Chapter 5 – Professionalism
He wanted to punch a hole in the wall. He walked away from her room with pain and anger coursing through him. How could he be so stupid? She was a patient and he was her doctor. She knew that. Why did he keep forgetting that this was all their relationship was?
She didn’t look at him and see him as a man. To her he was her doctor. That was how it was supposed to be. That was the proper way he should behave. That was what he’d been taught and how he’d operated up until this point in time. He was a professional and not an amateur.
Why was he blurring the line with this woman? What was it about her that had him risking everything? She wasn’t encouraging him. She wasn’t a supermodel, a siren, or Helen of Troy, she was just an ordinary girl. There was no logical reason why he couldn’t get her out of his head. But that was the problem. Despite all rational arguments, she haunted his consciousness. Her face was all he could see when he closed his eyes. She wasn’t classically beautiful, but to him she was perfect. And this made no sense at all.
He finished his shift and threw his things into his locker before heading for his car. He drove faster than he should have, swearing at himself as he punished the steering wheel. It made more sense for her to be with Derek Salter. He wasn’t her doctor.
He parked outside the nightclub and closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the steering wheel. They would make a good couple. He could see them together. His hands on her. Tom threw himself back and slammed his palms onto the leather clad wheel.
This was torture. This was hell. This was wrong. He couldn’t do this. He needed to get her out of his head. He needed to distract himself.
He slammed the car door as he left the vehicle. There was only one cure he could think of. Sex. A warm body, a long night, a sated woman and an end to this aching feeling, that would be his therapy. By tomorrow morning he’d be back to himself. And, more importantly, she would be back to what she should be, a patient not a person.
He handed over the cover charge and walked into the dark venue with the probing lights. It had been years since he’d been out to a club. The last time must have been college. Since then he’d been working too hard, double shifts, keeping up to date, and trying to impress so as the secure the next promotion, which meant that he’d been exhausted during the few hours he’d had away from the hospital. Socialising like this wasn’t a priority.
He took a seat at the bar and look around. Women stood in small groups, drinking or dancing. In the booths there were men and woman huddled together or laughing with their friends. The single men clung to the bar, like he was doing. He ordered a drink and wondered what he was doing here. The women looked so young and wore so little. There was little left to the imagination as the thin fabric seemed to advertise their eagerness. This normally would have been a turn on for him, but tonight it made them look cheap.
He scowled at himself, wasn’t that what he needed, a fast woman? He wasn’t looking for someone who wanted coffee and a morning bagel. He needed a woman who wanted nothing more than a fast and hard night of physical pleasure. Wasn’t that all he ever wanted? He didn’t need anything else.
He stared downwards, into the glass he was holding. Why wasn’t he convinced of this anymore? He felt different. He couldn’t explain it, but it was just a longing for something more. What that meant wasn’t clear, but he couldn’t dislodge the feeling.
“Hi, what did the glass do to you?” she was leaning over the bar trying to get the bartenders attention as she spoke. “You’re looking at that tumbler like it kicked your dog.”
“No dog to kick,” he smiled at the blonde in the red dress that hung from two shoestring straps, “Just a bad day.”
“You think a refill might make the glass less guilty?” she laughed.
“It’s worth a try,” he smiled, “I’m Tom.”
“Nice to meet you Tom,” she sent a hand his way while the other was flagging down the drinks, “I’m Crystal. I haven’t seen you around here before?”
“It’s my first time,” he sent her his cheeky smile that usually worked with the ladies, “Be gentle with me.”
“Gentle? I’d picked you for a guy that liked it rough,” her flirty smirk was centred directly onto him now the drinks had arrived. She turned to him, rubbing her breasts against him, “So Tom, do you dance when you’re not taking out your mood on innocent drinks?”
“I might, but I’ll let you be the judge of that,” he wrapped an arm around her and lead her out onto the dance floor.
It was just after 3am when he left her apartment. He couldn’t remember her name, she’d told him it at the bar but after that the music had been too loud and conversation hadn’t been necessary. He put his shoes on outside the door so as not to wake her. It had been fun. She’d been eager and willing. It had been a good night.
A good night? Really? He walked out of the apartment block and flagged down a taxi. He’d just had a night of raw passion with a blonde bombshell and ‘it-had-been-a-good-night’ was all he could think. How old was he? How jaded did that make him sound? How unconvincing was that statement?
He paid the cab driver and opened his front door. He needed a shower and a lobotomy, anything to stop him thinking. He stood under the hot water and questioned his life. He should be sated. He should be wearing the smile of a satisfied man. She, whatever her name was, wouldn’t be complaining this morning but why then did he feel so lacking?
The water ran over the back of his head as he examined the hollow feeling in his chest. It felt like there was a void where his heart should be. This had never happened before. Usually a night like last night would have him strutting and feeling invincible, not damaged.
He rubbed his chest and wondered again if he was sick. Maybe he should schedule himself in for some tests, just to be sure. Maybe he should book himself in to see the phycologist while he was at it! Hell, he needed another drink.
He turned off the water and dried himself. There was only one solution to this problem. He had to stay away from her. He had to discipline himself back into thinking of her as nothing more than a patient. He could do that. He had to do that.
She wanted Derek anyway. She wasn’t interested in him. He was nothing more than her doctor. And she was right. She was correct to think of him like this. But then why did it hurt.
He lay down in his bed to get a couple of hours of sleep and closed his eyes. In his head the woman he’d just slept with had dark hair and big hazelnut eyes as she rubbed her naked body against his. He groaned and pulled the pillow over his head. He was going to end up an alcoholic if this continued.
The phone next to the bed chimed, a text. He read it and grimaced. His day off was cancelled and he had five hours before he had to be back in there. Five hours. He had five hours to try to get some sleep then he’d be back, he’d see her in five hours. Damn.
He’d expected to have time to rationalise this. More time would allow him to get his head around these bizarre emotions. He needed that time to be able to look at her without feeling the guilt. Guilt surged through him. There was no reason for it. But he couldn’t help the feeling that he’d betrayed her by sleeping with that woman. He’d never felt like this before, but he knew what he was feeling, he couldn’t understand it, but he couldn’t deny it. He felt regret.
She watched the door. The television was on and the sunlight was streaming through the window, but she was watching the door. Chuck was standing there. He was silent as usual. But that wasn’t who she was looking for.
It was mid-afternoon. Doctor Layton hadn’t been in yet. She was quietly disappointed when he didn’t visit her last night. She’d told him no, but she’d still expected to see him. Then this morning, when his shift would have started he didn’t come to see her, and she couldn’t deny the disappointment. Maybe she’d taking things too far yesterday and scared him off.
It was stupid to tease him. He was a doctor. It was his job to be concerned about her. It wasn’t anything personal. Yes, he’d reacted to her but that didn’t mean anything. He was a professional not a teenager. But she still couldn’t help the way he made her feel. For a moment she’d felt special. He was so good looking with his broad shoulders and narrow waist that seemed to advertise the body he was hiding under his clothes. It was stupid, but she couldn’t help it, she was attracted to him.
Detective Salter had visited last night, and she’d met Stan who’d stood at her door all night until Chuck had returned. Derek was hot, with a sexy smile and his long lean body was enticing, there were no mixed signals coming off this man, but she felt the weight of what he wanted from her. She couldn’t remember, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to remember. She didn’t know who she was and the implications of the information he wanted from her scared her. What type of woman was she? How had she been in a position to see what she shouldn’t have seen? Was she mixed up with criminals?
Derek was in the Organised Crime Division. If he was asking her questions then, it seemed obvious, that what she’d supposedly seen wasn’t petty in nature. These people were serious. If she testified against them she would be putting herself in harms way. Would she have to go into witness protection?
She laughed, witness protection? At least she wouldn’t have to give up her life and her career to take on a new identity. She couldn’t remember it, so it wouldn’t be hard to give it up! Actually, it would be almost a relief to have a new identity handed to her. If her memory didn’t return, then this would be better than the alternative.
“How are you feeling today?” the short nurse smiled at her as she pushed a wheelchair to the side of the bed. Her name tag read ‘Catherine’.
“I’m alright,” she bit her bottom lip, “Is Doctor Layton sick today?”
“No,” Catherine pursed her lips and muttered something under her breath before saying, “Not yet, but the day is young.”
“I’m sorry?” Jill was surprised by the venom in the woman’s words.
“Doctor Lay-em is running late on his rounds,” Catherine scowled, “Bastard.”
“Doctor Lay-em?” Jill felt her heart stop, “Bastard?”
“Did I say that? Oh, I shouldn’t have said that,” Catherine pushed a smile onto her face, “Please forget what I just said. It’s against hospital policy for hospital staff to speak badly of the doctors to the patients. Please ignore me, I’m just furious. It’s just a personal issue between Doctor Layton and me. I shouldn’t have spoken ill of him. Please accept my apology.”
“Why are you angry?” Jill asked.
“It’s nothing really, I’m just being silly. You’ll see when he comes in on his rounds,” Catherine busied herself with the wheelchair. Then she lifted her head, cleared her expression, took a deep breath and seemed to start again, “Doctor Layton’s application to have you moved to the ward has been approved so I’m here to relocate you and your hunky guard.”
“Hunky?” Jill smiled, “Chuck will like that. Tell me, once I’m in the wards will I be allowed visitors?”
“Visitors aren’t restricted here,” Catherine looked confused.
“Oh, I just thought that because none came,” she grimaced and fiddled with her fingers.
“Don’t worry,” Catherine smiled, “I’ll come to visit you once you’re in the wards. I’ll visit both you and Chuck.”
“Will Doctor Layton still be my doctor?” Jill glanced sideways at Catherine.
“Yes, Doctor Layton is your assigned doctor, unless you don’t want him,” Catherine looked closely at her, “Do you have a problem with Doctor Layton? You can tell me if he’s done something to make you uncomfortable.”
“No, no, it’s not like that,” she felt the blush on her cheeks.
“Please don’t misunderstand what I said before, Doctor Layton is a good doctor, but don’t you ever tell him I told you that. He’d also an arrogant, egotistical, jerk of a man. But I didn’t say that either.”
Jill didn’t know what to say in response to that, none of those words corresponded to the man who she knew as Doctor Layton. But it didn’t feel right to defend him when she wasn’t anything more than his patient, so she just concentrated on what Catherine was asking of her. She swung her legs over the bed as Catherine sat her up and positioned her to lower her into the wheelchair. Catherine knew what to do and soon had her sitting comfortably.
“So, when I’m on this ward,” Jill pulled at the hospital gown, “Do I get something a little more flattering to wear?”
“Yes,” Catherine laughed. “Just get someone to bring a nightgown in from home and you can get rid of that hideous gown. Just make sure the replacement is appropriate, not too sexy or the doctors won’t be able to concentrate on the charts.”
“Oh,” Jill dropped her head. It looked like she was going to be stuck in this hospital gown for the rest of her stay here.
“But,” Catherine whispered as she pushed Jill towards the elevator, “If you can introduce me to your minder, Chuck, then I might be able to find something for you?”
“Deal,” Jill smiled as she turned to the man who was diligently following, “Charles, can you please give Catherine a hand with the elevator? Catherine, did you know that Officer Charles likes to build model ships?”
“It’s Chuck to my friends Mrs Catherine,” Chuck helped hold open the elevator doors as Catherine pushed Jill.
“Thanks Chuck, and it’s Miss not Mrs,” Catherine smiled, “What sort of ships?”
That was all the encouragement Chuck needed. He spent the rest of the elevator trip and the whole way to Jill’s room telling Catherine about his hobby. Jill took the opportunity to sit back and relax. She found herself looking for Doctor Layton as she was pushed through the busy corridors.
The curtains around her neighbour were closed as Catherine settled Jill into her new bed. She was apprehensive and curious at the same time. Eventually Catherine was satisfied that Jill had all her cords, cables and pipes in the right places and she smiled as she stood back.
“Mrs Grant,” Catherine drew back the curtain, “I’d like you to meet Jill. She’s going to be sharing the room with you.”
“That’s nice dear,” Mrs Grant was easily in her seventies and was sitting up in bed with a little jacket on to keep her chest warm. “Did you have a boy or a girl?”
“I’m sorry?” Jill turned to Catherine for an explanation.
“You aren’t in the Maternity ward Mrs Grant,” Catherine spoke in a loud clear voice, “Your son is all grown up.”
“When is feeding time? Frank will be finishing work soon. I’d like the baby to be feed and settled before he gets here. He doesn’t like to hear young Gabriel crying. We named him after Franks father, you know?”
“That’s lovely,” Catherine smiled at Mrs Grant before she turned as spoke softly to Jill, “Don’t worry about her, she doesn’t understand why she’s here so she’s remembering the last time she was in a hospital. It’s the tumour not her. She’s on her own too.”
“I am not on my own,” Mrs Grant said in an annoyed voice, “Frank’s at work and there’s little Gabriel. I’m going to have my hands full with that one.”
“She’s harmless, don’t worry about her,” Catherine assured Jill in a quiet voice, “Frank, her husband, died a couple of years ago and her son is some high-flying executive that can’t take time off from his work to visit her. It’s sad really. Poor thing. She’s a sweetie really.”
She smiled an encouraging grin to Jill then spoke louder as she turned to go out, “Be nice to Jill, Mrs Grant. She’s about the same age as your son. I’m trusting you to look after her.”
“My son?” Mrs Grant sounded surprised, “My word, another baby, how lovely. Of course, I’ll look after her. My motherly instincts can be relied on, I’m more than able to look after them both.”
“That’s great,” Catherine flashed a sympathetic smile at Jill as she pushed the wheelchair out of the room.
“It’s nice to have someone to talk to. What does your husband do?” Mrs Grant asked but didn’t wait for an answer, “Frank is a motor mechanic. He’s a good man, with a good job, he’ll be a good role model for Gabe.”
“What did you do, Mrs Grant? Did you work after having Gabriel?” she asked to divert her attention from the question she’d been asked but had no answer for.
“Oh yes, I was a teacher. Secondary school. They were rascals but good kids. I taught Geography and History. What about you?”
“I don’t know,” Jill whispered, “I’m here because I have no memory. I’m sorry, I don’t have any children, that I can remember.”
“Oh my, that’s terrible,” Mrs Grant tutted, “Your parents must be worried to death.”
“Maybe,” Jill muttered, “And maybe not.”
Jill could hear the clicking of Mrs Grant’s knitting needles that had suddenly appeared. She seemed to be knitting booties in a baby blue wool. She didn’t ask anymore questions, which was a good thing.
“Good afternoon,” the smooth voice wrenched Jill from her daydreaming. “How are you feeling today.”
“Doctor Layton,” she blinked as she took him in. He looked tired. His eyes had dark smudges underneath them and his hair was even more dishevelled than usual. “Are you alright?”
“It’s my job to ask that. I’m the physician, you’re the patient, Jill,” he grimaced, “Have you remembered anything else?”
“No, not yet,” she frowned, “But Mrs Grant was asking me about my husband and children and, I might be wrong, but I feel like I don’t have either. I’d rather be remembering what I do have but I feel like these don’t exist for me.”
“Derek, I mean, Detective Salter will be happy to hear that,” he said in a sour voice. “All recollections are good at this stage. Trust in your impulses and if they turn out to be incorrect then we will cross that bridge later on.”
“I missed seeing you this morning,” she blurted out.
“I’m sorry,” he looked down and busied himself writing something on his device, “I had commitments. I’ve arranged for you to start physiotherapy. You’ll start tomorrow.”
“What’s that on your neck?” Jill asked her eyes drawn to the dark bruise on Doctor Layton’s neck. It was a circular bruise near his collar that was the size of a large coin.
“What?” he rubbed his neck then moved to the mirror. She heard him swear softly as he pulled up his collar in an attempt to hide it, “It’s nothing. Must have hit myself on something.”
“It looks like a hickie, you know a love-bite, if you ask me,” Mrs Grant said from the bed next door.
“Which we didn’t,” Doctor Layton grumbled in a low voice as he pulled the curtain between the two beds hiding Mrs Grant from view, “As I was saying, tomorrow you will start physiotherapy, so you will be collected by an orderly and taken there in the morning.”
“I see,” Jill said softly as she avoided looking at him and the mark on his neck, that must have been what Catherine was referring to and what had made her so angry.
“Frank used to give me love-bites,” Mrs Grant continued with a giggle from behind the curtain, “When we were just married. He was a tiger in bed!”
“Don’t expect to be walking immediately,” Doctor Layton’s jaw was clenched as he spoke in a stilted voice, “Try hard and be patient.”
“Oh, my Frank was always trying to get some action,” Mrs Grant chortled again, “You look a little like my Frank, Doctor. Did you get some action last night?”
“Mrs Grant,” Jill gasped, “That’s rude!”
“When you get to my age, lovey,” Mrs Grant voice was accompanied by the click of her knitting needles, “There’s no point beating around the bush. You might as well just ask the man. He looks like he’s had a good roll in the hay.”
“That’s none of your business,” Doctor Layton growled.
“Yes, that’s true,” Mrs Grant’s voice had a shrug in it, “But that doesn’t explain why you’re so defensive?”
“I have rounds to do,” Doctor Layton’s back was straight as he headed for the door.
“Doctor Layton,” Jill called to him before he left the room. He stopped in the doorway but didn’t turn, “It was good to see you.”
He nodded his head but didn’t say anything. Then he was gone. Jill narrowed her eyes and turned to the woman who was laughing softly in the bed next to hers.
“That wasn’t very nice,” she said to the curtain that was still drawn between them.
“No? You are probably right,” Mrs Grant sniggered, “But it was fun.”
Jill didn’t know what to say to that. She felt like she’d been jolted back to earth. It was a clear reminder to her that she was his patient. Any interest he’d expressed was nothing more than his job, not personal and the flirting that she’d thought she’d detected yesterday wasn’t there. He wasn’t attracted to her. He was in a relationship and she was just a lost girl with no memory. He felt sorry for her and she’d misinterpreted it for attraction.
“Don’t worry,” Mrs Grant got out of bed and drew the curtains back letting the sunlight into Jill’s half of the room, “He’ll be back, mark my words, I haven’t scared him off.”
“He’s my Doctor,” she huffed, “He has to come back.”
“Yes, but if I’m right,” Mrs Grant said in a sing song voice, “That’s not the reason he’ll be back.”
“Mrs Grant,” an elderly man with a large number of pens crammed into his pocket interrupted, “Have you been misbehaving again?”
“You know me Doctor Peters,” Mrs Grant battered her eyelids at Doctor Peters, “Innocent as charged!”
“Doctor Layton isn’t an easy man to upset,” Doctor Peters looked to the door.
“You flatter me, Doctor Peters,” she winked at him, “It’s lucky my Frank doesn’t hear you flirting with a married woman in the Maternity ward, he’d be taking you outside and showing you the rough side of his boots.”
“Yes, well,” Doctor Peters looked uncomfortable, “Mrs Grant I’d like to introduce you to these Interns.”
“Doctor Peters!” Mrs Grant said with mock indignation, “How many lovers do you think I need? What with you and Frank vying for my attention and now these young men? Oh my, you overestimate me Doctor Peters!”
Jill couldn’t help but laugh as Doctor Peters turned a soft shade of tomato and shifted uncomfortably before he started to describe Mrs Grant’s condition to the interns, with the odd interjection from Mrs Grant. The elderly woman had a quick wit and left no line unanswered. Jill was starting to think that Doctor Layton got off easy.
She closed her eyes and wondered what she was going to do now. She was going to miss the fantasy that was Doctor Layton. She’d spent her quiet days daydreaming about the man and now that wasn’t possible, she’d have to find something else to occupy her time. She looked over at Mrs Grant and wondered if she had another pair of knitting needles stashed in her sewing bag.