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Authors: Fiona Lowe

Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary, #Medical, #Romance

The Doctor Claims His Bride

BOOK: The Doctor Claims His Bride
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Unable to wait a moment longer, Mia launched herself to her feet and arrived at the low fence just as the propellers of the plane slowly wound down and stopped.

The door on the opposite side of the plane opened. Mia caught sight of a pair of long, sun-kissed, muscular legs, which jumped down and landed on large feet. Intrigued, she watched as the legs strode around the plane, eating up the distance with commanding ease. Then the owner came into full view, and an uncontrollable shock of electric delight raced through her, completely disarming her.

Mia’s mouth dried. The intensity of his look made her feel stripped bare, and to her horror she dropped her gaze.

‘I wasn’t expecting a welcoming party. I’m Flynn Harrington. Pilot and doctor.’ He grinned with the cheekiness of someone who had inside information. ‘You must be Mia.’

‘You’re the island doctor?’ She couldn’t hide the shock and disbelief from her voice.

He didn’t look like any doctor she’d ever met—and she’d met more than her fair share, personally
and
professionally.

And no doctor had ever made her tingle like that
.

Dear Reader

In June 2007 my family left our home on the south coast of Australia and we set off on a six-hour flight to the far north of the country. It was 6C in Melbourne and 33C in Darwin—hard to believe we were still in the same country, but it wasn’t just the weather that was different. As we toured around the World Heritage Area of Kakadu National Park and swam in the waterholes of Litchfield Park we absorbed the vivid reds, yellows and browns of the outback. We learned all sorts of things about the land, the plants and animals, and what they all mean to the Aboriginal people.

A very special part of our holiday was a two-day trip to an island in the Timor Sea. Here we went hunting for turtle eggs, watched dugong at play and crocodiles surfing in the ocean! As I sat around the campfire I started to get an idea for a story. We had met a lot of people on our holiday and many had come from the south. I found myself asking, “Why would someone from the south be drawn to the isolation of this island?”

And that is how Mia and Flynn’s story evolved. Set against the background of the Aborigines’ love for their land and their own unique health issues, Mia and Flynn are on the island running from their individual demons. Both are determined to live a solo life but they discover that no matter where you are or how far you go, you can’t outrun your past until you face it.

I hope you enjoy their story as much as I enjoyed writing it and that one day you too can take a trip to the far north of central Australia. It’s an amazing place!

Love

Fiona
x

THE DOCTOR CLAIMS HIS BRIDE

BY

FIONA LOWE

CONTENTS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Always an avid reader,
Fiona Lowe
decided to combine her love of romance with her interest in all things medical, so writing Medical™ Romance was an obvious choice! She lives in a seaside town in southern Australia, where she juggles writing, reading, working and raising two gorgeous sons, with the support of her own real-life hero! You can visit Fiona’s website at
www.fionalowe.com

Recent titles by the same author:

THE PLAYBOY DOCTOR’S MARRIAGE PROPOSAL
A WEDDING IN WARRAGURRA
A WOMAN TO BELONG TO
THE FRENCH DOCTOR’S MIDWIFE BRIDE

To Gaye, with heartfelt thanks for the friendship, the walks along the river and the conversations that roam from laundry liquid to solving the world’s problems!

Special thanks to Nellie, for generously sharing her experiences as a Remote Area Nurse.

CHAPTER ONE

‘Y
OU
still on city time, Sis.’ Susie, one of the Kirri health workers, grinned widely, her teeth white against her chocolate-brown face.

Mia Latham sighed and twirled her hair up, welcoming the light breeze against her very hot and sweaty neck. Jamming her straw hat down hard, she scanned the outback-blue skies for the elusive light plane.

Nothing.

Not a faint dot in the distance, not even a bird. Just heat haze shimmering upwards against wisps of grey smoke from the dry-season fires. She forced her shoulders to relax while muttering, ‘He said eleven o’clock and now it’s almost one.’

‘He on island time.’ Susie leaned back contentedly against the shady eucalypt.

Mia turned and gazed at the sensible indigenous health worker. ‘But I have an immunisation clinic all organised, and we’re keeping people waiting.’

Susie gave her a bemused look. ‘You got no clinic till plane brings vaccines.’ She shrugged. ‘So sit. You can’t do nothing until the plane comes.’

Every cell in Mia’s body rebelled at the practical words. Her ‘to do’ list magnified in her head, the print bold and black, bearing down on her, urging her to do
something
, anything, to make a dent in it. She’d wanted to be as up to date as possible for when she met the visiting doctor. But at this rate she’d be way behind and she hated having no control over the situation.

She stifled a huge scream of frustration and plonked down awkwardly in the shade next to Susie, her cargo shorts instantly filling with fine, brown dirt.
Just great
. She might still be on Australian soil but nothing about life up in the far far north of the country, nothing about life on this tiny island resembled anything she’d ever known.

She’d wanted a change. She’d badly
needed
change but today, her fifth day on the job as a remote area nurse on Kirra Island, left her wondering if what she’d come to was harder than what she’d left.

Impossible
.

She wanted remoteness, wanted to work on her own and be as far away as possible from her old life. She just wanted to forget.

She fanned her face and took a long slug of water from the bottle that was a permanent part of her in this heat. And this was the dry season—winter. She didn’t want to think about the dripping humidity just before the big wet.

‘Hear that?’ Susie inclined her head to the right.

Mia couldn’t hear anything. It was so hot that even nature had gone quiet. ‘No.’

‘Listen with all of you,’ Susie chided gently.

Mia let the heat roll over her, let the dust settle on her and strained to hear past the silence of the soporific
midday malady. A faint buzzing vibrated in her ears. ‘The plane?’

Susie nodded. ‘That’s right. Him coming now.’

Mia moved forward, preparing to stand.

Susie’s workworn brown hand rested against her forearm, detaining her. ‘Still five minutes, no hurry.’

She forced herself to sit back but most of her wanted to rush out onto the runway and start unpacking boxes the moment the plane had come to a complete halt. She’d never been very good at sitting back and waiting. Even when she’d known in her heart there was nothing she could do to help her mother, she’d hated the waiting. Waiting and watching her die.

The Cessna lined up with the runway and slowly descended, coming in over the thick mangroves and the eucalypts, its small black wheels bouncing on the asphalt, sticky with heat. The pilot immediately opened the window and gave a wave.

Unable to wait a moment longer, Mia launched herself to her feet, leaving Susie under the tree, and she arrived at the low cyclone fence just as the propellers of the plane slowly wound down and stopped. The door on the opposite side of the plane opened. Mia caught sight of a pair of long, tanned, muscular legs, which jumped down and landed on large feet. Feet clad in sturdy work boots with khaki socks that casually gathered down around solid ankles.

It wasn’t the usual uniform of a pilot—they wore long navy trousers. No, these legs looked like they belonged to a bounty hunter, buffalo or crocodile hunter—a man who spent a lot of time outdoors.

Intrigued, she watched as the legs strode around the plane, eating up the distance with commanding ease. Then the owner came into full view and an uncontrollable shock of electric delight raced through her, completely disarming her.

At well over six feet, her crocodile hunter had the natural grace of a man at one with his surroundings, and it radiated from the top of his jet-black hair to the tips of his olive-skinned fingers, which gripped a large cooler in one hand and held a backpack in the other. Three-day stubble hovered around his smiling mouth, fanning out along a firm jaw. Dark brows framed intelligent hazel eyes, whose mesmerising gaze quickly took in his surroundings, acknowledged Susie with a wave and then centred in on her.

Mia’s mouth dried. The intensity of his look made her feel stripped bare and to her horror she dropped her gaze. She took in his broad shoulders, which were covered by a shirt made from locally designed fabric. The emerald green and sea blue of the design accurately depicted the colours of the island’s land and sea, and together they brought out a hint of green in his hazel eyes.

Desperately wanting to look further to what she suspected would be a washboard-flat stomach, her professionalism hauled her gaze upwards and with a quick, steadying breath she stepped forward, hoping she looked more dignified than she felt.

‘I wasn’t expecting a welcoming party.’

A rich, deep voice with the smoothness of velvet cloaked her, making her heart hiccough. She looked up
into teasing eyes, the flecks of green and brown almost moving like crystals in a kaleidoscope.

Confusion overrode her body’s unwanted tingling reaction to him, making her dizzy with bewilderment. ‘Aren’t you the pilot bringing in the vaccines? I got a message…’

‘I’m Flynn Harrington. Pilot, deliverer of vaccines and doctor.’ He grinned with the cheekiness of someone who had inside information. ‘You must be Mia.’

Doctor?
She wasn’t expecting to meet the island’s visiting doctor for another three days. Her calendar, left to her by her predecessor, had ‘Doctor clinic’ inked in red for Monday.

‘You’re the island doctor?’ She couldn’t hide the shock and disbelief from her voice. He didn’t look like any doctor she’d ever met and she’d met more than her fair share personally and professionally.
And no doctor has ever made you tingle like that
.

‘Yep, I’m the doctor for Kirra, Mugur and Barra.’ He extended his long arm out behind him, lazily indicating the approximate direction of the other islands. ‘I divide my time between all three.’

A swoosh of righteous indignation surged through her, quickly dousing the unsettling sensations that had shimmered along her veins. She’d just lost half her morning hanging around for him. ‘But you’re three days early and you’re also two hours late!’ The heat and waiting caught up with her. ‘And what do you mean you don’t usually have a welcoming committee? I was here two hours ago, as your message instructed, to collect the vaccines. The least you could
have done was to send a message to say you were going to be late.’

His casual stance stiffened for a moment and then his shoulders relaxed. ‘I’m sorry. I forgot that you’d still be city-wired. Usually the truck comes and picks me up the moment they hear the plane coming over. That way no one’s left waiting around.’ He started walking toward the truck.

The city-wired tag pricked her like barbed-wire and she folded her arms against the sensation in her chest as she jogged to keep up with his long-legged stride. ‘Well, it would have been nice if someone had told me.’ She threw her hands out in front of her. ‘You for instance, or Susie. Why didn’t Susie tell me the routine?’

He tilted his head, his brows slightly raised. ‘Did you ask her?’

His quiet and reasonable tone sent a ripple of contrition through her, dampening her indignation. ‘Ah, no. I think I said something like, “We have to be at the airport at eleven.”’

He pulled a battered bushman’s hat out of his backpack before tossing the pack into the tray of the truck. Then he carefully wedged the cooler under a hessian sack. ‘That’s why she didn’t say anything. Kirri people don’t say no to a request. Susie was happy to help you so she came. If a local doesn’t want to do as you ask, well, they just avoid the issue by failing to turn up.’

BOOK: The Doctor Claims His Bride
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