"Bobby, it's good to see you again."
"Yeah, um…" he began as he got up from the annoyingly modern setee.
Whatever he was going to say as a greeting was left unsaid as he instead turned to me briefly and then introduced, "This is my…my…Alex."
Obviously he was stuck on whether to use the descriptive of partner or girlfriend, so he ended up going with neither.
Not that I mind the classification.
Anytime he wants to call me his Alex is fine with me.
Especially while introducing me to his attractive therapist.
"It's great to finally meet you," Dr. Gyson said, smiling broadly as she shook my hand enthusiastically. "I feel like I know you already."
Really, I thought cynically.
Somehow I doubt it.
"So, you're ready for us?" Bobby asked her, leaning to the side to glance past her in order to peer inside her office.
"Actually, if you don't mind, I'd like to talk with Alex first. Alone."
Dear God, kill me now.
What could she possibly have to say to me?
It's not my therapy session.
And I know, I sound like a bitch.
And I agreed to come with Bobby when he asked me about it because I don't want anything to stand in the way of his progress.
But at the same time, the idea of her wanting to delve into my psyche…to attempt to uncover my innermost insecurities…honestly, I'm slightly panicked.
I'll be supportive of Bobby until my dying day but I don't have any interest whatsoever in therapy.
I'm fine just like I am, with all of my issues buried deep.
But apparently Gyson has other ideas.
Damn, this day isn't turning out as I'd hoped.
I thought it'd be a quick in and out, maybe the first ten minutes or so of Bobby's session, the two of us together, and then I'd go back and wait in the car for the duration.
But that dream is apparently dead.
"Oh. Um…okay," Bobby said hesitantly as he turned to catch my eye.
His expression is compassionate and questioning. He knows I'm a little uncomfortable and I'm sure that if I balk, he'll forgive me.
But I need to do this for him because for whatever reason, Dr. Gyson's black magic seems to be working.
Of course, I could argue that it's me who's changed him. Me who's brought out the fun side of Bobby, the non-fatalistic part of him…because our relationship is going so well.
So much better than I ever thought possible.
Three weeks in and we're like an old married couple and I mean that in the best possible of ways. We have fun and we communicate and we laugh and enjoy each other…and we still work well together. I couldn't have hoped for anything more.
But he's still dealing with some long-dormant issues.
And Dr. Gyson is helping him.
And she wants to talk to me.
"Great," she responded, still smiling brightly. She quirked an eyebrow at me and stood aside, gesturing for me to lead the way into her office. "Alex?"
I felt Bobby's hand trail lightly and inconspicuously over my back before I stepped away from him, walking towards what I suddenly liken to the lion's den.
She's not the enemy, I reminded myself.
He likes her, and she's been good for him.
And she's beautiful, the snarky side of me added. And she understands him, listens to him…
Yeah, it's possible I have some jealousy issues. Probably stemming from my insecurities. See? I don't need a shrink. I do a bang-up job of self-analysis.
"Have a seat," she said pleasantly, after closing the dungeon door and joining me in the middle of the room.
"Nice office," I said dryly as I chose a black hard-backed chair and then sat on the edge of it. She took the seat across from me, gracefully tucking one leg underneath her.
"Thank you," she said. "I like it."
I nodded and looked down at my fingernails.
Why is this bugging me so much? It's not like she's my competition. Bobby loves me. He told me that a little over a week ago, right outside of this very office. And he's told me countless times since then. So why do I feel so…unfeminine and lacking?
"You're uncomfortable," she stated.
And here we go…
I looked up and met her gaze as I said smartly, "You're good."
"It doesn't take a doctorate to see that you'd rather be somewhere else."
"Did you have something you wanted to discuss with me?" I countered.
"I just thought it would be nice if we could talk."
"No, why?" I said again. "Bobby's your patient, not me. I don't see how he benefits from having you shrink my head."
She tilted her head and regarded me curiously, but I held her gaze steadily.
"You're an important part of his life," she said carefully.
"I know that."
"Both professionally and personally."
"I know," I repeated.
She continued to stare at me for another minute and then she shook her head quickly as she said, "I think we got off on the wrong foot. Can we start again?"
I shrugged so she said, "I was curious about you. I think you've changed him even more than I have. And I wanted to talk to you to make sure you have his best interests at heart."
"You think you need to protect him? From me?" I asked incredulously.
Gyson smiled at me, and for some reason the warning bells in my head were clanging like crazy as she said, "I don't know. That's what I want to find out."
Her nonchalance and her overtly feminine mannerisms combined with her straight forward talk served to light my fuse.
I wasn't merely uncomfortable or annoyed anymore.
I was downright pissed.
Who the hell does she think she is?
I've been protecting Bobby for damn near a dozen years. If anyone has his best interests at heart, it's me.
"You don't like me," she stated while I sat there, silently fuming.
"No," I answered immediately. Hey, she's not the only one who does straight forward.
I rolled my eyes and finally scooted back in the chair, forcing myself to appear more relaxed than I am.
"I just met you," I said evenly. "I haven't had time to decide to like you."
"But you've decided to dislike me."
"That's my baseline," I replied with a cynical smile.
"Really," she responded, saying it with utter disbelief rather than as an interrogative. "I find that hard to believe."
I shrugged noncommittally, not really caring what she believes. She apparently wasn't content with my silence though, because she stared at me with great scrutiny, for long enough that the urge to fidget was nearly overwhelming.
"You don't like people on sight," she pressed, wanting me to respond.
"So how long did it take you to start liking your partner?"
"A little while."
"A week? A month? A year? How long?"
She smiled as she pushed for a definitive answer, and now I'm not only annoyed and angry, but I'm also starting to feel the urge for violence.
But this is for Bobby, I reminded myself yet again. I don't have to like her, as long as he's getting something out of their sessions. And I believe he is.
"A couple of months, maybe," I said at last, and then I amended the statement. "I didn't dislike him, but it took me that long to get used to him."
"And how long have you been in love with him?"
"Wow, you really don't have any personal boundaries, do you?" I fired back.
"In therapy?" she asked with a smile. "No."
I sighed heavily and then said, "I…um…I'm not sure. Years. Four or five, maybe."
"That's a long time to wait around for someone."
"He's worth the wait."
"So these past few weeks…you've been happy?"
"Extremely," I answered, well aware that my voice and expression completely contradict my statement.
Happy except when I'm stuck in here with you, I added.
"Because you finally got what you've been wanting for so long," she clarified.
And I don't know, but something about the way she said it has me feeling nauseous again. It's like she thinks I orchestrated this whole thing, and Bobby's just a victim of my evil plot.
"Let me back up," she said, leaning back in her. "You know that until recently, his life was his job."
"Yes," I said cautiously.
"Which means you were basically his life. As his partner. You spent all of your time together, because all of your time was spent working."
"We're NYPD detectives. It's not a 40-hour a week job," I said dryly.
"I know," she agreed quickly. "But follow along with me. You've earned Bobby's trust, due to your position as his partner. He values your opinion because his self-worth is tied up in his job, and you're part of that job. He spends nearly all of his time with you."
She paused, like she wants me to finish for her. She wants me to have reached the same conclusion as her. And I have, but I don't want to say it out loud because it's been my fear all along. It's part of what's made me so insecure about our relationship.
"You see it, don't you?" she asked softly. "When he decided he was ready to have a real life, a more complete and well-rounded life, he didn't look any further than you."
I want to argue with her, but I can't.
"You're easy," she continued. "And you're safe."
"You have no idea what you're talking about," I finally managed to say, but on the inside, my fears are railing at me: he can do better than me. She's right, I'm just the convenient, logical solution to his normal-life need. He didn't have to start from scratch with someone. I was right there, willing and able.
"I'm not saying he doesn't love you," she said. "I think he does, or at least he thinks he does. But we both know he didn't have to go very far outside of his comfort zone to have a relationship with you, and I'm concerned that…"
"This was a mistake," I interrupted as I stood up and headed for the door.
"Alex," she said, somehow surprised that I'm upset.
"We're done," I said roughly, and I'm appalled with myself for the fact that tears are stinging my eyes. What the hell is wrong with me? I'm going to let this woman make me feel inadequate?
No, it's the fact that she only said what I've already worried about.
She called to me again, but I was already out the door. Bobby got to his feet when he saw me, and he's looking at me with concern, so I forced myself to smile as I said, "Your turn."
His incoherent speech was accompanied by his gaze shifting back and forth from me to just behind me, where I'm sure Gyson is standing in the doorway.
"I'll be in the car, when you're done," I told him. I patted his arm as I moved past him, and then I escaped through the door.
I spent the next forty-five minutes just trying to convince myself that Gyson's wrong, but I failed miserably.
I am convenient for him. When's the last time he went on a real date? What happens when he gets comfortable with the idea of sharing himself with a woman, and then he realizes I'm not the woman he wants to share with? Why didn't I push him to explore his options a little more?
Because I want him for myself.
Let's face it. Him exploring options would've meant I would lose him.
I thought over the course of the past three weeks that my self-confidence was improving, and then she had to go and say that.
You're easy. You're safe.
God, I hate her for saying the words out loud. Thank you very much, Miss Beautiful Therapist.
"Hey," Bobby said breathlessly as he slid into the driver's seat. I hadn't even seen him come out of the building, so he startled me. "Are you okay? She said it didn't go very well."
"What else did she say?" I responded, my gaze focused on the floor.
Did she tell him her theory? That he can do better? That he only loves me because I'm the only one who's been around for the last dozen years?
"She wants you to come back next week."
"That's not going to happen."
"Alex," he said softly, bringing his fingers under my chin, encouraging me to look at him. "Talk to me. What happened?"
Staring into his eyes as he's watching me with such caring and concern, I can feel my stomach completely tied up in knots.
I love him so much, and I believe he loves me, or at least I did until Gyson had to bring all of my insecurities to the forefront with a few well-placed words.
"She said I'm easy," I said at last, unable to deny him the truth. To my surprise, he barked out a laugh.
"You? Easy? She doesn't know you at all, does she?"
He continued chuckling as his thumb stroked along my jaw line, and some of my tension starts to ease. Just a little. She doesn't know me at all.
"You're easy to get along with," he elaborated. "And easy to love. But other than that…no. What did she mean by that anyway?"
He's still totally clueless about it, so I guess she didn't tell him. I can't decide how I feel about that. Grateful, and yet confused, I suppose.
"Easy and safe," I stated, and as I held his gaze, I saw when it finally registered.
"Oh. Well, we both know that's not true."
"You think I fell in love with you because you were there?" he asked incredulously. "Are you kidding me?"
"Gyson thinks it."
"She was prodding you, that's what she does," he explained. "She says something from left field to see how you respond. She wants you to tell her why she's wrong, because if it comes from you, then you believe it more than if she just says it. Alex, you really think…"
He trailed off and then put his arms around me, pulling me into a hug despite the annoying console in between us.
"I'm not in love with you because you've been my partner for twelve years. You've been my partner for twelve years because I'm in love with you. How many did I go through before you? And why do you think I got so obsessed with the job? Because that's where you are. And as for being easy or safe…we're sneaking around behind our boss' back in order to be together. We're risking our careers. What's safe about that? I could've hit on the girl at Starbucks and then I'd never have to look over my shoulder in the parking garage, wondering who might be watching, but I didn't, and do you know why? Because I can't imagine being happy with anyone but you. Not because I never tried to imagine it. But because I have tried, and it's just impossible."
I exhaled heavily, pulling him even closer to me as the last of my worries start to dissipate.
"So who's this girl at Starbucks?" I said at last, making him laugh again, and I started laughing, too, as we finally pulled apart.
"What girl?" he asked with a grin.
I nodded thoughtfully, taking his hand in mine as I considered everything he said. He's been so open lately. So expressive with his feelings, and quick to smile, and I love how far he's come. I suppose Gyson truly is good for him, and I get what he's saying about her technique, but how did she know exactly the nature of my fears? She read me in all of five seconds before landing the knock-out punch.
"I still don't like therapy," I stated.
"It gets easier," he promised. "She's not the enemy. I thought she was at first, but now I believe that she truly wants to help."
"Okay," I said on a sigh.
"Okay, you'll go back?"
Seven days seemed like a long time when I committed to a return visit, but they flew by, and before I knew it, I found myself once again in the outer office of the very irritating Dr. Gyson.
We spent the week solving a murder, and Bobby spent every night telling me, as well as showing me, just how much he loves me. Funny that I never suspected I'd be the one with the confidence issues. I've been waiting for him for so long, and now that he's ready, I'm the one who's wary.
Probably for the exact reason Gyson said last week.
I've wanted him for years, and now I have him, and yet I suddenly feel like I trapped him into something.
"I'm glad you came back," Gyson said as she welcomed me into her office.
"I'm not a quitter," I reasoned.
"I didn't suspect that you were," she agreed. "You stayed partnered with a ticking time bomb for more than a decade. Quit isn't in your DNA."
"So now Bobby's a ticking time bomb?" I asked defensively, already disliking her again.
"No. But he was at one time. Don't you think?" she posed and then she stared at me expectantly.
This morning, while we were still in bed, Bobby and I discussed the upcoming session.
"She likes to work around to things," he reminded me.
"I know. So that I reach the conclusion myself. I won't walk out on her this time, I promise."
"I'm not worried about that. I just don't want her getting in your head with all of that I didn't have a choice stuff. That suggests I have no free will. That I'm a victim of my own short-sighted urges," he said easily. "You know me better than that."
"Oh, I don't know," I teased. "I'm wondering what urges I can stir up for you right now."
I ran my hand over his chest and then moved it downwards, reaching beneath the covers until I found exactly what I was looking for. He sucked in a harsh breath as I wrapped my hand around him, and then he said my name on a long, low moan.
"I'm not sure we have time," he managed to say after another minute. But then he closed his eyes as I kissed his chest and then his stomach, using my lips to slowly follow the same path as my hand.
"I'm feeling the urge to be a little late to our session. What do you think?"
I exhaled, my mouth only a fraction of an inch away from him, so that he could feel my breath, and that was all it took for his switch to be flipped.
I love that I can make him lose control so easily.
And we were only a few minutes late to Gyson's office. I almost wish we'd been later so she would've asked why.
"I think he was holding on too tightly," I said in answer to her question. "But you've already been through this with him."
"He's told you about our sessions?"
"Then you know I asked him about you. A while ago."
"I'm his partner. Of course you asked about me."
"I asked him if he was in love with you. And after talking around the subject at length, he finally said that you're like a sister to him."
I smiled, because he did tell me about it. He said he lied to her. And I don't know if she's trying to rile me up, or press my hot button insecurities or what, but it's not going to work today.
"I know," I said simply.
"He was in denial," she responded, smiling back at me, and suddenly it feels like my calm reaction is what she was hoping for, like maybe she is on my side.
"Because I'm easy. And safe," I said smartly.
"No. Because you're not. In fact, I'd say that it was probably one of the hardest things he's ever done, admitting that he loves you."
"Then why…" I began, but then I stopped as I answered my own question. It's what he's been saying all week, except maybe even more.
"You wanted us to talk about it," I stated. "To dig deeper to the root of our feelings."
She smiled more fully, and I still kind of want to slap her, even though I understand her motivation.
"And I wanted to address your issues about the matter," she expounded. "It's not easy being the one on the other side. The one waiting. You can get so used to that role that sometimes it can create anxiety once you're no longer waiting, and it can make a person feel like it was only your perseverance that got you what you wanted, rather than anything deeper."
Okay, I'll admit it. She's good.
"You have a back-asswards way of addressing issues," I replied. She laughed lightly and nodded and then said, "My apologies for last week. I should've started off more slowly."
"No, it's fine. It worked, I suppose."
"But I hurt you," she pressed. "I am sorry about that."
"Apology accepted. So…we're good? I can go?"
"You can," she agreed, but then as I started to get up, she said, "Or I can have Bobby come in, and the three of us can talk together."
Forty minutes later, Bobby and I were back in the SUV.
"That's exhausting," I groused as I buckled my seat belt. "How can you stand it? Every week, poking and prodding and manipulating…"
"It got me to you."
I glanced up at him quickly, surprised by the seriousness of his response.
"I mean it, Alex. I was a mess. We both know it."
I nodded slowly, appreciating his honesty, and I said, "Then I think she's my new favorite person. Well, second favorite."
He grinned and then leaned over and kissed me lightly.
"It's been a month," he said softly, his lips still right next to mine.
"Since you first asked me on a date," I added, pleased that he remembers. Of course, it's Bobby. He remembers everything.
"I was so nervous," he admitted.
"For no reason whatsoever. Look how easy I was," I teased, moving closer to kiss him again, and then because I can, I kissed him once more, making this one a little more serious, a little more indicative of how I feel about him.
"Easy," he chuckled, shaking his head as he moved back to his side of the car, putting the key in the ignition. "Does that mean you're going to let me off the hook this afternoon?"
We're having lunch with my parents.
They don't know about the two of us yet, so it'll be an interesting meal, but we just survived scrutiny by the all-knowing Dr. Gyson, so I imagine my parents will be a cakewalk.
"Let you off the hook?" I said playfully, reaching over to settle my hand on his thigh. "Not a chance."