A snort escaped my nose before I even had a chance to think. “I’d really rather not get into this here.”
There was a table of nurses sitting just beside us, whispering away. One of the younger interns –I could tell she was green by the way she sat prim and proper at the lunch table– kept eying me up and down. I happened to glance her way, our eyes locking for a moment before she sheepishly dropped her gaze. Her cheeks turned bright red, and the other nurses sitting with her giggled at the display.
“Why? You afraid a nosy nurse will pick up the hot gossip?”
“Yes, actually,” I said, keeping my voice low. “They’re a chatty bunch.”
“You seriously didn’t call her?”
“I don’t have time,” I sighed. “Works been crazy. And I quite frankly don’t think I have the energy to date anybody.” Joe raised his brows at me, a smug grin twisting at his lips. I frowned, immediately defensive. “What?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he dismissed.
I shook my head. I knew my best friend like the back of my hand. It wasn’t difficult to determine what he was thinking about. “No,” I growled. “The last time you set me up on a blind date was an utter disaster.”
“Karen wasn’t that bad. I thought you two would have a lot in common.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “She deliberately ordered the most expensive bottle of wine at the restaurant I took her to and got shit-faced drunk. It was a nightmare. I had to tip the waiter one hundred percent because the woman wouldn’t stop making rude comments.”
Joe grimaced at the details. “Yeah, okay. Maybe it was that bad. But what about Alexandra?”
I rolled my eyes. “I don’t want to talk about Alexandra. I still have nightmares about all the shoes she secretly charged to my credit card.”
Joe winced. “Yeah, okay. Sorry I brought her up. But seriously. Man to man. When was the last time you got laid?”
I coughed, coffee trickling down my windpipe instead of my esophagus. “Jesus,” I grumbled. “Not here, please.”
“Seriously, dude. You look seriously pent up.”
“I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’ve been stressed about work. You remember that Chief of Surgery position I was talking about?”
Joe clicked his tongue. “Vaguely.”
“Well, I want it more than anything.”
“And that means your love life has to take a backseat?”
“It doesn’t have to,” I answered. “But it’s admittedly easier. Fewer things to juggle. Like I said, I don’t have the energy to date. And even if I wanted to, it’s too damn hard trying to find the right girl. I somehow always end up going out with girls who are just interested in my money.”
Joe crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I guess girls who’re genuinely sweet and caring are a rarity these days.”
My friend rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Dude, I’m kidding. It’s not that hard to meet a nice girl.”
“Says the guy who’s perpetually single.”
“I’m not the one who’s lonely.”
“I never said I was lonely, Joe.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Do I look desperate?”
Joe shook his head and chuckled. “No, not desperate. You just have this wide-eyed puppy look that makes the ladies swoon.” He tossed his head in the direction of the neighboring table of nurses, forcing my attention over. The interning nurse was beet red, eyes shooting straight down to her lap when our eyes met briefly.
“I’m a grown ass man,” I defended. “I don’t have puppy eyes.”
Joe sighed, slumping in his seat a bit. “You totally do. And the fact that you don’t use them to your advantage makes me jealous. If you’re not going to ask the hot nurse out, I will.”
“Be my guest,” I snorted.
“Ah, you’re no fun anymore,” he sighed. “Lighten up a little. You’re way too serious for your own good.”
“I’m a surgeon. I kind of have to be serious.”
Joe shrugged his bulky shoulders, tossing a flirtatious wink in the direction of the nurses. Their table erupted into a fit of light giggles. “Who knows, Edgar?” he chuckled. “Maybe the right girl is waiting for you right around the corner. You just have to keep any open mind.”
At that comment, my mind drifted off to the young woman down the hall from me –the one with an exceptionally horrid taste in music. I was too upset at the time to really give her a second thought. But in hindsight, and for pure entertainment, I wondered what it would be like to get involved with someone like her. She didn’t exactly strike me as someone responsible or orderly. Her wild red hair had been worn in a messy bun. I snorted quietly to myself, the mental image of birds nesting in her hair suddenly popping into my mind. The woman definitely gave off a free-spirit, hippie kind of vibe, which wasn’t my type in the slightest.