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Prescribing Pleasure - Kathleen Lash

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18

PRESCRIBING PLEASURE

by

Kathleen Lash

TORRID BOOKS

www.torridbooks.com

Published by

TORRID BOOKS

www.torridbooks.com

An Imprint of Whiskey Creek Press LLC

Whiskey Creek Press

PO Box 51052

Casper, WY 82605-1052

Copyright Ó 2013 by Kathleen Lash

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN 978-1-61160-467-2

Credits

Cover Artist: Harris Channing

Editor: Dave Field

Printed in the United States of America

Chapter 1

Isaac Weston sat in a small eastside Cleveland hospital emergency department, holding a blood-soaked rag over his lacerated arm. If he hadn’t been bleeding so damn bad, he would’ve driven the extra forty miles to seek care in the suburbs near his home where he felt comfortable. Normally, some duct tape bandaged him up just fine, but unfortunately, this accident required something more.

Less than five minutes passed before a nurse called his name, lead him into an exam room, and asked a hundred preliminary questions. Finally, she took his vital signs and disappeared, leaving the door ajar.

Moments later, following a brief knock, a young, long-limbed, blond woman walked into the room. A pony tail held shining strands of hair away from her face. She wore an unbecoming pair of pink scrubs. The shirt had atrocious multicolored balloons and monstrous clowns smattered haphazardly across the front.

God help me.

Hi, Mr. Weston, I’m Amy Townsend. I’ll be taking care of you today, she said, extending her hand. A firm handshake accompanied a cheerful smile with gleaming white teeth. Light dove-gray eyes sparkled with enthusiasm.

He acknowledged her greeting by mumbling, Hi.

She walked to the sink and washed her hands. Is this a good morning, or a good evening situation?

Come again?

Seven in the morning could mean you were just starting a shift or ending one. You’re one of the men responsible for that beautiful new addition to our efficient little hospital, right?

Yeah, he replied, sort of understanding what she’d said, and I was a few hours from the end of a shift.

She shook her hands over the sink and grabbed paper towels. The Dempsey Construction label on your work shirt gave you away. Were you aware you have triple H syndrome, Mr. Weston?

What the hell is she talking about?

Sorry, come again?

Hard hat hair. Triple H?

It’d been a long twelve-hour shift, but he found himself smiling despite being tired, having a massive headache, and sitting in an emergency room. I should’ve cleaned up.

Glad you didn’t bother on my account. Besides, not too many of you get hurt on the job. Why, we’d barely know you were out there with the exception of the building rumbling every so often. We’ll get you patched up and on your merry way before you know it.

Do people really say merry way anymore?

She walked close with the wheeled blood pressure monitor in tow. He scowled. The other nurse already did that.

Yes, she certainly did. Let’s hope she either typed some strange numbers into the computer, or the machine has a glitch. Your blood pressure’s a little high, even for a man with a lacerated arm. Do you have a history of high blood pressure?

No.

Have you been to a doctor recently?

Damn, she smells good.

No heavy perfume, just a clean smell with a trace of fragrance. Sure, I had a physical two months ago.

I’d like you to remove your shirt please. The blood pressure reading will be more accurate without the material and I’ll need the shirt off to get a good look at that arm. I can get a gown if you’re bashful.

He started unbuttoning. You just got here. How did you know what my blood pressure was?

She turned away to sit at the computer station in the room. Jane enters information into the central station. I get a preliminary report while finishing notes on other patients. Not very personable, but very, very efficient. Her pony tail bobbed slightly in time with the soft elevator music drifting from an overhead speaker as she rapidly clicked the keyboard. She appeared to be rocking out to Beethoven. Do you smoke or drink?

He bet her hair would be soft. Probably fragrant too, like the rest of her. On occasion.

Which?

Both.

She typed quickly and didn’t say a word.

No lecture?

She spun the chair and stood. You’re grown. Would it do any good?

No.

Well, there you have it. A perky, expectant expression accompanied her slightly odd manner. She seemed bent on being personable.

He couldn’t decide if she was subtly flirting, or just one of those bubbly people life tossed in your path like a grenade.

I’m at the end of my shift too and I don’t want to waste it lecturing, she said. You all right with that?

Suits me fine.

Like I’d listen to a sermon from a kid like her.

She sighed. Too bad. I have one terrific fire and brimstone lecture on the evils of smoking.

