As a member of a wealthy and influential family, Jaime “Jamie” Abello had his life mapped out. Being shipped off to L.A. with an insurance scam linked to his name was not part of his plan.
It had seemed so simple: pass the Philippines Medical Board Exam, practice in the family-owned and controlled hospital, join the Board by age forty, and find a partner with whom he could settle down and be himself.
Instead, his dad supplies him with a surfeit of money and dangerous secrets and sends him to a strange country.
The Pediatric Residency Program Jamie applies for brings him face to face with untouchable Program Director Miles Kwon whom Jamie soon finds to be a man of integrity and vision.
When tragedy strikes, Jamie finds himself falling deeper into depression. Unexpectedly, it’s Miles who helps him work through his pain.
Note: This book was previously published under a different title and publisher. It has since been extensively revised, expanded and re-edited.
It took everything in me not to lose the contents of my stomach as I stepped into the jet bridge after an exhausting thirteen hours and thirty-five minutes from Manila to Los Angeles. Immediately, the disgusting odor I could only describe as airport-tunnel-specific overwhelmed my senses. It was a mixture of not-so-nice and just-so-nice body odors, stale air, fuel fumes, synthetic deodorizers, and a whole lot of other chemical scents all packed into Eau de aéroport cologne. It never failed to make me nauseous. At the very least, it managed to trigger my gag reflex.
Walking fast to avoid being trampled over by the hurrying passengers coming at me from every direction, I quickly scanned, located, and followed the signs that eventually led me to where I would find my bags. First, I had to locate the restroom. I needed to pee so badly. Moreover, I was nauseous. Did I mention that?
I quickly looked around and spotted the universal male and female signs and rushed toward the male one, only to stop at full speed when I saw the long line of pee-pee dancing passengers awaiting their turns. I sighed. Another shitty day.
My misery had begun three days ago when I’d been thinking how lucky I was that I’d finally made it. I’d been anxiously monitoring the Medical Board Exams results with some of my school friends. Unfortunately, I’d never gotten the chance to read that lengthy list. To top it off, I had no idea who among my classmates made it or not. You see, I’d been admitted to the hospital after suffering from an embarrassing case of vomiting and diarrhea. I’d gone out with a group of school friends waiting for the release of the official results, when I’d gotten sick. My condition was thanks to food poisoning after eating questionable quality balut that I’d bought from some sidewalk vendor. It’s an exotic native delicacy of boiled fertilized duck egg.
My dad, being the man that he was, had hired a special nurse to make sure I was properly cared for. Of course, I didn’t really need her—it’s just how we did it there. A private room with a private nurse is just one of the benefits of living in a cosmopolitan Asian city like Manila, especially as I had a family name that was the same as the hospital’s. The nurse, Ella, had been the one to give me the good news as she stood by with a pail to catch whatever and whenever I needed to throw up.
I enjoyed a good three hours of happiness before my whole world collapsed. Fast forward to my trip to L.A., and ten excruciatingly slow and full-bladder-painful minutes later, I got to relieve myself and run out of that obnoxious, gag-worthy airport restroom. I scanned the area before I spotted the Baggage Claim area. Just as I reached it, I spotted the first of my sixteen bags.
Temporarily moving to L.A., I’d be staying in a nice little hotel owned by one of my dad’s best friends. Sometimes, being the son of a very rich man does have its advantages. Why sometimes? I’ll tell you later. I’m too tired, and too nauseous. I spot the second and third bags and forget about my life.
I surveyed the hotel suite, a little surprised at the extravagance. Then again, I shouldn’t have been. Trust Dad’s former personal secretary, Letty Salvador, to step up to the task of getting me there in just three days. With my Spanish passport, I had ninety days to apply for a more permanent visa, but the first-class tickets and the suite with a view ready within just a short time still boggled my mind. How Margarita could have fired Letty makes me wonder at her decision-making skills. Letty is such a gem.
I had a funny feeling that somehow, my dad knew something was going down and must have contacted Letty behind Margarita’s back. Maybe it was he who’d bought the tickets before he discovered his wife’s and sons’ betrayals. Thinking about what had gone down in the hospital somehow made me feel more depressed than I already was. I shook my head, trying to clear it of the funk it was sinking into.
No. I had no time for depression, especially now. I knew what I had to face in this country, alone and without friends.
I’d been vomiting into that pail Ella had been holding up for me when Dad and Letty entered my private room. He’d rushed Ella out the door while Letty took over pail duty.
“Jamie, you’re leaving for L.A. once we get you out of here. Dr. Martinez has been instructed to give you your clearance before you get out, of course.” Dad had been succinct.
“Wha…why…” I’d tried to speak, but emesis got in the way.
“Margarita. She’s finally gone over the deep end. She and your brothers are meeting with the board. I sent in my resignation last night and they only just got the email. Jamie, I’m leaving for Morocco in two hours, and you’re flying out as soon as Dr. Martinez gives you something to control your vomiting. Letty sent all the details to your alternate email account.”
I’d tried to sit up, confused about what was going on, but Letty had pressed me back on the bed with her hand. I squinted up at her, then at my dad.
“What’s going on?”
“Everything’s in the email I sent you. Don’t think about anything else right now, just focus on getting well enough to stand without falling flat on your face. You need to take that flight out to L.A. It’s going to be a long one, and you’ll need your energy to get things moving,” Letty said.