Questions of Trust A Medical Romance - By Sam Archer Page 0,1

way of material possessions, and relatively few ties in the city. Jake was too small to have made many friends yet. The money would last Chloe for a year, plenty of time for her to find another job; and she’d already had an expression of interest from the local paper in Pemberham. All in all, the relocation of her little family unit had been accomplished with a minimum of fuss so far.

Across the desk the doctor glanced at the registration form Chloe had filled out. ‘Immunisations are up to date.’

‘Of course.’ Obscurely, Chloe felt annoyed. She didn’t need to be patronised.

Get a grip, she thought, and drew a deep breath, Speaking less sharply, she hoped, Chloe said: ‘How did you know who we were? There, back in reception?’

He raised his eyebrows. He really did have a nice smile, she had to admit. ‘It’s a small town. Whenever somebody new registers at the practice it’s a bit of an event with the reception staff. They spread the word around as if a film star is coming to town.’

Chloe had telephoned a few days earlier to make sure there was room on the practice list for her and Jake to sign up, so as to avoid a potential wasted trip.

Dr Carlyle scanned the rest of the form and made some sort of entry on his computer. ‘Healthy chap, aren’t you?’ he beamed at Jake. On Chloe’s lap, the two-year-old squirmed shyly and buried his face in her shoulder, but peeped round to see if the doctor was still watching him.

Chloe loosened her grip on her son when his squirming threatened to spill him out of her arms. She watched him anxiously, ready to scoop him up again if he started running riot; but instead, he made his way round the desk and held up Wolf, his beloved and well-chewed soft dog toy, for Dr Carlyle to inspect. The doctor peered at it with great interest.

‘And what’s your name?’ he asked.

‘Woof,’ piped up Jake.

Chloe smiled. ‘Wolf.’ Immediately she wondered: why did I set him right? What does it matter?

‘I’ll bet Wolf likes lollipops.’ Dr Carlyle glanced across at Chloe, his eyes enquiring. For a moment she was tempted to shake her head. Then she thought, oh, why not, and nodded.

With a conjuror’s flourish the doctor produced a lollipop, holding it out of the squealing boy’s reach and trying instead to hand it to the toy. In no time Jake was chuckling in that uninhibited, heartfelt way that always seemed to be the preserve of young children alone.

Chloe watched in silence. Jake was normally a cautious, quiet little boy, wary of strangers. In less than five minutes the doctor had won his friendship, his trust.

His, maybe, she thought. Not mine.

A tap on the door interrupted the merriment. The dangly-earringed receptionist put her head in.

‘Next patient’s here, doc. Mrs Watts.’

He raised a hand in acknowledgement, turned to Chloe. ‘Nice meeting you both. You’re registered to Dr Okoro and Jake is to me. That all right?’

‘Fine. Thanks.’ Chloe stood. Jake, seeing they were about to leave, began to pout, a tell-tale quiver starting in his lower lip. He clutched Wolf to his chest and lowered his head in a frown of defiance.

‘Whoops,’ said Dr Carlyle. ‘You nearly forgot this.’ He held out the lollipop.

Jake seized it with a whoop. Chloe took the opportunity to grasp his other hand.

‘What do you say?’

‘Thank you,’ the little boy announced solemnly. Dr Carlyle grinned, ruffled his hair.

‘Remember to brush, or I’ll get in trouble with the dentist down the road.’

The tantrum aborted, Jake allowed Chloe to steer him to the door.

‘Thank you, doctor,’ she said.

He smiled. ‘Tom.’

In the car park outside, as she strapped Jake into his seat in the back of her Astra, Chloe thought: Tom? Isn’t that a bit overfamiliar for a first meeting, especially with a doctor?

He’d been great with Jake, she had to give him that. He was friendly, and she imagined he had a good bedside manner. And, of course, his looks no doubt made him popular with the ladies attending the surgery, who probably made up ailments just so they could consult him.

But he was who he was, and represented what he did, and Chloe couldn’t forget that.


‘Oh, no, no, dear. Let me get those.’

The woman had appeared out of nowhere, a short figure with a busy walk and a wild nest of grey hair that looked as if it had resisted all attempts at taming. Deftly she grabbed the bottom of one of