This chapter was originally in the story after Sarid and Asjhone first kiss, and before Sarid comes over for a Kenadre-less dinner. A few of the high points made it into other chapters, but here’s the complete scene in its former glory. Enjoy!
“He took me to The Clove. Bought a bottle of wine. A whole bottle. The most expensive kind. And his car, a Jaguar, can you believe it. Man, I almost came just sliding onto the leather seats.”
Asjhone walked up to the hub, caught the end of Monique’s waaay-TMI story and spun around.
“Even you, Ms. Prude, can’t ruin my mood today,” Monique said to Asjhone. “I’m in love.”
She raised her eyebrows. “In love? With his money you mean?”
Monique shook her head. Her glossy straight hair, still not pulled up, swung against her back. “No. Not just his money. His body, too. To die for. And my God, the man knows how to use it.” She sighed. “I think he might be the one. He makes me feel so special.”
“That’s called an orgasm, honey.” Tynice handed a chart to Erica. “The male in T-4 is vomiting.”
“Again? I already gave him a dose of Compazine,” Erica said.
Tynice took Erica’s spot at the desk after she left. “Drinks after work?” she asked Asjhone.
“Can’t tonight.” She couldn’t stop her grin.
“Hm, interesting. We’re going to explore that look later,” she promised before heading off.
Asjhone’s smile widened. She reached for the phone behind the desk. A few moments later, finished with her call, she said, “Hey, Monique?”
“Yeah?” The woman raised her head from the chart in her hands, expression guarded.
“Who does your hair?”
Monique’s eyes widened, then her gaze ran over Asjhone’s tight curls that just touched the top of her shoulders. “I can give you his name. Jon’s fabulous.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
Hands landed on her shoulders. Asjhone jumped then tensed.
“You paged?” Dr. Jones’s voice was low and very close to her ear.
Gaze still on Monique, she caught the sly look on the woman’s face. Great.
Asjhone scooted out from under his touch. “Results are in for Collins.” She could’ve reached over the top and snagged the chart off of the desk below, but instead moved around the counter and passed the file with the barrier between them.
The doctor winked, brushed his fingers over the back of her hand before taking it. “Do you like hiking, Asjhone?” His gaze was on the papers in his hand. He lifted the top page of the report, scanned the document.
“Yes.” He closed the folder, set his elbows on the counter and leaned closer. “Fresh air. Nature. Working up a sweat.” Another wink.
Her heart kicked up a gear. She stepped back. “Right. Well, the thing is—”
“Say no more, not a fan of the outdoors. I get it.” He shook his head, smile wide. “You’re a hard girl to please, but don’t worry, I won’t give up. It’ll just make the win all that sweeter.”
Asjhone watched him stroll away. She closed her eyes. Rubbed her forehead. Then grabbed a chart from the completed registration pile and headed to T-3. Her eyes skimmed the intake sheet. Seventeen-year-old girl. Stomach pains. Slight fever.
A young girl was on the bed, arms wrapping her stomach, face tight with pain. Dad by her side. “Hi. I’m Asjhone. Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“Stomach pains.” The dad answered just as the girl opened her mouth. “Do you think it might be her appendix? Her sister had her appendix out when she was around Jackie’s age.”
“When did the pain start, Jackie?” Asjhone moved her gaze to the girl.
“I’ve got it, nurse.”
Asjhone stiffened at Dr. Behall’s curt tone and obvious dismissal. She stepped away from the bed. Should she go? Stay, in case the doctor had instructions?
Once the father left the room, Behall examined the girl. She didn’t acknowledge Asjhone once.
A few minutes later the doctor stripped off her gloves. “Okay, we’ll get an ultrasound of your stomach. Try to find out what’s going on. I’ll let your dad back in while you wait.”
The girl bit her lip, nodded. As soon as the doctor left she pulled her shirt down and wrapped her arms around her stomach.
“Are you cold? Do you want a blanket?”
The girl shook her head.
Asjhone glanced over her shoulder. The doctor was outside with the dad. “Jackie, what does the pain feel like? Is it sharp or dull? Does it feel like cramps?”
“How are your periods? Do you get a lot of cramping?”
Her face tightened and she drew up her knees. “Not really.”
“When was the date of your last period?”
The girl’s eyes flicked to the doorway then back to Asjhone. “I don’t remember. Sometime last month.”
“The beginning of the month?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
So about six weeks ago. “Are your periods normally late?”
Tears filled the girl’s eyes.
“Jackie, talk to me. We can’t help if we don’t have all of the facts,” she said softly.
The girl’s lower lip trembled then her eyes widened. Dad had stepped back into the room.
“How are you doing, sweetie? Is it getting worse?” He looked to Asjhone. “Can we give her anything to help with the pain?”
Jackie avoided her gaze. Asjhone held back a sigh and addressed the dad, “I’ll check with the doctor.” She caught up with Behall at the hub. “I think Jackie’s pain might be in her uterus.”
