Bethany Meets Her Match


Lisa Lin

She’s always felt unstoppable until him…

Bethany Lee thrives on achievement and challenge. She’s attended a top tier medical school and chases that with a prestigious ER residency in her first choice New York hospital. Now she’s vying for another prize—a fellowship that will pay off her medical school debt and prove to everyone she has what it takes to win. It’s hers until she hits a wall. A very tall, dark and handsome infuriating wall.

Ethan Wu loves his new life in New York far from his controlling mother back in Taiwan. His residency in ER medicine is enjoyably challenging, inspiring him to explore remaining in New York permanently. On the advice of an immigration attorney, he applies for a fellowship. He’s a dream candidate, but one beautiful and irritatingly competitive contender stands in his way.

Soon Bethany and Ethan compete on everything in and out of the ER, including cases, making dumplings and playing board games. They discover they make an unbeatable team. But with their future goals on the line, can they learn to fight for something beyond work—like love?

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Chapter One

Green had always been her favorite color, but after thirty-six hours wearing the same antiseptic and unappealing seafoam scrubs, Bethany was ready to swear off green for the rest of her life. But at this particular moment in time, she had bigger fish to fry.

It was a Friday night, and the emergency room at Whitford Nash Memorial Hospital was hopping. It was July Fourth so that meant the ER was packed with idiots who had decided getting drunk and getting cute with the fireworks was a brilliant idea. Or getting drunk and picking a fight at the family cookout with Cousin Jared, resulting in broken beer bottles and plenty of blood and stitches.

Her current patient was still worked up and telling her all about Cousin Jared.

“I can’t believe that son of a bitch did this to me!” Louis Keller fumed. “We were having a perfectly good time at the park, then he just had to start. Jared threw the first punch, but I’m the one here at the hospital. He’s lucky he’s family, or I really would have done some damage.”

Bethany raised a brow at the blustering as she continued to stitch him up. “What were you two fighting about? It better have been worth all this.”

Mr. Keller had the grace to look abashed.

Curiosity getting the better of her, she demanded, “Well?”

“We were fighting over baseball. I’m a Mets fan; he’s a Yankees fan,” he mumbled. “A Yankees fan,” he repeated, his outrage building again.

Bethany rolled her eyes as she finished up the stitches. “You’re lucky the broken glass didn’t do more damage,” she lectured.

“That’s what the wife said. She’s pissed beyond belief. I’ll be lucky if I don’t end up on the couch tonight.” It was amazing the amount of private information patients volunteered. Unemployment, marriage troubles, orthodontist bills for the kids, crappy bosses, the works. It was anathema to her own upbringing where it was beaten into her early that some matters were meant to be private and family business stayed in the family.

“Speaking of your lovely wife, I think we’re done here. So why don’t we bring her back in and I can give you both discharge instructions and you two can be on your way?”

Mr. Keller gulped and hung his head.

For good reason, apparently. A few minutes later, a petite curly-haired brunette barged into the bay. “You big lousy jerk,” she seethed through gritted teeth.

“Hon, don’t be like that.”

“Don’t you hon me,” the wife insisted. “I just wanted a nice holiday with the family, but you couldn’t even do that for me, could you?”

“Debbie, not in front of the doctor,” Mr. Keller implored.

Debbie turned her attention to Bethany. “Can I take him home now?”

Bethany cleared her throat and tried to keep the amusement out of her tone. “Yes, Mrs. Keller. I have a prescription for some antibacterial ointment, and some paperwork with instructions. You can come back in a few days or make an appointment with your own PCP to get the stitches removed.” She handed over the paperwork as the couple continued to bicker.

“Aren’t you going to thank Dr. Lee?” Debbie demanded after taking a quick glance at Bethany’s name tag.

“Thanks, Doc,” he parroted obediently. “I gotta admit, I was a little skeptical at first and almost asked for a male doctor. But you did a nice job, so my bad,” he admitted with a no-harm no-foul tone.

Bethany did her best to keep her composure. It wasn’t the first time a patient had made similar remarks, but it never got easier. It rankled that she was automatically overlooked and doubted by some because of her gender. However, it made it all the sweeter when she proved them wrong.

