Chapter no 32

Never Lie

As I lie in Luke’s arms, I can’t stop thinking about the prescription I wrote for EJ.

I thought spending the evening with Luke would take my mind off of it. And it did for a little while. Luke is good at getting me to laugh, even when I’m in a terrible mood. But tonight is a lost cause. EJ claimed it would be the only prescription he would ask from me, but he was lying. I knew it without even seeing the twitching under his right eye.

He will keep asking for more and more. Pushing me harder and harder.

I have to stop him.

Luke squeezes my shoulders, pulling me closer to his warm body. I try to banish thoughts of EJ from my head and enjoy lying next to Luke. I cleared out a drawer for him a few days ago, and as he filled it with his clothing, the thought occurred to me that it might not be so bad if he were living with me. It would be nice to have him around all the time.

Not now. But maybe someday.

“That portrait of you is so great,” he comments. “It looks just like you.”

It was funny the way Luke’s mouth dropped open when he saw the almost comically large portrait of me that I hung over the mantle. I hung it there partially to make him laugh. But I also did it for my patient. Her traumatic experience

formed the crux of my newest book. She’s made a lot of progress with me, and I suspect we will conclude our sessions soon.

“You don’t think it’s too gigantic?” I ask.

“No way!” He squeezes me again. “It’s larger than life.

Like you.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“I love it.” His lips press against my forehead as he holds me close to his body. “And also, I love… you.”

There it is. The three words we’ve both been skirting around for the last several weeks. He finally cracked and said it like I knew he would. I’ve heard those words said to me several times before, but this time I do something completely unexpected and inappropriate and unlike me.

I burst into tears.

Luke is shaken by my reaction. He pulls away from me, struggling to sit up in my king-sized bed. “Hey,” he says. “Hey. Don’t cry.”

“I’m not crying,” I say pointlessly, as I swipe a hand over my leaky eyes. “I’m fine.”

“I didn’t say it because…” He grabs my hand. “Look, Adrienne, I didn’t say it to upset you. You don’t have to say it back. I was just feeling it right then, so I said it. And I’m not sorry I did, but it doesn’t change anything. I just… I wanted you to know. But I’m not hurt if you don’t say it back. I promise.”

He’s so good. He’s so sweet. I wish I could be happy with him. I wish my life weren’t so complicated.

“I’m not crying because of… of that.” I wipe my nose with the back of my hand, wishing I had a tissue. And then, magically, Luke produces a tissue for me, which I accept gratefully. “It’s something else. I have a problem. It has nothing to do with you.”

“The intimacy issue?”

I look up sharply. “No. Not that kind of problem.”

He rubs his jaw. He shaves every morning now because he knows I like him better that way, but it’s almost bedtime and he has a rough stubble on his chin. “Okay, I’m sorry. I just… what kind of problem?”

“I… I’m being blackmailed. By a patient.”

Luke’s jaw goes slack. He looks even more stunned than he was by the giant portrait over the mantle. “Blackmailed?”

I nod.

“Jesus Christ.” He shakes his head. “Is this that guy who has been showing up in the middle of the night and texting you all the time?”

I nod again.

He rakes a shaky hand through his short hair. “Jesus,” he says again. “I can’t believe that… What is he blackmailing you over?”

“He has a video of me. It could wreck my career.” His eyes widen. “A video?”

“It’s not sexual,” I say, before he can let his imagination run wild. “But it’s something I’m not proud of.”

“It’s really that bad?”

I swallow. “Yes. It is. And he’s holding it over me. There’s nothing I can do about it. Unless….”

“Unless what?”

“Well…” My palms feel sweaty. I wipe them on the blanket next to me. “You said when you were in high school, you used to be pretty good at hacking into computers, right?”

Luke is silent for a moment as he narrows his eyes at me. “Yes…”

“Maybe you could find the video for me and… delete it.”

He pulls away from me, his eyes still wary. “I can’t do that.”

“Why not? You said you know how.”

“It’s not that simple. I can’t just hack into some random guy’s home computer and delete a video. Maybe if I were in

his house…”

“And what if I could get you into his house?”

He inhales sharply. “Adrienne, what’s on that video?”

“Something bad, okay?” A fresh wave of tears rises to the surface. “Can’t you just trust me and help me? I need you, Luke. You’re the only one who can help me with this.”

He leans forward in the bed and rubs his temples with his fingertips. He doesn’t like what I’m asking him, but I already know he’s going to say yes. He has never said no to anything I have asked of him. I might be falling for him, but he has fallen far harder for me.

“So what do you want me to do exactly?” he finally says.

I sit up straighter in bed. “I’ll get you his apartment keys. You go to his house, get into his computer, and delete any traces of the video.”

“And how are you going to get his keys?” “Let me worry about that.”

“You know…” He lifts his eyes. “Even if we delete it from his phone and I somehow get into his computer and find the video there and delete any traces of it, he may still have another copy somewhere else.”

“I don’t think he does.” I know EJ, and he’s not organized enough to do something like that.

He drops his head back against the pillow. “I don’t know about this, Adrienne. We could get in a lot of trouble…”

“Please help me, Luke.” I reach for his hand, lacing my fingers into his palm. His hand is so much larger and warmer than mine. “You’re the only one who can help me. I need you. I… I love you.”

It’s a cheap trick. He told me he loved me, and I’m only saying it back now that I need something from him. I do love him, I really do, but the timing of my declaration is more than suspicious.

But amazingly, my shameless tactic works. His face softens, and that guarded expression fades away. He

squeezes my hand in his.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll do it.”

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