Thursday, March 12, 2009


This night was turning out to be very interesting; many of her male colleagues were tripping over themselves, bombarding her with a flood of compliments, many which were often very short with Rusty, not bothering to even give her the time of day and, those that did excluded her from out of office gatherings. She didn’t have to say anything just nodding and pretend to drink her champagne while they spoke only to themselves and over one another. As they did the auction continued on. Knowing she would be up soon Rusty excused herself to the powder room to freshen up.
Max watched his lady leave the cluster of salivating men and walk toward the powder room. Excusing himself from the group he was standing with he followed in her direction and was stopped short by Dr. Cade and a passel of provocatively dressed women. Not wanting to be disrespectful Max allowed himself to be absorbed into another conversation about how great Boston General was. It seemed like he was working his way up to offering him a job. Max wouldn’t leave Angel Pass for anything. Not after he finally found the place.
Sera knew that Rusty’s knew identity was going to make this masked auction ball the most successful of all of her auctions. She had to suppress a giggle as she walked up to the podium to introduce her secret weapon.
“All right everyone, I have surprise entry. Russet Foster everyone” Sara exclaimed , She made a hood with her hand over her eyes to take down the glare of the spotlight looking for Russet out in the sea of people in the ball room. Suddenly she spotted her coming toward the podium from the direction of powder room. Motioning to the man behind the spotlight, pointing in the direction of the woman approaching, the spotlight swung in her direction and the crowd began to murmur with anticipation.
When the spotlight landed on Rusty, she almost lost her courage to go through with her plan. She could hear ‘who is she’ whispers of the crowd and that brought back her gumption. ‘These people didn’t know her’ she thought. ‘They would never see her again after tonight’. This was her one night of absolute freedom, consequence free because Russet only existed in her mind and on her birth certificate. After tonight she would pack Russet up along with the rest of her Boston gear and store them somewhere safe in a closet in Angel Pass, Montana.
Rusty tossed her head over her shoulders and caught the eye of the closes man to her left giving him a wink she put on the greatest cat walk performance of her life. She walked to the front of the podium gave herself a spin and walked back toward the center of the stage and struck the most fierce pose she could think of while she was being auctioned off.
Before Sera could give the crowd information on what they would be winning if they’d won her, bids were being shouted out. It was just as she suspected. She smiled and the auctioneer began her duty.
Max was not going to let his mystery lady walk away in the arms of another man. Not today. The bid was already up to five thousand dollars and he knew that at the rate that it was climbing he was tired of waiting.
“Ten thousand dollars” he yelled out. Interrupting the chattering women clustered around him. Jaws dropped and heads turned and a buzz of excitement ricocheted through the crowd. 
“Alright” Sera said “I have ten thousand dollars, do I hear twelve thousand.
“Fifteen” said a voice in the corner
“Twenty-five” called out Max and there was a hush that was broken by the auctioneer. This was a room full of doctors but not many have seen bank accounts like his. It was time to separate the men from the boys.
“Twenty-five going once… twice… sold to the tall sexy man standing next to Dr. Cade for twenty five thousand dollars. Sera yelled,” Come claim your prize. With that the crowd exploded into applause as Cade made his way through the crowd amidst the congratulations and shoulder pats.
Cade felt like he won the lotto…

“Are you sure that Rusty Foster is going to be here tonight.” Dr. Max Washington replied suddenly cutting off the incessant babbling of the chief physician of the pediatric unit at Boston General. “I was looking forward to meeting him before he appeared at work Monday Morning. 
‘He?’ Dr Cade thought. He must have misheard him, brushing off the thought he continued on about the successes of the pediatric unit enjoying the sound of his own voice. The tiny P. A. affectionately known as Nurse Rusty was far from male. He made it mandatory that she be here. Although she technically wasn’t a member of his staff any longer she was good at her job and did what she was told. Dr. Cade began to look around as he babbled, the auction was about to start where was Nurse Rusty?
Max who stopped listening to Dr. Cade as he continued on began to look around room. A guy with a name like Rusty stereotypically should have a rugged look, maybe even a beer gut or maybe he was a young skater type guy who liked his job as much as he liked to hang out with a shaggy kind of look. Max surveyed the room looking for all men who fit that description when his gaze reached the entrance hall of the ballroom and the most beautiful woman walked through, he was stunned. Every step she made exuded confidence from the roots of her glorious mane to the bottom of her however many inch stilettos. This was a woman who knew what she wanted. She wore a tiny smirk on her face that said ‘I know something you don’t’ and as if she could feel his gaze out of the million others focused directly on her she turned toward him, looked him right in the eye and her smirk became a smile.
