Home > Dr. Perfect (Doctors #2)

Dr. Perfect (Doctors #2)
Author: Louise Bay






I pull my collar up, trying to keep the fog from curling down my neck, and step up to the large black door on Wimpole Street. It feels like I’m the first victim in a horror movie—the one that sets the scene for the real terror that’s about to be unleashed on the female lead the audience actually cares about. Shivering, I make a mental note to watch something starring Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock when I get home. I’ve got to stop with the Netflix Harlan Coben adaptations. I pull out my phone, scrolling to the last email I had from my new boss, Dr. Zachary Cove. As instructed, I press the buzzer for Dr. Williams.

The buzzer clicks but no one says anything.

“Hello?” I call.

The catch releases and my heart begins to race. I try and channel “Sandra Bullock in The Proposal” vibes and shrug off the “Sandra Bullock in The Net” vibes. I take a deep breath and push the door open.

It’s just fog.

It’s no more menacing than rain. It doesn’t mean anything. Just my likely imminent murder—no biggie.

The hallway floor is beaten-up parquet, which probably looked beautiful at one point and could again if someone put in some effort. I step inside, letting the door close behind me, and don’t try to muffle the clip-clop of my heels echoing up the stairs to the first floor. My new job is to sit behind a desk in a doctor’s waiting room, answering the phone, arranging appointments, checking in new patients, typing dictation, and doing any other administrative tasks required to run a doctor’s private practice who will be in the practice two days a week. It’s the first position I’ve managed to get an interview for that wasn’t minimum wage. With my experience limited to managing Shane’s career, I’m grateful for any job at all. According to my meticulous calculations, this job pays me enough to reach my savings goals in just nineteen months—and that makes it a job I want to keep. Whatever they want me to do, I don’t care. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a flyer attached to a lamppost offering part-time work. It said in big bold letters that it was excellent pay, so I called. Turns out, I do have my limitations and drug trafficking is where I draw the line. But if it’s legal and pays well, I’ll do it.

As the email promised, the second door off the hallway at the top of the stairs has a see-through acrylic sign that reads “Dr. Cove” in plain black font, and “Gastroenterologist” in smaller block capital letters below. I sigh with relief and my shoulders drop as I confirm I’m in the right place.

I’ve never met my boss. I’ve spoken to him over the phone, but the agency said it was normal to just turn up for a temporary position without any kind of in-person interview. Though Dr. Cove mentioned the position has the potential to turn permanent, I only need it to last nineteen months; twenty-one max, accounting for unforeseen expenses. If I’ve done my sums right—and I have, because that’s all I’ve done since I got this job on Monday—nineteen months of this paycheck will mean I’ve saved enough money to get on with my life. Having made the terrible decision ten years ago to abandon university to manage my ex-boyfriend’s burgeoning Speedway career full-time, I have no real qualifications, and my work experience apparently doesn’t count for much. There’s a lot of intangible, difficult-to-explain stuff that goes into “managing” someone, which I only discovered while trying to put together my resume for the first time. And then of course I don’t have any references because my previous boss is also my ex-boyfriend, and I’d rather stand naked, astride a sandwich board, in the middle of Oxford Circus, than ask him for anything.

I push my past to the back of my mind and open the door to the office. In his last email, Dr. Cove said he would be in around ten and I should “settle in” beforehand.

The room is bright, which takes me by surprise. Maybe arriving in the fog meant I expected a windowless space, empty apart from a vintage operating table and a tray of knives. I seem to have emerged from my horror flick into an unremarkable waiting room. It’s at the front of a Georgian townhouse, with three large sash windows looking over the street. It’s not a big room. The floor has obviously been divided up between different doctors; a stud wall placed in the middle of this room means the eight chairs and desk make the space look a little cramped. I’ve never been to a private doctor before, but I expected it to be a bit…smarter and more glamorous. I shrug off my bag and put it on my desk, but I leave my coat on. It’s cold. I root around by the Victorian-style radiator under the window and find a knob. It starts to knock when I twist it. I take it as a sign it’s heating up. I do the same with the radiator behind my desk.

Glancing around the room, it’s clear the arrangement would be better with one less chair and my desk turned to face the window. I’ll suggest it to Dr. Cove when he arrives.

There’s a small table piled with magazines in the corner, with an overgrown palm plant next to it, which looks like it’s providing shade to Country Living and—I start to flick through the magazines—Vogue Australia, November 2005. I think we can do better than that.

I take a seat at my desk chair and spin 360 degrees. As Shane’s manager, I always worked out of our kitchen. I’ve never had a proper office chair. The desk drawers are empty apart from a one-pence piece and a paperclip. There’s no computer, nothing. Not a notepad, pen, or sticky note. I have my usual notepad and pen in my bag, thank goodness. There’s only one thing better than a freshly baked apple pie and that’s good stationery.

I stand and take two steps to the door in the stud wall. This must be the room where Dr. Cove sees his patients. It’s locked.

How am I going to “settle in”? There’s really nothing to do. I wander over to the windows, which could stand a good clean. Maybe I can find some cleaning materials for communal use.

I head out of the office to explore. All the other doors on this floor are closed and I can’t hear anything, even when I press my ear to the one directly opposite the stairs. Someone let me in. Surely they’re still in the building.

I’m halfway up the second flight of stairs when someone shouts, “Hello?”

“Hi,” I reply and then a woman with black hair and a very severe fringe peers over the banister. “Ellie Frost?”

I smile. Someone is expecting me. “Yes. I’m Dr. Cove’s new assistant.”

“Yes, Dr. Cove.” She makes a sound like she’s savoring a mouthful of chocolate. “It’s his first day, but I’ve looked him up.”

Why didn’t I think of that? Probably because I was Googling, what do doctor’s assistants do? The job description hadn’t been very specific.

“Come up. The kitchen’s up here.”

She disappears and I head upstairs to find her.

As I reach the top of the stairs, a waving hand appears through the doorway farther up the landing. “In here.”

I head towards the hand and find her in a tiny kitchen, just big enough for two. She’s wearing bright red lipstick I could never pull off, which contrasts beautifully with her black hair and snow-white skin.

“I’m Jen. You’re Ellie. I’ll show you around—not that there’s much to find. First stop, this is where it all happens. I know it’s like a cupboard, but this place is pretty much soundproof if you close the door. Any time you need to blow off steam or vent, come in here. Don’t, under any circumstances, use the loos. There are always patients in there. I don’t know if they lie in wait, but I’ve been caught out so many times complaining about Dr. Newman.” She sighs like she should be able to complain about her boss anywhere she likes. I instantly warm to her. “Here is the place to come. Plus, there’s usually one of us girls to vent to. We basically tag team our meltdowns.”

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