She sighed as softly as she could. Her shoulders were starting to ache from hunching forward and she wanted to stretch them, just a little.
She waited for as long as she could, until the crick in her neck was screaming for relief, and then she decided to take a chance. She arched her back, rolling her neck ever so slightly from side to side, relishing the stretch in her sore muscles. Her mistake had been in miscalculating Dr. Lee’s position. In not realizing that he’d shifted in his chair, so he was leaning toward her, and without meaning to, she accidentally made eye contact. It was fleeting, and Violet looked away again just as quickly as possible, but it was too late. Her reprieve had come to a bitter end.
She sagged, slouching back in her chair, not willing to admit how badly her back had been aching. “Fine,” she told him, glancing at the clock. “We only have five minutes left anyway. Might as well get this over with.”
Dr. Lee pressed his fingertips together, the way he always seemed to do when he was thinking about what he wanted to say. After a moment, he asked, “I take it you’re sleeping better?”
Violet shrugged. “I sleep enough.” But then she realized that her lie would get her nowhere; she needed him to give her another prescription. Her shoulders fell as she admitted, “But I could use a refill.” She searched his face, looking for any sign that he was satisfied to have something she needed.
If he did, his smugness didn’t show. “And what about echoes this week?” His bushy brows raised, same as always. He was like the clock in that regard—predictable. Tick-tick-ticking away.
She shrugged, a non-answer, knowing what was coming next: He reached up and tapped his lips. “Did you run across anything? Do you still feel like you have your impulses under control?”
Violet tapped her feet again. She knew what he wanted to hear. That she was doing great. That everything had changed since she’d met him.
Thanks to you, Dr. Lee, those pesky echoes never bother me at all. You’re my hero! Or something to that effect.
Problem was, it was true . . . more or less. Dr. Lee was the one who’d made her ability bearable. He’d taught her the breathing techniques and meditation and had even used hypnosis, all of which helped her not just to overcome the fog of depression and unease and just plain desolation that had once developed in the wake of discovering a body. That used to haunt her, making her drift through her days, as if she were a shell of her real self . . . until the body that was plaguing her was buried at last.
Until it found peace.
But now . . .
Now she felt something different. There was still a certain cloudiness, a sense of being weighed upon by the dead. But it was nothing like she used to experience. Nothing like before she’d met Dr. Lee.
And together with Sara, they’d taught her the importance of working as a team. Of not wandering into dangerous territory—even when the pull of an echo was strong—without waiting for backup.
Under any other circumstances, in any other lifetime, she would have praised him for that. Instead, she shrugged again, trying to look as taciturn as possible. “I can handle myself” was all she said.
“Good. That’s good to hear,” he said, smiling as if she’d just led a cheer in his honor. “I guess that’s about it.” He got up to go to his desk and Violet waited as he slid open the locked drawer where he kept his prescription pad. “Oh, and Violet? One more thing.”
“Yeah?” she said absently.
“How was school? You started today, right?”
Violet cringed. She wanted nothing more than to get this appointment over with and get out of here, but there was something in the way he asked the question, in the way he’d kept his back to her as he’d posed it. “Fine. Why?”
He closed the drawer, sliding the key in the lock methodically, as if this were the most important task he’d ever taken on. And then he turned back around, his eyes boring into her. “I just wondered how it was having Rafe and Gemma there.”
It took a moment for his words to sink in, but when they did Violet shook her head. “Was it you? Are you the reason they’re at my school?”
When he nodded, Violet gripped the seat of her chair, her fingers digging into the upholstery. Her voice was filled with quiet disbelief. “But . . . why?”
“Because, Violet. You’re not keeping up your end.” His lips parted and he was no longer the benevolent psychiatrist he pretended to be here in his office. “Being part of the team isn’t just about coming to your scheduled appointments and showing up at the Center when Sara calls you. I expect you to commit to this. Your team needs you.” He held out the prescription for sleeping pills to her, and for a moment she just stared at it. Inside, she was shaking, and it took a moment to register that she was shaking on the outside as well. When she reached out to take the paper from him, her hands trembled violently.
But when their fingers brushed, his voice softened. “And whether you believe it or not, you need them too. Having Rafe and Gemma at your school is just another part of being on the team. It’s our way of making sure you’re okay.”
She wasn’t sure if it was his tone or his touch, or whether she was lapsing into some sort of shock, but she could practically feel the concern radiating from him, and it made her believe what he said as acceptance washed over her. His words made sense to her.
He was right, of course. She was being stubborn to believe otherwise. They were her team, and she knew they only wanted what was best for her. She nodded back at him, letting his conviction calm her.