Authors: Lucy Clark
After taking a few deep breaths, she walked over to one of the chairs at the back of the room and sat down, opening Tessa’s notes.
‘Why didn’t you say something before?’ Sean remarked as he stalked into the conference room, heading directly towards her and stopping close to where she sat.
Slightly startled, Jane looked up from the case notes. ‘Sorry?’
‘What about Luc?’
‘I’m not sure I understand.’
You told me you’d moved to Adelaide solely because of Spencer.’
Jane’s eyes widened as she grasped his meaning and quickly shook her head. Her glasses slid down her nose and it wasn’t until she went to push them back that she realised her hand was trembling a little. ‘What? Me and Luc? No. We’re friends. Colleagues. Sean, I’m not involved with Luc.’
‘It certainly looks that way.’
‘You’re very...chummy and it’s clear he likes you.’
‘What?’ Jane frowned, positive Sean had the wrong end of the stick. ‘Luc is a colleague and a friend.’ She spread her hands wide, desperate for him to believe her.
‘So why did Dr Markum tell me that Luc managed to persuade you to come and work in Adelaide?’
‘Perhaps because Luc
manage to persuade me to come and work here.’
‘So he could be close to you?’
‘What? No.’ Jane was confused how things had become so muddled. ‘So I could be close to Spencer.’
Sean opened his mouth to say something then closed it again, thinking for a moment. ‘But...that implies that Luc knew you and I had a personal connection.’
Jane nodded. ‘Yes.’
Sean scratched his forehead. ‘How?’
‘One night, when we were working together in Paris...’ She stopped and started again. ‘It was a terrible night. There’d been a multiple MVA and a family of six, four children, two parents, had all been admitted. Both parents passed away and two of the children. It was horrible, having to tell those two kids—one nine and one fourteen—that the rest of their family had died.’
‘That is terrible.’ Sean pulled up a chair and sat down next to her, his previous annoyance dissipating.
‘Afterwards, Luc and I started talking about our families. He told me about his brother, Pierre, and his sister, Nicolette, and her husband, Stephen. He told me about his nieces and nephews, his aunts and uncles and I, for all intents and purposes, had no one.’ She shrugged as she said the words. ‘No parents, no aunts or uncles or cousins.’
‘How long ago was this?’
‘Just before Daina passed away.’ Jane looked down at her hands, which were clenched tightly together. ‘I told Luc about a nephew I’d never seen and I must have mentioned your name because he remembered it. So when the job here came up, Spencer became the cherry Luc needed to secure my services here at the hospital.’
‘You’re just friends.’
‘Friends,’ she agreed.
‘I didn’t mean to jump to conclusions.’
‘Would it matter, though?’
‘What? If you were dating Luc?’
‘Or anyone else, for that matter. Would it impact your decision regarding my request to spend time with Spencer?’
‘It might. It would depend on who you were dating and whether or not that relationship might inadvertently affect Spencer.’
Jane nodded, thinking through his words before sitting forward in her chair and meeting his gaze. ‘I am not Daina, you know. I am nothing like my sister and I hope you can see that.’ Her words were imploring. ‘I would never do anything to hurt Spencer and indeed...’ she sat up a little straighter in her chair, her green eyes flashing with determination and strength ‘...I would do everything in my power to protect him.’
There was something about the way she spoke, about the way she’d said the word ‘protect’, that caused Sean to think there was a lot more she
saying. She would protect Spencer. Why would Jane think Spencer needed protecting?
Jane’s cellphone beeped and she checked the message. ‘It’s the child psychologist about Tessa. I might not be available for the ward round this morning.’
‘I’ll let Luc know.’
‘Thanks.’ Jane stood and gathered her files. ‘I hope we’re clearer about a few things now, Sean.’
He nodded and with that he watched her walk from the room, head held high, her long plait swishing from side to side as she moved. How was it possible her green eyes could look so...intense? Didn’t she have any idea just how passionate she looked when she was determined?