Who is that?” Max asked Dr. Cade again interrupting his chatter.
Looking up Dr. Cade reached for his glasses hanging around his neck and focused on the young women walking toward the bar “I don’t know she doesn’t work for the hospital whoever she is or I would know her, she must be the guest or daughter of one of the other physicians” said Dr Tanner Cade. “I have worked for this hospital for twenty-five years and I never forget a face. She does have a familiar look but I don’t recognize her so she must favor one of her parents that work at the hospital” Dr Cade said massaging his mustache “Or…she was just hired.” giving voice to his doubts that he just may not know everyone.
From the moment that ‘I don’t know’ left Dr. Cade’s mouth Max turned toward the woman and began walking toward her. He could hear Dr. Cade still rambling about not knowing the girl but the fact that Max had walked away and Cade was still talking confirmed the fact that he was mostly talking to hear himself speak.
As Max approached the woman he began to realize how compact this lady really was. When she walked through the door she could have been about six feet for how she drew his attention but as he got closer she was barely over five feet in height if that not to mention that she was wearing very high heels. Max was never one to be attracted to short women but for some reason he was drawn to her like a magnet and she was the purest form of metal in the entire room. When max reached her he stood there for a moment and breathed in her scent. Suddenly the orchestra began playing Strangers in the Night. Not one of his favorite songs but it was slow and slow songs meant bodies rocking gently in the sweetest of harmony. He would be able to take her into his arms without her for calling for security.
“May I have this dance?” the deep voice poured over her body giving Rusty a little shiver. Glancing up from the drink she just began to nurse she looked up at the man leaning against the bar to her left and her breath caught in her throat he was gorgeous. Rusty had to tilt her head all the way back to look at the deep blue eyes gazing down at her and the smoothest rustic complexion that made you want to run your fingers through his red hair, the combination was unusual and she was hypnotized. Without saying a word Russet held out her hand and allowed herself to be led out onto the dance floor.
Max didn’t want to let her go, giving her a tug he wrapped his arms around her and rocked slowly to the music she fit perfectly into his arms like she was made just for him. He never wanted to let her go. For the first time in his life he was terrified that a song would end and he would have to let her go. She would never come back. With that thought he held her tighter. Words would ruin the moment and not speaking would deny him another moment… what on earth was he going to do, whatever it was he needed to do it quickly because the song would end.
Russet inhaled the scent of his cologne and exhaled any doubt that this was not where she was supposed to be at this very moment. Her head laying on his chest and listening to his heartbeat knowing with everything within her that its rhythm matched her own. This was the type of man she could spend the rest of her life with, the type of man that could make her forget everything just being wrapped in his secure embrace. The type of man that knew what he wanted and went after it. She smiled to herself, this man had only asked her to dance, lead her to the dance floor pulling her close and rocked her slowly but… she didn’t doubt anything that she felt about him. She would put money on it and the one thing that Rusty didn’t play with was her money, it was the key to her future.
“Excuse me everyone” said one of the hospital coordinators standing at the podium cutting into the music and ending their dance. “The auction is about to start. Can all of the volunteers please come into the lounge to the left of the podium”
Rusty could not move her head from this man’s chest. With every ounce of will power she brought her hands up and laid them flat against his chest to give her some leverage to help her unglue her head from where it laid. But it worked against her because instead of Rusty using her hands to push off his chest she was now using them to caress him against the rock hard muscles that clenched underneath her palms.
“If you don’t stop doing that I am not going to be able to control what happens next.”
His remark startled Rusty and she jerked up looking directly into his striking blue gaze and was greeted with breathtaking smile, not trusting herself to speak she returned his smile disengaging herself from him turned around and walked toward the lounge with all of the other volunteers to be auctioned off.
This night was turning out to be better than Rusty ever imagined. She had a new confidence as she walked away from Mr. Sexy as Hell. Walking into the lounge Rusty was surrounded by all of her colleagues where she normally was greeted with warm welcomes and mothering until she secretly couldn’t stand it, but today she was gawked at with open curiosity. Finally Rusty was approached by the Nurse Practitioner Sera Steinworthy. Sera was average height and a slim build with the kindest eyes and sweetest disposition one could want in a person.
