Need Someone

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Chapter 3.1 - My Favorite Patient

I was proud of myself for being only twenty minutes late to the restaurant. It had only taken me a few seconds to spot the dark-haired man in an expensive suit sitting alone. Since then, we had been chatting easily over dinner and drinks.

A few minutes into our conversation did I realize we had met twice before. Once in passing and the other at a party I hardly remember because I was more concerned with getting drunk than talking to anyone. Engagement parties are not my thing.

Apparently, Rebecca had given him my number. It didn’t surprise me. After all, if I didn’t find someone to marry soon, we wouldn’t be able to have kids at the same time so they could go to the same schools. Not only did she have her two-year plan scheduled down to the day. She also had a twenty-year plan scheduled by the quarter.

Twenty-year plans are for shit, but she may have had some foresight with Max. He wasn’t that bad.

He was a workaholic and made no effort to hide that fact. All he talked about was his chance at partner, his big-name clients, and his job perks. The way he explained it made it sound like spreadsheets and ass-kissing. He was just shy of boring, but he was nice, cute, and, in my book, there were much worse things than being a workaholic.

Max was blabbing about the stock market as I sipped my wine when he suddenly stopped. I gave him a confused look. “I’m sorry, I must be boring you,” he said.

“No, of course not.” He was, but he couldn’t help it. “I can tell you’re passionate about what you do.” I set down my glass. “Honestly, I don’t understand people who can go to work every day, then go home and have a life completely separate from it. I live and breathe my work and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A smile crept across his face. “You know, I practically begged Rebecca for your phone number,” he admitted. My eyebrows raised. “When we met in Vegas, I thought you were really cool. Chill, you know? Then at the engagement dinner, I couldn’t stop staring at you all night.”

I gave him a slinky smile that I know makes me look like a vixen. Maybe I had practiced it once or twice in a mirror, maybe not. “Then . . . this is practically our third date.” He laughed.

I watched him get the look. He glanced down at my lips while wetting his own, then looked back to me questioningly. I held his gaze, willing him to do it. I leaned forward just a breath and he closed the distance. He kissed me hesitantly at first, then with a bit more confidence. A deliciously brief sample of more to come.

When he leaned away, I smiled.

The waiter walked over again, interrupting my little game. “Did you save room for dessert this evening?” I was considering this my cheat meal, but even if it wasn’t, I was not going to refuse decadent restaurant cake. I gave Max a look and he ordered it.

I took another sip of my wine and felt Max place his hand on my knee. I gave him an unperturbed glance and continued to sip.

“You’re very different from other women, Sabine.” Men really think that’s a compliment. He stroked his hand gently against my thigh.

I’ll bite. “Why do you say that?”

“I don’t know. There’s just something about you.”

I tilted my chin onto my hand and gave him a coy smile. “We’re just getting started, Max.” His smile widened.

I am so getting laid tonight.

I was notoriously late to everything but work, but this day was different. It was one of those days already. I ran behind the desk, dodging Theresa as she lectured one of the medical assistants.

Tiffany walked into Ziggy’s room with a doctor. I finished signing in and followed them in to assist.

“Oh good, you’re here,” Tiffany said to me when I came into the room. “Someone is going to need a hand to hold in just a minute.”

Ziggy looked my way. “There she is,” he greeted me as the doctor rolled him to his side. I came closer and sat on the stool in front of him. “How was your evening?”

“Very good, thank you,” I answered innocently.

“Very good?” he laughed but stopped the second he felt Tiffany swab his back. No one is fond of the idea of a needle shoved into their spine, but I knew his phobia would make it that much worse. I held out my hands. He took them in both of his.

“Okay, Mr. Ziegler,” the doctor announced. “You’re going to feel some pressure.” In my periphery, I saw him start, so I maintained eye contact to try to lessen Ziggy’s discomfort. He squeezed my hands before closing his eyes. He stifled a groan when it went in.

“That’s the worst of it, Ziggy,” I told him. “Just keep breathing.”

He took in a deep breath and opened his eyes to look at me. “Did you get laid?” he asked me in a whisper. He looked like he was still in pain but trying to hide it—his brow tense, his hands still squeezing mine firmly. I’ll humor him.

I leaned in closer and whispered, “Yes.”

“Was he good?”

I smirked. “I’ve had much worse.” Ziggy’s face relaxed into a smile.

“All done, Mr. Ziegler. Just stay still for us one more moment and we’ll get you patched up.”

Ziggy let go of my hands but looked like he had something else to say. He peeked over his shoulder to make sure Tiffany and the doctor were out of earshot before whispering, “Did you come?”

I rolled my eyes at him. “I had a very enjoyable time.”

“So . . . no,” he said. “What a prick.”

I laughed. He laid back looking rather proud of himself.

“See you later, Ziggy.” I followed the others out of the room and almost bump into Dr. Smith. “Oh, excuse me, Doctor,” I apologized.

“Mr. Ziegler’s room again?” he asked.

I was confused about what he was asking. “You ordered the lumbar puncture and additional blood panels.”

“I’m aware of my orders.” He placed a hand on my arm and pulled me off to the side. “I’ve heard rumors that he is inappropriate with you.

“I’d say he has an interesting sense of humor.”

“You do seem to listen to him more than the other nurses.”

“Probably so.” I crossed my arms defensively. I knew I was good at my job. Damn good. What nurse wouldn’t talk to their patients? “Did you know that his father passed away when he was young? That means he probably doesn’t have a full family history.” Dr. Smith looked intrigued. “Also, he’s been to Thailand and Cambodia in the last six months.” That came from my Instagram stalking, not my listening. “Not sure if that helps anything, but it definitely isn’t noted in his chart.”

“And you’ve been spending enough time with him to know all that?”

I didn’t like what he was trying to imply. “Mr. Ziegler is our patient. Listening to him well enough to figure out what is wrong with him is our job, isn’t it?”

He gave me the same petulant face he always made when someone questioned his authority. “Let me worry about figuring out what is wrong with him. In the meantime, maybe you should practice a bit of professional restraint when it comes to your relationships with our patients.”

He walked away and I fought my urge to turn around and punch him in the back of the head. Theresa saw me and waved me over. I walked to the station and she stood up to speak quietly.

“What did I tell you?” she asked. “They don’t know they need you.”

I sighed. “Do you think I’m being inappropriate or unprofessional in any way?”

She shook her head adamantly. “No. I’m sure Mr. Ziegler will not be the last patient to have a crush on you. Just because Dr. Smith doesn’t feel the need to listen to his own patients for more than two minutes, doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong.”

I let out a relieved breath. Theresa would always be the one to tell me the truth about my work.

“You just keep doing exactly what you’re doing, and if he doesn’t recognize that you are an integral part of making his patients better . . . fuck him.”

I laughed loudly and covered my mouth to stifle it. When Dr. Smith looked our way, I scurried down the hall.

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