‘Just a heads up, CJ. Ethan Janeway’s arrived. He came to the clinic to collect the key to the house and I told him you were at the supermarket. Did he find you?’
‘Yes. Yes, he found me. We’ll head back to the house so I can put the shopping away and then come over to the clinic. Nothing urgent?’
‘No. Just wanted to make sure you’d met our new locum.’
‘OK. See you soon.’ CJ disconnected the call and paid for her groceries, watching Ethan put the bags into the trolley and begin to push it outside. He was definitely considerate. Hopefully that was a good sign that he would fit well into the town, the medical practice and the shared accommodation.
‘Where’s your car?’
‘Over there.’ She pointed to the silver Mercedes.
She shrugged. ‘Not really my kind of car. It was my husband’s,’ she explained. ‘It gets me from here to there and, at the moment that’s all that counts.’ They unloaded the shopping…well, Ethan unloaded the shopping, glaring harshly at her when she attempted to lift a bag. ‘I used to walk most places but now…’ she rubbed the heel of her hand over a part of her abdomen, pushing gently on the little foot that was underneath her ribs ‘…it’s kind of impossible.’ She took her keys out of her handbag. ‘Did you walk or drive here?’
‘OK. Follow me in your car and we’ll take this stuff back to the house.’
‘Then to the clinic.’ He nodded. ‘I heard your conversation.’ With that, he headed towards a red car parked opposite hers. The car immediately drew her attention. It was vintage with a soft top and leather seats.
‘Wow! This is yours?’
CJ headed over to the vintage car and ran her fingertips lovingly over the rim of the door. The soft top was down, which gave her a complete view of the leather upholstered seats and wooden panelled dash board. ‘It’s in great condition.’
‘I’ve had it restored.’
‘Did you do it?’
‘Most of it but my brother’s a mechanic so I let him help.’
‘Big of you.’ She grinned and continued to walk around the car as she spoke, inspecting and admiring it as she went. ‘May I have a quick look at the engine?’ She’d come to stand before him, her green eyes glazed with an honest passion that Ethan found intriguing.
‘Of course.’ He lifted the concertina hood and stood back.
* * *
Ethan was momentarily taken aback by her knowledge. He’d yet to meet a woman who understood cars. Now it appeared he’d met one—a pregnant one at that. ‘Uh, thanks.’ He scratched his head. ‘How do you know so much about cars?’
‘My dad. He used to restore them when I was a kid.’ She shrugged one shoulder. ‘I helped.’ Her smile was still wide with delight. ‘I think I should let you know that I will be begging for a ride or two while you’re here.’
‘Of course,’ he said again. He lowered the hood and when she didn’t say anything else, he gestured to her car. ‘Shall we get going?’
‘Yes. The ice cream’s already started melting. Lucky it’s not the height of summer.’ He watched as she walked back to her car. What a unique woman. He shook his head as though to clear it from thoughts of CJ Nicholls—Dr CJ Nicholls, he corrected, who he’d discovered didn’t look a day over eighteen, was heavily pregnant and had a passion for vintage cars. Definitely not the type of woman he was usually interested in, but she was definitely intriguing.
It wasn’t the fact that she was pregnant that was presently bothering him, but the fact that they’d be sharing a house. Being around pregnant women wasn’t his thing. He didn’t shy away from them, and he’d proved that when his brother and sister-in-law had had their second child. He’d been the dutiful uncle, visiting in hospital, cooing and making all the right noises, but at the end of the day he’d returned to the peace and quiet of his apartment.
Living, for the next six months, in the same house with the temporarily pregnant CJ Nicholls and soon-to-be newborn baby wasn’t what he’d signed up for. He wished he’d known the intricate particulars prior to his arrival because if he had, he wouldn’t have come. Perhaps there was a hotel he could stay at, or an apartment he could rent, but both of those would take time to organise and would be exceptionally expensive.
He was still annoyed he’d been forced to take a sabbatical from the excessively busy hospital where he’d worked non-stop for the past six years. When he’d ranted and raved to his sister, Melody, rhetorically asking her what he was supposed to do with his time, especially as he’d finished working on his research project, she’d pitched the idea of being a locum in a quiet country town.