The fifteen minute walk home and subsequent weekend, does nothing to satiate my anger towards Greg. Over the years, we’ve had disagreements and might not have seen eye to eye, but this was insulting. As I dress, I am firm on my decision to have it out with Greg, this time he had crossed the line.
“Good morning, June!”, I practically sing, as I walk into the reception room.
“Dr. Pierce! You’re here early!” June shouts, surprised as she scurries around the desk to greet me. “I didn’t expect you THIS early. You’re first appointment isn’t till MUCH later…what…what…brings you in the office at this time?”
“I thought I’d catch up on some of my paperwork, we’ve got a busy week ahead…I also need to talk to Dr. Wingham. Is he in yet?”
“Oh yea…he’s in his office. But I think he said he didn’t want to be disturbed…you know how he can be sometimes…”, she trails off and blushes. She was uncharacteristically lost for words this morning.
“Okay. I’ll let myself into his office- you did your bit by passing the message on. Where’s Sam anyways? I thought you guys carpooled in the mornings?”
“Oh…she’s….in the bathroom…freshening up…you know…makeup… hair …the works.”
Samantha Walsh was Greg’s very shy and inconspicuous, 22 year old secretary; she was a petite, blonde, blue-eyed with a very subtle beauty, but according to June a party animal, which I would of never believed until I witnessed it for myself at the office Christmas party. I normally don’t have much interaction with Samantha, or Sam as she prefers to be called, since the moment I walk into the room; she instantly begins to redden-so for her sake I avoided her.
I flash June a quizzical look.
“Is something the matter June? You’re being very coy…not used to seeing me at work so early?” I tease. “I realise me being here on time- let alone over an hour early is not much like me, but I feel like this week is going to be a good one. I can feel it.”, I say smiling, June merely mirrors my smile. I wasn’t sure what was to account for my sudden optimism and her sudden lack of words, but I felt good and for once I was going to embrace it.
“Well! I’m off to make myself a cup of coffee, you want anything?”
“No, thank you. I have a cup of white tea waiting for me-did you know it contains anti-oxidants which provide anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects? I’m trying this new diet regime of two cups of green and white tea, hopefully I’ll be able to shift some of this giggle,” she says as she swings her hips. June was always talking about losing weight and was constantly trying new diets. My lips remained firmly shut on the topic, partially because women never listened to me on these things, but also because who really wanted their boss to comment on their diet plans?
“No…I didn’t know that…then again- I’m not really a tea kind of guy.”
“Oh! I’ll make you a cup sometime! It’s got a much sweeter taste than green tea. Sam’s just started getting into it…mind you, she doesn’t need to lose an ounce- she doesn’t have anything to grab…oh to look like her…”, she mutters enviously.
“June, just be careful with these diet regimes- they can be dangerous, you look fine the way you are… I’m off now…make sure Sam’s out of the bathroom in time. Oh! And can you move my 12:30 to 1 instead? I’ll be stepping out of the office”.
I wasn’t sure if June’s dumbfounded face was a result of the compliment I’d paid her or because I was actually taking a lunch, either way it made me chuckle.
She recovered, a little too quickly. “Anything special planned? With any-ONE special?”
“No…just wanted to try the new Bagel shop on Dellview. Nothing glamorous, just wanted to step out of the office.” The truth was that I knew Greg wouldn’t be impressed with me confronting him about Friday night, so I wanted to avoid him later on in the day.
I sigh, say goodbye to June, place my belongings in my office and head for the staffroom to make myself a cup of coffee. All sorts of questions were flying around in my mind; What justification would Greg have for setting me up with an escort anyways and why would Lee go along with it? Knowing him, he would probably come up with some sort of excuse that it was for my own good and I that I should probably get over it, but this time- I was adamant I would stand my ground. Leaning on the counter, looking out the window onto Turner Street watching the morning traffic, deep in thought- I hadn’t noticed Sam walk into the kitchen.
“Good morning, Dr. Pierce,” she whispers delicately, jolting me out of my reverie.
“Good morning, Sam- sorry. I…didn’t see you there…did you have a good weekend?”, I stumble out but not entirely sure why I ask.
“Yea. I did,” she says, allowing a small smile to meet her lips.
“Good. Glad to hear that…,” I reply, looking away to the coffee machine, hoping my coffee had finished brewing. “You’re hair… it’s still wet…”, I wasn’t sure where I was going with this…shaking my head as if trying to rid my unease, “you should be careful- with the weather changing-it could give you a head cold.” Somehow every time I spoke to Sam, I end up sounding like an overbearing parent.
