“I’m here to see Dr. Bennet.”
“Your name, sir?”
“Go on in, Mr. Darcy, she’s ready for you.”
He walked to the door she pointed to and stepped through. A dark haired woman with tiny spectacles perched on her nose looked up. Her hair was up in some sort of twisty style and she wore a soft cardigan over a silk camisole. She stood and walked over to him.
“You must be Mr. Darcy. I’m Dr. Bennet.” She held out her hand and he shook it lightly.
“You’re pretty young to be a psychiatrist,” he said.
“Good genes.” She smiled and gestured for him to sit on a blue sofa while she took the chair opposite.
“Are you comfortable?”
“Alright, let’s begin. Why don’t you tell me why you’re here?”
“My sister and cousin think I need to see a shrink.”
“And why is that?”
“They say I have trouble ‘letting go’,” he said with air quotes.
“And why do they say that?” she asked as she scribbled a note on her pad with a shiny red pen.
“My little sister is getting married, and it’s a big change.”
“So you don’t think you have a problem?”
“No, not really.”
“And you don’t need therapy?”
“No offense, Dr. Bennet, but my mental health is perfectly fine.”
She looked him directly in the eye. “So I ask you again, Mr. Darcy: Why are you here?”
“I just told you.”
“No, you told me why your sister and cousin think you should be here. Unless they marched you in at gunpoint, you are here under your own free will.”
He bristled. “What are you implying?”
“Nothing, Mr. Darcy. It isn’t my job to imply. I’m inquiring. Did you not want to disappoint them? Could you simply not say no? If so, we may need to discuss how to establish proper boundaries.”
“My boundaries are just fine, thank you very much!”
She smiled just a tiny bit, and it was gone so quickly that he might have missed it had he not been looking right at her. “I thought so, Mr. Darcy. Now, let’s talk about your sister. How old is she?”
She scribbled some more. “And are you close?”
She nodded. “Mr. Darcy, I understand that you do not want to be here. However, my time is valuable. There are plenty of people who need and want help and are actually willing to do something to get it. I understand that you are a friend of Dr. Bingley’s and that’s why I worked you in today. But both of our time will be wasted if you don’t start being honest with me. Therapy is not just for crazy people or the seriously ill. Perfectly healthy, normal people sometimes just need someone to talk to. Being here does not say anything about you that you don’t want it to. Are we clear?”
He stared into her eyes for a full minute, not saying a word, a silent game of chicken going on between them.
“Crystal,” he said sitting back a little.
“Good. Let’s just relax for a bit. Why don’t you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. Anything at all.”
“You have great legs.”
She shifted slightly. “Alright, what’s the second thing that comes to your mind?”
“I wish your skirt was shorter.”
Her eyebrows shot up. She looked at him coolly, trying to decide what his game was. Was he just messing with her? Trying to intimidate her? Taking out his frustrations on her? Goofing off until the hour was up so he didn’t have to talk about his problems?
“We’re going to do a little exercise. I’ll ask you a question, you give me an honest answer. It doesn’t have to be detailed, a simple answer will suffice.”
“Where do you work?”
“What’s your position there?” she asked.
“Head of Acquisitions.”
“Are you married?”
“Divorced or widowed?”
“Currently in a relationship?”
“Do you prefer men or women?”
He grinned. “Definitely women.”
“Who is your closest friend?”
“Georgiana Darcy, soon to be Cummings.”
He shifted uncomfortably and she changed the topic, knowing he wasn’t ready yet. “Parents?”
“Dad eight years ago from a massive heart attack, Mom ten years ago in a car crash.”
“A dog, Georgie has a cat.”
“Max and Zha Zha.”
She stifled a smile. “Where did you go to college?”
“Stanford, then Harvard.”
“Major?” she asked as she continued to scribble notes.
“Finance, then an MBA. You?”
“Harvard, then Oxford. Favorite fruit?” she continued.
“Strawberries.” She looked up at him and took off her glasses. “What do you like to do with your free time?”
He thought for a moment. “Last of the Mohicans. You?”
“Little Women. Favorite movie?”
“The Usual Suspects. You?”
“Last of the Mohicans.” His eyebrows shot up and she shrugged. She continued, “Do you smile much?”
“Sometimes. How old are you?”
“Old enough. Do you spend much time outside?” she asked.
“Yes. How long have you been practicing?”
“A while. How much sleep do you get each night?”
“About eight hours. Do you live in the city?” he asked, leaning forward and putting his elbows on his knees.
“Mostly. How many hours do you work each day?”