Instead, she maintained her professionalism, for which she truly deserved a medal. “Not a problem. Be careful out there. And don’t take this personally, but I hope I don’t ever see you back here again.” It was what she always said to her patients at the end of the visit. It usually got a little chuckle. But not this time. The Kellers left the bay as they kept arguing.

Bethany shook her head and looked at her watch. She had fifteen minutes before the end of her shift. With any luck, she could go home, take a nice long shower, and collapse into bed. And there were big Tupperware containers of her father’s famous three-cup chicken and her mother’s tomato and eggs calling her name in the fridge. She could hardly wait.

“Dr. Lee?”

Bethany nearly cursed out loud as she heard one of the nurses call her name. She turned and pasted a smile on her face. “Yes, Connie?” Tired as she was, she still knew better than to tick off the nurses. That was a death wish waiting to happen.

“Here are the test results you were waiting on.”

Bethany blew out a breath. “It’s about time. What the hell took so long?”

“You made a mistake.”

It was the absolute last voice she wanted to hear saying the words that were the stuff of nightmares. Bethany whirled around and there he was, in all his arrogant glory.

Dr. Ethan Wu. Fellow ER resident, constant thorn in her side, nemesis, bane of her existence. With his pristine lab coat, designer shoes, and Savile Row dress shirt and pants.

As always Bethany had to fight the feeling of being totally outclassed. Being a woman in a male-dominated field like medicine was hard enough. Add the fact she was five foot tall on a good day made it that much harder to be taken seriously sometimes.

But seriously. The ER was a whirlwind of chaos and constant action. Who the hell wore designer clothes that probably cost more than her monthly rent when they dealt with blood, vomit, and who knows what other kinds of bodily fluids on a daily basis? Who voluntarily dressed up when they didn’t have to? As far as she was concerned, getting away with wearing scrubs all the time was one of the best perks of the job.

“What do you mean?” she demanded.

“You entered the information incorrectly when you sent down the lab orders so there was a mix-up on when they sent back the results. It came to me instead. Nurse Connie helped me figure out the error. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was you who made the blunder.”

Damn, damn, double damn. She couldn’t believe she’d screwed up that badly. She could blame sleep deprivation and being on duty for close to thirty-six hours but she held herself to a higher standard than that. The Bethany Way was to accept responsibility and make no excuses.

In this instance, there was only one thing she could do. If there was anything she hated more than boring period dramas, it was eating crow, and she was about to have to shove a heaping plateful in her mouth. To him of all people.

“You’re right. And thank you for catching my mistake.” This was truly the last thing she needed. In the past, she’d had patients look at her, dismiss her out of hand, and ask for someone else, i.e. someone male. Mistakes like this only made it worse.

“Don’t beat yourself up too badly. Could happen to anyone.”

Which was precisely the point. She wasn’t just anyone. Someone like him could afford to make mistakes. Not her. For a variety of reasons.

“Well thanks for being discreet.” Swallowing her pride really sucked. Humble pie and crow never went down well.

He waved it off in a show of false modesty. “Only doing my job. Besides, it was the least I could do after the help you gave me last week. I have yet to tell you how much I appreciated it.”

Bethany bit back a grin. It had been incredibly satisfying to point out that he’d missed a red flag in a scan, and paired with the patient’s medical history, needed a referral for a colonoscopy to rule out any pre-cancerous polyps. Score one for Team Bethany. Since they’d met on the first day of residency, the two of them had locked horns and were insanely competitive. There was nothing like the pure adrenaline rush she got from proving herself and showing Ethan up in the process.

Though now the scales were uneven again and he had the upper hand. Damn it.

“Anyway,” he continued wryly. “You’ll have to excuse me. A patient vomited earlier and unfortunately, she had excellent aim. I had to change clothes. And my Bruno Maglis will never be the same again.”

So that’s what those shoes are.

“Oh poor you,” she mocked. “Heaven forbid your Savile Rowe suit get even a speck on it. Imagine the dry-cleaning bills. And I’m sure you can buy a new pair of shoes, won’t even make a dent in your budget I bet.” It probably said nothing good about her but the image of a patient hurling all over Ethan Wu and his reaction in the moment made her want to crack up.

Up went that imperious brow. “This is Brooks Brothers, I’ll have you know. I like them better than Armani and Savile Rowe. Don’t you know your designers?”

