The next set of drops were one per cent hydroxamphetamine: again, the right pupil dilated, and the left didn't. He breathed a sigh of relief. 'What that test tells me is that the interruption to the nerve supply is what we call

postganglionic—that means it's somewhere between the root of Tabitha's neck and her eye, not in her brain stem or spinal cord. I want to do one more test, though, to be absolutely sure.'

The final set of drops were 1:1000 adrenaline drops. Only the left pupil dilated this time. 'It's absolutely definitely postganglionic,' he said, 'and it's something that happened around the birth, not something that's happened overtime.'

'So it can't be cured? Tabby will always have a drooping eye?'

'It shouldn't bother her or affect her development—and the health visitor did the right thing in sending her here to check it wasn't caused by a serious medical condition,' Jake said. 'If you find the way the eye looks upsets her when she's older, we can operate—I can arrange for her to see a plastic surgeon.' He stroked the baby's cheek with the backs of his fingers. 'But she'll be fine. Won't you, beautiful?' The baby's eyes were a gorgeous colour. Slate-blue.

Like Vicky's.

His stomach clenched. Please, let her say yes.

He made it through to the end of clinic. He'd overrun slightly, so he only had enough time to grab a sandwich before his afternoon clinic began. Vicky, predictably, was nowhere in sight—either on a ward round or in clinic herself, he presumed.

No message from her on his desk.

Swallowing his disappointment, he flicked into his email inbox. Just in case.

Nothing.

OK. So she was going to say no. He was an adult. He could handle it.

He forced himself to focus on his afternoon clinic. Headed back to his desk to write up notes and referral letters. At six o'clock—well after his shift should have ended—he flicked into his email.

And there it was.

A message from Vicky.

The official 'thanks, but no thanks' note. OK. He would read it, delete it and move on.

He opened the message, skimmed it and had already pressed 'delete' when he realised what it said.

With a yelp, he switched to the 'deleted' folder and retrieved the message.

7.30's fine. Can you text me your address, please? And she'd left him her mobile phone number.

He punched the air. She was going to give them a chance!

And then his smile faded. It was six o'clock on a Friday night. He hadn't gone shopping for food yet, in case he jinxed things. His flat was a mess. And Vicky was coming to dinner in an hour and a half.

He scribbled her number onto a piece of paper, double-checked that he'd written it down correctly, logged off everything in his office, tucked his paperwork into his briefcase and headed for the outside of the hospital at a run. As soon as he was outside, he switched on his mobile phone, punched in her number and waited for her to answer.

'The mobile phone you are calling is currently unavailable.'

Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no. The worst thing he could have heard.

He'd been so convinced she'd say no he hadn't even thought what to cook. She'd refused a bacon sandwich...was she vegetarian? No, she'd eaten fish and chips. Maybe she just didn't eat meat.

And because her phone was either switched off or she was in an area with a poor signal, he couldn't talk to her to check her food likes and dislikes.

OK. He knew she ate fish. He'd play it safe. He sent a text giving her his address, then rushed to the supermarket nearest to his flat.

The stuffed mushrooms took hardly any time to prepare. The fish could marinate while he frantically cleared up. Pudding was simple and only needed to be prepared about thirty seconds before they ate it. Plus, he'd cheated and bought a bottle of wine from the chiller cabinet, so it would at least be at the right temperature.

He just hoped she wasn't the sort who'd be early. Please, let her be five minutes late. Late enough for him to have his flat looking reasonable and himself looking presentable, but not late enough to make him panic that she wasn't going to turn up at all.

Just as well he used an electric razor instead of insisting on a wet shave. He shaved with his left hand while his right hand tidied things away. When he'd finished, he had barely enough time for a very, very quick shower and to change into casual black trousers and a round-necked, lightweight cream sweater.

He'd just put the mushrooms in the oven when the doorbell rang.

Seven-thirty precisely.

Oh, Lord. He felt like a teenager on his first date. Not a thirty-five-year-old consultant who'd had a few relationships, though nothing serious. Maybe he'd been hexed and something had switched his body with that of a fifteen-year-old, full of pimples and raging hormones—like one of the 'body swap' movies that had been so popular during his late teens.

Shut up, Jake, he told himself fiercely, and opened the door.


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