Chapter no 20

Never Lie

I stare at the screen of my phone. It was horribly unprofessional of me to tell Gail to leave right in the middle of a session. But I didn’t have a choice. I read the words on the screen for the fifth time:


Hi, Doc. I have a little video I took of you from a parking lot in the Bronx. I thought you might enjoy watching it!


The message came from EJ. I didn’t delete his number from my phone after I terminated him as a patient. I wish I had, but it doesn’t matter. I have a feeling he would have found a way to get me this message.

Below the message is a link to a video. I haven’t watched it yet. The image on the screen is of me, frozen in time, dressed in the white blouse and gray skirt suit I wore to the free clinic the other day. My hair is whisked behind my head, although it had come partially loose during my hike from my parking spot to the clinic.

I remember that moment in time. And I remember what happens next.

I can’t bring myself to watch it. But I must.

I take a deep breath and tap my finger on the video to start it. Immediately, the image of myself unfreezes. The

camera follows me for a couple of seconds, then zooms in as I pause in front of a red Jetta.

That asshole who took my parking spot.

The quality of the video is excellent. Naturally, EJ would have the most expensive phone money could buy. You can see the license plate of the car in perfect detail. You can see me fumble around in my purse for something. Then you can see me bend down beside the back tire of the Jetta and look both ways to make sure nobody is watching me. For a split second, the camera catches the glint of a knife in the sunlight just before it sinks into the tire.

Yes. I slashed that man’s back tire.

It sounds worse than it is. I was late to a clinic where my patients’ lives depend on me. The parking spot was mine. I was signaling to take it. He stole it from me, so he committed the crime first. I was simply retaliating.

And yes, I carry a knife in my purse. Sometimes the clinic lets out late, and it’s not the best neighborhood. I suppose I could carry a can of mace. I choose to carry a knife.

Slashing that tire was the wrong thing to do. I should not have allowed my anger at that man’s rude and selfish behavior to get the best of me. I should have taken the high road.

And I had no idea anyone was watching me.

I jump in my chair as another text message appears on my phone. The message comes from the same number:


I can see the headline now. Bestselling Author Psychiatrist Slashes Tires in Parking Lot.


I swallow. He is not wrong that this will make a compelling headline. One that has the potential to destroy me. And it’s all on video.

My hands are trembling as I type a reply. It takes me three tries to get it right:

What do you want?


His reply comes almost instantly:


I’m outside your front door.


An icy sensation slides down my spine. I always laughed at people like Paige and Gloria when they suggested I needed a home security system. I always felt safe here. But when I stare down at the words on my phone, I no longer feel safe. I’m not sure I ever will again.

I’m outside your front door.

I glance behind me at the window—the sun dropped in the sky over the last hour, and it’s now dark outside. I stand up abruptly from my leather chair, so quickly that it glides across the room, slamming into the wall behind me. I can’t ignore these messages. I’ve known EJ for a long time, and he will not let this go.

I take my phone with me to the front door, clutching it in my left hand much the way Paige did when she came to visit. I consider calling 911 but quickly rule it out. EJ has done nothing wrong. Yes, he is on my property, but I have no evidence that I terminated him as a patient. He has not breached my front door. And if he shows the police that video of me, my career is over.

He is calling the shots.

My front door is constructed from the same deep brown wood as the desk in my office—mahogany, I believe— broken up by two opaque panes of glass. There’s a lock and deadbolt on the door, but only a few feet away, there’s a window that could be easily shattered with a rock. I pass the window on the way to the front door and I can make out the shadow in front of my door. I stand there for a moment, hesitating until my phone vibrates in my hand.

Why are you just standing there, Doc? Open the door for me.


I grit my teeth. I twist open the deadbolt, then turn the lock. I take a quick calming breath, remembering that I know EJ better than he knows me. I know all his strengths and weaknesses. He’s intelligent and manipulative, but he’s also impulsive. He may have caught me in a moment of weakness, but I can outsmart him.

I yank open the door, and there he is. Wearing a Michael Kors jacket, no doubt purchased with his wealthy parents’ money. His sun-streaked blond hair is slightly disheveled, and he has a smirk on his lips. EJ is handsome—that is undeniable, although he’s on the shorter side, which gives him a bit of a Napoleon complex. During the time I have been treating him, he has been in relationships of varying length—anywhere from one night to six months—with countless women. The one-night stands got off easy. I pity any woman whose path crossed with this man.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in, Doc?” he asks.

I don’t want him in my house, but again, I have little choice in the matter. So I step back and allow him to saunter inside.

“You got such a nice place here, Doc,” EJ comments like he’s seeing it for the first time. “Nice furniture too. You have great taste. Is that real leather?”

“What do you want?” I say through my teeth.

He takes a step back, blinking at me. “Hey. Doc, come on. Don’t be upset at me.”

“Don’t be upset at you?” My right hand balls into a fist while my left still clutches my phone. “You were following me. You recorded me without my consent.”

“I wasn’t following you. It was a coincidence.”

Like many people, EJ has a tell. I know when he’s lying. A little muscle under his right eye twitches whenever he tells a lie. It’s twitching now, but it’s not like I wouldn’t know

he was lying. How could he possibly just happen to run into me at a strip mall an hour away from here?

But it doesn’t matter. Whether or not he was following me, he has the video.

I hug my chest. “What do you want?”

“Look.” EJ focuses his gray eyes on me. “I don’t want to make trouble for you, Doc. I swear. I just felt like you were really helping me and I was sad when you gave up on me. All I want is to start our sessions again.”

My jaw falls open. “You want to start sessions again?

With me?”

“That’s right.”

The thought of being alone in the therapy room with EJ makes my skin crawl. “I don’t think that’s appropriate. Let me refer you to one of my colleagues. I… I can pay the bill for your sessions.”

There are a few psychiatrists from my training that I would love to foist this guy off on. It would be my pleasure.

But EJ shakes his head. “No, you already offered that, and it’s not what I want. You and I were making great progress. You’re the best. I want you.”

“I really feel like I’ve gone as far as I can with you.” “I disagree.”

I bite the inside of my cheek. The metallic taste of blood fills my mouth. “Fine. Two sessions a month.”

“We were doing once a week before.”

“I don’t have that many openings in my schedule anymore.”

He clucks his tongue. “I don’t know, Doc. Maybe you should make an opening then.”

I can do this. I can sit with this man for an hour once a week and pretend to listen to his problems. I’ve done worse.

“Fine,” I say. “But that’s it, okay?”

EJ holds up his hands. “That’s all I want. Just an hour of your time once a week so I can get better. I won’t ask for anything else. I promise.”

As he says the words, the muscle under his right eye twitches.

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