Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс - CONTENTS Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Нилс Бетти

Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman» - Бетти Нилс

The Doctor's Girl by BETTY NEELSLoveday West was thrilled when Dr. Andrew Fforde offered her a job as his temporary receptionist. She hadn't expected to fall in love with him–but he was just so handsome and charming! But was her place in his life as temporary as her contract?A Special Kind of Woman by CAROLINE ANDERSONWhen single mother Cait Cooper sees her daughter off to medical school, she feels now's the time to do all the things she's yearned to do. Enter Dr. Owen Douglas, who sets about giving Cait more fun than she's ever had…until their affair puts her right back where she started and Cait doesn't know which way to turn!
Следующая страница


International bestselling author

Betty Neels


Rising star of Harlequin Romance®

Caroline Anderson

bring you…

Two fabulously tender and deeply emotional stories that will whisk you into a heartwarming, magical world.

Betty Neels spent her childhood and youth in Devonshire, England, before training as a nurse and midwife. She was an army nursing sister during the war, married a Dutchman and subsequently lived in Holland for fourteen years. She lives with her husband in Dorset, and has a daughter and grandson. Her interests are reading, animals, old buildings and writing. Betty started to write on retirement from nursing, incited by a lady in a library bemoaning the lack of romantic novels. Betty Neels has sold over 35 million copies of her books worldwide.


Harlequin Romance® #3675

Caroline Anderson has the mind of a butterfly. She’s been a nurse, a secretary, a teacher, run her own soft-furnishing business and now she’s settled on writing. She says, “I was looking for that elusive something. I finally realized it was variety, and now I have it in abundance. Every book brings new horizons and new friends, and in between books I have learned to be a juggler. My teacher-husband, John, and I have two beautiful daughters, Sarah and Hannah, umpteen pets and several acres of Suffolk, England, that nature tries to reclaim every time we turn our backs!” Caroline also writes for the Medical Romance™ series.

THE IMPETUOUS BRIDE by Caroline Anderson

Harlequin Romance® #3676

Marrying a Doctor

The Doctor’s Girl

Betty Neels

A Special Kind of Woman

Caroline Anderson









A Special Kind of Woman











The Doctor’s Girl

Betty Neels

For Elizabeth, my friend and guiding star over the years.

Dear Reader,

The last time I wrote to you it was Christmastime. Now, when I look out of my study window, our tiny garden is a wealth of green and color with lavender bushes, miniature rose bushes, tobacco plants, poppies and petunias, all growing higgledy-piggledy with buttercups and speedwell sprawling over any space that’s left. Untidy, undisciplined, but exactly right for our very small cottage. And indoors it is just as cluttered. Bits and pieces we have brought back when we traveled, presents from friends and family, photos of cats and dogs we have loved, things we cherish for their memories. And that goes for friends, too: times change but some things never will—old friends, old clothes, favorite books…and writing a letter to people you don’t know, but who are, all the same, friends. God bless you.


MISS MIMI CATTELL gave a low, dramatic moan followed by a few sobbing breaths, but when these had no effect upon the girl standing by the bed she sat up against her pillows, threw one of them at her and screeched, ‘Well, don’t just stand there, you little fool, phone Dr Gregg this instant. He must come and see me at once. I’m ill; I’ve hardly slept all night…’ She paused to sneeze.

The girl by the bed, a small mousy person, very neat and with a rather plain face enlivened by a pair of vivid green eyes, picked up the pillow.

‘Should you first of all try a hot lemon drink and some aspirin?’ she suggested in a sensible voice. ‘A cold in the head always makes one feel poorly. A day in bed, perhaps?’

The young woman in the bed had flung herself back onto her pillows again. ‘Just do as I say for once. I don’t pay you to make stupid suggestions. Get out and phone Dr Gregg; he’s to come at once.’ She moaned again. ‘How can I possibly go to the Sinclairs’ party this evening…?’

