The Rebel

By: Victoria Purman

‘I’ve heard worse, believe me. I know it hurts but it’s really important you get up on that knee. We don’t do lying around in bed anymore.’

He hissed a breath through his teeth. ‘That’s a pity. Most women want me horizontal, not vertical.’

The Doc rolled her eyes. ‘Save all that flirting for the pretty brunette.’

‘What pretty brunette?’ He tried again, planting his hands on the bed, one near each thigh, and pressing down into the mattress. He stood, wobbly, warily, painfully.

‘Your visitor yesterday. The short one.’

He smiled through gritted teeth. ‘You mean Maggie? She’s a friend.’

‘Well, I’m glad you’ve got one. You’re going to need some help during the next few weeks.’

Ask Maggie for help? That wasn’t going to happen. She had a million balls in the air without adding him to the mix. Being a single mom to Evan, combined with her job, meant she looked exhausted most of the time, even if she always put on a brave face. He never had any hesitation in telling her she looked exhausted because mates could say that kind of thing to each other. What did Maggie always say? ‘No bullshit and no excuses.’ That was them.

‘How’s that pain?’ Dr Alvarez crouched down to look at his knee. She’d taken off the bandages earlier and was checking his wounds from the keyhole surgery.

He took a big breath as he steadied himself, gripping the rail at the end of the bed just in case his leg gave way under him. It felt like it was about to. ‘Doc, I’ve been chased by sharks. Sideswiped by dolphins. Almost had a heel cut off by a fin that was sharp as a tin lid. I’ve had scrapes from coral and been hit by more flying boards than I can count. But this?’ He pointed in the general direction of his left knee. ‘This hurts like a son of a bitch. Did you put some ground glass in there while you were poking around?’

‘Cooper. You’ve torn your anterior cruciate ligament and you have a grade two medial strain. It’s going to hurt some. Maybe you should stay another night and we’ll get you something for that pain.’

‘No. I want to go home. Give me a minute.’ That ground glass in his knee felt like a broken bottle but he pushed through it.

Dr Alvarez stood up. ‘I’ve done what I can with the surgery, Cooper. Now it’s over to you and your physical therapy, which I just know you are going to love. But I’ve got to warn you. You will need time for rehab and you will need to take it very seriously this time. I mean it.’

Cooper raised a hand. ‘I remember.’ He remembered every word she’d said to him the last time: I don’t know how much longer that knee will hold up if you keep surfing. It’s worn out. He hadn’t wanted to hear it before the surgery and he damn well didn’t want to hear it now.

Because surfing wasn’t just a weekend hobby.

It was his passion and his life. It was what had got him through his teenage years after his mother died and his father had checked out of his life. It had become his career and he was hoping it would still be his future.

He couldn’t think about what his life would be without it.

‘Hey, Cooper. I see you’re up.’ Maggie strolled into his room with a smile that lit up her face. Was she a sight for sore eyes? Her brown hair was pulled back in a high ponytail and her denim shorts, Converse sneakers and rock band T-shirt made her look somewhere in her twenties, instead of two months older than him. She sure hadn’t looked like an accountant when he’d first met her in that dim Bali bar all those years ago, when Vance had pounced on her like a seagull onto a hot chip, and she still didn’t.

‘Maggie Mac, meet the Doc.’

‘Hello,’ Maggie reached out a hand. ‘I’m Maggie MacLean.’

‘Dr Alvarez.’ The two women exchanged glances like they were both in on some conspiracy. It made Cooper suspicious.

‘We actually met yesterday.’ Maggie told Cooper. ‘When you were talking in your sleep. In fact, you were making more sense than you normally do when you’re wide awake.’

‘I’ll leave you to it,’ Dr Alvarez said as she turned to go. ‘I’ll see you in one week, Cooper.’ She waggled a finger at him. ‘And do your rehab.’

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