There was a decided spring in Kath’s step for the rest of her shift. Making up with Mike had cheered her up no end and she was looking forward to her dinner with Mike in the same way as she used to look forward to Christmas when she was a little girl. All of the other staff had noticed how much brighter she seemed and Kath was well aware that the majority of them were desperate to find out just what had happened, but she had no intention of fuelling their gossip.
"You do look very cheerful all of a sudden though Kath" Jasmine pointed out.
"Aren’t I allowed to be cheerful?" Kath responded.
"Well of course you are. It’s just that this morning you seemed bit…" Jas searched for a way of saying ‘grouchy’ that didn’t sound offensive.
"Yes well, that was this morning" Jas could see that Kath wasn’t prepared to say more and reluctantly gave up. Kath went off to see a patient and Jas decided on a quick visit to Darwin for a chat with Julie.
"All right Jules!" Julie looked up and grimaced.
"Meyer’s on the warpath over some lost patient notes, Mrs Clarke is constantly complaining and I’m supposed to have worked through this entire pile of paperwork by clocking off time." She let out a strangled laugh.
"Maybe I should leave you to it then…"
"No don’t go Jas. I could do with a bit of a distraction. Got any goss?"
"No," She replied dejectedly, "but at least Kath’s perked up a bit now. She was in a right mood this morning!"
"So what’s changed?"
"Dunno. She won’t let on"
"Maybe she’s having a steamy affair with someone, and its a few minutes in the linen cupboard that’s cheered her up!" Julie giggled quietly.
"As if, Jules. Our Kath is practically a saint. Hell’ll freeze over before she has an affair!" The two nurses laughed. It was ridiculous.
Mike replaced his towel and deodorant into his bag and zipped it up. The operation had been a complete success, which in itself was reason to be cheerful, but more importantly it had finished exactly on time, so he wouldn’t have to keep Kath waiting. He looked down at his watch. Perfect. She should have come off shift precisely three minutes ago. He slung his jacket over his shoulder, picked up his bag and left the locker room.
As he rounded the corner of the corridor he nearly collided with Danny who was carrying a large cardboard box.
"Whoa there! Watch out Danny"
"Sorry Mr Barratt, I wasn’t looking where I was going. It’s this box you see, it’s a bit difficult to see over."
"I never realised that it was a part of a student nurse’s duties to cart boxes around the hospital?" He raised an eyebrow at Danny, who looked slightly embarrassed.
"Yeah. No. It isn’t. I just said I’d do Stan a favour. Sorry."
"You don’t have to apologise to me Danny, just make sure that Stan isn’t taking advantage of your good nature." He warned him.
"Right." Mike smiled at the young man and patted him on the back as he walked off. Danny could distinctly hear the doctor humming as he did so.
"Somebody’s in a good mood," he said to him self, "I wonder who the lucky woman is!"
Kath stood at the main entrance to the Wyvern wing waiting for Mike to arrive. She didn’t quite know why she’d suggested to meet there, it just seemed better than meeting on the ward in front of everyone. Not that she was trying to hide their meeting of course, why would she?
She leant up against one of the tall pillars and combed through her hair with her fingers. It was a bit blustery and the wind was making her hair a mess, she didn’t want Mike to see her like that. She was just about to go back inside the big glass doors for some shelter when Mike appeared.
"Going somewhere?" he asked indicating the few steps she had taken back toward the hospital.
"Oh no, just thought I’d get out of the wind, but it doesn’t matter seeing as you’re here now." She couldn’t help but smile at his arrival. He smiled back, then offered her his arm as they walked to the car park.
They had each bought their own cars so Mike followed behind Kath, watching where she drove in order to get directions. He found it exciting in an odd sort of way. Like a magical mystery tour through the city. He could just about make out the back of her head and every so often he could see her turn slightly to see if he was still following her. Every time she did he waved at her.
Kath turned back to face the road again, Mike was acting like an over grown child, but it was quite endearing. The traffic started moving again, only a few more streets and she would be home. With Mike. She would be at home with Mike. It surprised Kath to find that it didn’t sound out of place like she knew it ought to. She found herself having to force her mind to stay on her driving; her imagination kept muscling in with thoughts of Mike. A smile had plastered itself across her face and she had to keep her bottom lip clamped between her teeth in order to get it to go away. She had no business being this happy; it was only dinner with a colleague.
The drive over, Kath showed Mike into her living room.
"Well, here we are!" She announced.
"Ah yes, chez Shaughnessy, very nice." Kath wished he hadn’t said that. It was one thing for Mike & Kath to eat together, but Mike & Mrs Shaughnessy was another matter entirely.
"I’ll just get dinner on then I can give you the tour if you like…" she offered.
"Great. I’ll just make myself at home, shall I?" Mike could see from the somewhat startled expression on her face that that might not have been the best thing to say. It was too late to do anything about it though. Kath didn’t reply, just nodded and made her way into the kitchen. As soon as she had started to prepare the food she realised that she should have offered Mike a drink or something, she wasn’t being a very good hostess. She turned back to the kitchen door but stopped short of going through it. It seemed like an atmosphere had arisen since they had arrived at the house and maybe it would be better to let it settle a little first.
