Chapter no 37

The Locked Door

Thankfully, I have a busy morning of surgeries the next day to distract me. I had been hoping to spend the afternoon doing leisurely rounds in the hospital and finishing my dictations, but instead, I’ve got to rush back to the clinic to see some of the patients that Harper rescheduled for today. It’s going to be a very long day, but I welcome it.

After my first surgery of the morning, while I’m dictating my operative report in the surgery lounge, I get a call from one of the security companies. A chipper woman is on the phone. “Hi, Nora! I’d be happy to talk to you about home security options!”

“Great,” I breathe. I glance around the lounge, which is thankfully empty. “I’d like to have a home security system placed as soon as possible.”

“Of course!”

The woman quizzes me about the number of doors and windows on the first floor of my house, as well as the approximate square footage. “Our system is very easy to use,” she says. “You’ll have a simple keypad to type in the code to deactivate the alarm, and you can monitor it from your phone wherever you are.”

“When can you put it in?” I ask. “How about Monday morning?”

Too late. The idea of going the entire weekend without an alarm system makes my heart skip a beat. “What about today?”

“I’m so sorry. We’re all booked up for today.”

I grip the phone tighter. “Is there any way somebody would come after hours tonight?”

“I’m sorry, but we don’t—”

“I’ll pay extra. Whatever they want.”

There’s a long pause on the other line. “Hang on a second. Let me check.”

The woman puts me on hold while I sit there listening to maddening elevator music. While I’m waiting, Philip comes into the lounge, still wearing his scrub cap. He grins when he sees me and yanks off the cap, which has left a horizontal indentation on his forehead.

“Stomach bug all cleared up?” he asks me. There’s a bit of a sarcastic note in his voice. “We were all pulling for you. I think Harper made you some soup.”

I wave the phone in my hand. “I’m on hold.” “Yeah? With whom?”

I shoot him a dirty look and don’t answer. “Your lawyer?” he presses me.

Before I have a chance to tell him it’s none of his damn business, the woman comes back on the line. “We have a technician who can come out tonight at eight o’clock,” she says. “It will be a two-hundred-dollar surcharge. Does that work for you?”

At this point, I would pay a million bucks to get somebody out here tonight, so two-hundred dollars sounds like a bargain. “That sounds great. And they can put in the alarm and keypad and everything tonight?”

“That’s right.”

I let out a breath. “Thank you so much.”

Philip sits down next to me and watches me curiously as she takes the rest of my information down. I can’t even imagine what he’s thinking. Although at this point, I’m not sure I care.

“What the hell is going on with you, Nora?” he asks when I finally get off the phone. “I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but you’re acting really strange lately.”

“Taking one sick day is strange behavior?”

“For you? Yes. Absolutely.” He nods at my phone. “And what’s that all about? Why are you getting a million alarms and cameras for your house? You live in a ridiculously safe, boring neighborhood.”

“Better safe than sorry.”

He frowns. “Can you please tell me what’s going on? Look, I know sometimes you think I’m an asshole, but you can trust me. We’ve known each other forever.”

I look at Philip’s handsome features. When I first met him, I thought he was yet another arrogant surgeon, but I’ve come to respect him in the last several years. He’s a really good surgeon. Maybe even better than me, if I’m being honest, although he’s been at it more years. But I also think he’s a decent human being. Even if his ex-wife would vehemently disagree.

But this isn’t about trusting him. If I tell him who my father is, he’s going to look at me differently. The same way Brady did. And if I tell him about the blood in my basement or the rotting hand in my trunk… Well, there’s a very reasonable chance he might call the cops. I can’t take that risk.

“I’m fine,” I finally say. “I promise.”

“So,” he says, “you’re not going to tell me then.” I shrug.

He lets out a long sigh and crosses his muscular forearms. “All right, I’m not going to force you. But if you want to talk, I’m here for you. Or some sensitive shit like that.”

With those words, he gets up and leaves the lounge, presumably to get to his next surgery. I bite my lip, wondering if I should have told him the truth. But no. I’ve been keeping this secret for twenty-six years, and I’m not about to divulge it to anyone now.

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