Monday, July 11, 2011

Because He needs me

Because He needs me
A new book from a young fresh company
Leap of Faith Publishing presents
Because He needs me by Lynn Granville

Oh, God, she hoped he wouldn’t come over! Janni had recognized the one man she hadn’t wanted to see at this wedding. It was ages since she’d been in the same room with Nick Hamilton, and she really hadn’t given the idea that he might be here a thought, though she should have done. It couldn’t matter, of course. Whatever there had been between her and Nick had been over years ago – when he married. Not that it had ever been very much even then!
Janni had been through several love affairs since then, the latest of which had recently ended in tears and recriminations. What was wrong with her for goodness sake? Why couldn’t she find someone who really cared, someone who would give her a home and family, and love – most importantly love?
Nick was glancing her way again, obviously deciding whether or not he ought to come over and say hello. Where was his wife? Janni hadn’t noticed her – and you couldn’t miss a woman like that! Sarah was gorgeous, so it was no wonder that Nick had fallen for her hook line and sinker.
Janni glanced across the hotel’s crowded reception room at the bride and groom; she felt a pang of envy despite her satisfaction at Alice’s obvious happiness. Sheer delight seemed to shine out of her friend’s eyes, testifying to her state of mind. Janni didn’t grudge that happiness one little bit, but couldn’t help wishing that her own life was a little more settled.
Alice and Peter were the perfect pair, and Janni had introduced them nine months ago. Her own lovelife had been blossoming then, but for the past few weeks she had been nursing a bruised ego. Fortunately, it seemed that her heart was pretty resilient, which it would need to be after the way Mark had treated her recently.
Perhaps it was a combination of seeing Nick unexpectedly, and her friend’s shining happiness that made Janni feel so dejected all of a sudden. Damn Mark! He really wasn’t worth getting upset over. One day he’d been eagerly talking about buying a house together, almost the next he was announcing that he was off to America on a three-year research project.
“So what happens to us?” Janni had asked, feeling bewildered by Mark’s sudden about turn.
“It was never going to be more than a temporary arrangement,” he’d said, taking her breath away. “Nothing is forever, Janni. Besides, this is a chance I can’t miss.”
He hadn’t asked her to keep in touch, or whether she would consider giving up her job at the local hospital to go with him. She had sensed his excitement and known he wanted to be free – and that had hurt!
The sharp pain had gone now, but she was still feeling bruised. So much so that when she saw the undeniably attractive man walking towards her, she immediately hoisted her shield into place. Why had he of all people had to be here? And why must he bother to come over and say hello?
She’d had a thing for Doctor Nick Hamilton once, when they were both working at a London teaching hospital, but he’d hardly noticed her. He had fallen in love with and married a very beautiful woman, and they’d lost touch when he moved. Until now, Janni hadn’t seen him for years, but he was a friend of Peter’s, and had been invited for the wedding. It was natural, of course, and she would have realized it if she had thought about it earlier.
“They look happy don’t they?” Nick said glancing at the bride and groom. “Peter and Alice. “
Janni took a deep breath. There was no escaping it! She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I was just thinking the same thing.”
“Peter had been through a rough time before he met Alice – but you know that, of course. You introduced them, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I can claim the credit for that, but they did all the rest themselves.”
He seemed amused at her quip, and hesitated for a second or two. “I know this isn’t the right time to talk shop, but Alice tells me you are thinking of changing your job – going for something new. I wondered if you might consider working for us at the surgery as a practice nurse?”
Janni was startled. He had taken her completely by surprise and she gave no thought to her answer before replying negatively. “I am flattered that you asked,” she said. “But I am happy where I am – and I’ve never considered anything but hospital work.”
“The nurses I need never have,” Nick replied and grinned. “If they had, they probably wouldn’t be what I was looking for. Don’t make that a final no, Janni. Think about it please. If you are truly happy where you are then that’s all there is to it – but if there’s even a chance you might consider coming to us, if only for a few months, I should like to hear from you.” He took a card from his pocket and handed it to her. “I think you would be pleasantly surprised if you paid us a visit. We have all the latest equipment at the surgery. Peter has made sure of that, believe me.”
Janni's heart did a quick tango but she suppressed her foolishness.
Peter and Nick were partners in the country practice as well as friends, and Alice had burned Janni’s ears with stories of how beautiful the village was – and the surrounding countryside.
