When the mother and daughter pair stood, I breathed a sigh of relief that I had pronounced her name correctly. The mother was notorious for picking fights with nurses who mispronounced or even misspelled her daughter’s name. I could only wish she decided to pick a fight with Omen. Now that would have been a good movie.
Unlike her mother, the daughter of the pair, Sidney, cowered behind her mother’s looming frame, something that vexingly reminded me of Doctor Romanoff and our meeting the night before. His words echoed in my mind, his lips tantalizingly close to my ear, ghosting over my neck as he let me pass.
As Sidney approached me, I shook myself out of my daydream. I didn’t want to be Mrs. McLees’ next victim.
“Good morning, Sidney,” I said, smiling down at the ten-year-old. “How are you doing today?”
She blushed, shuffling on her feet.
“I’m fine,” she squeaked, her dark hair covering part of her face. Her mother remained stiff beside her, running her eyes over me as though I were a piece of an article that she was inspecting.
I nodded. “That’s wonderful,” I said, repeating my lines like I was in a movie. I had said the words so many times that now, it was like second nature to plaster a smile on my lips and indulge in airy conversations.
“Will the doctor be seeing her now?” Her mother snapped as I led them to the weight scale.
“Uh...” I looked down at the clipboard, realizing that even I didn’t know who her doctor was. I grimaced when I caught the cursive script of Nikolai Romanoff on the page, but I should have guessed that a widowed mother would specifically ask for Nikolai out of all the doctors.
“He’s currently with another patient, but he should be with you shortly,” I said, gesturing to the two chairs by the weight and height scale. “Take a seat. I’ll need shoes and jackets off to take the measurements.”
Wordlessly, Sidney complied with my request, slipping her shoes and sweatshirt off and stepping on the stool. Her mom tapped her foot impatiently on the ground, her eyes darting around the room in hopes of catching a glimpse of Nikolai’s frame.
“Hm…good,” I mumbled, scribbling the numbers onto the clipboard to add them to her computer file. “Now on the weight scale, please?”
Again, I tallied the digits appearing on the bar, nodding for her to take a seat. I played in my head what would happen next. I would lead her to a room, get things ready for Nikolai, and leave to get her medications or any prescriptions he would prescribe for her. My life ran on repeat, from morning to night. I was used to it, but that didn’t mean that I liked it.
“How long will the doctor take to see her?” Mrs. McLees asked, her voice sharp and just as pointed as her nose.
I shrugged. “I don’t know, Ma’am. I assume he’ll be with you in a few minutes, once I bring you to your room.”
“None of you nurses know anything, do you?” I heard her grumble under her breath as I led them to the nearest vacated room. Internally, I sighed with relief when she chose not to pick a fight with me, clipping Sidney’s scores onto the door for Nikolai to take.
Nikolai. Only two days of speaking with him, and we were already on a first-name basis. I didn’t even know anything about him, and here I was, getting pink-cheeked and hot with his name glued to my mind.
“Is everything finished here?” Nikolai’s smooth, deep voice questioned from the doorway of the room. I saw Mrs. McLees stiffen and Sidney slump, and I hastened to nod, rising from the computer.
“Yes. I already took height and weight. The blood-pressure machine is with Amara and her patient, so I wasn’t able to get that done,” I replied, speaking as though I were speaking to my boss. Technically, I had to speak formally to him in the workplace, since he was higher in the ranks than I was.
Nikolai nodded, his pink tongue gliding over his pale lips. “Would you mind grabbing it from her quickly while I check Sidney’s vitals,” he asked, smiling at the cowering girl. “I’d like to make sure all her information is updated.”
His eyes caught mine before I could avert them, and the dark orbs boiling into mine, holding me firmly.
I swallowed thickly.
“Y-Yes, of course,” I replied, darting out of the room before he could say anything else to me. Usually, I was supposed to wait until he nodded to me, an inside signal to leave, but I couldn’t stand staying under his eyes anymore. He had slipped his sunglasses on by then before Mrs. McLees could see the shade of his alluring eyes, but I had a job to do.
