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Nathan Mercer, the only man in my life.
We met ten years ago, when we started at the same company on the same day.
And while Nathan went on to rule San Francisco, I’m still doing the same job with the same people.
However, lately things have changed. He’s started looking at me differently.
I know it’s all in my head….it has to be.
They say to never love someone who treats you like you’re ordinary.
But our story is complicated.
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“Hello, I’m Eliza Bennet. I’m starting my practical experience today,” I say nervously to the lady working on reception through the glass window.
She smiles warmly. “Hello, Eliza. Welcome.” She punches my name into the computer, and then she stands to retrieve a lanyard before she passes it over to me.
I read the printed name.
Pride fills me and I bite my lip to hide my smile.
“Just wear this for a week until you find your way around so that everyone knows you are new,” she says.
“Thanks.” I take it from her and put it on.
“Go up to level three to the nurses’ station. They will take care of you from there.”
“Thank you.” My heart is hammering because of my nerves. I step into the elevator before the kind receptionist has to revive me. This is it!
I inhale deeply to try and calm myself down. The elevator doors open, and I head toward the nurses’ station.
Just do everything right. Don’t mess things up, I remind myself.
Three nurses are talking before I gently knock on the door and their attention turns my way.
“Hi, I’m Eliza. I’m starting my practical today.” Please be nice.
They each breakout into broad smiles. “Hi, Eliza. Welcome, and come in,” the lady with the dark hair says.
“I’m Marjorie, and this is Beth and Caroline.”
“Hi.” I grip my handbag with white-knuckle force.
“Follow me. Did I read your resume right?” Marjorie continues as she walks up the corridor with me following her closely. “You’ve moved here from out of town?” We get to a bank of lockers where she opens one up for me. “This will be your locker.” She passes me a key. “And this is your key, but we don’t ever lock anything around here; we’re all completely trustworthy.”
“Thanks.” I take the key from her and put it in my pocket. “And, yes, I’m from Florida.”
“What made you want to move to San Fran?” She frowns.
“I don’t know, I wanted a change and I’ve always loved this city. The hospital is one of the best in the country.” I shrug, it seems like a stupid decision to move across the country on my own now that I’ve done it, but anyway I’m trying to make the best of it.
“This way, dear,” she says as she begins to walk back down the corridor. “Do you know people here in San Fran?”
I trail behind her. “Nope.”
She turns to me, clearly surprised. “Where are you living?”
“I got an apartment in town.” I shrug nervously, feeling the need to elaborate. “My parents came to help me find a place and get settled. We’ve been here for two weeks but they went home yesterday.”
“How lovely.” She links her arm through mine. “Well, you’re going to love San Francisco, and you’re going to love this hospital. You’ve made a good decision.”
“Now…,” she hands me a pair of gloves, “let’s go play drug dealers and hand some painkillers out.”
* * *
Four hours later, I stand and look up at the specials board in the staff cafeteria.
There’s so much to choose from, hmm….
“What’s good here?” a deep male voice asks. I glance over to see a young man standing beside me, who is also staring up at the board, totally entranced by the selection.
I shrug. “I don’t know,” I reply. “This is my first day here.”
His eyes meet mine. “Your first day?” I nod.
“Mine, too.” He seems surprised.
A smile crosses my face. “Really? Where did you move from?”
“Vermont, although I studied in New York.”
“Do you know anyone here in San Fran?”
“Not a soul.”
He twists his lips in a semblance of a smile before he holds out his hand to shake mine. “I’m Nathan.”
“Hi, Nathan. I’m Eliza.” We shuffle forward in the line. “I think I’m going to have the turkey on rye.”
He nods as he peruses the choices. “I think I’m going with the ham and pickle.”
A lady walks past us with a big slab of lasagne and salad, and both our eyes near pop out.
He points to her plate. “I’m getting that.”
“Me, too.” I giggle.
“Next!” the server calls. Nathan steps forward. “Could I please have two lasagnes and salads?”
“Drinks?” the woman mutters, uninterested.
“No, Nathan,” I whisper, “I’ll get mine.”
“You can buy my lunch tomorrow.” He offers me a naughty wink. “That way, I have something to look forward to.”
My stomach flutters.
“What drink do you want?” he asks.
“Oh, Diet Coke.”
His brow furrows. “That shit’s bad for you, Eliza.”
I roll my eyes. “Is it, Dad?”
He twists his lips in amusement. “We’ll have a mineral water and a Diet Coke, please.” He passes his card to her. “Find us a table,” he whispers to me.
I take off in search for a table. This is the best damn cafeteria I’ve ever seen. Lasagne and hot new guys! This is a dream come true.
I take a seat at a table near the window, and I stare over at Nathan as he waits for our lunch. He’s super tall and towers over everyone around him. He’s wearing a pale blue shirt that’s rolled up at the sleeves, as well as a dark tie and navy pants. He has sandy colored hair and big blue eyes. He might just be the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.