The Greek Children’s DoctorBy: Sarah Morgan
‘Libby, you’re up for auction. Lot number 16.’
Libby snuggled the tiny baby in the crook of her arm and glanced up at the ward sister in horror. ‘Tell me you’re joking.’
‘Deadly serious.’ Beverley squinted down at the baby. ‘How’s she doing?’
‘Better. I’m trying to get her to take more fluids,’ Libby said softly, reaching for the bottle of milk that she’d warmed in readiness. ‘And, Bev, I’m not taking part in the auction—I already told you that.’
‘You have to!’ The older woman sat down in the chair next to her and gave her a pleading look. ‘You’re the best-looking woman in the hospital. We’re bound to get a good price for you.’
Libby pulled a face. ‘That’s so sexist!’
‘But true.’ Bev beamed at her. ‘Come on. Say yes. It’s for a good cause.’
‘It’s utterly degrading and I don’t know what made you come up with the idea. You obviously have a sick mind.’
‘It was your idea,’ Bev reminded her placidly. ‘But that was before you went off men again. Everyone’s really entered into the spirit of things. It’s going to be a great evening and we’re going to raise a fortune for our playroom. This is going to be the best-equipped paediatric ward in the world.’
‘Well, I must have been mad to think of it and I’m certainly not taking part. I’ll give you a donation.’ Libby gently placed the bottle to the baby’s lips. ‘Come on, sweetheart, suck for Libby.’
‘That’s not the same. It’s not just about the money, it’s about team spirit and you have to be there. You’re an important part of the paediatric team. My star performer, in fact.’
‘In that case I’ll come and watch.’ Libby smiled with satisfaction as the baby clamped her mouth round the teat. ‘There’s a good girl.’
‘We need you on that stage,’ Bev said firmly, ‘and just think of the opportunity to meet a new man! There’ll be all sorts there. Short ones, tall ones, thin ones, fat ones…’
A new man?
Libby shuddered. ‘It doesn’t matter what they look like on the outside. They’re all the same on the inside and I’m not interested.’
She’d given up on men totally. There was only so much hurt and disillusionment that a girl could stand.
Bev shifted uncomfortably. ‘You have to. It’s tomorrow night! They’ve printed the programmes and you’re in it.’
‘Oh, for crying out loud!’ Libby glared at her colleague, who looked sheepish.
‘It’ll be fun,’ she said lamely. ‘A tall, handsome stranger will pay money for you. It’s just a blind date really.’
‘I don’t do dates,’ Libby said flatly, ‘blind or otherwise.’
The way she felt at the moment, she had no intention of ever dating a man again.
‘Well, you could do the choosing,’ Bev suggested helpfully. ‘It’s not as if you’re short of money. You could use some of that enormous trust fund that Daddy set up for you to purchase a really hot date.’
Libby shot her a look that spoke volumes. ‘Do I look stupid?’
‘Libby.’ Bev spoke with exaggerated patience. ‘You’re twenty-nine years old and you’re loaded. You shouldn’t be single. At the very least, some man should be trying to marry you for your money.’
‘Great. So now I’m up for sale to the highest bidder.’ Libby looked at her friend in exasperation. ‘What’s wrong with being single? Women are allowed to be on their own these days. Being single is perfectly acceptable.’
‘For some people, maybe,’ Bev conceded, ‘but not you. You adore children. Children adore you. You’re cuddly and loving and fun. You were designed to be married and a mother.’
‘The good thing about being a paediatric nurse,’ Libby observed, ‘is that you can enjoy the benefits of children without the drawbacks of a man.’
Bev sighed. ‘Look, I know you haven’t exactly had good experiences with men, but—’
‘Good experiences?’ Libby gave a laugh that was totally lacking in humour and then lowered her voice as the baby shifted restlessly in her arms. ‘Bev, do I need to spell out just how utterly ridiculous I feel after what happened with Philip?’
Bev bit her lip. ‘No. But you shouldn’t feel ridiculous. You didn’t do anything wrong.’
‘I dated a married man,’ Libby said shortly, and Bev frowned.
‘But you didn’t know he was married.’
‘Not until I found him in bed with his wife,’ Libby agreed. ‘That sort of gave the game away really.’
Bev closed her eyes. ‘I know you’re hurt, but it wasn’t your fault—’
‘Of course it was. I was too trusting. He didn’t mention a wife so I assumed he didn’t have one. Silly me.’ Libby struggled with a lump in her throat, cross with herself for becoming upset again. She’d promised herself that she wasn’t going to waste another tear on Philip and here she was with a wobbly lip again. Pathetic! ‘I am obviously totally incapable of spotting a rat so it’s safer if I just stay single. So you can forget your auction. There’s no way I’m ever voluntarily going on a date again.’