Dating The Millionaire Doctor

By: Marion Lennox



It was like the Angel Gabriel had suddenly appeared from the heavens. Ask and ye shall receive. She’d barely been aware that she’d prayed.

No matter where he’d come from, no matter that she couldn’t see his wings and he sounded autocratic and fierce rather than soft and halo-like, her one-and-a-half-minute date was definitely assuming angel-like status. He had oxygen flowing in what seemed seconds. The monitor by Tori’s side showed a slight shift in the thin blue line-and then a major one.

She had life.

‘Heart rate’s seventy beats a minute,’ Jake snapped, adjusting the flow. ‘How does that compare to normal?’

Not a vet, then? Or not a vet who cared for koalas. Of course not.

‘Low, but a whole lot better than before you arrived,’ she told him, but there was no time for questions. Stunned, she went back to what she was doing. She was incredibly grateful but now wasn’t the time to show it. She had to get this wound debrided, then get it dressed so the anaesthetic could be reversed.

Koalas died under anaesthetic. This one wouldn’t. Please…

As if in echo of her thoughts, Jake said, ‘She seems knocked around. Wouldn’t euthanasia be the kindest option?’ He’d had time now to take in the scar tissue, the signs of major trauma.

‘Says the man who just saved her,’ Tori muttered. ‘Let’s try to keep her alive until I finish. We can do the moral debate later.’

‘Right.’

There was silence while she worked on. Becky had faded into the background, assisting both of them, deeply relieved, Tori guessed, to be freed from a task she hated. There was so much they’d done in the past six months they’d all hated-including putting down more animals than she wanted to think about.

How to explain that after so much death, one life became disproportionately important. This little one she was working on didn’t have a name. Or…she shouldn’t give her one. She should not be emotionally involved.

Only, of course, she was emotionally involved. Koala Number Thirty-seven-the thirty-seventh koala she’d treated since the fire-belonged in the wild, and Tori was determined to get her back there. She would win this last battle. She must.

Thanks to this man, she just might.

Who was he?

She was finishing now, applying dressings, having enough time again to pay attention to the man at the head of the table. He was watching the monitors like a hawk, his face fierce, absorbed, totally committed to what he was doing.

Inserting an endotracheal tube in a koala was always dangerous territory. If you went too deep there was a major risk of traumatising the trachea and extending the tube into bronchus. She hadn’t told him that. There hadn’t been time, but he’d seemed to know it instinctively. How?

Maybe he was a vet, or maybe he did paediatric anaesthesia. Sometimes she thought paediatrics and veterinary science were inexplicably linked. Varying weights and sizes. The inability of the patient to explain where the pain was.

Who was he?

She was finished. Another check of the monitors. Pulse rate eighty. Blood oxygen saturation ninety percent.

Koala Thirty-seven just might live.

She couldn’t help herself; she put her hand on the soft fur of the little koala’s face and bestowed a silent blessing.

‘You keep on living,’ she whispered. ‘You’ve come so far. You will make it.’

‘She might well,’ Jake said. He was working surely and confidently, removing the endotracheal tube with care and watching with satisfaction as the little animal settled back into normal breathing pattern. ‘So who’s going to pay her bill?’

‘Now there’s a question,’ she murmured. She was carrying the little animal carefully back to her cage in the corner. She wasn’t out of the woods yet-she knew that. Any procedure took it out of these wild animals, but at least there was hope.

She’d done all she could, she thought, arranging the IV line the little animal needed to provide fluids until she started eating again. Then she was finished.

Really finished, she thought suddenly. There was now nothing left to do.

The sensation was strange. For the six months since the fires Tori had worked nonstop. This place had been a refuge for injured wildlife from all over the mountain. They’d had up to fifty volunteers at one time, with Tori supervising the care of as many as three hundred animals. Kangaroos, wallabies, possums, cockatoos, koalas-so many koalas. So many battles. So much loss.

It was over. Those who could be saved had been saved, and were being re-introduced in the wild. The spring rains had come, the bush was regenerating; there was food and water out there for animals to re-establish territories.

This little koala was the last of her responsibilities. She glanced down at her and, as she did, she felt a wave of the deep grief that was always with her. All those she’d failed…

‘Is it okay if I go now?’ Becky said, glancing uncertainly at Jake. ‘It’s just…Ben’s picking me up. He’ll be waiting.’

‘Sure, Becky. Thanks for your help.’

‘You won’t need me again, will you?’

‘No.’ She glanced back at the koala. If there was a need for more surgery, she knew what her decision would have to be, and for that she wouldn’t need Becky.

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