Why does he have to look so handsome? I cursed to myself. I didn’t know if he was trying to impress someone or not, but today, he’d left his sunglasses in his coat pocket, revealing his eye color to much of the staff in the hospital. His tousled hair was brushed into a curly ponytail, the length of his hair longer than what I expected it to be.
Amara was at the front desk when I found her, toying with the BP machine, a frown on her already hard features. Her golden eyes were firm on the pump, her lips curled into a near snarl when the medical device beeped in rejection.
“Are you using that?” I asked, my chest dropping with the exhale I had forced inside when Nikolai appeared in the room.
“No. I’m trying to fix it,” Amara replied. “The damn thing fritzed on me while I was with a patient! Can you believe that? Just my luck. It’s been getting worse than Omen’s luck daily.”
I chuckled. “I’m sure it’s just minor damage to the battery or something.”
“It probably is. I don’t know why I’m spending so much time on it. You should use another one, though. I think we have more in the storage room,” she said, setting the BP aside for the repair box.
“Since when did we get more supplies? I thought you weren’t ordering from Bloodhound until next week?” I asked
“Nikolai and Omen needed a few urgent things, so I ordered in early,” she said. Then her eyes narrowed. “Why do you need the BP machine?”
“Uh…I’m a nurse?” I stated, as though the reason was an obvious one. Amara glared at me, and I laughed. “Actually, Nikolai needed it. He wants to get all of Sidney McLees’ vitals and I was only able to get her height and weight.”
“Okay. Nikolai does like to be fully informed about his patients during their next visit, anyway.” Amara agreed. She turned away from me, then, looked back at me again, her eyes wide. “Wait…what did you say?”
“What did I say?”
“What about him?” I asked. “That he needed the BP machine?”
“No…you called him Nikolai. Not Doctor Romanoff. Nikolai…”
Amara’s frown slowly morphed into a grin, and again, I felt my stomach churn and stir.
“It’s nothing of importance,” I grumbled before she could say anything, turning to leave for the stock room.
Amara wasn’t taking my answer, however. Her hand shot out from underneath the table, firmly gripping my wrist. Memories flooded my mind of Nikolai’s cold aura approaching my hand the day before, as if to pin them behind my head, and I flushed.
“Nikolai doesn’t let anybody call him by his first name,” Amara said. “At least, not anybody he doesn’t know. And if my memory serves me well, he’s only interacted with you once.” She grinned. “Got anything to say, Varsha?”
I scowled, jerking my hand out of her grasp. “I don’t have anything to say, Amara. We’ve only talked twice, and the second time was—!”
My eyes caught the blinking light coming from Amara’s open computer screen, and I blanched. Had I really been standing there for ten minutes already?
“Was what?” Amara asked, her eyes burning into my body.
“Mind if I explain later? He should be waiting for me and the machine,” I asked, refraining from letting the sweet taste of Nikolai’s name burn on my tongue.
Amara regarded me for a cautious moment, then let go of my wrist, gesturing to the supply closet in the hallway behind her.
Omen was loitering by the room when I got there, his scrubs covered in blood and some dark liquid that I refrained from asking about.
His black eyes jerked up as my clicking footsteps approached him, his frown pulling into a tentative smile.
“Hey, Varsha,” He greeted. “How are you?”
“I’m doing alright,” I said, wiping my forehead. “What about you? What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for the final bits of the surgery to finish,” he said. “And I’m doing okay. Do you need anything from the stock room?”
“Yeah. Ni—Doctor Romanoff, needed the BP machine. Amara had taken it, but it’s broken, so she told me to get one from the supply room,” I explained, reaching for the silver doorknob.
Omen grinned. “She couldn’t get it herself?”
I shook my head. “No. You know how she’s allergic to silver.”
“Just like I’m allergic to church,” he grumbled, wincing good-naturedly when I tapped his shoulder, scolding him.
“You’re just as bad as Paris,” I grumbled, rolling my eyes fondly as I searched for the machine and pump.
