(As always, unedited, and subject to change)
This. Is. Your. Job.
I reminded myself of that annoying little fact as Dr. Joseph Wright strode away from me, mumbling something under his breath about being the one M. D. behind his name. He made me so damned sick – no pun intended – and as it stood, there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Now, if this followed the natural course of a romance novel – and why the hell wouldn’t it? – in a few weeks, I would be in Dr. Wright’s bed. As fine as he was, under other circumstances, maybe that would be appealing. But as it stood? There was only one bed I wanted his arrogant, know-it-all, can’t-let-anybody-else-get-a-word-in ass on.
Did I mention I couldn’t stand him?
All I’d done was make a simple recommendation for a patient, and he wants to go reminding me that “You’re still in your probationary period, Nurse Echols. You report to me, not the other way around.”
Just eight more months of this, and then I was free.
Surely I could handle eight more months.
“Nurse Echols?!” I looked up to see Dr. Wright standing a little ways down the hall, and quickly registered that he was snapping his fingers at me, to get my attention.
He was snapping.
To get my attention.
So… maybe I wouldn’t make it those other eight months without putting my hands around his neck. Or his dick.
“Are you coming, or not? You don’t have time to stand around daydreaming. Or hell, maybe you do. But our patients don’t, so… chop chop.”
Definitely his neck.
I took a deep breath, literally biting my tongue as I hurried to catch up with his long strides. That was just one more thing that pissed me off about him – why’d he have to be so damned tall, broad shouldered, and lusciously dark-brown-sugar toned? It would be so much easier to hate him if my traitorous body wouldn’t react so strongly whenever we were in close proximity.
Which was often, because just my luck, my year long position as intern would take place under his direct supervision before I could begin seeing patients on my own – also under his supervision, since for some unholy reason, he was head resident at University Hospital’s Women’s Center.
I followed him to exam room 4, where he rapped his knuckles against the door three times before turning the knob and pushing it open. Inside sat a couple, who couldn’t have been any older than me, but were obviously married – the rings on their fingers were a dead giveaway.
“Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, how are you doing?” Dr. Wright asked, extending his hand first to Mrs., then to Mr. “And how is baby Sinclair?”
Mrs. Sinclair – Lauren, according to her chart – put a hand to her swollen belly, then smiled at her husband before turning back to Dr. Wright. “As long as he’s doing good, we’re good. So, we’re hoping for you to give us some confirmation.”
Dr. Wright nodded, returning her smile. “We can definitely do that. Before we start your ultrasound, let me introduce you to my colleague, Nurse Devyn Echols. We’re expanding our team here to include nurse practitioners, and she’s our first hire.”
“Oh, congratulations!” Mrs. Sinclair gushed, beaming at me. “You look so young though, to be in that position! Isn’t that pretty much a doctor?”
“No,” Dr. Wright interjected, before I could even speak. “I’m sure Nurse Echols can explain the difference.”
I shot him a look bordering on murderous, then wrestled my mouth into something I hoped resembled a smile as I turned to address Mrs. Sinclair. “First, thank you so much for your congratulations, and the compliment. Some people like to think of a nurse practitioner as the step between a nurse and a doctor. I’ll be able to provide many of the same services your primary care physician can, but not exactly the same.”
“Ahh,” she said, but I could tell there was still some confusion. Dr. Wright stepped between us, asking Mrs. Sinclair to lay back to start her ultrasound. I stood back, observing closely as he spread the warm jelly over her skin, and then put the ultrasound wand to her belly as he easily engaged she and her husband in conversation.
It was confusing, honestly.
I didn’t understand how he could be such a complete asshole with me, but when it came to his patients – our patients, technically – he was warm, friendly… charming. Hell, not even just the patients. He was nice to literally everyone else. If this were high school, I’d think it was his way of combatting the fact that he actually had a crush on me, but no. I’d seen the way he flirted with other women, making them giggle and blush. And true or not, I’d heard the rumors of the way he… got around.
The man knew how to show he was interested.
So, no. For whatever reason, he simply hated me.
