Cruise to a Wedding (The Best of Betty Neels)

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9780373199884: Cruise to a Wedding (The Best of Betty Neels)

A double wedding would be twice the fun

Everybody said that Loveday was good in a crisis. So when her old friend asked for help, Loveday was only too willing to lend a hand.

Rimada was desperately in love and wanted to get married, but her guardian, the overbearing Baron Adam de Wolff van Ozinga, didn't approve of her choice. Loveday agreed to take charge of Rimada's illicit wedding plans. Adam was going to discover he wasn't a match for Loveday Pearce? or for true love!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Romance readers around the world were sad to note the passing of Betty Neels in June 2001.Her career spanned thirty years, and she continued to write into her ninetieth year.To her millions of fans, Betty epitomized the romance writer.Betty’s first book, Sister Peters in Amsterdam,was published in 1969, and she eventually completed 134 books.Her novels offer a reassuring warmth that was very much a part of her own personality.Her spirit and genuine talent live on in all her stories.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Theatre was working late; it had been a quiet morning with a couple of straightforward cases, but the two o'clock list had started badly, when a perfectly simple appendix had turned out to be a diverticulitis; and even though the next three cases had gone smoothly, an emergency strangulated hernia, pushed in ruthlessly towards the end of the afternoon, had made nonsense of the list. With barely a ten–minute break for tea, Mr Gore–Symes, the senior consultant at the Royal City Hospital, was already three hours behind time.

Loveday Pearce, Sister in charge of the main theatre, had disposed her staff as best she might, sending them off duty at last, although late, so that now, at almost eight o'clock in the evening, she was left with only her senior staff nurse, Peggy Cross, a second–year student nurse who didn't much care for theatre work, and was consequently not of much use, Bert the technician and the admirable Mrs Thripps, a nursing auxiliary who had worked so long in theatre that Loveday sometimes declared that in an emergency, she would be quite capable of scrubbing up and taking a case. She nodded to that good lady now as she slid forward to change the

bowls, and Mrs Thripps, understanding the nod, finished what she was doing and took herself off duty too. She was already very late and although Loveday knew that she would have stayed uncomplainingly as long as she was required, she had a husband and three children at home; it would have been unfair to have asked her to stay any longer—they would have to manage without her.

Mr Gore–Symes, assisted by his registrar, Gordon Blair, was tidily putting together those portions of his patient's anatomy which had needed his skilled attention; he would be quickly finished now, there remained only the sigmoidoscopy, an examination which would take but a few minutes. Loveday raised a nicely shaped eyebrow at her staff nurse as a signal for her to start clearing away those instruments no longer needed, and nodded again at the student nurse, impatient to be gone. That left herself, Staff and Bert—she nodded to him too. He was a rather dour Scot, devoted to her, but with stern views as to just how much overtime he should do. He disappeared also, leaving the theatre looking empty. Loveday collected the rest of the instruments in a bowl, gave them to Staff, handed the registrar the stitch scissors, Mr Gore–Symes his own particular needle holder and the needle he fancied, and allowed her thoughts to turn to supper: it had been a long, tiring afternoon and she was beginning to flag just a little.

Mr Gore–Symes stood back presently, put the needle holder on to the Mayo's table, said: 'Finish off, Gordon, will you?' and wandered off to shed his gown. As he

went he said over his shoulder in a satisfied voice: 'One more, eh?'

The last patient was wheeled in ten minutes later, and Mr Gore–Symes, perched on a stool, applied his trained eye to the sigmoidoscope. He was by nature a mid–tempered man, but now the language which passed his lips was anything but mild. Loveday, used to rude words of all kinds after four years as a Theatre Sister, raised her eyebrows briefly, accepted her superior's apology with calm, and thanked God silently that she had had the forethought to lay up a trolley against just such an unfortunate eventuality as this one.

'Another...' the surgeon bit back another word, 'di–verticulitis, Loveday. How long will you need?'

'I'm ready when you are, sir.' She forced her voice to cheerfulness; if she was weary, how must he feel? He wasn't a young man any more. She whispered to the ever–watchful Staff to let the ward know, and with the calm of long training, handed Gordon the first of the sterile towels.

