Chapter 7: Starlet
A man without emotions really doesn’t leave room for dignity. But Byron had never been affectionate to Candice, and in fact had been indifferent as hell.
Candice put the lunch box away and straightened back up, but she didn’t move. She felt grievance at his attitude. “I’ve only ever been in love once, and I’ve had a man once. But I don’t really understand things between men and women too well. Perhaps it was inappropriate of me to thank you this way, but I didn’t have any further intentions. I won’t bother you any further.”
She thought she had expressed herself clearly, but Byron only paid attention to one point: she had a man once.
She seemed to be implying that this was the background they needed for a history together. Now this was quite a winning trick. Her complaint brought his interest once again back to her.
This woman was very good.
Byron walked closer to her, closing the distance to just a couple of feet before he stopped. “You had a man once. Was that your husband, or me?”
Candice subconsciously tilted her head to look up at him.
Byron’s lips were so close to her. There’s a saying that if a man has thin lips, he will naturally be fickle. But that was total nonsense.
Byron’s lips were neither thick nor thin. Like him, they were light, tough, and neat.
She hadn’t bled that day. Byron was an old hand, and he would have felt it. She was just playing dumb.
Her shoulder only came up to his chest. “I’m not a man you can tie down simply by getting me into bed. If you don’t know any better tricks, then don’t bother.”
She still wasn’t skilled enough in seduction for him.
Women were plenty capable of digging themselves a hole. But Candice lacked the spirit to chase him. Byron hated women mindlessly pursuing him, but as a man he more or less expected some skill involved.
Candice’s mom had sought out Byron once she was moved to the general ward, but she hadn’t been able to see him. because he was too busy with surgeries. But today Candice had just arrived for her visit to the ward with a meal, and that’s when she saw Byron.
He was holding a hospital file in his hand for Miranda Scott, cardiovascular bed 1, in the care of Doctor Roger Myers.
Candice’s mom was lying on the bed. “Doctor Wilson, I heard Doctor Myers say that you asked him to come visit.”
Byron turned his head to listen to the nurse’s report on her condition, then replied good–naturedly, “Your daughter and I know each other.”
“You’re friends? She’s never mentioned you.”
Byron paused for a moment, then clarified. “Not really.”
Fearing a misunderstanding, Candice pushed the door open. “Doctor Wilson is busy. Why are you taking up his time?”
The nurse informed her that Byron was standing in for Doctor Roger for the checkup.
Candice choked, seeing Byron so skillfully fiddling with the stethoscope. She couldn’t hold her silence. “Go ahead and check then.”
Between male health and cardiology, there was a lot of difference in expertise.
Byron ignored her and examined her mother patiently.
“There’s nothing amiss.” He turned around. “Menstrual irregularities. Perhaps an iron deficiency.”
Candice suddenly realized he was talking to himself. Regardless, he was correct. Her period was often delayed, but how did he know that?
“Are you a psychic, Doctor Wilson?”
“You look weak.” Byron leaned forward and lowered his voice. “It must be a guilty conscience.”
Candice glanced at him and then turned her head to dish out the soup.
Miranda suddenly remembered something while she was eating. “The medicine in your bag fell out on the floor. I picked it up for you. Aren’t you and Rufus preparing to divorce?”
Candice was surprised, but then understood. It was her box of morning–after pills. She had taken one and then stuffed. the box into her bag before forgetting to throw it away. Not. wanting to make a scene, she quickly made up an excuse. “Nancy bought them and then left them with me.”
Miranda wasn’t very gullible. “Isn’t she single right now?”
“She just met someone new.”
“Candice, you don’t want to go down the wrong path. The man you’re with right now hasn’t been decent enough to marry you yet.”
Byron calmly took off his stethoscope.
Candice just wanted to change the subject. “I know what I’m doing.”
Miranda looked sad. “If you are a divorced woman, you’ll have to take extra care when picking the next husband.” She turned to look at Byron with adoration. “It would be great if you met a man as serious and responsible as Doctor Wilson…”
“Mom!” Candice glanced at him out of the corner of her eye with an uncomfortable expression.
Byron smiled slightly, not saying a word.
Once an idea took hold, there was no stopping Miranda. “Are you married, Doctor Wilson?”
“He’s got kids!” Candice raised her voice. “It’s so embarrassing to ask him that!” If Byron thought she had asked her mom to pursue this conversation then she really would be in hot water.
“I’m just asking, not trying to set you up with him.” But Miranda was shocked. “You have kids?”
Byron’s eyes didn’t slow as they skimmed over Candice. “I’m not married, but I have someone I like.”
Miranda sighed with regret. “I’m not surprised. You’re so handsome.”
Candice couldn’t stay there any longer. She went downstairs to the cafeteria to take a look around.
