Coming out of his office, chatting away to a rather
pretty, rather blonde physiotherapist, Consultant
Paediatrician Nick Watson was flattened against the wall
as Eden Hadley rushed past, visibly upset.
Visibly, because Eden was incapable of hiding her
emotions. Along with wearing her heart on her sleeve, her
expressive face told anyone who cared to look exactly what
she was thinking, and right now it didn't take a degree in
psychology to work out that she was far from happy. Her
pretty full mouth was set in a grim line and her dark
brown eyes flashed angrily as Nick caught her arm to halt
her progress. Her long, dark, chocolate curls fell out of
her loose ponytail as she swung around to confront him.
"Just leave it, Nick," Eden said through gritted
teeth. 'Leave what?" Nick frowned, gesturing for her to
wait as he said goodbye to the physiotherapist. "Thanks
for that, Amber, it's been very helpful."
"Any time, Nick. Call me if you need to discuss Rory's
ambulation programme further." Amber smiled and Eden felt
her already gritted teeth starting to grind as the tall
slender physio continued talking, completely unfazed by
Eden's presence. "In fact, call me anyway â€” I'll look
forward to it."
"Well, she certainly knows how to get her message
across!'Eden bristled asAmber waltzed off, her back
impossibly straight, flicking her blonde hair as she did
"She was just being friendly." Nick laughed. "Just what is
it that you have against physios?"
"Their glowing health," Eden moaned. "Their toned bodies
and white smiles. I could go on for ever. I haven't yet
met one with a single vice. You just know that they'll be
tucking into a cottage cheese salad for lunch, know for a
fact that they don't smoke."
"Neither do you," Nick pointed out, and then shook his
head. "Let's not change the subject. This is my ward,
Eden, and if there's a problem I need to know about it."
"There isn't a problem," Eden insisted. "At least, not any
"Eden, you've lost me."
Taking a deep breath, she finally faced him. "Donna just
called an impromptu meeting to discuss the revised
Instantly his eyes glazed over. The nursing roster was way
down on Nick Watson's list of priorities. So long as his
precious patients were happy then so was he. But, Eden
reminded herself, Nick was the one who'd stopped her, who
had demanded that she tell him what was wrong, and Nick
who had insisted that she voice her problem. And voice it
Loudly! 'This will be my second Christmas on this ward,"
Eden choked. "And now it seems I'll have to work night
shifts for both! Donna's been hounding me to use up my
annual leave as I've got five weeks owing. I was supposed
to be having a full week off, given that last year...."The
spitfire that was raging was doused a touch as Eden
realised the inappropriateness of this conversation, but
Nick, with a very noticeable edge to his voice, quickly
filled her in.
"You had to work over the Christmas and New Year period
because of what happened to Teaghan..."
Damn! She didn't say it, but the word spat like a hot chip
between them. Eden slammed her forehead with her hand,
wishing she could take it all back, wishing that Nick
hadn't chosen that particular moment to come out of his
office and demand to know what the problem was.
Eden had been so angry she'd chosen to take her fifteen-
minute coffee-break away from the ward in an attempt to
cool down before she said something she'd surely regret,
but unfortunately she had done just that. The tragic
events that had taken place the previous December hadn't
just affected Eden's off-duty roster â€” the whole ward had
gone into numb shock when Teaghan Camm, Associate Charge
Nurse and fiancĂ©e to Nick Watson, had driven home after a
night shift and apparently fallen asleep at the wheel.
She'd suffered injuries so severe that she hadn't even
made it into the emergency resuscitation room.
Eden could still recall that morning as if it had happened
As the nurse in charge that morning, it had been she,
Eden, who had taken the call from Emergency. She had heard
how the vibrant young woman, who had left the ward only an
hour or so before now lay dead a few floors below. It had
been Eden who had located Teaghan's personal file and
relayed her parents' telephone number to Sharon, the nurse
supervisor who had been with Teaghan in Emergency. She
could still hear Sharon's devastated voice as she'd asked
Eden whether she wanted her to come up and tell the staff.
"I'll do it," Eden had said, not wanting to but knowing
Sharon should be there to wait for Teaghan's parents to
"What about...?" Sharon had hesitated and Eden had been
too stunned, too shocked to fill in the gap, just screwed
her eyes closed as Sharon had stumbled on. 'Nick has to
hear this privately, Eden."
"I'll tell him first, away from everyone else."
"Perhaps I should send up Brad, the emergency
consultant,'Sharon suggested. "Maybe another doctor should
be the one to tell him â€” although whoever it is who breaks
the news, it's not going to change the outcome."
Looking out of her office, Eden had seen one of the
porters stopping to talk to the ward domestic, her shocked
expression telling Eden that the unpalatable news had
already started filtering its way through. She had seen
Nick at a patient's bedside, sharing a joke with the
child's mother, utterly oblivious to the fact that in the
same building at that very moment, his young fiancĂ©e had
"I think I'd better tell him now." Eden swallowed
hard. "The news just hit the ward. I don't want him to
hear this on the floor. Send Brad up, though. I'm sure
Nick will have a lot of questions."
It was among the hardest things she had ever done in her
life. As a senior nurse on a busy paediatric ward, Eden
had seen more than her fair share of tragedy, had sat more
times than she wanted to remember with devastated parents
as terrible news had been broken, had even delivered it
herself when the occasion had merited it, but to survive
she managed to retain some degree of professional
detachment. Though tears were sometimes shed, they were
always controlled. She constantly reminded herself that,
as much as she was hurting, it was worse, far, far worse
for the parents, and the last thing they needed was an
overly emotional nurse.
But this was personal.
She hadn't particularly liked Teaghan, had never taken to
the rather loud, over-confident woman, but she'd never in
a million years have wished this on her, and Eden was
realistic enough to realise that her own judgement of the
woman was probably tainted. Tainted by the fact that she,
along with every other woman at the Royal, was just a tiny
bit in love with Nick Watson.
"Nick." He looked up as she came out of the office, gave a
tiny questioning frown as she'd asked him if she could
have a word.
"What's the problem?" Blond, happy, smiling and utterly
oblivious, he strode in, took a seat when she asked him to
do so. "What have I done wrong this time?" He grinned.
"Nothing," Eden croaked, then cleared her throat, willing
herself to get on with it.
They were friends.
Sure, she'd only been there three months, but since the
first shift they'd worked together they'd clicked, gently
teasing each other, pre-empting each other's jokes,
moaning together as friends did.
And now she had to break his heart. 'Nick, there was an
accident in the city this morning..."
"Yeah," Nick moaned, "that's why I was late. Why?' His
voice was suddenly serious. "Are there kids involved?
Should I go down to Emergency?"
"Nick." She halted him almost harshly, and as his green
eyes met hers they widened just a fraction, perhaps
realising that this had nothing to do with work and
everything to do with him. She felt as if she were
wielding an axe, watching him wince as each blow was
delivered. "It was Teaghan's car."
"No." He shook his head, absolutely denying it, but a
muscle was pounding in his cheek, his jaw muscles tensing
as he refuted her words. "She wasn't going anywhere near
the city. She'd just done a night shift. Teaghan's at
"Nick, it was Teaghan in the car," Eden said firmly. 'She
was wearing her ID badge, and Sharon Kennedy, the nurse
supervisor, has confirmed that it's her. She was brought
here a short while ago..." She knew, because of her
training, that there must be no room for doubt as you
delivered the news, that words like 'she didn't suffer'
or 'everything possible was done' had no place yet in this
horrible conversation. They had to come later. There could
be no room for false hope. Raising her mental axe,
trembling inside as she did so, Eden delivered the final,
appalling blow. "Nick, Teaghan was pronounced dead on
And she watched â€” watched as her words felled him. Watched
that carefree face crumple before her eyes, watched as he
seemed to age a decade in a matter of seconds. Every sound
was somehow magnified â€” a scream from a child on the ward,
a baby crying in the background, IV pumps singing loudly
for attention, the linen trolley clattering past her
office, the world moving on as it stopped in its tracks
for Nick. She didn't know what to do, knew there was
nothing she could say that could make it even a tiny bit
better. She crossed the short distance between them and
put her arms around his tense shoulders, felt the squeeze
of his hand as he gripped her arm, the shudder of his
breath as he leant his head on her chest, one low sob the
only noise he made. His pain was palpable and she held
him, held him for a time so small it was barely there,
caught him as he went into freefall, tears spilling out of
her eyes as she witnessed his agony.
"I have to go to her..."
The tiny moment to process was over, replaced now with a
blinding need to see Teaghan, to maybe put right a million
wrongs, to do something, anything. He stood up, dragging a
hand over his mouth, swallowing back the scream he was
surely suppressing. His eyes again met hers, tortured eyes
that begged for answers, begged her to take it all back,
to somehow erase what she'd said. But all she could do was
stare back helplessly, tears spilling down her cheeks as
she felt his devastation. Then he was gone. His arm
knocked a pile of papers off her desk in his haste to get
to his fiancĂ©e, the chair toppled over as he dashed past
it, he collided with the porter who was wheeling the linen
trolley. His feet pounded as he ran down the corridor and
Eden just stood there, white-faced and shaking, not moving
until Brad Jenkins, the emergency consultant, appeared
grim-faced at the door, taking in the chaos Nick had left
in his wake.
"You just missed him," Eden said, the words shivering out
of her chattering lips. She braced herself to call the
staff in, to tell the rest of her colleagues the terrible
news. "He's gone to be with Teaghan."