“Sorry, I don’t feel the need to wear thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes to work,” she shot back.

“Clearly.” He made a point of looking her up and down and she flushed.

“I believe in being relatable. And there’s nothing wrong with my scrubs.” Only pompous know-it-alls felt the need to show off.

“Of course not.”

Eager to be done with this conversation, Bethany went to the nurses’ station and finished some charts. Then went and grabbed the rest of her things from the locker room.

“Heading home?”

Seriously? “Why are you still here?”

“It seemed like you had a bad day. I was going to offer a cup of coffee.”

She blinked. That was the last thing she’d expected. “Well my day isn’t over yet. I’m on my way to the break room. I need to review all the work I did today to make sure I didn’t make any other mistakes like I did with the lab orders. It’s my responsibility.”

Ethan frowned. “That could take hours.”

“Then that’s how long I’m staying. And I have a stack of journals I need to read.” Bethany prided herself on staying on top of the latest research in the field.

He just gave her a look. “All right then. Give me a moment.”

Bethany chalked it up to major sleep deprivation that she stood there like an idiot while he disappeared and came back five minutes later. The lab coat was now gone and the matching jacket was folded neatly over his arm. “Shall we?” he asked as he gestured the way to the break room.

“You’re going with me?”

“Of course. I should review my charts as well and I have my own stack of journals to read. May as well do it together, no?”

“If you say so.” The last thing she wanted was to spend the next few hours in close quarters with Ethan Wu. But Bethany took it philosophically as her due.

That would teach her to screw up at work.

After hours of reading and reviewing her work and finally making her way home, Bethany entered her apartment, kicked off her shoes, threw her keys in the basket and collapsed face down on her sofa. She desperately needed a shower but couldn’t muster up the will or energy at the moment. Which was just as well because she ended up falling fast asleep within ninety seconds. She only woke up two hours later when the knocking on her door finally pierced her exhausted consciousness. Bleary, she walked to the door with narrowed eyes. Whoever was on the other side better have a damn good reason for waking her up. She looked through the door peep, barely registered anything, threw open the door, and demanded, “What?”

Then regretted it immediately when she saw her neighbor Jaya Mehra and her four-year old daughter Priyanka.

“I was just dropping off some extra samosas for you but if you don’t want them…”

“Hi, Miss Bethany,” Priyanka chirped.

“Blreghrh,” was her only response.

Jaya took one look at her and winced in sympathy. “Shoot. You just got home, didn’t you?” Then she grimaced at Bethany’s nod. “Sorry, we’re leaving now. Pretend we were never here.”

Bethany managed to do her best to be coherent as she stuck out her hand. “Samosas.”

With a smile and shake of her head, Jaya handed over the Tupperware container and tried to usher her daughter back home.

“But I want to play with Miss Bethany!”

“Miss Bethany just got home from work and she’s very tired. Maybe she can come visit later.”

“I’ll be there,” she promised. The look on Pri’s face had her pinkie swearing to seal the deal. Blessedly, they left soon after and she flopped back on her couch. She was out in less than a minute.

As promised, as soon as she felt more human, Bethany went over to the Mehras’ for a coffee and visit. Though she was due back at the hospital in a few more hours. But for now she was going to enjoy spending time with her neighbors and their adorable daughter. Which meant she was currently sitting at a child-sized play table having a pretend tea party with a boa around her neck and a plastic tiara on her head. And having fun.

But her family and co-workers could never know about this. She had a reputation to maintain.

“Would you like more tea, Miss Bethany?”

“I would love some, Princess Priyanka,” she replied dutifully.

“Sorry,” Jaya whispered. “She’s due for a nap, and we can have a proper chat.”

“Don’t worry, I’m having a blast.” She only wished the cookies Priyanka had been serving weren’t pretend.

Soon enough, Priyanka was napping and the two women stretched out on the sofa.

“Thank you for indulging my daughter. That girl would be dressed as a princess twenty-four seven if she could.”

“No big deal.” Bethany waved it off, but the truth was, it had been fun to set aside the stress of work and everything else for a while and play pretend. They chit-chatted for a while before Jaya circled back to the topic at hand.

“So, it sounds like you had a rough day at work,” Jaya commented.

