It was late afternoon on Christmas Eve at the Dancingdean Health Centre and Locum Doctor Kelly Spearman had one last patient to see.
Mrs Bramwell entered the room with her young daughter Kylie skulking in her wake.
“Come on Kylie the Doctor hasn’t got all day”
“Hello Mrs Bramwell, how can I help?”
“Kylie’s not right Doctor, very odd”
“In what way?”
“Well look at her Doctor you can see you doesn’t look right.
She starts the day feeling sick and ends it eating Pizza with sugar on. It’s no small wonder she’s put on so much weight”
“Well I’ll have to do a full examination” Kelly said
Kylie lay on the examination table and Dr Spearman gave her a thorough exam, asking questions as she did so.
When she had finished she told Kylie to redress and sat down at her desk and tapped at the keyboard until the girl was seated.
“So what’s wrong with her Doctor?” Mrs Bramley
“Well there is no doubt in my mind that Kylie is pregnant” she replied
“About five months to be precise”
“That’s absolute rubbish Doctor, Kylie can’t possibly be pregnant, ridiculous that is, she’s only 14 and I can assure you my daughter has never been with a man”
“There is no doubt” Kelly said as she took off her glasses
“Tell the Doctor, Kylie, tell her you’ve never been with a man”
“I haven’t Doctor I really haven’t, not even kissing” Kylie confirmed
Kelly looked at the girl doubtfully then stood up and walked to the window and stared out into the darkness shaking her head.
“So what’s wrong Doctor?” Mrs Bramley asked “it’s serious isn’t it?”
“Not at all, I just wanted to check the sky for something, because the last time a girl got pregnant without going with a man a bright star appeared in the East”
“Are you trying to be funny?” Mrs Bramwell asked
“No I’m not, I’m trying to make a point” she replied
“Whether Kylie says she has been with a man or not, she is definitely five months pregnant, so I suggest you think back five months and figure out where she didn’t have sex with a man”
“I don’t like your attitude Doctor if my daughter says she’s a virg…” she stopped in mid flow and turned to Kylie and said
“You dirty little cow, it was that boy you met on the beach at Sharpington wasn’t it”
At that the girl began to cry and Mrs Bramley bustled her out of the room admonishing her without acknowledging Kelly again.
Kelly was one of the cleverest medical students of her year and she was also one of the sexiest, a fact she had perpetually tried to play down.
She wanted to progress in her profession based purely on her abilities and not because she was “fit”.
She certainly didn’t want the distraction of having to fend off unwanted advances while she tried to qualify.
Her style of dress was muted, still feminine but understated, she wore her hair combed back severely off her and wore heavy framed spectacles.
A look she maintained long after qualification and all through her time at the Winston Churchill Hospital.
The result of which, being that after ten years she remained single and with a reputation for being cold and aloof.
As neither description was true she gave up a senior position at the Churchill to take up general practice, but she needed to learn the ropes as a GP locum, which was why she was working at the Dancingdean Health Centre.
Kelly had completed her notes and packed her things away.
She was looking forward to getting home, she loosened her hair and shook it out before putting on her woollen hat and slipping on her coat and finally picked up her bag.
No sooner had her fingers curled around the door handle than the phone on her desk rang.
“Oh, so close” she said to herself and released her grip on the door handle.
There was nothing waiting for her at home except what she craved at that moment, peace and solitude.
But she had noticed the steady snowfall through her surgery window and she was not a lover of driving in the snow.
“Hello” she said
“Could you see one more patient Doctor?” the receptionist Lynn Cooper asked “It should be a quick one but it’s quite urgent”
“Of course send them through” she replied and slipped off her coat and sat down.
A few moments later there was a light knock on her door.
When the door opened a tall slightly built man of a similar age to herself walked in.
“Thank you for seeing me Doctor” he said “I’m sorry to delay you”
“That’s fine” Kelly replied
“I see you’re dressed for the conditions” he added
“Your rather fetching headgear” he explained
“Oh” she said with a laugh “I forgot I had it on”
“So what can I do for you? Mr Springthorpe”
“I need a repeat prescription for my Theophylline I have nearly run out” he said and she tapped at her keyboard
“Your last prescription was in October you shouldn’t have run out yet” she said
“I know but the water tank in my loft sprang a leak and brought the ceiling down which ruined everything in its path” he explained
“Your medication included” The Doctor said
“Yes” he confirmed
“Very well I’ll write you another one” she said
“Thank you Doctor”
“The pharmacy in Oakwood Road is open until 10 o’clock tonight” she said and handed him the prescription
“Thank you Doctor and Merry Christmas”
“Not to Merry I hope” she scolded “Happy Christmas”
The moment the door closed she quickly redressed in her out door clothes and left before the phone went again.
She ran the festive gauntlet of staff members, exchanging greetings in the time honoured fashion and emerged into the snowy car park and she was surprised to find exactly how much had fallen.
She got into her car and set off towards Mornington-By-Mere.
Kelly had only lived in Mornington for a few months, she wanted somewhere that was in striking distance of Shallowfield, Purplemere and Childean which were the towns she would be able to work as a locum.
Even Finchbottom and the Pepperstock’s were doable from Mornington at a pinch.
She had a rented a house in Military Row which was one of a number of good sized family dwellings originally built as Officers Quarters for the Officer personnel from the since defunct Mornington Airfield.
The original plan was to get a short time let and work as a Locum and then when she managed to secure a permanent position in a practice she would then move somewhere close to where she would be working but she had rather fallen in love with the village.
Despite the conditions she had made steady progress and had travelled about two and a half miles before she spotted the red tail lights and she came to a halt at the end of the queue.
There were three or four people milling around in the road so she got out of her car to join them in the hope of finding out what the problem was.
Just ahead of the queue of six cars there was a seventh car being reversed out of a snowdrift.
She made her way to the front and asked
“Is anyone hurt, I’m a Doctor?”
“No Doc, nothing hurt but his pride” An old country man replied
“A bit of a brown trouser moment though I shouldn’t wonder”
This induced a good deal of laughter as much from Kelly as anybody else.
“I take it the road is closed” she said when the laughter had subsided.
“Very much so Doc” Another bumpkin replied
“Then I shall wish you all a Merry Christmas and go in search of an Inn”
She did a three point turn in the road and headed back the way she had come and hoped she wouldn’t have to spend the entire evening driving around looking for a room.
Kelly was not yet fully au fait with Shallowfield and its environs but she had stored several key landmarks in her memory bank but the only Hotel she could bring to mind was the Shallowfield Lodge Hotel by Teardrop Lake.
Which she thought was as good a place as any to start, if that failed she knew that a lot of her colleagues at the Health Centre lived in the area so she would try her luck with one of them.
Jonathon Springthorpe was due to have dinner on Christmas Eve with his oldest friend and business partner Richard O’Sullivan but he had to cancel it at the last minute when he realized he was almost out of his medication.
Although it was a genuine emergency and not an excuse he still felt guilty cancelling their dinner date because Richard was such a lonely cove.
He pledged to himself he would call round to Richards’s house once he had rectified his medical emergency.
He was very pleased to have caught the Doctor before she left for the Holiday, and even more pleasing was the fact she was so attractive.
After leaving the Health Centre he drove to the Oakwood Road pharmacy and was grateful he didn’t need to drive any further as the snow was several inches deep already and was falling exceedingly fast.
Under the circumstances he abandoned his plan to go and see Richard, so all being well he would be safely indoors for the night within half an hour and then the weather could do as it pleased.
Kelly parked her car and opened the boot, fortunately being a practical person she always had a change of clothes in the car for emergencies.
Unfortunately this did not include underwear so she would need to rinse through what she was wearing, provided of course she could get a room.
She went inside and straight up to the reception desk where a trim well-dressed woman was stood smiling in her direction.
“Can I help?” Mrs Brown said
“I do hope so” she replied dropping her bag to the floor
“I’m stranded in Shallowfield because of the snow and I’m hoping you have a room”
“You’re not the only one dear” Sheryl Brown said “But you’re in luck I have one room left”
“Thank you so much” Kelly said and she felt her shoulders relax
Sheryl Brown gave her a registration card to fill out and asked
“Is it just the one night dear?”
“Oh I don’t know” Kelly said “I hadn’t thought”
“Well look I’ll book you in for two nights, just in case” she suggested
“Ok yes, that’s a good idea” Kelly agreed
After all the formalities were completed and Mrs Brown had given her the key Kelly leant in close and whispered conspiratorially
“There was one other thing, I need to wash my underthings…”
Sheryl put up her hand and stopped her mid-sentence
“Don’t worry dear I have just the thing” she said and disappeared through a door marked private only to emerge 30 seconds later holding a small Tupperware box with a quantity of powder in.
“This is what you need”
“You are a Godsend” Kelly said “Thank you so much ...”
“Call me Sheryl”
“Thank you Sheryl”
“My pleasure” she replied “Now the restaurant is still open though under the circumstances it’s a rather improvised menu, but it will be hot”
“Hot will suffice” Kelly said gratefully
Kelly went up to her room and quickly freshened up and then made her way back downstairs.
She smiled at Sheryl Brown, as she passed the reception desk, who was busy helping someone else.
She walked into the busy restaurant and found an empty table and had only sat down long enough to order a drink when she was asked.
“Do you mind if I join you doctor?”
It was Jonathon Springthorpe
“Not at all but please don’t call me Doctor” she replied in a hushed tone
“Why? Have you been struck off?” he said
“No” She replied and laughed “But if people know you’re a doctor they can’t help sharing the details of their ailments with you”
“Oh I see, so what should I call you?”
“Kelly will be fine” she replied “would you like a drink?”
“Just a coke please”
“Nothing stronger?” she asked
“No it reacts with my medication” he said and tapped his coat pocket
“Just testing” she lied
“So Kelly what brings you to the Shallowfield Lodge on a snowy Christmas Eve?” Jon asked
“You first” she said
“Well as I said earlier I have some water damage in my house so I’ve moved out while it’s being sorted”
“So what about you?”
“I was trying to get home but the road was closed by a snowdrift”
“And where’s home?” he asked
“I live in Mornington” she replied
“So do I” Jon said “I live in the Old Forge”
“Really I’m renting one of the houses in Military row” she said
“It’s a small world isn’t it?”
“So why here?” he asked after the waitress had taken their dinner order
“It was the first place I tried” she replied “but I wanted somewhere local because I’m on call from lunchtime tomorrow for two days”
“Oh bad luck” he said
“No not really I volunteered” Kelly said
“Why on earth did you do that?”
“Well everyone else has a significant other or a family” she said
“And you don’t?”
“No, I have no significant other and no family within easy reach, all my nears and dears are many miles away”
“So not married?” he asked
“No just never married”
“By accident or design?”
“A little of both I suppose” she replied enigmatically just as the food arrived
“So what about you?” Kelly asked
“Divorced” he replied
“What married or divorced?”
“Married 10, divorced 2” he said
After desert Kelly asked
“So why are you staying here?”
“I told you, my house is unliveable”
“Yes I know, but why here?” she persisted
“Oh I see, well I work in Shallowfield”
“And what do you do for a living?”
“Auctioneer” he replied proudly
“At O’Sullivan and Springthorpe”
“Oooh one of the bosses” she said feigning impression
“One of the partners” he corrected her “Of which there are a number”
“Still, name over the door” she said playing with him
While they were drinking their coffee Jon suddenly asked
“What are you doing for Christmas Lunch tomorrow?”
“I don’t know, whatever they’re serving here I suppose”
“I’m going to my parents for lunch tomorrow” he said
“Why don’t you join us?”
“Oh no I couldn’t impose” she replied
“Nonsense it’s no imposition”
“No I can’t and I’m on call anyway” she insisted
“It’s only in Shallowfield” he said “so it won’t affect you being on call”
“Wait a minute” she said “Your parents live in Shallowfield?”
“So why are you staying here why didn’t you stay at your parents?” she asked aghast
“Are you kidding, 36 years old and moving back in with the folks” he said
“I’d only be there for a day and Mum would start ironing my socks”
When they had stopped laughing Jon said
“So will you come?”
“Oh alright then” she conceded “But explain to your mother that if I have to disappear in a hurry it’s not because I’m not being rude”
They were to meet in reception at 10.30 on Christmas morning,
In the cold light of day Kelly questioned the wisdom of her decision to accept Jon’s invitation.
