But Isaac is hesitating. He doesn’t want to let go of my waist. He’s thinking of his wife; I’m thinking of his wife. I’m about to tell him, forget it, when he abruptly releases his hold on my waist. Without him suspending me, and with no warning I slide onto him. I suck air loudly. It’s a gasp if I’ve ever heard one. One minute I’m empty, the next I’m full. A deep, slow panic. He does not belong to me. What am I doing? I try to climb off him, but he grabs my wrists and rolls on top of me, pinning me down. He kisses me slowly with both hands pressed against the sides of my face, all the while moving slowly in and out of me.
Isaac is not in his bed when I wake. He’s not in the house. I check every corner, dragging my half useless leg behind me. My guess is that I’ve been unconscious for at least twenty-four hours, perhaps more. I step outside in Isaac’s oversized clunky boots, sinking into the fresh snow. The blizzard has all but covered the lower half of the house. Snow piles in graceful sweeps of white. White, white, white. All I see is white. It looks like the house is wearing a wedding dress. If there were tire marks, they are gone now. I walk as far as I can before reaching the fence. I am tempted to touch it. To let the volts shake my body and send my heart to a screeching stop. I reach my gloves toward the chain link. My light wool gloves that do nothing to stave off the frigid air. I might as well be wearing lace on my hands, I think for the thousandth time.Isaac is out. My hands pause midair. I have no idea if Elgin will take him to a hospital. My hands move an inch toward the fence. But if she does, he will live. And I might see him again. I drop my hands to my sides. She’s crazy. For all I know she’s locked him up somewhere else where she can play more of her sick games.
No. Dr. Elgin always did what she said she was going to do. Even if it meant locking me up like an animal to fix me.The last time I had seen Saphira Elgin was a year past the date I filed a restraining order against Isaac. I’d been seeing her once a week for over a year. Our visits, that had started with her extracting one sliver at a time from the lockdown that is my mind, eventually became more relaxed. More pleasant. I got to speak to someone who didn’t really care about me. She wasn’t trying to save me, or love me to better health; she was paid (a hundred dollars an hour) to take an unbiased look into my soul and help me find the crickets. That’s what she called them: crickets. The little chirping noises that were either alarms, or echoes, or the unspoken words that needed to be spoken. Or that’s what I thought anyway. Turns out Saphira cared above and beyond her pay grade. She entered God’s pay grade. Toying with fate and lives and sanity. But that last time, the last time I saw her, she’d said something that in hindsight should have been my clue in to her insanity.I’d told her I was writing a new book. One about Nick. She’d become flustered at that. Not in the extreme outward way a normal person becomes flustered. I don’t even know if I can pinpoint how I knew it upset her. Maybe her bracelets tinkled a little extra that day as she jotted notes down on her yellow pad. Or maybe her ruby lips pulled a little tighter. But I knew. I’d confessed to her that I’d messed everything up, but I wasn’t sure how. When we ended our session she’d grabbed my hand.
Senna, she’d said, do you want another chance at the truth?The truth? I’d repeated, not sure of what she was getting at.
The truth that can set you free...
Her eyes had been two hot coals. I’d been close enough to smell her perfume; it smelled exotic like myrrh and burning wood.I hold out my hand. Come on, Duchess.
She tosses a quick glance over her shoulder before she places her hand in mine. I pull her toward me and her little birdlike steps skip to keep up with mine. I don’t let go of her hand, and she doesn’t try to pull away. When I look down at her, she’s biting her lip. She looks terrified. She should.I stop to open her door then shoot around to mine. She’s wearing a red dress with white polka dots. The neckline dips low. She hasn’t looked at me since she got in the car; instead she’s focused on her feet. Red stilettos, red toenails peeking through. Nice. Her style is a combination of Jacqueline Kennedy and a gypsy — my beautiful contradiction. Her hair is twisted up in a bun, and there is a pen holding it in place. I reach over and slip the pen out. Her hair tumbles around her like black water.
She doesn’t ask where we are going. I drive to the beach and pull into a spot a block away. She waits until I walk around to open her door and takes my hand as I help her out. We walk connected, until we reach the sand. She stops there to slip off her shoes, using my shoulder to keep balance. They dangle on the tips of her fingers as she reaches for me with her free hand. I take it and we lace fingers. It is considered winter in Florida, so there is only a handful of sunbathers, most of them from the North and with white hair. The area of beach we are on belongs to a hotel. There are canvas-covered gazebos with lawn chairs underneath them. We find an empty one and I sit down and stretch out my legs. Olivia makes to take the one next to me, but I pull her on my chair. She sits between my legs and leans back against my chest. I put one arm around her and sling the other on top of my head. My heart is racing. I haven’t had her in my arms in a long time. It feels so natural to be like this with her. I say her name just to see how it sounds. She jabs me in the ribs with her elbow.Do what? I say into her ear.