“No more than usual. Until that jerk totally ruined my day.” She frowned as the stress came roaring back.

“Uh-oh, what happened?”

“Dr. Jerkface Wu one-upped me today. I screwed up at work and there was a lab mix-up.”

“That’s not like you,” Jaya commented, surprise evident in her voice.

“I know. I have no excuse. It’s Fourth of July so we had a ton of patients to look after, and I was off my game. And here he is with his stupid Armani suit and fancy shoes showing me up and making it look so easy. Excuse me, Brooks Brothers. Of all people, why did it have to be him who caught my mistake?”

At the look on Jaya’s face, she sighed. “Sorry,” she muttered. “Guess I’m still not over it. Mostly I’m annoyed because now I need to spend some extra time hitting the books because I’m behind. Right now I’m studying up on social media, the internet and how it affects mental health for teens.” There were going to be some long days and nights ahead but what choice did she have? Maybe she could pick Cam Sloane’s brain over in pedes. Or at the very least find out what books and articles to read.

“Do what you have to do. But if you ask me you might be taking things just a tad too far—you already work insane hours. Why add to it?”

Bethany frowned. It wasn’t the first time someone had accused her of bringing a gun to a knife fight but if ever there were circumstances that called for it, it was this. The Bethany Way demanded no less.

“I’ve never seen anyone get under your skin like this.”

“What are you talking about? People annoy me and work my last nerve all the time.”

At that Jaya rolled her eyes. “Please. I know you put on a tough front and you are definitely a badass but you have a marshmallow center.”

Horrified, Bethany hissed, “Not. So, Loud.” How dare Jaya put her on blast like that? Being seen as a softie was not The Bethany Way.

“You stayed up all night with me that time Priyanka had croup. And you brought over a ton of food when my mother passed away last year. You don’t fool me.”

“That doesn’t count,” Bethany muttered. “Ma and Baba made most of the food; I was just the delivery person. And as for the croup, I had just done my pedes rotation, so I was only trying to put my learning and whatever to good use.”

Jaya scoffed. “Fine, if that’s how you want to play it. My point is, we’ve been neighbors for, what, three years now? And you always complain about him. Maybe think about why.”

“I hate people who are extremely hateable?” Bethany huffed out a breath as she conceded the point. Why was she letting that arrogant Ethan Wu get under her skin like this? Why couldn’t she shake it off? She was every bit as qualified in emergency medicine as him, even if she’d cobbled together the money to pay for her undergrad education and Johns Hopkins medical school tuition through a combination of scholarships, grants, and an obscene number of student loans. While Ethan no doubt had his Harvard, Yale, or Oxbridge training paid for free and clear, and never had to doubt he belonged. While she still had so much to prove.

Never mind. The whole thing was stupid. She was letting him live rent-free in her head and that was a hundred thousand percent not okay. Bethany was willing to bet the reverse wasn’t true. No doubt Dr. Jerkface barely remembered she existed. Beneath his notice.

With a shake of her head, Bethany focused her attention back to Jaya. “You know what? He’s not worth the time and energy.” She just had to work even harder to come out on top. She was used to it by now.

“That’s the spirit,” Jaya said with an arch of her brow. “But I don’t think you hate him as much as you claim.” She was about to say more but was interrupted by a noise from the other room. Taking a deep breath, she got up. “Someone did not nap long enough today,” she muttered as she went to tend to her daughter.

“Priyanka’s not the only one. I think I’m going to crash for another hour or two before heading back to the hospital.” Bethany also rose and gave Jaya a quick hug before making her way out the door. “By the way, you’re out of your mind. Ethan Wu is a source of irritation to me, nothing more. My biggest rival who I have to best.”

“We’re not done talking about this,” Jaya’s voice warned as Bethany closed the door behind her.

Oh yes, they bloody were, Bethany swore to herself as she made her way back to her own apartment. She changed back into her pajamas and crawled into bed. But for some reason she couldn’t fall back asleep. Feelings? For HIM? What was Jaya thinking? Clearly her best friend watched too many rom-coms. No love here, only hate. Anything else was out of the question. She had too much at stake and too much to prove.

End of Excerpt

Bethany Meets Her Match is available in the following formats:

ISBN: 978-1-962707-69-5

April 24, 2024


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