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Authors: Amy Daws

Tags: #sports novel

Challenge (10 page)

BOOK: Challenge
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“But no football?” he asks Prichard.

“Not straight away. After the second surgery, you’re welcome to train at one hundred percent. Unfortunately, your season is over for this year, but there’s always next year, right mate?”

Camden looks down and nods, seemingly far away with his thoughts.

“Indie will take you for another MRI this morning. It’s always good to repeat after the swelling has gone down to make sure there’s nothing else we’re dealing with. We don’t like surprises in the OR if we can help it.”

My blood turns cold as I think about being alone with Cam again after last night. After our ICU kiss, it’s not a good idea. “I’ll get an intern on it,” I respond, pulling out my mobile to page one of them.

Prichard frowns at my lack of enthusiasm. Normally, I always do what he says, but I’m praying he lets this one time pass without a fight. I need some space.

“Well, make sure it’s a good intern. This is important,” Prichard orders before turning to say his goodbyes to Cam and Vi. I hurriedly follow him out of the room, anxious to get away from Camden’s confusing emotions that I seem to feel instinctively. I glance over my shoulder and lock eyes with him one last time. I am overcome by my desire to know what he’s thinking, but I have to disconnect. I have a full day of patients ahead of me. Additionally, if I still want him to be Penis Number One, I need to keep my distance.

Time flies through the day. By the time evening comes, I feel as if I’ve run a marathon. At dinner time, Belle flops down across from me in the hospital cafeteria. “Where the hell have you been all day?” she asks, picking up her apple and rolling it in her hands.

I glance down at her tray where only a Kit Kat remains. I would laugh at her odd combo, but I know she’s always on a weird diet so it’s best to just let her be.

I wrap my mouth around a spoonful of chicken noodle soup, hoping to buy myself some time, so she adds, “I woke up this morning and you were gone. I didn’t see you for lunch. Now it’s nighttime and, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were avoiding me. We always eat dinner together.”

“I’m not avoiding you. I’ve just been swamped and I had a four-hour-long surgery today.” Which is mostly true.

The fact is, after I left Camden’s room this morning, I wasn’t sure my poker face could hold up in front of Belle. I’m not ready to talk about everything so avoiding her was vital. Thankfully, it was a busy day in Patch Alley, so I really was just busy.

She hasn’t been the only one I’ve been avoiding. I checked in on Cam’s digital chart and managed everything I needed to do for him via an intern so I didn’t actually have to step foot in his room. The intern said he had people swarming in and out the entire day, so I’m sure he hasn’t even noticed.

“I knew Prichard would start rounds early because of the Harris brother, too, so that’s why you missed me this morning,” I add after downing the last bit of my soup. “I got up early to suck up to him as much as possible to ensure my position on the surgery tomorrow.”

“Oh, right. The Wilson Repair. Of course you’ll be on the surgery. You’re Prichard’s favourite and the best one for the job, you lucky cow.”

Lucky isn’t quite the word I’d use. I seem to be on Prichard’s rotation most weeks as of late, and his demeanour around me is getting more and more uncomfortable. But I’m interested in ortho, so I’m doing my best to grin and bear it.

“The whole hospital will be talking about you even more than they already do,” Belle adds, her expression full of mirth. “The third years are all moaning behind your back already.”

I roll my eyes. “Nothing different there.”

“But this will shut them up once and for all. This will prove that you are not only a book doctor. You’re a surgeon. They know it but are too stubborn to admit it.”

I gaze back at my friend, who’s now focusing intently on her green apple, and I instantly feel tremendous guilt for not telling her about last night. She’s such a loyal friend. Why am I keeping this from her?

“Well, hello, hello,” a voice calls from behind Belle just as she takes a massive bite of her apple. I look up to see a hairier version of Camden striding toward us.

Tanner Harris flops down in the open seat beside me. He strokes his beard and Belle’s mouth freezes on her apple. He flicks his head back, clearing his shaggy blonde hair away from his face and says, “Dr. Porter, am I right? Or would you rather be called Indie like that other prat of a doctor called you?”

“If she’s a doctor, you should call her Dr. Porter. It’s rude to call her anything else,” says another voice as yet another Harris brother takes the open seat next to Belle. Her mouth is still locked on the apple, causing him to eye her quizzically.

I recognise this brother as the youngest one, Booker. I was introduced to all of them when I explained the surgery to the family yesterday. He has a slightly lower muscle tone than his twin brothers, but is still tall and broad. Trim, dark hair matches his dark, sensitive eyes. Christ, these Harrises are even more handsome in street clothes. Even the hairy one.

Tanner eyes Belle as her bite remains frozen on her apple mid-bite. “Are you just here as a table decoration? Or does that apple actually come out of your mouth?”

I smile as Belle’s dark eyes turn to saucers. She completes her chomp down on the fruit, wiping away a dribble of juice that slithers down her chin.

“This is Dr. Ryan,” I add. “Definitely not here for decoration.”

“You can call me Belle,” she adds, her voice wobbly.

“This is Booker. I’m Tanner,” he says, leaning in closer, his voice dropping an octave. “Nice to meet you, Dr. Ryan. You’re much too pretty to be just a table decoration.”

He shoots her a wink and Belle giggles nervously. Her eyes look a bit too wide to be natural, but I don’t know how to make her stop.

“Tell me, Doc,” Booker says, addressing me with a thoughtful look. “What kind of meds have you prescribed our brother today? He’s a moody sod and he’s just kicked us all out of his room.”

I cloud up. “What do you mean? Is he feeling all right?”

