandwich before the cafeteria closes." Susan neatly caught the bag of M&Ms. "Goodnight, Maggieand hang in there. You'll catch on fast, don't worry." Susan smiled at Maggie. "Carol has a knack for getting free stuff from the vending machines. Along with her other talents." She waved as she started down the hall.
Carol remained in the doorway, slowly peeling the wrapper from her chocolate, a slight trace of a smile still on her lips. The noise of the changing shifts had subsided; the hall was absolutely quiet. Maggie closed the folder she'd been working on and spoke directly.
"What the hell are you doing, Hathaway?"
Carol looked up from the candy. "What are you talking about?"
"You know damn well what I'm talking about."
Carol shook her head. "'Fraid not, Maggie. But, you know, I never really did understand you."
Maggie was getting tired of this. "Goodnight, Hathaway I'll make sure not to hog your precious personal parking spot tomorrow."
"I'm not working tomorrow. I just finished a double shift."
"Terrific. I'll see you when I see you." Maggie grabbed her jacket and walked out, returning the charts to the front desk, leaving medication orders and other instructions for the night staff. Carter asked if she wanted to go for a bite to eat and a beer; she declined politely. "Another night, OK? It's been a hell of a first day." She smiled and headed for the parking lot. She'd have to explain to him eventually, if he didn't catch on soon.
Maggie wasn't terribly surprised to see Carol Hathaway leaning against her car. This wasn't going as she'd planned, though. She had meant to catch Hathaway when she least expected itand she didn't care for the way Carol was adeptly playing this game. Clearly, Carol wanted to toy with herbut if there was one thing Maggie Doyle hated, it was playing games.
Unless, of course, they were played by her own rules. Rudely, she brushed past Carol and unlocked the doors. Carol, taken aback, lingered for a moment, eyes wide. Maggie rolled down the window and called out to her.
"Carol? Either get in, or get out of the way. I mean it."
"And if I don't "
"I swear I'll run your sweet ass over and blame it on you. This lot's not very well lit. So make up your mind."
Carol slid into the front seat, coat unbuttoned. A tight black sweater hugged the slope of her breasts. Maggie looked away.
"What kind of stupid game are we playing here, Carol? It wasn't my idea to transfer to County. Have you got some damn bet going with the nurses? Don't think I've forgotten what you did in high school what do you want, anyway?"
Carol's voice faltered. "I'm not sure. Yes, I was playing a game with you today and yes, I was wrong to do that. I'm just"
"Mmm, thatand something I can't explain."
Maggie saw her chance, to turn this around and get her equilibrium back.
"We won't discuss this in the hospitalever."
"No," Carol shook her head. "I wouldn't do that. I know what it's like to have everyone talking about me." She sighed deeply. "What I don't know is what it's like to kiss another woman."
"Carol? Trust me, you're not gay. And I don't think I want to be your little sociological experiment."
Carol leaned over and placed a fingertip on Maggie's lips. "Wouldn't you like to be my own private memory of the one time in my life when I stopped overanalyzing everythingand just did something because I felt like it? Wouldn't you like to get payback for that awful day in the locker room? Wouldn't you"
Maggie had decided she was weary of talking. She pushed Carol away just far enough to get her hands under the clinging sweater, to touch those perfect nipples and explore the roundness, the curves, and the soft skin that she'd first seen in that grubby locker room back in high school. Slowly, teasingly, she eased Carol's jeans down her smooth legs, taking pleasure in the nurse's fingers winding through her hair, listening to the sound of Carol moaning beneath her. Gently, she spread Carol's legs apart, reaching for that certain spot she knew would drive her former tormentor over the edge.
The little car quickly fogged up and Maggie covered Carol's open mouth with her own, her hands suddenly and surely bringing Carol to the brink before slowly, inexorably leaving her to plateau; arching her hips and begging Maggie to keep going. Carol Hathaway, begging. It was almost too good to be true. Payback had never been so sweet.
They both knew this was a separate, discrete incident, never to be repeated.
It might never be discussed, but it would never be forgotten. The old jealousies and grudges would surface again but somehow, the thought of that single night evened the score. Forever.
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