“Ten…nine…eight…,” the deep voice lulled Dr. Anne Jamison out of the dark that surrounded her subconscious. “Seven…six…five…four…three…two…one. Come back to me, Anne.”
Her green eyes fluttered rapidly, attempting to regain focus of her stark white surroundings that were layered with a post-hypnotic haze.
“How do you feel Anne?” Dr. David Lindsey asked while perched across from her in his leather chair.
Her mouth was dry and she felt disoriented but oddly calm. Dr. Lindsey adjusted his wire-rim glasses as he began to jot something down on his steno pad.
“I don’t feel any anxiety.” Anne finally replied, looking toward the skyline backdrop.
She stood and began walking toward the wall of windows. She straightened out her black pencil skirt and placed her flushed forehead against the wintery glass. Anne gazed twenty-two stories down at the hustling morning traffic, watching the cars maneuver through the maze of downtown Minneapolis. Her hot breath fogged the glass, clouding the image; she began playing with the string of pearls draped across her slender neck.
“That’s great. I know that you want to remain off your medication. How are you feeling today?” Dr. Lindsey asked.
“Today.” Anne repeated in statement form, exhaling deeply.
Carter Leeds had vanished three years earlier and had been presumed dead. She and Carter had shared a dysfunctional, volatile but passionate relationship for nearly a year and a half.
“Anne? I know that you are still having nightmares. Did you have one last night?”
Anne could feel Dr. Lindsey’s question burn in the back of her skull. She left the pearls alone and turned back to him. His salt and pepper hair reflected the harsh fluorescents that beamed above them. He reminded Anne of her psych professor in college, with a mid-life crisis allure. But Dr. Lindsey treated her more like broken child than a sexy pupil.
“No, I actually slept quite well last night.”
Her long blond strands became entangled with the necklace. Wincing, she pulled the knotted piece free.
“You must be quite ecstatic about your recent engagement.” Dr. Lindsey said.
She stroked the 3-carat princess-cut solitaire with her index finger. She watched the ballet of colors dance inside the diamond with illuminated grace. Her fiancé, Adam Whitney, was her savior. He pulled her from the depths of her self-torment, breathing new life into her; retrieving her from the brink of darkness.
“I’m quite happy indeed, Dr. Lindsey, though I do at times feel that uneasiness, that lack of closure.” Anne could feel the flushed emotion rising just below the surface of her skin.
“You must remove yourself from that liability. Carter led a reckless lifestyle; you can’t blame yourself for his actions.”
“I know, but how do you truly have closure when there is no body? How do you say farewell to a poster-sized picture draped with sympathy bouquets?”
“Anne, Carter is gone. He’s not coming back and you need to start focusing on the future. Focus on you and Adam.”
Dr. Lindsey’s expression softened as he placed the steno pad down on the wooden coffee table between them.
Anne stopped fidgeting at the band of her pomegranate-hued cardigan and glanced at her watch. She stood up and reached for her black purse and matching trench coat, ending the session a few minutes early.
“Maybe you should take the day…” Before Dr. Lindsey could finish, Anne’s hand was up in protest.
“Absolutely not, I’m a big girl, and these children need help. I can handle it. They can’t.”
Without further argument, Dr. Lindsey stepped toward the door and opened it to the reception area, ushering Anne through.
“Take care, Anne.” He squeezed her arm and turned toward the young man who was his next appointment.
Anne waved to the brunette receptionist who was also Dr. Lindsey’s daughter. She hurried out the glass door and into a narrow hallway. Her heels clicked against the tan tile, echoing off the vintage walls. Her own self-produced breeze flowed through her loose curls as they bounced with her quickened step; she knew Casey would be waiting for her. Anne took her final turn and there stood Casey Adler, best friend extraordinaire and colleague, with one hand on her hip and the other holding a latte. Her hourglass shape filled the grey and white leopard sheath dress perfectly, evoking the style of Marilyn Monroe. She raised an aggravated eyebrow to Anne.
“Where the hell have you been?”
“Well, good morning to you too,” Anne replied.
Casey yanked Anne’s cell phone from the open pocket in her purse and held it up.
“I called and texted you a dozen times. Where have you been and don’t lie to me, Anne. We’ve been friends since college and I know when you are lying!”
“I had an appointment with Dr. Lindsey and, before you even start white couching me, I am perfectly fine, okay?”
Anne snatched her phone back, throwing it into her purse and eyeing Casey’s reaction.
“I promise I won’t, but I’m just worried about you. I don’t buy into all this hypnosis crap and you stopping your anxiety medication makes me nervous,” Casey said, brushing her flaxen bangs to the side.
“I know you hate that I stopped taking my medication but I feel so much better, freer of all those self-loathing emotions. Adam deserves a fiancé that doesn’t need to take a pill to bury all that unnecessary baggage.”
“You shouldn’t have to bury anything. What happened was not your fault.”
A brief flash of sorrow circled Anne, as her best friend was giving her the same look that she had the day she confirmed there had been two deaths.
“Enough of this, let’s talk about this.” Anne beamed as she held up her brand-new stunning accessory. Casey grabbed her hand to examine the rock.
“Gorgeous darling!” she said in her best British accent.
They entered their office in a lighter mood. Their assistant Shelley sat prepping moss green patient folders while twirling a piece of loose white hair that had fallen from her bun. Anne and Casey chimed a good morning greeting in unison which made all three of them laugh.
“Good morning. Here are your messages. Dr. Jamison, I have a package here for
you. It was next to the door when I arrived.”
Shelley passed the large manila envelope to Anne over the chest-high ledge. Anne examined the envelope, carefully trying to locate some clues of its sender. In bold black on the front, it read:
She could feel rectangular contents inside as they slid under her curious fingertips.
“It’s probably from someone in the building.”
She found the package odd but was not alarmed. She tucked the mystery envelope under her arm and headed to her office. She read the name plate on the door.
“Dr. Anne Jamison - soon to be Dr. Anne Whitney,” Anne whispered, running her fingers along the indented gold letters.
She stepped in to her space, putting all the contents that were in her arms on the lavender plush couch. Anne was one of the youngest neuropsychiatric doctors in Minnesota. She was dubbed the female Doogie Howser M.D. in the psychiatric world. All Anne ever wanted to do was fix her mother, fix her insanity – but she was too late. She shook the grim memories and looked over at her black and white canvas prints of Stone Arch Bridge and Cowles Conservatory against the exposed brick wall. She took in a cleansing breath and let it go. She was now ready to psycho-analyze the adolescents of the city.
Anne finished her session with thirteen year old Alice Harper and began vocalizing her notes to a mini recorder.
“Alice is bipolar and has been on and off various medications over the years. She is the perfect candidate for the Mayo Clinic’s brain study on genetic factors of mental disorders. Can they be suppressed with direct injection of medication to the brain tissue?”
Anne thought of her mother once again; she would have been an ideal candidate as well. She dismissed it and then realized that her phone was still on silent.
Anne retrieved her phone from her purse that still sat on the couch. Besides the missed calls and texts from Casey, there were five new ones from Adam.
Good morning babe. I missed you.
Why did you leave so early?
Anne blushed at the memory of her behavior as she snuck out of Adam’s townhome like a wham bam thank you ma’am.
Are you ignoring me?
Is this about last Friday night?
You aren’t answering your phone so I called your
office and Shelley said you are with a patient. At
least I know you are alive. Please call me.
I love you Anne.
Quickly Anne tapped his name in her contacts.
“Anne, are you alright?” Adam asked after answering on the first ring.
“I’m fine. I’m sorry, I forgot that my phone was on silent,” she replied.
“I was worried that you were panicking about our engagement.” His voice was slightly heightened.
“No, absolutely not, I wouldn’t have said yes if I wasn’t one hundred percent certain. I love you, Adam,” Anne replied reassuringly.
“Why did you leave so early? You didn’t even say good bye.” Adam was wounded by her disappearing act, she could hear it in voice.
“I had a new patient this morning and I wanted to go over her chart, plus, you looked so peaceful sleeping I didn’t want to disturb you.” Anne felt warm inside at the recollection of her fiancé lying next to her, shirtless, exposing his faultless muscles.
“Do you have time for lunch? Say in an hour.” She heard a faint soft voice in the background. “Tell him to wait, Victoria. Anne, I have to go. See you at noon here?”
“Sure, see you soon.” Anne replied, trying to keep her annoyed tone to a dainty decibel.
Anne couldn’t stand Adam’s assistant Victoria Cameron, the law firm succubus.
“Great, I love you babe.”
“I love you too.” Anne replied, tapping to end their conversation and still seething over that woman. She will for sure try to deepen her claws in him now that he’s engaged. Her prey of choice was unavailable men.
Anne stretched her neck muscles as they tightened at just the thought of Victoria. Her attempts to shake the green-eyed monster were ineffective, so she turned her attention to the mystery envelope waving its secretive arms, enticing her to open it. She picked it up and walked over to her mission-style desk to locate an envelope opener. Anne took the silver blade and ran it through the glued seal. The contents trickled out and onto her desk. Colored photographs fanned out in front of her and a white note with red hue writing stared at her.
For My Anneliese
She gasped, feeling her hands begin to numb. Her veins were flooded with fresh fretful blood that burned her chest and pulsated into her ears as the thumping of her heart pounded deep within her. The one person in the entire universe who ever called her by her given birth name was Carter. The room was losing all focus and was quickly becoming dim. But then Carter’s face became clearer, like a luminous apparition pulling her subconscious in deeper.
Deadly Deception is being released on Createspace tomorrow! Whoop! Whoop!