“Hey Doc,” Nadine said as she flounced into the room and made herself comfortable on the sofa.
Her denim skirt was so short that as she crossed her legs, he was given a glimpse of the bright purple lace underwear she wore. Gabe cleared his throat and dragged his eyes away from the scene. She was going to be the death of him.
He shifted in his seat, trying to hide the bulge in his slacks. “Good morning Nadine,” he said, thankful that his voice didn’t betray the effect she had on him. “You know you can just call me Gabe. I’m not your doctor, I’m your therapist.”
Nadine rolled her eyes. “I know,” she said. “You’ve told me that every session for the last six weeks. I like calling you Doc. It’s hot.”
He stopped himself from rolling his eyes in return. It was true; they had the same disagreement every time he saw her. She might think it was hot to call him Doc, but he didn’t. It just reminded him that she was off-limits – not that he didn’t already know that.
“So, this is our last session, right?” she asked, looking at him with the hint of a smile on her lips.
He shifted again and crossed one leg over his knee, resting his MacBook on his lap to hide the evidence of his attraction. “That’s right,” he replied.
Nadine had done a stint in rehab and came to him on recommendation of one of her doctors. This was their final session before he would give her the all clear to return to performing with her band. Having her as a patient had been a sweet form of torture. He had never before had such a visceral reaction to one of his patients and he was relieved that he would no longer be subjected to her skimpy outfits and outrageous flirtations. It wasn’t because he didn’t enjoy them; rather, that it was becoming harder and harder to keep his hands to himself whenever she was in his office. It was only his strict sense of propriety that had kept him on the straight and narrow, not that Nadine hadn’t tried her hardest to tempt him. He knew it was a deliberate ploy on her part to shift the attention off what was going on in her life. Unfortunately, that didn’t make it any easier to stave off her advances, especially when he was undeniably attracted to her.
“So, what do you want me to talk about today? I could tell you about the dream I had the other night. You were in it—”
“No,” he said, cutting her off perhaps a bit more abruptly than he meant to. He’d sat through a retelling of one of her dreams before. She tended to enjoy trying to shock him with as many explicit details as she could. He was nowhere near mentally prepared for another one of those, especially if he was in it. He had enough fantasies in his own head without adding hers to them.
He cleared his throat again. “Maybe you could tell me how you feel about finishing your therapy. Do you feel confident in your decision to rejoin your band?”
Her whole demeanour changed. Nadine looked down at her lap and played with the frayed ends of her skirt. The sexual confidence that she wore like armour fell away and in its place was a vulnerable woman who made his heart clench. He didn’t like seeing her so unsure of herself, but it was part of dealing with her issues. She needed to embrace her vulnerabilities instead of covering them up with bravado and innuendo.
He watched her as she wrestled with answering his question. He didn’t try and lead her into answering; he just sat and waited, giving her the time she needed. He found silence sometimes worked when probing questions did not.
“You know we’ve been playing together in the studio,” she said, her voice soft.
“I do,” he said.
“It’s been good,” she said. “You know I love to play, but…”
He waited, giving her the time she needed to find the words. He knew it was hard for her to express herself honestly. She’d been lying to not only herself, but to everyone around her for so long that it was easy for her to slip back into it. It was her default coping mechanism. One that she had developed after losing her parents in tragic circumstances. It was also the reason she had broken down during the band’s tour this last summer. There was only so much denial the mind could cope with before it demanded to be heard.
She heaved a sigh. “But they’re all treating me like I’m made of glass. I see their concerned looks and they bend over backwards to do just about anything for me. It’s weird. The other day I told Jace I couldn’t play until I had a grape soda. He drove to the fucking 7-Eleven to get me a grape soda. I didn’t need it, I was just being a bitch and yet off he went. They think that if they don’t bend over backwards to keep me happy that I’m going to flip out again and instead, all their pandering makes me want to slit my wrists.”
He didn’t react. He knew she was trying to get a reaction out of him. Nadine was many things, but suicidal was not one of them. This was her trying to prove her point. She wanted him to get angry with her, just like asking Jace for the grape soda was meant to rile him up and incite a fight. He had discovered that about her. She liked to fight and argue and yell. He couldn’t deny that the fierceness she had about her was one of the things that attracted him most.
“Have you spoken to them?” he asked. “Have you told them how you feel?”
She glared at him, her blue eyes snapping. She tossed her head and her dark hair flipped over her shoulder exposing the bright purple streak that was hidden underneath the mass of dark mane. When he didn’t react to her challenge, she dropped her eyes again. “They don’t understand.”
