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A Difficult Patient by Loki Renard – Sample

A Difficult Patient by Loki RenardChapter One

 “I hate doctors.”

Alyssa muttered the words over and over to herself like a mantra. The cut just above her knee on the left side of her lower thigh was still bleeding, but that annoyed her much less than the fact she’d been sitting in a little cubicle for almost an hour and a half without anything to do. In an attempt to stave off a complete brain meltdown, she’d used tongue depressors and bits of latex gloves to make little impromptu animal sculptures and lined them up on the bed. There were three dogs, a cat with five legs, and something she fancied was a spider, but really just looked like a mishmash of hospital supplies, which it was.

The ER was relatively quiet on a weekday afternoon, but apparently that made no difference in how soon she was going to be seen. The sign at the end of the hall read ‘Prompt Care,’ but that was clearly a sick joke being played by a deviant mind. There was nothing prompt about the care Alyssa was receiving, or, more to the point, not receiving.

Sighing to herself, Alyssa stuck a tongue depressor into the middle finger of a latex glove. It amused her for all of a minute. This was what she got for trying to be healthy. She’d had her new mountain bike for all of a week and now the front tire was crumpled and her body was bruised and battered, all because some idiot thought leaving broken bottle glass on the trail was a good idea.

Just when Alyssa was certain everybody had forgotten about her, the curtain was twitched open and a nurse bustled in with a tray of medical thingies. She ignored the brilliant sculptures laid out around the patient; presumably it was not the first time she had seen such art. With the briefest of greetings, the woman reached for the blood pressure cuff on the wall and started trying to strap it around Alyssa’s arm.

“What? No.” Alyssa pulled her arm away sharply. “My leg is bleeding.”

“I need to take your blood pressure and I need to take some blood so we…”

“No,” Alyssa interrupted her. “You need to stop my leg bleeding so I can go home.”

The nurse’s lips pursed along well trammeled facial lines. “Ma’am, please don’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be.”

“My blood pressure is fine,” Alyssa said. “I’m fine, except for the hole where the hole shouldn’t be. I have things to do, so can we hurry this along a little?”

“If you want to hurry things along a little, let me do my job.”

Alyssa did not like the nurse’s tone. Or the nurse’s face. It looked like she’d made a career out of sucking lemons, all pinched and twisted up. Most people probably sat there and let themselves be turned into a human pincushion, but not Alyssa. She liked to avoid doctors and their ilk completely if at all possible.

She had been temporarily patched up and given something to take the edge off the pain, but nothing to take the edge off her impatience, which was growing by the second. Hospitals were tedious at the best of times, and this was not the best of times. Day off or not, work was piling up and every minute she spent not doing it was another minute she was going to have to spend catching up. Mountain biking was the only recreation she got, not to mention the only thing that got her out of the city and into the outdoors. If it weren’t for the sport, she would probably have forgotten what a tree looked like.

“Ma’am…”

“No!” Alyssa snapped. “Either sew me up, or let me go.”

The nurse left her little cubicle of tedium. Alyssa didn’t know if that was a triumph or not. A moment later, she heard the nurse’s voice raise.

“Call Dr. Wright. Code OTK.”

OTK. Alyssa wondered what that meant. Hopefully it meant they were hurrying things up to get her out of there. At least a doctor had finally been called, someone who might have the authority and expertise to get her Frankensteined back together. It was probably going to scar, knowing her luck.

Sitting on the bed, she looked morosely at the curtain, willing the doctor to get there already. A second later, her prayer was answered. The curtain twitched open once again and a tall man in his mid-forties with dark hair graying at the temples and looks more appropriate to your average movie star, or at least daytime TV star, came striding in.

He was good-looking, and not in a ‘oh, he’s a doctor’ way that made every man in a white coat more attractive, but on his own, he would have looked handsome in a seedy alley. He had strong features, wide intelligent eyes set above a long, straight nose. His mouth was also wide, but his lips were thinned from being pressed together. His cheekbones were high and his chin was narrow, giving him a somewhat hawkish appearance. Alyssa got the feeling that Dr. Wright didn’t miss much; his stare was so penetrating that it threw her off for a minute, made her forget her impatience.

“What’s the problem here?” His tone strongly suggested that he wasn’t going to tolerate the problem, whatever it was.

“The problem is there’s a hole in my leg and they keep messing with other parts of me,” Alyssa said. “I just want the leg fixed. You got a sewing kit or something? I’ll do it myself.”

He gave her a long look. The longest anyone had given her since coming in. Everyone else had been too busy to give her much more than a cursory glance. Now that she thought about it, it wasn’t really a look so much as a withering stare.

“Ma’am…”

“Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Alyssa snapped. “My name is Alyssa. I’m not ma’am or any other generic term you people use when you’re trying to shove patients through in a production line. My name is Alyssa,” she repeated, speaking slowly as if he were a simpleton. “There’s a hole in my leg, and if you won’t stitch it up, then I’ll leave and find someone else who will.”

“Mhm.” Dr. Wright’s look had not lost any of its intensity. He probably wasn’t used to patients laying down the law. Most women probably swooned at his chiseled good looks and the way that dark lock of hair nearly fell into his eye, like a lopsided Superman. “Slide down off the bed for me, please, then turn around and put your hands on the mattress.”

Alyssa gave him a suspicious look before complying, but she did as he’d asked. Once she was in position, he lifted the hem of her hospital gown slightly, pulled back the tape and gauze covering the cut, and nodded. “Three or four stitches, likely. You’ll be given them after the nurse takes your blood pressure, gets a sample of blood, and gives you a tetanus shot.”

“Like hell!”

“Alyssa…”

It was the first time he’d used her name. His deep baritone sent shivers through her belly, made her feel as though there were some personal connection between them even though they’d only just met.

“…you need to settle down and do as you’re told.”

The sentence simultaneously excited and annoyed her. Who was he to tell her to do as she was told?

“This is a hospital,” she informed the doctor, “and whether you like it or not, you’re in the service industry. So you might want to dial back the unwanted medical procedures and try following my instructions.”

Dr. Wright looked down at her, unmoved and thoroughly unimpressed. Alyssa did not have time for the battle of wills they were engaging in. The day was slipping through her fingers.

“Is this how you normally speak to people from whom you need help?”

“Oh, for god’s sake, you probably deal with junkies and gang members half the time,” Alyssa snapped. “I’m sure you’ve heard worse than a reminder that the patient is in control.”

His lip twitched. “You’re in control, are you?”

“I’ve been here for almost two hours,” Alyssa said, ignoring his question. “All I need is a stitch or two and for some reason, you people seem to think that everyone else’s world stops the moment they walk through the doors of this place. Well, newsflash, it doesn’t! I have work to do, and unlike you lot, I actually intend on doing it.”

She had not intended to unload on the handsome doctor in quite so spectacular a fashion, but a certain amount of drama came naturally to Alyssa, and her frustration levels had reached an all-time high. It didn’t help that she was hungry and hurt.

Dr. Wright put his hand on her shoulder, and for a moment she thought he was actually going to treat her. Instead, he bought his other hand down in a sweeping swat that culminated in a harsh connection with her rear.

“Ow!” She squealed in outrage, surprise, and discomfort. “What the hell was that?”

She put her hand to her bottom and glared at him, entirely outraged by his nerve. He’d slapped her backside as if she were… well, she didn’t know what she would had to have been to make that okay. His possession in some age long past, perhaps. Certainly not a modern woman who expected to be treated like an equal. Certainly not a patient.

“Spread your legs a little.”

The order was gruff, almost sexual.

“What?”

“I need to take your temperature.” He put his hand on the back of her shoulders and gently pressed her face and upper body toward the bed. She felt him tug her panties down to her thighs and a second later she was left with her bare bottom exposed to the stern doctor who seemed to have no qualms about treating her like a naughty girl.

She didn’t spread her legs immediately, but that didn’t stop him proceeding with his treatment. She felt one hand on her left cheek and then a second later she was squirming on her tiptoes as he pressed a dollop of cool lubricant against her bottom hole.

Blushing furiously, Alyssa couldn’t believe what was happening. His fingertip stayed against her tight clenching bud for what seemed like a long time, pressing and swirling in a way that sent shocks zipping through her nervous system all the way from her bottom to her toes and back again. In one swift movement, he had made her completely submissive to him—a foreign experience for Alyssa.

His hand moved away for a second, but swiftly returned with a thermometer. Before she could complain, he slipped it inside her bottom, the cool shaft penetrating her almost casually.

Still shocked out of speech, Alyssa squirmed. It earned her another swat. “Stay still,” he said, feeding it inside her a little deeper. Against all logic, Alyssa had to bite back a small moan. The slim but hard intrusion along with the residual sting from the doctor’s swats had left her at the mercy of her physical reactions. There was no script for being bent over a bed, spanked, and penetrated by a complete stranger.

He was holding the thermometer in place between two fingers, the tips of which were incredibly close to other intimate areas of her anatomy. A little wriggle one way or another and he’d be petting her pussy. She knew it shouldn’t make her feel anything, it was just clinical, but that did nothing to stop the sudden tingling in her clit.

She pressed forward against the bed to get a little pressure there, perhaps relieve it. All it did was leave her subtly trying to hump a hospital mattress while the tall, handsome man behind her with the adept fingers slid the thermometer in a little deeper and then out a little and then in a little deeper… the movement was so subtle that she wasn’t entirely certain it was happening at all, but if it was, then she was to all intents and purposes having more than her temperature taken. Her bottom hole had become his territory.

“You’re hot-headed,” he said, slowly easing the thermometer out. “But you don’t have a temperature, so that’s something.”

Alyssa regained sole custody of her bottom, and with it, a growing sense of outrage. “You…”

He slapped her bottom again. “You can stand up,” he said. “The nurse will be in to do blood pressure and get a blood sample.”

“And will my leg actually get the attention it needs at any point? Or are you just going to stick things in me and suck things out of me until I get bored and go home?”

She turned around, the tingling between her thighs only serving to make her more abrasive for knowing that there was no way she’d get release. Bad enough to be hurt; she didn’t need to be horny on top of it.

“You’re twenty-six years old, Alyssa,” Dr. Wright lectured. “Act your age and let the nurses do their job, or I’ll be back to finish the spanking.”

Alyssa’s jaw dropped. “You can’t do that! I’ll report you… I’ll…”

“Do as you like,” he said implacably. “If I don’t see a sample and blood pressure readings by the time I return, we’ll do this again.”

Shocked and frustrated, Alyssa could only watch as he turned and walked out, leaving her with a stinging cheek and wounded pride.

“Ready for the rest of the examination?” The nurse appeared a moment later. She didn’t look pinched anymore; she looked pleased. She’d probably heard everything that happened through the curtain. There was more privacy in the average changing room than in her little cubicle of cloth.

“No,” Alyssa said crossly. “I’m ready to file a complaint. This is a violation…”

“I’ll get Dr. Wright.” The nurse dropped the curtain.

Scowling at the place where the nurse had been, Alyssa decided she’d had enough. Hole or no hole, she was going home. She probably didn’t actually need stitches anyway. Gathering her discarded clothes, Alyssa pushed back the curtain. She’d had enough of this ridiculous carry-on. They were going to be sorry they’d messed with her. Once they realized who she was and what she did, there was going to be absolute hell to pay.

Dr. Wright was not far away, tending to another patient in another cloth cubby. Alyssa stormed past him, her clothes in one hand, the other holding her injured leg. She thought he hadn’t noticed her, but at the last moment he spun on his heel, reached out, and grabbed her by the arm holding the clothes. He looked down his nose at her, clearly irritated by her non-compliance. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Leaving.”

“Go back to your bed, Ms. Winters, and wait for the nurse.”

“No,” Alyssa snapped. “I’m not waiting another minute. You had your chance, now… ow!

He’d swatted her again, his powerful hand catching the curve of her cheek in a hard smack. He’d done it in front of all the nurses and the patients too, further multiplying her embarrassment.

“How dare you… eek!” Alyssa squealed as he repeated the treatment, swatting her with enough force to make her backside tingle long after his palm left it.

“Back to your bed, Alyssa,” he repeated, swatting her along the way. She limped and squealed all the way back to the cubicle at the end of the hall, sustaining several more swats as she did.

“You can’t do this,” she said, wresting her arm out of his grasp and swatting him back. She made contact with his chest, hit the hard plane, and realized where the spanking power was coming from. He was all muscle under that medical coat. She drew her hand back again, this time planning to slap him right across his self-satisfied face.

“Don’t even think about it,” he growled, stilling her hand with the force of his personality alone. “You’ve made enough of a scene as it is. If you don’t settle down, I’ll have you put in restraints.”

Alyssa laughed harshly. “Oh, yeah? Do that and see what happens. Just try it.”

Part of her hoped he would try something so stupid. She would sue the lights out of him if he did. Hell, she was already planning on suing him for what he’d done so far.

Dr. Wright pulled the curtain closed behind them, swept up the hem of her gown, and laid a hard slap right across her panty-clad rear. Alyssa’s squeal of outrage turned to concern as she realized there was a very real chance he was going to keep swatting her if she didn’t give in.

“Stop it!”

“Are you ready to behave yourself?”

“I…”

“Sit down.”

Two little words, but they fell from Dr. Wright’s lips with enough authority to make her obey from reflex alone. She sat, hauling herself back up onto the bed, which was too damn high for anyone of normal height to just sit down on. She and the doctor both scowled, sizing one another up.

“Nurse,” he said, still eyeballing Alyssa. “Check the patient’s blood pressure, please.”

The nurse must have been just outside, for she came in and put the cuff around Alyssa’s arm. Alyssa would have pulled away, but she was being nailed to the spot by a hard gaze that brooked no movement, let alone argument. She squirmed as it made the puff puff sound, getting tighter as it was inflated. She did not like the sensation at all; far too tight, far too restrictive. It made her feel as if she couldn’t breathe, even though it was just on her arm.

“140 over 101,” the nurse read.

“That’s high,” Dr. Wright noted.

“Of course it’s high! You’re bullying me.”

“I think it has more to do with your fear of doctors than being bullied,” he said, nodding to the nurse. “Thank you, Nurse Witz.”

“I’m not afraid of doctors,” Alyssa denied hotly, hiding her relief as the cuff was removed from her arm.

The doctor opened a file and glanced at her over the top of it. “I pulled your medical history. Aside from vaccinations, you haven’t seen a doctor for most of your life. Why is that?”

“I’m healthy.”

“There’s no way to know that with this many examinations missed. You’ve come in presenting with hypertension and irritability. There could be any number of underlying conditions.”

“The underlying condition,” Alyssa said, gritting her teeth, “is that you’re looking for a way to pad your bill. Now treat me and let me go or I’m going anyway.”

“You need stitches and a shot at the very least,” he informed her. “And you’ll need a follow-up visit.”

“Fine. Give me the stitches and the shot. Nothing else.”

“Two shots technically,” he corrected himself. “One for the tetanus, the other is a local anesthetic for the stitches.”

“Ugh,” Alyssa grunted. “Just do the thing already.”

“Do the thing,” he repeated. “If you’d been content for us to do the thing in the first place, you’d likely have been out of here by now.”

Alyssa glowered at him darkly. “But then you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to assault me.”

“That wasn’t assault,” he said, donning rubber gloves. “That was a fraction of the spanking you deserve for carrying on like this.” He didn’t sound mad anymore. His cheek was dimpling and if anything he seemed a little amused by the whole situation. Oh, it was funny for him alright. He wasn’t the one on the wrong end of the pointy things. He wasn’t the one whose bottom was stinging because of a frankly unprecedented approach to medical care.

A nurse came in bearing a tray full of suturing equipment. Alyssa blanched. She would rather have fallen onto an iron girder again than be sewed up like a rag doll. It was all so barbaric. How the heck was it 2014 and yet doctors were still sewing patients up? Surely there should be sticky lasers or something by now. She recoiled without thinking about it, ending up down the far end of the bed, pressed against the wall.

“Just lie back and relax,” the doctor said. “This won’t take a couple of minutes and you won’t feel anything past the first prick.”

“That’s what he said,” Alyssa muttered under her breath.

There was an answering snort. Against all odds, doctor slappy-hands seemed to have gotten the joke. She glanced over at him and saw the handsome smirk twisting his lips, which made her heart skip a beat. He was hot, but that didn’t mean she forgave him for what he’d done. He’d manhandled her and he’d completely ignored her right as a free and independent woman to do as she liked when she liked. Dr. Wright clearly thought he was above the law. She couldn’t wait to prove him wrong on that count.

“Lie down,” he repeated.

“Do I have to?” She didn’t want to lie down; animal instinct was telling her to stay erect, stay ready to run away. Lying down was the last thing she wanted to do.

“It’s pretty much the only way I can suture that cut,” he said. He was being a little nicer now. He patted the bed with his long, elegant hand—the same one that had slapped her bottom earlier. “Come on now.”

Alyssa knew she was being silly, and she was glad none of her associates could see her. If they could see hard-nosed Alyssa Winters practically whimpering in a corner, they would have laughed all day and all night.

Reluctantly, Alyssa moved to lie down, feelings of intense vulnerability making her tummy quiver as the doctor loomed over her. He’d pulled a stool close and sat down next to her, but he was so tall he still had a good amount of height.

“Good,” he said, the little word making her smile. “This won’t take long.”

She closed her eyes as his glove-covered hand touched her injured leg, gently pushing the cheap hospital gown up. There was an undeniable intimacy to the moment, which seemed completely out of place under fluorescent lights and with the scent of sanitizer in the air.

“Relax,” he instructed, as if it were just that simple to relax when you were about to get sewn up. Alyssa tried breathing deeply, but it didn’t work very well. Her chest was so tight that getting even a little air in was a struggle.

There was a cool wet sensation as he swabbed near the wound, then a slight pinching sensation, then she felt nothing. A second or two later, he announced that the first part was done.

“We’ll give you a few minutes to numb up,” he said, “then the stitching can begin.”

“Can’t wait,” Alyssa said dully. Having submitted to the process, she could do nothing but wait for it to be over. Her butt cheek was still stinging, a distracting outrage that made things a little easier to deal with. He’d slapped her. The man making casual conversation had slapped her. If he thought he was going to get away with that, he had another think coming, but she’d let him finish putting her back together before addressing that issue.

“So this was a cycling accident?”

“Yeah,” she said, glancing over at him.

“Were you wearing a helmet?”

“I was,” she said, just barely avoiding the impulse to roll her eyes.

“Good. Glad you take care of yourself in some respects, if not others.”

He was judging her, which Alyssa thought was a bit much considering she was in good shape, ate well enough, and did a reasonable amount of exercise. “Just because I don’t run to a doctor every time I have a sniffle doesn’t mean that I don’t take care of myself.”

“You’re a very long way overdue for a lot of basic health checks,” he informed her. “You haven’t had a gynecological exam, for instance.”

Alyssa felt herself blush as the conversation took an unexpected turn. “Wha… I… Just stitch my leg already.”

“It’s important,” he insisted. “You should have been getting them since you became sexually active at the very latest.”

“Who says I’m sexually active?”

“At twenty-six, most people are.”

“Yeah, well, maybe I’m not most people. And maybe you should mind your own business.”

“I’m your treating physician,” he reminded her. “Your health is my business.”

Alyssa took a deep breath and sighed in annoyance. The man really did have some sort of God complex. The fact that she was in his domain seemed to give him almost endless power, enabling him to say things nobody else could and do things nobody else would.

“Your job is to fix my leg and leave the rest of me out of it.” She folded her arms over her chest and stared at the ceiling. He had thoroughly embarrassed her with his comments about intimate exams, so much so that it was a moment or two before she realized that he was starting to sew her leg up. It didn’t hurt in the slightest; it felt more like she was being tugged on a little.

“Almost done,” he announced a few minutes later, having stitched the cut and covered it with sanitary bandages. It felt tight and strange, but it was better than having her insides seeping to the outside. She was whole again.

“One final shot,” he announced. “Stand up carefully and bend over the bed, please.”

“No,” Alyssa refused, figuring he was planning on sticking a needle in her buttock. She’d had enough pain and humiliation for one day—and she’d shown her ass enough too. “Just give it to me in my arm.”

“This isn’t a negotiation,” he replied. “Do as you’re told.”

Do as she was told? Alyssa found the idea repulsive on the face of it. She did not do as she was told, certainly not as she was told by arrogant doctors wanting to use her bottom as a pincushion. “No,” she said boldly. “I’m not someone to be ordered around. I’m your patient, not your damn servant. You do as you’re told and give me the shot in my arm.”

Dr. Wright sighed, looked briefly to the ceiling where he found no solace, then back down at her. “Do you enjoy being tiresome?”

“Do you enjoy being overbearing?” She sat up and presented her arm.

“Someone really should give you a damn good spanking,” he said, rubbing her arm briefly with a fresh swab.

“Someone should report you for unprofessional behavior,” she shot back. “You hit me. And your threats are basically sexual harassment.”

“There’s nothing sexual about what I’m talking about,” he said grimly. “Just a good old-fashioned spanking to teach you how to behave.”

Alyssa cut her eyes at him. “It’s not your place to tell me how I should behave. It’s your place to shut up and provide medical treatment.” She’d crossed the line from irate to rude, but she didn’t care. The last thing she needed was a lecture from her doctor.

“Relax your arm, or this will hurt.”

“I thought you wanted to hurt me.”

“Not medically,” he said, giving her arm a little shake. “Seriously. Relax.”

“You made me tense,” she growled. “How am I supposed to relax when you’re telling me I deserve to be hit?”

“Spanked, not hit,” he said. “I see you weren’t disciplined in the past, along with not getting much in the way of medical care.”

“It’s the same thing.”

“It’s not. Hitting is what someone does when they’re frustrated, to hurt someone else. Spanking is a way to teach someone a lesson so that they remember the consequences.” He said it matter-of-factly, as if he were discussing some kind of pill or medical treatment.

“Are you sure you’re a doctor?” Alyssa cocked her head to the side. “And if so, did you qualify this century? Because the words coming out of your mouth sound like something straight out of Victorian England. Next you’ll be telling me bare table legs inflame your ardor.”

Mocking him was easier than shrinking in shame at all the talk of spanking. He was probably saying it to subdue her, but Alyssa had never been easily subdued and she wasn’t going to start just because an attractive doctor made empty threats.

Her cellphone rang. She answered it, glad for a reason to stop talking about whether or not she should be spanked. It was her boss on the line, Joyce Winstead of Winstead and Heath. Just as she answered, the doctor took the opportunity to jab her with the needle. She gave him an irritated look, but managed to keep from yelping out loud.

“Alyssa, where are you? It doesn’t matter,” Joyce said, interrupting herself. “There’s a case…”

Alyssa stopped listening to what Joyce was saying, because Dr. Wright had his hands on her knees and was spreading them. She offered no resistance, curious as to what he had planned. There was no way he could perform a pelvic at the angle she was sitting, plus her panties were protecting her.

He glanced up at her, then back at her pantied crotch. She looked down and saw what he was seeing… a spreading wetness of arousal.

“That’s an atypical reaction to stitches or stress in general,” he said. “Lie back. I need to examine you further.”

Alyssa’s eyes widened. She would have loved to have gotten off the phone, or at least told Joyce that she was indisposed, but Joyce was talking and Alyssa would no more have interrupted her boss than interrupted the pope.

She had to settle for hitting the mute button for a moment. “There’s nothing atypical about that,” she hissed. “You don’t need to examine anything.”

“You’ve never had a pelvic and you’re showing signs of excessive lubrication in the vaginal region,” he said. “It could be a cause for concern.”

“It’s not,” she insisted. Joyce was saying something about something. It was probably important. Alyssa only just caught the tail end of what she was saying. “…don’t fuck it up.”

The line went dead. Joyce was one of the very few people she’d happily take orders from. The woman had been one of the first female partners in a major Massachusetts law firm back in the day and she was still formidable, though well into her sixties. There wasn’t anyone, man or woman, at Winstead and Heath who didn’t respect and fear Joyce. Alyssa had never met anyone who compared to her—until perhaps, now. Dr. Wright seemed just as inimitably formidable, though he was not nearly as abrasive.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Alyssa gave her full attention to the doctor whose hand was now for all intents and purposes between her thighs. Her clit was starting to throb again, the muscles in her lower belly contracting as she tried not to give away what was happening. With the doctor’s gaze locked on her loins, that was a losing battle.

“It’s not… It’s because I…” Their eyes met and he saw what she meant written in her gaze.

“Lie back, Alyssa.” He spoke in a low purr. Slowly, she obeyed, caught in a spell of her need. The rules of the ordinary world had been suspended as he pushed the gown up above her panty line and let his hand rest directly over her mound.

He stood beside her, looking down at her with hooded eyes as his fingertips brushed over her pantied pussy in a touch that was not clinical as much as a caress. “Stimulation can often lead to lubrication,” he murmured. “Especially in cases where there has been limited contact. Have you been lacking in the stimulation department?”

He had no idea just how lacking she was. He was the first man to touch her there in, well, in almost forever. Alyssa never had much time for men in between going to law school and then being employed. Her priority had always been her career and she had never been one for casual encounters.

This was something different. This was something she found herself wanting more than anything else. The rules didn’t seem to apply to Dr. Wright. She could already tell that he did what he wanted without fear of consequences—and yet, oddly, he had a serious air of authority about him too.

In that moment, with his hand on the most intimate part of her body, stoking an illicit fire that she so rarely allowed to burn, she wanted him to push her panties aside and plunge his fingers inside her. She wanted him to treat her like the wanton she so suddenly felt she was.

It was harmless, after all. She’d probably never see this doctor again, why shouldn’t she take some pleasure where she found it? From the moment he’d laid his hands on her, she’d felt something she’d never felt before: an attraction more powerful than any little crush she’d had in the past.

“We really should do a full pelvic,” he said, his tone lingering like his fingers. The notion made her nervous for a variety of reasons but what he was doing in that moment dispelled any immediate concern. She wanted more. She wanted to climax against his hand; to hell with the consequences.

“Can’t you… examine me this way?”

He raised a brow at her. “I was right about you,” he purred, “you’re a very naughty girl.”

His words might have held some censure, but his fingers were moving in a slow intimate massage of her most sensitive spot. His fingers trailed up and around the throbbing bud of her clit, then down to press at the panty-covered entrance to her body.

“Is that your medical opinion?”

“What I recommend for you is a strict course of very firm handling,” he said, sliding his glove-clad fingers to the gusset of her panties. He pushed them aside, leaving her moist lips bare to his gaze. “It’s obvious that you’re trouble.”

She had to silently disagree with him again. Alyssa was a good girl from way back, or at least she thought she was. She’d certainly never been described as ‘trouble’ before. It was an interesting experience to be a bad girl; she was starting to think she liked it.

“Just to be clear,” she said with a playful smile. “This, what’s happening now, this is sexual, isn’t it?”

“It’s a perfectly legitimate examination of your genitals,” the doctor insisted with an equally playful smile in return. Good god, he was handsome. When he smiled, his cheek dimpled and her heart melted. He still seemed like an arrogant ass, but he was an arrogant ass who was now running his glove-clad fingers over her exposed pussy with the same alacrity a maestro might use to play a violin.

Alyssa felt her lower stomach muscles clench as pleasure began to spiral out from the bud of her clit and flood the rest of her body. He’d barely touched her and she was ready to cum on his hand.

“You have an excellent sexual response,” he murmured softly, letting his fingers brush over her clit. Her hips jolted at the direct touch and she was forced to bite back a moan. “Your cheeks and chest are becoming flushed,” he informed her in that soft purr. “Your nipples are erect and your labia are engorged.”

Clinical terms had never been so arousing. Alyssa’s muscles clenched even tighter as her hips began to rock back and forth against his hand. She struggled to meet his gaze as he let her rut against him, her clit rubbing up against his fingers in a wet back-and-forth motion that left her so close to orgasm she could already feel it fizzing through her veins.

“Good girl,” he murmured. “That’s it, a little more…”

He was encouraging her to cum, coaching her through the most unexpected and vulnerable orgasm of her life. His words were what put her over the edge, sent her pulse racing and her blood pressure skyrocketing as she bore down against his hand and clamped her thighs close together as shamelessly as a harem girl.

The orgasm was the most intense she’d ever experienced, a rushing, buzzing confusion that left her weak and limp on the bed, covered in a light sheen of fresh sweat as Dr. Wright petted her between her thighs and murmured words of praise.

“That was very good, Alyssa,” he said. “You’re exceptionally responsive.”

Breathing deeply, Alyssa tried to force some sense into her head. She didn’t have to try too hard; in the aftermath of her orgasm she regained access to the higher faculties of her brain. It was then she reached a full realization of what she’d just done.

“Oh, my god,” she said, covering her face with both hands. Down below, the doctor was settling her panties neatly back over her pussy. He gave a soft, approving pat to her mound before pulling the gown back down too.

“Relax,” he said. “You clearly needed that. Maybe you’ll be able to relax a little now.”

“So that was a therapeutic orgasm?” Alyssa spread her fingers slightly to peer through the gap.

“There’s a long history of orgasms being used medically,” Dr. Wright said. “The practice has fallen out of favor over the years, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid.”

“So you commonly give your patients orgasms? Even the men?”

He chuckled. “No. This was somewhat experimental.”

Alyssa didn’t know if that was true. He’d taken such immediate and total control of her, she couldn’t imagine him not having the same effect on other women. Oh, how the good Dr. Wright must be getting laid.

“But I’m not the only patient you’ve tried to hit?” She probed a little further, looking for the truth she was sure must lie behind his modest claims.

“Actually, you’re the first I’ve swatted,” he said, removing his gloves.

“You’re telling me I’m the worst patient you’ve ever had?” Alyssa snorted. “That can’t be true.”

“Not the worst, no,” he admitted. “But the most in dire need of immediate discipline… and orgasm.”

“I don’t believe that either,” Alyssa replied, taking refuge in argument. “You probably treat criminals all the time. You’re telling me that I deserve it more than they would?”

“You’re a grown woman who came in here throwing a tantrum,” he said, giving her that look halfway between serious and amused. “If it weren’t for the hole in your leg, I might very well have taken you over my knee.”

There was a sparkle in his eye that made it hard to tell if he was serious or not, but one part of the puzzle slid into place. The nurse had said OTK. Over the knee.

“OTK… You have a secret language for punishing patients?”

“Not typically, no,” he explained. “But I do handle the more difficult cases. OTK is usually a joke. Lightens the mood. Helps keep the staff stress levels down when entitled patients are making their lives a living hell.”

“I wasn’t…”

“Alyssa, the woman you were sniping at is on her second eight-hour shift in a row. She’s stopped for one meal and she’s been on her feet since before you woke up this morning. Today she’s dealt with dying people, distraught families, and more bodily fluids than you can possibly imagine. You made her job a lot more difficult than it needed to be by refusing the simplest of instructions and demanding she not follow protocol—which would make her open to one of your lawsuits.”

Dr. Wright didn’t look in the slightest bit amused anymore. He was giving her a scathing lecture the likes of which she’d not received in a very long time. He’d not raised his voice one bit, which somehow made the whole thing worse. The orgasm was a distant dream, lost in the lecture.

“Nurses don’t enjoy the same protections doctors do,” he continued. “If she doesn’t follow protocol and someone makes a serious complaint, she can be fired immediately. And that’s what you wanted, for her to break the rules she has to follow so that you could avoid the medical treatment you very much needed. Be glad that this is a hospital and that I am your doctor; if this were any other circumstance, you bet your bottom you’d be over my knee right this minute getting the spanking of a lifetime.”

“I’m sorry,” Alyssa said, fidgeting. She didn’t like being lectured, but she had the sense to know when she was hearing the truth. Really, she’d known at the time that she was out of line, but her temper had gotten the better of her. Besides, her real beef was with the doctor, not the nurse.

“If you’re really sorry, apologize to the nurse.”

“I will.” Alyssa heard her voice small and subdued. The lecture had really gotten to her, much like the spanking, much like everything about the overbearing doctor who somehow seemed to be in control of everything where she was concerned.

“Nurse Witz?” Dr. Wright called.

The nurse bustled in, a faintly harassed look on her face. This time, Alyssa didn’t see a pinched-looking mean nurse; instead she saw the tired droop of her shoulders and eyelids, the cracking of foundation failing after a long day of work.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t a better patient for you,” she said, trying not to squirm as Dr. Wright’s eyes bored into her. “I’m sorry I made your job harder.”

“Thank you,” Nurse Witz said. “Does that mean you’re ready for your blood draw?”

A bolt of panic shot through Alyssa. She’d forgotten about that entirely. In a second, all her contrition evaporated. There was no way they were going to suck blood out of her through one of their vampiric needles.

“I’ll do the draw,” Dr. Wright said. “You take a break.”

The nurse did not argue with that. She departed quickly with a grateful smile at the doctor.

“I don’t want a blood draw,” Alyssa said, trying not to whine or be petulant. Dr. Wright was already putting fresh gloves on.

“Actually, you need a blood draw and a pelvic. May as well do it all while we have you here; lord only knows when you’ll put yourself in a doctor’s clutches again.”

“But…”

“You don’t want it. I know,” he said, the warmth returning to his voice. “None of this is going to hurt, I promise.”

“But…” Alyssa whimpered the word.

“Just lie back down and we’ll do the bloods.”

“Bloods? Plural?”

“It’s not actually all that much,” he said. “You won’t notice it, I promise.”

“I already bled today,” she pointed out. “What if you take too much?”

“I assure you, I won’t.” The quirk of the dimple in his cheek told her that he thought it was funny, but it wasn’t funny at all to her.

“I don’t think I can let you do this.”

“You just got three stitches put in your leg,” he pointed out. “You can handle one little needle.”

“Nope.” She shook her head and reached for the bag where she’d stowed her clothes. “Nope, nope, nope.”

“Alyssa, sit your bottom back down this instant.” The order was resonant, deep, and confident. And it didn’t work. She wanted what blood she had remaining to stay in her body. She stood up and started pulling out her biking clothes, ready to put them on.

Before she could get all that far, the doctor caught her by the arm and gently pulled her between his thighs. “Stop it,” he said, looking up at her. “This is all necessary and you’ve put it off long enough.”

She looked down at him, her stomach churning with more than just nerves. There was a connection between them. She could feel it more strongly than the physical tug of his hand. But it didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to let him suck blood out of her, and she certainly wasn’t going to part her thighs and let him poke around in her nether regions again. She’d allowed him to masturbate her to orgasm; God only knew what she’d do if he had her in stirrups.

“Lie back down,” he ordered. “I don’t want you fainting.”

“I don’t want to do this at all,” she said, squirming. “And I don’t have to either.”

“You don’t have to, but you should. Why don’t you let me make this easy for you?”

He was making it easy, she supposed. It wasn’t as if she was going to find another doctor she instinctively trusted more any time soon. There wasn’t going to be another doctor whose touch made her pulse race and her loins tingle and… well, and half a dozen other thoroughly indecent physical responses. And there definitely wasn’t going to be another doctor who made her do what she needed to do.

Reluctantly, Alyssa sat back down on the bed and slowly laid out flat. She couldn’t quite believe that she was acquiescing to his demands. Was it just because he was hot? She didn’t think so. Maybe it was because her cheek was still stinging from the touch of his palm. He’d branded her from the outset with a tangible reminder of his authority and it appeared to be addling her brain.

“Good girl,” he said, his voice warm with unfettered praise. “Now put your arm out; that’s right, try to relax.”

He applied a strap above her elbow, even tighter than the blood pressure cuff had been. She closed her eyes tightly to avoid seeing anything that might make her stomach churn any more than it already was. She was scared. Dr. Wright might be a capable doctor, but there wasn’t anyone or anything that could make her feel better at the prospect of having a needle plunged…

“Alyssa.” His voice interrupted her spiraling panicked thoughts in a tone that was strong but soft. “It’s alright. Just breathe.”

“I’m breathing,” she said, her voice tight. “If I wasn’t breathing, none of this would be necessary.”

“Does arguing make you feel better about things?” She felt him stroke the back of her hand for a moment. It was a casual touch, nothing untoward, but she felt as though he had just caressed her very soul. Everything he did affected her deeply, confusing her in the process. Maybe getting hurt in the accident had released some hormones or something; maybe that was why she was having a hard time controlling her reactions to him.

Somewhere in the midst of her confusion she felt a stinging prick on the inside of her elbow, then nothing else for a minute or three. “Right,” he said. “That’s done.”

“It is?” She lifted her head in surprise. “That’s it?”

“Mhm. See how easy that was?” He pressed a cotton swab to the point where the needle had gone in and taped it over, his hands warm against her skin even through medical gloves.

“Huh.” Alyssa sat up. She was feeling a little light-headed, but otherwise fine. “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

“That’s because you’ve let your fears build up out of proportion,” Dr. Wright surmised. “But you were a brave girl.”

Alyssa tried to hide her blush. It was a little compliment, nothing to get giddy over. So why couldn’t she hold back her smile?

He smiled back and patted her knee. “Ready to round things out, have that pelvic?”

“Uh…” Alyssa’s blush grew deeper. There was no way in merry Hades that was going to happen. “I really have to get going…”

Her phone rang again. She answered it immediately, grateful yet again for the interruption. It was Joyce. Again.

“Alyssa, did you get to Memorial General yet?”

“Uh, well…”

Joyce ignored her stammering. “If you can’t get there, let me know and I’ll assign someone else to the case.”

“I’m here!” Alyssa burst out. “I’m here already.”

“Oh,” Joyce said. “Good.”

She hung up, apparently satisfied with the answer.

Alyssa had no idea how she’d missed the words ‘Memorial General’ on Joyce’s first call. The case was at the very hospital she was already at. She must have been completely distracted. “I really have to go,” she said. “My boss is going to fire me if I don’t get to work.”

“I’ll schedule a pelvic for you later, in that case.”

“Don’t bother,” Alyssa said, waving the suggestion away. “It’s all fine down there.”

“You wouldn’t know if it was or wasn’t,” Dr. Wright said. “I can find a female gynecologist if its modesty or comfort you’re concerned with.”

“It’s not… I’m…” Alyssa felt heat rising to her face.

“No excuses, young lady,” he said firmly. “You need a thorough examination.”

Alyssa felt a fresh and entirely inadvertent trickle of moisture between her lips. In spite of everything, she was becoming aroused again at the idea of him spreading her thighs and baring her private parts, parts he would then touch with his talented hands… She took a deep breath and squeezed her thighs together, feeling little jolts of electricity shooting through her nether regions.

“I need a lot of things,” she said. “But right now I need to get back to work.”

“Which is why I said I’d schedule one,” Dr. Wright repeated.

“Well, I’m very busy, so…”

“Too busy to take care of yourself? Are you too busy to brush your teeth in the morning?”

“No…”

“Then you’re not too busy.”

“Are you saying having someone poke around down there is like brushing my teeth? Because it’s not the same thing. Not even close.”

“I’m saying it’s just as important,” Dr. Wright insisted, his dark gaze traveling over her from head to toe and back again. “You need to make an appointment for a full physical. I’ll be following up on you, Miss Winters.”

“You do that,” she said, easing off the bed. “I’m going to get dressed now and see if I still have a job.”

To her surprise, he nodded and acquiesced. “I’ll let you get changed.”

If fifteen minutes earlier someone had told her she’d be sad to see the doctor who smacked her bottom go, she would have thought them completely crazy, but there was a definite pang as he stepped outside the curtain.

Turning her mind back to business, Alyssa realized that she was in some difficulty. She’d come to hospital in spandex, perfect for cycling, but not exactly appropriate business attire. Even less appropriate was the hospital gown she was wearing. There was nothing for it. She was going to have to drive home, get changed, and come back. As she dressed, she discovered that her leg was an awkward inconvenience, but it wasn’t causing her much in the way of pain.

“Careful on that,” Dr. Wright said as she emerged from the cubicle. “Limited physical activity for at least a week, and don’t get it wet for at least a day, preferably two. Come back to get the stitches checked in one week, you can probably have them out in two—less if you follow my instructions, which I’m betting you won’t as you clearly never do as you’re told.” He winked, softening the final statement.

Alyssa didn’t have time to argue, or flirt. She slow-walked long enough to get out of his sight then made a mad dash to sign out and get to her car, followed by a frustrating drive home in slow traffic and a quick change into more appropriate attire.

Some people might have been mad at being called to work on their day off, but this was no ordinary occurrence. This had ‘big break’ written all over it. Alyssa had been at the firm three years and in that time she had done a lot of busy work, sat in on a few cases and tried a few small ones of her own. She’d certainly never been allowed near a major corporate client on her own before. This was her chance to prove that she could handle a full case load by herself—and it was likely the only chance she’d get. Joyce Winstead was known for her harsh, unyielding approach to associates. You got your chance and you either made it or you didn’t.

Pulling into the parking spot outside her condo, Alyssa half-fast hopped, half-awkwardly limped up the stairs to her place. It was nicely furnished, but covered in all manner of clothes and dishes and such. There wasn’t a lot of time in her life for cleaning.

Frank, her Persian overlord, stretched and mewled as she came in the door. “Don’t even ask,” she said. He didn’t.

Alyssa made her way into her bedroom to the closet where a few clean clothes were hanging. After thanking whatever domestic deity was responsible for ensuring overworked lawyers had neat blouses already ironed, she limped into the bathroom and cleaned herself up a bit. There wasn’t time for a shower, nor was she supposed to get her stitches wet. A washcloth soon got the little streaks and smears of dirt off her face and limbs and swept away the clinging odor that came from physical exertion.

