Home > Last Night at Chateau Marmont(10)

Last Night at Chateau Marmont(10)
Lauren Weisberger

The caffeine hit exactly as planned, and Brooke banged out her final three appointments quickly and efficiently. She had just finished changing from scrubs into jeans and a sweater when one of her colleagues in the break room, Rebecca, announced that their boss wanted to see her.

“Now?” Brooke asked, watching her evening begin to disintegrate.

Tuesdays and Thursdays were sacred: they were the only days of the week she didn’t need to leave the hospital and head uptown to her second job, a position as a visiting nutritionist for the Huntley Academy, one of the most elite all-girls private schools on the Upper East Side. The parents of a Huntley alumna who’d died in her twenties of severe anorexia had set up a fund at the school for an experimental program where a nutritionist was available on site to counsel the girls on healthy eating and body image awareness twenty hours a week. Brooke was the second person to staff the fairly new program, and although she’d originally accepted the position solely as a way to supplement her and Julian’s income, she had found herself growing more and more attached to the girls. Sure, the anger, the awkwardness, the never-ending obsession with food sometimes wore her down, but she always tried to remind herself that these young patients didn’t know any better. Plus the job had the added bonus of giving her more experience working with adolescents, something she lacked.

So Tuesdays and Thursdays she worked only at the hospital, from nine to six. The other three days a week her schedule shifted earlier to accommodate her second job: she worked at NYU from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon and then took two trains and a crosstown bus to get uptown to Huntley, where she’d meet with students—and sometimes their parents—until close to seven. No matter how early she forced herself to bed, and regardless of how much coffee she sucked down when she woke up, she was perpetually exhausted. The dual-job lifestyle was absolutely grueling, but she estimated she needed only one more year of work before being both qualified and experienced enough to open her own private pre- and postnatal nutrition practice, something she’d dreamed about since her very first day of graduate school and the very thing she’d worked diligently toward since then.

Rebecca nodded sympathetically. “She asked if you’d stop in before you left.”

Brooke quickly packed up her things and headed back to the fifth floor.

“Margaret?” she called out, knocking on the office door. “Rebecca said you wanted to see me?”

“Come in, come in,” her boss said, shuffling some papers on her desk. “Sorry to keep you late, but I figured there was always time for good news.”

Brooke sank into the chair opposite Margaret and waited.

“Well, we’ve finished calculating all of the patient evaluations, and I’m happy to report that you received the highest marks of the entire dietician staff.”

“I did?” Brooke asked, barely believing she’d come in first among seven.

“It wasn’t even close.” Margaret absentmindedly slicked on some ChapStick, smacked her lips, and returned her gaze to her papers. “Ninety-one percent of your patients evaluated your consultations as ‘excellent,’ and the remaining nine all ranked them as ‘good.’ The next best on staff had an ‘excellent’ rating of eight-two percent.”

“Wow,” Brooke said, aware that she should be aiming for a little modesty but unable to stop smiling. “That is great news. I’m so happy to hear it.”

“So are we, Brooke. We’re extremely pleased, and I wanted you to know that your performance doesn’t go unnoticed. You’ll still be assigned cases in the ICU, but as of next week, we’ll be replacing all of your psych shifts with neonatal. I’m assuming that’s okay with you?”

“Yes, yes, that’s wonderful with me!” Brooke said.

“As you know, you’re only the third most senior on staff, but no one else has your background and experience. I think it’ll be a perfect fit for you.”

Brooke couldn’t keep herself from beaming. Finally, that extra year of coursework in child, adolescent, and newborn nutrition in grad school, plus her optional double internship—both in pediatrics—had paid off. “Margaret, I can’t thank you enough for everything. That is just the best news ever.”

Her boss laughed. “Have a good night. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As she walked to the subway, Brooke sent up a silent thanks, both for her semipromotion and, almost better, the fact that she didn’t have to deal with any more dreaded psych shifts.

She jumped off the train at the Times Square stop, quickly weaved her way through the masses of people underground, and strategically emerged onto the street at her usual Forty-third Street stairwell, which was closest to their apartment. Not a day went by that she didn’t miss their old apartment in Brooklyn—she’d loved nearly everything about Brooklyn Heights and hated almost everything about Midtown West—but even she had to admit that both their commutes were a little less hellish.

She was surprised when Walter, her tricolored spaniel with a black eye-mask patch over one eye, didn’t bark when she inserted her key into the apartment door. Nor did he race to greet her.

“Walter Alter! Where are you?” She made kissing noises and waited. Music was playing from somewhere in the apartment.

“We’re in the living room,” Julian called back. His reply was punctuated by Walter’s frenetic, high-pitched woofs.

Brooke dropped her bag just inside the door, kicked off her heels, and noticed that the kitchen was significantly cleaner than she’d left it.

“Hey! I didn’t know you were getting home early tonight,” she said as she sat down next to Julian on the couch. She leaned over to kiss him but Walter intercepted her and licked her mouth first.

“Mmm, thank you, Walter. I feel so welcome.”

Julian muted the television and turned to face her. “I’d be happy to lick your face too, you know. My tongue probably can’t compete with a spaniel’s, but hey, I’m willing to try.” He grinned and Brooke marveled at that fluttery feeling she got when he smiled like that, even after all these years.

“Tempting, I have to say.” She ducked around Walter and actually managed to kiss Julian’s wine-stained mouth. “You sounded so stressed earlier, I figured you wouldn’t be home until so much later. Is everything okay?”

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