Relentlessly Reckless
Author:Lucy Covington

I followed him down the hallway back toward reception.


“Hey, Carter,” the receptionist said when we got there. She was in her early twenties, and pretty, with blonde hair and green eyes. “Working hard or hardly working?”


“Always working hard, you know that, Jenna.”


Carter introduced us, and Jenna gave me a warm smile. “You’re lucky to be working with Carter,” she said. “He’s the best.”


“I’m looking forward to it,” I said. It was obvious this girl had a crush on him.


And honestly, who wouldn’t? Carter was smart, he was nice, he was good-looking.


Justin. His face popped into my brain, and I pushed it right back out, annoyed at the intrusion.


“I was just about to go to lunch,” Jenna said. “Think you can hold down the fort?”


“Holding down forts is my specialty,” Carter said.


Jenna smiled and then grabbed her purse. “Nice to meet you, Lindsay,” she said.


“Nice to meet you too.”


As she walked out, I realized Carter and I were alone. Like, really alone. I wondered again if he’d done it on purpose. And then I wondered if I’d be disappointed or not if I’d found out he hadn’t.


Carter pulled out his iPad. “So did you read the study overview I sent you?” he asked as he pulled up the patient schedule.


I nodded. He’d sent me a paper explaining the study Dr. Klaxon was involved in.


Apparently Dr. Klaxton had gotten a grant from the government to help develop a new weight loss drug. They were in the testing phase now, giving the drug to patients to see if it had any kind of significance in helping them lose weight.


“Good,” Carter said. He turned the iPad toward me and showed me the schedule for the day. “So we’re going to be seeing five different patients today, asking them how they’re handling the drug, administering their meds, recording their weights, that kind of thing.”


“Cool.” My heart soared. Yes, it was a lot of paperwork and routine measurements. Some people would find it boring. But not me. It was working with patients, which was the only thing I’d ever wanted to do in my life.


Suddenly, there was a loud noise from the waiting room.


“I’m here!” someone called. “Everyone! I’m here!”


“Oh, God,” Carter said. He leaned in close to me, so close that I could smell his shampoo. “Brace yourself.”


“Brace myself?”


“Yup.” Carter grinned. “Devorah’s here.”


A woman appeared at the reception window. She was wearing bright pink lipstick, a tight lime t-shirt, and she was a holding a toddler, who was wiggling and trying to get down. “Stop it, Frederick,” she admonished him.


Frederick wiggled some more and then reached for the basket of lollipops that was sitting on the ledge of the reception window. “Frederick!” the woman said. “You know you get the lollipops at the end, and only if you’re a good boy!”


“Ahh, it’s okay, buddy,” Carter said, giving the kid a warm smile. “You can have a lollipop now.”


Frederick beamed. “And then one after, too, right, Carter? Two lollipops, right?”


“Right, bud.”


Devorah shook her head. “I swear, this kid has no self control.” She bit her lip and thought about it. “Although I guess shouldn’t really talk!” She laughed, a big guffaw that echoed through the whole waiting room.


“Now, Devorah,” Carter said. “You know what we talked about. Food and overeating can be an addiction. It doesn’t mean you have no self-control.”


“I know, Carter,” she said, and sighed. “You always know exactly what to say to make me feel better.”


She was looking at him like maybe she was in love with him. Not in a romantic way or anything. It was more that she thought maybe he was going to be the one to save her. I was impressed. I wanted someone to look at me like that, to know that I was having that kind of impact on someone who was struggling.


“Of course,” Carter said. “Now why don’t you go back to exam room one, and I’ll sent the nurse in to take some blood and get you started.”


Devorah headed through the door, her son still on her hip, eating his lollipop happily.


“That’s Devorah,” Carter said. “She’s a really nice woman, but she loves to tell me everything that’s going on in her life.”


“Do most patients do that?”


He shrugged. “It depends. Some of them talk and talk, some of them get quiet and just sort of zone out. I think it depends has on how nervous they are. I try to just take my cue from them, put them at ease by matching their energy, you know?”


I nodded, taking in everything he told me. Obviously I knew I was going to learn a lot about science and medicine at college, but this kind of information – about dealing with patients and actually being in a medical environment – were the things I was most looking forward to.


We waited a few minutes so the nurse could take Devorah’s vitals, and then we headed for the examination room.