“Roughly ten.” He looked her in the eye. “Are you married?”
“No. Do you enjoy your work?”
“Immensely. Divorced?” he asked.
“No. Do you travel at all for business?”
“Sometimes, not often. Do you like to travel?”
“Immensely,” she replied. “Do you live alone?”
“Georgie lives with me. Does your boyfriend go with you?”
“When you travel.”
“Who do you go with?”
“Usually with my sister.”
“He doesn’t mind being left behind?”
“You assume it’s a he.” This surprised him and he sat back, eyes wide. She stifled a laugh. “If you’re trying to ask if I’m single, Mr. Darcy, I am.”
“And straight. Now, how much time do you usually spend with your sister?”
“Dinner a few times a week, breakfast when she’s home. Why?”
“Why what?” she asked.
“Why are you single?”
“That’s not really your concern, Mr. Darcy. What do you think you’ll do with your free time once your sister has moved out?”
He shifted uncomfortably.
“It’s been just the two of you for a long time, hasn’t it?” she said softly.
“Have you considered dating?”
“What do you mean?”
“Meet a woman, ask her if she’d like to go out with you. She says yes, you take her to dinner, maybe a show, or catch a concert or go ice skating. If she likes you, she might let you kiss her when you drop her off. A date.”
“I don’t do that much,” he said grumpily.
“I gathered that. Why not?”
“Women bore me.”
“Ah.” She nodded and scribbled on her pad. “When was the last time you had a girlfriend?”
He exhaled. “About four years ago.”
“We broke up.”
“Yes, but why?” she continued.
“I didn’t love her enough and she loved my money too much.”
“And there’s been no one since?”
“No one’s caught my interest.”
“Mr. Darcy, do you think it’s possible that you aren’t upset about your sister getting married at all, but instead are upset about being all alone and no longer having a reason for it?”
He thought and was silent. Finally, he said, “What do you mean by ‘a reason for it’?”
“You’ve been living with your sister. For all intents and purposes, she has been the woman in your life.” He scoffed. “Just listen. She lives in your home, is very close to you, you love her greatly and I’m guessing she loves you too. You’ve had very little reason to find a girlfriend.”
He looked at her with raised brows.
“Well, except for that,” she replied. “But we both know there are ways of getting sex without having a relationship. But now, you are about to be all alone, no one but you in the house, and your life will change irrevocably. And I’m guessing you don’t like change.”
“That’s not the point. We’re talking about your life.”
He sighed and slumped a bit, then pulled himself together and sat forward again. “So what do you suggest I do?”
“I suggest you start trying to meet women.”
“Meeting them isn’t the problem.”
“Meet them and get to know them with the intent of finding a girlfriend, not a one night stand.”
He exhaled loudly and looked like he was about to start pouting any minute.
“Let’s practice. I’m a woman-”
“I caught that.”
She smirked. “Now I want you to talk to me like you want to ask me out. Come on, practice makes certain.”
He huffed loudly. “Alright. Hi, what’s your name?”
“Elizabeth. What’s yours?”
“William. Can I buy you a drink?”
“Thank you. Have a seat.” She gestured to the imaginary stool next to her.
He rolled his eyes and continued, “So, what do you do?”
“I’m a therapist. You?”
“I’m in finance. Come here often?”
She wanted to laugh at the overused line, but held her composure. “No, it’s my first time.”
“Did you know your eyes sparkle when you’re trying not to laugh?” he said lightly.
She looked surprised. “No, I didn’t.”
“Like amber, or topaz. It’s lovely. You’re lovely,” he said seriously.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“Have dinner with me?”
“Right now. It’s getting late.”
“Oh!” she said as she realized he meant her and not the make-believe character she was playing. “I can’t see patients outside of work. It should have been explained with your intake paperwork. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not really a patient.” He held up his unsigned intake forms and she gasped slightly at his audacity. “I don’t think therapy is really for me. Besides, I’m dating a therapist and I’m sure she can recommend a nice male doctor to see me if needed.”
“You’re dating a therapist?” she asked incredulously.
“Yeah,” he said, scooting closer, “she’s a real spitfire.”
She smiled. “And does this spitfire have a name?”
“Pretty presumptuous, aren’t you, Mr. Darcy?”
“I know what I want when I see it.”
“Do you now?”
“Yes. So, dinner?”
She pursed her lips. “You know, Dr. Johnson might be perfect for you. He works a lot with men who have trouble making decisions.”
“Is that a yes?”
“I’ll get my purse.”