“Excuse me ma’am but only hospital staff can be auctioned off today, although I’m sure we could get a pretty penny for you. You are absolutely gorgeous.” Rusty should have known that Sera would make her feel welcome without even knowing it was her.
“I do work here Sera” Russet said placing her hand on Sera’s arm. 
“You do, I’m sorry” Sera said looking like she was delivering the worst news she could ever imagine but you would have needed to register by May 5th in order to take part in the auction. We don’t have enough packages available for another body but, that is a good idea for next year’s auction. The only volunteer who hasn’t checked in is Nurse Rusty…what is your name?
“Russet” Rusty replied giggling inside.
“I do apologize, Russet but in order for you to take part in the auction your name needs to be Rusty Foster”
“Sera do you think I could speak to you outside of the lounge for just a moment”
“Why sure dear” Russet followed Sera Steinworthy out of the lounge and into the ballroom. Gesturing her over into a corner she gave her the news.
“Sera it’s me Rusty” she whispered.
“Now Russet it’s quite mean of you to pretend to be someone that is near and dear to my heart. Nurse Rusty is not as tall as you and a little bit tamer. Now I’m sorry but I have to go” As she turned to walk away Russet placed her hand on Sera’s arm in a feeble attempt to stop her from walking away, Russet ripped off her mask.
“Sera, it’s me Rusty, look at me, ask me any question that only Rusty would know, can’t you see that it’s me all done up I’m the Pediatric units P.A.” Said Rusty sounding a little desperate she moved her hair off of her shoulders and looked Sera straight in the eye.
“Well I’ll be darn, Rusty Foster it that aint you?
Max watched the exchange between his mystery woman and the hospital coordinator and he thought that it was going to get violent when suddenly the woman threw her arms over his lady then grabbed her by the arm leading her back into the lounge but before they went in they stopped.
“Sera, I want to be auctioned off as Russet, not as Rusty. Russet looked pleadingly into Sera’s eyes hoping that she wouldn’t have to say anymore.
Sera looked into the eyes of the beautiful woman that she considered a friend and her heart broke a little.
“Russet is it? She said squeezing her hand in understanding. “So now I guess you are going to deny me the privilege of informing everyone here of who you really are?

“Please” She said letting a little of the Rusty inside slip out. 
“Rusty no one at the hospital has ever trusted me with a secret before. You have always been such a kind friend to me and I am glad that I get this one opportunity be just that to you.” She wrapped her arms around Russet again squeezing her tight. Don’t you dare be a stranger when you move, you have my number and I’m expecting you to use do you hear me” She said firmly.
Russet too choked up to say a word nodded twice and for once in her life she did something she never did before. She hugged her back. 
“Now let’s not mess up our make-up” Sera cried wiping the tears from her face. Come on Russet let’s get you auctioned off. Before they entered the room Rusty placed her mask back on her face.
When Sera and Russet entered the room all eyes turned toward them. Sera made no attempt to introduce and explain Russet to anyone of the volunteers, she just continued on as if nothing happened.
“Everyone, I need to get your attention. I need all of you to remember that when you are called to the stage I need you to walk as if you are a fashion model and when you get to the end of the catwalk I need you to turn around slowly and wait until I tell everyone what your packages includes. We are trying to beat our last year’s totals of eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars and we are going to need the help of all of our volunteers to accomplish this. Now all of you go back out into the ballroom and as you leave out the lounge door take a number. We will call you to the stage by number announcing your name as you step onto the stage. Now everyone tell your significant others to have their wallets and purses ready if they expect you to spend this evening with them.”With that everyone started filing out of the lounge everyone one of them giving her a curious look but none of them approaching her.
When the last person left the lounge Rusty exhaled the breath she hadn’t realized that she was holding.
“Russet, there aren’t any more numbers in the bowl, I hadn’t placed a number in there for Rusty being that she never showed up” She said giving her a wink. “So”…reaching in her folder for something. “Here is the last number you are number twenty-seven. Let’s have lunch tomorrow and talk all about your date before you head off to your new town Okay.” She said with a bright smile.
“I don’t know, I have a lot of packing still to do.”
“Well do you need any help” Rusty considered her offer and although she travelled light, because the studio she rented was furnished, the only thing she needed to pack was her clothes and toiletries she went ahead and agreed to Sera’s request to help her pack. Turning toward the door Sera called her name before she left. With one hand on the door she turned back to Sera and saw her smiling back at her.
“Knock ‘em dead Rusty” Russet gave her a bright smile and continued out of the door.