"Stop pulling on that Emma!" Sam mumbled to her daughter, while holding a handful of little girl hair. She reached for the elastic clenched in her teeth and pulled the hair through into a pony tail to complete Sophie's pig tails. "Ok, you're done. Now please, girls, try not to destroy anything."

Sophie hopped down off the chair and went to investigate what Emma had been playing with. Finding the massive roll of thin paper on the end side of the examination table, Sophie's eyes widened in excitement only to be squelched by her mother's stern, "Don't even think about it." Sam sat down on the only chair in the room and let out a sigh.

Emma sat on the examination table playing with the doctor kit they had brought from home, but Sophie stood by her mother, "Mommy, why aren't you happy?"

Sam slowly lifted her face towards her daughter. Wow. She really couldn't get away with much these days. At 3 years old, the twins could easily pick up on her emotions, her stress, and her mood.

"I'm happy, Soph. I just get nervous in new situations and I want to make a good impression." She was trying to simplify the facts for her kids. The truth was she was beyond annoyed at the office staff. Trying to reign in her anger, she had already called them all sorts of incompetent synonyms in her head, but it still didn't diffuse the real issue.

Sam had been looking forward to meeting Dr. Ketter, a female pediatrician who came with high recommendations to her by several colleagues because of her experience with raising twins, something Sam always felt inadequate at. But after filling out all her new patient paperwork, twice because of the twins, she was informed by the redhead behind the desk that Dr. Ketter was no longer taking new patients, but that one of the many other doctors in the clinic was. The chipper redhead also told Sam that Dr. Ketter is often on call during the weekends, and if the twins were ever to become really sick that Sam might be lucky enough to meet her then. That's when the morning had started to go downhill fast. Furious, Sam asked if the receptionist was insinuating it was good luck if her girls got "really sick" and the redhead made the mistake of answering her. Pat, the Office Manager, who had overheard the exchange had luckily stepped into the situation and apologized for the mix-up with Dr. Ketter, but promised Sam that she would like all of the doctors in the practice. Sam had her doubts.

"I'm happy, Baby. I promise," Sam said to Sophie, reaching and putting the child on her lap. At least the nurse who had seen to the girls this morning was nice, Sam thought. She had made a big deal about complimenting their dresses and talked to them instead of only to Sam, which Sam knew the girls appreciated immensely. She took their height, weights, temperature, and head measurement, and once in the room asked them several questions, measuring their speech development. The nurse typed everything in her small laptop, then got up saying the doctor would be in shortly. That was 10 minutes ago. Emma hopped down from the examination table and searched the room for something else to do. There were some children's books on the Doctor's bench and Emma went for them.

"Don't Emma!" Sam shouted and Emma jumped back.

"Sorry, Mommy. I just wanted that book!"

Taking a deep breath, Sam tried to calm down. "I know Emma, I'm sorry. We don't know who last touched those books, honey. This is a place where kids who are sick come to see the doctor. We aren't sick today, but most likely the last little girl or boy who read that book was sick. That's why Mommy had you each bring a toy to play with from home. That way we don't get sick from someone else." At their last pediatrician's office the girls always became ill 2 or 3 days after a well-child visit. Damn germs. Sophie hugged her doll tighter and Emma went back to her doctor's kit, annoyed.

Finally, there was a light tap on the door, and then it opened. The doctor peeked in before completely entering the room. "Well hello," he took stock of everyone in the room before turning his attention to Sam. Extending his hand toward her, he said in the most polite voice Sam had heard since moving to this town, "Hi, I'm Dr. O'Neill."