I don’t do it often, he added, noticing laugh lines at the corners of her eyes. On closer inspection, she wasn’t a kid.

She grabbed the blood pressure cuff and secured it around his bicep. After taking the stethoscope from her neck, she plugged her ears with the tips and hit the button to inflate the cuff. As it released, she watched the dial. One-ten over eighty.

And that means—what?

It’s remarkably, unremarkable.

His mouth dropped open.

Exceedingly normal, despite the occasional smoking and drinking.

Ah, there it is.

What’s that? She removed the cuff from his arm.

A lecturing tone of voice. He generally didn’t verbally play around. It created too much room for misunderstandings. What in the hell possessed him to tease her? She kept the smile on her face and tilted her head. Somehow, he’d managed to amuse her.

Let’s get a look at that laceration. She stepped around and lifted his left arm carefully. Supporting the underside, she unwound the bloody rag and winced. This is one heck of an ouchie, Mr. Weston.

When he laughed, she seemed embarrassed. Sorry, most the cases last night were pediatric. Still, your laceration and tear are extremely impressive. What caused it?

One of the burners was cutting a beam and it slid from the platform and caught me.

Burner?

Burner, as in job title. A man who cuts metal with a torch. You know—to burn.

She doesn’t need to understand. Why am I bothering?

What was the beam made of?

Steel.

Got it. When was your last tetanus shot?

A while.

Five years? Seven?

Probably more like ten years ago.

All right then. Her reassuring smile placed him on edge. You’re the grand prize winner of our all-inclusive special of the day. Your arm gets a lovely spa treatment with an antibacterial agent to soak out the dirt. Then you’ll be treated to our very best surgical silk lacings, followed by a charming sterile wrap and a tetanus booster to complete your package.

Sounds great. How many stitches?

She surveyed his forearm closely. I’d say forty or so.

No!

Squeamish?

No, but damn, it’s not that bad. He wondered when the doctor would arrive and take a look. He figured a few stitches, some butterfly strips, a roll of gauze and he’d be on his merry goddamned way. She appeared to study him.

What the hell does she find so fascinating?

Her image suddenly blurred. Balloons and clowns swirled together to form a disturbing kaleidoscope of puke-colored pastels. The two-day headache throbbed behind his eyes.

Mr. Weston?

Yeah, he replied.

Damn, I hope the pain’ll fade.

She walked to the wall and depressed a red button. Jane, hustle in here, would you?

That didn’t sound good. What’s wrong?

Nothing, you look a little pasty is all. Let’s get you lateral.

No, I’m fine. Just the arm. The room tilted.

The nurse who’d initially taken his information appeared. Yes, Dr. Amy?

Doctor! Hell, she doesn’t look old enough to be a doctor and I’ve been spouting off to her. Damn.

Let’s get this gentleman nice and comfy on the gurney, the doctor replied. After he’d wound up flat on his back, she placed her palm onto his forehead. I didn’t see a temp on his file.

Maybe she’s sick—her hand feels like ice.

"Sorry. It’s been so busy—" the nurse started to say.

No problem, it happens. Can I have a thermometer, Jane?

Right away.

The electronic probe slid into his mouth and beeped a moment later. How long have you been running this temperature?

A cold or the flu for a few days. Nothing to write home about. His teeth started throbbing in sync with his heartbeat. Hell of a headache though.

Are you with me, Mr. Weston?

Sure.

Sort of.

Her entire demeanor changed to all business as she did an exam. Ears, nose and eyes were examined before her hands slid over him, pressing here and there. Despite her soft touch, he stiffened when she probed his abdomen. His problem was an arm. It had nothing to do with his tender guts or his strong, remarkably unremarkable heart, and he didn’t appreciate her searching for something else wrong. The hospital was small. Maybe they needed revenue to pay for the huge expansion.

After looking at his throat and probing his neck, she finally said, I believe you have a streptococcus infection. Your tonsils are the coolest shade of crimson.

A swab darted to the back of his throat when he opened his mouth to question her. She removed it before he gagged. I’ll send this for a rapid strep test and I bet we’ll add a shot of antibiotic to your day at the spa. We’ll give you a hefty dose to get you feeling better quickly. Have you had any coughing, sneezing, or runny nose?

No, so it probably isn’t strep. When he tried to sit up, she held his shoulders so he’d remain lying there, helpless, shirtless and confused.

