He still found it hard to concentrate on what Carmel was saying, his thoughts caught up with Melody and the fact that she wasn’t beside him. He was astonished how much he felt her absence, given that when he’d woken up this morning he hadn’t even met her! When she returned, he immediately stood and held the chair for her as she sat.

‘Thank you.’ She smiled at him and again he felt his gut tighten. Clearing his throat, he included her in the conversation with Carmel, valuing her opinion. Ten minutes later, Melody’s phone rang.

‘Excuse me.’ She fished it from her purse. George was aware of her quiet voice as she spoke and moments later she ended the call. ‘It looks as though I’ll have to pass on coffee,’ she told everyone at the table.

‘Emergency?’ George asked.

‘Yes.’ At the interested glances she received, she elaborated. ‘Fractured olecranon, radius and ulna. My registrar says the patient is showing signs of compartment syndrome.’

‘Can’t your registrar deal with it?’ Carmel asked hopefully. ‘You are the MC, after all.’

‘Sorry, but it’s a private patient,’ Melody explained as she picked up her bag.

‘I think she’s fulfilled her MC duties for the night,’ George told his aide.

When she stood, all the men rose to their feet. ‘Oh, please, sit down,’ she said with a smile, before turning to George. ‘Sorry to run out on your welcome dinner but these things can’t be helped.’

George remained standing. ‘No need to apologise. Besides, we’re almost done.’ They shook hands and again Melody felt that warm buzz of excitement spread up her arm. She nodded politely before dropping his hand and walking away from the table. She was stopped a few times on her way out but as the room was filled with people linked to the medical profession, they all understood when she said she had an emergency.

She took the lift down to the ground floor, and while waiting for the valet to collect her car she fought for self control. In less than twenty-four hours she’d met a man who affected her like no one else ever had, and she was having difficulty getting him out of her mind. She drove carefully to the hospital, heading straight for the emergency theatres. She changed into theatre clothes and went in search of her registrar.

‘Nice hairdo,’ Andy, her registrar, teased, and she laughed.

‘How’s Mr Potter?’

‘Coping well. I’ve explained what’s happening to him and he’s signed the consent form. The instruments and theatre are ready. We’re just waiting on the all-clear from the anaesthetist.’

‘Excellent.’ Melody went to see her patient and have a word with the anaesthetist before checking the notes Andy had taken during the evening. When everything was organised, they started to scrub.

Once in Theatre, Melody had her mind in gear and off George Wilmont. She focused her attention on Mr Potter’s arm, which he’d injured while playing tennis.

Both she and Andy concentrated on what they were doing but, as always, enjoyed a bit of conversation while performing their duties. ‘Glad the VOS is finally under way?’ Andy asked.

‘Most definitely. One day down, four more to go.’ Andy had known she hadn’t wanted to act as host for the VOS and had tolerated her mounting apprehensiveness with a cool, calm and collected attitude.

‘I take it the dinner went well.’

‘Yes.’ Melody frowned.

‘The VOS seems like a nice guy.’

‘Did you manage to get to the viewing gallery this afternoon?’

‘I came in late. Couldn’t see much. You, on the other hand, certainly had a bird’s eye view. How did that happen?’

Melody chuckled and told him about Mr Okanadu’s cancellation while she inserted a drain into Mr Potter’s arm, which would hopefully ensure against further recurrence of compartment syndrome.

‘What was it like? I mean, operating with one of the greats?’

She heard the door to her theatre open but thought nothing of it. ‘What was it like? It was scary, that’s what it was like.’ Melody paused for a moment. ‘Not scary assisting George, that part was fine, but having all those people watching? No, thank you.’

‘George, eh?’ Andy teased. ‘On a first-name basis already?’

‘What do you expect me to call him? Professor? His Excellency? Brilliant Surgeon?’

The sexiest man alive? She kept that last one to herself but smiled beneath her mask. She heard someone slowly walk around the table and come to stand behind Andy.

Melody frowned and raised her gaze to look just past Andy’s shoulder. Her eyes widened in surprise as she looked directly into George’s deep brown eyes.

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