Authors: Lucy Clark
‘I’ve just re-read his preliminary findings, which were published in the latest medical journal.’
‘But that study is closed. There’s no way we could get Mya onto it and, besides, she’d have to go to Sydney.’
‘That’s not entirely accurate. The study has new funding to test the drug in different climates to see if there is any difference. Australia has a great range of temperatures with, for example, places like Tasmania being almost twenty degrees cooler than Adelaide at the same time of year, which is why he’s received approval to expand the study.’
‘Do you really think you can get Mya onto the study?’ For the first time in their discussion there was a thread of hope in Sean’s words.
Jane smiled warmly and nodded. ‘Ninety-five per cent sure.’ She looked at the clock on the wall, adding on the half-hour time difference for Sydney. ‘He’ll be at the hospital now. I’ll give him a call.’ Without another word she pulled out her cellphone and dialled Dr Markum’s number.
‘Hi, Al,’ she said a moment later. ‘It’s Jane. I have a patient for your study.’
Sean watched as she gave Dr Markum Mya’s immediate details before saying, ‘I have her treating doctor here, my colleague Sean Booke.’ She held her phone out to him and nodded with encouragement. ‘He’s interested.’
With that, Sean found himself discussing Mya’s treatment with one of Australia’s leading specialists in paediatric respiratory disorders, the man Jane Diamond had simply called ‘Al’. Another fifteen minutes and it was all organised. He was to email through the relevant documentation but Dr Markum seemed more than happy at the idea of accepting Mya onto his new research study.
‘I’ll have my assistant email through what you’ll need to discuss with Mya’s parents and also the consent forms. I’m more than happy to talk to the parents either via phone or internet chat. Oh, and look after our Jane,’ Dr Markum added, without breaking for breath. ‘I’m still annoyed Luc managed to snatch her away from me.’
‘I don’t follow...’ Sean remarked, looking across to where Jane stood on the ward, chatting with one of their young patients.
‘I offered Jane a job when I knew her contract with Edna Robe was almost up. Jane’s not only a brilliant doctor but a brilliant woman. She helped my own daughter two years ago to recover from an eating disorder, which leaves me heavily in her debt, so just make sure you look after her while she’s there and, hopefully, when her contract expires, she’ll finally agree to come back to Sydney and perform her miracles here.’
With that, Dr Markum rang off, leaving Sean holding Jane’s cellphone and watching her more closely. She laughed at something the young twelve-year-old boy had said as she straightened his bedsheets, her features radiating pure happiness.
She really was very natural with their patients and to hear such a glowing reference from a man of Dr Markum’s repute, as well as the fact that Luc really had head-hunted her, made Sean consider Jane in a new light. During the past weeks he’d been so determined to keep his distance from her, not wanting to discuss or relive anything to do with his past, that he was now beginning to wonder if he hadn’t under-estimated the woman Jane Diamond had turned into.
Still, the question remained—why
she turned down a man like Aloysius Markum? Surely working at a larger, more prominent hospital in Sydney was a better career move than coming here to Adelaide?
* * *
The question stayed with him for the next few weeks and he wondered if he had any right to ask her such a personal question. If he did, would it open the door to them discussing their past? Would it change the calm working relationship they’d managed to create, so much so that she no longer seemed on edge if they were left alone together?
‘I see Mya’s beginning to improve,’ Jane remarked as they came off the ward after an intensive round.
‘Are you heading up to the outpatient clinic?’ he asked, and she nodded. ‘I’ll walk with you, if that’s all right,’ he added.
‘Er...of course. We’re both going the same way.’ She shrugged her shoulders as though everything was perfectly normal.
Where they’d managed to form a calm, professional relationship during her time here, actually walking through the corridors together was something they’d avoided until now. Chatting at the nurses’ station? Fine. Discussing patients in outpatient clinic? Necessary. But this? Jane racked her brain for something to say, determined to keep everything strictly on a professional level. She knew she still needed to ask Sean if it was possible for her to see Spencer, to hopefully, in the long term, spend a good deal of time with her nephew, but for the time being she’d been comfortable developing a firm grounding, a professional appreciation, before she hit him with such a request. Even the thought of asking him churned her stomach.
‘Um, I’m so pleased Mya’s parents were agreeable to her taking part in the study. A lot of people are quite skittish when they hear the words “research project”.’ She smiled as she spoke.
‘It is good to see Mya improving.’ Silence reigned, their footsteps echoing in the unusually deserted corridor. ‘How’s your own research project going?’
‘Good. Thanks. Slowly at the moment but I’ve had two new patients sign up in the last week so that’s good news.’
Silence once more. She should talk more about her research project. That was a neutral topic. ‘Actually, the two patients who have signed up are siblings.’
‘Is that common?’
‘With twins perhaps, but this is a brother and sister, different ages, with different types of eating disorder.’
‘What does that tell you? Big trauma in their past?’
‘That’s the starting point.’
‘Are they close? The siblings?’
‘Not from our first interview.’
‘You and Daina never really got along, did you,’ Sean stated rhetorically, the words coming from his mouth before he could think about it.
Jane glanced up at him, a look of disbelief on her face, and when she answered her tone was clipped and brisk. ‘No.’
‘Why was that, do you think?’
Jane tried to control her rising temper. The one major topic that could easily rile her was the topic of Daina but, she rationalised, she knew that in returning to Adelaide, where Sean and Spencer had now made their home, it would eventually be something she’d have to discuss.
Reminding herself that it was necessary to remain on Sean’s good side if she wanted access to Spencer, she tried to control her reaction. Even if she could see her nephew only once a month, that would be terrific. She could get to know him, tell him about the grandparents he’d never known and share some of her better, happier memories with him.
Jane took a steadying breath and paused in the corridor, Sean stopping beside her. ‘Jane. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just blurted out—’
‘How well did you know Daina?
know your wife?’
At her question, Sean’s expression instantly changed to one of deep-seated pain before he quickly recovered and replaced his expression with one of benign detachment. ‘Ex-wife. We were divorced soon after Spencer was born.’
‘Really? I wasn’t aware of that.’ But she was aware of the bitterness he’d been unable to disguise from his tone. ‘So if you know what she was really like, how can you ask me that?’
Sean clenched his jaw and gritted his teeth. ‘Whenever I do let myself think of her, I try to remember her the way she was during those first few months of our marriage, before...’ He stopped. ‘I do it for Spencer.’ He shook his head. ‘He doesn’t need to know the truth about his mother. Not now, at any rate.’
Jane nodded. ‘I can understand that because the truth of who Daina really was, of the emotional pain she was capable of inflicting, is just too painful to remember, isn’t it?’
‘Yes.’ His lips barely moved as he spoke, then he exhaled harshly and shook his head. ‘Why did you come here, Jane? From what I understand, you had several job offers. Why dredge up all these old emotions? Daina is dead. There’s nothing you or I can do to change the past.’
‘I don’t want to change the past, Sean.’
you want, Jane?’
‘I want to change my future...and I want that future to include Spencer.’
ANE LET HERSELF
into her room, which was situated in the hospital’s residential wing. At least she’d managed to obtain a room with an en suite and small kitchenette. At the moment it was ideal, living in such close proximity to the hospital, as it lifted the pressure of finding somewhere more permanent. She could concentrate on her patients and research project and not have to worry about traffic or where to garage a car. There were shops nearby, which provided everything she required, and a good public transport service to assist her if she needed more.
It was now the beginning of February and thanks to daylight saving there was no need for her to turn on the lights, but at the moment she wished the room were in darkness. It was half past seven in the evening and she was exhausted. Not only that, she couldn’t believe she’d blurted out her sole purpose for returning to Adelaide to the one man who had total control over her request.
After she’d stated she wanted Spencer to be in her life, Sean had glared at her, his frown returning, before he’d shaken his head and walked away. Trembling with anxiety, Jane had found it almost impossible to shelve her own personal problems enough to concentrate on the clinic, highly conscious of keeping a safe distance from Sean at all times.