“Oh…I was going to let it air dry…but I guess I have still have time to dry it. Thank you,” with that she bows her head, picks up her cup and walks out of the room. Smooth Pierce, real smooth, way for her to think you’re even more peculiar than you are.
Pouring my coffee, I head towards Greg’s office; without knocking, I let myself in as Greg is buttoning up his dress shirt.
“Good work out?”, I ask.
“Yea, you could say that. I’m thinking of running in the half-marathon in Sabreville- I might take it up more seriously if it goes well.”
“Right…you running marathons…that’s different,” I reply dryly.
“Trying to get ahead of the pot,” he taps his stomach, “if your metabolism wasn’t as quick, you’d probably understand. Then again, you worry enough for the two of us; maybe that’s your secret. What did you want anyways?”, he replies mockingly.
I had already been harbouring negative feelings towards Greg all weekend; subsequently his tone sets me off even though I had every intention of being nice, needless to say- I wasn’t in the mood for Greg’s retort.
“I came in here to express to you that I did not appreciate you hiring a prostitute as my date on Friday,” I spit out.
“Actually, the term is escort, high classed escort. She cost a pretty penny- I hope she was worth it,” he winks. “Besides, would you of showed up, real date or not?”
“…Maybe…maybe not…I’m not sure” I stutter, shaking my head. “It’s insulting, rude and besides- what made you think that I would be happy for you to pay for someone to go out with me?! Was it Lee’s idea?!”, I was losing grip of my emotions.
“Jon, despite what you may think- I don’t tell EVERYTHING to girlfriend dearest. So, no she didn’t know and doesn’t need to know. I’m not even sure what your problem is-besides did you or did you not have a good time?”, he flashes me one of his legendary smiles.
“Greg, I said I was insulted, not flattered. I don’t know why you thought I’d enjoy going out with a prostitute or escort!?”, I was beginning to raise my voice.
I was now so irritated, I found myself pacing Greg’s office; from his mahogany bookcase to the window and back again.
“Don’t you get it? I’m not over HER? I don’t want to date and I certainly don’t want a quick lay…it doesn’t feel right…I feel like I have to be miserable…,” I whisper the last word, afraid of his reaction.
I stop pacing and look up at him, in the middle of buckling his belt, he had an expression I couldn’t register, but he responds laughingly, “That IS what I’m doing- trying to get you laid- let off some steam. I swear, I worry about your sex life more than you do.”
“Umm Greg, that’s disturbing. You don’t get it do you?”, before I could continue on my rant- June opens the door and both our heads swivel in her direction.
“Dr. Pierce, there’s a call for you on line 2 and Dr. Wingham’s first appointment is here,” she says cheerily.
“Where’s Sam?! It’s her job to advise me of my appointments!”, Greg barks.
“I had a message for Dr. Pierce, we couldn’t both come, but next time I won’t bother I’ll just buzz him on your phone,” snaps June as she slams the door shut.
Glancing over at Greg as he slips on his white coat, something strikes me as odd- not only is his fowl mood uncharacteristic, but his office is a mess. The papers atop his desk are scattered, his dirty clothes are still lying in a heap on the floor and his hair is wet. If there was one particularity about Greg, his appearance was paramount; he would take any amount of time necessary to make sure every hair was in place. Suddenly, I was the one asking all the questions,
“Why are you in such a bad mood?
He buttons his collar and starts on his tie.
“Why is your hair still wet? It’s still dripping in fact”, I’m aware that I’m sounding accusatory.
“I just got out of the shower, Jon. Why are you interrogating me and why am I not allowed to have an off day?,” he said a bit too quickly.
If Greg had an Achilles heel, it was that he couldn’t lie to me, I could always read his face, but this time he made sure to keep his back to me.
“Greg, you seem…different…distant even,” I state, softer this time.
“DISTANT?! You are one to talk! Every time I’ve reached out to you- you’ve shown me the cold shoulder. Don’t accuse ME of being distant, Jon you’ve been so caught up in your self-pity that you have failed to notice a hell of a lot. You think you’re the only one going through shit? Here’s a newsflash- you’re not. We all have crap; it’s just that some of us choose not to wear it on our sleeves or draw attention to it. But since you asked…I have a kid on the way with a woman I’m not sure I’m in love with. Wrap your head around that one!” he was now shouting and I was grateful for the soundproof room.