The girl who had been in Byron’s office was there buying buns, carefully shaping them into a heart in her lunch box. She turned around and found herself face–to–face with Candice. She immediately felt worried that Byron would find out the truth of where the food had really come from. “Don’t say a word! Otherwise we’re going to have an issue.”
Candice didn’t have much to say to her. “You brought him fried rice from the cafeteria, and he still didn’t eat it?”
“He never anything I bring. I’m a terrible cook…” The girl answered in reaction and then glared at her. “Mind your own business!”
Candice remembered Byron’s reaction to that particular move, but she kept her mouth shut. She turned to go, but the girl didn’t want to let her leave so easily.
“You have a husband, and you’re still chasing other men?”
“I have no intentions toward him.”
“Then why did you bring him lunch on Wednesday?”
“I owed him a favor.”
The girl was aggressive. “What kind of favor?”
It was like an interrogation, and Candice wasn’t in the mood to cooperate with her. “You’ll have to ask Byron.”
Harry happened to pass by at that moment and greeted the girl. “Doctor Byron won’t be seeing patients this afternoon. You’ll be able to find him in his office.”
The girl clutched her lunch box and hissed a warning at Candice. “We’ll settle this next time.”
When she had gone, Harry asked Candice, “Did you offend her?”
What offense was needed? When a girl obsessed over a man, she saw every other female as a rival.
Candice ripped open the ice cream she had just bought. “So Doctor Wilson is not running his clinic this afternoon. No
wonder he was assigned to help out in the cardiovascular ward.”
Harry pushed open the back door to the cafeteria, letting them out onto the lush grass. He leaned back against the wall. “Doctor Wilson offered to take over for Doctor Roger. And yet the andrology department has a waiting list for next week. He’s not free at all.”
Candice was confused by this. Byron had actually taken the initiative just when Candice thought he was avoiding her. She thought about it some more, assuming he must just have a guilty conscience.
It was just like a man to try and make amends after the fact.
She finished her ice cream as she lamented. “Today’s young women are all so scheming.”
Harry puffed on his cigarette. “How old are you?”
He sighed. “You’re not exactly old yourself.”
Candice finally voiced her curiosity. “I heard that Doctor Wilson has someone he likes. Is she a nurse at this hospital?”
Harry looked askance at her. “Where did you hear that?”
He smiled meaningfully. “You’re paying attention to him. So many women like him.”
Candice waved her hand awkwardly. “No, it’s just something I heard in passing.”
Harry surprised her with his answer. “Doctor Wilson was also crazily in love once. His starlet was named Vicky. She was an actress. A classic beauty the same age as him.”
Apparently, Vicky’s first love had been a director, and they courted for six months. Her second boyfriend was a videographer who won a national award. Finally, she married a man old enough to be her father, and they had a son together.
Candice felt that Vicky was very ambitious. Byron wasn’t exactly a bad pick. He wasn’t the top, but he was still very quality. Usually, he was the one being picky about women, not the other way around.
“So she likes talented people?”
“She liked Doctor Wilson too.”
That only left one reason, then. “So she likes older men who can offer some security?”
Harry was amused. “What woman actually likes an older man? Nobody’s attracted to wrinkles and baldness.”
Candice couldn’t figure it out. “Then what happened?”
Harry blew a smoke ring. “There are some women who are just inherently bad, so bad that most people can’t stand it. They can be well–behaved in public but oh so bad behind closed doors. Men can’t resist them. Falling in love with one is very exciting.”
Candice thought uncomfortably back to Rita. She was also bad, and Rufus was wrapped around her finger.
Harry continued. “Vicky broke up with the videographer, and that’s when she had a brief fling with Doctor Wilson. She took him for a few hundred thousand dollars, opened a bar and a beauty salon, and not long after that met a man with billions to offer. So our good Doctor Wilson was tossed aside, which left him quite depressed for a while.”
A rough road had shaped him into the indifferent, frivolous man he was now. It would only continue in a vicious cycle.
Candice had trouble picturing the cold Byron lovesick over a woman.
“And um…” Harry stopped mid–sentence.
Candice followed his gaze and turned to look behind her. Byron had come out at some point and was standing there in a fresh white lab coat.
Two things flashed through Candice’s mind: well–dressed and handsome.
A man like him was poisonous.
Instead of trying to hide it, he brightly displayed his danger. Whoever fell for it would never wake up again.
She averted her eyes as Harry greeted him. “Your fangirl started some trouble with her in the cafeteria, so I came to the rescue. She’s quite funny actually. Her husband was blind to not see what a gem she is.”
Byron looked at him. “You’re so talkative.”
Harry patted him on the back with a wink. “I didn’t say too much.”
They turned to leave and Candice made to follow, but Byron brushed past to admonish, “That’s quite a wide net you’ve thrown with your flirting.”
11 788 Vouchers Candice stopped to seriously explain. “Doctor Wilson, I’m not in a hurry to find my next husband. I’m not even looking right now.”
Bryon took out his cigarette case and put one between his lips. “Doctor Harry is ambitious. His ex was a forensic scientist, and the one before was a nationally certified dance instructor. You’re not his type.”
“Just like you?” Candice asked rhetorically.
He squinted at the building in the distance. “That’s right. We have different types we like, but neither of us is into your kind of plain appearance. Don’t waste your energy.”
“Plain appearance…” Candice thought for a moment she’d misheard.
She had a great waist–to–hip ratio and rounded breasts. Her legs weren’t long but they were shapely. There was nothing plain about her.
“Do you need glasses?” she blurted out.
Byron‘ made up his mind, leaning against the door frame to slowly examine her from head to toe. He finally took the cigarette out of his mouth and extinguished it. “I usually see too much, but don’t like most of it.”
Candice wasn’t as flirtatious as Rita, but she wasn’t as bad as all that either. Still, he was tired of looking.
Byron was the head of a hospital department, with financial resources and social standing. She couldn’t stand among all the beauties who chased him enough to make him notice.
“Your mother will be discharged from the hospital
He dropped this last sentence and then left.
That evening, Candice ran into him again in the parking lot. He was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle, and a woman was behind the wheel. The woman this time was closer to his age, with curly hair. She had a flat chest but looked quite mature.
The woman tentatively climbed into Byron’s lap, looking up at him without knowing what to say.
Byron remained calm, sending messages on Whatsapp without seeming to pay her much mind.
“Shall we go to my house?” the woman asked.
His voice was low. “What’s at your house?”
“Me.” The woman gently snaked her arms around his waist. “And a new pair of pajamas.”
Byron finished with his phone and finally turned his
attention to her. “You’d look better without them.”
Taking this as acceptance of her invitation, the woman. looked delighted. But he pushed her hands away. “I have other plans this evening.”
She was greatly disappointed. “What about tomorrow night. then?”
“We’ll see.” His ambiguous reply wasn’t agreement.
The woman did her best to change his mind, throwing herself into his arms. Candice honked her horn, intentionally reminding them that they were taking up the road.
Byron turned sideways and the woman with him also sat up straight. The car reversed back to clear the way.
The woman was already unhappy about being disturbed and lowered the window to snap at Candice. “Don’t you know how to drive?” She looked contemptuously at the other woman’s mini BMW, which was much less impressive than Byron’s high–end Jaguar.
“I honked the horn.”
“You’re driving a piece of junk. I could barely hear it.”
“That’s Doctor Wilson next to you. Don’t waste your money and have him register you straight away with the ENT department. They specialize in deafness.”
She passed around the Jaguar. Byron glanced out the window at her as they moved apart.
Candice was normally kind, but in his eyes she had become jealous for no reason. He loosened his collar. He still wouldn‘ t touch her.
Candice left the hospital and put the incident out of her mind. Her first priority was negotiating with Rufus.
Since they had separated, Rufus had moved his mother into their home. When Candice arrived she found all her things. piled on the balcony under a layer of dust. His mother was settled in the master bedroom.
Candice fought back her temper and explained her intentions.
Rufus stared at her, then sneered. “Do you have proof?”
“You signed over our joint marriage property while we were still married without my consent.”
He didn’t take Candice seriously at all. “I have a high income and pay the mortgage, so what does it matter to you? I’ve prepared the divorce agreement. The car is yours, and you’ll not get a penny more. Sign it and get out of here.”
Candice felt a chill at his attitude. “Rufus, when I wanted to marry you my father said you were unreliable but I didn’t believe him. The day he was cremated, you excused yourself on a business trip. You didn’t even act as a proper son–in- law for his funeral. Where were you really? Caught whoring and in detention at the police station… or in Rita’s bed? I’ve lived with your lies for all these years, but I can’t live that way any longer. I expected you to have some conscience, but instead you even took all my money. You must enjoy living the soft life.”
The words “living the soft life” touched a sore spot on Rufus‘ s ego and he flipped the table, screaming at her to get out.
Rufus’s mother blocked her in the doorway. “That’s money that Rufus earned. You’re the dishonest one, trying to take his hard–earned savings.”
Candice trembled in anger. “You almost killed my mother and ruined my reputation, but you’ve never asked how many scandals your son had behind my back!”
Rufus’s mother bit back. “My son was so upset by your cheating that he went to another woman to vent his frustrations!” She rushed over to the balcony, grabbed
Candice’s suitcase of clothes, and threw it out the door. “You have no right to be in this house!”
Candice finally saw just how dirty they were willing to play. “It was Rufus who cheated on our marriage! You guys worked together to set me up!”
Rufus’s mother was a great actress. She took off her shoes, mussed up her hair, and lay down to cry in the middle of the community garden. It didn’t take long for the neighbors to come out and comfort her, scolding Candice for being so shameless.
It took Candice a lot of effort to escape. There were raw eggs matting the back of her hair and she was a terrible mess. She didn’t dare to return to the hospital, so she went instead to Nancy’s house.
She walked in and stood in the hallway, looking like she’d come from the depths of Hell.
Nancy was shocked. “What happened?”
Candice didn’t make a sound.
Nancy hadn’t expected their marriage to end well. Rufus had always regarded Candice like a plate of vegetables, which he didn’t really want to eat. When someone as tantalizingly spicy as Rita had come along, how could he resist?
Nancy handed her a towel. “Is there any way to get your property back?”
Candice shook her head, covering her face. Suddenly she asked, “Have you heard of Doctor Byron Wilson, at the New York General Hospital?”
“Isn’t he the legendary hero?”
Candice didn’t understand. “What legendary hero?”
Nancy beamed with joy. “No matter how serious the disease, under his scalpel men come out cured. People come to see him from all over, not just locals.
Candice didn’t care about any of that. “He’s not like a normal person.”
“He’s not normal!” Nancy widened her eyes. “He has status.”
Rufus had really pissed off Candice. However, he had made many powerful connections over the years. If Candice just hired a lawyer, her case would surely be crushed.
The only person she knew who could fight him was Byron.
She did some planning, then asked Rufus to meet her at the Service Center the next day at noon.
She arrived in the afternoon after leaving him waiting two hours in the heat. He wasn’t very happy and commented, “You’re so late.”
“Let’s do this paperwork.”
He was dubious. “You’re not going to fight for the property?”
Candice sneered. “Can I compete with you? If you have the guts to take everything, then just take it.”
Once he had the divorce papers, Rufus couldn’t wait to post on Whatsapp: “Happily single–all comers welcome.”
Candice noticed that when he unlocked his phone, the password wasn’t actually Rita’s birthday anymore. She pretended not to notice. “When are you going to marry Rita and bring her to live with you in the house?”
“You’re so annoying!” Rufus angrily countered her.
She understood. He’d been dumped again.
He lit his cigarette. “Is your mother feeling better?”
Candice resisted the urge to kick him. “She’s still alive, and out of the hospital now.”
Rufus didn’t have anything to say after that.
After a few minutes, Candice asked, “Have you been reinstated at work yet?”
“Of course.” He looked smug. “They need me for the project.”
When Rufus left the Service Center, Candice got a call from Jervis. “You did it?” He sounded surprised.
Candice had messaged him earlier to ask for advice on recovering her assets. His fiancée, who was a lawyer, had replied truthfully, “He can take it all.”
Jervis seemed uncomfortable. “This whole thing with Rufus. wasn’t done right.”
Candice thanked him. “What happened with Rita?”
“She was his secretary for less than a week before she hooked up with his boss.”
The queen bee had used him as a starting point to get ahead. Now Rita could reach the vice president for status.
Rufus would be devastated by the double loss of his love life and his career status.
Byron worked at his clinic over the weekend. Candice got out of the elevator and headed straight to the first specialist room. There was an intern collecting registration strips in the hallways. When he saw her, he left to inform Byron in a whisper, “Doctor Wilson, your patient is here.”
Byron was busy writing prescriptions. “Wait your turn.” He addressed Candice directly, but she didn’t move.
The man at the desk simply lowered his head, then raised it again.
Her face was slightly pale and she looked pitiful. As their eyes met, he was silent for a moment and then set down his pen. “Come here.”
Candice followed him into the office diagonally across the hall. He unlocked the door and moved to sit on the couch.
She dithered for a moment, then asked, “Can you beat Rufus?”
Byron looked bemused. “In what kind of fight?”
He rested his chin in one hand. “I’ve never tried.”
Candice thought quickly. “Then what about in court?”
“Get a lawyer.”
Candice clenched her jaw with resentment. “Everything is his now. I can’t get it back.”
“You’re still in love with him.” Byron was sarcastic. “So you want revenge.”
Candice opened her mouth, but all that came out was a cry. Byron watched her, noting that it was just the right amount of tears. Crying women were effective in making men want to protect them. Tears were an excellent weapon. Men didn’t really mind if the tears were real or fake.
If she had cried harder, Byron might have softened his heart. But she wasn’t doing it very well. “What is it you want?”
“I want to ask you for help…”
“Why should I help you?” Byron remained cold as ice. “I have no reason.” He really didn’t have any reason to wade through such a mess for people he hardly knew.
But Candice didn’t give up. “Doctor Wilson, do you have a girlfriend?”
Chapter 8: I Want to Pursue You