Actually, most of the time those symptoms don’t accompany a strep infection. Your fever, swollen glands, glowing tonsils with prominent white spots, headache and sensitive stomach are all suggestive of this type of bacterial infection. To the nurse she asked, Any allergies, Jane?

Not a one.

Absolutely fabulous.

He suddenly didn’t appreciate her perky voice, pony tail or million dollar smile. Why is that good? More than a little hostile, he absolutely could not keep the annoyance from his voice. She should fix the damn arm. His body would naturally take care of whatever else was wrong. It always did.

I love having a range of treatment available. You know—no restrictions. That way we can give you exactly what you need to defeat that unpleasant little bug in your system. And while we wait for the lab results, we’ll work on that arm of yours.

He lay there dizzy and sweating, figuring he portrayed a perfect wimp. He zoned out and closed his eyes before the thudding in his head made something rupture. He’d be in deep trouble if that happened. What would the lively, little doctor do in a real emergency?

The next thing he knew, they’d removed his boots and worked to strip off his socks.

What the hell are they doing?

The doctor walked up and placed her hand on his shoulder. She looked a lot prettier, hovering above with the balloons and clowns no longer spinning. Her chilly hand on his skin made his blood pump. Good thing she wasn’t listening to his heart at the moment. She’d probably overreact about that too and defibrillate him.

Something wrong with my feet? My arm’s up here.

I thought we’d include a pedicure in the spa package.

His teeth clenched before the anger fizzled away. Her concerned expression alleviated the hostility.

The cool air—does it help? Do you feel any better?

Surprisingly, his head cleared a little. Yes, actually.

Glad to hear it. We’ll get you something for fever and pain. I’m afraid you’ll resemble a pin cushion by the time you leave, Mr. Weston.

Sure, whatever. Maybe an additional shot of something wasn’t a bad idea after all. He felt like shit. A certain part of him didn’t feel sick though. Damn, why the hell was he getting hard?

She patted his shoulder. Let’s get this gentleman all fixed up, shall we? I’ll put the orders in the computer so you can get started.

I can have Dr. Moore take over if you want to go home, Jane replied.

No, thank you. I’m a sucker for a sewing project and the emergency room’s starting to fill up. Moreover, Martin Moore may have more than enough to manage. I’ll spend the time suturing Mr. Weston. She gazed at him. The laceration is deep and I wasn’t joking about the number of stitches. If you’d like, I can call a plastic surgeon.

Surgeon!

For that?

Certainly. Although your arms have a nice covering of fur, the scar’s going to be fairly obvious. A surgeon could make it look spiffy straight away.

I—work—construction.

Her eyebrows rose. What does that have to do with anything?

The pretty, strange, sensual, good-smelling doctor wasn’t bent on gaining income for the hospital. She really couldn’t fathom how off the wall her suggestion sounded. A scar won’t matter.

I thought I’d offer. I don’t like to assume things.

You feel comfortable stitching me up?

Of course. Comfortable and capable. I’ll sew a pretty pattern in it if I can. I used to be good at embroidery.

He laughed and relaxed. He visualized a scar in the shape of a flower with a long stem and leaves.

If you change your mind at any point, let me know. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Give it a shot and we’ll see what you come up with.

I’ll do my very best.

For an hour, he lay relaxing with his arm resting on a tray table as she worked. She chatted while numbing and stitching him, probably to distract him. It worked. Although her topics were a little strange, under the sometimes silly banter lay a very intelligent woman. After five minutes, he didn’t concentrate on her unusual manner of conversing.

She tied the knot on the final stitch and cut the thread. When he tried to sit, she grasped his upper arms. For a small woman, she didn’t strain too much helping him upright. Keeping her hand on his arm, she studied him long and hard.

Well? he asked.

She stripped off the gloves and tossed them into the waste can. It looks just like a flaming scull with cross bones.

He couldn’t help laughing. Something wrong?

Just judging how you did with the position change. How’s the dizziness?

The woman worried too much. She should worry about her effect on male patients. Gone. The pedicure did it.

Darn.

What?

Oh, I’d hoped to use some smelling salts on you.

Why!

I haven’t had the opportunity, and wondered how well they work.

When he realized she was joking, he laughed. She threw him off guard while staying close. He wondered if she’d learned her tactics in medical school. More than likely, they belonged uniquely to Dr. Amy Townsend.

He viewed his arm. She’d woven each tiny rip together. You think a plastic surgeon could’ve done better?