Alice had been a Theatre Sister before her marriage, but she planned on having a family almost at once. “Before my biological clock runs out,” she’d told Janni laughingly. “I’ve done my stint for the NHS – and I can always go back part time when the children are at school.”
“Yes, I imagine he would,” Janni replied with a wry look. “Alice told me Peter has to have everything just so.”
“We’re in agreement as far as that goes – which is why we both want you, Janni. Why don’t you think about it? Alice is your best friend, isn’t she? It would mean you were able to see her more often, and I understand you are having difficulties at the moment.”
“I see Alice has been telling tales out of school.” Janni frowned.
“She just told me things hadn’t gone well for you, and that you were thinking of making a change. Nothing personal,” Nick assured her. He glanced at his watch and frowned. “Anyway, it was nice speaking to you again, Janni. I must have a word with Alice and Peter before they leave. Give me a call if you are interested, won’t you?” He handed her his card.
“Yes, if I’m interested,” Janni replied, tucking his card into her pocket as he walked away. Her foolish heart was still misbehaving itself. Nick was as attractive as ever, she thought, dressed in a stylish, collarless dark blue suit that showed only a flash of white at the neck and looked as if it might be Armani. It was the kind of suit that was good on young, athletic men and she recalled that he had been keen on sport when she’d known him before. His hair was dark blond and a little longer than she normally liked on a man – but why was she letting herself think about him at all? He was married and she had no intention of getting involved again for a long, long time. Especially with a married man!
She waited until he had moved away from the bride and groom before going over. “I’ve just come to say goodbye,” she said, kissing Alice’s cheek. “You look gorgeous, love – and so does Peter.”
Alice’s white lace and tulle dress was very traditional, but she had worn flowers in her hair rather than a veil, and looked sensational. Once again, Janni felt a pang of regret. She’d been so certain she and Mark would be planning their wedding soon – but perhaps what had happened was for the best. Otherwise, they might have ended up getting a divorce before long.
“Keep your hands off, he’s mine,” Alice Lennox teased. “Have you heard anything more from Mark?”
“No, not since he walked out on me,” Janni said, avoiding Alice’s eyes. “He promised to keep paying his share of the rent until I could find a new flatmate, but I doubt if he’ll bother once he gets to the States.”
“Well, I think that’s rotten,” Alice said and her eyes flashed with anger on behalf of Janni. “He could at least have stumped up the rent until you got things settled.”
Janni pulled a wry face. She couldn’t help noticing that Nick Hamilton was no longer in the room. She wasn’t sure why, but all of a sudden Mark’s desertion no longer seemed to matter.
“Well, it just goes to show that Mum was right all along. She warned me not to move in with him. I should’ve listened.”
Alice nodded, then turned to listen to something her new husband was saying. Janni gave them both a little wave and left, keeping her smile in place until she was in the taxi taking her to catch the train back to London.
She hardly knew why she was feeling so down. She wasn’t still missing Mark, for goodness sake! And her mother had warned her at the beginning that it would end in tears.
“Move in with him and he will lose respect for you,” Mrs Ross had warned. “Yes, I know you think I’m old-fashioned and perhaps I am – but I don’t trust Mark Hatton and I never shall.”
In her heart Janni had wanted a white wedding and all the trimmings, but Mark had been adamant. He couldn’t afford to get married and he didn’t see what all the fuss was about anyway.
“Look around you,” he’d said over and over again. “How many of our friends get married these days? Most of them just move in together – and look at Jenny and Paul. They lived together for four years, perfectly happy, then she wanted to get married so Paul agreed – ten months later they’ve split.”
Janni hadn’t been able to disagree with his logic and she had thought herself in love with Mark then … but now she wasn’t sure whether it was Mark she’d loved or the man she had thought he was deep down.
Janni’s mother agreed with Alice that she ought to make a complete break, find herself a new job and a new place to live.
“It’s the only way, love,” Mrs Ross had told her. “Either that or move back home with me and take the train into work every day. And you were moaning about the high rent even when you and Mark were still together.”
“I certainly can’t afford it unless I find someone to share – and the lease comes up for renewal next month, so I shall soon have to decide whether to give the flat up or not.”
Janni didn’t particularly want to give up her job, nor did she want to move back home and commute every day.
