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Lindsay Hicks



‘I never fall in love with nurses. They can be more dangerous than female patients, ’ Mark Barlow coolly informs Nurse Gillian Grant on her first day at the Greenvale Private Clinic.


The nerve of the man, to imply that she is trying to attract his attention with a pretence of hostility! It is no pretence, for she is in no danger of falling for the arrogant surgeon —or is she?



was late for her first day's work at Greenvale. Nothing had gone right for her that morning, she thought, fuming behind the wheel of her little car while an articulated lorry slowly inched back and forth in a careful manoeuvre that held up the stream of traffic in both directions.

Her alarm clock had failed to go off and she had, woken with a start at the sound of mail being thrust through the letter-box of her rented flat. She had snatched a cup of coffee and a piece of toast between showering and scrambling into the new and very elegant uniform of a Greenvale nurse. Her usually reliable Mini had refused to start for all her frantic efforts and she had been grateful to the dishy man in the neighbouring flat who had produced a set of jump leads and managed to get the car going.

Now she was stuck in a traffic jam with another two miles to drive to the clinic on the outskirts of the town. Privately owned and with an excellent reputation, Greenvale had impressed her when she went for an interview after applying for the advertised job. Being a Kit's nurse and proud of it, she had meant to impress Greenvale with her efficiency - and what a way to begin, she mourned with another frustrated glance at her watch. For punctuality was one of the first essentials for a nurse.

At last, the lofty driver achieved his aim of reversing into a very narrow access and Gillian and everyone else was free to continue on their way. The little Mini shot forward impatiently. So did a sleek Mercedes, turning right and cutting across the traffic in the obvious hope of beating every other car off the mark. Gillian stood on the brake, heart in her mouth. She glared. With a casual wave of his hand, the driver of the Mercedes acknowledged her enforced halt and drove on at speed.

She was furious. She had caught only a glimpse of the man. But smooth good looks with a hint of arrogance convinced her that whoever or whatever he was, he didn't give a damn for anyone else on the road - or in the world, probably. Seething, she drove on.

She passed the Mercedes just before she got to Greenvale. For all the motorist's dangerous haste, he had stopped at a newsagent and he emerged with an armful of newspapers and magazines just as Gillian's Mini drew level with the shop door. It was the silver car that caught her eye, she wasn't interested in its driver. But, driving past, she did notice that he was very tall and immaculately dressed in a silver-grey suit. He was as smooth and as sleek as his expensive Mercedes, she thought scornfully, dismissing him.

The clinic was set back from the road, a large and graciously lovely mansion that had been extensively modernised and skilfully extended. It had thirty beds and the most up-to-date equipment, and called upon the skills of some very eminent specialists and surgeons who were happy to be associated with the well-run Greenvale.

Gillian drove around to the back of the house and the staff car park. Leaving her Mini in the first available space, she seized the bag that held her cap and clean
aprons and dashed across the car park towards the staff entrance. As she did so, a silver-grey Mercedes drove in her direction and it was the driver's turn to brake sharply to avoid an accident. With her mind on the time and busily framing abject apologies and explanations, Gillian just hadn't seen or heard the approaching car—and he had obviously taken the corner much too fast anyway, she thought indignantly, as the brakes squealed.

Glowering, he opened the car window with a touch of a button. 'Why the devil don't you look where you're going, woman!' With his mind on other things, he hadn't seen her until it was almost too late.

Gillian's hackles rose and her chin flew up at his tone. 'I could say the same thing to you! You just carved me up in the High Street!'

He raised an eyebrow. 'Oh, was that you? Then that scruffy little Mini belongs to you, does it? I'd be grateful if you'd move it. You've parked it in a reserved space.'

'I'm damned if I will!' Very blue eyes that were almost violet and fringed by ridiculously long lashes sparked fire. 'I'm in a hurry. It stays where it is!' She turned and stalked towards the building, breast heaving. She didn't know when she had last met someone so insufferable, so full of his own importance, so instantly dislikeable.

Gillian heard the scrunch of tyres as he spun the Mercedes in search of somewhere else to park but she didn't look back.

She knew the type, she thought scornfully. During her years at Kit's, she had often come into contact with senior surgeons or consultants who regarded junior nurses as less than dust and a qualified nurse as little more than an efficient robot in cap and apron. She didn't doubt that he was a member of the medical fraternity or that he was professionally connected with Greenvale. She just hoped that their paths wouldn't cross too often.

She ran up the shallow stone steps, pushed through narrow swing doors and hurried along to the office to announce her belated arrival.

Miss Kenny was prepared to be gracious in view of the fact that it was Nurse Grant's first day but her manner implied that she had expected better from a Kit's nurse. Gillian bit her lip, apologised anew for the chapter of accidents that had made her late and followed the grey-haired administrator to the floor where she was to work.

Greenvale was run on the lines of a cottage hospital with four floors, each consisting of six comfortable rooms and a pleasant day lounge in the new wing, and six luxurious suites for wealthier patients in the main wing. There were two splendid operating theatres, an X-ray department and plaster room, a swimming pool and gymnasium for convalescent patients, pharmacy and pathology department and a research laboratory; and an impressive set of consulting rooms where visiting specialists examined their patients and decided on suitable treatment. There was also a resident team of highly-qualified doctors and nurses and technicians, and an efficient domestic staff.

Greenvale was the fulfilled dream of an industrial tycoon who had recognised the readiness of people to pay for surgery and post-operative care, for medical treatment for themselves and their families, and had set out to supply the best possible surroundings and attention: Some patients came a considerable distance, such was Greenvale's reputation and the impressive list of specialists associated with it.

Gillian learned that there was a ratio of two nurses to every patient. She wasn't likely to be overworked, she thought dryly, remembering Kit's and the chronic shortage of staff to cope with the never-ending routines and daily emergencies of a busy London hospital that took patients from every part of the country for specialist treatment and some of the finest nursing care in the world.

Life at Greenvale promised to be much more relaxed. Nurses obviously had time to be really involved with their work and with the patients. At the same time, they might not be so helpful towards fellow-nurses, Gillian thought shrewdly. At Kit's, she had often stretched herself to do a junior's work as well as her own when they were particularly busy, knowing that a colleague would do the same for her if necessary. The camaraderie of a busy teaching hospital probably didn't exist at Greenvale and she felt that might not be the only aspect of Kit's that she would miss.

However, the work would be much the same. Having nursed patients in the private wing at Kit's, she knew that they could be demanding and autocratic but just as full of fears and fancies as anyone else, needing sympathy and reassurance and real concern from the nurses who looked after them.

As she walked along the wide, rubber-floored corridor with Miss Kenny, Gillian listened and looked about her with interest as the older woman outlined the layout of the clinic and the hierarchy of the staff. Green vale was so much smaller than Kit's that it would take only a day or two to know her way about, she felt, recalling weeks of confusion during the early days of her training. Kit's was a veritable maze of wings and corridors and departments, swarming with hundreds of staff and hordes of patients and visitors. It was obvious that she would soon know everyone at Greenvale—if only by sight and name.

A door opened on the sound of a man's deep and obviously irritated voice, and a moment later he came out into the corridor. Tall and lean with crisply curling dark hair and deep-set grey eyes, immaculately dressed in a grey suit, he was a handsome man but an angry scowl marred his rather sensual good looks. He emerged so abruptly that he almost collided with the two women. He checked his stride with a curt apology, not managing a smile.

'Good morning, Mr Barlow. Having problems?' Miss Kenny was unruffled by a familiar brusqueness.

'Nothing I can't handle.' He nodded, about to walk on, his glance sweeping indifferently over the slender girl in the pale green of a Greenvale nurse.

Observing that glance, Miss Kenny detained him with a brisk: 'Miss Grant is our new surgical nurse. She comes to us from St Christopher's and I know you'll agree that she couldn't have a better recommendation.' She turned to Gillian, smiling. 'Mr Barlow is our resident senior surgeon, Miss Grant. So you'll be working together very often.'

Gillian's heart sank. There was nothing she liked about the man even on a second meeting. She suspected that he would be impossible to work with, impatient, demanding, fault-finding at every turn and not at all impressed with her Kit's qualifications.

'We've already met,' he said impatiently, too busy for unnecessary introductions. 'Perhaps you would inform Miss Grant that she mustn't leave her car in my parking space in future.'

He strode away, leaving Gillian bristling and the administrator quite taken aback. 'I didn't realise that you knew each other…'

'We don't,' Gillian said firmly. 'We clashed over parking spaces a few minutes ago, that's all.'

'Oh, I see.' She sighed. 'It's something he does get cross about, I'm afraid—but you couldn't be blamed for not knowing about the parking arrangements, of course.' She hesitated. 'Mark Barlow is a really marvellous surgeon and we're very lucky to have him so we make rather more allowances than is probably good for him. He has a very quick temper and
doesn't make allowances at all.' She smiled wryly. 'You'll soon learn his little ways, I expect.'

Gillian smiled in polite response and said nothing, thinking a great deal as they walked on. She wasn't optimistic about her working relationship with the insufferable Mark Barlow. She didn't care how many allowances other people might make for him. She wasn't impressed by good looks or ability.

In her experience, the really able surgeons who were destined to make a name for themselves in their profession were the sweetest and gentlest and most modest of men. It was only those who had too high an opinion of themselves and their work who walked all over everyone and didn't give a damn if they hurt or offended anyone on their way to the top. Mark Barlow might regard himself as some kind of superior being. In her view, he was just a pig!

She was astonished to find that almost every other nurse at Greenvale considered him to be something special. She conceded that he was good-looking—if one liked the type. She supposed that he might be regarded as a very eligible bachelor—if one was prepared to put up with his chauvinistic attitudes for the sake of money and position. She realised with some scorn that his obvious lack of interest in mere nurses made him a highly desirable object of pursuit.

It seemed that every girl thought that
might be the one to win Mark Barlow's heart if only he could be persuaded to take some notice of her in the first place.

Gillian was almost amused. But it really wasn't funny that any girl should be prepared to swallow her pride and any amount of rebuffs for the sake of a man like Mark Barlow, she thought indignantly. Even on that very first day at Greenvale, when perhaps it wasn't fair to make snap judgments, she knew that they would clash again and again.

Perhaps there was too much likeness of temperament. For Gillian had a quick temper too. And she was proud, passionately so at times. She wasn't a conceited girl but she did know that she was a good nurse who quickly established a rapport with patients because she really cared that they should get well. She was fiercely independent and experience had taught her to be wary of men and reluctant to commit herself too soon to any relationship. Five years of nursing had matured an impulsive girl into a responsible and level-headed young woman who might dream of husband, home and children but certainly didn't mean to sacrifice her nursing career for any man at the drop of a hat.

As it happened, only one man had ever suggested marriage and she had turned him down. But there had been plenty of men who suggested everything but, she thought wryly. Kit's was full of young doctors and medical students who pursued pretty nurses with amorous intent but simply couldn't afford to fall seriously in love. Junior nurses soon learned not to take them seriously and light-hearted flirtation was regarded as one of the 'perks' of working in a busy teaching hospital.

BOOK: Unknown
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