Dating The Millionaire Doctor

By: Marion Lennox



‘Which she’s legally entitled to be on. Oh, she wasn’t rude. She evicted me in the most businesslike way. Maybe she’s a man hater.’

‘Not if she agreed to dating. So you’re interested?’

‘I’m not interested. I’m just concerned. Where has everyone else gone whose houses burned?’

‘Relatives, friends, or there’s a whole town of mobile homes-relocatables-set up further down the valley for anyone who needs them. You’ll have passed them on your way from the airport.’

‘She’ll go there?’

‘Why don’t you ask her?’

‘It’s none of my business.’

‘So why do you want to know?’

He didn’t have an answer. He sat on, staring into the night, and finally Rob left him to his silence.

Leaving Jake alone with half a bottle of beer, a starlit sky and a silence so immense it was enough to take his breath away.

A faint rustle came from beside him. A wallaby was watching from the edge of the garden, moonlight glinting on its silvery fur.

‘Hi,’ Jake said, but the wallaby took fright and disappeared into the shadows. Leaving Jake alone again.

He should go inside. He had journals to study. He didn’t do…nothing.

But the stars were immense, and somewhere under them, alone up on the mountain, was Tori.

A woman with shadows?

She was nothing to do with him. So why did a faint, insistent murmur in his head tell him that she was?





CHAPTER THREE




H E ARRIVED at the farmhouse at nine the next morning and nobody answered the door.

He knocked three times. The same van he’d seen yesterday was in the driveway but there were no sounds coming from the house. There was no dog on the settee.

He tried the door and it opened, unlocked and undefended. ‘Hi, Tori,’ he called. ‘It’s Jake.’

Still no answer.

She’d been expecting him.

Should he come back later? He hesitated and then thought maybe she was in the surgery again, doing something that couldn’t be interrupted. He went through cautiously-and stopped at the open door.

Even from here he could tell the koala was dead. The little animal was facing him, curled on her side, still. The cage door was open.

He crossed to the cage and stooped, putting his hand on her fur to make sure. But yes, she was gone. Simply, he thought. There was no sign of distress. The IV lines Tori had attached yesterday had been removed but were lying neatly to the side, as if they’d been removed after death.

She looked as if she’d hardly moved since yesterday.

She’d simply died.

He’d had patients who’d done this-just died. The operation had been a success, yet the assault on their bodies had been too great, their hearts had simply stopped.

Mostly it happened in the aged, where maybe there’d been a question of whether the operation should have been done at all, only how could you convince a patient that you couldn’t remove cancer because there was a risk of heart failure? Maybe you tried, but the patient could elect to have the operation anyway.

He hated cases like those. He hated this.

He knelt and saw, closer now and more dreadfully, the full extent of scar tissue. He thought about what this little animal must have gone through in the past six months and he knew that yesterday’s decision to operate must have been a hard one for Tori to make.

Where was she?

He glanced around, out through the window, and then he saw her. She was out at the edge of the clearing, and he knew what she was doing.



Hadn’t she cried enough?

She didn’t get attached to her patients. She couldn’t. Getting attached was the way of madness.

She was crying so hard she could barely see the ground she was trying to dig.

This was the first of the animals she’d tried to bury. Up until now there’d been volunteers taking away bodies of the animals she’d failed.

This was the end. Her last failure. If she’d known it would turn out like this she’d have euthanised her six months ago.

She’d had to make a decision. She’d got it wrong, and there were no volunteers left to bury her.

So much loss. So much appalling waste. Dad, Micki, one tiny baby with no life at all…

One little koala who somehow represented them all.

‘I can’t do this any more,’ she whispered and hit the ground with the spade. The spade shuddered back. Was she hitting tree roots?

She swore and hit the ground again. Three spade lengths away, Rusty flinched, as if the little dog felt every shudder.

‘You and me both,’ she told Rusty and shoved the spade uselessly down again. This was dumb, dumb, dumb, but she did not want to take the little koala’s body down the mountain to the veterinary crematorium. She did not.

All she could see was the Combadeen cemetery, two graves with brass headstones. Dad. Micki. Micki’s with a tiny extra plaque, white on silver.

No.

She shoved the spade down hard again, uselessly. She gulped back tears-and suddenly the spade was taken out of her hands.

Where he came from she didn’t know. She knew nothing, only that the spade was tossed aside, two strong arms enfolded her and held her close. And let her sob.



He’d never held a woman like this. He’d never felt emotion like this.

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