Dr Gregg’s receptionist laughed down the phone. ‘He’s got three more private patients to see and then a clinic at the hospital, and it isn’t Dr Gregg—he’s gone off for a week’s golf—it’s his partner. I’ll give him the message and you’d better say he’ll come as soon as he can. She’s not really ill, is she?’

‘I don’t think so. A nasty head cold…’

The receptionist laughed. ‘I don’t know why you stay with her.’

Loveday put down the phone. She wondered that too, quite often, but it was a case of beggars not being choosers, wasn’t it? She had to have a roof over her head, she had to eat and she had to earn money so that she could save for a problematical future. And that meant another year or two working as Mimi Cattell’s secretary—a misleading title if ever there was one, for she almost never sent letters, even when Loveday wrote them for her.

That didn’t mean that Loveday had nothing to do. Her days were kept nicely busy—the care of Mimi’s clothes took up a great deal of time, for what was the point of having a personal maid when Loveday had nothing else to do? Nothing except being at her beck and call each and every day, and if she came home later from a party at night as well.

Loveday, with only an elderly aunt living in a Dartmoor village whom she had never met, made the best of it. She was twenty-four, heartwhole and healthy, and perhaps one day a man would come along and sweep her off her feet. Common sense told her that this was unlikely to be the case, but a girl had to have her dreams…

She went back to the bedroom and found Mimi threshing about in her outsize bed, shouting at the unfortunate housemaid who had brought her breakfast tray.

Loveday prudently took the tray from the girl, who looked as if she was on the point of dropping it, nodded to her to slip away and said bracingly, ‘The doctor will come as soon as he can. He has one or two patients to see first.’ She made no mention of the clinic. ‘If I fetch you a pot of China tea—weak with lemon—it may help you to feel well enough to have a bath and put on a fresh nightie before he comes.’

Mimi brightened. Her life was spent in making herself attractive to men, and perhaps she would feel strong enough to do her face. She said rudely, ‘Get the tea, then, and make sure that the lemon’s cut wafer-thin…’

Loveday went down to the basement, where Mrs Branch and the housemaid lived their lives. She took the tray with her and, being a practical girl, ate the fingers of toast on it and accepted the mug of tea Mrs Branch offered her. She should have had her breakfast with Mrs Branch and Ellie, but there wasn’t much hope of getting it now. Getting Miss Cattell ready for the doctor would take quite a time. She ate the rest of the toast, sliced the lemon and bore a tray, daintily arranged, back upstairs.

Mimi Cattell, a spoilt beauty of society, prepared for the doctor’s visit with the same care she took when getting ready for an evening party. ‘And you can make the bed while I’m bathing—put some fresh pillowcases on, and don’t dawdle…’

It was almost lunchtime by the time she was once more in her bed, carefully made up, wearing a gossamer nightgown, the fairytale effect rather marred by her sniffs. To blow her nose would make it red.

To Loveday’s enquiry as to what she would like for lunch she said ill-temperedly that she had no appetite; she would eat something after he had visited her. ‘And you’d better wait too; I want you here when he’s examining me.’

‘I’ll fetch a jug of lemonade,’ said Loveday, and sped down to the kitchen.

While Ellie obligingly squeezed lemons, she gobbled down soup and a roll; she was going to need all her patience, and the lowering feeling that the doctor might not come for hours was depressing.

She bore the lemonade back upstairs and presently took it down again; it wasn’t sweet enough! She was kept occupied after that—opening the heavy curtains a little, then closing them again, longing to open a window and let a little London air into the room when Mimi sprayed herself once more with Chanel No 5. By now Mimi’s temper, never long off the boil, was showing signs of erupting. ‘He has no right to leave me in such distress,’ she fumed. ‘I need immediate attention. By the time he gets here I shall have probably got pneumonia. Find my smelling salts and give me the mirror from the dressing table.’

It was getting on for two o’clock when Loveday suggested that a little light lunch might make her employer feel better.