For a start she was not dressed as smartly as she would have liked but under the circumstances it was the best she could manage.
Fortunately when she arrived downstairs she found Jon had dressed down for the occasion, which made her feel much more comfortable.
“Happy Christmas” he said and kissed her cheek
“Happy Christmas Jon, are you sure I won’t be imposing?”
“Absolutely not” he insisted
The snow was still falling though much lighter than the night before, so there was an eerie hush apart from the satisfying crunch underfoot.
If she hadn’t been on call they would have walked all the way but she needed her 4 x 4.
When they arrived at the Springthorpe’s home she realised his apparel was not as she had thought, coincidental, but was by design, as all of the family were in their best bib and tucker.
Jon had realised that morning that Kelly would have limited options for the day so deliberately dressed down so she wouldn’t feel awkward.
“Thank you” she whispered when she realised what he had done.
He introduced her to his parents, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, kissing cousins, two godsons and a brother all of them dressed to impress.
Including Kelly and Jon there were 19 for dinner, and seating and feeding that many people was no mean feat.
But Margaret Springthorpe did it in style, and everyone’s food was piping hot.
After dinner the gathering fragmented and Kelly volunteered to help with the clearing away, fending off the initial protests that she was a guest.
Just as the last plate was wiped up and put away Jon appeared
“Oh look perfect timing” Margaret said
“Dad won’t stop talking about the Golf game tomorrow so I just had to get out of there” he announced.
“It’s a shame you didn’t get fed up with it a bit sooner then you could have helped” Kelly said
“Well said” Aunty Victoria said
The reason for his father’s discontent in regard to the Golf was that the Annual, Springthorpe Family Cup competed for every year on Boxing Day had been cancelled for the first time since 1936.
Not even Adolph Hitler had been able to put a stop to it.
There had been snow at Christmas before and it had been possible to play the day after but this year due to the depth of snow on the ground the course was unplayable.
“Does it bother you that you won't be playing?” Kelly asked Jon.
“Yes. I love the Boxing Day game” he replied “But it’s impossible, Dad just won’t accept it”
“So why not play it on New Year’s Day instead?” she suggested
Jonathon opened his mouth to speak but seemed unable to find the words and closed it again.
He repeated this mime twice more then turned and left.
“Did you see that Margaret? She left him speechless” Victoria said
“Absolutely marvellous!” Margaret said
Kelly was roundly congratulated by the family for her solution to the Springthorpe Family Cup debacle and they were genuinely disappointed when at just after four o’clock she was called out.
She promised she would return as soon as she had finished but as it turned out she didn’t return until 7 hours later so she went straight to the Hotel where she found Jon waiting for her in the Hotel bar drinking hot chocolate.
“Come and have some” he said “it’ll warm you up”
“What I need is sleep” Kelly said
“Have a drink first, please” he begged
“You were a big hit with the family” Jon said
“Oh I don’t know about that”
“Seriously” he said “so much so that you have been invited to take part in the Springthorpe Family Cup”
“But I’m not family”
“You have been made an honorary member” he said
“How do you know I even play?” Kelly asked
“Well you do, don’t you?”
“A little” She said “maybe you can coach me”
They talked for about an hour before Kelly excused herself and went off to her bed.
The moment her head touched the pillow she was asleep and she slept very soundly, which was just as well because on Boxing Day she was bounced all over the district, dealing mainly with patients who have severely overindulged the day before.
Kelly checked out of the Lodge on the morning after Boxing Day and that evening after surgery she was finally able to drive home to Mornington.
The first thing she did when she got home was to change her underwear, although she had washed them out every night before she went to bed, after wearing the same knickers for four days she still felt dirty.
She then had two wonderful days off in lieu of Christmas which gave her time to tidy her house and do some laundry.
But she was on call again on New Year’s Eve.
Kelly checked back into the Shallowfield Lodge after work on the 30th and that night she had dinner with Jonathon at the Phoenix Restaurant in Shallowfield but it had to be an early finish as she was on call from midnight.
Kelly was on call from midnight on the 30th until one minute past midnight on New Year’s Day.
It was a very quiet day she only had three call outs all day and it gave her plenty of time to think things through.
Kelly liked Jon, he made her laugh and feel sexy all at the same time, and he was kind and thoughtful.
But he or anyone like him was never in her plans for the future.
She had not moved from a senior position at the Winston Churchill into general practice looking for a man, however kind and thoughtful he might be.
But she didn’t think of him as just a man and she hadn’t felt that way about a man since she was studying medicine in Edinburgh.
However that had all ended very badly indeed and left her totally devastated and she did not want to repeat that mistake and feel worthless again.
Perhaps she should just nip it in the bud and not take a chance with him.
But why should she? Why wouldn’t it succeed?
She had always succeeded in her life when she put her mind to things, her recreation, her education, her profession, so why could she not succeed in a bright future for her and Jon.
The only fly in the ointment as far as she was concerned was that she wasn’t really sure how he felt about her.
He hadn’t even tried to kiss her, apart from a peck on the cheek on Christmas Day.
And she had wanted him too, after she found him waiting for her in the bar with hot chocolate.
She concluded that perhaps it was time for her to take the initiative.
On New Year’s Day Jonathon picked her up from the Hotel Car park.
It was a beautiful crisp winter’s day, no wind and not a cloud in the sky, she was standing by her car when Jon pulled up.
“Happy New Year” he said and kissed her cheek.
“Well that’s encouraging” she thought “but just on the cheek again”
But out loud she just repeated his greeting.
While he helped her transfer her clubs from her boot into his she was thinking that if was only going to kiss her on public holidays she would have to wait until Easter for the next one.
The Forest Ridge Golf Club was on the road between Shallowfield and Childean and the journey took about 15 minutes and all the way Jonathon was giving her Golf tips, her grip, her stance, her swing.
His coaching continued in the car park and on the walk to the clubhouse.
“Shut up Jon and kiss me” she screamed in her head
“The most important thing is to relax, don’t tense up” he said
“No the most important thing is that you take me in your arms and kiss me” she replied silently
Even if she’d said it out loud there wouldn’t have been time to act on it as they were soon surrounded by other members of the clan.
Jon and Kelly were the last to tee off in a four ball with his younger brother Chris and his Uncle George.
“Don’t worry if you’re only a novice” he said as they approached the 1st tee “I can teach you as we go around”
“Ok” she said
Kelly was the first to tee off, it was a short dog leg par four, just under 200 yards to the turn so she selected her 3 wood and took up her position.
“That might be a little ambitious” Chris said
“Remember to relax those shoulders” Jon said encouragingly, agreeing with his brother about her club selection
Kelly took a couple of practice swings and then addressed the ball before hitting a crisp clean drive which sailed straight down the middle of the fairway.
“Whoa” Chris said “I thought you were a novice”
“I never said that” Kelly retorted
“You did say you played “a little”“Jon said
“I have only played “a little” since I moved to Mornington” she said
“You’re a bandit” Jon said and laughed
By the end of the 17th Uncle George and Jon were 5 shots off the pace and Kelly and Chris were all square.
After 3 shots Chris was on the green with a 20ft putt and Kelly was on the apron more than a hundred feet from the pin.
Chris was supremely confident as he watched Kelly chip to within 12 feet of the hole.
Chris however 3 putted and Kelly holed hers to win.
Jon was delighted partly because it gave him ammunition to rib Chris but mainly because he liked Kelly.
When all the scores were in Jon’s Cousin Mike won the day but Kelly was the highest placed woman and she won the nearest the pin on the par 3 7th.
There was a great huddle of bodies at the bar but she was stood in a quiet corner of the lounge admiring her little trophy when Jon joined her.
“So I wasn’t able to teach you anything today after all” he said
“I was trying to impress you and you ended up impressing me”
“That was my intention” she said
“To impress me?” he asked
“To get you to notice me” she replied and he looked puzzled
“You wanted me to notice you?”
“You have a lot to learn about women” she said taking a step towards him.
“Maybe you can teach me then” he told her looking into her eyes.
“There’s no maybe about it” She said and leaned her face towards him and touched her full lips gently to his.
He responded in kind and they were both lost in the magic of the moment.
As their lips parted they both opened their eyes.
“Would you like me to teach you some more?” she asked smiling.
“That’s a silly question” he replied and wrapped his arms around her waist pulling her close and their lips met again, but this time there was no restraint.