The Millionaire and the M.D.

By: Teresa Southwick

Still something happened in that exam room—so quick if he’d blinked he’d have missed it. He was pretty sure he’d seen a chink in Amy’s attitude and he’d bet his stock options in T&O Enterprises that the doc had something to do with it. He wasn’t sure exactly how, but there might be a way he could use that to his advantage.

The name Amy Thorne caught Rebecca’s attention as she looked at the stack of patient charts on her desk. She might not look old enough to practice medicine but she certainly felt old, she thought, remembering the scared, impossibly young girl with the defensive attitude. The teen had problems, one of which was a high-risk pregnancy.

From the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of someone in the doorway, and her heart jumped, then pounded as if it would burst out of her chest. It was normal for a woman alone to be nervous. Yet Rebecca’s nerves always seemed to be running on high-test and hope was fading that the feeling would ever go away. The man who’d broken into her body the way a burglar breaks into a house had stolen her sense of safety, and she would always hate him for that.

“Are you okay, Rebecca?”

“Yeah, Grace.” She let out a breath and forced herself to relax. “I thought you’d already left.”

Green-eyed, redheaded Grace Martinson was her friend and combination nurse/office manager. When her practice grew sufficiently, Rebecca planned to hire more staff, but in the meantime it was Grace and her against the world.

“Still here, but if there’s nothing else you need, I’m going home.”

“Have a nice evening.” Rebecca hesitated, then said, “Wait a second. What’s your impression of Amy Thorne?”

“Mixed-up teenager.” Grace frowned. “Now ask me about her brother.”

Rebecca didn’t want to go there, but participation in the conversation was easier than explaining why she didn’t want to go there. “Okay. What do you think of him?”

“Above and beyond the call of duty comes to mind.”

“Really?” It was reluctant duty at best in Rebecca’s opinion.

“It’s not every brother who would make sure his pregnant sister got medical care.” Grace smiled. “And he’s not hard on the eyes.”

“You think so? I didn’t notice,” she lied.

“Oh, please. How could you not? He reminds me of someone.” Grace snapped her fingers. “I know. The actor who was in that movie How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”

Rebecca didn’t need ten days to lose a guy. For her it was ten seconds, the time it took to tell her fiancé about the assault. Maybe not quite that fast, but everything had changed afterward until finally he dumped her. And that’s how she learned that there was more than one way to violate a person’s trust.

“I didn’t see that movie. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw any movie,” Rebecca admitted.

“You need to get out more.” Grace tsked sympathetically. “There’s more to life than work.”

This was an ongoing debate and a continuing waste of breath. Rebecca was perfectly happy, and it did no good to tell her friend that a personal life was highly overrated. She loved being a doctor and believed herself lucky that her career was deeply fulfilling. If she was a little lonely, well, it was better than giving trust another try only to confirm that the third time is not the charm.

“Weren’t you going home?” Rebecca reminded her.

“Right. See you tomorrow.” Grace waved, then was gone.

Rebecca picked up Amy’s chart again and thought about the teenager. Definitely mixed up, but there was something about her. The flinch, the shame, the fear in her eyes when they’d talked about the baby’s father. Rebecca had felt fear and shame once and wondered if she and her patient shared the same soul-shattering secret.

Or was she imagining victims where none existed? God, she was tired. She wished she could blame it on an all-nighter at the hospital, but she’d simply had a bad dream. The first in a long time. It was the noises in her new condo. That was normal when one moved to a different place. Right?

And when she could identify all the things that went bump in the night, she wouldn’t wake up gasping for air because she was dreaming that same terrifying dream, reliving the nightmare of what happened to her. As soon as she felt comfortable and secure, the past would go back deep inside and stay buried where it belonged. And she would stop assigning a similar experience to a patient who’d probably just had unprotected sex with her boyfriend.

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