Authors: Judy Campbell
From Single Mum to Lady
Table of Contents
To ‘Granny Annie’ with much love.
Writing about Jandy and Patrick was kick-started by a conversation with a friend of mine. She’d been a single hard-working mum, with no time in her life for romance, and after years of putting her child first had lost confidence in going out on a date with anyone. She did meet her dream man in the end, quite unexpectedly, and this inspired me to write about Jandy, who has given up all hope of meeting a soul-mate but, despite her busy multi-tasking life, finds him eventually.
It was great fun to write, and I was quite sorry to say goodbye to Jandy, Patrick and their little girls at the end of the book! I do hope you enjoy reading it.
is from Cheshire. As a teenager she spent a great year at high school in Oregon, USA, as an exchange student. She has worked in a variety of jobs, including teaching young children, being a secretary and running a small family business. Her husband comes from a medical family and one of their three grown-up children is a GP. Any spare time—when she’s not writing romantic fiction—is spent playing golf, especially in the Highlands of Scotland.
! What the…?’ yelped Jandy Marshall, as a freezing cascade of water poured down on her, soaking her hair and nurse’s uniform in a few traumatic seconds. She stared up at the kitchen ceiling and the ever-widening circle of damp in disbelief and groaned. ‘Not that damn pipe…it’s burst again!’
Just what she needed on a Monday morning, she thought bitterly, scrabbling under the sink for the stop tap and shoving a bucket under the steady stream of water. She grabbed a tea towel from a drawer and towelled her hair before stepping out of her clothes and throwing them into the sink. She was getting quite adept at coping with disasters like this—if it wasn’t the pipe bursting, it was the washing machine having a nervous breakdown…
She picked up the phone and dialled the plumber’s number from memory, watching as the pouring water became a trickle and then an intermittent drip.
‘This is an out-of-hours service. Your call is important to us, and we will be with you as soon as possible…’
Jandy slammed down the phone and glared at it aggressively. It seemed the rest of the world needed a plumber as well…she’d have to leave it for the time being.
As Monday mornings went, it hadn’t been a good start. Apart from the burst pipe, there was a load of white washing which had been transformed to a uniform bright pink. Jandy loved Lydia dearly, they were as close as twin sisters could be, but sometimes she could strangle her when she was being extra-scatty instead of just ordinarily inefficient: colouring all the washing indeed! And trust her to still be nicely tucked up in bed after a late night while everything was going haywire downstairs!
‘What’s the matter, Mummy? Are you cross? You’re very wet!’ Four-year-old Abigail looked with interest at her mother’s expression and then at the soaking floor.
Jandy sighed—cross was an understatement! What she really felt was very tired. She hadn’t had a holiday in ages and life seemed to be all work and no play. She loved her work in the A and E department of Delford General but it would have been nice to go out socially occasionally.
She smiled ruefully down at her daughter. ‘The pipe’s burst again, and your red dress was washed with all the white things and now it’s coloured everything else pink.’
‘I like pink,’ said Abigail placidly.
Jandy laughed. ‘Well, that’s all right, then!’
And of course what did a few discoloured garments matter when she might be losing the little house she rented? The final straw that morning had been the letter from the estate agent saying that the owner wanted to sell the property, but she could have first refusal if she was interested in buying.
No chance of that at the moment, thought Jandy, grimacing as she slung the sheets over the line in the kitchen. Paying for child care, a car, and just general living seemed to soak up most of what she earned. They’d just have to look around for another rented property—but she’d never find anything as good as the house they were in, or as reasonably priced.
Surely the day couldn’t get any worse. She flicked a look at her watch and sucked in her breath—she had a quarter of an hour to put on a fresh uniform and get to the hospital after dropping Abigail off at the childminder’s—she might just do it.
Jandy felt the familiar flash of guilt as she rushed back down the path after a hurried hug of farewell when she’d taken her little daughter to Pippa’s. She always seemed to be at the last minute, playing catchup and, she reflected wryly, clearing up after her sister. She turned as she closed the gate and looked back to see Abigail waving at her from the window, looking perfectly happy. She was adorable and Jandy was so lucky to have her…she just wished there was a father on hand to complete the picture…
The clock was nudging 8.05 a.m. as she parked her car in the last space of the hospital staff car park, ran up the steps and clattered through Reception on her way to the locker room.
Danny Smith, the receptionist, looked up from his lads’ mag and shook an admonitory finger at her. ‘You’d better hurry up…his lordship’s showing the new registrar round the department now.’
Damn—she’d forgotten there’d be a new person on the staff today, someone else to get used to and have to guide for a while. She’d been wrong about the day not getting any worse, she thought irritably as she pulled on her hospital greens. No doubt about it, she could feel a bad mood coming on. Of course she couldn’t begrudge Sue taking six months’ maternity leave, although she was going to miss her terribly and the fun they had. When she was feeling down, Sue would cheer her up with a joke or a teasing comment: she was a kindred spirit, and life at Delford General was going to be that much duller now without her. What she needed, thought Jandy, pulling her blonde hair back into the ponytail she wore for work, was a bit of excitement—something new to revitalise her and brighten up the everyday humdrum. And the chances of that happening at the moment were more remote than winning the lottery.