‘Rubbish,’ snarled Mimi. ‘I won’t eat a thing until he’s examined me. I suppose you want a meal—well, you’ll just have to wait.’ Her high-pitched voice rose to a screech.

‘I don’t pay you to sit around and stuff yourself at my expense, you greedy little…’

The door opened by Ellie, and after one look the screech became a soft, patient voice. ‘Doctor—at last…’

Mimi put up a hand to rearrange the cunning little curl over one ear to better advantage. ‘I don’t think we’ve met,’ she purred. To Loveday, she said, ‘Pull the curtains and get a chair for the doctor, and then go and stand by the window.’ The commands were uttered in a very different voice.

The doctor opened the curtains before Loveday could get to them and pulled up a chair. ‘I must introduce myself, Miss Cattell. I am Dr Gregg’s partner and for the moment looking after his patients while he is away.’

Mimi said in a wispy voice, ‘I thought you would never come. I am rather delicate, you know, and my health often gives cause for concern. My chest…’

She pushed back the bedspread and put a hand on her heart. It was annoying that he had turned away.

‘Could we have the window open?’ he asked Loveday.

A man after her own heart, thought Loveday, opening both windows despite Mimi’s distressed cry. She would suffer for it later, but now a few lungfuls of London air would be heaven.

From where she stood she had a splendid view of the doctor. He was a tall man, with broad shoulders and fair hair flecked with grey. He was good-looking too, with a rather thin mouth and a splendid nose upon which were perched a pair of spectacles. A pity she couldn’t see the colour of his eyes…

Miss Cattell’s voice, sharp with impatience, brought her to the bedside. ‘Are you deaf?’ A remark hastily covered by a fit of sneezing, necessitating the use of a handkerchief and nose-blowing.

The doctor waited patiently until Mimi had resumed her look of patient suffering. He said mildly, ‘If you will sit up, I’ll listen to your chest.’

He had a deep voice, pleasantly impersonal, and he appeared quite unimpressed by Mimi’s charms, ignoring her fluttering breaths and sighs, staring at the wall behind the bed while he used his stethoscope.

‘Clear as a bell,’ he told her. ‘A head cold. I suggest aspirin, hot drinks and some brisk walks in the fresh air—you are quite near Hyde Park, are you not? Eat whatever you fancy and don’t drink any alcohol.’

Mimi stared up at him. ‘But I’m not well—I’m delicate; I might catch a chill…’

‘You have a head cold,’ he told her gravely, and Loveday had to admire his bedside manner. ‘But you are a healthy woman with a sound pair of lungs. You will be perfectly fit in a couple of days—less, if you do as I suggest.’

Mimi said rudely, ‘I’ll decide that for myself. When will Dr Gregg be back? I don’t know your name…?’

‘Andrew Fforde.’ He held out a large hand. ‘I’m sure you will let me know if you don’t make a full recovery.’

Mimi didn’t answer. Loveday went to the door with him and said gravely, ‘Thank you for coming, Doctor.’ She went downstairs with him, along the hall and opened the front door. As he offered a hand and bade her a grave good afternoon she was able to see that his eyes were blue.

A sensible girl, she went first down to the kitchen, where Mrs Branch and Ellie were sitting over a pot of strong tea.

‘I’ve saved you a bite of lunch,’ said Mrs Branch, and pushed a mug of tea across the table. ‘That weren’t Dr Gregg. Ellie says ’e looked a bit of all right?’

‘Dr Gregg’s partner, and he was nice. Miss Cattell has a head cold.’ Mrs Branch handed Loveday a cheese sandwich. ‘You’ll need that. Well, will she be going out this evening?’

‘I should think so,’ said Loveday in a cheese-thickened voice.

Miss Cattell was in a splendid rage; the doctor was a fool and she would speak to Dr Gregg about him the moment he was back. ‘The man must be struck off,’ declared Mimi. ‘Does he realise that I am a private patient? And you standing there with the windows wide open, not caring if I live or die.’

Mimi tossed a few pillows around. ‘Where have you been? You can get me a gin and tonic…’

‘Doctor said no alcohol.’

