Prim and proper Dr. Erin Taylor has locked away her past--and her heart. A terrible childhood meant she grew up too quickly, never knowing real love. But the arrival of gorgeous Dr. Eamon Chapman stirs up emotions she's never experienced before!
Eamon's grand plans to overhaul the E.R. cause sparks to fly! And it isn't long before good-natured, witty and annoyingly handsome Eamon discovers the warm and vulnerable beauty Erin hides. He finds himself wanting to overhaul Erin's life, too, by treating her like a princess and giving her the happy-ever-after she truly deserves!
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April 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Emergency Doctor and Cinderella by Melanie Milburne
Emergency Doctor and Cinderella
by Melanie Milburne
It was the third day in a row that someone had parked in Erin's spot. Not only had they parked there arrogantly, they had done so crookedly, taking up so much space she had to manoeuvre her car into the space near the garbage-disposal unit, which she knew would almost certainly result in a scratch or two on her shiny paintwork.
She rummaged in her handbag for a piece of paper and a pen, and then, glancing around for a flat surface, whooshed out a breath and leaned on the rogue-parker's bonnet to pen her missive: you are in the wrong spot!
Erin tucked the note behind one of the windscreen wipers and made her way to the elevator. She tapped her right foot impatiently as she watched the numbers light up as it came down from the fifteenth floor. After a ten-hour shift in the emergency department of Sydney Metropolitan, the only thing she wanted was the quiet, safe sanctuary of her apartment. Her ears were still ringing from the shattered cries of a middle-aged mother who had lost her only son to a fatal stab-wound--yet another drug deal gone wrong.
The doors of the elevator glided open and she came face to face with a tall man who was wearing blue denim jeans and a white T-shirt that had a dust smear over the right shoulder. He was carrying an empty cardboard box and he smiled at her crookedly as he stepped out. 'Moving in,' he explained with a flash of perfect white teeth.
Erin lifted her chin and gave him a gimlet glare. 'Is that your car in my parking space?'
Something hardened in his green gaze and his smile flatlined. 'I was not aware there were designated parking spaces.'
Her chin went a little higher. 'The numbers are painted on the ground. A blind man could see them.'
One of his dark brows lifted along with his top lip, as if controlled by the same muscle. 'You must be the woman from 1503,' he said, rocking back on his heels slightly. 'I was warned about you.'
Erin felt her hackles rise like the fur of a cornered cat. 'I beg your pardon?'
His eyes moved over her rigid form with indolent ease. 'Erin Taylor, right?'
She tightened her mouth. 'That's correct.'
He smiled a smile that was borderline mocking. 'My landlord told me all about you.'
'Oh, really?' She affected a bored, uninterested tone.
'Yes,' he said, placing the box on the concrete floor. 'You're a doctor at Sydney Metropolitan.'
Erin mentally rolled her eyes. Here comes another free car-park consultation, she thought. No doubt he thought he could weasel a flu shot out of her, like one of her neighbours had tried to do as soon as autumn had kicked in last month. 'Yes, that's right,' she said crisply. 'And right now I am off duty, so if you'll excuse me?'
'I'm renting the apartment next to yours,' he said.
'How... er... nice,' Erin said with no attempt to sound sincere.
The man's lazy smile travelled all the way up to his green eyes, making them crinkle up at the corners. 'I guess in the interests of neighbourly peace I should move my car.'
'You should,' she said, stabbing at the call button to reopen the doors. 'But don't use the disabled spot. Mrs Greenaway on level ten uses that.'
'I'll try and remember that.'
Something about his tone made Erin feel as if he was laughing at her behind his urbane smile. She gave the call button an even harder jab, trying not to notice how his T-shirt clung to his lean but muscular frame. She had seen a lot of male bodies over the years so it took a particularly good one to make her do a double-take. This one was seriously fit. No spare flesh, just hard, toned muscle on a six-foot-three, maybe six-foot-four-inch frame. His hair was a rich, dark brown, several shades darker than hers, and his skin was the sort that tanned easily. His twelve-plus-hours-since-he'd-last-shaved stubbled jaw had a hint of stubbornness to it, and his blade of a nose, teamed with those penetrating green eyes, gave him a 'take no prisoners' air that she found strangely compelling.
