This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher. Heart Doctor TOP SHELF An imprint of Torquere Press Publishers PO Box 2545 Round Rock, TX 78680 Copyright 2009 by Drew Zachary Cover illustration by Alessia Brio Published with permission ISBN: 978-1-60370-711-4, 1-60370-711-5 www.torquerepress.com All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law. For information address Torquere Press. Inc., PO Box 2545, Round Rock, TX 78680. First Torquere Press Printing: May 2009 Printed in the USA Heart Doctor - 2 .
Chapter One Drey hummed as he powered through the charts, making sure he knew what was going on with all of the patients on the floor. He liked working in cardiology. The department took up two floors, but all the patients were on the seventh; doctors' offices occupied the eighth floor. Rounds didn't start until nine a.m. either, so unless there was an emergency, Drey had time to catch up with all the charts, and check in on the patients as well, before the doctors even showed up. It had been a quiet night and this morning's handover had gone smoothly, quickly. Putting the charts back on the desk, Drey grabbed his keys and headed for the meds cabinet. Oh, it had been a quiet night; the morning meds were already sorted, sitting in marked cups for each patient. Cool. Humming again, Drey wheeled out the cart, locked the door behind him, and began to visit his patients. "Oh, here he is," a familiar voice said behind him as Drey started down the corridor. "Drey Banerjee, one of our head nurses. Can I have a word before you get going, Drey?" Dr. Hunter stood there with a clipboard in hand, his gray hair neatly combed as ever. Next to him was another doctor, one Drey hadn't met before. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, but he, too, had a tiny bit of gray in his dark hair. Not bad looking at all. "Sure, Dr. Hunter." Drey smiled at the new guy and then focused back on Hunter. "What can I do for you?" "This is Dr. Brady MacDonald, the newest cardiologist on staff. He'll be taking over some of the cases already on the ward, so I wanted to get him around to meet most of the nurses this week; we know who really runs this place." Dr. Hunter winked at Drey and stepped back to let the new doctor offer his hand. Dr. MacDonald had a nice firm handshake, and he met Drey's gaze with a friendly smile. "Nice to meet you." "Nice to meet you, Doctor." Drey went for a subtle once-over, checking the new guy out. Not bad. Not bad at all. At least what he could see through the open lab coat. "Do you mind if we follow you around for a few minutes? I'd like to meet some of my patients." He held out his own clipboard. "Any of these people on your current round?" Heart Doctor - 3 .
Drey glanced at the clipboard and nodded. He appreciated a doctor who wanted to get to know his patients. "The first two I've got meds for are. Follow me." "I'll catch up with you," Dr. Hunter said, already backing away. "I need to have a quick look at Mrs. Wetherly in 7047." Dr. MacDonald nodded and then got his pen out of his pocket. "Lead on, Nurse Banerjee. I'll try to stay out of your way." He had a nice smile, a little crooked. "You can call me Drey, everyone does." "Brady." The smile grew wider. "Not everyone does. So, who's up first?" "Mrs. Wallace. She's a sweet old lady. Triple bypass." Drey knocked and then went in. "Good morning, Edna. Look what I brought you today -- a new doctor to play with." He gave the old lady a smile as he put his tray down and went over to open the curtains, letting in the morning sunshine. "Hello, Mrs. Wallace." Brady transferred the smile to the elderly woman and pulled the visitor chair up to the side of the bed. "How are you feeling this morning? My name is Brady MacDonald, and I'll be assisting on your case. Did you have a good night?" He didn't even pick up her chart from the end of the bed, just started talking to her. Very nice. Drey had to admit he was impressed. City Hospital had more than its share of good doctors, but he often found that the higher up the food chain you went, the more likely you were to run into the ones with God complexes. Hunter was a good egg, though, and Drey was pleased to see that Brady was maybe cut from the same cloth. Hell, anything would be better than Cooper and Strazinsky. They both thought they were God. Working unobtrusively, he checked Edna's drip, BP, and temp while she chatted with Doc Brady. "Well," Brady said as he stood up and shook her hand again, "I'm glad you're sleeping okay. It can't be easy, with your chest aching like that." He did pick up her chart then, glancing through it and then writing a short note. "The good news is that, if we can get your pain managed with over the counter pain killers, we'll be able to let you go home really soon. I bet you'll sleep even better in your own bed." He smiled at her again and glanced at Drey. "I think I'll stop talking away and let you give Mrs. Wallace her pills now." Drey chuckled and grabbed the pill pot from his tray, double-checking to make sure he had the right cup. Heart Doctor - 4 .