“If you’ll excuse me I have patients to see,” he gestures towards the door, indicating his intention for me to leave.
I am floored, “I’m…I’m sorry…- I just wanted to know if something was the matter…I didn’t realise that you felt that way…what do you mean you might not love Lee anymore?”
“You heard me…,” responds Greg, lowering his voice but still staring icily at me.
Without responding further, I pick up my cup of coffee and stalk out of his office, I speed past June to my office, as far away from Greg but worried about how our conversation would have ended had it not been for this phone call. My mind was buzzing, it certainly wasn’t the way I’d planned my morning. I was shocked and angry all at the same time- how could he not love Lee? What was there not to love? How long had he felt this way? The beeping from my office phone reminds me there was still someone on the line, I really hoped it wasn’t my mother- I didn’t have the patience for her right now.
“Dr. Pierce!” I almost shout into the receiver.
Nothing. I try another tact.
“Hi, Dr. Pierce speaking,” this time softer.
“Hello Dr. Pierce,” a beautiful voice comes on the line, “Dr. Jonathan Pierce?” her voice was soft and sensual, almost singsong as she spoke every word with slow emphasis.
“Yes. Speaking. How can I help?”
“Hello Dr. Pierce, I’m so sorry to bother you, I have an interview with you and Dr. Wingham”, she recites this as if I’m unaware of these interviews-she’s obviously practiced this. “I was just wondering if I could get directions to the office- I recently moved from Seattle and I haven’t really got my bearings with the area just yet. So to avoid any mishaps I wanted to make sure I knew 100 percent where I was headed to,” she giggles and my heart skips a beat. Her voice sets off a sympathy of emotion in me I never see coming and a calm washes over me.
“Oh! I see…” I wasn’t expecting this…, “You could of asked my secretary, you wouldn’t of had to stay on hold for so long,” my mind is racing, how do I keep her on the phone?
“Yes, you’re right, but the truth is I wanted to speak to you…you know…speak to the great Dr. Pierce,” she pauses, leaving the line silent.
“Umm. You want to speak to me?! I think you have the wrong person, maybe you’re thinking of my father?! It’s a common mistake.” I feel my reverie fading.
“No. It’s you. I’ve heard a lot about you from Professor Lindstrom. He uses your research papers in his tutorials. It’s definitely you, Dr. Pierce,” she rushes out, aware she may have overstepped.
“Right…I don’t really know what to say…Miss….” I was trying to get my thoughts together from the symphony of sounds that was her voice. “You have an interview this week you say?”
“Yes. I’m scheduled for 11, provided I get directions, of course,” she waits.
The mention of the impending interviews jolts me from my daydream and back into my sombre professional self, “In that case, you can get directions from my secretary, June; I’m not entirely sure it’s fair for me to be conversing with a potential recruit before the interviews,” I recover.
“Oh. I see. I was just trying to be friendly. I meant no disrespect and expect no favouritism. I apologise for wasting your time, I suspect you have a lot to do. I simply wanted to hear your voice,” she mutters, sounding genuinely apologetic.
“No need to apologise, I needed the distraction anyways. What is your name?,” I couldn’t say my interest wasn’t peaked.
“Thank you for your time Dr. Pierce, I’ll be sure to get directions from your secretary,” and with that the line was silent but my heart rate had rapidly increased. I wasn’t sure how or why, but her sweet voice was wrapping itself around my veins.
I stand at my desk with the receiver an inch away from my face, completely baffled, for what I know is way too long, nevertheless I feel my mood changing. As I head to the kitchen to refill my coffee and grab breakfast, questions swirl in my mind. Who was she? Why did June transfer her to me? Why did her voice stir me? I felt flushed. I needed a distraction; I had Greg’s revelation and a mystery caller, could this morning be any further than what I’d anticipated? Luckily, I had a pile of patient files and ledgers to distract me; Moses Rodrigues, our accountant has been repeatedly emailing me to send them to him by the end of the week, nevertheless standing in the kitchen daydreaming about my caller eclipsed that. I couldn’t understand what it was about her that stirred me; why her bluntness raised my heart rate, but whatever it was I felt…this was new for me; I felt oddly awakened-alive. Maybe I would actually go out for lunch and not make it up in order to get June off my back. I run my fingers through my dishevelled auburn hair; I needed a haircut- I never seemed to remember this until it fell into my eyes. Grabbing a fresh muffin, I walk down the hall to June,
“Do I have any appointments this morning?,” taking a bite and smiling because it was blueberry- my favourite.
