Heatherdale's Shy Nurse

Heatherdale's Shy Nurse

by Abigail Gordon

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How to mend a broken heart…

Heartbroken, Leonie Mitchell is throwing herself into her work. Saving her little patients in a new countryside hospital seems like the best way to deal with the loss of her baby and her relationship. But Leonie hasn't counted on her charismatic new boss, surgeon Callum Warrender. She can't

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How to mend a broken heart…

Heartbroken, Leonie Mitchell is throwing herself into her work. Saving her little patients in a new countryside hospital seems like the best way to deal with the loss of her baby and her relationship. But Leonie hasn't counted on her charismatic new boss, surgeon Callum Warrender. She can't deny her attraction to Callum, nor can she ignore the comfort she finds in his arms…. Could he be the key to healing this shy nurse's broken heart?

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He was home, Callum Warrender thought contentedly as he lay watching spring sunshine light up his bedroom in an apartment by a lazy river that ran through the prestigious small market town of Heatherdale. Back where he belonged in the place he loved the best.

After sleeping for most of a long transatlantic flight from America he had woken to hear a member of the cabin staff asking passengers to fasten their seat belts as they would shortly be landing at one of the biggest airports in the area, and, suddenly wide awake, the pleasure of the moment had washed over him.

He'd spent six months on an exchange arrangement with a large children's hospital in the States and for the most part had enjoyed the change and the challenge it had presented. Yet he had refused when the chance to become a regular member of its staff had been presented to him.

Work-wise it hadn't been a joy ride. He'd worked long and hard alongside other experts in his field, with each taking note of the others' expertise in orthopaedic paediatrics. Yet there had been time to socialise too.

He'd been wined and dined by those he'd come to demonstrate his skills to, and had met more than a few attractive women on those occasions who would have liked to get to know him better, but past experience had shown him that the road to romance could be a rocky one.

So could the path up to the moors above the town that he walked with great enjoyment when he got the chance, but unlike that other road there was no heartache waiting for him at the end of it.

Once he was up and dressed he went to the small convenience store at the end of the riverside and did a food shop. When he returned he prepared his first English breakfast in months and, while enjoying it totally, began to plan his day.

It was Saturday and he wasn't due back at the famous Heatherdale Children's Hospital until Monday. With the day stretching ahead of him, he decided to take that walk up to the moors, the place where he always found the precious peace and tranquillity that his work as an orthopaedic paediatrician sometimes denied him.

He saw himself as a loner who carried past mistakes around with him like a protective shield that no woman was going to break through. Always there were those who tried, but it soon became obvious that he was not in the market for marriage.

And now, with all those thoughts put to the back of his mind, he had a couple of days to himself. Once out in the open with his pack on his back calm always descended upon him.

Every step took him further along a winding, deserted road that led to higher ground. The magic of the moment was broken when the noise of a motorcycle engine came from somewhere behind him, and in seconds it passed him. It swerved around a bend in the road at a crazy speed then there was the sound of it crashing into rocks at the roadside, followed by startled shouts.

Hurrying to the accident scene, Callum couldn't believe what he was seeing. The motorcyclist lay twisted and motionless beside his vehicle as a group of dumbfounded teenagers looked on, unsure of what to do.

A woman was on her knees beside the injured rider. He couldn't see her face because she was bent over him, trying to loosen his leather jacket to feel for his heartbeat, while at the same time frantically urging the teens to keep calm as some of the girls began to react to the moment with screams and tears.

'I'll take over. I'm a doctor,' he barked.

The kneeling woman had managed to open the injured rider's leather jacket so they could get to his chest and to his relief Callum saw that it was rising and falling. The patient was breathing but without any signs of consciousness.

'Have you got a phone with you?' he asked abruptly, as he noted that both the man's legs were twisted at a worrying angle.

She nodded and reached into her rucksack, but on producing it she shook her head. 'We probably won't get a signal up here.'

'Give it to me,' he said impatiently, 'and if I can't get through, I'll try mine.'

As she obeyed, observing him unsmilingly, he dialled the emergency medical services for the area and surprisingly got a reply.