"Here you are, Edna." He helped her take the pills. "Now, you remember to press the call button if you need anything, okay? No more suffering in silence because you don't want to bother us, okay?" "Think of it as your chance to be pampered," Dr. Brady said with a nod. "Remember, pain is bad. We want to make it better." He hung her chart back up and stepped out of Drey's way. "I'll try to swing back around later this afternoon, too." "You get the cute doctor to come by twice. Good for you." He gave her a wink and followed Brady out. "I could get used to being the cute doctor," Brady said as they left, clearly amused. "Although it's odd to be called that by. uh, the head nurse." His eyebrow quirked, and Drey thought maybe the unspoken word "male" was the important one. Drey stopped before going into Allison Hugh's room. "Really? I'd have thought you'd be used to hearing it from all the nurses." He hadn't hidden who he was the day he'd been hired and he wasn't going to start now. "Not really, no." Brady grinned at him. He had blue eyes, dark like indigo. "My last hospital had a lot of nuns." "Seriously?" "Seriously. Saint Mary's. Small, used to be funded by the Catholic Church, and a lot of the staff were from a working order. Sisters of Mercy or something -- I was really bad about knowing the details, to tell you the truth. But, yes, a lot of nuns, not a lot of flirting." "Well, you might just be in for a bit of culture shock, then." Drey batted his eyelashes at the good doc. Brady looked at him for a long moment, blinked, and then started to laugh. "I guess so, yes. If I faint, you'll know what to do." "Ooo, the kiss of life. I'll be sure to keep an eye on you." Okay, so maybe he was spreading it pretty thick, but he hadn't really flirted with a doctor in a long time, and this one was particularly cute. Brady laughed and looked at his clipboard. "Wow, I had no idea I'd be welcomed so warmly. I'm glad I wore my good tie." His cheeks were pinking up and he looked at Drey through his eyelashes. "Who's next?" "Kitty comes on at nine -- I'm sure she'll flirt even more than I am." "She won't make me blush." Brady smiled and looked him up and down. "You really should come with a warning sign." Heart Doctor - 5 .
Drey felt his own eyes widen. "You're flirting back." "Have you looked in a mirror? Of course I'm flirting back. The only other option is being unconscious. You have amazing eyes." "Thank you, Brady. I quite like yours as well." Who'd have thought the new cardiologist would be gay? It was Drey's lucky day. He offered another smile and then nodded at the door. "This is Alison Hughes. She's on the heart transplant list. Waiting." "Oh, man." This time, Brady paused outside the door to read up on his clipboard. "How long has she been in here? And how high up on the list is she? God, only fifty-four." "She's right at the top. The next heart that comes in that's a match is hers." Drey sighed. "She's a fabulous lady, but if a heart doesn't come in soon, she's not going to make it." He took a second to find his cheerful face again. "You ready?" "Yeah." Brady was still reading over the notes, but he nodded. "Yeah, let's go. She needs her meds, if nothing else." "Yep." Drey knocked and went in. "Good morning, Allison," he said quietly. She didn't like a lot of noise or light, which was why he didn't go open her blinds. "Your new doctor is here to see you. He's Dr. Brady MacDonald." She looked over slowly and nodded, but didn't say anything. Brady didn't seem to mind and he followed Drey's lead, keeping his voice low and soft as he sat down and started talking to her, introducing himself and asking questions about how she was feeling. Drey took her vitals and marked them down in her chart before double-checking her meds and helping her to take them. So far, Brady was two for two with the patients. It would be interesting to see how the man operated when things got busy. "I know that Dr. Hunter will be in to talk to you as well," Brady said as he stood up. "He's still the primary on your case, but I thank you for talking to me. I hope we'll have good news for you very soon, Ms. Hughes." She nodded and then smiled over at Drey. "Like him," she whispered. Brady laughed softly and read her chart over before adding a note at the bottom. "You just wait until I'm ordering you to walk around and stuff after you get your new heart. You'll hate my guts." Drey waited until Brady made it to the door before gently patting Allison's shoulder. "I like him, too." He gave her a wink, made sure the call button was within easy access, and then headed out Heart Doctor - 6 .