She loved her work, enjoying every moment she spent with her patients on the postoperative ward, and counting herself privileged. People took medicine for granted these days, demanding more and more of their doctors, but Janni had never ceased to feel exhilarated and thrilled at the skill of the surgeons who performed near miracles day after day.
Yet recently the strain of working long hours, combined with a stressful home life, had begun to get her down a little. Perhaps she ought to have thought before refusing Nick Hamilton’s offer.
She remembered how attractive Nick had looked that afternoon. His smile had been warm and generous, and she had reacted instinctively out of a need to protect herself. She didn’t want to go through all that again!
Nick had been the first man to break her heart when he married someone else. Perhaps that was why Mark’s desertion had bruised her ego more than her heart – having had it broken once she was incapable of ever truly loving again.

The flat seemed so empty when Janni got in that evening. She frowned, disliking both the silence and her surroundings. The d├ęcor was too minimal and hard for her comfort, but she had never been encouraged to change things. Mark had liked his flat the way it was – and it had always been his. He had made that plain from the start. Janni contributed her share of the bills and housekeeping, but Mark paid the rent. When she thought about it, she realized the lease was in his name, so there was no guarantee she would be granted a new one if she wanted it!
Was it only five months since Mark had asked her to move in? Janni felt it was much longer. What had gone wrong between them? Was it her fault? Mark had told her she wasn’t really in love with him before he left, flinging it at her as if seeking to transfer the blame for their break up.
“You never wanted me,” he had said bitterly as the quarrel flared between them. “Don’t look at me as if I’m committing some kind of a crime, Janni – if you were honest you would admit I was doing you a favour by walking out.”
“If that’s the way you feel, perhaps you are,” she had flung after him. Now she realized that perhaps he had been right – they weren’t made for each other. She had enjoyed their relationship in the beginning, but she hadn’t truly been in love with him – and if seeing Nick Hamilton that afternoon had made her see that, she had better stay well clear of him or she might end up in more trouble!

“Did you have a good weekend?” Nurse Rita Jones asked as Janni paused at the staff station on S2 to pick up her schedule on Monday morning. “You look like hell. It must have been some wedding reception.”
“The wedding was fine,” Janni said. “I haven’t slept very well for a couple of nights, that’s all.” She sighed as her friend’s eyes met hers in a very direct stare. “All right, I may as well tell you, because you’ll have it out of me sooner or later – Mark left me a couple of weeks ago.”
“Why didn’t you say something before this?”
“I didn’t want to use you as a punching bag,” Janni replied, her head going up proudly. “He went off to do research in America, but I’m over it now. He’s gone – and good riddance!”
Rita grinned at her. “That’s it, girl, stick it to him,” she said. “Get it out of your system. You’re better off without him, believe me.”
Janni laughed. “Oh, you make me feel so much better,” she said. “You’ve never liked him, have you?”
“Never knew what you saw in him,” Rita replied cheerfully. “You shouldn’t have moved in with him, not until you knew him better anyway.”
“That’s what my mother said at the time.” Janni sighed. “She hasn’t said anything much since I told her he’d left – except that she would be pleased if I'd go home.”
“Are you going to move back home?”
“Not for long,” Janni said with a grimace. “I love my mother but we should drive each other mad if we lived together. No, I’m just licking my wounds, then I'll find someone to share a flat. But I’ve decided to give up the one I shared with Mark –- it’s too expensive.”
“Not going to have him back?”
“Not even if he comes crawling on his hands and knees. He hasn’t even tried ringing me since he left.” Janni picked up her clipboard and glanced through the day’s schedule. “We’ve got our usual heavy list, I see. At least I shan’t have time to think about myself once we start.”
“Have fun,” Rita said as she walked away. “How about a drink this evening?”
“Maybe. I'Il see you later.”
Janni was thoughtful as she began her first round of the day, dismissing her personal problems. A woman who had had a cancer behind her nose had been sent up to the ward that morning; it had been a very difficult and delicate operation, and after a stay in Intensive Care, she was still going to need careful nursing.
Janni began to check the notes at the end of each bed, stopping to chat to her patients and reassure herself that they were all responding, as they should. She took the temperature of one man, frowning as she realized he was a little feverish. She made a note on his chart, resolving to mention this to the doctor when he came up to the ward.