“I heard she was being a bit of an ass,” he commented.
“She is. She thinks she rules the world and can control anyone. I’m trying to teach her, but it’s hard, you know?” I swallowed. “Sometimes, I wonder if she even loves me or not.”
“Don’t say that.” Omen squeezed my shoulder. “Of course, she loves you. You’re her big sister. You’d do anything for her, Varsha.”
I smiled. “If only she could see it the way you do. How’s your husband?”
“He’s doing okay. He recently got into the baby fever that’s going around.”
“Ooh. Finally planning on having a family, Omen?” I teased, playfully shoving him.
Omen chuckled. “I’m not sure, if I’m being honest. He wants kids, but I’m not sure if I want them. I don’t mind them, but to raise them and live with them 24/7...” he shivered.
“I love kids,” I said. “But I can’t have them, anyway.”
He frowned. “You can’t? Why?”
“I think the doctor said something about tangled tubes, or something along those lines.” Tears burned at the corner of my eyes, but I forced them away, shoving a box aside. “Beastly bad luck, huh?”
“It sure is...” Omen’s dark eyes looked away from mine.
I ignored him, searching through clouds of yellow dust and piles of brown boxes for my main objective. I didn’t want to let Nikolai down.
“So...how’s Martin? I—I heard about his bully problem.”
“I’m hoping that it changes in college,” I said, sighing. “I have to admit, I expected the backlash that would come with having a gay brother, but I didn’t expect it to go as far as bullying!”
“That’s Bloodhill, Varsha,” Omen shrugged, his words bitter. “They take something out of the ordinary and craft it to make it look like the devil himself.”
“It’s not fair, though,” I mumbled. I peeled the tape off a box, revealing the teal pump I was looking for. Now, if only I could find the machine.
“Who’s the kid you have today?” Omen’s questions flowed out of his curled mouth one after another, but I didn’t mind it. He provided a short-lived, but a well-needed distraction from the real world.
“Sidney McLess. You know her mother, right?”
“Oh. The Bitch, you mean?”
I giggled. “Yeah. She also likes Dr. Romanoff.”
“What woman in Bloodhill doesn’t like Nikolai?” Omen question, stopping me before I could answer. “That was rhetorical, before you say anything, but still. Every woman, and even some men, dream about Nikolai. I can’t blame them, though. He is handsome.”
“He is,” I agreed. “But there has to be more to him than his looks, right?
“There is a lot more to Nikolai. There’s so much more to him, but nobody really cares about that.” He winked at me, slow and sly. “But maybe you do, and maybe he’ll see that, if he can take his glasses off and stop being so blind.”
“That’s...kind of contradicting,” I admitted, “But thanks, I guess?” I reached for the blinking BP machine, smiling at Omen as I stood. “I’ll see you around, yeah?”
“Of course. You know where to find me if you ever want to get away from your bratty princess at home,” he said, grinning and winking again, his dark, fiery eyes following me as I trailed back to Sidney’s room.
I caught Nikolai in the middle of speaking when I arrived, but waited for him to finish before I walked in. I didn’t want to fuck up any chance I had with Nikolai, if that chance even existed.
“Excuse me?” I cleared my throat, biting my lip as I entered the chilly room.
Nikolai’s eyes wandered over my frame quickly, darting from my drawn lip, to the machine resting in my hands, to the exposed skin of my uniform.
“Ah, you got the machine.” He took it from my arms, his fingers brushing against my wrist for a few unneeded moments before he pried the BP from my grasp, smiling at me. “Thank you, Miss. Myrah.”
I dumbly nodded, standing idly by the door. Heat crashed into my cheeks at full force, my stomach jumping and flailing madly in my chest. Why was Nikolai making me feel like this? Why did I feel so giddy? So girlish? Why did I feel like a teenager in love?
“Hm...your blood pressure is just fine,” Nikolai murmured after a few moments of squirmish silence. “For now, I would suggest giving her Melatonin for her sleep issues. if she still can’t sleep, come back and we’ll try something else, alright?”
