AUTHOR: Debbie Mraz
CATEGORY: JC/Other Romance
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters, I just borrow them for a while and when I bring them back to The Warner Brothers land of ER, they're usually quite tired, but wear a satisfied smile!
"You want me to do what?" John asked incredulously.
"Risk management seminar…have you gone deaf Carter?" Kerry snipped back.
"I finally get a weekend off, and you want me to go to a seminar, now you tell me, does that sound fair to you?"
"Well, considering I'm giving you off tomorrow, Thursday and Friday to attend the seminar, your weekend days, paying for your airfare, your tickets to the seminar events, and your hotel bill, which is at the nicest hotel in St. Louis, I'd say I'm being more than fair." Kerry replied, "Oh, and did I mention the baseball tickets?"
John looked sheepishly at Kerry, "Well, you really should have told me all that in the first place before I acted like an ass Kerry."
"Yes, but this was much more fun."
"You are a sick woman…" John finished the rest of his comment under his breath.
"So I've been told. Anyway, I thought it would be a great conference for you to go to, for two reasons, one, I already had the tickets and reservations, but I can't go, and two, you need to get out of here for a few days and learn some new things from a totally different perspective." Kerry said sounding very reasonable.
"Risk management? That sounds boring as hell Kerry." John complained, "But the ball game sounds good, the nice hotel sounds good, the paid airfare…."
"Well, actually, it's a risk management seminar, the risk being running a Midwest inner city trauma center safely and still being able to care for the sickest and poorest patients effectively, and minimizing the medical facilities exposure for lawsuits, non-payment by Medicare and Medicaid for sloppy charting techniques, and making sure the staff is properly protected from various exposures and violent acts." Kerry's voice dropped to a soft level at this last bit of information.
"Oh." John replied.
"I don't want you to think for even a minute that I'm sending you because I think you're doing anything wrong, or have done anything wrong okay? I couldn't go, I was the one who was supposed to go, and in my absence, you are the one I trust to bring back information and implement the newest techniques that you learn, here at County. I trust you John, that's why you're the one going, that's my only reasoning." Kerry looked John right in the eye, her sincerity was clearly obvious.
"Okay, then, when's my flight?" John grinned slightly, so that Kerry would feel more at ease. He had a feeling in the back of his mind that she probably thought he would be the best candidate because he found out the alternative of vigilant security the hard way, regardless, it should be a good learning experience for him.
"You leave from O'Hare at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday morning, and arrive back at 4:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Your flight leaves Lambert, St. Louis at 3:15 p.m. Let me get the tickets out of my locker for you." Kerry turned to retrieve the tickets, "here you are, happy learning!"
"Okay, thanks…I think…Kerry." John said as he turned toward his own locker to retrieve his wallet and keys. He could pack in a few minutes, what he needed more was some sleep. He'd been on 36 hours straight and if he didn't get some serious sleep his risk would be in managing not to fall asleep during this conference!
WEDNESDAY 1:00 p.m.
"My gosh, how many security check points do I have to go through in one day?" John grumbled to himself. He worked his way to the baggage terminal, grabbed his bag on the first time through. He then, glanced toward the hotel transportation area looking for the Hyatt Regency shuttle bus outside of the huge windows in the East terminal.
It only took him a few moments to find his ride to the hotel. There were quite a few other passengers on board, most of which were much older than he, and looked like the typical "business" type. He pulled out his wallet and glanced at the baseball tickets, 7:15 p.m. Cubs and Cards at Busch Stadium, Field Box seats too…cool, and Kerry didn't spare any expense that's for sure! He'd never been to a Cubs/Cards series at Busch, but he'd seen his share at Wrigley Field, and they could turn ugly. The rivalry between these two teams had reached a legendary status. John found it funny to watch the fans get so "into" the game that they painted themselves with their team colors and ran around like idiots. He preferred basketball, but this worked, it was something to do.
The shuttle left him off at the front doors of the Hyatt, right across the street from Busch Stadium, that's convenient. Horns honked and taxi drivers yelled along Market Street. John was reminded of Chicago. He had never thought of St. Louis as a big city, he was starting to rethink that guesstimation.
WEDNESDAY 8:45 p.m.
John was smart enough not to have worn his Cubs jersey to the ball park, but he did make an error in judgment by groaning audibly when Sosa hit his second fly ball to shallow center, only to be caught once again by Edmonds. The Cubs were behind by four runs and had left the inning with the bases loaded once again.
He decided to go to get a soda instead of buying from the vender, maybe while he was standing in line he could get a clue as to what kind of night life St. Louis offered.
He was about ten patrons back in line when he heard his name called.
"Oh my God, John Carter! What are you doing here?"
John turned around, saw no one he recognized, did a 360 and finally recognized the familiar face that went with the voice.
"Roxanne, hi, how've you been?" John asked politely.
"How have you been? Come on!" Roxanne laughed catching John about the waist and hugging tightly, followed by a kiss that was a bit more lingering then "friendship" right on the lips.
Roxanne released him and turned him around by the shoulders, "Damn you look good, and how long has it been? Three years?"
"Yes, I'd guess about three years, you look good yourself. Married?" John asked.
"No. So, what brings you to St. Louis?" John asked.
"I work for an insurance company here, big firm, does lots of work comp, product liability, that sort of thing, I'm speaking at a risk management conference here tomorrow afternoon." Roxanne replied.
"Oh, well, that's what I'm here for, Kerry Weaver sent me to this risk management thing." John said rolling his eyes and feigning his best expression of utter boredom.
"Oh that's great! You'll just have to come to my presentation, it's called, "Insure Your Staff's Safety." Roxanne gushed, "catchy name huh? I made that up myself!" Roxanne continued, "Hey what do you say we go out somewhere, blow this place? Cubbies are losing their butts anyway, and from what I remember you're not even a baseball kinda guy, basketball right? Bulls? Let's go out…there are so many places to go around here, and I know of one or two places that'll knock your socks off!"
Roxanne was still beautiful and definitely still built, her only down fall was the fact that she talked constantly. He had found a few ways to quiet her constant chatter, at least for a little while.
"I don't know Roxanne, I'm supposed to be at this conference, and…."
"John, it doesn't even start until Thursday afternoon, the only reason I'm already here is I took a group of clients to the ballgame on the company's money. Come on, let's do something fun!" Roxanne coaxed.
"What exactly did you have in mind?" John asked rather hesitantly.
"Well," Roxanne smiled, "there is the East side… that's what the locals call it, PT's, The Oz, Pop's…pretty racy. I've been to all three at one time or another, and then there's Centerville, now I haven't been there, but I've heard of it…and from what I've heard it's one of those places you have to experience for yourself. What do you say? You up for a little fun? Come on John, what happened to that sense of adventure? You sure you aren't married?" Roxanne took John's hand, inspecting for signs of a white patch of skin around his left ring finger.
"What are you doing?" John asked.
"I can always tell when a guy is married just by looking at their ring finger."
"Well, duh Roxanne, they'd have a ring on!" John said snatching his hand back.
"You're such a dope, John, do you really think that a married man out on the prowl is going to be wearing an advertisement as to his marital status?"
"Well, I guess I never really gave it much thought." John replied.
"Sir, may I help you?" The concession stand worker was pointing in John's direction. He ordered a Coke and politely asked Roxanne if she'd like anything. She declined stating that she was saving her appetite for later… she smiled seductively at John.