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A Real Woman Knows a Real Man
By Nina Black
URBAN SOULCopyright © 2010 Linda W. Smith
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThirty-two-year-old Sasha Michaels loved her new position as nurse supervisor at Hope Hospital in Huntersville, Virginia. The job and her decision to return to her hometown was a nice transition as a new beginning for herself and her son, Craig. Since her return in the middle of June, she'd made new friends and reestablished an old friendship she'd left behind as a teenage bride.
During her lunch break in the employees' lounge, Sasha sat chatting with Pam. She felt a tingling in the pit of her tummy, however, when Dr. Eric Prince, dressed in blue scrubs, breezed into the room. To her, Eric Prince was a gem of a brother. He had that "it" factor. Six feet tall, he was great-looking and reeked of charisma. His complexion was a golden brown, and he had amber-colored eyes that were both heavenly and hypnotic. And Sasha was always tempted to touch, to feel the natural wave pattern and fine texture of his close-cut hair.
Dr. Prince lavished a warm smile on Sasha and Pam Hayes, the ward clerk, as he stood at the vending machine. He scooped his soda out of the bin. "Ladies, how are you this busy day?"
"We're hanging in. This week we had a baby boom," Sasha said. "The other nurses told me there was a heavy snowstorm during the months of December and January in Huntersville. Conditions were perfectfor mating." She smiled.
Chuckling, Dr. Prince dropped down on the leather sofa and propped his feet up on the table, which was cluttered with old magazines and newspapers. "Yeah, it was one chilly winter. We're going to have lots of kids sharing the same birthday week," he said, looking amused. "That's for sure."
Dr. Prince took gulps of his drink, then began a conversation with Pam about her husband, whom he knew from the gym.
Sasha tuned out their conversation and focused on her private thoughts of Eric Prince, obgyn. Breathing deeply, she couldn't get over how self-conscious she became of her appearance when he was around. Whenever they worked together on the floor or in the delivery room, she was always rushing around in her loose pink scrubs, thinking her hair was a bit frizzled. She couldn't deny her attraction to his personality, which was a mixture of charm and arrogance. But what really turned her on was his confidence. What woman could resist a man who knew who he was? she mused.
Sasha had heard rumors that Eric Prince wasn't about monogamy. From what she had learned, he was a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy, making the rounds with all the available women in town, and quite a few at Hope Hospital. Yet his reputation didn't keep the women from wanting a chance with him, hoping they could change him and become the next Mrs. Prince.
Pam had told her that he had turned into a player as soon as the ink dried on his divorce papers. According to her, Dr. Prince had gone to the Caribbean and gotten a quickie divorce. He had found out his wife was cheating on him and made the split immediately.
Men have a way of moving on and letting go of such situations much easier and quicker than women, Sasha had thought then. It had taken her nearly three years to pull herself together from the humiliation and shame she'd endured in her marriage. Her ex-husband had remarried and begun a new family. Now she was a single mother with a fourteen-year-old son.
Since her ex-husband's wife had twin sons within the year, he hadn't had much time to devote to their son, which made him feel not wanted by his father, and left her to deal with his moodiness.
Suddenly, a nurse's aide pushed open the door, seeking Dr. Prince. "That young girl is frantic and getting loud. The nurse said she is nearly dilated and you should come."
"Here we go again. See you ladies later," Dr. Prince said, hurrying out of the room.
Pam turned to Sasha. "He's been one busy man. He delivered three babies through the night and one of those was a C-section delivery."
"Yeah, I've seen the charts. He's been here since late last night. He still has two women in labor." Sasha thought of the rounds she had made since arriving on her shift that morning.
"By the time he leaves here, he'll have to check in at his private practice. He won't have time to play with that Mia Evans. Have you heard about those two?"
"You know I haven't. I've only been here three months and I don't know many people, so I don't hear any gossip."
Pam leaned toward her. "Let me put you in the loop. Girl, it seems that Mia and Dr. Prince had a thing going on for about a month. Mia was walking around with a goofy smile on her face. I can imagine that Dr. Prince knows how to treat a woman when he is between the sheets." She laughed softly. "Anyway, Mia and Dr. Prince were having lunches together and had been seen out in clubs, hanging in darkened corners, making out like teens. Mia was bragging about what she thought she had with him. She really believed she was going to be someone special in his life, but the next thing you know, Dr. Prince had cooled on her and directed his attention elsewhere."
"My goodness, you sure have all the info. Where in the world did you learn all of this? Is this on a hospital blog or something?" Sasha laughed softly.
"Leave me alone, girl. I have my sources. I've been here nearly five years, so I know almost everyone who works here. Believe me, at times Hope Hospital can be like a reality drama, with all the secrets of the people's personal lives. I love coming to work to see what the new episodes will be."
