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AS I AWAKEN TO the horribly-pungent, antiseptic odor that can only come from a hospital, the last thing I remember is being dragged off the city bus by a big-bellied cop. With a translucent ring of glazed sugar from a doughnut crusting the corners of his mouth, his curses sounded comical. He huffed and puffed like an asthmatic as he cuffed me. Still, I continued to kick and scream and claw at his beet-red face until a zap of electricity from his Taser gun crumpled my knees.
Now those cold, hard, metal bindings have been replaced by padded, leather restraints. I don’t like the feeling of being strapped down. My heavy eyelids fly open while panic grips me like a pair of icy, angry fists. I flail my arms and jerk my legs in an impotent effort to free myself.
A deep, graveled yet soothing vocal sound floats through my fuzzy brain from a shadowed corner. “Struggling will do you no good, Miss Patton.”
Swallowing past the dry, cottony lump in my throat, my voice comes out scratchy. “Where am I? Who are you?” I ask the stoic-looking man sitting in what appears to be a well-worn but comfortable-looking, fabric-upholstered chair.
He stands and shoves the piece of mint-green colored furniture across the bright-white, tiled floor. It stops just short of my bedside. Sitting once again, he gives me a searching look. The intensity of his dark gaze makes me shudder.
Opening the top drawer on the nightstand to his right, he extracts a notepad. He then pulls a deep-burgundy-colored pen from the inside pocket of his tan, tweed jacket. His choice in writing implements is telling. The sleek design. The shiny finish. The elegance and expense all say this man has plenty of money. That he wouldn’t be caught dead with a regular, run-of-the-mill Bic ballpoint in his possession.
Removing the gold-trimmed cap, he jots down a few words and says, “I’m Dr. Midian, and you are in the psychiatric ward of Doyle Pleasant Hospital. Do you recall the events of last evening?”
“Yes. Can you take these restraints off me?”
“Upon completion of my evaluation, should I find you to be of no harm to yourself or others, I will gladly remove the cuffs. Now tell me what happened last night.”
Feeling frustrated, I press my head back even harder against the edge of a pancake-flat pillow that has practically slid down past my shoulders. “I was taking the five o’clock bus home and ended up getting arrested,” I say, sighing. “Normally, I don’t use public transportation, but my relic of a car died last week. And I don’t currently have the funds to get it fixed.”
“What did you do to warrant the involvement of the police?”
I shrug, blushing profusely.
He clears his throat, and I wait for him to prompt me. I’ve seen enough television to know if a patient isn’t forthcoming, a shrink will ask leading questions. I would rather be lead than to come right out and say such embarrassing things.
“The bus driver said you were causing a disturbance near the backseat. When he asked you to cease what he classified as bizarre behavior, you became argumentative. He called for a cop to meet him at the next stop and physically remove you from the bus. Does that sound like a fairly accurate assessment?”
“Yes and no.”
“Yes, the bus driver called the cop. But I wasn’t causing a disturbance. I was simply making good on a dare. I couldn’t very well quit until I had finished.”
Dr. Midian scribbles something on his pad then looks me square in the face. He is so friggin’ handsome I can hardly stand it. With his onyx eyes, strong, bearded jaw, thick, jet-black hair and straight, white teeth, he could be a GQ model. A psychiatrist has no right looking this hot.
“Tell me about this dare.”
I nod. “My best friend Myrna threw down the gauntlet a couple a nights ago over pepperoni pizza and lemon-drop martinis.”
He smiles. The warmth and illumination of it is like the sun bursting through a dark cloud on a dreary day, bringing with it a tropical breeze to caress my skin.
“That’s an interesting combination,” he says.
“Myrna’s a little bit different. She has eclectic taste in most everything, including food and beverage combos. She is the queen of quirky.”
“What did she dare you to do, Miss Patton?”
“I can’t talk about this when you sound so formal. Can you call me Zuri, please?”
He frowns. “For the record, this is a formal evaluation. But if my calling you by your first name makes you more comfortable, so be it. Answer the question, Zuri.”
Stalling, I ask, “What’s your first name, Doctor?”
He shifts in his chair, extends his long, muscular legs and crosses them at the ankles. Leveling his gaze at me, he sternly says, “You calling me by my first name is not appropriate. If you have any hopes of getting out of those restraints, you will answer me in a professional and timely manner. Am I making myself clear, Miss Patton?”
Crap! I pushed too hard. Now he won’t call me Zuri, and I really, really liked hearing my name on his sexy lips.
