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Outback Crisis

Written by Melanie Milburne

A clerical error forces two big city doctors to share a practice—and a small house—in the Outback!

Newly qualified Dr. Alex MacDonald is thrilled to have received a 6 month contract in Australia’s Outback. Eager to start a new life, she can’t wait to get the clinic up and running. Imagine her surprise when she arrives to find the position already filled by Dr. Alex MacDonald—a very male, very handsome Dr. Alex MacDonald!

Can the two big city doctors share the country practice—and the tiny house that comes with it?

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Chapter one

Now isn’t that just typical, Alex thought as she drove into the Kingfisher Crossing Medical Clinic car park. There was one space marked “Doctor Only” but it was already taken, she presumed by a patient who hadn’t realized the new locum would be arriving today.

She parked in the meager shade of a wilting peppercorn tree, the sweltering heat of the ground burning its way through her sandals with every step she took towards the weather-beaten building. There was a semi-detached cottage on the left which she assumed from the documentation she had received was to be her residence. And just like the clinic, the paint was cracked and peeling in spots and the garden, for lack of a better word, looked as if it—like the rest of the arid landscape she had driven through to get here—could do with a shower or two of decent rain. All in all it was a particularly unwelcoming sight and even the floorboards on the wraparound veranda protested volubly as she moved across them to open the screen door to reception.

“I’m afraid if you’ve come to see Dr MacDonald you’re two days early,” a woman in her late fifties said from behind the small reception counter. “Dr MacDonald isn’t seeing patients until Monday morning.”

“I know,” Alex said with a smile. “I’m—”

“That’s unless it’s an emergency of course,” the woman carried on as if Alex hadn’t spoken. “Mind you that’s just what we don’t need out here—another emergency. After what happened to Dr Carter we’ve been without a doctor for nearly three months. I don’t know how the town has survived it.”

“How is Dr Carter?” Alex asked politely. “I heard he had a nasty car accident on the road between here and Marraburra.”

The older woman gave her a grim look. “He won’t be coming back to Kingfisher Crossing,” she said, “or at least not to work as a GP. He’s decided to spend time with his family in Fremantle. To tell you the truth I don’t blame him. He’s done ten years out here, that’s more than some people get for armed robbery.”

“Er...yes...” Alex said, momentarily stuck for a response.

“No one wants to work in the outback these days,” the receptionist went on. “It’s too hot, it’s too isolated, it’s too everything.”

“Yes,” Alex agreed. “I know it’s very difficult to fill outback posts but I thought—”

“The thing is I can’t see why someone with Dr MacDonald’s qualifications would want to come way out here,” the woman cut Alex off again. “I mean there’s no money in it, is there?”

“Um...no, but that’s not the reason I—”

“Of course if you want to get away from someone back home this is the place to come to,” the receptionist said and giving a little laugh added, “I mean who would find you way out here?”

“There is that, I suppose,” Alex said with an element of wryness in her tone. This short term post was exactly what she needed; it was her very own version of relationship rehab: Getting Away from Garry, Stage Two.

“Anyway, I suppose you want to make an appointment with Dr MacDonald, right?” the older woman asked as she reached for the appointment book.

“Er...no,” Alex said with slightly sheepish smile. “You see I am Dr Alex MacDonald.”

The receptionist blinked at her in surprise. “But...but...you can’t be Dr MacDonald.”

Alex frowned at the older woman’s expression. “Why can’t I be?” she asked.

“Because Dr Alex MacDonald is already here,” the receptionist said. “He arrived three hours ago.”

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Melanie Milburne

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