After years of heartache and unhappiness, Paediatric nurse, Maggie Green, is content with where she is in life. She’s made peace with the things that cannot be and moved on. She has good friends, a great place to live and a job she loves as an experienced and respected member of the nursing team on the intensive care unit at Brisbane’s Children’s Hospital.
The newest hot shot doc on the block, Nash Reece, has a reputation as a heartbreaker and a plan that doesn’t involve sticking around. He’s London-bound but that doesn’t mean he can’t indulge in some fun during his last three months in the country, right? Nash is a man who knows what he wants and what he wants is Maggie. His attraction to the only woman who hasn’t instantly fallen for his charms is surprisingly intense and getting more so now they’re working together on the PICU.
Unfortunately for Nash, Maggie also knows what she wants and even if it is the brash newcomer, Nash is ten years her junior and Maggie is done playing with boys. Her resistance is sorely tested however and soon both Maggie and Nash succumb to the potent pull between them.
And, when one night isn’t enough, they embark on a secret fling. Until Maggie discovers she’s pregnant…
With Christmas – the time for miracles – looming, all Maggie’s thwarted maternal yearnings resurface but how will Nash react to Maggie’s baby bombshell? And does Maggie have the courage to just stand by and watch him go to London when what she really wants is a happily ever after with her baby daddy?
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
As a nurse, I have experience in the medical field. And what could be hotter than a brash, good looking doctor?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
They just pop into my head.
MAGGIE GREEN WISHED the universe had given her some inkling that October morning as she descended the stairs two at a time to the squealing of the emergency pager that it was going to tilt on its axis. Instead, as the shrill tone echoed around the cement labyrinth of the hospital fire escape, it appeared to be just another day, just another code blue at the Brisbane Children’s Hospital.
She had no way of suspecting, as she rushed headlong into the emergency department resus bay, the total and utter cataclysmic effect of one Dr Nash Reece. Oh, sure, she’d heard about him. Who hadn’t? The grapevine had been running hot over the country-boy charmer and every female from the cleaning staff through to the director of nursing were swooning over his sexy strut.
But she wasn’t a swooner. And things like love or lust at first sight were for teenagers. And she was a good two decades past that. Or so she’d thought.
Nash glanced up from the mottled, struggling, unconscious infant at the nurse who’d just arrived on the scene. She was slightly puffed, her generous chest heaving in and out beneath the navy of her polo shirt. Despite her breathlessness there was a calm confidence about her and he smiled.
‘Good. You’re just in time. I’m pretty sure she’s going to need intubation.’
He shifted his focus back to his patient. The drugs they’d given to stop her tiny body seizing were playing havoc with her respiratory drive and she wasn’t breathing nearly as well as he liked. He held an ambu-bag in situ over the little girl’s face, supporting her weak respiratory effort.
Maggie stared at the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. Even downcast they were quite spectacular. Combined with a killer jaw line dusted in stubble and wavy dark blond hair pushed back off his tanned forehead and lapping over his collar in true cowboy fashion, she really did swoon. A little.
Oblivious to the rush around her, the controlled chaos, the trilling of alarms and the sobbing of a distraught woman, Maggie’s stomach did a three-sixty-degree flop.
Nash looked up amused to see the nurse hadn’t moved. He felt his lips tugging upwards despite the gravity of the situation. He knew that look. Women had looked at him like that for as long as he could remember. But it was the surprise on her face that was most intriguing. ‘You are the ICU nurse?’
Maggie nodded absently, feeling totally disconnected from her brain as that slow, lazy, cocky smile hit its mark. She couldn’t ever remember being rendered mute by the sheer presence of a man.
‘Well I think you might need to come closer, Sister. I’m gonna need a hand and I don’t think you’re going to be able to reach from there.’
Maggie blinked, the use of her nursing title cutting through the daze. Right. She was the ICU nurse. That’s why she was here. She was responsible for the airway. It was her job. Still, his rich voice oozed over her like warm mud from hot springs and for one crazy moment she wanted to dive in head first and wallow.
Finally her brain kicked in and her legs moved. She took two strides and was at the head of the open cot, staring straight into Nash Reece’s blue, blue gaze.
Nash smiled. She’d looked good from a distance. She looked better up close. ‘Where’s your reg?’ he asked.
‘He’s seeing a ward patient over the other side of the hospital.’
