Authors: Melissa Yi
Tags: #romance, #suspense, #womens fiction, #medical, #doctor, #chick lit, #hospital, #suspense thriller, #nurse, #womens fiction chicklit, #physician, #medical humour, #medical humor, #medical care, #emergency, #emergency room, #womens commercial fiction, #medical conditions, #medical care abroad, #medical claims, #physician author, #medical student, #medical consent, #medical billing, #medical coming of age, #suspense action, #emergency management, #medical controversies, #physician competence, #resident, #intern, #emergency response, #hospital drama, #hospital employees, #emergency care, #doctor of medicine, #womens drama, #emergency medicine, #emergency medical care, #emergency department, #medical crisis, #romance adult fiction, #womens fiction with romantic elements, #physician humor, #womens pov, #womens point of view, #medical antagonism, #emergency services, #medical ignorance, #emergency entrance, #romance action, #emergency room physician, #hospital building, #emergency assistance, #romance action adventure, #doctor nurse, #medical complications, #hospital administration, #physician specialties, #womens sleuth, #hope sze, #dave dupuis, #david dupuis, #morris callendar, #notorious doc, #st josephs hospital, #womens adventure, #medical resident
by Melissa Yi
Published by Olo Books
In association with Windtree Press
Cover photo by Nicolas Raymond.
Dedicated to Matt Innes
I pictured the city of
Montreal as a woman with bleached blonde hair and a generous,
lopsided bosom, who would draw me into her perfumed embrace and
." Instead, I found a skinny brunette with a cigarette jammed
in the corner of her mouth who turned around and bitch-slapped
At least, that's what it felt like. Even
before I got mixed up with murder.
Last night, it took me
seven hours to drive here from London, Ontario. When I hit the
Quebec border, I could hardly make out the blue and white sign
!" and the
flag fluttering against in the dusky, grey-indigo
June sky, but I noticed that my Ford Focus began bouncing over more
frequent potholes. Although the maximum speed was still 100
kilometers per hour, there was also a minimum speed: 60. I decided
that the roads were natural speed bumps. Everyone slowed down to
about 110. Not me. I cranked up the On the Rocks’s cover of Lady
Gaga, gave my cinnamon gum an extra-hard chew, and zipped by
pull up at a dead stop at a red light, one of many in two little
towns, Dorion and Île-Perrot. I thought these must be the suburbs
of Montreal, but no. Some planning committee thought it was a good
idea to run Highway 20 through the heart of little bergs
. I knew the second one,
but the first was intriguing. I could use a guy with some
I crossed the bridge over
to the island of Montreal. Strange to say, as a girl from nearby
Ottawa, but I hadn't realized Montreal was an island. Or how big a
city it was, with the billboards lining the Ville Marie expressway,
advertising everything from "Cuba,
" to cell phones. Skyscrapers
loomed above me, including one topped by a white searchlight that
revolved around the city.
By the time I took a left up the steep hill
of University Avenue, it was after 8 p.m. I felt very small and
tired, but at least I'd arrived. I cashed in the last of my good
karma by finding a parking space, avoiding the $10 parking lot at
the top of the hill. It would all be strawberry daiquiris and
whipped cream from here.
Except that the next morning, my alarm
didn't go off. Like the white rabbit, I was very, very late.
I didn't panic. Being late was a habit of
mine. Even though I was now a doctor, or at least a resident
doctor, I often spared a moment to brush my teeth or dab on some
lip gloss. Then, suddenly, there was no time, and I was hopping
around, pulling up my socks after barely yanking on my
Today, I was late for my first day of
orientation at St. Joseph's Hospital in Montreal. After four long,
hard years of medical school, earning my M.D., I was in for two
years of a residency in family medicine, mostly based at St.
I'd stayed the night at the Royal Victoria
Hospital, in a cramped, pink call room with peeling paint, because
it was free for visiting students.
Or not so free. When I ran down the hill, my
keys clutched in sweaty fingers, my silver car was one of a chorus
line sporting a $30 parking ticket under its windshield wiper.
