Authors: Lily Harlem
I backed up and my shoulders hit shelving. I could go nowhere. He kept moving, until his face was near to mine, so near I could see two small freckles on the rise of his left cheek and make out the individual dots of stubble on his jawline and over his top lip.
‘I like you,’ he said in a low, steady voice. ‘I really like you and I happen to have a rule with girls I really like.’
‘What’s that,’ I whispered, realising that despite my irritation I was actually enjoying the fact that he’d backed me up and was looming over me with a decidedly determined glint in this eyes.
‘I take girls I like out to dinner before I sleep with them.’
I nearly choked. ‘You want to take me to dinner?’ Damn, it had been years since I’d had a date, just as long since I’d had a normal relationship. These days it was all about immediate satisfaction. Grabbing a bit of how’s-your-father when I could. It was for the best, it protected my heart but kept my body satisfied.
He frowned. ‘What’s so weird about that?’
‘It’s just …’ I paused. ‘Do you have a no-fucking-on-a-first-date rule too?’
He rubbed the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip. ‘No, absolutely not. We can count that as dessert, if you want.’
He brushed his lips to mine and damn if I didn’t get a silly little gooey feeling in my chest. Carl liked me, like-liked me, and wanted to take me on a date before we jumped into bed. It was almost romantic.
‘So what do you think, Sharon? Will you allow me to take you to dinner on Friday night? I know a really cute country pub a couple of miles from Skipton. Great food, candles, fine wine, cosy little corners and log fires.’
‘It sounds like something from a soppy movie.’
‘It’s real life. Perhaps you just need to do something other than work and sleep so you remember what that is.’
‘You can talk. How many hours have you done this month?’
‘Too damn many, same as you. Which means we should definitely go and play for a while. Don’t want to get dull, do we?’
My life at the hospital was anything but dull; however, the image of this little country pub Carl had conjured was very appealing. ‘Friday is good,’ I said with a nonchalant shrug. I didn’t want him to see just how pleased I was about his invitation for a date.
‘Perfect. I’m looking forward to it already.’ He lifted my hand to his mouth, kissed the back of my knuckles. ‘Though if my dick could talk, he’d be shouting at me for passing up the chance to get sweaty and dirty with you right here, right now.’
Accident and Emergency. My heart sank. Not because I didn’t like the staff, or even the work, it was just so bloody busy all the time. And there was no difference between night and day. The evil artificial lights stayed on, burning everyone’s retinas, 24/7. The patients just kept on rolling in with no respect for the witching hour. And when they arrived they never slept, unless you counted the unconscious ones. They were often drunk and rarely grateful for their treatment due to the scandalous waiting time they’d endured. Who could blame them? And all that was before I remembered it was a given that none of the staff would get a break of longer than ten minutes over the entire night. There just weren’t the resources.
I dumped my bag and coat in the corner of the locker room and checked my reflection in the mirror. I’d cycled as usual and my hair was a bit flat. One day I’d be able to afford a car again. One day. Quickly, I undid my hair from its band, fluffed, and re-secured my ponytail. I slicked on a little lip gloss and dropped it, and the key to my cycle lock, into my uniform pocket.
Sharon. How are you this beautiful night?’
I would know that deep, super-sexily accented voice anywhere.
‘Javier.’ I turned and smiled. ‘What are you doing in the madhouse?’
He gave the lopsided grin he’d perfected and scanned me up and down with a slight nod.
It was a pretty blatant once-over and despite my heart skipping, I returned the gesture.
Approval was the only verdict. The guy was an invitation to sin all wrapped up in blue scrubs and a white coat. Tall, dark and handsome didn’t do him justice. It was the way he held himself, the smoothness of his skin, the coal-black sheen of his hair, the sharply slanting lines of his jaw and the ever so slightly too-big chin that gave him an air of proudness.
‘I have been called to assess a surgical case. Do you know anything about it?’ he asked.
‘No, I’ve just arrived.’ I walked past him and couldn’t resist a nice deep sniff of his heavenly aftershave. It settled warmly in my nose and I held it there for a few indulgent seconds. ‘But come this way and I’ll go and find out for you.’
