“I’m Doctor Cassidy.”
The woman rose from her desk and extended her right hand at the man walking into her office. “Doctor Cassidy. My pleasure. I’m Donna DeWitt, director of Westbury clinic.”
“You can call me Clint,” the newly arrived doctor from Montana replied.
Flattered, Donna tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear as she briefly lowered her eyes. Back to business though. “If you don’t mind, I prefer Doctor Cassidy. It’s important to keep a…professional climate. I understand you’ve never worked for an HMO before.”
Clint shook his head. “No Ma’am.”
“Well there’s one detail I’d like to be right upfront with. I’m neither the bad guy nor the good guy; simply the person responsible for administering the agreed upon policy. I take full responsibility for making the tough decisions.”
There was a knock on the door, and a woman with short blond hair stepped in, still looking down at her clipboard. “I was told you wanted to see…wow,” she interrupted herself when she looked up and saw the new doctor. “Rugged, handsome, tight jeans, and boots. I have a recurring dream that starts just like this.”
Donna tried to bring the other woman’s thoughts back on track. “Nurse Nichol, would you-”
The rest of her words died unspoken when the doctor responded to the nurse’s words.
“That’s no dream, Sweetheart, that’s reality.”
Donna blinked. She hadn’t expected the country doctor to give their quick-witted nurse a run for her money in the wit-department. Or for them to start flirting. Especially since...
“Not for a few months, it wasn’t.” The nurse put a hand on her hip and raised an eyebrow.
Wait, what? Donna could feel a headache coming up.
“That would be seven weeks and three days to be exact,” Doctor Cassidy replied stoically.
“And eleven hours, but who’s counting?” Nurse Nichol replied.
“I was,” the doctor admitted simply, all joking cast aside. With two quick steps, they closed the distance between them, holding the other tightly.
Shocked, and before things could get even more out of hand, Donna finally managed, “You two…ah… know each other?”
The doctor and the nurse seemed to remember they weren’t the only ones in the room, and turned to look at the administrator apologetically. They loosened their tight embrace reluctantly, and instead stood shoulder to shoulder to face Donna.
“We’d better!” Nancy quipped, and then explained, “We’re married.”
The two looked at each other again, and Clint held out his hand, which Nancy gladly took. After nearly two months apart, which had felt like ages, she really didn’t feel like letting go just yet.
“M-Married?” Donna stammered. She vaguely recalled Nurse Nichol’s second last name to be Cassidy, but it had never fully settled in her mind. Sure, she’d noticed the wedding ring and all, but she hadn’t expected… this.
“I’m sorry for the surprise, Ma’am,” Doctor Cassidy said, genuinely apologetic. “I didn’t realise you didn’t know we’re married.”
Nancy turned to her husband. “And I didn’t realise you would be having a job interview at the same clinic where I’m working! Or that you’d even arrived in New York for that matter!”
“Yeah, sorry about that too. After our phone call last night, it took a while to finally get through that huge traffic jam. To try and make up for lost time, I drove most of the night to get here. I took a short nap in the truck, and then when I arrived here, I got pulled over by cops because of my rifle. Can you imagine? Well, by the time I got that sorted, I had to hurry to even get here in time.”
“Pulled over by cops…?” Donna was really starting to reconsider hiring this doctor, even if he had good references, and Doctor Newberry had recommended him to be his replacement.
“Oh yeah, apparently they frown upon you carrying a rifle in the back of your truck here. Ever heard of that? Back home they’d start hollerin’ whether ya’d started shavin’ yet if ya don’t carry a rifle in the back of your truck.” He turned to look back at his wife. “I can pick it up at the police station once I get a permit.”
Nancy grinned. “Only you…” Perhaps she should have warned him about that…but to be honest, she simply hadn’t thought of it.
Donna held up her hand.
“Ok, let me get this straight. You two are married, but you haven’t seen each other for nearly two months. Doctor Cassidy just arrived in the city from…Montana?”
“That’s right, Ma’am,” Clint agreed.
“…Montana just this morning, got pulled over by cops because you were carrying a rifle in your car(!) and then came here to do the job interview. And while I assume you knew your wife works here, she didn’t know you’d be applying here.”
When nothing more was forthcoming, Clint again nodded. “That just about sums it up.”
