Authors: Meredith Webber / Jennifer Taylor
Praise for Meredith Webber and Jennifer Taylor:
‘Medical™ Romance favourite Meredith Webber has penned a spellbinding and moving tale set under the hot desert sun!’
on THE DESERT PRINCE’S CONVENIENT BRIDE by Meredith Webber
‘Stirring, poignant and heartwarming, THE SURGEON’S FATHERHOOD SURPRISE is another triumph from a much-loved writer.’
on Jennifer Taylor’s THE SURGEON’S FATHERHOOD SURPRISE
MELTING THE ARGENTINE DOCTOR’S HEART
SMALL TOWN MARRIAGE MIRACLE
MELTING THE ARGENTINE DOCTOR’S HEART
‘It’s impossible that you stay here …
‘Find a hotel in the city. I will visit you both there. You spring this on me with no warning, but I’ll not deny my child. I will make arrangements, speak to lawyers, see she is—’
‘Financially secure?’ Caroline spat the words at Jorge, her fury a palpable force. ‘She needs your love, Jorge, not your money. Would that be too hard for you to offer her?’
Would it? He looked towards the child. Jorge found his heart was hurting again. Was the wall he’d built around his feelings crumbling so easily?
‘Come inside,’ he said at last.
says of herself, ‘Some ten years ago, I read an article which suggested that Mills and Boon were looking for new Medical™ Romance authors. I had one of those “I can do that” moments, and gave it a try. What began as a challenge has become an obsession—though I do temper the “butt on seat” career of writing with dirty but healthy outdoor pursuits, fossicking through the Australian Outback in search of gold or opals. Having had some success in all of these endeavours, I now consider I’ve found the perfect lifestyle.’
Recent titles by the same author:
TAMING DR TEMPEST
SHEIKH, CHILDREN’S DOCTOR … HUSBAND
To my Argentinian relatives, the wonderful Daniela and Damian, with thanks
anger that had sprung to fierce life when Caroline had read the article about the clinic in Argentina continued to burn within her as her plane crossed the Pacific Ocean. It simmered nicely as she struggled with a three-year-old through Customs in Buenos Aires and onto the local plane for the short flight north to Rosario, where one Dr Jorge Suárez had set up a special clinic for people of the indigenous Toba tribe who had settled in the city at the end of the twentieth century.
One Jorge Suárez!
Unfortunately, as the taxi took Ella along endless tree-lined boulevards and past wide parks, which she knew from the guide book she’d read on the flight were called
the anger began to fade. Doubts rushed in to fill the space where it had been. The fact that Ella was asleep beside her meant Caroline had nothing but her thoughts to keep her company.
And the thoughts were
What if Jorge
actually meant what he’d said in that devastating, humiliating, soul-eroding email sent from France four years ago? What if she was wrong in assuming he’d sent it because his beautiful face, and
probably his whole body, had been scarred and, proud man that he was, he’d feared her pity? What if he
ever loved her, and she’d been nothing but a convenience, someone to be lied to so he could get her into bed?
She hadn’t believed his words when the email had arrived; couldn’t believe that the overwhelming, all-conquering love she’d thought they’d shared had been nothing more than a farce; their talks of marriage a sham. Frustration had been her strongest emotion at the time, frustration because she couldn’t fly to his side and demand to know if his words were true. But news of her mother’s breast cancer had come through only a week before his accident and she’d been on the long flight back to Australia when it had happened.
By the time she’d gathered her wits and had organised for her mother to begin treatment, he’d changed his email address, and letters sent to him at the hospital to which he’d been airlifted after the accident had been returned unopened.
was when she’d been forced to wonder if she’d been deceived by a master of the love game.
Two months later, while supporting her mother through debilitating radiation therapy, Caroline had realised she was pregnant. She’d searched the internet until she’d found his father’s address in a suburb called Recoleta in Buenos Aires, and sent a letter to Jorge care of that address. After all, a man deserved to know he was about to become a father. That letter, too, had boomeranged right back to her.
The Spanish-accented voice of the cab driver—deep and rich, so like Jorge’s—told her she was close to her destination and now doubt turned to panic.
had she done this?
she have been so stupid?
To have dragged Ella all this way on an assumption made from a very blurry internet photograph—was she
Fortunately, though not so fortunate for the people who lived here, the taxi had turned off the tree-lined boulevard, down a suburban street then into a small lane between makeshift homes.
‘Poor people who come from the north,’ the taxi driver explained. ‘The city builds them housing but more come before they can all have homes.’
The clinic looked exactly as it had on the internet, like an old corner store, painted white, and the small, brown-skinned people lazing around outside it might have been the same ones she’d read about in the article, mostly indigenous Toba people who lived in this overcrowded section of the big city of Rosario. The taxi stopped and though her stomach was knotted tightly and her lungs had seized so she could only gasp in short choppy breaths, she resisted the temptation to ask the driver to take her back to the airport.
Resisted, too, the panic that threatened to overwhelm her, reminding herself of the reason she had come.
