The Surgeon's Doorstep Baby

BOOK: The Surgeon's Doorstep Baby
9.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Surgeon in need!

Enigmatic and attractive, her temporary neighbor, Blake Samford, is a complication that midwife Maggie really doesn’t need. Not only is she single-handedly trying to care for her isolated community with the flood waters rising, she’s also juggling the needs of her younger siblings. But when Blake knocks on her door one dark and stormy night, cradling an abandoned infant in his arms, Maggie suddenly feels her resolve and her heart begin to crack….

“I think this one's for you,” he said, and handed it over.

She didn't drop it.

To her eternal credit—and thinking back later she was very, very proud of herself—she took the baby, just like the professional she was. Midwife receiving a baby at handover. She gathered her as she'd gather any infant she didn't know; any child when she didn't know its history. Taking care to handle her lightly with no pressure on anywhere that might hurt. Cradling her and holding her instinctively against her body, giving warmth as she'd give warmth to any tiny creature.

But for the moment her eyes were all on Blake.

He looked almost forbidding. Looming in her doorway, six feet two or three, wide shoulders, dark, dark eyes made even darker by the faint glow of moonlight, deep, black hair, a shadowy figure.

Tall, dark and dangerous....

Dear Reader,

This year our family farm is to be leased out as my brother retires from farming. One of the next generation may well decide farming’s the life for them, but it needs to be a decision they make in the future, when the time’s right for them. Thus, for now, more than a hundred years of farming history is pausing.

For me this is a sadness. Although I’ve long left behind the reality of twice daily milking, our family farm has never lost its power, its warmth, its pull. Happily though, I can still disappear into my farming community in my books.

As you may have read in my introduction to
Mardie and the
City Surgeon,
recently the farm was flooded. At midnight a neighbor rang my brother to say the river had broken its banks, and a paddock full of calves was disappearing underwater. My brother and sister-in-law thus spent the night in their kids’ ancient canoe, saving every one of their calves.

The story was a fun one, with a happy ending, and with the half-grown calves reacting like excited kids when they were finally rescued. The story made me smile—and as always it made me think What If? What if I threw my city surgeon hero into such a scene? What if my heroine had to depend on him? What if...what if I even threw a wounded baby into the mix?

I love my writing, where reality and fantasy can mingle to become pure fun. As you read this, however, know that the calves are real, the happy ending true and each rescued calf is now a safe and cared for member of a magnificent herd. Our farm, our heritage stays alive, in the hearts of every one of our family members, and hopefully in the warmth and fun my writing enables me to share.

Warm wishes,

from a bit of an emotional Marion

The Surgeon’s
Doorstep Baby

Marion Lennox

Recent titles by Marion Lennox


+Sydney Harbor Hospital

*Harlequin® Medical™ Romance

**Harlequin® Romance—BANKSIA BAY miniseries

These books are also available in ebook

To Cobrico. To Mayfield. To my beloved family who form the bedrock of who I am.


orthopaedic surgeon for one of Sydney’s most
prestigious teaching hospitals, Blake Samford was used to being woken in the
middle of the night for emergencies.

Right now, however, he was recuperating at his father’s farm,
two hundred miles from Sydney.

He wasn’t expecting an emergency.

He wasn’t expecting a baby.

* * *

Maggie Tilden loved lying in the dark, listening to rain
on the corrugated-iron roof. She especially liked lying alone to listen.

She had a whole king-sized bed to herself. Hers, all hers.
She’d been renting this apartment—a section of the grandest homestead in Corella
Valley—for six months now, and she was savouring every silent moment of it.

Oh, she loved being free. She loved being here. The elements
could throw what they liked at her; she was gloriously happy. She wriggled her
toes luxuriously against her cotton sheets and thought, Bring it on, let it

She wasn’t even worried about the floods.

This afternoon the bridge had been deemed unsafe. Debris from
the flooded country to the north was being slammed against the ancient timbers,
and the authorities were worried the whole thing would go. As of that afternoon,
the bridge was roped off and the entire valley was isolated.

Residents had been advised to evacuate and many had, but a lot
of the old-time farmers wouldn’t move if you put a bulldozer under them. They’d
seen floods before. They’d stocked up with provisions, they’d made sure their
stock was on high ground and they were sitting it out.

Maggie was doing the same.

A clap of thunder split the night and Tip, the younger Border
collie, whined and edged closer to the bed.

‘It’s okay, guys,’ she told them, as the ancient Blackie moved
in for comfort as well. ‘We’re safe and dry, and we have a whole month’s supply
of dog food. What else could we want?’

And then she paused.

Over the sound of the driving rain she could hear a car.
Gunned, fast. Driving over the bridge?

It must have gone right around the roadblock.

Were they crazy? The volume of water powering down the valley
was a risk all by itself. There were huge warning signs saying the bridge was

But the bridge was still intact, and the car made it without
mishap. She heard the change in noise as it reached the bitumen on this side,
and she relaxed, expecting the car’s noise to fade as it headed inland.

But it didn’t. She heard it turn into her driveway—okay, not
hers, but the driveway of the Corella View Homestead.

If the car had come from this side of the river she’d be out of
bed straight away, expecting drama. As district nurse, she was the only person
with medical training on this side of the river—but the car had come from the
other side, where there was a hospital and decent medical help.

She’d also be worrying about her brother. Pete was in the
middle of teenage rebellion, and lately he’d been hanging out with some dubious
mates. The way that car was being driven...danger didn’t begin to describe

But this was someone from the other side. Not Pete. Not a
medical emergency. Regardless, she swung her feet out of bed and reached for her

And then she paused.

Maybe this was a visitor for her landlord.

A visitor at midnight?

Who knew? She hardly knew her landlord.

Blake Samford was the only son of the local
squattocracy—squattocracies being the slang term for families who’d been granted
huge tracts of land when Australia had first been opened to settlers and had
steadily increased their fortunes since. The Corella Valley holding was
impressive, but deserted. Blake had lived here as a baby but his mother had
taken him away when he was six. The district had hardly seen him since.

This, however, was his longest visit for years. He’d arrived
three days ago. He was getting over appendicitis, he’d told her, taking the
opportunity to get the farm ready for sale. His father had been dead for six
months. It was time to sell.

She’d warned him the river was rising. He’d shrugged.

‘If I’m trapped, I might as well be truly trapped.’

If he was having visitors at midnight, they’d be trapped with

Maybe it’s a woman, she thought, sinking back into bed as the
car stopped and footsteps headed for Blake’s side of the house—the grand
entrance. Maybe he’d decided if he was to be trapped he needed company. Was this
a woman ready to risk all to reach her lover?

Who knew? Who knew anything about Blake Samford?

Blake was a local yet not a local. She’d seen him sporadically
as a kid—making compulsory access visits to his bully of a father, the locals
thought—but as far as she knew he hadn’t come near when his father had been ill.
Given his father’s reputation, no one blamed him. Finally she’d met him at the

She’d gone to the funeral because she’d been making daily
medical checks on the old man for the last few months of his life. His
reputation had been appalling, but he’d loved his dogs so she’d tried to
convince herself he hadn’t been all bad. Also, she’d needed to talk to his son
about the dogs. And her idea.

She hadn’t even been certain Blake would come but he’d been
there— Blake Samford, all grown up. And stunning. The old ladies whispered that
he’d inherited his mother’s looks. Maggie had never known his mother, but she
was definitely impressed by the guy’s appearance—strong, dark, riveting. But not
friendly. He’d stood aloof from the few locals present, expressionless, looking
as if he was there simply to get things over with.

She could understand that. With Bob Samford as a father, it had
been a wonder he’d been there at all.

But Maggie had an idea that needed his agreement. It had taken
courage to approach him when the service had ended, to hand over her references
and ask him about the housekeeper’s apartment at the back of the homestead. To
offer to keep an eye on the place as well as continuing caring for the dogs his
dad had loved. Harold Stubbs, the next-door landowner, had been looking after
Bob’s cattle. The cattle still needed to be there to keep the grass down, but
Harold was getting too old to take care of two herds plus the house and the
dogs. Until Blake sold, would he like a caretaker?

Three days later a rental contract had arrived. She’d moved in
but she hadn’t heard from him since.

Until now. He was home to put the place on the market.

She’d expected nothing less. She knew it’d be sold eventually
and she was trying to come up with alternative accommodation. She did
want to go home.

But right now her attention was all on the stupidity of his
visitors driving over the bridge. Were they out of their minds?

She was tempted to pull back the drapes and look.

She heard heavy footsteps running across the veranda, and the
knocker sounded so loudly it reverberated right through the house. The dogs went
crazy. She hauled them back from the door, but as she did she heard the
footsteps recede back across the veranda, back down the steps.

The car’s motor hadn’t been cut. A car door slammed, the engine
was gunned—and it headed off the way it had come.

She held her breath as it rumbled back across the bridge.
Reaching the other side. Safe.


What on earth...?

Kids, playing the fool?

It was not her business. It was Blake’s business, she told
herself. He was home now and she was only caring for her little bit of the

Hers. Until Blake sold the house.

It didn’t matter. For now it was hers, and she was soaking up
every minute of it.

She snuggled back down under the covers—alone.

If there was one thing Maggie Tilden craved above everything
else, it was being alone.


* * *

On the other side of the wall, Blake was listening, too.
He heard the car roar over the bridge. He heard the thumps on his front door,
the running footsteps of someone leaving in a hurry, and the car retreating back
over the bridge.