“Of course!” Mrs. McLees replied eagerly, and I had a feeling that somehow, the Melatonin wouldn’t work for poor Sidney sleep issues.”
“Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug, so you don’t need a prescription to buy it,” Nikolai continued, rising from the squeaky chair every doctor wanted to use. “It was a pleasure meeting you both. Just check out at the counter with Amara, and I’ll see you in...two months.”
He smiled warmly at Sidney, any trace of his smug smirk invisible on his lips. He shook her mother’s hand, who held on for a bit too long before realizing how awkward it looked and letting go. She dragged her daughter out of the room, turning her nose up at me.
I raised my eyebrow, watching her go with a sigh and a slump. She was my last patient. My day was now complete.
A cold hand fell on my shoulder, one that drew shivers out of me.
I turned, Nikolai’s dark eyes capturing mine once again, holding them hostage.
“Was that your final patient?” He asked, leading me out of the room with an arm around my shoulders.
I blushed, pulling my lip between my teeth again. “Yeah. I’m not going home, though. I have to meet with Amara to talk about...something.”
Nikolai nodded, smiling languidly. “Do you know what’s so funny?”
“Every adult female guardian or patient of mine seems to think that I am blind to their attraction,” he said, dropping Sidney’s clipboard onto the file cabinets. “Maybe it’s because I wear glasses? I’m not sure. Is that normal?”
I laughed. “Well, they probably think that you’re oblivious to their attraction for you. You don’t exactly acknowledge it...”
“But I don’t have any attraction for them,” he said. “Do I still acknowledge it?”
“Mm, no. It’s better to leave it be, then. Leave their hearts bent, but not broken,” I decided, leaning closer to him.
Nikolai grinned, flashing his pearly white incisors. “You seem to know a lot about love. Or, romance, rather.”
I shrugged. “Not really. I just watch a lot of romance movies.”
“Ah. No boyfriend? Or girlfriend?” He asked, leading me to the staff room.
“No. I don’t have any time for that.”
“Do you wish you had one?”
Nikolai pulled away from me, pinning me to the wall beside the coffee machine. His eyes trailed over the movement of my throat, paying special attention to my neck.
I tried not to move, what with his hands firm on either side of my body. He held me steady, keeping me against the crumbling brick behind my back.
“I said, do you wish you had one?”
His voice had dropped to a seductive purr, his pink tongue sliding over his pale lip. His eyes now not only held my own orbs, but also my entire body.
My knees buckled, and he gripped me, holding me against him, but still also against the wall. My words died in my throat. His lips were so close...
Nikolai cupped my jaw, tilting my head back. Nobody else was in the breakroom.
Nobody but us.
My mind drew back to the many hallway make-outs I had witnessed in my college and university years. I dreamed of that happening to me, and while it wasn’t exactly the same context, here I was, pinned to the wall and close to kissing Bloodhill’s hot doctor.
But not there.
The door to the staff room slammed open and Nikolai and I jumped apart just in time to meet Amara’s glowing, golden eyes.
“Everything okay, Amara?” I asked shakily, struggling to control the increased tempo of my heart.
“Yes. You look...unamused,” Nikolai murmured, carefully picking his words.
Amara’s eys swievled from Nikolai, to me, to the close proximity of our bodies.
“No...nothing bad. I’m just...thinking.”
She strode over to me, loping her arm around my shoulders. Unlike Nikolai, her grasp was hot and harsh, investigative.
“If you don’t mind, Nikolai, I need to borrow your little friend here...for a very very long chat.”
She didn’t give me or Nikolai a chance to speak. She put more force around my shoulders, dragging me out of the breakroom and into the near empty hallway, close to where the examination rooms were.
“So...what’s up?” I asked.
Amara grinned devilishly at me. “Get your things. We’ve got a lot to discuss.”
The park had just barely anybody, the swings idle and the slide bare. Amara led me to a vacant bench by the swingset, dropping me on the bench and plopping across from me on the damp metal swing.
