Summary: Bella remains sexually unfulfilled after three separate liaisons with "boys" instead of men. She encounters Edward Masen, and things begin to change. B/E/AH/AU/OOC. Rated M for a reason!
The office had that generic, institutional feel to it with periwinkle naugahyde chairs and well-thumbed-through magazines on the glass occasional table. The sign on the frosted glass door read: Dr. Carlisle Cullen, MD. Licensed Sex Therapist. Blushing furiously, Bella shoved through the door, shuffled over to the receptionist desk, and after signing the check-in clipboard, made it to one of those pleather chairs - all without making eye contact with a single soul in the office. A figure glinted dimly in the periphery of her vision.
Odd colored hair… she thought to herself without really looking. Leaning forward she snagged one of those magazines off of the table.
Cat Fancy….harrumph. Does someone in this office have a weird sense of humor? Sex therapy office with Cat Fancy magazines? Why don't they just put the Time Magazine Cover with James Bond and Pussy Galore from the 60's?
The person in the other chair uncrossed his legs and repositioned himself. He sighed and threw his periodical on the end table near him.
"Miss Swan?" queried the receptionist.
"That's me," replied Bella still hiding behind her Cat Fancy magazine.
"We have some forms for you to fill out."
"Roger that." Bella scooted forward too quickly, slammed her knee on the glass table and muttered something under her breath about deities and crackers, before heading back to the desk. Retrieving the clipboard, she had the forms filled out in about two minutes flat.
"May I pay my co-pay now, too?" Bella asked politely, wanting nothing more than to slink back to her chair.
The receptionist performed all of her fiscal tasks without really acknowledging Bella as a real person, and Bella was grateful for the lack of attention or small talk. Bella's eyes moseyed over to the left where a giant O'Keeffe watercolor dominated the wall adjacent to the hallway.
You've got to be kidding me. First Cat Fancy and now gargantuan symbolic vagina paintings…uhh…subtle much? Methinks not! She snickered to herself quietly. Wait. I didn't say any of that out loud, did I? Bella tried to tap into her auditory memory; had no success; and finally gave up. The slippery plastic of the chair was unwelcoming when she returned.
"So what are you in for?" a silken voice slithered in her ear.
"Are you serious? You're going to ask me that? In THIS office? Doesn't the door pretty much say it all?" Bella huffed belligerently.
"So what are you in for?" he repeated relentlessly.
"'Failure to thrive' is what I saw the last shrink scribble into his notes when he thought I wasn't looking."
Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…shoot me now! Why the heck did I tell him that? Oh shit! I now resemble a cranberry with eyeballs and lips. Why does this always happen to me?
"It's no big deal, really. I just wanted to talk to someone." She looked up at him for the first time and froze. It was more than just unusual hair color. His jaw. His mouth. His eyes.
STOP STARING BELLA! Eyes on the magazine. Cats! Long haired Persians… from the Himalayan Mountains…. Prone to excessive fur balls unless you groom them daily…Small scizzors are essential to the careful removal of knotted masses of belly furr…there. I have some control again.
"How 'bout you? What's your crime?"
"Insatiability," he replied- his forehead wrinkled in an intense frown. He didn't say anything else. He wasn't smirking. His face was devoid of any irony. He actually looked…. troubled?
"Oh come on."
"Huh? Oh! You think that was a line? No… uh... Miss Swan, is it? That was definitely not a line. I do not hunker in sex therapy offices to admit to pervy conditions in order to pick up women. I didn't mock you. Please extend me the same courtesy," he said with stilted dignity.
"Hunker, huh?" she snickered at him.
"Troll, loll, lollygag, skulk. Take your pick."
"Swan…? Ms. Swan? Room two please. The doctor will see you in a few minutes."
Bella threw the Cat Fancy magazine onto the table and schlumped off down the hallway. She didn't look back and said nothing more to Copperhair.
The doctor's visit was short and routine. It wasn't Dr. Carlisle like the door said. It was actually E. McCarty, MD., according to the embroidery on his white coat. He was big - really big. Tall—good grief, he had to be like 6'3". He was broad-shouldered and occupied what felt like half of the small space. She shook his hammer-fist hand - her palm feeling dwarfed by his size. Tension slowly snaked its way up her spine and into her neck.
"So I've read through your file that was sent over from the other office. Was there anything new you wanted to discuss?"
"I really just want to continue what Dr. Pfeiffer told me to do. You know….try? I'm still not attracted to anyone around me. I still haven't felt any kind of ….uhh…. sexual arousal…I tense up most of the time. I haven't had a severe panic attack in over a year, and I want to keep it that way. So, here I am."
"No severe panic attack, and you're med free?" he asked quietly while looking directly at me and writing on a file folder pad at the same time.
How does he do that?
"Describe your last panic attack, please? Take your time, details are not required here… just the general idea."
"Well, I was on a date with Tyler Crowley. We were in his car. The date was… well, I thought the date was almost over." The last part came out in a rush. "TylerCrowleytouchedmybreastsandIstartedtohyperventilate. I didn't black out, though. I just-got out of the car and ran inside."
"Bella, have you been on a date since then?"
"Have you touched anyone? Hugged someone? Held anyone's hand or touched someone's forearm? That was the instruction in Pfeiffer's notes for your last visit with him."
"Uh….er….I… bumped into someone at the Frosty Freeze. Does that count?"
Dr. McCarty grimaced and looked up at the ceiling tiles.
Okay Bella, klutzy contact does NOT count. Stop being stupid! Try harder!
"Every little bit helps," he said softly, surprising me. "I want you to do two things before I see you in two weeks. First, I want you to make non-threatening casual contact with someone you trust. It can be any form of touch that you think you can handle. Second, I want you to say yes to two things that you normally would decline. You can pick and choose when to say yes or no. Don't wait too long, though… Your options will get slimmer by the end of that time frame, okay?"
"Okay Dr. McCarty. Thanks. This was better than I thought it would be."
"We don't break out the whips and dildos until the second visit," he said deadpan. My eyes became as round as saucers, and then I began to laugh…and then snicker… and then guffaw….
He was laughing too.
"One last thing, Bella," he said. "Hug, handshake or high five?"
I tilted my head to the side and asked him to explain.
"When we end each session, you as the patient are entitled to a hug, a handshake or a high five. What would you like today?"
Bella nibbled on her lower lip as she considered.
Well I haven't done anything deserving of a high five-so save that until it counts. I already shook his hand when we came in and that was okay. Good gawd, can I hug this Cyclops sized creature?
Before I could stop myself I blurted out, "Hug." I was immediately, albeit gently, engulfed in a soft, warm embrace and then released just as quickly.
"Well done, Bella. You can consider that completion of assignment number one. Now go out there and get to work on assignment two."
He strode down the hallway and I walked out slowly. I puttered down the corridor, tripping only twice. The soles of my Chucks just don't do well with carpet. Or tile. Or linoleum. Or concrete. Or air for that matter. I Jerry-Lewis-stumbled into the doorframe of the reception office and looked up. Copperhair was standing by the glass wall-leaning next to the glass door. The sun was glinting off his hair, seeping over his shoulders, and backlighting his legs.
"Do you want to get out of here?" he asked.
I must have been drooling and foaming at the mouth by this point.
Is this what attraction feels like? Huh. My arms want to reach out and touch. If my entire body wasn't screaming, "paralyzed" right now, I might actually act on that thought…
He was saying something again-only it sounded like he was talking under water. I reeled myself back in.
"Will you drink some tea with me? Or Coffee? Whatever you prefer really."
Bella was immediately faced with a decision.
How many times have I said no to something like this in the last eleven months? How long have I been burying my head in the dirt? It's like I've decapitated my brain when it comes to interacting with other people. So, Bella…take a chance on this…intriguingly appealing person…or start deepening that hole in the dirt. What do you want? What do you want? I'm making him stand here, awkwardly…Gosh, he's really patient…I want him.
"Um…. yes?" I walked forward and he opened the door.
The reference to the James Bond Time magazine cover is fictitious. I made that up to suit my purposes. Check out Georgia O'Keeffe's work if you've had the misfortune to miss her preoccupation with the female form.
The sexual dysfunctions of "failure to thrive" as well as "insatiability" are fictitious. Any similarities to real sexual conditions are entirely coincidental.
Frigidity is real condition described as "failure of a female to respond to sexual stimulus characterized by an aversion to sexual intercourse or anorgasmia (failure to achieve an orgasm).
Bella has been told that she is frigid. Keep reading to find out the truth for yourself…