Her voice was breathy and she hated it. For God’s sake, she had to be a good decade older than him. She wasn’t remotely interested. And even if she was, why would he be interested in her? A forty-year-old divorcee who hadn’t been in a relationship for so long she’d forgotten what was required?
If his rep was anything to go by, she was way out of his league. She was way past nightclubs and partying. She came to work, she volunteered at Radio Giggle, she tended her garden, read voraciously and she slept.
Oh, God—she was turning into a hermit. A cradle-snatching hermit. All she needed was a couple of cats and she’d be the full catastrophe. She cleared her throat. ‘He’ll be here soon.’
She looked a little het up and he couldn’t help stirring a little. ‘You okay to do this?’
Maggie wanted to bristle. She wanted to say, Listen sonny, I was helping with intubations while you were still wearing baggy pants. But she didn’t. She just nodded and asked, ‘What size?’
He sent her another slow, lazy smile. ‘Four.’
Maggie lowered her gaze, feeling uncharacteristically flustered. She’d been in hundreds of medical emergencies and had never been anything other than ruthlessly efficient. This time would be no different.
She turned to the resus trolley she knew would be behind her, reached inside the drawer and pulled out the requested endotracheal tube. She opened the packaging and squirted some lubricant on the end of the narrow curved tube.
The tone on the sats monitor started to dip and the infant’s heart rate started to drop. Instantly they were both alert, the funny zing between them forgotten.
‘Heart rate falling,’ Maggie said her gaze flicking to the green squiggle behind Nash’s head. ‘One hundred.’
They watched the infant’s chest as her respiratory rate dropped off further. ‘Sats ninety-two,’ Maggie relayed, watching the blue number on the LCD screen dip lower and lower.
‘Okay, no time to wait for the ICU reg. Let’s do it.’
Maggie couldn’t agree more. Normally working with a doctor—a registrar—she didn’t know made her nervous as hell in these fraught situations. But strangely she wasn’t. She didn’t know Nash from a bar of soap— apart from his lady-killer rep—but his supreme confidence was utterly assuring.
‘Let’s give her some vecuronium, Zoe,’ Nash said to one of the emergency nurses as he pulled down on the infant’s chin, opening her mouth for a brief inspection before placing the mask firmly back in place. ‘Have we got some atropine drawn up?’
Maggie blinked as the man with the slow, sexy smile vanished and morphed into a consummate professional. She followed suit, ignoring the fierce jolt of sexual attraction and becoming the experienced PICU nurse, calm and in control.
‘Vecuronium on board,’ Zoe said as she pushed the drug into the child’s drip. ‘Atropine ready if you need it.’
Nash nodded and started taking over the infant’s breathing altogether as the drug acted quickly, paralysing all muscle function. ‘Okay,’ he murmured giving some big breaths to pre-oxygenate. The sats came up to one hundred per cent and the heart rate rocketed into the one hundred and sixties.
‘Right,’ he said, dropping the bag. ‘Let’s go.’
Maggie passed him the laryngoscope and everyone held their breath as he expertly slipped the metal into the child’s mouth. The light at the end allowed Nash to visualise the tiny white vocal cords.
He held out his hand as the other one applied pressure through the handle of the scope to keep the patient’s jaw open. He was like a surgeon asking for an instrument, his eyes never leaving the target.
Maggie passed it to him positioned correctly so he could slip it down the blade of the laryngoscope and push it through the cords in one fluid movement.
‘Heart rate one fifty-nine. Sats ninety-eight,’ she said quietly.
Nash nodded as he angled the tube in. He’d been about to ask. His back was to the monitor so he couldn’t see the figures. All he knew for sure was that while he was performing the intubation the patient wasn’t getting any respiratory input at all. The drug she’d been given had stopped her breathing altogether and the longer he took, the more he deprived her body of vital oxygen.
‘Cricoid pressure,’ he murmured.
Maggie automatically reached for the child’s neck using her thumb and forefinger to apply gentle pressure mid-trachea to the cricoid cartilage, temporarily occluding the oesophagus to prevent aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs.
Nash was impressed with the nurse’s quick, sure location and technique. Often the pressure applied was too much, deviating the airway anatomy, but her technique was perfect.
‘Heart rate one sixty-five. Sats ninety-two.’
Nash nodded as he completed the procedure. ‘I’m in.’
He held the tube in place as Maggie attached the bag and puffed in a couple of gentle breaths. The patient’s tiny chest rose and fell. Rose and fell. Her sats climbed.
