Dating The Millionaire Doctor

By: Marion Lennox

‘See you, then,’ Becky said. ‘I’m out of here. Hooray for the city-I’m so over this place.’ And with another curious glance at Jake she disappeared, closing the door behind her.

Leaving Tori with Jake.

‘I… Thank you,’ she managed. He looked pretty much like he had the night before. Slightly more casual. Faded jeans and a white, open-necked shirt. Elastic-sided boots. He looked like a local, she thought, which was at odds with his American accent.

‘My pleasure,’ he said, and sounded like he meant it. ‘I didn’t realise last night that you were a vet.’

‘I didn’t know you were.’

‘I’m not.’

‘So inserting endotracheal tubes in koalas is just a splinter skill for, say, a television repairman?’

‘I’m an anaesthetist. Jake Hunter.’

‘An anaesthetist,’ Tori said blankly. ‘In Combadeen? You have to be kidding.’

‘I’m not kidding. I’m staying at Manwillinbah Lodge.’

‘Rob Winston’s place?’ She was struggling now with the connection. What had Jake said last night? ‘I own properties here, in the valley and up on the ridge.’ And Rob. Distracted, she thought of the pleasant young man who’d flirted outrageously last night. She remembered him arriving with this man. With Jake. ‘Was Rob Winston the ninth date last night?’ she demanded.

‘That was Rob.’

‘He was nice. Fun.’

‘Meaning, I wasn’t?’

‘I didn’t say that. But I wish I’d known who he was,’ she said ruefully. ‘He should have told me. I need to thank him, and not only for letting us use this place. I had a friend who went to Manwillinbah Lodge when she was released from hospital two months ago. It wasn’t right for her. She needed ongoing medical treatment, but that wasn’t Rob’s fault, and she said he tried so hard to give her time out. So many people around here need that.’ She frowned, figuring more things out. ‘So is this…is this your farm?’

‘It is.’

‘Oh, my…’


Last night she’d walked out on her landlord. On the guy who’d made this whole hospital possible. ‘You’ve been giving this place to us rent free and I didn’t even know who you were.’ It was practically a wail and he grinned.

‘This is a whole new conversation topic. If we’d known last night we could have used our whole five minutes.’

She managed a smile-just. How embarrassing. And how to retrieve the situation?

She should shake his hand. Or, um, not. She glanced down at her gloves and decided gratitude needed to wait. Plus she needed to catch her breath. Breath seemed in remarkably short supply.

‘Could you excuse me for a moment?’ she muttered. ‘I need to wash.’ And she disappeared-she almost ran-leaving him alone with Koala Number Thirty-seven.

He was in the front room of what seemed to have been a grand old farmhouse. It still was, somewhere under the litter of what looked to be an animal hospital.

When the fires had ripped through here, almost fifty percent of properties on the ridge had been destroyed. The loss of life and property had been so massive there’d been international television coverage. Horrified, he’d contacted Rob to see how he could help.

‘The lodge and the winery are okay,’ Rob told him. ‘We’re almost ten miles from where the fire front turned back on itself, so apart from smoke on the grapes there’s little damage. I’ve been asked if we can provide emergency accommodation, if it’s okay with you. And the farmhouse on the ridge… There’s an animal-welfare place wanting headquarters. When the wind shifted, pushing the fire back on itself, your place was spared. Just. There’s still feed around it, and the house itself is basically okay, but your tenants are moving off the mountain. They can’t cope with the mess and the smell, and they’re going to her mother’s. Can the animal-welfare people use it for six months or so?’

‘Of course,’ he’d said, so it was now a hospital-of sorts.

But as he looked around he thought he wouldn’t have minded seeing it as it once was-a gracious family home. And he wouldn’t have minded seeing the bushland around here as it was either. The fire had burned to within fifty yards of the house and then turned. Beyond that demarcation, the bush was black and skeletal. Green tinges were showing through the ash now, alleviating the blackness, but six months ago it must have been a nightmare.

He stared out the window until Tori bustled back into the room, carrying a bucket of steaming, soapy water. She looked like a woman who didn’t stay still for long, he thought. Busy. Clinically efficient. Cute?

Definitely still cute. She was in ancient jeans, an even more ancient T-shirt and a white clinical coat with a torn pocket. Her curls were again scraped back into a ponytail. Last night she’d pulled them back with a ribbon. Today they were tied with an elastic band. She looked…workmanlike.

But workmanlike or not, he thought, nothing could hide her inherent sexiness. Why had he wasted time last night thinking she was dowdy?

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