‘I guess when you put it that way…’ The one thing she wasn’t looking forward to were the small sensual bursts of tension she seemed to experience whenever George was near. She would have to work extra-hard on her self-control and professionalism in Theatre.

Accepting her fate, Melody reached for her water glass again and drank the contents. That would be her last drink until she came out of Theatre. At least she hadn’t choked on this drink. Surely that was a good sign that she wouldn’t make a fool of herself. Right?

CHAPTER THREE

‘SUCTION,’ GEORGE ORDERED, and Melody complied. They’d been in Theatre for almost four hours now and George looked as fresh as when he’d first walked in. At first Melody had been very conscious of the packed viewing gallery but once the operation had begun, she’d pushed it to the back of her mind. She had a job to do and they owed it to their patient to do just that.

They still had an hour to go on the pelvic reconstruction. George’s research in this field had led him to invent a device that made certain aspects of the surgery more manageable. He’d been extensively published in several of the world’s leading orthopaedic journals, hence why he’d been chosen for this visiting professorship. And here she was—operating alongside him. She couldn’t quite take it in.

‘Now we’ll start reducing the posterior aspect of the fracture. I’ll be fixing one eight-hole, three-and-a-half-millimetre reconstruction plate, securing it in place with two screws at either end.’ George spoke in his normal tone, knowing his words would be picked up on the microphone that was situated within the theatre.

When the viewing gallery had been built, the actual operating room had undergone a transformation as well. Small cameras had been installed, enabling everyone to see the procedure being performed. Apart from general teaching, this was the first time the theatre had been used for a visiting specialist.

‘I’ll need an inter-fragmentary screw as well to keep that acetabular margin firmly in place,’ George said once the reconstruction plate had been positioned.

‘Swab.’ A few moments later, George glanced at Melody and she read the satisfaction in his gaze. The look made her feel as though they were sharing a special secret. ‘I’m happy with that,’ he stated. ‘Check X-ray, please.’ While they waited for the radiographer to take the X-ray, George looked up at the viewing gallery and explained some of the finer points of the surgery he’d just performed.

Melody allowed herself a brief glance up, only to see several heads in the gallery bowed as students, interns and registrars alike furiously took notes. Thanks to the cameras, though, it meant a permanent record would be kept of this procedure so anyone who had missed it could view it online through the hospital’s link.

Melody had never been so relieved to walk out of theatre and into the changing rooms, leaving George to finish answering questions and the theatre staff to clean up. Operating with him had been a wonderful experience, but during the first few minutes of the procedure she’d been so acutely aware of him that her heart had been beating a wild tattoo against her ribs. Forcing her professionalism to the fore, Melody had pretended he was just like anyone else she’d operated with.

Although she hadn’t been the centre of attention, Melody had still felt as though she were trapped like a mouse in a cage. All those people, watching everything they did. ‘Relax,’ she told herself as she had a quick shower. ‘It’s over.’ Everything had gone fine. There had been no complications, no awkward moments. George had been very explicit in what he’d wanted each member of staff to do and Melody realised he was used to operating with strangers.

As she dried herself and headed to her locker, she knew there was no way she’d ever be able to cope with the pressures of a visiting professorship. She was a good surgeon and that was all she wanted. The opportunity to do further research into micro-surgical techniques of the hand and fingers was definitely enough to keep her occupied for quite some time.

She was just tucking in her shirt when two of the nurses who had been in Theatre with them came in.

‘Hot-diggity,’ Hilary said, fanning her face. ‘He is one gorgeous man. Pity he’s married.’ Hilary giggled. ‘Not that that would stop me.’ She covered her mouth. ‘Oops. Naughty me.’

‘I thought he was a widower.’ Evelyn angled her head to the side. ‘That’s what one of his assistants told me.’ Evelyn looked at Melody. ‘Have you heard anything, Melody?’

‘About what?’ Melody started to brush her curls. She hated gossip. When she’d been engaged to Emir, there had been a lot of gossip going on about her. Not only had Emir been cheating on her with several women, one of them had fallen pregnant. If it hadn’t been for Evelyn, who had come and told Melody the truth about Emir’s infidelities, she would have still been living in cloud cuckoo land.

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