‘Do you want to listen?’ Maggie asked.
Nash nodded. He took the bag from her, keeping a firm grasp on the tube. He held very still as she carefully pulled his stethoscope from his neck, and placed it in his ears. Her gaze brushed his as she did so and then stuck. Her cheeks were a pretty pink and even though a part of his brain was listening for the whoosh of breath sounds as she moved the bell of the stethoscope around the patient’s chest, the other part was noticing her deep brown eyes, her high cheekbones, her wide, full lips.
‘What a beautiful noise,’ he murmured, not taking his eyes off her.
Maggie swallowed. This close, he was incredibly handsome. His eye colour defied belief. A clear pale blue, like tropical waters or maybe, depending on his mood, glacial ice. His skin was tanned, stretched nicely across prominent cheekbones, and he had deep crinkles on his forehead and tiny lines around his eyes like he enjoyed a good laugh as much as he enjoyed a good dose of Australian sunshine.
She became aware she was staring again and snapped herself out of it. ‘Should we get this tube taped in?’ she prompted.
‘Good idea,’ Nash murmured.
Maggie dragged her gaze away, grateful to have a job that required looking down and not up. She’d applied the first piece of tape, ignoring his long tanned fingers holding the tube firmly in place, when the ICU reg finally made his entrance.
‘Mac,’ Nash greeted him. ‘You’re a little too late.’
‘Sorry,’ Mac Caldwell panted, bending over and clutching his side. ‘I ran all the way.’
Nash laughed. ‘Have a seat, man. Crisis over.’
Maggie found concentrating on the finicky task of wrapping zinc tape around the tube even more difficult with him being so close. His chest was at her head level and his body heat combined with his intoxicating aftershave formed a potent mix.
Her downward gaze took in the rich tan of his chinos and the obvious flatness of his abdomen beneath the casual masculinity of his checked shirt. He wore it open at the neck and rolled up to his elbows revealing tanned forearms in stark contrast to the covering of blond hairs.
She listened as he filled Mac in on the case and spoke with just the right amounts of empathy, confidence and authority to the infant’s distressed mother.
‘Let’s hook her up to the portable ventilator,’ Nash requested as the last tape was secured around the tube. ‘We’ll get an X-ray to check the tube position, and can we load her with some anti-convulsants, please, Zoe?’
‘I’ll just let the consultant know we’ve got ourselves another customer,’ Mac said, excusing himself to find a phone.
Maggie fussed with the tapes, trimming one end that had been stuck across the little girl’s tiny ear, hyper-aware of Nash still standing close. Her elbow occasionally came into contact with his shirt and she seemed to be tuned into his every move, every breath.
‘Thank you…’ Nash looked at the nametag clipped to his assistant’s collar. She had a smiley-face sticker over her picture and a red heart sticker covering her surname. ‘Maggie. Thank you, Maggie.’
Her hands stilled as his voice washed over her like warm treacle.
She chanced a look at him and immediately wished she hadn’t. He was smiling one of those hey-baby smiles and she was equal parts turned on and annoyed. Annoyed won out.
Some men were just too charming for their own good. Some men just didn’t know how to turn it off. She aimed for nonchalance with her shrug. ‘Just doing my job.’
‘Ah, but you do it so well.’
Maggie felt things shift inside at the suggestive quality of his low, sexy voice. She sniffed, not at all comfortable with shifting innards. This man was too young and too sure of himself by far. ‘Well, I would, wouldn’t I? I have been doing this for a very long time.’
Nash chuckled at the emphasis. He got it—she didn’t approve of him flirting with someone of her years. ‘I love experienced women.’
Maggie refused to be flattered by such a consummate flirt. She raised an eyebrow. ‘Only experienced women?’
He grinned. ‘Okay, you got me.’
He looked away from Maggie reluctantly. ‘Yes, Zoe?’
‘Can you assess the kid in cube two for me? I think he can progress to hourly nebs now.’
‘Sure, be right there,’ Nash said. He turned back to Maggie. ‘I’ll be seeing you around, Maggie.’
She sent him a stiff smile. Not if she could help it.
Maggie finally got to lunch at two o’clock. The day had been crazy-busy and everyone’s lunch-breaks had been pushed back. She found an isolated table in the almost empty canteen, glad she didn’t have to spend her thirty minutes making small talk with anyone. She cracked the lid on her calorie-laden fizzy drink and sank her teeth into the divine-smelling hot meat pie.
