Surgeon in a Tux(6)

By: Carol Marinelli

‘I have heard of her,’ Lizzie said, attempting nonchalance and failing miserably. The wedding wasn’t till next year but it would seem some discreet preparations were being put in place for a woman who would spend the rest of her life living in the eye of the public and on the cover of every magazine.

‘Good,’ Leo said, and as Lizzie went to go his voice caught up with her at the door.

‘The salary.’

‘Sorry?’ Lizzie turned around.

‘You could have just answered that it was the salary that attracted you to the role and I wouldn’t have minded. There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things.’

‘I know.’

‘And a lot of people have no idea what goes on in a clinic like this till they actually work in one.’

‘I’m already finding that out.’

‘You have to know it to love it,’ Leo explained.

She possibly already did.



Gwen showed her through and Lizzie tried to quieten the flutter of nerves in her stomach, telling herself that all patients wanted, rich or poor, was simply to be well cared for.

It didn’t help.

‘Leo!’ Marianna was charming and greeted him like a friend. ‘It’s lovely to see you again.’ Her voice dropped in concern when she saw the dressing on his cheek. ‘What happened there?’

‘Just a small tumble, skiing,’ Leo said, as he kissed her on both cheeks and gave Lizzie just the tiniest wink. ‘How are you?’

‘Nervous,’ Marianna said in her rich accent.

‘This is Lizzie Birch,’ Leo introduced them. ‘Our new head nurse.’

‘It’s lovely to meet you, Lizzie.’ Marianna smiled but she gave a nervous swallow when she turned back to Leo. ‘I am sure that I was photographed coming in.’

‘You used the basement?’

‘I did, but when I was in the car—’

‘You’ll leave by the front door,’ Leo said. ‘Did you wear dark glasses on the way here, like I told you to?’

Marianna nodded. ‘If anyone finds out that I’m having work done, it will be awful.’

‘No one shall find out from us,’ Leo assured her. ‘We’re very used to dealing with this type of thing, though, as we’ve discussed, there are always going to be rumours.’

‘Of course,’ Marianna sighed. ‘I have already been pregnant five times.’

‘You’ve kept your figure well,’ Lizzie joked, and then blushed, but Marianna just laughed.

‘How has it been?’ Leo asked, pulling up some images on his computer and then coming over to Marianna to take a closer look.

‘Your work is amazing,’ Marianna admitted. ‘Even I struggle to notice what is different about my nose—I just know that it looks so much better.’

‘Marianna had rhinoplasty six weeks ago at Kate’s,’ Leo explained to Lizzie as he examined the soon-to-be-royal nose. He then took a couple of photos, which he transferred to his computer, and Lizzie marvelled at the change. It was almost imperceptible, yet the difference was very telling.

‘I shaved a fraction here …’ Leo told Lizzie, using his pen to point to what he had done. ‘And then just tweaked the tip and lifted it a millimetre …’ He turned to Marianna. ‘It’s going to just keep getting better,’ he said. ‘It’s still a touch swollen.’ He gave his patient a very nice smile. ‘You’ve done the hard part now. The next surgery we can do here. It will just be local anaesthetic and light sedation. We’re going to do a blepharoplasty,’ Leo said, and then, seeing Lizzie blink, he translated. ‘Take away some of the excess on Marianna’s eyelids.’ He turned back to the images on the screen and addressed Marianna. ‘Taking just a sliver will open your eyes up and it will look amazing, especially for profile shots …’

Marianna nodded but she had questions. ‘What about the scars?’

‘We’ll use laser to minimise, but there will be a small scar. It will be easily covered with make-up but if you don’t want your staff to know …’

‘I do my own make-up,’ Marianna said with a nod, ‘and I will continue to do so.’

‘Well, it won’t be a problem, then. The scarring is in the natural crease anyway …’ He looked at Lizzie. ‘Marianna has to think about constant close-ups.’

‘I feel very vain,’ Marianna admitted. ‘My sister says that I am being ridiculous, but the pressure, honestly …’

‘I completely understand.’ Leo nodded. ‘A little bit of work now will make a huge difference to your confidence.’ He looked at Lizzie. ‘Can you imagine the whole world watching your every move?’

