Author's Note: This is meant to be a fun, fluffy romance and is rated for explicit sexual content in future chapters. Of course there will be some conflict, or there wouldn't be a story. But it won't be extremely angst-ridden.
Special Thanks: to the awesome Bittenev for agreeing to be my beta for this story.
I am not a therapist and have no first hand knowledge of therapy practice aside from some experience with Emotional Freedom Techniques. The following events are fictionalized and are in no way meant to resemble actual experience of a psychiatrist.
I am not the great Stephenie Meyer and unfortunately have no ownership or rights to the Twilight characters or plot, nor any association with the author. No copyright infringement is intended.
I stared at the blank screen on my new computer. Glancing at the clock on the wall, I realized there was only five minutes to go until my appointment with Mr. Cullen.
I was too nervous to write. With a deep sigh I pushed back from my desk and stood to stretch. My stiff neck and shoulders popped and creaked as I reached and twisted.
I couldn't really understand why I was so uptight about this. After all this was just another client. No big deal. I'd treated many clients over the past five years--as many as I could cram into my schedule. So why the nerves now?
But this was different. I'd never treated a client in my home before. It was something that I'd sworn I'd never do. In my line of work, that could be dangerous. And I knew very little about my client which was highly unusual.
I leaned back in my chair and watched the rain streak down the casement windows of my office as I let my mind drift back to the events that led to this situation.
I had only been on sabbatical for a few days when Dr. Hale called in a special favor. It was one of those rare sunny days in Seattle and I was sitting in this very chair when I recognized the ring tone. I groaned and debated for a moment whether to answer. I picked up at the last second before it went to voice mail.
"Hello, Dr. Hale." I tried to sound harried.
"Dr. Swan," she said, her voice a little too bright for my liking. "How's the book going?"
"Well, I set up my office yesterday and I started writing this morning." As much as I liked Rosalie, she didn't usually call to just chat. She obviously wanted something and that thought made me nervous. "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I know you aren't taking clients right now, but this is a really special..."
"Rose, please," I cut in. "I'm just getting started and I need some space from my work. We talked about this."
"I know, Bella. Really--and I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important. I hate to do this, but I'm calling in that favor..."
I groaned. "All right," I said. I owed her big for that one incident over a year ago and if she was willing to call in the favor for a client, it must be important. "Who is he and what is the deal?"
But Rosalie wasn't very forthcoming with information. She had simply assured me that Mr. Cullen was trustworthy and was just as concerned about privacy as I was. And by the time our conversation ended, I had conceded to the one thing I swore I'd never do--working with a client who provided no background information and working with him in my home.
The doorbell pulled me back to the rainy window and I jumped up to answer it. He'd be soaked if he had to wait long in this.
I opened the door and my breath caught in my throat. A young man stood in front of me with a slight slouch and a bowed head. Raindrops glistened on a messy head of copper hair before running onto a practical tan overcoat. When he looked up, I was met with emerald green eyes slightly magnified through wire rim spectacles. I'd never seen eyes that color of green before.
"Dr. Swan?" His voice was smooth, but it was enough to jolt me out of my daze.
I offered my hand and was surprised at the tingling sensation that seared through me when his skin connected with mine. "Yes," I said, my voice sounding hoarse. "You must be Mr. Cullen. Please come in out of the rain." I stepped aside to let him pass.
He squeezed my hand and the tingling intensified. "Please call me Edward. Thanks for agreeing to take me on. I'm aware that you aren't taking new clients at the moment. I hope it wasn't too much of an imposition." He brushed against me as he passed and a clean, musky smell tingled my nose. I tried not to lean in to take a deeper breath.
A warm blush crept up my neck. "No, not at all," I said. Although the words would have been a complete lie just ten minutes ago, I found them strangely true at the moment. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts before leading him to my office and making us a pot of tea.
The man seated before me was clearly shy--the stooped posture and avoidance of eye contact were textbook signs. Yet he was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. Built with classic proportions, he could have been a Roman god. And as a successful businessman, he must face new people and stressful situations every day. So why did he seem to lack confidence?
It took me a moment to realize that the minimal eye contact was probably due to embarrassment. He was embarrassed to be seeking help with this particular area of his life. I should have seen it right away. Most of my clients felt this way at first. Why should I expect him to be any different?
And before we even spoke I was intrigued. What could be the problem with this gorgeous man? Why should he need sex therapy?
I stopped in the drive way ten minutes before my appointment with Dr. Swan. Her home was quite secluded and it was pouring so hard that I was thankful to have found it in time. Yet, I didn't want to show up early, so I turned on the stereo for a moment and let the relaxing rhythms of Mozart calm my nerves and ease the tension that had been forming into a headache all afternoon.
