Escaping too You ~book 3

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Chapter thirty-one

What is it about Doctors’ offices and trying to make everything look cheery and overly welcoming? I’ve been sitting in the waiting room for about two hours while Ryann talks with her therapist, staring at this intricate painting of lines and vivid colors of orange, yellow, and green. None of the colors mix or are mashing together, creating a new color. But the more I stare at this painting, the more I see different shapes and pictures. I’m not sure why, but this photo elicits anger from me because the more I stare at the damn thing, the more I want to shred it into thousands of tiny little pieces.

Fuck, I’m sure Ryann’s doctor would have a field fucking day analyzing me.

Looking towards the door out of the office, I see Travis sitting in one of the smaller chairs with his phone out. I know he’s trying to figure Max out and making sure there aren’t any connections back home that could pop up today. Travis has reassured me that Jamie cannot leave the state of Indiana since he is on house arrest and currently has a court date that is scheduled.....looking at my phone, well, right now.

But Travis has called off his informants from following Max since I told him about the phone call with Benjamin. Travis did more research into Kevin Brackett and found drug charges for possession of marijuana from five years ago. So there really isn’t any reason to be concerned that he poses a risk. And from what Benjamin has said, he’s harmless.

What I want to know, why in the hell did Jen not tell us that Kevin was Max’s cousin. What in the hell did she gain out of not telling us that bit of information?

Running my hand through my hair, I get up from my spot on the small waiting room couch and take a seat in the chair next to Travis, which only causes him to give me a leery look. “Can I ask you a question?”

He blackens his phone, “Depends on the question.”

“What did you do before you gain employment with me?” He eyes me like I should know this. Although, in my defense, Pearl did all of my hirings. “I mean, you have informants; that’s not normal.”

“Haven’t we had this conversation before?”

Frowning. It’s possible. Maybe I was wasted and barely functioning. Or maybe he said it because my drunken self pissed him the fuck off, and he thought I’d remembered. Either way, I don’t.

Travis sighs before taking a deep breath in and exhaling out, “I was a Marine for over twenty years. I enlisted when I was eighteen got out when I was about thirty-eight. I climbed the ranks until the government recruited me for undercover work.” Uhh.....what? This little information about Travis is somewhat scary. I mean, if he really wanted to, he could easily make me disappear and somehow keep me relevant and people believing I’m alive. “I gain informants from my line of work. Even when I left that field of work, they’ve stayed fairly loyal.” Travis trails off as he rubs his palms against his thigh. “I’m sorry, Thomas.” He suddenly says.

I arch a confused brow because Travis has nothing to be sorry for. If anything, I owe him years of apologies and then some. “For what?”

“I failed you guys.” My confusion grows. I have no idea what he’s talking about. “The crash, the Max situation, Pearl, Dax, and the whole damn Shelia getting onto the property. None of this should be happening. Then there’s this whole Kevin Brackett. I should have known every damn information Benjamin knew, but I didn’t. My emotions got the best of me, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Does Travis expect me to accept the apology openly? Because I’m not. Not because he owes me one. It’s because he doesn’t owe me shit. He’s human. He has emotions. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t show.....I mean, we seriously almost destroyed a hotel room because we were both pissed the fuck off and pushing each other’s buttons to an exploding brink. I’d be more pissed if he were somehow able to keep his emotions masked and operated like a damn robot twenty-four seven.

Then, I would want a damn apology.

Shaking my head, “Ya, I’m not accepting your apology, Travis. You don’t owe me anything. And you’re not a fucking robot.” Looking at him, I can’t tell if he’s insulted that I just dismissed his apology or he’s happy. Okay, maybe one thing he can work on is his ability to shield his damn emotions. Or....maybe he can teach me his ways. Though, it probably still wouldn’t work with Ryann. “You do your job well. You protect Ryann. I don’t care if your emotions got in the way or not. And hell, that whole Kevin situation, we’re running on low sleep as is, I don’t hold it against you.”

All Travis manages to do is nod his head slightly as he returns to his phone. I watch it light up before he shuts it down again, “Can I ask you a question?”

I can’t help but laugh slightly, “Depends.”

“Why did you ask me for a blessing?” He pauses a moment, almost like a memory is replaying in his mind. One I’m sure centers around his daughter. “I know that’s what you were doing. You wanted my approval. Why?”

Sighing, I clasp my wrist with my hand and feel the bracelet under my grasp. “Because I know you’ve essentially adopted Ryann as your own daughter. And I know she looks to you as a father she’s always wanted. I may have been a struggling drunk when Ryann started, but I could see this light come back even then. That and I’ve never seen you so protective over another staff member. Not even Val.” Actually, I know Val pushes his buttons for shits and giggles. “I asked you because your blessing was the only one I cared about. It was the only one I wanted.”

And I swear, I see Travis’s mouth twitch into a smiling. One that is adoring. “Thank you, sir.” He finally says. “You know, Ryann may be struggling internally with coping with everything that’s been going on. But I hope you do know that you calm the tide for her. I’ve watched her go from panic mode to collapsing in your arms and seeking a comfort that only you can give. The same can be said for you.”

Ya....why do I feel like I’m still failing her? Why does it feel like we can’t get ahead of this fucking dramatic nightmare no matter what we do.

“If I were really strong enough, I wouldn’t have nearly relapsed.” Travis studies me, no judgment, just staring and waiting for me to continue. “I know Ryann told you,” he doesn’t confirm or deny my suspicion. “If I were truly strong, that would not have happened.”

Travis sighs as he shifts slightly in his chair, “The strength you hold doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t still there. We’re all dealing with some sort of mental health struggle. It’s how we proceed to deal with it that will make us. I mean.....Thomas, you’ve come so far from where you were. You’re sober. It’s going to be one hell of a battle, but, and this is my opinion based on what I’ve seen, I think Ryann and Andrew are right. I think you, yourself need to attend meetings.” Rolling my eyes, my attention is immediately drawn back to Travis’s snapping fingers and glare. “Don’t roll your eyes at me.” He scolds. “You may not have shared at the meeting you went to with Ryann, but I saw the difference in you. And don’t lie to me, you felt, even for a split second, that meetings could help.”

Running my hands through my hair, I suddenly clasp my face into my hands before turning my head sideways towards Travis. He’s watching me, slightly amused by my reaction. “I did.” What’s the point of lying. He was at the meeting too. “But I’m afraid.”

“Of?”

“Failing everyone in that meeting, my family, friends, and Ryann.”

Travis’s lips go into a tight, thinned smile. “Let me give you some advice. Or opinions do not matter in this situation. It’s only yours. And that woman in there,” he says, pointing towards the closed-door Ryann is behind. “She would be the last person to see you fail. She would say something Ryann-esk and uplifting. Telling you, you can achieve anything.”

Laughing, “Ryann-esk?”

Travis shrugs his shoulders, “What? She has a way of turning almost anything into a positive. I mean, she has to if she’s able to defend your ass.”

Ouch, slid right in with that burn.

“Anyway,” Travis says, patting my knee, “I’m truly happy for the both of you. And thank you for asking for my blessing. Though, what would you have done if I’d expressed a dislike to the idea?”

Laughing, “Not a damn thing. I would have still proposed.”

At the sound of the office room door opening, I jump out of my chair the moment I see Ryann. She’s not crying this time. Instead, she’s all smiles as her and the therapist talk. This is the first time I’ve seen Ryann’s therapist. Most of the time, Ryann leaves the little room on her own and immediately wants out of the building. This is different.

“Thomas, this is Dr. Vivian Berryman, and this is Thomas,” Ryann says as she introduces us. Dr. Berryman throws her hand out for me to shake, and I immediately and nervously shake her hand.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Thomas. And congratulations on the engagement.”

I can feel a very unsure smile float across my face, “Thank you, and it’s nice to finally meet you. Dr. Berryman.”

“Oh, please, call me Vivian. Doctor is way too formal for my liking.”

Okay, I can see why Ryann has chosen Vivian as her doctor. She’s very down-to-earth and casual. Once again, not at all what I was envisioning. Actually, the doctor isn’t what I pictured her as at all. She’s short. Barely pushing five feet. She’s in torn jeans, a casual tee, and Converse. Nothing about her appearance screams I’m a therapist.

“And this is Travis,” Ryann suddenly introduces.

Travis makes his way towards us and takes Vivian’s outstretched hand, “It’s nice to meet you. Ryann speaks very highly of you.”

If she speaks highly of Travis, how does she speak of me.....erm....scratch that, I don’t really want to know. Because in the beginning, ya, I should have been arrested for assault or some shit.

“Likewise,” Travis takes Vivian’s hand and gives it a firm yet soft shake.

Vivian takes her hand before turning to Ryann, “I will see you in......let’s plan for three weeks? And maybe...” Vivian turns her head slightly towards me. “Thomas will be able to come to the session.”

Arching a brow at Ryann, she even seems surprised by the suggestion. Okay, clearly, this is something Dr. Berryman feels is necessary. Not Ryann.

“I’ll....I’ll let you know,” Ryann says before taking my hand.

Bidding the doctor goodbye, I wrap an arm around Ryann as we walk out of the office and head for the main lobby of the building. Travis is leading the way in front of us as Heather magically appears behind us. Between her and Travis, how in the hell do they do that? I’m not even sure where in the hell she was lurking. There aren’t any open corridors or doors for her to hide behind.

As we make our way onto the sidewalk, I see the black SUV waiting for us with Samuel at the wheel.

“Thomas,” Ryann suddenly stops us sounding panicked. “I swear I didn’t ask for a joint session.”

Travis walks up beside us, “Can this conversation continue in the car?”

His eyes dart around us as crowds of people pass by. He’s right. Our discussion can continue in the car. We aren’t safe standing this wide open. Considering who the threat is.

Heather is already in the car waiting for us, sitting behind the driver’s seat. Ryann slides in next to her as I slide in next to Ryann. Travis closes the car door before getting into the front passenger seat. Samuel checks his mirrors as he slowly merges into the chaotic Manhattan traffic.

Squeezing Ryann’s hand, “Babydoll, what did you talk about today?” I’m trying to keep my voice heartening so Ryann doesn’t think I’m pissed or peeved of the offered joint session.

Ryann bites her lower lip, and I gently pull it from between her teeth. She’s never one to divulge on what’s discussed during her therapy sessions, and I’m never one to ask.

“My family mostly. She still thinks I need to sit down with my family and tell them everything.” She pauses as I watch her hand start to play with her necklace, “And I don’t want to do it alone.”

Pulling her into my side, I place a kiss to her temple, “say the word, and I promise you, I’ll be at your side. Always.”

Ryann melts into me, and I can feel her worriment slowly fade away. Holding her close, I place another kiss to the side of her head, her finger tracing along my bracelet before gently tracing over Sloane’s name. “And I talked about the miscarriage and Sloane today. It was the first time I’ve been able to speak openly without crying.” Ryann suddenly pulls out of my hold. Her hazel eyes are wide and slightly worried with her following words, “I want to talk about Sloane. With you.”

Smiling, I gently take hold of her chin, bringing her lips to mine, “I’ve been waiting for you, babydoll, to say the word.”

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