‘Thanks, you are the best of all the nurses in this hospital.’ He gave me a full-wattage smile then swept his tongue over his bottom lip.
Damn. He was hot and he made me hotter. Ever since last night, with Carl’s non-starter in the cupboard, I’d been restless. Maybe I would finally get lucky with Javier tonight. If, that was, I could slink away for more than thirty seconds. He was definitely a specimen to be savoured and not rushed.
I walked into the main department, sashaying my hips a little more than I needed to and knowing full well Javier’s attention would be locked onto my bum. He was a man with sex on the brain. How he’d found the space to cram all those horny neurons full of scientific facts to get through medical school was a mystery. Then again, perhaps he’d just known who to sleep with and had bed-hopped his way through his degree.
‘Hello, Sharon,’ Sister Taylor said, briskly wiping several names off a large white board then beginning to write new ones in. ‘I hope you’re feeling energetic, it’s crazy down here. One out, three in.’
‘Nothing unusual there then,’ I said with a smile. ‘Doctor Garelli is looking for his surgical referral.’
She turned and looked at Javier, gave a girly smile and touched her hair. ‘Good to see you, doctor. Your patient, Tristan Bale, is in cubicle fifteen.’
‘Great,’ Javier said. ‘Notes in the usual place?’
‘Just laid open on the desk waiting for you.’ She nibbled on her bottom lip and appeared to suppress an even wider smile. ‘Oh, and you’ll need an escort. It’s a rather delicate situation.’ She glanced at me. ‘Can you do that, Sharon, seeing as you haven’t got caught up in anything else just yet?’
‘Sure.’ Hang out with Javier, no problem. Perhaps I might even be able to do a little investigating about Iceberg too. See if the outlandish rumour about them hooking up was true or not.
I looked at him as he checked his pager that had just bleeped. How could it be right? She was such a wench and he was a Roman god. I just couldn’t, at any stretch of my imagination, picture them together. Him taking her from behind in out-patients. No! It was like some sick joke designed to mess with my head and my stomach.
I wandered over to the desk. Picked up Mr Bale’s card and glanced at his triage notes.
Oh, that was a delicate problem indeed. Rather him than me, any day. ‘Bloody hell,’ I said, handing the notes to Javier and pulling a face. ‘What do you think he did? Sit on it?’
Javier crinkled his brow and read the card. ‘
Englishman.’ He stifled a yawn, covering his mouth with his hand, then sighed. ‘Let’s go and see what we can do about it.’
Tristan Bale lay on his side in cubicle fifteen with a thick white blanket up to his waist. He wore a fleecy red and cream checked shirt, undone by several buttons and cuffs rolled up, and his rusty-auburn hair was dishevelled on the pillow. Next to him sat a pretty woman of similar age, late twenties, wearing a sleek black leather coat and flicking through a copy of
‘Mr Bale?’ Javier asked.
‘This is him,’ the woman said, glancing up from her magazine.
I hung the ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the cubicle entrance and pulled the curtain securely closed.
‘Hello, I am Doctor Garelli, senior house officer with the surgical team on call tonight.’
‘Surgical?’ the woman said with a deepening frown. ‘Does Trist need surgery again?’
‘Again? This has happened before?’ Javier asked, a tinge of surprise in his voice that matched the one in my head.
What were the chances of that?
‘Oh, yes,’ she said. ‘Trist, you better tell the doctor about the other incident. So he knows what a bloody fruitcake he’s dealing with.’
I looked at Tristan, who swallowed tightly. His long face was pale and his fingers were knotted together so tight the tendons on the backs of his hands stood out. He wore a wedding ring and his fingers were marked and calloused, by the looks of them they were hands used to hard labour and cold weather.
Javier flicked over the chart, and I peered along with him to see what Mr Bale’s vitals had been on admission.
Even so I was concerned about the pastiness of his skin so I reached for the blood pressure machine and quickly checked he was still stable. He was. That was good; it meant his pallor was less likely to be down to haemorrhage and probably down to bossy-wife syndrome.
‘Mr Bale, would you like to tell me how this has happened?’ Javier asked.
Mr Bale glanced at his wife. His lips tightened and he gave a small shake of his head.
‘Maybe,’ I said, giving Javier a meaningful look, ‘it would be best to examine Mr Bale first.’
‘Yes, good idea, that way I can go and get a coffee,’ his wife said, stabbing the
into a red Prada handbag and standing. ‘I have no intention of hanging around this husband of mine while you all look at his rear end and wonder what you’re going to do with him.’ She tutted and then, with a flick of the curtain and a swish of leather, she was gone, her high heels clicking into the distance and melting into the noise of the department.
Carefully, I secured the privacy of the cubicle again.
Mr Bale gave an audible sigh.
‘Are you OK?’ I asked, resting my hand over his. He was a nice-looking guy, a sprinkle of freckles over his long, straight nose and a strong chin that held a hint of pale stubble.
‘Not really, but a bit better now I don’t have to listen to her caustic remarks.’ He shook his head. ‘That’s all I get these days. Is it any bloody wonder I go to the lengths I do to get a bit of pleasure?’
‘Well, you do realise this search for pleasure has landed you in a rather precarious situation, don’t you?’ I said gently.
He shrugged miserably and averted his pale-blue eyes from mine. ‘I know, but I couldn’t help myself.’
‘Do you mind if I examine you now?’ Javier asked, snapping on a pair of gloves.
‘Go ahead, doctor, feel free.’
‘I’ll take this blanket off then,’ I said.
Beneath the blanket he was naked. His knees were together and bent, his backend sticking out.
‘I’m just going to take a little look,’ Javier said. ‘OK?’
Javier tugged Mr Bale’s uppermost buttock.
‘Good, there is no bleeding so that is an excellent sign,’ Javier said, tipping his head.
Mr Bale groaned and shifted.
‘No, keep still,’ I said, resting my hand on his knee.
‘Keep very still,’ Javier repeated and applied some lube to the tip of his middle finger. ‘I am just going to have a feel. Do not bear down. The last thing we want is for you to clench.’
‘Easy for you to say,’ Mr Bale said, squeezing his eyes shut and wearing a look of absolute concentration. His lips turned snow-white he was pressing them together so hard.
Javier furrowed his brow in concentration and looked at me. ‘It’s pretty high up but I think it’s intact.’
‘Good,’ I said calmly.
‘It’s a screw-in,’ Javier said.
‘Oh.’ Did that make a difference? I didn’t think so. ‘That’s good then.’ I gave a small non-committal shrug.
Javier gave me a look. One that Mr Bale couldn’t see but said what a total crackpot we’ve got here.
I gave another small shrug. He was, but our patient obviously had his reasons. And who were we to judge?
‘Right,’ Javier said, withdrawing and snapping off his gloves. ‘I’m afraid there is only one option and that is surgery. There is no way we can risk it coming out naturally. Chances are it would reach the sphincter and shatter. That would mean a colostomy, which I am sure you are keen to avoid.’
‘Yes, absolutely.’ Mr Bale nodded frantically. ‘I definitely don’t want one of them bag things.’
No, of course he didn’t. How would he get his jollies then?
I covered him back up with the blanket. ‘Doctor Garelli will take very good care of you, Mr Bale.’
‘Please, call me Tristan. Everyone does.’
‘OK, Tristan,’ Javier said. ‘Now I need to go and organise a theatre and the consent form, so I will leave you in Nurse Roane’s capable hands.’ Javier flicked off the tap and grabbed a paper towel. After tossing the towel in the bin he walked up close to my side.
Again his scent enveloped me. I couldn’t help but be impressed by how tall and broad he was and the sexy way his dark hair licked the collar of his white coat.
‘And while Tristan is in your very capable hands,’ he said quietly, ‘will you get a psych history for me?’
‘Sure,’ I said, resting my fingers on his arm. It wasn’t my job to get a patient history but I would do the basics for Javier. ‘Shouldn’t be a problem at all.’