Billionaire doctor,ordinary nurse

By: Carol Marinelli

PROLOGUE


‘THIS is a nightmare!’ Sucking in her breath, Annie closed her eyes as Melanie tugged at the back of her dress. ‘But you get to wake up from nightmares.’

‘It will be fine.’ Melanie’s voice was determinedly calm but it didn’t fool Annie for a moment—especially when she dared to open her eyes again and stared at her reflection in the mirror. ‘It will be fine…’ Melanie said again, only with a dash less conviction—and with good reason: the fabulous mocha silk bridesmaid’s gown that should slide over her stomach, creating a svelte sophisticated look, instead had a rather unfortunate rushing effect and Annie’s usually rather insignificant bust was spilling out over the top of the empress line bodice.

‘I look awful,’ Annie wailed into the mirror. Her hair was everywhere, dark curls so wild they could have headed off on safari, blue eyes puffy from crying at the disaster of a dress that looked like it was going to burst open at the seams at any minute.

‘You’ll look great,’ Melanie soothed her. ‘Once your hair is done and everything and you’re in high heels…you just need to loose a little bit of weight.’

‘By Saturday!’

‘Perhaps you could try a corset,’ Melanie suggested. ‘What was it like at the fitting last week?’

‘Just a teeny bit tight—she was going to let it out a fraction over the bust and waist, but Jackie said there was no need, that if I hit the gym a bit harder it wouldn’t be a problem.’

‘And did you?’ Melanie suddenly barked—all pretence at looking at the bright side dropping. ‘Annie, I could hardly do it up. It’s going to tear and Jackie’s going to kill you when she finds out.’

There was nothing worse in a crisis than the friend you’ve called on for support visibly crumbling. It was pathetic really, Annie tried to reason—the two of them both worked in the highly fraught, extremely busy emergency department of a large Melbourne hospital, dealt with life-and-death decisions each and every day and here they were, panicking, literally going to pieces, because she could barely get into her dress.

Oh, but it wasn’t any dress—it was a bridesmaid’s dress.

Worse—it was Jackie’s bridesmaid’s dress.



Jackie—her boss and friend, who had gone, in a matter of months, from deeply dedicated, fastidious consultant of her beloved emergency department to a self-absorbed, controlling bride-to-be.

And there were just six days to the wedding.

‘My period is due.’ Annie was really clinging at straws now. ‘Maybe that’s why it’s so tight.’

‘When?’

‘Today, tomorrow…’

‘Great.’ Melanie was back in supportive mode now. ‘It’s probably a bit of fluid retention, and if you go on a crash diet and actually stick to it…well, you’ve seen those shows where they lose loads in the first week.’

‘I’m not going on a crash diet.’ Instantly Annie shook her head—a crash diet was the last thing someone with Annie’s past should do, not that Melanie would know that. As close as they were, that murky bit of baggage had been thoroughly checked and deposited where it belonged—in the past. ‘Anyway, they train for four hours a day…’ Annie argued as Melanie looked at her watch. ‘I’m supposed to be getting those nails put on this morning, so that I can be “used to them” by Saturday, then I’m on a late shift…’ Annie shook her head—it was impossible, she had practise hair and make-up tomorrow evening, another late shift on Wednesday, the final rehearsal on Thursday night—oh, and a spray-on tan to squeeze in on Friday. There was absolutely no way she could fit in a triathlete’s training schedule.

‘Ring Jackie, then,’ Melanie said. ‘Ring Jackie and tell her that your dress doesn’t fit.’





CHAPTER ONE


THE overhead lights in the observation ward were off as Annie Jameson swiped her ID card and raced in through the rear entrance of the accident and emergency department with a surprising ten minutes to spare before her late shift started.

Eight empty beds lay waiting to be filled—which was good news. The theory was that the obs ward should be cleared by midday—patients either discharged or transferred to a ward. But in practice that rarely happened: when a doctor saw an empty bed and his patient had been stuck in A and E for several hours too long, the obs ward invariably ended up becoming a mini high dependency unit—which the emergency department had to staff. Annie was one of the more senior nurses, which often meant that, rather than actually nursing, her time was taken up directing the never-ending flow of traffic in the department, finding beds, gurneys, staff and often transport.