'We are going to need a helicopter,' he said. 'An ambulance would not be able to get up here. I can give you our exact position as I know the area well. We need help for the injured driver of the motorcycle as soon as possible. Under these circumstances there is little we can do for him other than keep a firm check on his heartbeat and try to ascertain what other injuries he might have sustained in the crash.'

When he handed the phone back to the woman she got to her feet. 'I need to speak to my group. They're very upset by what they've witnessed.'

'May I ask your name?'

'My name is Leonie Mitchell and I'm a nurse,' she said, and saw his surprise. 'I help at the local community centre in Heatherdale in my spare time, along with a friend of mine who is usually in charge of the activities that we arrange for the children, but she isn't well today and I said I would step in so that they wouldn't be disappointed.'

'You can carry on with your walk. There is nothing more you can do here,' he told her. 'It's best if the children get clear of the scene.'

He'd resigned himself to a helicopter trip to a hospital in Manchester. He didn't have to go with the young man, of course. There would be at least one doctor on board when it arrived, but he'd seen the lad's twisted legs and if anybody could put them right, he could.

'And once you get back to Heatherdale can you contact the garage on the riverside? If they can send someone to collect the bike, I will sort out the bill. They can invoice me.'

'I will need an address to do that,' Leonie said, anxiously taking up her kneeling position beside the unconscious rider once more.

Callum didn't answer her; his concern for their patient was increasing.

'He's going into heart failure, we are going to have to resuscitate!' For what seemed like a lifetime, they worked on him together until they could feel his heartbeat once more.

The sound of rotor blades whirring signalled that the helicopter had arrived, and the group grew silent as they watched it land beside them. As the doctor and nurse on board alighted, Callum filled them in.

'We were able to resuscitate a few moments ago as there was no heartbeat, and there are fractures of both legs.'

'Are you a doctor?' the medic asked.

'I'm Callum Warrender,' he replied lev-elly, and the other man's eyes widened.

'Not the Warrender from Heatherdale Children's Hospital?' he exclaimed as he bent over the injured youth.

'Let's just say that I can spot a fracture a mile off and I'm coming along for the ride,' he replied, and stepped aside as two paramedics appeared with a stretcher.

Oh, no! Not Callum Warrender, thought Leonie. Hospital gossip was that he was in America and wouldn't be returning for another couple of weeks, but it would seem that it was wrong. And as she was sister-in-charge of the orthopaedic unit it seemed that they would soon be meeting again. She hoped that he wouldn't recognise her as the same person he'd come across up on the moors, with her hair tucked out of sight beneath the woolly hat that was pulled low down on her head and wearing a shapeless waterproof jacket.

He'd asked who she was and she'd told him her name and that she was a nurse, but he wasn't to know that she was a member of his staff. Callum Warrender had been in America when she'd joined the team.

Once the patient had been lifted on board, with the medics from the hospital in charge, and the pilot was ready for take-off, Callum reminded her, 'Please remember to arrange for the motorcycle to be picked up by the garage beside the river, and tell them the guy from the apartments who fills up his tank there will call in to settle it as soon as he gets back from taking the casualty to A and E.'

With that the doors closed and he was gone. What an awful day it was turning out to be, thought Leonie. First Julie had phoned to say she'd picked up a flu bug and wasn't fit to do the walk. Leonie had been happy to help out her friend, but none of them had been prepared for the shock of witnessing that motorbike accident. It hadn't helped that the rider had been such a young guy. She couldn't blame the kids for reacting as they had.

Callum Warrender's arrival had seemed miraculous. He'd taken charge with brusque authority. That he was used to giving orders had been plain to see, but there was no way was she going to go to a strange garage to ask them to pick up the damaged motorcycle and tell them that someone completely unknown to her would pay the bill. She would settle the account herself.

Her group was getting restless so, putting her concerns for the victim and reservations about the man who had taken charge of the catastrophe to one side, Leonie gathered the group together and they set off on their hike across the moors once again, this time in a less euphoric mood than before.

