St Piran's: Prince on the Children's Ward

By: Sarah Morgan

TASHA rehearsed her speech as she walked through the busy emergency department towards the on-call room. Inside she was panicking, but she was determined not to let that show.

Hello, dear darling brother, I know you’re not expecting me, but I thought I’d just drop in and see how you’re doing. No, she couldn’t say that. He’d know instantly that something was wrong.

You’re looking gorgeous today. No, way too creepy, and anyway they usually exchanged insults so he’d definitely know something was up.

Josh, of all my brothers, you’ve always been my favourite. No. She didn’t have favourites.

You’re the best doctor in the world and I’ve always admired you. That one just might work. Her brother certainly was an excellent doctor. He’d been her inspiration. And her rock. When their father had walked out, leaving his four children and his fragile, exhausted wife, it had been Josh, the eldest, who had taken charge. Wild, handsome Josh, whose own marriage was now in a terrible state.

But at least he’d had the courage to get married, Tasha thought gloomily. She couldn’t ever imagine herself doing anything that brave.

Was it because of their parents, she wondered, that all the O’Haras were so bad at relationships?

Since her last relationship disaster, she’d given up and concentrated on her career. A career couldn’t break your heart—or so she’d thought until a few weeks ago.

Now she knew differently.

Terror gripped her

She’d messed everything up.

Hating the feeling of vulnerability, Tasha stopped outside the door. Fiercely independent, it stuck in her throat that she needed to ask her brother for help, but she swallowed her pride and knocked. She needed someone else’s perspective on what had happened and the one person whose judgement she trusted was her older brother.

Seconds later the door was jerked open and Josh stood there, buttoning up his shirt. His hair was dishevelled and he was badly in need of a shave. Clearly he’d had a night with no sleep but what really caught her attention was the stupid grin on his face. A grin that faded the instant he saw her.

‘Tasha?‘ Astonishment was replaced by shock and he cast a fleeting glance over his shoulder before pushing her back into the corridor and closing the door firmly behind him. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘What sort of greeting is that?’ Badly in need of a hug, Tasha heard her voice thicken and the bruises of the last month ached and throbbed inside her. ‘I’m your little sister. You’re supposed to be pleased to see me.’

‘I am, of course, but—Tash, it’s seven-thirty in the morning.’ Josh let out a breath and rubbed his hand over his face to wake himself up. His free hand. The one that wasn’t holding the doorhandle tightly. ‘I wasn’t expecting—You took me by surprise, that’s all. How did you know where I was?’

‘I asked one of the nurses. Someone said they thought you were in the on-call room. What’s wrong with you? You look ruffled.’ It was the first time she’d seen her cool, confident brother anything other than immaculate. Tasha looked from him to the door that he was holding tightly shut. ‘Did I wake you?’

‘No. I—Yes, but it doesn’t matter.’

‘Busy night?’

‘Sort of.’ His gaze darted to the corridor and back to her. ‘What are you doing here, Tasha?’

Because she was watching his face, she saw the fevered expression in her brother’s eyes and the way the flush spread across his cheekbones. The signs pointed to one thing …

He had a woman in the room.

But why be so secretive about the whole thing? His marriage to Rebecca was over—there was no reason why he shouldn’t have a relationship. Surely he wasn’t embarrassed about her knowing he had a sex life? It was no secret that women found her brother irresistible.

Still, it was a relief to find an explanation for his weird behaviour and she was about to tease him unmercifully when she remembered that she couldn’t afford to antagonise him.

Instead, she gave him a playful punch on the arm. ‘I thought I’d just drop in and see you.’

‘Before breakfast?’

‘I’m an early riser.’

‘You mean you’re in trouble.’ His dry tone reminded her that her brother knew her too well.

Tasha thought about everything that had happened over the last month. Had she done the wrong thing? ‘Not trouble exactly,’ she hedged. ‘I just thought it was a long time since we’d had a good chat. Is there somewhere we can talk?’ She glanced at the on-call room but he jerked his head towards the corridor.

‘My office. Let’s go.’

Feeling like a schoolgirl on detention, Tasha slunk after him through the department, aware of the curious stares of the staff. The main area was packed with patients, including a young girl lying on a trolley, holding her mother’s hand. Noticing that the child was struggling to breathe, Tasha moved instinctively towards her just as a doctor swept up in a white coat. With a murmur of apology, Tasha moved to one side, reminding herself that this wasn’t her patient. Or even her hospital. She didn’t work here, did she?

She didn’t work anywhere.

Her stomach lurched. Had she been impulsive and hasty? Stupid?