Peyton was back at the hospital. She was swamped after missing Friday and Monday. Mackenzie had Maria Sandoval reschedule all of her consultations and two anthroplasties. She just took care of a fracture of the arm on a 17-year-old boy. He was extremely brave and it went well.
Peyton had no surgeries scheduled until tomorrow but plenty of consultations. It was somewhat difficult getting back into the swing of things after her vacation.
She kept thinking about her night with her husband in bed. It was really bothering her. Was he even interested anymore? Was he having an affair? She wasn’t sure about anything with him. He could be so loving but then at the same time, infinitely distant.
She shrugged her shoulders and rolled her neck. She needed to quit thinking this much and get her mind back on her work.
Peytons first patient conference was after lunch at one o’clock. She looked over her printed schedule. It was with a 61-year-old man by the name of Benjamin Walker. Then she had appointments at 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00. She needed to talk to Maria about crowding her schedule. Maria was good at what she did and it was probably due to her time off.
It was ten after one. Peyton was running a few minutes late. As she entered her office, she spotted who must be Mr. Walker. She graciously invited him to follow her into her interior office. He did so and sat down in one of the two chairs opposite her desk.
“Mr. Walker…I’m Dr. Hudson. Very nice to make your acquaintance. Sorry about the inconvenience of rescheduling your appointment. I was called out of town on an emergency,”she fibbed.
“Good to meet you Doc, it’s no problem.”
“I see you’re here to discuss an anthroplasties. How long has your hip been bothering you?”
“For years Doc, but it’s getting so bad I can barely stand it,”he ran his sizeable hand over his baldhead, “Do you do a lot of these things?”
“Yes I do. It’s a major operation and it will take you up to six months to heal. Do you work Mr. Walker?”
“Yah, I’m a private investigator…that long huh?”
They conferred for about thirty minutes. She told him to see the receptionist and they would schedule surgery. It would probably two to three months out. He scoffed and left the room. Peyton didn’t like him very much but he would be unconscious the next time she saw him.
She got through the afternoon with her energy waning. It was time to go home. She stopped by Starbucks on the way there, ordered her regular and travelled what seemed like a long way to her residence.
Mason saw Peyton pull up, disarmed the alarm and welcomed her in.
“You look like you had a long day.”
“Gee thanks,”she laughed.
“I didn’t mean it like that, sorry,”He laughed too.
“Hey I have to go out of town tomorrow for a week. Kevin is sending me to the branch in Toledo. Toledo of all places!”
“That sucks. I hate when you have to travel alone and for a whole week.”
“I guess their complete system is a mess. Maybe it won’t take that long,”he repied hopefully.
Therefore it was just going to be her and the kids for a week. She should be used to it by now but she wanted to cry. She hated his business trips!
Mason packed and left the next day. Skyler and Cameron missed him when he was gone but they had grown accustomed to it. For the first time in years of his business trips Peyton felt a twang of suspicion.
Skyler had a volleyball game that night. Peyton and Cameron could cheer her on.
Cameron was taking his meds as prescribed, got some new clothes in Winter Park, tried to stay away from black and they fit…not sagging off his ass.
Spending some quality time with his family appeared to do him a lot of good! He was more talkative, open and stayed out of his depressing room.
Getting rid of the X-Box was a different story.
“Ah come on mom,I’m taking my pills, dressing differently, joining the family, not hanging out in my room as much and trying really hard! Let me keep this one thing. I’ll get rid of the violent games but I’m keeping Madden!”he declared all of this with conviction.
Peyton had too agree with Cameron, he was trying hard. No more cutting episodes and even pleasant to be around. She gave in on the X-Box.
“Ok go through the games and bring up the bad ones. Don’t try to sneak and keep any of them. Please.”
“Hey mom, can I go to Katie’s for awhile we’re going to dye our hair.”
“What? What color?”
“Pink streaks, they’re in style right now and it will always grow out, can I please?”
“I guess it’s all right, it’s summer and you’re right about it growing out.”
Peyton had to compromise. She wouldn’t let Skyler pierce or tattoo her body; she would thank her one day.
Now with Mason gone and Skyler gone, Peyton could help Cameron go through his room. She hoped that she found no surprises.
The two of them straightened his room, opened the dusty shades, picked up all his dirty laundry and it had the appearance of a regular teenage boys room.
She collected the games she didn’t approve of and that left only Madden. Some of the violent ones were marked Mature-18 …Cameron had Dead Space, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Fallout and Assassins Creed. Just the names were telling enough.
“Cameron where did you get all of these?”
“Dad bought a few and Randy lent me the others.”
Mason was not paying attention when he purchased these games. Hope they didn’t leave too much of a negative impression on Cameron. “Well they’re going out to the dumpster now.”
“Ok mom, they were fun but I guess you know what’s best,”he snickered.
“Be serious for once Cameron!”she admonished.
Peyton picked up her phone and texted.