‘You’ll do as I say! Make it a large one, and tell Cook to make me an omelette and a salad. I want it now. I shall rest and you can get everything ready for this evening.’

‘You are going to the party, Miss Cattell?’

‘Of course I am. I don’t intend to disappoint my friends. I dare say I’ll be home early. I’ll ring for you if I am.’

Another half an hour went by while Mimi was rearranged in her bed, offered her omelette and given a second gin and tonic. She finally settled, the windows shut and curtains drawn, for a nap. Loveday, free at last, went to her room on the floor above, kicked off her shoes and got onto the bed. Some days were worse than others…

Miss Cattell was still asleep and snoring when Loveday crept into her room an hour later. In the kitchen once again, for yet another cup of tea, she thankfully accepted Mrs Branch’s offer of a casserole kept hot in the oven for her supper. Mimi wouldn’t leave the house before half past eight or nine o’clock, and there would be no chance to sit down to her supper before then.

Later, offering more China tea and wafer-thin bread and butter, Loveday was ordered to display a selection of the dresses Miss Cattell intended to wear. She meant to outshine everyone there and, her cold forgotten, she spent a long time deciding. After the lengthy ritual of bathing, making up her face and doing her hair, and finally being zipped into a flimsy dress which Loveday considered quite indecent, she changed her mind. The flimsy dress was thrown in a heap onto the floor and a striking scarlet outfit was decided upon, which meant that shoes and handbag had to be changed too—and while Loveday was doing that Ellie was ordered to bring another gin and tonic.

Loveday, escorting Mimi to a taxi, had the nasty feeling that the night was going to prove worse than the day had been. She was right; she was wakened at two in the morning by the noisy return of Miss Cattell and several of her friends, who thankfully didn’t stay, but that meant she had to go downstairs and help Mimi up to her room.

This was no easy task; Mimi was too drunk to help herself, so that hoisting her upstairs and into her room was a herculean task. Loveday was strong even though she was small, but by the time she had rolled the lady onto her bed she decided that enough was enough. She removed Mimi’s shoes, covered her with a light blanket and went back to her own bed.

In a few hours she had to get up again and face Miss Cattell’s rage at discovering herself still clad in scarlet crêpe, lying untidily under a blanket. Even worse than that, her dress was torn and stained; Loveday had never heard such language…

When Miss Cattell was once more bathed, her make-up removed, and attired in a satin and lace confection, she declared that she would remain in bed for the rest of the day. ‘My cold is still very heavy.’ She snorted. ‘Cold indeed. That man had no idea of what he was talking about.’

Loveday allowed her thoughts to dwell upon him, and not for the first time. She had liked him. If she were ever ill she would like him to look after her. She frowned. In different surroundings, of course, and in a nightie like Miss Cattell wore. She dismissed the thought as absurd, but as the day wore on it was somehow restful to think about him while Mimi’s cross voice went on and on.

On her half-day off, she went to the public library and searched the papers and magazines, looking for jobs. ‘Computer skills…knowledge of a foreign language useful…anyone under the age of twenty-five need not apply…kitchen hands willing to work late nights…’ A splendid selection, but none of them would do. And they all ended with references required. She didn’t think that Miss Cattell would give her a reference, not one which would secure her a job.

As it turned out she was quite right.

It was Mrs Branch who told her that Miss Cattell had quarrelled with the man she had decided she would marry, which was possibly an excuse for her to be even more bad-tempered than usual, and solace herself by filling the house with her friends, going on a shopping spree and staying up until all hours.

It was on the morning after one of Mimi’s parties that a bouquet of roses was delivered. They must be arranged at once, she ordered, and there was a particularly lovely vase into which they must go.

Loveday arranged them carefully under her employer’s eye and bore them from room to room while Mimi decided where they should go. It was unfortunate that, getting impatient, she turned sharply and knocked the vase and flowers out of Loveday’s hands.

