She’d lost it.
In contrast, the crackling tension between them didn’t appear to have affected the quality of Nikos’s work in any way. As usual, he was ice cool, suturing the child’s wound with hands that were entirely steady, maintaining a steady flow of conversation that involved fairies, palaces and magic kingdoms.
As if only hours earlier he hadn’t been ready to remove Ella’s head.
Envying his ability to detach himself from his problems, Ella tried not to mind that he obviously wasn’t finding it remotely awkward working alongside her.
And that said everything about their relationship, didn’t it?
He just didn’t care enough. It wasn’t hard for him whereas for her it was agony.
Not only had she been heartbroken by the end of their relationship, she now had the threat of further confrontation hovering over her like a stormcloud. He’d said that he couldn’t talk about it yet.
Well, when? And where?
Trying to divert her mind, she kept her eyes fixed on either the patient or the instruments. But she was a nervous wreck. At one point Nikos made an exasperated sound and actually put his hand over hers to steady it. Ella immediately dropped what she was holding.
‘Sorry. I’m sorry,’ she muttered, rapidly coming to the conclusion that the hospital wasn’t going to be able to afford to keep her on at this rate.
Nikos dragged his impatient gaze from her flushed face and deftly tied the final stitch with fingers that were sickeningly steady.
‘Those stitches can come out in ten days. I’m done here—well done, koritsi mou, you were amazing.’ Smiling at the little girl, Nikos dropped the remains of the suture on the dressing trolley, stripped off his gloves and left the room without once glancing at Ella.
Feeling like a student nurse in her first week of training, Ella discharged the child, tidied the room and made a decision.
She couldn’t do this.
She couldn’t concentrate on her work while she was consumed with anxiety about their next confrontation.
So far she’d done less than six hours of her shift and already she was a basket case. His words were going round and round in her head and the injustice of it all was building up inside her.
How dared he turn this situation into something that was her fault when he was the one who had lied?
What right did he have to be angry with her?
Heart thumping, she went to look for him and found him in his office, talking in clipped, decisive tones to someone who was clearly giving him a battery of excuses for the deplorable staffing levels.
‘Take another look at your budget,’ Nikos advised in a silky tone, his gaze resting on Ella as she hovered in the doorway. ‘Yes, I can prepare you a case if you need me to.’ His jaw tightened. ‘No, I can’t come at four o’clock. At four o’clock I will be working, staffing this department that has murals and toys, but insufficient staff. Call the meeting for nine o’clock—well, if most of them have already left by then, they’re luckier than the rest of us. Perhaps the timing will help reinforce the point I’m trying to make.’ He replaced the phone and raised an eyebrow in her direction. ‘Is this business or personal? Because if it’s personal, I don’t have time.’
‘Then make time.’ Suddenly she almost felt sorry for the hospital’s management board. She knew only too well that his kind, approachable side only extended to his young patients. When it came to adults who didn’t follow his way of thinking, Nikos was a hard, ruthless adversary. ‘I need to talk to you now.’ With a decisive push of her hand she closed the door firmly behind her and came straight to the point. ‘You have no right to be angry with me, because you are the one at fault here. It isn’t just the fact that you broke up with me or that you’re married. You lied to me. You weren’t who you said you were.’
‘You think I’m faking being a doctor?’
‘That isn’t what I mean and you know it. Don’t play word games with me!’ She stabbed her finger towards him, a sudden rush of emotion almost choking her. ‘You’re a billionaire with loads of houses and yachts and—and—you own super de luxe hotels around the world and—I had a right to know those things about you.’
‘Why?’ Arrogantly male, he held her gaze, displaying not a hint of regret or remorse. ‘What difference does it make?’