‘Well, in my marriage…’ She hesitated for a moment, then continued. ‘I may as well tell you because you’ll no doubt hear my sad tale from the gossips in town.’
‘You don’t have to.’
‘I’d rather you hear it from me, without the added embellishments. You see, my husband was having affairs. I, of course, was the last to know.’
‘That…er…would have been…devastating.’ Ethan shifted uncomfortably in his chair and took another bite of his apple.
‘I guess I’d known our marriage wasn’t working for some time as we rarely spent time together.’
Ethan’s gaze momentarily dropped to look at her pregnant belly before meeting her eyes again, the lift of his eyebrows stating he believed otherwise.
‘Well…clearly we spent some time together, but it was the last time as well.’ CJ suddenly realised she was full and put the lids back on the food jars in front of her, just like she’d put the lid on her marriage, and shoved those memories back onto the shelf.
‘You’re very open, very trusting,’ Ethan blurted. ‘I’ve never met anyone like you before, CJ.’ He put the apple down. ‘I’m practically a stranger to you and yet I’m living in your home. Did you do any background checks on me? Did you research me?’
‘Of course I did. I may try my best to be open and honest, as I find it avoids confusion, but I’m not naive, Ethan. I checked out your references and spoke to a few mutual acquaintances.’
‘What? Who do we know in common?’
‘I have several colleagues and friends at St. Aloysius Hospital.’
‘Yes. I did my training there.’
‘Huh.’ He picked up his apple and took another bite. ‘I didn’t know that but, then, I know less about you then you clearly know about me. So, who do we know in common?’
‘Carol Blacheffski. Steve Smith. Patrick Janoa. Melody Janeway.’ She raised her eyebrows as she said the last name.
‘You know my sister?’
She nodded. ‘I know her well enough to ensure you weren’t an axe-wielding homicidal maniac.’
Ethan sat up a little straighter in his chair. ‘Wait a second. You know her? She told me she found the job in the classified section of a medical journal.’
‘She did. I advertised for the locum then, as she knew me, she called me and we talked.’
CJ laughed and slowly started to ease herself up out of the chair. ‘Clearly.’
‘You both set me up!’ He put the half-eaten apple onto the table and glared at her.
‘How is this a set-up?’ She spread her arms wide, as though she had no earthly idea what he was on about. ‘I need a locum.’ CJ gestured to her pregnant frame. ‘The fact I was able to get a brilliant surgeon to come and cover my leave was a godsend. Trying to get a GP out here, in a small tourist town, for any length of time is bad enough as all the newly qualified doctors want to get their foot in the door at the big city practices and start earning the big bucks. You, on the other hand, needed some respite and to downsize your workload. Melody thought it was just what the doctor ordered.’ CJ grinned at the pun.
‘So you were organising me.’
‘I wasn’t. Your sister, on the hand, might have been. She sounded very worried about you.’
‘And you didn’t think to mention this to me earlier, that you knew Mel?’
‘I thought you knew!’ CJ spread her arms wide again before sighing heavily. ‘It wasn’t some big conspiracy and why does it matter how things transpired? The point is, you’re here now and I’m very grateful.’ Clearly Ethan was upset at this news but right now, with a small foot shifting awkwardly across her abdomen, she wasn’t in the mood to have an in-depth conversation on the matter. She rubbed the baby, trying to ease the little one into a more comfortable position.
‘Wait. Did my sister know I’d be sharing accommodation with you?’
‘Uh…’ CJ thought back to the conversation but her forgetful pregnancy brain made it difficult. ‘I think so.’ She shook her head and smothered a yawn. ‘I honestly can’t remember, Ethan, and I’m tired now so I think I’ll go brush my teeth again and head back to bed. Gotta be up in another three hours.’
‘Actually, before you go, there’s something I need to say.’
When she looked at him, it was to find him standing rigid in the middle of the kitchen, arms crossed over his chest. ‘What’s that?’
‘Uh… I think it’s best if I find somewhere else to live.’