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Could she? Would he be completely undressed and ready for her? She whipped around. There he was. Fully dressed and still looking good enough to eat. She almost gave a sigh of disappointment. ‘Straighten your tie,’ she said as she pointed at the crooked tie. ‘I’d do it for you but I’m not allowed to touch.’

He gave her a sarcastic smile as he straightened his tie. ‘I don’t really work for the President. I’m just on his list.’

‘What does that mean—on his list?’

Luke shrugged his shoulders. ‘I think they just like to cover all eventualities. I was approached a few years ago and asked if I would be the President’s cardiologist. They ran a huge number of checks on me, with my permission of course, and after a few months came back and explained that they would call if I was needed.’

‘I thought all the President’s doctors were from the military?’

Luke shrugged his shoulders. ‘They usually are. But the military doesn’t cover all areas. The President’s physician is from the military and he’s in charge of the White House medical unit. But some of the other specialists are like me—just called in when, and if, they’re needed. Dr Blair was Jennifer Taylor’s family obstetrician. She brought him with her, because it’s been a long time since the White House needed an obstetrician.’

‘So you’ve never actually met him?’

Luke shook his head. ‘No, and today was the first time I’d met the First Lady too.’

‘And here was me thinking that you were their best friend! I guess it didn’t hurt that you were connected?’

His face darkened. ‘I’d like to think they contacted me because of my professional expertise, rather than the fact my father’s a senator.’

Abby flinched. Well, that was one way to dampen the sexual tension in the room. She should have known better. Luke’s relationship with his father was strained enough, without her insinuating that he’d been given an easy route into a prestigious position. She’d forgotten how much he prickled at the mere mention of his father. ‘I’m sure they did.’ She held open the nearby door, allowing some cool, fresh air into the claustrophobic changing room—just what they both needed—and resisting the temptation to look and see if the telltale bulge in his trousers was under control yet. ‘Are you ready? Let’s go and get you that four-shot coffee you wanted.’

‘Actually, I’m not strictly a four-shot drinker any more. I’ve mellowed.’

Abby choked in disbelief at the words. ‘You? Mellowed? Well, I never thought I’d see the day!’

He quirked an eyebrow at her. ‘I might surprise you.’

He grabbed the door and fell into step beside her, his arm draping easily across her shoulders, like it was the most natural thing in the world. And it was.

She gave him a sideways smile. ‘Luke?’

‘Yeah?’

‘We’re going to have to have some rules about touching…’

CHAPTER THREE

THE canteen was small and informal, nothing like the chaotic and bustling university hospital canteen Luke was used to.

‘Your usual, Abby?’ the assistant called from behind the serving counter.

‘Thanks, Jan.’ She turned and looked at Luke. ‘What would you like?’

Luke resisted the temptation to say what came to mind and looked around, puzzled. The place was immaculate but he couldn’t exactly see what food was on offer. ‘What’s your usual?’

Abby gave a little smile and glanced at her watch. ‘You probably expect me to have something healthy like fruit juice and an apple but, at this time of day, and because nine times out of ten I miss lunch, it’s a latte and one of Jan’s homemade pancakes.’

‘Mmm, that sounds good. I’ll have the same.’

‘Make that two, Jan,’ she shouted over her shoulder.

Luke stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out some money as two steaming tall latte glasses appeared, followed by two plates with hot pancakes. His stomach growled loudly at the appetising aroma, reminding him how long it had been since he’d eaten.

Abby waved her arm. ‘Put your money away— I’ve got a tab.’ She lifted the tray and walked over to a nearby table, sitting down and handing him his latte glass and plate. The canteen was quiet, with only a few other people sitting at the surrounding tables.

Luke leaned over and took a deep breath. ‘Mmm, this smells great. I haven’t had home-made pancakes in years.’

Abby bit her lip. When they’d lived together as medical students home-made pancakes had been one of their Sunday-morning rituals, along with a number of other things… Luke obviously didn’t remember. Maybe reliving the past wasn’t as good as Abby thought it was.

He looked around him. Sunlight was streaming though the nearby window, which overlooked the lush green gardens. The canteen was at the back of the hospital, facing onto the hills. The garden beds were packed with brightly coloured flowers and obviously well tended. The bushes were shaped and trimmed into neat round circles. So instead of feeling deprived of the ocean view, this really was a little piece of paradise.

‘So how long have you worked here, Abby?’

She took a sip of her coffee. ‘For the last five years. I was lucky, I was able to transfer from Washington to San Francisco on my residency programme. And when I got here, the programme included covering shifts down here. They never needed to ask me twice. Once I was qualified, the paediatrician post came up that included coverage down here and I leapt at the chance.’

Luke nodded. Things started slotting into place. She’d transferred almost immediately after they’d broken up. It wasn’t easy to swap residency programmes, so someone must have pulled some strings. He watched as Abby spread butter over her pancake.

‘What, no syrup?’

She shook her head. ‘My tastes have changed— just like yours.’ She pointed to his coffee.

Luke blinked. What did she mean, her tastes had changed? Was that a dig at him? She hadn’t kissed him as though her tastes had changed. She’d kissed him as though they’d never been apart. The silence in the air was heavy between them.

Luke opened his mouth to speak again but she interrupted him.

‘So what have you been doing in Washington? I’ve seen your name on a couple of research papers.’

‘You have?’ His eyes lit up with genuine excitement. His job was his passion. But more than that, she’d obviously been keeping tabs on his work. Why would she do that if she wasn’t interested? ‘Well, you’ll have seen I’ve helped in the development and clinical trials of one of the newer types of stents.’

She nodded in appreciation, her mouth now stuffed with pancake.

‘I’ve also been doing some drug trials—some in kids with cardiac conditions. I’ve been working with a paediatrician called Lisa Jones. Do you know her?’

It was all she could do not to choke on her pancake. Abby nodded again. Oh, she knew her all right. Lisa Jones, paediatrician extraordinaire—or so you would believe if you spoke to her. ‘Luscious Lisa’, her friends called her. Along with the motto Never leave your man alone in a room with her. Lisa did most of her best work in the horizontal position, especially around promotion time.

Her eyes were automatically drawn to Luke. With his blond hair, pale blue eyes and surfer-boy build and tan, he would be a prime target for Lisa. Something that made her feel physically sick. She pushed her pancake away.

‘So what exactly has Lisa been doing for you?’

Luke raised his eyebrows at the tone in her voice. ‘She’s been identifying suitable candidates for the study,’ he said pointedly. He bent forward and took a sip of his coffee. ‘I can see you’re obviously not in her fan club.’

‘Show me a woman that is.’

He shook his head. ‘She’s actually really clever and has a good grasp of the research ethics and principles required for drug trials.’

‘That’s not all she usually has a good grasp of.’

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