‘There’s a portable blood-pressure monitor in my bag.’
‘Great.’ He hauled it out and wrapped the cuff around Robert’s arm before pumping it up to check his BP. ‘It’s low but the adrenaline should bring it back up soon.’
‘How are you feeling now, Robert?’ CJ asked gently.
‘OK, but I need you to stay awake, just for a bit longer. We’re going to get you to hospital where you’ll be pampered like a prince.’
‘Whitecorn?’ The question from Robert was weak.
‘No. Pridham, that way you’ll be nice and close to Amanda.’
‘I’m here, darling.’
CJ watched as Amanda knelt down and bent to kiss her husband’s cheek. Even at their age, they were still there for each other. CJ rubbed a hand over her stomach, making a silent promise that she’d always be there for her child—no matter what. She glanced up and was startled to find Ethan watching her. They shared a brief moment when they seemed to connect on such a personal level, then he returned his attention back to their patient.
CJ followed suit and concentrated on the stings. ‘The swelling seems to be reducing,’ she told Robert. ‘Does it still hurt a lot?’
‘I’ve had worse.’
Amanda’s concerned laugh helped lift the mood. ‘That’s the spirit.’
‘Ambulance is here,’ Tania called.
Just before they shifted Robert onto the stretcher, Ethan took his blood pressure again and was happy to report it had improved dramatically.
‘Told you you’d be fine,’ CJ reassured Robert as the stretcher was manoeuvred into the rear of the ambulance.
Donna arrived home from the shops and was quickly being brought up to date on the situation.
‘I’ll travel in the ambulance with him,’ Amanda said. ‘Could someone bring my car to the hospital?’
‘I’ll arrange it,’ replied Donna. ‘CJ, you and Ethan go get Robert settled in and, Ethan—’ Donna fixed him with a determined look ‘—afterwards I want you to take CJ home and make sure she has a rest.’
‘Here are your bags, CJ,’ Tania said as she came running out from the house. She smiled at Ethan. ‘See you tomorrow.’
Ethan escorted CJ back to his car after thanking Donna for a wonderful morning.
‘I can drop you home first.’
‘I can drop you at home first and then go to the hospital to see Robert settled.’
‘It’s all right. Robert might get worried about me if I don’t turn up.’
‘I’ll tell him you’re having a rest. It’s what pregnant mothers do.’
‘Still, I don’t want to worry him. He likes to fuss over me as his own grandchildren live too far away.’
‘It appears most of the town of Pridham—and Whitecorn, for that matter—love to fuss over you.’
‘Yes. It’s nice.’
He could imagine it would be for her. She wouldn’t take it for granted either. Instead, it was obvious she appreciated every single person’s protective attitude towards her and her unborn child.
It didn’t take them long to get Robert settled and once CJ was satisfied with her patient’s vital signs, Ethan took her home.
‘Off to bed, sleepyhead.’
‘OK.’ She stifled a yawn and shuffled off towards her bedroom. ‘Wake me if anything exciting happens.’
That was the last Ethan saw of her for the rest of the day. He knew she’d wake up an hour or so later and specifically made sure he was out of the house. He went for a drive, enjoying the scenery and the ambience of the area. It was relaxing, colourful and a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
When he returned it was night-time and again there was no sign of her. He went to his room and got ready for bed. He had clinic tomorrow morning and house calls in the afternoon. Although the pace was different from Sydney, the patients still had real complaints and he owed it to them to be alert.
He glanced over at the clock. It was only nine-thirty and here he was, tucked up in bed. If his colleagues could see him now, they’d laugh. Perhaps it was the manual labour he’d done that morning that was making him feel so exhausted. ‘Or maybe it’s the way you can’t seem to get CJ out of your head,’ he muttered, and buried his head beneath the pillow, forcing his thoughts in a completely different direction.
FOUR-FIFTEEN. The digital clock had to be wrong. He’d been tossing and turning for hours. Surely it was almost morning! He flung the covers back, climbed from the bed and pulled on his robe. He needed a drink, and not just water from the bathroom tap.