Chapter One


Zoey yawned and stretched in her bed, then sat up with a sigh. The room was pitch black, but it usually was when she wakened for her overnight shift, especially after one of her twelve hour shifts. She reached out to the bedside table and turned on the light there. It was only twenty five watts but she still had to shield her eyes and look away as her pupils adjusted.

She dressed quickly and quietly, then left her room, noting the closed door to Beth's room as she went down the hall and then downstairs to the kitchen. Beth worked days, and usually their time in the house overlapped in the evening, but that was when she was doing a normal eight hour shift, like tonight. When she did twelve hour shifts they hardly even saw each other.

Coffee. She needed coffee. The machine was already bubbling, and she silently thanked Beth for setting it up for her. She got her coffee, then trotted back upstairs to the main bathroom.

She stripped and quickly showered, dried herself, then worked on her hair. At twenty three she didn't need a lot of makeup, and the ER wasn't really the place to pretty herself up for anyway. Though there was always the occasional hot doctor...

Not so much on the overnight shift, though. Tonight it would be Michaels, who was okay, but already balding at thirty, and married as well, and Sikh, so stern and businesslike. He looked at her weird sometimes, too. She had her suspicions about those Indians and what they thought about blondes. She hadn't read anything good.

She allowed herself some bangs, then drew her shoulder length hair smoothly back along her ears to tie into a loose braid hanging behind her. She pulled on a pair of blue flowered scrubs, checked her watch, then grabbed her lunch from the fridge (thanking Beth again) and hurried outside, locking the door behind her.

It was dead quiet at this hour, save for crickets, and the street was empty and lit only by an occasional streetlamp. She walked to the eight year old Kia subcompact, got in, and started its little engine. Next to it sat Beth's nearly new Buck, but Beth had been a teacher for three years, and hadn't had the student loan Zoey had needed to get through college.

Zoey had only been working at Midland Hospital's ER for eleven months now, and most of her salary still went to paying down her loan. That was one of the reasons she was so grateful to have found the room at Beth's house close to the hospital. It was way cheaper than an apartment, and besides, Beth was very sweet and helpful.

The drive was short, and since she was on the overnight shift parking was free. It was chilly out, though, and she wished she'd brought a sweater along. She hurried into the building and felt the instant silence and comfort of the quiet hospital settle around her as she moved through its halls.

The big waiting room didn't seem to have much of a crowd as they approached midnight, which was fine by her. There were only four people waiting on the four rows of heavily padded seats, and two of them were together.

“Hey, Allie,” she said as she passed the admitting nurse's station.

“Hi,” the older woman replied, waving casually.

She went around the corner, past the empty security desk to the urgent care counter. Heidi there, pressed the button that unlocked the door and she pushed through into the urgent care center. Heidi was on the left, while the nurses’ stations and desks were on the right.

The narrow corridor stretched straight ahead, with exam rooms along it on either side and chairs all along the walls. There were three people on the chairs; a thin, middle aged man, a frail looking older woman, and a black woman in a hat reading an e-reader.

“Hey, handsome,” she said to doctor Michaels.

“Morning, Zoey,” he replied with a grin. “Easy night tonight.”

“Let's hope, huh.”

“I've already called Housekeeping,” Tracy said. “It's freaking cold in here.”

“It is kind of coolish,” Zoey observed, going over to examine the files on the patients waiting.

Tracy was a brown haired girl, shorter than Zoey, with a boyish haircut which brushed her collar, and a very businesslike attitude. She was senior ER nurse, though she'd only been there four years. Then again, almost everyone was senior to Zoey, who was still officially on probation for another two months.

There were four more patients, according to the files and the electronic board. One was having a CT scan for an undiagnosed abdominal problem. The other three were in exam rooms. Michaels left to join one as she signed herself into the system and took over from Shannon, who was on her way home.

It was a routine night. As they moved through patients, new ones drifted in. At Twelve AM she went out front and ushered the two people there at the moment into the back as they dimmed the lights in the front room. The info desk woman went home, leaving just Allie behind her counter. Everyone else retreated into Urgent Care.

The hospital got even quieter now, and she knew almost the only people active would be the nurses at their inpatient floor stations upstairs, and some of the techs in places like Radiology and the lab, which never closed.

“I've called Doctor Brandt for a consult on Ferguson,” Michaels said as he came back from seeing a patient.

Tracy sighed audibly but made no comment. Zoey smiled lightly. No one liked Brandt. Surgeons were supposed to be assholes but Brandt took it to extremes. Or maybe it was his culture. He was from Germany, and while his English was precise it was clear he hadn't been here more than a few years.

“Maybe in Germany surgeons are used to people bowing when they walk by,” Zoey said with a smirk.

Tracy rolled her eyes.

It was almost Two AM but Brandt looked both fully awake and in perfect condition, his dark hair exactly in place, his jaw set, his suit and tie unwrinkled below his perfectly white medical jacket. There was no way he was going to be wandering around in scrubs simply because they were more comfortable. Not him.

He ignored the nurses, of course, making a beeline for Michaels. Nurses were servants, as far as he was concerned, not humans to talk to. Zoey pursed her lips, eyeing him surreptitiously. He was awfully good looking, and she was fairly sure he was single.

With good reason!

No one talked to him socially. He'd made it clear doing so was impertinent on the part of anyone other than a doctor, and intrusive from even doctors. He was the stuffiest man under forty she'd ever met.

“You wonder if he ever unwinds with a drink and parties.” Tracy asked as the two disappeared up the hall.

“Hard to imagine,” she replied.

“Imagine him dancing,” Tracy said with a grin.

Zoey laughed. “I don't think Germans dance.”

“Well, they do that polka stuff, don't they?”

“I think those are the lower class Germans.”

The station buzzed and she looked up and saw it was Exam 4, where Michaels and Brandt were. She strode up the hall and knocked once before opening the door and leaning in.

Brandt turned to her. “Nurse. Get me 30 cc of Kasiven,” he said.

She nodded and withdrew. Brandt didn't say please or thank you. It was one of the reasons he was so unadmired. He also didn't bother to learn the names of nurses. She went to the local supply cupboard and took down the bottle, noting it on the record, got a fresh needle, and put them both on a tray, returning to the room.

He took them from her without a word, ripped the plastic off the disposable needle, drew out the medication carefully, then turned to give it to the patient, an elderly man who blinked tiredly.

She started to back out again.

“I want a CT scan of his abdomen,” he said. “Get him a chair. I don't want him walking.”

“Yes, doctor.”

She got a wheelchair and brought it in, then wheeled the man down the hall, around the corner and up that hall to the CT room, where she handed him over to the tech. When she returned he was on the phone. He held up his hand to signal her to wait, and she pursed her lips and did so.

He put down the phone.

“Let me know as soon as the images are ready.”

“Yes, doctor,” she said.

She went back to the nurses' station.

“God, he's such a big dick,” she said in a low voice.

“Did you mean he has such a big dick?” she asked with a smirk.

“No, I meant he IS a giant dick.”

“From what I hear he HAS a giant dick.”

Zoey stared at her and leaned in. “Who would possibly know that!?”

She laughed. “I'm not sure. I think it came from one of the male doctors who saw him as he was getting out of the shower down in the operating theaters.”

“I doubt any woman has much interest in it,” she replied.

“I don't know, Zoey. You look like a nice Aryan girl,” Tracy teased.

“My Norwegian parents would not be amused!”

Brandt came out of the examining room and back to the nurses' station.

“Where is Doctor Michaels?” he asked.

“He's with a patient in Exam 2, Doctor,” Tracy said.

Zoey did her best not to drop her eyes to his crotch. Then, when he turned and headed back up the hall she turned and scowled at Tracy, who smirked at her, knowing full well she'd glanced down.

She sighed and took the next patient file, then went up the hall.

“Mrs. Hanson?” she called.

A middle aged woman stood up and Zoey led her into Exam 1.

“The doctor will be with you shortly,” she said.

She went back to the nurse's station just as Brandt showed up again. He went past them and found the forms for blood work, then scrawled his signature on one, checked off several boxes, and thrust it at Tracy.

“As quickly as possible,” he said.

“Yes, doctor,” she replied.

She rolled her eyes at Zoey as he departed, then handed her the form. She sighed, examined it, and then went to Exam 4 to take more blood from the patient there for the requested tests.

At two-thirty she took a walk. She stayed within the quieter areas of the hospital. Of course, that was almost everywhere. But below the third floor, where there were patient rooms, most offices were closed. There were shops in the large main lobby, including a coffee shop, a flower shop, and another for a variety of books, puzzles and magazines. There was even a beauty shop for longer term patients to visit to have their hair done.

All were closed, of course, but the chairs set out in front of the coffee shop were still there and she could relax, get a drink from one of the machines along the wall, and catch up on Facebook.

She looked up briefly at a motion and sound, then again, surprised to see Doctor Brandt walking slowly up the hall, with an elderly man in pajamas and a housecoat on his arm. The old man was stick thin and looked to be about a hundred years old.

That, of course, wasn't what surprised her. The proportion of elderly people who showed up at hospital was far higher than in the general population, after all. What surprised her was how kindly Brandt looked as he ever so slowly walked the shuffling old man along the hall, occasionally speaking in a low voice as the old man babbled about life in his youth, the way people dressed properly, and how everything cost so much now.

“You are absolutely correct, Mister Harris,” he said as they walked.

“Young people now don't think they need to earn anything,” the old man said in a wheezy voice.

“Yes, I know.”

“They think the world owes them a living.”

Zoey didn't roll her eyes, except mentally. She'd heard such opinions many, many times. Usually they weren't directed at her, of course, since people tended to respect her profession. But the generic dismissal of young people as self-involved, entitled airheads seemed to be shared by almost everyone over forty.

She wasn't sure where the old man was from since he hadn't come through ER, at least not on one of her shifts. He was obviously from one of the inpatient floors. And since Brandt was with him that would make him a surgical patient, except to her eyes he looked far too frail to have surgery.

Doctors, even residents, had much more wide-ranging duties on the overnight shift, of course, so he could be from almost anywhere that Brandt was covering.

They stopped and Brandt helped lower the man into a chair next to a plastic table, then went to a machine.

“This?” he asked, pointing a finger.

“No, the one under it and two over. No, there!” the old man said, waving his hand and pointing a finger.

Brandt took some coins from his white jacket pocket and popped them into the machine, pressed the appropriate buttons, and the machine pushed forward what looked to her like a muffin of some kind. He bent and took it from the opening and brought it back to the old man.

“Ah,” the man said. “Thank you, Doctor!”

“You are most welcome, Mister Harris,” Brandt said.

Zoey snorted softly. So he did know the word!

They were across the lobby from her and she kept her eyes down towards her smartphone, afraid Brandt would try to pawn the man off on her, but he sat and helped the man open his muffin and then listened to his muffled words as the old man ate.

It surprised her that Brandt would devote all this time to a patient for other than diagnostic reasons. Even the nurses didn't have time to walk patients around and let them buy themselves treats. Of course, on the overnight shift Brandt had nothing to do – unlike the nurses – unless someone called him for a consult or a patient needed emergency surgery. But most doctors liked to catch up on their sleep in that case.

He wasn't nearly as stiff with the old man, she noted in approval. He didn't exactly have the most charming and sweet manner, but he was much more human than she'd ever noticed.

The old man ate half the muffin, then put the rest back into its plastic container to eat later as Brandt helped him to his feet and started back the way he'd come. The old man stumbled then. Brandt caught him, but the man half collapsed to his knees as Brandt let him down slowly.

Zoey jumped up, thrust her smartphone into her pocket and ran over to help.

“Get a wheelchair,” Brandt barked.

She skidded to a stop, then turned and ran towards the entrance doors, where a number of them were kept. She grabbed one and quickly wheeled it back beside them as the old man sat on the floor with Brandt squatting beside him.

“... just feel a little weak,” the man said.

“That's quite all right, Mister Harris,” Brandt said.

Zoey took his other arm as she and Brandt helped him into the chair. Brandt ignored him, all his attention on the patient as he settled him in place as Brandt fit his stethoscope into his ears then placed the diaphragm against the man's chest.

“I'm all right. Quit fussing!” the old man said.

“Shh,” Zoey said softly.

The old man seemed to look at her for the first time.

“Well, for you, honey,” he said with a weak grin.

Brandt listened a moment longer, then took the earpieces out of his ears.

“We had best return to your room now, Mister Harris,” he said.

“What's the hurry? I just found something more interesting than a muffin. This cute little cupcake here,” he said, grinning at Zoey.

Zoey smiled back tolerantly.

“Call me Dave,” he said, holding out a frail hand.

“Hi, Dave. I'm Zoey,” she said, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly.

“Are you a nurse? You're awful pretty to be a nurse.”

“Why thank you. Yes, I'm an ER nurse.”

“Can't always tell these days. You girls don't wear your caps no more.”

“No, they went out of fashion,” she said.

“Well, those outfits you wear now are probably a lot more comfortable than the starched whites they used to wear. But we could always tell right away who was a nurse.”

“We know who we are,” she said with a smile.

“Nurse Larsen must return to her post, Mister Harris,” Brandt said soothingly.

“You should come up to Geriatrics, Zoey,” Harris said, looking at her chest. “You can give me a sponge bath any time.”

Zoey laughed in amusement.

“That is not respectful, Mister Harris,” Brandt said a little sternly.

“That's okay. I can get away with it at my age,” Harris replied as Brandt started to wheel him away.

“Do you need any help with ...

“No,” Brandt said, pushing him off.

Dick, she thought as she watched them depart.

Big dick.

She wondered how big as she headed back for the ER. Maybe he was only an asshole around nurses for some reason. God, she hoped she never got as old as that, that she could hardly even walk! Then again, the alternatives were all generally worse!

She felt like doing a cartwheel in the empty hall to reassure herself that she was still young and healthy and agile, but refrained. God only knew what would happen if anyone saw her. She'd probably have to take a drug test!

The old man, like a lot of them in her experience, did indeed say things which a younger man would get into trouble for, but he was right in that people tended to excuse it in the elderly. And anyway, he was more respectful than Brandt!

She returned to the ER, and found a new patient. She immediately had to take the blood pressure, then draw blood for tests and start a saline IV for them. It was another elderly patient, a woman who needed a lot of soothing.

She was bent over in the exam room, taping the needle in place against her thin arm, and didn't notice the door opening behind her as she talked with the elderly patient. Then she backed up – into someone. Into someone most definitely and most noticeably male!

She jerked upright, spinning around as Doctor Brandt jumped back himself, his face flushed.

He glared, turned and hurried out.

Zoey stared at after him, her mouth open. Had she really felt... but what else could it be!? She'd felt a hard erection pressed into her rear before and the sensation was fairly unmistakable! Especially one as large as that had felt!

She continued to stare at the closed door for long seconds while the old woman muttered to herself, plucking at the tape. Then she hurriedly turned and warned her not to touch it, making sure the tape was in place before opening the door.

She looked around warily, her cheeks a little flushed now as her mind sifted through the implications.

Brandt had opened the door, seen her bent over and... instantly gotten a huge erection?! Seriously?! Guys had been remarking on her great ass for almost a decade now but she would have thought Brandt would be too disciplined, too filled with stern self-restraint to be so quickly affected.

The man wasn't an adolescent, after all! He was probably over thirty!

Of course, I do have a great ass, she thought, feeling a little vain about it. Imagine her ass melting the notoriously cold Doctor Brandt! She ought to tell everyone! But no way was she going to do so! It would be a great story, of course, but it could cause all kinds of trouble, not the least of which was people looking at her ass all the time!

The scrubs she wore weren't very thick, and weren't very tight, and the blouse hung over them, well, except when she bent over.

That had felt like a really big cock, she thought in no small amazement. That would be painful! Of course, it could also be... amazing, if enough lubrication was around. She was fully aware of the clinical facts, that larger penises produced no more pleasurable physical sensation than any other.

But the emotional, the psychological element, of course, was what counted. The brain was the most important sexual organ, after all, and the thought of being so completely... filled, was enough to tighten her chest and make her swallow several times.

Of course, there was no way anything was going to happen with Brandt! He was an asshole! Even if he was good looking and had a big dick.