She’d been absolutely correct at guessing his response to her easygoing relationship with Luc. The way the two of them interacted so naturally—which, of course, they would do if, as she’d said, they’d spent a fair amount of time working with each other in the past—had indeed reminded him of the way Daina would flirt and tease with other men.
Jane had clearly realised the track his thoughts had taken and she’d called him on it, indicating she was not only intuitive but direct. From what he’d seen during the past month, she wasn’t anything like Daina but, then, Daina had done an excellent job of deceiving him for quite some time.
Jane hadn’t been deceptive, though. She hadn’t tried to go behind his back and find out information about Spencer. Instead, she’d told him directly that she was hoping for access to his son...and yet he was finding it difficult to trust her.
In fact, he found it difficult to trust any woman, especially one he was attracted to, after the way Daina had treated him.
Attracted? Was he attracted to Jane?
There was no doubt that she had a certain...style to her, one that he was sure many people had underestimated, just as he’d done. She’d shown herself to be highly intelligent as well as caring, two qualities he admired. She definitely didn’t tailor her wardrobe, as Daina had, his ex-wife often wearing outfits that he’d considered far too alluring out in public. Was that why Jane dressed the way she did? To prove to herself that she
the opposite of Daina?
As the day progressed, Sean found himself unable to stop thinking about what Jane had said about being all alone. Was it true? Did she really have no other family? None?
Daina had never really spoken of any other relatives, except Jane, and even then she’d almost ignored her younger sister’s existence, much preferring to concentrate on herself. The thought stayed with him at the back of his mind during outpatients, his sub-committee meetings and even while he was driving home. What was it like to be all alone?
When he pulled into the two-storey house where he lived with his parents and his son, Sean imagined what it might be like to arrive home to a dark, empty home with no one waiting inside. As he scooped Spencer into his arms and tickled the boy’s tummy, as he chatted with his parents, who had always been there to help him look after his son, Sean felt such enormous pangs of pain at the thought of all these wonderful people being taken from him.
How would he feel if that extended to his twin sisters and their families? His grandparents? His aunts, uncles and cousins? The emptiness, the void, the loneliness that would be left in his life would consume him. Was that what had happened to Jane?
‘Are you all right?’ his mother, Louise, asked him as she joined him in the bathroom while he checked his son’s teeth.
‘Hmm? Sure.’ He kept his attention off his mother and on his son. ‘There you go, bud. Rinse and spit, wipe your mouth and go and choose some stories for us to read.’
‘Yep. ’K, Dad.’ Spencer did as he was told while Sean tried not to let his mother see that anything was wrong. Even the briefest thought about losing the people he loved so very much was making him feel uneasy and as Spencer raced from the bathroom, Sean dipped his head and pressed a kiss to his mother’s cheek.
‘For?’ she asked, a little surprised by his action.
‘Everything. Being a great mother and grandmother. Always supportive.’ He shrugged, feeling highly self-conscious but glad he was saying these words to her.
‘Of course.’ Louise eyed him cautiously. ‘Sean? What’s going on?’
Sean raked a hand through his hair and looked past her to make sure Spencer wasn’t within earshot. ‘Do you remember meeting Daina’s sister?’
‘I spoke to her at the funeral. It was odd. She didn’t seem all that upset about her sister’s death but at the same time she was very sad.’ Louise shook her head. ‘I can’t explain it.’
‘That’s probably because she and Daina didn’t exactly get along.’
‘Not surprising.’ His mother’s tone was flat, both of them clearly understanding what wasn’t being said—that it had been difficult for
to really get along with Daina.
‘Jane’s working at the hospital.’
He nodded. ‘She’s a paediatrician.’
‘Oh, yes. I remembered her saying she was a doctor.’ Louise frowned. ‘Why? What does she want?’
‘Daddy!’ Spencer called out brightly. ‘I’m ready for stories now.’
‘Spencer?’ Louise guessed. ‘She wants to see Spencer?’
‘Are you going to let her? Can you trust her?’
