Authors: Brandy Jellum
The air is warm this morning, reaffirming my decision to wear a
playful, one shouldered floral dress, which is the opposite of my every
day wear of skinny jeans, baby doll tees, and flats. I’m positive when I finally arrive to the office later this morning, everyone will go into shock at the sight of the dress and a pair of killer heels that make my
legs seem a mile long. I smile to myself, basking in the pleasure of what
everyone’s reaction will be.
How will Reid respond to the sudden change in wardrobe? I don’t
know why I even care. The man irritates the hell out of me. But he opened
up to me, telling me about his mother, something he hasn’t told anyone
apparently. I feel almost honored to know the truth. Yet at the same
time, I can’t get a grip on his swift mood changes. I debate whether or
not I should mention Reid to Dr. Uria, but then I think, is there anything
really worth mentioning? Besides the kisses. Or the fact that he lights
my veins on fire, and I can’t stop fantasizing about him. I immediately
dismiss the idea as I open the glass door to my therapist’s building.
I nod and wave at the slightly overweight, middle aged security
guard sitting at the front desk. He waves in return and buzzes me
through the next set of doors. I stop in front of the elevator, pressing
the up button and casually wait for the elevator doors to open. Though
her office is on the top floor, twenty flights up, the ride up is short. The
door opens to a lavish sitting area, with pristine white walls with modern
paintings hanging along them. Jesse, the male secretary, smiles eagerly
at me as I move to take a seat in the lobby. He picks up the phone, letting
Dr. Uria know her first patient of the day has arrived.
“The doc should be right out, sugar plum,” Jesse says in a sweet
voice. I laugh at his sentiment, considering last week I was “doll face”.
“Thanks, Jesse,” I say as I take a seat in the white plush chair closest
to her office door. I lean back, close my eyes, and listen to the soft
classical music playing overhead. Just sitting here brings me some
measure of comfort.
I hear the door open after a few minutes and see Dr. Uria’s short, petite, dark frame step out first. For a woman in her mid-fifties, she
gives women my age a run for our money. Not only is she fit, beautiful,
and nothing short of glamorous, but she also has one of the kindest
souls I have ever known “Good morning, Liza.” Her voice is light and
sweet. “Let’s head into my office and get started.”
Dr. Uria’s office isn’t like a typical shrink’s office, where she has you
lie down on a leather couch, staring up at the ceiling while she sits just
out of view, jotting things down. No, she’s a more straightforward kind
of person, but infinitely more welcoming. More understanding. That
is her job title after all, to help and understand others. In her office, we
sit on a plush off-white couch, turned so we are facing one another. Tea
is set out on the ornate coffee table in front of us, along with a device to
record all of our sessions. “So, what do you want to talk about today?”
“I’m having nightmares again,” I say quickly. “The one with my mother.”
“How do they go?”
“The same as always…” I take a
breath. “I know I’m dreaming,
but I can’t snap out of it. I can barely breathe and all I see is her. She
stands at the end of my bed, all bloodied and mangled, accusing me of
being her undoing. That I am the cause of her death and that I should
be rotting in a jail cell with my father. Which is right before she swoops
down towards me and I finally break free of the dream.”
“I see,” she says. “Why do you think they have come back again,
Liza? It’s been a few years since you had them. The last time was your
junior year of college. Has anything changed lately?”
“Reid.” I say his name before I realize it. I bite my tongue, wishing
I can take it back. It’s too late; she’s aware of my slipup. She sets her teacup down and then looks back to me.
Dr. Uria raises an eyebrow and eyes me curiously with her dark blue eyes. “Who is Reid?”
“Nobody,” I try to deny. Dr. Uria smirks, which means she isn’t buying it. So much for not mentioning Reid. I shift uncomfortably on the couch. “Reid Harder,” I finally say softly.
“As in Harder’s Literary Agent House?” She puts two and two
“The one and the same,” I reply. “He is Lawrence’s nephew.” I
the cup to my lips and gulp a big swig of tea down before placing
it on the coffee table. “He is also my new boss.”
“Before we go any further, may I advise you to steer clear of him?”
It’s a little too late for that,
I think to myself. “Dating your boss brings
a whole lot of problems to the workplace, even more so when he is
related to the man who owns the company you work for. That is a
whole other issue.”
I laugh loudly, unable to control myself. Have a relationship with
Reid? Not going to happen. Indulge in wild fantasies with him? I would
be lying if I said I am not counting that out just yet. “You don’t have
to worry about that, Dr. Uria. I have my list, remember… become a
successful literary agent before I turn thirty, and no men. Especially not
men like Reid Harder,” I say quickly and laugh again.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t date, Liza. In fact, I encourage you to
go out on a date. Let loose and have a little fun. Enjoy your younger years and your freedom.” She pauses to refill our teacups. When she offers mine back to me, I take it with a smile plastered to my face. “I
mean, do you even socialize with men outside of the workplace, or
even inside the workplace? Lawrence and his nephew excluded.”
“Of course I do.” I really don’t, and this is something she knows. “There’s Eli.”
“Why not go on a date with Elias?”
I laugh again, almost causing some tea to spill on my lap. “Eli? You’re kidding me right, doctor? He’s the brother I never had.”
“Fine,” she says softly. “Not out on a date, but just a night out on the town.”
I shake my head and laugh. “He put you up to this, didn’t he?
He never stops, does he?” Leave it up to Eli to do something like this.