“What do you mean it just HAPPENED?!,” June whispers to Sam, their heads lowered, oblivious to my presence.
“Umm…I don’t know…’” came Sam’s response.
I clear my throat,
“Ladies?,” they had obviously not heard me walk up because June practically jumped out of her chair.
“Dr. Pierce!,” she shrieks and Sam becomes even redder than she normally is in my presence.
“That juicy, huh?,” I tease.
June clears her throat uncomfortably; Sam slides her chair across to her side of the desk.
“What?” I ask, “Is something the matter?”
“Nope. Everything’s just fine, Dr. Pierce. Peachy. Just girl drama. Don’t you worry. What can I do for you?,” her voice wavers.
“I just wanted to be sure that my morning schedule was clear, and I’ll be ready for my 1pm appointment with Mrs. Rodgers”.
“You could of just called…”she replied dryly, “it would of spared me such a fright.”
“What and miss breaking up the gossipfest? Naa,” I joke.
Sam flashes June a look I can’t quite place.
Sensing the awkwardness in the air I reply, “Right…I was only attempting to be funny. Relax Sam, you act as if I’m going to fire you every time we’re in the same room,” I arch my eyebrow towards her.
“She’s just shy Dr. Pierce, don’t take offence,” June interjects “Molly Twinden wants to book another appointment so you can have a look at her mole again-what should I do?”
Smooth subject change, June, I think to myself.
“Just book it-maybe this time it was for real and not because she wants me to see her naked,” I whisper sardonically.
Molly Twinden is a 36 year-old dance teacher with a prominent set of breasts and an equally prominent personality. She has been pursuing me for the past four months and I had been dodging her profusely, but eventually I would have to wane and have a look at her mole, however strategically placed it may be. I stroll back to my office to tackle the ledgers; in order to appease Moses. Sinking into my office chair, I don’t look up until my phone suddenly rings at 11:58-it was June.
“Dr. P. You said you were taking a lunch, just wanted to remind you and also to ensure you’d take one.” June ever so thoughtful. “And also because I’d been meaning to try out their salmon cream cheese bagels it’s supposed to be to die for!” I knew there was a catch.
“Uh, yea sure. I’ll be there in five,” I roll my eyes- lunch with June, that would be a treat, at least I know I won’t have to do much talking.
The end of the day found me caught up with my paperwork, but I still hadn’t seen Greg since this morning and something told me he intended it that way but on the other hand, I wasn’t sure I wanted to break the tension either. As I made my way home, I felt an ease creep up on me for the first time in three years-I couldn’t quite put my finger on the change but I wasn’t complaining either.
Driving into the office a couple mornings later, I am acutely aware of the day and what it was doing for my heart rate. It was Wednesday-the day of the interviews-the day I’d get to put a face to the voice that has been playing in my head since its introduction. For the past two days, I have been visualising numerous scenarios and even more vividly-what she looked like. My anxiety to talk to Greg was completely overshadowed by my intrigue to see her face.
This morning, I had taken extra care with my appearance as opposed to most days; opting for a pale grey suit and a deep purple dress shirt with a black tie. With my auburn freshly cut hair, I was aware that I had cleaned up nicely. Walking into the office, I notice both June and Sam’s eyes linger on me just that bit longer.
Job done-hell has actually frozen over, I think. I was acting self-assured but the truth is I am embarrassed that a complete stranger was making me feel this way and the fact that I was putting all this effort into how I looked, which was not like me at all, but I felt good.
“Good morning ladies,” I chime.
“Hello Dr. Pierce, you look especially handsome today,” expresses June.
“Thank you. I guess I can clean up good, huh?”, I blush from the attention.
“Yes definitely,” she smiles. “Big day today so I’ll get straight to it. One of the candidates has cancelled, uh”, she pauses as she shuffles a few papers; my breath catches. “Dr. Connor Friedman,” I exhale. “I took the liberty and told him that we may be in touch later on, figured it might matter depending on how the interviews go today”.
“Yes, that makes sense. Thank you, June, did Dr. Friedman say why he was cancelling?”
“No, but then again I didn’t ask. On the other hand, your mother will be flying in tomorrow night-hope you hadn’t forgotten. I’ve made her car rental arrangements- because that I’m sure you did forget that,” she looked up accusingly at me. I had. “She said she’ll be staying at a friend’s tomorrow night- so she’ll see you Friday, after work.”
