Chapter 1 - Angels and Demons
He looked down at the woman lying in the bed as he completed his scorecard. She was cute but not in a knock-your-socks-off way. Yet he suspected that she had the sort of smile that could melt a man. He took in the shape of her, partly obscured by the sheet, from what he could see her body wasn’t bad. She had everything where it mattered, symmetrical and well proportioned. He lifted her eyelid and smiled at the hazelnut with flecks of gold iris that he found. Interesting colouration he noted, but didn’t write that down, instead he scribbled some notes about her pupils and skin colouration while he tried to look like he cared what he was writing.
In reality she was just another statistic. An unclaimed woman lost to her supposed family and friends. She was identified as nothing more than ‘Jane Doe 14562’. The police hadn’t had any luck with missing persons and so, unless she woke up, the poor girl might never be identified.
He looked her over again. There was something about this one that he couldn’t put his finger on. He shrugged, it was probably nothing. She was just another pretty girl who was unlucky in life. He wondered what she was really like. He could judge her on her physical attributes, but her personality was a mystery. She might be a brilliant mathematician with a personality to match. She could be a tree-hugging environmentalist bent on saving the world. Who knew, it was even possible that she was a master of the karma sutra placed on this world with the sole objective of blowing his mind and changing his perspective on the opposite sex. It was possible but just not probable.
At the end of the day, the only thing that mattered was when, if ever, she was going to wake up. And that was something he had no control over. All he could do at this stage was to fill in her chart and monitor her condition.
“Doctor Layton,” a smooth sultry voice had his pen jump mid-stroke, “I’ve been waiting for you to call.”
He grimaced before he turned to face the voluptuous woman in the shorter-than-regulation white uniform.
“Work’s been mad,” he put his pen back into his pocket and returned the chart to the end of the bed. He couldn’t remember her name or what night he’d found himself in her bed, so he just resorted in his stock standard excuse.
“You’re not busy now,” she pouted.
He was about to contradict her, but the door was already closed, and she was pressing her curves into his. It was clear that his body wasn’t as disinterested as he was.
“It looks like someone agrees with me,” she purred as her fingers walked downwards towards the rapidly expanding bulge in his pants. “Do you want to ride the pony?”
Oh hell, now he remembered. This one liked to be slapped on the backside while she rode him. She even made horse sounds. Gawd, that memory alone should soften him. What was her name? He seemed to remember that it started with a ‘J’?
“Jay,” he figured that if this wasn’t her name he could pretend he was using her initial as a nickname, “I’m doing rounds.”
“It’s Helen,” she stopped still for a moment as her eyes narrowed at him. “Who’s Jay?”
“I said ‘Hey’ not Jay,” he frowned at her blonde hair trying to implant that name with her face, “I’ve got rounds to do.”
“Well how about you do me instead,” her fingers had found his zipper, “Jane Doe over there won’t mind and it’s not like we’d be interrupted. “
His eyes went to the woman in the bed. The machinery was blipping and the ventilator was operating in rhythm with the stroking of the skilled hand in his trousers. He considered her offer. He usually tried to avoid public displays of affection, exhibition or public sex. But still he didn’t attempt to stop Helen’s expert caressing. He was bored and she felt so good.
Helen, inch by inch, slid down his body. He looked upwards as his breathing hitched in anticipation. She was on her knees when his eyes landed on the other woman in the room. Even with the tubing going into and coming out of her she outshone the blonde who had her head in his groin. He cringed and subconsciously stepped away from Helen’s eager red lips that hovered millimetres away from his arousal.
“What?” confusion and a hefty slice of anger distorted Helen’s once beautiful face.
He turned away from her as he hid his, still unconvinced, member in his boxer shorts and carefully re-zipped his fly. The woman in the bed was still comatose. She hadn’t moved yet something had shifted within his chest. Maybe he had indigestion or a chest infection? It couldn’t be his heart. That was as healthy as a horses’ heart and he had spent years armouring it against any emotion vaguely romantic.