"You are too much. So tell me, who is Dr. Prince seeing now?" Sasha grinned.
"Well, I have a feeling it's this Dr. Gabrielle Ryan. I don't know how long that will last. She is way too serious. You'll see what I mean if you get to meet her. I don't think it'll last long. Dr. Prince likes a woman who is more down-to-earth." Pam looked Sasha in the eye. "You're mighty interested. I've got a feeling you've been smitten by his charm. And ... you could be one of his ladies. You're attractive-the kind of woman he likes. Oh, by the way, I caught him checking you out as though you are some kind of tasty pastry." She pointed her finger and grinned. "Hey, you could be the next one on the Prince's bliss list. Look out." Then Pam burst into laughter.
Sasha's eyes widened, and she could feel the back of her neck growing warm. She didn't want to admit to Pam that just the thought of being with Eric Prince was enticing. But she didn't plan on having her emotions toyed with. Fighting back a demure grin, she said, "I hardly see that happening. I don't have time for his kind of games. I bet when he learns I have a fourteen-year-old son, it will be a major turnoff. I can't think about another man. My son is the only man I can think of for now. Not only is that boy almost as tall as I am, but he's beginning to be a handful."
"I heard that. But if I was you and Dr. Prince approached me, I sure would have dinner with him. You know who you are, Sasha. You're not desperate or flaky like most of the women he's been running through. I believe you could slow him down and give him a bit of structure to his life again. I can see you as the kind of woman he would respect, lady."
Sasha smiled at the compliment. "Well, this isn't a problem for me. He hasn't come on to me. We're only professional colleagues and nothing more."
"You're attracted to Dr. Prince. I've seen the way you smile at him and how the tone of your voice is a bit sweeter when you're talking to him. Heck, I could go for him. He is a charmer. I love those light eyes of his; they're amazing. I can hold his stare but so long," she said with a bit of humor. "He makes me almost want to forget I'm married and be one of his playmates."
Pam and Sasha burst into laughter.
"You're something else. When I do meet your husband, I'm going to tell him about your decadent thoughts."
"You wouldn't dare," Pam said, feigning fear. "Dr. Prince is fine, but no one can make me leave my sugar bear. I lucked out when I married him."
"You're lucky to be able to make it work. Marriage is hard work."
"It is. I hope you haven't given up on it because of your divorce. You're an attractive woman and should really consider giving marriage one more try."
"Despite all the gossip, you won't find a more caring and better doctor than Eric Prince. He has a successful private practice, and his patients all adore him. I knew Dr. Prince before he was divorced. All of this going from one woman to another is a phase, I believe. He's only trying to hide his disappointment. He dates one woman after another, and it appears you've chosen to shut your emotions down completely for men."
"Well, thank you, Oprah," Sasha teased.
Pam excused herself to go to the restroom.
Sitting alone in the lounge, Sasha knew she had done a good job of hiding the attraction and interest she had in Eric Prince. Although she was fond of him, she had no plans of flirting with him. She had no time to play the kind of games he was into at the moment. She reminded herself she had returned home to Huntersville, Virginia, and Hope Hospital for a fresh start and to place behind her all the negative emotions tied in with her ex-husband Trey's marriage and the recent birth of his twin sons. Also, Huntersville was her chance of placing her teen son in a healthy emotional environment. She believed he needed the change more than she.
The door to the lounge burst open. It was Dr. Prince. He stared at Sasha. "May I get you to assist me with this delivery? Our teen mother, Aisha, is asking for you. It seems as though you've made a bond with her."
"Sure. I don't mind. I'm done eating. I'll be right there." As he disappeared, Sasha jumped to her feet, cleared her trash, and tossed it.
Pam returned to the lounge.
"I'm going to assist Dr. Prince. That teen mother has asked for me to help with his delivery."
Just as she headed for the door, she felt her cell phone vibrate in the pocket of her uniform. She flipped the phone open and recognized the number of her son's middle school. She moaned, getting Pam's attention. "Oh my goodness. It's my son's school. I wonder what happened. Will you call this number for me and check to see if he is all right physically? Anything else, I will deal with once I'm done with the delivery."
"Sure thing," Pam said, taking down the number she saw on the phone Sasha held for her to see.
Sasha entered the delivery room and arrived in the midst of Aisha's cries of discomfort. Dr. Prince stood before the young teen, instructing her in a quiet tone. Aisha's mother, a few years younger than Sasha, stood nearby, looking helpless.
Sasha eased up beside Aisha and took her hand.
Just for a moment Aisha offered a smile of gratitude. Her face was drenched in perspiration, and her hair had become fuzzy around its edges from the restless shifting during her labor. Her smile faded and was replaced by a wince. "I need something for pain. I can't do this-I can't," Aisha moaned.
"I don't want you to fight the pushing feeling. Give in to it," Dr. Prince said as he sat on a stool between his patient's bent knees. "I can see your baby's head."
