Sydney Harbor Hospital's most elusive -- and eligible -- doctor has returned...
Two years ago, renowned head of neurosurgery Tom Jordan disappeared. Now he's back and his secret is out. Tom's blind and will never operate again.
He's the proudest, rudest man registrar Hayley Grey has ever met. Nevertheless, the chemistry between them is mind-blowing -- yet there could be so much more, if only Tom would let Hayley see the man behind the mask.
With special thanks to Leonie and Steve: two terrific doctors who generously shared their medical knowledge.
Why I Wrote the Book
Back in February of 2011,my editor invited me to be part of a new medical romance series called Sydney Harbour Hospital. I'd never written a book in a series before so I was keen to be part of the challenge. The day I received the information about my characters I blinked at the computer screen.
They wanted me to write a blind neurosurgeon? Gulp! At this point the only thing I felt confident about was the fact it was set in Sydney. Sydney I knew! After my initial panic I started to research and in between discovering the wide and varied work neurosurgeons do, and the everyday life of a blind person, I also discovered the UK television series, Monroe. Score! Not that it helped me write the book but I LOVE discovering a new medical drama:-)
Hot shot neurosurgeon and man about town, Mr Tom Jordan is coming back to SHH two years after he suddenly left without a word, and the hospital is abuzz with rumours. Hayley Grey, final year surgical registrar, has just arrived at SHH with a secret that is now ruling her life in an increasingly debilitating way. Neither Tom or Hayley are looking for love but slowly, as they find their way through their individual problems, they realise that a great part of their healing was love. Can they risk walking away from that?
Sydney Harbour Hospital: Tom's Redemption
Excerpt From Chapter One
'And we're done. Good work everyone. Thank you.' Hayley Grey, final year surgical registrar, stepped back from the operating table and stripped off her gloves, leaving her patient in the capable hands of the anaesthetist and nursing staff. The surgery would later be described in the report as a routine appendectomy and only she and her night-duty team would know how close it came to being a full on disaster of septic shock with a peritoneum full of pus. Kylie Jefferson was an extremely lucky young woman. Another hour and things could have been very different.
Hayley pushed open the theatre swing doors, crossed the now-quiet scrub-in area, and exited through another set of doors until she was out in the long theatre-suite corridor. She rolled back her shoulders as the three a.m. fatigues hit her, taunting her with the luxury of sleep. Glorious and tempting sleep, which she knew if she gave into and snuggled down in her bed, would only slap her hard and instantly depart with a bitter laugh. No, after years of experience she knew better than to even try. She'd stick to her routine- type up her report on the computer, have something to eat, do an early round and then, only as dawn was breaking, would she head home.
'Hayley, we've got cake.'
'What sort of cake?'
Jenny, the night duty theatre nurse manager, rolled her eyes as Hayley walked into an unexpectedly busy staff lounge. Earlier in the night a road trauma case had put everyone on-edge and Hayley had seen the tension on their faces when she'd arrived for her case. Two hours later with the RT patient in ICU, the adrenaline had drained away, and the nursing staff was debriefing in the low-lit room, curled up on the couches and tucked up in warm theatre towels.
She automatically switched on the main bank of lights to make the room reassuringly brighter.
Hands flew to eyes as a chorus of, 'It's too bright. Turn them off', deafened her.
Jenny compromised by turning off the set over the couches. 'After a month here, do you really have to ask what type of cake?'
Hayley gave a quiet smile. 'In that case I'll have the mud cake. Lucky I like chocolate.'
Although she'd only been "The Harbour" for three weeks, already she'd learned that the night duty theatre team had an addiction to chocolate and caffeine, which given their unsociable hours and the types of cases they often dealt with, was completely understandable. They were also an outgoing crew and although Hayley appreciated their friendliness, she often found it a bit daunting. Once she'd had a sister who was as close a friend as a girl could ever have, but these days she was used to her own company.
'Everyone loves chocolate.' Jenny plated a generous triangle of the rich cake and passed it over.
'Tom Jordan didn't.' Becca, one of the scrub nurses cradled her mug of coffee in both hands.
An audible sigh rolled around the room- one that combined the bliss of an en-mass crush along with regret. This happened every single time someone mentioned the previous head of neurosurgery. Hayley had never met the man but apparently he'd left the hospital without warning almost two years ago.
Hayley forked off some cake as she sat down. 'Is a man who doesn't like chocolate worth missing?'
'Hayley! You know not what you speak.' Becca pressed her mug to her heart. 'Our Tom was divine. Sure, he took no prisoners, was known to reduce the occasional obtuse medical and nursing student to tears, but he never demanded more of you than he demanded of himself.'
'Which was huge by the way,' added Theo, the only male nurse on the team. 'The man lived and worked here, and patients came ahead of everything and everyone. Still, I learned more from him than any other surgeon I've worked with.'
'Watching Tom operate,' Jenny gave a wistful smile, 'watching the magic he wove with those long fingers of his and you forgave him any gruff words he might have uttered during tense moments. One look from those sea-green eyes and we'd lay down our lives for him.'
'Suzy lay down with him,' Theo teased the nurse sitting next to him. 'But he got away. Who's your man of the moment this month? Rumour is, it's Finn Kennedy.'
'Suzy punched Theo hard on the arm. 'At least I experienced him once. You're just jealous.'
'Of Finn Kennedy, not likely.' But the muscles around Theo's mouth had tightened.'
Suzy shot Hayley a cool look. 'Theo quite fancied Tom and the fact he's an amazing lover just makes Theo even sadder that he doesn't bat for his team.'
Hayley was used to the nurses teasing, but this time it all seemed way over the top. Laughing, she said, 'Gorgeous, talented, dedicated, and a lover beyond Valentino? Now I know you're making this up.'
The aura of the room changed instantly and Jenny shot her a reproving look. 'No one could make Tom up. He's one of a kind.'
Hayley let the chocolate float on her tongue before swallowing another bite of the delicious cake. 'If he's so amazing and at the top of his game, why did he leave the prestigious Harbour?'
Becca grimaced. 'That's what we don't know. Tom took leave and then without warning management announced that Rupert Davidson would be acting-head of Neuro while they searched the world for a new head. Then they clammed up when we asked questions.'
Jenny nodded. 'We've phoned Tom but his number's no longer in use, we've googled him wondering if he took a job in the States or the UK, but the last entry about him was his last operation here. The man's gone to ground and doesn't want to be found.'
'I just hope that wherever he is, he's working. Talent like that shouldn't be wasted.' Theo rose as the P.A called the team into action. 'Oh and Hayley, we're competing against I.C.U to win the 'Planet Savers' competition. You're our weak link. Can you please turn off the lights when you leave?'
She bit her lip. 'I'll try.'
Having checked on her appendectomy patient who was stable and sleeping, Hayley was now in the lift and on her way home. She leaned against the support rail and gave a blissful sigh. She loved this time of the night when dawn was close, but the hustle and bustle of the day was yet to start. It was a quiet and peaceful time- not always, but today all was calm and experience had taught her to savour the moment. The ping of the lift sounded and she pushed herself off the rail as the silver doors opened into the long, long corridor that connected the hospital with the basement staff car park. Sensor lights had been installed as part of the hospital's environmental policy, especially down here where after the morning and evening's arrival and departure rush, the corridor was rarely used.
numbers one and two. She got to three and was now standing in the corridor, but there was still no greeting light. Not a single flicker. The lift doors closed behind her with a soft thud, stealing the only light, and inky, black darkness enveloped her. A shiver raced from head to toe raising a trail of anxious goose bumps and her heart raced.
Fumbling in her pocket, her fingers clamped around her phone. The lights had failed two nights ago and in a panic she'd rung maintenance. Gerry had arrived in his overalls, taken one look at her terror-stricken face and had said, 'We've been having a bit of trouble with the sensor, but we've got a new one on order. If it ever happens again, love, you just do this,' and he'd quietly shown her where the override switch was located.
Why didn't I just walk to work?
Because it was dark. Come on, You know what to do.
She pressed a button on her phone and a tiny pool of light lit up her feet as she edged her way along the wall. Sweat dripped down her neck as the darkness pressed down on her making it hard to move air in and out of her lungs. She thought she heard a sound and she stopped dead. Straining her ears to hear it again, she didn't move a muscle, but the moment passed and all she could hear was the pounding of her heart. She started moving again and stopped. This time she was sure she'd heard a click-click sound.
It's the bowels of the hospital. There are all sorts of noises down here. Just keep walking. She wished she'd counted steps with Gerry last week but she'd stuck to him like glue, listening only to his reassuring voice. She continued edging along the wall until she felt the turn of the corridor pressing into her back. You're halfway. Knowing she was closer was enough to speed up her feet.
Click. Click. Tap. Tap. Tap. The sounds echoed around her like the boom of a cannon.
Her feet froze. Her breath stalled. It's probably the furnace. Or pipes.
God, she hated this. She was one exam away from being a fully qualified surgeon. She duelled with death on behalf of her patients every single day, winning more often than not. Facing down blood, guts and gore didn't faze her at all so she absolutely loathed that the dark could render her mute and terrified.
You're close to the lights. Keep going.
Ten, nine, eight, seven.... She silently counted backwards in her head as she scuttled sideways like a crab. Finally, she felt the bank of switches digging sharply into her spine. Yes! She swung around and pushed her eight fingers against the plastic and started pressing switches.
Bright, white light flickered and then filled the space with wondrously welcome light and Hayley rested her forehead against the cool wall in relief. She gulped in a couple of steadying breaths and just as her pulse stared to slow, she heard a click. She swung around and her scream echoed back to her.
'Are you hurt?' A tall man in black jeans, a black merino jumper and a black moleskin jacket turned from three metres away, holding something in his hand that she couldn't quite make out.
Her heart literally jumped in her chest and then pounded even harder, making her head spin, but then somewhere buried in her fear, a shot of indignation surged. 'No, I'm not bloody hurt, but you scared the living daylights out of me.'
Why?' The question sounded surprised and he stared at her, but he didn't move to close the gap between them.
She threw her arms out as if the answer was self-evident. 'I didn't know you were here!'
His mouth twitched but she didn't know if it was the start of a smile or the extension of a grimace. 'I've known you've been here for the past few minutes.'
She blinked. 'How? It was pitch-black until a moment ago.'
His broad shoulders rose slightly and his empty hand flexed by his side. 'I heard the ping of the lift.'
'But that's in the other corridor and I might have gone in the opposite direction.'
'True but you didn't. I could also smell you.'
Her mouth fell open at the matter-of-fact words and she couldn't stop herself from raising one shoulder as she took a quick sniff of her armpit before looking back at him. His gaze hadn't shifted and offence poured through her. 'It's been a long night saving lives so sue me if I don't smell squeaky clean and fresh.'
'I didn't say it was offensive.'
Something about the way the deep timbre of his voice caressed the words should have reassured her and made her smile, but the fact he was still staring at her was utterly disconcerting. He hadn't made any move toward her for which she was grateful even though she could see a hospital ID lanyard hanging out of his pocket. With his black clothes, black hair, bladed cheek bones, a slightly crooked nose and a delicious cleft in his stubble-covered chin, he cut a striking image against the white of the walls. Striking and slightly unnerving. He wasn't a fatherly figure like Gerry the maintenance man in his overalls nor did he have the easy-going manner of Theo. Neither of those men ever put her on edge.
Even so, despite her thread of anxiety, she would have had to be blind not to recognise he was handsome in a rugged, rough-edged kind of a way, and that was part of her unease. She had the feeling that his clothes were just a veneer of gentrification. Remove them and a raw energy would be unleashed that would sweep up everything in its path. An unbidden image of him naked exploded in her mind, stirring a prickle of sensation deep down inside her. It wasn't fear and that scared her even more.
'Scent aside,' he tilted his head, 'which by the way I believe is Jenson's Floral Fantasy.'
How did he know that? She frantically glanced around looking for a camera or any sign that this was some sort of a set-up- a joke being played on her because she was a new staff member, but she couldn't see anything. She turned back to him and his tight expression suddenly faded, replaced by a smile which crawled across his face, streaking up through jet stubble and crinkling the edges of his eyes. It lit up his aura of darkness and she wondered why she'd ever been scared of him.
His rich laugh had a bitter edge. 'I would need to be deaf not to hear the argument you were having with your feet.'
He knows you were scared.
Stung into speech, she tried for her most cutting tone- the one she knew put over confident medical students in their place. 'I was not arguing with my feet.'
'Is that so? What else would you call that stop-start shuffle you were doing?'
'It was dark and I couldn't see.'
'Tell me about it.'
The harshness of his words crashed over her and still he kept staring. It was as if he could see not only her fear of the dark, but so many other things that she kept hidden. His uncanny detective skills left her feeling vulnerable and exposed. She hated that and it harnessed her anger. 'Will you stop staring at me.'
He flinched and turned forty-five degrees. 'I apologise.'
The tension in his body was so taut she could have bounced a ball off it and his broad shoulders seemed to slice into the surrounding air. As ridiculous as it seemed she got the impression she'd just insulted him. 'I'm sorry, that was rude. It's just I'm not used to meeting anyone down here at this time of the day and as I said before, I got a fright.'
He didn't look at her. 'Please be assured I have no plans to rape, assault or hurt you in any way.'
The harsh edge of his voice did little to reassure her. She'd never met anyone who spoke so directly and without using the cover of social norms. 'I guess I'll take that in the spirit it's intended then.'
'You do that.' A silence expanded between them and was only broken by his long sigh. 'The only reason I'm in this corridor is because it's the mirror image of every other corridor in this wing of The Harbour. If you were on level one, what would be on your left?'
She shook her head as if that might change his question. 'Is this some sort of test?'
'Something like that.'
His muttered reply didn't ease her confusion.
'Um, we're underneath the theatre suite.'
'We're standing directly under theatre one.' He almost spat the words at her.
She'd had enough. 'Look, Mr um-?'
'Okay, Jordan, I've been at The Harbour for a month but you know this, right? You're in on some crazy initiation joke at my expense.'
He turned back to face her, his cheeks suddenly sharper. 'Believe me, none of this is a joke, Ms-?'
This was ridiculous. Everything about this encounter held an edge of crazy, including her reaction to him which lurched from annoyance at his take-no-prisoners attitude to mini zips of unwanted attraction. She closed the gap between them and extended her hand in her best professional manner. 'Grey. Hayley Grey. Surgical registrar.'
Sea-green eyes- the electric colour of the clear waters that surround a coral cay- bored into her making her heart hiccough, but his hand didn't rise to meet hers. She dropped her gaze to his right hand and now she was closer she could see it gripped what looked like black sticks. With a jolt and a tiny but audible gasp, she realized it was an articulated cane.
Her cheeks burned hot. Oh, God, she'd just accused a blind man of staring at her.
From "Sydney Harbour Hospital: Tom's Redemption" by Fiona Lowe
Mills and Boon Medical Romance March 2012
ISBN: 978-0263897876 Copyright: © 2012 Fiona Lowe
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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