Whatever she might feel—whatever might lie between Jorge and herself—her daughter deserved a father. Growing up without one herself, she had longed for someone to call Daddy. But worse than the longing—that hollow gap in her life—she knew how insecure it had made her around boys, and how uncertain she’d been about men.
Perhaps it even explained how easily she’d been seduced by Jorge’s declarations of love …
Refusing to acknowledge such a dread thought, she forced air deep into her lungs, shook her daughter gently awake, paid the cab driver, and muttered, ‘Here goes!’ to herself.
Yes, her voice had quavered and, yes, she had a momentary concern about bringing Ella to this obviously overcrowded area of what had looked a beautiful city, but having come all this way for Ella to meet her father, Caroline was not going to be stopped at the front door.
The sleepy child grumbled slightly when her mother lifted her, but as the little arms locked around Caroline’s neck, and the soft, thick, dark curls brushed her cheek, her tension eased, determination returning in its place. She was doing this for her daughter.
Jorge looked up as his helper and friend, Juan, came rushing into the room.
‘Taxi with lady and baby outside. Lady with baby coming in.’
Juan’s use of the word ‘lady’ was enough to tell Jorge that this was no ordinary visit. The woman obviously wasn’t one of the local people for whom he’d set up the clinic, so a taxi dropping off a woman with a child—an emergency, surely.
He was moving towards the door of his office as these thoughts chased through his head, and a couple of paces past that he was at the front door of the clinic, staring in disbelief at the tall blonde woman striding up the front path, a small, dark-haired child nestled in her arms.
His first fleeting thought was that this would be a really good time for lightning to strike him, but when the cloudless sky failed to deliver instant incineration, and he doubted a tsunami would sweep him away—too far from the sea—he was forced to confront the intruder.
His voice made a question of her name but his gut, cramping uncomfortably, knew exactly who it was. Heat stirred in unfamiliar places, while his heart gave a bump in his chest and panic rattled his brain. Fortunately the doctor in him reacted with concern for the child and, automatically turning the good side of his face to the woman he’d once loved—once?—he let the doctor take over.
‘What are you doing here? Is the child ill?’
His words halted her, but only momentarily, not enough for him to really study her, to see if she was still as beautiful as the vision he saw in his dreams.
Beautiful! She’d mocked him when he’d called her that, pointing out that her mouth was too big, her nose too thin, her eyes too wide apart, hair too fair—a dozen shortcomings listed as she’d shied away from his praise …
Caroline didn’t answer. She continued down the path until she stood directly in front of him—close enough to touch if his arms had moved from his side, if any part of his body would have obeyed an order from his stunned brain.
She studied him, her face betraying nothing as she took in the scarring down his right cheek. Now his brain was beginning to work again and he realised she could
only have found him through the internet and the article that had appeared on it had shown his photograph, scar and all.
she said carefully, her voice so taut he knew she was as tense as he was, ‘is your daughter.’
Dumbstruck! He knew the word yet had never understood its meaning until this moment. It was as if the lightning bolt that hadn’t come earlier had finally arrived, spearing into his brain.
At that moment, the child raised her head from her mother’s shoulder and looked around, smiling tentatively at him before shyly snuggling her face back into Caroline’s neck. The denial he’d been working up to died on his lips. As a small child, his mother had so loved his curls she’d refused to cut his hair, and he’d seen the face that looked at him in photographs of himself as a toddler.
He had a child!
He had a daughter!
The knowledge bounced around in his head in the blank space where his brain had once been.
‘Her name is Ella.’
Caroline had called the child Ella?
Had she remembered it was his mother’s name?
Of course she would have! And the naming could be part of an elaborate con. The child—Ella—had kicked against restraint in her mother’s arms and was now on the ground, looking around her, eyes wide as she took in these new surroundings.
And unless Caroline had found a lover who looked
just like him, maybe Jorge had to accept the child was his.
He squatted down, holding up a hand to stop Caroline who looked as if she might swoop on the little girl.
‘Hello,’ he said, using the deliberately soft voice he used not only for children but for new patients at the clinic.
Dark eyes stared at him, moving across his face, pausing, then a tentative smile danced around small pink lips, and she raised a hand in a small salute.
‘Hi,’ she said, and as he squatted, immobilised by the smile, by her voice, she stepped forward and put the palm of her hand against his scarred cheek. ‘Sore? ‘
He couldn’t speak, the lump in his throat too hard to dislodge. How could this be? How could he comprehend it? The child was his?
child, who’d touched his face with baby-soft fingers? He reached out, shocked to see his fingers shaking, and brushed his hand against the shiny brown curls.
‘Not sore,’ he said gently, unable to tell her of the pain in other parts of his body, in particular his heart.
The child smiled, and patted his cheek this time, then, in the way of very small and easily diverted children, she turned to check out her surroundings.
Glancing up, he saw tears in Caroline’s eyes, but the reality of what she’d done took precedence over weakness, growing in enormity.