Emma Sinclair found it hard to live with the knowledge that her gift of theatre tickets for her parents’ wedding anniversary had resulted in their death in a car accident, which had left her young sister Irene withdrawn and housebound. Emma’s own life and nursing career was virtually put on hold as she care for Irene, but the new partner in their general practice, Dr. Adam Templar, knew he had to do something to break the cycle depriving both girls. It didn’t help that he and Emma were attracted to each other…
Nurse Emma Sinclair
despaired as she looked at her sister Irene, and heard Irene's voice raised shrilly, saying, 'J don't want to see Dr Templar. Dr Bryant has looked after me. I like him.' She was both forlorn and rebellious, and Emma knew she had a fight on her hands.
'Dr Templar will be here any minute,' Emma warned. 'He's young, and Dr Bryant has taken him on against the day when he retires in a few years. He will bring a new look to your case,' she added
Irene broke the momentary silence with, 'There isn't a "new look" for agoraphobia.' Her dark grey eyes were mournful and resistant, her full red lips slightly pouting. She tossed her wavy thick hair back from her forehead as she spoke, her body tensing.
'There is his car now,' Emma said swiftly.
'Then you must see him first—tell him about me.'
Irene grasped at the knob of the sitting-room door.
'I'll wait in my bedroom.' With that she disappeared up the stairs as the bell rang.
Emma opened the front door of the house in York Road, Windsor, from which one could see the Round Tower of the castle, and met the steady gaze of Dr Adam Templar, aware subconsciously that he was an attractive man whose dark grey eyes were set between level brows and held both interest and sympathy, while his generous mouth hinted at humour.
In turn, Adam Templar thought that the young woman welcoming him had a sensuous beauty reflected in her expression. He noticed the dark passion of her blue eyes and the fair, silky hair that framed her face. She couldn't possibly be his patient. No, he told himself, this would be the elder sister.
And at that moment Emma said, her voice soft and melodious, 'I'm Emma Sinclair. My sister, your patient, wants me to see you first.' As she spoke, she shut the door and led the way into a spacious sitting-room, which had a silver-grey carpet and cherry curtains. A lived-in room, with deep armchairs, a large sofa, Chippendale tallboy and a bookcase filled with the classics. A grandfather clock ticked away in the sudden silence as she indicated a chair and said, as they both sat down, 'We've known Dr Bryant for a long while. He was a friend of my parents.'
As she spoke, Emma was studying Dr Templar with an almost critical air. His natural friendly manner, she felt, concealed an inner inscrutability that would make it difficult actually to know what he was thinking. His tall, athletic figure was impressive and he wore his lightweight grey suit with a casual air that gave him added charm.
He held her gaze with sympathy.
'I don't know the details of the tragedy,' he said quietly. 'I hope only to be of help to your sister.' His expression was solemn. 'Dr Bryant feels that he is almost too close to the case, after a year.'
'It isn't easy,' Emma admitted, her voice subdued.
Adam Templar was, despite the circumstances, aware of Emma as an attractive woman whom he rightly judged to be about twenty-four. Her frank eyes nevertheless hinted at a certain evasiveness, as though she guarded her feelings jealously. For a few moments his mission there took second place to his observance and assessment of her, as he realised that he was intrigued by her personality, even to the point of being drawn to her physically. A fact he dismissed with self-criticism.
Emma's gaze fell before his steady appraisal, and his expression changed to a degree of professional solemnity.
'I'd like to know the details of what led to the agoraphobia,' he prompted gently.
Emma explained, 'It was the celebration of our mother's birthday and my gift to her was tickets for a Lloyd Webber show in London. I was to have gone, but I had an emergency case and had to cancel at the last minute.'
He said swiftly, 'You're a nurse?'
was at Guy's
and I'm now an agency nurse
Standard Agency here in Windsor.' She hurried on, 'They decided to travel by road and my father was driving, but they never reached the theatre.' Pain darkened her eyes. 'One of those maniac thieves drove straight at them. My parents were killed instantly. My sister was in a state of great shock. That was a year ago; she hasn't been out since and has the most dreadful panic attacks at the thought of doing so. Even the thought of a car terrifies her. Her whole nervous system was shattered her life wrecked.' She looked at him almost pleadingly, 'I feel guilty, Dr Templar. If I hadn't bought those tickets. . .'
He responded immediately, firmly but sympathetically, 'That's the last thing. . . One cannot make judgements on tragedies, or pretend to understand the pattern that shapes our lives.' He looked at her very levelly. 'Am I right in thinking that you too are in many ways a prisoner? That you've devoted your life to your sister since then?'
Emma shrank from the truth and found herself ready to criticise this man who suggested that he had all the answers, yet there was something in his manner that drew her to him despite herself.
'I've done all I can,' she said crisply.
'And your nursing?'
'I work when it can be fitted in. The Standard and I have an understanding. . . Why?' The question was asked bluntly.
'Because work is a part of your life,' he said simply.
'I'd willingly give it up if Irene could be well.' She hastened, 'Dr Bryant has done
Adam Templar responded to the urgency and desperation of the remarks.
'Then we must pray for a miracle. . . Were you and your sister close before the accident?'
'Very. We've always had a special relationship and are the greatest of friends, apart from being relatives. She was a very bright, happy person who loved life and had many friends. She was also well on the way to becoming engaged, but since the accident she refuses to mix with anyone. Andrew has stopped coming here, but still telephones to ask after her. She won't answer the telephone.'
'Oh!' It was an eloquent sound.
What, Emma asked herself, was this man thinking? He listened sympathetically and yet all the time she felt he was making an assessment with which she would not agree, as though he had already made a judgement contrary to her own. She burst forth, 'Incidentally, my sister wanted me to talk to you, tell you the facts before you saw her. I'm not butting in.'
He smiled, a smile that transformed his face and won her over for a second.
'You and I must be allies in this,' he said, his expression changing, his eyes meeting hers and inviting a response.
'I could never do anything to—to upset her.' Emma's voice broke. 'She has enough to endure, without any criticism.'
He made no comment, but said immediately, 'And I take it that her nerves are affected—she has mood swings?'
Emma was resistant. 'Wouldn't those symptoms be inevitable in the circumstances?'
He sighed, clasped and unclasped his strong shapely hands and said in what was a deep attractive voice, 'That rather depends.' He paused, then, 'You never cross her.'
Emma tensed. The words rushed out. 'Is that a criticism?'
'No,' he replied in a conciliatory tone, 'merely a statement of what I judge to be a fact.' His voice deepened, This is evidently a wider issue than agoraphobia. A complete personality change. She obviously relies on you for everything.' He shot a further question at her unexpectedly. 'And can be almost content on occasions when you are with her?'
Emma was irritated by the observation. She wanted to go on the offensive.
'That, I should feel to be natural.'
He did not remove his gaze from her face as he commented, 'I was thinking of you.'
Her eyes narrowed; her lips tightened. 'We are not talking about me, Dr Templar.' She added in a breath, 'My sister is the patient.'
His reply was unexpected and disarming.
'Sometimes the carer needs consideration '
Emma interrupted him sharply. 'I am in no need of medical attention.' She would have liked to add, 'And I certainly shouldn't choose you to be my doctor if I were.' Emotion surged over her and she was trembling. Why allow this man to have such an effect upon her?
He was a stranger, but the fact that he was Dr Bryant's partner made it inevitable that their association should be closer and more friendly than had he been someone unknown.
Adam Templar accepted the challenge and knew he could not dismiss this attractive girl and regard her merely as a relative of his as yet unseen patient. His pulse quickened and he found that he could not take his gaze from her face as he said half-apologetically, 'Nevertheless one has to take into account all those who are concerned with cases like your sister's. In studying them, one indirectly studies the patient.'
It was, Emma knew, a perfectly valid observation, but she brought resistance to bear as she commented a trifle sharply, 'I shall be happier, Dr Templar, if you just study my sister.'
He was not lost to the dismissal.
'Then,' he retorted with directness, 'perhaps I might see her.' He added swiftly, 'Was she in hospital as a result of the accident, by the way?'
'Only for two days. Just shock. She had a miraculous physical escape. But she was frantic to get home, despite the fact that a longer stay in hospital was considered beneficial.'
'And you took the responsibility for her care?' His eyes looked directly into hers, somewhat unnervingly.
Again Emma felt a degree of irritation.
'Naturally. I am her only close relative. She and I lived here in this house with our parents. We were both born here.' She added with a touch of defiance, 'And we have no intention of leaving it. . . I'll get my sister.'
Adam Templar told himself that he wasn't making much progress, but the greater her resistance the more he was intrigued and involved.
He didn't hesitate. 'I'd like to see her alone..'
'She ' Emma began and stopped; his expression was uncompromising.
But Irene protested when told this fact, and clung to Emma's arm as she cried, 'I'd rather you were with me. I don't like being questioned.' Her large dark eyes were pleading, her lips parted and then closed tightly in resistance. She was pale and pathetic, like a doll from which much of the stuffing had been removed. The contradiction always lay in the tenacity of her opposition.
Emma was persistent.
Irene felt that this time she could not very well win. Dr Bryant had sent this new doctor and she could hardly refuse to see him. If only, she thought, they would leave her alone. She felt better when she and Emma
were alone. The
panic attacks at the thought
of going out,
and the disinclination to see anyone, were part of the complaint from which she was suffering. All she wanted was to get her mind into a little well of acceptance and be in harmony with her surroundings. All this stirred her up until she wanted to scream in protest. But she knew that almost pleading look on Emma's face—a look that had strength behind it— and finally she said with a sigh, 'Very well. But you'll come with me to begin with?'
'Of course,' Emma said gently, trying never to sound as though she were humouring a child which, in fact, she was doing half the time.
Adam Templar took a welcoming step forward as he greeted his patient, whom he perceived as an attractive twenty-two-year-old, with a flawless skin and delicately curved lips. Only her dark eyes bore traces of tragedy and held a frightened expression that suggested tension, which was evidenced by the tightly clenched hands and their slight tremor.
There was a tentative note in Irene's voice as she murmured his name in response to his greeting.
Emma relaxed. She had to admit that Dr Templar's attitude of friendly approach was just right. She made a relieved exit, suggesting quietly that she would join them a little later.
Irene sat down opposite Adam Templar and said a trifle shakily, 'I'm sure you know all there is to know about me and I don't want to waste your time.' She rushed on irrelevantly, 'I don't want to talk about going out. I thought Dr Bryant understood.'
He felt the intensity of the resistance in the girl, whose eyes were faintly hostile. He was also aware of the momentary forlorn look that crept into her expression as she added, 'Sometimes I can't stand the sound of a car. It varies.' ;
'Then perhaps we could make adjustments, so that it doesn't vary,' he said encouragingly. At least, he thought, she had volunteered some information without his prompting.
Immediately she rapped out, 'I don't want any more tablets. Tablets upset me. I had some in the beginning—they didn't help. Nothing helps,' she added in a woebegone voice.