Written in 20 minutes. No time for rereads or typos.
Elizabeth handed Patrick a chart with a wrinkle of her nose as she watched one the nursing students drop a huge stack of charts by the vending machine. “I’m trying to remember if I was that bad when I started.”
Patrick frowned, followed her eyes, then shrugged as he looked back at the computer. “Probably. You’re not much better now.”
She narrowed her eyes, then whacked his arm. “You’re a jackass.”
“It comes naturally.” Patrick scowled at the chart in his hand. “Did you take handwriting class from Satan or something? I can’t read this—”
“You’re just getting old,” she muttered, snatching it back from him and read out the medication dosage. “Why are you in such a cranky mood today?”
“Because the world is stupid and I’m tired of it—” Patrick exhaled sharply. “I went downstairs this morning.”
“Downstairs—” She sighed. “To the lab?”
“Yeah. I haven’t been down there in months, and I wanted to avoid it—I usually do. That’s why that weird lab tech is always up here.” Patrick gestured at Brad who had just left the elevator. “They gave her station to him.”
Elizabeth looked at Brad, who looked at her at the same time. His eyes got wide and he immediately turned and sprinted away. She squinted. “He keeps running from me,” she murmured.
“Who does?” her brother asked as he walked up to the hub, set down one chart and picked out another from the tray. “What’s wrong?”
“Brad Cooper, the weird lab tech,” Elizabeth said. She looked at Patrick. “I mean, isn’t he always running from me? What did I ever do to him?”
“Maybe he was running from me,” Patrick said. “I was a little…irritated when I saw he’d moved into Robin’s station.”
Steven hesitated. “I should have warned you, man—”
“No, it’s fine—”
“I don’t think it’s you,” Elizabeth insisted. “He’s been weird around me for, like, months.” She wiggled her shoulders. “Since the water thing—” Then her pen dropped from her fingers.
She could almost pinpoint the day his strange behavior had begun—the day he’d delivered those test results to her.
Sam’s test results.
“Well, maybe that’s it,” Steven suggested. “Everyone’s been a little weird since then—” He tipped his head to the side. “You okay, Bits? You look weird.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth blinked a few times, then focused on her brother. “I’m, uh, fine. I was just, um, thinking about Thanksgiving. You said Mom and Dad are going to Sarah’s this year. Are you coming to the house? Patrick and Emma are coming.”
“That depends,” Steven told her with a lift of his brows. “Is Jason going to be there?”
Elizabeth pursed her lips. “You mean one of my best friends and whom I’m currently dating? Yes. He will be there. You’re not going to do this again, are you? I didn’t want to hear it on my birthday, I don’t want it now—”
“Well, you love to make the same mistakes over and over again, it’s not my fault that I means I have to—” Steven scowled, looked at Patrick. “Come on, man. You were around for her first round with him. Can’t you talk sense into her?”
“He is not in charge of me—”
“Uh, point of correction—” Patrick put up his finger. “None of us were around for that first round. No one knew it was happening.”
“That—” Elizabeth glared at him. “One, that’s not the point. And Two, not helping!”
“Also,” Patrick continued, giving Elizabeth an eye roll before looking at Steven. “You weren’t around for any of that either. You wanted her to give Lucky another chance which really made me want to punch you.”
“That—” Elizabeth stabbed a finger at her brother. “That is an excellent point!”
“Fine. You be an idiot. I’ll talk to Liv and see if she wants to come, but I think we might be invited to Dante and Lulu’s—”
“Son of a criminal by the way!” Elizabeth called as her brother walked away. “Honestly,” she muttered. She saw Brad step on the elevator. “Hey, Brad!”
He looked at her, and almost in a cartoon manner, started pressing the button faster. Elizabeth scowled, and started over to him — but he was able to get on the elevator before she could reach him.
“Sorry! Send an email!” Brad said as the doors closed.
“This is…not good,” Elizabeeth decided as Patrick stepped up behind her. “I told you it’s me he’s avoiding.”
“Yeah, but why?”
“I—” she sighed. “I have a bad feeling I know why, but I need to check something out first.”
“All right, but if you get arrested, make sure to give me a heads up in case you need bail,” Patrick sighed as they returned to the hub.
That night, Jason came over for dinner as he did most nights now, and after Cameron had finished his math homework (with a lot of grumbling and complaining), he decided this was a good time to teach Jason how to play video games.
“Okay, so you press this button—” Cameron said, pointing at something on the controller. “Then this one—”
“Uh huh,” Jason said, looking at it skeptically. “I’m going to be bad at this,” he warned.
“That’s okay.” Cameron pressed play, and sat next to him. “I like to win, anyway. Why do you think I want you to play me? Patrick and Uncle Steven always kick my butt.”
Elizabeth ignored them, reaching for her phone when it lit up with a message.
Happy to help! What do you need?
She bit her lip, looked at her son and Jason playing video games as Aiden cackled in the background—because it turned out Jason wasn’t too bad at the game after all and had already beaten Cameron in the first round of Mario Kart.
She should leave this alone. She’d done what she was supposed to do and had no reason to believe the results had been faked.
But then Elizabeth sighed. She’d never be able to live with herself if she didn’t find out for sure.
Can you get into test results at the hospital?
A few minutes later, Spinelli replied. Yeah, but why?
Because I think someone lied to me, and we need to fix this.