Blake turned his head to hide a grin. So Ms. Prim and Professional was human after all. The stain of color that darkened her brown skin pleased him. She seemed every bit as aware of him as he was of her.
Maybe he should tell her he had no intention of leaving Hudson View, but he wanted to see if he could break through her stiff exterior. Ms. Ginny Barr was one fine woman. He inhaled her subtle perfume. In the past, he’d met and dated beautiful women and had appreciated them the way any man would. His intense and potent reaction to Ginny Barr surprised him.
He frowned. Some vague memory of having seen her before arose. No way, he thought. If he’d met her, he would have pursued the acquaintance. He planned to do just that, but not today. Her wariness intrigued him; her coldness presented a challenge.
After they returned to the nurses’ station, he smiled. “Thanks for the tour. I’m looking forward to our next meeting.”
Frost gathered in her eyes. She walked away. Instead of leaving, he leaned against the counter and watched the sway of her hips. Once she vanished, he headed to the elevators. Before going to the office and a meeting with his father’s partners, he wanted to stop in Coronary Care.
Four days ago, the call from Mrs. Connor, the family’s housekeeper, had accelerated his plans to leave the university. Though he would have welcomed another year as part of a prestigious team, his father’s heart attack had made Blake realize he and his father needed each other.
Blake had been an infant when the Marshalls had adopted him. He’d grown up in a white home. As for his birth parents, he’d never asked questions or entertained curiosity about them. His adoptive parents had given him love, security and education. Unlike so many adopted children, he had never rebelled.
Not like Susan, and she hadn’t had adoption as an excuse. From infancy, his blonde, green-eyed sister had fought every rule and restriction. When their mother died, Blake had been in his last year of medical school and too involved in building his career to have time for Susan. She’d chosen the wrong friends and the wrong activities. Three years ago, she’d become a runaway and a year later had died. For months, Blake’s guilt had been a hot flame. Even now, the remains lay like embers waiting to flare again.
He paused outside the door of the cardiac unit and calmed his emotions. His father had never blamed anyone but himself for not being there for Susan, and Charles Marshall had understood Blake’s need to immerse himself in surgery.
After pushing the door open, he strode past the desk and stopped in the doorway of his father’s room. How old and drawn he looked, Blake thought. Funny how he’d always imagined his father as ageless.
Charles Marshall opened his eyes. “I thought you’d be in surgery. I had a knee on this morning’s schedule.”
“Greg suggested I take today to look things over and settle in.” Blake recalled the hint of anger in Greg’s voice when he heard Blake’s plans to remain in Hudson View. “Tomorrow, there’s a knee replacement and a hip pinning. I’ll scrub on them.”
“What do you think of the ortho unit?”
Charles Marshall laughed and the patina of age vanished from his face. “The unit, not the coordinator.”
“It works.” Blake stared at the wall. What had that woman done to him?
The older man leaned back against the pillows. “Speaking of Ginny Barr. Didn’t I tell you she was the best thing to happen at Hudson View for ages?”
“She seems to be in control of the unit.” The blatant admiration in his father’s voice alarmed Blake. Just what was going on?
“Is that all you’re going to say. Ginny’s bright and she’s gutsy. She’s risen through the ranks and has a number of projects in the works for improving patient care. Since I’m knocked out of action, I hope you’ll lend her your support.” He winked. “She’s a lovely woman.”
A protest rose in Blake’s thoughts. Then he saw the grin on his father’s face. Blake shook his head. There was no way he would let his father play matchmaker. He could handle the situation on his own. For some reason, the prim Ms. Barr didn’t like him, but she offered a challenge he couldn’t resist.