I love it when he does that.
My heart starts to beat faster as I approach the office; today, Jia has an appointment.
I predict a very fun conversation. I'm sarcastic, by the way. This won't be easy; if things go sour she might even stop therapy with me and I don't want that.
Mrs. Lee is my first appointment for the day when she steps inside, smiling brightly I smile back. Someone got lucky, good for her. She informs me she took the wheel in her relationship and told her husband that either he wears a condom or she will search for sex in some other way.
Kind of harsh, but it worked.
It's by the end of the appointment that she asks me something that I don't have an answer for.
"Could you give my husband and me sex therapy sessions?"
I frown at the woman but think of what to say. It's interesting, it's a topic I love, and yet people are intimidated to talk about it.
"I would have to check with Dr. Bolton, seeing it's not my specialty."
She nods while standing up, saying our goodbyes Mrs. Lee leaves the office as I walk towards Jackson's office next door. Knocking on the door, it doesn't take him long to reply.
"Hey sorry to bother you, but Mrs. Lee just left, and she had a question for me. I need to run it through you first."
Jackson raises one eyebrow suspiciously, his eyes letting go of the papers and instead staring at me.
"What did she ask?"
"If I can be her sex therapist, well her and her husband. Before you say anything, I'm sure you agree they need it."
His suspiciousness turns into a grin and Jackson motions me to sit in front of him. His eyes mimic the smile on his lips, understanding I like the idea. He thought about this before, damn him and the way he can be one-step ahead every time.
"Have you considered accepting?"
"It's not my specialty, but it's interesting."
"Let's do this then," he says, leaning back n his chair. "Try with the Lee's, let's give it a month to see how it develops; if the results are good we can consider that. I have a lot of people on hold; that topic is an interesting one and unfortunately we lack a sex therapist at the office."
I sit behind my desk, tapping my fingers against the wood nervously. Jia is next, and I am scared she isn't going to show up. The clock changes marking 4 pm and I almost jump from my seat when hearing the knock on the door.
Jia steps inside, wearing her former clothes. I get the fear, I do, but it doesn't mean I have to accept it. It doesn't mean that I have to stay quiet while Jia hides this part of her life. While she plays with Layla's heart by not saying something as deep as this.
Because to me, that's what Jia is doing. She isn't being fully honest with the one she says she won't hide anything from. If she wants Layla in her life, she needs to tell her.
Rather sooner than later, it will only be worse if she drags this.
I love Layla with my entire heart; she is my family; she is the one who's been there for me. She never turned her back; she never lied to me; she never hurt me as my own family did.
But I can comprehend the worry in Jia's mind.
"Sorry if I'm a little late, traffic was chaotic."
"You're just on time," I say, standing up and walking to the chair.
Motioning her to sit, I do the same and cross one leg over the other. I need to remember myself to take deep breaths, to resist the urge just to ask her why she is doing this. I need to be smart, or I won't break just one heart. Despite not liking what Jia is doing she is still my patient and I care for her. Her story isn't a pretty one, to have to live in a body you don't feel comfortable with.
To be told you are a man, when you are in fact a woman.
"So, how was your weekend?"
She sighs staring down at her hands, Jia fidgets with her fingers. A small smile crosses her lips, almost innocently and Jia lifts her gaze at me.
"I had a date this weekend."
My heart freezes with the words, and my blood starts to run faster on my veins, rushing me to do something I don't want to.
"Can I ask who?"
"I met her online and I liked her, so I sent her a message. We started to talk and it's great. She's funny, smart and beautiful."
I bite my tongue, stopping myself from speaking what I shouldn't and instead take a deep breath, scrambling in the notebook.
"How do you go to these dates? As Jaiden?"
There, I touched a nerve. Jia widens her eyes; she didn't enjoy the question. I see as she fights with speaking, how she tries to say what I already know. Her eyes lower to the floor, searching for the answer she doesn't want to give me, avoiding me and my stare.
"Did you tell her you were assigned as a different gender at birth?"
The question I wanted to ask comes out of my lips and I see as she freezes. Jia stiffens in her seat, her hands don't stop moving on her lap and her eyes don't lift to me.
Shame, that's what she is feeling right now yet want anything but that. I want to protect her and my best friend from the cruel world,
"N- no." .
"Jia, you can't start a relationship based on lies or hiding this from the one you love. You need to tell Layla."
"Of course, I recognized you. I'm not stupid. She won't judge you, she won't feel less attracted to you."
Putting the notebook down, I keep my eyes on the fragile girl in front of me. Broken and about to burst in tears, Jia struggles with raising her head. I take a deep breath, waiting, but when she doesn't react, when she doesn't speak anymore and a small cry of pain leaves her chest I give up and walk next to her.
I sit on the sofa beside the girl that is struggling with herself for so long, my hand caresses her back. I know she is my patient, but right now I can't just let her cry. I'm a human and my heart breaks by seeing her like this.
"Layla should know, Jia," the words come softly from my chest. "Especially since you still have to go through the surgery."
"I know," she mumbles, leaning to me. "I'm sorry, it's just-"
"She deserves the truth," I speak, forcing her to look at me. "Layla is deep into you, and when she gets like that it's intense. If you let this go longer than you should you may lose her. The lie itself is enough for her to be reluctant, but if you keep it-"
A sigh leaves Jia’s lips as she leans on the sofa, her head resting against the fabric. She runs her hands through her face, an attempt to push away the stress and fear of her secrets.
"You think she will forgive me?"
"I think she will struggle with it for a while. I know Layla for a long time, she will feel a little betrayed, but you have to endure it. You have to be strong and accept it and then be there when she wants to talk. It would have gone easier if you didn't keep it for so long. But yes, she loves you and she will embrace it because it's who you are, and you are a beautiful woman who will make her so happy once it's out there."
She turns her head to face me, a sad smirk on her lips while wiping away the tears in her eyes. The mask she uses to hide the pain she fights against for all this time.
I convince her to talk to Layla before the next appointment, the party at her house will help my best friend to be relaxed, so Jia should do it in the day after. Promising I will help her with that I walk Jia out of the office and head home.
I smile at the screen before replying, not even noticing someone's eyes on me.