Disclaimer: Doc Martin is the property of Buffalo Pictures.

I thank Littleguinea and robspace54 for inspiring me with their stories.

Chapter 1

Louisa sat at her table trying hard to concentrate on the marking of some history tests. But for once, it could have been of no lesser interest to her if anyone knew the reason why Columbus had ended up where he did. After all, that was more than 500 years ago. More recent events were heavily on her mind right now.

It was beyond her why fate was determined to interfere with her plans to finally win Martin over. Did she do something to infuriate the goddesses of fate, wasn't Martin punished enough or was it just a cruel joke of some unbeknown power?

More than five weeks ago, on the spur of the moment, she had finally had the guts to invite Martin to dinner when they ran into each other at the grocers. He had been so eager to accept and Louisa had spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen to make the perfect meal for two, but no – the fates didn't want to allow it! The stupid new cooker had a short circuit and the bloody fish couldn't be cooked! All of her work had ended up in the bin.

Martin, for once, had been really nice. Although she had been unable to provide any food at all, he had complimented her, telling her that it had looked as if it would have been rather nice if it had been fully cooked. For Martin, that was really a great achievement. However, this strange power that seemed to cast a shadow on their relationship had struck again when even the stopgap, Bert's restaurant, had proven to be a failure with blood all over Martin's plate. Another cruel joke of life.

Louisa hadn't been discouraged so easily, so the next invitation followed. Of course, this unknown manipulator of her love life couldn't allow that to go right. Oh no! This time fate recruited the neighbours from hell to interfere with their little private dinner for two. This time the cooker did its job and Martin had been so eager to help. When she refused, he just watched her in awe and a compliment almost slipped off his tongue. OK, he covered it up at the last moment, but it had been obvious enough that he wanted to tell her that she was beautiful. Louisa had decided that almost a compliment is better than none and accepted it thankfully.

Being on the balcony with Martin had been nice and she already had hopes of being able to let the relationship bloom a bit, when those horrible Oakwoods, the unholy trio, had darkened her door. It was difficult to decide which one was the worst of the three, Frankenstein, the bride of Frankenstein or Frankenstein's little monster. Martin was no help, just hiding away and after some awkward minutes excusing himself. As mad as she was about it, she had finally recognised that it was her fault too, as she hadn't made it clear that she wanted the Oakwoods to go. Maybe Martin wasn't sure if he should ease them out of the cottage. Louisa herself certainly had done nothing to get rid of them. Another ruined evening.

However, fate certainly had surpassed itself the third time. Again, she had invited Martin over and had spent hours on preparing their meal. Just half an hour before he was due to turn up he had rung her on her mobile. A rather disappointed Martin had excused himself. He'd been called out to an emergency. Apparently there had been an accident on the cliff path. He had no clue how serious it was, and he just needed further directions on the mobile, but he felt obliged to attend to it. Some of the cliffs were quite dangerous and time may be paramount. Louisa understood. She was very proud of him being such a good doctor and she actually admired his dedication to the welfare of Portwenn, therefore she would never be one of those stupid wives complaining because her partner went off to save a life.

She could hear that Martin didn't take it lightly and was only a bit consoled after they had set another date. From the other side of the harbour she could see his Lexus speed away. Unbeknown to him she waved him a sad goodbye.

She thought nothing of it, just spent the evening sad but proud watching the telly. She was concerned for the first time when she tried to call in the surgery at noon the next day, finding a huge sign that the surgery was closed. She tried to phone Martin on his mobile, but uncharacteristically it was switched off. Even then, she hadn't been worried. Maybe he was in the hospital attending the patient he had to see the previous night. On her way down the hill, she ran into Bert Large, puffing and panting as he had made his way up the stairs from his restaurant to the street.

"Any news from the doc, luv?"

"What do you mean?"

"Paul just wondered. She didn't know what to do and was afraid the Doc would be really cross when she just shut the surgery down. I told her there's no point in lingering around when the Doc's not there."

"So she put the sign on?"

"I told the poor gal that it would be alright. Made the sign myself. I keep an eye on the surgery just in case the Doc turns up."

"Are you saying he hadn't returned after the emergency last night at all?"

"Hard to say. Paul certainly didn't see him downstairs. Of course she wasn't too eager to go upstairs and probably catch him in his boxers." Bert chuckled. "Called upstairs, though, but the bird seems to have fled the nest."

"Thank you, Bert. Can you call me when Mart…eeeh…Doctor Ellingham turns up?"

"Sure, luv. Everything to keep the customer happy, that's my motto."

And like a stranded walrus he headed down the stairs.

Louisa questioned everyone she met, asking if they had seen the Doc or if anyone had heard anything about an accident on the cliffs. Strangely enough for Portwenn, no one knew anything. Louisa went home to do some paper work, some silly administrative stuff that was of no practical use whatsoever. Just to keep the bureaucracy happy! From her place at the window she kept an eye on the surgery. Every reflection of a passing car made her jump in her seat, trying to spot a certain silver Lexus, but with no luck. When she went to bed without any sign or news from Martin, she was already more than just a bit concerned.

To be continued…