It was then Melody noticed the clock on the wall. ‘What? That can’t be right.’ She scrambled for her mobile phone and checked the time. ‘Ten to eight! I’m due at work in ten minutes.’
Melody sprang from his arms and rushed out the room. Moments later, George could hear the shower running. He shook his head. Carmel must be having a hissy fit. He grimaced as he stood, stretching his cramped muscles again before pulling his phone from his pocket. He’d purposely put it on silent all night, not wanting to be disturbed. Sure enough, there were several missed calls from Carmel and even more text messages.
With a reluctant sigh he called Carmel back. ‘Carmel,’ he said into the receiver when she answered. A split second later he held the phone away from his ear as Carmel’s voice boomed through. ‘Calm down,’ he tried. It didn’t work. He heard the shower stop and realised that Melody was going to be leaving her house very soon. As he’d come in a taxi last night, he had no way of getting back to his hotel—well, no way that wouldn’t take another half an hour or more. She’d have to give him a lift.
‘Carmel,’ he said finally, ‘you’re wasting time. What’s my schedule?’ He listened intently, his mind working overtime. ‘All right. Bring me a change of clothes and a clean suit. I’ll meet you in the theatre block.’ He could at least have a shower and change there. He disconnected the call then headed to the kitchen, his stomach grumbling as he checked the contents of Melody’s fridge.
A few minutes later she came rushing into the kitchen while he finished his orange juice and bit into an apple. ‘Can I get you anything?’ he asked.
‘Yes. Get out of my apartment!’
‘Not a problem. Which way is your car?’
‘What?’ Melody exploded. ‘You can’t come to work with me.’
‘Why not? I need to go to the hospital. You’re going there. What’s the problem?’
She looked at him as though he’d grown an extra head. ‘The problem, Professor, is that everyone will see you coming to work in my car and as you’re dressed in casual clothes, they’ll put two and two together and make four!’
Melody threw her hands up in exasperation. ‘Typical of you. You’ll be gone tomorrow and I’ll have to live with the rumours and gossip—again.’ She didn’t have time for this. She reached into the fridge and pulled out a banana before storming from the kitchen, George hard on her heels.
‘It’s not fair,’ she continued to mutter. ‘Not to my emotions, not to my neurotic thought processes and not to my anxiety, all of which are flaring right now and blending themselves in a fine state.’ Her voice broke at the end and she sniffed, doing her best to keep herself under control. She needed to drive. She needed a clear head and yet with George being so close to her, being so insistent, she was finding it difficult to get her thoughts in order. Of course, what he said made perfect, logical sense but emotionally being in the car with him and driving to the hospital first thing in the morning was increasing her irrational levels to maximum.
‘This is different and you know it. Nothing happened last night.’
‘You know that and I know that but the fact remains that we’ll be seen arriving together and you’ll be leaving tomorrow.’
‘What am I supposed to do?’
‘Call a taxi and wait.’
‘I can’t. I’m lecturing at eight.’
‘Then you’re going to be late, no matter what you do.’ She stormed towards her car, which was located in the communal garage. ‘Look, George, I’ve spent a lot of time picking up the pieces of my life since Emir left and I’m not about to give the people at St Aloysius the chance to give me pitying looks accompanied by not-so-quiet whispers behind my back as I walk past them.’
‘Melody, you’re overreacting. Besides, what does it matter what people say about you? Surely you’re above all that.’
Melody was filled with temper and frustration, and at his comment she wanted to throw something at him. ‘You just don’t get it, do you? I don’t care what people think. They respect me as a surgeon and a professional, but there’s only so much gossip and speculation a girl can take, George, and right at the moment I don’t choose to take any more.’ She’d unlocked her car and noticed that George was determined to get in. He sat beside her as she revved the engine and reversed.
‘Drop me a block before the hospital and I’ll walk the rest of the way,’ he told her quietly, and she started to feel silly about her tirade.