DR MELODY JANEWAY brushed her hands apprehensively down her calf-length blue skirt and ensured her embroidered white blouse was tucked neatly into the waistband. Next, she smoothed a hand over her unruly auburn curls, ensuring her hair was still secured in the clip at the nape of her neck. She was ready to meet the dignitary.
Melody started to pace in front of her desk, taking deep breaths. ‘Cool, calm and collected.’ She whispered her mantra in an effort to calm her nerves. When the intercom on her desk buzzed, she almost hit the roof with fright. She pressed the button. ‘Yes, Rick?’
‘The delegation is here.’
‘Show them in, thank you.’ She closed her eyes for a millisecond. How had she ever let herself be talked into this job? Acting head of the orthopaedic department? It was ridiculous. Not that she minded the administrative side, but many other aspects of the job, such as lecturing and playing host to delegates, weren’t her cup of tea. She was a doctor, not a tour guide!
Melody opened her eyes at the sound of her office door opening. Should she be sitting behind her desk? Would that look more official? Oh, well. It was too late to move so instead she stood like a statue in the middle of the large office with a fake smile pasted onto her face.
The smile, however, became genuine when she found herself staring up at a man with the most gorgeous brown eyes she’d ever seen. He was tall—a lot taller than she’d expected. Probably about six feet three inches. His hair was a rich dark brown, militarily short and starting to grey at the temples.
‘I’m George Wilmont.’ He extended his hand as he walked towards her.
‘Welcome, Professor Wilmont.’ She quickly recovered her composure, pleased with herself for not openly gaping at the man. ‘I’m Melody Janeway.’ She placed her hand in his, the touch sending a jolt of electrifying tingles up her arm. His fingers gripped her hand firmly, warming not only her hand but the rest of her as well.
She’d been unprepared for such a reaction to this stranger, especially as he held her hand for a fraction of a second longer than was necessary. Melody felt something wild and untamed pass between them. His gaze locked with hers and she saw a flicker of surprise register in his eyes before they both dropped their hands and took a small step backwards.
Whoa! What on earth was that? According to the dossier she had on him as part of the preparation information for this tour, he was a married man. Melody cleared her throat, desperately trying to regain her composure. ‘Uh…welcome to St Aloysius Hospital, Professor Wilmont.’
He cleared his throat. ‘Please, call me George.’
She nodded. ‘I’m Melody, and if you want to make any jokes about singing or asking if I can carry a tune, the answer is yes. I sing very well and often in key.’
George smiled at her attempt at humour, a real smile, not a polite I’m a professional type of smile. The effect was real as she noted his eyes spark with a glint of merriment. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, the hours ticking by, yet in reality it was no more than five seconds. Still, it was enough to make her feel highly self-conscious. The smile slid from George’s lips and he shifted back again, as though needing to put even more distance between them.
‘Melody Janeway, allow me to introduce you to the rest of my staff.’ George introduced the people who were responsible for helping him keep to the strict timetable he lived by. As a visiting orthopaedic surgeon, George had been touring the world for almost twelve months and had now returned to his homeland of Australia. He had two administrative assistants, one research assistant, one technical consultant and a personal aide.
Melody’s own PA, Rick, was hovering by the door. She beckoned him in and introduced him. ‘Rick and I are both at your service this week. If there’s anything you need to know or can’t find, please don’t hesitate to ask.’ Melody addressed the group as she spoke but her gaze kept returning to George.
‘Thank you,’ he responded, smiling politely as their gazes held once more. Melody gave herself a mental shake and checked her watch. ‘I guess we should make a start. Have there been any changes to the agreed agenda?’
For the past few months, information had been emailed back and forth between Professor Wilmont’s organisers and Rick, ensuring operating theatres and lecture halls were booked, as well as confirming catering arrangements and restaurant reservations. Throughout this week, Melody’s job was to be the official representative for St Aloysius Hospital, to be the master of ceremonies at some events, or to simply be there to field questions and introduce Professor Wilmont where necessary. It would be a long, arduous week and if there had been any changes to the agenda, it was best to find out now, rather than at the last minute.