It was as she finished her round and made her way back to the desk at the end of the ward that she noticed several nurses were gathered round talking and looking at each other anxiously.
“What’s going on?”
“We’ve just heard,” Rita said. “We’ve got a bug and they’ve decided to close down three wards, including an intensive care unit.”
“Not MRSA?” Janni asked and frowned. If the hospital had picked up the super bug this was serious. “When was this announced? I was not informed when I arrived this morning.”
“I heard a whisper on Saturday but it was unconfirmed,” a nurse said. “They’ve been keeping it quiet, hoping it would turn out to be a false scare I suppose,” she went on. “You know what it’s like these days. Once the news gets out it will be all over the media. “All I’ve been told is that I was to let you know ops were off for a while.”
“Yes, thank you. I wish I had been told earlier, but that’s way things are these days. Sometimes I feel as if the NHS was a dying monster, lurching on its last legs.”
“Don’t we all,” the nurse replied. “I’ve been thinking of leaving and trying for an agency job. It’s still better pay and conditions despite the extra money we’ve been given recently.”
Janni nodded. She felt irritated as she wondered what was going to happen to her patients, especially those waiting for operations. Some of them would receive a telephone call telling them not to come in until further notice – but what of those who were already waiting to be fetched down to surgery?
Janni had always been loyal to the Service, never even considering a change from NHS to private medicine, but on days like this it made her wonder if she was using her talents to the best advantage.
The cancellation of operations always made her feel frustrated and guilty. People waited long enough for their surgery as it was – and it wasn’t easy for them to prepare themselves for the ordeal. Especially those awaiting serious surgery - it just wasn’t right!
Janni felt strongly about the injustice of leading a patient, who was suffering from a serious disease, to believe that their operation was imminent and then having to cancel at the last minute, particularly when it was through staff shortages. Of course when something like this cropped up, it couldn’t be helped. If the administration had had to close two wards and an intensive care unit, they had no choice but to suspend surgery for the moment.
If the wards were closed for several days while they were checked out and sterilized Janni would be put on other duties – providing the whole hospital wasn’t put under quarantine! It hadn’t happened yet to her knowledge, but there was always a chance. She had heard of some hospitals having to stop admitting any new patients because of the fear that the infection might spread.
Janni had some leave owing to her. She had been saving it up in case she and Mark decided to take a holiday together – but why not take it now? She was only going to be frustrated if she hung around here waiting for the go ahead to start surgery again.
Yes, why not take a holiday?
Her split with Mark had made her feel she was ready for a change. Maybe she would go down to the sea - even a few days away would bring a breath of air into her life. And while she was away, why not consider changing her job?
Oh, she wasn’t going to take up Nick Hamilton’s offer, of course – but there were other jobs around. It was just a case of looking for them.
She told Rita what was in her mind when they were having a drink in their favourite wine bar later that evening. “I always said I would never leave the hospital,” she said toying with her glass of chilled spritzer. “I’ve always loved my job – but the way things are just now…”
“I think a lot of us feel the same way,” Rita agreed. “Look, stop feeling guilty. If you make a change – say for a few months, just to give yourself a break – you can always come back. It isn’t a forever thing.”
“I do feel I need a change,” Janni said and sighed. “I suppose I could look for something...”
“Of course you could,” Rita said. “Go for it, girl!”
Janni laughed. “If I do leave, I shall miss seeing you,” she said.
“Bad pennies always turn up,” Rita replied with a grin. “Where are you going for your holiday?”
“I was thinking of the Norfolk coast – I’ll probably move around, just drive where I fancy and stop overnight.”
“My parents had a caravan down that way for years when I was a kid. It’s lovely on that part of the coast. We used to visit Blakeny a lot. I wish I could come with you.”
“So do I, but I doubt if they would let both of us go. Besides, I have a lot of thinking to do.”
“Perhaps you should leave London altogether for a while,” Rita said. “Go somewhere fresh and start a new life. I could always come and visit you for weekends, especially if you’re in the country.”
“I’ve had an offer to work in the country,” Janni said. “It’s the same surgery as Alice’s husband…”
“You should snatch it while the going’s good,” Rita said. “Just think of all that fresh air and good food.”
“Maybe,” Janni said and smiled. “I suppose I could think about it…”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Fourth Of July

I hope you have a happy and safe Fourth of July everybody.
Sarah McNeal