“Aww,” Helen whinged, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” the word came out harsher than he had intended. He grimaced as he rubbed his hand through his hair. What was wrong with him? Was he really turning away the lusty nurse? It wasn’t like he wanted the woman in the coma.
“Come on Doctor Lay-them, we had so much fun last week,” she licked her lips as she began to unbutton the top of her uniform letting some of her ample chest spill out and giving him a glimpse of red lace.
Doctor Lay-them, he sucked a deep breath in, he knew that was what they called him. He’d heard it before and, truth be told, it was a fairly accurate nickname. Helen had shortened it from Doctor-Lay-them-and-leave-them but maybe that was because she was still living in hope about the leave-them aspect of it.
He looked down at the red lace bra that was barely containing her soft mounds. Her hardened nipples were visible through the sheer gauze that made them look a rich red. He groaned the sound of a man fighting his instincts. She wasn’t just willing, she was begging for it. He could see himself taking her for the pure and selfish enjoyment of it. His eyes flicked to his unresponsive patient and he questioned, yet again, why he was hesitating?
His hands went to the fastenings on his pants as he tore his eyes away from the hospital bed and concentrated instead on skimming them down to the soft skin of Helen’s abdomen that was becoming more and more irresistible with each passing second. Just a quickie, he rationalised, taking her hard and fast before continuing his rounds wouldn’t hurt anyone. Hell, in fact it would save him being distracted by the aching in his lower regions and that had to count for something.
“And in this room we have,” the words were announced as the door swung open on the scene. The elderly man in the white coat with too many pens crammed into the pocket, stopped as his eyebrows arched dramatically upwards. Behind him four bright eyed interns looked up from their clipboards. “Doctor Layton?”
“Ahh, Doctor Peters,” Tom turned away while grabbing the chart from the end of the bed. When he turned back to the group he held it strategically to hide the tent in his pants that he was certain they’d all seen anyway. “Nurse, have you found the pen that I dropped on the floor?”
Doctor Peters’ lips tightened his eyes made it very clear that he didn’t fall for that excuse.
“I’ve just finished the neurological score for this unidentified female,” Tom stepped up so to obscure the fact that Helen was buttoning her uniform while she pretended to search for a pen.
“I see,” Doctor Peter took the paperwork from him while offering the woman on the ground a hand, “Do you need help getting up Helen?” He raised an eyebrow at Tom, “It seems that Doctor Layton doesn’t need any more help with his pen, which is still clearly in his pocket.”
“Ahh, so it is,” Tom smiled, his eyes going to the door. “Well, rounds to do. If you’d excuse me, Doctor Peters, Nurse Jay, I have patients to see”
“It’s Helen,” the now dressed nursed glared at him before she stormed out of the room almost knocking over an intern in the process.
It was only then he realised he had mixed up her name. Why didn’t he call her Helen? For some reason when his mouth had opened Jay had come out instead of Helen.
One of the interns was fighting a laugh as Tom followed the furious nurse into the hall. He was almost free when he was stopped by the words he didn’t want to hear.
“Doctor Layton, a word in the hall, if you please,” Doctor Peters growled before handing the chart to one of the young doctors watching.
Tom muttered a quick curse as he paused mid-step. Escape was so close but instead he pivoted and slouched against the grey wall. He exhaled and turned his face upwards with his eyes closed as he tried to whack some sense into himself by beating his head against the wall in time with the various mechanical noises in the room he had just left emitted. He had been warned before and, if he’d had his pick of all people who he’d least wanted to walk in on him during a moment of weakness, at the top of the list would be Doctor Peters.
“Doctor Layton, Tom,” Howard Peters began as the door closed leaving them alone in the hallway. “What the hell are you playing at? Do you want me to fire you?”
“It wasn’t like that,” Tom tried but even to himself it didn’t sound convincing.