‘No,’ Lizzie admitted. ‘I’d be terrified.’

‘There can be no relaxing when you are out,’ Marianna sighed. ‘You are always on show.’

‘No getting caught with your pants down!’ Leo said, and Marianna laughed as Lizzie blushed furiously, wondering if that little reference was in regard to what had taken place earlier. ‘When would you like this done?’ Leo asked his esteemed patient.

‘How soon can you do it?’ Marianna asked. ‘I am going away at the weekend for a fortnight. I know we were looking at May, but this vacation has just come up and the place is very secluded. Ferdinand says there will be no cameras. I know it is very short notice for you.’

‘That’s not a problem.’ Leo went to his diary and it was decided the minor surgery would take place at six a.m. the following morning.

‘You’re to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight,’ Leo said. ‘That’s just as a precaution, though—it will just be very light sedation.’

‘So it will be done here?’

‘Yes.’ Leo nodded. ‘Come in at five, while it’s still dark. I’ll keep you here for the day and then we’ll have you back in the hotel by evening. Gwen, our manager, will liaise with the hotel …’ He was completely at ease with her, Lizzie noticed—still in charge, despite who he was dealing with. ‘Right,’ Leo said. ‘Before you go I just want to take a closer look at that eye of yours.’

Marinna smiled and leant back in the chair as Leo opened up a small pack. Lizzie was too embarrassed to ask if he needed anything, she didn’t have a clue what he was doing! ‘Marianna’s fiancé bought her a puppy,’ Leo said as he opened up a small packet and an eye dressing.

‘How lovely,’ Lizzie said, frantically trying to work out what was happening. Maybe he had to check her eyes before he operated or something?

‘He’s a basset hound,’ Marianna said. ‘He talks to me, I swear.’

‘I had a parrot that did that,’ Leo said, and it was such a silly joke that Marianna started to laugh and so did Lizzie.

‘You didn’t have a parrot?’ Marianna checked as he put two fluorescein drops into her eyes—it was an indicator and any scratches to her eye would turn green.

‘Of course not.’

The laughter mixed with the drops had brought tears to Marianna’s eyes and Lizzie watched as the bright orange liquid ran down the side of her face. ‘No, there’s no scratch,’ Leo said. ‘Still, keep it covered for a few days, antibiotic drops and mild painkillers if you need them. A scratch to the cornea can be extremely painful. And watch that puppy’s claws!’

Lizzie had stopped even trying to hide her frown now—hadn’t he just said that she didn’t have a scratch?

Leo put a large eye patch on and taped it over Marianna’s eye. ‘Okay, dark glasses back on.’

‘Thank you.’

Lizzie saw a little of the stain running down Marianna’s cheek and went to wipe it but Leo halted her, his hand lightly dusting hers, and Lizzie pulled her hand back just a little too quickly to even try to pretend his touch hadn’t been noted. ‘Just leave it …’ Leo said.

Only then did Lizzie realise the lengths Marianna had to go to in order to keep this procedure a secret. The puppy, the small smear of fluorescein coming from beneath the eye patch and now the dark glasses. It wasn’t her ignorance that had Lizzie’s cheeks burning, though, but the brief contact from Leo.

‘Thanks, Lizzie.’ Marianna smiled as Leo walked her out to the foyer. ‘Will I be seeing you in the morning?’

‘Of course,’ Leo answered for Lizzie.

Well, it looked like she’d better set her alarm early, Lizzie thought as she made her way to her office, but she was excited at the prospect of Marianna arriving under the cover of darkness and just thrilled to be a part of the big charade!

‘I assume the future princess was just in?’ A terribly handsome man dressed from head to toe in black leathers and carrying a crash helmet under his arm was walking towards her. ‘I’m Declan Underwood.’ He shook her hand.

‘Oh, yes, Leo did tell me about you.’ Leo had said that Declan was his second in command. ‘I’m Lizzie Birch.’

‘I know.’ Declan smiled. ‘Leo called earlier and told me that you’d started. I hear Flora kicking off was your welcome!’