Peyton: what time is your game
Peyton: we’ll leave at 6:30 will u be back by then
Skyler: yah mom I’ll be back
Peyton: ok see u in a little. Luv ya
Skyler: luv u 2 🙂
Peyton fixed a snack for her and Cameron. Some cheddar cheese, crackers and a sliced up Granny Smith apple.
Skylers team won the match but by a small margin. Both teams were good. They went to Pizza Hut to celebrate. Deep-dish crust vegetarian special and sodas.
They have another match on Friday against a top ranked team. Skyler’s team was in third place but there were a bunch of games left to play. They had time to catch up.
Peyton got up early as usual, on Thursday morning routine. It was wierd and sad having Mason gone. He hadn’t called last night like he usually did. She wondered what had happened.
She made it through another busy day. Surgeries, consults and emergencies. She and Mac had lunch at the Armadillo, they touched base outside of work every now and then. Not enough as far as Peyton was concerned. They discussed the trip, Macs love life, or lack there of and finally Peyton confided in her friend that she thought something strange was going on with Mason.
“He either isn’t interested in me sexually anymore or he’s having an affair,”Peyton croaked.
“You’re just paranoid my friend. Mason adores you and would go to the end of the earth for you.”
“I’m not so sure. I used to feel that way too, lately or I don’t know when it started, he’s been aloof.”
They continued to talk over the Mexican food until they realized they had to be getting back to their practice. They rode back together in Macs’ Lexus, hating to end their lunch date.
Peyton was relieved the busy day was over with. She was following Stan Young out to her vehicle when he stopped, turned around and started talking to Peyton. Stan was usually silent, except for ‘goodbye and have a nice night’. She was sort of surprised that he wanted to have a conversation.
“Hey, Dr. Hudson I don’t want to scare you but I’m telling everyone I walk out, that there has been a suspicious man in a grey hooded sweatshirt hanging around. It may be nothing but I just wanted to forewarn you.”
“Oh, thanks Stan. I’m glad you warned me, you never can be too careful.”
“Like I said it’s probably nothing, just doing my job!”he smiled.
Peyton liked Stan. He was a good man. ‘Stan the man,’she giggled. She climbed into her BMW and headed for home. She had an upset stomach ever since she ate the Mexican food for lunch. She was going to skip her Caramel Macchiato.
Friday. Thank God, it had been a long, short week. Peyton got to the hospital early. She had a 7:00 anthroplasties. A woman named Elizabeth Burg. The poor woman was only 53 and her hips were shot. They had replaced her right hip six months ago and she was on the table again for the left hip. She was the sweetest, most caring and hilarious patient Peyton thought she had ever had.
The operation took two hours and fifteen minutes and it went perfectly. When miss Burg recovered from this surgery, she would be good as new. Hips like a twenty year old. She was a brave soul doing it again after she experienced the pain and inconvenience of the first hip replacement. It was not a surgery to be taken lightly.
Well… bless her heart and Peyton would see her tomorrow morning on her rounds.
The rest of the day was unremarkable. Same ‘ole, same ‘ole.
As Peyton and Mac were cleaning up from surgery, Peyton suggested they go to TGIF’s for hapy hour. She very rarely drank but a salted margarita sounded heavenly. Besides she had so much fun with Mackenzie!
Peyton just stayed for one drink because Skyler had another volleyball game at 7:00.
The three of them drove to Westminster High School for the match.
Cameron was doing well with being out of the house and in noisy crowds.
Skyler’s position was in the front row where she could spike the ball. She was a brute! The match was close and at one point tied but Skylers team lost. She was bummed out but not a poor sport. They decided on a sub sandwich for dinner. Peyton had barely cooked all week. Just too damn busy and worn out when she got home. They hadn’t had so much fast food ever. Peyton started feeling guilty again, seemed like that had been happening a lot. They took the meal take out and ate at home.
Cameron went down to play Madden and Skyler took her cell into her room to text Katie.
Right about that time her cell phone rang. It read Mason on the screen.
“Hi honey! Hope you’re not working too hard. Why didn’t you call me last night?”
“Hello Peyton,”he chuckled that sexy laugh of his, “how are things at home? Miss you all.”
“Oh Mason I miss you too!”she exhaled a deep breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, “things are good here but not the same without you.”
“How is the tiger doing on her volleyball, and how is my little boy?” God she missed him, it was nice to hear his voice, “Skyler played a hard game but they lost by one. Cameron is amazingly well and acting like a normal fifteen year old boy. We got rid of all of those violent video games but I let him keep Madden. He insisted and I see it is perfectly harmless. Do you know you bought him some of those games? Not accusing but just wanted to make you aware the next time he tries to talk you into one.”
“Well Peyton I’m pretty beat just wanted to find out how things were.”
“Good night honey, I love you!”