“What was it like?” Doctor Peters stopped and winced, “Scratch that, don’t tell me. I don’t have time for another of your far-fetched tales about how her uniform miraculously fell open and how you were being a gentleman and helping her with her state of undress. You can’t keep doing this Tom.”
“Yeah, I know,” he sighed.
“For one reason, you’re running out of nurses or do you think you can cycle back through them all once you’ve,” he paused as he realised what Tom had just said, “You know?”
“Honestly Howard, I know. I know hospital policy. It’s just this ward, Howard. I need challenges. I need to be in the surgical wing. ICU’s vegetable patch doesn’t do it for me.”
Doctor Peters closed his eyes, but it didn’t hide the roll of his eyes, “Tom you’re a damn good neurologist but you’re not as irreplaceable as you think you are. I’m cutting back your hours and you’ll work in NeuroICU until it does do it for you!”
“What? But this is gardening duty! All I’ll get to do is monitor and fill in charts. Nothing happens here. You’re seriously going to punish me for something I didn’t do by depriving yourself of my surgical skills? You need me where I can make a difference!”
“Difference? The only difference you are making is in the turnover in our nursing staff. And really Tom, you need to learn their names, you’re an educated man and it’s insulting to everyone, including yourself.”
“I do remember their names, most of the time.”
“It’s time for you to grow out of the playboy stage Tom. It’s not doing your career any favours. Find a nice girl, settle down and get married. You’ll have plenty of time to think about it while you work here, where it’s quiet. It will do you good.”
Married, that sent a shiver of revulsion down his spine. Never.
“Come on Howard, I’ll do whatever you want just don’t put me down here. I’m wasted here.”
“You’ve had your chance Tom and I think it wouldn’t hurt you to learn some humility. Plus with less hours you’ll have time to go out and meet a woman. Take the opportunity to find a special lady and woo her.” Doctor Peters’ face crinkled, “Just find her outside the hospital grounds. I’ll have your practitioners licence if I even hear a rumour about you being inappropriate with a patient. I’m deadly serious about that Tom, no second chances.”
“A patient? Hell Howard, they are either asleep, drooling or both on this ward.”
“Even so, you’ve near-on exhausted the nursing staff and I can’t have you moving onto our female patients, irrespective of what ward they are in. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, I remember my Oath Howard. I’ve worked here for five years and have never stepped over that line. I’m not going to jeopardise my career for a woman.”
Doctor Peters looked long and hard at him. He looked like he was about to say something else but instead shook his head and said with a soft voice, “I’ll talk to you in a couple of weeks time and if there are no further incidents then I’ll reinstate you to neurosurgery. Just keep your pen in your pocket Tom.”
Tom waited until the man who was once his mentor returned to his group of students before he dropped his head into his hands as he fought his temper. When that didn’t work he swung himself off the wall, twisting around and landing a solid kick at the wide expanse of plasterboard. He would have punched it, but his hands were his future and thus he couldn’t afford to risk a broken bone. Unfortunately, his outburst did nothing to sooth his wounded ego nor the dull pain in his shorts. He rested his head against the cool wall and swore at himself. He had what it took to be one of the country’s top neurosurgeons. He’d aced all the tests. His performance in surgery, diagnosis, and with patient care was exemplary. He had even been mentioned in an article about new techniques and their successful application. He was a rising star. The only dark spot was his personal life. Howard hadn’t downplayed his womanising. Over the years it had been nothing but a fun side-line but now it was jeopardising his future. This was something he’d vowed would never happen.
Could he change? He had tried to but his status as a womaniser was too well entrenched. Ironically the more his reputation spread the more women threw themselves at him. It was almost as if he was some prize to tame and capture. Woman seemed to view his heart as a trophy. Of course, that didn’t concern him, his heart wasn’t in question. It was the least of his worries. Love wasn’t an option for him, not after the upbringing he had.