A pair of freakish blue eyes rose unbidden and she shook her head to dispel them from her mind. There’d been no time this morning to think about her weird response to Nash Reece and she was damned if she was going to spend her precious break thinking about him either.
‘Now that’s a nice healthy lunch.’
And sometimes the universe was just out to get you.
Maggie tensed as the voice behind her took form and shape in front of her. Hunky, sexy form and shape.
‘May I join you?’
Maggie looked around at the other empty tables. ‘Plenty of places to sit,’ she said pointedly.
Nash suppressed the urge to chuckle. He liked a woman who could hold her own with him. She reminded him of the females he’d grown up around. His five sisters, his mother, his cousins. Country women were no shrinking violets and although he’d spent his life perfecting how to twist them around his fingers, he admired the hell out of their spirit.
‘Ah, but this is my favourite table.’ Nash grinned and pulled up a chair.
‘Gee. Lucky me.’
‘We haven’t formally met.’ He stuck out his hand. ‘Nash Reece.’
No way on earth was Maggie going to touch him. If he could unsettle her with his mere presence, God alone knew what would happen if she allowed her skin to come into contact with his. She took another bite of pie, feeling an instant revival to her flagging blood-sugar level. ‘I know who you are.’
Nash chuckled at her deliberate snub. ‘Ah, my reputation precedes me, I see.’
She looked at his totally unrepentant face. ‘Try to look as if it upsets you,’ she said derisively.
He grinned at her. She had the deepest brown eyes he’d ever seen. They reminded him of his grandmother’s double chocolate fudge brownies. And, man, he was suddenly ravenous for them.
‘So…Maggie? Maggie who?’
She took a swig of her drink. ‘Maggie from ICU.’
He quirked an eyebrow. Maggie from ICU was playing hard to get. Well, there was a first time for everything. ‘So, Maggie from ICU, are you doing anything tonight? Do you fancy getting a bite to eat with me?’
Maggie almost inhaled her drink into her lungs his question startled her so completely. She coughed and spluttered so much that in a final humiliation Nash reached across and belted her between the shoulder blades a couple of times.
His hand moved to her shoulder and he grinned. ‘You okay?’
Not remotely. She shrugged his hand away. ‘Fine.’
He gave her a few moments before he asked again. ‘Well?’
Was he serious? She looked at him—yep, he was. It had been three years since she’d been on a date. And certainly a good decade since she’d been with anyone whose age fell in the thirties. ‘No.’
Nash shrugged. ‘Well I’m easy—’
‘Clearly,’ she interrupted.
Nash grinned and continued. ‘I can fit in with you.’
Maggie shook her head, exasperated by his persistence. He had his elbows on the table, emphasising his wide shoulders. He was big and broad and loomed at her from the opposite side, taking up all the space. ‘You don’t like to take no for an answer, do you?’
‘Why ignore what’s going on between us, Maggie? I’m attracted to you.’ He watched her pale and her wide brown eyes practically double in size. ‘I’m pretty sure you’re attracted to me. Why should we pretend otherwise?’
Maggie stared at him. Was he insane? He reminded her of a kid expecting instant gratification in that infantile egocentric way of theirs. But they weren’t kids.
They were grown-ups and adults were supposed to be a little more cautious. There were rules and etiquette.
‘How old are you, Nash?’
Ah. ‘I don’t care about the age difference.’
‘How old?’ she insisted.
‘Just turned the big three zero.’
Maggie nodded—just as she’d suspected. She wished for a brief second she was thirty again. But then reality invaded. She’d been a mess at thirty. She’d been dealing—very badly—with the heartbreak of her infertility and the ink had still been wet on her divorce papers. She was in a much better place now.
‘And how old do you think I am?’
Nash looked directly at her. ‘Twenty-six.’
Maggie burst out laughing. She had to give him his due, he hadn’t batted an eyelid. She knew that she was looking pretty good for a forty-year-old woman but no one would ever mistake her for twenty-six. ‘Does that line work with everyone?’
Nash laughed with her. ‘Never had to use it before. No one’s ever knocked me back.’
His eyes crinkled at the corners and it was very, very sexy. ‘Oh, dear. Do you think your ego can stand it?’
‘It’s pretty robust.’
Maggie grinned despite herself. She did not want to be charmed by him but his easy charisma and self-deprecation made an irresistible combination. ‘I’ll just bet it is.’
