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Excerpt of Christmas on the Children's Ward by Carol Marinelli

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Harlequin Medical Romance 232
Harlequin
December 2005
Featuring: Nick Watson; Eden Hadley
256 pages
ISBN: 0373065329
Paperback
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Romance Series

Also by Carol Marinelli:

The Sicilian's Defiant Maid, May 2022
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Forbidden to the Powerful Greek, March 2022
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Harlequin Presents Harlequin Presents March 2022 - Box Set 1 of 2 March 2022, February 2022
Hardcover / e-Book
The Greek's Cinderella Deal, November 2021
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Unlocking the Doctor's Secrets, September 2021
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
The Sheikh's Baby Scandal, September 2016
Paperback / e-Book
Redeeming the Playboy, March 2013
e-Book
Beholden to the Throne, January 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Playing The Royal Game, December 2012
Paperback
Banished To The Harem, October 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Heart of the Desert, October 2011
Paperback / e-Book
A Bride For Kolovsky, May 2011
Paperback
The Desert King's Housekeeper Bride, February 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Blackmailed Into The Greek Tycoon's Bed (Harlequin Presents), August 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Billionaire Doctor, Ordinary Nurse, May 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Hired: The Italian's Convenient Mistress, November 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Spanish Doctor, Pregnant Nurse, October 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Italian Boss, Ruthless Revenge, September 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Expecting His Love-Child, February 2008
Paperback
Contracted: A Wife For The Bedroom, November 2007
Paperback
Contracted: A Wife For The Bedroom, November 2007
Paperback
Bought By The Billionaire Prince, September 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Wanted: Mistress and Mother, March 2007
Paperback
The Sicilian's Bought Bride, December 2006
Paperback
Taken for His Pleasure, September 2006
Paperback
Dr. Carlisle's Child, August 2006
Paperback (reprint)
Needed: Full-Time Father, March 2006
Paperback
Christmas on the Children's Ward, December 2005
Paperback

Excerpt of Christmas on the Children's Ward by Carol Marinelli

"HEY!"

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 — 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 so.

"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 more."

"Eden, you've lost me."

Taking a deep breath, she finally faced him. "Donna just called an impromptu meeting to discuss the revised Christmas roster."

"Oh."

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 she would.

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 — the whole ward had gone into numb shock when Teaghan Camm, Associate Charge Nurse and fiancée 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 only yesterday.

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 arrive.

"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 — 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 fiancée had lain dead.

"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.

Very 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 home, asleep..."

"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 arrival."

And she watched — 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 — 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 fiancée, 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."

Excerpt from Christmas on the Children's Ward by Carol Marinelli
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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