‘Ye—’ Her voice broke and she realised her mouth was dry. She coughed and George immediately held out her water glass. ‘Thank you.’ She took a quick sip and nodded her head as she replaced her glass. ‘Yes.’

‘How long ago did you do them?’

She thought for a moment, realising that the person on the other side of George was also listening intently to their conversation. Oh, she hoped and prayed that no one could read the emotions in her eyes when she looked at the visiting surgeon! ‘One was in February this year and the other was July. In both cases we’ve also recorded the follow-up visits, thereby keeping a complete record of any of the after-effects from the surgery.’

‘And you’re planning to use this case for your research project?’

‘This patient will be included, along with the other patients from February and July.’

‘Good.’ He cleared his throat. ‘Uh—I have an evening off tomorrow and I’d be interested in viewing those recordings. Do you think the hospital library will let me borrow them?’

Melody felt the beginning of a smile twitching at her lips. ‘Oh, I’m sure they would.’

George watched her lips, noticing she was trying to suppress a smile. He glanced over his shoulder to see that the person next to him was now talking to someone else. He returned his attention to Melody. ‘What?’ Even as he asked the question, he could feel the tug of his own lips turning upwards. Her eyes were alive with amusement and his gut twisted again at the sight.

‘Oh, nothing,’ she replied coyly.

‘Come on,’ he coaxed, his tone dropping to a more intimate level. He was enjoying teasing her a little.

‘I’m just in awe of the glamorous life you lead.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Meaning that on your only night off in Sydney you’re choosing to sit in a hotel room and watch a recording on hand reconstruction.’ She paused, smothering the laugh. ‘What a party animal.’

George’s smile increased. ‘Who said I was going to be sitting in a hotel room?’

‘Oh, you mean you’re going to watch it somewhere at the hospital? You certainly know how to have a good time.’

‘No. Actually…’ he leaned in a little closer ‘…I was planning to watch it at your place.’ As he eased back, George took great delight in watching her amusement slip away, to be replaced by a startled look as the full impact of his words registered.

He shifted slightly and leaned his arm on the back of his chair. As he did so, his serviette slid to the floor. Bending down to retrieve it, he decided to add fuel to the fire and gently brushed a finger on an exposed part of her calf.

The brief contact made Melody jump, her knee hitting the base of the table, jostling the silver-and glassware on top. Conversations stopped. People looked at her. She could feel herself beginning to blush with embarrassment and smiled quickly.

‘Sorry. Patellar reflex,’ she explained. Everyone returned to what they’d been doing while Melody glanced down at her fingers, which were clenched tightly around her clutch purse. She needed to get control. She needed to get out of there.

Putting her serviette onto the table, she smiled politely at those around her as she stood. ‘Excuse me.’ With that, she forced herself not to rush but to walk calmly and steadily away from the table. She could feel George’s gaze watching her but she forced herself not to care. How could he have put her in such a situation? What had possessed him to touch her in such an intimate manner?

Her head started to hurt. It had been a long day and when she entered the restroom for a moment of peace and quiet, Melody leaned her hands on the bench top and closed her eyes. She was fatigued, and on top of that she was desperately fighting her mounting attraction to George.

After a few minutes she felt more in control and better able to cope with the rest of the evening. Taking a deep breath, she headed back but as she drew closer to the dining room she detoured to the right and through the French doors that led to the balcony.

‘How’s that patellar reflex?’

There was no mistaking George’s deep, sensual tone and she didn’t bother to glance over her shoulder.

‘Better.’ She looked the other way.

‘Liar,’ he accused softly as she felt his arm brush hers. She shivered involuntarily, instantly responding to the light touch.

‘I think I’m a better judge of how my patellar reflexes are doing.’ Melody was still finding it hard to look at him. She knew the moment she did, her anger would melt away like snow on a hot summer’s day.

‘That wasn’t what I meant and you know it.’

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