Hero - Michael
Though he wished for time to eat a hearty breakfast, on the way to the hospital, he stopped at a deli for an egg and cheese bagel and a huge coffee. Ten minutes later, he sat in the doctor’s parking lot and ate like a starving man
After stuffing the remains in the take-out bag, he slid from the sedan and brushed crumbs from his clothes. He scanned the lot. New car added to his list of wants. His fuel-economy sedan looked like a waif among the luxury sedans and sporty models. He strode toward the entrance.
“Michael, slow down.” The senior partner of the surgical practice waved.
Michael waited for Dr. Probst. “Good morning, sir. I didn’t expect to see you here so early.”
The gray-haired man smiled. “Always the first. Good to see you’ve the same habit. Three cases on the schedule. First one’s at nine.”
“Will I assist?”
“Eager to get your hands in?”
Michael grinned. “Sure am, sir.”
Dr. Probst chuckled. “How well I remember those days. Before we head to the OR, we’ll make rounds. I’ll show you the surgical unit.”
“Sounds good.” Though he had visited the hospital when he’d been recruited, he hadn’t been impressed with the unit.
“We’ve a new nurse manager. Young, efficient. Has performed miracles during her five months in charge. She’s cracked down on the staff. You’ll like her.”
Michael studied the older man. Was he being set up? Not going to happen. Casual affairs were his speed. He thought about the nurse manager he’d met when the guys in the practice had wined and dined him. She’d been old, steely-eyed, with a thin-lipped smile, making him think young doctors were to be trained like puppies. Young might mean any woman under sixty. If the new nurse manager was attractive and would be interested in a fling in the company of a man with a five year plan, he might give her a try.
They rode the elevator from the basement to the second floor. When he saw the nurse at the counter with a phone in her left hand and her right poised over a keyboard, he halted and fought the urge to run.
“No.” He groaned. “Impossible.”
“Something wrong?” Dr. Probst asked.
Michael cleared his throat. Don’t be an ass. “I never expected to see…” Help! His inner voice shouted the final word of his nightmare.
“Zelda, come and meet the new addition to our group.”
Michael sucked in a breath. The bane of his youthful existence left the computer and sauntered toward them.
His throat constricted. His gut churned. “You work here?” Duh. Could his foot fit any tighter in his mouth? Why else was she dressed in a white uniform? And the lab coat spelled administration. He took a second look. The uniform fit her slender body to perfection.
Dr. Probst beamed. “Guess you know each other. Zelda is our miracle nurse manager.”
Figured she’d find a way to plague him. He didn’t like the ideas swarming like gnats in his thoughts. He batted them away. Sure, Zelda was attractive and probably efficient, but she was a cyclone centered on destructing Michael West MD. Like visions seen by a drowning man, incidents flooded him. She had swamped his high school romance with Allie, and sent depth charges into his summer fling with Bette.
Every time Zelda entered his space strange events occurred. He tripped over invisible cracks in the sidewalk, dropped drinks and plates of food. In her presence, he was an accident primed to happen.
His gaze focused on her. Boy had she changed. Short curly brown hair, bright blue eyes, slender figure with tantalizing curves. An urge to taste her kissable lips made him take a step toward her.
Whoa. This is Zelda. Not a chance. He enjoyed living. His hands fisted and he tore his attention from her to his partner’s briefing on the recovering patients and the ones awaiting surgery.
Zelda added comments, reported changes in conditions and mentioned existing or pending problems.
Michael realized she ignored him more effectively than he did her. Still, he knew plans for destructing his life stirred like a rising volcano in her head. They always had.
“Mrs. Greene’s going home today,” Dr. Probst said. “She’s to come to the office in a week for staple removal.” He turned to Michael. “Write a prescription for a pain med and antibiotics, same as she’s taking here. All the info is on her chart.”
Michael went to the computer and entered his password. He pulled up Mrs. Greene’s chart. He checked her meds and copied them to an electronic prescription. Once done, he sent the script to her listed pharmacy. He finished the instruction sheet and closed the chart.
Dr. Probst laughed. “Took you less than five minutes. One of the reasons we took you on. You can teach these old dogs some tricks.”
Zelda laughed. “Aren’t computers great? No more huge stacks of paper to worry about.”
No more paper airplanes. Where had that thought come from? Then he remembered, Zelda’s many missives sailing over the fence from her yard to his. He hid a smile as an idea of how to head her off and keep their interactions on a strictly professional level came to him.
Heroine - Zelda
Zelda Carter wanted to pinch herself, but she knew Michael’s arrival wasn’t a dream. She’d heard rumors, but hospital’s grapevine bred stories as fast as mold multiplied in a dungeon. She sat at the desk and stared at nothing. Co-workers bustled past. The loudspeaker crackled. The phone rang. She sighed. He had returned home to practice surgery. She would see him every day.
Maybe this time he would open his eyes to the possibilities. Perhaps the strange and awful occurrences wouldn’t happen. Could she find a crack in his stone heart and prove she was the right woman for him?
This time she would find a lure he couldn’t resist. She sucked in a breath and swore the citrus scent of him overpowered the sharper hospital odors.
“Ms. Carter, lab on line one,” the unit clerk said.
Zelda grabbed the receiver and jotted some values she’d wanted checked. She turned to the clerk.
“Karen, if anyone wants me I’ll be in my office.”
“I’ll let them know, boss lady. You need to call
“Will do.” Zelda strode down the hall. She needed to let the staff recruiter know there would soon be an opening for a nurse on the unit.”
She shut the door, reached for the phone and punched her friend’s extension. After
Nan answered, Zelda mentioned the opening. “Need someone with dynamite qualifications. I’ll email you the specifics.” A gasp burst free when she saw the paper airplane perched on the edge of her desk.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.” Her heart hammered. What did he want? Visions of Michael filled her thoughts. She drifted into a dream. His green eyes glittered with interest. He asked for a date.
“Zelda, are you there.”
Nan’s shout shredded the daydream.
“Just spaced out for a moment.”
“What’s he like?”
“The new surgeon. The house is buzzing with rumors and more. Thought I’d come to the one who has surely met him.”
Zelda laughed. “I have first dibs. Don’t you remember him?”
“If I knew his name I might.”
“Think four years ahead of us in school. Think red gold hair, though now it’s a dark auburn. Think broad shoulders, football, basketball, and baseball. Think handsome as sin.”
“Thanks.” Zelda hung up. She smoothed the paper airplane. He remembered the hundreds of notes she’d sailed over the back fence.
Must mean something.
Sure it does. Maybe.
The voice of doubt sounded again. She stared at the words he’d written and started the process of deciphering the scrawl. How could he? She’d loved him for years. Granted he’d ignored her years ago.
Professional. An order. As if she was anything but a professional here. A glance at the signature and she burst into uncontrollable laughter. Your former neighbor.
Tears rolled down her face and she gasped to catch a breath. She couldn’t wait to see his face when he learned she lived in the same building. Heavens, their bedrooms were separated by a very thin wall.
She folded her arms. Michael West, you’re in for a surprise. She brought the note to her nose and inhaled the citrus scent permeating the paper, or maybe her imagination. She tucked the note in her pocket. This belonged in her box of Michael mementos. Had he saved the notes and other items she’d given him over the years? Hope grew like bacteria in a Petrie dish. The missive proved his interest. So did the way he’d watched her this morning. His stares had ignited her body.
Michael, watch out. She would find a way to capture more than his sideways glances. She knew something he was too blind to see. She was his perfect mate.