He has my therapist on speed dial, always checking in on my progress
and probably more. Sometimes I regret putting him on the list that
allows him access to this sort of information, but I don’t have the heart
to remove him. It’s comforting to know he cares so much. Besides, this
topic of going out for a night comes up once every few weeks.
“Have you talked to your father?”
My body tenses, and the teacup shakes in my hand. How did this
session go from my nightmares about my mother, briefly to Reid, going
out, and finally making its way to my father? He is the last thing I want
to talk about right now. Or ever. Just the mention of him brings back
the memory of him the night he killed my mother. The crazed face he
made when he confessed to killing her. And how he attacked me, leaving
a jagged cut across my abdomen when I made an attempt to lock myself
in their bathroom to call for help. Unconsciously, I touch my stomach
and feel the remnants of his attack protruding from my skin in the form
of an unattractive, unwanted scar. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t
wear anything too tight on my torso. Anything that can reveal the
outline of the damage he has done is not okay.
“You need to go see him.” Dr. Uria’s voice snags my attention, and I
quickly remove my hand from my stomach. My breath catches, and I can feel tears beginning to sting my eyes. “Or at the very least, write
him a letter. Express your feelings of anger, hurt, and the hatred you have
for what he did. It’s something you have to do to be able to move on.”
I know she is right. But I can never face him. I will never lay eyes on him again. I never want to hear his voice, and a letter just won’t
simply do. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hate him with every ounce
of my being for everything. To be honest, if I were to tell the truth, I am happy my mother is gone. What I hate the most, why I can’t face
him, is the proof he left on my body of what happened. The permanent
scar that forever binds me to him. I can never tell anyone this, and I
never will. Not as long as I am still breathing. What kind of person does
that make me, to be happy my mother is dead?
“I will soon,” I
, and she knows it. J
as I know it. Hell, if anyone
room, they would know I had no
of ever doing so.
“Let’s call it a day,” she says. I glance at the clock. We still have over
half of our session left. “I want to leave off with how you are feeling and
to take some time before heading back to work to decide what you are
going to do.”
“About what?” I ask nervously. I already know the answer to what
is to come next, which is a big fat hell no.
“About contacting your father.”
I don’t know how this has happened. This is not the way my
morning is supposed to start. I was supposed to go to Dr. Uria’s to
get some relief from my nightmares, call it a day, and go about my
business. But no, I had to open my big, fat mouth and mention Reid. Thankfully, she didn’t quiz me about him, and all she had to say was
dating him is a bad idea. Like I didn’t know that already. But that didn’t
stop her from mentioning letting loose and having fun most likely on
Eli’s behalf. The poor guy got stuck doing a whole lot of nothing with
me. Instead of going out, we always stay in and watch horror movies.
He says he doesn’t mind, but I know him better than that.
Somehow, our conversation led to my father. Damn that woman
and her psychological bull. She always catches me off guard and brings
my father into the picture whenever she sees the window of opportunity.
So I guess, other than not to date Reid, I really got nothing out of the
session. With the money she gets every month, she better not pull this
stunt next week or she is really going to have a psychotic patient.
I duck into the café and grab of cup of coffee before heading to work. I need a triple shot of espresso, and the caffeine it promises, to snap me out of this funk. I get a few extra minutes of time to myself
on the ride up to my office. Almost everyone has arrived by now, and
I’m thankful to have this bit of solitude before being on a floor with a
bunch of people. The elevator dings, and the doors slide open, signaling
the end of my personal moment. I glance over towards Reid’s office,
and my heart betrays me by fluttering a little when I see the blinds are
fully open and he is sitting at his desk, on the phone. I catch a glimpse
of one of his genuine smiles before he turns his attention to his computer.
I think of Friday and our stroll through the park that almost ended in
a kiss before we were snapped back into reality by the squealing little
girl that sent Reid retreating back into his cold front yet again.
I enjoy the memory a moment longer before locking it away for good in
the back of my mind. Like Dr. Uria said, nothing good can come
from dating my boss, especially when my boss is the owner’s nephew.
Not that pursuing a relationship is what I’m after. That’s the last thing
on my to-do list. I need to clear the air with Reid, once and for all,
although I’ve told him I don’t date and I’m not even sure that’s what he
is after. It needs to be done. There can be no more kisses, or near kisses.
Maybe just one more.
No. I shake my head. I cannot and I will not let Reid kiss me again. Not now, not ever.
Heidi greets me by my office door, asking what I want for lunch
today, and I tell her to order from somewhere that delivers. I don’t feel
like going anywhere unless it is straight home. She nods once before
returning to her desk, and I slip into my office. I boot up my computer,
and as I wait for it to start and my email to load, I set my coffee on my
desk, pull my cell phone out of my purse, and put it into the top drawer
of my desk. My email dings, notifying me that I had new unread messages
awaiting me. I hesitate before glancing at the screen, wishing — no,
praying — that there wouldn’t be any anonymous emails waiting for me.
After a few deep breaths, I muster up the courage to peek and sigh
in relief. There are none. Just a hundred and seven new query letters
waiting to be read. How the hell did this happen? I have never gotten
this many letters in one night, let alone a week. My mind briefly flickers
to Reid; this has to be his doing. I figure the only way to distract myself
from the very short therapy session is to dive head first into the letters
and try to make a dent in them before lunch. I barely make it through
three before I sigh heavily and lean back. I stare up at the ceiling and try to think about anything other than my father.