Surgeon in a Tux(4)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘I don’t think going over things will be very helpful now,’ Lizzie interrupted.

‘I thought we were going to get engaged!’ Flora sobbed. ‘I thought it meant something …’

‘This is a medical clinic.’ Lizzie kept her voice practical. ‘It’s not the place to cause a scene. Whatever is going on between you and Leo is to be sorted well away from here.’ Lizzie simply refused to prolong the conversation. ‘I’ll call a taxi for you.’

‘I’ll take her home.’ Gwen walked down the corridor and gave Lizzie a tight smile. ‘Come on, Flora.’

‘Hold on.’ Lizzie picked up the jewellery that was scattered over the floor. ‘You don’t want to leave these behind.’ She was warmed to see a very pale smile on a dazed Flora’s lips as Lizzie carefully slipped the jewellery into her coat pocket. ‘That really would be a stupid mistake.’

‘Thank you.’

Lizzie just nodded.

Before Gwen headed off with Flora she told Lizzie there was someone watching the front desk as patients would soon be arriving.

Luckily none were here yet.

For a moment Lizzie wondered how to play it when she saw Leo—whether to pretend that it hadn’t happened, carry on as if nothing had, or face things.

There really wasn’t a choice—yes, she wanted this job but she couldn’t work in, let alone be head nurse of, a clinic with this type of thing going on and not state her case.

Lizzie knocked once and opened the door.

‘Don’t you wait to be called in?’ Leo asked, his tone telling Lizzie he was joking. He was leaning back in his leather chair as Ethan opened up a suture pack.

‘I don’t think there’s much point.’ Lizzie’s response was dry. ‘I’ve seen far more than I wanted to already.’

‘Yes, well, sorry about that.’

He gave a slight wince as Ethan probed the wound. ‘You need a couple of stitches.’

‘I don’t.’

‘It’s deep,’ Ethan said. ‘If you don’t want it opening up …’

‘Just do it, then,’ Leo snapped, and then his blue eyes opened to Lizzie. ‘Things are normally far calmer …’

‘He’s lying.’ Ethan was opening up a vial of local anaesthetic. ‘My brother tends to bring out the worst in women.’

‘Don’t bother with the local.’

‘Suit yourself.’ Ethan shrugged.

‘Why do women always say they want to work on things?’ Leo pondered out loud, saying now what he’d been sensible enough not to say to Flora. ‘I save work for work.’

‘Just what did you say when you gave her the ring?’ Ethan asked.

‘I said that it wasn’t an engagement ring. I made it very clear.’ Lizzie winced for Leo as Ethan put in a stitch, then she winced for Flora as Leo thought for a moment and then spoke on. ‘Actually, I can remember what I said, I said that it was the closest I’d come to one …’

‘Leo!’ Ethan’s exasperation was clear but for the first time since she’d met him, even if Leo couldn’t see it, Ethan was actually smiling.

‘I didn’t mean it like that. What I was trying to say …’ Leo jumped to his own defence then gave in. ‘Bloody hell, I think I must have had too much Goldschläger or something.’

‘What’s that?’ Lizzie checked, and Leo actually smiled as the second suture went in and Lizzie picked up some scissors and cut for Ethan.

‘Cinnamon schnapps,’ Leo said. ‘Lethal stuff.’

‘How was Switzerland?’ Ethan asked, putting in the third.

‘Far more romantic than intended, it would seem.’ Leo sighed. ‘I’ll ring her and apologise …’

‘Don’t,’ Lizzie said, and one blue eye peeped open and for the first time she properly met his gaze. ‘False hope.’

‘Okay.’

‘Just leave it,’ Lizzie said. ‘I think she’s got the message.’

‘You think?’ Leo checked.

‘I’m quite sure she’s worked out what a top bastard you are.’

She smiled sweetly as she said it.

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re welcome.’ Lizzie snipped the stich and then made herself say it. ‘Keep arguments away from work.’

‘Leo never argues,’ Ethan said. ‘He ends things long before arguments start.’

‘Well, I don’t want to walk into that again.’ Lizzie knew she had to address it and as she did so he opened the other eye and stared back at Lizzie as she spoke on. ‘I’m not just talking about the scene in Reception, I’m talking about what I walked into before—I could have been a patient.’

