Surgeon in a Tux(9)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘I want to get my eyes done just so I can lie in that chair and have poached eggs and salmon brought up to me.’ Lizzie smiled. ‘But I’ll have butter, please.’

‘You can,’ Charlotte answered. ‘Leo lets us have one procedure a year on the house … it doesn’t have to be you, you can use it for a family member.’

Lizzie wondered if she should get a T-shirt with ‘I LOVE MY JOB!’ printed on the front.

‘Usually a patient who has had a blepharoplasty would just stay till around lunchtime but Leo wants Marianna here all day and you’ll take her back to the hotel this evening.’

‘Okay.’

There was a knock at the door and Gwen came in, smiling. ‘Have you got something for me?’

‘I do.’

Charlotte removed the little card from the patient notes and handed it to Gwen, who headed off. ‘It’s just a note to attach to flowers,’ Charlotte explained. ‘Gwen will have them sent to the hotel.’

‘Do all patients come home to flowers and handwritten notes from the surgeon?’

‘Leo’s Ladies do,’ Charlotte said with a smile. ‘I’ll leave you, then.’

Lizzie was completely unused to doing nothing at work but, for this esteemed patient, the head nurse was with her at all times and Lizzie found herself checking cupboards for something to do.

‘You can sit and read,’ Leo said, when he came in later in the afternoon to check in on Marianna. ‘You don’t have to pretend to be busy. You may as well enjoy the quiet times, it’s not always like this.’

‘Thanks.’

He went over and checked on Marianna.

‘I think I can go back to the hotel now,’ Marianna said, and Leo agreed. Really, she could have gone home a while ago but naturally Leo had wanted to make sure everything was fine.

‘Lizzie will see you back to your hotel. If you have any concerns at all, don’t hesitate to call me. Otherwise I’ll see you tomorrow.’

He gave his instructions to Lizzie before they headed off.

‘Don’t worry about coming back,’ Leo said. ‘Thank you for coming in so early. It all went very well. I’ll give you a call a bit later.’

‘A call?’

‘To make sure the transfer to the hotel went okay.’

Why else would he be calling her? Lizzie thought, trying to tame a sudden blush.

The hotel ensured everything went seamlessly too and, completely unseen by any prying eyes, Lizzie transferred her patient from Harley Street to a gorgeous suite at the hotel, where flowers were waiting from Ferdinand and, of course, from Leo too.

‘How sweet!’ Marianna said as she read the card and whatever Leo had written made her laugh. ‘He says my puppy really needs his nails trimmed. Leo is gorgeous, isn’t he?’

Lizzie didn’t really know how to answer. ‘He’s a great boss,’ she said. ‘Well, so far …’ And then her voice trailed off. Really, their start had been terrible, she’d been thinking of walking out on the job there and then, but in less than two days somehow all had been forgiven.

Not forgotten, though.

As she slipped eye masks into the fridge for Marianna to use overnight Lizzie recalled Ethan’s words this morning—he’d been warning her, Lizzie knew.

He didn’t have to.

Of course Leo was gorgeous and of course she fancied him, but there was no way Lizzie was going to add herself to the list of Leo’s Ladies. And anyway, she told herself, as if someone as stunning and delicious and as in demand as Leo Hunter might be remotely interested in her.

He was, though.

Lizzie swallowed and then corrected herself.

Leo Hunter would have been flirting from the cradle—those blue eyes, that slow smile certainly weren’t exclusive to her.

Two days in and Lizzie was in love …

With her job!

And she had every intention of keeping it.

She applied some ointment to Marianna’s eyes and made sure she was settled before saying goodbye then heading out to the street and into a taxi and home.

Lizzie was just sinking into the bath with the last of the champagne chocolate truffles and wondering if it was true that she could have a procedure done, and what she might choose if it was, when her phone rang.

Of course she had to race through to the lounge and stood naked and dripping wet as the very unruffled voice of Leo came on the line.

‘Did I disturb you?’

‘Of course not,’ Lizzie lied.

‘How was Marianna?’

