Part 8 By Lara Gregory and Muriel Iturralde
This is the story of Eloisa, a Filipina, who works as a nurse at the Elmhurst Hospital, the epicenter of the COVID19 contagion in New York written by Story Weavers Ann Constantino Beck, DJ Chinita, Elizabeth Cueva, Grace Labaguis, Joyce Andes-David, Lara Gregory, Laura Garcia, Mona Kuker, Muriel Iturralde, Nieva Quezon-Burdick, Vanette Colmenares, Vivian Talambiras-Cruz, Cristina DC Pastor, and Marivir Montebon.
Lara: Eloisa smiled and said: “Thank you, Michael but I prefer to speak for myself.” Turning to George, she said: “I’ll call you.”
She then walks away to return to work, muttering to herself: “I can’t believe these guys! It’s as if we’re not in the middle of the pandemic!” As she vigorously washed her hands, Eloisa though of Michael and her strong, protective ways. For a second, she allowed her thoughts to dwell on his dark and intense looks, the muscular build and the way his shoulders are outlined on those scrubs. Her thoughts were interrupted by Carmela: “Hey. You look so serious. Have you eaten? We have free food in the lounge. People have been sending us food, even applauding us! Frontliners! Sigh. I prefer cash! Ahhahhaa…” Eloisa laughed.
She liked Carmela, the respiratory therapist who operates the ventilators. Although Carmela has seen too many code blue situations during her shift, she manages to keep things light and laughs easily. “I’ll just eat later. And also take the cash…hahhahha…” she tells Michael. Before Michael can reply, another code blue alarm went off.
Michael stared at Eloisa as she walks away. He muttered to himself: “Woman!” Michael smiles as he remembers how she glared at him. He respects how she asserted herself, and demonstrated that she is not a wilting violet. His smile turned into a scowl as his thoughts drifted to George. His fists clenched as he thought of the man who made Eloisa cry.
He has always been protective of women he loved. When his father died of a heart attack, Michael was only 11 years old. He was the oldest child in a family of four, the only son. He saw how hard his mother worked for them and he learned to cook, do the laundry, take care of his sister even as he excelled in school. After he completed a nursing course, he continued to work on his medical degree even as he worked as a nurse.
Muriel: Sitting alone at a table, in the farthest corner of the cafeteria, Brianne’s blue eyes were hooded as he observed the scene before him. Eloisa had breathlessly mentioned to him that night, when he caught her off guard in her nightclothes, that she frequented that cafeteria in between breaks from her job at the hospital.
He was undecided if it was her cute Asian features he was attracted to or to her character. Nevertheless, he wanted to explore the idea of having an open friendly connection with her and from there he wasn’t certain if he wanted to pursue a more than friendly relationship. He hadn’t had one with a girl since back in college. He had learned early, to distance himself from people. That was a long time indeed and the prospect of having someone to trust, someone who he could confide in without fear of being criticized had contributed to the idea of buying a cup of coffee at the cafeteria and risking running into her.
So, he wasn’t prepared to see her in the flesh looking like she was crying, talking to a guy whose back was to him. Brianne abandoned his idea of getting coffee and took the first available seat in the corner so as not to draw attention to himself. His eyebrows quirked upward as another man came aggressively to Eloisa’s table. “Interesting.” He murmured under his breath.
The man standing was obviously a nurse what with his scrubs on. Then slowly he ran his eyes over the lines of the man’s chest as it stretched the fabric of his nurse’s scrubs. “Fascinating”. Brianne murmured this time. He couldn’t catch a word they were saying but he could tell by the rigid stance of the male nurse that he was coming to Eloisa’s aid. Whether to rescue her from the man who’s back was still to him he couldn’t tell.
Then suddenly the man facing Eloisa stood up and as he did, Brianne could see his whole masculine physique exposed to his hooded eyes. Brianne drew a swift intake of breath. That square jaw, the fullness of his lips, the perfectly chiseled face. “Well, I’ll be damned!” He dragged a ragged breath into his suddenly parched throat.
As George turned to leave Eloisa and the overprotective male nurse, he felt eyes boring upon him as he walked towards the entrance of the Cafeteria. He looked up and immediately felt his eyes drawn to a corner where he encountered the intense gaze of a blue-eyed stranger.