Saturday there was a beautiful summer sunrise. Peyton planned to read all day and relax. Except for maybe taking the kids to a movie. Skyler wouldn’t drive, she was embarrassed by her Jetta. Peyton was getting into one of her steamy romance novels. Why couldn’t life really be like that, she questioned.
The kids both had plans with their friends. Skyler-Katie and Cameron-Randy.
Randy was his only real friend and she couldn’t have ended that, just because of those video games. However, she did need to have a talk with him about bringing them over.
Skyler was hanging out in her room all morning. She was always good at entertaining herself.
Randy showed up and Cameron disarmed the alarm and led him down to his room.
“Randy hold up a minute. I need to ask you something.”
Randy slowly turned around not looking too sure of himself.
“It’s not a big deal but for now Cameron is only allowed to play Madden on his X-Box. Please don’t bring any other games over here, all right?”
“Sure Dr. H.”
“Thanks Randy. “
Peyton picked up a little bit and started some laundry. Hannah was coming tomorrow and she would leave the house spotless. Time to lie on the comfy couch and read her book. With the kids being around their friends, she’d have peace and quiet. She was the type of person who couldn’t concentrate with a bunch of noise.
Peyton woke around eight which was the longest she had slept in in years. The kids were sleeping; both Katie and Randy spent the night. They’d all be hungry when they got up. She had just let them fend for themselves for dinner last night. There was plenty of food and they weren’t bad cooks for their ages.
She was going to make some homemade waffles. The waffle maker was one of the world’s greatest inventions. Peyton started the batter from scratch, simple really.
After breakfast they were all going to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It had good reviews.
About an hour later the four children invaded her kitchen. They all ate ravenously. They talked nonstop and it was enjoyable watching them relate. Peyton loved kids!
The doorbell rang, it was probably Hannah. The thankful mother disarmed the alarm and let in the housekeeper. She was laden with a bucket full of supplies and a vacuum cleaner. Peyton had offered her equipment but Hannah would not compromise on that point.
While they were at the movies she could get down to her business. She was the most thorough, speedy, hard working maid Peyton had ever employed. She had been with them since Skyler was three. Peyton appreciated Hannah and paid her well. She kept her opinions to herself, was trustworthy, dependable and punctual. She reminded Peyton of Mrs. Doubtfire. Hannah was large, motherly, no nonsense and humorous. She got a kick out of everything and jovially laughed at it all. Sometimes it went right over Peyton’s head. Peyton guessed she appreciated things others didn’t see.
Peyton rounded up the kids, they piled in her vehicle and they were all laughing when she gunned the formidable engine and sped off. They arrived at The Colorado Mills Mall. They walked to Stadium 16, purchased tickets, hit the refreshment stand and found their seats.
Two hours later they jabbered about the movie on their way back to where she’d parked. Peyton was thrilled with the outcome of this short outing. By the time they arrived home Hannah was done, the place shone and smelled of fresh cleaning fluids.
Peyton wanted to get back to her novel, excited to see what happened to the main character. It was a titillating tale and she couldn’t get enough.
The kids scattered to their respective rooms…more peace and quiet to read.
The next time Peyton looked at the clock she figured she had been reading for almost four hours. She needed to stretch, pee and start dinner.
She chopped and diced for ages. She was putting together stir-fry. It was in the wok and the long grain brown rice was steaming in a pot with a tight fitting lid.
She called the four best friends to dinner. Served it on china and cheerfully joined them in the meal.
Skyler and Cameron asked if their friends could stay over another night. It was Sunday night, no school so she readily agreed.
Peyton was going to bed early. She had another busy schedule for the next day. She trusted the kids to hold it down while she slept. Reading made her tired so she read a few more pages in bed and soon was fast asleep.
She missed Mason’s late night call.
Hunter Cook woke up fitfully. He had trouble sleeping; you could call him an insomniac. He plodded barefoot and naked to the fridge, pulled out a bottle of Bud Light, popped the top and drank it straight down without pausing for a breath. He opened a second one and sat on his well-worn couch. Flipped the TV on and stared at the eerie glow of static snow. He didn’t want to find a channel he wanted to think. He pulled the job tomorrow. Not necessarily nervous but apprehensive.
He’d been stalking Dr. Peyton Hudson for a couple of weeks, off and on. She was a hot bitch and he wished he were doing more than just robbing her. He needed to think… the parking lot at the hospital was too well lit and there were security guards. Right outside her house would be obvious and dangerous. The only possibility that he could fathom was outside of Starbucks on the 16th Street Mall. She habitually parked and walked in there on her way home from work. He’d have to hope she’d show and the streets would be crowded. She held her purse half-assed, not like those broads that put it over their stupid heads and hung it on their shoulder. Paranoid twits! The Dr.s schedule was not set in stone, but she usually made an appearance between five and seven pm. He’d just have to hope for the perfect opportunity and many people on the walks. Now that he thought it out, he slammed the rest of his beer and headed back to his lumpy mattress. Fourteen to sixteen hours and it would be over, at least that part.