Mike looked around the room from his position on the sofa. It was everything that he had expected it to be from what he knew of Kath. It was a bright welcoming room, tastefully decorated and very homely. An electric fire stood in the Victorian fireplace, bay windows looked over the small front garden and there were two large bookcases dominating one wall of the room. He got up and moved over to them for a better look.
The first contained videos, an eclectic mix of genres, and on one shelf a variety of home movies: birthdays, weddings, family holidays and school plays. The one entitled ‘The wizard of Oz, Danny as Munchkin’ particularly intrigued Mike. The other bookcase was primarily full of paperback romances. In fact it was a rather comprehensive selection of what Mike would have termed ‘trashy’ novels, but perhaps he was wrong, they couldn’t be that bad if Kath read them.
As he stood there musing about them, Kath returned from the kitchen. She saw what he was looking at and cringed. Why Simon wouldn’t let her keep them in the bedroom she would never understand.
"I see you’ve discovered my dark secret" Mike jumped at the sound of her voice.
"We all have our vices," he said as he turned to look at her, "they’re only books!" Though what anyone would need with a whole bookcase full of them Mike refused to think about.
Kath blushed and decided the subject needed changing.
"So are you ready for a tour of the house? It’s not exactly a palace so it won’t take long." Mike agreed to the tour. She showed him the kitchen, and then they made their way upstairs.
"This was Danny’s room, it’s going to be a study eventually. I’m still trying to clean it! I swear I’ve found three entirely new life forms under his bed."
"Well, boys will be boys. You should have seen my room when I was his age!"
"I’m sure you were a lovely young man…" And a lovely older one too she thought, glancing down at the floor as if he might be able to read her mind if her could see her eyes. She left the room and Mike followed her out and across the landing into another. Kath walked into the room and instantly regretted it. What was she thinking, showing Mike her bedroom? She hovered by the door, not intending on actually letting him into the room.
"My room" She explained, then added, "And Simon’s too, obviously."
"Very nice." He replied awkwardly from the doorway. They stood silently for a second neither sure what to say next. Mike broke the silence.
"Must get a good view of the garden from here."
"Oh yes, especially when all the flowers are in bloom. The roses are out at the moment…" Instinctively as she spoke she moved across the room toward the large sash window. Instinctively Mike followed.
They stood next to each other looking out over the neat little garden. The day, although windy, had been sunny, but now the sun was going down and it looked as though it had set the sky on fire, with all the reds and oranges of the sunset. Kath felt herself sigh.
"I sometimes forget how beautiful the view can be" She almost whispered as she gazed out of the window. Mike turned to face her as she spoke. The golden evening light washed over Kath, highlighting her hair and making her eyes sparkle.
"A beautiful view indeed," he said softly.
Kath caught the tone of his voice and knew that he was no longer talking about the garden, but at that moment she didn’t mind. As often seemed the case Mike had found the perfect thing to say and she let the compliment ring in her ears, drowning out all other thoughts and all other sounds. It felt like an eternity they stood and watched as the sun sank lower, dipping gently below the horizon. Kath was the first to move.
"I should go and check on the food" she said reluctantly as she turned from the window. The room was now in semidarkness; the colours of the wallpaper and the bedspread were almost entirely faded out and gave the room a slightly unreal quality, as though it was a scene from an old black and white movie.
"Kath…" She stopped and looked back at him, waiting for Mike to finish his sentence. His mind raced through everything that he wanted to say to her but knew he shouldn’t. She looked so beautiful standing there in front of him in her long green v-neck dress, her hair framing her face perfectly. But he couldn’t tell her that, could he?
"Mike?" She prompted, but all it did was make him more tongue-tied. His brow furrowed ever so slightly as he tried to think himself out of the wonderfully dreadful situation. She saw his expression change and walked back to him, bringing her hand up to softly rub his upper arm.
As her fingertips connected with the material of his shirt and felt the warm skin beneath, a pulse of electricity ran through her. She kept her hand there, turning the friendly comforting gesture into something else, something more.
"Kath I…" he felt his own hand lifting from his side, making its way to her face, stopping just millimetres from her cheek. He longed to let it rest against her skin. He looked into her eyes, and she gazed back into his. Everything else disappeared. She tilted her head almost imperceptibly to one side and felt his fingers brush against her face, sending a shiver down her spine.
Already standing close, they moved closer still. Kath’s hand sliding across his arm and onto his chest where it met her other one. She could feel his heart beating wildly. His own hand stroked down her face, her neck and onto her back pulling her slowly toward his lips, never unlocking his eyes from hers. When she could feel his breath on her face she closed her eyes and leant forward. Their lips met, then parted slightly.
Kath had never felt a kiss so tender and yet so passionate. It was a kiss like nothing Simon had ever given her, even back when they first fell in love. She felt her body go limp in Mike’s embrace. No, Simon had never made her feel like this. All the feelings that she’d only ever lived through her books were coursing through her body, all the feelings she had never really believed existed but had nevertheless longed for were coming true. She became so wrapped up in the moment that didn’t here the key turning in the lock of the front door…
Go to Part Four