Kolovsky scandal--nurse Annika and the children's doctor!Some surprising news has emerged from the mega-rich Kolovsky dynasty today. Spirited young heiress Annika is studying nursing! From opulent ballrooms to the children's ward--what is this pampered princess playing at?And now it's said that sexy Spanish pediatrician Ross Wyatt is registering his interest. This rebel doctor is great with children, and even better with nurses! The Kolovsky family isn't happy, but it's unlikely maverick Ross will give in to them. He goes above and beyond for his tiny patients--is he about to do the same for the beautiful nurse who has captured his heart?
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June 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Knight on the Children's Ward by Carol Marinelli
'There is room for improvement, Annika.' Heather Jameson was finding this assessment particularly difficult. In most areas the student nurse was doing well. In exams, her pass-rates had been initially high, but in her second year of study they were now merely acceptable. In her placements it was always noted how hard she worked, and that she was well turned out, on time, but there were still a couple of issues that needed to be addressed.
'It's been noted that you're tired.' Heather cleared her throat. 'Now, I know a lot of students have to work to support themselves during their studies, but...'
Annika closed her eyes, it wouldn't enter Heather's head that she was amongst them--no, she was a Kolovsky, why on earth would she have to work?
Except she did--and that she couldn't reveal.
'We understand that with all your family's charity work and functions... well, that you have other balls to juggle. But, Annika, your grades are slipping--you have to find a better balance.'
'I am trying,' Annika said, but her assessment wasn't over yet.
'Annika, are you enjoying nursing?'
The answer was right there, on the tip of her tongue, but she swallowed it down. For the first six months or so she had loved it--had, after so much searching, thought that she had found her vocation, a purpose to her rich and luxurious life. Despite the arguments from her mother, despite her brother Iosef 's stern warning that she had no idea what she was taking on, Annika had dug in her heels and, for six months at least, she had proved everyone wrong.
The coursework had been interesting, her placements on the geriatric and palliative care wards, though scary at first, had been enjoyable, and Annika had thought she had found her passion. But then gradually, just as Iosef had predicted it would, the joy had waned. Her surgical rotation had been a nightmare. A twenty-one-year-old had died on her shift and, sitting with the parents, Annika had felt as if she were merely playing dress-up.
It had been downhill since then.
'Have you made any friends?'
A few,' Annika said. She tried to be friendly, tried to join in with her fellow students' chatter, tried to fit in, but the simple truth was that from the day she had started, from the day her peers had found out who she was, the family she came from, there had been an expectation, a pressure, to dazzle on the social scene. When Annika hadn't fulfilled it, they had treated her differently, and Annika had neither the confidence nor the skills to blend in.
'I know it's difficult for you, Annika...' Heather really didn't know what else to say. There was an aloofness to Annika that was hard to explain. With her thick blonde hair and striking blue eyes, and with her family's connections, one would expect her to be in constant demand, to be outgoing and social, yet there was a coldness in her that had to be addressed--because it was apparent not just to staff but to the patients. ''A large part of nursing is about putting patients at ease--'
'I am always nice to the patients,' Annika interrupted, because she was. 'I am always polite; I introduce myself; I...'Annika's voice faded. She knew exactly what Heather was trying to say, she knew she was wooden, and she didn't know how to change it. 'I am scared of saying the wrong thing,'Annika admitted. 'I'm not good at making small talk, and I also feel very uncomfortable when people recognize my name--when they ask questions about my family.'
'Most of the time people are just making small talk, not necessarily because of who you are,' Heather said, and then, when Annika's eyes drifted to the newspaper on the table, she gave a sympathetic smile, because, in Annika's case people would pry!
The Kolovsky name was famous in Melbourne. Russian fashion designers, they created scandal and mystery and were regularly in the tabloids. Since the founder, Ivan, had died his son Aleksi had taken over the running of the business, and was causing social mayhem. There was a picture of him that very morning on page one, coming out of a casino, clearly the worse for wear, with the requisite blonde on his arm.
'Maybe nursing is not such a good idea.' Annika could feel the sting of tears behind her eyes but she would not cry. At the start I loved it, but lately...'
