Authors: Anna Ramsay
His job is to mend hearts, not break them ...
PARMA MEDICAL ROMANCES
Originally published by MILLS&BOON LTD.
under the title of SURGEON IN PORTUGAL by Anna Ramsay
Heart Surgeon in Portugal
© 2012 by Parma Medical Romances
The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in
accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
The characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the Author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. All the incidents are pure invention.
eBook production by Oxford eBooks Ltd.
This is my revised version of the original ‘SURGEON IN PORTUGAL’ published by Harlequin/Mills&Boon Ltd. I have changed the characters’ names and added a new first chapter and an epilogue. Thank you for buying my ebook. I really hope you enjoy reading it.
Coming soon: HEARTBEAT and other titles.
he percentage of women surgeons is as low as
,” said the radio interviewer leaning in to the microphone. “Let me emphasise this! Out of every hundred surgeons
only eight are women
.” Here followed a significant pause so that all listeners could take in such a regrettable state of affairs.
‘Hear that, Eleanor?’ said Mr Robey, peering over the newspaper at his daughter lying there prostrate on the sitting room couch. ‘With those top science grades you could have been a surgeon just like Jonathan.’
Ellie sighed, rubbing her tired eyes, ‘But Dad, I always wanted to be a nurse. It never crossed my mind to do anything else.’
‘I know my darling, and we couldn’t be more proud of you. But to go and get glandular fever right in the middle of your degree finals… such bad luck.’
She shifted the cushion behind her aching head, trying to get into a more comfortable position.
Wretched glandular fever
. She guessed she’d caught it from that dull doctor she had dated for a couple of months after Christmas. Not for nothing was glandular fever called the kissing disease. Infuriating to have caught it from such a rotten kisser!
“When they qualify, the majority of women doctors choose to go into general practice where they can work part-time and bring up a family,” the radio interviewer was saying. “We’ve heard from Sarah, the paediatric surgeon from Manchester, who thinks the problem lies in society’s attitude. Girls, and even young women medical students, believe you’ve got to be a man to be a surgeon. Now we’ve invited Mr Rafe Harland to come into the studio to give us his views. Good morning and welcome, Mr Harland.”
“Good morning, Katy,” responded a deep voice, warm but brisk.
“Mr Harland, you’re the senior cardiology consultant at one of our leading teaching hospitals here in London and you’re a very busy man so thank you for making time to talk to us today.”
‘Listen Dad!’ Ellie sat up and the rug slid from her knees. ‘It’s Rafe Harland from Jon’s hospital. You remember? Jon was an SHO on Mr Harland’s team.’
‘Good lord!’ exclaimed her father. ‘Margot? Margot - you might want to hear this.’
Mrs Robey came hurrying in clutching a red pen, half-way through marking a batch of mock A level exam papers.
‘Rafe Harland,’ whispered her husband, ‘on the radio.’
Ellie hitched up her legs so her mother could plump down on the couch beside her.
“I understand,” the interviewer said smoothly, “that there’s an on-going university project studying the psychology of a surgeon.”
“First I’ve heard of it,” said Mr Harland, sounding as if it was a matter of small interest to him and a waste of a research grant to boot.
“Typically we find that a surgeon is someone who is assertive, forceful and makes strong decisions. Is that how you would describe yourself, Mr Harland?”
“You wouldn’t be any good at the job if you dithered about.”
‘Nice voice,’ murmured Hugh Robey, a professional violinist with the orchestra of Welsh National Opera and accustomed to listening to voices all day long. ‘Like rich dark sherry.’
‘Medics are often musically gifted,’ mused his wife who taught French and German in the nearby sixth form college.
‘Hush you two. Please!’ shushed Ellie.
“There is no glass ceiling,” Harland was saying. “My senior registrar is a woman and a highly skilled and gifted surgeon. If I myself needed heart surgery, I would be very happy to have her operate on me.”
“How old is she?”
“Age is irrelevant. She is a highly experienced cardiac surgeon and that is what’s important.”
The interviewer was tenacious. “Well okay. Is she married? Has she a family?”
“I am not going to answer personal questions about any of my colleagues,” came the uncompromising response.
‘And there speaks a typical Alpha male surgeon,’ chuckled Hugh Robey, glancing at his watch. ‘Must be off - Traviata in Oxford tonight. Don’t wait up for me, my darlings.’
* * *
Dr Jon Robey was working nights as junior registrar in A&E. He rang that evening for a progress report on his young sister. Mrs Robey said Ellie was still very pale and weary. What did Jon think?
‘Mum, you know I can’t treat family members. Ask Dr Sykes to write her up for blood tests. She may still be anaemic. Remember, the hospital won’t give her a staff job till she’s completely clear.’
Sue Robey sighed. ‘It’s most unfortunate for poor Eleanor. Such bad timing.’
‘I know, Mum,’ comforted her son. ‘But this is just a blip in her career. Ellie will soon catch up - she’s very focused.’
