‘Uh-huh.’ Melody wasn’t even sure he was aware of her presence as he seemed to be almost talking to himself. He missed his wife, he was lonely and loneliness could make people do desperate things, like kiss a colleague in the heat of the moment. It made her realise she shouldn’t read too much into the personal moments she’d shared with George. He’d be gone in a few days and she’d be here, getting on with her life.

She’d known that all along. At the end of the week George would leave and that would be the end of that. However, that wasn’t what she wanted any more. Melody wanted to continue to explore where this burgeoning relationship was headed, to see whether George really was the one for her. She’d been so unlucky in love in the past, with both Ian and Emir breaking her heart through their cheating and their lies. Now she’d found a hard-working, open and honest man who could make her insides melt with just one desire-filled glance, and kissed her in a way that no one had ever kissed her before.

Still, there was a streak of distrust in her psyche. If they were to pursue this frighteningly natural chemistry that existed between them, would there come a time in her life when she wouldn’t question and double-check everything he’d said to her? She’d believed him when he’d said he didn’t have a woman in every port, that she was different, unique and special, but who was to say that wouldn’t change after he returned to his life in Melbourne?

He would go back to work, find the natural rhythm of his life again, and he would forget all about the crazy redhead in Sydney who had given him a pleasant momentary interlude. She would be cast aside once again, left to pick up the pieces of her life, because from the way he was talking, the way he was reminiscing about Veronique, his tone clearly radiating his love, Melody started to really get it through her thick, emotional skull that George wasn’t ready to move on.

‘George! There you are.’ Carmel opened the door to the balcony. ‘I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Several people are asking after you.’ It was then Carmel saw Melody standing back from George and she smiled brightly. ‘Oh, hey, Melody. I didn’t see you there.’

‘I was just about to head inside,’ Melody stated.

‘OK. I just need to go over a few things with George.’

‘No problem.’

Carmel held the door for Melody, then turned her attention to George. ‘I know you’re tired, George, and I know coming to Sydney has probably been one of the more difficult stops on the tour,’ Carmel was saying as Melody left the balcony. ‘I know Veronique planned for a full day off so she could show you some of her favourite places but we can cut our time here short and—’

Melody didn’t want to hear any more. It was time to face facts, to be honest with herself. George couldn’t be part of her life, couldn’t be part of her future. She had to view this week as being akin to a holiday romance, one pleasant week of diversions, but soon it would be time to return to reality and her reality was here, at St Aloysius, focusing on running the department, treating her patients and concentrating on her research project.

Did it really matter if she was to never marry, to never find the one person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with? Did it really matter if she never had children? Even at the thought, tears began to mist her eyes and she quickly sniffed them away.

The exhaustion of Melody’s day—in fact, the combined exhaustion of the entire week so far—began to catch up with her, and when she looked towards the dining room she decided she’d had enough. George needed the time to properly grieve for his wife, to come to terms with his loss, and to do that it meant that she needed to completely remove herself from the equation. Being around her, spending time with her, was probably more of a distraction for George than anything else, despite what he’d told her. Right now, she couldn’t be certain George knew what he wanted, and it was up to her to be the strong one and to keep whatever was happening between them on a purely platonic level.

Sadness swamped her at the decision. Not bothering to say goodbye to anyone, she returned to her car and wearily drove home. It was too late for her bubble bath. Once inside, she merely stripped off her glamorous clothes, brushed her teeth and pulled on a pair of boxer shorts and a singlet top before climbing between the sheets and crying herself to sleep.

Once again, she was the one to miss out.

CHAPTER TWELVE

MELODY MANAGED TO concentrate during most of Thursday but as the day wore on the more nervous she became. Had George meant what he’d said? Was he still planning to come around to her place that evening to watch the recordings of her hand and microsurgery reconstructions? Had he only been joking?

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