She smiled. It was worth going along with anything, just to see that.
“I just finished watching your interview,” Dr. Petersen said, as he settled into his armchair. “My wife told me about it earlier and I was able to catch it on the Internet. Very well done. I enjoyed it.”
Tugging up my slacks, I sank onto the sofa. “A necessary evil, but I agree, it went well.”
“Are you asking me how she reacted to seeing that photo?”
Dr. Petersen smiled. “I can imagine the reaction. How is she doing now?”
“She’s okay.” I was still shaken by the memory of hearing her being so violently ill. “We’re good.”
Which didn’t change the fact that I seethed with fury every time I thought of it. That photo had existed for months. Why hold on to it, then release it now? It would have made news in May.
The only answer I could come up with was that they’d wanted to hurt Eva. Maybe put a wedge between us. They wanted to humiliate her and me.
Someone was going to pay for that. When I was done, they’d know what hell felt like. They would suffer, the way Eva and I had suffered.
“You and Eva both say things are good. What does that mean?”
I rolled my shoulders back to alleviate the tension there. “We’re … solid. There’s a stability now that wasn’t there before.”
He set his tablet on the armrest and met my gaze. “Give me an example.”
“The photo’s a good one. There were times in our relationship when a photo like that would’ve really screwed us up.”
“This time was different.”
“Very. Eva and I discussed having my bachelor party in Rio before I left. She’s very jealous. She always has been and I don’t mind. In fact, I like it. But I don’t like her torturing herself with it.”
“Jealousy is rooted in insecurity.”
“Let’s change the word, then. She’s territorial. I will never touch another woman for the rest of my life and she knows that. But she has an active imagination. And that photo was everything she feared in living color.”
Dr. Peterson was letting me do the talking, but for a second I couldn’t. I had to push the image—and the rage that it stirred—out of my mind before I could continue.
“Eva was thousands of miles away when the damn thing exploded online and I had nothing in the way of proof. I had only my word and she believed me. No questions. No doubt. I explained as best I could and she accepted it as the truth.”
“That surprises you.”
“Yes, it—” I paused. “You know, now that I’m talking about this, it really didn’t surprise me.”
“We both had a rough moment there, but we didn’t fuck it up. It was like we knew how to make it right between us. And we knew that we would. There wasn’t any doubt about that, either.”
He smiled gently. “You’re being very candid. In the interview and now.”
I shrugged. “Amazing what a man will do when faced with losing the woman he can’t live without.”
“You were angry about her ultimatum before. Resentful. Are you still?”
“No.” My answer came without hesitation, although I would never forget how it felt when she’d forced a separation on us. “She wants me to talk, I’ll talk. It doesn’t matter what I throw at her, what mood I’m in when I tell her, how horrible she feels when she hears it … She can deal. And she loves me more.”
I laughed out loud, startled by a sudden rush of joy.
Dr. Petersen’s brows rose, a faint smile on his lips. “I’ve never heard you laugh like that before.”
I shook my head, nonplussed. “Don’t get used to it.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. More talking. More laughter. They’re connected, you know.”
“Depends on who’s talking.”
His eyes were warm and compassionate. “You stopped talking when your mother stopped listening.”
My smile faded.
“It’s said that actions speak louder than words,” he went on, “but we still need words. We need to speak and we need to be heard.”
I stared at him, my pulse inexplicably speeding up.
“Your wife is listening to you, Gideon. She believes you.” He leaned forward. “I’m listening and I believe you. So you’re talking again and getting a different response from the one you’ve conditioned yourself to expect. It opens things up, doesn’t it?”
“Opens me up, you mean.”
He nodded. “It does. To love and acceptance. To friendship. Trust. A whole new world, really.”
Reaching up, I rubbed the back of my neck. “What am I supposed to do with that?”
“More laughter is a good start.” Dr. Petersen sat back with a smile and picked up his tablet again. “We’ll figure out the rest.”