“Fine,” I huff. “Myrna dared me to give a guy a blow job in public. If my car hadn’t broken down, I would have driven to the park and done the deed with my man sitting on a bench. Since I happened to be on the bus last night, I figured that was as good a place as any.”
Dr. Midian makes a few more scribbles. Without meeting my gaze, he asks, “Was Myrna on the bus, too?”
“No. How could she be? She can’t leave her apartment.”
He stops writing, flashes those dark eyes on me and asks, “Why not?”
“She’s a full-blown agoraphobic. To my knowledge, she hasn’t stepped a foot outside for over ten years.”
“How did the two of you meet?”
I grin at the memory. “I answered an ad she had placed for a personal assistant on Craig’s List. When I arrived at her address for the interview, she was wearing hot-pink pajamas with light-pink bunny slippers. Her hair was buzzed in the style of a Mohawk with streaks of pink highlights. A sterling silver ring with an oval, pink-ice stone adorned her index finger. I got a good look at it when she pointed at me and asked if I had ever turned down a dare. When I told her I hadn’t, she hired me.”
“So this daring business is commonplace in your relationship with Myrna.”
“Does she always present you with the kind of dare that might get you arrested?”
“You mean like the kind where I get down on my knees in front of the backseat of the city bus and perform fellatio on—”
His question slices through my response mid-sentence, sending a tingle of excitement all the way through me. The doctor’s inquiry makes me think he is fishing for intimate information about my life. Maybe on some baser, animalistic level, he is as attracted to me as I am to him. Perhaps he’s just a little bit jealous of any man I might give a blow job. Heck, he very well could be imagining me deep- throating him right now while he rhythmically taps his fancy pen against that faded, yellow notepad.
“No. On a stranger.”
“You mean to tell me you approached a man you don’t know on a bus last night and offered him oral sex on the spot?”
“And he what? Unzipped, whipped out his prick and pushed it between those pretty, pouty lips?”
I feel Dr. Midian’s instant regret. He definitely had not intended to compliment my mouth. That along with the hitch in his breath, the dilation of his pupils and the hoarseness of his voice screams his arousal. He might be fooling himself into believing he is keeping this evaluation strictly professional, but I can see the want-to in the dark depths of his eyes. I can smell his desire and feel the vibrating undercurrent of his need.
My gaze drops to his crotch. The flimsy sheets of bound paper do very little to conceal his erection.
Instead of answering his questions, I just smile sweetly.
His agitation is palpable, but he does a decent job of tamping it down as he says, “The arresting officer stated in his report that you didn’t have a cell phone in your possession.”
“So if Myrna wasn’t on the bus to see your performance for herself and, if you didn’t record it on your phone, how was she supposed to know you made good on the dare?”
I sigh and say matter-of-factly, “Given the number of passengers, I’m sure plenty of them got me on video. Heck, I’m betting they’ve already uploaded it onto every social media network out there. Myrna has probably viewed it a hundred times by now, given it a thumbs-up and made a bunch of raunchy remarks in the comment section. I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t already gone viral.”
“And if it has, would that please you?”
“No. I don’t care either way.”
“Really? Well, maybe your family will care or your other, non-dare-taking friends or your co-workers or your employer. Aren’t you concerned about what they might think? Are you not worried you will lose your job?”
“Myrna is my only true friend. I’m an orphan and have no family. I am self-employed, making me my own boss. I’m pretty much a self-contained entity. My actions have zero effect on anyone else.”
“I disagree. No man or woman is an island. Everything we humans say and do has a ripple effect, impacting the lives of others.”
“And just exactly how did my impromptu blow job make waves for anyone other than me?”
He thoughtfully rubs his neatly-trimmed beard. “You made many of the eye witnesses uncomfortable on their bus ride home, especially the couple who had their young children with them. You threw the driver off schedule because he had to linger longer at the stop for you to be arrested. You physically assaulted an officer of the law, leaving scratches and bruises on his face and body. You’re here taking up space on a bed in a room that could be used by someone else who needs it more,” he says, taking a breath before continuing. “Last but not least, you interrupted my morning. I wasn’t supposed to be on call until tomorrow, but my colleague felt I would be best suited to handle your case. So, my first two appointments of the day had to be rescheduled, inconveniencing two of my loyal and established patients.”
I lower my lids in shame. “When you put it that way, I guess I did cause a few ripples.”
“Now that you realize the reach of your actions, do you feel any remorse?”
“Sure, but what can I do about any of it now? What’s done is done.”
“With the assistance of a professional, you can learn to modify your behaviors through cognitive therapy.”
