Dating The Millionaire Doctor

By: Marion Lennox

The lodge, once owned by his stepmother and run as a winery and genteel place of retreat, had been needed as emergency accommodation in the first weeks after the fire. Rob had it running again now, but there were few guests.

Rob had worked in hospitality for years. Five years back he’d followed a lady to Australia-of course-and jumped at the opportunity to run the lodge, but getting it viable again could take more than Rob’s enthusiasm. And up on the ridge, Jake’s second property-the one used by Tori and her friends-was smoke damaged and had been used for six months as an animal hospital.

So maybe he should sell both. Maybe he should abandon any last trace of a father he didn’t know, abandon any last connection. Rob would find alternative employment. His friend was born hopeful. The blonde’s car was in front of them, and Rob was speeding up and slowing down, doing a bit of automotive courting. Jake shook his head in disbelief.

‘Hey, stop it with the disapproval.’ Rob grinned, sensing his thoughts. ‘Worry about your own love life.’

‘I don’t have a love life.’

‘Exactly. My life’s work, wine and women. Your life’s medicine, medicine and medicine-and worry. You know you don’t need to. The resort will turn around.’

‘Maybe it will,’ Jake agreed and then thought, Why was he worrying? The winery supported the lodge, he had no money problems, so why was he even here? And the farmhouse up on the ridge-Old Doc’s Place, the locals called it-well, why was he quibbling about price? ‘I’ll go check out the ridge tomorrow, put it on the market and then go home.’

‘Back to your medicine.’

‘It’s what I do.’

‘It’s what you are,’ Rob said. ‘Why do you think I conned you into coming tonight? You need a life.’

‘I have a life.’

‘Right,’ Rob drawled in a voice that said he didn’t believe it at all. ‘Sure thing.’


S HE was losing the fight-and someone was banging on the front door. Her nurse’s gaze shifted towards the entrance, her brows raised in enquiry.

‘Leave it,’ Tori said tightly. ‘She’s slipping.’

Up until now the koala under her hands had been responding well. Like so many animals, she’d been caught up in the wildfire, but she was one of the lucky ones, found by firefighters the day after the fire, brought into Tori’s care and gradually rehabilitated.

Tori had worked hard with her, and up until now she’d thought she’d survive. But then a few days ago she’d found a tiny abscess in the scar tissue on her leg. Despite antibiotics and the best of care, it was spreading. It needed careful debridement under anaesthetic. That left a problem. With this shelter winding down, she no longer had full veterinary support.

If she took her down the mountain she could get another veterinarian to assist, but travel often took more of a toll on injured animals than the procedure itself. Thus she was working with Becky, a competent veterinary nurse who worked under instruction. It wasn’t enough. She needed an expert, right here, right now, who could respond to minute-by-minute changes in the koala’s condition.

She was working as fast as she could to get the edges of the abscess clean but she couldn’t work fast enough. The little animal was slipping. To lose her after all this time… She was starting to feel sick.

‘Anyone there?’ It was a deep masculine voice, calling from the hallway. Whoever had knocked had come right in.

The door to their improvised operating theatre opened. Tori glanced up, ready to yell at whoever it was to get out-and it was Jake. Her one-and-a-half-minute date.

Whatever. It could be the king himself and there was only one reaction. ‘Out,’ she snapped, and Becky said, ‘I think she’s stopped breathing.’

Her attention switched back to her koala. She could have wept. To lose her now…

‘Can I help?’ Jake demanded.

She shook her head, hardly conscious that she was responding. She had to intubate. But if she left the wound… She couldn’t do both jobs herself.

‘Unless you can intubate…’ she whispered, hopeless. She shouldn’t have tried. The oral conformation of koalas-small mouth, narrow dental arcade, a long, soft palate and a caudally placed glottal opening, all of these combined with a propensity to low blood oxygen saturation-made koala anaesthetics risky at the best of times. And without another vet…

‘I can intubate,’ he snapped. ‘Keep working.’

‘You can?’

Jake was already at the side bench, staring down at equipment. ‘What size tube?’

‘Four millimetre,’ she said automatically.

Another vet? Maybe he was, she thought, as he grabbed equipment and headed to the table. Whoever he was, he knew what he was doing.

The soft palate of the koalas obscures the epiglottis from direct view, but Jake didn’t hesitate. He’d found and was using silicone spray, snapping instructions at Becky to hand him equipment.

Tori was concentrating on applying pressure to the wound to prevent more blood loss. She was therefore able to watch in awed amazement as Jake manoeuvered the little animal into a sternal recumbency position, as he applied more spray-and as he slid the tube home.

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