Surgeon in a Tux(3)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘Leo …’ Flora attempted, grabbing the arm that was trying to retract itself, but Leo shook her off—he was in no mood for debate.

‘Cover yourself up, make sure that you are out of here by the time I get back. I need to go and sort out this mess.’ He marched out of his office and through the plush corridors and because, unlike Lizzie, he knew his way around, Leo had caught up with her before Lizzie made it to the changing rooms.

‘Your timing’s impeccable,’ Leo offered, and gave a wry smile to Lizzie as he tucked in his shirt. ‘I’m serious,’ he added as she shot him an incredulous look. ‘I was actually trying to get rid of her.’

‘Really?’

She had a very soft but exceptionally clear voice, though it was, Leo noted, her eyes that did most of the talking and what they had to say was less than flattering—especially as they briefly drifted down and, with a slight purse to her lips, returned to meet his cool gaze. Without needing to check, Leo knew, just knew what she had seen—his flies were undone.

Leo could have blushed.

Or cursed.

Perhaps he should have chosen to ignore it.

His response was far less forgivable.

He laughed.

A shameless, deep laugh as he deftly rectified the situation.

Lizzie, he noted, didn’t laugh.

He noted a few other things too. She was incredibly … Leo’s mind hesitated. As one of Britain’s top cosmetic surgeons he was usually able to sum up a woman’s looks in an instant. It came as second nature to him to notice any work that might have been done or, perhaps more pointedly, to guess what work a woman might be considering. As a patient walked into his office, Leo’s eyes were already assessing their features and had guessed by the end of that first handshake what was on the patient’s mind.

He just couldn’t work out what might be on Lizzie’s.

Rather than noticing very slightly protruding teeth, Leo saw only her full lips. Her creamy complexion didn’t come from a bottle—if it did, Leo would have held the patent, and as for that body … With Flora his response had been automatic, clinical, but with Lizzie it was far from that. He’d had no idea what to expect from the new head nurse, but it certainly hasn’t been this ball of femininity.

‘Flora and I recently broke up,’ he explained. ‘She just hasn’t got used to the idea yet.’

Lizzie really didn’t want to hear about his love life. Her cheeks were on fire—a mixture of coming into the warm clinic from a cold January day, nerves at starting her new job, and the sight that had greeted her.

Right now, all she wanted was to get as far away from Leo Hunter as possible to attempt to get her head together. ‘If you will excuse me, I’d like to get changed and then I’ll come and introduce myself and we can hopefully start again—more professionally this time.’

‘Sure,’ Leo responded, realising that in very few words she had stated her case. Lizzie Birch was far from impressed, but right now he had other things to deal with—namely, a near-naked, scorned woman who, Leo thought as he heard the sound of sobbing, was not going to go quietly.

Lizzie was so far from impressed.

She stepped into the staff changing room, which looked as if it might belong in some exclusive gymnasium rather than a medical clinic. There were huge mirrors, showers and wall-to-wall fluffy towels. Lizzie half expected an attendant to come out and offer to take her coat.

Thankfully it was empty and Lizzie dragged in a breath. Oh, she was so far from impressed, not just at the scene in his office but at her own response to Leo.

Did he have to be so good-looking? So overpowering, so completely male?

Yes, she’d seen photos but not one of them had adequately captured the beauty or the overwhelming charisma of Leo Hunter close up.

She had expected a slightly older version of Ethan, but instead he seemed younger, lighter and far more reprobate then his serious younger brother. And, unlike Ethan, Leo’s eyes were blue but, more than that, they beckoned to bed.

‘Oh, no!’ Lizzie actually said the words out loud. For all her misgivings about the new position, for all her worry and concern about taking on such a prestigious role, never had it entered her head that on sight her stomach would be doing somersaults and it actually had very little to do with the compromising situation she had found him in.

He’d laughed.

At what should have been the most embarrassing, awkward of moments, when anyone else would have been cringing and red faced, he’d had the audacity to do what, to Lizzie’s surprise, she found herself doing now. As a shocked gurgle of laughter filled the room Lizzie’s eyes widened in brief surprise at her own reaction to her new boss but then the smile faded.

