Come Sunday, Hugh found himself taking extra care of his appearance. He told himself he was just trying to smarten up because he didn’t want Liz to remember him as the disheveled patient she’d seen in the hospital.
He hadn’t been able to find much about Adam Whitman, except for one salient point. In his mind, it changed things considerably, but he had no idea if Liz would perceive it the same way.
He’d asked Tim to make a reservation for him at a chic, new Italian restaurant that had opened up just a few blocks from where Liz worked. She’d mentioned to him in passing that she’d found it difficult to get a reservation there since she was always too busy and would forget to make one weeks in advance.
He’d called Liz and told her he’d pick her up. He hadn’t told her where he’d be taking her, hoping to surprise her. He straightened his tie and fixed his hair one last time and stepped out of his penthouse apartment, feeling jaunty and light-hearted.
Liz heard the knock on her door and hurried to open it. She smiled at Hugh, a little surprised by how handsome and dapper Hugh looked. Gone was the slightly pale, uncombed, and unshaven patient on a hospital bed. In his stead, was a very tall man dressed in an obviously-expensive, bespoke suit that emphasized his broad shoulders. He was holding a gorgeous bouquet in his hands, and wore a warm smile that reached his eyes.
For a moment, Liz felt a little weak. How was she going to keep this handsome, worldly man remotely interested in a conversation with her? After Hugh had left the hospital, she’d found herself becoming intensely curious about her newest friend and had googled his name. And now, she couldn’t help remembering all the supermodels, including his ex, he’d been photographed with in the society pages she’d found.
Fortunately, she found her tongue and said, “You look amazing, Hugh! Are those flowers for me?”
Hugh offered the bouquet to her, “Well, yeah! A tiny thanks for taking care of me at the hospital. You look stunning, Liz! Actually, scratch that, you look sensational!”
And privately, Hugh thought if he’d found Liz beautiful in the ugly hospital scrubs, then right now she was absolutely ravishing. She’d worn a shimmery black dress that hugged her curves and skimmed her thighs.
“Thank you,” Liz blushed and placed the flowers in a vase.
“Ready?” asked Hugh, offering her an arm.
“Uh-huh,” said Liz, taking his arm. “Where are you taking me?” she asked as they stepped into his waiting car.
Hugh smiled, “You’ll know in just a couple of minutes!”
“Oooh, so somewhere close-by then? Please don’t tell me we’re going back to the hospital!”
Hugh laughed, “No, don’t worry! Somewhere just a little bit nicer.”
When they stopped at the Italian restaurant, Liz squealed in delight. “Hugh! You remembered. Aww, this is amazing. I’ve been dying to get in there!”
Hugh replied, “I thought it’d be the perfect place for our top-secret exchange of intel on a certain doctor!”
Liz giggled, “I don’t know about you, but I definitely have things to dish! So, lead on!”
Liz glanced around the dining room and gave a happy sigh. It was beautiful here, with the grand, brightly-lit chandeliers winking at the people below, and the plush, oak seating.
She looked at Hugh and smiled, and said, “So tell me, Hugh, when you’re not working yourself to the ground or reading graphic novels, what do you with your time? I imagine you don’t get a lot of free time, like me.”
Hugh took a sip of his wine and said, “I used to be very sporty. I loved to golf, race, go skiing. But somehow, over the last couple of years, everything seems to have taken a backseat. So, when I landed up in the hospital last week, and was held hostage by a smart, pretty doctor who bullied me into getting a ton of tests done, well, around that time, I made a promise to myself that I’d take the time to sit down and smell the roses, you know? I’m happy to report, Doc, that in this week alone, I’ve been golfing twice, both times in the middle of the work day! Granted, one of those times when I was meeting a client. But at any other time, I’d have called the client in, or wined and dined them at some ritzy restaurant. But this time, since I knew that this man golfed, I asked him if he wanted to go visit the course instead. He said yes! And I took the opportunity to get out of office.”
Liz exclaimed, “That’s wonderful, Hugh! I’m so proud of you. I did wonder if you’d go back to working all hours. I’m glad you haven’t. You deserve to sit back and enjoy your success. And knowing the kind of person you are, I know you won’t ignore your work in the bargain. But I can tell that it must have already had a positive effect on work.”
“It has, Liz! You’re absolutely right. I feel like I’m more enthusiastic at work these days, knowing I have something to look forward to.”
They smiled at each other and ate in companionable silence for a few minutes. Liz was attacking her Tortelli when Hugh asked, “Can I ask you something, Liz? It’s been on mind for a while. But I just didn’t know how.”
Liz looked at him quizzically, “Ask away, Hugh. You won’t offend me.”
Hugh asked, “Well, it’s just that, umm, you know, well, someone like you — I mean, most people would say you’re very accomplished, charming, and pretty — so yeah, well, how does someone like you think they might not be good enough for say, someone like Adam Whitman? I mean, going by the way Kelly acts around him, I guess women find him very good-looking. But I don’t see why someone like you would think that someone like him was out of your league, you know? But, I think that’s a very, very personal question. Let’s please ignore I asked, okay?”
Liz felt the blood rush to her cheeks. She sensed Hugh looking at her in concern and said hurriedly, “Oh well, it’s not a big deal. It’s just that I don’t think I’m all that pretty, you know? I’m not fishing for compliments here, so please don’t think that. It’s just that if you saw my sisters, my two older sisters, and then you looked at me, well then, you’d see for yourself what I mean.”
Hugh’s eyebrows shot up, “What do you mean?”
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew