We both cried out as we came, and the aftermath was just as powerful as I held her in my arms.
Once we’d cleaned up and put minimal clothing on—me in athletic shorts, and her in my t-shirt, I served us both dinner…which was shockingly edible after being left in that oven for an hour.
“Thank you.” Her voice was as soft and sweet as she was.
“For sharing yourself with me.”
“Anything of mine is yours, Liberty. It’s all yours.” My lips pursed.
“Oh, God, what now?” Her eyes narrowed.
“In that spirit of everything of mine being yours…” I took a deep breath and readied my heart for rejection. “Will you please, for the love of God, let me buy you a new car? That thing doesn’t even have airbags, and you’re driving around on the highway. And it’s not just about the baby—”
“It’s about you. Because I won’t survive it if some asshole hits you and you get hurt all because you’re being stubborn about me buying you—”
“Nixon, I said, ‘Yes.’” She grinned.
I stilled, my thoughts trickling back to that new pickup truck that sat at my parents, unwanted and undriven. “Yes?”
She ran her fingers through my hair. “I get it. Why you need to feel like you’ve protected our little girl…and me. I get it. So, yes.”
“Holy shit, I just fell in love with you all over again.” I kissed her soundly. “I’m thinking something along the lines of an M-1 tank.”
“Don’t push your luck.” She laughed.
“Fine. Armored truck it is.”
That only made her laugh harder.
“What is the specific problem from your viewpoint?” I asked as I crossed one leg over the other. Dr. Bernard sat observing in a leather chair in the corner across the room, the client seated before me.
As I was nearing the month mark on my internship here at the sister company for Breaking Boundaries in the city, she’d felt comfortable allowing me to take lead on a case with her as an observer. Lucky for me, this counted for the practice hours necessary to earn my degree. By the end of May I’d earn the degree that would allow me to practice on my own. I just would’ve preferred earning these credit hours with an overseas internship since that was my main goal anyway. But, I still beyond appreciated Dr. Bernard’s support.
“My viewpoint?” he asked, rubbing his palms back and forth. The kid was barely twenty and was here in the States on a student visa.
“Yes,” I said, keeping my tone soft as I jotted down notes in my notebook. “Everyone has a different perspective, and today you’ve made great strides in informing me on what your parents back home think of your time here, but you haven’t delved into your own personal feelings on the subject.”
He weighed my words for a moment, and I kept quiet, allowing his mind to change directions from outer to inner. “I guess the problem is I’m breaking tradition,” he said. “No one in my family has ever pursued a career in the arts. They’re all doctors or scientists or mathematicians. And while I want to chase my passions, the last thing I want to do is feel guilty for it. It means something to me, to my family…tradition. So by me breaking it, I feel like I’m breaking their trust.”
I hurried to write down his thoughts so I could revisit them before our next session. “That’s understandable,” I said. “And it takes a great deal of courage to seek help on sorting out these issues of guilt and blame.”
He nodded, blowing out a tight breath. “Thank you,” he said, his voice accented. “Therapy,” he continued, “is not common among my family either.”
“So you’re going two for two,” I said playfully. “Very bold.”
A wide smile stretched his lips, and it met his eyes.
“Let me ask you this,” I said. “Do the feelings of guilt outweigh your confidence in your chosen career aspirations?”
He furrowed his brow for a moment, then shook his head. “No,” he said the word almost as if it were a surprise in itself.
A soft crash of waves radiated from the sound machine on the desk next to me, and I offered him a genuine smile as I stood from my chair. He shook my outstretched hand, his shoulders looser than they’d been when he’d walked in.
“Next week let’s dive into the ways we can alleviate the guilt while also finding ways to inform your family of the importance and courage in your decision about your future.”
“Sounds good,” he said, dropping my hand and heading for the door. He flashed Dr. Bernard a satisfied look before shutting the door behind him.
I exhaled, my nerves untangling a bit.
“That was fantastic,” Dr. Bernard said as she rose from her chair to meet me in the middle of her office.
“Thank you,” I said, smoothing a hand over my growing belly. My lower back ached something fierce. “I have to admit, I was a little nervous.”