Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 59,480 words
Dr. Paul Johnston can't get a set of dark, somber eyes out of his head, and the timing couldn't be worse.
The last thing he needs is to fall for a patient. Not now, when he's been put on paid leave pending review of a formal complaint. One that most likely accuses him of sexual harrassment or impropriety of some kind. It's possible he let his newfound freedom as a divorced, out-of-the-closet gay man go to his head, but he's certain -- mostly -- he didn't do anything wrong. Now, he's struggling to handle the reality that his job is in danger and the only guy he wants should be off-limits.
Zane Kavanaugh is floundering, and there's only one man who soothes the storm inside him.
Reeling from an assault that landed him in the hospital and the painful estrangement from his family since coming out, Zane is trying to get his feet under him and find his independence. He moves in with a roommate and searches for a job, all while recovering from a fractured arm and cracked ribs. None of that hurts as much as the emotional damage he's suffered. When he connects with Dr. Paul Johnston outside of the ER, he's drawn to the man's calm, collected manner. It doesn't hurt that Paul's lack of experience with men is sexy as hell, and so are his over-the-top responses when Zane gets his lips on him.
There's no right time to fall in love.
Paul is afraid to start a relationship, and Zane can only handle so much more rejection. Will these two find their perfect moment, or will they realize you can't choose when and how you fall in love? If Paul can't take a risk, he may have to choose: the career he loves or the first man to capture his heart.
Bedside Manner is Book 1 of the Hearts & Health series. This is a spin-off series from the book Heart Trouble and includes characters from that novel, but it can be read as a standalone.
Zane led Paul into his apartment, feeling a little self-conscious as he looked at the place through the doctor’s eyes. The man probably had a gorgeous house, something really expensive, and a maid to keep it clean.
He had a small, two-bedroom apartment still in the throes of moving chaos. Boxes were flattened and stacked in the corner, and the mismatched furniture had seen better days. It looked like a place a college kid would live, and it had never bothered him. He’d been excited to be out on his own at last. But to a doctor used to nicer things …
“Sorry, it’s uh, still a work in progress,” Zane said, feeling awkward.
He’d taken the lead and invited Paul here, but now he felt uncertain. He wasn’t as experienced as he pretended to be. He really didn’t know what the doctor expected. Should Zane just kiss him? Lead him straight to the bedroom?
Actually serve the iced tea?
“You just moved in. Give it time,” Paul said.
He didn’t seem to be judging Zane too harshly. His blue eyes took in the surroundings with interest, but there was no disdain there that Zane could see. When Paul’s eyes landed on him, Zane quickly turned and headed for the kitchen.
“How about I get you that tea?” he said, his nerves too jittery to take the bold actions he’d imagined when he invited Paul over.
He couldn’t quite get a handle on why the doctor affected him this way.
Paul was older, but not terribly old. Probably late thirties or early forties. Not so much older than Gage, he assumed. But Zane had never been particularly interested in older men. Unless it was a new thing. The doctor was attractive, if conservative in his looks. He had blond hair, cut in a simple style, and glasses that masked the prettiness of his eyes unless you looked closely. His face was narrow, with even features — an intellectual sort of face, rather than a rough, masculine one. It fit him perfectly, though. He looked every inch the sexy academic. Whether doctor, scientist or college dean, the look worked for him.
The look definitely worked for Zane. His lips burned with the desire to kiss the man.
He realized he was staring at Paul, and hurried to hand him a glass of tea, sloshing it on the floor in the process.
“Shit,” he said, turning to grab a paper towel and mop up the spill.
“You seem kind of nervous,” Paul said.
Zane glanced up from the floor, sodden paper towel in hand and laughed. “I know, right? Sorry.”
He stood and tossed his trash, then grabbed his own glass of tea and led Paul to the living room. The doctor followed him, quiet after Zane’s admission of his nerves. Maybe Paul was feeling the tension, too. But was it a good tension or a bad tension?
Paul sat down next to Zane on the sofa and shifted to face him. “So, why are you nervous?” he asked, sounding baffled.
Zane’s heart thrashed in his chest as he turned and set his glass on the flimsy coffee table. Paul followed suit, watching Zane all the while with a confused expression.
Then, before he could lose his nerve, Zane leaned forward and brushed his lips against the corner of Paul’s mouth.
“This is why,” he murmured.
Paul took in a sharp, surprised breath, and Zane dragged his lips across Paul’s to kiss him properly. He brought up a hand, cupping Paul’s face and pulling him in closer.
Paul gasped against his mouth, his lips trembling under Zane’s.
Encouraged by his reaction, Zane traced the tip of his tongue along the man’s bottom lip, before pushing inside the warmth of his mouth.
The broken moan that sounded in Paul’s throat sent shockwaves of desire through Zane. It sounded like pleasure. It also sounded like pain. It seemed to straddle the line between joy and grief. He didn’t know what to make of it, but Paul’s hands clutched his hair and the man’s tongue slid against his own, so he took it for what it was: need.
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