The elevator doors pinged open, and Erin stepped in and pressed the button for the fifteenth floor. For the sake of common politeness, she forced her lips into a non-committal smile that didn't quite make the distance to her eyes. 'See you around,' she said.
'Yeah, no doubt you will.' He smiled an inscrutable little smile in return.
The elevator doors closed and Erin let out the breath she hadn't even realised she had been holding. She gave herself a mental shake. The tall, dark, handsome neighbour was certainly a welcome change from the previous tenants: a trio of university students who'd partied nonstop and who, to add insult to injury, had put their rubbish in Erin's bin when theirs had been full. It had taken the last two weeks to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of her curtains, since the apartments were linked by a common balcony with only a waist-height glass partition to separate them.
As long as the new tenant stayed out of her way and out of her parking space, Erin was sure they would get along just fine.
'Morning, Erin.' Tammy McNeil, the triage nurse on duty in A&E, greeted Erin the next morning. 'How come you didn't come to the new director's breakfast meeting? He insisted all the A&E doctors on duty today attend. He wants to meet everyone in person, even the cleaning staff.'
Erin placed her bag in the locker under the desk before she straightened to answer. 'I had better things to do--like catch up on some much-needed sleep. I'm sure we'll cross paths sooner or later.'
Tammy perched on the corner of the desk. 'You don't look like you had such a great night's sleep. I know yesterday's death was rough on you. The mum was a bit over-the-top trying to blame you for not saving her son. Are you OK? You look exhausted.'
Erin hated it when people told her she looked tired; it made her feel tired even when she wasn't--although last night had been a rough one, she had to admit, even without the drama of the young man's death. Right until the early hours, she had heard furniture and boxes being dragged across the floors next door, and even though she had put a pillow over her head it hadn't really helped, for when she had finally drifted off to sleep she had woken several times in an agitated state from some vivid nightmares. It always happened after she had to deal with drug-affected patients. The ghosts from the past haunted her when she was most vulnerable. 'I'm fine, Tammy,' she said, reaching for her stethoscope. 'I'm used to patients and their relatives using me as a scapegoat. It's part of the job. It's not as if I have to ever see them again. That's one of the benefits of working as an A&E doctor: I treat them as best I can and then I leave them to someone else to follow up.'
Tammy gave her a wry look as she hopped down off the desk. 'Mmm, well, you might have to have a rethink about that after you hear about Dr Chapman's plan for the department.'
Erin shrugged herself into her white coat, pulling her hair out from beneath the collar and tying it back in a neat bun with an elastic tie she had in her coat pocket. 'I don't care what Dr Chapman has planned for the department. He can't make me work any harder than I do.' She picked up her name-badge and clipped it to her coat. 'If he's anything like our previous director, he'll realise we're all doing the best we can and leave us to get on with it.'
Tammy winced. 'Er...'
Erin frowned at her. 'What's the matter?'
A deep, clipped voice spoke from behind Erin. 'Dr Taylor--a word, please. In my office. Now.'
Erin turned, her eyes widening when she saw the man from the elevator standing there. 'I'm about to start my shift,' she said. 'There are five bays already occupied, waiting for assessment.'
His green eyes were like steel darts pinning hers. 'There are two other doctors and a registrar on duty. I am sure they are well able to cope without you for five or ten minutes.'
Erin pulled her mouth into a resentful line as she followed him out of the department to the office he had been allocated next to X-ray. He held open the door for her and she swept past him, bristling with irritation.
He closed the door and strode over to his desk, which was in a state of moving-in disarray. 'Please take a seat,' he said. 'I won't keep you long.'
Erin hesitated for a brief moment. If she sat down it would give him an advantage she didn't want him to have. He was so tall, standing there looking down at her, making her feel about fifteen years old when she was nearly twice that age. His hard gaze tussled with hers, and she sat like a heavy bag of theatre laundry being dropped. She folded her arms across her chest and swung one leg across the other, in a 'let's get this over with' pose that she knew reeked of insolence, but she was beyond caring.
'Perhaps I should introduce myself properly since I neglected to do so last night,' he said.
