'Isn't she the most gorgeous baby you've ever seen?'
Vicky cuddled her new niece and hid her grin. If anyone had told her a year ago that her middle brother would be completely besotted with a baby, she'd have laughed— Seb had been the ultimate playboy and had run a mile from children. Now he was married with a daughter. And it looked as if Chloë Victoria Radley was going to have her daddy wrapped right round her tiny little finger. 'Yes, Seb. She's lovely.'
'And Alyssa and I wondered if you'd do us a favour,' Seb continued.
Babysit? Sure—except she couldn't see him letting his daughter out of his sight for long enough! 'What?' she asked.
'Would you be her godmother?'
Godmother. It'd be the nearest Vicky would ever come to having children of her own. Her older brothers might be happily married and settled down, but it wasn't for her. She didn't have time to be a wife and mother—not if she wanted to become professor of neurology, because the glass ceiling was still well and truly there. To prove herself, she'd already had to work twice as hard as the men in her field. Which meant making sacrifices. That meant no serious relationships—and no baby.
Though, holding Chloë in her arms and breathing in that sweet new-baby smell, for a brief second Vicky wondered if it was worth it.
Then she banished the doubt. Of course it was. It was what she'd always wanted to be, ever since she'd been tiny. To be a senior doctor and really make a difference. And she knew she couldn't have it all—so what was the point in wondering 'what if ?
'Vic?' Seb looked worried. 'Are you all right?'
'No, you're not. You're working too hard. Vic, I know you want to be professor—and I also know you'll make it. But don't kill yourself in the process.'
'I'm fine,' Vicky repeated. 'Don't nag.'
'I could set Alyssa on you. Or Sophie. Or both.'
Vicky smiled. 'It won't work, Seb.' Her sisters-in-law were both doctors, too—Alyssa worked in emergency medicine and Sophie was a surgeon. 'They know the score.'
For a moment, she thought Seb was going to argue, then he gave a resigned sigh. 'All right. I'll shut up about that. So, will you?'
'Be godmother.' Seb rolled his eyes. 'Hopeless. Ask you a question about neurosurgery and you'll talk for hours. Ask you about something social...'
'I'm not that much of a nerd. And, thank you, I'd be honoured to be godmother.' Vicky smiled. 'Especially as you named my very first niece after me.'
'If she has half your qualities, I'll be proud of her,' Seb said.
Vicky blinked. Was she hearing things? Had her brother—who normally teased her stupid—just paid her an incredible compliment? 'Marriage has definitely made you soppy.'
'No. I've realised what's important. And there's more to life than your job.'
Vicky had a nasty feeling she knew what was coming next. 'Don't you dare try to matchmake. I'm perfectly happy as I am. I stayed out of it with you and Charlie.'
'Liar. You arranged a fundraising raffle, offering a date with me as the prize to buy Charlie some time away from the paparazzi's attention so he could work things out with Sophie. And you as good as told Alyssa she had to marry me.'
'Don't listen to your daddy,' Vicky informed her niece. 'I didn't interfere at all. I just pointed a few things out and helped them see their way a little.'
'And I'm very glad you did,' Alyssa said, joining them in the living room. 'Has Seb asked you?'
'Yes. And I'm delighted to accept.'
'Good.' Alyssa smiled warmly at her. 'Though what I heard Seb saying is right. You do work too hard, Vic'
'And I like being that way. End of discussion,' Vicky said. Though she was canny enough to go for the ultimate distraction, where new parents were concerned. 'Are Chloë's official photographs back, yet?'
To her relief, both Alyssa and Seb took the bait and were soon clucking over their baby's first official photographs—and Vicky's personal life was left where she liked it best.
Jake walked quietly into the neurology department in the middle of the Wednesday morning—the day before he was supposed to start. A bit sneaky, perhaps, but he knew it was the best way to see what his new department was really like. When nobody was on their best behaviour, waiting for their new consultant to turn up.
Everything seemed fine. The department was busy, but calm and quiet: clearly the team was well established. The ward was clean and there were gel dispensers by every bed: another good sign. He'd worked in some truly horrible places where the admin staff wasted money left, right and centre and important things—like basic hygiene—suffered.
There was a board to say where the doctors and senior nursing staff were, and another to show who was looking after which patient, so communications were good, too. It was definitely a well-run department.