The radiographer interrupted his thoughts just then to tell him the films were ready and he turned towards the monitor. There would be time enough to think about his relationship with Bella later.

Mac’s heart skipped a beat. When had it turned into a relationship? It definitely hadn’t been that before last night, had it? At the very most, he would have classed it as friendship—he and Bella were friends and that was it. However, deep down he knew it wasn’t that any longer. At least not only that. Friendship had been hiked up to another level, to the point of becoming a relationship. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not, but he was powerless to do anything about it.


He took a deep breath as he stared at the screen. He and Bella had a relationship. Pick the bones out of that!

* * *

Bella squared her shoulders as she watched the taxi drive away from the hospital. She would collect her keys from Mac and head straight home. The sooner she was back in her apartment, the sooner she would be able to rid herself of the ridiculous notion of asking him if she could spend another night on the boat. Maybe it had helped to stay there last night, but she had to stand on her own two feet. She couldn’t expect Mac to mollycoddle her.

She went straight to Reception, only to come to a halt when she saw all the children milling around in the waiting area. It didn’t take a genius to work out that something major must have happened so she made her way to the nursing station. Trish Baxter was adding more names to the whiteboard, squeezing them in around the edges. She grimaced when she saw Bella.

‘We’re fast running out of space. I’ll have to resort to taping up a bit of paper soon!’

‘What’s happened?’ Bella demanded, glancing at the list. From what she could see, there were fifteen children waiting to be seen, plus another six receiving treatment: three in cubicles, one in the treatment room, plus two more in Resus.

‘A lorry ran into the bus taking the kids to the high school,’ Trish explained. She put the cap back on the pen and placed it in the tray. ‘To say it’s been a tad chaotic in here this morning is an understatement.’

‘I can imagine,’ Bella agreed, shrugging off her jacket. ‘Right, who’s next on the list? Freya Watson from the look of it,’ she continued, answering her own question.

‘I thought you were supposed to be off today,’ Trish pointed out as they went back to Reception.

‘I am. But I can’t just take off and leave you to it when something like this has happened.’ Bella picked up the girl’s notes and looked around the waiting room. ‘Freya Watson?’ She smiled reassuringly when a tall red-haired girl hesitantly stood up. ‘Come with me, Freya, and we’ll get you sorted out.’

Bella led the girl to a cubicle. According to her notes, Freya was sixteen years old and in her last year at the high school. She looked extremely nervous as she sat down on the bed and Bella smiled encouragingly at her. ‘This must have been a big shock for you. You’re bound to feel rather shaken up and even a little bit tearful, but that’s perfectly normal. I’m just going to check you over and make sure you’re all right and then, as soon as your parents get here, you can go home.’

Freya didn’t say anything as she stared down at the floor and Bella frowned. Although her notes stated that Freya appeared to have suffered only minor bruising, she couldn’t rid herself of the feeling that there was something else wrong with her. She didn’t say anything, however, as she set about examining her. If there was something wrong then it would soon become apparent. There was quite heavy bruising to the girl’s thighs and it was obviously painful because she winced.

‘How did this happen, do you know?’ Bella asked, gently examining the area.

‘A bag fell off the luggage rack and landed on me,’ Freya muttered.

‘I see. That must have hurt,’ Bella said sympathetically. ‘Can I just check your tummy? I need to see if it’s caused any bruising there as well.’

She went to unbutton the oversized cardigan that Freya was wearing but the girl pushed her hands away. There was real fear in her eyes when she looked at Bella.

‘I’m all right!’ she said sharply, attempting to stand up. The words were barely out of her mouth, however, when she doubled up in pain.

Bella caught her as she fell and eased her back down onto the bed. ‘Obviously you’re not all right, Freya, so I need to examine you. Come on, don’t be silly. I only want to check that you’re not badly injured.’

Tears started to stream down the girl’s face as Bella unfastened her cardigan. As soon as she had done so, she realised what was wrong. Freya was pregnant and, from the look of her, at full term too. She chose her words with care, knowing how important it was that she gained the girl’s trust.

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