Over the next couple of days, Liz didn’t hear a word from Hugh. A day after he’d left her apartment, she’d thought of calling him, but then there’d been an influx of patients in the hospital and she’d been busy. On the second day, she texted him. Hey, how are things? Hope you’re okay.
Hugh replied instantly. Was about to text you myself. Can we meet? This Sunday? I’ll ring this evening when you’re free.
Liz smiled. She felt lighter than she had ever felt since they’d last seen each other. Just then, Dr. Whitman walked up to her.
“Reading something funny?” he whispered, inching closer to her.
A few days ago, Adam Whitman’s flirtatiously low voice and close presence would have sent Liz on cloud nine. But on this day, she moved away quickly, shielding her phone from him, and answered, “No, just a really sweet text from a friend.”
Adam Whitman didn’t seem to have noticed. He moved closer yet again and said, “I was wondering if you were free this weekend? For dinner someplace nice? Say, Saturday?”
They were the kind of words Liz had only allowed herself to imagine about a billion times in her fantasies. But today, Adam Whitman’s closeness simply sent a tiny shiver of annoyance through her. She realized with a start, that whatever infatuation she’d felt for him had vanished, with no trace left behind. Instead, all she could think of was that she was finally meeting Hugh on the weekend, that she’d get to wear one of the new dresses they’d bought together, and wondering if he would like her in it.
She said, “I’m really sorry! I’m a little busy on Saturday!”
Adam was undeterred, “How about Sunday, then?”
Liz said, “Oh, definitely busy on Sunday. How about a raincheck?”
Adam Whitman could barely conceal a look of annoyance as he said, “Sure. Let me know.” He walked away, and Liz went back to her phone to re-read Hugh’s text. She replied back: Great, I’ll be home by 6. Gimme a call when you’re free.
Liz went on her rounds, as happy as a clam. Hugh sounded light-hearted in his text, not like the grieving soul he’d be a few days before. He’d had time to digest the news about Savannah and Damon’s baby, Liz mused. And now that it was behind him, he could focus on the future. Whether she expected that future to include her was something she didn’t allow herself to think, not consciously at least.
Liz chose the bodycon-style, skintight midi dress with a cute cut-out detail at the midriff that she’d purchased at Hugh’s recommendation. She glanced into the full-length mirror in her apartment. The warm brown of the dress made her hazel eyes pop, she observed with satisfaction. She’d tied her hair up in a messy bun, and had let a few strands loose. The plunging neckline of her dress and the dangling gemstone earrings emphasized her slim neck and delicate collarbones. Pleased with the result of her shopping spree with Hugh, she thought about how this was the most she’d dolled up in the longest time, no thanks to the grueling hours at the hospital.
She smiled to herself as she thought about how pleased Hugh would be to see Liz stepping out of her comfort zone and revamping her usual dressing style.
There was a knock on the door. Liz hurried to open it, her heart racing. She told herself this was just two friends meeting. It definitely was not a date. But that did nothing to calm her nervousness. When she opened the door, Hugh let out a whistle. Liz blushed to her ears.
“Liz, you’re a vision! Wait, isn’t this one of the dresses we selected the other day at the hospital? It looks even better on you!”
Liz nodded happily, “Thank you! It is!”
Hugh went on, “Whitman won’t stand a chance when you walk up to him in this!”
The light in Liz’s eyes dimmed momentarily. But she told herself it was just something he’d said in passing. He offered her his arm, and off they went.
Hugh drove up to a spanking new Indian eatery that had opened up just a week earlier. Over dinner, Liz kept the conversation going by regaling everything that had happened in the hospital since he’d been sent home. Tiffany Gupta had a new beau, Gladys’s boyfriend had proposed and she’d said yes, and the dishy new ENT surgeon was soon replacing Dr. Whitman in the staff’s popularity charts.
But as much as Liz tried to keep the conversation going, she realized Hugh was acting really distracted. She stopped eating and stared at Hugh. Hugh noticed she wasn’t eating.
“Is something wrong, Liz? Would you like some water?”
“I’m fine, Hugh. But you’re not. Is something bothering you? Are you regretting meeting me today? We can leave, if you want.”
Hugh shook his head, “I’m so sorry, Liz. But, please, let’s stay. I’ve been paying attention to every word.”
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew