‘Yes. Sometimes they keep going the wrong way,’ Chloe told him guilelessly.

‘I’m sorry, Doctor, but what has this got to do with Chloe’s headaches?’ Donna Adams demanded.

‘It all helps to build up a picture of what might be wrong with Chloe,’ Mac explained, not wanting to go into detail just yet. If their suspicions were correct then there would be time enough for the poor woman to face the fact that her child was seriously ill. He stood up and smiled at Chloe. ‘I’m going to send you for a special scan, Chloe, so we can see what’s happening inside your head. I just need to make a phone call first and then the porter will take you and your mum downstairs to have it done.’

‘Will it take long?’ Donna Adams asked anxiously. ‘Only I’ve got to get the others ready for school. They’re with my neighbour at the moment but I can’t expect her to see to them. She’s in her eighties and it’s far too much for her.’

‘The scan itself won’t take very long,’ Bella said gently. ‘However, Chloe will need to stay here until we get the results back. Is there anyone else you can contact who could see to the children?’

‘No.’ Donna’s tone was bitter. ‘There’s nobody since their dad upped and left.’ She glanced at her daughter and sighed. ‘They’ll just have to miss school today, I suppose.’

Mac didn’t say anything as he followed Bella from the cubicle, but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t thinking it. Breaking promises was a definite no-no in his view. He only had to recall his own father’s despair after his mother had walked out on them to know that it was something he would never do. If he ever made a commitment then he would stick to it, no matter what.

He glanced at Bella and could tell from her expression that she knew what he was thinking, but it was hard luck. Letting Tim down the way she had was beyond the pale, in his opinion. She had promised to love and cherish Tim for the rest of her days but she hadn’t meant it. She couldn’t have done if at the first sign of trouble she had turned her back on him. He felt guilty enough about not being there when Tim had needed his support, even though he’d had no idea what his friend had been going through. However, Bella had been there and, as Tim’s wife, she should have been the one person he could rely on. It was little wonder that his friend was so devastated.

Mac’s mouth thinned as he followed her into the office. Maybe it was unfair of him to be so judgemental but he had always considered Bella to be the ideal woman. Not only was she beautiful, but she was highly intelligent too. Although he had been deeply attracted to her when they had met at Cambridge, he had been ever so slightly in awe of her as well. The fact that she had kept herself aloof from the rest of their class had only added to her allure, in fact.

He had never been the reticent type. His upbringing, on a council estate on the outskirts of Manchester, hadn’t allowed for such luxury. He had learned early on that he needed to be tough to survive, focused and determined if he hoped to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor. Bella had been very different from the girls he had known at home, different too from the rest of the women in their year at university. Although many of them had come from privileged backgrounds too, Bella had stood out: her perfection had made her special. To discover that she wasn’t perfect after all had hit him hard. For all these years he had put her on a pedestal but the truth was that Bella was just a woman like any other, a woman who could make and break promises. She wasn’t special. And she wasn’t out of his league, as he had always believed.

Mac frowned. It was the first time that thought had crossed his mind and he didn’t like it. Not one little bit. Or the one that followed it. There was nothing to stop him making a play for Bella now.

* * *

Sadly, the results of Chloe’s scan only confirmed their suspicions. Bella sighed as she studied the monitor. ‘There’s no doubt about it, is there? That’s definitely a tumour.’

‘It is.’

Mac leant forward to get a better look and she tensed when his shoulder brushed against hers. She moved aside, not enjoying the fact that her heart seemed to be beating far faster than it normally did. She cleared her throat. The last thing she needed was Mac thinking that he had any kind of effect on her.

‘It’s probably a medulloblastoma, wouldn’t you say? That’s one of the most common types of brain tumour that occur in children.’

‘Oh, yes. The fact that it’s arisen in the cerebellum makes it almost a certainty,’ he concurred.

‘Chloe’s going to need immediate treatment,’ Bella said, focusing on their patient in the hope that it would stop her thoughts wandering again. Maybe she did seem to be unusually aware of Mac, but that was only to be expected. Ever since she’d heard he was back in England, she had been on edge. After all, Mac was Tim’s best friend and it must be hard for him to accept what had happened. It was bound to lead to a certain degree of...well, tension between them. The thought was reassuring and she hurried on.

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