Surgeon in a Tux(7)

By: Carol Marinelli


Lizzie really didn’t know what to say but settled for a noncommittal smile as Leo walked over to join them.

‘I’m guessing that was Marianna,’ Declan said to Leo. ‘Lizzie wouldn’t tell me.’

‘You could be anyone,’ Lizzie pointed out.

‘Fair enough. But I knew it must be someone if Leo was actually rolling up his sleeves to see a patient. He pinches all the good stuff.’ Declan smiled. ‘Or rather he takes only the good stuff.’

It was good-natured teasing, Lizzie being quite sure that Declan would have more than his fair share of glamorous patients.

Declan headed off to get changed and returned a few moments later looking very suave in a suit. Leo watched as Lizzie, not knowing he was watching, rolled her eyes.

‘What?’ Leo frowned in fleeting concern. The last thing he needed was his head nurse not getting on with Declan.

‘Nothing,’ Lizzie said, then, knowing she’d been caught, admitted the truth. ‘When you hand-pick your staff …’ she shook her head in exasperation ‘… do they have to be good looking?’

‘Do you find me good looking, Lizzie?’ Leo teased.

‘I think you know that you are.’

Leo just smiled. ‘Well, if that is part of my selection criteria then know that you …’ He halted. It was her first day and he was determined to heed Ethan’s advice and get through it without flirting, but it was starting to prove an impossible ask. ‘It’s not all about looks, Lizzie,’ he scolded.

‘That a bit rich, coming from a cosmetic surgeon,’ Lizzie retorted lightly.

‘Tell me, Lizzie …’ He was dying to know. ‘What have you had done?’

His finger came and lifted her chin, just slightly, and no there was no teeny scar beneath. She could feel the heat from his fingers and told herself it was second nature for Leo to examine a face.

It just made the air trapped in her lungs burn.

‘If I guess correctly, will you—?’

‘I still won’t tell you.’

Leo dropped the contact and Lizzie was glad that he did but she blushed when she saw the reason he had. A very boot-faced Ethan was walking past.

‘Isn’t it your home time?’ Leo said to Lizzie.

‘I was just going to—’

‘Go,’ he ordered. ‘I want you here tomorrow at four. ‘I’ll have a driver pick you up.’

‘A driver?’

‘You’re not walking alone at that time,’ Leo said.

‘You don’t have to do that.’

‘I’m not. It will all go on Prince Ferdinand’s account. Oh, and if you come in and someone’s crashed on my couch, you have my permission to kick them off.’

‘Okay.’

‘It’s like Piccadilly Circus in here at night,’ Leo said, but didn’t elaborate. ‘Welcome aboard, Lizzie.’





CHAPTER FIVE


WAKING TO HER alarm, Lizzie struggled to remember the last time she had enjoyed waking up way before dawn and looking forward to going to work quite as much as she now was.

Yes, it had only been a day, Lizzie thought as she dressed and tied back her hair and, yes, maybe she had got the job by pure default, but it was all so glamorous, and exciting. She was also incredibly impressed with the charitable side of the clinic as well as the care and concern that had been shown to Jessica—the work really was diverse.

As promised, her intercom buzzed at five minutes to four and Lizzie headed down to the car, sinking back into the leather for the impossibly short trip to the clinic.

She felt looked after.

Lizzie blinked at her own admission.

For the first time in an awfully long time she felt as if she was being looked after, rather than the other way round.

It was a guilty admission.

As she’d been growing up, Lizzie’s parents had doted on her.

Her mum would even warm her school uniform every morning in the winter. Lizzie had been wrapped in love by her parents.

Supported.

Stifled.

A bit, Lizzie conceded as she thanked the driver and stepped out of the warm car into the freezing morning. The pavement was icy and the air blew white as she let herself in.

Not stifled in any terrible way, Lizzie guiltily amended as she keyed in the security code to turn off the alarm. Her parents had been wonderful, supporting her in everything, but even her leaving home to do her nursing training had caused such a marked change to their many routines that it had been then, almost at that point, that Lizzie had been more a carer than cared for.

She had worried endlessly about them, telling herself not to as she’d prepared for a trip overseas with her boyfriend.

Her first.