How did I let my sister talk me into this? I knew she was worried about me, but this was taking the brother sister bond a bit too far.
Alice had made the appointment for me through Rose. It was embarrassing to have these types of problems and the idea of sharing them with a stranger was mortifying. But there comes a time when you have to face your demons. I was tired of living this way.
Actually, I was lucky that Rose and Alice were such close friends because Rose had managed to get me the best therapist in the country. I don't know what she said to convince Dr. Swan to accept a client when she was on sabbatical and I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
I stepped out into the downpour and pulled the collar up on my overcoat to keep the cold rain from running down my back. Shifting nervously, I rang the doorbell and waited for her to answer. My cheeks grew warm and my glasses fogged up as I looked at my loafers, trying to force the blood back down my neck.
I heard a gasp when she opened the door and I looked up to see a lovely creature. Her heart shaped face held two large, deep brown eyes. I was immediately trapped in her gaze as my jaw slackened. I had lost all ability to speak.
Why was I here again? Oh yes. And the heat returned to my face. "Dr. Swan?" I asked, wanting to be sure that I'd found the right house. As if just being here wasn't embarrassing enough--imagine knocking on the wrong door and asking for help with my problems.
She offered me her hand and I took it, feeling an immediate jolt race through my entire body and settle low in my abdomen. I squeezed her hand and felt it again. Maybe this was why she was so good at her work. Maybe she was some type of enchantress.
I shook off the thought and followed her through the nice, open style home to her office and shucked my coat before sitting on the deep leather sofa, still feeling a little nervous about the whole thing. And it wasn't until I was seated that I noticed how very quiet it was. Ever since the accident eight years ago, I'd had the ability to hear people's thoughts. I hadn't had a moment of real silence since then and I took a minute to just enjoy it.
Dr. Swan handed me a towel for my wet hair and served us a pot of tea before turning on some quiet background music--Vivaldi. Interesting. Did she somehow know that I found classical music calming?
I actively tried to hear her thoughts as I toweled my hair dry, but there was nothing. There was no way she could go that long without thinking anything, especially when she'd just met someone new. It didn't make sense. What was going on? Had I lost my ability to hear thoughts? Was she somehow an exception for me? What could this mean?
The thoughts rolled around in my mind as I sipped the hot tea and tried to relax and Dr. Swan took her seat behind the desk and pulled out a notebook.
I wasn't sure what to expect next, so I swallowed and waited for her to speak.
He looked nervous perched on the edge of the sofa, sipping his tea, his unruly hair even more so after a vigorous toweling. He put his glasses back on and took another sip from the china cup.
I put on some light classical music to make the silence less oppressive and got out a notebook. I wasn't sure why he was here or what he expected, but I was overcome with a desire to put him at ease.
"So, Mr. Cullen," I said and he met my gaze across my desk. The intense beauty of his perfectly proportioned face made my breath hitch. I had a feeling that I would never get used to his perfection no matter how long I knew him. It was shocking. And there was something in his eyes--like an old wisdom--something beyond his years. "Did Dr. Hale explain what this type of therapy consists of?"
I certainly hoped that she'd told him something because she'd given me very little information. Referrals usually came from Rose with a thick file of background notes, but she'd barely given me more than his name, occupation and family status--more to ease my worries about privacy than to help me build a program for him.
That adorable blush colored his cheeks before he answered. "No, actually, she said very little about it. This was more of a--family intervention."
"Ah!" So that explained his embarrassment. I began to wonder again if he really needed to be here, though if his family intervened... "I know this is a bit uncomfortable, but can you tell me a bit about your problems? Then I'll be better able to tell you what to expect."
He leaned forward with his elbow on his knees and spoke to the floor. "Well, it is embarrassing to admit, but I'm still a virgin--well not technically, but--yeah ..."
I tried not to let the shock show on my face and fought the relief that I shouldn't be feeling. On the one hand I didn't understand how someone so absolutely gorgeous could not be experienced with women but on the other hand I was thankful that he wasn't a sex addict. But what did he mean he was sort of a virgin? It isn't like there were degrees of virginity. It was sort of an all or nothing type of thing.
"It isn't for the usual reasons I suppose," he continued, pulling me from my train of thought. "I mean I'm obviously too much of a geek to have girls falling all over me, but there have been a few--opportunities."
Going against all of my training, I reacted to his words by raising my eyebrow in challenge. But really, how could he possibly think he was a geek. A superman fantasy started to run in my head and I imagined pulling off his glasses and running my hands through that hair…
"Yeah, it probably seems odd to you--and I wouldn't have likely had many dates at all if it weren't for my family …"
His words pulled me from my fantasy and doused me with the cold realization that this man actually believed that he was undesirable. I couldn't let that go on even though it went beyond my professional boundaries. I often complimented a patient on his thoughts or his responsiveness, but I never directly complimented his looks. That wasn't something within a person's control. It seemed so trivial and it had nothing to do with the ability to feel pleasure. But as the blush on his cheeks deepened and his eyes returned to the floor, I knew I had to do something.
