When Rhiannon Worthy was just a few weeks away from graduating high school, her mother, Abigail, suffered a stroke, which left her unable to communicate or recognize faces. Rhiannon’s sister, Rosalind, flew in from Massachusetts and took full control of the situation, assuring her little sister, “You’ll graduate and start college as planned.”
While not possessing the computing abilities of her older sister, Rhiannon had an aptitude for Biology and Chemistry, and, moved by the care of her mother received at the long-term facility Rosalind found for her, she decided on a career in nursing. Once she had her degree and license to practice, she packed her bags and headed to Portland, Oregon, where she’d received an offer from Armstrong Memorial Medical Center. It was here, while subbing for a friend in neurology, she fell under the scrutiny of the head of the department, Dr. Daniel Winthrop Hawkins.
Rhiannon had known women during her time in college who saw Nursing as a means for snagging a rich doctor, but she, like most of her colleagues, viewed her profession as a means to help others and serve her community. When Dr. Hawkins first expressed more than a professional interest in her, she politely demurred, not wanting to become involved with a married man, especially one whose wife was in charge of the Foundation which oversaw the hospital. As he persisted, she found herself in an increasingly difficult position, both wanting to avoid the Doctor’s not-so-subtle advances, but at the same time not wanting to anger someone who could have a detrimental effect on her career.
She very discreetly brought up the Doctor in conversation with her fellow nurses, as well as her supervisor, just to gage the reaction. She learned she wasn’t the only young woman who had caught his eye, though no one would ever admit to more than being a passing interest.
“He’s such a flirt,” one of her colleagues said. “I suppose if you’ve got it, you flaunt it.”
One evening, Rhiannon stopped in at an expensive restaurant to pick something up on her way home to treat herself after a long shift. She noticed Dr. Hawkins at one of the tables. Seeing her, he came over.
“Nurse Worthy,” he said. “I’m glad I ran into you. I feel I owe you an apology.”
“An apology for what?”
“In some of our exchanges, I may have given you a misguided impression of my intentions,” he said. “In doing so, I may have caused you some discomfort and I wanted you to know that was never my intention.”
“That’s quite all right, Doctor Hawkins,” she said. “I usually gave you the benefit of the doubt.”
“Still, I sincerely wish to make amends for that.” Noting the menu in her hand. “Would you allow me to buy you dinner? I see you’re ordering take out. The food here is delicious, but nothing quite beats the ambiance.”
Rhiannon considered it. “Actually, that would be nice.”
They had a very pleasant dinner together and Rhiannon was surprised to find that once he dropped his “important doctor” façade, Daniel was rather charming. They talked about their families, and he displayed a great deal of pride in his son and daughter. He also seemed to show a genuine interest in getting to know her. After dinner, he insisted on driving her home, rather than leaving her to public transportation, and at her apartment building, he offered to see her to her door. In a move she would second guess for many months afterward, she invited him in for a drink.
It was the start of a three-month affair between them.