They bother me equally in measure.
But I ignore the perfume issue before I start questioning my own issues with it, and I focus on the alcohol.
“Leandro, I’m going to ask you a question, and I want an honest answer.”
His eyes flicker up to mine.
“Are you drunk right now?” I should have worded that differently. I don’t know why I seem to keep losing my footing with him.
But I will not treat someone while they’re under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances.
Annoyance flashes through his eyes, and then they narrow on me. “No.” His jaw is tight.
“I can smell it on you—the alcohol. I will not treat you while you’re drunk or high.” I scoot forward in my seat, my back straight, and I’m sitting on the edge, my hands curling around it.
“I’m not drunk or high,” he grinds out the words. His hands are clasped so tightly together that his knuckles are white. “If you smell alcohol on me, it’s because I was drinking last night. Clearly, it was way too much because I woke up in a hotel room and realized I was late for my appointment with you. So, I pulled on last night’s clothes because they were all I had to wear, and I came straight here. I haven’t even showered.”
Yes, I can tell.
I bite my tongue so hard that I’m pretty sure I draw blood.
I exhale a calming breath. “You could have called and rescheduled your appointment. It wouldn’t have been a problem.”
My statement seems to throw him. His face blanks, like the thought didn’t even occur to him.
Then, his expression hardens. “I didn’t want to miss my appointment today.”
“But it’s okay to be late for it?” I shouldn’t have said that. I don’t know why I did.
I clear my throat. I go for a change of tactic. “Why didn’t you want to miss your appointment?”
His eyes move to the wall behind me. He’s silent for a moment. Then, he looks back to me. “Because I want to get past this. I want to be the man I used to be.”
“You know that there’s nothing wrong with the man you are now. Barring your coping mechanisms, the vices, you’re still the same man you were.”
“No, I’m not.” His voice is a low growl. He looks away.
“Well, Leandro, if you want to change, get back to the man you used to be, then you need to make the effort here. And this”—I gesture a hand to him—“isn’t making the effort.”
His dark eyes flash back to mine. His jaw is tight, looking like it might shatter. “I came, didn’t I?”
“Yes.” I nod. “But forty minutes late.”
His gaze narrows. Then, he moves his eyes to my empty hands. “Don’t you need to make notes or something?” He juts his chin in my direction.
“No, I don’t need to make notes. The appointment will be short, as you have only twenty minutes left. I’ll remember all we talk about in that time. Don’t worry.”
His brows pull together, a furrow appearing between them. “You’re not going to see me for the full hour?”
“No, I can’t. I have other patients who have scheduled appointments, who need my help, too.”
“For fuck’s sake!” he growls. Leaning forward, he rests his elbows on his thighs and drives his fingers into his black hair.
I let the silence settle between us, leaving him to talk when he’s ready.
“I had a…bad day yesterday.” His voice is low, nearing a whisper.
“Bad in what way?”
He lifts those black eyes to mine, and I see a world of pain in them.
“Bad, as in…I tried to drive my car.”
“And how did that go?”
He lets out a bitter-sounding laugh. “It didn’t. I choked like a little bitch. Then, I got out of my car and smashed the hell out of her with a baseball bat.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Smashing my car up? Good, while I was doing it. Then, afterward…I felt like shit, so I went inside and smashed up all my racing trophies.”
“And did smashing up your trophies make you feel better?”
“Why do you think you did it—smashing up your car and trophies?”
“Because I didn’t want constant reminders of who I used to be. And who I am now.”
He has a clear perception of why he behaves as he does. That gives me a lot of hope for his recovery.
“And who are you now?”
“A shell of the man I was.” His shoulders drop. “I’m the guy who can’t face the failure that he is, so I did the same as always whenever I feel like that. I went out to a bar and got trashed. Then, I woke up in a hotel room with two women in bed with me and little recollection of the night before.”
Getting up from my seat, I grab my water bottle from my desk. I’m covering. It’s really bothering me, knowing that he had sex with not only one woman, but two.
Why is this affecting me in this way?
It shouldn’t. And it can’t.
I push my feelings aside and sit back down. “Sorry. My throat is dry today,” I explain in way of my water departure.
He’s closely watching me with those dark eyes of his.
“You’re not a failure, Leandro. You suffered a terrible accident. What you’re feeling is normal.”
“I don’t…” He blows out a breath. “I don’t feel normal. I feel weak.” His words are whispered, his voice broken.
I feel his pain wrap around me in a way that I’m not familiar with.