'You're a good nurse, Annika, and you could be a very good nurse. I'm more concerned that you're not happy. I know you're only twenty-five, but that does mean you're older than most of your group, and it's a bit harder as a mature student to fit in. Look...' She changed tack. This wasn't going the way Heather had wanted it--she was trying to bolster Annika, not have her consider quitting. 'You're starting on the children's ward today. Most of them won't have a clue about the Kolovsky name, and children are wonderful at...'
'Embarrassing you?'Annika volunteered, and managed a rare smile. 'I am dreading it.'
'I thought you might be. But children are a great leveller. I think this might be just the ward for you. Try and enjoy it, treat it as a fresh start--walk in and smile, say hello to your colleagues, open up a little, perhaps.'
'I will try.'
'And,' Heather added in a more serious tone, because she had given Annika several warnings, 'think about managing your social engagements more carefully around your roster. Request the weekends off that you need, plan more in advance.'
'I will.' Annika stood up and, unlike most other students, she shook Heather's hand.
It was little things like that, Heather thought as Annika left the room, which made her stand apart. The formal handshake, her slight Russian accent, even though she had been born in Australia. Heather skimmed through Annika's personal file, reading again that she had been home tutored, which explained a lot but not all.
There was guardedness to her, a warning that came from those blue eyes that told you to keep out.
And then occasionally, like she had just now, Annika would smile and her whole face lifted.
She was right about one thing, though, Heather thought, picking up the paper and reading about the latest antics of Annika's brother Aleksi. People did want to know more. People were fascinated by the Kolovsky family--even Heather. Feeling just a touch guilty, she read the article and wondered, not for the first time, what someone as rich and indulged as Annika was trying to prove by nursing.
There was just something about the Kolovskys.
There was still half an hour till Annika's late shift started and, rather than walk into an unfamiliar staffroom and kill time, unusually for Annika she decided to go to the canteen. She had made a sandwich at home, but bought a cup of coffee. She glanced at the tables on offer, and for perhaps the thousandth time rued her decision to work at Melbourne Bayside.
Her brother Iosef was an emergency doctor at Melbourne Central. His wife, Annie, was a nurse there too, but Iosef had been so discouraging, scathing almost, about Annika's ability that she had applied to study and work here instead. How nice it would be now to have Annie wave and ask to join her. Perhaps too it would have been easier to work in a hospital where there were already two Kolovskys--to feel normal.
She felt a wash of relief as one of her fellow students waved at her. Cassie was down for the children's ward rotation too and, remembering to smile, Annika made her way over.
'Are you on a late shift?' asked Cassie.
'I am,' Annika said. 'It's my first, though. You've already done a couple of shifts there--how have you found it?'
'Awful,' Cassie admitted. 'I feel like an absolute beginner. Everything's completely different--the drug doses, the way they do obs, and then there are the parents watching your every move.'
It sounded awful, and they sat in glum silence for a moment till Cassie spoke again. 'How was your assessment?'
'Fine,' Annika responded, and then remembered she was going to make more of an effort to be open and friendly 'Well, to tell the truth it wasn't great.'
'Oh?' Cassie blinked at the rare insight.
'My grades and things are okay; it is more to do with the way I am with my peers...' She could feel her cheeks burning at the admission. 'And with the patients too. I can be a bit stand-offish!'
'Oh!' Cassie blinked again. 'Well, if it makes you feel any better, I had my assessment on Monday. I'm to stop talking and listen more, apparently. Oh, and I'm to stop burning the candle at both ends!'
And it did make her feel better--not that Cassie hadn't fared well, more that she wasn't the only one who was struggling. Annika smiled again, but it faded when she looked up, because there, handing over some money to the cashier, he was.
Dr Ross Wyatt.
He was impossible not to notice.
Tall, with thick black slightly wavy hair, worn just a touch too long, he didn't look like a paediatric consultant--well, whatever paediatric consultants were supposed to look like.
Some days he would be wearing jeans and a T-shirt, finished off with dark leather cowboy boots, as if he'd just got off a horse. Other days--normally Mondays, Annika had noticed--it was a smart suit, but still with a hint of rebellion: his tie more than a little loosened, and with that silver earring he wore so well. There was just something that seemed to say his muscled, toned body wanted out of the tailored confines of his suit. And then again, but only rarely, given he wasn't a surgeon, if he'd been on call he might be wearing scrubs. Well, it almost made her dizzy: the thin cotton that accentuated the outline of his body, the extra glimpse of olive skin and the clip of Cuban-heeled boots as she'd walked behind him in the corridor one morning....