Eight more months.
He finished up the appointment with Ty and Lauren Sinclair, and we left them to get cleaned up. As usual, Dr. Wright strode out in front of me, but this time, I stopped him in the hall before we got back to the nurse’s station.
“Dr. Wright, I need a second please,” I called out, then fought the urge to roll my eyes as he turned to me with a smirk.
“Yes, Nurse Echols? How can I help you?” He tucked his clipboard under his arm, and pushed his hands into the pockets of his dark grey slacks, an action that pulled the open sides of his white coat further apart. Underneath, he wore a starched white button up, with gorgeous tie in tones of cranberry and grey – matching his socks.
I couldn’t stand him.
“What you did in there, that little comment about me not being a doctor—”
“You’re not a doctor.”
“I know that,” I snapped, then immediately took a breath, calming myself. “I am fully aware that I’m not a doctor—”
“Then what’s the problem? We’re on the same page.”
I lifted an eyebrow. “No, we’re not. The fact is that very soon I’ll be able to provide a level of care that meets, and in many cases, exceeds, a great deal of doctors, even though you seem to love reminding me that I hold that title. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get here, and I don’t appreciate you talking down to me in front of patients as if I’m less than.”
For several moments, Dr. Wright didn’t say anything, his warm brown eyes glittering with interest – or maybe malice – as he looked at me. Suddenly, those long legs of his started moving, and he was right in front of me, looking me directly in the eyes. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t let him win.
I couldn’t stand him.
Magnetic brown eyes, perfectly toasted brown skin, always well-groomed facial hair, those broad ass shoulders, and big ass hands that looked like he could easily toss even a curvy girl like me around. And his smell… God he smelled so good, and I couldn’t even tell the source of the scent. It was subtle… clean, leathery, manly, and only when he was very, very, close, close enough for his body heat to radiate onto me, making it hard to keep inappropriate thoughts from blazing a trail through my mind.
“I don’t feel that you’re less than anything, Nurse Echols,” he said, still holding my gaze. “I think you’re a very talented young medical professional. Have I ever said anything otherwise?”
“Well, you just made that little comment in front of the Sinclairs.”
“I provided clarity for my patient because it’s required by law, and then deferred to you for further explanation.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Okay, but what about the comment earlier, and I made my recommendation to the patient? That reminder you like throwing around, that I’m not a doctor.”
“You’re not. And you still have a lot to learn before you start making recommendations to me about patients. Is there something incorrect about that statement?”
He shrugged. “Then…”
“Well, it’s not even really what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it.”
“How am I saying it?”
He tilted his head to the side, removing his hands from his pockets to put one on his chin as if he were really trying to figure it out. “So, you’re telling me that the problem is that I’m… mean to you?” he asked, peering down at me.
My lips parted, in response, but I quickly clamped them shut again. Because… was I really, at twenty-eight, complaining about him being “mean” to me? I wasn’t a child, and I wasn’t some weak, helpless woman either. He wasn’t the first – or worst – asshole I’d dealt with on the job.
“You know what?” I asked, taking a step back, and squaring my shoulders. “Never mind.”
He shrugged. “Okay. Was there anything else Nurse Echols?”
I turned away, started to walk off without answering, but thought about something. “Yes,” I said, pivoting back in his direction. I strode right up to him, tilting my head back to meet his eyes – which took a little of my steam away, honestly, because those intelligent, slighted hooded eyes of his were a damned trap – and said, “Don’t you ever, ever snap at me again. I may report to you, but I’m your colleague. Not a puppy, or a child. Okay?”
I didn’t wait for an answer. I turned away, heading down the hall to I-didn’t-know-where, just anywhere to be away from him for a minute.
“Nurse Echols!” he called, and I forced myself to stop, but didn’t turn around.
There was a brief pause before he chuckled, a sound that sent brand new tingles over me – annoying, because ugh – “Understood.”
My eyes widened in surprise, so much that I was glad I was facing away from him. Instead of responding, I nodded, more to myself than anything, and then started walking again.