“Good afternoon, Mr. Regan. How are you feeling?” Liz asked, gazing quizzically at Hugh. She nodded at Kelly, who gave her a warm smile in return.
Meanwhile, Hugh was trying to suppress the little pinpricks of annoyance that had begun stabbing at him as soon as this pretty, little doctor had walked in. Who was this too-young upstart who thought she’d take over Hugh’s case? Surely, there were older, more experienced, and better doctors here than her?
He answered curtly, “How do you think? Oh yeah, I’m feeling great! I love being glued to a hospital bed, with all kinds of wires and tubes shoved in and around me. I also love being interrogated by a baby doctor, instead of one of the more experienced, real doctors.”
Liz was unfazed. She said a little too earnestly that made Kelly stare at her with a tiny smile, “Oh hey, you have the wrong idea, Mr. Regan. I don’t deliver babies. No, that’s an OB/GYN.” She’d said the last slowly, like she was explaining it to a child. She continued more briskly, “I’m a surgeon, filling in for the regular doctor that does the rounds for new patients around here.”
Hugh did a double take. He glanced a little suspiciously at Liz, not sure if she had deliberately chosen to misunderstand his ‘baby doctor’ remark, trying to pull a fast one on him. Or, if she genuinely was that dense. He looked her over more closely.
She was a beautiful woman without doubt, thought Hugh as he gave her a quick but calculated once-over. A full-figured, petite beauty, with the kind of deliciously curvy body even ugly hospital scrubs couldn’t hide. That mane of jet-black hair tied tightly into a no-nonsense bun must look glorious when worn down, he mused. Her eyes were a beautiful hazel. Even buried under a thick pair of glasses, Hugh could see they were large and expressive. And now they were returning his stare with a hard glare of their own.
No, he thought, this lady-doctor was far from dense. But she was a little too attractive. She had to go, Hugh decided. He’d meant it when he’d made a deal with the man up there. No more women, ergo no more heartbreak. He’d just have to convince this doctor that he was far too much trouble and simply not worth her time.
So, he said a little meanly, “That was me being sarcastic. But I guess it flew over your head. Not that I’m surprised. Are you sure you really did pass all the tests to become a doc?”
To his irritation, the woman laughed.
“Would it help if I told you I was hand-picked by the head of this hospital to work here? Or, that I was her protégé when I was in medical school? I could get the degree certificate that’s framed and hung in my office to show you, the next time, if that helps you feel less anxious.”
Hugh shot back, “How would I know if it’s even legit? You can buy anything off eBay these days. But don’t you worry your pretty little head. Frankly, I’m a little surprised Tiffany was the one to hire you. Just shows that nobody’s infallible.”
The woman was far from affected by his rude demeanor, Hugh noted in dismay. Instead, she walked towards him briskly, saying, “Exactly. Nobody is infallible, Mr. Regan. That means we all have to take better care of ourselves. That includes you. Now, I’ll need to ask you a few questions. I hope you don’t mind. They might seem a little intrusive, but please believe me when I tell you I have no interest in knowing more about you that I strictly have to.”
Surprised at her words, Hugh began to comment. But just then, she clasped his hand, saying, “I need to check your pulse, if that’s okay?”
Hugh felt an electric current pass through him at her cool touch. He shook his head. Here he was, hurt in more ways that a doctor could ever fathom. Hurt by his ex-fiancée, a woman he’d spent years worshipping. And now, just when he’d made up his mind to never fall for another woman again, there he was, acting like a teenager at the touch of the first woman that walked in.
He pulled back his hand abruptly. He wasn’t surprised when the doctor didn’t react. Instead, she said, “Pulse looks fine. It says here you felt dizzy and fainted after having an argument with someone? Does that happen often? Not the arguing. I can take a wild guess and say that’s not rare at all. But have you ever fallen unconscious before?”
Hugh flushed, “I don’t argue when there’s no reason to. You’re being terribly presumptuous. If it matters at all, I was arguing with my best bud. Ex-bud now. For eloping with my fiancée.”
Hugh felt an unholy degree of satisfaction when the doctor visibly blanched. Ha! There, it was easy enough to get a reaction out of her if he really put his mind to it, he thought triumphantly. Maybe, she wasn’t as unflappable as she looked. He’d have to take it up a notch to make it so she was plenty embarrassed and bothered and took her precious degree elsewhere.
Liz said in a softer tone, “You’re right. I was being presumptuous. I’m so sorry to hear about your fiancée and best friend. That must have been hard.”
Without waiting for his reaction, she moved farther away. Standing at the foot of his bed, she said, “We’ll need to run a few tests, Mr. Regan. Just to be sure. Your pulse and blood pressure are fine, you’ll be happy to know. Your assistant, who got here just after you, did say you’d skipped breakfast and lunch because you were very busy? It could certainly explain the dizziness. But we still need to make sure there isn’t something else going on.”
Hugh nodded numbly. His anger toward being assigned a pretty, young doctor had been temporarily pushed aside and replaced with devastation over the memory of what Damon and Savannah had done. How could Damon have done what he had? And how about Savannah? How could she have been so heartless?
He barely heard Liz when she took her leave, saying she’d back in some time. Liz exchanged a look of concern with Kelly, who shook her head a little sadly.
Liz shut the door softly behind her as she left Hugh’s room. She felt more than a little ashamed for having been a little presumptuous about her newest patient, no matter how rude he’d been to her before. The man’s face had shattered when he’d told her about his ex-fiancée and best friend. He was clearly hurting badly.
Liz made up her mind that she’d run all possible tests to make sure her patient Hugh Regan would leave the hospital in the best possible state of health, under her care. She strode faster to her office, keeping all her disdain for his awful personality aside and focusing on the care plan she could come up for him.
At least, thought Liz, he had his sister with him. And from the way she’d reacted to Liz’s conversation with her brother, she seemed to have a sense of humor and wasn’t the type to take any nonsense herself, even if it was her brother dishing it. Liz’s lips quirked. She hoped she’d get to see brother and sister banter with one another. She had no doubt it would be extremely entertaining.
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew