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The Greek Children's Doctor

By:Sarah Morgan

The Greek Children's Doctor
Sarah Morgan

       Chapter 1



'Libby, you're up for auction. Lot number 16.'

Libby snuggled the tiny baby in the crook of her arm and glanced up at the ward sister in horror. 'Tell me you're joking.'

'Deadly serious.' Beverley squinted down at the baby. 'How's she doing?'

'Better. I'm trying to get her to take more fluids,' Libby said softly,  reaching for the bottle of milk that she'd warmed in readiness. 'And,  Bev, I'm not taking part in the auction-I already told you that.'

'You have to!' The older woman sat down in the chair next to her and  gave her a pleading look. 'You're the best-looking woman in the  hospital. We're bound to get a good price for you.'

Libby pulled a face. 'That's so sexist!'

'But true.' Bev beamed at her. 'Come on. Say yes. It's for a good cause.'

'It's utterly degrading and I don't know what made you come up with the idea. You obviously have a sick mind.'

'It was your idea,' Bev reminded her placidly. 'But that was before you  went off men again. Everyone's really entered into the spirit of things.  It's going to be a great evening and we're going to raise a fortune for  our playroom. This is going to be the best-equipped paediatric ward in  the world.'

'Well, I must have been mad to think of it and I'm certainly not taking  part. I'll give you a donation.' Libby gently placed the bottle to the  baby's lips. 'Come on, sweetheart, suck for Libby.'

'That's not the same. It's not just about the money, it's about team  spirit and you have to be there. You're an important part of the  paediatric team. My star performer, in fact.'

'In that case I'll come and watch.' Libby smiled with satisfaction as  the baby clamped her mouth round the teat. 'There's a good girl.'

'We need you on that stage,' Bev said firmly, 'and just think of the  opportunity to meet a new man! There'll be all sorts there. Short ones,  tall ones, thin ones, fat ones … '

A new man?

Libby shuddered. 'It doesn't matter what they look like on the outside.  They're all the same on the inside and I'm not interested.'

She'd given up on men totally. There was only so much hurt and disillusionment that a girl could stand.

Bev shifted uncomfortably. 'You have to. It's tomorrow night! They've printed the programmes and you're in it.'

'Oh, for crying out loud!' Libby glared at her colleague, who looked sheepish.

'It'll be fun,' she said lamely. 'A tall, handsome stranger will pay money for you. It's just a blind date really.'

'I don't do dates,' Libby said flatly, 'blind or otherwise.'

The way she felt at the moment, she had no intention of ever dating a man again.

'Well, you could do the choosing,' Bev suggested helpfully. 'It's not as  if you're short of money. You could use some of that enormous trust  fund that Daddy set up for you to purchase a really hot date.'

Libby shot her a look that spoke volumes. 'Do I look stupid?'

'Libby.' Bev spoke with exaggerated patience. 'You're twenty-nine years  old and you're loaded. You shouldn't be single. At the very least, some  man should be trying to marry you for your money.'

'Great. So now I'm up for sale to the highest bidder.' Libby looked at  her friend in exasperation. 'What's wrong with being single? Women are  allowed to be on their own these days. Being single is perfectly  acceptable.'



'For some people, maybe,' Bev conceded, 'but not you. You adore  children. Children adore you. You're cuddly and loving and fun. You were  designed to be married and a mother.'

'The good thing about being a paediatric nurse,' Libby observed, 'is  that you can enjoy the benefits of children without the drawbacks of a  man.'

Bev sighed. 'Look, I know you haven't exactly had good experiences with men, but-'

'Good experiences?' Libby gave a laugh that was totally lacking in  humour and then lowered her voice as the baby shifted restlessly in her  arms. 'Bev, do I need to spell out just how utterly ridiculous I feel  after what happened with Philip?'

Bev bit her lip. 'No. But you shouldn't feel ridiculous. You didn't do anything wrong.'

'I dated a married man,' Libby said shortly, and Bev frowned.

'But you didn't know he was married.'                       
       
           



       

'Not until I found him in bed with his wife,' Libby agreed. 'That sort of gave the game away really.'

Bev closed her eyes. 'I know you're hurt, but it wasn't your fault-'

'Of course it was. I was too trusting. He didn't mention a wife so I  assumed he didn't have one. Silly me.' Libby struggled with a lump in  her throat, cross with herself for becoming upset again. She'd promised  herself that she wasn't going to waste another tear on Philip and here  she was with a wobbly lip again. Pathetic! 'I am obviously totally  incapable of spotting a rat so it's safer if I just stay single. So you  can forget your auction. There's no way I'm ever voluntarily going on a  date again.'

Bev cleared her throat delicately. 'You've got to have a social life,  Libby. What about the summer ball next month? You need a partner.'

'I'm not going to the summer ball.' Libby concentrated on the baby.  'I've decided to dedicate my life to work and forget about romance.'

Bev's eyes widened. 'You're not going to the ball? It's the event of the  hospital calendar. If you don't go, Philip will assume that you're  pining.'

'And if I do go, and he's there, then there'll be bloodshed,' Libby  predicted darkly, adjusting the angle of the bottle slightly. 'He's a  total rat. I've discovered that the better-looking the man, the higher  the rat factor.'

Bev blinked. 'Rat factor?'

'Yes. It's my official measurement of male behaviour.'

Bev giggled. 'We shouldn't be having this conversation in front of the  baby,' she murmured. 'She's only four months old. We'll shock her.'

'It's never too soon to learn about the rat factor,' Libby murmured.  'She'll have a head start on me. I was grown up before I discovered the  truth.'

Actually, that wasn't strictly true, she reflected, watching as the baby  guzzled the rest of the bottle. She'd had endless clues during her  childhood.

'Men should come with a government health warning.'

'Not all men,' Bev said quietly, looking across the darkened ward at one  of the fathers who sat slumped in a chair by a sleeping child. 'He's  going to be with her for the rest of the night and he's going to have to  do a full day's work tomorrow.'

'Yeah … ' Libby followed her gaze. 'Dave is a saint. And Poppy is lucky to  have such a devoted dad. But he's the exception. The rest of them are  creeps.'

Poppy had cystic fibrosis and she'd developed yet another lung infection  that required her to be back in hospital for treatment. She was well  known on the ward and so was her father who never left her side.



Bev wasn't listening. 'If you wore something short and left your hair  loose, you'd make us a fortune. If we hit our target it's going to mean a  fantastic playroom for our children. Toys, desks, books by the million,  a whiteboard for the teacher. It's just a bit of fun. Please, Libby … '

Libby opened her mouth to refuse again and then closed it with a resigned sigh.

It had been her idea so people would expect her to be there. But if she  attended then she'd have to take part and she really, really didn't want  to expose herself to an evening with a man.

Or give philandering Philip the opportunity to buy her and force the conversation she'd been avoiding.

Perhaps she could put such a high price on herself that no one would be able to afford her, she mused.

She continued to search for solutions as she eased the teat out of the  baby's mouth and lifted her against her shoulder. The baby snuffled  contentedly and Libby smiled, breathing in her warm baby smell and  cuddling her closer. And suddenly the answer came to her. Her brother  could buy her. Why hadn't she thought of it sooner?

'All right, I'll do it.' Libby smiled, pleased with her idea. 'Alex can  buy me. At least that should ensure that no one else does.'

Especially Philip.

Ever since she'd arrived at Philip's flat unannounced and surprised him  in a very compromising position with a stunning blonde who had turned  out to be his wife-a wife he'd never thought to mention-Philip had been  desperately trying to get to see her. He'd called her mobile so often  that she'd finally switched it off and told her friends to call her on  the ward. At least Bella, the receptionist, could field her calls.

She absolutely did not want a conversation with him about what had happened.

As far as she was concerned, there was nothing to talk about.                       
       
           



       

The man was married. And he'd lied to her.

'Did you manage to get any extra help for tomorrow?' She knew that the staffing situation was dire.

Bev shook her head gloomily. 'The nursing situation is bad, but  fortunately the new consultant starts on Monday so at least we should  finally have some more medical support.'

Libby nodded. They'd been a consultant short and that had put tremendous pressure on everyone.

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