DAMON SANTAMONICA, M.D.
I stopped at the door that screamed Marie’s husband’s name, and hesitantly knocked on the door. An old, white-haired woman opened the door, giving me a motherly smile. “You must be JJ Romero?” she said, letting me in. She had me seated on the chair across a desk filled with stacks of folders on the left, and a cup full of pens and pencils. On one end of the desk, there was a calendar filled with notes of the appointments and meetings, and next to it was a picture of kids, which look like her grandchildren. She handed me a form to fill up and a blue ball pen, and I thanked her.
Name, Age, Birth Date… I stopped when I reached the Name of Spouse. I would definitely love to put Miguel’s name there. And maybe my name should have been JJ Santillan now. And this would absolutely work best—the new surname—if this is the Damon that I am thinking about.
“Dr. Santamonica will be out to see you in a few minutes,” the old lady, named Delia, said in a soft tone. Again I thanked her, handing her the finished form. At that moment, the door opened, and when I saw the face of the guy standing at the entrance, I had hoped I came to another cardiologist.
“Jennifer,” Damon greeted, a welcoming smile on his face. I looked up, my face hard, and said in a cold voice, “That’s JJ—and has always been.” Delia looked between Damon and me, confusion on her face. Damon pointed the door to his clinic. “Come in, JJ,” he said, and I followed grudgingly.
Damon’s office was decorated with his achievements from way back his bachelor degree days up until he got his medical degree. There were also a few certificates of participation from the seminars and conferences he has attended, and one shelf was filled with books and awards and picture frames. One picture was taken on his wedding day—Marie looking so beautiful in her pristine white gown, and Damon dashing in his suit. Wide smiles were pasted on their faces.
My one-year affair when I was in college has found his true love.
“Jennifer,” he said, and I twirled to face him. “I told you, it’s JJ,” I said through gritted teeth. Damon remained indifferent, a smile still pasted on his face. He motioned for me to sit down, and I did.
“Jen—” Damon stopped midway my name when he saw my dark look. “JJ,” he said patiently, “Whatever happened before—or hadn’t happened—I am sorry.”
I smiled bitterly. “I went here because Marie told me her husband’s the best cardiologist in this hospital,” I said instead. “And how come you’re now a Santamonica? You were a Mondragon when I met you. What, when you got married you changed your surname—shit.” I caught myself, for I was panicking already. “I don’t want to know, okay? Forget I asked. Can you just refer me to another cardiologist? I can’t stick with you.”
Damon breathed deeply. “And what would you tell Marie that you’re passing me up?” he asked, challenge evident in his voice.
My voice got stuck in my throat. Marie had been Myrna’s gynecologist, my college friend Bea’s gynecologist, and my gynecologist. She has been the best, and is well-known in her profession. I heard some celebrities are also her patients, and boy, I knew I’d regret it if I’d lose her as my gynecologist.
“God, I hate you. I hated you when you made me fall for your lying, scheming ways. I hated you when you left me, I hate you now because you’re going to make me lie to my gynecologist and a friend,” I said, seething.
“JJ, calm down. I can’t check you if you’re this… stressed,” he said, and I glared at him. He stood up and sat across me, and he reached out, but I flicked his hand away. “I know I hurt you before, but I told you… you and I were just not right for each other,” he said, and I rolled my eyes.
“Because I was younger, yeah, I remember,” I said bitterly.
“Jennifer,” he said, his voice getting firmer now. “And yes, I’m still calling you Jennifer because that’s how I knew you,” he said, shooting my glare down. “For old times’ sake, please stay with me. You’re about to give birth in how many months?” He grabbed the form that I have filled up earlier. “In four—three months. And this is crucial, Jennifer. You’ve got that same heart condition as you had when we were—” Damon stopped, meeting my cold gaze.
“Together,” he finished. I opened my mouth to think of a nasty retort, but couldn’t come up with anything.
“I still can’t believe you got yourself pregnant, when I told you it’s dangerous for you,” Damon said casually.
“Sorry, I should have kept that in mind when my boyfriend was making love to me,” I snapped, and I stood up. His office didn’t have any windows, and I was deeply yearning for air.
“Look, why don’t you come back tomorrow for your checkup? You’re still bothered by seeing me, and…” Damon’s voice trailed, and I faced him.
“I’m doing this because of Marie, and because I know you know my situation best. But I will tell you, Damon, I don’t regret getting pregnant. That’s the last thing on my mind,” I told him. “I will come back here tomorrow afternoon, around 6 PM.” I picked up my bag and was about to leave when Damon stopped me by grabbing me by the arm.
“Jennifer, I am sorry for the past. But please, I am happy now, and I can see that you are happy as well. Can’t we just bury our past behind us and—”
Damon stopped when he saw my jaw hardened. “You know the answer to your question,” I said coldly.
He sighed. “I’ll tell Delia to free up my 6PM,” he said resignedly. I nodded and left his clinic.
As soon as I reached the hospital’s entrance, I checked my cell phone. Five messages—all from Miguel. There were the same number of missed calls as well. My paranoid boyfriend and my babies’ father.