“Ok.” Donna took a moment to take it all in and think about the repercussions. Nancy took the opportunity to question her husband.
“Speaking of which… why didn’t you tell me you were applying here?”
Clint shrugged. “’t Was a rather last minute thing, but Doc had been keeping an ear out for things here, and when he heard Doctor…Newberry?” Donna nodded. “When he heard Doctor Newberry was leaving on a sabbatical, and they were looking for a quick replacement, Doc recommended me.”
Still not convinced, Nancy pushed. “So when did you hear about this? Just before you were leaving Hamilton?”
“No. When I told you it was a last minute thing, that’s not too far off from being literal. Doc called me yesterday afternoon when I was on my way here. He gave me the phone number of Ms. DeWitt here.”
Donna nodded to confirm, while Clint continued.
“I must admit, it wasn’t until this morning when I looked at the exact address I’d need to be that I realized it was the same place. Sweetheart, I didn’t mean ta leave you out of the loop, but well…when we called last night, we eh… had other things to discuss.” Nancy blushed a little at this, remembering how she’d ranted a bit about certain arrogant doctors. One in particular. And then she’d banned the whole topic of work from the conversation to talk about much more pleasant things. Ok, she could see how Clint may have decided to discuss the job opportunity later.
“I intended to tell you in person this morning, before coming here, but…well, you just heard all about my morning. ‘sides, I didn’t know yet if there was even a chance of me getting the job. Still don’t, actually…” At this, Clint looked back at the administrator who’d been quietly observing the couple. Nancy followed his gaze.
Donna hesitated. Doctor Cassidy was right in that they needed a provider soon. They had been cutting it with the doctor-patient ratio, and with Doctor Newberry’s abrupt departure, they desperately needed a new doctor. And of the few potential candidates, doctor Cassidy was the most promising. Still, this was a lot of new information to take in.
“That depends…” she finally said. “Tell me honestly, are you two able to stay professional during work hours?”
“Yes Ma’am, we should be able to handle that,” Doctor Cassidy replied. Nancy nodded. “We worked together before in a professional setting, and it was never a problem.”
Donna made her decision. “Ok. There will be a trial period. If during that time, we find that you cannot handle it, or you do not fit the necessary requirements for the job, you’ll have to leave. After the trial period, we’ll look at a more permanent contract.”
Clint and Nancy shared a look, then both turned to look at their (new) boss. “Understood, Ma’am.” “Got it.”
“Ok. In that case, welcome aboard, doctor Cassidy. You’re hired.” The two lit up faces and the tightening of their joined hands spoke of their relief, but clearly they reigned in their reactions so as not to start off on the wrong foot. “Nurse Nichol, would you please give Doctor Cassidy a tour of the facilities?”
Nancy nodded, a big smile still on her face. “Sure.”
“When you’re done, we’ll see about getting you a workload.” Clint nodded. “Thank you.”
“One moment though,” Donna said, before the pair could leave. “I do have a question for you, Nurse Nichol.”
“Ok. Fire away,” the nurse invited.
“Why ‘Nurse Nichol’ instead of ‘Cassidy’?”
Clint chuckled at Nancy’s surprised look. She sent him a look, before explaining. “When we were both working for the hospital in Hamilton, Montana, there was another nurse whose last name was Cassidy. To avoid the confusion, I kept using my maiden name. To be honest, I didn’t really think about it when I came to work here.” She paused. “I don’t really mind either way, so if you’d prefer I use one name or the other…”
After a few moments of thinking on it, Donna waved her off. “I’ll think about it, but I don’t think it matters much either way. But do please come see me beforehand if you do decide to change to ‘Nurse Cassidy’.”
“Sure, no problem,” Nancy said. “Was that all?”
“Yes. I must admit I am still curious about a lot of things, but they’re frankly none of my business. Now, I have a lot of things to take care of, including the paperwork for hiring a new doctor…”
The couple grinned. “No problem. And thanks again,” Clint said, following his wife out of the office. There they turned towards each other, both desperately wanting to properly greet each other, but knowing that to do so here would be pushing it.
“Ah, Nurse Nichol, after you’ve shown me around, would you mind having lunch with me?” Clint asked. Nancy’s smile couldn’t get any wider. “I’d love to, Doctor Cassidy!”