He sat and watched her as she returned her attention to her lunch. Her teeth bit into the pastry of her pie and flakes stuck to her lips before her tongue darted out to remove them. It shouldn’t be erotic— she was just eating, for crying out loud— but it was. God knew, he wanted to lick them away himself.
For his own sanity he moved his gaze upwards. Her short brown hair with chunky blonde streaks looked salon perfect. Her layered fringe swept across her forehead from a side parting. The rest of it fell in fashionably shaggy layers and feathered down her nape into fine wisps.
She finished her pie and patted her mouth with her serviette. If she hadn’t seemed so totally oblivious to his reaction, he’d have suspected she was deliberately trying to provoke him. He certainly would have expected it from any other woman.
Maggie had tried to ignore him as she’d eaten but his intense blue gaze had made it impossible. She sighed. ‘I’m forty, Nash.’
He shrugged. ‘So?’
‘So? So I’m a whole decade older than you.’
‘I was in high school when you were running around in nappies.’
‘I got married while you were still in primary school.’
Nash’s gaze flicked to her left hand. No ring. No telltale white mark. ‘So?’
‘I’ve been divorced longer than you’ve been a doctor.’
He smiled at her. ‘You’re available, then?’
She shot him an impatient look. ‘Nash don’t you think you should be playing with women your own age?’
He reached across the table and picked up her hand. ‘Maggie from ICU, you look better than any woman I’ve ever met.’
She could feel herself blushing beneath his intense gaze. She was drowning in the warmth of his tropical island gaze and her pulse hammered where his thumb drew slow circles at her wrist.
Damn it all—she would not be flattered by his easy words. She wasn’t going to get involved with a man ten years her junior. Especially one who dated for sport and made her breathless with just one look. That would just be plain dumb. And she wasn’t that hard up for company.
Maggie removed her hand. ‘I’m going to do you a favour, Nash Reece. I’m going to turn you down. And you should be grateful. Men like you need a woman like me—’
‘That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,’ he interrupted.
She smiled. ‘A woman who’ll say no. Too many yes-women make Nash a spoilt boy. You’ll thank me for it one day.’
He chuckled. ‘I doubt it.’
She crunched up her paper bag and screwed the lid back on her empty drink bottle and then stood. ‘Yeah well, your wife will.’
Nash really laughed then. He had no intention of ever marrying. And women had tried. Man, had they tried. Country girls, yearning for an escape from the outback had tried, city girls wanting to snare a doctor had tried. But he had a career plan carefully mapped out that did not involve weddings, and nothing was more important to him than that.
‘Wife? Nope. Not me. Besides, I’m already married. To my career. I’m on a path.’
Maggie was surprised to see a suddenly serious side to the flirty man who’d charmed himself into the seat opposite. He was once again the serious doctor from this morning. She wondered how many women got to see beneath the playboy exterior to the goal-driven man. ‘And yet you have time to date?’
Nash grinned again. ‘I do allow myself some diversions. Come on, Maggie. You know you want to.’
She shook her head, even though he was right. She did want to. It was crazy—but she did. Still, she knew enough about Nash Reece in a handful of minutes to know that one date would never be enough. ‘Denial is good for the soul.’
He reminded her again of a child seeking instant gratification and she laughed. Yes. Yes it did. ‘Goodbye, Dr Reece.’
Nash watched her turn away, the creamy skin of her neck exposed as she twisted, pulling her shirt across her chest. ‘I’m gonna keep asking,’ he called after her.
She stopped and looked back at him as his silky promise stroked insidiously along her pelvic floor. ‘There’s a shock.’
Nash chuckled. ‘I’ll be seeing you around, Maggie from ICU.’
They were the same words he’d used that morning and they had a preternatural foreboding to them. ‘Don’t count on it.’
He worked in A and E. She worked two floors up in ICU. As far as hospitals went they were totally different worlds. And after today she had no intention of letting him into hers. Ever.
Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling, double RITA nominated, Aussie author who has written seventy plus contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. Her books bring all the feels from sass, quirk and laughter to emotional grit and panty-melting heat.
At sixteen she met a guy she knew she was going to marry and several years later she did. They have two grown kids who have flown the coop for distant shores which enables their travel fetish.
She loves good books and great booze although she'll take mediocre booze if there's nothing else. For many, many years she was a registered nurse which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she's not afraid to use them!
She's just taken a sea change and gets to create stories whilst overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean.
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