Chapter Four – The Boot
Monday morning came early and bright. Cuddy was surprised to see House's motorcycle already parked in front of the hospital when she arrived at work, an extra skip in her step as she breathed in the cool morning air of autumn.
Entering the main lobby that held her newly well-funded clinic on one side and her office on the other, she said her good mornings to the handful of nurses and receptionists staffing the front desk.
"Thank you," she said as one of the nurses handed off a small pile patient files, mail, and paperwork. Curious, she asked, "Does Doctor House have a new case?"
"Not that I know of," the nurse told her. "But he was in before me and my shift started at seven."
"Huh," Cuddy wondered what he was up to now. Perhaps hanging his giant check? She grinned at that thought and excused herself to her office.
Once inside, she placed her brief case beside the desk and her morning pile of paperwork on a nearby chair. Shrugging off her business jacket, she retrieved her white coat from its hook by the door. She then moved quickly back to her desk to silence her ringing phone.
"Hello?" she spoke.
"Good morning, Doctor Cuddy." House's voice made her smile. "You sound breathless already."
"I was trying to get to my phone, you idiot," she laughed. "I just walked in the door. Is there something you wanted or are you calling for the hell of it?"
She could hear him smiling at the other end of the line. "Actually, I was about to send one of my team out for cappuccinos. Extra whipped cream. Interested?"
She gave him a throaty laugh. "If you don't have a patient, Doctor House, I'm sure I could find a few for you down in the clinic."
"Oops," House faked a cry of impending doom. "Foreman just walked in with the most hideous boil! Gotta go. Wouldn't want it to explode all over my big, cool check."
He dropped the line, leaving Cuddy shaking her head.
Putting the receiver back in place, she noticed a small, square box resting in her chair. She took a quick look around to be sure she was alone then came around to other side of the desk and lifted the box, inspecting it curiously.
There was no card, no hint as to who had placed it there, which made her even more certain it could only have come from House. She held it up to her ear, not sure if she was listening for the ticking of a time bomb or a soft rustle that would give her a clue to the box's contents. Finally, she tugged on the red bow and slowly lifted the lid.
Peering inside, a smile spread across Cuddy's face. She collapsed into the chair, laughing and admiring her new token – a shiny Monopoly boot.