Home > Alphas Like Us (Like Us #3)

Alphas Like Us (Like Us #3)
Author: Krista Ritchie




4 Years Ago






I head to the hospital’s break room in blood-splattered scrubs. As I pass the ER beds, a few patients side-eye me, but not because of the red stains. They scrutinize my dyed white hair and my visible tattoos: the inked symmetric wings on my neck, the writing on my fingers, and more. Basically, I’m far from looking like a poster boy for Doctor of the Year.

But I’m not about to slow down or glance back at these patients unless they’re coding or I’m called to help.

I know better.

At Philadelphia General Hospital, I’m used to the constant gawking, and that shit bugs me about as much as water would a shark.

I just do my job. I save lives and watch some end. I go home, and unsurprisingly, it starts all over again.

See, being a doctor shouldn’t feel mundane. It shouldn’t feel anything close to ordinary, but it’s all I’ve ever fucking known, and it’s getting to me.

Really getting to me.

I push through a door. 11:54 a.m.—medical interns and residents jam-pack the break room. Standing and sitting, talking loudly and eating. Pizza boxes overflow the few tables and counters where a pot works overtime to brew coffee.

I don’t ask about the spontaneous pizza party. It’s always someone’s birthday in the hospital, and there’s always cake.

As hungry as I am, I need to change out of these scrubs. I’m about to reach the door to the men’s locker room but a voice stops me.

“Keene, what’d you get?” Tristan asks from across the crowded break room.

I comb a hand through my bleach-white hair. Some of the residents quiet down, listening for the answer.

Short and stocky Tristan MacNair leans on the windowsill, pepperoni pizza in hand. His sideburns touch his jaw as though he’s stuck in the 1970s, and his curious eyes flit to the bloodstains on my scrubs.

I wouldn’t say we’re close friends or even enemies, but he’s a Med-Peds intern like me.

“Thirty-year-old male,” I tell him, “stab wound to the neck with a key and to the upper abdomen with a knife. Couldn’t intubate or ventilate, so he needed a cric. Morris did the chest tube.” Apparently this fucker attacked a female runner this morning, and she keyed his throat. He fell on his own knife.

Karma is a beautiful bitch.

“Who did the cric?” Tristan asks.

My brows rise. “Me.”

Dr. Leah Young, a second-year resident, almost drops her pizza. “Morris let you do an emergency cricothyrotomy?”

“Yeah.” I made an incision between the cricoid and thyroid cartilage in the patient’s neck to obtain an airway. Normally my lips would upturn, but my excitement towards medicine has waned this whole month of August.

I grab the doorknob, about to leave.

“Your shift ending?” Tristan asks, quickly straightening up and balling his napkin.

I nod. “Done for today. You?”

“Just starting.” He stuffs his mouth hurriedly with pizza. He wants in on that patient.

Too bad for him. “The guy was tachycardic and hypotensive,” I tell Tristan. “We just sent him to the OR for surgery.”

“Dammit,” he groans, then slumps and swallows his food. “I always miss the good ones.”

I wouldn’t have minded trading places with Tristan, and that—that’s a fucking problem. For most of my life, I’ve wanted in on the action. Excited to learn new things, to do new things with medicine.

To help people.

Now I’m willing to just hand over an emergency cric and tube thoracostomy.

I want to blame it on my 28-hour shift, but I’ve had much longer shifts and been more tired than this.

When I enter the locker room, I shut the door, drowning out the commotion. Cedar lockers line every inch of wall; most cubbies house white coats, extra clothes, toiletries, some books and snacks.

I find mine in a corner.

It takes me a couple minutes to change out of my scrubs and into a Smashing Pumpkins V-neck and black pants. My mind tries to reel, but I’ve done a great job most of my life not overthinking shit.

I’m not starting now.

By the time I pocket my keys and grab my motorcycle helmet, my phone rings. I check the Caller ID and then put the cell to my ear. “What do you need?”

My father rarely calls to shoot the shit, and I’d rather cut to the chase.

I hear him rustling through papers. “What rotation do you have this week?” he asks, his tone warm and relaxed. One of the many reasons why the three famous families (Hales, Meadows, Cobalts)—his patients—essentially love him.

He even has a small ponytail and drinks fucking mint juleps and mojitos on the weekend, but simply put, he’s not a laidback, soon-to-be-retired physician. He’s constantly working, and I can hardly picture my father hanging up the white coat.

I sling my backpack strap over my shoulder. “ED.”

He knows that stands for emergency department. “Does your shift end soon?” He must be typing on a laptop, keys click click click.

“Just ended.” I shut my locker.

“I’m in Spain for the week—”

“I heard,” I cut him off. “Ryke Meadows is climbing a five-hundred-foot cliff.” He’s a skilled professional climber, but the Hales, Meadows, and Cobalts like to ensure if the worst happens, their concierge doctor is present.

“Right,” my father says a little bit distantly, his attention split. “I got a call, and you’re in distance.”

Finally, we’ve reached the point. “Call” means “medical emergency.” And I know exactly where this conversation is going.

I lean my shoulder casually on my locker. “I just got off a twenty-eight hour shift. Ask Uncle Trip to take your calls.”

“He’s here with me in Spain.”

I roll my eyes. Shit. “I’m not a concierge doctor.”

“You will be after you’re board-certified,” he says more clearly, loudly—assertively. “You’ve joined me on enough calls. Think of this as a test-run for when you take over as their primary physician.”

I shake my head on instinct.

I know what I want to say.

I quit.

Two words.

Two words that I should be able to spit out. I can tell the old man fuck you fine, but I can’t say I quit.

It has more to do with me than my father. Once I tell him that I want to quit my residency and change career fields, I have to be sure that I’m ready. I have to be able to burn the white coat and be completely satisfied.

I can’t vacillate between maybe and I don’t know. I have to fucking know. Or else my father will try to convince me to stay, and I need to confidently shut that shit down.

He’s the gateway to my freedom from medicine. From a generational legacy that has consumed me for an entire lifetime. Once I open that gate, I need to walk through and never turn back around.

Right now, in this moment…I’m not a hundred-percent sure yet, and I’d rather speak to my father face-to-face than say those permanent words over the phone.

I tuck my helmet beneath my arm. “Let me call you back when I get to my apartment—”

“Farrow,” he says quickly, concern tensing his voice.

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