I roll my eyes. “I do not need to see a shrink in order to stop taking dumb dares.”
“I think you do, Miss Patton. An eyewitness forwarded the footage of your performance to the cop who cuffed you. He sent a copy to my phone. Would you like to see it?”
“Why would I? I was right there in it. I was the star of the show, wasn’t I?”
“Yes. And therein lies the rub.”
“What the devil is that supposed to mean?”
He stands, taking his phone out of his pants pocket. Punching a few buttons, he swipes his finger across the screen and turns it toward me. I feel all the color drain from my cheeks as I gasp in disbelief.
Zuri’s gorgeous, periwinkle-blue eyes bulge out of her beautiful face as she stares in silence at the moving images on my smartphone. Sometimes the best way to dispel a delusion is with the cold, hard truth. Only in most cases, there are no videos to show a patient. This is a rare opportunity. One in which this young, curvaceous woman can see for herself that she needs my help.
No. Scratch that. She needs someone’s help, but not mine.
Treating her would be a colossal career mistake. Within mere minutes of our meeting, she’s teased my cock to granite, elicited thoughts of a highly-impure nature and, worst of all, provoked feelings of indisputable caring and concern. Since I am incapable of feeling anything for anyone, my reaction to her is strange, to say the very least.
It might seem impossible for me to be the top psychotherapist in my field and to have the highest cure rate among my colleagues when I have no feelings whatsoever, but it’s true. In fact, my lack of emotion is ironically the thing that makes me a great healer.
She turns her pretty head away from my phone. With deep conviction, she says, “Someone edited this video.”
I shake my head. “A digital tech expert at the precinct confirmed this is the original footage—uncut and intact.”
“He’s a liar!”
“I never said the tech was a man.”
“You didn’t have to. All men lie.”
Reaching out, I wrap my hand around her left wrist. I can feel the strong, steady beat of her heart in the vein pulsing above the restraint. “The only person lying is you, Miss Patton. You’re lying to yourself and to me.”
In her silence, my fingers develop a mind of their own. Slowly, gently they caress the silky-soft, porcelain skin covering the underside of her wrist. The feel of her is electrifying. Not like a jolt from a bolt of lightning but like a searing heat, burning hotter by the second, melding us together at the point of contact.
When her marrow-melting blue peepers lock onto my gaze, Zuri’s voice sounds as breathless as I feel. “Will you kindly release me now, Dr. Midian?”
It takes me a second to realize she isn’t talking about the lingering grasp of my hand but the restraints. “Will you admit there was no man for you to blow on the bus? You were kneeling in front of an empty backseat, bobbing your beautiful head up and down while sucking nothing but air.”
She snarls, “Kiss my big ass, you stupid fucker!”
“If you weren’t my patient, it would be my pleasure. And for the record, I have an IQ of 175.”
“I don’t put much stock in numbers. And for the record, being a smartass doesn’t make you smart. Besides, you know nothing about me.”
“I know you are currently delusional and in denial. I don’t yet know why. But I am sure I can help you.”
Fuck it all to hell! One touch of her flesh and I have forgotten what a disaster it would be to take this woman on.
“What if I don’t want your help?”
I shrug. “You’ll be assigned another therapist by the state. Since you committed an act of violence against a cop, you’re required to undergo psychiatric treatment.”
“From a jail cell?”
“That’s up to you. I have some contacts in the court and am quite certain, with an assist from your attorney, we can have you walking around free on probation.”
“Fine. What do I have to do?”
“You’ll start by apologizing to the arresting officer.”
“Then you’ll appear before a judge on the appointed date, and we’ll go from there.”
She offers me a smile, but I’m not fooled. Behind the sweet up-tilt of her luscious lips lies a pitfall of seduction. This sexy kitten has a set of sharp claws on her. Although I am positive at some point she will use them to shred me to pieces, it doesn’t stop me from unlocking the leather wrists and ankle restraints.
As she tests her newfound freedom, I tuck my notepad under my arm and silently walk out the door. Once I’m in the hospital hallway, I mentally command my heart to stop racing, loosen my tie and give my orders to the nurse on duty.
I need to get the fuck out of here and get to Greyson’s office for an emergency session. Every therapist I know needs to periodically have their own head shrunk. According to the most recent studies in the latest issue of Psychology Today, eighty-five percent of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists suffer from some form of mental illness. Of those, two-thirds are clinically depressed, suicidal or bipolar. They suffer from substance abuse and are typically less sane than their patients.
I don’t fall into any of those categories. I live with my own special brand of crazy.
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