Tom had his future all mapped out with diagrams and clear language. He knew what he wanted and it had more to do with reaching the top of his profession, blowing his money on fast cars and a string of hot women than a demanding wife, some snotty nose kid and a house in the suburbs.
But right now his troubles were more immediate. How was he going to survive this exile? It irked him to no end knowing that Anders was going to be picking up all his surgeries. That guy didn’t know which end of the scalpel to hold and would revel in Tom’s failure. He would be smug and if there was one thing that really got up Tom’s nose was that self-righteous prick.
He took a deep breath and turned into the corridor. His rounds weren’t finished and he didn’t need another black mark. That was one thing to be thankful of. If not for Jane Doe 14562, the girl in the room, then he wouldn’t have hesitated and Doctor Peters would have been greeted by a completely different scene. Had that been the case he would have been facing suspension and a permanent record on his file. That would have had long term effects on advancement and make his opportunities with other hospitals very limited. She saved him from a serious mistake. He’d have to thank her for that if she ever woke up.
He had signed off the final chart and was thing about a strong cup of coffee when a finger landed squarely in the centre of his chest. Instead of circling with teasing meaning this finger jabbed with short sharp motion. Tom looked up from the chart into the furious eyes of Cathy. She might have been a foot shorter than him but that didn’t make him any less weary of her.
“Your name is all over the doctor-on-duty board,” the words came out like an accusation. “What the hell are you doing on my ward? Isn’t it enough that I have to put up with you attending the surgical patients?”
“Cathy,” he put his hands up in the air imitating the universal code for surrender.
“It’s Catherine,” her hands went to her petite hips.
“It’s just a little misunderstanding between Doctor Peters and me. Trust me, I don’t want to be stuck down here either.”
“From what I hear it was a misunderstanding between Helen and you, her misunderstanding. I told her you were a two timing, betraying, slimy leech who has delusions of being a Casanova.”
“Now Cathy, Catherine, I never two timed you. We never went out. It was just a hot weekend of great sex.”
“You prick, you said you loved me!”
“It was almost a year ago Cath. I’ve told you this before. I said that I love this - this - meaning sex. I’m sorry if you misunderstood me. I thought I’d made it clear that I wasn’t looking for a relationship.”
“Seven months Tom, it’s been seven months not a year.”
“See, ages ago,” Tom set his eyes on Catherine and lowered his voice, “You’re a beautiful woman, what we had was mind blowing, but I’m not the man for you. I’m just not relationship material. You deserve a man who will dote on you. Let go of the past Cath and go find that man.”
“You are such an ass,” Catherine scowled, “Don’t you realise that we talk? Do you think that I don’t know that’s exactly the speech, word for word, that you gave Sonya three months ago?”
“Ah,” he grimaced, Sonya? He couldn’t remember that. But she was right, he’d used that line too many times.
“Look Doctor Lay-‘em you’re on my ward now. If I’ve got to put up with you as the doctor-on-duty then you’re going to stick to my rules. You stay away from my nurses. If I so much as hear a whisper about you touching one of my girls I’ll conduct my own surgery on you and mount the off-cuts over the nurses’ station. Do you understand?”
“Come on Cath, don’t be like that.”
“It’s Catherine, and yes, I’ll be exactly like that. And don’t think I won’t find out. Maybe while I’ve got the scalpel out I’ll call down Doctor Hill, she’s been fantasizing about giving you gender reassignment surgery for some time.”
Tom sucked in a deep breath and took a step away from the small woman with the killer glare. It wouldn’t surprise him if Doctor Faith Hill did just that. If Catherine carried a grudge then it was fair to say that Faith carried a battleaxe.
“Fine Catherine,” his hands went back up. “I’ll stay away from them but how are they going to stay away from me? What am I suppose to do when they throw themselves in my path?”