Sean shrugged as he headed towards his son’s room, the image of Jane seated beside Tessa’s bed, her sweet, angelic voice filling the air. He could recall the song she’d been singing and how it had made not only Tessa but the night staff feel. Surely someone whose intention it was to help others could be trusted just a little bit. Right? Besides, Jane would accept any time he would allow her to spend with Spencer. She was leaving it up to him decide and orchestrate. Surely that was a good thing. Right?
‘Can you trust her?’ Louise repeated, and Sean met his mother’s gaze.
‘I hope so.’
* * *
The next day, Sean had firmly decided he was going to allow Jane limited access to Spencer to begin with.
‘Are you sure?’ his mother had asked when he’d informed her of his decision.
‘Yes. Jane is very different to Daina and, besides, you’ve seen the gifts she’s sent Spencer every year for his birthday and at Christmas.’
‘They’re always his favourite,’ Louise agreed.
‘Although he has no idea who this “Aunty Jane” person is, he’s always enjoyed the presents she’s sent.’
‘What will you tell him?’
‘The truth. She’s his mother’s sister and she’s moved to Adelaide.’ With the decision firmly made, Sean started to imagine what Jane’s expression might be like when he told her the good news. Would she be excited? Happy? Apprehensive? Worried?
Ever since she’d told him about being so incredibly lonely, Sean had wanted to remove that forlorn look from her eyes. He hoped his affirmative answer would accomplish this. How could any person really be filled with sorrow and yet still have the strength to keep on going, to keep on forging ahead, making a difference in other people’s lives? The thought of him being able to make a difference in
life filled him with a sense of happiness he hadn’t felt in a very long time, and as he arrived at the hospital he decided to find Jane and tell her the news immediately.
He grinned to himself as he entered the ward, an extra spring in his step as he headed to the nurses’ station, but much to his chagrin Romana informed him that Jane had already been in to see her patients and had left.
‘Oh.’ Sean was disappointed. ‘Do you know where she is? We don’t have clinic today so I’m not quite sure where I can find her.’
‘Are you looking for Jane?’ Luc asked as he came onto the ward.
‘She’s in the research labs all morning.’
‘Huh.’ Sean frowned and Luc picked up the phone receiver on the desk and handed it to Sean.
Sean looked from his friend to the phone and back again, catching the very interested look in Luc’s eyes. ‘It’s OK. I’ll catch up with her later. It’s no big deal.’
But it was, he told himself as he sat in his small office and worked steadily through his pile of paperwork. He had news, important news that would make Jane smile. The longer he couldn’t pass on the news, the more urgent his need became. He had it in his power to see her green eyes shining with happiness rather than sadness.
Feeling as though the walls of his office were starting to close in on him, he stalked out of the department and out into the hot Adelaide sunshine. It was a scorcher of a day and he rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, immediately missing the air-conditioning, as he headed towards the North Adelaide shopping district.
It was only as he noticed the increase of people in the area that he realised it was lunchtime and as he hadn’t yet eaten he decided that would be next on his list. It might even improve his disposition. He wasn’t the sort of man who liked to be at odds with himself and he’d been that way far too often in the past.
Marrying Daina had most certainly taken him out of his comfort zone and although their marriage had been far from smooth, he’d gained a son from the union. Spencer was a constant source of delight and blessings and Sean knew how fortunate he was to have such a wonderful child.
‘Sean. Mate. Good to see you,’ came the friendly greeting from Ronan, the proprietor of the café Sean preferred to frequent. ‘Usual table?’ Ronan didn’t even bother to collect a menu as Sean knew the selection off by heart. ‘Oops. Sorry, mate. Looks as though someone’s already sitting at your table.’
‘Never mind. By the win—’ Sean stopped as he saw exactly who was seated at his table. His grin widened and he unconsciously straightened the knot of his tie. ‘Actually, Ronan, don’t worry about it. My usual table looks...just perfect.’
There, sipping a cup of coffee while reading a toy catalogue from a nearby toy shop, sat the one woman he’d spent all morning wanting to talk to.
Jane looked up from poring over the toy catalogue directly into the face of Sean Booke.
‘I’ve been looking for you,’ he remarked as he pulled out the chair opposite her and sat down. Jane shifted in her seat, sitting up a little straighter.