after Brady. "Well, the next four I've got meds for aren't yours. If you want to go ahead and talk to them on your own, that's fine. Maybe you'd like someone to show you the best place to eat at lunch time." "Not the cafeteria?" Brady raised both eyebrows in obviously-feigned shock. "But hospital cafs always have the very best food!" "Actually, ours is pretty good, almost as good as the patient's food, which here at City is really, honestly good stuff, but nothing beats." He stopped on purpose and winked. "Well, if I told you, then I wouldn't have an excuse to take you there, now would I?" "You're not shy, are you?" Brady smiled and shook his head. "Go and see your patients. I promise not to go hunting for decent food until you're free." "I can do shy if that's what you like." He wasn't very good at it, though. "I like honest." Brady raised a hand in a wave as Dr. Hunter approached. "Thanks, Drey. I'll be around here; I'm sure we'll run into each other very soon." "Ready to meet a few more?" Dr. Hunter asked as he came up. "Thanks, Drey." Drey nodded to both doctors. "Anytime. Now if you'll excuse me, I have the rest of my patients to wake up." Brady nodded and shook his hand again, keeping it professional. "See you later; I look forward to working with you." Then he turned to Dr. Hunter and started filling him on what Edna and Allison had said. Drey watched them walk off for just a moment, wishing Brady's lab coat was a little more revealing. Still, he liked what he'd seen so far and that was always a good start -- it was the ones where he fell in lust with an ass first that usually worked out badly. Laughing to himself, he went into Richard Dixon's room. Heart Doctor - 7 .
Chapter Two Brady was still thinking about Gino Markham's irregular heartbeat as he took off his lab coat and hung it in his locker. There was something there, something nagging just outside his memory. Maybe he'd take a quick look through the books while he ate. He'd sit down with the chart and the EKG readings and do some old-fashioned research. He checked his belt to make sure he had his phone and his pager, then double-checked for his hospital ID. He'd almost lost it on his third day and he didn't want to go through that panic again. No way. Far too embarrassing, retracing his steps and seeing everyone again, trying to pretend he was just ambling along. Doctors might not be as busy as nurses, but they shouldn't amble. "Well, hello there, Dr. Brady. You're not on your lunch break, are you?" Drey Banerjee smiled at him from the doorway. "I am, actually." Brady smiled at him. God, Drey's eyes were truly amazing, on their own level of beautiful. Dark and liquid and huge, completely distracting. "I was just going to grab a sandwich. Care to join me?" "Or you could join me at Teddy's around the corner." Drey smiled, teeth shining white against the coffee-with-plenty-of-cream skin. "I've been trying to show you my secret spot since day one." "It's only been a week," Brady pointed out. Good, he had his ID and his wallet. "And if your secret spot is right next to the hospital, I bet it's not that secret." He laughed softly as he nodded his agreement. "Let's go, then. Maybe we'll see everyone we work with while we're there." Drey had a great laugh. "Okay, okay, so it's only a secret to anyone not working at the hospital. But, unlike the cafeteria, there usually aren't any patient relatives there and they serve good, old- fashioned, greasy food." Brady grinned, pleased. "That sounds perfect, then. I can't take too long, though. I have to do a bit of research before I go back to see Mr. Markham. I'd kill for some decent soup, though. Do they have greasy soup?" Ew. Funny, but ew. "Gross. They do decent homemade food along with the greasy stuff." Drey led the way over to the elevator, lithe body mostly hinted at beneath the funky rainbow scrubs he was wearing today. Heart Doctor - 8 .