Ross Wyatt was her favourite diversion, and he was certainly diverting her now. Annika blushed as he pocketed his change, picked up his tray and caught her looking. She looked away, tried to listen to Cassie, but the slow, lazy smile he had treated her with danced before her eyes.
Always he looked good--well, not in the conventional way: her mother, Nina, would faint at his choices. Fashion was one of the rules in her family, and Ross Wyatt broke them all.
And today, on her first day on the paediatric ward, as if to welcome her, he was dressed in Annika's personal favourite and he looked divine!
Black jeans, with a thick leather belt, a black crew-neck jumper that showed off to perfection his lean figure, black boots, and that silver earring. The colour was in his lips: wide, blood-red lips that curved into an easy smile. Annika hadn't got close enough yet to see his eyes, but he looked like a Spanish gypsy--just the sort of man her mother would absolutely forbid. He looked wild and untamed and thrilling--as if at any minute he would kick his heels and throw up his arms, stamp a flamenco on his way over to her. She could almost smell the smoke from the bonfire--he did that to her with a single smile...
And it was madness, Annika told herself, utter madness to be sitting in the canteen having such flights of fancy. Madness to be having such thoughts, full stop.
But just the sight of him did this.
And that smile had been aimed at her.
Maybe he smiled at everyone, Annika reasoned-- only it didn't feel like it. Sometimes they would pass in the corridor, or she'd see him walking out of ICU, or in the canteen like this, and for a second he would stop... stop and smile.
It was as if he was waiting to know her.
And that was the other reason she was dreading her paediatric rotation. She had once let a lift go simply because he was in it. She wanted this whole eight weeks to be over with, to be finished.
She didn't need any more distractions in an already complicated life--and Ross Wyatt would be just that: a huge distraction.
They had never spoken, never even exchanged pleasantries. He had looked as if he was going to try a couple of times, but she had scuttled back into her burrow like a frightened rabbit. Oh, she knew a little about him--he was a friend of her brother's, had been a medical student at the same time as Iosef. He still went to the orphanages in Russia, doing voluntary work during his annual leave--that was why he had been unable to attend Iosef and Annie's wedding. She had paid little attention when his name had been mentioned at the time, but since last year, when she had put his face to his name, she had yearned for snippets from her brother.
Annika swallowed as she felt the weight of his eyes still on her. She had the craziest notion that he was going to walk over and finally speak to her, so she concentrated on stirring her coffee.
'There are compensations, of course!' Cassie dragged her back to the conversation, only to voice what was already on Annika's mind. 'He's stunning, isn't he?'
'Who?' Annika flushed, stirring her coffee, but Cassie just laughed.
'Dr Drop-Dead Gorgeous Wyatt.'
'I don't know him.' Annika shrugged.
'Well, he's looking right over at you!' Cassie sighed. 'He's amazing, and the kids just love him--he really is great with them.'
'I don't know...' Cassie admitted. 'He just...' She gave a frustrated shrug. 'He gets them, I guess. He just seems to understand kids, puts them at ease.'
Annika did not, would not, look over to where he sat, but sometimes she was sure he looked over to her-- because every now and then she felt her skin warm. Every now and then it seemed too complicated to move the sandwich from her hand up to her mouth.
Ross Wyatt certainly didn't put Annika at ease.
He made her awkward.
He made her aware.
Even walking over to empty out her tray and head to work she felt as if her movements were being noted, but, though it was acutely awkward, somehow she liked the feeling he evoked. Liked the thrill in the pit of her stomach, the rush that came whenever their paths briefly crossed.
As she sat in handover, listening to the list of patients and their ages and diagnoses, he popped his head around the door to check something with Caroline, the charge nurse, and Annika felt a dull blush on her neck as she heard his voice properly for the first time.
Oh, she'd heard him laugh on occasion, and heard his low tones briefly as they'd passed in the corridor when he was talking with a colleague, but she'd never fully heard him speak.
And as he spoke now, about an order for pethidine, Annika found out that toes did curl--quite literally!