Disclaimer: Doc Martin is the property of Buffalo Pictures. I own nothing.

Chapter Thirty-two

Sally smiled at Paul and Paul's heart raced even more. He returned Sally's smile, resisting the temptation to put his arms around her and kiss her. Sally led the way upstairs into her kitchen and Paul sat down beside her and opened his laptop. They began to talk about the paper that they were writing together and Paul's heart slowed down to its normal rhythm as he concentrated. Two hours later they had chosen the graphs to go in the paper and merely needed to put everything together and do a final edit before it could be submitted for peer review. Paul saved the file and then closed his laptop. He stirred, about to leave but Sally said,

'Would you like a cup of tea?'

'Yes, please.'

Sally got up and put the kettle on and Paul couldn't stop himself from admiring her, letting his eyes roam over her body. Sally realised that Paul was staring but made no attempt to stop him. She still felt very emotional and insecure after what had happened with Clive and it was nice to know that Clive wasn't the only man who found her attractive. Sally turned suddenly and Paul blushed, caught in the act. However, Sally merely looked amused so he stopped himself from apologising and forced his eyes up to her face.

'Would you like a piece of cake?' asked Sally.

'Yes, that would be great, thanks.'

Sally brought the cake and tea over to the table and they sat in silence for a few minutes. Sally broke the silence by asking how the children were coping with their trauma and Paul answered readily enough, keeping himself to generalities rather than specifics, even though he knew that Sally could be trusted to keep anything he said confidential. After that they talked about the villagers and people in general and before they realised it was gone midnight. Sally looked at the clock, shocked, and said,

'Look at the time!'

'I had no idea it was so late,' said Paul, 'I must go.'

'Yes,' agreed Sally, 'I must get some sleep.'

Paul gathered his stuff together and turned to leave, saying,

'Thank you for letting me come over to do this tonight, Sally.'

'You're welcome,' said Sally, 'I didn't want to be alone.'

Paul hesitated before eventually saying,

'You never have to be alone. I'll always come if you want me.'

Sally blushed and smiled shyly, saying,

'Thank you.'

Sally tried to find the words to express the confused emotions running through her. Knowing that Paul still felt strongly about her elated her but she was still hurt and disappointed by the break up of her marriage. There was also the fact that Paul was much too young for her. If she went out with him everyone would call her a cradle snatcher despite Paul being a lot more mature than Clive in many ways. Unable to articulate her feelings Sally pulled Paul into a hug. Paul put his laptop carefully down on the table and put both arms around Sally, enjoying being able to hold her. He knew it was much too soon for anything other than a hug but he was delighted that Sally trusted him enough to hug him. He could tell that Sally was overwhelmed so he didn't say anything but simply held her.

Louisa woke early and stared at the ceiling, thinking about her life. She thought about Peter and about Martin. Peter was already showing signs of being a very intelligent child but he was also a very happy baby. And Louisa was not arrogant enough to assume that that was just down to her skills as a mother. The fact was that despite his misgivings and somewhat clinical approach, Martin was a good father. He gave Peter attention and encouraged him to learn about the world around him. Of course in some ways having a baby was one of the easiest stages, she and Martin would face a lot of new challenges once Peter was walking and talking. Louisa turned and looked at Martin, lying asleep next to her. His face was relaxed and he looked younger and yet somehow he didn't look as attractive as he did when he was awake. Louisa let her eyes wander over Martin's face and body as she thought about the infuriating, adorable man that she was sharing her life with. She also thought about the things that she had discussed with Dr Milligan over the last few weeks. She hoped that one day Martin would talk about his abusive childhood but she knew that it probably wouldn't be any time soon, which meant that she needed to accept Martin as the man he was, not try to make him into some mythical creature of her imagination. Having accepted this, Louisa realised that Martin was never going to like Danny, they were too dissimilar. So was she being fair to Martin by trying to force him to have dinner with Danny? As she thought about it, Louisa realised that she'd been putting Danny's needs before Martin's. Danny needed to know that Martin had forgiven him and in Danny's mind this was accomplished by having a meal together. But was it fair to Martin to force him to have a meal with a man he disliked, wondered Louisa. She decided that the only thing to do would be to discuss it openly with Martin. Louisa looked at the clock and realised that they still had forty minutes before the alarm was due to go off. Smiling mischievously, she decided to see if she couldn't wake Martin up in a way that would be fun for both of them. Quickly slipping out of her pyjamas, she slid over to Martin's side of the bed and began removing his pyjamas, kissing his body as she went.