Odd. Which friend did my mom have in Brampford?
“Oh ok. I’ll call her after lunch. Is Dr. Wingham in the conference room?”
“Yes, he’s only just come in himself. I’ve got coffee brewing in the kitchen.”
“Thanks June, see you later.”
I deposit my messenger bag and jacket in my office, grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen and head past Greg’s empty office to the conference room. Greg was looking intently at his Blackberry- I knock on the glass door as I enter, he quickly pockets his phone.
“Morning,” I smile, “Want some coffee, June just made a fresh pot,” I ask knowing full well Greg doesn’t drink coffee.
“You being formal with me because of the interviews or because of something else?,” he cocks his head.
I slid the double glass door behind me, grateful that I can turn my back to him.
“Both, you going to ignore my calls, avoid me and keep pretending that I didn’t hit a nerve the other day? What’s going on with you?”
Greg lets out a sigh, “It’s kinda heavy for,” he checks his watch, “7:45 in the morning…besides I don-“.
“We’ll talk it over lunch then; I’ll have June book our table at the Orchard Pub and we can discuss the candidates at the same time. I don’t want to fight with you, Greg,” I ramble a bit too enthusiastically.
“Umm…I’ll take a rain check, but I’m down for ordering take out and having our chat here…,” he says offering me a small smile.
After placing our lunch orders with June, the subject of Greg’s offbeat behaviour and temperament was put on the back burner and we got down to interviewing the candidates.
First up, we had Dr. Ralph Kendrick, he was a tall, slender man with stark white hair and an equally start personality, nevertheless he was a highly experienced physician with 25 plus years of experience, but didn’t take too kindly to the fact that Greg and I were the same age as his children. When the question was asked of him-how he would be an asset to our team- he suggested that he would like to be our boss and would simply be a benefit because of his age. When I pressed him on what exactly he meant by that, he stared me straight in the eye and stated that he didn’t find it necessary to answer the question. Greg and I exchanged looks and ended the interview, feeling confident Dr. Kendrick left us with, “I’ll expect a call,” and stalked through the double doors. No words were traded between Greg and I, his resume was swiftly shredded.
Our second candidate was Dr. Orlando Flores, he was a stocky, South American man, wearing thick glasses and was in no way as exciting or engaging as his name would suggest. He stuttered severely and asked us to repeat each question at least three times; by the end of the interview I felt badly for him as he was drenched in sweat and was visibly distraught about how the meeting was going. Although he was qualified, Greg and I disagreed about whether he should be hired; I suggested we give him a second interview- Greg on the other hand didn’t want to even consider it.
Ultimately, all rested on our third candidate; my heart rate started to increase when the realisation hit me of who was next. I was scribbling something down on my notepad and hadn’t realised she would be walking into the room at that particular moment, I look up to have her beauty knock me off balance. Wearing a very well fitting navy blue dress pants and pale pink silk dress shirt, her medium length, loosely curled dark brown hair falling to the side of her face. Standing at approximately five foot seven, though she was wearing heels, she was slim but curvy, her caramel coloured skin was slightly flushed as she strode in, but her face was beyond beautiful. She appeared self-assured, barring a huge grin with perfect white teeth; she was gorgeous, confident, had a great figure, was a doctor and blatantly out of my league- reality hit me so hard, I sagged in my seat.
Greg stood and extended his hand,
“Good morning, Mrs? Miss? Franklin-Dorough?,” Greg prodded unashamedly, both Dr. Franklin-Dorough and I shot him a look that he blatantly ignores. “This is Dr. Jonathan Pierce and I’m Dr. Greg Wingham.”
“You can call me Taryn,” she replies curtly.
I stand up and stretch out my hand.
“Dr. Pierce…,” she breathes and reciprocates, holding on to my hand just a little longer than necessary.
“Dr. Franklin-Dorough, have a seat- thank you for coming,” says Greg, taking a sip of his smoothie.
“Please, call me Taryn- I realise Franklin-Dorough is a mouth full at the best of times,” she smiled- it travelled through me; I wasn’t sure I would make it through to the end of the interview.
“Tell us a little bit about yourself Dr. Franklin,” suggests Greg, purposely leaving out the rest of her name. Why is he being so arrogant and so obviously rude to her? I furrow my brow.
