Home > Prognosis Incompatible

Prognosis Incompatible
Author: Amy Andrews



MADELINE HARRINGTON was grateful for the air-conditioning in her car as she pulled up at the roadworks. There was heavy earthmoving machinery blocking the way and, as the heat rose in visible waves off the black tar of the road, she’d never been more pleased to have an indoor job. The worker holding the stop sign looked hot and sweaty, his skin an unhealthy weathered brown.

Skin cancer just waiting to happen.

It was hard to believe, watching Brisbane shimmer in the afternoon sun, that she’d been in the throes of a British winter only twenty-four hours ago. Jackets and gloves and woollen hats. As she’d flown out of Heathrow the temperature had just managed to struggle into positive figures.

If London had been a fridge, Brisbane felt like a furnace!

Maddy yawned and shut her eyes briefly as the overwhelming fatigue of jet lag took hold. She sighed as it gathered her into its folds but fought her way out again a minute later, rubbing her eyes to ease the grittiness. The road blockage didn’t look like it was going to clear any time soon and she desperately wanted a shower.

Wanted her bed.

Her gaze wandered to the neighbourhood skate park where teenagers rode their skateboards up and down the curved cement walls. The doctor in her saw all the horrible possibilities but the uncoordinated female admired their skill and lack of fear.

A man entered her line of vision, expertly negotiating the bumps and ramps and shooting up off the wall, his skateboard staying miraculously attached to his feet even in mid-air, and landing again like he was riding a wave instead of unforgiving concrete. He was at least twenty years older than the other riders but somehow managed not to look ridiculous despite the age difference.

He was wearing a raggedy pair of cut-off denim shorts and nothing else. His chest was magnificent, tanned, the abdominal muscles well defined — cut, wasn’t that what it was called these days? He pirouetted perfectly, one end of the board in the air, the other grounded, and her eyes were drawn downwards to his powerful quads flexing and straining to maintain balance.

She could see the hairs covering his legs were dark brown even from this distance. A smattering of the same covered his pecs and narrowed to a fine trail that disappeared behind the waistband of his shorts. His head, too, was crowned with brown hair, short around the back and sides and longer on top.

Why wasn’t he wearing a helmet? Macho idiot.

He looked like the stereotypical bronzed Aussie, at home in the outdoors, kicking a footy or surfing. Except today his choice of wave was concrete instead of water. Maybe he was some kind of adrenaline junkie — any wave would do?

The thought horrified Maddy almost as much as it fascinated. How would it be to spend your life bumming around skate parks? Or the beach? No responsibilities. No worries. No patients to see. No lives to be responsible for. No beepers. No mobile phones.

But wait...he appeared to be with a little boy who looked about six or seven. His son? There were definite similarities between the two. The boy looked at him with total admiration and the man ruffled his hair as he helped him on his skateboard. He stood back as the boy performed a trick and clapped loudly as he successfully completed it.

At least the kid was wearing a helmet.

The man lifted the boy up on his shoulders and spun him around. The kid held on and laughed, his head thrown back, the sunshine accentuating his exhilaration.

Madeline felt a weird pull low down. The man had dimples. He was gorgeous! Pure male. One hundred per cent testosterone. The boy obviously loved him and strangely enough that made him even more attractive.

Looking at him made Maddy...restless and a feeling that something was seriously missing from her life reared its ugly head.

God! She must be tired. Since when had overtly masculine dudes been her type? Spoken for ones at that? She returned her attention to the roadworks, suddenly desperate to get away from this inexplicable transient attraction, but the red stop sign was still stubbornly facing her way.

Resisting for only a beat or two she snuck another glance at skater boy and found herself wondering what it would be like to be with a man like him. Despite the...casual vibe, there was a presence about him that reached across the fifty-odd metres that separated them.

He looked like he knew what he was doing. What he wanted and where he was going. He looked dominant and in command.

Laughing again, he jumped back on his board and Maddy recognised something else about him. He looked like he knew how to have fun. To laugh at the world and himself.

Also how to kiss a woman. How to pleasure one.

She shivered and turned the air-con down. Kiss? Pleasure?

Where the hell had that come from?

OK, it had been a while. Seven weeks since she and her fiancé had split up, and several months more since they’d last been intimate. But hell, that had never really been the focus of their relationship and re-establishing the family practice had taken up all her time and energy over the last two years, anyway.

She hadn’t had time for carnal thoughts. Neither of them had.

They’d barely seen each other for months, with her work and his long shifts at the hospital and studying for his exams. Him calling the engagement off in the middle of it all had been just one more thing on her plate. She’d been confused when he’d said he needed time apart.

How much more apart did he want?

But she doubted it would be permanent — a decade of history was hard to walk away from forever.

Skater boy laughed again and oozed sex appeal all over the park. It brought her temporarily out-of-order relationship with Simon into sharp contrast. Frankly, she couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, just looking at Simon had made her think sexual thoughts.

Maddy shook her head - it was just jet lag responsible for these uncharacteristic thoughts. Sex and sexual urges had never ruled her life. She’d been thrown one too many curve balls to be a free-loving kind of girl. For goodness sake! She was a thirty-year-old doctor, she’d seen more naked men in her life than she’d had hot dinners.

Why would looking at barely-dressed skater guy have any effect? Why did his chest and his thighs and his laugh make her want things she’d never wanted before?

A car horn blasted from behind and Maddy was relieved to see the sign had been turned to the yellow ‘slow’ side. She accelerated away probably a little more quickly than the sign had indicated but she was grateful for something else to do, some respite from her jumbled jet-lagged thoughts.

But it didn’t prevent her from catching one last glimpse of the man in her rear-view mirror. Prevent her from feeling another twinge of discontent.

Damn him. Her life was just fine.

Just. Fine.

Madeline pulled up outside work a few hours later. She’d unpacked. She’d had a shower. She felt slightly revived. But the fog of fatigue still clung to her and she’d known she’d had to get out of the house before she’d succumbed to her bed and the seductive lure of sleep.

It was way too early to go to bed despite her exhaustion. If she went now she’d be awake at three in the morning with no hope of going back to sleep. So a quick catch-up trip into work late on a quiet Saturday afternoon was the perfect diversion.

She noticed the next-door shop, which had been empty when she’d left, was in the process of a fit-out. A painter was admiring his handiwork, putting the finishing touches to the signage on the glass sliding door.

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