‘My vase,’ she screamed. ‘It was worth hundreds of pounds. You careless fool; you’ll pay for this…’ She gave Loveday a whack over one eye. ‘You’re fired. Get out now before I send for the police!’

‘If anyone sends for the police it will be myself,’ said Loveday. ‘It was your fault that I dropped the vase and you hit me. I shall leave at once and you can do what you like.’ She added, ‘I’m very glad to be going.’

Miss Cattell went an ugly red. ‘You’ll not get a reference from me.’

‘I don’t expect one. Just a week’s wages in lieu of notice.’

Loveday left Mimi standing there and went to her room and packed her few things tidily before going down to the kitchen.

‘I’m leaving,’ she told Mrs Branch. ‘I shall miss you and Ellie; you’ve both been very kind to me.’

‘You’re going to have a black eye,’ said Mrs Branch. ‘Sit down for a second and drink a cup of tea. Where will you go?’

‘I don’t know…’

‘Well, if it’s any help, I’ve a sister who lives near Victoria Park—Spring Blossom Road—she has rooms. Wait a tick while I write ’er a line. She’ll put you up while you sort yerself out.’

Ellie hadn’t said a word, but she cut ham sandwiches and wrapped them neatly and gave them to Loveday. It was a kind gesture which almost melted Loveday’s icy calm.

She left the house shortly afterwards; she had her week’s wages as well as what was owed her in her purse, but she tried not to think of the things Mimi had said to her. It would have been a pleasure to have torn up the money and thrown it at her, but she was going to need every penny of it.

Mrs Branch’s sister, Mrs Slade, lived a far cry from Miss Cattell’s fashionable house. Loveday, with Mrs Branch’s directions written on the back of an envelope, made her way there, lugging her case and shoulder bag. It was a long journey, but there was a lull in the traffic before the lunch hour and the bus queues were short.

Spring Blossom Road couldn’t have seen a spring blossom for many years; it was a short, dingy street with small brick houses on either side of it. But it was tolerably quiet and most of the windows had cheerful curtains. It was a relief to find that Mrs Slade had the same kind, cheerful face as her sister. She read Mrs Branch’s note and bade Loveday go in.

‘’Appens I’ve got the basement vacant,’ she told Loveday. ‘It’s a bit dark, but it’s clean.’ She smiled suddenly. ‘Not what you’ve been used to, from what I’ve ’eard. Take it for a week while you find yourself a job. It’ll be rent in advance but I’ll not overcharge you.’

Then she led the way to the back of the house, told Loveday to sit down at the kitchen table and offered tea.

‘That’s a nasty eye you’ve got there—Miss Cattell had one of her tantrums? My sister only stays until Ellie gets married. I don’t ’old with these idle folk with nothing better to do than get nasty.’

The tea was hot and strong and sweet and Loveday felt better. This was something which had been bound to happen sooner or later; she should count herself lucky that Mrs Branch had been so kind and helpful and that she had two weeks’ wages in her bag.

She went with Mrs Slade to inspect the basement presently. It was a small room below street level, so that the only view was of feet passing the window. But there was a divan bed, a table, two chairs and a shabby armchair by a small electric fire. There was a sink in one corner, and a small door which led to the neglected strip of back garden. ‘Outside lav. Nice and handy for you,’ explained Mrs Slade. ‘’Ere’s a key, and you’d better pop down to the corner and get yourself some food. There is a gas ring by the sink so you can cook if you want to.’

So Loveday went to the small shops at the end of the road and bought eggs, butter, tea and a bottle of milk. She still had the ham sandwiches, which would do very nicely for her supper…

She was a sensible girl, and now that her boats were burnt behind her she was cheerfully optimistic. Loveday ate her sandwiches, drank more tea and contrived to wash at the sink before venturing cautiously into the back garden to find the loo. And then, tired by such an eventful day, she got onto the divan and went to sleep. Her eye was painful but there was no mirror for her to inspect it, only her tiny powder compact which was quite inadequate.

It was raining in the morning and there was the first chill of autumn in the air. Loveday boiled an egg, counted her money and sat down to plan her day. She couldn’t remember her mother and father, who had both died in a rail crash while she was still a toddler, but the stern aunt who had brought her up had instilled in her a number of useful adages. ‘Strike while the iron is hot’ was one of them, and Loveday intended to do just that.

She would visit the nearest job centre, the public library, and make a round of the adverts in the small shop windows. That would be a start. But before she did, she allowed her thoughts to wander a little. Miss Cattell would certainly insist on Dr Gregg visiting her, and if she did that she would be able to complain about Dr Fforde. She hoped she would not; they hadn’t exchanged two words and yet she had the firm feeling that she knew him well.

Her eye was painful and almost closed, and, had she but known it, was the reason why the job centre lady wasn’t very helpful. She had to admit that it looked rather awful when she caught sight of it in a passing shop window. Tomorrow, if it wasn’t better, she would go to the nearest hospital and get something for it. Next she applied for a job as a waitress in a large, noisy café and was told to stop wasting time by the proprietor.

‘Oo’s going to order from a girl with an eye like that? Been in a fight, ’ave yer?’

The next morning she caught a bus to the hospital, a mile away. It was a vast Victorian building, its Casualty already overflowing. Since Loveday’s eye wasn’t an urgent case, she was told to sit on one of the crowded benches and wait.

The benches didn’t seem any less crowded; rather the opposite. At midday she got a cup of coffee and a roll from the canteen and then settled down to wait again. She was still waiting when Fforde, on his way to take a clinic in outpatients, took a short cut there through Casualty. He was late and he hardly noticed the sea of faces looking hopefully at him. He was almost by the end doors when he caught sight of Loveday, or rather he caught sight of the black eye, now a rainbow of colours and swollen shut.

It was the mouse-like girl who had been with that abominable Miss Cattell. Why was she here in the East end of London with an eye like that? He had felt an instant and quite unexpected liking for her when he had seen her, and now he realised that he was glad to have found her again, even if the circumstances were peculiar. He must find out about her…He was through the doors by now and encircled by his clerk, his houseman and Sister, already touchy because he was late.

Of course by the time he had finished his clinic the Casualty benches were almost empty and there was no sign of her. Impelled by some feeling he didn’t examine, he went to Casualty and asked to see the cases for the day. ‘A young lady with a black eye,’ he told the receptionist. ‘Have you her address? She is concerned with one of my patients.’

The receptionist was helpful; she liked him, for he was polite and friendly and good-looking. ‘Miss Loveday West, unemployed, gave an address in Spring Blossom Road. That’s turn left from here and half a mile down the road. Had her eye treated; no need to return.’

He thanked her nicely, then got into his car and drove back to his consulting room. He had two patients to see and he was already late…

There was no reason why he should feel this urge to see her again; he had smiled briefly, they had exchanged goodbyes on the doorstep and that was all. But if the opportunity should occur…

Which it did, and far more rapidly than he anticipated.

Waiting for him when he reached his rooms on the following morning was Miss Priss, his receptionist-secretary. She was a thin lady of middle years, with a wispy voice and a tendency to crack her knuckles when agitated, but nevertheless she was his mainstay and prop. Even in her agitation she remembered to wish him a good morning before explaining that she had had bad news; she needed to go home at once—her mother had been taken ill and there was no one else…

Dr Fforde waited until she had drawn breath. ‘Of course you must go at once. Take a taxi and stay as long as you wish to. Dr Gregg will be back today, and I’m not busy. We shall manage very well. Have you sufficient money? Is there anyone you wish to telephone?’

‘Yes, thank you, and there is nobody to phone.’

‘Then get a taxi and I’ll ask Mrs Betts to bring you a cup of tea.’

Mrs Betts, who kept the various consulting rooms clean, was like a sparrow, small and perky and pleased to take a small part in any dramatic event.

Miss Priss, fortified by what Mrs Betts called her ‘special brew’, was seen on her way, and then Dr Fforde sat down at his desk and phoned the first agency in the phone book. Someone would come, but not until the afternoon. It was fortunate that Mr Jackson, in the rooms above him, was away for the day and his secretary agreed to take Miss Priss’s place for the morning…

The girl from the agency was young, pretty and inefficient. By the end of the next day Dr Fforde, a man with a well-controlled temper, was having difficulty in holding it in check. He let himself into his small mews house, tucked away behind a terrace of grand Georgian mansions, and went from the narrow hall into the kitchen, where his housekeeper, Mrs Duckett, was standing at the table making pastry.

She took a look at his tired face. ‘A nice cuppa is what you’re needing, sir. Just you go along to your study and I’ll bring it in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Have you had a busy day?’

He told her about Miss Priss. ‘Then you’ll have to find someone as good as her to take her pace,’ said Mrs Duckett.

He went to his study, lifted Mrs Duckett’s elderly cat off his chair and sat down with her on his knee. He had letters to write, a mass of paperwork, patients’ notes to read, and the outline of a lecture he was to give during the following week to prepare. He loved his work, and with Miss Priss to see to his consulting room and remind him of his daily appointments he enjoyed it. But not, he thought savagely, if he had to endure her replacement—the thought of another day of her silly giggle and lack of common sense wouldn’t bear contemplating.

Something had to be done, and even while he thought that he knew the answer.

Loveday had gone back from the hospital knowing that it wasn’t much use looking for work until her eye looked more normal. It would take a few days, the casualty officer had told her, but her eye hadn’t been damaged. She should bathe it frequently and come back if it didn’t improve within a day or so.

So she had gone back to the basement room with a tin of beans for lunch and the local paper someone had left on the bench beside her. It was a bit late for lunch, so she’d had an early tea with the beans and gone to bed.

A persistent faint mewing had woken her during the small hours, and when she’d opened the door into the garden a very small, thin cat had slunk in, to crouch in a corner. Loveday had shut the door, offered milk, and watched the small creature gulp it down, so she’d crumbled bread into more milk and watched that disappear too. It was a miserable specimen of a cat, with bedraggled fur and bones and it had been terrified. She’d got back into bed, and presently the little beast had crept onto the old quilt and gone to sleep.

‘So now I’ve got a cat,’ Loveday had said, and went off to sleep too.

This morning her eye was better. It was still hideously discoloured but at least she could open it a little. She dressed while she talked soothingly to the cat and presently, leaving it once more crouching there in the corner, she went to ask Mrs Slade if she knew if it belonged to anybody.

‘Bless you, no, my dear. People who had it went away and left it behind.’

‘Then would you mind very much if I had it? When I find work and perhaps have to leave here, I could take it with me.’

‘And why not? No one else will be bothered with the little creature. Yer eye is better.’

‘I went to the hospital. They said it would be fine in another day or two.’

Mrs Slade looked her up and down. ‘Got enough to eat?’

‘Oh, yes,’ said Loveday. ‘I’m just going to the shops now.’

She bought milk and bread and more beans, and a tin of rice pudding because the cat so obviously needed nourishing, plus cat food and a bag of apples going cheap. Several people stopped to say what a nasty eye she had.

She and the cat had bread and butter and milk pudding for lunch, and the cat perked up enough to make feeble attempts to wash while Loveday counted her money and did sums. The pair of them got into the chair presently and dozed until it was time to boil the kettle and make tea while the cat had the last of the rice pudding.

It was bordering on twilight when there was a thump on the door. The cat got under the divan and after a moment there was another urgent thump on the door. Loveday went to open it.

‘Hello,’ said Dr Fforde. ‘May I come in?’

He didn’t wait for her to close her astonished mouth but came in and shut the door. He said pleasantly, ‘That’s a nasty eye.’

There was no point in pretending she didn’t know who he was. Full of pleasure at the sight of him, and imbued with the feeling that it was perfectly natural for him to come and see her, she smiled widely.

‘How did you know where I was?’

‘I saw you at the hospital. I’ve come to ask a favour of you.’

‘Me? A favour?’ She glanced round her. ‘But I’m hardly in a position to grant a favour.’

‘May we sit down?’ And when she was in the armchair he sat carefully on the old kitchen chair opposite. ‘But first, may I ask why you are here? You were with Miss Cattell, were you not?’

‘Well, yes, but I dropped a vase, a very expensive one…’

‘So she slapped you and sent you packing?’


‘So why are you here?’

‘Mrs Branch, she is Miss Cattell’s cook, sent me here because Mrs Slade who owns it is her sister and I had nowhere to go.’

The doctor took off his specs, polished them, and put them back on. He observed pleasantly, ‘There’s a cat under the bed.’

‘Yes, I know. He’s starving. I’m going to look after him.’

The doctor sighed silently. Not only was he about to take on a mousy girl with a black eye but a stray cat too. He must be mad!

‘The favour I wish to ask of you: my receptionist at my consulting rooms has had to return home at a moment’s notice; would you consider taking her place until she returns? It isn’t a difficult job—opening the post, answering the phone, dealing with patients. The hours are sometimes odd, but it is largely a matter of common sense.’

Loveday sat and looked at him. Finally, since he was sitting there calmly waiting for her to speak, she said, ‘I can type and do shorthand, but I don’t understand computers. I don’t think it would do because of my eye—and I can’t leave the cat.’

‘I don’t want you to bother with computers, but typing would be a bonus, and you have a nice quiet voice and an unobtrusive manner—both things which patients expect and do appreciate. As for the cat, I see no reason why you shouldn’t keep it.’

‘Isn’t it a long way from here to where you work? I do wonder why you have come here. I mean, there must be any number of suitable receptionists from all those agencies.’

‘Since Miss Priss went two days ago I have endured the services of a charming young lady who calls my patients “dear” and burst into tears because she broke her nail on the typewriter. She is also distractingly pretty, which is hardly an asset for a job such as I’m offering you. I do not wish to be distracted, and my patients have other things on their minds besides pretty faces.’

Which meant, when all was said and done, that Loveday had the kind of face no one would look at twice. Background material, that’s me, thought Loveday.

‘And where will I live?’

‘There is a very small flat on the top floor of the house where I have my rooms. There are two other medical men there, and of course the place is empty at night. You could live there—and the cat, if you wish.’

‘You really mean that?’

All at once he looked forbidding. ‘I endeavour to say what I mean, Miss West.’

She made haste to apologise. ‘What I really mean is that you don’t know anything about me and I don’t know anything about you. We’re strangers, aren’t we? And yet here you are, offering me a job,’ she added hastily, in case he had second thoughts. ‘It sounds too good to be true.’

‘Nevertheless, it is a genuine offer of work—and do not forget that only the urgency of my need for adequate help has prompted me to offer you the job. You are at liberty to leave if you should wish to do so, providing you give me adequate time to find a replacement. If Miss Priss should return she would, of course, resume her work; that is a risk for you.’ He smiled suddenly. ‘We are both taking a risk, but it is to our advantage that we should help each other.’

Such terms of practicability and common sense made the vague doubts at the back of Loveday’s head melt away. She had had no future, and now all at once security—even if temporary—was being handed her on a plate.

‘All right,’ said Loveday. ‘I’ll come.’

‘Thank you. Could you be ready if I fetch you at half past eight tomorrow morning? My first patient is at eleven-thirty, which will give you time to find your way around.’

He stood up and held out a hand. ‘I think we shall deal well with each other, Miss West.’

She put her hand in his and felt the reassuring firmness of it.

‘I’ll be ready—and the cat. You haven’t forgotten the cat?”

‘No, I haven’t forgotten.’


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс

Комментарии к роману "Marrying a Doctor: The Doctor's Girl - new / A Special Kind Of Woman - Бетти Нилс" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки