The Publicist's Plight (Book I in The Harrison Inc. Series)

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Chapter 37

Dr. Bakura stares at me with a look that indicates she’s thinking quite hard about what I have said. However, my thoughts are occupied on how cold I suddenly feel. Shit, so this is what it’s like to open up about your past? If so, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do it without completely losing my shit.

Then again, was I better off hiding it and allowing that dark cloud of closure to linger over me?

“You know, your silence is kind of freaking me out,” I point out, trying to lighten the tense air. “Is this something that therapists do?”

It’s obvious she doesn’t get my joke. “Oh, I’m sorry, Sebastian. I’m just trying to put the pieces together from what you have told me.”

She takes her notepad and starts writing something down: “DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY=ADULT DETACHMENT.”

Of course.

“So your family played a huge part in the depressing essence of your childhood?” she asks, in a way that sounds as if she knows she’s right.

I nod and sigh, “Yup. Mother was an uptight housewife that had other uptight housewives over for tea and cookies all the time, and my dad was always traveling for work.”

She stares at me, and her prying blue eyes are saying, “I know there’s more, but I’m going to keep staring at you until you tell me the rest.”

This Shrink must be Leslie’s mom or something.

“What about you and your siblings?”

“Um…Patrick has always been an ass.”

She raises an eyebrow at me.

“Sorry,” I chuckle. “Patrick has always been…difficult. As for William and Elizabeth, they weren’t always the friendliest towards me.”

Again, she writes something in her notepad of doom.

“This story you told me,” she starts when she sets her pen down. “There must be some significance to it if it is the first memory that comes to mind to start of this ‘sequence’ of events. Did it have to do with meeting your new friends at your new school?”

I nod, and of course she jots it down.

“Yeah, it has to do a lot with that.”

“And why is that?”

I don’t answer. Not because I don’t necessarily want to, but it’s just hard to. I haven’t thought about Sonya and Andre like this since ‘that day.’ And the thought of their names brings back this hard, painful remembrance of things that I never wanted to encounter again.

Never.

The silence is enough of an indication to Dr. Bakura that I can’t talk about it.

“You know what? I think that’s enough today,” she tells me. Her smile adds years to her face. “But I would like to resume this, because I believe we made significant progress today.”

I rub my eyes, “Um, yeah. Sure.”

“How about next Wednesday at the same time?”

“That sounds good, but I’m only here for another two weeks.”

She looks disappointed. Is she actually interested in my life story?

“That’s unfortunate. Well, how would you like to do a conference video call after the two weeks, then?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Great. So I will see you next week at the same time?”

“Yes. Same time.”

She stands up and I do the same; I see how short she actually is when we’re closer together.

“I’m looking forward to finishing this, Sebastian. I’m confident in the outcome,” she says when she extends her hand for a handshake.

I take her fragile hand in my grasp, “Yeah, I wish I would say the same.”


LESLIE

The walls of the waiting room feel like they’re closing in on me.

How long have I been in here? Thirty minutes? An hour? An eternity?! Okay. Maybe I’m being a little overly dramatic. But how can I not be? The anxiety of wanting to know just a sliver of what Sebastian is saying is killing me. It isn’t my business, but at the same time I feel like it is. I don’t know—I just…I just want him to be okay.

So in other words, I care. Yes, I care about him, goddammit.

When I hear the door opening, my eyes dart up from the ground. Sebastian and Dr. Bakura come out of the exit talking lowly about something. God, I wish I had supersonic hearing.

Without even looking at me, Sebastian goes to the front desk and talks to the secretary. A minute passes, and they’re exchanging goodbyes; I have never felt so left out.

I get up once Sebastian nears the door of the practice. He still isn’t saying anything, which makes me feel like I shouldn’t say anything to tick him off.

Yet.

Outside, the heat is still sweltering, but not as sweltering as it was when we first got here. The car is waiting in the same spot in the parking lot, with our driver sitting in the front seat, checking his phone. When he sees us, he quickly steps out of the car and opens our doors; we can’t risk being seen by anybody.

The silence prevails when the doors close.

Even though we’re in the same row, the middle seat proves to be a barrier. The car starts, the AC more powerful than before, and we drive out of the parking lot. Sebastian stares out of the window at the small but quaint town that surrounds us.

“How did it go?” I ask after a few minutes of quiet.

He turns to me. I smile politely, and even though he mimics my gesture, his mind still seems preoccupied.

“Fine,” he answers.

“That’s nice.” I smile wider, then look briefly out the window at the convenience stores. “Dr. Bakura seems nice.”

“Yeah, she’s alright.”

“That’s cool,” I nod and chuckle. “’alright.’ Alright is good.”

“Leslie, you don’t have to do this.”

I frown slightly, “Do what?”

“Force yourself onto the situation to try to make it comfortable for the both of us.”

“Would you rather me sit her and bear the silence?”

He doesn’t answer. Instead he does that thing with his eyes—staring at you until you’re so uncomfortable from the intensity of his irises that you have to turn away. And that’s what I do—turn away.

Until I realize that this is exactly what he wants.

It seems like every inch I become closer towards him, he tries to push me away. Even though I have “vowed” my trust towards him, and even though I have showed and told him that I wouldn’t neglect the need for support by his side, he still is trying to distance himself. Does he think I don’t understand? Because believe me—I know first-hand what a fucked up childhood feels like.

So maybe instead of only trying to get him to express these memories, I should help him live through them again.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.


When we get back to the manor, I find Loretta in the guest house cleaning up around the living room. Though there isn’t much to clean since I keep it immaculate at all times.

All times.

“Loretta,” I say happily. She turns around and smiles with a broom in her hand.

“Hey, Leslie,” she replies as she sweeps the non-existent dust into the dustpan. “How was your day out?”

“It was good,” I set my purse on the purse rack. “But it gave me an idea that I need your input on.”

Her attention is on me know, and I bite my lip, nervous.

“Maybe we should sit down,” I tell her.

Kindly, she complies with my request and sits down at the table, putting the broom and dustpan against the wall. I tap my fingers on the wood and gather my words, avoiding her anxious and apprehensive eyes.

“So Sebastian and I…Sebastian and I went to a therapy session today for him,” I tell her. She gets tense.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. I thought that…based on what has been going on with him the past weeks, that it would be important for him to go. I’ve noticed that he’s been holding a lot inside that he needs to release. Of course I know nothing about what he tells the therapist, but I know that it’s impacted him; even after this first session he was very troubled.”

Loretta is twitching her lips a bit; she does that when she wants to tell me something.

“So what did you have in mind?” she asks me.

“I want to do something fun for him. Not something that he usually does, but something that he found joy in doing before. But I’m not sure. I can’t seem to fill in the gaps to figure out what things connect, so what would make him happy? Taking him to an art gallery?”

Loretta sighs loudly and wears a small sour expression, “I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.”

“Right now?” I question. “Why not?”

“Because it might bring back…bad feelings.”

“Bad feelings? Would you mind elaborating on that?”

She sees my slick attempt to get her to disclose what she knows. Frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever let up when it comes to what she knows about Sebastian; she could have the key to understanding his complicated mind.

Sometimes I even surprise myself when it comes to how invested and even obsessed I have become with this.

“Loretta, please,” I plead quietly. “Whether I like it or not, I’m tangled in this more than I initially thought I would be. And you helping me would help him, too. It would help all of us.”

And suddenly, Loretta starts crying. Her head is held down, her shoulders begin to bob and tears fall down her cheeks. My heart stops in my chest. What did I do?

“Oh, no no no, I’m sorry! W-what did I say?”

“No,” she sniffles. Her head is held up now and her eyes, red and covered in a layer of tears, stare at me sadly. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong. I was wrong.”

“Why were you wrong?”

“Because I should have done something. And I didn’t.”

Before I can say anything, my hand is in her hand.

“If I tell you this,” she whispers, as if someone is hiding in the room watching us. “You have to promise not to tell Mr. Harrison.”

“G-Garrett?” I grow cold when I hear his name. “Why not?”

Her eyes are wide, but her eyebrows are narrow, like she’s telling me not to question her motive of secrecy.

With my impatience to hear what she has to say, I agree with her terms. Now the room is quiet; birds chirp outside.

“If I’m gonna tell you what happened, I have to start from the beginning. From what I remember. Is that okay?”

I nod rapidly, “Yes, yes, of course.”

“Okay. I think he was about 16 at the time,” she says, but her voice is still reluctant. “Yes, he was 16.”

A rogue tear escapes her eyes, but she doesn’t brush it away.

“He came home from school one day, with the widest smile on his face.”

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