The ambulance moved away slowly. The paramedics were taking precautions in case their patient had an undiagnosed spinal injury. One of them leaned out the window as they left.
‘Local cop’s almost here, along with a tow truck. They can deal with that `roo on the road as well.’
Leo looked at Maia as they found themselves alone.
‘Thanks for your help, Maia the vet,’ he said.
‘You did most of it, Leo the doctor. Thanks for helping me get the dog into my car. I’ll go and find the nearest vet clinic that’s open.’
She smiled at him and it had the effect of the sun appearing from behind dark clouds. He could actually feel the warmth in his gut as he realised just how attractive this woman was. That long braid of hair was a dark auburn shade that matched the freckles on her pale skin and her eyes were a golden brown—like a mix of caramel and chocolate.
Leo blinked hard. What on earth was he thinking? He’d come to Birralong to get a break away from women, hadn’t he? All women. His mother, his grandmother, the endless potential matches they kept trying to push into his orbit…
He turned his head, to make it easier to dismiss the thought at the back of his head that this one might be different. Having his vision snag on the dead kangaroo was the perfect distraction.
‘We should try and get that guy off the road,’ he said to Maia. ‘It’s a hazard. We’re lucky there hasn’t been much traffic through here yet.’
‘Having the hazard lights on my car going seems to have helped them slow down, too. I’d better wait until the police arrive before I head off to find a clinic.’
Maia was moving towards the kangaroo as she spoke, a step or two ahead of Leo. It was impossible not to notice those long, tanned legs beneath the frayed hems of a pair of denim shorts. Or the way that braid swayed with the graceful movements of her body. He had to catch his breath, even, as she crouched down to touch the kangaroo.
‘Ready?’ Leo took hold of the back legs.
Maia nodded, putting her hands under the animal’s shoulders. They turned the kangaroo so that they could try and lift it but then Maia gasped.
Leo had seen it as well. The movement on the kangaroo’s belly. The tiny head of a young joey emerging to see what was happening.
Maia gently took it out of its mother’s pouch. ‘You poor wee thing,’ she murmured. ‘We’re going to have to find someone to look after you, aren’t we?’ She looked up at Leo and the hope in those deliciously warm eyes made him want to say ‘yes’ to anything she might be about to ask. Which was ridiculous. He shook his head.
‘I don’t know anything about baby kangaroos,’ he told her firmly.
Another car was rolling slowly past the accident scene. The driver was staring at them through his open window. ‘You need some help?’
‘You don’t know where the nearest vet clinic is, by any chance, do you?’ Leo asked. ‘Or a wildlife refuge that might be able to look after a joey?’
‘You’re in luck,’ the man told them. ‘Two birds with one stone. There’s a refuge in Birralong that’s run by the vet who has the only clinic for miles. Two Tails, it’s called.’
‘There’s a signpost on the main street.’ The man was driving off. ‘You can’t miss it.’
Leo looked at Maia who had the baby kangaroo in her arms. She also had an injured dog on the back seat of her car. A police car was pulling up so assistance would be available for her, but he couldn’t just leave it like this, could he?
‘I’d better come with you,’ he said. ‘How `bout I carry that little guy while you drive?’
The name was on a hand painted sign.
‘Please Ring and Wait’, it said underneath.
Maia rang for the second time and, again, there was a cacophony of barking from pens between the clinic building and the gorgeous old cottage that sat in a rambling garden in this patch of forest. There was no other response, however.
She glanced sideways. They’d driven past Leo’s place on the way here and he’d gone to grab a few more clothes. Oddly, the close-fitting jeans and an open necked shirt were just as distracting as all that skin had been. Leo was looking down at the joey he was holding in his arms and, as Maia turned her head, the joey reached up to sniff Leo’s chin and he dropped a kiss on the baby’s nose.
And Maia’s heart just melted…
She had to look away before he caught her gaze.
‘I don’t think anyone’s home,’ she said. ‘What will we do now?’
‘There’s a notice there with some emergency numbers on it. Try the first one. It’s someone called Kiara.’
Maia rang the number on speakerphone. It rang and rang and she was about to hang up when someone answered.
‘Is that Kiara?’
‘No.’ It was a male voice. ‘I’m a nurse in a Sydney emergency department. This phone belongs to someone who’s just been brought in after a car accident—with a head injury. Do you know her?’
Maia looked at Leo, her jaw dropping, as the dots began to get joined. The injured dog in the car. A vet who was heading home to her clinic having rescued it?
‘No,’ she told the nurse on the other end of the line. ‘But I think I might be at her property and there’s another emergency number I can call.’
Someone called Hazel.
‘Get them to call us ASAP,’ the nurse said. ‘I’ll text you the details.’
Hazel answered the next call that Maia made straight away. She was shocked to hear about the accident.
‘Oh, my God… I need to go and find out how she is. She’s my best friend.’
‘We’ve got an injured dog that was in the car with her. And a baby kangaroo.’
‘Oh…’ They could almost hear Hazel thinking fast. ‘I’ll have to come out to Two Tails but I need to see Kiara first. Um…there’s a bunch of keys for the clinic and the house in a box under a gnome at the end of the veranda. Could you find a safe place for the animals until I get there?’
‘Of course,’ Maia said. ‘I’m a vet. I’m not about to abandon an injured dog or an orphaned kangaroo.’
‘What a stroke of luck! Kiara and I are both vets, too. Please, help yourself to anything you need in the clinic. I’ll call you back as soon as I can.’
Leo helped her find the keys. He helped her carry the dog into the clinic.
‘Are you okay doing this?’ he asked. ‘You don’t have anywhere you need to be in a hurry?’
‘Not really,’ Maia told him. ‘I’ve got a hotel booked back in Katoomba. I arrived early so I was having a bit of drive around.’
‘You’re on holiday?’ Leo was smiling. ‘Good choice of destination. I haven’t lived here for long but I’m loving it so far.’
‘Actually…’ The words were coming out before Maia stopped to think about them. ‘I’m on my honeymoon.’
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "Falling for the Vet"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.