'Why didn't you?' she asked with a curl of her top lip. 'You clearly knew who I was given you were "warned" about me.'
Eamon decided against taking the chair behind his desk. Instead he leaned back against the filing cabinet and surveyed Erin Taylor's pursed lips and flashing, chocolate-brown eyes. She was sitting in a combative pose, every feminine inch of her poised to strike. He decided she would be quite astonishingly beautiful if she would smile instead of scowl. She had clear skin with just a dusting of light brown freckles over her uptilted nose. Her chestnut hair was glossy, and even though she had arranged it into a tight chignon at the back of her head a few escaping wisps framed her heart-shaped face. Her mouth was full, although it was currently pulled tight, and her cheekbones were classic, like a model's, sharp and high with a hint of haughtiness about them. Her body was slight but unmistakably feminine; her breasts were pushed up by her tightly crossed arms, giving him a clear view of her cleavage, which he was almost certain was unintentional.
He felt a stirring in his groin which took him completely by surprise. Admittedly it had been a while since he had held a woman in his arms, but somehow he couldn't see Erin Taylor falling into his bed any time soon--although in his head he rubbed at his jaw; there was nothing he liked more than a tough challenge.
'As you already know, I am Dr Eamon Chapman, the new A&E director,' he said. 'You would have received the email about my appointment.'
She didn't answer; she just sat there staring at him with that recalcitrant look on her face.
'You would have also received the invitation to a breakfast meeting this morning which apparently you decided against attending,' he continued.
She sat up even straighter in her chair. 'It wasn't compulsory.'
Eamon pushed his tongue into his right cheek as he fought to keep cool. Something about her reminded him of a defiant schoolgirl with little or no respect for authority. 'No,' he said. 'But it would have been polite to inform me you were unable to attend. As you can imagine, this position is a busy and highly demanding one. I would appreciate every member of the team I am directing to be one-hundred-percent committed from day one of my appointment. That includes you, Dr Taylor.'
Erin raised her chin. 'I worked a ten-hour shift yesterday and a twelve-hour the day before,' she said stiffly. 'I give one hundred and twenty percent to this place.'
'All the more reason for you to be aware of my plans to improve the department,' he said with equal tension.
Erin felt like rolling her eyes. How many times had some bureaucrat come in with a hot-shot plan to revamp the place? It didn't matter what fancy plans Dr Chapman had drawn up; within a few months it would be back to double shifts, patients lying in the corridors and ambulances lined up in the street due to the lack of beds. 'OK, then,' she said, giving him a cynical look. 'Why don't you fill me in now so I'm all up to date?'
He pushed himself away from the filing cabinet and picked up a document from his desk. 'It's all in here,' he said, handing it to her. 'Perhaps you'll do me the honour of reading it at your leisure and getting back to me with any questions or suggestions.'
Erin took the document but in the process of doing so encountered his long, tanned fingers for a fraction of a second. It felt like a lightning bolt had zapped up her arm at the brief contact. She tried her best to cover her reaction by casually flipping through the twenty-page document, but the words, although neatly typed, made no sense at all to her. It was as if her brain had shut down. Her body felt hot and tight, as if her skin had shrunk two sizes on her frame. She could feel her face heating under his silent scrutiny, and she shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The air she breathed in contained a hint of his aftershave; it was lemony and fresh, not cloying or overpowering like some she had smelt.
She heard him shuffle through some papers on his desk and looked up to encounter his emerald gaze trained on her. 'There is another matter I wish to discuss with you,' he said. 'I understand a patient died in A&E yesterday.'
Erin hardly realised she had moved but she suddenly found herself sitting on the edge of her chair. 'Yes, that's correct,' she said. 'He'd virtually bled out by the time he arrived here--he was in grade-four shock and went into asystole. I did his resus by the book.'
'I'm sure you did, Dr Taylor,' he said. 'But a formal complaint has been made by a relative, and as director I am responsible for seeing that it is investigated thoroughly.'
Erin felt her spine give a nervous wobble that travelled all the way down her legs. 'That resus was textbook EMST, Dr Chapman. I've documented the whole episode, and you can watch it on the CCTV as well,' she said, forcing her voice to remain composed and confident.