"You're very out there, aren't you?" It was more an observation than anything else. "I don't think I even own a rainbow. Oh, wait!" He pulled out his keychain and showed off his little rainbow key tag with a laugh. "But that's it, I think." Drey shrugged as they got onto the elevator. "I spent most of my childhood trying to conform to what I thought my parents wanted. I was terrified of what my father was going to do when he found out." Drey grinned suddenly, the smile making those dark eyes shine. "Then I found out he was quite the rebel himself when he and my mom got together: he not only didn't marry the girl his own parents had chosen for him, but he'd married a Canadian and a white woman, at that. After that, I figured coming out wasn't going to faze him." "Heh. Did it? I can't imagine it was easy, if he was at all traditional. Do you have family in India? Do they know?" Maybe he shouldn't be grilling Drey that hard in an elevator. "Papa's family disowned him when he married my mother. He's tried reaching out to them once or twice, even asked them to come live here in Canada, but they've never responded well." Drey shrugged. "Their loss; my father's a great guy. Started the local PFLAG chapter when I came out. Hell, half my dates have been set-ups through him. Unfortunately, we don't have very similar tastes." Drey gave him a once-over. "Though I dare say he might be happy to see you at the dinner table." "Because I'm a doctor?" He'd had his fair share of dates with doctor lovers. Very few of them turned into Brady lovers. "Yep. The no tattoos, piercings, or other weird alterations would also be in the plus column for him. Most of his set-ups have been lawyers or accountants." Drey pointed to the right as they left the elevator and joined the exodus from the main doors. "Good thing my mods are hidden, then." Drey's eyes lit up. "You have mods?" Had that been his imagination, or had Drey's voice suddenly dropped into a lower register? "No." Brady grinned wider. "Sorry. But then, doesn't everyone these days?" Brady laughed and followed along. "So, Teddy's, huh? What's your favorite? And is it my imagination or is that orderly, what's his name -- Tyler? Does he have something going with the tech from radiology?" Drey was looking at him like he was dinner, but then Drey shook himself and answered the barrage of questions in order. "My favorite, believe it or not, is the meatloaf with vegetables. It was one of the few non-Indian dishes my mother made and always reminds me of her. And yes! Tyler and Royal are so doing it. They like to think they're being subtle." Drey snorted. "Your white mother cooked a mostly Indian menu? How cool. Hey, can you cook?" That would be awesome. Brady loved Indian. And Thai. And Korean, Mexican, Irish, Italian, and Chinese. He liked to think of himself as a culinary United Nations. Heart Doctor - 9 .
"Yeah, she learned how to cook for Papa. And, yeah, she taught me everything she knew about cooking." They went around the corner of the hospital and crossed the street. "You like Indian? I could have you in for a meal." Brady nodded and said, "I love all food, pretty much. I wouldn't mind trying homemade Indian, not one bit." His stomach growled. "See? Hey, does this place do take-out? I tend to live off of take-out and delivery." "Yeah, Teddy's does take-out." Drey ushered him into a dark, warm little restaurant that looked surprisingly big inside. "Great, remind me to grab a menu when we leave." He looked around but didn't see anyone he knew -- not surprising, as he'd only been at the hospital for a week. "I'm taking your word for how great the food is, you realize. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it smells fantastic in here." Drey led him over to a table in the corner next to a window. "This is my usual spot." He waved at the waitress as he sat. "If you want a menu, you're going to have to ask for one. Most of us order from memory." Brady nodded. "Gotcha. I assume there's sandwiches -- I can smell bread baking." His stomach rumbled again, reminding him that breakfast had been hours ago and a protein bar was a poor substitute for real food. "Yeah. You name it, they'll make it for you." Drey beamed up at the older woman who came over to get their order. "Milk to drink, the meatloaf special, please, Nancy." Then Drey nodded over at him. "This is Doc Brady. He's new." "New enough to need a menu, please," Brady said with a smile. "And a big glass of milk when you get the chance." Drey raised an eyebrow at him and, once Nancy had left him a menu, leaned in. "You're a milk drinker, too?" "Healthy bones and teeth." Plus soda had, like, a million calories, and artificial sweeteners gave him a headache. "That or water for me, mostly." "I'm a big tea drinker, actually. But I usually have it with dessert when I'm out. They do a delicious chocolate cake here." "Maybe for a treat. On a day when I'm walking a lot." Brady accepted a menu from Nancy and smiled at her, then started reading it. "Oh, man. Quiche. Yum." "Yeah, lots of good stuff." Drey sat back, fingers moving on the edge of the table. "So, you're not involved with anyone, right?" Heart Doctor - 10 .