He also thought whoever it was must be crazy.

He and his tenant—Maggie Tilden—had inspected the bridge
yesterday. The storm water had been pounding the aged timbers; things were being
swept fast downstream—logs, debris, some of it big. It was battering the

‘If you want to get out, you should go now,’ Maggie had said.
‘The authorities are about to close it.’

Did it matter? He’d been ordered to take three weeks off work
to recuperate from appendicitis. He needed to sort his father’s possessions, so
what difference did it make if he was stranded while he did it?

‘It’s up to you,’ Maggie had said, as if she didn’t mind either
way, and she’d headed back to her part of the house with his father’s dogs.

She kept to herself, for which he was profoundly grateful, but
now... A knock at midnight. A car going back and forth over the bridge.

Was this some friend of hers, playing the fool? Leaving
something for her at the wrong door?

Whoever they were, they’d gone.

On Maggie’s side of the house he’d heard the dogs go crazy. He
imagined her settling them. Part of him expected her to come across to check
what had just happened.

She didn’t.

Forget it, he told himself. Go back to bed.

Or open the door and make sure nothing had been left?

The knock still resonated. It had been loud, urgent, demanding

Okay, check.

He headed for the front door, stepped outside and came close to
falling over a bundle. Pink, soft...

He stooped and tugged back a fold of pink blanket.

A thick thatch of black hair. A tiny, rosebud mouth. Snub nose.
Huge dark eyes that stared upwards, struggling to focus.

A tiny baby. Three weeks at most, he thought, stunned.

Lying on his doorstep.

He scooped the infant up without thinking, staring out into the
night rather than down at the baby, willing the car to be still there, willing
there to be some sort of answer.

The bundle was warm—and moist. And alive.

A baby...

He had nothing to do with babies. Yeah, okay, he’d treated
babies during medical training. He’d done the basic paediatric stuff, but he’d
been an orthopaedic surgeon for years now, and babies hardly came into his

A baby was in his orbit now. In his arms.

He stared down at the baby, and wide eyes stared back.

A memory stabbed back. A long time ago. Thirty or more years?
Here, in this hall.

A woman with a baby, placing the baby by the door in its carry
basket, pointing at Blake and saying, ‘I’ve brought the kid his baby

After that, his memory blurred. He remembered his father
yelling, and his mother screaming invective at his father and at the woman. He
remembered the strange woman being almost hysterical.

He’d been six years old. While the grown-ups had yelled, he’d
sidled over and looked at the baby it seemed everyone was yelling about. She’d
been crying, but none of the grown-ups had noticed.

A baby sister?

He shook himself. That had been the night his mother had found
out about his father’s lover. He’d never seen either the woman or her baby

This baby was nothing to do with his history. Why was he
thinking of it now?

He should call the police. He should report an abandoned

Who looked like a baby he’d seen a long time ago?

And then he thought of Maggie, his tenant, and he remembered
the references she’d given him.

She was the district nurse and she was also a midwife.

The relief that surged over him was almost overwhelming. This
was nothing to do with him. Of course it wasn’t. The whole valley knew Maggie’s
job. If a woman wanted to abandon an unwanted child, what better way than dump
it on a woman you knew could look after it? Maybe Maggie had even cared for the
mother during her pregnancy.

‘Hey,’ he said, relaxing, even holding the baby a little
tighter now he knew what he was dealing with. The child seemed to be staring
straight up at him now, dark eyes wondering. ‘You’ve come to the wrong door.
Okay, I know you’re in trouble but you
come to
the right place—just one door down. Hold on a minute and we’ll take you to
someone who knows babies. To someone who hopefully will take responsibility for
getting you out of this mess.’

* * *

Maggie was snuggling back down under the duvet when
someone knocked on
door and the dogs went nuts

What? What now?

She’d worked hard today. She’d set up the entire clinic, moving
emergency gear from the hospital over the river, trying to get everything
organised before the bridge closed. As well as that, she’d made prenatal checks
of women on farms that were so wet right now that every able body was moving
stock and if Maggie wanted her pregnant ladies to be checked then she went to

She was really tired.

Was this another evacuation warning? Leave now before the
bridge is cut?

She’d gone to the community meeting. This house was high above
the river. Short of a tsunami travelling two hundred miles inland, nothing worse
was going to happen than the bridge would give way, the power would go and she’d
have to rely on the old kerosene fridge for a few days.


Another knock—and suddenly her irritation turned to fear. She
had eight brothers and sisters. A couple of the boys were still young enough to
be stupid. Pete... What if...?

What if the car had come with news?

Just open the door and get it over with.

Take a deep breath first.

She tucked her feet into fluffy slippers, wrapped her ancient
bathrobe around her favourite pyjamas and padded out to the back porch.

BOOK: The Surgeon's Doorstep Baby
9.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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