Patty was here? On St. Victoria?
Hell, he’d wondered where she ended up. He’d come home for Christmas that first year in college to find she was gone. Her mom said she’d decided to start med school a couple of months after he left and had chosen to go to Barbados rather than Antigua. Without telling him. He’d texted her repeatedly that first semester he was in school. She’d sent him happy messages of missing him terribly for the first three weeks. The next week he’d gotten a six-word text that said, “Change of plans. Will text later.” Only she hadn’t.
He’d had visions of her finding someone else. Of realizing they were not meant to be together. Her mother’s pitying look when he asked about her seemed to confirm his darkest thoughts. But she was happily in college, according to her mom.
So he’d thrown all of his energy into his own school career from that point forward, not letting his mind play cruel tricks on him. He wasn’t the first person to have been ghosted. Left behind. But he was damned if he was going to keep reaching out when it was obvious she no longer wanted him. Had she been playing him all along?
Maybe the Patty Cohen from Victoria Hospital was a different Patty. After all, both of those names were common enough.
So with that thought in mind, he finished his meeting with Nate and rode the clinic’s shuttle back to Williamtown. Nate had been nice enough to say he could stay at one of the staff accommodations at the Island Clinic for as long as he wanted. That would at least give him time to find a place of his own, if he decided he liked Victoria Hospital as well as the Island Clinic.
He ran back to the bed-and-breakfast he was staying at and threw the paperwork he’d gotten from Nate into a file folder on his bed. Then he headed over to the other hospital.
He went in through the front doors and stopped at the information desk. “I’m looking for the human resources department.”
“Yes, of course.” The young woman at the desk gave him a smile that made him blink before she added, “Just go straight down the hallway on your left. It’ll be the last door you see. Are you coming to work here?”
He smiled back, trying to keep his face neutral. He wasn’t here for anything other than the job, and he’d do well to remember that. “I am. And thanks.”
Human resources proved to be as friendly here as they’d been at the Island Clinic. He could see the private medical center’s influence in the posters on the wall announcing that some kind of fund-raising gala was going to be held in a couple of months. Everyone was invited.
He was given a lanyard, and HR said that there were already a few cases that had been put on his schedule and hoped he didn’t mind.
Good thing he’d decided he was going to stay.
“I’ll get someone in your department to show you around.” The man picked up the phone and spoke in hushed tones with someone. Then he glanced up. “She’ll be right down, if you want to have a seat. And welcome to Victoria clinic.”
“Thank you. I’m happy to be here.”
He’d just taken his seat when the door opened and a woman stood there. Her eyes met his, and every ounce of color drained out of her face. A face as beautiful as it had been fifteen years ago.
This wasn’t someone with the same name. This was Patty Cohen from St. Lucia. His Patty.
No not his. Not anymore.
The lanyard around his neck seemed to brand itself into the skin below his shirt.Damn. He’d committed himself to both the Island Clinic and Victoria hospital. And suddenly, he wanted nothing to do with either of them. What he wanted was to take the first boat out of here.
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