Thursday, April 18, 2013
Thursday's Opening Scene from Heart Throb By Janet Lane Walters
Magda Malone jammed her hands in the pockets of her white lab coat and felt the fabric tear. Just what she needed to add a touch of anger to her friend’s sly request. Hadn’t he heard her resounding refusal?
Her jaw clenched and she felt her teeth grind. The temptation to commit an act of violence hovered like a massive thundercloud. She stared out the window of her fifth floor office at Riverview Memorial and shoved her anger into a corner of her mind. The hospital didn’t need the Cardiac Units supervisor to ignite, especially over a personal matter.
Sucking in a deep breath along with a quick count to ten she turned to her colleague and friend. At the moment she wasn’t sure friend was operative. “Repeat your question. I’m not sure I heard you?”
“Would you join us for dinner tonight?” the cardiologist asked.
“That’s not the part of the original question I want to hear. Wasn’t there more?”
“Like I said. Nothing formal. It’s not a party. Just a family sort of thing.”
Magda smiled. “Come on. Spit it out. I need to be sure I’m not going deaf.”
He leaned his hip against the corner of the desk. “Lin and I want you to meet my new partner. He’s her cousin and a really great guy.”
Magda glared. “Ben, let me repeat. What did you want me to do with this man?”
He studied his hands. “Was just a suggestion.”
“And that was?”
“To show him a really good time.” He joined her at the window.
She arched a brow. “A good time as in what?” She thought she knew the direction his thoughts traveled but she wanted to be sure she’d heard him correctly. Her hands fisted. “Does your wife know you’re soliciting?”
“What?” His round face reddened. “That’s not what I meant … well, maybe … just –” He groaned. “Couldn’t you just fine … make him happy to be in Rivertown? If the two of you don’t click you could show him around the … dating scene. You know what I meant.”
He heaved a sigh. "Lin and I want him to settle here.”
Magda shook her head. “Spit it out, Doctor.” Anger oozed from the dark corner and colored her voice. “Just how do you expect me to accomplish your purpose?”
He stared at her. “Anything it takes.”
“No way.” She clipped the words with a razor edge. Would he understand why she was furious?
“Mag, come on. Wasn’t I there for you when you needed a shoulder?”
“I’ll give you that.”
“I need a partner who will settle here permanently, especially now.”
Magda sighed. Ben and Lin had been there when her life fell apart but he was asking too much. “Why me?”
“Men like you and you like them a lot.”
She held up a hand. “Not another word.” She walked to the desk and stared at the stack of folders needing her attention. “I don’t want to lose a good friend but one more word and you’re toast.”
“I didn’t mean you had to … you know.”
She rested her hands on the cool metal surface of the desk. “Let me set the record straight. I choose the men I want in my life. I don’t need anyone fixing me up with a man.”
“I hear you.” He sank on the chair across from the desk. “Lin said you’re bored with the local dating scene. Come to dinner. If you don’t like Eric, you can leave. If you do, who knows where it will lead. Give me a good reason why you’re being so stubborn.”
Was the invitation his idea or his wife? If it hadn’t been for the added incentive she would have believed Lin as the author or the idea. Happily married women always seemed to want their unmarried friends to be coupled. Magda had told her friend about the lack of eligible and interesting men in the area. Did it matter who had dreamed up the meeting? Magda slumped in the chair behind her desk. She wasn’t about to accept the offer today, next month or any year. Her views on the subject had been expressed time and again. “What are my rules of dating?”
“You don’t date where you work.”
“You don’t do doctors.”
“Sounds like you’ve heard me.”
“Loud and clear. This time is different.”
She shook her head. “Been there. Done that. Got burned.”
He rolled his eyes. “You received a nice divorce settlement. Give my new partner a chance. He could be the exception to your rule. What can you lose?”
“My independence. My head. I could face another fractured heard. “Goodbye, Ben.” She pointed to the door. “There’s a whole flock of available women out there who would delight in dating an available cardiologist. I can name a half dozen closer to his age.”
“What’s seven years?” He scrambled from the chair.
“More than half a decade. See you.”
He opened the door. “Eric likes older women.”
“Good for him. Ask Mabel Gray to dinner.”
Ben turned. “Older, not ancient.”
“Tell Lin I’ll call tomorrow. Let her know I feel an urge for shopping.”
He groaned. “Why?”
Magda’s smile widened. “My coming vacation. Your baby-to-be. I don’t need an excuse to shop.”
“Bye.” He closed the door.
Got him. Amusement bubbled to the surface washing away the ashes of anger. Spare me from match-making friends. She reached for the top folder. Her thoughts wandered from the department’s budget to the future.
Four weeks until vacation and she had plans. Sun, surf, moonlit nights at a single’s resort. Meeting men who had no desire for a commitment. She wanted a fling or three that allowed her to escape with an intact heart.
Her whirlwind marriage had ended in a divorce a month after he’d finished his surgical residency. She’d learned a painful lesson. Never date or become romantically involved with a doctor. Since the day the divorce had become final she had controlled her life and only she chose the men who shared her bed.
Her pen skidded across the paper leaving a red streak. Damn you, Ben. Why had he turned her thoughts to days best forgotten? She gripped the pen and returned to the budget proposal.
* * *