Finally, after a month of waiting, the message had come through from the job swap website. Becky, a registrar in the emergency department at Pethkelly, wanted to work for six months in London, and Sadie didn't mind where she went as long as it was out of London.
This was her chance to put all the heartache behind her and make a new start.
Although she'd never heard of Pethkelly, she was delighted to discover that it was in Cornwall: land of scones and clotted cream, pasties, Poldark, and beautiful beaches.
Smiling, she accepted the swap.
A week later, she left a bottle of Prosecco and a full fridge in her London flat as a welcome present for Becky, and drove to Pethkelly, taking the scenic route once she was in Cornwall. The views were stunning: pretty stone cottages in narrow streets, pastel-painted fishermen's cottages lining picturesque harbours, and, best of all, the Mediterranean-like turquoise sea and the dramatic cliffs soaring up.
When she arrived in Pethkelly, she discovered the flat was small, with a kitchen, a bedroom and a living room—plus a balcony that was wide enough for a table and two chairs, with a view of the sea. All she could hear when she opened the windows was birdsong. So very different from the constant hum of traffic she was used to.
Becky had left her a proper Cornish afternoon tea and a bottle of local fizz as a welcome. Once she'd unpacked, Sadie headed out to explore. This part of the town felt more like a tiny village, with little shops and an art gallery, and the beach itself was lovely with fine sand stretching out along the cove. Breathing in the sea air, she felt as if a big weight had fallen off her shoulders. Here, where she had nothing to remind her of her mistakes, she might just work out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
The next morning, Sadie borrowed Becky's bicycle to get to the hospital, locked it safely in the sheds, then headed for the emergency department and introduced herself to the reception team.
'So you're Becky's job swap partner? Welcome to Pethkelly,' the receptionist said. 'I'm Kerensa. Stefan, our head of department, is expecting you. His office is the third door on the right.'
'Thanks. Lovely to meet you, Kerensa,' Sadie said, and went to meet her new boss.
'Welcome to Pethkelly,' Stefan said, shaking her hand. 'We're delighted to have you with us. I've asked our senior registrar to keep an eye out for you—Ben will show you around at lunchtime. I've rostered you on Minors for the morning, so expect more than your fair share of fractures, sprains and lacerations.' He rolled his eyes. 'Why on earth holidaymakers think it's sensible to scramble around cliffs and rocks…'
'They're too busy having fun to be sensible,' Sadie said with a grin, and let him take her to Minors to introduce her to the team.
Stefan had been right in his assessment; Sadie saw a steady stream of people with fractures, sprains and lacerations. And all the injuries had happened while the holidaymakers had been scrambling around cliffs and rocks. There was one patient with an allergy to a jellyfish sting—something she definitely wouldn't see in London—but otherwise it wasn't so different from the cases she'd see back home.
She'd just finished writing up her last case when there was a rap on her door. 'Hi, I'm Ben Peterson, and I've come to— Well, if it isn't Sadie MacKenzie!'
It had been a while since someone had last called her that. She hadn't quite got round to changing her surname back to her maiden name. 'Sadie Rogers,' she said with a smile. 'Ben. Long time, no see.'
She stuffed the memory of that New Year's Eve ball back where it belonged. She wasn't here to rekindle an old romance—a romance that had never really got off the ground, because they'd been just good friends and had never even kissed. Ben had asked her to dance, and they'd started to have a conversation when Brad had walked in and swept her off her feet, and Ben hadn't made any protest; so clearly Ben hadn't been that interested in her. For all she knew, Ben could be married with children by now.
Just as I should be.
'I had no idea that you were Becky's job swap,' he said.
'And I had no idea that you were in Cornwall. I guess we were all so busy with our first year after graduating, we didn't stay in touch,' she said. 'It's lovely to see a friendly face.'
That was one way of putting it, Ben thought. In their student days, Sadie MacKenzie had been the girl who could light up a room just by walking into it, and he'd really liked her. But she'd been the one who'd got away, because Ben had been too shy to suggest getting together until it was too late and Brad had asked her out instead.
'Stefan asked me to show you where everything was,' he said. 'Come and have lunch—and we can catch up on the last seven years.'
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