‘So you’re making an educated guess.’ Ed examined the child’s abdomen himself. ‘Could be appendicitis.’



Nikos shook his head, confident and sure of himself. ‘It’s intussusception. And it’s not a guess.’


Ed lifted an eyebrow, his gaze challenging. ‘You can’t be sure, Mariakos.’


Nikos met his gaze full on. ‘I’m sure. As he’s showing no signs of perforation, a barium enema is probably the most appropriate choice.’ He walked away from the trolley and took Carol to one side. ‘Mr Green is going to sort out the problem. And I will phone your GP.’


‘Thank you so much.’ She was tearfully grateful, visibly worried about Harry, and Nikos closed a strong brown hand over her shoulder in a gesture of support.


‘It took great courage for you to come here, having already been told that he was fine,’ he said softly. ‘You were very brave and you have done Harry a great service because if the condition had been left too much longer, the outcome might not have been so good. You are an excellent mother and Harry is a lucky boy.’


Carol’s cheeks grew pink but his words seemed to give her an extra boost of strength and she was calm as Harry was transferred into the care of the surgeons.


A few hours later Ella caught up with Nikos as he worked his way through the long queue of children waiting to be seen. Two more doctors had come over from the main emergency department to help, but it was Nikos who saw the difficult cases.


‘Ed Green just called.’


Nikos looked up from the set of notes he was writing. ‘How is Harry? Did Ed leave a message?’


‘Yes.’ Ella hesitated. ‘He said to tell you that you’re an arrogant Greek and one day you’re probably going to fall flat on your handsome face, but in the meantime if either of his kids are ever brought into Paediatric Casualty, please can you make sure that you’re on duty.’


Nikos smiled. ‘I’ll do my best.’


‘He was telling you your diagnosis was correct.’


‘I know it was correct. I was never in any doubt about that. But you are also responsible for the fact that the child is going to be all right.’ He leaned back in his chair. ‘You were right to call me out of that meeting. Well done.’


The praise lifted her spirits. ‘Did you speak to the GP?’


‘Yes.’ With that economical answer, Nikos calmly rose to his feet. ‘And now to an entirely different subject. You’re not spending another night on that canal boat. I want you to move in with me. We will drive over to the boat after work and fetch your things.’


Stunned, Ella just looked at him. ‘I’m not marrying you, Nikos. Didn’t you listen to anything I said to you?’


‘Yes. You said that you don’t know me.’ His tone was cool. ‘So—move in with me and you will soon realise that I am exactly the same person with or without money. The money just means that someone else cooks our cheese on toast and we have more room in the bed.’


‘It isn’t that simple, Nikos! I can’t possibly move in with you!’ It was hard enough resisting temptation without living under the same roof as him. ‘No.’


‘We can fight about this if you wish.’ Carefully, he put down his pen. ‘But I will win.’


‘No, you won’t!’


His strong, confident hand rested briefly on her stomach. ‘I’m the father, Ella,’ he said softly. ‘What are you going to tell him when he asks you why his parents are not together? How are you going to explain that?’


She closed her eyes and sucked in a breath. ‘That’s fighting dirty, Nikos.’


‘Then don’t fight me. I will do whatever it takes to get you to do the right thing for our child. You say that you don’t know me, and maybe you don’t because if you did then you would know that I would never let my child be brought up outside marriage. And now I’ve told you that about myself, I want to know something about you. Look at me.’ His hand slid under her chin, tilting her face. ‘I want to know why you are being so stubborn about this.’


‘You know why,’ she croaked, struggling to ignore the stroke of his fingers. ‘You walked out on me. You ended our relationship. You chose to leave. The only reason you’re here now is because of the baby and that isn’t good enough for me. You haven’t stayed with any woman for more than six months. You don’t show commitment.’

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