Martin and Louisa moved easily around the kitchen, getting themselves and Peter ready for the day ahead. As she packed Peter's bag, Louisa said,

'Martin, you don't like Danny, do you?'

'No,' said Martin slightly nervously, hoping that Louisa wouldn't be too angry.

'It's all right,' said Louisa, 'I don't expect you to like all of my friends. I suppose I was hoping that you and Danny would get along just because I've known Danny for such a long time. I know Danny wants you to come to dinner because he sees it as proof that you've forgiven him for attacking you but if you really hate the idea, I'll go on my own.'

Martin thought about what Louisa had said. He really didn't like Danny and part of him longed to tell Louisa to go on her own but his protective instincts kicked in; he didn't want Louisa to be alone with Danny Steel. Danny was unlikely to have any more psychotic episodes since the one that he'd had had been caused by incorrect medications, but he still didn't want Louisa being alone with him in case he frightened her. He knew that Louisa would think that he was being overprotective so he merely said,

'I'll come this time.'

'Thank you, Martin,' said Louisa, smiling happily at him, pleased that he was willing to help Danny put the episode behind him.

Martin was partway through his morning surgery when the phone rang. Irritated to be interrupted he barked into the phone,

'Ellingham.'

'Blackstone here.'

'Yes?'

'You were quite right, that man is no more John Swallow than I am. I had him arrested last night for impersonating a doctor. The police have been questioning him and as far as we can tell the man has no medical qualifications whatsoever.'

'What?'

'He's been impersonating John Swallow for about five years. He somehow managed to get copies of all John's certificates and has been posing as a locum, moving around the country, supposedly looking for a permanent post and in the meantime, killing who knows how many people. I've got people in five different Primary Care Trusts going through patient records, checking every diagnosis he ever made. We've already found two more deaths that are directly attributable to his diagnoses.'

'So he'll be charged with murder?'

'Yes, I've just briefed the inspector in charge of the case and the impostor has been officially charged with four counts of murder but there will probably be more.'

'That's disgraceful. Have you found out how he got hold of the certificates?'

'Not yet, I'm starting a full investigation.'

'Good, the level of incompetence in some areas of the bureaucracy is outrageous.'

'Hmm,' said Blackstone neutrally, unconvinced that it was necessarily a bureaucratic error.

'Is that everything?' demanded Martin, impatiently.

'Yes.'

Martin hung up and got back to his patients.

Chelsey flinched as the doorbell rang and rushed to answer it before the caller could ring again, desperately hoping that her mother had not been awoken by the sound. Opening the door she found herself looking at a young man wearing a boiler suit and carrying a clipboard. The man smiled ingratiatingly at her, saying,

'Is your mummy or daddy home?'

'Mum's asleep upstairs,' replied Chelsey, 'What do you want?'

'I've come to read the electricity meter.'

'Where's your badge then?' asked Chelsey.

'Here,' said the man, taking a badge out of his pocket and showing it to Chelsey for a fraction of a second, putting it away before she could read it. Chelsey looked at the man suspiciously. Her parents had been very careful to explain to her about not letting people into the house and this man's boiler suit was not the same as the one that the man who normally read the electricity meter wore. Making up her mind Chelsey said,

'I'm sorry, you'll have to come back. Mum's working nights and I'm not allowed to wake her up.'

'That's all right. No need to wake her, I'll just read the meter and then go.'

'I'm not allowed to let anybody in,' said Chelsey firmly.

The man looked annoyed and said,

'I'll only be a minute.'

By now Chelsey was convinced that the man was not who he said he was. She might only be six, but she was very intelligent and the way that the man was looking over her shoulder into the house was making her very uncomfortable. Taking a deep breath, she said,

'Sorry,' and started to shut the door.

The man put out his hand and stopped her from closing the door. Terrified, Chelsey leant her full weight on the door and did the only thing she could think of; she opened her mouth and screamed as loudly as she could.

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