The Rebel

By: Victoria Purman

A tall, white-coated doctor appeared at the doorway to Cooper’s hospital room, a polite smile on her face. ‘Oh, hello. How’s our patient?’

‘Hello,’ Maggie replied, stepping away from Cooper’s bed and pressing herself against the wall, her hands tucked behind her back. ‘Still sleeping.’

The doctor pulled a chart from the basket at the end of the bed and flipped the front page over, studying it with a frown.

‘So, how did it go—the operation?’ Maggie asked.

The doctor politely eyed her up and down. With Maggie, there wasn’t much of an up and down. It didn’t take long to peruse five foot nothing.

‘And you are?’

Maggie cleared her throat. ‘I’m a friend of Cooper’s.’

‘I’m sorry. I can only discuss his condition with family members.’ The doctor considered Maggie. ‘Are you a friend or a friend friend?’

Maggie shook her head. ‘Just friends.’

‘Right.’ Doctor Tall was trying not to smirk. Most people Maggie knew didn’t buy the ‘just friends’ line either, but it was the truth. She could read it in people’s eyes: was there a woman on earth who could be ‘just friends’ with the sexy and successful surfer, Cooper Malone? Yes there was: Maggie was living proof.

‘The thing is,’ Maggie began, trying to sound serious enough to prove her point, ‘His family is back in Australia. He has two brothers in Sydney who are waiting for me to tell them what’s going on, since clearly he’s in no position to ring them.’

Cooper began to snore. Both women glanced at him.

‘Mmm,’ Doctor Tall murmured.

‘If you can just tell me something that I can tell his brothers, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.’ Maggie was worried now about the frown on the doctor’s face, which hadn’t disappeared yet. ‘He will be home in a couple of days, right?’

The doctor considered her response. ‘Tell his family he’ll be needing rest and then some intensive physical therapy. And he’ll have to stay off that knee.’

‘Cooper? Stay off that knee?’

‘Yes,’ the doctor confirmed.

‘For how long?’

‘That’s something I’ll have to discuss with Cooper.’

Maggie chuckled and muttered half under her breath. ‘Good luck with that.’

‘We’ll be checking on him. And reading him the riot act if necessary. Don’t you worry,’ Doctor Tall said with a smile, at last.

‘Thank you,’ Maggie said as the doctor took one last glance at the sleeping patient and departed.

Cooper Malone was always going to be trouble for someone and as she watched him sleeping, Maggie wondered how on earth it had turned out to be her.

She checked the time. Her mother would be home with Evan about now, having swung into action and walked the two blocks when Maggie had called with the news that morning. She’d have to tell Evan the latest. He wouldn’t have been able to think of anything else during the school day, and getting him to concentrate on anything was a challenge, considering he had the energy and attention span of any other five-year-old boy. They’d both been woken that morning by an early phone call from Cooper’s manager and friend, informing them about his surfing accident.

‘What the—?’ Maggie had muttered into the phone, checking the time, still half asleep, and when Evan had appeared at her door in his Spiderman PJs, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, she’d held on to the swear word that was right on the tip of her tongue.

‘Don’t worry,’ Alfie had told her, his English accent sounding just like a young Michael Caine. It wasn’t actually his real name—it was Gerald—but once Cooper heard that voice, he’d dubbed him Alfie and the moniker had stuck.

‘If he’s in hospital, it’s serious. What’s he done now?’

‘Our boy has done that knee again and the medicos had to go in and do all sorts of ‘orrible stuff. Makes me queasy just thinking about it.’

Maggie had sighed as she flopped back on the pillow. Evan had crawled up on to her bed, under the blankets, and snuggled beside her, one soft arm around her neck.

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