After multiple red lights, one-way streets,
and a guy flipping me the bird, I finally managed to drive up the
right street, Péloquin.
I hit the brakes when a moving van shuddered
to a halt in front of me. WTF? It reversed and angled left to
obstruct all traffic on a diagonal.
The van's doors popped open. Two men leapt
out. One pulled down the rear ramp while the other ran into the
open door of a nearby apartment and began loading boxes into the
Heart hammering, I took a hard right into a
parking spot. Even as I locked my doors, a city bus tried to nudge
its way around the van, failed, and began honking. Two more cars
joined the chorus.
The moving men continued loading the van.
They were still smiling.
I did not understand this city.
However, I swiftly
recognized St. Joseph's concrete block architecture, typical of
hospitals and 19
century prisons. It looked like something my
eight-year-old brother, Kevin, might build out of Legos. The only
fancy bit was the limestone front entranceway declaring,
CENTRE HOSPITALIER DE SAINT
, and underneath it, in smaller
letters, the English version. Taxis idled in the semicircular
driveway with a widened lot for parking and drop-offs. A
straggly-haired patient in a wheelchair, an IV still hooked up to
her arm, took a drag off her cigarette.
I held my breath against the smoke and
pushed open the glass door, ready for the Family Medicine Centre.
Only the receptionist told me the FMC wasn't part of the hospital,
it was in "the Annex." Great. Like Anne Frank's hiding place.
Finally inside the correct building, even I
couldn't miss the orientation room immediately across from the
Annex entrance. Its wooden doors were flung open to reveal a room
full of people staring at me instead of the man saying, "... any
time. I don't mind. That's why I get paid the big bucks."
The speaker stood at a podium to the left of
the door. Dang. I tiptoed past him with an apologetic smile.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Kurt Radshaw." The speaker, a
good-looking guy in his late 30's, held out his hand. His smile
seemed genuine under his dark ,Tom Selleck-style moustache.
"Welcome to St. Joseph's."
"Thanks." I shook his hand. His grip was
firm but not crushing. Bonus.
The skin crinkled around the corners of his
eyes. "I was just saying, if you have any problems, page me.
Sheilagh's handing out my numbers and e-mail address in the
"I know what it's like to have problems," he
said to the group. "I have Type I diabetes myself. So don't be
afraid to speak to me anytime. My pager's always on." He tapped the
small black plastic pager clipped to his belt.
I surveyed the room, looking for a place to
sit. The room's two couches and two armchairs were full, and
everyone else was sitting on cheap orange plastic chairs.
I got the hairy eyeball from a milky-white,
twenty-something guy who was wearing a tie, his suit jacket neatly
folded on the sofa arm. Clearly, my tardiness, tank top, and board
shorts failed to impress this fellow resident.
I picked a plastic chair across from him and
smiled, showing a lot of teeth. Nothing to do but brazen it
Beside Mr. Bean, a guy
with slightly long, messy, chestnut hair smiled back at me. A real
smile, his eyes glinting with amusement. He sat with his knees
sprawled apart, but his ankles hooked together. He was wearing a
shirt that reminded me of blue milk paint, dark instead of flashy,
but fitted enough for me to see that he had some
Maybe Montreal wasn't so bad after all.
At the break, everyone made a run for the
refreshments table against the wall, next to the entrance. Dr.
Radshaw chewed on a croissant as he talked to the tie guy and an
I didn't rise. I tilted in my chair so I
could peek around an East Indian woman. The milk paint shirt guy
and I smiled at each other again, across the room.
"Hello." The white woman on my left held out
her hand. Her square-jawed face might have been pretty, if she
hadn't been forcing her smile. She wasn't fat, but big boned, and
her grip was worthy of a wrestler. "My name is Mireille." Her
chin-length brown curls were the only bouncy thing about her.
"Hope," I said, belatedly returning the
metacarpal-crushing handshake. She didn't wince. I pulled my hand
away, smiled, and said, "Boy, those drinks look good."