Undoubtedly. They have a lot more practice. I did a rotation with a plastics man and was fascinated by his technique. He liked me for some ungodly reason and took the time to show me some tricks.

It’s just an arm.

An arm that’ll hopefully remain attached to you for a long time. Her fingers grasped his wrist as she looked at the wall clock. Esthetics might be important to you some day.

Despite her choice of words, the woman fascinated him. Yeah, you just never know about that.

Truly. You could be the next model for a new advertising campaign featuring full strength, non-filtered cigarettes. Your macho arm hanging out from under a rolled up flannel sleeve while puffing away on that delightful-tasting, carbon monoxide filled—

Jesus, that’s the third time you didn’t lecture me. I thought you weren’t going to.

Have I? By her smile, she knew exactly what she’d done.

I have a cigar maybe once a year. As an afterthought, he added, If that.

There goes your chance for that modeling position. It took her a long time to seem satisfied with his pulse.

You stitch an artery closed or something?

After patting the back of his hand, she placed it on the tray table. You never know. I’m a fastidious general practitioner but a novice seamstress. I don’t get to play with sutures every day.

"Now you tell me." After her being extremely decent to him, he felt the need to put her at ease with some joking.

I offered the surgeon, Mr. Weston. The words were serious. Her expression wasn’t.

He imagined anyone close to her would need to listen carefully and read her expression to fully comprehend what she said. She didn’t do it to throw him off track. The woman had a multi-layered personality which allowed him to get comfortable on any level. She used her foot to pull the stool over and sat in front of him. Casually, she grabbed a sock and slid it onto his dangling foot.

You’ve got to be kidding me! he said, instantly regretting spewing what came to mind. I can put my socks and boots on.

She stared for a moment before seeming to realize why he’d spouted off. She grinned and shoved his pant leg up, pulling a sock into place. Not many people took the extra few seconds to see he appeared angry when annoyance, or maybe even embarrassment, caused heated words.

Part of the treatment, Mr. Weston. She finished putting on his socks. Jane will bring your discharge instructions. Expect some pain and swelling around the sutures. If you have any problems, come back immediately.

I’ll do that. He stopped her before she touched his dirty work boots. The sweet little clowns and balloons were dotted with his blood. He didn’t want his grimy boots messing her up more. I’d like to thank you for the trouble, Dr. Townsend.

She stood and accepted his extended hand. He couldn’t get over the firm handshake.

No trouble at all. I’m glad I was here to help. You’ll take a few days off from work? He sighed loudly and her eyes crinkled at the corners, plainly showing her amusement. A day in bed might give the antibiotics a chance to calm down that infection. You had a temperature of one hundred and two. Most normal humans would be on the couch watching television with some chicken noodle soup or double churned, fudge brownie, peanut butter swirl ice cream.

He silently contemplated what it’d be like watching Dr. Amy lick an ice cream cone.

You know what I mean. Pamper yourself—do pleasurable things.

You’re prescribing pleasure?

She grinned. Why yes, Mr. Weston, that’s a lovely way of putting it.

His thoughts plummeted to basic, physical, carnal happenings that he’d bet would be especially pleasurable with Dr. Amy. I’ll think about it.

I’d write you a note. The pleading quality of her voice made him chuckle.

Damn, I wish I’d met her at a bar.

He’d like to find out if she had half the wit without the scrubs. Maybe she felt comfortable because she controlled the situation. A lot of prim and proper women shied away from him. He didn’t know why. He wasn’t ogre-ugly and had his own teeth and hair. He could be grouchy but not in a lethal way. Thank you, he said again.

You’re very welcome.

She turned and walked from the room, but her scent lingered. The most interesting woman he’d met in years, and she had to be a goddamned doctor. Out of his league and probably married, too. He wouldn’t mind sitting around and talking to her though. She’d made him laugh.

Jane entered, wrapped his arm and relayed instructions. He’d gotten the injections but still needed antibiotics in pill form.

When Jane yawned, he asked, Long night?

We all love Dr. Amy, but she wears me out. She finished a back-to-back shift and I worked the last half with her. She ran me ragged.

As Jane worked, she said, I placed the prescription in the pharmacy so you can pick it up on your way out.

He would too, despite a history of throwing medication in the garbage after a few days. If the pretty, little doctor thought he needed antibiotics, he’d take them.

Twenty minutes later, he was escorted from the room. As he walked toward the pharmacy window, he