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Delphi Reynolds slung her purse over her shoulder and headed down the hall of the now-silent medical office. She was ready to get home, pull off her nursing "scrubs" and put her feet up. It had been one hectic day.
Dr. DeWitt Zellers stepped into the open door of his office, a ready smile on his face. Delphi had been thrilled when she'd secured a position with the senior Dr. Zellers straight out of nursing school. He had a well-deserved reputation as one of the South's finest surgeons. A year ago, his son DeWitt had taken over the practice when his father retired. DeWitt Zellers was charming, paid his employees well and was highly regarded, both personally and professionally, much as his father had been. In the past year Delphi and De-Witt had chatted often. The young doctor was more than personable.
While she was always aware that she worked for him, they'd become friends. He'd consulted with her on his anniversary present for his wife and invited Delphi to his daughter's third birthday party. Likewise he'd given her advice on dating and men. Delphi liked and trusted him. DeWitt was sort of like the big brother she'd never had.
"You got a minute before you head out?" he said.
"Come on in." He waved her into his office, closing the door behind her. Everyone else had left for the day but they'd gotten into the habit of chatting after hours, usually just a quick few minutes. However, today he looked fairly intense. "I wanted to talk to you about something."
He rounded his desk and sank into his Moroccan-leather chair.
DeWitt had gone with her suggestion on Macy's anniversary gift a couple of months ago. His wife was short with dark hair. She carried some extra weight and had thick, heavy features but you couldn't beat her devotion to her husband. The romantic side of Delphi loved the fact that the handsome doctor was so enamored with his rather plain wife. Delphi liked Macy well enough, but they didn't have a common lifestyle. Macy was a socialite. Delphi was a worker bee. But Macy had loved the piece of jewelry Delphi had suggested so maybe there were a few similarities after all.
DeWitt's office was well-appointed functionality. His diplomas, accreditations and accolades, all tastefully framed and matted, nearly filled the wall above his credenza. Along with his medical journals, an assortment of beautifully framed photos shared the credenza: him receiving his diploma, flanked by his mother and a beaming Macy; and DeWitt, Macy and their daughter, Chesney, on the beach, a smiling trio surrounded by sea grass and sand.
His office portrayed professional success and familial devotion. One glance at that wall said it allDr. DeWitt Zellers was a great guy.
Delphi stood behind one of the "guest" chairs opposite his desk. It had been an incredibly busy day and she was ready to go home and relax. DeWitt, however, didn't seem to be in any hurry. He sat, his fingers templed in front of his mouth. It was the look he always had when he'd figured out something important or made a decision. She couldn't exactly put her finger on it, but something had been sort of "off" about DeWitt lately. Maybe he was just stressed out. She hadn't pressed him because sooner or later he'd tell her if he wanted to. However, she was sensing a weird vibe from him now.
He rose, rounded his desk and stood behind her, close behind her, as in she could feel his breath against her neck. It was a little creepy. Laughing uncomfortably, Delphi stepped to the right, since the chair blocked her way forward and he blocked her from behind. She turned, laughing again with a mixture of surprise and a little nervousness. "What's up?"
He closed the distance she'd put between them. "Delphi, this is driving me crazy. We just can't fight it any longer."
She was totally lost. Were they still talking about a present for Macy? What was driving him crazy?
He leaned in closer. His breath smelled like the hot dogs Barb had ran out to the corner deli to grab at lunch, and breath mints. It wasn't a good combination. "There's no need to play coy. I know how you feel about me and I feel the same about you." He reached for her and she sidestepped him.
Holy hell. He was acting nuts. "DeWitt Dr. Zellers ." Pulling in his professional title seemed a really good idea right now. "We're friends"
"We both know it's so much more than that"
What? "No, it's not."
"Baby, there's no need to keep hiding it. God, I'm going crazy wanting you, thinking about you."
"But Macy Chesney ." He definitely needed to be reminded of his wife and child right now because he obviously wasn't thinking clearly.
He caught Delphi's hand in his. "I can't leave her. Her father has too much influence. He wouldn't ruin my career but he couldand woulddo some damage." Delphi tried shaking off his hand but he had quite a grip going. A seed of panic bloomed in her chest. "Besides, Macy would screw me out of everything and ream me on child support for the next fifteen years. But that doesn't mean we can't be together." The sly glimmer in his eyes was as disconcerting as his words. "I've found this great condo between the office and my house. I could set you up there. The title would be in your name, but I'd cover the payment ."
She finally regained her voice. "You want to set me up as your mistress?"
"I know it's not the same as being married, but it would be just for a few years, until I'm more firmly established and Chesney's a little older."
He thought her outrage was because he wouldn't marry her? "You already have a wife."
"That's what I'm saying. We can work around it."
It? "You're so missing the point."
"I know the condo isn't as big as where Macy and I live." He'd taken on a supercilious tone, much as if he was the mighty physician trying to explain a complicated illness to a simpleton. "But it's bigger and much nicer than where you are now"
He reached over onto his desk and handed her a color brochure. "I think you'll like it. Gated. Great location. A sound investment."
Stupefied, she took the brochure and glanced at the property while he prattled on about them buying furniture together. It was definitely nicer than where she was now.
