St Matthew's Passion: A Medical Romance

BOOK: St Matthew's Passion: A Medical Romance
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ST MATTHEW’S PASSION

 

A Medical Romance

 

 

Sam Archer

 

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2013, Sam Archer

 

 

***~~~***

 

Kindle Edition, Licence Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share it with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

Chapter One

 

Though there were perhaps two dozen people between Melissa and Mr Finmore-Gage, he was the first person she saw when she set foot on the ward.

He stood at the centre of a cluster of people in nurses’ uniforms and white coats, taller than any of them and with a presence that drew the eye even leaving aside his height. Melissa took in the details in an instant: his dark, casually rumpled hair, his light eyes (
were they blue, or grey?
she found herself wondering despite herself), the broad shoulders under the white coat. Many consultants, especially ones as eminent as Mr Daniel Finmore-Gage, would wear sharp suits to ward rounds. He evidently preferred to dress like a practising clinician who remained in the thick of the action.

A porter jostled Melissa with a trolley, muttering an apology, and it was only then that she realised she was still standing inside the doorway to the ward. She stepped aside. Across the ward Mr Finmore-Gage raised his head and his gaze met hers.

Grey eyes
, she thought.

Melissa gave her throat a discreet clear – it wouldn’t do to start out tongue-tied – and strode the length of the ward to the knot of people at the beds at the end. By the time she reached them and the consultant had stepped forward himself, her heart was hammering.
First-day nerves
, she told herself.

She thrust out a hand, a little too hastily, she thought. ‘Mr Finmore-Gage. I’m Melissa Havers, your new registrar.’ Her voice was steady, she was pleased to notice: brisk and business-like.

He took her hand, his clasp firm and warm and dry. His eyes, pale and intense beneath slightly arched brows, were locked on hers. A slight smile creased one side of his mouth into a depression that looked quite like a dimple.

For a moment all the staff around them, all the patients in their beds, had disappeared and it was just the two of them in the room.

‘Ms Havers.’ His voice was a baritone, soft but with a tone of quiet authority. Although she’d passed her final examinations in surgery more than a year earlier and had thereby gained entry into the hallowed membership of the Royal College of Surgeons, Melissa still couldn’t get used to being a Ms rather than a Dr.

‘A pleasure to have you with us. I’ve heard some rather good things,’ he murmured.

As compliments went it was artfully understated, yet she wanted to smile, the pride swelling in her chest. Instead she blurted: ‘Please call me Melissa.’ She regretted it immediately. He was her new boss. He could call her what he liked.

His smile broadened a fraction and he dipped his head in acknowledgement. Breaking eye contact for the first time, he glanced around the ward and waved a hand. ‘We tend to start fairly early, as you can see.’

Melissa cursed herself inwardly. She’d meant to be there before the start of the ward round, perhaps even get to know some of the patients before the consultant arrived. Her eyes shifted to the clock on the wall. Six forty in the morning. She’d have to do better tomorrow.

His manner became formal once again. Grave, even. Melissa fell into step beside him, aware that the eyes of the nurses and junior doctors in the group were on her, this newcomer in their midst. Well, she’d been expecting that, and would have to assert her own authority from early on.

Melissa had arrived London in the early hours of the morning, having taken a late train up from Devon where she’d been visiting her parents. She’d unloaded her earthly possessions in the small one-bedroom flat she’d rented in Bayswater – all she could afford for the time being – and caught a few restless hours of sleep, too excited about the morning to rest properly. Five o’clock had seen her up with the dawn and within half an hour she was catching the Underground to St Matthew’s Hospital on the Thames. She’d paused outside the enormous glass doors of the facade, marvelling at the grandeur of the building and feeling as excited as a child going on its first trip on an aeroplane.

She stood in the crisp early morning sunshine, savouring the moment, intensely aware of what she’d achieved. As her tearfully ecstatic mother had reminded her the day before, hugging her before she left, Melissa had done something nobody in the family had ever come close to. Not only had she qualified as a doctor, but at the age of just 29 she’d landed a place on the St Matthew’s rotation as a registrar in trauma surgery. Prestigious wasn’t the word to describe the rotation. It was the medical equivalent of an actress’s landing a role in a film directed by a multiple Oscar winner. And, in one of the most intensely macho specialties in all of surgery, Melissa had seen off the male competition and got to where she was through sheer bloody-minded hard work.

There were three reasons why training at St Matthew’s was the Holy Grail of any aspiring young trauma surgeon. The first was the unit itself. Sporting state-of-the-art resuscitation facilities and operating theatres, and its own dedicated ambulance fleet and even a helicopter, it was the envy of Europe. The second reason was the weighty presence of Professor Malcolm Penney, head of department and a legend whose name was revered by trauma surgeons throughout the world.

But the third reason was the most compelling, and everybody knew it even if they didn’t say so. Daniel Finmore-Gage was, at 36, simply the most brilliant trauma surgeon the country had ever produced. His meteoric rise to the position of Deputy Head of the department at St Matthew’s was a case study in single-minded discipline. By the age of 24, as a junior house officer, he’d had a paper on the management of blunt abdominal trauma accepted by
Nature
, one of the heaviest-hitting scientific journals in the world. His research findings into the predictors of long-term outcome in penetrating cardiac injury  had gained acceptance as gospel. The Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins in the United States had both tried desperately to poach him for their own, but he’d stayed put, insisting his life and career belonged in London.

