I waited for the town car at the curb, feeling separate and apart from the city teeming around me. When Clancy pulled up and hopped out to open the back door for me, I was startled to see my mom already inside. It was early yet. I'd expected to be driven solo to the apartment she shared with Stanton and wait on her twenty minutes or so. That was our usual routine.
"Hey, Mom," I said wearily, settling on the seat beside her.
"How could you, Eva?" She was crying into a monogrammed handkerchief, her face beautiful even while reddened and wet with tears. "Why?"
Jolted out of my torment by her misery, I frowned and asked, "What did I do now?"
The new cell phone, if she'd somehow found about it, wouldn't trigger this much drama. And it was too soon after the fact for her to know about my breakup with Gideon.
"You told Gideon Cross about...what happened to you." Her lower lip trembled with distress.
My head jerked back in shock. How could she know that? My God...Had she bugged my new place? My purse...? "What?"
"Don't act clueless!"
"How do you know I told him?" My voice was a pained whisper. "We just talked last night."
"He went to see Richard about it today."
I tried to picture Stanton's face during that conversation. I couldn't imagine my stepfather taking it well. "Why would he do that?"
"He wanted to know what's been done to prevent information leaks. And he wanted to know where Nathan is - " She sobbed. "He wanted to know everything."
My breath hissed out between my teeth. I wasn't sure what Gideon's motivation was, but the possibility that he'd dumped me over Nathan and was now making sure that he was safe from scandal hurt worse than anything. I twisted in pain, my spine arching away from the seatback. I'd thought it was his past that drove a wedge between us, but it made more sense that it was mine.
For once I was grateful for my mother's self-absorption, which kept her from seeing how devastated I was.
"He had a right to know," I managed in a voice so raw it sounded nothing like my own. "And he has a right to try and protect himself from any blowback."
"You've never told any of your other boyfriends."
"I've never dated anyone who makes national headlines by sneezing, either." I stared out the car window at the traffic that boxed us in. "Gideon Cross and Cross Industries are global news, Mother. He's light-years away from the guys I dated in college."
She spoke more, but I didn't hear her. I shut down for self-protection, cutting off the reality that was suddenly too painful to be endured.
Dr. Petersen's office was exactly as I remembered. Decorated in soothing neutrals, it was both professional and comfortable. Dr. Petersen was the same - a handsome man with gray hair and gentle, intelligent blue eyes.
He welcomed us into his office with a wide smile, commenting on how lovely my mother looked and how like her I was. He said he was happy to see me again and that I looked well, but I could tell he spoke for my mother's benefit. He was too trained an observer to miss the raging emotions I suppressed.
"So," he began, settling into his chair across from the sofa my mother and I sat on. "What brings you both in today?"
I told him about the way my mom had been tracking my movements via my cell phone signal and how violated I felt. Mom told him about my interest in Krav Maga and how she took it as a sign that I wasn't feeling safe. I told him about how they'd pretty much taken over Parker's studio, which made me feel suffocated and claustrophobic. She told him I'd betrayed her trust by divulging deeply personal matters to strangers, which made her feel na**d and painfully exposed.
Through it all, Dr. Petersen listened attentively, took notes and spoke rarely, until we'd purged everything.
Once we'd quieted, he asked, "Monica, why didn't you tell me about tracking Eva's cell phone?"
The angle of her chin altered, a familiar defensive posture. "I didn't see anything wrong with it. Many parents track their children through their cell phones."
"Underage children," I shot back. "I'm an adult. My personal time is exactly that."
"If you were to envision yourself in her place, Monica," Dr. Petersen interjected, "would it be possible that you might feel as she does? What if you discovered someone was monitoring your movements without your knowledge or permission?"
"Not if the someone was my mother and I knew it gave her peace of mind," she argued.
"And have you considered how your actions affect Eva's peace of mind?" he queried gently. "Your need to protect her is understandable, but you should discuss the steps you wish to take openly with her. It's important to gain her input - and expect cooperation only when she chooses to give it. You have to honor her prerogative to set limits that may not be as broad as you'd like them to be."
My mother sputtered indignantly.
"Eva needs her boundaries, Monica," he continued, "and a sense of control over her own life. Those things were taken from her for a long time and we have to respect her right to establish them now in the manner that best suits her."
"Oh." My mother twisted her handkerchief around her fingers. "I hadn't thought of it that way."
I reached out for my mother's hand when her lower lip trembled violently. "Nothing could've stopped me from talking to Gideon about my past. But I could have forewarned you. I'm sorry I didn't think of it."
"You're much stronger than I ever was," my mother said, "but I can't help worrying."
"My suggestion," Dr. Petersen said, "would be for you to take some time, Monica, and really think about what sorts of events and situations cause you anxiety. Then write them down."