Why did it seem everything had to go crazy whenever Jared was away from the clinic? Kellie Caldera blew out a frustrated breath. Not that it was his fault. This was Denise’s last day before heading back to law school. Of course, Jared wanted to spend it with her.
His sister was about the only thing more important to Jared than the clinic.
She just wished the doctors that volunteered here would actually show up on time. Instead of strolling in whenever they felt like it, if they bothered to show up at all. Just because their clinic wasn’t one of their big hospitals didn’t mean the people here didn’t need just as high of quality of care.
That train of thought was derailed when someone approached the desk. She started to smile at the woman then recognition set in, and her welcome cooled. “Dr. Griffin, I wasn’t expecting you yet.” Another of those doctors who thought their time was worth more than others’.
“And I thought I was running late,” the woman said, smiling.
Kellie’s own smile felt strained. Jared had left Melanie Griffin’s interview for her to do, although he’d done the rest of them. She’d run the details of it past him, but hadn’t thought he’d even been listening before he told her to let Melanie know she had the position. He had acted weird about the whole thing.
“The volunteer doctors usually are. Wasn’t expecting one to be on time.”
Melanie shook her head, as if that didn’t make sense to her. “Well, I’m here,” she said. “Where should I be?”
“Well, Dr J won’t be in until later today, so you can take exam room one. There’s only three of them.”
“Is he ever here? He wasn’t around when I was interviewed either.”
Any admiration Kellie felt toward her for seeming to actually care drained away at that. “Dr. J is very devoted to this place. He’s here almost all the time, even when we’re not open. He was visiting his sister around the holidays. And he had something personal to attend to this morning.” She wasn’t going to mention he was with his sister again. It’s not like it mattered to this woman. “Even good doctors are allowed some personal time, aren’t they?”
“Of course.” She broke eye contact and seemed to regret the words. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I just-”
Kellie didn’t care. She’d heard enough empty apologies in her life. And she had other things to worry about. “You can hang your coat up in the room right back there,” she said pointing to a door a few feet behind her chair. “You’ll see the others. Then, I’ll show you to the exam room.”
She waited for Melanie to return from hanging up her coat, a little surprised she hadn’t brought her purse in as well. She wouldn’t have thought a woman like her would ever leave that behind. She knew the thoughts weren’t kind, but they were there anyway. Kellie led the way to the exam room and watched Melanie glance around it. She saw the shock come into her eyes, probably at how small the room was, then they shuttered, and she was all professional.
“What kind of patients will I be seeing?” Melanie asked.
“Whichever ones come in. There’ll be another doctor coming in sometime this morning.” She grimaced, wondering if that doctor would even show up today. He had a tendency not to. “Until then, you’ll be on your own.”
“I’m sure I can handle it.”
Kellie wasn’t so sure about that. Melanie didn’t know what she was in for here. It wasn’t neat and orderly. She tried to keep things as organized s she could, but she cared more about making sure the people who needed care the most got it first. And she still didn’t understand why Jared had insisted on hiring this doctor. Maybe she shouldn’t be judging so harshly, but Jared had been actng weirder the closer it got to the day she’d start coming.
And she just didn’t get it. What was it about this woman?
Note: Kellie is a side character in Healing the Heart, the follow-up to Duty to Protect. I hope to have it out sometime this summer. This is actually a scene from Healing the Heart, but in that it’s from Melanie’s POV. I decided to share it from Kellie’s instead. These two really didn’t get off to a great start.