Taking a moment to brush her hair out, she looked herself over in the mirror. She saw the same responsible, mature woman staring back at her that she always did. Her brown hair fell in a neat bob around her cheeks, framing her face. There was nothing particularly remarkable about her, she thought: brown hair, brown eyes, a face that wasn’t ugly or pretty but just sort of there. Makeup made her look more professional but it didn’t transform her into a wild beauty. That was actually quite the advantage in her line of work, where staid, respectable people won the day more often than not. Looking at herself from an outsider’s perspective, she seemed safe and trustworthy. That was the goal. To make a multimillion-dollar corporation want to put itself in her hands.

Satisfied with her appearance, Alyssa drove back to the hospital feeling much more in control. The second time walking into the hallowed halls was much more empowering. The hospital had been built at the turn of the century, and though it was thoroughly modern on the inside, from the exterior it could equally have been a grand mansion, or a school for wizards. It was large and impressive, stone facades towering high into the sky. The administration area spoke to grandiose importance and huge influxes of cash. Winstead and Heath would soon be sharing in some of that wealth if she played her cards right.

Alyssa was soon meeting her newest client. The administrator was a charming woman by the name of Dr. Blair Cherie. Her professional blond coif was something to behold, short and feathered with a significant amount of lift that gave the illusion of several extra inches in height.

“Nice to meet you, Alyssa,” she said after Alyssa introduced herself. “We’re very grateful you could make it on such short notice. Unfortunately we have the complainant more or less camped out in the conference room.”

“It’s my pleasure,” Alyssa said, smiling. “What seems to be the problem?”

She took a seat and broke out her legal pad and best fountain pen for the taking of notes. A good pen was essential to getting ahead at Winstead and Heath, where one was judged on every part of one’s presentation, writing instruments included.

“Hector Bluth is a medical nuisance attorney who recently set his sights on this hospital,” Dr. Cherie explained. “He has been sighted propositioning several patients post discharge in hopes of getting a case.”

“Easier to wait where the ambulances pull up than actually chase them,” Alyssa noted dryly.

“Precisely. The little parasite has managed to find himself a client willing to take action against one of our doctors,” Dr. Cherie continued. “The accusation seems baseless on its face, but Mr. Bluth is quite adept at twisting facts and making compelling arguments out of nothing.”

Lawyers tended to do that. But good lawyers didn’t need to snag clients directly out of hospitals. Alyssa had no doubt she would be a match for Mr. Bluth.

“I think it would be best to meet with the doctor in question and establish the facts of the case before meeting with the complainant,” Alyssa said. “Is the doctor available?”

Blair Cherie nodded, her hair barely moving with the motion. It was more like architecture than hair, really. Alyssa was quite impressed and indeed, taken with Blair Cherie. The woman was not that much older than herself, mid-thirties perhaps, and she ran an entire hospital. Alyssa resolved then and there not to let either Joyce Winstead or Blair Cherie down. One day she might join their ranks as a professional respected throughout her chosen profession.

“I’ll send for him directly,” Administrator Cherie said. “There’s a spare office you can work from just through that door.” She pointed an elegant finger toward a heavy oak portal to the side of her office. “Give me a moment and I’ll make sure you have all the paperwork you need.”

Thanking Dr. Cherie, Alyssa gathered her things and proceeded to the office in question. It was empty aside from two chairs sitting adjacent a refined coffee table. Not so much an office as an interview room, really.

A knock at the door got her attention. “Come in!”

The door opened and a very familiar figure made an appearance. Tall. Dark. Handsome. Dr. Wright. He was even more handsome the second time around. Now that he was sans white coat, she got a fuller sense of the breadth, strength, and sheer hardness of his body. He definitely worked out, because the argyle sweater he was wearing should have made him look like a geek and instead he made it look like something a superhero might wear while undercover. The planes of his pecs were easy to see under the knit, drawing her gaze away from his face only momentarily.

The proper way to greet a client was to look them in the eye, shake their hand firmly, and verbalize a warm, but professional welcome. Alyssa did none of those things.

“You,” she said. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s you being sued, given your propensity to slap patients.”

“Only the ones who truly deserve it,” he said, completely unfazed as he slung himself into the chair next to her with what could only be described as a rakish grin. “How’s the leg?”

Before Alyssa could answer, another tap at the door announced the arrival of a secretary clutching a thin stack of papers. Alyssa thanked her and briefly read them, noting that Dr. Wright’s first name was Chase.

“So,” she said, taking immediate refuge in the business at hand. “The patient alleges misdiagnosis?”

“Because I did not diagnose him in accordance with the Internet,” Chase explained. “He insisted he had a rare disease native to Equatorial Guinea. As it turned out, he had an intolerance to gluten. Now he’s suing because he can’t have his daily donuts. Claims it’s a result of my treatment.”

“I see.” Alyssa made a quick note. She was rather enjoying the feeling of being somewhat in control of the situation. The last time they’d met she’d been very vulnerable, but her professional attire was a kind of psychological armor. He was talking to a lawyer now, not a scared, barely clothed woman who more or less had to do as he said. “And did you fully explain his treatment options? Or did you just smack him around a bit?”

Chase lifted a brow at her. “I did not lay a finger on the patient in question,” he drawled. “But it’s tempting to see just how much protection that starched skirt of yours offers your behind.”

“Please refrain from that kind of banter, Dr. Wright,” she said, trying to sound formal. “It’s not appropriate.”

His eyes were tracing up the length of her stocking-clad legs. Alyssa knew she looked good in heels and hose; her long legs were quite shapely from all the mountain biking. She felt a little spark of pleasure at being admired. It waned immediately under his sudden frown.

“You’re bleeding,” he noted, sounding irritated. “You already pulled those stitches. Not even two hours since I put them in. There are puppies less active than you.”

Alyssa didn’t know how he did it, but somehow Chase Wright was capable of battering down the walls of her self-perception and making her feel plain naughty. She’d gone from a confident, professional woman to a guilty culprit, and she squirmed where she sat, her hips responding to his tone as surely as they would his touch.

It was quite curious to be seen in such a different light. Most people thought she was so responsible, so trustworthy and capable. Chase didn’t seem to have that opinion at all, or even an opinion adjacent to that one.

She tugged her skirt down over the bandage to hide it, and tried to distract him by talking about the case at hand, but Chase was not having it. “Let me see what you’ve done,” he said abruptly.

“I’m not taking off my stockings for you,” Alyssa said firmly. “We’re on my time now. I am sure the hospital doesn’t want to be billed for you treating me.”

“If you’ve pulled the stitches out, they will need to be done again.”

“Pretty sure I didn’t tear the stitches out of my skin. I would have noticed that,” Alyssa insisted. Her leg was actually starting to hurt. The painkillers and anesthetic were wearing off, leaving her with a dull ache in her thigh. Pushing through the pain, Alyssa tried to concentrate on the case at hand, not her own discomfort. “Was this patient typical?”

“No patient is typical,” Chase replied. “This particular patient was more stubborn than usual.”

“You don’t have much patience for stubborn patients, do you, Dr. Wright?” Alyssa pretended to be making a note so as not to have to bear the full brunt of his stare. It was still there when she looked up, as piercing as it was impatient.