"I know." Before she could stop him, he had pulled her to him and was kissing her frantically, plunging his tongue into her mouth.
After a moment of shocked paralysis, she used all of her strength to shove him away. "Stop!"
Her hands were shaking. Her trusted employer and friend had turned into someone she didn't know and didn't want to know.
As he reached for her again, she darted around the second guest chair, putting it between them. "Delphi?
He looked wounded and confused, as if she'd slapped him in the face.
"DeWitt, I thought we were friends. Why would you even think I was interested in anything more?"
"Delphi, we don't have to play this game. You don't have to be coy." Impatience threaded his voice.
There was that word againcoy. "I'm being honest. Outside of work, we're friends. Nothing more. You're married^
"I told you, baby, Macy won't be a problem. You'll see."
He just wasn't getting it. "The only thing I see is that you're not the man I thought you were."
He shrugged. "What's the big deal?" An arrogant smugness settled on his face. "All powerful men have a mistressit's part of the personality of leaders, men of importance. Macy knows she's lucky to have me."
He was serious. Delphi felt physically sick to her stomach. It was one thing if that was how he saw the world, but that he'd think she would feel the same way
He and his idea were repugnant.
She wanted to tell him that was the most ignorant, obnoxious thing she'd ever heard come out of a man's mouth. He was, however, her employer. She chose her words carefully. "DeWitt, I'm not interested in you that way. And even if I were, I'd still never act on it because you're married and that means something to me."
"Do you understand what I'm offering you?"
"It has become crystal clear. And I hope it's crystal clear how I feel about your offer." She moved toward the door, her heart thunking hard in her chest.
"Sleep on it."
"I don't have to sleep on it." She opened the door.
"You're making a mistake."
She was so upset she ignored the not-so-veiled threat in his words. "The only mistake I've made was thinking you were someone else. I feel sorry for Macy. She deserves better than you."
She closed the door behind her, quickly and quietly exiting the office suite.
Delphi walked through the employee entrance the next morning, greeted by the familiar scent of antiseptic.
Despite exhaustion, she was resolved. She'd hardly slept, if at all. She'd tossed and turned, looking at it from every angle. Had she inadvertently led him on? Had she misconstrued their conversation yesterday? Regardless, there was still only one course of action. She would quietly give her two-months' notice. Given the nursing shortage, she should be able to easily find another job in that time frame and it would give the practice some time to replace her, as well, without disrupting the flow of the office. She'd keep what had happened between the two of them quiet, even though at one point she'd considered telling Macy about it. In the end, she'd decided it was better to keep it to herself.
If Macy ever came to Delphi and asked her about anything, Delphi wouldn't lie, but she wouldn't approach Macy Zeller either.
She hadn't finished putting her purse away when Debbie, the receptionist, put her head around the door. "Doc wants you in his office. He said for you to come as soon as you got in."
She thought she'd made it clear last night where she stood. But it was just as well. She'd tender her resignation verbally and give it to him in writing tomorrow. While being friends was no longer an option, she didn't want to leave on a sour note. She'd end things amicably and they'd each go on as if that unfortunate kiss and proposition had never happened.
She gave a cursory knock and opened his office door. Delphi drew up short, slowly closing the door behind her, her mind racing. Macy stood beside De-Witt, who was seated behind his desk.
Her stomach clenched. "Good morning."
"Have a seat, Delphi," DeWitt said, his stern tone remonstrative.
She would've liked to have refused, but her legs were shaking so much, sitting was probably a good idea. She sat.
"This is very difficult to do," he said again in that austere tone underlaid by a weary patience, "but you've really left me no choice. Here are your separation papers. You'll be escorted from the premises."
"You're firing me? I've left you no choice ?" Forget protecting Macy. "You came on to me. I was going to offer my resignation this morning anyway. I can't work with you."
"You said she'd try to turn it around," Macy said, placing her hand on DeWitt's shoulder. He placed his hand over hers. The devoted, loving husband. "Your ploy isn't going to work, Delphi. DeWitt told me everything last night. I feel sorry for you, we both do, but we simply can't let you get away with this."
"What is it that I'm trying to get away with?" Her mouth was so dry she could barely get the words out.
"When he refused to leave me for you, you demanded he buy you your own place " She wielded the condo brochure like a prosecutor presenting evidence to the jury. " or you'd come to me with some lies to try to break us up. You're sick, Delphi. You need help. But you've picked the wrong couple to extort. You won't break up our family."
It was like being in the middle of a nightmare and not being able to wake up. She couldn't quite believe what she was hearing.
"Macy, I've known you both for seven years. Do you really think I'd do this?"
Delphi saw it, for just a moment, the bleakness in the other woman's eyes. If Delphi wasn't the bad guy, then it had to be her husband. And if it was her husband "DeWitt wouldn't lie to me."
Macy couldn't see the small smirk that curved her husband's mouth. Delphi eyed the other woman with compassion. "You have to believe what you have to believe."
DeWitt picked up his phone and hit a button. "Debbie, if you'll call security to my office. They need to oversee Ms. Reynolds collecting her personal effects and escort her from the building."