The operation went very well; it was a little before ten o'clock when the patient was wheeled away and the night runner, who had been sent to give a hand, was dispatched to make coffee for everyone. But Loveday wasted no time over hers; she gulped half of it down, excused herself and went back to theatre, to be joined within minutes by Peggy Cross. They knew their work well; with barely a word they cleared, scrubbed instruments, put them ready for the CSD in the morning, wiped and washed, polished and tidied away until the

theatre looked as pristine as Loveday's high standards demanded. Only then did she say:

'Lord, what a day, Peggy—thank heaven there's no list until eleven tomorrow.' She was pulling off her gown as she spoke and then the cap and mask she hadn't bothered to take off earlier, to reveal a charming face despite its tiredness; big brown eyes thickly fringed with black lashes, a straight nose and a generously curved mouth above a determined chin. Her hair was very dark; a rich, deep brown—a shade untidy by now, but normally drawn back into a thick twist above her slender neck. She was a tall girl and not thin, but she had a graceful way of moving which made her seem slimmer than she was. She walked slowly across the theatre now, flung her discarded garments into the bin, rolled down her sleeves, and stood waiting for her staff nurse, a small, plump girl with a round cheerful face, which, even after several hours of overtime for which she wouldn't get paid, was still smiling.

'Supper?' she asked Loveday as they left the theatre together. Loveday shut the doors carefully behind her and paused at her office. 'Not for me, thanks—you go on. I'm going to do the books and make a pot of tea when I get over to the Home.' She yawned widely, added a good night, and sat down at her desk. The night sister who took theatre would be along presently; she would hand the keys over to her, in the meantime she could get the operation list finished.

She reached her room finally, tossed off her cap, crammed her feet into her slippers and prepared to go along to the pantry and make tea. Most of her friends

were out, and for once she was glad to be on her own; bath and bed seemed very attractive.

She was half way to the door when it was flung open and a girl came in. She was a tall young woman, as tall as Loveday, but whereas Loveday was vividly dark, this girl was fair, with ash–blonde hair and bright blue eyes and generous curves. She stopped in the doorway and cried dramatically and with faint pettishness, 'Loveday—I thought you would never come! I have waited and waited. I am in the greatest trouble.'

Loveday saw that the tea kettle would have to wait. She started to take off her uniform instead; Rimada was her greatest friend and she liked her enormously, even while she was sometimes impatient of her inability to accept life as it came. Possibly this was because the Dutch girl was an only child, hopelessly spoilt by a doting mother and used to having her own way. When Loveday had first become friendly with her, she had asked why she had ever taken up nursing—and in a country other than her own, too—to be told that it had all been the doing of her guardian, a cousin older than herself, a man, Rimada had declared furiously, who delighted in making her do things she had no wish to do.

'Didn't you want to be a nurse, then?' Loveday had asked.

'Of course,' Rimada had insisted vehemently, 'but when I wished it, not he. There was a young man, you understand—he wanted to marry me and I thought it might be rather fun, but Adam would not allow it, so I told him that I would retire from the world and be a nurse, and he arranged it all so quickly that I had no

time to change my mind.' She had turned indignant blue eyes upon Loveday, who had said roundly: 'Oh, Rimmy, what rubbish—no one can make people do things they don't want to do, not these days.'

'Adam can,' Rimada had said simply, 'until I am twenty–five.'

Now Loveday eyed Rimada's stormy countenance as she got into her dressing gown. 'What's up?' she asked. 'Don't tell me that Big Bertha has been at you again?'

Big Bertha was the Senior Nursing Officer on the Surgical Block where Rimada was in charge of a women's surgical ward.

'Far worse,' breathed Rimada, 'it is Adam.'

Loveday took the pins out of her hair and allowed it to fall in a thick curtain down her back. 'Look,' she began, 'I've had a simply foul time since two o'clock— do you mind if we talk about it over a cup of tea?'

Rimada was instantly contrite. 'I am a selfish girl,' she declared in the tones of one who doesn't really believe what she is saying. 'We will make tea and I will myself go to the warden's office and request sandwiches.'

Loveday was making for the pantry. 'You do that,' she advised. 'You're the only one of us who can wheedle anything out of Old Mossy.' Which was indeed true; perhaps because Rimada had, for the whole of her life, expected—and had—her wishes fulfilled as soon as she uttered them, and Old Mossy had recognized the fact that to say no would have been a useless waste of time. Rimada, Loveday reflected as she spooned tea into the pot, had an arrogance of manner when she wanted her

own way—not arrogance, she corrected herself, merely a certainty that no one would gainsay her.

She bore the tea–tray back to her room and found Rimada already there, the promised sandwiches on a plate and a packet of crisps besides.

'Wherever did you get those?' she demanded.

'I asked Old Mossy for them,' Rimada smiled in triumph. 'I can get anything I want,' she stated without conceit. Her face clouded. 'Excepting when the horrible Adam does not wish it.'

Loveday drank tea and bit into a sandwich. There were a nice lot of them, all cheese, and the teapot was a large one. She relaxed, tucked her feet under her on the bed, added more sugar to her tea and said briefly:

'Tell.'

'I am in love with Terry,' began Rimada, a statement which drew forth no surprise ...

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Neels, Betty
Published by Harlequin (2011)
ISBN 10: 0373199880 ISBN 13: 9780373199884
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