However, when she’d been introduced to Tessa, a young girl of six who she’d ended up admitting due to a bad urinary tract infection, one of the symptoms associated with eating disorders, Jane had pushed her own issues to the back of her mind. When the clinic ended, Jane quickly grabbed a bite to eat from the hospital’s cafeteria, before heading back to the ward to see how Tessa was settling in.
‘She’s very quiet. Not speaking,’ Anthea told her. ‘She didn’t want to stay but didn’t want to go home either.’
‘Hmm.’ Jane processed this information. ‘OK. Have the night staff keep a close eye on her and call me if there are any concerns. I’m staying in the residential wing so I can come right over.’
‘I’ll make a note in her file.’ Anthea’s words had been soft and the two of them stood there, watching the little girl, for a few more minutes, Jane’s concern rising. With Tessa being so unsettled, as well as not feeling well because of the urinary tract infection, this first night might be hard for her.
Now as Jane lay down on the bed, taking off her glasses and kicking off her shoes, she couldn’t ignore the niggling sensation that there was something going on with Tessa that no one was aware of. Little girls of six only had eating disorders if something else was very wrong in their lives.
Her phone started ringing and Jane sluggishly opened her eyes, reaching out her hand to the nightstand, patting around until she located it. It was only then she realised she’d dozed off, still completely dressed and lying on top of the bed covers.
‘Oh, uh...Jane, is it?’
‘I’m calling from the ward. There’s a note in Tessa’s file to call you if—’
‘I’m on my way,’ Jane interrupted, as she quickly disconnected the call and hunted around in the now-dark room for her shoes. Collecting her glasses and the hospital lanyard, which contained her hospital pass key as well as the key to her room, Jane headed back to the hospital, smoothing a hand down her hair to ensure it wasn’t sticking out all over the place.
‘Thanks for coming,’ the night sister said. ‘Tessa’s been lying in her bed, whimpering and crying softly. Every time one of us gets near her, she stops, closes her eyes tight and completely ignores us.’
‘OK. Thanks.’ Jane nodded politely at the sister before heading to Tessa’s bed. Although there were other children in the ward, she didn’t want to pull the curtain around Tessa’s bed for privacy because if the little girl had been abused in some way, which was the way Jane’s intuition was leading her, then the last thing Tessa would want was to have herself ‘cut off’, as it were, from the rest of the ward.
Instead, Jane walked quietly over to Tessa’s bedside, her heart almost breaking at the whimpering sound coming from the child. Just as the night sister had stated, Tessa immediately stopped the instant she realised there was an adult present.
‘Hi, Tessa. It’s me. Dr Jane. We met before.’
‘I’m really a bit tired. Do you mind if I sit down here for a minute or two?’
Again no answer.
‘Thanks,’ she remarked, and sat in the chair beside Tessa’s bed. Jane remained silent to begin with then quietly began to sing, her soothing, clear voice audible to the rest of the small ward but not disturbing any of the other patients.
When one song finished, Jane would be quiet for a few minutes before starting another song. After an hour the night sister quietly walked over, handed Jane a bottle of water, gave her a thumbs-up and a nod of approval before leaving them alone.
Jane gratefully took a sip of the cool water before starting on another song. When she’d finished that one, she settled back in the chair and relaxed.
‘Can I hear another one?’ a little timid voice asked, when Jane hadn’t started the next song for a good five minutes.
Jane’s answer was to start singing again. No need for words or questions, the melodious sound of her voice was having a positive effect on Tessa and that was all that mattered. Another hour later Jane couldn’t help but smother a yawn, pleased to note that Tessa was now in a deep, relaxed sleep.
Very slowly, Jane stood from the chair, stretching out her tired limbs before heading over to the nurses’ station. She wanted to take a closer look at Tessa’s case notes, eager to try and find something, anything, that would give her some clues as to what was really going on in the little girl’s life.
‘That was beautiful,’ the night sister said, and Jane smiled her thanks.
‘Agreed. I never knew you had such a lovely voice.’ The deep words were spoken from directly behind her and Jane spun round, coming face to face with Sean. Unfortunately, she’d moved too quickly, making herself light-headed.