* * *
The man stood for a moment before the entrance to the A and E department looking up at the square new wing that had been attached to the old Victorian hospital. He was a tall figure, the collar of his jacket turned up against the cold, and head and shoulders above the people swirling around him. So here he was—back where he’d been born, starting over again and picking up the pieces of his life. Soon London would become a distant memory, and Delford was going to be his home once more…his and Livy’s, and he’d just have to make the best of it.
Straightening his shoulders as if bracing himself for his new life, he picked up the briefcase by his feet and started to make his way purposefully through the automatic doors into the A and E waiting room. He glanced briefly at some parents and two small children in one corner, and a man in a wheelchair gazing at a television on the wall showing a quiz show. Evidently the rush hadn’t yet started.
‘Patrick Sinclair—locum registrar for A and E checking in,’ he said to the man behind the glass window in Reception.
* * *
The staff for the daytime shift were in the kitchen, all grabbing a drink before the day started in earnest and some crisis erupted. Tim Vernon, the dapper little A and E consultant, was walking briskly out of the room as Jandy came in. Two junior nurses were gossiping and Bob Thoms, one of the registrars, was peering at the duty roster, an anxious frown creasing his brow—he was a great worrier. He turned round as Jandy came in.
‘Oh, great—what a relief, you’re here! I thought you might be ill or something and we’d be short-staffed!’ he exclaimed. ‘You OK?’
‘A burst pipe, no plumber and water all over the place,’ she said gloomily. ‘Worst of all I’ve had notice that the landlord wants to sell the house. Marvellous start to a Monday.’
Sister Karen Borley, large and kindly, handed her a cup and smiled at her sympathetically—she knew Jandy’s mornings were a little chaotic and that she was only ever late if there’d been an emergency of some kind.
‘Here you are, my girl—this’ll perk you up.’ She looked sympathetically at Jandy. ‘You’ll be looking for somewhere else to live, then—I’ll keep my eyes open.’
Jandy took a gulp of scalding coffee and closed her eyes gratefully. ‘Ah, thanks, Karen, you’re a pal. Umm, that coffee’s good…I’m coming round a bit now.’ She turned to the others. ‘Tell me, what’s this new reg like?’
‘He looks capable, although I think Tilly might find another adjective.’ Karen laughed. ‘He’s from one of the big London teaching hospitals and has a wonderful CV, so he should be sound enough.’
‘I hope he’s easy to work with,’ Jandy said mournfully. ‘It won’t be the same without Sue.’
‘If I know anything about these hot-shot doctors from down South, he’ll have an ego as big as an elephant and an inflated idea of his ability,’ commented Bob Thoms tetchily.
A picture of Terry, Abigail’s father, floated into Jandy’s mind—he had been a high-flying business man from London who had felt demeaned coming up further north than Watford Junction! Jandy had mistaken his arrogance for a kind of sophisticated confidence and had been immensely flattered by his attention—she’d been easily taken in. She wouldn’t be fooled a second time, but the thought of working with another person like that was not a comforting one.
‘So coming up to Delford will be small time to him, I suppose,’ she sighed. ‘I wonder why he’s come?’
‘We’ll get used to him,’ said Karen, picking up some files and walking towards the door. ‘I’ll see you in a few minutes for the handover from the night shift—I’m just off to check that the porter’s put the waste bins round the back. You come with me, Valerie,’ she added to one of the student nurses. ‘I’ll show you where I like my supplies kept—I can’t bear mess.’
Tilly Rodman, the other student nurse, rolled her eyes as Karen and Valerie went out. ‘I can’t believe that sister said the new reg is only “Capable”! He’s gorgeous! My blood pressure went up like a rocket when I saw him…’
Bob Thoms drained his coffee and sighed. ‘I’d like to know what this man has that I haven’t…’
He left the room, but not before his eyes met Jandy’s in amused exasperation. Tilly fell in love regularly with the senior registrars even if they looked only half-human. She would be in ecstasies about him for weeks, convinced that this was The One, as she put it on the many occasions she fell for someone.
Tilly had yet to learn, thought Jandy wryly, that looks weren’t everything. In her experience handsome didn’t always mean kind or thoughtful—sometimes it disguised selfish and cruel.
She rinsed her mug under the tap and dried it vigorously with a tea towel. What on earth did she know about men anyhow? It had been so long since she’d been out on a date—everyday life had taken over and any offers were quickly rebuffed. After Terry all her confidence had gone where relationships were concerned—she didn’t want to be hurt again and her priority now was little Abigail. Anyway, her sister had enough assurance when it came to men for both of them!
‘Frankly, Tilly,’ she said briskly, as she folded the towel neatly and hung it on a rail, ‘as far as I’m concerned, the new registrar can look like Godzilla as long as he can do the job. Unless he can patch someone up who’s been in an RTA and send them home better than they came in, I can assure you that a whole team of rugby-playing registrars dressed only in their birthday suits wouldn’t interest me…’