From that, we formed a seed, and that seed grew into a three-book trilogy. We've since unpublished it, but she's very kindly given me permission to work the trilogy over and republish it under my own name. I'm still in the very early stages of doing exactly that, but one of the big hurdles at the start of the entire trilogy is getting our female billionaire, Christina Pocock, to accept her situation.
Let the negotiation commence!
“Well, Mason. Thanks for a wonderful year. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed losing two valuable hours each week, all for nothing.”
“If you’d done the exercises as I instructed, you’d have used six hours.” He smiled congenially but the strain in his voice was apparent.
I dug my cellphone out of my Louis Vuitton Olive Monogram Antheia Leather Hobo. “Which is why I didn’t.”
“Which is why you’ve failed at therapy and why you are failing at life itself.”
The deadpan delivery of those words shocked me. Taken aback, I sucked in a breath and, for a moment, considered throwing my phone straight at his stupid smiling face.
“What the fuck did you just say? Have you seen the size of my house? My portfolio of investments? And I’ve failed? If anything it’s you who’s failed, Mason. You’re supposed to cure me.”
Mason folded his arms. “Christina, we’ve discussed this rudeness of yours.”
“I’m not being rude; I’m being efficient, getting right to the head of the matter, which is your lack of results.”
“There’s a difference between efficiency and rudeness, Christina, and you are being—”
I dialed Simon’s number. “Bring the car around.” Then snapped my phone closed and turned to leave.
“Mason, I don’t want to appear...efficient, but I have places to be.”
He surprised me by rushing to the door. I was unprepared for such animation. Standing there filling the doorframe and blocking my exit, for a moment I almost took him seriously. But, in his khaki pants and black Oxford shirt, and especially with those blue eyes of his narrowed behind dark framed glasses, Mason looked as if he’d just passed Door Security 101. “So why are you still here?”
The unfamiliar steel of his voice seemed to carry a lilt of taunting. I nodded at the hallway behind him. “I’m hardly going to climb over you.”
“You know what I mean. Why haven’t you gone to yet another doctor?”
Because no-one else will take me. Because I’ve carved a sharp-tongued path through them all. No way I’d expose myself like that. Not to this nobody. He already had too much of me sitting in his notebooks. I pulled out my gold cigarette case and flipped it open. “I really don’t know.”
“Christina, you can’t smoke in here.”
I rolled my eyes. Tiny lives with tiny rules. “Mason, my company owns this building. One of my companies, anyway.”
He produced a business card from his pocket. “This is it, Christina. Your last chance.”
I glared at the card, but he didn’t waver. Just held it steady as I blew a stream of smoke into his face. Finally I took the thing and checked it over.
“I see your people are no better than mine. I should proof-read for you.”
Sadly, he didn’t rise to my taunting. He remained remarkably collected, delivering his deadpan statement. “Master Sweet is not a room.”
I tapped the ash from my cigarette into a potted plant by the door. “So what is it? Candy?”
“Radical therapy. I’ve tried the softly-softly, tell me how that makes you feel method. It’s had no effect. Clearly you need a more hands-on approach.” He tapped the edge of the card in my hand. “And what you’ll find in that room will gel perfectly with your current…addictions.”
Why didn’t he just come out and say it? I fuck a lot. So what? It was just another thing that no-one else could get right for me. Though I had to admit, any therapy involving sex might be worth a try. “And how much is this radical therapy going to cost me? Time is money you know.”
“Hotel Alexander. One hour.”
“One hour? You’re cute, Mason, but you didn’t answer my question.” I stopped just short of pinching his cheek.
“I’m quite serious, Christina. Time and money are irrelevant.”
“Oh, god, you’re a fucking hippie.”
“Christina.” His voice was all cold steel now, which shocked me into an unfamiliar silence. “All your wealth will not buy you your life back. You attend this session. Otherwise we’re done.”
My first reaction was just to turn and walk. He had no power here. Half of his flea market office furnishings were paid for by my therapy sessions.
But the sharpness in my chest stopped me. The weight of all my responsibilities made it hard to breathe. All those investments. All those companies. The stocks, the properties, the...oh, what are they called? People, that’s it. And the idea of spilling all my dirty secrets to yet another therapist—if I could find one I hadn’t sent blubbering into therapy themselves—actually gave me a flood of desperate affection for this earnest lummox in front of me. I stared at Mason, hoping to convey without wasting any more useless words, my utmost desire that he end this little game he was playing. But even after moments of near-awkward silence, hoping he’d crumble, I realized he showed no sign of doing so.
“You’re actually serious, aren’t you? Mason, I cannot simply blow off my entire afternoon. Even without all my other meetings, there is a stack of paperwork on my desk that’s even taller than you.” The thought of all the work piling up gave me heartburn. No one in my office could be trusted to do the job right.
He shook his head. His expression finally changed into one of hangdog sadness. “That’s exactly the trouble, Christina. You’re the tightest-wound person I’ve ever met. Socially or professionally. You’ve carved out this worldview and you won’t be swayed. But I assure you that the ulcer, the angina, and the panic attacks will not be tamed by condescension or...efficiency. What you need to learn is how to let go of control and allow others to shoulder some of the responsibility.”
Fuck this little man and his microscopic life. If he wanted to call me weak, I could easily expose the same pathetic quality in him. I traced my fingers over the soft skin of my breast as I leaned forward and whispered straight into his ear. “You know, Mason…tightness in a woman can be quite a desirable quality.”
If my heavy breathing and display of cleavage had any effect on him, he hid it well. He just leaned against me and whispered back. “Christina, I’m your therapist. We’ve talked about your childhood, your adolescence, and...all the things you’ve done to get where you are. Are you sure your current tightness isn’t just a reaction to all your earlier...looseness?”
I barely registered that I’d moved, yet suddenly my palm was tingling and Mason was clutching his cheek, his glasses lying like a crushed insect on the floor.
A ball of unreleased scream sat in the base of my throat and made it almost impossible for me to speak, but I managed to strangle out a yell. “You voyeuristic cunt! You get off on my exploits, don’t you? I bet you finish every one of our sessions with a ten-minute jerk-off!” I almost spat in his face. “Or maybe you only last three.”
Mason shook his head and rubbed at his reddened flesh. To my surprise he laughed. “Was it something I said?”
I closed my eyes and pushed a few stray hairs back behind my ear. I let a long breath seep out of me as I regained my composure. “You be sure to send me the bill for those glasses, Mason.”
“One hour. Hotel Alexander.” His voice faded slightly as I reached the elevator. “No excuses, Christina.”