Taryn’s smile disappears and with more force this time she says, “I honestly would much rather Taryn and in order not to upset either of my parents- it’s both or none at all, Dr. Wingham or I really will take offence.” They both stare silently at each other for what seems like a few minutes.
I interject, “Sssssorrry Taryn, we’ve had a long morning, where were we? Do tell us about your life in medicine.” Anything other than this awkward silence, I finish in my head.
She turns her gorgeous face in my direction and shifts in her seat.
“I recently moved to Brampford from New York, I studied and eventually worked at John’s Hopkins for a little over a year before I moved to New York City. About 5 years ago I thought I wanted to specialize, I chose not to- I liked the diversity and excitement of the trauma unit, but now I’m looking for a much more relaxed environment to practice. I’ve gone off the busy hectic madness that is New York City,” her voice was just as breathy and singsong as it was on the phone.
“We’re planning on expanding in the future, it may not have that small family feel you’re looking for, would that be a problem?” Greg asks pointedly.
I chuckle, “Well that may not be for a while, so no need to worry’, I interject.
“I can’t see it being a problem. I would like to practice in a smaller more focused atmosphere and reading up on the both of you and your achievements- I knew that this was the place for me,” she displays yet another gorgeous smile.
I cringe; Greg had insisted we advertise the practice in order to get more patients, part of his technique was to “boast”, as I called it about our accomplishments- he called it strategic marketing, I called it gloating.
“You mentioned that five years ago you thought about specialising, what did you consider specialising in?,” this wasn’t a scripted question, it was pure curiosity from my part and I hoped Greg didn’t notice.
“Oncology,” her voice alters, I had touched on a sensitive topic-I changed tact.
“What do you believe you can bring to the team?” I ask.
“Organisation, versatility, fresh eyes and ideas; I am meticulous, driven but I’m good at what I do. I know this may sound conceited, but you will see that my references speak for themselves; they will only confirm what I’m saying. I studied at a top medical school- I was even taught by the same professor as Dr. Pierce,” as she says my name, she turns her gaze towards me and for an inexplicable reason- I blush.
The rest of the interview continues without any more awkward exchanges, she answers every question efficiently and so aptly you would have thought she knew what we were going to ask. A red glow is permanently fixed on my cheeks; I don’t know what it was about her, but I needed to be around her. After closing the conference room door at the end of Dr. Franklin-Dorough’s interview, making my way back to my seat, Greg sighs and exclaims,
“Well that was a bust! What a waste of a morning!”
“What do you mean?,” I ask amazed, “I completely disagree.”
“WHAT?! HOW?! You actually think anyone of them were good enough?”
“Of course, Dr. Kendrick and Dr. Flores are both experienced and qualified, maybe even over qualified. Taryn even more so.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, did Greg really believe that none of the candidates were good enough? I know I had my own reasons, but bias aside…something was up.
Greg scoffs and shoots me a look, “You’re on first name basis with her?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Is there some explanation as to why you were so unprofessional? Why you asked whether she was married or not, why you insisted on mispronouncing her names?”
“I don’t like hyphenated names- it irritates me,” he shrugs his shoulders.
“So, you believe in the middle of an interview is the best time to present your odd opinion on the subject?”
Greg just glowers at me.
After a few moments of silence, he finally says,
“I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s very attractive and it seemed like it pained her to look in my direction…,”his voice trails off.
“Wow, so that’s what this is all about because your charms obviously didn’t work on her? Don’t be ridiculous Greg. I’m not going to lie, she wasn’t bad on the eyes, but between her and the other candidates- she was the best. Let’s face it, we particularly- you, wouldn’t work well with Kendrick and Flores was just so nervous- I wasn’t sold on him- Taryn’s references are all extremely positive.”
“Uh huh,” is all Greg says.
“If there is one negative,” I continue undeterred, “that I can think of is that I can’t understand why someone so talented and skilled would want to work in a small and fairly new practice. Why isn’t she working somewhere bigger and more challenging, you know?”
“No idea. But I don’t want to work with her- I feel like she’s too good-looking. I just don’t trust it…her….”
Finally it hit me, “Oh my God! You’re intimidated by her! You’re so used to commanding a room, you think having Taryn will take that away from you…are you really this self-absorbed?”
Greg didn’t speak, he slowly began arranging his paperwork, I laugh.
“You’re an interesting character Dr. Gregory Wingham.”
I was about to continue, but he interrupts me.