Booker shrugs. “Seemed okay. We were talking football like we always do and he flipped out on us out of nowhere. Told us to go bug someone else. Don’t get me wrong. He is always an arse, but this arse was of a particularly bitchy variety.”

“Our dad sent us to look for you,” Tanner adds. “He thinks maybe Cam is in more pain than he’s letting on.”

The notion bothers me so I can’t help myself from asking, “Maybe he’s just ready for some space? It’s almost eight o’clock at night. I’m sure he’s exhausted. Pain meds make you drowsy, so to fight sleep this long isn’t a pleasant feeling.”

“Harrises don’t really do space,” Tanner replies, sitting back in his chair and stretching his legs out. “Something is up with him.”

I nod, taking note of their concerned expressions. “I’ll go check on him,” I say as I stand up from the table with my tray. My shift is over, but I’m invested in this surgery that’s happening tomorrow so this is my issue.

“You’re leaving?” Belle hisses while not-so-subtly head nodding to the brothers still seated at the table with her.

“Yeah. A-list patient and all that.” I give her a “you’ll be fine” lift of the brow and scamper off, ignoring the cracks Camden’s brothers make about VIP standing for Very Important Prick.

When I get to the private wing, I see Mr. Harris pacing outside Camden’s room with his mobile clamped tightly against his ear. He’s speaking in hushed tones, but when he sees me approaching, he cuts off whomever is talking and abruptly hangs up.

“Dr. Porter, hi,” he says, eyeing me seriously.

I smile politely as I gaze into the blue eyes of an older, more weathered version of Camden. He’s tall, broad-shouldered, and still extremely fit for a middle-aged man. I never knew I could be attracted to the silver fox variety. Prichard has never pinged much on my radar, even though I know he’s attractive and the nurses all constantly swoon over him. But I would certainly make an exception for Vaughn Harris.

“Doc, I think my son might be in some pain. He’s been quite testy all day, which isn’t like him. He’s usually…well, all of my boys are always very light-hearted. They don’t let much trouble them, so I’m thinking he might need something to take the edge off. Can you help him with that?”

I nod sympathetically. “Of course, I was just going in to check on him.”

“Cheers, cheers. That other doctor was here a minute ago, but Cam doesn’t seem to like him much. I don’t care for him either, to be frank, but I’ve done my research and I know he’s skilled.”

“Yes, very much so. Cam—I mean, Mr. Harris is in good hands with him. You’re very lucky.”

“Exactly. Cam’s fine. It’s probably nothing.” He purses his lips and squints, causing the crow’s feet around his eyes to stack on top of one another. “But if you can deal with him as much as possible, I think that’d be wise. He seems to like you.”

“Absolutely. I’ll take good care of him.”

“Excellent. We’re all heading home. He doesn’t want us here anymore. I erm…won’t be here for the surgery tomorrow, but here’s my number. Can you text me when he’s out?”

“You won’t be here?” I ask quizzically. Every time I’ve come down this wing, I’ve seen Camden’s dad outside his door on his mobile. I assumed he’d be here for the actual procedure.

“No. I’ve got an early meeting.” He looks around uncomfortably, almost as if he’s just now realising he’s standing in a hospital. He moves to walk away but turns around and places a surprising hand on my shoulder. “Thank you, Dr. Porter. This procedure will save my son’s life.”

I grimace at his choice of words and, before I can stop myself, I reply, “Mr. Harris. This isn’t a life-threatening injury. Some people never get their ACL tears repaired. Not athletes, I know, but I just want to make sure that you understand he’s going to be okay, with or without the surgery.” I say it with a smile and in a polite tone, but I feel anything but courteous. In fact, I’m feeling a bit of annoyance toward all the Harrises. I want Cam to have the surgery more than anyone. It’d be huge for my career, but it feels as if everyone is more concerned about football than they are about Camden.

Vaughn smiles in a patronising way. “Doc, you’ve dedicated a lot of hard work and years of education to get where you are, haven’t you?”

“Yes, of course.”

He leans his head down to meet my eyes. “My Camden has done the same thing. Football to us…is our life. It’s more than that really. In ways I can’t even begin to describe. So please, just get us through this. That’s all I’m asking.”

He looks as if he’s saying so much more with his eyes than he can say with words, but it’s not something I’m privy to understanding. Regardless, this isn’t really an argument to be having with a patient’s father. “I’ll do my very best, Mr. Harris. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.” I smile genuinely.

He smiles back. “No need to be sorry. I’m just glad he has a doctor who cares.”

Seemingly soothed enough to bid me farewell, he strides away without looking back. I turn and push open Cam’s door, bracing myself for the hotness of this particular footballer, only to find an empty bed with an empty knee brace resting upon it.

Frowning, I see the light on in the attached toilet and hear water running. “Cam—Mr. Harris?” I call out, pushing the door open slightly. “Are you in here?”

When there’s no reply, I take a tentative step in and eye the walk-in shower. The white curtain is drawn and steam is billowing out from the top. “Cam?” I call out again a bit louder. Still nothing. Feeling suddenly nervous by his lack of response, my emergency training takes over and I yank back the curtain. I find him sitting on the floor with his back against the tiled wall as water cascades down over him.

“Camden, what happened? Are you all right?” I ask, squatting down beside him and checking for a pulse on his wrist. His head is dropped and he’s hunched over but I feel a steady beat. I pull my flashlight out of my pocket to check his pupils. His eyes are pinched shut and when I attempt to pry one open, he startles with a jump. The sudden jolt sends me flying backwards onto my rear and right under the heavy stream.

“Cam!” I screech, scrambling my way out of the water as my soaked scrubs cling to my body in a matter of seconds.

BOOK: Challenge
4.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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