They synchronised their off-duty and arranged to spend the day together on Saturday, if Ben's mum was well enough to cope with him being out for the day. As far as everyone else in the department was concerned, Ben and Sadie were simply colleagues and old friends; but Sadie had started to feel a frisson of excitement every time she saw him in passing in the department or grabbed lunch with him and some of the team.
On Saturday morning, Ben texted her to say he was on his way, and to wear comfortable shoes because they'd be walking a bit. To her delight, Ben drove her down the coast road, stopping every so often at a particularly pretty village so they could wander round the harbour and through narrow streets. Loving the scenery, Sadie took plenty of photographs to send back home to London and to her best friend in Scotland.
It was so easy to relax with Ben; it felt as if the previous seven years had just vanished and they were in their old familiar friendship. Except this time there was a slight edge to it; this time, she knew what it was like to be kissed by Ben. And she wanted that sparkly, fizzy feeling to run through her veins again.
'As you're a foodie,' Ben said when he parked on the outskirts of another town, 'I thought we'd have lunch here—the fish is amazing. Plus there's a market I think you'll like.'
The market sold local delicacies, including honey and cheese; Sadie couldn't resist buying from several stalls.
The restaurant was even better than Ben had suggested, serving fish caught locally that morning alongside locally gathered samphire and locally grown new potatoes.
'The simplest food, yet the most perfect,' Sadie said with a happy sigh.
And Ben, too, looked happy, the strain of worrying about his mother clearly easing since the crisis point earlier in the week. 'I'm just glad I'm sharing it with you,' he said.
He told her tales of mermaids and pirates and smugglers as they went further down the coast, and bought her a key ring with a Cornish pisky in another village. 'For good luck,' he said with a smile.
That was all the excuse she needed to kiss him. And the expression in his eyes made her go hot all over.
They walked hand in hand through an amazing garden full of roses later that afternoon. 'This has to be one of the most romantic places ever,' she said. 'It's like breathing in roses as we walk.'
'It's lovely here,' he agreed. 'And better still to be sharing it with you.' And when he kissed her among the roses, it felt as if the world lit up.
'You have to eat scones the proper Cornish way: jam first, then cream,' he said when they stopped for a cream tea.
'Does it really make a difference?' she teased.
His eyes crinkled at the corners. 'It does when you're in Cornwall.'
How cute he was. Sadie couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this relaxed and happy.
Jilly was well enough for Ben to be able to spend the whole of Sunday with Sadie, too, and Sadie was thrilled by where he took her: the huge biomes of the Eden Project in a reclaimed quarry.
'I've always wanted to see this place,' Sadie said.
'Let's go up on the walkways,' Ben said. 'You get the best views.'
The rope bridge made Sadie's palms go clammy. 'That's wobbly. And it's narrow,' she said, aghast.
'It's safe,' he promised. 'I'll be right behind you all the way. Just hold on to the rope either side and pretend I'm holding your hand.'
She managed it—but she was much happier when they went onto one of the wider bridges where Ben really could hold her hand.
'I'm sorry. I didn't realise you were scared of heights,' he said.
'Not heights—just wobbly bridges,' she said. 'And that's a definite no to zip-wires.'
He stole a kiss. 'Got it. But hopefully you'll like the next bit.'
Sadie discovered that the next bit was walking through clouds, to show what it really felt like to be in a rainforest: the coolness of the clouds, the scent in the air, the sounds. 'This is amazing, Ben,' she whispered. And it was all the better because he was with her.
She loved exploring all the different parts of the biome, seeing plants from bananas to cashews to coffee, with Ben holding her hand all the way.
When he dropped her home that evening, she handed him a brown paper bag.
'What's this?' he asked.
'I just wanted to say thank you for today,' she explained.
He smiled. 'You didn't have to. I took you there because I love the place and I hoped you would, too. But thank you.' He opened the bag to discover a bird of paradise plant. 'Wow.'
'I hoped you'd like it.'
The way he held her gaze made her feel as if he was talking about what was happening between them, not the plant, though she was too shy to say so.
They were on different shifts the next day, but Ben sent her a text just to say hello. And on Tuesday they had dinner at her flat, spending the evening sitting on the balcony just watching the sea and talking.
Ben was a man who appreciated the simple things in life, she thought. Brad would've been restless here, but Ben was entirely in his element. The more time she spent with him, the more sunshine seemed to flood into her life again.
They were in tune at work, too: on Thursday, when they were both in Resus treating a tourist who'd collapsed with chest pain, it felt as if they'd worked together for months instead of only a few days. She'd just hooked their patient up for an ECG reading when the man arrested.
'Crash team!' Ben yelled, and put the back of the bed down so they could work on restarting their patient's heart.
Between them, they checked his airways, breathing and pulse, then administered chest compressions and worked with a mask and bag, giving their patient two breaths for every thirty compressions.
'He's in ventricular fibrillation,' she said, glancing at the monitor.
'We'll use the defibrillator,' Ben said.
The crash team came together to sort out putting the sticky pads on his chest, preparing adrenaline and charging the defibrillator.
'Clear,' Ben called, and administered the first shock.
There was no change on the monitor, so Sadie resumed the chest compressions for another two minutes.
'Clear,' Ben called again, and administered the second shock.
Still no response. 'You've got your family waiting for you outside,' Sadie said to their patient as she continued the chest compressions. 'Come back to us.'
They managed to get his heart beating in a normal rhythm; once he was stabilised, they sent him to the cardiac unit.
'Good work, team,' Ben said. 'The cake's on me at break.'
That was the other thing she liked about Ben, Sadie thought. He appreciated everyone on the team, right from the most junior, and he was good at identifying teaching opportunities and boosting his juniors' confidence.
She was coming to realise that Ben Peterson was special. Special enough to make her think harder about this summer and what she really wanted in her future.
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