‘Fine. Everything went well,’ Lizzie said, trying to tell herself she was freezing, that it wasn’t his voice that had her shivering and made her toes curl.

‘Good.’

There wasn’t much to say really. It had been a very simple procedure and just as she thought she was done thinking about Leo Hunter for the day, he made sure that he would spend the rest of the night and days to come perpetually lodged in her thoughts.

‘Did Gwen discuss the ball with you?’

‘The ball?’

‘There’s a charity ball for Princess Catherine’s next weekend. You’ll be attending as my guest.’

‘Me?’

‘Yes.’

Lizzie just stood there as Leo calmly explained that as head nurse it was right that she accompany him.

It was pretty ironic that she was naked and soaked as he invited her to such a prestigious event—a fish out of water was exactly how she’d be, and she knew it.

‘I don’t think you …’ How could she explain that she’d never been to a ball in her life, let alone on the arm of someone as glamorous as he? How could she properly explain to someone as sophisticated and worldly as Leo that she would stand out like a sore thumb? ‘I think I’m away that weekend …’ Lizzie frantically attempted.

‘I’m not asking you if you’d like to go, Lizzie,’ Leo said, and she realised that she might have witnessed his might but only now was she glimpsing his power. No one said no to Leo, unless they had an exceptionally good reason. ‘There’s an important work function coming up—I’m hoping you’ll be able to attend.’

‘Of course,’ Lizzie responded.

‘Good.’

He rang off then and instead of running back to her bath Lizzie headed to her wardrobe and then the computer and logged into her bank account.

She might be working in the most luxurious surroundings but her pay didn’t go in till next Thursday and … Lizzie winced as she saw the damage Christmas had wreaked on her credit card, and her mother’s hairdresser was booked for this weekend and she charged like a wounded bull.

Leo might call it a mere work function but it was the renowned Princess Catherine’s Charity Ball he was referring to. It wasn’t just that she had no idea what to wear that had her head spinning, it was also that she would be attending with Leo.

No, Lizzie didn’t sleep well.





CHAPTER SIX


‘I THINK THAT Lizzie seems an excellent choice.’ Declan didn’t hold back on his praise. They were having a medical staff meeting and Leo was trying to wrap it up, yet the conversation kept turning to the new head nurse.

‘I agree.’ Rafael nodded. ‘I had a few problems with my schedule on Monday and it was all swiftly dealt with without anyone being upset.’

‘Okay, can we move things along? We’re not just here for the Lizzie Birch Admiration Society,’ Leo said, irritated and not sure why.

They discussed a few internal matters. With so many eminent surgeons working there, often they would talk about a particularly difficult case but this morning they were discussing the charity side of things. ‘How are things going?’ he asked Ethan.

‘Slowly,’ Ethan admitted. He loathed meetings and sat turning his pen over and over. ‘But then again, most people I need to speak to are still away for the Christmas break. Things should start to kick into gear next week but I’m having trouble deciding the next patient. I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities and I’m waiting for some test results to come back for the insurance companies.’ They spoke for a little while longer but as the meeting wound up, despite Leo’s best efforts Ethan got back to the one topic Leo would rather not discuss. He looked at Leo, his eyes black with anger, and Leo guessed what was coming before Ethan even said it. ‘I hear that you’re taking Lizzie to the ball.’

‘Of course.’ Leo didn’t bat an eyelid. ‘It’s an important function, and I think that she should be there to represent the clinic.’ Rather abruptly Leo stood. ‘I’ve got a patient to see.’

He did have a patient to see but he was also questioning his decision last night. It had seemed an obvious choice at the time but as he saw Lizzie chatting to Charlotte in a treatment room as he walked past, saw her throw her head back and laugh at something that was being said, Leo knew the decision hadn’t just been about representing the Hunter Clinic well. But did he really need the complication of an aggrieved head nurse?

Yes, Leo had enough insight to know that she’d soon be aggrieved. The only thing he took seriously was work, not that Ethan could get that. Ethan seemed to think it all just magically happened, no one really understood the effort that he put in.