“It’s more than two weeks,” I argued.
“But less than three,” she shot back. She smiled at Dr. Petersen. “I should’ve known he’d bring that up first.”
“What would you start with, Eva?” he asked.
“Gideon told me the details about his nightmare last night.” She glanced at me. “That was huge. It’s a really big turning point for us.”
There was no mistaking the love in her eyes when she spoke, or the gratitude and hope. It tightened my throat to see it. Talking to her about the fucked-up shit in my head was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do—even telling Dr. Petersen about Hugh had been easier—but it was all worth it just to see that look on her face.
The ugliest things about each other brought us closer. It was crazy and it was wonderful. I pulled her hand into my lap, cupping it with both of mine. I felt the same love, gratitude, and hope that she did.
Dr. Petersen picked up his tablet. “Quite a few revelations for you this week, Gideon. What brought them on?”
“Eva stopped seeing you.”
“And speaking to me.”
He looked at Eva. “Was that because Gideon hired your boss away from the agency you work for?”
“That was the catalyst,” she agreed, “but we’d been building up to a breaking point. Something had to give. We couldn’t keep going in circles, having the same arguments.”
“So you withdrew. That could be considered emotional blackmail. Was that your intent?”
Her lips pursed as she weighed that. “I’d call it desperation.”
“Because Gideon was … drawing lines to define our relationship. And I couldn’t imagine living within those lines for the rest of my life.”
Dr. Petersen made some notes. “Gideon, what do you think about how Eva handled this situation?”
It took me a minute to answer. “It felt like a goddamned time warp, but a hundred times worse.”
He glanced at me. “I remember when you first came to see me, you and Eva hadn’t spoken for a couple of days.”
“He cut me off,” she said.
“She walked out,” I countered.
Again, it had been a night when we’d really opened up to each other. She told me about Nathan’s assaults, let me see the source of what had unconsciously drawn us together. Then I’d had a nightmare about my own abuse and she pushed me to talk about it.
I couldn’t and she left me.
Eva bristled. “He broke it off with me via interoffice memo! Who does that?”
“I didn’t break it off,” I corrected. “I challenged you to come back. You walk away when things don’t—”
“That’s emotional blackmail.” She released my hand and shifted to face me. “You cut me off for the express purpose of making me accept your status quo. I don’t like the way things are? Well, then, you’ll shut me out until I can’t take it anymore.”
“Didn’t you just do that to me?” My jaw clenched. “And you seem to take it just fine. If I don’t change, you don’t budge.”
And that killed me. She’d proven so many times that she could leave and not look back, while I couldn’t breathe without her. That was a fundamental imbalance in our relationship, which gave her the upper hand in everything.
“You sound resentful, Gideon,” Dr. Petersen interjected.
“And I don’t?” Eva crossed her arms.
I shook my head. “It’s not resentment. It’s … frustration. I can’t walk away, but she can.”
“That’s not fair! And it’s not true. The only leverage I’ve got is to make you miss me. I try talking it out with you, but in the end, you do what you want. You don’t tell me things, don’t consult me.”
“I’m working on that.”
“Now you are, but I had to pull away to make you do it. Be honest, Gideon, I came along and you realized you had a void in your life that I could fill, and you wanted to put me there and leave the rest of your life as it was.”
“What I wanted was for you to let us—be us. Just enjoy each other for a while.”
“My right to decide, to say yes or no, is fucking important to me! You’ve got no business taking that away from me or getting pissed when I don’t like it!”
“Jesus.” Reality check. It felt like I’d taken a punch to the gut. Considering her history, to have her feel—for even a moment—that I’d taken her choices away was a brutal blow. “Eva …”