Dr. Behall didn’t lift her gaze from the chart she was scribbling in. “And why would you think that?” Her tone was . . . Asjhone tried to think of a different word but nothing else came to mind. Bitchy. The doctor was being bitchy.
“When you pressed on her lower abdomen, she stiffened. And her period is late. She was vomiting regularly last month. When I questioned her about it she grew scared.”
“Is she sexually active?”
“I didn’t get a chance to ask before Dad came back.”
Dr. Behall closed the file she was working on and handed it to one of the clerks behind the desk. “Get some urine, send it to the labs.”
Asjhone followed the doctor down the hallway. “If I could get the dad out of the room, I could talk to her again. She was about to—”
“Don’t you have other patients? Just run the test.”
Heat filled Asjhone’s cheeks as she lowered her gaze. “Of course,” she said. No one should be able to make you feel inferior. “Actually, it’s not okay.” Her voice shook only slightly.
The doctor stopped, faced Asjhone, raised an eyebrow.
“I’d like to speak to you. In private please.”
“I have another patient to see.”
“It won’t take long.” She motioned to the staff room. The doctor looked as if she might refuse, but followed Asjhone inside.
Tony sat at one of the tables. His eyes warmed when he saw Asjhone then widened when Behall entered behind her.
“What’s your problem with me?” Asjhone said as soon as the door closed. Ouch. She probably could’ve phrased that better.
The doctor stared at Tony. “Leave.”
“I’d prefer he stay,” Asjhone said.
Behall’s tongue ran over her top teeth. “Fine.” She folded her arms over her chest. “I don’t think you’re cut out for this type of work.”
Out of all the things the doctor could’ve said, Asjhone didn’t expect that. “Wh—what? Why?”
Behall smirked. “You really want to hear your incompetencies now?”
“What did I ever do to you?”
“Asjhone, Asjhone, this is the problem. You take things too personal. I criticize your methods and you think I’m attacking you.” She shook her head with a poor-Asjhone expression.
No. She pushed her shoulders back, straightened her spine. “I’m good at my job. I know my job. You don’t have the right to treat me the way you do. If you think I mistreat patients or messed up in some way, then you should’ve talked to me or Bethany.” The nurse manager. “Not just be—” Can’t say bitchy. Can’t say bitchy. “Rude and belittle me in front of patients or co-workers. I won’t tolerate it anymore.”
The doctor’s face hardened. Hatred exuded from every pore. “You’re right,” Behall said at last. “I’ll bring my concerns to your superior.” She stormed from the room.
Asjhone waited until the door swung shut before falling into a chair. Her heart pounded so hard she could barely hear anything else. “What have I done?”
Tony’s hand on her shoulder startled her. She’d forgotten he was there. “You okay?”
“No. If Behall didn’t have it out for me before, she certainly does now. Oh, God.” Her head fell forward into her palms. “Why did I say anything? It was a mistake.”
“No. That was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen. Do you know how many times I wanted to tell off a doctor for their snooty holier than thou personality? They come into the room, spend ten minutes with a patient, then get all the credit.”
She lowered her hand, peering at him.
“Sorry.” He gave a short laugh. “My own issues.”
“Do you think I’m a good nurse?” The question popped out with no forethought. Immediately her cheeks grew warm.
“Are you kidding? Girl, you’re one of the best we have. And I’m not just trying to get you to buy me a drink the next time we go out.”
His face softened. “Don’t let the bitch get to you. What else was she supposed to say, anyway? That she just doesn’t like you? That she’s jealous because Dr. Jones flirts only with you? Behall’s been trying to get his attention for a few months now.”
“Oh, my God. Seriously?” She groaned. “How does Monique spread gossip so fast? She just saw us together like twenty minutes ago.”
Tony’s eyes widened. “Monique was the one who told me the news, but that was days ago. I haven’t heard anything today.” His voice dropped. “What did she see you and Dr. Jones doing twenty minutes ago? Asjhone, are you getting a little freaky at work.”
“What! No. Nothing like that. Dr. Jones just put his hands on my shoulders. That’s it.”
“On your shoulders?” His gaze lowered. “Or do you mean your—”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “I meant my shoulders!”
With a laugh, “Okay, then.” His eyes trailed over her face, expression turning serious. “You sure you’re all right?”
“I’m good. Just need another minute to calm my heart.”
“Okay.” He hugged her. “So brave. You’re my new hero.”
Asjhone sat back in the chair when Tony left. She had the sudden desire to call Sarid. Tell him what happened. But they didn’t exchange numbers. She didn’t even know where he lived.
Was that strange?
No. They’d just met. Besides she could always ask the pastor for his address. He apparently had no problems giving out personal information.
Should she still be upset with Pastor Ken, though?
Her fingers ran over her bottom lip.
They’d kissed. It was quick. Probably should call it a peck. Monique wouldn’t even put it on the same scale. But she’d initiated it. Had liked it.
Her life was changing. Just like she’d wanted.
What would happen next?