“Are you ready for this?”
I glance at Lainey, my hand resting on the door knob of Dr. Woodrow’s office.
“As I’ll ever be,” she replies softly. I can see the trepidation in her face, the slight tremble in her hand.
“Hey.” I turn to her, lifting her chin until she’s looking at me. “You don’t have to do this, Lainey.”
“I want to, Eve. For you.” She took my hand in hers, squeezing it slightly before releasing it. “For me, too.”
I know this is hurting her. If the quick release of my hand wasn’t a good indication, the tension that is radiating from her certainly is. We both feel guilty about the feelings we have for each other. I also think that she’s scared that these sessions are going to change how I feel for her. Or vice versa. It’s a confusing situation, feeling guilty but not wanting to lose that closeness. As Lainey told me once before, it’s like being bipolar. I give her a small smile, and open the door.
“Good evening, Eve,” Dr. Woodrow greeted. Her eyes widen a little with surprise when she sees Lainey step in as I hold the door open for her. “Lainey.” The doctor stands, greeting Lainey by offering her hand. “It’s so nice to have you joining us tonight.”
“Dr. Woodrow, it’s nice to finally meet you. Formally.” Lainey smiled politely, shaking the doc’s hand briefly.
Dr. Woodrow slanted me a look, and I shrugged. I hadn’t told her that Lainey was coming along. Of course, I hadn’t been sure if Lainey actually would come with me. She had been agreeable when I first asked her, but when it came time, she was hesitant.
“Let’s have a seat,” Woodrow suggests, and I see Lainey hesitate, then settle in beside me. Dr. Woodrow obviously saw the hesitation as well. “Are you nervous to be here, Lainey?”
It unnerved me that Lainey was so timid. It reminded me of how she was when we first met. Though she would often find the courage to let me know exactly what she thinks, the reality was that Lainey had been painfully modest. It was only after our . . . affair that she found her confidence. She wasn’t showing any of that confidence here in Dr. Woodrow’s office.
“Lainey . . . ”
“Eve,” she interrupts me. “I want to be here. I told you that. It’s just a little intimidating. Just give me a moment to get adjusted.”
Well, she found a little bit of that spirit. I’m thankful for that. I nod, noticing that Dr. Woodrow is watching the exchange intently.
“I would like to start by making an observation while you ‘adjust’,” the doctor said to Lainey, who nodded in return. “Just this small interaction has told me a lot about your relationship with each other.”
I glance at Lainey who blushes. Involuntarily my mind notes how cute she looks when she blushes, and I close my eyes, chastising myself for that thought.
“What did this interaction tell you,” I ask quickly to avoid the question I knew she had for me.
Dr. Woodrow watched me for a moment, then nodded. “Well, you had mentioned to me that you felt more control when you were with Lainey.” Lainey’s head pops up at that, and she looks at me with a mixture of amusement and confusion.
“Um. Yeah, well . . . ” Good lord! Why do I suddenly feel like a scolded child?
“Because of my inexperience?” Lainey asked, turning towards me with complete interest.
“I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps it was that.”
“But I pursued you.”
I laughed softly. “You did not. I pursued you!”
“No . . . ” she trailed off when she saw my brow lift. “Fine, but I let you.”
It might have been the defiant little lift of the head, or perhaps the bold statement of ‘letting’ me pursue her. Whatever it was, it made me laugh. A loud, hearty laugh that I hadn’t had in a while. Lainey frowned at me, and Dr. Woodrow looked at me curiously.
“You let your guard down so much with Lainey,” the doctor said softly after I finished laughing. “But with Adam, you are constantly trying to be that woman everyone who meets you believes you are. Why?”
And, there goes any joy I just felt. “Isn’t that what I’m here to figure out?” I asked irritably.
I turn my glare on Lainey, only to have it soften when I saw her concern. Protective. I’m protective of Lainey. But I don’t want to be protected. I want to know I can protect myself. Lainey isn’t fragile, but she has a vulnerability about her, and it brings out my protective side. There’s nothing like that with Adam. He’s self-sufficient, self-confident, strong and he would fight for me until his dying breath. Is that what I’m afraid of?
“So much just went through your head. I can only help you if you tell me, Eve.”
“I don’t want to be protected,” I said simply, as though it answered all questions.
To my surprise, the doc nodded, and scribbled a note in her notebook. “And, with Adam you feel like the protected and not like the protector that you feel with Lainey?”
Damn. Doc was good at her job. “Yes.”
“You feel like my protector?” Lainey asked warily. “Is that why you? Why we?”
I could tell Lainey was getting irritated, not able to articulate what she was feeling.
“We had an affair because we felt . . . feel something for each other, Lainey,” I reassured her softly. “It wasn’t because I wanted to conquer you, or whatever you thought when you heard the word protector. Yes, I feel that way. I want to shield you . . . ”
“I don’t need you to protect me, Eve.”