“That I am, but you already knew that. Don’t look at me like that….I’m done talking, I don’t want to discuss anymore…I don’t feel that I have to explain myself either,” picking up his papers.
I put my hands up in a surrendering type gesture and shrug, “Fine- don’t explain. But she’s hired. End of story,” I respond confidently, quickly grabbing my things and making a hasty retreat out of the conference room. As I walk along the glass wall- I risk at look at Greg, who is gaping at me, I wave and keep walking. As I turn the corner, back to my office, I can’t help but smile- this was my victory.
I had fully anticipated for lunch to be a duel between Greg and I over hiring Taryn, but instead Greg stood me up for lunch and left the office early. Now, I was certain he was hiding something, maybe he was right- maybe I had missed a lot. Though I wanted to dig further, I couldn’t risk angering him any further today, he was being so cagey lately, it was hard to wrap my head around. With the afternoon off, since Dr. Strange had taken care of our patients, I decide to use the extra time wisely and do some much needed house cleaning before mother’s arrival. Leaving a message on her cell phone, << Staying over at a friend’s huh? I didn’t know you had acquaintances in Brampford. Anyhow, just wanted to know if you got here safely and I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Love you>> I then begin my cleaning.
Four hours later, a newly cleaned house, I crack open a bottle of Chardonnay and take a sip as the phone rings,
“Hi Jon,” it was Lee, my heart went up to my throat-I wasn’t used to talking to her.
“Hi Lee, how are you?”
“I’m alright…How are you?,” it wasn’t like Lee to small talk.
“What’s wrong?,” I ask.
“Greg was supposed to meet me at the clinic for three for our twenty week scan-he’s not here. Do you know if he’s staying late at the office? He’s not answering his phone.”
“Yeah…I left him…there…he had a lot of patients…must of lost track of time. Maybe he was too caught up to give you a call…Don’t worry-he should be there soon,” I don’t know why I opted to lie for Greg, but I knew it was what Lee needed to hear.
“Right. I’m a bit anxious to do this alone. I thought he would of remembered the appointment- why didn’t Sam remind him?,” she sounded on the verge of tears.
“I guess he just lost track of time…I’ll come to the appointment with you if you’d like. It’s better than going alone,” without thinking, I offer.
“No…that’s ok. I couldn’t ask you to do that. It’s too much to ask…after Sophia…I’ll be fine,” she spoke slowly.
The mention of her name nearly knocks me over, my head starts spinning and my palms begin to sweat, my voice lowers and I fight through.
“….it’s ok…I insist. Besides, I can’t avoid the place forever,” I manage to croak out.
“Oh! I’d really appreciate it, Jon! Would you mind picking me up on your way, my car’s at the garage. I really wish Greg would have remembered- he’s supposed to pick up the car too!”
“Sure, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
In the car, I glance in the rear-view mirror to find hallow grey eyes looking back at me; small steps Pierce, small steps, speaks my mind. I take a huge gulp of air and hit the gas; I didn’t want to prolong this feeling of dread.
During the 7 minute drive to the hospital, Lee phones Greg a total of 15 times, with no joy. By the 7th call, even I was beginning to worry, but I also knew I had to continue making excuses for him. Maybe his phone was off, maybe the battery had died, maybe it was on silent. He could possibly have left it back in the office…none of these I, myself believed.
As we enter the hospital doors and make our way through the halls to the obstetric ward, waves of emotions washes over me; I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep walking or to run away. Glancing over at me, Lee places her hand in mine and gently squeezes it. We stay like that until it’s time to see the doctor. Entering the examination room, I close the door and root myself near it- I couldn’t stop feeling as if I was reliving a bad dream. Where WAS Greg? The doctor, a tall, slim middle aged man, Dr. Fell, smiles as he walks in.
“Hello Mr. & Mrs. Dunfield,” he says as he examines Lee’s file, “I’m Dr. Walter Fell, you can call me Walt.” He looks up at me near the door, “No need to so be so far away Mr. Lancaster- I don’t bite,” he says laughing at his joke.
“Oh, I’m not Mr. Dunfield- I’m Dr. Pierce, we’re not a couple…” I try to explain.
“Dr. huh?,” he grins.
“Yes, general medicine,” I reciprocate.
“Well come closer then, you may not be a couple now, but pregnancies and babies are a very intimate process- you’ll see by the end of it- I guarantee, you two will be love birds again,” he winks.