Melissa had read every paper he’d ever published, had listened to every podcast he’d recorded. She’d committed to memory his textbook chapters, had studied his career and tried as best she could to emulate it, even though she knew she could never match him. When the letter had dropped through the front door confirming that she’d been successful in her application for the St Matthew’s job - it was an old-fashioned letter, not an email or a text message - she’d had to sit down for a few minutes and remind herself how to breathe. Not only had she landed a post on the rotation, it was specifically one with Mr Finmore-Gage.

Now, as the group moved from bed to bed in the post-intake trauma ward and took the measure of the night’s recovering cases, Melissa glanced at her consultant’s cleanly cut profile as he listened to his junior staff present the patients one at a time, and watched the movement of his lips as he asked questions and gave instructions; and she thought how little his learned writings, even his rolling voice on the podcasts she’d absorbed, revealed of the man underneath. Melissa was committed to her career as a trauma surgeon; was dedicated one hundred per cent to becoming not only the eminent female specialist in her field but one of the finest of either sex. She was now apprenticed to the man who was currently the leader of the pack, and from whom she’d learn an incalculable amount.

But she had to admit that, quite apart from the attractiveness his expertise bestowed on him, Mr Daniel Finmore-Gage was a powerfully sexy man.

 

***

 

The canteen echoed to the clatter and bustle of scores of staff taking a brief break for sustenance. Melissa carried her tray over to what looked like an empty table by one of the ceiling-high windows overlooking the river. The view was magnificent, the South Bank a panoramic vista across the water, outlined against the bright early-autumn sky. Much as she loved London, Melissa couldn’t help a twitch of unease as she glanced down at the restless, shifting surface of the Thames. She didn’t like large expanses of water, and hadn’t done ever since almost drowning as a six-year-old when she’d fallen into a pond.

The last seven hours had been some of the busiest Melissa could remember. Quite apart from having to learn a host of new names and where they all fit into the machine that was the Trauma Department, she’d been plunged immediately into clinical work. The ward round had been interrupted by a call from theatre, where an early-morning commuter had been brought in after being hit by a bus. Mr Finmore-Gage had turned to Melissa and for a moment she’d thought, with a thrill, that he was going to ask her to deal with it. Instead he’d said, ‘Mind carrying on here?’ and strode off.

She handled the ward round well, she thought, assimilating the information about each patient as it was presented to her and ordering discharges, changes in medication and transfers to other wards. Many of the patients were groggy after anaesthetics, and more than a few were in considerable pain. Quite often they’d address the junior doctor at Melissa’s side, who was about her age but, crucially, was male, and they’d look surprised when he deferred to Melissa and they realised she was in charge. It was a reaction she’d become used to ever since medical school, and she was prepared to encounter it more and more as she carved a niche for herself in her chosen specialty.

Melissa assumed she’d catch up with her boss at some point during the day, so she spent the rest of the morning introducing herself to the remaining staff, familiarising herself with the department’s layout and computer systems, and taking a tour of the Accident and Emergency Department where she offered advice to the staff on the management of a patient with a broken leg which, while a nasty and messy injury, wasn’t severe enough to require specialist trauma surgeon intervention.

By early afternoon Melissa decided things were as quiet as they were likely to get, and went in search of the canteen for a bite. She was tucking into a plate of lasagne when a female voice said, ‘Mind if I join you?’

Standing by the table, a loaded tray balanced precariously on her hands, was a young woman of around Melissa’s age, perhaps a year or two older, with short black hair and a wide-eyed, smiling face. Like Melissa she was in a white coat and had a stethoscope slung across her shoulders. Melissa had seen her around the Trauma Department that morning but hadn’t been introduced.

‘Of course.’ She waved at the seat opposite. The woman put down her tray and sat, then offered her hand.

‘Emma Callaghan. I’m Professor Penney’s registrar.’

Melissa shook. ‘Melissa Havers –’

‘I know.’ Emma beamed. ‘Great to have another girl here. One day this won’t be such a boys’ club any more.’

They chatted amicably. Emma intended to specialise in gastrointestinal surgery but was rotating through Trauma for the experience. Her husband was a paediatrician at St Matthew’s so the job was convenient all round, and she’d been there now for a year.

‘What’s Professor Penney like to work with?’ asked Melissa.

‘Prof? He’s lovely. Like a big teddy bear. But a brilliant mind, as you know, of course.’ Emma ate in silence for a few moments, then said: ‘Have you met Fin yet?’

‘Fin?’

Emma laughed. ‘Mr Finmore-Gage. Everyone calls him Fin. It’s less of a mouthful. He doesn’t mind.’

‘Yes, I’ve met him.’ Melissa kept her voice neutral, furious at the flush she could feel spreading across her face.

If Emma noticed, she didn’t show it. ‘You’re in for a tough time.’

Melissa was thrown. ‘Why?’ 

‘He’s a hard taskmaster. Demands the earth, of himself as well as others. A great teacher, and a fantastic surgeon. Better than the Prof, really, even in his heyday. But…’

‘Yes?’ Melissa found herself gripped with apprehension, as though Emma was about to reveal a dire secret.

BOOK: St Matthew's Passion: A Medical Romance
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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