Disclaimer: Everything Twilight belongs to Madame Meyer. But this plot? All mine!
May 7, 2015: This story was on hiatus for a while, but I am back now! New chapters will post every Thursday for the next five weeks until the story is concluded. Thanks for your patience and support!
WANTED: YOU, FOREVER
A Carlsme Christmas Story
Chapter 1: A Well-Placed Ad
The snow falls gently outside the hospital window, preparing us for the white Christmas of dreams.
I have completed my evening rounds: soothed the patients I could, adjusted treatment dosages, even checked for monsters under three beds in pediatrics. I seldom take the holidays off, allowing those with families and commitments to enjoy them. But my boss declared last night that unless there is a legitimate life-or-death emergency, she better not see me again until December 26th at the earliest.
"Don't make me get ugly," Jane said, piercing me with her blue-eyed glare. Though she barely reaches my shoulder in those walking death-traps she calls shows, the prospect of her wrath is frightening enough to keep me away.
Proceeding to my office, I remove my stethoscope from my neck and place it in my bag. Checking its contents twice per my custom, I retrieve my overcoat from its hook. I am shrugging myself into it when Kate enters the room. She is my officemate and closest friend here. We long ago considered the possibility of more, but the idea of such intimacy gave us an unshakeable case of the willies.
The experts are mistaken: some men and women can—and should—be "just friends."
"My eyes must be playing tricks on me." She walks to her desk on the other side of the room. "There is no way Dr. Carlisle Cullen is leaving on Christmas Eve-Eve before the evening news is over."
I cut my eyes at her. "It's a Christmas miracle."
"Nah, it's Jane putting her tiny little foot down," she chuckles. "And I'm happy for you. It's high time you set your feet on non-linoleum land for a while."
I set my gloves on the bench beside the bag. "You and Jane spend too much time monitoring my life."
"What life?" Her words are kind with a twist of sympathy. "You spend every waking hour in these hollowed hallways, and God knows we appreciate your dedication." Her hand comes to rest on my shoulder from behind, squeezing gently. "But that's not a life."
A breezy retort bubbles on my tongue, but I cannot give it voice. She unwittingly echoes a conversation I have with myself on a regular basis, one usually ending with a sad sigh and reminder of my promise.
Not until she's free.
"My brother's in town; did I tell you that?" I stuff my hands into my pocket. "He's been staying with me for two weeks."
"You did, but you didn't have to." She shoves me playfully, then I hear her file cabinet open. "Every able-bodied female on staff has both eyes on him."
I snort to myself. This is not an uncommon occurrence. "When did they see him?"
"Some of the nurses saw you together last week at the diner."
My lips curve into an immediate smile on her last word, and I am grateful she cannot see it.
"So uh… any chance he might be on the market?" I turn and cock an eyebrow at her, and she shakes her head, laughing. "Garrett is all the man I need, thank you. But my sister Tanya…."
"Ah." I shiver inside, thinking of the first and thank-the-good-Lord only time I met her. That woman should come with a warning label: Handsy, shameless, no verbal filter. "Sorry but Edward is happily married to Isabella and here only because she insisted he visit before the baby arrives in February."
"Guess we won't be in-laws after all."
"There are worse things." I check my pockets one last time, making sure I have enough change. "As I am forbidden to see you until afterwards, have a beautiful Christmas, Kate."
"You too, Doc. And hey." I turn to find her holding out a small wrapped package. "Don't let this go to waste."
I sigh and shake my head as she thrusts the box into my hands. We have had a "no presents" policy in place for years. "You're in violation."
"So sue me. After you use it."
My brows knit together as I wonder at the weightless gift, widening her grin. "You're kinda cute when you're confused. You should work that angle more often."
"Work that…" I roll my eyes as she falls into a laughing fit. "You're impossible."
"Yeah, yeah." She shoves me out the door, locking me out. "Now go before I call Jane."
The threat reaches its mark, and I hustle to my car before she can make good on it. There are many well-wishes and curious glances at the package in my hand, and I set it carefully inside my bag once I am in the car. I turn on the heater and let the engine warm up, making sure I have my keys before returning to the hospital's rear entrance.
I am late today, later than I have been in weeks, and I can only hope not to be punished. As I approach the box, I see the pale gray parchment staring back at me, and it is all I can do not to whoop with joy. Dropping the three quarters into the slot, I wait for the click and pull down the door, retrieving the final copy of the Seattle Times.
Tucking the paper gingerly into the opening in my coat, I set it on the passenger seat before pulling out of the lot. I drive several blocks, making a few random turns, before resting a secluded space in a smaller, non-descript lot. I cut the engine and turn on the dome light, cradling the Times as if a baby in a bassinet.
My heart races in my chest as I unfold the paper, quickly dispensing with the news, sports, and entertainment sections. The business section I set aside for Edward, the health section for my future perusal. I swallow hard as my destination comes into view.
I turn to the fifth page, ignoring everything else until I come to the "Missed Connections" column. Taking a deep breath, my eyes slowly scan the notes, belaboring the point so as not to miss anything.
Then, fourth down from the title, I see it.
"Closing alone tonight. If you were pocket-sized; I would take you with me. You make me brave. ~ Angel's Wings."
My head falls back to rest on the seat, blood roaring in my ears.
She will be alone tonight.
Fewer questions, fewer eyes.
Anticipation curls low in my belly, and I curse myself for not getting the paper at the start of my shift. Had I done that, I would planned differently, told Jane I would stay until 10:00. Then I could have gone straight there, straight to her, instead of scrambling for a way to idle away the next few hours.
No matter. The night can be salvaged. I shall go home, freshen up, get myself together.
Summon the courage to say what I need to say.
Putting the car back in drive, I back out of the lonely lot and proceed, images of a heavenly face floating around me like celestial, crystalline dust.
What do you think? I've never written Carlsme before, so I'm a bit nervous.
The next chapter is written… look for it in a few days. And "What's in Santa's Sack?" is in my favorites. Enjoy! xoox