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Miracle Babies at Paddington's Children's Hospital

Written by Annie O'Neil

Chapter Six

'Any chance you’re going to unload the patient?’

Isla narrowed her eyes at Dominic’s brusquely worded question, clearly aimed at Victoria. She thought she’d heard something wicked in his tone—the flirtatious kind of wicked—but by the time her eyes caught his, he was the picture of the intensely focussed paediatric trauma surgeon she’d come to know in the handful of days…or was it weeks now that he’d been at Paddington’s. When she turned back round she caught Victoria crinkling her nose as if Dominic smelled of cowpats.

‘So!’ Isla clapped her hands together and pasted on a smile. ‘How’s our favourite little heart candidate, Penelope?’

‘Penny’s already here.’ Dominic and Victoria snapped simultaneously. There was a terse moment’s silence as the pair glared at one another, bodies frozen as if in preparation to pounce wildcat-style if the other showed weakness first.

‘Ohhh-kay.’ Isla raised her hands in the surrender position. ‘My bad. Pregnancy brain.’

She shot Dominic an apologetic smile then arced it into an inquisitive one for Victoria.

It wasn’t like the vivacious paramedic to spar with the trauma docs. Especially if they were all ruggedly handsome, tousled short black hair and piercing blue eyes. He was no Zach, of course, and there was no replacing Zach, so…

Why are you being loyal to the man who never called you?

“You better be all in white and wearing a veil…”

Harumph. He probably had a bride-to-be waiting in every port. Or wherever it was military doctors left women whose hearts they stole then discarded like an old tissue. Not that she’d been so stupid as to let herself fall in love or anything.

‘Has anyone told Dr. Scott she’s here?’ Rosie asked no one in particular. Isla shook her head knowing her eyes looked blank. She’d been miles away.

‘I let her know when we were on approach,’ Victoria said.

‘How very diligent.’ Dominic remarked in a way that didn’t sound as if he thought being diligent was a good thing. Isla made a mental note: Dr. MacBride seems to have brought some baggage with him down from Edinburgh. The hard to unpack kind.

She tipped her head as if shaking out the judgemental thought. She was in a fine enough predicament herself so…judge not and all that.

Isla forced herself to tune in as Victoria rattled off the new patient’s details. Details she knew were already to hand if her brain would just function properly.

As the key words pinged out about the little girl’s condition—hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, poor circulation, acute need for transplant—it was little wonder she’d confused the six-year-old the team was now unloading with Penelope. Almost identical symptoms. A heart that needed replacing. Pacemaker taking up the slack. Long-term transplant request. In and out of children’s hospitals throughout her life and now her family had moved to London they’d be seeing her at Paddington’s.

Isla took her spot on the side of the gurney as Victoria and her colleague snapped the back doors to the ambo shut. The streamlined gurney looked so big in contrast to the pale-faced little girl tucked beneath the bright red blanket. When Isla looked across to Rosie who was opposite her, she saw what she knew was burning in her own eyes. Hope. Hope that the poor, wee girl would get her new heart and have a full, rich life.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw yet another delivery man arrive with yet another enormous bouquet. Roses this time. Deep red. Scarlet almost. Her favourite.

The man was almost hesitant in his approach to the hospital as though the cadence of his gait had been short-circuited and he needed to remind himself how to walk. He had pitch-black hair, so dark it was almost blue and—there was something… Not just something. It was everything. It was Zach.

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About the author

Annie O’Neil spent the bulk of her childhood in the library, nos...

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Annie O'Neil

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