When they arrived back at the community centre in the early evening Leonie left them to the delights of a disco that had been arranged for them by other helpers and went to find the garage by the river that the brusque doctor had mentioned. After giving them details of where the motorcycle could be found, and paying what appeared to be a standing charge for that kind of thing, she asked them to keep it on the premises until she could find a name and address for the injured rider. Then returned to her recently purchased yurt, where she rang the hospital that the young man had been flown to.

On being put through to A and E, she explained to a nurse at the other end of the line that she had been present when the accident had taken place, and was informed that the patient had regained consciousness and was in Theatre, having fractures and other injuries dealt with by Mr Callum Warrender from the Heatherdale Children's Hospital, who had travelled with him in the helicopter.

That the young man was being treated and by the best was all that really mattered. There were going to be parents somewhere who would be most thankful that someone like Callum Warrender had appeared out of the blue at the scene of the crash.

The fact that there had also been a highly qualified nurse there as well had paled into insignificance beside his presence, she reflected wryly.

Of course, she'd heard a lot about Dr Warrender from her colleagues, like how talented a surgeon he was, but she'd never once pictured in her mind what he would be like. To find that she actually liked the look of him was unsettling, but those moments on the road to the moors would stay in her memory for time to come.

His skin was tanned, his hair dark and he had hazel eyes in a face that had purpose and integrity etched upon it. His physique spoke of strength and stamina and, as with his tan, suggested a rugged way of life. There was no denying he was very good looking yet she hadn't heard any mention of a wife in Callum Warrender's life.

Callum travelled back from Manchester by train. He was tired, and looked forward to grabbing a quick bite to eat at the hotel near his apartment. But first he planned to call in at the community centre to let Leonie know how the patient was progressing.

He was aware that he'd been less than civil out there on the road to the moors and felt an apology was required. The reason for his manner was easy enough for him to understand, but a stranger wasn't going to know how much he cherished time to himself out in the countryside around Heatherdale.

To his surprise he had enjoyed working alongside her to save their patient's life. He also needed to find her to thank her for her excellent and level-headed assistance.

A disco was in full swing when he got there, but there was no sign of the woman he'd come in search of, and when he asked of the middle-aged disc jockey in charge where she might be found he said, 'Leonie has gone home to the yurt. She's had a stressful day from the sound of it. Do you want me to give her a message?'

Callum shook his head. 'No, I need to speak to her personally. Where is it that you say she's gone?'

'She lives on the yurtery on the far side of the river.'

'You mean she lives in a tent?'

'Er, yes, I suppose you could say that,' was the reply. 'Hers is the third one from the entrance to the site.' And with a frown he went on to say, 'I'm not sure if I should be telling you this. I don't know who you are, do I?'

'We were both involved in treating an injured motorcyclist up on the road to the moors earlier on today and I've come to report on his condition, that's all. I'm one of the doctors from Heatherdale Hospital,' he explained, and off he went without further delay as hunger pangs were beginning to make themselves felt.

He'd noticed the development of the latest idea in camping at the other side of the river while he'd been having his breakfast that morning. It was known by some as 'glamping'. A reference to the attractions of a yurt as against the basics of a tent. He was curious to know how they worked as permanent dwellings.

So when Leonie opened the door of the round, glass-roofed construction to him a short time later his glance went immediately to the décor behind her and he saw that the latest 'must have' for those who wanted something small and cheerful to live in was attractively furnished and quite a lot bigger than it had appeared from the outside. Also it made his solidly expensive furnishings in the apartment seem dull and boring by comparison.

But he wasn't there out of curiosity and was not even sure if he'd got the right place, as the woman observing him anxiously didn't look like the woman of those moments on the hillside. Gone were the woolly hat and shapeless jacket.

She was wearing a pale blue dress with matching sandals, had thick and curling chestnut hair that framed her face damply from recent washing, and was observing him in a way that told him he hadn't come to the wrong place after all.

'Come in,' she invited, and as she stepped back to let him pass asked anxiously, 'So how is our patient now?'

Callum was still in his walking clothes and before he could reply she followed one question with another.

'Have you only just got back?'

He nodded. 'Yes. I operated on him myself, and the news is that he is in Intensive Care at the moment but may be put on to one of the wards in the morning.'

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