“Be a gentleman not a man-whore! Isn’t it about time you started thinking with the head on your shoulders not the one in your pants?” she couldn’t help but rub her forehead in the hope of soothing away the headache that was Doctor Tom Layton. “I’m not joking Tom. Stay away from the nurses on this ward. Go break hearts somewhere else. I’m sure you can find another pool of women just crying out for your philandering ways.”
She had a point. Maybe it was time he broadened his scope. With this time off and his new schedule, he’d be able to visit that new nightclub.
“Charge Nurse White?” a young nurse appeared in the doorway. She blinked and stood there with an open mouth as her eyes went to Tom.
“Nurse Attwood?” Catherine’s bark had the girl in the door jump, blink rapidly again and drag her eyes back to her superior, “You were saying?”
“The patient in room 364 is stirring.”
Both Catherine and Tom pushed past the junior nurse and ran out of the room. It was rare that someone woke and being on hand when they did was crucial. Plus it would be the only exciting thing that would happen all week and everyone would be talking about it.
“Please tell me she’s not one of yours,” Tom jutted his head back to the brunette who was following them.
Catherine gave him a look that spoke a thousand words before sneering, “You’ll probably have to pee sitting down afterwards.”
“Fine,” he huffed, but then stopped suddenly causing the girl to plough into the back of him. He twisted and caught her, setting her back on her feet, before he turned back to the door that Catherine had continued into.
“Thanks, Doctor Layton,” the girl behind him was blushing as she bit her lip.
Any other day he would have turned his charm on, smiled his steamy grin that had them melting in their panties and enjoyed the look on nurse Attwood’s face. But not today, today he stood outside room 364. This was Jane Doe 14562’s room.
He could hear her elevated heart beat as she twitched as if in a dream state. The phone in his pocket rang. He ignored it, shook his head and pushed himself into the room.
“Doctor Layton,” Catherine was holding a syringe, “Now many cc’s of sedative should we administer?”
He glanced at the figure in the bed, taking in her body and doing a quick calculation before he answered the question. It was standard procedure to sedate the patient as they came around, for their own safety as they tended to be aggravated and confused. He watched the monitors as Catherine injected it into her IV line.
His phone was still ringing so he pulled it out of his pocket and silenced it.
The Jane Doe’s head pushed backwards as her throat constricted around the ventilation tubing. Her head twisted around as she fought against the nurse who had moved to hold her still.
“Her gag reflex is returning,” Catherine said for the Junior nurse’s benefit.
Tom didn’t hesitate, he ripped the tape off and with careful skilled movement he withdrew the piping that entered her mouth and assisted her breathing. There were now several nurses in the room positioned around the bed to prevent the patient from pulling out any of her lines while she became more aware. He didn’t even look as he handed the extracted ventilator back to one of them.
The woman in the bed coughed and her nose scrunched up as her eyes opened. Her mouth moved without any sound until a nurse positioned a straw in it and she drank the water.
“Can you tell us your name?” Tom prompted as he shone his penlight in her eyes to check her pupil dilation. “Do you know where you are?”
His phone rang again. The woman looked up at him with her wide hazelnut eyes. He grimaced as he put the phone to his ear, he had to answer it as it was his internal contact number.
“Busy, call you back later,” he rattled off.
“Doctor Layton, the police are on their way. It’s your patient Jane Doe 14562, she’s been identified,” the operator almost yelled down the phone.
“What?” his eyes went back to the pretty dark haired girl in the bed. “Explain?”
“They’ll fill you in when they get there. All I’ve been told is that she’s not to be left alone, I repeat, she must not be left unattended.”
“Fine,” he muttered as he looked into her innocent looking face. He dropped the phone as he questioned what she could have done that was so terrible?
Her lips parted as the straw left her mouth. Her eyes didn’t leave him.
“Can you hear me?” he tried again, “What is your name? Do you remember the date?”
She wet her lips and with a croaky voice whispered, “You must be an angel, because you are so hot!”