‘But you’re not.’

‘Even so.’ Lizzie put down the scissors as Ethan, tongue in cheek as his brother got a scolding, applied a small dressing. ‘It’s not very professional.’

‘I’m extremely professional,’ Leo smarted.

‘I can only go by what I’ve seen.’ Lizzie retorted. ‘Am I being hired to merely smile or am I to be the head nurse of the clinic?’

‘Head nurse,’ Leo said through gritted teeth.

‘Then let there be no repetitions.’ She gave him a smile and then smiled at Ethan. ‘I’ll go and show myself around.’

She walked out, again closing the door behind her, and let out a long slow breath as, on the other side, Leo did the same.

‘You didn’t tell me I was hiring an old-school matron,’ Leo grumbled, picking up the mirror he usually held up for patients and examining the damage to his cheek as he mimicked Lizzie’s voice. ‘“Let there be no repetitions”—I feel like I’m back at school.’

‘God help Lizzie then,’ Ethan said, but then the smile faded from his face as he watched Leo’s gaze briefly drift to the door Lizzie had just walked out of. Ethan watched as, simply on instinct, Leo dragged in the last dregs of the feminine scent lingering in the air and, not for the first time, Ethan wondered if, by seeing she got this job, he had been doing Lizzie a huge disservice.

Yes, the money might be great but if Leo set his cap on her …

Ethan let out a worried breath. He knew better than most the true cost of a broken heart.





CHAPTER THREE


LIZZIE DID SHOW herself around and chatted to a couple of the staff, who were very friendly.

‘Welcome to the Hunter Clinic.’ Charlotte, one of the nurses introduced herself. ‘I’m just heading over to Kate’s or I’d show you around.’

‘Kate’s?’ Lizzie checked—she’d heard that name mentioned a few times in conversation.

‘Princess Catherine’s Hospital,’ Charlotte explained and, as she spoke on, Lizzie was fast finding out how little she knew about her new role. ‘Day cases are normally done here but anything other than a twilight sedation is done either at Kate’s or the Lighthouse Hospital.’

‘Do you do a lot at the Lighthouse?’ Lizzie asked, because that was a children’s hospital.

‘Loads.’ Charlotte smiled. ‘Rafael De Luca, one of our paediatric surgeons, has a theatre list there this morning and I’m—’

‘Charlotte!’

She was interrupted by rather gruff but very good-looking man who popped his head out of a treatment room like a handsome bear peering out of a cave, holding his gloved hands up in front of him and asking in a rich Scottish accent if he might have a hand.

‘I’m just on my way out …’

‘I can help.’ Lizzie smiled, glad of the chance to be useful.

‘Lizzie’s the new head nurse,’ Charlotte explained as she dashed off.

‘Hi Lizzie, I’m Iain MacKenzie. I’m removing sutures,’ he explained, ‘but Jessica, the patient, is very distressed. I need a hand to keep her still. She doesn’t want any sedation.’

Jessica was very distressed; she was on an examination table and curled up.

‘Can we do it tomorrow?’ she begged.

‘The sooner they come out the less it will scar,’ Iain explained. ‘It’s not going to hurt, there will just be a little bit of tugging. This is Lizzie …’

‘Hi, Jessica.’ Lizzie smiled. She was about to ask what had happened but Iain shot her a warning look and Lizzie decided otherwise. Instead, she made the woman as comfortable as she could and put a small sterile towel over her face so that she couldn’t see the blade Iain was using to remove the numerous tiny sutures from her neck and behind her ear.

‘You’re doing grand …’ Iain said every now and then, but he was a silent type and was concentrating hard so it was Lizzie who did most of the reassuring as the tiny threads were removed.

‘How does it look?’ Jessica kept asking.

Iain was concentrating and it was Lizzie who spoke for him.

‘It’s very swollen and tender at the moment,’ Lizzie said, ‘but the wounds are …’ She hesitated. How could she describe them as amazing? Yet she had never seen anything so intricately repaired. ‘It’s a marvellous job.’

She looked up and Iain gave a grim smile.

He was a man of few words but his work clearly spoke for itself. As he held up the mirror and Jessica carefully examined the wounds, Lizzie was relieved for the patient that she could see an improvement.