"We're getting there, Aisha," Sasha said, maintaining the grip Aisha had on her hand. "Hang in there and push, sweetie."
Squeezing her eyes tightly, Aisha strained and pushed.
"Good. Only a couple more and it will be over," Sasha told her.
Nearly every time Sasha witnessed a teen girl delivering her first child, she was taken back to the memory of the birth of her son. Then she had had only her grandmother to stand by her side. Trey, her son's father, had doubts placed in his mind by his parents as to whether or not Sasha was really carrying his baby. Trey's mother thought a girl like Sasha, whose mother had died a junkie, was up to no good and only wanted to hook up with Trey because he had a bright academic future and a burning desire to become a doctor. Though Sasha had swallowed her pride and gone to Trey's mother to assure her tearfully that the baby was indeed Trey's, his mother had turned a deaf ear to her. His mother couldn't wrap her mind around the fact that Sasha was nothing like her mother, who had a reputation of sleeping around to get money for her drugs. She had made it clear to Sasha that she didn't want her in their family. Yet once her baby was born and Trey and his family had seen the infant, all the doubts faded. Craig came out resembling the baby pictures of his father, Trey Michaels.
A loud groan from Aisha let Sasha know that the baby was coming fast. She took a seat on the bed beside her patient and placed her arm around her shoulder, urging her to sit upright to make it happen sooner.
"This is it, Aisha. We're going to do this," Sasha said. "I want you to breathe deeply and push with all your might." Sasha breathed hard and deeply, so Aisha could imitate her.
Aisha did as she was told and pressed down as hard as she could.
"You're doing great, Aisha. Keep it up. Your baby is coming." Dr. Prince smiled at his patient.
As though Aisha was her daughter, Sasha continued to coach in a caring tone. During the last big push, Aisha let loose a loud groan and gripped Sasha's hand so tightly, it ached.
When the baby emerged completely into the doctor's hand, Aisha fell back onto the bed, breathing heavily.
Sasha smiled. She took a cool cloth and wiped Aisha's face. "You did it, Mommy. You did a great job."
"A strong, healthy boy." Dr. Prince grinned. After clipping the umbilical cord, he laid the squealing, trembling baby on the tummy of an exhausted yet joyful Aisha.
As Sasha beamed and cooed at the baby, Eric Prince was hit by an intense feeling of admiration for his nurse. The look on her beautiful face captivated him. His heart lurched. Sasha stirred emotions within him and renewed his soul. Dr. Prince noticed her passion for nursing. The look on her face was ethereal; it was what made him want to get to know her in more than a carnal sense. His player days were over, he decided. His goal from this moment on would be to fit into Sasha's world and have her share his.
Sasha observed Aisha's teary eyes, which revealed the love and pride she felt in that first magical moment of motherhood. Sasha felt a glow of emotion in her heart. For her the miracle of childbirth never grew old. Noticing the grandmother standing with her face wet with tears, Sasha offered her a warm smile and went to bring her into the circle that was her family.
As the grandmother took hold of the infant's hand, the anxiety melted from her face. Then she kissed and embraced her daughter, whispering endearments.
"You're a beautiful-looking family," Sasha said. "From the glow on your face, I know you're going to be a wonderful mother."
Holding her baby, Aisha stared at Sasha. "Thanks for hangin' around for me. I couldn't have done it without you."
"The pleasure was mine," Sasha said. "We're going to take the baby in a moment to clean it and have it checked by the pediatrician."
While the baby was being attended to, Dr. Prince handed Aisha's chart to Sasha and drew her into a lingering glance. When he stared at her, Sasha noticed a sparkle of admiration. She was flattered. Her heart skipped a beat; she had become mesmerized by his awesome eyes.
"Great job with Aisha. You made this delivery a lot easier. I was certain we were going to have a much harder time with her. She was so afraid of the delivery," he informed Sasha. "A few of the doctors had mentioned how good you are, especially with our young mothers. Most of the time when I get the teen moms in, we have a time. I mean, they scream and can really carry on. I wish more of the nurses had the quiet yet stern rapport with the younger ones the way you do." He patted her shoulder. "If you need me for anything else on Aisha, I can be reached in the cafeteria. I need coffee and something to eat before my other delivery begins. My next patient should be ready in a couple of hours. You want to assist me?"
"I'm going to have to leave, Dr. Prince. My son has this thing at school and-"
"No problem." He smiled and strolled from the room.
After he left, Sasha could still feel her heart racing. While she added notes to the doctor's orders, she chided herself for getting so flustered. Yet she liked the way he'd made her feel. He reminded her she was still a woman with healthy desires.
Excerpted from A Real Woman Knows a Real Man by Nina Black Copyright © 2010 by Linda W. Smith. Excerpted by permission.
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