It had never happened.

She had found out at the airport that her mother had had a serious fall and, to Peter’s displeasure, she had backed out of their trip and returned to her family, racked with guilt for even thinking of leaving, and had stayed to take care of her mother.

When her mother had gotten to the stage that she’d barely recognised her, and both her parents had gone into a home, Lizzie had realised that it was now or never and had made the move to London, much to her father’s distress.

Families, Lizzie thought as she turned on the lights and watched the glittering chandelier sparkle above her, were complicated—even the straightforward ones.

And as for the not so straightforward …

‘Ethan!’

He was crashed out on the sofa in Leo’s office and she was grateful to Leo for having had the foresight to tell her how to deal with this because otherwise she might have wondered whether it was best to leave Ethan and set up in another office.

‘Ethan!’ He stirred and, deciding there was only one kind way to wake him, Lizzie went off and made them both a coffee and then woke him as she always had when she had come to do his dressings—by turning on every light.

‘Lizzie …’

‘Like the old days, isn’t it?’ Lizzie smiled, handing him the coffee.

‘I was working.’

‘Hmm …’ Lizzie wasn’t convinced.

‘This time I actually was.’ Ethan almost smiled at her doubtful expression. ‘I had a conference call at three with a doctor in the Solomon Islands. I thought Leo’s office might be a better background than me at home …’ He watched as Lizzie turned on Leo’s desk lamp and checked all his investigation and prescription pads as Ethan took a grateful drink of his coffee. ‘How are you finding it?’ Ethan asked.

‘Interesting,’ Lizzie said. ‘I actually really enjoyed yesterday and the flat is amazing.’

‘Good.’

‘I really am grateful to you for putting me forward for the job.’

‘You don’t need to be grateful, Lizzie,’ Ethan said. ‘You deserve a break and after all you did for me I should be the one who’s grateful.’

‘I did nothing!’ Lizzie said. ‘Except dress your legs.’

‘And talk,’ Ethan said, and Lizzie paused, remembering how he had been so shell-shocked, so deep into himself, that she’d just wittered on about her family, her parents, what she was making for dinner. Just every little inane thing as it had come to mind and slowly he had started to converse.

‘You helped bring me back from hell.’

‘You’re still there, though,’ Lizzie said, and she turned her back and started pulling back the drapes so that Ethan couldn’t see the tears stinging her eyes. Yes, he had come a long way but there was still such a long way to go.

‘How come you’re in so early?’ Ethan asked.

‘Leo’s got surgery early. Marianna is coming in soon …’

‘Ah, the cloak-and-dagger stuff,’ Ethan said. ‘You might want to leave the curtains closed, then.’

Good point, Lizzie thought, turning around.

‘I think he keeps a red carpet in the cupboard in the hall,’ Ethan said, and Lizzie heard the slight trace of bitterness.

‘She’s lovely.’

‘I’m sure she is.’ Ethan shrugged. ‘Lizzie …’ Ethan was hesitant, he didn’t really know how to play this, but he had seen Leo yesterday, seen his fingers on Lizzie’s chin. As much as he had tried to deny it, Ethan had read the instant attraction, not just from Leo but Lizzie too. ‘I didn’t really tell you much about my brother …’

‘He’s been great,’ Lizzie said, taking a drink of her own coffee. ‘Of course, we didn’t get off to the best start …’

‘You soon get used to that sort of thing with Leo,’ Ethan said, and watched a dull blush spread on her cheeks as she resumed needlessly tidying Leo’s desk. ‘He’s a rake, Lizzie. He goes through women like …’ He glanced at the pad she held in her hands. ‘That new prescription pad will outlive his next conquest.’

‘That’s none of my business,’ Lizzie pointed out. ‘I’m here to run the clinic, not manage his sex life.’

‘I’m just letting you know. Leo is what he is …’ How did you describe a sun that burnt? ‘He’s an amazing surgeon, not that he uses it much …’

‘He explained all that.’

‘Leo likes the fast lane, there’s nothing more to him than that.’

Lizzie wasn’t so sure. Brilliant surgeon or not, you didn’t get to be where Leo was by chance and she was quite sure there was far more to Leo behind that very smooth exterior.