“So...” I glanced around the trees. “What did you want to talk about?”
Amara reached into ther pocket, bringing out a bright purple lighter and a pack of cigarettes, the same brand Nikolai was using. She lit the tip of the cigarette, dangling it from her lips.
“I think Nikolai likes you,” she revealed, speaking as though she had discovered the meaning of life.
I frowned. “You think he likes me?” I repeated.
She nodded. “Oh, absolutely. Haven’t you realized it?”
I shook my head. “No...Why do you say that?”
She hadn’t seen our interactions, nor had she witnessed our near kiss in the breakroom. Where did this come from?
“Well, I’m not 100% sure, but I have seen Nikolai looking at you a lot,” she said, briefly taking the cigarette out to blow a puff of smoke. “He’s also mumbled your name a couple of times.”
“So? He could just dislike me.”
“I doubt it. I’ve seen the way his eyes thaw around you, Varsha. His fa—!” Amara broke off, pausing. “He’s been showing more signs of attraction towards you. More than to anyone else he’s ever met. I can’t really describe it, though, but I know he likes you.”
“How old are we, ten?” I chided. “There is no like anymore, Amara. Now it’s only love, or fuck. That’s it. You either love someone, or you fuck them. There is no like. Besides,” I looked away. “Who would like a girl like me?”
“You mean an intelligent, fiercely loyal, beautiful young woman like you?” Amara beamed. “Yeah, a lot of guys would, actually. I told you, Varsha. I can’t explain it, but I have a feeling deep down that Nikolai has some type of attraction to you.”
“I hope he just doesn’t want to fuck me,” I said, unable to deny the spark of excitement at the prospect of Nikolai liking me.
Amara grinned. “No. Nikolai loves before he fucks. I know him. He’ll probably romance you, pretty soon, at that.”
“I can’t really tell if he likes me, though,” I said. “He always hides his eyes behind his glasses. I can hardly read them.”
“That’s because...um...“Amara flicked the sputtering cigarette aside, the roll bouncing into the forest. “Well, I’m not too sure. You’d have to ask Nikolai why he wears them.”
From the amount of times Amara stammered, I had an inkling feeling that she knew why Nikolai wore glasses, and she just didn’t want to tell me why. I didn’t blame her, though. He probably told her not to say anything.
“That’s okay,” I said, eyeing the third cigarette she pulled from her pack. “I guess I’ll see. He’s coming to my house tomorrow.”
“Paris and Martin have an appointment with him.”
“Tomorrow’s—Oh! Tomorrow's Friday, I forgot!" Amara said. "It's the full moon!"
I smiled. "Why do you like the full moon so much?"
Amara grinned, wiggling her eyebrows. "Because I'm a werewolf, that's why," she teased, her eyes darting towards the flourishing forest behind us.
"I'm excited for you, you know," she mumbled after a while.
I turned my attention from the rising moon to her. "Why?"
"Because Omen and I have been betting on you and Nikolai getting together. I bet in your favor."
Amara shrugged sheepishly when I glared at her, then said:
"But in all honesty, you and Nikolai are more alike than you think. You're both hard-workers, quiet, but really good friends. You compliment each other, and I think you guys will work well together."
"You think?" I asked, twidling with my thumbs.
Amara winked. "I know so. Believe me, if Nikolai talks about you to himself, who knows what he dreams about you."
"If he does," I murmured, biting my lip.
"He does, trust me. It's been years since I've seen color on Nikolai's canvas-like cheeks. You make him feel things he hasn't felt before."
"You talk as though you can sense his feelings," I said playfully, rolling my eyes as I stood.
"You never know," Amara drawled, her piercing golden eyes glowing predatorily in the moonlight. "But, can I give you a word of advice, Varsha?"
"...Sure. What is it?"
"Be careful, okay?"
"Just...promise me you'll be careful, with Nikolai."
Amara leaned closer to me, the cigarette smell cradling me again, just as it had the night before with Nikolai.
I swallowed. "O-Okay. I promise."