“I know you don’t, but I can’t change how I feel. Obviously.” I sigh. “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on in my head, so this is all as new to me as it is to you.”
Lainey’s eyes softened, and she reached over to place her hand over mine. “I’m sorry.”
I shake my head. “Don’t be. We need to be able to express ourselves freely here, right?” My question was directed at Dr. Woodrow, and she nods. “I just don’t think there’s one thing that attracted me to you. Still attracts me to you. And, I know you feel just as guilty as I do about our feelings for each other.”
Lainey nodded sadly. “It’s not fair to Jack. Or Adam.” She turns to Dr. Woodrow. “Is that what’s blocking Eve’s creativity? Her feelings for me?”
I wonder briefly why she didn’t ask me, but if I know Lainey – and, I like to think I know her very well – she’ll think that I would give her any answer that spares her any kind of responsibility for my problems.
“Lainey, I believe there’s a myriad of matters that are blocking Eve’s creativity,” the doc answered carefully.
“That doesn’t really answer my question, does it?”
That’s my Lainey. I waited for the guilt to hit me after that thought, but it didn’t. Perhaps it was because it wasn’t a sexual thought. Lainey is my best friend, and will always be important to me.
“I suppose it doesn’t,” Dr. Woodrow admitted with a smile. “All of Eve’s feelings are what is blocking her.”
“Lainey, honey, it’s not you.” Okay, honestly the endearment just slipped out. “It’s not you, it’s not Adam. It’s me.” I slip off my chair, kneeling in front of her. “I love you. I will always love you. I don’t know how to stop that, or if I even want to.” My heart breaks a little when a tear slides down her cheek. “You were the one who showed me that I was worth being loved. Could Adam have done that? Perhaps, if I had let him in enough. But I wasn’t able to open myself up. Until you. So, for that, I will always be grateful. And, I will always be protective of you, love you. I don’t want to feel guilty for that, but it hurts Adam.”
“I know,” she whispered softly. “It must be harder for you because Adam knows. Jack doesn’t know. He doesn’t hurt from this. But you know I never want to hurt Adam. Knowing that I am, or that I’m part of the reason . . . knowing that you’re hurting . . . ” She paused to take a deep breath. “I love you, too, Eve. But I also understand how much you’re in love with Adam. Do you hear me, Eve? I understand. And, if you need me to step back . . . ”
“No!” I grip her hands. “I don’t want you to step back. It was the possibility of losing you forever that started this chaos in my head.” I stopped, as I realized that was the first time I had come to that conclusion.
“Eve? Did you just have a breakthrough?” the doctor asked curiously.
“I guess I did.”
“Would you like to talk about when that chaos started?”
I glance at Lainey. I haven’t told her exactly what happened when Adam was taken. I didn’t tell her how I had to stand in front of my bloodied and battered husband, his life on the line, and confess to what happened with Lainey. I haven’t told her about how Laurence had tried to force me to kill the man that I love.
“Maybe you should wait until next time when you have a one on one session,” Lainey suggested knowingly.
I squeeze her hand in gratitude.
“I think you’re right,” Dr. Woodrow agreed. “We’re close to our time, as it is. I would like to see the two of you again, if you both agree.”
I stand, taking a step back. “Yes, I think that would be good.”
Lainey nodded. “I’ll do whatever I can to help. If having me here does that, I’ll be here.”
“Good.” Dr. Woodrow smiles at both of us, standing to say our goodbyes. “I hope you both have a good night.”
“I’m surprised, doc. No homework?” I tease.
She chuckled, as did Lainey. “My homework for both of you is to go home to your husbands, try to forget all of this guilt nonsense,” she laughed again at my raised eyebrow. “Yes, I think it’s nonsense. We can’t help how we feel, just how we react to it. You two have done nothing to be guilty about, have you?”
Lainey and I glanced at each other. “No,” we answer together. It’s not that we haven’t thought about it, or at least I have. But I know I’d never hurt Adam like that again. I hope.
“Then go home,” the doc continued. “Forget the guilt, and try to relax. Eve, if you really need homework, try to flesh out your breakthrough.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I’ll just relax with my husband and daughter.” I smile, noting that I even feel a twinge of guilt talking about my husband in front of Lainey. Damn. This situation may very well be the death of me. After everything I’ve been through, it’s love that breaks me.
“Very well. Next time we’ll also discuss what just went through your head.”
The good doctor misses nothing. I just nod, and tell her goodnight. Once we were outside the office, I turn to Lainey.
Lainey smiled, leaning in to hug me. “You’re welcome.”
I take a second – just a second – to enjoy Lainey’s arms around me. Then step back once again. “Goodnight,” I whisper.