On their way back, once the tests were done, Hugh asked Liz if they could make a detour to the cafeteria, which was on the same level. Liz agreed. She pushed his chair onwards.
Suddenly, Hugh spoke up, “Tell you what, Doc. If you’re serious about getting Whitman to look at you like a 16-year-old looks at their first car, then, I can help you.”
Liz frowned, “What are you talking about, Hugh?”
“Look, I’m a man. What you need is a man’s perspective here. I know how men think. I mean, if you want to catch this guy’s eye, you need to stop thinking like a woman. You need to get into his head and see what he likes, or notices,” Hugh finished. He waited for Liz to take in what he was saying. He knew it couldn’t be easy for a proud woman like her to accept help. But Liz had to know what he was saying made sense. She was far too straitlaced to plan the seduction of Whitman herself. But Hugh owed her one. And if that meant helping the slightly naive young woman in front of him unite with who she considered to be the love of her life, then he was all for it.
Hugh wasn’t sure if her infatuation with Whitman was big enough for her to overcome her inhibitions though, and was a little surprised when she nodded. She must really like the guy, thought Hugh a little sourly, although he had himself suggested the idea.
“Well?” she looked at him enquiringly, “What do I do?”
“Right,” said Hugh, “It always helps when you have a standby love-interest, you know? Nothing makes a man think maybe he made a mistake not noticing you earlier than the presence of another man by your side.” Privately, Hugh thought about how that had certainly been true of Damon. Hugh was certain Damon would never have eloped with Savannah had she not been attached to Hugh first. In hindsight, the fact that she was Hugh’s girlfriend had no doubt made her that much more desirable to Damon, who had a track-record of chasing after women who were unavailable, those that were already in relationships. Not for the first time, Hugh wondered how he had missed seeing what Damon really was. Or, Savannah for that matter.
“Right,” Liz repeated, her cheeks two blots of red. She licked her lips, “That wouldn’t work. The only man on staff remotely close to our ages is Derick Stark, and he’s been happily married for over a year.”
“Umm, I have a suggestion,” said Hugh, doing his best to appear indifferent and uninterested. “I could do it.”
Liz’s eyes widened in alarm. “You’re a patient here! There’s no way Tiffany wouldn’t throw a fit if it reaches her ears that you’re participating in some kind of a weird, romantic circus.”
Hugh shook his head, “Who’s going to tell her? Not me! You? I don’t think so.” He saw her hesitation and continued, “Besides, it’s not like we have to be joined at the hip 24×7. It’s just a few ‘chance’ encounters when we conveniently bump into him when we’re supposedly whispering sweet-nothings in each other’s ears.”
Liz turned pink. “This is outrageous. It’ll never work!”
Hugh eyed her beadily, “Take it from a guy. It works all too often. And even more so if the other guy is already interested, and just needs a jolt to get him out of his complacency.”
Liz eyed him earnestly and said, “See, that’s the thing, Hugh. He isn’t interested. Not even remotely. There are just too many good-looking women here he’d rather be with. I’m far too low on the list.”
Hugh stared at her, “Someday, Doc, you’ll have to explain just what you mean by that. I mean, surely, you’re joking? Don’t you look in the mirror? He’s definitely interested, take my word for it.”
Liz blushed, but her brow furrowed and she asked, a hint of suspicion tinging her words, “Are you telling me, you think any guy would just automatically be interested in me? So, by that logic, would that include you too?”
Hugh cleared his throat, “At the risk of offending you, Doc, yeah, on any other occasion, I’d probably have been at least a little interested. Or, not.” He shrugged, “I’m not quite sure. But right now, no, I’m not in that kind of headspace at all. You know, because of the whole drama with Savannah and Damon. So, this will be purely for show. Just until your Dr. Whitman realizes he wants you.”
Liz’s face was still red, Hugh observed. He went on, “Just think about it and let me know later what you decide? It’s just, I’m not here for long. You want to strike while the iron is hot.”
His words seem to send a jolt through Liz. She cleared her throat and said a little more firmly, still not quite looking at him, “I think you may have a point, Hugh. Assuming I say yes, when and how do we begin?”
Hugh looked over her shoulder and whispered, “About now.”
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew