From MD To Casanova—In A Heartbeat!
The smooth, deeply masculine voice jolted me from my thoughts and I looked up from the chart I was writing in—to see the tanned, handsome face of Dr. Jacob McPhee smiling at me. I smiled dreamily, gazing into his chocolate-brown eyes as I mumbled a weak, “Hi.”
One glimpse of him and all thoughts of patients and charts flew out the window.
“Are you busy?” he asked.
“Me?” I stammered. “Why, n-no. Just doing a little charting.”
“Can you come with me for a moment?” he asked, suddenly very serious as another doctor sat down at the desk and picked up the phone. “I need to ask you something about the patient in room ten.”
I got up and followed him into the hallway, just as I remembered that Jane was the nurse for room ten. My rooms were one through three. But just as I opened my mouth to tell him his mistake, he opened the door to the doctor’s lounge and pulled me inside.
Before I had time to think or process what was happening, his arms wrapped around me and crushed me to his chest, as he locked his lips onto mine in a scorching, passionate kiss. I melted against him, feeling heady, dizzy, and very flattered. After all, he’s a handsome doctor. And I was. . . .
He abruptly released me and raked a hand through his mass of dark, wavy hair, and then looked down at me sheepishly. “Krista, I’m sorry. I just—I really like you a lot, and, I mean—that was totally unprofessional of me. Please forgive me.”
My eyes widened and my mouth opened to chastise him, but I just couldn’t do it. He’s just so good looking, and he looked so contrite at that moment. I closed my mouth, and then opened it again, still in a state of shock over what just took place.
“Of course I forgive you, Doctor,” I said hastily, smoothing my uniform over with my hands, and pushing my chestnut locks back into place.
“I really hoped that you felt the same way about me,” he whispered provocatively into my ear, rubbing my arm gently. “Maybe I was hoping that you would agree to a date, if I were to ask you—later on, that is.”
“B-but Doctor,” I stammered, “I’m—”
“Call me Jacob,” he cut in smoothly. “Just think about it. That’s all I ask.”
“M-married,” I finished, but he was already out the door and I was standing in the doctor’s lounge, all alone.
I shook myself and looked around nervously, realizing thankfully that no one else had seen our escapade, and I sighed with relief as I walked out the door and back to the nurse’s station.
Mrs. Francis, the elderly head nurse who still wears a white, starched uniform and her “flying nun” cap, looked at me knowingly, but she said nothing as she continued flipping through a patient’s chart at the desk.
She knows, I thought, mortified, even though I was certain there was no way anyone else could have known what took place behind that closed door a few moments ago. Even so, I was sure my cheeks were fiery red, and I was probably giving myself away with my own embarrassment. I took a deep breath and sat down, determined to finish the documentation I began before Dr. McPhee interrupted me and turned my world upside down.
“Wasn’t that Dr. McPhee I saw you with earlier?” Rebecca, another RN, came and sat beside me as I charted.
“Yes,” I replied a bit too hastily.
“Well, what did he want?”
I looked at her. Her eyes were shiny and bright, as if she too, were taken in by Dr. Jacob McPhee’s smile and classic good looks.
“Oh, he just wanted to ask me something about one of his patients,” I said, turning back to my work.
“What did he ask you?” she persisted.
“Oh, nothing, actually,” I lied evasively. I surely wasn’t going to repeat what he did ask me! “He got called away.”
“That’s funny,” she said, eyeing me suspiciously. “I didn’t think you had any of his patients today. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe there are any patients of his on this floor at all today.”
“Well, perhaps he was mistaken,” I said shortly, becoming annoyed. Rebecca just gave me a sad smile and walked away.
“Krista,” Mrs. Francis said, coming over to me. “Your patient in room three wants her pain shot. And they’re bringing Mrs. Massey back from surgery any minute now. Make sure you check in on her and see if there’s anything she needs.”
“Yes, Mrs. Francis,” I said, resisting the impulse to roll my eyes. I closed my chart again and decided that it would be an absolute miracle if I finished my documentation for the day.
I’d just graduated from nursing school six months earlier, and after two tries on the NCLEX, I finally passed and got my license. I had been with the hospital only four short weeks, and I didn’t need the complication of falling for anyone on staff—let alone a doctor.
Keith supported me through three years of college, and we finally were beginning to have some semblance of a life together. We were recently able to buy a home, and we purchased a large, newly renovated ranch in the suburbs. It cost a fortune, but it was worth it. I love Keith—I really do—and this attraction to Dr. McPhee was as much a surprise to me as it would have been to anyone.
But when I allowed myself to think about it, I realized that attraction was all it was—probably because it was flattering to receive so much attention from a doctor. However, flirting was one thing. What happened that day was downright dangerous, and if it continued, I knew it could endanger my marriage, and I didn’t want that to happen. For all of Keith’s faults, he’s a good man—the only man for me. I couldn’t allow this situation to continue; I knew that. But Dr. McPhee—Jacob—is so drop-dead gorgeous! Who wouldn’t be flattered? Who wouldn’t enjoy his flirtations?
And yet it was Keith I loved. In our whole three years of marriage, I had never once cheated on him—until that fateful day. Even though Dr. McPhee kissed me first, or took me by surprise, I kissed him back. I enjoyed it. Does that make me a horrible person? A horrible wife? What if the promise in his kiss—a clandestine affair—became a reality? I could not allow that to happen. I would never be able to live with myself if I did. And how could Keith ever forgive me for it? How could he even forgive me for this one kiss? I could never even begin to explain it to him. I just couldn’t.
I had never lied to him before—never kept secrets before. But that day, my entire life changed indelibly forever. I was suddenly a liar, a cheat, and though I was never very good at keeping secrets before, this one I would have to take to my grave—or lose Keith.
“You’re awfully quiet tonight,” Keith said at dinner as I picked at my food while he attacked his plate with great enthusiasm. It was a good thing I had the foresight to put a roast in the crock-pot before leaving for work that morning, because I barely had the energy to serve it when I returned home for the day.
“What?” I asked, my reverie broken.
“I said you’re too quiet. Is something wrong?”
“No. I mean, yes. I, uh, have a headache. That’s all.” That much was true. My temples had been pounding since Dr. McPhee kissed me, as if there was a vice tightening around my head.
Keith gave me a measured look. “Are you sure?”
I nodded and continued to pick at my food.
“Have you taken anything for it?”
“Yes, I took some Advil. It didn’t work.”
There was a moment of silence as he continued to stare at me. He opened his mouth as if to speak, then thought better of it and closed it again. He shook his head and we continued the rest of the meal in an uncomfortable silence.
I pleaded illness and went to bed early that night, but I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned all night long and I’m sure my restlessness helped convince Keith that I really was feeling as poorly as I said I was. He just didn’t realize that my discomfort was caused from being sick at heart.
I groaned when the alarm went off the next morning. I didn’t want to go back to work, where I would have to face the “good doctor” again. I seriously considered calling out, but I was still a new employee—still within my ninety-day probationary period. It was unlikely they’d fire an RN for that with the current nursing shortage, but I wasn’t worried about getting fired. I knew that if I called out, there was no one to replace me. The nurses left on the floor would have to take on my patients and there’s only so much one nurse could accomplish. In the end, the patients would suffer, because a hurried nurse with too much to do is unable to care for her patients properly—and prone to make mistakes, possibly life-threatening ones. In the end, guilt won out and I rolled out of bed, drank a cup of coffee, showered, and got ready for work.
I pulled my hair back into a severe bun, put on my most unflattering uniform, and deliberately wore my reading glasses at the end of my nose to produce what I hoped was a “bookish” look. It was my attempt to armor myself against Dr. McPhee’s attention, however flattering it may be.
“No,” I practiced in the mirror to the invisible doctor. “Absolutely not. I’m happily married. I’ll thank you to just leave me alone, Dr. McPhee.”
I walked out of the bathroom, quietly passing through our bedroom, where Keith was still sleeping. He looked so vulnerable lying on the bed, his light, shaggy, brown hair rumpled across his brow, his breathing slow and even. After all this time, I still found him attractive. I still loved him. I wondered if perhaps this unhealthy attraction to another man was somehow due to the fact that we seldom saw each other anymore.
Keith worked afternoons at the warehouse, and I worked the day shift at the hospital. The rare occasion when he had an evening off was usually when the hospital was short handed and asked me to stay over. Being a new nurse, with a new mortgage, I seldom refused. In fact, the night before was the first night we had been home together at the same time in several weeks, and I blew it. I was quiet and withdrawn and I went to bed early, pleading a headache. If I had any sense, I would have suggested a movie or a romantic dinner out. I sighed heavily, took a deep breath, and started for work.
As I drove to the hospital I thought about quitting my job, and trying to find a new one somewhere else. But then again, I might encounter the same situation anywhere—in any hospital. I heard stories about young doctors, and even older ones, who take advantage of young, inexperienced, pretty nurses. Though I’m not a raving beauty, I think of myself as fairly attractive and even before I met Keith, I never had any difficulty attracting members of the opposite sex.
Though it was flattering to think that Dr. McPhee really liked me, it was very unlikely. He hardly knew me. He met me when I began working at the hospital four weeks earlier, and he occasionally stopped by my floor and briefly flirted with me. And I hardly knew him. He was an intern—that much I did know—and he hadn’t been working at the hospital long enough to have developed a reputation for being a “ladies’ man” yet. Only time would tell.
Perhaps he was even married. I didn’t think of that before. I didn’t really look at his hands to see if he wore a ring or not. I never seriously considered having an affair with him until the afternoon before when he kissed me. . . .
“Pull yourself together!” I commanded myself as I parked the car and walked into the hospital.
Mrs. Francis came up to me right after reporting. “I like your new look,” she said wryly, eyeing my bun. “It may not accomplish what you want it to, however.”
My eyes widened in shock. She did know! But how?
“W-what do you mean?” I stammered, my face turning beet red.
“I think you know,” she said mysteriously and walked away.
As it turned out, Mrs. Francis wasn’t the only person to comment on my new “do.” Rebecca said I looked like a librarian. Two other nurses took one look at me and laughed out loud—at different times. And one doctor came up to me and introduced herself to the “new nurse on the floor.” I decided my new look wasn’t worth it and took the pins out of my hair before noon. But Dr. McPhee never showed up that day. Perhaps he didn’t “like” me as much as he said he did. Why did I feel disappointed?
When I got home later on that afternoon, Keith was home working on the car.
“Hey, honey,” I said, my mood suddenly improving. “What are you doing home today?”
He took his head out from behind the hood of his car for a moment to turn and give me an appraising look. “I told you last week they cut my hours at the warehouse. I figured with you working now, we could afford to lose the overtime.”
“I don’t remember you telling me,” I said, “but it’s nice to have you home for a change.”
“Perhaps you don’t remember me telling you because you weren’t listening,” he said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked defensively.
He gave me a sad smile. “Nothing. Forget it. How was work?”
“Okay,” I said. “Hey, since you’re home tonight, want to go to a movie or something?”
“No thanks, honey. I really need to get this done. You can go if you like. Call one of your friends.”
“That’s okay,” I said dejectedly. “I’ll just stay home and watch television or something.”
I shook my head and went inside to shower and change. I was disappointed at his rejection, but I should have known. Keith doesn’t do anything on the spur of the moment. He likes knowing about things in advance. And it was difficult to plan anything with our crazy schedules. Maybe that was the reason Dr. McPhee’s attention was so appealing to me. Maybe I’d sit at home all night and think about him—about how I felt with his arms crushing me against him, his lips on mine. . . .
I used to feel that way about Keith. But it had been so long since we had done anything romantic together. Before we got married we had some spontaneity, but now everything had to go according to plan. Even our lovemaking diminished to about once a week—sometimes once a month. We were so busy all the time, and when we were home—we were tired.
I saw Dr. McPhee at work the next day. He smiled at me and said, “Hello,” but there were a lot of people around the desk and I was very busy when he came by. It seemed he really wanted to talk to me, but he looked at all the people milling around in the nurses’ station and changed his mind.
Instead he scribbled something on a piece of paper, thrust it into my hand, smiled, and winked at me before he strode off down the hallway. I made a point of looking at his ring finger while he was writing the note, and I didn’t see a wedding ring—yet I knew that didn’t mean anything. Maybe he just didn’t wear one—or had taken it off.
When I opened the paper, my eyes grew wide with shock. I shoved the note into my pocket and tried to close my gaping mouth. On his hastily scribbled note was the name and address of a very fancy hotel, a room number, and the words Friday night, eight o’clock. Please. I took a deep, steadying breath, and tried my hardest to work, but Dr. McPhee’s note and the feel of his kiss were in the back of my mind all day long.
Somehow I made it through the rest of my shift. I buried myself in work so that I wouldn’t have to face the issue, or think about the slip of paper in my pocket that burned my fingers, as if it were truly on fire. I went into all my patients’ rooms at least ten times every hour, asking them if there was anything they needed, anything at all, or even just to fluff their pillows. They were probably getting annoyed with me for keeping them from their rest, but at least they couldn’t claim I ignored them.
When I got home, Keith was watering the lawn. He’s such a good man, and he works so hard, all the time. I couldn’t believe I was actually thinking about meeting Dr. McPhee at that hotel! There had to be a way to fix our marriage so that neither one of us would even consider having an affair with someone else. There just had to be! I vowed to do something about it then and there.
I went in and took a shower, then put on my sexiest, tightest jeans and a low-cut blouse. If that didn’t get Keith’s attention, I didn’t know what would.
He looked at me strangely when he came back inside the house.
“Going somewhere?” he asked.
“No,” I said, smiling. “That is, unless you want to.”
He shook his head. “No, I can’t. I’m going bowling with the guys tonight.”
“Okay,” I replied, trying not to let my disappointment show. I took a deep breath. It was now or never. “Keith, we have to talk.”
“About what?” he asked.
“Can you sit down for a moment, please?” I motioned to the couch in the living room. Keith shrugged, and then sat down on the couch. I sat beside him.
“It’s our marriage, honey,” I began tentatively.
Keith raised his eyebrows. “What about our marriage?”
I threw up my hands in disgust. “Don’t pretend you don’t see anything wrong,” I blurted out. “We’re living like strangers!” I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and tried to explain it so that he could understand what I was feeling. “We never see each other; we never go out anywhere together; we work different schedules; we have separate lives! We don’t even have sex anymore. . . .” My voice trailed off.
“Honey, I love you,” he said softly. “Sure, we’re busy—we’ve been busy for three years. First, there was school. You were gone all the time, and I supported us for those three years. Me—on my income. Now, you’re working, too, and it’s a lot easier financially for us. Sure, we have a mortgage now, but I know I can breathe a lot easier. But then you have to go and sign up for every extra shift that comes up at the hospital. You work forty hours a week and that should be enough, but it isn’t! You work overtime, too. And it’s not like we need the money.” He raked a hand through his shaggy, brown hair and sighed heavily. “I know we have different schedules, but it’s not my fault. Most of the guys where I work have been there for years longer than I have. I’ll be ready to retire before they’ll let me have a day shift. You might be able to change shifts, but I don’t see you doing anything about it. You know, I even told the boss I wanted more time off, but you don’t seem to care.” He paused and shook his head. “It’s almost as if you’re deliberately avoiding me.”
Tears pricked my eyes as I listened to his words. I didn’t want this to turn into an argument. I really just wanted things to get better for us. Maybe it was just no use.
“You know,” he continued. “I thought you’d be happy when I told you I’d be off more evenings.” He looked at my tears and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “I guess I was wrong.” He got up and walked out of the room as I sat on the couch and cried. A little later, I heard the door slam and the unmistakable sound of his car revving up and driving away.
