Chapter 10: Love or Lust?

It was Saturday morning. Almost a week since he'd seen her. John knew he should get some sleep, he had to work the night shift tonight. But he hadn't slept all week. Each time he tried to sleep he wrestled with the memory of sleeping next to her. He decided to get up and shower, get on with his day.

As he was getting dressed he looked down at his nightstand and saw the invitation Gamma had sent him. It was a luncheon at the Carter Family Estate to raise money for local libraries. He didn't much feel like mingling with everyone, but he thought visiting his family might take his mind off Lucy.

Carter had to push through the crowd of middle to late aged ladies to find Gamma. When he did she was surprised to see him.

"What are you doing here?" Gamma asked.

"You invited me, didn't you?" John answered.

"Well yes, but I didn't think you'd actually come. What's wrong?" she inquired taking John by the hand and looking in his eyes.

"Nothing, I just felt like being around family today, that's all." John replied as he snuck some o'dourves from a roving waitress.

"Sure, grab some food and go wait for me in the kitchen. I will be in soon. Then we can talk." Gamma ordered knowing that John had come here for more than socialization and free food.

John grabbed some more snacks and headed towards the big kitchen. His grandfather was sitting there, who he hadn't really spoken to in quite some time.

"I'm sure surprised to see you here." John Sr. said gruffly.

"I had the morning off, so I thought I'd stop by for a visit." John explained. "Are you still sneaking into the kitchen when Gamma is preoccupied to eat your favorites?" John asked.

"Its my kitchen, I'll eat what I want, so long as she doesn't catch me." John Sr. said with a smile as he at the last of his bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. "You'll understand one day…the little things a wife doesn't know won't hurt her." He chuckled.

"What little things, I can smell the bacon on your breath from here." Gamma countered.

"With that John, I will be going, big golf game today at the club." John Sr. said as he gave Gamma a quick peck on the cheek.

"I don't want you drinking in the hot sun, I'm going to call the club and check up on you." Gamma warned with a smile.

"Yes dear." John Sr. said as he strode out of the kitchen giving a wink to John.

"Well now that he has gone, you can tell me why you're really here." Gamma said as she sat across the bar from John. "Its probably not work, you don't often speak of that to us, for obvious reasons. Must be a young lady who has got you down. Please tell me it isn't that dreadful Roxanne again. I know I only met her once, but that was enough." Gamma continued.

"No, it would be easier to deal with if it was Roxanne. I just recently had to make a decision between my career and a new relationship." John explained.

"Well obviously, you chose the relationship and you're here to tell me you want to take your rightful place at the company." Gamma said sarcastically, for she already knew which John had chosen.

"She decided for me, I get to keep my career, but not her." John clarified.

"I don't understand, why couldn't you have both? Is she a patient of yours?" Gamma asked.

"No, she is a medical student I worked with this past year, my medical student." John said as he ran a worried hand across the back of his neck.

"John, I don't know what to say. Is she the short, blonde, girl who made me a cup of tea once while I waited for you in the lounge?" Gamma asked. "She was sweet, the tea was awful."

"Yes, we fought like cats and dogs when we first met, but over time, we have grown really close to each other. Then, this summer we met by chance and things just clicked into place." John continued.

"So, wouldn't it solve the problem if you or she just transferred hospitals?" Gamma questioned.

"Well, yes and no, it would allow us to be together, but we would each have to start rebuilding our careers and reputations. I have a chance to be Chief Resident next year, Lucy has a good chance of getting an internship in just about any department she wants. To switch hospitals now would not be wise for our careers. It would only create new problems." John explained.

"I don't know if you came here looking for advice or if you just wanted someone to listen, but if its advice you want, I think you'll know what I'm about to say." Gamma suggested.

"Be practical, think with logic, and not my heart, right?" John asked.

"Yes. You need to decide how you really feel about this girl and determine if she is worth the risk to your career. Do you love her?" Gamma asked the big questions.

"I think I do." John answered.

"Think is a pretty big qualifier, don't you think?" Gamma asked. "How much time have you really spent with her? Do you really love her or is it the thrill of sneaking around? When you're young, lust can feel a lot like lust. It can be fun having an forbidden romance. Just like your grandfather and his bacon. While, yes, he loves the flavor, a big part of the taste is in keeping it a secret from me." Gamma explained. "Maybe you two should spend some more time together and figure out if this relationship is worth fighting for?" Gamma suggested.

"I don't know that she'll even speak to me now. I think she blames herself for this mess." John said flatly.

"Well don't wait around for the world to bring her back to you. If you want things in this life you have to go on out there and take them." Gamma encouraged.

"How will I know if I really love her?" John asked.

"When you can't imagine your life without her, when you worry about her safety and health, when you can see yourself growing old and starting a family with her. Which by the way should happen soon, I'd like to be around to see my great grandchildren, no rush, I'm just putting that out there." Gamma said as she patted John's back. "Now I must get back to my visitors, it was great to see you dear." With that she kissed John on the check and re-entered her garden party.