“Patients would be better off if they listened to their doctor, but in spite of the fact we charge them thousands of dollars to look at them, they tend to think they know what’s wrong with them better than we do half the time.”

“And this patient thought he knew what was wrong with him?”

“He did. He was wrong.”

“Is there anything else I need to know before meeting with opposing counsel? Nothing I’m going to be surprised by?”

“Nothing nearly as important as checking those stitches,” he said. “Let me see what you’ve done to yourself.”

He really wasn’t going to let the matter go, but Alyssa had no intention of taking her clothing off in a private office. It set a potentially dangerous, unprofessional precedent. “Here? What are you going to do if I have torn them? Staple them back together? Get some sticky tape?”

“Well, your sarcasm certainly isn’t going to stop the bleeding. Let me check them and if I need to do anything, we’ll go somewhere else to fix them.”

They stared at one another, both stubborn. “You should be worried about being sued,” she said.

“It’s not my job to worry about being sued. That’s your job. My job is to worry about patient care, even when the patient is a little brat making everything more difficult than it needs to be. Just give me a look already, Alyssa.”

His insistence and lecturing tone was starting to make her feel pouty. Pouty didn’t go well with professional. “Listen,” she said, gathering the shreds of her patience. “I’m here as your attorney. We can deal with any medical matters at a later date. It’s not as if my head’s falling off, is it?”

Chase shook his head at her, a low growl escaping his lips at the same time. He didn’t say a word, but there was a whole lot implied in that primal sound. If he’d not been so constrained by rules and propriety, she had no doubt he’d probably tear her stockings off to check the wound, then go ahead and thrash her for good measure.

“You need to work on your professionalism,” she informed him pertly. “Growling at people is not acceptable behavior.”

“You’re not precisely an authority on acceptable behavior, Alyssa.”

“All due respect, Dr. Wright, you don’t know me. You met me in a stressful situation and granted, I wasn’t at my best, but there’s really no need for all this huffing and puffing.”

“People usually believe you when you give them this little speech, don’t they,” Chase said, dismissing everything she’d said completely out of hand. “That’s because most people listen to what others are saying. I don’t care what you have to say, Alyssa, I care about what you do. And what you do is indulge in high-risk activities in your free time, avoid medical care all the time, and throw your weight around whenever something doesn’t go your way.”

He’d read her like a book. It was impressive, really, but Alyssa couldn’t afford to show that. She gave him her most unimpressed look and scribbled a few things that should have been notes, but weren’t.

“Let me check your stitches,” he said. “Or I’ll go see Dr. Cherie and inform her that my counsel is refusing necessary medical treatment.”

“You’re going to tell on me?” Alyssa snorted at him. “I didn’t think you would be a run to mommy sort of guy.”

“I’m not,” he said. “But as my hands are somewhat tied by professional standards, and spanking that deserving bottom of yours until you are one very, very sorry girl is out of the question, I’ll do what’s necessary.”

Again they were in a standoff, staring one another down. “We can do this all day if you like,” Alyssa said. “I charge in six-minute units.”

“It’s not my money you’re wasting, it’s a hospital’s,” Chase replied. “You know, a place where sick people come to be healed?”

“Ugh,” Alyssa sighed. “Fine. Make it quick.”

Sliding forward so she was perched on the corner of the chair, Alyssa hiked her skirt up and rolled her stocking down. She was glad she’d gone with a stocking and not hose. She didn’t have to expose quite so much of herself, though his gaze was making her feel vulnerable regardless.

He sanitized his hands quickly with a little bottle he evidently kept in his pocket, then his long, capable fingers peeled back a corner of the bandage. “You’ve definitely not been going easy on this,” he said grimly. “They’re already starting to pull. You need to be careful.”

“Well, I do need to walk,” she said. “It’s not like I ran a quick marathon.”

“Walk more slowly and be more careful,” he lectured. “It’s an awkward place to have cut yourself; there’s a lot of movement in this area.” His fingers were lingering on her thigh, their touch inflammatory in a way he could not have suspected. She squirmed under his hand, simultaneously irritated by the way he spoke and curiously excited by it.

“Do you understand?” His eyes locked on hers firmly. She nodded, finding her mouth suddenly dry, her pulse racing. There in the privacy of the office there was a certain intimacy that had been lacking in the emergency department. The tips of his fingers trailed lightly over her leg as he secured the bandage again, pressing the edges in place.

“We should change that,” he said, his tone a little softer. Funny how such a pedestrian discussion could become so charged when a bare thigh and a doctor with strong hands were involved. His hand slid away from the injured area, but not off her thigh entirely. There was a pause in which neither of them said a word, but his fingers began a slow circling motion not unlike a caress.

Alyssa found herself holding her breath, not wanting to break the spell. His eyes were on hers, they both knew what was happening, both knew they were giving into a carnal madness that had begun taking them in its grip the moment they met. In spite of her temper and his overbearing nature, or perhaps because of it, there was an irresistible attraction.

He leaned in toward her. “Alyssa,” he said softly, his lips just inches from hers. “I don’t know what it is about you, but… I find myself…” As he spoke, his fingers continued to drift along her inner thigh. “You’re so…”

He was lost for words, but he didn’t need them. She understood what he meant. He was trying to verbalize the feeling she’d had since the moment they met.

“You’re just as…” She let her voice trail off as his had, smiling playfully as his lips descended toward hers and gently brushed against her mouth in a kiss that was surprisingly soft and tender. They melted into the kiss, which became more intense as their tongues entered the fray.

Alyssa could not quite believe it was happening. Hours earlier she’d been ready to sue the man for everything but his underwear and now she was on the verge of taking his underwear off herself. It had been a day of low impulse control, but there had to be limits. There was more at stake than just a hookup; her entire career could hinge on her performance.

“We can’t do this,” she said, pulling away regretfully. “It’s not professional.”

“No,” Chase agreed. “It’s not.” He was breathing deeply, and she could make out the hard line of his erection through his pants. The sight was both arousing and gratifying, for it told her that she did have some influence over the powerful doctor who had ruled almost every thought she’d had since they met. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I should not have done that.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “We’re both responsible for what we do. Let’s try to focus on the case at hand.” She straightened her blouse, smoothed down her hair, and hoped that her lipstick had not been smeared out of recognition.

“How do I look?” For want of a mirror, she was going to have to trust his judgment.

He smiled. “Perfect.”

She smiled back and was once again consumed with the urge to kiss him. She glanced at the time to break the mood. “It’s time we met with opposing counsel,” she said, rolling her stocking back up into place. “It’s best if you speak as little as possible,” she informed Chase. “In these sorts of meetings, things can turn on a single word.”

“Are you telling me to keep my mouth shut and let you do the talking?”

“In other words, yes,” Alyssa smiled. “For legal reasons.”

“Mhm.” He gave her one of those stern looks that probably made new nurses and recalcitrant patients quake in their sneakers. Chase Wright was not the sort of man who liked being told what to do. He probably liked having his battles fought for him even less, but on this occasion he was going to have to suck it up.

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