Maybe he’s right, I thought dejectedly. Maybe it’s my fault—all of it. I’m the one who insisted on going to nursing school right after we got married. I’m the one who wanted to work the day shift, even though there are afternoon shifts available. I could try to get a schedule more compatible with his—why don’t I? Am I avoiding him, as he suggested? I don’t think so, but I’m certainly not making much of an effort in this marriage. I didn’t see it before, but now, is it too late?
I went into the bathroom and splashed some cold water on my face. I had to think. I couldn’t go on this way. I had to make a decision, and I wanted to make sure it was the right one. I was still in love with Keith—I was fairly certain of that. It’s just that we seldom did anything fun together and maybe we never did. Maybe I just had my nose to the grindstone for so long that I wasn’t sure how to stop.
I knew that a lot of our problems were my fault. I didn’t want to face that before, but Keith’s words opened my eyes. He also said he still loved me, but how could I be sure of that? Maybe I already ruined what we had.
I decided that there was only one way to find out for sure. If Keith still loved me, I could feel it in his touch. And I needed him that night. I would wait for him to return from bowling—and then I would make my move. I would seduce him. If our marriage could possibly be saved, then I would know it in his arms.
But Keith got home unusually late for bowling, and he was drunk. I was waiting in bed for him in my sexy lingerie, but he stumbled into the room in the dark, and was out before he hit the sheets.
So much for trying to make things work. Maybe it was a sign that I should just go for what’s available. It had been a long time since I felt wanted, or needed, by a man. Maybe that’s why Dr. McPhee’s offer seemed so appealing. Maybe that’s why I didn’t try harder in the first place with Keith.
I was off the next day. Keith slept in, and he was scheduled to go to work at two that afternoon. I decided to go shopping. He was right; we did have plenty of money, now that the both of us were working. I worked a lot of overtime in the last few weeks and most of what I made was still sitting in my bank account. I decided to spend some of it. I bought a sexy, yellow dress, some white, heel pumps, and a white purse to go with my outfit. I didn’t come right out and admit it to myself, but when I did, I realized that I bought the outfit with the sole purpose of meeting Dr. McPhee at the hotel that night.
And I also knew why. It’s because I was lonely. Perhaps it wasn’t Keith’s fault that our marriage was on the rocks, but it surely wasn’t all my fault, either. At least I tried to talk to him about it. At least I made an attempt to correct the problem. And it was obvious that, even though he professed his love to me, he didn’t seem to care about my feelings. If he did, wouldn’t he have stayed and tried to talk to me and work things out, instead of running away? As hard as it was to admit it to myself, I realized that my marriage with Keith was over. And I might as well go for a little happiness of my own, even if it was for just one night in a hotel room with Dr. McPhee.
It was seven-thirty and I was dressed in my new outfit, sitting on the living room couch, trying to convince myself that I should get in the car and go. I was holding the hastily scribbled note in my hand, but I could barely read it through my tears. The truth was that I didn’t really want to go. It wasn’t Dr. McPhee who I wanted to be with—it was Keith. Only he wasn’t there—he was never there anymore.
I couldn’t imagine a life without him. I didn’t want a divorce, but it seemed that was where we were headed. And when I thought about that, I cried all the more.
The front door handle turned, and I looked up to see Keith enter the room with a bouquet of red roses behind his back. He smiled at first, and then when he saw me on the couch crying, he dropped the roses and ran to my side.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” he asked, concerned.
I sniffed. “I—it’s nothing,” I lied. “What are you doing home?”
He looked down. “I felt bad about our argument yesterday. I know I haven’t been the best husband lately. I asked the boss if I could take the rest of the night off so that I could make it up to you. I brought you roses.” He pointed to the floor where they had fallen. “Well, they might be a little crushed now.”
I smiled at him through my tears. “I’m sorry, too,” I said softly. “I really don’t want to lose you, Keith. I haven’t been a good wife, either. In fact, when I tell you what I almost did, you may not want me anymore.”
