“She sent me an e-mail earlier,” he confirmed, folding his hands atop his tablet screen.
My fingers drummed silently.
His gaze followed the movement. “Does it bother you that she contacted me?”
I weighed my response before giving it. “She worries. If talking to you alleviates that, I won’t complain. You’re also her therapist, so she has a right to discuss it with you.”
“But you don’t like it. You’d prefer to choose which issues you share with me.”
“I’d prefer Eva to feel safe.”
Dr. Petersen nodded. “That’s why you’re here. For her.”
“What does she hope the outcome of our sessions will be?”
“Don’t you know?”
He smiled. “I’d like to hear your answer to that question.”
After a moment, I gave it to him. “Eva previously made bad decisions. She learned to rely on the advice of therapists. It worked well for her and it’s what she knows.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“Do I have to feel anything?” I countered. “She asked me to try it out and I agreed. Relationships are about compromise, aren’t they?”
“Yes.” Picking up his stylus, he tapped at the screen of his tablet. “Tell me about your previous experience with therapy.”
I took a breath. Let it out. “I was a child. I don’t remember.”
He glanced at me over the rim of his glasses. “How did you feel about seeing someone? Angry, frightened, sad?”
Glancing down at my wedding ring, I replied, “A little of all that.”
“I imagine you felt similarly about your father’s suicide.”
I stilled. Studying him, my gaze narrowed. “Your point?”
“We’re just talking, Gideon.” He leaned back. “I often feel like you’re wondering what the angle is. I don’t have an angle. I just want to help you.”
I forced my posture to relax.
I wanted the nightmares to stop. I wanted to share the same bed as my wife. I needed Dr. Petersen to help me do that.
However, I didn’t want to talk about things that couldn’t be changed to get there.
“HEY, GIRL. WHAT are your thoughts on karaoke?” Shawna Ellison asked the second I answered the phone.
I dropped my pencil onto the notepad I’d been scribbling in, then sat back on the couch and curled my legs onto the cushion. It was rolling past nine o’clock and I hadn’t heard from Gideon yet. I didn’t know if that was a good or bad sign, considering he’d had an appointment with Dr. Petersen earlier.
The sun had set nearly an hour before, and I’d been trying not to think of my husband every five seconds since. Chatting with Shawna was a welcome distraction.
“Well,” I hedged, “since I’m tone deaf, my thoughts on singing in public are pretty much nonexistent. Why?”
In my head, I pictured the vibrant redhead who was quickly becoming a friend. In a lot of ways, she was like her brother Steven, who happened to be engaged to my boss. They were both fun and easygoing, quick to tease and yet rock solid, too. I liked the Ellison siblings a lot.
“Because I was thinking we could go to this new karaoke bar I heard about today at work,” she explained. “Instead of those cheesy background tracks, this place has a live band. You don’t have to sing if you don’t want to. A lot people go just to watch.”
I reached for the tablet lying on the coffee table. “What’s the name of this place?”
“The Starlight Lounge. I thought it might be fun for Friday.”
My brows went up. Friday was our bringing-the-crew-together night. I tried to imagine Arnoldo or Arash singing karaoke and just the thought made me smile. Why the hell not? At the very least, it’d break the ice.
“I’ll mention it to Gideon.” I ran a search for the bar and pulled up its website. “Looks nice.”
The name had conjured thoughts of old-school crooner hangouts, but the images on the site were of a contemporary club decorated in shades of blue with chrome accents. It looked upscale and swank.
“Right? I thought so, too. And it’ll be entertaining.”
“Yeah. Wait ’til you see Cary with a mic. He’s shameless.”
She laughed and I grinned at the sound, which was as bubbly as champagne. “So is Steven. Let me know what you decide. Can’t wait to see you.”
We hung up, and I tossed my phone onto the cushion beside me. I was leaning forward to get back to my project when I heard the ping of a text message.
It was from Brett. We need to talk. Call me.
I stared at his picture on the screen for a long minute. He’d been calling all day but hanging up when he got my voice mail. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t conflicted about him still reaching out, but it was a dead end. Maybe we’d be friends someday, but not now. I wasn’t up for it or the stress it caused Gideon.
I used to think facing issues that made me uncomfortable showed strength and responsibility. Now, I realized that sometimes resolution wasn’t the purpose. Sometimes, you just had to take the opportunity to examine yourself better.
I’ll give you a ring when I can, I typed back. Then I set the phone aside again. I’d call him when Gideon was with me. No secrets and nothing to hide.
“Hey.” Cary strolled into the living room from the hallway dressed in pajama bottoms and a threadbare T-shirt. His dark brown hair was still damp from the shower he must have taken after Tatiana left an hour earlier.