How was it possible that this man knew her so well? They had only met six weeks ago and in that time, she had tried everything to get under his skin. Yet there he sat, completely composed like he was untouchable. She’d worn this skirt in particular just to see if flashing her panties at him would finally crack his hard exterior, but nothing. Instead he was able to find all her soft spots and poke at them. He knew exactly how to get under her skin and she felt at a distinct disadvantage, a feeling that she hated to acknowledge. For years she had been able to fool people – well, until it all came crashing down around her ears – but not for one minute had she been able to fool Gabriel Rousso. He saw beneath the façade that she had carefully built around herself and it made her feel a vulnerability that she didn’t like and yet… there was something about him that made her feel safe. Despite the way he exposed all her failings, she knew that she could trust him with the most secret parts of herself and that he wouldn’t hurt her. He was always gentle with her, but not in the way that everyone else around her was. He didn’t walk on eggshells hoping to keep her calm. No, he pushed her buttons, but he did it in such a way that gave her a safe place to express herself.
“They don’t understand? Or you don’t think they will understand and therefore you haven’t tried to explain it?” he asked.
She growled her response. He smiled, just for a second, but she saw it and it did things to her. Things that she had been trying to ignore. Yes, she flirted with him. She went out of her way to be overly provocative around him but that had nothing to do with the feelings he stirred up inside her. Her come-ons were all about deflecting, it didn’t take a psych major to know that, but under all of it was something else. She liked him. She liked him more than just the way a woman should like her therapist.
“Fine,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I haven’t explained it to them in so many words. I was just sort of hoping that things would go back to normal.”
“You thought that if you behaved like a brat then your brother would go back to treating you like a brat?”
She shrugged her shoulders in response. What could she say? It was true.
“Why?” he asked and she darted a look at him.
“Why do you want him to go back to treating you like a child? Wasn’t it that very thing that made you act out in the first place?”
“Well, yeah,” she agreed reluctantly, “but that’s how Jace and I communicate. I do something stupid and he rails on me and tells me I’m being stupid and then we move on.”
“That doesn’t sound like a very healthy way to communicate,” he said. “Don’t you think it’s time for you to move into a more adult way of relating to your brother?”
She pushed up from the sofa, no longer able to sit still. She needed to move and her hands itched to have her violin and bow in them. She needed to feel the strings under her fingers and feel the weight of the instrument in her arms. Whenever her life had been in turmoil the one constant had been her music, until she had fucked that up too.
“But it works for us,” she said, pacing the office. Her hands reached out to touch the little trinkets that decorated his office, flitting from one thing to the next but not really taking any of it in. Meanwhile Gabe just sat and watched her. She could feel his eyes on her as she moved around the room. He didn’t try and stop her or get her to sit down. He didn’t tell her to stop touching his stuff. She wondered what he would do if she picked up the tiny porcelain deer and threw it at the wall so that it smashed into a million pieces. Would he react then? She lifted the deer and felt the weight of it in her hand. It would be satisfying to throw it and see it shatter. It would be even more satisfying if it made Gabe jump up and yell at her. She wanted to break his calm demeanour, she wanted him to react. But she knew he wouldn’t, even if she broke his precious deer statuette.
She put the little figurine back on the shelf and turned to him. He looked at ease, sitting in his chair and watching her with cool, unreadable eyes.
“Do you really believe that?” he asked.
She stared at him, trying to work out how he had read her mind.
“Do you really believe that the way you and Jace communicate works?” he clarified for her and she felt her shoulders fall just a bit. He couldn’t read her mind and part of her was disappointed.
“It’s been working for the last fifteen years,” she said.
“Has it?” He cocked an eyebrow at her in challenge.
She walked around the sofa and plopped back down in it with a resigned sigh. “No,” she said. “It hasn’t.”
He smiled then. A real smile. A beautiful smile that lit up his face. Her simple admission had made him happy and knowing that she was responsible for that look of pleasure on his face made her tummy flip over. She squeezed her thighs together. It wasn’t just her tummy that was affected by him.
Gabe signed the piece of paper from Dre Studios releasing Nadine from further therapy obligations. She watched him eagerly and he took a little longer than necessary just so that he could keep her eyes on him. It was really quite silly and entirely immature, but he wanted to prolong the time they had left. Nadine wasn’t cured; she would need more therapy and he would recommend that to her, but he also knew that he couldn’t continue to be her therapist. Not if he wanted to keep his own sanity.
He handed the form over to her and she took it reverently, reading over the words that said he believed her ready to return to performing.
“I think it would be good for you to keep seeing someone,” he said, “perhaps just once a month.”
She looked up at him. “You?”
He shook his head. “Not me,” he said, and he couldn’t help but notice the way her face fell just a bit. “There are other therapists in this office that I can recommend. Maybe one of the female psychologists would be suitable?” That was a purely selfish move on his part, not that he didn’t think his female colleagues wouldn’t be good for her, just that he didn’t want any of his male colleagues to be alone in the same room with her. He knew they would be professional, but he also knew Nadine would try all the same tricks with them that she had tried with him and the cave-man part of his brain didn’t want to share her with them.
She tucked the form into her bag and then stood, raising her arms above her head in a stretch that lifted the hem of her skirt to almost indecent levels. It also had the fortunate – unfortunate – effect of raising the hem of her tank top and exposing her firm, flat belly. He wanted to reach out and run his hands over the exposed skin and feel the softness of her. He swallowed the growl and tore his eyes away, looking back down at the laptop in front of him. Damn it all to hell. The woman had gotten under his skin.
With a deep sigh, he stood too, busying himself with putting his laptop back on his desk and surreptitiously adjusting himself so that his erection wouldn’t be obvious to her. When he was suitably appropriate, he walked over to where she stood and smiled down at her. She turned her face up to him and a sweet smile tilted her lips.
“Thanks Doc,” she said.
He fisted his hands at his sides in order to stop them reaching for her. He had never crossed a line with a patient before and up until this point he had never thought he would. There was just something about her that drew him. He wanted to feel her body pressed up against his. He wanted to taste her lips and hear her moan his name.
“It’s been a pleasure,” he said, his voice low and scratchy.
Her eyes darkened as she looked up at him. They were only inches apart and it wouldn’t take much to lower his head and kiss her. It would be wrong, but it would be oh-so easy to do.
She pressed up on her toes and placed a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth. The simple touch undid him and he couldn’t stop what happened next even if he tried. His hands reached for her, pulling her into his body and he captured her lips in a searing kiss. She melted against him without a moment’s hesitation and he groaned low in his throat. She wound her arms around his neck and parted her lips, her tongue licking into his mouth and sliding against his. Electricity coursed through his body. His brain was screaming at him that what he was doing was wrong, but he couldn’t stop.
Without losing contact with her mouth, he walked them towards the door of his office until she was pressed up against it. He leant into her body and rubbed his aching hard-on against her. He felt her shiver and heard the soft moan as she rocked against him. She lifted her legs and wrapped them around his waist. He could feel the wet heat of her core as he ground himself against her. Her hands threaded through his hair and tugged. He lifted his head and looked down at her. She returned his gaze with lust-soaked eyes, her lips swollen and wet from his kisses. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against hers.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” he whispered.
“I don’t care,” she whispered back, using her grip on his hair to tilt his head back up so she could see his eyes. “I want this,” she breathed. “I want you.”
He growled and captured her lips in another demanding kiss. Their tongues tangled and teeth clashed as the kiss heated up. He rocked into her, wanting the few layers of clothing between them to disappear, but not moving his hands to make it a reality. He knew he had to stop but he just didn’t want to.
A discreet beep from his computer reminded him that his next patient was waiting. With a groan, he pulled his mouth away from hers. She looked up at him with desire and trust and need – all the things that spoke to him. He wanted to satisfy her desire; he ached for her trust and he wanted to fill the need he saw in her eyes, but he couldn’t. Not here. Not now. Probably not ever.
He kissed her once, lightly, on the lips and then pulled away from her. Her legs slid down from around him, but neither of them stepped away. Neither of them willing to break contact.
“We can’t do this,” he said softly, reaching up to cup her cheek and slide his hands into the thick hair that he had dreamed about wrapping around his hands.
“Maybe not here,” she said, “and maybe not right now, but we can definitely do this.”
He searched her eyes. He wanted to tell her yes, but something held him back.
“I have a gig tonight,” she whispered, stretching up to press little kisses on his neck and jaw. “Come and watch and then maybe we can have a drink after.” She found his lips with hers and kissed him thoroughly, scrambling his brain for a moment.
“Nadine,” he said on a groan, but she just smiled up at him.
“I’ll see you tonight,” she said, “at Dirty Moe’s. We go on at nine.”
She slid out from where he had her pinned to the wall and he felt the loss of her. He leant against the wall for a moment trying to regain his composure before he turned to see her straighten that tiny little skirt and fluff her hair out. She looked like she had been thoroughly ravished and he had a mild panic that everybody in the waiting room would know what they had just been doing. The problem was he liked the way she looked. He liked that he had been the one to put that smile on her face and that flush in her cheeks.
“Good bye Nadine,” he said, his voice rough.
She winked at him. “See you tonight, Doc.”