"No, that isn't the part of your statement that I found difficult to believe. I wouldn't call you a geek, Mr. Cullen. Forgive me but you must have some idea of how attractive you are."
His eyes met mine in a look of disbelief. He clearly thought he was average, but I'd let that go--for now. I motioned for him to go on with his story.
He ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up at even crazier angles. I wondered for a moment what his hair would feel like before I shook myself out of it. Stay professional, Bella. This is your career.
"Actually," he said, breaking through my thoughts, "I haven't had an orgasm since I was a young teen." The delicious blush deepened and he looked at his shoes as he continued. "Whenever I've tried to--you know--I get to a certain point and then my body seems to...um...shut down."
He didn't look at me again and the silence stretched on.
"Well, you know that isn't altogether unusual right?" I tried to reassure him. And it was true. We expect sex to be a natural profession of love between a man and a woman, but it's more messed up than anyone would believe. A major part of society is so subjugated and powerless that they use sex for power--over their spouse, over their children. And then those people grow up with a skewed view of the purpose of the whole thing. To the point where people like myself make an occupation of trying to help correct the problem.
I didn't want to think of Edward this way--as having had some horrible experience in childhood that had caused so many problems for him.
He looked surprised for a moment, as though he was expecting me to laugh. "I think my brother would disagree with you on that one. He thinks I'm quite the freak."
"Well you aren't. This is a common enough problem and there could be a number of reasons for it." No need to tell him that most of the people I have treated with this problem were women. Men usually had a different set of problems, but that only meant that he was a sensitive person and there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, it was endearing.
He looked slightly more comfortable as he sat back and looked up at me again. "So, can you help me?"
I didn't miss his emphasis on the word you and I tried to squash the butterflies. He didn't mean it like that.
Of course I could help him. The question was, could I help him without getting too involved with him--could I retain my professionalism and still help him? I didn't have an answer. In less than half an hour this man had stirred feelings in me that I'd never experienced before. I loved helping people to overcome their problems to experience the joys of sexuality and intimacy and I'd never had a problem with maintaining my professionalism, until now.
But it wasn't like he'd find the help he needed elsewhere if I turned him down. My methods were not conventional therapy. And then there was the matter of the debt I owed to Rose. She'd been there for me when I needed her--had saved my life even. I couldn't very well tell her no. Maybe after he hears what is involved, he'll decide he's not interested.
"Of course I can help you Edward. I have a 100% success rate. I've never failed a client and you won't be the first. But I do want to explain a bit about how I work, so that you are prepared and you can decide if you wish to continue or not."
He nodded for me to continue and I had his full attention now. His emerald eyes were riveted to my own.
"I am a psychiatrist, and EFT practitioner and a sex therapist, but I am also a sexual surrogate. What that means is that your therapy would consist of some talk therapy, some EFT--Emotional Freedom Techniques, which is a new form of energy therapy kind of like emotional acupuncture without the needles, and there would also be some practical sexual therapy where we would test out your emotional responses to different stimuli." I paused for a moment, letting that sink in.
Maybe this would push him out the door and I could go back to writing my book. But is that what I really wanted? The sinking feeling in my stomach answered for me.
His cheeks blazed red but his eyes held my own. His lips parted as his breathing deepened. Was he thinking about being intimate with me? My own face flushed at the thought.
I held his gaze and lowered my voice as I continued, "I can guarantee you that we can resolve your problem, but you would need to be completely honest with me. If you cover up or bend the truth, it will only take you longer to get the results you want."
He swallowed then straightened his spine, a look of resolve covering his face like a mask. "So, how long does this usually take?" The words came out with a nervous squeak.
"It varies depending on a lot of factors and I won't even be able to hazard a guess until we get started? So, are you ready to begin?"
His blush gradually faded as he swallowed the last bit of tea from his cup. His pink tongue darted out to moisten his lower lip and I didn't hear his response at first. Then he cleared his throat and replied in a stronger voice.
"Yes, I'm ready."
If you'd like to learn more about EFT check out www(dot)emofree(dot)com I am not affiliated with this website or the developer of these techniques other than having tried them on myself, my family and friends with great success. I give thanks to Gary Craig for discovering these techniques and making them available to the masses.
So this is my first fanfiction and a step outside my normal writing genre. I intend for it to be a novella length fiction and will continue to post chapters if people are interested in reading it. So let me know what you think.