“Uh…Dr. Fell- we’re not a couple- we’re just friends. My partner is busy at the moment, which is why I asked Jon to accompany me,” Lee tries to clarify.
“Busy? Too busy to see the ultrasound of his firstborn? Good on you pal,” he says walking over and shaking my hand, I simply stare back at him- struggling to keep myself in the room.
Dr. Fell begins his routine; asking questions, taking notes and examining Lee- then it came to the ultrasound. My pulse begins to race, my heart rate was so loud in my ears that I couldn’t make out what Lee and Dr. Fell were discussing. I was snapped back into the room, when Lee reaches her hand towards me through the curtains, as I step forward, the doctor in me kicks in. I was completely fascinated by the new life on the monitor. Life. The beginning of it all- it was happening to me all over again…suddenly my eyes start to well up.
“Congratulations Lee. I’m so happy for you…you’ll be such a great mom…I just…know it…,” a tear runs down my cheek.
“Jon…,” Lee chokes on her words, “come here.”
She pulls me down to her, my face in her neck- the scent of her fruity perfume floods over me, she holds me like that for a few minutes till we’re both aware that Dr. Fell has stepped back into the room. I straighten up, wipe my eyes and stroke Lee’s cheeks,
“I’ll be in the waiting room,” I clear my throat and walk out of the room.
I had to leave, I could feel it building, it was starting to bubble through my veins and I wasn’t prepared to face those feelings now. The truth was that I didn’t want to know the gender- I didn’t want to know before Greg, but mostly I didn’t want it to be a girl. A girl, like my precious Sophia Diana Pierce- her death destroyed me; but little did I know that it was much worse for her mother. My cell phone jolts me out of my thoughts- it was Greg.
“WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?!,” I shout into the receiver.
“Whoa! A simple hello would suffice,” he was drunk, he always used big words then and slurring them at that.
“Greg- you’re drunk, where are you? Your girlfriend is having an ultrasound and you’re getting plastered?! The hell has gotten into you?,” I lower my voice as Lee starts making her way down the hall towards me.
“Don’t lecture me…I haven’t touched a drink, unless you count the gins I had earlier…,” he giggles.
“This isn’t funny, Greg. Where are you?”
“Ahh…the party pooper…I’m very comfortable…I may just lay down here…,” I could hear the friction of him sliding down on a seat.
“Greg. Seriously, Lee’s on her way towards me-just tell me where you are. Please,” I was pleading, numerous scenarios were playing out in my head, none of them good.
“Lee…Lee…,” he begins laughing, “I’ll tell you, but don’t bring her. I’m at the place where they serve the best champagne- you know the whi-,” I hung up.
Lee was now an arm’s length away, “Oh Jon! I feel like I’m walking on Cloud 9- this is amazing! To think something so precious and tiny is living inside me! It’s just wonderful!,” she gushes.
I smile; she was so beautiful and I couldn’t help but be taken in by her excitement, I lean in and give her a hug, she starts to stroke my hair.
“This is huge for you Jon, – I didn’t think you would come and I’m so sorry that you had to face this all over again-I just didn’t want to do this alone,” she looks up at me- her gorgeous brown eyes filled with happiness. “You know I love you, Jon.”
The pounding in my ears come suddenly and colour rushes to my face, I had finally heard the words I had longed to hear for so long, but knowing full well that she didn’t mean it in the way I had always hoped. I straighten up and gently push her away,
“Shall I take you home? Maybe Greg’s finished in the office and you can share the good news.”
“Maybe. But, I’m beyond angry that he’s not here, so I’m not exactly rushing back, besides I haven’t hung out with you in so long, wanna go to Clyde’s for supper?,” she stops walking and turns to face me, “ and if you’re good, I’ll even reveal the gender,” peaking up through her lashes.
“I would love to know…but I would just like you to tell Greg first.”
“So chivalrous, you know he wouldn’t have offered you the same courtesy…but you’ll be the first person I’ll call after I tell Greg.”
“Deal,” I say leading her out of the hospital, to the car- I was anxious to get Greg back home to her. After dropping Lee off, using my mother as the reason I couldn’t have supper with her, I start on my task of checking every high-end bar in Brampford- I strike gold by the fourth bar. As I park up, disgruntled that I have spent an hour and a half of my evening-driving around town looking for my petulant, so-called best friend; I fling the entrance door open and begin panning the room for Greg. I find him, towards the back in a shaded area, in a booth; but he isn’t alone. He was with her.