‘He would crush you in the palm of his hand,’ Lizzie told her reflection. She was here to work, to make decent money, to finally get ahead.

There was no way she would allow herself to even think of fancying him.

Lizzie was far too sensible for that.

In her new role, Gwen had explained that she would be expected to wear a suit. Lizzie unzipped it from its cover and pulled on the slim charcoal-grey skirt. There was also a cream blouse with a cowl neck and small buttons at the back.

Hardly practical, Lizzie thought, changing from boots to low heels, slipping on the jacket and then stepping back to check her reflection.

Even though she was thirty-two years old, Lizzie felt like a child trying on her mother’s clothes. They were tailored, fitted … elegant.

Lizzie didn’t normally bother with make-up at work but, having seen Gwen and a couple of the other staff on her entrance, she wished she had thought to bring some.

She walked towards Leo’s office, wondering how best to face him.

As it turned out, it wasn’t facing Leo that proved to be the problem.

Instead it was Flora!





CHAPTER TWO


‘I’VE GOT THIS …’ Leo said.

He was attempting to cover Flora with her coat and guide her from the sumptuous reception either out the main door or towards his office. Lizzie wasn’t sure which. But, as stubborn as a mule, Flora dug in her stilettoes and stood beneath the chandelier in the reception, telling anyone, who had no choice but to listen, what a bastard Leo was.

‘Not here.’ Leo was attempting to smooth things and steer her away.

‘Yes, here!’ Flora insisted.

Leo had been making a coffee, trying to give Flora the chance for a somewhat dignified exit, when the one-woman protest had started.

There was something quite unattractive about a near-naked woman furiously ripping off jewellery and tossing it at a very calm man, Lizzie thought.

‘And he was worried about me creating a scene …’ Ethan walked out of his own office and made the dry comment as Lizzie joined him. ‘Welcome to 200 Harley Street, Lizzie. You’ve met my brother, I presume?’

‘Is it always like this?’ Lizzie asked.

‘That depends.’ Ethan shrugged. ‘They’ve been together for a few weeks, including Christmas, which is a bit of a record for Leo. I hope to God he gets it sorted before patients start to arrive.’

Lizzie was starting to doubt it.

‘Flora!’ Leo was trying to calm Flora down and failing. ‘You’re being ridiculous.’

‘No.’ She hurled a necklace at him and Lizzie realised she was holding her breath as it flew through the air and thankfully missed its target. ‘What’s ridiculous is you throwing away all we have. Why can’t we work on it?’

Leo opened his mouth to say something but then changed his mind and Flora carried on. ‘Do you remember what you said when you gave me this?’ she demanded, as she wrenched off a ring.

‘No,’ Leo admitted shamelessly.

‘Bastard.’ She tossed the ring and this time it did meet its mark. If a diamond could cut glass then it made light work of Leo’s cheek—a gash opening as Leo stepped forward to restrain Flora. She was clearly about to hit him but Lizzie got there first. She took the woman’s wrist and held it, and for the second time Leo heard the calm ice of Lizzie’s voice.

‘Now, that really would be stupid,’ Lizzie said. ‘If this doesn’t stop right now I shall have the police called.’ Absolutely she meant it. ‘I thought I’d left the fights in Accident and Emergency behind when I came to work here.’

‘It’s not like that,’ Flora attempted.

‘It’s exactly what it’s like,’ Lizzie said, releasing Flora’s hand and watching the woman’s anger turn to horror as she realised what she had done. ‘Now….’ Lizzie quickly put on Flora’s coat and did up the buttons, then tied the belt as she spoke. ‘I think we’ve all seen enough drama …’ She looked briefly over at Ethan and at Leo, who had blood pouring down his cheek. Seeing Lizzie had control of things, they both gave a brief nod at her dismissal of them but before they disappeared into Ethan’s office Leo had a very quiet word with Lizzie.

‘See that she gets home okay.’

‘Sure.’

All the fight had gone out of Flora and Lizzie couldn’t help but feel sorry for her and perhaps embarrassed for her too.

‘You need to go home and calm down,’ Lizzie said.

‘I can’t believe it’s over.’ Flora said. ‘He told me—’