Home > Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3)(2)

Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3)(2)
Author: Emma Chase

I may gag her anyway, just for the fun of it. Probably should’ve held on to her panties.

“I hate you!”

I chuckle. “No, you don’t.”

Her brown eyes burn into me, the same way they branded me decades ago. “I never should have trusted you again.”

Keeping her wrists pinned above her, I lean back a little to enjoy the view. “Bullshit. Best decision you ever made. Now listen up, buttercup . . .”

And I start to tell her all the things I should’ve said weeks ago. No—years ago . . .

• • •

4 weeks earlier

“I had a weird dream last night.”

I pace behind the couch with a racquetball ball in my hand. When I get to the end, I bounce the ball against the wall, catch it with one hand, then turn around and head the other way. I talk easier, think better when I’m moving.

“I was on a beach . . . at least I think it was a beach, I don’t remember any water. But there was sand, I was digging in the sand.”

Bounce, catch, turn.

Some people think it’s weak to see a therapist—but they couldn’t be more full of shit. It takes some big brass balls to bare your thoughts to another person. Your fears, faults, down-and-dirty desires. It’s like a workout for the soul. It forces you to see yourself—the real you.

And I think that’s the problem—most people don’t want to see themselves. They prefer to believe they’re actually the person everyone on the outside thinks they are—not the selfish, deviant asshole who’s really calling the shots.

“The grains were rough—white, beige, and black, and I kept digging deeper. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew it when I found it.”

Bounce, catch, turn.

“It was a ruby. A ruby in the sand. But here’s the weird part—when I tried to pick it up, it kept slipping from my hands. No matter how hard I tried, how much I tightened my grip, I couldn’t hold on to it. Fucking creepy, right, Waldo?”

My therapist’s name is Waldo Bingingham. He’s a soft-spoken, contemplative kind of guy a few years shy of retirement. All his other clients call him Dr. Bingingham, or Dr. Bing for short. But I like Waldo—it’s pretty much the most awesome name someone could be named. If your kid’s name is Waldo, at some point in his life, you’re gonna have to say, Where’s Waldo? And that’s hilarious.

He gazes at me patiently. He removes his dark, thick-rimmed, 1960s Walter Cronkite–era glasses and cleans them slowly with a tissue. It’s a strategy he’s used often in the years I’ve been coming to him. He’s waiting me out—giving me time to answer my own question.

Bounce, catch, turn.

But this time, I’m genuinely determined to hear his professional opinion. What the fuck does it all mean, Waldo?

He finally blinks first. “I thought this week we had decided to discuss how you use sexual intercourse to avoid intimacy.”

I roll my eyes. “Sex, sex, sex—that’s all you Freudians want to talk about. Is that all I am to you—a piece of meat? A cock with legs? Well”—I chuckle, tapping my prosthetic limb—“leg, anyway. Is the wife holding out on you again?”

He writes a note on the pad in his lap. “We can also add how you use inappropriate humor to deflect conversations that make you uncomfortable to our list of topics for future discussions.”

Bounce, catch, turn.

“No, I’m just a funny guy. Life’s too serious—it’s not gonna weigh me down. Besides, I think you’re way off base on the intimacy theory. Screwing is by its very nature intimate.”

“Not the way you do it.”

“Are you judging me, Waldo?”

Yeah—I just get a kick out of saying his name.

“Do you want me to judge you, Brent?”

“Do you think I should want you to judge me?”

I’ve been in therapy since I was ten years old—I can go around and around like this all day.

“I think you’re using this dream to avoid discussing how you use sex to avoid intimacy.”

“No—it’s just messing with my head. I want to know what it means.”

Bounce, catch, turn

Waldo sighs. Giving up and giving in. “Dreams are a reflection of our own subconscious. The expression of feelings and desires our conscious mind doesn’t want to acknowledge. It doesn’t matter what the dream means—only what it means to you. What’s your interpretation?”

My first thought is my subconscious is telling me I need a vacation. Somewhere warm and tropical, with umbrella drinks and hot women in small bikinis.

Or even better—no bikinis.

But that’s too simple. The dream was different. It seemed . . . important.

“I think it means I’m looking for something.”

Waldo puts his glasses back on. “And?”

“And when I find it, I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep it.”

He nods. Like a proud papa. “I think you’re right.”

Bounce, catch, turn.

This is why therapy rocks. With those four approving words, I feel a sense of empowerment—solid self-awareness and competency. I may not know what’s coming around the bend—but I sure as shit will be able to handle it when it gets here.

“Now . . . back to your intimacy issues.”

I make a complaining sound in the back of my throat—grumbling like a kid who’s been made to sit at the table to do his homework. I settle on the couch, resting one arm across the back. “Fine. Hit me, sempai.”

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