He hugged me, and said, “I don’t believe that, Krista. I could never stop wanting you. And whatever it is you think you’ve done, I know it can’t be half as bad as you think it is.”
“Wanna bet?” I asked, handing him the crumpled piece of paper.
“What’s this?” he asked warily.
“Just look at it,” I said, knowing that this would be the ultimate test of his love for me. If he could forgive me for this, then maybe there was hope for us, after all.
He looked at it and a scowl crossed his face. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked, looking directly at me. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Yes,” I replied, knowing there was no way I could lie my way out of this mess. And even if I could, what would be the point? Isn’t marriage all about telling the truth and trusting each other?
“You have some explaining to do,” he said.
“It’s a doctor at work,” I said in reply. “He’s been flirting with me, and. . . .”
“That son of a bitch!” Keith said fiercely.
“Keith, I was actually thinking of going.” I searched his eyes. “I thought yesterday, when you said those things, that maybe you were right. Maybe I’m the one to blame for our loveless marriage.”
“Do you really think we have a loveless marriage?” he asked incredulously. “My god, Krista, don’t you know how much I care about you?”
My eyes blurred with tears as I answered him. “Apparently not. I thought for sure you didn’t care at all. It’s been so long since we, since you. . . .” My voice trailed off into a stream of tears. When I recovered my voice, I continued, “I love you, Keith—I do—but when that handsome doctor paid me all that attention, I have to say, it felt good. I felt like I really am a desirable woman—and I have to tell you that I haven’t felt that way in a long, long time. Not since before you and I got married. I realize that I’m partly to blame for that, but I can’t accept all the responsibility. The day before, I asked you if you wanted to go somewhere. You said no—you had to work on your car. Yesterday, you had to go out bowling with your friends. I was hoping you’d come home early—I was planning to seduce you—but you were drunk, and you passed out. Keith, I’m a woman, and I need a man to be there for me. And you just never are.”
When I finished, Keith had tears in his eyes, too. “My god, Krista, I had no idea. I thought we had a good marriage. I know we both work hard, and seldom see each other, but I had no idea these things were going through your mind. I can’t believe I almost lost you!”
“But that’s just the thing,” I said, looking deeply into his eyes. “You didn’t lose me. I said I was thinking about going, but I didn’t go. That’s why I was crying. I wanted to go; I wanted some romance, even if it was for just one night, but I couldn’t do it—because he isn’t you.”
He touched my face tenderly, and then pressed his lips to mine. “I’m glad, because you’re mine,” he said gently. “And I intend to give you all the romance you need from now on. I have the rest of the evening off, and I intend to take you out to dinner, maybe for a little dancing, and then later on, when we get home, we’ll romance alone together all night.” He kissed me again and all the passion I felt for him came pouring out.
It felt wonderful to have my husband back. We could work this out; we really could.
“Now, go fix your face,” Keith said tenderly. “I don’t want anyone thinking you’re not happy with me.”
“Perish the thought,” I said, smiling. “But there’s something I have to do first.”
“I have to call Dr. McPhee and tell him that I’m not available. Ever.” I went over to the phone and called the hospital, asking them to page Dr. McPhee and have him call me. I told them it was an emergency. When he called back, I told him I wouldn’t be able to meet him that night, or any night. When he asked me why, I explained to him that I was married—happily married.
Keith put his mouth close to the receiver. “And if you ever bother my wife again, you bastard, I’ll hunt you down!” he yelled. Then he took the phone from me and hung up. “Now, where were we?” he asked, kissing me again.
That was three months ago, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had any more thoughts about ending my marriage, or having an affair. Keith has been true to his word, and we decided that from now on, we will go out at least once a week, more often if we possibly can, for a romantic night on the town. We decided that our marriage is more important than work, so when we have a “date” we cannot agree to work overtime on that night. And I’ve never been happier. Dr. McPhee hasn’t bothered me again; in fact, I haven’t seen him on our floor at all when I’m working, and that doesn’t bother me in the least.