I was contemplating the mystery meat
sandwiches, when a male voice behind me said, "Don't do it."
I spun around, empty-handed. It was the milk
paint guy. He was even better-looking up close. His grey eyes
looked straight into mine. He was shorter than I expected, maybe
half a foot taller than my own five-foot two. I didn't mind. The
nice thing about being short is that guys of all size feel
comfortable hitting on you.
I found myself focusing on his lips as he
said, "I think they put something in those sandwiches so that you
never want to leave Montreal."
I had to laugh. "Oh, yeah? Don't worry, I've
already been immunized. In about twelve hours, I've gotten lost,
got a thirty-dollar parking ticket, and almost ran into a moving
van with moving violations." I explained my morning while he
snagged a bottled water and offered it to me. I took it.
He broke open another bottle for himself.
"Don't worry. Everyone gets parking tickets when they move here.
It's like losing your virginity."
He watched me blush. Silent laughter danced
in his eyes. I tossed my head. "What about the moving van?"
"July first is moving day in Quebec. It's
the default date when all the leases expire."
"On the same day? For the whole province?"
My organized, Ontario head spun.
He laughed and crunched on a carrot stick.
"Pretty much. It's chaos here for the week before and after. Where
are you from?"
"Ontario. Ottawa, originally. Western for
med school." I held the water bottle up in a silent toast.
He nodded. "Poor little Ontario girl."
"Hey. Ain't no such thing." I gave him an
arch look. Mireille bumped into me on her way to the refreshments
table and muttered 'sorry.'
and I gravitated toward the windows at the opposite end of
the room. He leaned against one of the carved oak windowsills. I
drank some water and asked, "So. Are you a poor, little Quebec
He bent toward me and lowered his voice.
"Sort of. I've been here for years. Undergrad, med school. But
originally—" He whispered, his lips only two inches from my ear,
I giggled. Not that there's anything wrong
with Kitchener-Waterloo, a town famous for its university and its
Oktoberfest, but it's not exactly cosmopolitan. In answer, he held
his index finger so close to my mouth that I could almost feel the
heat from his skin against my lips.
I stopped laughing, suddenly shy.
A smile grew across his face. He lowered his
finger and intoned, "Not one word. I have a reputation to uphold."
He held out his hand. "Alex Dyck."
His hand was warm and strong, and felt right
in mine. I held it for an extra beat. "Hope Sze."
We let go slowly. I could hear the chatter
around the room and sense the sun's rays on my shoulder and arm,
but nothing felt as real as his fingers sliding away from mine.
He cleared his throat and dropped his hand
back down to the windowsill. "Did you get teased as much about your
name as I did about mine?"
I shook my head. "More." My voice sounded a
He laughed. "It can't be worse than
Dyck-head, Dyck-face, Dyckie-Dee..."
"Hopeless," I countered.
Sze-saw. Sze-sick. Sze-nile. Sze-nior. Sze—"
He held up his hand. "I surrender."
I tucked my hand into the shape of a gun and
blew across the barrel that was my index finger.
Alex nodded slowly. "I like you."
I couldn't hide my smile. "Likewise."
When we headed back to the little circle, he
abandoned his spot on the sofa to sit in the hard plastic chair on
The program director, Dr. Bob Clarkson,
tapped at the top sheet on one of those things that look like
easels. "Ahem. Now that we're all here—"
A few eyes swung in my direction. I shrugged
and smiled, but with Alex at my side, I was tempted to take a bow.
Alex smothered a laugh into a cough.
Dr. Clarkson frowned at me. "Why don't we
introduce ourselves and say why we chose family medicine? Let's
start with—" His eyes moved to my right. "Alex, you've been here a
"Sure have," said Alex in a fake-jaunty
voice. "I'm Alex Dyck. I'm doing family medicine because no one
else would have me. Oh, and because it's what I've wanted to do
ever since I was a little kid."
A small, relieved laugh rippled from the
crowd. I glanced sidelong at him. He smiled back at me.