Familiar Face

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Melanie Steinberger’s welcoming smile greeted Anna when she entered the reception area of Dr. Allison Drummond’s Marriage and Family Counseling office. “Anna Kingston, what a pleasure. It must have been two years since we’ve seen you. Are you still living in Raleigh?”

“Good to see you Melanie. And, yes, I am still living in Raleigh, and still working at the Grace McMatthews Foundation. How’s Robert and how’s that adorable little girl of yours?”

“Robert works too hard, but other than that, he’s good. Jilly is growing like a weed, and turning into a sassy Miss Priss. She has her daddy wrapped around her little finger, so I end up being the bad cop.”

“Wait until Jilly starts dating. Robert will put his foot down when some guy with long hair and tattoos brings his princess home thirty minutes after curfew.”

“He insists that dating is out until she’s eighteen.”

Anna laughed. “Famous last words.”

“There will be fireworks, that’s for sure. Anna, Dr. Drummond asked me to apologize to you. She is on a conference call. It’s an emergency call, so there’s no way to gage how long it will last.”

“No problem, Melanie. I’ll catch up on my reading.”

Anna picked up a copy of Psychology Today, turned to an article about toxic people and began reading. She was two pages into the article when Dr. Drummond opened the office door and motioned Anna in.”

“Sorry for the wait, Anna.”

“Thank you for making time for me.”

Dr. Drummond pulled Anna into a hug. “Always.” She motioned Anna to a comfortable chair.

Anna said, “A question occurred to me when I was driving into the city today. Why did my parents consult a LMFT—licensed marriage and family therapist—instead of a child psychologist? I was six when we moved to Clarksville.”

Dr. Drummond’s eyes widened. “You don’t remember how we met?”

“Well, sure. You came out to the farm, but you were still in college at the time. In response to your advice, I reread the police and court reports, so I’m aware that I was seeing a court appointed child psychologist when we were living in Ohio. I’m curious about my parents’ decision to consult a family counselor.”

“It's complicated. As a child/pediatric social worker, Bertie had a handle on which therapy tools were effective with children and which ones were not. She and Dr. Katz were like oil and water. Additionally, she was concerned about your obvious dislike of the man. She felt that you would make more progress with a female. She and your dad discussed the situation, and decided that you needed a break.

“If my recall serves, you grew up in Clarksville. So, that would be why you knew about Kingston Stables.”

“Correct. Simon taught me to ride when I was a teen, and my horse was stabled at Kingston Stables until I entered college. Most of the riding students at the farm, avoided Theo. He was loud and brash, but I liked him. I was distraught when he died.

“Simon informed me that your dad had inherited the farm, so I drove to Clarksville to check out your family. You and Hallie Brown were sitting on the fence watching Simon work with Morning Star. By the time I left that day, you and Hallie were my buddies.”

“Hallie and I counted the days until your return. Even though you were older, you let us tag along with you. I think we even had a couple of picnics out in the wildflower field. Hallie says that she wouldn’t have made it through vet school if you hadn’t been there for her. Her Aunt Winifred helped Hallie financially, but backed away from emotional issues.”

Dr. Drummond shook her head. “Winifred’s had a tough life, Anna. She’d done her best. That’s all you can ask of anybody.”

“Didn’t you get tired of us hanging around, asking questions?”

“I always wanted a sister, but Mom and Dad didn’t co-operate. So, I chose to befriend you and Hallie. Several months after that first visit, Bertie drew me aside one day. We discussed my career choice and my personal ideas about therapy. The two of us agreed on most issues. For that reason, and because you had taken a shine to me, she offered to pay me if I would spend time with you.

"I refused to accept pay, but promised to drive over from Asheville when I had free time. Later, when I was training under Dr. Cassidy Graham, she insisted on paying me so that I could build clinical hours. When you figured out that you were my patient, you were angry with me and your parents. As I recall, you were eleven at the time.”

“I remember that day! I told Mom that you were no longer my friend. I changed my tune when I didn’t see you for a couple of months, I begged Mom to make an appointment. She agreed if I promised to co-operate. After that meltdown, I think I opened up a bit.”

“You did, but only about your life after your Mom and Dad fostered you.”

“I’ve often wondered if the nightmares would have cropped up again if I hadn’t seen Max Ackerman’s accident. I was afraid that he was going to die because of all the blood. Mom and Dad told me that head wounds bleed a lot, but I didn’t believe them.”

“Anna, the nightmares you’ve been having recently weren’t brought on because you witnessed an accident. That leads me to believe that your fears go back to your years before your abandonment. If you want to try hypnosis, I’ll set up an appointment with Dr. Charles Shelton, he’s had a lot of success with patients.”

“You advised Mom against using hypnosis.”

“When you were a child. I will warn you; hypnosis is not a guarantee that you will remember.”

“I’ll need to think about this.”

“If your answer is yes, let me know. Even if your answer is yes, you should wait until the Foundation’s slow season. It will be even better if you take a week off.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing about Mom’s reasons for not consulting a child psychologist. She might have shared that with me when I was young, but I’ve buried so much of what happened to me as a child. Now that the nightmares have returned, I realize that I need to deal with my past. That’s why I contacted you. Did you get the emails that detailed the events that triggered the nightmares?”

“I did. I have a couple of questions?”

“Ask away.”

“Have there been any major emotional upheavals in your life recently? Loss of big account? Change of address? Break-up with boyfriend?”

“No, but there was a change with two of my dearest friends in Raleigh. We’ve been meeting on Saturdays for coffee and conversation for years. Our lives are going in different directions, so we’ve decided to give up our coffee outings.”

“When was that decision made?”

Anna put her hand to her forehead. “Oops. On the same day, I sensed someone watching me?” She paused before adding, “It’s not like we are ending our friendships, we just decided that once a week wasn’t working. I don’t see the relevancy. Why would a change in routine cause my imagination to run amuck?”

“I don’t know that it did, but it’s another option. You were vulnerable that day, so your senses were heightened. The other question regards the woman who abandoned you. What was her name?”

“Carolyn Williams. They found her car the day after she abandoned me. It was stolen. Fortunately, she left an empty coke can in the car, so the police collected her DNA. She wasn’t my mother.”

“When did she die?”

“The police found her in a crack house five years later. That’s when they closed the abandonment case. I could have been a boyfriend’s daughter, a cousin, or I could have been kidnapped. Who knows?”

“Were there ever any inquiries about you early on?”

“There were, but my description didn’t tally with any of the inquiries. I realize that it’s been twenty-one years, Dr. Drummond but isn’t it possible that someone is still looking for me?”

“Of course, but if a parent or sibling is looking for you, I’m convinced that they would do more than stare. They wouldn’t care if they appeared to be rude. They would question you relentlessly.”

“That makes sense.”

“Anna, is there someone in Raleigh you can confide in?”

“Yes. Mark Quinn. I trust him implicitly. He volunteered to be my buddy when I go back to Raleigh.”

“The senator’s son?”

Anna nodded.

“If there is a threat, his name recognition might work to your advantage.”

“How so?”

“Shelton Quinn was a beloved senator. Unless the person spying on you is a complete fool, he’ll avoid you when you are with Mark.”

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