TV presenter Kristie Nelson’s new job could make her career, but it involves filming GP Rhuaridh Gillespie on a remote Scottish island. The doctor’s temper is as hot as his rugged good looks and soon their chemistry steals the show. Only, Kristie’s just as tempted off camera by the gorgeous doc, who’s challenging her to face her past, as she is when they’re in the spotlight…
“Absolutely no way, I’m not doing it.” Kristie Nelson shook her head and folded her arms across her chest.
Louie, her boss, arched one eyebrow at her. “Do you want to pay your mortgage, or not?”
She shifted uncomfortably on her chair. “I was promised a chance at working with the news team. These puff pieces are driving me nuts, and if you send me in the direction of another quiz show, I swear, I’ll grab that ceremonial sword from behind your head and stick it somewhere nasty.”
Louie let out a hearty laugh. They’d been working together far too long to be anything but straight with each other.
He sighed and leaned his head on one hand. “Kristie, your last two projects have bombed. You fell out – in a spectacular fashion I might add – with the producer on the upcoming TV series you were scheduled for. I’ve had to search around for work that might fit with your other obligations.”
She swallowed, her throat instantly dry. Louie knew her well – better than she revealed to most people – and although she didn’t tell him so, she did appreciate it.
She stared down at the file he’d handed her. “A Year in the Life of the Hot Highland Doc? Really?” Her voice arched upwards, along with her eyebrows. She tried to ignore the involuntary shudder that went down her spine. She straightened her shoulders. “Sounds like another puff piece to me.”
Louie looked her in the eye. “A puff piece that involves filming three days a month on the island – paid travel to and from the island, all expenses covered, and a salary better than any news channel would pay you.”
She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. When he put it like that...
Louie continued. “These streaming TV channels are the ones with the big budgets these days. They’re making all the best new TV shows, and they’re not afraid to take chances. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to get in there, and make a good impression?”
Her brain was whirring. She knew it all made sense. She knew it was an opportunity. How many people really made it on to the terrestrial TV channels? She didn’t even want to admit that she’d subscribed to this streaming service too. Some of the shows were addictive.
Louie shrugged. “Filming is taking place all around the world. There’s a volcanologist in Hawaii. A museum curator in Cairo. A quarterback from an American Football team. Someone training for the Space Station.”
“And I get the Scottish doc?” She held up her file, not even trying to hide the disappointment on her face.
Louie didn’t speak and the silence told her everything she needed to know. She’d got what was left. Louie had probably had to campaign hard to even get her this gig.
She flicked through the files sitting on Louie’s desk. There was also a vet. A firefighter. A teacher. A policewoman.
If she’d had to rank each of the possibilities, she knew the work with the doc would have been last on her list. The thought of being around a medic all day – possibly being in a hospital environment – made her feel sick.
Six years ago as a media graduate she’d thought she was going to take the world my storm. But somehow that storm had changed into a long, hard slog with only a few glimmers scattered throughout. Part of her resented this job already. It wasn’t exactly her career goal. But what was?
Things had shifted in the last few years. Real life events had left her jaded and knocked her confidence in the world around her. Sometimes she wasn’t even sure what it was she was fighting for anymore.
“Isn’t describing someone as a Hot Highland Doc considered sexist these days?”
Louie shrugged. “Who cares? That’s the title we liked. It should draw viewers in. Who wouldn’t want to see a Hot Highland Doc?”
Her brain was still ticking. She wrinkled her nose. “Geography isn’t my strong point. Hold on.” She pulled out her phone and stuck in the name of the island. “Arran? That’s on the south west coast of Scotland. That’s not even in the Highlands.”
Louie laughed, “Like I said – who cares? At least it is an island. It’s the UK, so trade descriptions can’t get us on that one.”
Kristie closed her eyes for a second and thought about the pile of bills currently sitting on her dresser. This was money. Money that would be guaranteed for one year. She would be a fool to turn this down.
“Smile. Arran – who knows? You might even like it. You just need to go there three days a month and film as much as you can. You need enough footage for forty-one minutes of screen time.” Louie waved his hand, “And if it’s boring, do something to mix it up.”
This time it was Kristie that raised her eyebrows. “Mix it up? What exactly does that mean?”
Louis shrugged. “I mean, make it interesting viewing. If you work on another show that gets cancelled midway, people will start to think you have the kiss of death.” He met her gaze. “People won’t want to work with you.” He left the words hanging.
She gulped. She knew he was right. TV and media were ruthless. One minute you were the belle of the ball, the next you were lucky to pick up the leftovers – just like she was now.
She gave a slow nod of her head then frowned as she compared her file with some of the others. “This guy? There’s no photo.”
“Isn’t there?” Louie had moved over to his appointment diary, obviously ready to move onto his next task.
“And how do you even say his name?”
Louie moved back around the desk and leaned over her shoulder. “R-oo-ah-r-ee,” I think. He winked. “At least try and get the guy’s the name right.”
She stared at the scribbled notes in the folder. Rhuaridh Gillespie. General Practitioner. Also provides cover to Arran Community Hospital and A&E department.
How did that even work?
She swallowed and took a deep breath. How bad could this be?
“How much preparation time do I have?”
There was a glint in Louie’s eyes as he threw something across the desk at her. Flight details.
“A day,” he answered.
“A day?” She stood up as she said the words. “What do you mean, a day?”
Louie just started talking as if there was nothing unusual at all about what he’d just said. “You fly into Glasgow, car hire has been arranged – you need to drive to a place called Ardrossan to catch the ferry to Arran. The crossing takes about an hour but,” he paused as he glanced at some notes in front of him, “but apparently can be hampered by the weather. So build in some extra time.”
Her brain had gone directly into overdrive. Clothes. Equipment. What was the weather like on Arran this time of year? This was the UK, not the US. She needed to learn a bit more about their healthcare system. And what about this guy? Under normal circumstances she’d take a few days to do some background research on him – to learn what kind of a person he was – what made him tick. Anything that would give her a head start.
She shook her head. Then realised she hadn’t asked one of the most important questions. “Who is my cameraman?”
Louie gave a little cough that he tried to disguise as clearing his throat. “Gerry.”
“Gerry?” She couldn’t hide her dismay. “Louie, he’s about a hundred and five! He doesn’t keep well, his time keeping is awful, and he always leaves half his equipment behind.”
Louie gave a half-hearted shrug. “Give the guy a break. He needs the work. And anyway, he knows you better than most.”
She bit her lip as she picked up her bag. Maybe she was being unreasonable. He did know her better than most – he’d been there with her and Louie when she’d got that terrible call. But last time she’d worked with Gerry he’d left her sitting in the middle of a baking desert in Arizona for three hours.
“I swear if he isn’t at the airport when I get there, I’m leaving without him.”
Louie waved his hand. “Whatever.” Louie picked up his phone as she headed to the door. “And Kristie?”
She spun back around, “Yeah?”
He grinned. “Who knows – you might enjoy this.”
She didn’t hesitate. She picked up a cushion from the chair nearest the door and launched it at Louie’s head.
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