‘The Director of Nurse Education told your father and me that for a student nurse to be so ill and pull off a good upper second was - ’
‘An absolutely valiant performance,’ interrupted Jon putting on a Scottish accent. ‘Mum, dear, you’ve told me. Many many times.’
They both laughed. But all the same it was perfectly true. Determined to get her B.Sc. Nursing degree, the third-year student nurse had stayed stubbornly on her feet right up until the virus surged to an acute stage of infection and she could fight it no longer, collapsing dramatically as she left the Examination Hall.
‘So difficult as a teenager,’ Margot Robey was reminiscing. ‘That Goth phase she went through, Dad and I were in despair.’
‘The black lipstick wasn’t a great look,’ agreed Jon, humouring her while keeping it to himself that it could be some while until Ellie was fit to cope with the pressures of a staff job. Infectious mononucleosis could persist for months, especially in young adults. Not that he was about to remind his mother, who had been poring over the internet finding out more than was good for her to know.
Margot Robey rang the surgery first thing. The receptionist said that in view of the patient’s condition, Dr Sykes would make a home visit later that morning.
Busy and brisk as ever, the GP warned that Ellie would feel better one day, not so well the next. Normal pattern for this illness. Not a cause for concern. ‘Convalescence can be not unlike that required after surgery. Multi-vitamin preparation and a strong dose of sunshine. Best prescription I can give you.’
Ellie sent an ironic text to her brother. ‘Sunshine? Wot’s that?!!
In the morning post came a letter of congratulations from the School of Nurse Education, hoping Eleanor Robey would be able to attend the Presentation of Degree Certificates in three weeks’ time. The senior tutor in Clinical Studies had added a personal note wishing her a full recovery and asking if Ellie would be interested in applying for a specialist course in Critical Care. Starting in September. The only problem was that she would have to go to St Botolph’s because due to budget cuts, the London hospitals were taking it in turns to run the Critical Care course. Ellie didn’t mind, of course she didn’t. To be at Jon’s hospital would be the icing on the cake.
‘Result!’ texted her doctor brother in response to another excited message from Ellie. ‘Must think v highly of u!!! Found u sum sunshine medicine.’
‘What u mean?’
‘Home Sunday tell u then Jon x’
Jon’s ‘sunshine medicine’ turned out to be a two-month holiday in Portugal. But it came with strings attached, or rather one particular string he knew Ellie wasn’t going to be thrilled about. On a snatched visit home he explained all. ‘Country villa with a swimming pool. And a hire car for your own use.’
Ellie’s hazel eyes widened. ‘In return for a little light cooking,’ he added casually. ‘Just for this one man.’
’ Ellie reeled back as if she had just received a slap in the face. ‘I’m a graduate nurse not a cordon bleu chef!’
Jon was whacked after a week of nights and longing for some uninterrupted sleep in his own comfy bed. ‘Oh for goodness’ sake, El, someone of your intelligence can surely mug up a few pukka recipes.’
She stared thoughtfully into the fireplace, twiddling a tendril that had escaped from the tortoiseshell clasp which held her fair wavy hair back from her too-pale face. On the wards she kept it to a length that could just be tied neatly back, but it was now way overdue for a cut. ‘When does he want to interview me?’ she said at last. ‘This guy I’ve got to cook for.’
Jon was grinning. ‘This guy is a surgeon. My old boss. You heard him on the radio.’
Ellie gaped at her brother. Silently her mouth shaped the words. Rafe. Harland.
‘Eleanor Robey lost for words - hallelujah!’ teased Jon, his grin stretching into a huge yawn. ‘I’m off to my bed. You think about it and tell me what you’ve decided in the morning.’
Jon came down late and made himself a black coffee before resuming the fray. Ellie wasn’t yet strong enough to feel ready for an adventure, but given another three weeks of Mum’s TLC she should be well up for it.
But right now, he had to have an answer.
‘Rafe Harland’s got a two-month sabbatical to write up his research project. And he’ll be going to a specialist Cardiac Centre - ’
‘Why?’ interrupted Ellie looking puzzled.
‘Allow me to finish! - to train local cardiac surgeons in complex surgical techniques. It’s no rest cure for him, but you’ll get a lot of time to yourself.’
Ellie bit her lip. ‘How do you know all this?’ she said cautiously. ‘It’s ages since you were his houseman.’
‘Harland asked his secretary to put out feelers. I picked it up on the grapevine, went along to Jean’s office, got the details and said my sister had some time free and might be interested. And the upshot is – we’ve got twenty-four hours and first refusal.’
His sister was still not convinced. ‘Why can’t his wife go with him? Why does he need me?’
Jon ground his teeth in despair. ‘RH is not married, OK?’
Ellie raised a cynical eyebrow. ‘Now why doesn’t that surprise me. Even my own brother can’t commit to a serious relationship.’
‘So many women – so little time,’ grinned Jon, dodging a sharp elbow. ‘Hey, watch it - you’ll spill my coffee.’
‘Is he attractive? He sounded it on the radio.
attractive. And forceful - I do like that in a man.’
Hazel eyes were twinkling at him and Jon thought how good it was to see Ellie getting back to her warm and lively self.